Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-Americans

It was revealed last week or so that Harvard systematically rates Asian-Americans lower on personality, on subjective traits such as “positive personality,” likability, courage, kindness and being “widely respected.” I’m not surprised at all by this. Though they could have at least been a bit smarter about this by keeping this shit off the record. Now the investigators could actually reveal something about their process to the public that would undermine the institution’s credibility.

Though I am an Asian-American, I will not try to pretend. It’s so far for Harvard’s institutional interests more or less rational to do what they’re doing. Asian-Americans have very little power and influence over the institution. Sure, there is no shortage of prominent Asian-Americans professors at Harvard, mostly in STEM, but they don’t actually have all that much influence over the institution, and are mostly being used by the institution to advance its own academic reputation. The same goes for being an Asian academic undergrad admit (who can, say, win a high place for Harvard at the Putnam Contest). There is also the implicit assumption that because Asians face race-related disadvantages in the career game, especially in the corporate world, due to unconscious bias, lack of ethnic affinity networks, etc, they should be penalized, as future career success, of a form not perceived as too threatening to the current elite, is crudely what admissions is optimizing for. So, life is not fair, get used to it, and do the little that you can to try to make things more fair (or more in your favor).

I’ve actually seen some not actually very talented Asian-Americans without hooks who did make it to HYP under very striverish behavior. They played the game of try hard resume optimization, of appearing less Asian. The thing is that most of those people end up not well at all after graduation. Don’t think that HYP guarantees a good job. There is no guarantee is today’s world. Those people did too little in terms of developing actually employable skills. What they got by playing the college admissions game was essentially a pyrrhic victory. Actually competent state school kids do much better than them in the workplace. So, don’t be stupid like that.

Even many actually smart Asian-American HYP grads don’t do all that great. A common outcome is a merely solid engineer at a respected technology company. Some go to a top grad school, but success much depends on the field. Academia has very few openings nowadays, though for engineering, due to industrial demand, it is much less competitive than math or science. A common route of course for the really technically exceptional is quant finance, though those positions tend to be taken by immigrants, who generally undergo a much more rigorous STEM education with less distraction compared to what Asian-Americans receive. The thing is that so many people are irrationally desperate to attend an elite school. Some middle class parents will burn a fortune to send their kid to some fancy prep school full of rich kids, where they easily end up at the bottom half of the school’s social hierarchy, let alone for an elite university. They lose sight of the fact that in many if not most cases, major determines what you do much more than school. There are many cases of these try hards wasting much time, money, and stress for nothing.

Like it or not, America is still very much a white country. Asian-Americans can and should try, but they shouldn’t realistically expect equality. If Chinese parents really want their son to become a lawyer or politician, they should probably stay in China. It’ll be hard there as well, but your odds of success will be probably at least an order of magnitude higher than in America. Here, I use only the male qualification of child in light of how “on average, Asian American women received higher personal ratings and extracurricular ratings than Asian American men.”[3] This is, of course, consistent with what goes on in the real world as well. And it is expected, considering how historically, sexism and racism have always gone together.

A while ago, I wrote on here a rather cynical (or whatever you call it) piece in Chinese regarding elite US schools, which to my pleasant surprise a Chinese international of my acquaintance who attended Harvard commented on affirmatively. Its title has somewhat of a sensationalist provocative vibe to it, translated to English as “American elite universities as a political tool for brainwashing and uplifting (pseudo) elite of Chinese descent.” Of course, I have more or less the highest regard for the STEM being done at these top American institutions, though maybe it is a bit overrated. Much of the humanities and social science coming from those places I find quite questionable though, and that goes along with the cultural and political values fostered by these institutions. On that, I brought up how the former unsuccessful regime of China, the Republic of China, was led and run largely by Chinese graduates of Ivies of their time, who were but superficially Westernized and modernized Chinese. Despite their graduating from these elite schools, they lost the civil war and failed to modernize China, though perhaps that also had much to do with their being in the wrong time. Certainly though, many of the elite Chinese who played prominent roles in China’s modernization from the 50s on did advanced study in STEM in these top American schools. I’ll say that from my experience, it certainly does seem that these schools tend to select for Asians whose social and political viewpoints, often not very grounded on reality, tend to fit them into the aforementioned category, like Jeff Yang, with whom Steve Hsu had a debate. This is of course part of the pattern of American elites’ desire to bring elites of other countries into their circle, in a sufficiently subordinate position. On this, I’ll say how I’ve read comments on how over past half century or so, affirmative action by Harvard and other Ivies has won for American elites not only (a facade of) charity but also cultural and ethnic representatives to advance their interests in, say, African countries. For that, Harvard was useful as a binding force. Surely, Harvard has always played a quintessential role in persisting the rule and influence of the current American elite throughout the world, and like it or not, kissing the ruler’s ass is almost always the easiest way to rise up on the social ladder. In Chinese, to be America’s dog is spoken of as pejorative, but so what, there were and are too many small countries willing to do so, because it brings them, their elites in particular, much economic and political benefit.

Asians tend to be pretty obsessed with prestige. Chinese are very, and Koreans are especially so. In the 80s and 90s and 00s, a degree from a prestigious or good American school was much an upper mobility ticket in China. Now, this is much less so, because there are too many such Chinese now, and also maybe because people in China have increasingly realized that maybe these people aren’t actually all that good, in spite of their brand-name American school. A PhD from MIT from China once told me that now in China, companies are increasingly reluctant to hire “sea turtles;” you have to pay them more, when more often than not, you can find a local guy who can do the job as well or better for much less. This is a sign of devaluation of elite American institutions, and I believe this will continue, given the relatively low level of STEM education and preparation in America (which is impossible to hide to any actually smart, scientifically literate person) along with America’s overall decline.

The short-sighted and personally motivated decisions of the intellectually mediocre and politically delusional American elite over the past generation are, cumulatively, really taking its toll now, on the American economy and the credibility of its ruling class. Their elite institutions, nepotistic and corrupt in its admissions, are losing the public’s trust and alienating Asian-Americans especially, many of whom moved to a foreign country speaking little English with too much blind faith in the so-called American Dream that they sought for themselves and more so for their children. American elites may have thought that they themselves could neglect STEM, that there are plenty of talented foreigners, many of whom Asian, willing to do those jobs indefinitely, often grossly under-compensated and with their American-born, American-raised kids facing higher hurdles in education and at work. This might have been so decades ago, when in their home countries, there was still lack of economic opportunity for smart people. Nowadays, there is a booming and internationally competitive high technology sector in China, with India going that direction as well, in spite of brain drain into America. Collectively, the STEM expertise has over time not only grown itself but transformed into significant leverage for the group, so much that the elites running Harvard need to resort to rogue tactics to preserve themselves. I don’t exactly blame them. It’s just like how people who go the bullshit business and social climbing route do so largely to compensate for their inherent intellectual deficit; at least to me, that’s never a pleasant or honorable position to be in. But what else can you do, if not to accept defeat? I can already foresee such an entrenched group fighting desperately for its own survival. Harvard will do all that it can to get away with what it’s doing right now amidst much backlash. And it’s an extraordinary rich, powerful, well-connected institution, much able to manipulate the outcomes. Either they win, or they reform themselves accordingly, or they become slowly sidelined. We’ll see. I just hope they don’t resort to even nastier tactics. Though that tends to happen when power and survival is at serious risk.

