Jonathan Brun

China’s Faux Pas

China just announced that they were putting a price halt (read control) on petroleum, water, and some food products. See: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/09/business/yuan.php
This is a serious error on their part, and it will hopefully be short lived. 
The benefits are:
Temporary political stability. 
The downside:
Consumption of these resources continues to rise, putting more pressure on the local environment and eventually on the politicians. De-coupling resource prices from market prices becomes very dangerous when the resources are dangerously close to running out. 
For example, water tables in China are dropping at an astounding rate, and without strong reductions in consumption through prices (and taxes), cities will need to start importing water and people will suffer. Notably, China is so desperate for water that they will build a Canal from the South to the North to bring water, at a tremendous financial and ecological cost.
Two options for the development of environmental regulations exist:
1 People only start to ‘sacrifice’ quick wealth for the environment when they have enough wealth to live well (and other ways of making money). It is thus in our global interest for societies to become wealthy so that they become more environmentally friendly. 
2 The other path towards environmentalism is when the price point of resources (set by the market of government) forces society to adapt. If we interfere with the price-point in negative fashion such as making gasoline artificially cheap, then we are retarding resource efficiency improvements.
By artificially reducing the price of resources, you are slowing down the progressive evolution of Chinese society towards environmental sustainability. And how long can you hold back 1.3 billion people?
Published on January 9, 2008

Great Goals, Great Peril

Video of JFK Above Found Here

The Great goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him home safely was born out of fear, but gave America its wings to overcome the Soviet Union.

Great article in the NY Times

Since Apollo 11, the missions to space have been of ever decreasing glory. Though notable in the scientific achievement, they fail to grasp the world and make us look, uin unison, towards the heavens and say “We can”.

The sad state of the United States foreign policy will likely drain prestige from their empire, resources from their nation and put pressure on their debt and currency. The catalyst with may possibly re-awaken America is the successful lunar mission by one of the three nations who have announced suich plans: China, India and Japan – all by 2020.

Just as September 11th woke America up to the Islamic world, space exploration by another nation will wake America from their descent into complacency, lack of investment in non-military technology and political apathy.

You need a very powerful electric prod to move a cow.

Published on September 25, 2007

Women, China, and The Male Superiority Complex

I am by no means a player or ladies man. That being said, I have met my fair share of women and my time in China was somewhat of an eye opener.

First, Beijing is huge and second, Chinese girls seem not to care that much about infidelity. In general, people do not wear wedding rings and their relatio1nships are often ‘open’. It has become very common throughout Asia for women to not marry as they feel it interferes with their careers. In large cities, married couples often live in separate apartments and spend their weekends together, their weeks apart. With increased divorce rates in the west and an ever-increasing expected life-span, one has to wonder about the relevance of marriage or monogamy in our modern world.

In our globalized, industrialized and commercialized world – we come into contact with more information, products and people than ever before. As an individual, I have met more people from different backgrounds than my parents or their parents or their parents before them.

This increase in social meetings should mathematically lead to more sexual meetings. Globally, the average person has 3.5 sexual partners in their lifetime, this statistic is more elevated in the industrialized world and even more so in urban centers. Short of the obvious disease argument, what is fundamentally wrong with having more relationships?

One could argue this behavior is morally wrong and god may indeed send me to hell. Yet, morals are simply rules set down to help guide an individual through the trials and tribulations of life. In reality, they are more of a guide than a strict ‘rule’. As long as you do no harm onto others – what is wrong with your actions? Perhaps I am young, untainted by love and simply acting on primal animal instincts; not unlike a child. In the film Wedding Crashers the main character states, “One day we will look back on all this and say, we were young and stupid” and contrary to Vince and Owen (the actors in the film), I am young.

It does not feel that bad misleading girls about my age, 28 or 25 depending on circumstance; though untrue, their hesitance to engage is based on a false social constraint – so the lie is really to their benefit. While that logic may indeed be tenuous, the scariest thing about male-female relationships is the conquest aspect.

