Saturday, August 10, 2002

The counter-reaction to pan-Asian identity

In S. Korea, the official loosening of restrictions against cultural imports from Japan signalled a shift in official attitudes towards Japan, even if it made no impact on the lives of the internet-addicted youth, who could already download Japanese MP3s, TV series, and anime quite freely. Korea's concerns were based on the fact that their rich, large southern neighbor might come to culturally dominate them, a reasonable fear given historical precendent.

But China, a country of 1.3 billion, is going the opposite direction from Korea - they are increasing restrictions on cultural imports from the rest of Asia, specifically from Taiwan, their neighbor of 23 million people, as this CNN article points out:

Taiwan pop culture has permeated China since the world's most populous nation opened up in the late 1970s. But China's cultural mandarins remain on guard against what they call "peaceful evolution" -- the gradual undermining of communism by Western cultural, commercial and ideological values ... "They are convinced there was a direct relationship between pop culture and the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe," Hou [Dejian, a Taiwanese singer who defected to the mainland in 1983], now 45, added.

But it's not just about an entrenched elite hoping to maintain their grip on the youth, as this Asia Times article from about two months ago points out:

The topsy-turvy love stories of Taiwanese youngsters in an elite high school, where the girls flash Gucci bags while the boys drive gleaming BMWs, have provoked a storm of angry letters from parents throughout mainland China (emphasis mine). That forced the communist censors to step in and ban the program.

Censorship through popular support. Interestingly, there's nothing near this level of opposition to the Korean cultural invasion which has been going on for years, unnoticed, first among the ethnic Korean minority, and then among youth at large. Most of the anti-Japan sentiment driving this support for censorship seems to be coming from the generation which came of age after the Cultural Revolution.

Adapted from manga or Japanese comics, christened Hana Yori Dango (meaning "Boys Prettier Than Flowers") and made in Taiwan, Meteor Garden is also disliked by some educators for the "cultural imperialism" it brings to China. "It is enough that our children watch Japanese cartoons all day long, but now even the teenagers are mad about Japanese pop culture," says a teacher of Chinese language at the Beijing Economics and Trade University, who gave her name as Liu.

I'm not sure how widespread such anti-Japan attitudes are among youth. I do have a friend graduated from prestigious Qinghua University in Beijing who, in her own words, "hates" Japanese people, to the extent that she refuses to sit next to Japanese tourists on public transportation and berated me for choosing to study Japanese in university. Then again, she's kinda crazy in other ways too, and as this survey pointed out, the Japan craze among mainland youth is still growing, and the number of mainland students learning Japanese continues to increase as well, though at a lower rate than the world average. It's a very ambiguous relationship.

No language necessary, they have other ways to communicate

International Herald-Tribune runs an article about a middle-aged Japanese man who married a Chinese woman he met on the Internet through an international introductions agency. Oddly enough, the two have no common language.

The couple communicate through fragmentary sentences and written phrases using the Chinese characters their languages share.

I wonder if Asian-American activists will decry their marriage as an example of a rich patriarch using his wealth to snare a poor, submissive Asian bride who only serves him as the perfect bride because the alternative is poverty at home, or uphold their marriage as an example of Asian unity and use it to promote more joint political action in America between Koreans and Bangladeshis.

In any case, it's an interesting story, but the author feels compelled to tie it in with the idea that Japan is becoming extensively internationalized at a personal level --- that people are coming into close personal interaction with obvious foreigners, and that this is the only way which Japan can become a modern nation.

Already, 1 in 10 Japanese marriages in Tokyo involves a foreigner.

This figure is perfectly achievable if you count as "foreigners" people such as zainichi (resident Koreans) and 3rd-generation kids whose Japanese imperial subject grandparents came for work or university studies 60 years ago, even though most of them are entirely Japanese in outlook, upbringing, and language.

For a country whose population is expected to decline by 20 percent over the next 50 years, many specialists say, overcoming prejudices against foreigners and opening the doors to immigration are rapidly becoming matters of national survival.