References

[1] http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/06/harvard-office-of-institutional.html

[2] http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/06/harvard-office-of-institutional_21.html

[3] http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-lee-harvard-legacy-student-advantage-20180622-story.html

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gekcNqlHptM

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.

His words are the following:

  1. I don’t believe in legitimizing the credentialist culture of modern academia
  2. I don’t generically feel much kinship with Asian-Americans (who are the most affected by purported discrimination in admissions), even if I might feel more kinship with them on average than I would with any other large ethnic group in America (which is itself not necessarily true)
  3. I don’t find it implausible that there are legitimate reasons to discriminate against Asian-Americans in the admissions process, if by ‘discriminate’ we mean ‘weigh their formal accomplishments less than one would for a member of a different race’
  4. At the end of the line, I believe that persistent whining about this is a reflection of emotional immaturity on the part of Steve et al., in that they seem to have a ‘chip on their shoulder’ which they are incapable of overcoming, and if they were actually taking a principled approach, they would come together and try to create a superior alternative to the radically broken university system, which will likely not be saved by any infusion of Asian students

Here’s what I think.

On 1), I don’t like the credentialism culture of modern academia either. Much of it is a superficial and soulless arms race. Not that grades, test scores, publications, citations, impact factor aren’t strong signals but they are prone to manipulation and artificial inflation, and that there are qualities of work not well-captured by those metrics. People are more or less compelled to single-mindedly play this game, often at the expense of actually substantial scholarship, if they are to survive in academia nowadays.

On 2), I hate to say that this country has become more toxically consumed by identity politics over the years, not to mention that people are judged at least subconsciously by who one is associated with. So collective bargaining is crucial for a group’s position on the status hierarchy.

On 3), there is that due to Asian-Americans’ and Asians in general having traditionally been the underdog, as well as their lack of media presence, which is intimately tied to the alienness of their names in the Western linguistic context, some people are inclined to view Asians are grinds who aren’t actually as capable as they might appear on paper. Especially with the whole tiger mother phenomenon that Amy Chua popularized with her infamous book. Of course, China’s rise over the recent years has altered this perception somewhat, especially the one that Asians are smart but not creative, though surely, it does seem that controlling for grades and test scores, or IQ, Asians do seem less creative, though that may be due to environmental factors, such as de facto or implicit quotas imposed by diversity mandates and economic circumstances.

On 4), I mostly disagree. Asian-Americans don’t really have the power to create a sufficiently credible alternative in a world that runs so heavily on associating with prestigious, usually long-established, institutions like Harvard and Goldman-Sachs. In their ancestral countries, China and India, Asians can improve the university and research system and the economic and technological competitiveness of the country as a whole, so as to make their universities more credible as well. In America, all Asian-Americans can really do is make more noise around the issue to exert more pressure on the elite universities, and also donate more and enhance their media and political presence as their socioeconomic position improves, especially at the elite end, improves, so that the elite universities perceive themselves as having more to lose from discriminating against Asian-Americans based on race.

This is all I have to say as pertains exclusively to Asian-Americans. I shall now give my thoughts on credentialism and selection in general.

The job of admissions and hiring committees and HR is astronomically harder than in the pre-internet age. So many people apply for positions they are grossly under-qualified for, now that it’s so easy to shoot off a resume or application online. There are, of course, application fees for college and grad schools, but they are not enough to deter. This means in the selection process can be afford now significantly less time per candidate, and one can argue that as a consequence, the process becomes more bureaucratic and easier to game. Often, people will in the pre-screening stage eliminate all applicants who do not meet certain formal criteria, such as minimum GPA/test scores or a certain degree from a certain set of sufficiently credible universities. In the case of academia, to my limited second-hand knowledge, committees will look at publications lists with a focus on citation count and impact factor of the journals on which the papers were published and also verify the candidate against senior, tenured faculty in the same or at least similar area of research. In the case of industry jobs, what matters more is the interview, where for technical roles, technical questions will be asked to further test the technical aptitude and knowledge, as well as, the softer aspects of communication and personal chemistry. For non-technicals, I can only say it’s even more about credentials (school, companies, job titles, dates of employment) and how you present yourself. I can only conclude that way more energy is expended now in aggregate on application and selection than before, which is quite costly really. In the career world, people are mostly out for themselves and don’t really care about wasting other people’s time, so long as they can get away with it with impunity more or less.

I’ll say that there is a tradeoff between optimizing for one’s formal credentials and optimizing for one’s actual ability and knowledge. One loses out so much more now if one neglects the former too much due to more competition per position. Surely, there has been gross inflation of credentials. This is in its crudest form epitomized by college’s having become the new high school, thereby rendering prestige of institution a stronger signal. Furthermore, the largely consequent grade inflation and watering down of coursework has added more noise to school transcripts. Contest training, for math in particular, has become so much more popularized, that to not have credentials in those raises questions in some circles, and moreover, there is so much more of an obstacle course of summer programs and scholarships and grants and internships and jobs which one must pass through to some degree if one wants a reasonable chance of success at a specified level. In this sense, there is more pressure to conform to an existing, often complexity-ridden system. It may well be that people nowadays are not all that much better in terms of knowledge and proficiency than before, correcting for the positive effects of technology on learning, but they actually put in much more time and effort.

Now, if one expends much energy on actual substance, there is concern as to what would be lost if those translate not into formal credentials. Arguably more common is the other way round, where one turns into a soulless credential-chasing machine. I’ve been amazed at how many people manage to achieve much higher grades, test scores, and awards than what their knowledge and ability from interaction with them would reasonably indicate. Those people tend to be very boring and risk-averse, and they are often the types our current system selects for, like it or not.

I used to feel like to prove that one is actually smart, at least in STEM, one ought to do sufficiently well in one of those major math, physics, or computing olympiads or contests. I would say that for raw technical ability, that is probably still the strongest signal. Grades are somewhat noisy, because it’s not hard to copy or snipe homework solutions, and for tests, there is a large cramming and figuring out what’s gonna be on the test component. Perhaps they are more consequentially so as there are also some genuinely capable or even brilliant students who for related personality reasons have a hard time getting themselves to care too much about grades. I’ve personally seen some high GPA people, even in college, who signal in what they say or write complete idiocy that would make you wonder if they were pretending stupid, especially if said person were female. Some people learn much more deeply and also much more broadly, outside of what the system teaches them, to a high level of retention, much of which is not captured through any formal credential. From my personal experience, tests of a wide range of knowledge, sufficiently substantial but not too esoteric, are stronger signals since they cannot be crammed for, but they are, for the difficulty of organization, seldom administered.