Men tend to regard getting laid as an accomplishment, akin to a good grade at school. It is an ego booster and a way of demonstrating their manliness. In many instances, the conquest of a night out on the town is more rewarding than the actual sex, which tends to be mediocre with any first time partner. Truthfully, with the right pick-up techniques, nearly any girl is obtainable. Seminars and books concerning the pursuit of carnal pleasure are easily accessible; techniques such as Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis and associative behavior have been molded into guides to pick-up women.
Online forums (such as The Lay Guide discuss techniques, successes and failure. This modern devotion to conquering the opposite sex is perhaps the clearest demonstration of the male’s primal need to sleep with women, regardless of ‘love’. The recent book The Game, lays out techniques and societies devoted to picking up women and dealing with various situations. Yet, the conclusion of the book falls into line with the old adage of love persevering over the hollow existence of bachelorhood.

At my high school, my Athletics director had a stone on his desk with the saying “Winners Never Quit and Quitters Never Win”. Besides the fact that may be really cheesy and rhetorical, it is pretty damn accurate. In China or other non-western countries, this applies even more so. Not so much because the Chinese are inherently promiscuous – rather it is the increased confidence of foreigners. Most westerners obtain an air of superiority upon their arrival – they are more experienced, wealthier and worldlier than the vast majority of the local population.

These characteristics make the men much more confident in their abilities and their lack of integration with the local society dramatically reduces their concern for rejection or failure with local women. I have met numerous foreigners who claim to not be able to meet locals, they are no less wealthy or western – they simply do not extract that air of confidence from their relative (yet false) superiority. Let me make it clear: this colonial white-man-knows-all-attitude is disgusting; completely wrong and more harmful than most people tend to think. Yet, this confidence is what distinguishes the alpha males from the pack.

The book Confession of an Economic Hitman is the biography of an individual with very little economic background. He rose quickly to the top of the pack by delivering his presentations and reports with all the confidence in the world. Veteran economists and bankers would eventually accept his conclusions, though loosely based, because of his level of confidence.

On same level, many women enjoy a man who is cocky, arrogant and full of himself – all superficial demonstrations of confidence. Someone who is confident, relates to our basic desire of being told what to do, how to do it and when to do it. The degrees of confidence are of course varied and over-confidence can destroy someone. However, it is usually, though not always, the confident who rise to the top; they really are form of social father figure.

Our social drowning of information, products and people is part of the reason America has leaned towards one-liners and tough talking leaders such as George W. Unfortunately, the modern corporate machine has killed the feminist movement by introducing bootie shaking hoes, gangsta pimps, and male athlete superstars. Just as a society yearns for stability and guidance, so do many women. The few places where woman take a more prominent role in society are outside North America – Asia primarily, Continental Western Europe, and Africa. In many ways, the future of Africa seems to lie with the women; the men have been unable to reform their societies and crime continiues to plague their countries. The women, on the other hand, have been at the centre of most of the positive community work. Similarly, in Asia, the women play a central role in the workplace and are less pone to fall into the submissive role.

A woman who does not have a strong desire to be independent as the centre of her personal values is of no interest to me. Someone who cannot intellectually stand on their own two feet is going to be no more than a passing pretty face.

One of the original posts that put me on this subject is a thread on SinoSplice about Chinese-Western relationships and the accompanying social views: Sinosplice Post

Here is the comment I posted in relation to the above-mentioned article:

Ummm… Well I think that first post is a little over the top. Most of these women are just trying to escape their horrible situations, and if that means getting with some old dude then that’s what they do. I am not saying it is right or wrong, but rather inevitable. And the idea that they cannot love each other is a little silly. You definitely get mixed responses from the local population when they see a white man (regardless of age) with a Chinese girl. Certainly, an old white dude with a young girl elicits more stares. But there is not shortage of people trying to set me up with Chinese girls. That being said, the chinese girls that I do see are not interested in money or a visa. When I first got to China, I thought that would be the case, but in the case of the
young chinese girl – white guy situation; I genuinely feel that the chinese girl prefers the white dude because of various things that are more prevalent in western culture. I have had so many chinese girls tell me they really do not like chinese guys and would love to be with a foreigner. 

