–Whiz Chimps Outsmart College Students – New study shows that young chimps have superior memories to adult chimps and humans. It is believed that as a primate (including us) grows older there is a trade off in detailed memory for a greater capacity abstraction/symbolism. Human children were not tested, but I believe it is logical to assume, the human drop off is sharper than the Chimp because of our far greater capacity for abstract thinking. So does this mean that people with photographic memories are closer to chimps (lacking the ability to think highly in abstraction)? I would guess, on average, they have normal or above average abstract reasoning, but have also turned on more ancestral genes for memory; or it could be that these people have some type of newly evolved ability that reorganizes the brain far differently from Chimps, but with similar results for memory. Fascinating.
–South Korean presidential candidate cleared of charges – Update on the S.Korean election. The front runner, Lee Myung Bak has been cleared of all charges. More on this here.
–The coming China crash – Another prediction of Chinese pending Chinese economic doom, think I heard this before. This person makes a much stronger argument IMO. Are there any counter arguments out there? I would like to hear them before I weigh in. What would happen, if China tightened banking loan regulation and let the real value of the current debt naturally reduce over time due to inflation?
–Rui Chenggang On Japan – I came across an excellent essay last night, by a Chinese national who visited Japan, and his views on the Sino-Japanese relationship. For the Chinese version click here. I want to share this passage, below the fold:
We should ask ourselves, and also all the friends who are cursing out the Japanese: “Have you been to Japan? Do you have friends that have been to Japan?” Most of the answers will be NO. My impressions of Japan had not been good, but I examined myself. Apart from that particular piece of history, most of what I knew was hearsay. I had not been to Japan. I did not have any Japanese friends. I have not even interviewed any Japanese political figures or corporate leaders.
Consider an American. He has never been to China. He has no Chinese friends. He has only seen some unfavorable comments about China in the media and he concludes that China is bad. I definitely cannot accept that. I would say: “You have no right of speech without investigation. You know nothing about the Chinese people. How can you make such a judgment?”
But do we understand the Japanese?
Japan is a country that is closest to us but one about which we least understand. Most of our young people know much more about the European and American countries than Japan. Of course, Japan is not an easy country to understand, and there are two sides to the Japanese people. But from the viewpoint of a third person, Japan is no more difficult to understand than China. The problem is not that Japan cannot be understood. Instead, the issue is whether we are willing to try to understand. (Ruth Benedict’s
and Lai Xiao’er’s
are excellent books).
Those foreign friends who have visited China told me almost without exception that China was more splendid and better than they imagined. A trip to China often corrected their bad or mistaken ideas through reading too many novels. If you genuinely want to know Japan, a trip to Japan can often change many things. With this purpose, I went to visit Japan and it changed many of my previous over-simplified and subjective views.
When I spoke to the students of Yale University about China, I often used the analogy of the blind men feeling the elephant to describe the misunderstanding of most Americans about China and its people, and also about the misunderstanding of the United States by the Chinese people. Often, everybody just touch some body part and then conclude that this is the whole of the elephant. They are missing the full picture. This is even true for certain American friends who have lived in China for a long time and certain Chinese friends who have settled down to live in America. They stay in certain relatively set circles and they have not attempted to understand the country in a multi-dimensional way. Therefore, they insist on holding certain biased views based upon their personal experiences.
Such is the relationship between China and Japan. I frequently hear some Chinese people who had lived in Japan denouncing the various bad things about the Japanese people. After listening to them, I often have some anti-Japanese sentiments too. But then I think about the fact if these people were living in China, they would also have a long list of complaints against the Chinese people. I also know many Chinese people who are successful in Japan, including some Chinese people who dominate and bully Japanese people in Japan to the point that I even find it unbearable to watch.