In the real world and in academia though, what matters is the ability to deliver actual projects and conduct meaningful research, and those, while correlated with ability to learn, are not quite the same. Those are also way more context-dependent, which means more noise, both due to more variance and more ambiguity of judgment.

I will say that at times or even often, society is met with the problem of people finagling themselves into a position to judge what they are not really qualified to, per their ability and expertise, which means some resume-padding bozos rising up and actual competents being passed over. This problem I believe has been accentuated by the ever more credentialist culture that has emerged over the recent years. What’s kind of sad is how the more conformism and risk-aversion rises, the more these traits are pressured and selected for.

I’ve come to notice that there tends to be some difference between maverick genius and the conformist first-rate professional. If one looks at history, real genius, the ones who create paradigm shifts, tends to have more very lopsided profiles, though surely, it might go too far to say that *most* of the real geniuses were out of it in a Stallman or Galois like fashion, especially as it’s the deranged ones which garner more attention. But one can say with high level of confidence that there were many real geniuses who had a hard time fitting in even into the elite mainstream of his profession, who have even been marginalized. I’ve been told that the real genius mathematicians like Perelman, Langlands, and Shimura more or less cut contact with the mathematical community apparently out of disgust. There is also evidence that plenty would-be real geniuses did not actually make it, with their enormous potential having been thwarted by the system at some point and hardly realized. In an ideal world that optimizes for collective value, if somebody else can do the job much better than you and actually really wants to, you should let him do the job and get out of his way. Of course, reality is far from that. I have personally felt that way with regard to my mathematical ability, often feeling that I wasn’t good enough when I failed to derive something on my own, yet I see so many people worse than I am even so eager to play the whole credentialist game without recognizing how deficient they really are. This suggests that I am very partial towards a certain side of the spectrum. I even feel that in some sense, nothing is more embarrassing then formally being much higher than what one’s ability actually merits, since it demonstrates not only incompetence but poor character. However, I am, regrettably, or not, feeling that circumstances are pressuring me ever more towards the opposite direction.

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

Face recognition in China

I recently learned that face recognition, led by unicorns SenseTime and Megvii, has reached the level of accuracy and comprehensiveness that it is percolating into retail and banking, and moreover police are using it to detect suspects, or so various media articles say, like this one. Just Google “face recognition china.” I’m both surprised and impressed. Of course, in hindsight, what they did was mostly collect, aggregate, and organize enough data to train the deep learning models to the level that they can be put to production. The Chinese government has, after all, resident identity cards for all Chinese citizens with photos. I was certainly somewhat envious of the people involved in that in China, and I feel like such a failure compared to them, and that my life has been so boring and uneventful in comparison. Of course, whether I’m suited to do deep learning is another matter. After playing a bit with neural nets, including on the canonical MNIST data set, I sure was disappointed, and I understood immediately why this guy, who is doing a machine learning PhD at Stanford, had said to me that deep learning is very engineering heavy. I wish I had the enthusiasm and motivation for stuff like GPUs. As for that, all I’ve done was play with CUDA in a way so minor almost as if I did absolutely nothing. Again I don’t see myself as terribly suited towards engineering (I’m too much a purist at heart), but I might eventually be compelled to become interested in that, and once I do, I don’t think I’ll do badly. This also makes me wonder what I would’ve ended up like had I stayed in China. I’m sure I would’ve been weird there too, though I would also be more like everyone else. I wonder what I would have ended up majoring in there, and what I would’ve ended up doing afterwards. I’d like to think that I would have gotten a much better education and cultural experience there, though of course, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. For instance, in America, Asian quotas means you are judged relative to other Asians, but being in China means that automatically, and China, by virtue of having low resources per capita, is, needless to say, a grossly competitive society with fewer second chances, and thereby even harsher on late bloomers, though surely, the gaokao happens at age 18, whereas in America, grades start necessarily mattering at as early as age 14-5, when many are still very immature. I must acknowledge that as much as I dislike various aspects of the American education system, it is extremely generous, from what I see, relatively speaking, in tolerating failure at a young age. In China, you test into a specific department at a university, and once you’re in, it’s very hard to change, which means some land in majors they end up finding themselves unsuitable for. At age 18, it’s really hard to make such a decision, especially when you don’t really know anything about the actual content of the major, which is usually the case when one is a clueless kid. This is why I say that before you commit officially to an area, always try to learn something about it on your own beforehand to increase confidence that you actually have at least reasonable, and preferably high, talent for it.

On the broader topic of technology in China, it is needless to say that they are still quite a ways behind America and the advanced Western countries. Look at what the ZTE ban has done. China has its own CPUs but not the ecosystem for it. China still buys and deploys much of its most advanced military technology, including jet engines and surface-to-air missiles, an indicator that its indigenous versions of those are still seen as unproven, unreliable, and of lower quality, though surely they’ve made great strides on that the past decade. I stumbled on the video of this military parade held on August 1st, 2017 to mark the 90th anniversary of the Nanchang Uprising that showcased some of the latest developments. I didn’t like it all that much at first, with its overall presentation, the imagery and music in sync, kind of, how should I say it, corny, and I felt the music paled in comparison to the music of the Soviet Red Army, which is very hard to beat, at least based on my taste, though listening to the music again, I grew to like it more. Surely, I would characterize the whole thing as rather sinister, and representative portions of that would be this and this. Musically, the part that left the most memorable impression was this, and to be honest, I found the non-musical aspect of that part both awkward and sinister, especially coupled with the music. I’m sure many people in the West would view this parade as rather weird, or even effeminate, as much as I hate that stereotype of East Asians in America.

Yet in spite of overall and in some cases critical backwardness, China is managing to unveil a face recognition system at a level of sophistication and scale, and also scariness/creepiness that many in America could only dream of. Surely, that was far from my expectation. Who knows. Maybe in a decade, China will have a nationwide genome database. I say this with the awareness that for anything of scale, there is a tremendous advantage to homogeneity and central organization. We already see, in the case of face recognition, China’s using this to compensate for its inferior technology as far as strict quality and capability is concerned.

As far as I can tell, Chinese and Chinese society place a strong emphasis on STEM and the society as a whole is far more scientifically literate than American society, which is advantageous for certain pro-STEM policies and government, though surely, China is still struggling to produce the best people in many areas, for which the corresponding elite subcultures in the West are difficult if not impossible to transmit. It will be very interesting to see what kind of novel stuff comes out of China organically over the next decade or so, especially as China seeks further to create its own distinct ecosystem, as opposed to remaining in many ways still a subsidiary of America and Russia. In any case, I am quite a fan of the political culture of China, and on the contrary, I am rather sick of the one in America.

