1. The hidden story of the Singapore Mutiny Francis Sempa, ARB
  2. The rise and fall of Rhodesia Xan Smiley, Literary Review
  3. Illusions of “American” empire Santiago Ramos, Commonweal
  4. China’s quiet play for Latin America Margaret Myers, Noema


  1. Another wasted crisis? Chris Dillow, Stumbling & Mumbling
  2. Come home America, we’re at war Richard Reinsch II, RealClearPolicy
  3. Vouchers fight pandemics Robin Hanson, Overcoming Bias
  4. Singapore: the Sino-Semitic connection Adam Garfinkle, American Interest


  1. How neoliberal thinkers spawned monsters they never imagined Wendy Brown (interview), INET
  2. Singapore’s thriving shadow education industry Sun Sun Lim, OUPblog
  3. The unraveling of Sino-Japanese relations Richard McGregor, History Today
  4. There is no end to history, no perfect existence Ludwig von Mises, Mises Institute


  1. Police tailgating and entrapment Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth
  2. Singapore’s military elite Francis Sempa, Asian Review of Books
  3. Bill Barr, the man from the 1980s Ross Douthat, New York Times
  4. Open borders and hive minds (NIMBY) Bryan Caplan, EconLog


  1. The decline and fall of Western civilization, 1992 Dan Nadel, New York Review of Books
  2. The Hitlers in our own country Clive Webb, History Today
  3. A history of Singapore, from 1299 to the present Frank Beyer, Asian Review of Books
  4. A specter is haunting Xi’s China: ‘Mr. Democracy’ Ian Johnson, ChinaFile


  1. Israel’s political balagan Michael Koplow, Ottomans & Zionists
  2. A summary of the rights of British America Thomas Jefferson, Avalon Project
  3. Studying Singapore before it was famous Frank Beyer, Asian Review of Books
  4. The mystic life of Hermann Hesse Philip Hensher, Spectator


  1. Abu Raihan al-Biruni, an Islamic scholar from Central Asia, may have discovered the New World centuries before Columbus S. Frederick Starr, History Today
  2. Gendun Chopel: Tibet’s Modern Buddhist Visionary John Butler, Asian Review of Books
  3. Toru Dutt’s strangeness from India and the French Revolution Blake Smith, Coldnoon
  4. Singapore in translation Theophilus Kwek, Times Literary Supplement


  1. Antarctica’s long, dark winter Sarah Laskow, Atlas Obscura
  2. The worst volcanic eruption in US history Rick Brownell, Historiat
  3. Aftershocks from the 2008 Sichuan earthquake Ian Johnson, NY Review of Books
  4. Put the “human” back into human capital Parag Khanna, Strait Times


  1. Singapore, capitalism, and market socialism Scott Sumner, EconLog
  2. China’s Creditor Imperialism Brahma Chellaney, Project Syndicate
  3. Chairman Xi, Chinese Idol Ian Johnson, New York Review of Books
  4. Trump may be rude, but that doesn’t make him a tyrant Ted Galen Carpenter, the Skeptics


  1. What Causes Cities to Become Sites of Revolution? David Bell, the Nation
  2. William Farquhar – the founder of Singapore Alex Colville, Spectator
  3. American History Needs Defenders Amity Shlaes, City Journal
  4. U.S. Once Had Lots of Norwegian Immigrants Nurith Aizenman, Goats and Soda

Power and Happiness (President Obama in India)

There is widespread confusion around between two ideas that should be easy to separate from each other. I keep bumping into it. I had several lengthy discussions of it with strangers on Facebook. Some were of the left, some of the right. I found it in my morning paper under the pen of no less than columnist David Brooks of the New York Times (“Midwest at Dusk”11/7/1)).

I refer to the confusion between the happiness of a country’s citizens and the country’s standing in the world. David Brooks wrote:

“If America can figure out how to build a decent future for the working-class people in this (mid-Atlantic) region, then the US will remain a predominant power. If it can’t, it won’t.”

Like this.

