The Following (2013)

S01E01

vlcsnap-2013-01-26-13h58m38s67Heterosexual European male protagonist (middle) slept with the serial killer’s wife. Accentuate with token African male agent and token Eurasian female agent (with a European surname).

vlcsnap-2013-01-26-13h59m08s112Intelligent (PhD professor) European male serial killer with natural erotic appeal. How many historical serial killers fit this profile?

vlcsnap-2013-01-26-13h58m14s62Two heterosexuals aiding the serial killer successfully pretend to be stereotypical homosexual buddies to a heterosexual female character.

vlcsnap-2013-01-26-13h56m29s65For another dash of tokenism, a stereotypical female East Asian TV news reporter.

vlcsnap-2013-01-27-22h09m35s97Elderly African agent who is conformist and temporarily hinders the good European protagonist from finding the serial killer.

Overall: This series premier is dark, depressing and has a potentially dangerous storyline.

Update: 2013-03-10

S01E03

vlcsnap-2013-02-05-14h54m00s160One of the two pretend homosexual males is identified (in season 2) as Paul Torres and is thus being coded as Latino. He goes to a store and flirts with an East Asian female clerk Megan. Predictably, she flirts back.

vlcsnap-2013-02-05-14h58m42s173They meet after work where she states that she only wants to flirt and not have sex. He however, knocks her out and carries her home to perhaps be his sex toy (this is implied through the sexual nature of their initial interaction).

vlcsnap-2013-03-10-19h26m49s215The African agent (seen in the first pic) gets his throat slit and dies. The token Eurasian female agent only appears in the premier and never re-appears. The token African male however, stays around long enough to be the sacrificial minority (literally) dying for the European stars. Thus the cost of being a token is that you can stay for three episodes and get killed stereotypical style or appear for one episode and disappear stereotypical style.

vlcsnap-2013-02-05-15h01m18s189Seems now that the pretend homosexuals are bisexuals. So we have two previous heterosexuals who through pretend homosexuality become bisexual. Sexuality bending, what will Hollywood think of next?

Update: 2013-03-17

S01E07

vlcsnap-2013-03-17-22h56m38s198African female lawyer gets strangled by chief European protagonist baddie.

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On Islam and Nobel Prizes

From The Economist:

The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims have produced only two Nobel laureates in chemistry and physics. Both moved to the West: the only living one, the chemist Ahmed Hassan Zewail, is at the California Institute of Technology. By contrast Jews, outnumbered 100 to one by Muslims, have won 79.

They are comparing “Muslims” with “Jews.” Muslims are followers of the religious component of Islamic culture. Islam is primarily a culture, the religious component of which is also called Islam. However, the “Jews” referred to here are not necessarily followers of Judaism.

Rather they are people with some Hebrew descent and often with a lot of European descent as well. Aren’t many Muslim Arabs also of Hebrew ancestry? Why not include them in calculations for “Jews” as well?

Additionally, the “Jews” are living in rich, Westernized non-Jewish countries. Science generally requires economic prosperity, low to moderate social stratification and national peace. Does this describe the typical country in the Islamic world?

The 57 countries in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference spend a puny 0.81% of GDP on research and development, about a third of the world average. America, which has the world’s biggest science budget, spends 2.9%; Israel lavishes 4.4%.

But would Israel be able to spend 4.4% if it did not receive an estimated cumulative amount of US foreign aid valued at $114 billion? While Egypt also gets $2 billion/year in US aid, it is evident that this did not find its way into the general population and academia. And isn’t the American economy financed by loans from China and Japan so that once can argue that American science is also financed by China and Japan?

MAIN POINT: While indeed the Islamic world has problems with low scientific output, comparisons to “Jews,” “America” and “Israel” are in and of themselves, unscientific.

Condoms and Ethnicity II

[This is a continuation of Condoms & Ethnicity I]

UPDATE: 2013-10-27: A latter portion of the post has been invalidated, my apologies.