Math festival

I had the pleasure of volunteering for a math festival for elementary school children. There were puzzles, mathematical games, various fun math worksheets (sometimes with figures of animals as variable names heh), building blocks, and the likes. It was organized by some Russians working in technical fields in the area, of which one family has produced some relatively distinguished mathematicians, which go back to, of course, the Soviet era. I was thoroughly impressed by their organization, energy, and enthusiasm, as well as their variety. I had briefly attended back when I was a high school student the math circle that they had started well before then even and kept up till now.

Again, this furthers my impression that Russians/Soviets have quite a culture of pure pursuit of excellence, that some highly educated ones in STEM have brought over to the US as well. When they were not satisfied with what kids were getting here, education wise, they started their own math circles. I was actually, at the crypto-arithmetic station I was mentoring, with this adult adult, who was mentoring the same station. I would, expectedly, when there were no kids there, talk with him (occasionally in my very limited Russian) about various things, such as software technology and also competitive programming in Russia. On the latter, this year’s ACM ICPC, held in Beijing, was won by Moscow State and Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology, with Peking University and University of Tokyo taking third and fourth, despite the home field advantage. This is consistent with Russians beating Chinese and Japanese on TopCoder and CodeForces as well, with the former American organized one in decline, much out of its outdated Java Applet (and almost certainly an over-bloated, unmaintainable legacy system) user interface and the latter Russian organized one on the rise. On this, that guy was like: in Russia, people really care about doing things well, in America, people do things for money, which only sometimes leads to good results. He said that back in the Soviet era, life was much better for kids, because activities such as sports and math were free, though of course, there were selection mechanisms in place on limited capacity, which really encouraged kids to become really good at what they chose to do. Moreover, he was like if America, with its abundant resources, actually utilized it very well for education, it would be like a paradise, except that’s far from the case. I told him that it seems like Russia’s economy and science research, despite difficulties, is resurging. On that, I had read on Zhihu that the younger generation of Russians has produced some real stars in math, most notably this guy named Alexander Efimov, who is the youngest invited speaker of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) this year, or something like that, and they are staying at that Steklov Institute or similar places instead of coming to America. I also brought up my knowledge of the existence of Yandex and vKontakte, Russia’s Google and Facebook respectively, as well as its vibrant defense sector. While at the event, something came to my mind, which was given all the hype of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections, will there be backlash soon too for supposed Russian interference in American education, with events like these? Yes, I noticed how the event was full of Russians and parents and immigrant kids of other nationalities, and Americans were few. I like how the Soviet Union and Russia has quite a different ecosystem, both culturally and technologically, which is a positive for diversity. It seems like though Russia is essentially Western culturally, white and Christian, the West is so reluctant to accept her as a member of the Western community, and on the contrary, many of these idiot American politicians are always seeking to give her trouble. On this note, I remember how Gwydion Williams keeps emphasizing and reiterating how the West blundered in the 90s by ruining Russia with awful economic advice instead of more wisely integrating the fallen USSR into the Western system, which she would have been eager to be part on, so long as terms were reasonable. In any case, I find that the USSR left us some pretty damn good stuff culturally, scientifically, technologically, and artistically, and I am willing to acknowledge and appreciate that notwithstanding how many in our current culture might perceive me for it.

Bob Sykes on Disqus once said:

Russia’s economy is often derided as merely Spain East, but the range of things they do indicates that their economy is at least as large as Germany’s and might be as large as Japan’s. Our economists not only produce deeply flawed policies, they can’t even count.

I agree. I heartily believe that GDP is a deeply flawed measure of economic power. It is a very artificial, human construct. It does not take into account the quality or self-sufficiency of the economy, and is prone to artificial inflation. In Russia’s case, it is transparently clear to me that they are grossly underrated, both right now and potential wise, largely for political reasons. It is transparently clear to me that Russia has the advantage of possessing, for the most part, 1) the expertise and infrastructure to create military hardware that is at least close to American/Western levels 2) a highly scientifically literate and technologically skilled workforce and population 3) ethnic and cultural homogeneity (which America certainly lacks and could be ruined by, eventually) 4) a culture and education that emphasizes excellence and substance over superficial flash and showmanship. So despite what on the surface appears to be deep difficulties and a near permanent state of collapse, I am confident that Russia will make quite a comeback in a matter of time. Of course, altering and correcting perception, under American/Western controlled world public opinion and political norms, is another matter.

In order to not digress too much into politics, I’ll conclude with some photos I took from today’s event.

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My whole experience with the American school system

I accidentally stuffed my face last night and found myself too uncomfortable from that to do anything productive, to my great disappointment. So I verged onto non-technical topics again, and in particular, I reflected somewhat on my personal experience growing up as a Chinese immigrant kid in America, and I write this with a hope that it might be inspiring to others with a similar background.

I came in first grade not knowing a word of English, but at least I knew the alphabet. As for learning English, it didn’t help that my first grade ESL teacher was a woman parents from Taiwan who was likely born in the US, who spoke Mandarin. I remember she would tell me that my Chinese was more proper than hers, as she really only learned it in college. Well, as you can guess, because I could speak Chinese to her if needed, I didn’t even know English all that well even after a year. I remember there were kids in that class from a variety of places, from Russia to Japan to Colombia. I wasn’t very well behaved, and near the end of the year, when we were watching some Disney movie, she actually put tape on my mouth.

I had forgotten like all my written Chinese by end of third grade, including how to write my Chinese name. But that summer there, I was able to relearn some of that.

My parents didn’t really give me much pressure academically. I would expect that they were very busy themselves. So throughout grade school, much of my life consisted of playing and watching basketball and baseball, and also stuff like Pokémon, and also piano practice, which I initially disliked but grew to like as became somewhat good at it, by a low standard. My teachers could tell that I was smart, especially at math, but I was quite hyperactive and poorly behaved.

No offense, but where I was, most of the kids and parents I encountered were pretty fucking dumb and ignorant. They seemed content with a chill, mediocre life, the bliss of ignorance. The other kids could sort of tell I was smart, but I was also pretty fucking socially weird. In third, fourth, and sixth grade, the teachers invited me to this “games club,” which I later found was designated for kids identified by the teacher to be deficient in social skills.

I wasn’t in any gifted program. I was actually not even able to test into one, because my verbal IQ was apparently way too low. So I felt like I was inferior compared to kids in gifted programs, but by now, I’ve basically far surpassed basically all of them.

My junior high which was 7th to 9th grade absolutely sucked. The teachers were really fucking stupid. The math was bull shit with graphing calculators, and the history class was full of stupid political indoctrination. I got low grades in 9th grade English and history, one because I was super immature and impulsive, and another because that teacher, who was an idiot far-right (American style) scumbag, absolutely hated me. It certainly affected my self-esteem very negatively. I was problematic in a way yes, but I dare say much was because I had far more latent IQ/talent than the other students that nobody had nurtured in me.

