Some thoughts on Chinese-Americans in relation to elite high school academic contests

Last night I was too tired to watch more of 红楼梦. I’ve now finished 4 episodes out of 50 (started a bit on the 5th one as well), which corresponds to the 9th chapter out of 120. But it wasn’t quite time for me to easily fall asleep. So it occurred to me to look up the winners of USA Math Olympiad for 2019.

https://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/pdf/usamo/2019%20USAMO%20Winners.pdf

https://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/pdf/usamo/2019%20USAMO%20Honorable%20Mentions.pdf

There they are. And then it occurred to me to look at https://aapt.org/physicsteam/2019/team.cfm and http://www.usaco.org/index.php?page=finalists19.

I couldn’t help but notice how Chinese the names were. Of the 12 USAMO winners + 7 USAMO HMs, there were 15 Chinese, 1 Korean, and 3 whites/Jews.

Of the 20 USA Physics Olympiad finalists, there were 16 Chinese, 3 Indians, 1 Jew, and of the 20 USA Computing Olympiad finalists, there were 20 Chinese, 4 whites/Jews, and 1 Indian.

And as an FYI, I know people who have been each of these three categories, in years much closer to mine, and I am familiar with what these contests are like and their content. I’ll say that the physics olympiad is the closest to actual physics. The math one is a bunch of difficult olympiad style problems some with rather “brute force” or at least not terribly elegant or mathematically substantial solutions in the inequalities and synthetic geometry categories, and the computing one is a bunch of algorithmic problems requiring some cleverness in terms of dynamic programming, greedy, graph algorithms, even a bit of computational geometry.

Then years ago, there weren’t actually this many ethnic Chinese in the names of the winners of finalists of these contests. These are mostly the kids of 70 后 (born in 1970s) STEM immigrants from mainland China who have been selected for a combination of g, conscientiousness, interest in STEM, and (shudders) also lack of patriotism/woke-ness. Most of these kids are basically uber high IQ, nerdy banana-boys, really into these contests, winning academic awards, and learning math and science. My experience has told me that very few of these kids are anything close to culturally Chinese, and I don’t expect this to have changed.

I know it’s rather politically incorrect or at least awkward in America to comment on the ethnic factor of this contest, in particular the gross Chinese overrepresentation. I’m sure many find it very annoying but are too afraid to say it openly.

Speaking of annoying, this very annoying Jew in math kept telling me about how Chinese-Americans are a high powered, how they’re smarter than the native Chinese at the far tail. That *might* be true. The best native Chinese kids of the same age might have some difficulty beating those Chinese-American kids in those finalists lists in those contests, the last few years, US has done better than China at IMO I believe. But the native Chinese have their own advantages, like heck, they actually have their own language, own culture, own country, own government, own media, own military, and in the career world, I would expect them to do better since they will have much more political support.

There is also that people I know have said that these contests select not only for far tail g but also for not very high aesthetic discernment, because those with really high aesthetic discernment would lack motivation to prep too much for the more contrived aspects of these contests. I rather agree with that point of view.

I’ve interacted substantially with people in that category. They are certainly very smart and very fast and accurate and powerful at doing stuff, solving problems. But I find many of them lacking in awareness of cultural/historical context. When I learned math and science, I found myself more naturally interested in the history and development of it than most others. So even though I interacted with those kids to a fair degree, I also kept a bit of distance from them. I now find native Chinese many nowhere near as smart IQ wise more interesting and pleasant to talk to than them. At least subconsciously, I found many of them rather misguided in many ways. For more context, I’ll reference this quote of ChinaSuperpower on Reddit.

Chinese in China don’t do any of these things you mentioned. Confucianism was abandoned by 1960s. Only AA parents use Confucianism as a tool to keep their kids docile. Chinese in China are too busy building a massive blue water navy to challenge USN and take leadership. AA sometimes have no idea what modern China is about. Chairman Mao’s army annihilated US army in Korea and that’s why USA hates him LOL. Chairman Mao then proceeded to explode multimegaton hydrogen bombs in the 1960s that ultimately led Nixon to bow down and recognize PRC as a UN security council P5. Chinese today are patriotic and even low class people have sex and get married no problems.

Meanwhile it is first generation Asian emigrants who are white worshipping. They brainwash their children to erase any chance their children might figure out how powerful China is. Their agenda is to make their daughters white mans sex toys and their sons the coolies. This is the child sacrifice they are making to please the white man who is their God deep in their hearts. It’s the deal with the devil that first generation emigrants don’t what you to know about. They just want to keep you docile with math, physics, piano and Confucianism.