An interesting idea, but wildly speculative. Most people would say easily reversible policy changes are a better idea in the short run. There's a very simple method which may very effectively raise the abnormally low Japanese birthrate: drop all agricultural tariffs. This helps out poor African and Asian nations whose mostly rural citizens are eager to grab onto the first rung of the ladder of economic development, but have no market for the only things they know how to produce. As a pleasant side effect, it drives rice farmers in Japan to be more efficient with the land they have, and sell what they don't need to property developers, who could use it to build housing for one of the densest urban populations in the world. Maybe once conditions aren't so cramped people will have more children.

And even if it fails, at least you can reestablish tariffs. Deporting or assimilating children of culturally-distant immigrants is harder, especially once they reach a critical mass. Of course, given that most immigrants to Japan would probably come from China or Korea, and thus have fairly easy time adapting to the culture and learning the language, as well as not being likely to experience discrimination based on appearance, it's not clear that this is a problem. However, it is probably desirable to conduct deeper analysis than "Japan's population is shrinking. They must be replaced by foreigners."

Foreign Languages in Japan

The Daily Yomiuri writes about Korean language teachers in Japan, and compares the extent of Asian language study in Japan and in Korea.

In Japan ... only about 4,590 students at 163 high schools were studying Korean as of July 1 last year, according to the Education, Science and Technology Ministry. It was the fourth-ranked foreign language, following English, Chinese (about 17,850 students at 424 schools) and French (about 8,620 students at 215 schools).

However, in general the interest in foreign languages in Japan seems quite low, as demonstrated by their TOEFL scores, which are among the lowest in Asia and rank behind all of their former colonies in which they so aggressively promoted the Japanese language in the earlier half of the 20th century.

The number of Japanese high school students studying Korean is growing, although it is still small compared with the number of South Korean high school students studying Japanese. Last year, about 555,000 South Korean high school students were studying Japanese*, or about 30 percent of all high school students in South Korea, according to the Japan Foundation, a government-affiliated organization that promotes the teaching of Japanese language overseas. Many of the students in South Korea took Japanese as their mandatory second foreign language after English.

(* I've seen figures as high as 945,000 quoted elsewhere, as in this LONG article about the Japanese culture boom in Asia.)

Those who believe the myth that whenever two foreigners of differing nationalities meet, they use English, take note. Andrew Horvat of Simon Fraser University has written about this phenomenon to some extent. Though English may remain the lingua franca of business and science, many members of the young generation in Asia no longer see it as a particularly cool and fashionable language, as they once did in the 60s when Coca-Cola and blue jeans took over the world. Many are more familiar with the process of learning a language than the average American youth, so picking up a third language as a fashion accessory isn't as hard.

When I strike up conversations with Korean or Thai tourists, especially outside of America, it usually turns out that our best common language is Japanese, regardless of age, and usually despite years of English study. It may turn out that English is a relatively poor choice as a lingua franca in many parts of the world, if only due to the linguistic (and cultural) distance between local languages and English. However, we're probably stuck with it for a while.

Leisure Activities of Asian Youth

While doing research today I ran across an interesting private survey on various habits of Asian youth, including penetration of Japanese pop culture. Interesting quote:

In interviews conducted throughout this region, we learned that the [Japan] boom has passed its peak. The current in-thing is Korean pop culture, with Korean manufacturers correspondingly gaining popularity among young people ... Japan and Korea are likely to become friendly rivals for leadership of the rest of Asia in both manufacturing and entertainment terms.

Korea has a lot of catching up left to do if they want to maintain their prominence as an exporter of culture. But they may be more inclined to look inward rather than outward, as they seem to be making the transition away from an export-oriented economy - notably, domestic consumer spending is becoming a much more important portion of GDP. Korea, unlike Japan, never had an empire in which its language became the one of government and social prestige, and doesn't possess any strong institutions for promoting the study of its language in overseas countries.