This country has much bigger problems than old white men picking up young women. Concentrate on human rights, environmental issues and distribution of wealth rather than on issues that feed your nationalistic fever – which will eventually destroy this place, just as it did to Germany, USSR, …

Cool Blog, keep up the good work.

I think my comment was a general overview of my findings. To break it down in a more organized manner, people typically view Chinese girls with white men as girls who want one of the following:

1. A Visa/Passport
2. Money
3. Status

While this is pretty true when you see an old white man with a young Chinese (read under developed country) I do not feel it applies to an equal age couple. In general, the women are attracted to the foreigners confidence, his worldly experience and his association with the ‘hollywoodian’ male ideal. What is that Hollywood style and why would they be attracted to it?

Now, having read the book, The Red Queen Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley, I am event more confident that human sexual relations are precarious at best. Men conquer and women want the strongest man for their genetic superiority – even if this means marrying someone less strong for the benefits of child rearing and then cheating on them with someone more powerful (read rich) or good looking (read hot).

The peacock theory is well explained and can be extrapolated to why the type of girls that are found attractive today are. The peacocks that are coveted are the ones with the brightest feathers, longest tales and most elaborate bodies. All of these characteristics are detrimental to their survival in the wild – they slow them down and make them more visible to predators. So why would female peacocks want such features for their offspring?

Simply put, they want these bright feathers for their offspring because they see other females are attracted to these features. Thus, if their kids do not have long tails and bright feathers, the future generation of females will not chase after their sons. There are other theories that add onto this logic, but it does have some merit towards explaining why gangsta pimps are in style and why trends catch on.

The argument goes further to say that all our actions, down to our platonic relationships are demonstrations of our genes desire to propagate with as many people as possible. Yet, while at the same time ensuring that the genes are not propagated in vain and that the children go on to live successful dominant lives. There is no point in trying to summarize the book, its innumerable examples and brilliant conjectures – best that you take a look at it yourself.

So, it is your genes that push you towards promiscuity and dominance – don’t fight it.

Published on December 7, 2006

Chinese Labour Laws and EU Chemicals

The EU is looking to pass new regulations regarding the approvals of chemicals. New chemical regulations for the European Union would essentially force companies to prove that their chemicals are not harmful, rather than the government having to prove that they are harmful. This is logical as it will indirectly increase the price of products made with hazardous materials because the companies will have to spend more on approvals and lawyers.

The law will favour people who can create products using non-hazardous, natural substances. As much as we bash the EU in North America, these laws show that perhaps they are thinking a little more than us and they have the courage to stand up to the lobbies.

The relevant article is found here: Click Here

China, like many other developing countries, has an exploited workforce and large differences in wealth. However, China has two things most developing nations don’t, size and power. They are going to pass new labour laws that will help many people who are working in hazardous and under-paid situations. Though this is not the silver bullet, it is an important step to helping the poor and bringing more balance to the system. Surprise, surprise, American companies are leading the charge against this new regulation. Apparently, 25 cents per hour is too much to pay for labour costs. It is unlikely that they will succeed in shifting the Chinese government, who has become very powerful.

The president, Hu JinTao has also recently consolidated his power by removing business friendly (read money-friendly/corrupt) officials who were very high up in the party. This consolidation of power allows the president and his following to pursue some of their interests such as environment, social balance, and welfare. This may sound a little dreamy-tears-in-your-eyes for the leader of a “communist” nation; but the reality is that without these improvements in social welfare, the government would lose legitimacy in the eyes of the 1.1 billion poor Chinese and there would be serious risk of large general social unrest. China is looking towards its future, not just that of middle class westerners.

The article concerning the labour laws can be found here: Click Here

The article concerning the consilidation of power can be found here: Click Here

Published on October 13, 2006

Apartments in China

Interesting new law in China that was just brought to my attention: All new housing has to have 70% devoted to apartments no larger than 90 sqm or 1000 ft. Click Here

Published on August 17, 2006