Role models for Chinese who grow up in America

Now that I am older with some time out of that shitty American education system, I can better appreciate how racist and emotionally destructive it is at its core for Chinese. Of course, I sort of knew all along that the “Asian” portrayals and stereotypes within the US school system and media bears little resemblance to the real one based in China. I mostly did what I could to ignore that and learn the real Chinese culture instead. For that, much thanks to Baidu and CCTV.

And yes, I had been at least subconsciously aware of the problem of lack of good role models. Speaking of which, I just read this comment on Reddit which left me quite an impression. The author of it, though having written that he was actually born in the US (I wasn’t), clearly knows the Chinese language and culture well, if you look at his writings on Reddit. As for the specific comment, I have it copied below.

There are plenty of Asian role models if the younger generation would actually try to look.

My personal, first and foremost has to be Mao Zedong, simply because of his bravery and not giving in to pressure, especially by XMs if you think about it: Krushcev, FDR, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, etc etc.

He led the Red Army during the Long March, 6000 miles on foot, always having to worry about assassination, and when they did win the Civil War, what happens? The United States tried to get him during the Korean War, and well, we know what happened after that, pitting 2 superpowers against each other and coming out on top, with lots and lots of pressure. Also the Chinese nuclear weapons was under Mao’s watch, which is the benchmark of calling yourself a superpower.

And no, to those Asian parents who decided to come here, air conditioners and toilets is NOT the the benchmark of being a superpower, nuclear weapons are, supercomputers are, missiles are.

Funny thing is, Mao died in his 80s, with all the pressure and stress he had endured. New generation Asian emigrants come here and I’ve noticed die much earlier than the previous generation. What gives? Could it be that your abundance of food is not so good? The convenience of air conditioners, heaters and toilets made you all weaklings? Something to consider.

For intellectuals, the father of China’s nukes and missiles have to be Qian Xuesen along with all the other great Chinese scientists under Qian’s watch.

Let’s not forget all the musicians that composed those beautiful war/red songs, still written to this very day. There is just too many to name, but they should all be enshrined to be the world’s greatest artists, along with Cultural Revolution painters. The paintings are amazing.

Yang Hongji is a famous singer in China, his baritone voice is amazing, you all should have a listen, Baidu it, 杨洪基

For athletes, I do like world record holders, so definitely Lu Xiaojun and Liao Hui, along with olympic swimmer Sun Yang. Also, we have to put in Bruce Lee as well, <— finally an ABC lol, yay! I like Jeremy Lin too, he’s way better than he actually is until the Houston Rockets basically fired him because the general manager was a supreme jack ass.

So, if Asians really look close enough there is plenty of role models around, don’t look at just Americanized Asians.

Now if you made it this far reading my walls of text, lmao, how many at r/aa actually know this about history, the Chinese Asians that is? Not many I reckon. Which is why I always say, deletion of history from your brain can be detrimental to your mental health. But at the same time we still have very proud Asians even with a lack of knowledge of history. Why is that? Maybe because there is so much evidence right now that we are just better. I honestly have no idea what is going in the brains of Asians from those other subs whom we shall not name lmao.

I pretty much have felt the same as he had, aside from my not having heard of Yang Hongji and Lü Xiaojun, who are pretty minor on that list anyway. But in place of the former, I know of plenty of such Chinese cultural singers, and the latter is as far as I can tell still more or less obscure, his weightlifting world record notwithstanding.

I especially liked his

And no, to those Asian parents who decided to come here, air conditioners and toilets is NOT the the benchmark of being a superpower, nuclear weapons are, supercomputers are, missiles are.

This has been quite obvious to me all along. Economic power is not the same as standard of living as experienced directly by the common folk. People who conflate the two tend to be those mentally sick right wing liberal Chinese who I want nothing to do with. Of course, not that material standard of living doesn’t matter, it certainly does, and in that regard, China has naturally improved very rapidly the past several decades once it had its industrial and military foundation.