On another note, many Asian-Americans cite karaoke as a defining aspect of pan-Asian culture. Someone usually raises the objection that this phenomenon is limited to East Asians and not South Asians, but what no one seems to realize is that karaoke is also losing popularity in South Korea and Japan, and these days appears to be an exclusively Chinese phenomenon: only 3.5% of young people in Seoul (where they spend most of their time on the computer) and 2.0% in 2 major Japanese cities, probably Osaka and Tokyo (where they pass the time watching TV or listening to music or the radio) claimed it as one of their favorite leisure-time activities, as compared to 25.0% of youth in Taipei, 17.9% in Hong Kong, and 20.9% in Shanghai.

J-pop songs feature in the karaoke lineup, with some young people stating they are studying Japanese in order to be able to sing karaoke songs in Japanese.

However, that's probably not a widespread reason for studying Japanese, because the Japanese music videos in most Chinese karaoke boxes in Hong Kong and the mainland (I'm not sure about Taiwan) are subtitled in Roman letters, sometimes with the spelling conventions of Chinese pinyin rather than the Japanese Ministry of Education, just to make things really easy. Actually that was something of a shock to me the first time I went to karaoke in the US, as a high school student --- karaoke boxes in the US actuall had the original Japanese videos, so the subtitled lyrics were in Japanese, rather than the Roman alphabet. This threw a small wrench into my plans to impress everyone with my linguistic versatility, at least until I got to university and had the opportunity to study Japanese.

Asian youth culture and Japan

Right now I'm working on a bunch of stuff on attitudes of Asian youth towards Japan. To start you off with some background, here's a quick comparison of the popularity of English and Japanese in Asian countries, based on Japanese Language Proficiency Test (2000 statistics here) and Test of English as a Foreign Language:

Country TOEFL All JLPT JLPT Levels 1/2
20012000Percent increase 20012000Percent increase 20012000Percent increase
S. Korea5031118839167.06%54729517085.84%313632803611.87%

Some of the TOEFL growth statistics between 2000-2001 are attributable to a rebound effect, and the large numbers in general may also be because a single individual can sit multiple occasions of the TOEFL in one year, whereas the JLPT is offered only once a year. Regardless, English has a pretty commanding lead over Japanese, especially when you consider that the TOEFL examinees on average have a much higher skill level in English than JLPT examinees have in Japanese --- though the two groups should be about matched in ability if you remove the JLPT Level 3 and 4 examinees (most of whom only studied Japanese for 1-2 years).

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Public Bilingualism Watch --- Voting

Chicago Sun-Times reports that voters in Cook county will be provided with Chinese-language ballots and instructional materials during the next election cycle. Thanks to YellowWorld for the link. But there's several things which worry me. Material concerns at the beginning, factual concerns towards the end:

Officials from Cook County and the Chicago election boards will get together this week with local Chinese leaders to determine the best way to meet the federal government's demands and which precincts will get the ballots.

"Local Chinese leaders?" What, did someone elect them in a Chinese-people-only election? I tend to doubt that these people represent a wide range of interests in the Chinese community. When they say "Chinese leaders," they mean whoever is loud and in favor with the members of the Elections Board. Forgive me for having a certain distrust for the squeakiest wheels to whom the politicians have chosen to provide oil. Why aren't they simply holding a public meeting instead?

More than 220 jurisdictions throughout the country must provide election materials in Spanish, more than 100 will have to provide access to elections to American Indians and Alaskan natives in the appropriate language, and more than 15 jurisdictions are required to provide access to their elections for Asian Americans. (emphasis mine)

The phrasing in the latter half of this paragraph is an absolutely unnecessary scare tactic. "Required to provide access" --- does the author mean to imply that without the restraining hand of the federal government, these jurisdictions would be promoting New Jim Crow in the year 2002 and refusing people the right to vote based on their race? If you support the power of the federal government over local government, come out and say it, but don't distort facts like this. Contrary to the hidden message here, there are Asian-Americans out there who speak English as the mother tongue and don't need language assistance.

There was some concern about what language the ballots should be written in, but although there are many languages in China there is only one alphabet.