High school was better but still pretty shitty. I was in this IB program much of which was an utter waste of time and was really at quite a joke of a level academically. I had already realized that, doing math contests and such. However, even there, because my foundation was so shitty, I did not progress anywhere as efficiently as I could have. On the other hand, most of those kids in the full IB program thought they were doing so well, because they were in it, and getting good grades, not considering that most got As. The truth is of course that most of those kids, the way they were, had no future in anything serious. Another positive thing to happen for me then was that I started reading various stuff online I found interesting, including in Chinese, on my own. The more I learned, the more I realized how much of a joke the American school system is. It is ridden with the worst type of political indoctrination and scant on actual intellectual substance.

Now, most other advanced countries have an education system where students test into high schools based on their ability. There is much more academic preparation provided at the early stages, and more popularization of serious academic contests like the AMCs. There is also a system of vocational education for those who are less academically inclined, which is great, because practical skills should not be underrated. In contrast, American schools are too concerned with the self-esteem of students to tell them that they are basically garbage, academically, and they are falling short in terms of providing alternatives to prepare them for the real world. The result of course is that their self-esteem will become eventually utterly wrecked in college and the real world where people care more about your actual ability and work and don’t really give a damn about how hard you tried. Of course, now college in America has become a joke too, and so overpriced. On that, Charles Murray is completely right that most students in college right now in America would be better served learning some practical vocational skills as opposed to studying bullshit liberal arts.

I was quite socially clueless in high school, and I was not even that aware of the discrimination against Asians in college admissions. My parents were anything but savvy about the college admissions process in America. Expectedly, high school was full of morons padding their resumes with substance-less stuff just for that. I absolutely hated that, and I cared more about actually learning some serious stuff. That includes math, physics, algorithms, Chinese, history (that was not the brainwash taught in class). Okay, I was a joke at basically all of them but far better than almost all my classmates. There were I think three kids in my year who were accepted to Yale but to me they were the stereotypical superficial well-rounded conformist well-socialized types, and one was an athlete. Another was a very superficial whitewashed Asian who even had a non-Asian surname that I later learned was changed officially when he was a kid. Now I know what he was really up to.

College was much better. It was a flagship state school, and I didn’t mix well with most of the kids there, who I again felt were mostly drones and tools, but there were certainly some really sharp ones, and a few who I had genuine chemistry with. I did of course waste some time on general ed courses. On the more positive end, I could in that environment learn more serious math and science, and also engineering. Because I majored in math and computer science though, I would say that there was very little natural science or real engineering. Moreover, I could meet people from all over the place, including graduate students who had attended elite schools for undergrad, and also talk with international students from China there. The latter partially motivated to improve my Chinese further, to the point that reading it online felt basically as natural as reading English. From that, I also learned more about Chinese culture and the Chinese education system. I felt I was finally seriously shedding away the tremendous damage the American education system had imparted on me, the more socially acceptable it became to detach from that crowd. Though it was much better than high school, I was still not terribly content with the curriculum or the people around me. I felt I was learning too little actual math and especially science, as virtually zero of the latter was required for computer science majors. The computer science majors thought they were really good because they were in this supposedly very competitive program, bound to get six figure jobs in industry, and they were fine at programming, but really, their level of IQ, on average, was quite low. They absolutely sucked at math and had no concept of how to prove anything. There were of course exceptions who mostly kept to themselves. Like this kid who wrote his own compiler for a subset of Java in Haskell early sophomore year, which he taught himself. At programming, I was pretty garbage, lacking the engineering sense at that time, but I was not bad at algorithms, given my math ability. Overall, I am rather disappointed with my college experience. Because my starting point was so low, and because many of the students were dull but studious and conforming enough (to get better grades than I did), I became easily content and cocky at times, and also frustrated. I can blame both my lack of ability and maturity and also lack of fit of the whole educational experience to a guy like me. I sort of kept some distance from most of the other students. Again, many were tools, who I had little desire to be around. Of course, they will excel in the typical tech job, but that’s another matter. In fact, they may well have life much more easy than I do.

Summer after junior year was a major turning point for me. Through a superconnector of high achieving students many if not most at elite places like MIT and Harvard, I met and began chatting online with a few people at Caltech, MIT, and the likes. I expected them to be brilliant or at least solid academically but reality was disappointing, though almost certainly, they were below average ones at those places. However, there was one guy from a top Canadian school and another from a more mediocre state school who were both freakishly smart and competent. I looked up to both of them greatly. I was inspired by a few of them to enter competitive programming, with one of them’s being an IOI medalist, and with some practice on TopCoder, I managed to lead a team the following year to place in the top 10 in ACM regionals.

Something else that happened was that I sort of discovered Marxist literature online, partially inspired by my genius Russian friend, who was also quite a misfit, very defiant of the whole American cultural and political value system. Ironically, he’s actually doing his PhD now at a place famous for American blue-bloods, and he does not express a high opinion in general of the undergrads there, many who are not actually talented but are from well-off families who know how to game the whole system. Given my heritage, Marxist literature necessarily means learning more about the whole culture and tradition created by the Chinese communists, which I found quite fascinating and inspiring. Of course, I also learned some Russian stuff. As I did, I felt ever more indignant with respect to all the historical and political lies promulgated and normalized in American society by the media, lauded as a free one, but in reality, controlled largely by what one can crudely characterize as destroyers of civilization. In the process, I fell in love with Soviet music, which is of much higher artistic quality and substance than the trash kids listen to nowadays. It even idealistically inspired me to fight for a better world. Of course, now I know how hard that is, but I am not giving up just yet.

In college, there was of course pressure to conform, to act in a socially acceptable way, to not be too strange. That means not being openly elitist and critical the way I am right now. That also means not acting in a way that is too un-American. I’m a guy who came here in first grade, not an international student from China. In some sense, it’s not right for me to not be like all those ABCs. It kind of sucks to grow up as an Asian immigrant kid in America. It sucks even more if you’re actually nerdy/smart and culturally/politically sane, like I am. You feel like there is something wrong with you, but of course, now I am confident that that is not true, and that it is in fact American society/culture that is becoming ever more fucked up. Michael O Church can attest to this.

