Welcome to Saturday's Potluck - 11-6-2021

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Pablo Picasso

While searching my bookmarks for a well hidden article found this thought provoking BBC article instead.

Psychologists are uncovering the surprising influence of geography on our reasoning, behaviour, and sense of self.

From the broad differences between East and West, to subtle variation between US states, it is becoming increasingly clear that history, geography and culture can change how we all think in subtle and surprising ways – right down to our visual perception. Our thinking may have even been shaped by the kinds of crops our ancestors used to farm, and a single river may mark the boundaries between two different cognitive styles.

Wherever we live, a greater awareness of these forces can help us all understand our own minds a little better.

‘Weird’ minds

Until recently, scientists had largely ignored the global diversity of thinking. In 2010, an influential article in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences reported that the vast majority of psychological subjects had been “western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic”, or ‘Weird’ for short. Nearly 70% were American, and most were undergraduate students hoping to gain pocket money or course credits by giving up their time to take part in these experiments.

The author is confused by Taoism and Confucianism, presenting them as similar examples of concepts of unity. In my simplified understanding Confucianism is related to ritual of maintaining social order, including family structure. Taoism is about harmonizing (balancing) individual actions and beliefs with natural patterns in the universe.

Any comments related to the Germ Theory should be completed in The Dose diary.

Another (counterintuitive) idea is that the contrasting mind-sets are an evolved response to germs. In 2008, Corey Fincher (now at the University of Warwick) and colleagues analysed global epidemiological data to show a region’s score of individualism and collectivism appear to correlate with disease prevalence: the more likely you are to get infection, the more collectivist you are, and the less individualistic. The rough idea is that collectivism, characterised by greater conformity and deference to others, may make people more conscientious about avoiding the behaviours that could spread disease. It has been difficult to prove that the apparent correlations in the real world are not caused by some other factor, such as the relative wealth of the country, but lab experiments offer some support for the idea – when psychologists prime people to feel afraid of disease, they do seem to adopt more collectivist ways of thinking, such as greater conformity to group behaviours.


David Goldman: Facing the West’s Competitors (22.29) A 2016 presentation on China and Russia discussing their nationality and spirituality in relation to being contemporary competitors with the United States. Chinese and Russia military weaponry has significantly improved and they have formed a strong working relationship in the past 5 years. Unites States not our best 5 years. (Video references STEM = science, technology, engineering, and math)

Sleepwalkers in the South China Sea by David P. Goldman this week. (I checked for a possible video of the debate and have not found)

Whether the United States should prepare for war with China – and thereby make war almost inevitable – was the matter of a verbal brawl at one of the largest gatherings of American conservatives, the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, Florida, from October 31 to November 2.

The same debate is ongoing in American opinion journals, where the war party is represented by the neo-conservatives of the American Enterprise Institute – Hal Brands, Dan Blumenthal, Gary Schmitt and Michael Mazza – and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

I was a participant in the debate. It would have been unseemly to have a polite exchange in a hotel ballroom a few miles from Disney World about the desirability of killing millions of people in a nuclear exchange. So I wasn’t polite.

Although the arguments on both sides are well known, the Orlando debate merited publication of a lengthy edited transcript, for two reasons. First, the exchange between former Trump adviser and war-hawk Michael Pillsbury on one side, and former Trump National Security Council official Michael Anton and this writer on the other, set the issues in poignant relief.

Second, the audience of conservative activists, the opinion and organizational leaders of the Republican Party, repudiated the war party by a margin of about three to one, by my informal poll of the audience.

The American right doesn’t want war with China. That doesn’t mean war won’t come. Christopher Clark’s magisterial account of the outbreak of World War I, The Sleepwalkers, recounts the intellectual corruption and grandiose irresponsibility of the statesmen who stumbled into World War I.

It’s an old story: If one side mobilizes, the other has to mobilize or be defenseless; if one side believes the other is likely to mobilize, it must do so first. Clark proved – contrary to the usual Anglophile account – that it was the Russian mobilization, urged by the French, that started the war.


A couple of actions taken this week regarding the Taiwan situation.

US Senator Josh Hawley has a plan and would like to send 3 billion dollars a year to the Republic of China for defense spending.

Hawley's Arm Taiwan Act of 2021 would appropriate $3 billion for the Department of Defense to supply Taiwan with equipment and training "to accelerate Taiwan's deployment of asymmetric defense capabilities required to deter or, if necessary, defeat an invasion by the People's Republic of China."