Aside from standard written Chinese, what other languages of China were the officials of Cook County considering writing the ballots in? Manchu? Uighur? Naxi? Or were they planning to write in dialect, like low-brow Hong Kong newspapers do? Hey, they had Creole ballots in New York, you never know what could happen.

The Chinese ballot will also help some of the area's Vietnamese speakers because the written language is somewhat similar, [Esther] Wong [, executive director of the Chinese American Service League] said.

I intend to do some further research on this claim. As I understand it Vietnam stopped writting in Chinese-derived script and switched over to romanization decades ago, before most of the present generation of adults got their education. So I'd imagine the only people from Vietnam still literate in Chinese are, well, Vietnam-born Chinese people. So this statement seems a bit misleading.

Late update on this claim: The Vietnamese Nom Preservation Foundation claims that there are only about 30 people left in the whole world who read Chu Nom, the version of Vietnamese script written in Chinese characters. As I expected, all the allegedly Vietnamese people who can read Chinese are actually just ethnic Chinese, and so Ms. Wong was either misquoted, or was being deliberately misleading about the cross-cultural benefits of her bilingual ballots.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Public Bilingualism Watch --- Education

VDARE posts a letter observing that this NYT article, "Wave of Pupils Lacking English Strains Schools," about which I posted earlier, made the NYT's list of Top 25 Most Emailed Articles yesterday, apparently through the efforts of readers from Australia.

Update: Yes, bilingual ed teachers aren't the only thing they seem to short of in rural areas. But the apparent shortage of bilingual teachers is probably due to artificially inflated demand --- the government isn't making anyone go to the dentist.

Asian Cliquishness - the mathematical perspective

In response to my earlier article on the Asian-American attitude towards assimilation, a reader complains about cliquishness among Asian-American students, especially in universities. He would like to blame this all on the multiculturalists in the university administration who approve funding for ethnically-based student societies, and on the students for having been brainwashed to believe that whites would show racism against Asians when in fact they would not. But there's a more commonsense explanation than that - the average Asian frosh is far more likely than the average white frosh to have friends also entering the same university in the same year, because the Asian population clusters in metropolitan areas and in upper-tier high schools. Thus, an Asian frosh can build his social network faster, because he knows more people, and thus gets more introductions more quickly.

Why can't white people just as effectively take advantage of this networking phenomenon by introducing themselves to an Asian and thus joining the network? Trust. At first sight, people are more likely to trust those who look like them, and thus to do favors --- such as introducing a trusted individual to other acquaintances --- without expecting immediate reciprocation. Asian people look more like each other than they look like white people, so statistically speaking, an Asian is more willing to help out a fellow Asian meeting people than he would be to help out a white person.

Because I'm in a mathematical (read: nerdy) mood today, and a friend wants to learn more about graph algorithms, I'm working on a much more detailed explanation of this using weighted graphs, both for fun and to provide an easy introduction to graph theory for people who have trouble with it. Stay tuned.

Falun Gong Spam

Is anyone else having a problem with this? My personal e-mail address is hosted on a server based in Hong Kong (because they give me 25 mb of space for free, and my digital-camera-owning friends enjoy bombarding me weekly with 4mb emails of pictures they took when they went clubbing or to the beach on the weekend), and I've been getting at least 2 messages a day about how great Falun Gong is, mostly coming from Canadians. It's getting on my nerves, and apparently other people's nerves too. I just got off ICQ chatting with a friend/fellow researcher in HK who complains his departmental email address is becoming unusable --- Falun Gong is one of the primary offenders.

So I have to ask if anyone knows: are these actual Falun Gong supporters sending out all this spam? I wouldn't put it past them, as they can be quite audacious. John Derbyshire, among others, has also written of the zeal of some members (scroll down to about the middle, to "Falun Gong - a True Story") in spreading their message, at the expense of, for example, the opportunity to make a good impression on potential employers and coworkers. However, there's also the possibility that these emails are sent out by a mainland plant group hoping to influence public opinion to veiw Falun Gong as a complete nuisance. Either possibility wouldn't surprise me that much ...