AAs should take their heads out of their math and physics books and read about Chairman Mao and modern China. China is the defender of against Western hegemony. It’s a red pill though. Once you know the truth you know you are just a child sacrifice to white Gods by white worshipping first generation emigrants. Your choice whether to live in ignorance or accept reality.

So, yesterday, I had lunch with a guy who did high school in China, undergrad at top or near top US school, and was a PhD student at Harvard for a while. I asked him about Beijing vs Shanghai. He said that he doesn’t actually feel much difference. I mentioned how Beijing as the capital is more state owned enterprise while Shanghai with its colonial past is more international and foreign-invested enterprise. In particular, I spoke of how someone I know whose parents are 体制内 had said to me that in Shanghai you shouldn’t tell people that you’re from a 体制内 background. That guy replied that he didn’t really feel that way, that many people in Shanghai want to go into 体制内 as well. Then I mentioned stereotypes of Shanghainese being really snobbish and looking down on people from smaller places, with reference to someone’s saying that Hong Kongers and Shanghainese are very snobbish. That guy’s response was very interesting. It was

Do you know which group of people I find especially snobbish? Chinese-Americans.

And I was like LOL, yes they are more snobbish than Shanghainese for sure, and in a much more ridiculous/pathetic way.

He qualified to those who immigrated to America in the 80s and 90s. After all, he had some interactions with them while a student there. I said that some of the best of them were really successful in academia, professors at Princeton, Stanford, etc. He was like, “yes, but some of them are pretty nasty people,” with a few names of such people he’s had direct exposure to. I spoke of the negative qualities which characterize many among that cohort based on my observation, such as really wanting to be individually good and being afraid that others from the same group surpass them, and lacking in 骨气 and risk-taking spirit for the collective good, and just being very small-minded in general. I spoke of how this guy who did reach the top in academia in America who’s returned to China now for over a decade was an exception, how he openly challenged this super dirty anti-China dissident in the 90s, before he had tenure. The response was that there are exceptions, and that that guy, unlike most, actually returned to China eventually, giving up his rare, coveted position in the US.

I mentioned that ChinaSuperpower also thinks that way of those first generation immigrants, in a more extreme way than you do. He was like, “he’s not the only one who thinks that, many people do.” Of course, the ones who did actually become high up in a company or professor at good or great university are the very small minority. The outcomes of most of those first generation immigrants were pretty meh, with some even a bit depressing. Not to mention their kids…

Yes, most of the kids in those math, physics, and computing olympiad finalists lists will do fine or even really well later on. Even the really well must be qualified with a they won’t get any serious money or political power though. But they are the very small minority. On the other hand, the typical kid of first generation immigrant from mainland China is up for a rather sad outcome. I’ve seen plenty of such…

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More evidence for my hypothesis on South Asians vis-a-vis East Asians

Link to comment on Steve Hsu’s blog. The “my hypothesis” in the title is with reference to one of my previous blog posts. Content copy-pasted below.

https://www.imo-official.or…

In pure-visual ability, above data clearly indicated East Asian ability. Naturally they excel in STEM field.

But in silicon valley, South Asian engineers move up easily in corporate world. Advancing in corporate world is depending more on social skill than engineering skill. South Asian also display strong social skill as result of people from high density origin.

Some Chinese American engineers told me about their experience in silicon valley. They did most work while Indian colleagues seems not able to do much. But once the project is done, these Indian colleagues are fantastic at putting everybody’s work together and present to the superiors. These Indian American are natural conference presenters. Good social skill gets all credits for career advance.

Indeed, making other thinking you smart is more important than wether you are really smart in subjective world (social dependency world). This is so true for most part of world.

When objective measurement is criteria, you get totally different picture because God is judge here. Human opinion is meaningless.