UPDATE: 2013-08-31: The claim at this link is incorrect. The WHO report was written by an Australian condom manufacturer who arbitrarily used these three studies to propose that different sizes may be preferred by persons in different countries. These studies do NOT indicate that penile width differs by ethnic group as none of the studies were performed by medical professionals nor were they replicated.

The Family Health International (FHI) & JP Rushton

In a FHI monograph by Spruyt (1996), we read:

The World Health Organization bases its specifications for condom width on consumer preference and penis size, citing three studies. Taken together, the studies show significant variations in penis size within all population groups, but also indicate that men of African descent on average have a slightly wider and longer penis size, Caucasian men have a medium size, and Asian men a slightly narrower and shorter size (WHO).

Based on the consideration that anatomical differences exist among regions, a series of FHI studies were conducted in three Asian countries to compare small and standard width condoms (49 mm and 52 mm), and in three African countries to compare larger and standard width condoms (55 mm and 52 mm). Among the African sites, breakage rates were slightly higher and slippage was slightly lower for the smaller of the two condoms being compared. (Joanis) However, results from the Asian sites were inconsistent. (Neupane; Andrada) Moreover, almost none of the differences in breakage and slippage rates from either the Asian or African sites were statistically significant. Thus, results from these studies pertaining to penis size and condom failure were inconclusive.

So the FHI found it necessary to launch three studies based on one page of a WHO condom report. The report itself (WHO 1998) is most interesting and highlights the need for not accepting data at face value.

ANALYSIS OF THE WHO ETHNIC PENILE DIMENSIONS

The table below is the one page WHO listing of three studies which purport to show ethnic variations in both penile length and girth.
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Unsurprisingly, infamous race realist Rushton (2000) poses questions and answers using the same WHO data in his book Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective. Two questions are of importance to penis variations and source analysis.

Q: Doesn’t the evidence on race and penis size come from 19th Century stories by racist Europeans in colonial Africa?

A: The earliest findings come from the Arabic explorers in Africa and one study by a French army surgeon originally published in 1898. More up-to-date information comes from the World Health Organization. Their studies show the same three-way race pattern as do all the other studies.

Q: Isn’t the material on race and sex a kind of pornography? Isn’t race controversial enough without bringing sex and AIDS into the picture?

A: One World Health Organization study I mentioned in the previous answer examined penis size in order to provide the right size condoms to slow the spread of AIDS. Finding out which groups are most at risk for sexually transmitted diseases can help slow their spread and save lives.

ANALYSIS: The WHO did not study penis sizes. It relied on three separate studies, two of which were not peer-reviewed and the data was included as “Appendix III” (which should have alerted Rushton that this was not an original study). The first study references Africans in the US (not Africa!) and Europeans in the US (not Europe!), the second Europeans in Australia (not Europe!) and the third, Thais.

The first study is Alfred Kinsey’s flawed self-reported study on incarcerated males (a highly truthful bunch no doubt). The sampling, methodology and measurements are biased.

The reference for Asians is stated as an unpublished study by Bangkok Medical University (Muangman 1978) and nothing is known about the sample size or methodology (besides that prostitutes measured with paper tapes). Thus this is another biased study and does not represent the average Thai male.

The Aussie study was peer-reviewed but submitted a method for self-measurement. For a sample of 156, they found an average erect length of 15.99 cm or 6.3” (Richters, Gerofi & Donovan 1995 as mentioned in Mondaini et al. 2002) which is larger than Rushton’s upper European limit of 6″. While this value of 15.99 cm is the largest value from 8 different studies (Promodu et al. 2007), it does seem accurate given another study.