Another comment of his I found particularly funny,

I never knew America is actually not that strong at weightlifting, and I wasn’t able to easily confirm it through online searches. I’ll take his word on that though, and also, that Russians are really good at weightlifting is exactly what I would expect.

I do remember seeing that the World’s Strongest Man contest had an Icelandic and Lithuanian, and more generally Nordics and East Europeans, at the top. There was though an American named Brian Shaw. I told this to my racially self-hating Chinese male nerd friend with reference to the word “white,” and to my great surprise, his response was actually

Lol that’s because only white people could care about such a ridiculous contest.

By the way, I don’t find that contest ridiculous; I find it quite respectable.

Back to Chinese role models, I first learned about Qian Xuesen spring of sophomore year of high school through Wikipedia and I developed somewhat of a fascination with him. I think very few Chinese who grow up in America know about him despite his being a household name in China, simply because America is not going to advertise him. I saw that Iris Chang, famous for her book on the Rape of Nanking also wrote a biography for him in English. Sadly, Iris Chang committed suicide in her 30s out of mental illness. She was also a WMAF, and yes, I’m well aware now of the phenomenon of Asian female married to white male as Asian-American community activist, in particular how much of a joke that is.

I’ll conclude by saying that I’m not some frenzied Chinese ethnic chauvinist. I genuinely admire much of Western civilization, the science part of it especially, though I’m also aware it is much in contradiction with my heritage, not to mention that mainstream American culture and politics right now is basically completely degenerate. Again, my message to Chinese in America is to be less complicit with it. In other words, quoting that guy again,

We need to channel Genghis, do not integrate into the land you are in right now, but channel your own inner Ghenghis. We need to forget this acceptance garbage. When Ghenghis went into Iran, did he beg for integration into Iranian society? No. he went out there and just took it. This attitude is what we need.

Oleg

Oleg is one of my ubermensch Soviet (and also part Jewish) friends. He has placed at (or at least near) the top on the most elite of math contests. He is now a math PhD student with an advisor even crazier than he is, who he says sometimes makes him feel bad, because he has done too little math research wise. However, this persona alone is not that rare. Oleg’s sheer impressiveness largely stems from that on top of this, he is a terrific athlete, extremely buff and coordinated, enough that he can do handstand pushups, to the extent that he regards such as routine. Yes, it is routine for a guy contending for a spot on a legit gymnastics team, but you wouldn’t expect this from a math nerd huh?

Today, I was talking to him and some others about gym. In particular, I was saying how I could at one point do 10 pullups but dropped down to 2 after a long hiatus. The conversation went as follows:

Me: Oleg I’m back to 5 pull-ups now
Oleg: that’s good although make sure you’re doing them for real
i still don’t believe you could do 10 but then dropped down to 2
Me: Oh I’m very sure they’re full pullups
Okay maybe it was 8
Oleg: i’d like to see evidence
Me: Alright I’ll have someone videotape me do pullups today in gym

And so I did.

Later, Oleg suggested something pretty funny:

i still think you should get tattoos and gain 25 lb of muscle, that would be hilarious
then walk up to girls and ask about their SAT scores
and say “oh, that’s too low, i don’t want to breed babies with you”
followed by a cackle
i’d watch that show

Not surprisingly, Oleg, as buff as he is, has had some success with girls, though he regards himself as shy and struggling in that regard. I keep telling him that he needs to marry a girl who’s both super smart and attractive like he is, so that he can optimize his chance of making superhuman babies. His only disadvantage now is that he’s a poor math PhD student, but he can easily change that by, say, joining DE Shaw, from what I’ve read is full of uber nerdy macho Eastern European men. He’s not very interested in money though, and expresses content with his graduate student stipend, which I find laughable.