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Eurasians and Dating

EurasianNation publishes the results of the informal dating survey conducted earlier in the summer, as well as writing up a rather optimistic analysis. Steve Sailer has often expressed his conviction that intermarriage can be an effective device for assimilating the Asian community, but the results of this (admittedly non-scientific) poll cast doubt on the ideas that mixed-race children have any less racial prejudices than the population at large, that mixed-race children can act as an effective bridge between Asian and white communities, or that mixed-race children are so enlightened they transcend the whole idea of race. Consider some of the following statistics:

  • Respondents are split about evenly between those who claim to "identify with both sides of their heritage" (46.7%) and those who identify mostly with only one side or the other (53.3%)
  • 61.8% of respondents speak little to none of any Asian language
  • 53% of respondents indicated that the ethnicity of a potential dating partner is at least a "somewhat important" consideration
  • The two highest preferences for ethnicity of future dating partners were "Eurasian" and "Other Mixed Race"; "East Asian" and "Southeast Asian" ranked behind "Latino", "Hawaiian/Pacific Islander," and "South Asian" (very few of the respondents are mixed South Asian/Caucasian).
  • 32% of respondents stated they would not date an African-American in the future
  • 59% of respondents stated they have never dated an Asian in the past; 18% stated they would not even consider dating one in the future

So on the whole, Eurasians seem biased towards either blending into the white community or forming their own community, neither of which is likely to result in a decreased social distance between whites and Asians.

Public Bilingualism Watch --- Voting

Newsday reports that due to an increase in the local Korean population from 49,088 to 63,885, Queens, NY will translate voting materials into Korean in advance of fall elections, as required by federal law:

"Many more Asian-Americans will be able to fully participate in the electoral franchise," said Glenn Magpantay, staff attorney for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Unfortunately, if those voters are not able to read English well enough to understand a ballot, they're certainly not going to be able to understand English-language newspapers, talk shows, or magazines. This means their sole source of information are the Korean-language media. That market lacks much competition, meaning that the viewpoint of the owners of any one newspaper or radio station has a disproportionate influence over the news and perspectives about which non-English speaking Koreans will actually hear.

If such voters could understand other news sources, they'd have a chance to better understand how candidates and issues would affect them individually, through seeing viewpoints presented from a variety of perspectives and aimed at a variety of demographics - investors, parents of school-age children, small business owners, etc. But there simply aren't enough Koreans for a publication aimed only at Korean small businessowners, or Korean Buddhists, or Korean libertarians, to succeed, so non-English speaking Korean-American voters are locked into a single source of information whose main purpose is to analyze the effects of current events on the Korean-American community as a whole, and appeal to the demographically average Korean-American. This reinforces a pattern of ethnic bloc voting which benefits only owners of media, who find themselves with a dangerous degree of political control over the community, and activists, who find a captive audience for whatever distorted views they would like to present.

Public Bilingualism Watch --- Education

San Jose Mercury News runs a NYT article on the increased demand for bilingual teachers:

A wave of immigrants in the past 10 years, particularly in rural areas far from traditional immigration hubs, has left school districts across the country desperately short of people qualified to teach them English, school and government officials say.

Which leads to increased pay:

Many of these districts, particularly those in rural areas with few native-born bilingual residents, are offering bonuses, loans and other incentives to teachers, and in some cases luring teachers from neighboring districts.

But how many of these teachers would actually be in demand under a free market system? The teachers referred to are mostly employed to teach the children of Latino farmhands, who comprise the vast majority of immigrants going to rural areas. Yet a majority of Latinos are actually opposed to the idea of bilingual education.

Imagine if people spending their own money, rather than state and federal mandates, decided how many bilingual teachers to hire. Those who wanted bilingual teachers for their kids could have it, without submitting to annual changes in their child's education imposed by referendum, legislation, or judicial finding by people with a tenuous connection at best to the issue at hand. Those who didn't want bilingual-ed for their kids wouldn't waste seats in bilingual-ed classes and time (their own, as well as the school's) fighting to get their kids out of them. Given that state laws artificially inflate the demand for bilingual-ed teachers, there would likely be more bilingual-ed teachers to go around, reducing perennial shortages. So who's benefitting from the present policy, exactly?