Now, after college. I got to meet some way more interesting, smart people, learn way more interesting things. I could fully distance myself from the uninspiring people I went to school with. This includes people from all over the world, across all age groups, with much deeper and more varied expertise. That includes IMO and IOI medalists, top finishers on the Putnam contest, people in top or good grad schools, some of whom are really impressive, and some of whom are nowhere near the level that they may look on paper superficially. My cultural, historical, political, and linguistic knowledge went up quite another level. Of course, I also saw more first hand from working how the world actually works, which really only parents will tell you. On this, Michael O Church loves to say how it’s the moderately privileged kids whose parents are in mostly meritocratic places like medicine and academia who can be sheltered enough to be naive. In contrast, underprivileged kids need to be street smart just to survive, while genuinely privileged kids know how rigged the system is and how to game it. I felt so much more free because I finally found more like-minded people with whom I could talk openly without fear of how I might be perceived. I was able to in the process re-mould myself into the organic me as opposed to the me under the yoke of a specific educational system.

Finally, I shall speak specifically on growing up Asian in the American education system. Overall, it’s a pretty shitty cultural experience. They’re not really American, no matter how hard they try, yet they lose the ability to be a genuine Asian. Fortunately, I shielded myself from that largely on my own initiative. It wasn’t always easy, but in the long run, that was quite a wise choice, and I encourage more people with same background as me to do the same. Learn from the good aspects of America, not from the toxic ones. Do this with any culture, any system. Also, exposure to genuine Chinese culture can shield you from the pseudo one presented by the American media that has done so much to confuse the thinking and damage the self-esteem of people like me, but not like me.

Reflecting on my experience, I really wished that I could have gotten a much better education. American education really is pretty shitty, especially for actually smart people, if you’re not very well situated in terms of schools and parents. Of course, later on, it gets much better.

I’ll conclude by going on a tangent. That is, my *anti-Semitism* that kicked off recently. What started it? And I also ask myself: am I simply taking out bitterness with my own educational and cultural experience, and also my own failures, on another group, instead of taking responsibility for them myself? Yes and no. Anyhow, I consider it not anti-Semitic, more like realistic, and in fact, I have interacted substantially with and highly regard many from that group. It is without doubt a remarkably high achieving group, often spectacularly so. This math PhD also well-versed in physics I talk to was also saying to me recently how Jewish accomplishment in mathematics and physics is absolutely overwhelming, which is indisputable. Of course, there’s also a darker side. I think I might have been inspired by this really smart guy who is a white Gentile (later atheist) American who doesn’t actually think I’m insane, or at least I hope not. Because once he was like:

You know what you should do? Become one of those food workers where rich Jews eat. Nobody cares about those people.

I actually told this to someone else, who was like: “that’s because they run things. If you ran things, you’d be the same.” When I told that guy about that, he was like:

counterpoint: other people have run things
some corruption is expected
Even the worst of the colonialist era was tempered
a lot of people were actually trying to do good
civilize the savages, that whole thing
that’s not saying there weren’t atrocities
because there were

And I was like, wow

So you’re saying the Jews now are worse
Than whites during the whole age of white/European imperialism/colonialism.
How much do whites regret letting Jews seize the positions of power

Him:

yes
norms have become nicer
so they can’t pull the old school shit
and more importantly
you’re not going to see the megadeaths from plague

Me:

So your argument is roughly that the calibration has to be much different now relative to the colonialist era, and Jews, by the current calibration, are pretty shitty.
About as shitty as the Belgians were in the Congo eh?

Him:

the belgians self-corrected
I mean, after killing a whole bunch of people
somebody said it was pretty fucked up
and the whole thing kinda fell apart
if we didn’t live in a post-colonial culture
they’d genuinely believe
that goyim are as cattle
and that they should do whatever it takes to ensure their rule persists
also the jews don’t want to exterminate
they need goyim to rule over
a world run by whites is one where half want to conquer and half want to help
a world run by chinese or japanese is one where they’d be rich and on top but mostly leave other people alone
other than getting money from them
a world run by jews is one where they’d systematically extinguish any hope of ending it
ITT anyone smart who’s not a jew would be a threat

Me (critically):

But plenty of smart Asians/whites have had Jewish advisors who strongly supported them
Recognized and cultivated their talent

Him:

this is a world with Jews who can openly be in power
not slink about in the shadows

Me:

That’s kind of theoretically impossible because Jews are too few
See because of that, they can only engage in deception
They’re evolved for that

Him:

look at Israel
they might be “evolved for deception” as you say
but that’s not stopping them from carrying out an effective, slow-motion genocide
which alone is scary
because sure, you can have one Hitler
you can have one Stalin
but you have multiple generations of Jews who are determined to exterminate the palestinians
you can’t have that kind of value alignment with white ppl

Me:

Do it slowly so that people don’t react to it as much, until it’s too late.
It’s like starving a person to death instead of blowing his brains out.
That’s what the Jews are doing to the Palestinians, it’s obvious

Him:

you should be scared because it suggest they’d do it to you too

Me:

Yeah they just don’t have the power to
I mean isn’t cultural assimilation also a form of more benign genocide of a culture
Didn’t whites also slow kill the Native Americans?
And got away with it 100%.
There’s also the saying that abused people are more likely to become abusers.
Doesn’t that sort of apply to the Jews too?

Him:

given the choice between future people who share my genes but an alien culture and future people who share my culture but alien genes I’m 100% for the former 0% for the latter
kicked out of 109 countries?

Me:

They regard that as abuse.
Anti-Semitism.
They may even feel nobody likes us because we’re too good.

Him:

I’m sure they tell themselves something like that

“boo hoo everyone’s evil and oppressive except for us”

What can I say? A smart white who sounds way more *anti-Semitic* than I am. Should I recalibrate according to him? Are Asians simply not aggressive enough? Is that why they are picked on so much by the media in America and not allowed in upper management in corporate America? I think he may be a bit overboard, but I might be wrong on that one. Or maybe he is exaggerating. Who knows. Anyhow, I find it somewhat flattering that he says he’d rather live in a world ruled by Asians than one ruled by Jews, because: less evil. So, considering his opinion, in combination with how shitty the American education system is, outlined above, maybe the group that I am part of really should try to take a more active role in world affairs and set a new standard and example. Lately, that has already been happening, very noticeably, and only time will tell how it pans out. Maybe I can be part of it too, who knows?

Nostalgia

I was just looking at some baseball statistics, starting from Alfonso Soriano, prompted by my receiving mail from another of the same surname. I remember I was a keen baseball fan in grade school, and would watch almost every single game. I didn’t like studying at all, and I was even the kid who didn’t do his homework. In third grade, there was this animal project, where we had to write some report on some Australian animal, and I was the only kid who didn’t complete it by the deadline (in fact, I barely did anything). I got a low grade on it at the end for finishing like two weeks after, and I was super embarrassed about that. Surely, my parents weren’t very happy with me. Amazing how even to this day I still know the names of many of the best players from back in that day. Ichiro, Barry Bonds (steroids), Mark McGuire, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, etc.