 

The Brahmins

The cognitive and personality profile, and overall achievement package, of Indians as a group is a rather interestingly unbalanced one. Sometimes they do spectacular things, like discovering the infinite series for trigonometric functions of sine, cosine, tangent, and arctangent as early as the 14th century, producing a good number of real geniuses like Ramanujan and Satyendra Nath Bose, and reaching Mars orbit on its first attempt, being the first Asian nation to do so, and doing so at a small fraction of the cost expended by NASA. An IMO gold medalist I talk to once said to me that there are probably more Indians than Chinese with IQ 160+ due to very high Brahmin IQ that has stabilized (meaning regression to a stable high Brahmin mean as opposed to the low Indian mean) over millennia of inbreeding within caste. I thought maybe. Certainly, I do sometimes get the impression that Indians, at least in science, are better than Chinese at breeding the type of genius with the right combination of technical ability and scientific discernment that manages to discover radically deep and groundbreaking science in a very independent and spectacular fashion. The Chinese have produced geniuses of the highest order (or close) in science the 20th century, like Chen Ning Yang in theoretical physics and Shing-Shen Chern in pure math, with Yang-Mills and Chern classes ubiquitous now in the literature of their respective fields, which are now very intertwined. However, they did so only after much training, exposure, and reinforcement based on the whole framework of modern science developed in the West over many centuries, and ancient China, on the other hand, did not produce in pure science anything near what Indians did, a sign of lack of genius and of poor taste, both in its rare individuals and at the collective societal level. On this, I like to think that Indians are Greeks and Chinese are Romans.

In sharp contrast to China, India in practical matters has been largely a complete fuckup, or at least vastly outmatched by China. It is well known that the ancient Chinese invented gunpowder and paper-making, whereas nothing of equal direct impact came out of ancient India. In modern times, China developed nuclear weapons way faster than India did, and even before that, defeated India in a war in 1962, which, even worse for India, was entirely her fault. Economically and infrastructurally, holistically speaking, India, exemplified by its frequent power outages and accident-prone train system, could be regarded as a few decades behind China, which is further confirmed by that India’s life expectancy and infant mortality rate is, today, where China had been at 20+ years ago. Given that the two had been around the same level in 1950, India’s development has unambiguously been a complete failure.

How to explain this? On this, I recall how my Chinese friend’s mom had said that it’s not because China’s elite is smarter than India’s elite, but because China’s grassroots is smarter than India’s grassroots. This is well-confirmed by international IQ studies which tend to put China’s average IQ at around 105 and India’s around 82, which is a 1.5 sigma difference. So even if India’s +3 sigma is as smart or smarter than China’s +3 sigma, there are too many dumb, dysfunctional people holding India back, from their needing to be fed while doing the routine work rather poorly. So, the smart, (usually) high caste Indians opt to go to America to escape India’s dysfunction, so ubiquitous that even the ultra-rich at home cannot immune itself. The best and brightest in that category tend to go through the IITs at home for undergrad, the most reliable ticket to a high paying tech job in the United States. That stratum of Indians has established by now quite a presence in top American tech companies and universities (just about every top STEM academic department in the US has several prominent Indian profs). For example, Microsoft and Google both have Indian CEOs, and plenty of Indian engineers and managers, with many of them in high ranking positions, especially at Google. In contrast, there are few Chinese in top leadership positions. When I learned that Google has several Indian SVPs but no Chinese, a guy from China responded with humorous ease followed by sarcastic insult,

不用担心,阿里巴巴的SVP全都是中国人,百度的SVP也全都是中国人,没有一个印度人。(In translation: Don’t worry, Alibaba’s SVPs are all Chinese, Baidu’s SVPs are all Chinese, not a single Indian) What does India have? Tata? Infosys?

This is, based on my experience, similar to how people react to the astronomical success of certain Indian academics, entrepreneurs, and business leaders in America. They will say,

Sure, an individual brilliant Indian does extremely well in America. But what does India as a nation get from that?

Even such brilliance of these elite Indians is somewhat questionable. On TopCoder, which plenty of Indians obsess over on Quora, now infested by low status Indians, India is ranked, as I am currently writing this, only 11th out of the 31 countries on there, with only two red (the highest category) coders, despite having more than twice the number of members as China, the second most populous nation in this algorithmic coding contest. They’ve actually done better in recent years. I remember back years ago when I participated, I, having been on the lower side of yellow (the second highest category) coder, would have ranked close to the top among the Indians. Of course, one must not discount the possibility that the best Indians have better things to do than practice for a contest where one solves artificial algorithmic problems, which is consistent with my having seen and worked with many Indians who are very competent at real software engineering, with quite a strong sense for systems design and real world production code, which are rather orthogonal to, and much more consequential than, what one sees in those contrived coding contests and interviews. Still, the dismally low performance of Indians on TopCoder still raises suspicions, because TopCoder, like the International Math Olympiad, which India is complete garbage at, is a 100% objective and fair contest, whereas success in the real world software engineering, determined by promotions and professional level, has a political and context component. It’s not just the Indians at home; even in America, where the smartest Indians tend to go, the Chinese kids beat the Indian kids by a wide margin on the elite math, computing, and physics olympiads, even when the Indian kids seem to have improved a fair bit over the recent years. From this, one can only conclude that Indians are naturally not that strong in the abilities which these contests load on, though of course they may be relatively much more talented in research and engineering, for which these contests are very imperfect predictors.