Estimated applicability of Rushton’s values to the WHO data

Rushton proposes to have found the following: East Asians: 4 to 5.5″ (10.2 to 14.0 cm) in length and 1.25″ (3.2 cm) in diameter, Europeans: 5.5 to 6″ (14 to 5.2 cm) in length and 1.5″ (3.8 cm) in diameter and Africans: 6.25 to 8″  (15.9 to 20.3 cm) in length and 2″ (5.1 cm) in diameter. In other words, the average European is 21% longer and 50% thicker than the average East Asian, while an average African is 50% longer and 60% thicker.

Kinsey - US EuropeansIf this link is accurate (see pic above), Rushton’s US European length claim only correlates some 43% with that of Kinsey’s data. The Thai study found 51% with 5 to 5.9” penises which correlates more than that for Europeans and yet is larger than his 4 to 5.5″ assertion.

The WHO girth data gives 29% of Euro-Americans, 68% of Euro-Australians, 34% of Afro-Americans and 17% of Thais having circumferences above 5”. Why so large a value for Aussie-Europeans compared to US Europeans? A portion of the WHO states:

Condoms are made in various widths. Based on studies in Australia, Thailand and the USA, and the experience of major agencies, the wider condoms (flat width 52-55 mm) will be preferred in Australia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America, and the narrower condoms (47-51 mm) will be preferred in several Asian countries (see Appendix III). Other widths are also made for small specialized markets.

[This portion has been invalidated, see comments below] While wondering which Asian countries are being referenced and if any are not, one would be inclined to treat the ‘experience of major [unnamed] agencies’ as authoritative. The Asian preferred circumference range is 147.7 to 160.2 mm. Similarly, the non-Asian preference circumference is 163.4 to 172.8 mm. From the data, 95% of Euro-Americans, 91% of Afro-Americans, 86% of Euro-Australians and 100% of Thais have penile girths less than or equal to 150 mm. Why then would there be a preference among Africans and Europeans for condoms some 13.4 to 32.8 mm larger?

2013-02-22, update: The answer to the last question can be found here, here and here.

SOURCES:

Andrada A, Ravelo N, Spruyt A, et al. 1993. Acceptability and Functionality of Standard and Smaller Latex Condoms during Human Use: Philippines. Durham, USA: Family Health International.

Joanis, C., Brookshire, T., Piedrahita, C., Steiner, M., Diakite, M., and J. Esibi. 1990. Evaluation of Two Condom Designs: A Comparison of Standard and Larger Condoms in Ghana, Kenya, and Mali. Durham, USA: Family Health International.

Mondaini, N., Ponchietti, R., Gontero, P., et al. 2002. Penile length is normal in most men seeking penile lengthening procedures. International Journal of Impotence Research 14: 283-286.

Muangman, D. 1978. Report on measurement of Thai male genital sizes and recommendation for appropriate condom usage [unpublished paper]. Bangkok Faculty of Public Health, Mahidol University.

Neupane, S., Abeywickrema, D., Martinez, K., et al. 1992. Acceptability and Actual Use Breakage and Slippage Rates of Standard and Smaller Latex Condoms: Nepal and Sri Lanka. Durham, USA: Family Health International.

Promodu, K., Shanmughadas, K., Bhat, S., and K. Nair. 2007. Penile length and circumference: an Indian study. International Journal of Impotence Research 19: 558-563.

Richters J., Gerofi J., and B. Donovan. 1995. Are condoms the right size(s): a method for self measurements of erect penis. Venerology 8: 77-81.

Rushton, J.P. 2000. Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective. Port Huron, USA: Charles Darwin Research Institute.

Spruyt, Alan. 1996. User Behavior and Characteristics related to Condom Failure in McNeill, E., et al. (eds.) The Latex Condom: Recent Advances, Future Directions. Durham, USA: Family Health International. http://www.fhi360.org/en/RH/Pubs/booksReports/latexcondom/behavcharac.htm [accessed: 2012-01-15].

WHO. 1998. The Male Latex Condom: Specification & Guidelines for Condom Procurement. WHO & Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/1998/WHO_RHT_FPP_98.15_spec&guidelines.pdf [accessed: 2012-01-23].