I find it regrettable that most ubermensch men smart enough for legit doctoral programs in math and physics are unable to find a mate who is commensurate with them, ability wise, even with some adjustments, even when they’re well-rounded like Oleg is. Why is this? Excessive Aspergers? On that, I know someone who will say along the lines of

in an actual long-term relationship you have to share most of your life with the person, and if they don’t understand the way you look at the world then it creates friction
sure, the girl doesn’t need to understand high energy physics, I have other friends for that

Maybe some females could give us some advice, other than the cliche “hit the gym” that you’ll often hear from males. Such would be much appreciated! 😉

冬奥会

韩国的2018年冬奥会即将来临,盼望看到精彩的体育表演。说起这,我会想到一俩月前得知俄罗斯由涉嫌使用禁药“验证”而遭到IOC的禁赛。当时在媒体看到有人评论:冬奥会的销售已经被当前的朝鲜半岛危机所大大阻扰,现在又失去了俄罗斯强者的参与,只会让为此有不少经济投入的韩国组织者更加头疼。我个人认为这个禁止有点过分了,运动员总有黑的,在美国的棒球,橄榄球,例子太多,难道因为有一个吃药的明星,就把整个球队抛掉吗?我的一位俄罗斯朋友,一位在美国长大的俄罗斯人,为此极其愤怒,将次化为阴谋,美国操纵IOC,甚至说美国故意让俄罗斯运动员吃的药过不了检验,而他们自己的运动员的可以。

今天网上搜奖牌榜预测,从而得知了Lindsay Vonn,因为那里的视频竟然有这位美国滑雪运动员为禁俄罗斯之决定张正嘴。好奇这种运动员的背景的我扫了扫此维基百科页,看到这位挪威裔姑娘出生于冬天满雪盖地的Minnesota,两岁就开始滑雪,并且在这方面有曾经赢过junior title的父亲的强烈鞭策。不用说,滑雪是有钱人的运动,所需要的设施是必可避免的昂贵,加上又有受伤的风险,想起前几年赛车手Michael Schumacher滑雪时头撞上了石头,导致达到长期不省人事的重伤,现在基本处于永久脑损伤状态。就是在美国,也有人笑话加以藐视的把冬奥会当做一个rich white person的聚会。

不过,这届加上下一届冬奥会都将在东亚举行,这次在韩国,下次在中国,说明东亚国家也不差了。想起自己四五岁时候在中国还滑了一次雪,对此还依然留下相当深刻的记忆。我想当时,中国滑雪过的人还很少,可能大多都是运动员或军队的人,那时候还太穷。现在或许不少了,而只会越来越多,尤其在中国冬奥会申办成功所有的对雪上运动的宣传作用。看来中国在冬奥会表现的还可以,特别在那种翻跟头的玩命项目(06年韩晓鹏就赢得了自由式滑雪男子空中技巧金牌),而将来随着资源,培训的扩张只会更好,甚至能达到与北欧国家竞争的程度。我个人真的觉得滑雪滑冰这些都挺cool,可惜我两个都一般般。

最后,我想再次说感到俄罗斯的不在真的是非常可惜。第一,它让冬奥会失去了一定的活力。第二,这是又一个对美国流氓政治家的认可,也是对在我眼中有很多可羡慕学习的地方的俄罗斯的一种绝不恰当的全盘否定。虽然俄罗斯问题很多,现在从某种角度是个醉汉的失败国,但是它依然是一个文艺高雅,科技强大,又具有纯粹卓越加以血性精神的国家和民族。可能我见到的俄罗斯人大多都是来到美国的,文化水平比较甚至极高的,有一定的向正面歪曲的印象, 但是即使在美国,我发现俄罗斯人除了科技水平很高,而且是很具有创造力的那种,他们不太善于玩美国公司里经常玩的小人政治,更愿意靠他们的真正的能力,不太在乎升官谋利,与其他民族相比,也不是那么在意名校,对美国体制的一些腐朽的,令人精神盲目的地方,比较排斥,懒得game the system,有一种直截了当,实事求是的精神。加上,他们一点都不书呆子,会做很多业余的事情,也敢于冒险,不怕挑战权威。回忆到一位大学认识的俄罗斯学生竟然骑着摩托车到外地实习,又问我愿不愿意坐他的车,令我吃惊。你可能会视之为不必要的不注重安全的胆大包天,可是反过来也可以说这表现出一种冲锋陷阵天不怕地不怕的探险精神。中国父母大多我想是不会允许他们孩子这样做的,但他的父母对此却毫无介意,甚至鼓励。他们是具有超人本性的民族,他们有Kolmogorov或列宁的气魄和纯粹,而美国那些政治人渣却要禁止他们参赛,可气可悲啊!