You, the reader, have probably noticed that up to now, we’ve focused mostly on brains and technical ability. Yes, they are essential, but personality characteristics (both individual and collective) and “soft skills” also matter, especially if one wants to rise to a leadership position. From my personal observation, Indians are, in general, very good at projecting confidence and assertiveness from the way the talk and present themselves, much better than Chinese are, at least in the American cultural context, even when you discount the language barrier Chinese face relative to Indians. I’m talking not only about how one says things in terms of word choice, but the vocal tone and body language behind it. Sure, you can disdain this as superficial, but it matters. Perception matters as much, and in some cases, more, than substance. There is also that Indians seem to have a stronger network and help each out more in the career world. Collective intelligence or ethnic nepotism, you be the judge.

I have stories to tell on this. First of all, I remember vividly how when I interned at the same place as an Indian schoolmate, he was the only one who scheduled, successfully in a few cases, coffee meetings with executives, as an intern (!!!!!), when it never would have occurred to me, or probably almost everyone else except him, to even try. One can sort of link this to collective intelligence, in that it is an indicator of discernment with regard to who matters (the executives) and who doesn’t (the engineer worker bees) within the political organization. And needless to say, you rise up in the organization by aligning yourself with the people who matter. Yes, my telling a full-time engineer this was met largely with a response in the likes of, “He knows who matters and who doesn’t. And even if he completely fucks up, he has nothing to lose, he’s only a 2nd year college intern. In any case, he gets good practice interacting with people who matter.” There is also that multiple people I know have complained about blatant Indian favoritism in interviews in the likes of what is described in this Quora answer. Yes, others have told me that when Indians interview other Indians, the bar is much lower. It’s not just in interviews. Another guy told me about how he once worked for a company that turned into ruins after Indian managers protected some Indian fuckups from getting fired. Personally, I have seen a case of Indians getting promoted way faster than those of other ethnic groups on a big team with an Indian director. So sometimes, I ask myself the verboten. Could it be that Indians really are far higher ranked in tech companies than their ability and contribution, because they are much more self-promoting and collectively nepotistic than those of other groups? Moreover, could it be that many people secretly think and resent this but are too afraid to say out of fear of being publicly vilified for “being racist” and having their careers ruined from alienating a national group increasingly powerful in corporate America? And that gradually, other groups, as they awake to the rigging of the game and get past, reluctantly, their moral objections, will quietly do the same, transforming tech companies and the American workplace at large into literal prison gangs contend, destroying whatever is left of the ideal of meritocracy and fair play in this country, ever more mired in identity politics?

Don’t get me wrong. There is much variance in personality and character and ability in those of any ethnic group, including for Indians, and much overlap between ethnic groups. Like, I know of this really brilliant Indian who donates most of his tech salary to very worthy causes, leaving little for himself, and he would be the last person I would expect, based on his characterized as autistic personality, to successfully climb the corporate ladder, though through sheer talent alone, he should do just fine in the appropriate position. Moreover, I have interacted with several Indians who had been very kind, tolerant, and helpful towards me. However, averages can differ by a standard deviation or more, with enormous social consequences.

I actually feel somewhat sympathetic for India and the Indians here. Somebody, on this, even said something along the lines of,

India is just such a shitty place that the Indians here have nothing to lose, so they play dirty political games and engage in the most spineless social climbing.

What can be done to resolve this? Immediately, I cannot think of anything other than drastically reducing the number of abjectly impoverished, low IQ Indians in India by simultaneously improving economic conditions and enforcing birth control on the poor and unable, so that less suffering and dysfunction is spread to the next generation. India could, instead of drinking the democracy Kool-Aid, learn from China, in a way compatible to its own culture and circumstances, just as China did from the West and the Soviet Union, to great success. Its elite needs to correct many of its deeply flawed social attitudes, and not only that, actually act accordingly with full force; otherwise, the excessive damage India does to itself, America, and the world at large with its internal dysfunction and exported corruption will always far outweigh what its elites contribute to science and technology. I can’t be optimistic on this though, barring some really radical change.