Wikipedia Plagiarism and Bias?

From Michael Parenti:

The issue was joined in 1956-57, when armed Tibetan bands ambushed convoys of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. The uprising received EXTENSIVE assistance from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including military training, support camps in Nepal, and numerous airlifts.

Compared to Wikipedia:

In 1956-57, armed Tibetan guerrillas ambushed convoys of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. The uprising received a WEAK assistance from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including military training, support camps in Nepal, and several airlifts.

Selective Wikipedia plagiarism = pro-American propaganda = anti-Chinese propaganda?

Source:

Parenti, Michael. 2007. Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth. Michael Parenti Political Archive. http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html [accessed: 2013-01-19].

The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China (Repost)

| HT to Hidden Harmonies China Blog |

Eric X. Li | Jan/Feb 2013 | http://www.guancha.cn/li-shi-mo/2012_12_28_115960.shtml

ERIC X. LI is a venture capitalist and political scientist in Shanghai.

In November 2012, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) held its 18th National Congress, setting in motion a once-in-a-decade transfer of power to a new generation of leaders. As expected, Xi Jinping took over as general secretary and will become the president of the People’s Republic this March. The turnover was a smooth and well-orchestrated demonstration by a confidently rising superpower. That didn’t stop international media and even some Chinese intellectuals, however, from portraying it as a moment of crisis. In an issue that was published before the beginning of the congress, for example, The Economist quoted unnamed scholars at a recent conference as saying that China is “unstable at the grass roots, dejected at the middle strata and out of control at the top.” To be sure, months before the handover, the scandal surrounding Bo Xilai, the former party boss of the Chongqing municipality, had shattered the CCP’s long-held facade of unity, which had underwritten domestic political stability since the Tiananmen Square upheavals in 1989. To make matters worse, the Chinese economy, which had sustained double-digit GDP growth for two decades, slowed, decelerating for seven straight quarters. China’s economic model of rapid industrialization, labor-intensive manufacturing, large-scale government investments in infrastructure, and export growth seemed to have nearly run its course. Some in China and the West have gone so far as to predict the demise of the one-party state, which they allege cannot survive if leading politicians stop delivering economic miracles.

Such pessimism, however, is misplaced. There is no doubt that daunting challenges await Xi. But those who suggest that the CCP will not be able to deal with them fundamentally misread China’s politics and the resilience of its governing institutions. Beijing will be able to meet the country’s ills with dynamism and resilience, thanks to the CCP’s adaptability, system of meritocracy, and legitimacy with the Chinese people. In the next decade, China will continue to rise, not fade. The country’s leaders will consolidate the one party model and, in the process, challenge the West’s conventional wisdom about political development and the inevitable march toward electoral democracy. In the capital of the Middle Kingdom, the world might witness the birth of a post-democratic future.

ON-THE-JOB LEARNING

The assertion that one-party rule is inherently incapable of self-correction does not reflect the historical record. During its 63 years in power, the CCP has shown extraordinary adaptability. Since its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic has pursued a broad range of economic policies. First, the CCP initiated radical land collectivization in the early 1950s. This was followed by the policies of the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s to mid-1970s. After them came the quasi-privatization of farmland in the early 1960s, Deng Xiaoping’s market reforms in the late 1970s, and Jiang Zemin’s opening up of the CCP’s membership to private businesspeople in the 1990s. The underlying goal has always been economic health, and when a policy did not work-for example, the disastrous Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution-China was able to find something that did: for example, Deng’s reforms, which catapulted the Chinese economy into the position of second largest in the world.

On the institutional front as well, the CCP has not shied away from reform. One example is the introduction in the 1980s and 1990s of term limits for most political positions (and even of age limits, of 68–70, for the party’s most senior leadership). Before this, political leaders had been able to use their positions to accumulate power and perpetuate their rules. Mao Zedong was a case in point. He had ended the civil wars that had plagued China and repelled foreign invasions to become the father of modern China. Yet his prolonged rule led to disastrous mistakes, such as the Cultural Revolution. Now, it is nearly impossible for the few at the top to consolidate long-term power. Upward mobility within the party has also increased.