没想到,或潜意识有想到,以冬奥会为标题的博客文章却即将将俄罗斯人的精髓为中心了。此说起,就让文章到此为止,免得走题。

More on Asian stereotypes

I just stumbled upon this wonderful essay by Gwydion Madawc Williams on why the Ming voyages led by Zheng He (郑和) led to nothing. The quote of it particularly memorable to me was this:

The separation of craft and education as represented by China’s illiterate shipwrights was indeed a genuine weakness in the Chinese system.  Christian Europe always remembered that St Peter had been a fisherman and St Paul a tent-maker, and it was quite acceptable for learned people to also be involved in manufacturing.  The weakness of Confucianism was not so much that it rated agriculture and craft above merchant trade, but that it insisted on the educated being a learned caste distanced from all of these matters.

Again, it’s the Asian stereotype of being a study hard grind lacking in practical, hands-on skills and “well-roundedness” and “social skills” and all that that admissions officers use to justify denying Asian applicants. I’ll say that from what I know, that is still very limited, Confucianism was very much like that. The quote that epitomized this was: 劳心者治人,劳力者治于人, which translates to roughly “the worker of the mind governs, the physical worker is governed.” The whole imperial examination system essentially created an upper class of bookworms for whom any form of hands on labor was beneath. To be a true 君子, gentlemen, you were supposed to study the classics and write poetry and engage in all that Confucian bull shit. I myself don’t have a very high opinion of Confucianism. It’s too conservative for me, with all the emphasis on ritual and filial piety. It discouraged any form of innovation outside the system, outside what was already there, which is partly why China could not make the giant leaps in science that the West did. I’ve read some of the Analects of Confucius and know some of the quotes, and I don’t think Confucius was a deep philosopher at all; there is little actual substance in what he said. On the other hand, Mo Tzu was a much further reaching, more scientific, and surprisingly modern thinker, and had China followed his path instead of banishing his school of thought into obscurity, the world would be completely different now, with China likely having made many more leaps of progress than it had actually done. I’ll say that the West was able to escape the shackles of Christianity, but China could not by itself escape those of Confucianism, until its dire situation, with reached its nadir in 1900, forced it too.

Apparently, the elite college admissions officers aren’t terribly good at filtering out the real Asian grinds either, as I know one who went to Princeton, who I found ridiculous. He said that all he did in college was study, and even though he majored in math, he hardly knew any. Like, he didn’t know what a topological space is. When I went ice skating with him and some others, he was near the edge the whole time, and he characterized my skating backwards (not well at all) as “scary.” I told him I’m not very athletic and wasn’t even any good, unlike the girl he was dating at that time, who could do spins among other fancy “figure skating” things she was trying out. I did show him the video taken of this 360 somersault I did off a 15 feet cliff in Hawaii, into the water, which was the first time I had done anything like that. He was like: “that’s so scary.” I honestly didn’t know what to say. To justify himself, he was like: “Chinese parents only want their kids to study.” I told him that in China, there are some very athletic people who attend special sports schools. On that, he was like: “but those aren’t normal people.” I also remember when we went camping once, everybody else got drunk, so I got to drive that kid’s BMW back. He had told us that his father does business in Beijing, which might explain why he drives that kind of car. He came to US at age 4. His Chinese is absolutely awful though, and he doesn’t realize it. He will of course say: “I already know enough. Some people can’t even speak it.” 怎么说那,不仅是个书呆子,而且是个书都读不好的书呆子,连这样的sb还都被Princeton录取了。I’ve talked with one of my very smart Asian friends about this, and he was like: “but he’s socially normal, unlike us.” And more recently: “Maybe they do accept Asian grinds, just not the ones with bad social skills.”

