Rebuttal to Eric Liu's 8/29 Piece in WSJ

Rebuttal to Eric Liu's 8/29 Piece in WSJ

I was browsing the WSJ, on its very capable iOS app, and came across the headline: “Why I Can’t Just Become Chinese” by Eric Liu. A headline like that jumps out at you, especially if you are writing an upcoming book on Chinese and Western culture as I am. So, naturally I clicked on it. 

I didn’t know what to expect, really, but I think Mr. Liu gets it wrong. I think he gets both China and the U.S. wrong.

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Floating City

Floating City

Bo is referred to as 番仔, meaning "foreign kid." "番" is the character that precedes Potato 番薯 and Tomato 番茄, making new nouns out of "Foreign Tuber" and Foreign Eggplant," to describe the curious produce that the Portuguese had originally introduced to China via Macau a few centuries ago. Bo, it turns out, is half-Chinese. A mild spoiler: Bo discovers late in the movie his mother (played by Josie Ho) was raped by a British Seaman (pun not intended). That biological mother tearfully gives him up for adoption. A family of fisherman, who ply the waters of the South China Sea, living and fishing on/off their vessel adopt Bo and do their best to give him whatever attention and care is possible, amidst some rather hardscrabble circumstances.

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2iB: What is Balance?

2iB: What is Balance?

It's not that Kobe is great at taking unbalanced shots; it is that he is making all manner of adjustments- he is great at setting his feet in the air, deploying his shooting "guide hand" (Kobe's left hand) and the guide arm and shortening or extending it in certain directions to counteract the source of the unbalance. He is using core control to ensure his torso twists or doesn't twist, just so- so that his shooting posture toward the basket is aligned. He is doing it all. Kobe's execution of "BALANCE" is preceded by muscle memory, and court vision (to know where the basket is for example, or where and how an opponent is likely to foul him, in anticipation of the "AND 1" play), and intensity, of course. 

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2iB: What is Intensity?

2iB: What is Intensity?

Intensity follows Integrity. With Intensity, the popular American maxim of “go big or go home,” comes to mind. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing BIG. Warren Buffett, when prompted on the question of diversification in stock investing, said that for 98% of the people extreme diversification is the right way to invest. That means owning a mutual fund, or, even better the broadest possible global index of equities. Basically you want to own the world- if for example Venezuela turns out to be an investment dud, well, you got Ecuador. He went on to say that if you are ready to take ”an intensity” to it (stock investing), then one should take the opposite approach, i.e. only own a maximum of six or seven different shares, perhaps significantly fewer. In other words, do put all of your eggs in one basket- and guard that basket with your life.

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Hedging is Generally Good in a Cultural Sense

Hedging is Generally Good in a Cultural Sense

Lil’ Wayne is unhedged to Jay Z’s hedged. The danger is being a Lil’ Wayne who is too steadfastly a hardcore gangsta rapper. He has the “back the ‘f’ up” diamond-grill-mouthpiece. He has the menacing lyrics. He abuses drugs, including codeine cough syrup[i]. He gloats about his time in prison; he gets into mean confrontations with people. He is a true gangsta. The dirty secret is that his fanbase includes a lot of wannabes. It includes a lot of types who enjoy the voyeurism of being a Lil’ Wayne acolyte. I suspect Lil’ Wayne knows that he'd be better off developing more boutique cred, like Jay Z, in addition to his curriculum vitae in street cred. But Weezy just can’t help but be pushed, and goaded and socially pressured by fans and commentators alike to remain one-dimensional, and as a consequence a fringe performer in the broader pop-rap-electronic oeuvre today. 

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Assimilation vs. Multiculturalism: Indos Return to Holland

Assimilation vs. Multiculturalism: Indos Return to Holland

One of Tjalie Robinson’s most oft-quoted statements goes as follows: "I did not care that people wanted to call me ‘neither fish nor fowl,’ and wanted to label me, an Indo, either Indonesian or Dutch. For them I just had to choose between the two, right? Nevertheless, I stubbornly named the turtle as ‘neither fish nor fowl,’ and praised this animal as a unique, land-and-sea-lover who lives to very old ages, whose meat has an excellent taste, and who cuts through oceans from continent to continent. I said, ‘Just as I do not find the turtle inferior, although he is neither fish nor fowl, I do not think the Indo inferior. And that is the end of it!

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The Indo Boxer

The Indo Boxer

Robinson possessed a rich, varied varied biography that showcased him as warrior-poet of sorts, an accomplished boxer and a man of letters who authored books and wrote highly literate articles widely read in the Netherlands[ii]. He was also interned under the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies during WWII. The sheer force of his life experience was probably enough to give Robinson an audience- but he cared deeply about all things "Indo," affording him a special authority. 

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A Festival Way More Interesting Than Amsterdam's Best

A Festival Way More Interesting Than Amsterdam's Best

Formerly known as Pasar Malam Besar, the Tong Tong Festival is the annual celebration of European-Indonesian heritage. At the time I went I was a graduate student at Tufts at the time, in Medford, Massachusetts. It was the Summer between my first and second year. I remembered learning about this event while in college. I always wanted to go. And that Summer I had a chance to visit.

Maybe there’d be some good food too.

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The Decline of "Hapa"

The Decline of "Hapa"

Most importantly, "Hapa" is in decline because Gen Z is rising, fast. And they have a different take.

"Hapa" is the ultimate "Millenial" term. It is cheerful. It is "multicultural." It is "here and now."

Generation Z is entrepreneurial, and they want to be experts. They have lived the Great recession; they understand that to get a job they have to think about the future- they need to anticipate where the jobs are going to be, what the challenges and opportunities of the global economy mean to them. They are the types that know that conversational ability in five languages is less valuable than dual fluency. They know that to survive they have to be resourceful- they have to have solid skills and knowledge, that is going to facilitate critical cross-functional work. In all of this, they want to be impactful. And any way you slice that- it means global.

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