Friday, May 9, 2014

Pivoting Tourists

When I first moved to our current home, I went to transfer my internet to the new place.  I was informed that since it was part of the University, that I could only get the University internet.  It was cheap!  And shitty!  Because why would an institution that fosters knowledge and learning want to have internet that allows someone to quickly access information?  It also blocks the ability to have wifi because..... I have no idea!  I was able to find a student who with his tech savvy colleagues has developed a clever hack that can provide you with wifi.  Except that it keeps failing, so they come back and do some voodoo and it works again, but slowly since it's connected to the crap system from this institute of higher learning.
For a while, the internet was tolerably OK, but lately it's been doing a Chinese imitation of 90's dial up, thus my frustration.
I do have a dongle, which connects me via a cell carrier.  It's faster, and expensive.  I'm using it now so that my head does not explode.
I just finished reading "Mao the Unknown Story", which took about a year because it is both long and depressing.  I had to put it down for long periods in order to allow myself time for my spirit to heal.  Near the end of the book I learned that Mao had coined the term "Third World".  He said that the Capitalist western countries, the ones with all the goodies, were the First World, the Soviet Union was the Second World and China was the Third World.  The term has since evolved to mean that underdeveloped countries were the Third World.  China has lots of goodies now, but they are not available yet for all the people.  Large swaths of the country are definitely Third World by today's definition.  The steam driven antiquity that is my internet falls into this category.
President Obama just made a visit to parts of Asia.  It's all part of the "Pivot to Asia" strategy.  This strategy means that America is going to use its idiot politicians to wreak the kind of havoc they have provided to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.  Obama got off to a good start in this quest for mayhem by telling Japan that the US would back them in their dispute with China over the Diayou/Sekaku Islands.  Someone should tell him that when you have a strategy that has you pivoting somewhere it might be a good idea to do some research about the place you are pivoting to, and that your research should come from a source other than CNN.  A more thorough research on this dispute can be found here.  Japan's claims are certainly questionable enough that telling Japan's right wing nationalist douche of a prime minister that you would support Japan in this situation exhibits a lack of deep thinking.  Perhaps offering to mediate this situation or encouraging the two sides to seek redress in the international courts might be a more prudent path.
Of course China is being a very bad neighbor to the Philippines and Vietnam making aggressive moves on maritime territory that has everyone pissed off and very worried.  The Philippines is liking the idea of a stronger American military presence there.  
Anyway, the President pivoted around, and hopefully didn't cause too much diplomatic damage.  With any luck, his line in the sand over the Diayou Islands is no more firm than the red line he drew for Syria's chemical weapons, otherwise that great icon of diplomatic solutions, Vladimir Putin will have to save his ass again.
Meanwhile, Baby Kim in North Korea is having a heyday executing real and imagined opponents in highly creative ways, and waving his nukes around like an ape with an AK-47, adding extra drama to an already tense region.

I'm not sure that the Pivot to Asia strategy in its present form is the best idea for easing tensions in the region. The list of American failures in meddling abroad is far longer than its successes.

The Pivot was also an attempt, at the request the US government's corporate masters, to try reach a final agreement on the very secret Trans Pacific Free Trade Agreement.  Didn't happen.  Fail.  Most likely a good thing for anyone not a corporate criminal.  
The Asian trip was a mixed bag of a few successes and some failures.  At least the President showed good judgement in one area. He was smart enough to take Air Force One to Malaysia instead of Malaysian Airlines.
And speaking of diplomacy....
Any person traveling abroad is an ambassador for their country. How one acts abroad is a reflection on your country for better or worse, so one should try to behave in a manner that shows the best side of your homeland. 
The US and China have the two biggest economies in the world. There is speculation about when China will surpass America as the number one economy.  There is another area where the US has dominated in the world, but looks to lose its leadership role to China---The World's Worst Tourists.  The US used to dominate this category.  Fat louts in gaudy clothing, talking loudly, throwing money around, oblivious to local customs, were every country's favorite tourist to hate.  However, the rapid rise in income for the Chinese along with the government loosening travel restrictions has loosed hordes of Chinese tourists around the world, bringing with them behavior, that while commonplace in China, is not quite acceptable in other places.  A quick Google search on the internet will bring up endless accounts public urinating and even defecating (mostly toddlers), spitting, nose picking, smoking wherever they want, rudely arguing with shopkeepers and hotel staff, queue cutting, littering, stealing, defacing property, being extremely loud, and generally being inconsiderate of others. Basic everyday behavior in China.  I've noticed that the most arrogant behavior here comes from the people with more money, and since they are the ones traveling, you have an even worse "diplomatic corps".
The Chinese government was alarmed enough to issue a 64 page etiquette guide to people traveling abroad.  It's an in depth effort to try to educate people who have had a lifetime of less than genteel behavior.  Good luck with that!

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