The market mitigates the tyranny of the majority, rather than exacerbating it, as is so commonly assumed.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Civil Society and Loyalty to America
(Warm welcome to hockey fans! Even the Canadians ... )

In the past, America ensured the loyalty of the children of new immigrants by peer-pressuring them into acting like Anglo-Saxons in all aspects of their lives, from social habits on upwards. In an age when European farmers and proletarians came in at the bottom and their children worked their way up, this created William Whyte's distinction between "corner boys," who cliqued with a band of co-ethnic friends and probably weren't going many places in life, and "college boys," who worked hard to rise above the low standards of their co-ethnic peers and fatalistic culture, get out of the immigrant ghetto, and earn a seat in university.

This very real distinction reinforced the message that the only path to riches in America was to abandon many of the ties which bound you to your ethnic group and the ancestral land. This ensured that most of the people who finally joined the middle class --- the large group of people to whom successful political parties must appeal --- had only distant memories of life in any other culture, and thus no real basis to call themselves anything but mainstream Americans or to consider life in any other country. When AA (Asian-American) success gained attention in the 70s and 80s, sociologists imagined them as a whole race without corner boys, achieving the American Dream because they imitated whites so effectively. They harnessed this phenomenon to send a not-so-subtle message to black and Latino corner boys: act more white and maybe you can get out of the 'hood too.

However, they didn't seem to imagine the extent to which AAs would question the value of that assimilation in achieving success and in fact fight against it. There may never have been a distinction between our corner boys and our college boys. Among AAs, having a network of co-ethnic friends is associated with higher academic outcomes, so rather than encouraging each other into delinquency and crime, high shared standards (in many cases higher than those of whites) pressure whole bands of AA friends into a diploma and college --- 74% among AAs ages 20-24 are attending college, attended before dropping out, or hold a qualification of Associate Degree or higher, as compared to 60% of non-Hispanic whites. Imitating WASPs wasn't necessarily part of the path to success, and many immigrant parents fear that encouraging their children to imitate WASPs would lead them to become the type seen on the Jerry Springer show, rather than the type who led corporations and made revolutionary scientific discoveries. Asian-Americans are succeeding on all the traditional measures of assimilation --- education, income, home ownership --- not necessarily because of assimilation, but because, in the past, those measures were positively correlated with Americanization, and so were mistaken as signs of it. How much of Asian success is attributable to genetic factors, and how much to a culture which pushes us and causes us to push each other upwards and which would be lost if we assimilated?

Not many AAs these days possess a proficient command of the ancestral languages. Though many can hold up at least basic conversation, most are illiterate - it's surprising when one knows enough even to read the subtitled lyrics on a karaoke video or find a dish on a menu. But as rare as it is to find an AA fluent in Korean or Chinese, it's yet rarer to find one happy or even indifferent about this ability gap. Most wish they could do something about it, either for themselves or their children --- they don't want to become incapable of functioning in the mainstream, but rather hope to pass on their ancestral languages and customs in addition to English and the social skills needed to succeed in the US.

The market responds to the wishes of people with money to spare, unless prohibited by legislative or judicial fiat. English-language publications aimed at AAs advertise karaoke boxes and Asian nights at clubs. The de-facto conversion of student exchange programs with Asian universities into home-return programs for young AAs frustrates the ambitions of administrators at Yonsei in S. Korea and Chinese University of Hong Kong, who hoped to see their programs attract a more ethnically diverse bunch to aid in the internationalization of Asian universities. There's also the growth of churches aimed at AAs. Dual-immersion schools, teaching subjects like Math, History, and Biology, half the time in English and half an Asian language (mostly Chinese or Korean), have been another important result of the AA (and immigrant) desire to reverse the tide of assimilation, slowly but surely expanding.