I think my having been rather problematic in grade school was a major cause of my low self-esteem as a kid, which persisted for quite a while. Another that I remember vividly was how in junior high, there was this kid who was in all honors classes and also high up in band who had a rather domineering personality. In 8th grade honors English/history, which I almost certainly ended up with a B in, that kid was considered one of the best students in that class. I was in two years accelerated math in 8th grade, and I remember that kid would almost always get better test scores and grades than I did, except it was bullshit core math with graphing calculators and “showing your work.” That teacher gave me a really hard time (because I was pretty fucking ADHD), and I got in trouble multiple times. Once in history class, that aforementioned kid, when sitting next to me, went presumptuously: “I’m probably the smartest person in this school.” Surely, that didn’t make me feel good at all.

What surprised me was that that kid began struggling in math in high school. Right after the AP calculus AB test (which I didn’t even take, since I had learned the BC material on my own essentially), he was like: “it felt like death!” In senior year, when we were doing convergence and divergence of series, where we had to determine and justify, that guy was complaining: “this is like hit or miss!” By then, I had realized that there were more or less systematic ways of proceeding about that. I could sense that he was super bitter about his struggle, as he had always expressed a strong desire to pursue a career in engineering (as if that actually uses much math), though he tried to pretend like he didn’t care or that math is pointless. Predictably, now he is a product manager.

In contrast, now I am basically doing PhD level math, and not even finding it that difficult, and I would not be surprised if I manage to do some legit math research. I’ve sure changed a ton, and I never would’ve expected that, especially based on what I had been like in grade school.

Sorry if I sound like an arrogant, narcissistic douchebag. I was just nostalgic, after all.

My awesome roommate

I recently met this cool guy because we live in the same place. Though he’s not that nerdy (by that, I mean super mathy), we still share many common interests. For instance, he expressed interest when I told him a bit about 艾思奇(Ai Siqi). Additionally, he told me about his appreciation for André Weil and Simone Weil, particularly her mysticism, which I found quite pleasing as I was reading about them not long ago. He also told me about this guy who is trying to understand Mochizuki’s “proof” of the abc conjecture despite being not long out of undergrad, who has plenty of other quirks and eccentric behaviors. Like, that guy joined some Marxist collective, and goes on drunken rants at 3 am, and is in general “aspie af,” something that he described me as too when messaging that guy himself. There is also: “he would literally kill himself if he had to do a tech job.” (laughter) That guy’s dad happens to be a (tenured) math professor from mainland China, more evidence that madness runs in families.

The guy that is the topic of this post himself did up to high school, as far as I know, in Hong Kong, so we have some more in common than usual culturally I guess. He was just telling me about how he had read 矛盾论, which I haven’t even read, at least not in detail, myself. He was saying, on the putative connection between scientific talent and Marxism, perhaps how dialectical materialism is inherently a very scientific way of thinking. I myself know basically nothing about dialectical materialism and even think it’s kind of high verbal low math bullshit, but I can tell that the materialist side of it is very scientific in its very nature, and similarly, dialectics is a very analogies/relationships way of thinking, which is something that high IQ people are by definition good at. Surely, there is much more I can learn from this guy, especially about Chinese language and culture and politics.

On this, I am reminded of another amateur (but professional, or better, level for sure) Marxist scholar, who is genuinely encyclopedic in his historical and cultural knowledge, in particularly a perceptive quote of him that made a deep impression on me:

Europe has always been in rebellion against itself, and continues to be so.  There was nothing but futility in the attempt by superficially Westernised Chinese to be authentically Westernised Chinese by being imitative and reverential of the current embodiment of those values.  You could only be an authentically Westernised Chinese by being a rebel against the current embodiments of Western values, at least in as far as they hampered China or seemed to be irrelevant.  And that’s why Mao was China’s best Westerniser to date, despite his very limited experience of the mundanities of Western life.

As I’ll detail in a future article, visitors to the Chinese Communist bases at Bao’an and later Yen’an noticed that these were the only Chinese in China who behaved more or less as Westerners would have behaved in a similar situation.  Other Chinese might speak good English, wear Western suits and sometimes show considerable knowledge of Western culture: but it was all imitation and the inner core was different and ineffective.  Western-trained engineers and geologists who returned to China kept their distance from hands-on practical work, because anything resembling manual labour would have lost them status in the eyes of Chinese intellectuals.  They were imprisoned by a tradition stretching back to Confucius and beyond.  Only a few broke these ancient taboos, mostly the Communists and some scattered left-wingers in the weak middle ground.  And it was the modernised Chinese in the Communist Party who chose to raise up Mao as the prime teacher of this new understanding.

I remember when my obsessively talented Russian friend once said to me that sometimes he feels like he’s another Pavel Korchagin, I thought he was ridiculous. Well, I’ll be equally ridiculous and say that I feel like I very much exhibit what Gwydion described in Mao that is “authentically Westernized Chinese,” which is very much the antithesis of what I see in most ABCs, despite being half an ABC myself.

If only more people could be like me…

主义

昨天在网上碰到了一个有趣的视频,标题为“My Life, My China – I am a Communist Party member 被打上标签的人”。此内容我就不在这里谈了,读者可以自己看此十分钟以下的视频。里面人所表达的想法和个人经历给我留下了深刻的感受,也在我心目中启发了一定的反思。

我有想过基本问题,那就是人的动力主要出于什么?人是为什么而活?反过来,悲观者也可以说,人是如何最佳承受,至少在唯物主义角度不为己而选的入世以及其所产生的生理意识,以及大自然社会所迫使他的挑战和困难。在这种情况下自然有某某主义的产生为推动人在世界上的奋斗和挣扎,结成人类的组织。主义是多元化的,从宗教主义,到民族主义,到资本主义,到共产主义,永远列不完。

人的精神状态是多动可变的,人可有心灵奔放的兴奋和喜悦,也可有无比痛苦的悲伤和忧郁,人可有坚定不移的动力和勇气,也可有盲目纠结的迟钝和畏惧。相对的高潮和低谷会降临在所有人,所有团体,所有国家,由不同经历发生所促成,也长会直接或隐式的导致在前无可预料的新进展,新眼光。

基本所有人都面临过动力的问题。我本人也有过对曾经至少稍微痴迷过的活动或学科发起厌倦,甚至感到无可忍受,要不是这样就是一种枯燥无味之感,令人精神麻木。在这一点,我认为紧要的是要学会脱离无聊弱智低级趣味的人和环境,因为这只会对一个优良的人和品德进行腐蚀性的感染,使其失去他的卓越精神和纯粹心灵。

不用说,金钱是某些必要物质条件的来源,可是我认为仅以金钱吸引推动人是会有遭遇性的。着这一点看看美国大公司的好多高官就足够了,那些人纯粹是爬社会梯子的官僚,真心在乎的不是领导公司,创造财富,而是介公司的名义是势力为他们自己谋取权利金钱和社会威望。说白了,现在清醒的人民都恨死他们了,因为他们甚至是在使得美国国家和社会土崩瓦解,这些年来,人互相之间的诚信只是降得越来越低,因为大家更加看到公司人越到高层越是结党营私图一己之利,其远远胜于公司的长期利益和前途,现在公司和员工之间的忠诚早已成了笑话了,这是一件很不幸的事情。