In terms of foreign policy, China has also changed course many times to achieve national greatness. It moved from a close alliance with Moscow in the 1950s to a virtual alliance with the United States in the 1970s and 1980s as it sought to contain the Soviet Union. Today, its pursuit of a more independent foreign policy has once more put it at odds with the United States. But in its ongoing quest for greatness, China is seeking to defy recent historical precedents and rise peacefully, avoiding the militarism that plagued Germany and Japan in the first half of the last century.

As China undergoes its ten-year transition, calls at home and abroad for another round of political reform have increased. One radical camp in China and abroad is urging the party to allow multiparty elections or at least accept formal intraparty factions. In this view, only full-scale adversarial politics can ensure that China gets the leadership it needs. However sincere, these demands all miss a basic fact: the CCP has arguably been one of the most self-reforming political organizations in recent world history. There is no doubt that China’s new leaders face a different world than Hu Jintao did when he took over in 2002, but chances are good that Xi’s CCP will be able to adapt to and meet whatever new challenges the rapidly changing domestic and international environments pose. In part, that is because the CCP is heavily meritocratic and promotes those with proven experience and capabilities.

MAKING THE GRADE

China watchers in the West have used reports of corruption-compounded by sensational political scandals such as the Bo Xilai affair-to portray the ruling party as incurably diseased. The disease exists, to be sure, but the most important treatment is the party itself. As counterintuitive as it might seem to Westerners, the CCP, whose political preeminence is enshrined in the Chinese constitution, is one of the most meritocratic political institutions in the world.

Of the 25 members that made up the pre-18th-Congress Politburo, the highest ruling body of the CCP, only five (the so-called princelings) came from privileged backgrounds. The other 20, including the president, Hu, and the premier, Wen Jiabao, came from middle- or lower-class backgrounds. In the CCP’s larger Central Committee, which was made up of more than 300 people, the percentage of people born into wealth and power was even smaller. The vast majority of those in government worked and competed their way through the ranks to the top. Admittedly, the new general secretary, Xi, is the son of a previous party leader. However, an overwhelming number of those who moved up the ranks this past fall had humbler beginnings.

So how does China ensure meritocracy? At the heart of the story is a powerful institution that is seldom studied in the West, the Organization Department of the CCP. This department carries out an elaborate process of bureaucratic selection, evaluation, and promotion that would be the envy of any corporation. Patronage continues to play a role, but by and large, merit determines who will rise through the ranks.

Every year, the government and its affiliated organizations recruit university graduates into entry-level positions in one of the three state-controlled systems: the civil service, state-owned enterprises, and government-affiliated social organizations such as universities or community programs. Most new recruits enter at the lowest level, or ke yuan. After a few years, the Organization Department reviews their performance and can promote them up through four increasingly elite managerial ranks: fu ke, ke, fu chu, and chu. The range of positions at these levels is wide, covering anything from running the health-care system in a poor village to attracting commercial investment in a city district. Once a year, the Organization Department reviews quantitative performance records for each official in each of these grades; carries out interviews with superiors, peers, and subordinates; and vets personal conduct. Extensive and frequent public opinion surveys are also conducted on questions ranging from satisfaction with the country’s general direction to opinions about more mundane and specific local policies. Once the department has gathered a complete dossier on all the candidates, and has confirmed the public’s general satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their performances, committees discuss the data and promote winners.

After this stage, public employees’ paths diverge, and individuals can be rotated through and out of all three tracks (the civil service, state-owned enterprises, and social organizations). An official might start out working on economic policy and then move to a job dealing with political or social issues. He or she could go from a traditional government position to a managerial role in a state-owned enterprise or a university. In many cases, the Organization Department will also send a large number of promising officials abroad to learn best practices around the world. The likes of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the National University of Singapore regularly host Chinese officials in their training programs.

