Wednesday, 29 October 2014

[大躍進] Mao Zedong's "Smoking Gun" Quotation [黑金政治學03]

Some further discussion of the great leap forward [大躍進] and great famine [大飢荒]. In a controversy between two current historians, a famous quotation (used to attribute blame to Mao) turns out to be spurious. The controversy reveals more of interest than just the question of how to lay the blame.

On Youtube: http://youtu.be/0WfN9HmA8vk

Monday, 27 October 2014

Devil's Advocate Amongst Atheists: Thunderf00t vs. Richard Carrier

Atheist vs. atheist; here's my response to a long-simmering dispute between two public intellectuals from opposite ends of the academic spectrum… but, wait, who are you calling an academic anyway?

On Youtube: http://youtu.be/K7Pfx2BQtrM

Saturday, 25 October 2014

From Kunming to Kyaukpyu (Colonialism Lite?)


There is a striking resemblance between China's current plans to connect Yunnan to the coast of Myanmar (by train, road and oil-pipeline) and one of the greatest colonial fantasies of the 19th century: Holt S. Hallett's expedition of 1876 sparked a race between the British and the French empires to see who would be the first to build this railway connection. (Mazard, 2008)  In the end, neither one of them ever did it.  In contrast to the plans drawn up in the 19th century, the 21st century fantasy has a fairly good probability of being realized.  Although there are doubts surrounding the viability of the project, China's ambassador to Myanmar confirmed that the railroad is still underway as recently as July, 2014, (Wang, 2014) and the creation of oil-pipeline infrastructure for the route is already fait accompli, according to reporters who visited the site. (Robinson, 2014)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

On Youtube, China's Great Famine & the Great Leap Forward [黑金政治學02]

On Youtube: An overview of new publications including Tombstone [墓碑] by Yang Jisheng [楊繼繩], Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikötter, and The Xinyang Incident [信阳事件] by Qiao Peihua [喬培華], with a rapid introduction to the general subject of the Great Famine & the Great Leap Forward.

Click: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rtfadswTdw

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Chinese Democracy (1989–2014) in Comparative Context

If you glance too quickly at the first chart, above, you might think that I forgot to include China at all; but no, there it is, a dashed line at the bottom, moving along horizontally, steadily, with the lowest score possible for political rights and freedoms.  In Figure 2, below, you can see that while Cambodia has done poorly in the same period of time, it only dipped down to be quite so bad as mainland China during the memorable year of 1997, and otherwise had some advantage to boast of.

The scores themselves are a product of the Freedom House foundation, and you can read some overly-tedious comments I made on how the numbers are computed here (click).  For those with a casual interest, it is enough to know that a rating of 7 is terrible, and 1 indicates a fully-functional democracy (in Figure 3, you can see that Mongolia made a very rapid transition from 7 to 2, but took quite a while to achieve the highest score, with Taiwan struggling through its own transition in the same decades).


Saturday, 4 October 2014

One of the greatest titles in the history of peer-reviewed articles

The article doesn't live up to its title, but then, what could?




"Why Most Published Research Findings Are False."

Now just imagine if this type of analysis were applied to articles on politics, religion or (even worse!) the overlap between politics and religion… I don't think anyone even wants to measure what percentage of research findings are false in the social sciences and humanities.

Another amusing article in the same vein: Research paper publishing sting reveals lax standards.

Shout Out to Young Droog, Shout Out To Myanmar.


In an art-form defined by non-sequiturs, this one was genuinely unexpected.

The line appears in the midst of a track called Hoodie Weather (click), and no, it doesn't otherwise comment on the politics of Southeast Asia.