On credentialism and selection systems

I’ve mentioned before that an Asian-American friend of mine, who is quite smart, disapproves of the whole campaign against Asian quotas spearheaded, or at least advocated, by Steve Hsu and others.

Continue reading “On credentialism and selection systems”

On manipulating perceptions

My thoughts on the importance of perception management, in addition to actually being good, by way of a chat log.

dude I think the jewish domination of liberal media is just IQ
if white americans are 100 SD 15, ashkenazim are 115 SD 15
Then if you look at 130+
In the US you have a 30:1 ratio but among 130+ you would expect like
2:1
dude like 1/3 of the 130+ whites in the US are jews
jewish verbal is probably even > 115 since spatial is lower
also they are coastal and liberal
 
lol you idiot it has much to do with personality socioeconomics culture too
 
which leads to more representation
yeah i’m saying that
coastal and liberal
already on the 2:1
updating more
 
Lol also if Jewish verbal is so high why are Asians beating them at PSAT/SAT
 
stats?
 
English/culture
 
Read Myth of American Meritocracy by Unz
 
link me the stats
 
I read it
 
He has stats there
 
have you read Janet Mertz takedown
 
Yes I’ve skimmed through that
 
Unz overestimates harvard % jewish
and underestimates other things
 
Sure he probably does a little
 
math olympiad % jewish
wait like half the white people at mop are jewish
like half
Since it can be hard to tell by surname
dude I think chinese americans have a massive
verbal IQ
way higher than of mainland china
maybe even higher than ashkenazim
But they haven’t been here long enough
like Jews in the 50s
also a lot of them are not interested
in verbal professions
 
how trainable is verbal SAT?
 
I agree the trainability of the SAT is overstated by people but cramming vocab is totally a thing, no
I dont trust unz statistics at all lol
 
Lol because Chinese-Americans know that verbal careers like law are rigged against them
So many strong ones are hesitant to enter
There’s a cultural affinity aspect to that as well
 
chinese prefer medicine or law
I think a lot of it also is that a society with a functional legal system is alien to most chinese people 😛
once I asked zuming whether china had a legal system
his response: No
 
Haha he’s both right and wrong
 
but yeah law is jewish
but I mean jews are not pulling the strings or anything
like
they are smart verbally
And they tend to be coastal and liberal
The tribe is not jews, it’s coastal liberals
130+ secular coastal liberals are like half jewish
but they dont think of themselves as jewish but as secular coastal liberals
like NYT columnists are half jewish
because 130+ secular costal liberals in the US are half jewish
 
Lol lol
 
if you add the adjective new york
secular new york coastal liberals
it’s a majority easily
 
NYT columnists
 
like manhattan is 20% jewish
 
NYT is full of garbage
 
?
its pretty reliable
Sometimes they call Rouhani a “moderate” and I wince – he’s certainly better than ahmadenijad, but he’s no moderate … “pragmatist” is the right word
 
You really need to broaden your horizons lol
 
hmm?
 
See politically, the Anglo world is setting the standards right now
 
yes, I very much enjoy not living in a society with sesame credit
 
sesame credit?
 
yes
 
I don’t even know what that is
 
china could become an orwellian state
 
Oh that
 
isn’t that great
 
Orwellian state what does that even mean
 
 
It’s just this phrase for evil regime coined by the Anglo media based on the works of an Anglo writer, that’s all.
I’ve read 1984 and Animal Farm
They’re pretty good
Very hyperbolic of course, as is much media
I actually exchanged briefly with Unz
 
ok
 
Maybe I should ask him about what he thinks of Jews being subsumed into the white category in these racial classifications
What do you think of these IQ tests as actual measures of real, biological intelligence
They are very noisy for sure
Especially verbal, because exposure to language varies widely
 
on an individual level
noisy
on a group level good
they are measuring something important
Whether it’s 100% genetic I dont know
I doubt it
 
Lol when most Chinese kids’ parents don’t know English all that well
Heck I’m even unfamiliar with some of the more colloquial English language
People viewed me as funny for it in school
 
sure
what do you think about steven pinker
he’s one of my favorite people
 
No opinion of him
Also those tests are noisy predictors of actual ability on real things as well from my observation
The discrimination against Asians in admissions right now is likely partially premised on the perception that their test scores inflate their actual ability due to prep.
There is still the perception that Asians do well in school but don’t go on to do great things
Again it’s only a perception
Being good and being perceived as good are far from perfectly correlated.
 