Godless Capitalist believes:

[Y]ou should be happy that Asians are coming to the US to make it stronger. If they want to bring their culture with them - meaning their thousand-year old traditions of food and language and custom - I think it is harmless to accomodate them.

I don't think it's so entirely harmless. I submit that the United States really would have no idea how to deal with the situation if Asians in America end up as a self-perpetuating, mostly endogamous community speaking both English and the ancestral languages fairly fluently, especially a community perceived to be more successful than the mainstream. We, like most countries in the world, have enough trouble dealing with somewhat exogamous communities less successful than the mainstream.

As I pointed out above, America relies on immigrants and their children giving up their ancestral cultures as the primary method of ensuring patriotism. But many Asian-Americans actively reject that cultural assimilation. If a bilingual school system gets going, experience suggests that the two methods all governments have to promote assimilation to a majority culture while respecting individual liberty --- immigration cutoffs and monolingualism in government services --- become useless. Look at Quebec or Malaysia. Then to promote assimilation, you have to rely on rather non-libertarian methods --- the Thai government mandating intermarriage and attendance at government schools for their Chinese minority, the Indonesian government forbidding public celebration of the Lunar New Year, the Maine government outlawing French language in private schools, etc. So the US would need to find alternate methods of ensuring the patriotism of cultural minorities, or encroach on their rights of free association in order to get them acting, thinking, and talking like the rest of the citizens.

Would a self-perpetuating Asian cultural community in America of the type mentioned above be as fully patriotic as any other Americans? It's a prickly question - most AAs take great offense at the suggestion that they are somehow less patriotic than blacks and whites. But consider what has been going on quietly in the entertainment industry for some years now: Asia offers better opportunities to young Asian-Americans than Hollywood, at least to those who can function in Asian culture. This inspires some AAs to consider that their future might lie in Taiwan or Korea rather than their native USA, and influences the dreams of even five and six year olds who have no serious conceptions of a career path but see big stars who are just like them.

In plenty of other fields, AAs run into a glass ceiling imposed either by their style of socialization with colleagues or the strict probabilities in their genes --- the corporate world, academia, professional sports. What happens if, along with economic growth in Asia, more bilingual AAs perceive that their chances for success are better in Asia than in the US, and from a young age start to seriously prepare for emigration? The answer probably wouldn't be wholesale disloyalty and a whole generation of spies for China, but nor would it be a generation of wholesale patriots committed to preserving America at any cost, if only for the simple reason that even if America goes under, they have a back-up plan not available to most other citizens.

Plenty of long, hard questions, and not many answers.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Godless Capitalist lays the smackdown on my previous rant about immigrant assimilation in America, which has resulted in more hits than I've ever got since I started measuring traffic at about 1AM yesterday, all of them coming from Gene Expression and Steve Sailer, and none of them from the Asian-oriented bulletin boards where I unobtrusively (and apparently, ineffectively) advertise this site by linking to it from my posts. I'll respond soon.

Who Invented Popsicles?

In lighter news, Christian Science Monitor writes an article about what to eat to keep cool in the summer, and points out that Chinese people invented most of those foods:

Frank Epperson had left a cup of fruit-flavored punch outside on the porch. The punch, made from water and powder mixed together, still had the stirring stick in it. The next morning, after an especially cold night, Frank found his drink frozen to the stick - and it tasted good! In 1923, Mr. Epperson patented his concoction and called it the "Epsicle ice pop." His children later renamed it the Popsicle. (Epperson may have gotten a patent, but the ancient Chinese probably beat him to the invention. They were the first to make treats out of fruit juice and snow - about the same time they made "ice cream" out of milk, rice, and snow).

My people's longstanding disregard for intellectual property rights notwithstanding, I'd love to retroactively challenge Mr. Epperson's patent and take all his profits - it was likely one of my distant ancestors who started this whole trend, since my surname Lien (spelled Ling by just about all other Chinese people, except that my family are a bunch of hicks who have trouble pronouncing syllable-ending consonants in the backs of their throats) originated as the title of officials responsible for the storage of ice and snow in the imperial household. Any others from the Ling family wanna join me in court?

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