From what I’ve seen, there are plenty of super conformist Asian grinds like him, but there are also many who aren’t, who are actually smart and interesting, like myself (or at least I hope). I think what he said about Chinese parents is somewhat true actually; after all, I saw many growing up. They do see academics as a way to get ahead more so than others, largely because in China, to get out of your rural village and/or not be stuck with a working class job, you had to do sufficiently well on the gaokao to get into a good major at a good university. It’s funny that I’ve actually seen a ton of ignorant, narrow-minded, and risk-averse uncool tiger Chinese parents. And I have also seen some extremely impressive ones, not just academically. There is again quite a wide range and variety.

There is a phenomenon I’ve witnessed, which is that if a person is extremely strong at X and merely above average at Y, then that person will seem weak at Y, even compared to another person about as good at Y but less lopsided. It seems a natural human cognitive bias to think this way. This is in fact applied rather perversely to Asians in stereotyping. For example, Asian students are perceived as weak at language and humanities because they are generally stronger at STEM. We all know that in fact math IQ and verbal IQ (which we can use crudely as proxies for STEM ability and humanities ability respectively) are highly correlated, which makes it highly unlikely that a STEM star is actually legitimately weak at humanities. He might not be interested in reading novels and such but that’s rather different. There is also that humanities is more cultural exposure loaded with a much higher subjective element to it, with much less of a uniform metric. It actually seems to me based on personal experience that is by no means representative that in terms of precise use of language and the learning of foreign languages, mathematicians and theoretical physicists are at or near the top in terms of ability. On this, I will give an opposing perspective that I identify with somewhat, which is that even if you’re very strong at Y, having an X that you are significantly more talented at is a weakness for Y, because engaging in Y deprives the joy derived from engaging in the X, which often leads to loss of interest over time. Maybe this is why employers shy from hiring people who they deem “overqualified?” On this, I have thought of how possibly the lopsided cognitive profile in East Asians (with what is likely at least 2/3 SD differential between math/visuo-spatial and verbal, normalizing on white European scores) predisposed the thinking of the elite (assuming that lopsidedness is preserved at the far tail) as well as the development of that society at large in certain ways, some of which may have been not the most conducive for, say, the development of theoretical science. This is of course very speculative, and I would actually hypothesize that the far tail cognitive elite among East Asians is more balanced in terms of the math/visuo-spatial and verbal split, given the great extent to which the imperial examination system, which tested almost exclusively literary things, selected for V at the tail instead of for M.

On the aforementioned bias, I’ll give another illustrative example. I once said to this friend of mine, a math PhD student, not Asian, how there’s the impression that people who are weaker academically tend to be better at certain practical things, like starting restaurants and businesses. We sure all know there are plenty who weren’t good at school but were very shrewd and successful at business, at practical things. That guy responded with reference to Berkson’s paradox. He said something like: “That’s because you are unlikely to see those who are bad at both. They tend to be in prison or in the lower classes.” I could only agree.

I’ll conclude with another more dramatic example. I used to, when I knew nothing about the subject, think that people who were really at math were weirdos and socially awkward. For one, there was this kid in my high school who was way better than me at math at the time, who was incredibly autistic. Also, summer after 10th grade, I saw Beautiful Mind, which depicts the mathematician as mentally crazy. Now I would bet the incidence of schizophrenia among the mathematically gifted is lower than it is in the whole population. It just happens that certain combinations of extreme traits are vastly more noticeable or exposed by the media to the public (a mathematician or physicist may think of this as weighing those with such combinations with a delta function, or something along that direction at least). I wasn’t quite aware of that at that time though. Only later, after meeting more math people did I realize that math people are not actually that socially out of it in general, far from it, at least once they’re past a certain age, by which they will have had the chance to interact with more people like them and form their own peer group.