看到越多,读到越多,我越来越感到最能激发人的动力和创造力以及极端行为是主义。是主义最能让一个团队,一个民族团结起来万众一心无私奉献将个人得失置之度外的追求同一个目标,它可以激发人创造人间奇迹,也可以促动无情的侵略和战争和野蛮的奸淫和屠杀,让人死都不怕。我在一篇文章中曾经看到

毛泽东时代的另一大特色,是全体中国人民具有很强的凝聚力,这是中国成为现代化强国必不可少的条件。人们看看那些近代发展最快的国家如日本、德国和苏联。德国和日本由于统治集团大肆宣传本民族优越论,客观上造成德意志、大和民族具有很强的凝聚力。苏联是用共产主义理想凝聚人心,也使其各民族具有高昂的战斗力。

而我认为这种观点是完全正确的,认为这显然处于人的本性。在今天美国的多民族自由主义政治正确文化和教育,这种观点是会得以强烈排斥的,甚至此坚信者会被非人化,但这我并不太在意,因为在我眼中,这些都是出于在此教育文化环境对人内心塑造的过于情绪化而非理性出发的反应和某些荒谬的默认观点。

我一直对西方民主制度,尤其是美国所提倡的,产生怀疑,现在是更加相信这条路是冲着悲剧走的。美国所提倡的“民主”是虚伪,他过于强调大多数人在非常有限的经济条件下的“自由选择”,而非注重整个社会提升其素质和水平,过于缺乏纪律的强调,将权利掌握在水平太低的人手里,而且由于给私人太多权利缺乏强大的组织好以有快速有效的执行能力,山头林立,矛盾无解,视野短浅,停滞不前。

不少知识分子有提到人类文明现所处在的下降趋势,其要点之一为人类智商和基因的退化,随着现代医疗和相对容易的生活环境使得太多具有严重身体或智力障碍的往时无法继生的人不仅长成,而且还大量将自己的种子传承到下一代。我个人也认为人的能力实在是太有限了,而且现在的人水平实在太差,虽然人类积累了远远更深的往时无可想象的知识和科技,但是人固有的能力很可能是比以前差了,尤其在非精英层次。我个人经常看到水平一般或差的人会内心想:哎呀,大多人真是那么无趣无味,难道找到一个我愿意或能跟着深度相处的人真的那么难吗?同时,虽然我自己还算不错,但是也有很多对自己不满的地方,承认自己不是任何超人。我欲智力无穷,高飞云满天,但是我不能啊。这自然就把我引导接下的一条思路,那就是如何提高人的水平,可以用训练的方式,可是材料太差是炼不成钢的,即使练成了也是低质量的钢。那就得找到好的材料,把所有的,各方面的,从智力到身材到品德到战斗勇气,好的基因给挖掘出来,只有这样才能促进人类跨越进步。就像我们今天好多视为寻常的科技会令前人震惊,我们也可以将今天的天才化为未来的等闲。

回到此文之标题,是什么主义将人类将世界带到下一个层次,带到崭新的阶段?我猜测肯定会是敢于挑战操纵提升智人基因的主义,只有它能够将限制困扰我们的缺陷和微弱消除掉,开创人类历史新篇章!
 

More on Asian admissions

Yesterday, I met this kid who just entered UC Berkeley for undergraduate. I had known him when I was a kid through friends of parents, though of course, when you’re a kid that kind of age gap disallows much meaningful social interaction. I vividly remember senior year of high school in my Spanish class, we were in the school library computer lab doing some project with a partner, and on the front page of the school district, there was news that this kid won a state math competition. I immediately said to my partner: “I know that kid!” And yesterday, he told me that he made AIME in 8th grade, and also later the USAJMO, which shows that he is highly gifted, perhaps more so than I am.

His dad, who is also a super interesting and humorous guy, told me that his son felt volunteering to put on resume for college applications is complete bullshit. I think the same. Whether or not to do it, to game the silly system, is another question. I thought: wise men think alike.

On this, I recall reading this article by a guy with the surname Mak (Cantonese, not so obviously Asian, unlike say “Ma”) about how he pretended not to be Asian deliberately for all four years of high school in order to get into Yale, which he did. He eventually regretted it deeply, as he expressed in his article.

It is quite sad that the discrimination has brought Asians to such desperate straights, to the mark of overtly rejecting their heritage to appease the white admissions officers who judge them. This is price of being the “model minority.” I don’t even think that works very well in the long run. The plum positions not requiring real skills obtained through connections will still go to the rich well connected WASP kids. For most of us, it would be more worthwhile to develop some real, hard employable skills, even if it means not going to an elite school.

I am angry that Asians are being used as pawns in America. I am angry that Asians here have to grow up hearing all these negative stereotypes which affect their self-esteem and steer them in questionable directions. I encourage Asians not to buy into this BS and know for a fact that American society systemically discriminates against them and deal with it both with the realism that it is there and will likely be slow to change, which means acting prudently with respect to their career prospects, and also to make some effort to fight back against it in a way that does not jeopardize them much. Asians are generally pretty reasonable. They do not demand beyond their ability, beyond what they’ve contributed. If anything, Asians are too passive in this regard, especially in America, where they are very much an invisible minority.

It is disgusting that elite American institutions at the undergraduate level are a mechanism for uplifting the Asians they view as likely to be spineless lackeys for the American WASP-dominated elite agenda in such an egregious way. It is expected behavior of course, but it is done so unabashedly so as to make it vile in its very nature. It degrades the credibility of American elite institutions and America at large to a group who have roots in one of the most economically vibrant areas on earth, a group that contributes enormously to America’s competitive and leading position in science, technology, and economics.

My final word to Asians in America. Be more daring in your ambition and individual pursuits, and at the same time realistic about what people have to offer. Asians are often told in America that they are tools, drones, not creative, and that they are “deferential to authority.” If so, why is it that China has arguably the richest revolutionary tradition and history of the 20th century, producing so many who fought fearlessly and relentlessly against oppressors, against old, outdated traditions, for a system more in tune with the modern world that eventually enabled China to thrive, in the face of powerful opponents? If so, why is it that there are so many Asians at or near the top of mathematics and theoretical physics, fields with arguably the deepest and most vibrant of thinkers, when the past generations were disadvantaged in their access to opportunities and material circumstances? If so, why is it that Japanese anime and video games are so popular across the world? My generation of Asians, unlike the previous ones, have substantially more economic resources at our disposal, and as a corollary, we can afford to care less about what other people think and follow more of our inner heart. With this, it may well be that in the next generation, those who continue on with such stereotypes of Asians will be seen as no more than a laughing stock.