President Obama’s post- “shellacking” visit to India is a good time to clear the confusion.

It may be that there is some sort of connection between the happiness of a country’s citizens (or some) and being a “predominant power.” It may be but it’s far from obvious. You would have to demonstrate it. It would be hard; casual evidence does not support the idea. Deeper research does not either. Continue reading

A View from Inside China

Below is what I think is an interesting document. It’s an email from a former MBA student. He is a Singapore Chinese who spends a lot of time doing business inside China, in Mandarin. He is an intelligent and well-educated man. I know him to have a conservative temperament overall but he is also a keen observer and an independent thinker. Some of his statements are disturbing to me. I post this document on my blog for its intrinsic interest, not as an endorsement. I note with interest that he has not asked me to delete his name in spite of his denunciations of Singapore’s treatment of its dissidents. I withhold it nevertheless. He can add it subsequently if he wishes.

I have been hearing lots about evil China and their evil products (mostly from Taiwan opposition party folks, Chen Sui Bian and his gang).

There have been lots of negative press about manufacturers in China and how bad they are. Thing is the blame needs to be shared. I sourced in China as well and I what I have seen appalled me. Not that the manufacturers are out to get the buyers, but more so, the buyers are working so hard to get the manufacturers. The incident about Mattel, for example, I feel it was an error on Mattel’s part not to confirm that lead-free paint was going to be used. They probably assumed it.

And they probably pushed the price down so hard that the manufacturers had to cut corners to make any sort of financial sense. And when excrement hits the fan, they sad the manufacturers were to blame. And what about Walmart? Most manufacturers I know, many of whom are my friends, are refusing to sell to Walmart. Walmart are so harsh on pricing that they would specifically ask for the lower (if not lowest) quality goods. They would put such a large order, so huge that they would take over the entire manufacturing capability of a factory. If the factory is dumb enough to let them be the biggest and majority customer, they will be in for a fix. Walmart to hit prices down low and threaten to move elsewhere. The factory would have no choice but to budge because, if Walmart left, they would go out of business. So corners are cut, and Walmart knows about these cuts. All they care about is price and in the end, the customer suffers. It is not just the savings are “rolling back” to the customers, but the poor quality of the products are going back to the customer as well. By the way, Walmart usually price their goods anywhere from five to twenty times that of the cost they procured it at.

My view on communism is very different from the average person in the “free world”. This is the “new” communism in China. My opinion is that things actually get done here and quick too. In the time that Oakland took to rebuild the Cypress Highway that connects 880 to the Bay Bridge after the earthquake, Shanghai has constructed more than 10 times of that distance in highways, most of them elevated, a complete subway system, 3 large bridges and 3 underwater tunnels, a full industrial park (cao he jing) a full financial center in Pudong, A new airport, and a new half of the city in Pudong literally done up. This is just within the limits of Shanghai city, excluding all the work done for the interstates. What can I say?

Comparing it to Singapore with a “democratically” elected government, China enjoys more freedom. Now, I say this as a person living in China, not as a politician. I see demonstrations from time to time in Shanghai and recently, the Shanghai government has been listening.

Talks happen, and situations get changed. It is true that China has seen more restricted times in the past but Hu and his current government is set to change that. The situation in Singapore is much more different where the law is often used to suppress opposition and dissidents.


People in Singapore mostly just take it in and forget about it, choosing to think about car payments, house payments and if their favorite British soccer team is going to win.

Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts. Of course, there are things that gets to me in China and Singapore as well, and also many things I like about the USA. These are some ramblings I have. Feel free to put them on your blog if you want to. I really miss talks with you outside Kenna Hall while you are bumming cigarettes off me. ;)

P.S. I haven’t seen the Palin article on your blog. I will look it up. Every time I see her picture or video anywhere, I always get the impression of a deer in the headlights.

P.S.S. I have been out of touch with a lot of things. I really disapprove of Obama in 1) his work on 90% tax on the AIG bonuses (which I think is stupid and unconstitutional) and 2) him sending more troops into middle east.

A. L.