I think there is discrimnation against asians
for being recent
for being perceived as grade grubbers
 
Yeah they’re also not rich or well-connected.
 
this perception is not wholly unjustified ofc
yeah also that
i am strongly opposed to ivy asian quotas
 
There is resistance towards Asians becoming successful in America
It’s a white country after all
 
eh
 
Anyhow, I think in a matter of time, the best young people in China will come here for grad school less and less.
America will become a place for China to send its second-rates.
I’ve written that China needs to get better at marketing
 
china gives 0 shits about academics
it’s way too right wing to care about academics
 
too right wing?
And I’ve read on Zhihu that in recent years, the Chinese who studied math in France have turned out better than the ones who came to US for grad school.
 
that’s about france vs US
not china vs US
 
Lol math I think the best young people will still study abroad for a while.
There’s also engineering
Plenty of that China does well now.
I think in actual STEM ability/competence, China/Chinese still have much room for improvement, but now, they’re not bad, and the potential is there, with trends in favor of them.
It’s the whole game of manipulating perceptions that will take longer
Due to cultural difference and inertia
In that regard, it’s already been massively successful in just the last five years if you think about it
The media portrayal in the West has already drastically changed.
For instance, dismissiveness of Chinese tech companies is metamorphizing into fear.
I’m not gonna argue whether or not it’s gone to the other extreme
People can have different opinions on that
In any case, I don’t think China has transitioned to foundational innovator, that’ll take a while, but the increasing level of sophistication combined with the scale is certainly very formidable.
China still relies on US companies for its semiconductors/chips. She has not created a viable ecosystem for its homegrown ones yet. But that could well happen in a decade.
Then US will have even less bargaining chip.
Now, China can easily get away with what it’s doing to Taiwan largely because it is so much stronger economically, technologically, and militarily.
 
jack ma is a smart guy
but I mean
 
Nobody wants to piss off the powerful, because there’s much to lose.
 
china’s system doesnt make too much room for jack ma and yitang zhang
The lack of political freedom is a big obstacle here
 
Lol Jack Ma isn’t smart IQ wise
Struggled to get into a college
He has other qualities
 
The lack of political freedom is a big problem for innovation
 
Hahaha
Elaborate on that one 
 
Name a totalitarian society that was innovative
Germany under the Kaiser wasn’t really totalitarian
 
Uh, USSR?
 
all their jewish scientists moved to america and israel
ussr had good academics, certainly
Because they prevented them from leaving
They didn’t have much in the way of tech
 
Uh, Sputnik?
 
low tech
very low tech
your cell phone is better
there won’t be a chinese steve jobs
 
Sure computer technology they were behind, because semi-conductors and integrated circuits were invented in America
Lol Steve Jobs is mostly marketing 
 
shockley
eugenics
chinese bill gates
 
And what you say about Sputnik is ridiculous
First satellite in orbit
That was back in 1957 silly
You don’t think Ren Zhengfei is as impressive as Steve Jobs?
Huawei
So much of the global telecommunications infrastructure
Now their phones, which US is banning.
 
So
Lol what if China once it has the resources starts a huge propaganda/PR war
You bitch about totalitarianism
China has a ton of young people with nothing to do.
Have them troll the YouTube comments, drown out all the anti-communist Chinese.
Numbers do matter
The Chinese government could also incentivize more people in the West to start blogs supportive of Chinese ideology.
Try to buy out US media outlets
You don’t think China once it is advantaged in resources can start playing the game of manufacturing consent as well

On meritocracy

I had the fortune to get to know this guy about five or six years older than me because we started a job on the same day, when I was straight out of school, who was willing to tell or at least hint to me some realities about the corporate world. I never worked directly with him, but we would chat during lunch and at various events. Most memorable was when he said to me, “like you’re more competent than most CEOs of corporations.” I was like, “wait really?” You see, at that time, I was still a clueless kid. Amused by my naiveté, he went on to tell me, “haha, being a CEO is not about competence, it’s about being in the club, once you’re in, it’s basically impossible to fail. It’s about having obtained certain credentials and networks, like a name school MBA and an executive position at a company. Once you’re in that group and the people there accept you, you’re a perpetual CEO.” Interestingly, I vaguely remember that he also mentioned Meg Whitman, in a tone that made it seem as if he actually had a high opinion of her.

Continue reading “On meritocracy”