Sunday, October 9, 2011

Problem of Chinese "Militarism"

Those of you who read FT might remember special analysis on 29th of September titled "A show of Force". The analysis provided snapshot of ongoing changes (positive or not) within the China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). China has indeed staged some genuine "show of force" in recent years such as embarrassing Robert Gates by testing their new stealth jet on the day of his visit or showing off their newly refurbished aircraft carrier. For many Americans and those brought up in the age of American hegemony in Asia-Pacific may feel very uncomfortable to hear such news, but then I couldn't help wonder actually where, when and how all this started in the first place. So did some personal research.

The recent changes in PLA could be seen as part of so-called 'militarism', a type of assertive nationalism policy backed by military. The concept of militarism was first introduced to Chinese audiences in the early 20th century by relatively unknown Japan-educated Chinese scholar called Liang Qichao. Liang Qichao
(Liang QiChao: Not Happy at all....)

In his book "Explanation and Glossary of China's Bushido Spirit" published in 1904, he openly declares that purpose of this book is to attempt to emphasis the importance of militarism thinking in history in response to continuous weakening of China. He believed that hundred years of Chinese culture which favoured "scholar-bureaucrats" over "warlords" have undermined the competitiveness mindset of Chinese people and hence why Qing Empire is declining. On that tangent, he argues that the reason for Japanese success lies in their Bushido spirit - fight till death, survival of fittest and life as warrior - and that Chinese should copy that.

Quite understandably, his argument was well-received by many revolutionaries of the time who wanted to create their own version of stronger China in the backdrop of falling Qing Empire. However, the problem is that, it seems like many of current Chinese Communist Party official and PLA officials have grown love with slightly more radicalised version of Liang's idea.

(to be continued)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rethinking What You Eat - Climate Change Edition

Now, we know that eating lots of red meat is not very good for your health. It is typically high in cholesterol, fat, and over all nastiness. What if I told you that red meat is also terrible for the environment? I found a great website that is working to spread awareness (and by found, I mean someone threw it up on facebook and I saw it).

Turns out that lamb, beef and cheese are pretty terrible for the environment. Why is that? Though I'm not entirely sure about lamb, I can break down beef and cheese for you, pretty easily. Cows, when they eat, they fart. That fart is unusually high in Methane (CH4) which just so happens to be a potent greenhouse gas (not to mention a very potent smell). So, while a chicken or a pig would not be contributing those gases, a cow will just keep going with the methane emissions. Additionally, cow dung also emits CH4, which doesn't help. As far as cheese goes, those cows still have to eat if they are to be milked for cheese. So that's right, you vegetarians who eat a ton of cheese aren't quite off the hook.

Now, I'm not advocating everyone drop beef and lamb, cold turkey (haha, get it?). As someone who attempted to go vegetarian and then failed within days, it is ridiculously hard. But what can we do instead? Try to cut back on the amount of red meat you're eating. Also, try to eat less cheese, pork, salmon and tuna. What does that leave you? Chicken is still a viable option and so are plenty of grains and vegetables.

If you do have the urge for a steak or some lamb (it happens), try to buy local and organic. By buying local, there are fewer emissions associated with the transportation of the meat. If you're eating imported Australian beef, versus beef from a few miles away, of course the Australian beef is going to be bad for the environment. By buying organic, you can ensure that there weren't extra emissions associated with the antibiotics that are given to cows.

Another tip? Go visit a local butcher shop. First, you know for sure that you are getting something real (especially important if you are getting ground beef) and second, you don't have to think about the emissions of packing and processing the meat. Also, you're helping out a local small business which should give you a warm fuzzy feeling, considering the economy.

So, I hope this has been informative. Visit the link I included above (or click here) if you want more information. Since I know a lot of my regular readers are going to college, think about what you're eating, both in terms of health and in terms of emissions.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Correcting Our Influences

I was on my way home from work and my state radio station was on. The discussion was on illegal immigration*. It was frustrating to listen to, not because I was often in disagreement with what the host and the callers had to say, but because all these people called in without having much knowledge of the issue at hand. They were just ranting, speaking out of hatred, and were ignorant of the various facets and levels behind this large issue. Obviously, no one person can understand all the history behind immigration in the United States, but I know for sure that most of these callers (and the host himself) were speaking largely out of their own prejudice, rather than from a well-informed basis.

This sort of thing-- people "discussing" issues without having any actual knowledge of the issue at hand-- happens way too frequently in our society. What is most disappointing to me is that people who have a large influence on others, such as celebrities and show hosts, do not take responsibility for the position they are in. This radio host is aware that he has a pretty large audience and is probably voicing his opinion with some hopes to influence his listeners' thinking. He has every right to his opinion, but when his opinion is not based on facts or research, and based mainly on his own emotional jumbo, then I get upset. He was misinforming the already quite-ignorant public. I wish that more people would research things, think about the multiple facets behind an issue, and try to understand various perspectives before forming an opinion so extreme. This is no easy task, but I hate the idea that most people argue and debate out of pure ignorance. If you're passionate about something and have a strong opinion on it, the least you could do is research it so that you know, for sure, that the opinion you hold is the one you really and truly believe in.

And maybe the everyday person hasn't the time to research. But for people who are leading discussions on such issues and are hearing the public's opinion, I think it's fair to hold them responsible for doing a little research about different perspectives. Or else those moderating will misguide those listening...because they won't have the information to correct outright false things.