The annual funding will go through a new Taiwan Security Assistance Initiative for five years between 2023 and 2027, a period after Chinese leader Xi Jinping secures a likely third term, in which Taiwan's defense establishment assesses the People's Liberation Army will possess the capabilities to launch a full-scale invasion at a minimal loss.
Included in Hawley's legislation is some of the most precise language on Taiwan's defense needs, incentivizing Taipei's development in a way that might prevent otherwise limited funds from being contested by the three main services of Taiwan's armed forces.

The bill proposes specific equipment including ground-based coastal defense cruise missiles and launchers currently being developed by Taiwan, as well as naval mines and minelaying platforms—also part of Taiwan's existing push for asymmetry against the PLA.

Peoples Republic of China has made multiple legal changes over the past year to provide more options to respond to perceived foreign interference in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Might remember on the day of Biden's inauguration Jan 20 this year China placing sanctions on US citizens.

The 28 ex-officials and immediate family members would be banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao, and companies and institutions associated with them restricted from doing business with China.

China has just extended sanctions onto Taiwanese officials promoting separation.

The office named Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang, Parliament Speaker You Si-kun and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu as people who are "stubbornly pro-Taiwan independence", and made public for the first time it has drawn up a list of people who fall into this category.

China will enforce punishment on the people on the list, by not letting them enter the mainland and China's Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, said spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian in a statement on Friday.

The blacklisted people will not be allowed to cooperate with entities or people from the mainland, nor will their companies or entities who fund them be allowed to profit from the mainland, she said.

Tom Fowdy at Russian Times was the most comprehensive analysis I have read so far on the subject.
Those who betray the motherland will never end up well’: China’s stark message to Taiwan


What is on your mind today? (Responses to Covid questions and dialog to be conducted at The Dose diary)

10 users have voted.


Dawn's Meta's picture

in landforms, shows how even though the land is small every ten to fifteen kilometers, things are quite different. How villages are laid out, how people talk and think, the foods they grow and eat, historical costumes, seasonal festivals and rituals.

We have a disappearing set of sub languages here called Patois. It is an older form of Gaul and local language that is very old. Hearing older people in markets talking to one another is a trip into another world. A word here and there may be understood, but it is completely different. Until recently, local language was spoken at home even when kids went to school. Nowadays, they speak French, book French all the time.

Members of our community choir who are 'cousins' speak patois to each other.

8 users have voted.

A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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studentofearth's picture

@Dawn's Meta experiencing different micro-cultures. Even simply driving to communities separated by 20 miles (about a days travel in a horse drawn wagon) or between city neighborhoods could be a significant difference.

2 users have voted.

Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

Lookout's picture

I've taken note of northern vs southern habits. It is similar in Europe as well think Scandinavia vs Italy and Greece for example. Anyway my hypothesis is that living in northern climate requires more planning. You must have a barn, plenty of fodder, food preserved for your family and so on. Here in the south, there is some pasture most of the winter. You can always grow a patch of collards, and hunting is easier without snow and super freezing temps. In other word northern climates force forethought and planning. Southern climates less so. No wonder the Scandinavian gov'ts have it together and Italy and Greece are so haphazard. No real evidence just observation.

The US china conflict IMO is occurring at many levels for may reasons. You detail many in your excellent series on China. Much of it is otherism (they look and speak differently) but it is primarily their success makes our failure obvious. Which country has health care for all, has eliminated poverty, has a government focused on the well being of its people, is aggressively promoting war by cruising warships around the other, is a producer, is a consumer, and on and on. No China isn't perfect, but let's face it, they are doing better than the US on a multitude of levels...AND WE CAN"T HAVE THAT!

Check out the WW tomorrow for a look and climate and energy consumption in the two countries.

Thanks for the OT and hope all is well around the homestead!

8 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

studentofearth's picture

@Lookout business and government leaders over and over makes me very concerned about military competence. The idea in some circles we simply need to scare China is suicidal. Added to the idea Chinese can not innovate, so our technology is always better is even more ridiculous.

Looking forward to my Sunday morning WW read.

4 users have voted.

Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

I must mull that around in my brain before I can say i have observed it. I am sure I have in my world travels. It will take some time to think through what I have seen, heard, and experience.

2 users have voted.