It is my hope that people can be more cognizant of these biases described in this blog post.

 

The Asian penalty

We all know that elite schools in the US discriminate against Asian applicants, essentially imposing a penalty for being Asian. And they have been rather pathetically pretending that such is not the case in spite of all the statistical evidence to the contrary. On this, people have said things like: where is affirmative action for Asians in the NBA/NFL? Well, today one of my colleagues who is a keen baseball fan, and probably also an NBA one, was talking about how there is even an Asian penalty in the NBA. Like, Asians are typically under-drafted, which means their number or rank in the draft is under commensurate with their actual ability and value at basketball. He says it’s due to the negative perception being Asian is for basketball in terms of how good one is yada yada yada. I haven’t paid attention to basketball for a long time, but I do remember the Linsanity several years ago, and when I was a kid, one who was a keen NBA fan, all the talk about Yao Ming. Last I checked Asians account for 0.2% of the NBA players, which means just a few names. Well, there is the height disadvantage after all. This was actually somewhat surprising to me, perhaps influenced by the fact that Yao Ming seemed to be overvalued due to the money he would bring from all the Chinese fans. So not only is there not affirmative action for Asians in the NBA, there is the same discrimination, the same penalty, the same stereotypes against Asians as in college admissions. Now that really sucks!

Now to something else that saddens me greatly that is a consequence of the current discriminatory policies against Asians in college admissions. Some Asian-Americans are afraid to check Asian and even afraid to engage in activities/pursuits they have gift and passion for, or at least some intrinsic interest in, under the fear that those are too Asian. Some are even afraid to show their Asian heritage and even reject their roots, which is quite sad, as you are who you are, in terms of your cultural background and denying it mostly makes you look quite pathetic. At least based on what I experienced growing up Asian in the states, many if not most Asian kids, even smart ones, try to distance themselves from their parents’ culture and are reluctant to learn or speak their parents’ native language, under social pressures osmosed in them by the whole American public school experience. Chinese culture is a pretty fucking cool and rich culture, with a beautiful language of artistic virtue that comes with a rich history. It is a pity that it is so misunderstood and that the American education system pressures against it in those from that cultural background. This is anti-intellectual in fact too, ironic as it is instigated partly by elite educational institutions, as reading multiple languages makes one’s mental world and whole spiritual existence a hell of a lot more interesting, an inevitable product of access of more diverse information.

To sum it up, it looks like all across the board America treats Asians as second class citizens. Yes, Asians are mostly new immigrants, but this is in fact overstated. As early as in the 19th century, Chinese in America were made to do much of the most dangerous work building the Transcontinental Railroad only to suffer the Chinese Exclusion Act. In the 20th century especially later on, Chinese as well as Indians, in addition to Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese, have created tremendous wealth for America, largely in science and engineering fields. Asians in America have mostly been busy working, busy creating, and some in hard menial labor in wretched conditions, with such being a major contributor to Asians, as a group, being seen as passive and apolitical, creating a self-pertuating stereotype. On this, Steve Hsu has expressed on his blog how slow the Asian community has been to organize against the double standards imposed on them in college applications, relative to the what Jewish community had done when the same had been unjustly instituted against them. Given the voluminous extent to which Asians as a group have contributed to America in terms of innovation and value creation, Asians have every right to demand that they are fairly considered for all positions, and leadership positions in particular, based on merit, which is not happening right now. On this more Asian-Americans ought to muster the courage to speak up for what is right, as Steve Hsu, Yukong Zhao, and Jian Li, among many others, have done amidst resistance.