China Is Stirring

Try, if you can, to imagine the most extreme covid restrictions you experienced in 2020 lasting for over 2.5 years. Until now, China’s citizens have decided life in lockdown is preferable to being caught protesting the restrictions.

Except for North Korea, every populace, Iran and China included, has their limits. The reporting and pictures coming out of China are riveting.

I especially like how they’re using sarcasm. From the New York Times:

“When a police officer told people to stop chanting for an end to lockdowns, the crowd quickly pivoted. ‘Continue lockdowns!’ they chanted, in an echo of the sarcasm that had spread online in recent days, as people shared overblown praise for the government to protest censorship. ‘I want to do Covid tests!'”

People like me, with a built-in bias for democracy, are almost always disappointed by flickers of popular protest that are routinely squelched by the state.

That history won’t stop me from rooting for the underdogs, for sarcasm, and radical political change.

Related.

A Truly Modern Emperor

Subtitle: When You Fall Out Of Favor In The Chinese Communist Party

People swear off Twitter all the time, thinking it’s a complete waste of time, but it all depends on being very selective about who you follow. This Yang Zhang tweet, the first of many in the thread, is Twitter at its absolute best. It provides an incredible window into the CCP. Similarly, some Russian intellectuals are using Twitter to provide fascinating windows into Russian’s reactions to their government’s war.

Be careful not to paint all social media with too broad a brush.

Monday Required Reading

There is no vacation from reading. Indeed, some take the view that there’s no vocation, but reading.

The rich vs the very, very rich: the Wentworth Golf Club rebellion. The makings of a great novel.

The very, very rich vs the Mormon church. I’d read that novel too.

It’s time for car companies to shut up about electric vehicles and just ship them. Amen.

Norway’s most popular cycle route. Yes please.

Here’s what schools are doing to try to address students’ social-emotional needs. Shame on me, I shoulda lead with this.

The Covid Ball Is In The NBA’s Court

From “The NBA’s Big Covid Choice” by Ethan Strauss.

“The NBA actually has an opportunity here to end the precautionary moment, or at least signal its ebb. If commissioner Adam Silver steps forward and announces that his league is ending test protocols and treating this admittedly terrible disease in much the same way we deal with some other respiratory illnesses, that’s a potential cultural shift. The basic plan would be to test players and team officials only if they’re obviously sick (and sit said players if they test positive). And no more of the contact tracing that’s gummed up work behind the scenes of a highly mobile industry. The message could be simple: Look, we can’t functionally operate like it’s 2020; now that the disease is endemic, and vaccines are widely available, we must move into 2022.

This could be an influential move for all the reasons the NBA lockdown was important back in 2020, but now with one new one: The NBA is the archetypal blue state sport. The Covid question has broken along partisan lines, with Democrat-voting spaces far more likely to embrace interventionist measures. If the NBA announces a relaxation, there’s an element of “Nixon goes to China,” a credibility inherent to going against the grain. Such a proclamation grants space if not permission for other non-red world institutions to follow suit and open up despite the surge.”

Do read the whole thing. As thoughtful a rumination on our predicament with the “invisible enemy” as I’ve read. Granted, I might feel that way because I agree with Strauss.

That Time My Nephew Called Me A “Miscreant”

A “miscreant” is a person who behaves badly or in a way that breaks the law.

See number 6. In fairness, it can’t be easy being a radical lefty in the wilderness known as Ohio. He’s also a diehard Ohio State football fan so he’s still reeling from the Wolverine ass whupping.

Put all that together and I’m gonna let it slide.

One noteworthy thing he sidesteps, he could never substack like that in China.

Paragraphs To Ponder

“One day in August 2021, Zhao Wei disappeared. For one of China’s best-known actresses to physically vanish from public view would have been enough to cause a stir on its own. But Zhao’s disappearing act was far more thorough: overnight, she was erased from the internet. Her Weibo social media page, with its 86 million followers, went offline, as did fan sites dedicated to her. Searches for her many films and television shows returned no results on streaming sites. Zhao’s name was scrubbed from the credits of projects she had appeared in or directed, replaced with a blank space. Online discussions uttering her name were censored. Suddenly, little trace remained that the 45-year-old celebrity had ever existed.

She wasn’t alone. Other Chinese entertainers also began to vanish as Chinese government regulators announced a ‘heightened crackdown’ intended to dispense with ‘vulgar internet celebrities’ promoting lascivious lifestyles and to ‘resolve the problem of chaos’ created by online fandom culture. Those imitating the effeminate or androgynous aesthetics of Korean boyband stars—colorfully referred to as ‘xiao xian rou,’ or ‘little fresh meat’—were next to go, with the government vowing to ‘resolutely put an end to sissy men’ appearing on the screens of China’s impressionable youth.”

Meanwhile, U.S. anti-maskers and vaxers have lost their freedom. Cry me a river.

From The Triumph and Terror of Wang Huning.

Monday Required Reading and Listening

The semester is in full swing. Time to raise your game.

  1. Our high-speed transport future. Doubt I’ll live long enough to find out if it’s 670 (Branson) or 760 (Musk) miles per hour.
  2. And the future of weight-loss.
  3. How to help kids struggling with their mental health.
  4. The best young adult author going explains how to connect with kids through the written word.
  5. China’s Hot New Rental Service: Men Who Actually Listen. Groovy, we’re trending.
  6. Astute Ryder Cup analysis you’ve been clamoring for. I hope the U.S. hasn’t “ushered in a new era”. I prefer my Ryder Cups like I do the Good Wife, close.

Paragraph To Ponder

“In July, the I.M.F. estimated that an investment of $50 billion in a comprehensive campaign for vaccination and other virus control efforts would generate some $9 trillion in additional global output by 2025 — a ratio of 180 to 1. What investment could hope to yield a higher rate of return? And yet none of the members of the Group of 20 have stepped up, not Europe, not the United States, not even China. Billions of people will be forced to wait until 2023 to receive even their first shot.”

Adam Tooze, What if the Coronavirus Crisis Is Just a Trial Run?

Paragraph To Ponder

From Raffi Khatchadourian’s story in The New Yorker about the Chinese state’s crackdown in Xinjiang.

“Chen Quanguo’s predecessor had borrowed from his Tibet strategy, deploying two hundred thousand Party cadres in Xinjiang. Chen increased their numbers to a million, and urged them to go from house to house and grow ‘close to the masses, emotionally.’ Under a program called Becoming a Family, local party officials introduced them to indigenous households, declaring, ‘These are you new relatives.’ Cadres imposed themselves, stopping for meals; sometimes they were required to stay overnight. Terrified residents forced smiles, politely served them, engaged their questions, and even offered them their beds.”

We have no idea what a catastrophic loss of liberty entails.