Over time, the most successful workers are promoted again, to what are known as the fu ju and ju levels, at which point a typical assignment is to manage districts with populations in the millions or companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues. To get a sense of how rigorous the selection process is, in 2012, there were 900,000 officials at the fu ke and ke levels and 600,000 at the fu chu and chu levels. There were only 40,000 at the fu ju and ju levels.

After the ju level, a very talented few move up several more ranks and eventually make it to the party’s Central Committee. The entire process could take two to three decades, and most of those who make it to the top have had managerial experience in just about every sector of Chinese society. Indeed, of the 25 Politburo members before the 18th Party Congress, 19 had run provinces larger than most countries in the world and ministries with budgets higher than that of the average nation’s government. A person with Barack Obama’s pre-presidential professional experience would not even be the manager of a small county in China’s system.

Xi’s career path is illustrative. Over the course of 30 years, Xi rose from being a fu ke level deputy county chief in a poor village to party secretary of Shanghai and a member of the Politburo. By the time he made it to the top, Xi had already managed areas with total populations of over 150 million and combined GDPs of more than $1.5 trillion. His career demonstrates that meritocracy drives Chinese politics and that those who end up leading the country have proven records.

INNOVATE OR STAGNATE

China’s centralized meritocracy also fosters government entrepreneurship. The practice of conducting top-down policy experiments in select locales and expanding the successful ones nationwide is well documented. The best-known example is Deng’s creation of “special economic zones” in the 1980s. The first such zone was in Shenzhen. The district was encouraged to operate under market principles rather than the dictates of central planners. Shenzhen’s economy grew rapidly, which prompted the central government to replicate the program in the cities of Zhuhai and Shantou, in Guangdong Province; Xiamen, in Fujian Province; and throughout Hainan Province.

There are also thousands of policy experiments that rise up from the local level. The competitive government job market gives capable local officials incentives to take risks and differentiate themselves from the pack. Among the 2,326 party representatives who attended the 18th Party Congress, one such standout was Qiu He, who is vice party secretary of Yunnan Province. At the congress, Qiu was selected as an alternate member of the Central Committee, putting the 55-year-old maverick near the top of the nation’s political establishment. Qiu is the ultimate political entrepreneur. Born into poverty in rural China, Qiu watched two of his eight siblings die of childhood illness and malnutrition. After taking the national college entrance exam, China’s great equalizer, he was able to attend university. When he entered the work force, he held several low-level civil service jobs before being appointed party secretary of Shuyang County, in northern Jiangsu Province, in the 1990s. With a peasant population of 1.7 million and an annual per capita GDP of only $250 (less than one-fifth the national average), Shuyang was one of the poorest rural areas in the country. The county also suffered from the worst crime rate in the region and endemic government corruption.

Qiu carried out a broad range of risky and controversial policy experiments that, if they failed, would have sunk his political career. His first focus was Shuyang’s floundering economy. In 1997, Qiu initiated a mandatory municipal bond purchase program. The policy required every county resident to purchase bonds to fund much-needed infrastructure development. The genius of the plan was twofold. First, he could not have raised the funds through taxes because, at his level, he had no taxation authority. Second, the mandatory bond program offered the citizens of Shuyang something taxes would not have: yes, they were required to buy the bonds, but they eventually got their money back, with interest. Qiu also assigned quotas to almost every county government official for attracting commercial investments. To support their efforts, in addition to building up the area’s infrastructure, Qiu offered favorable tax rates and cheap land concessions to businesses. In just a few years, thousands of private enterprises sprang up and transformed a dormant, centrally planned rural community into a vibrant market economy.

Qiu’s second focus was combating corruption and mistrust between the population and the government. In the late 1990s, he instituted two unprecedented measures to make the selection of officials more open and competitive. One was to post upcoming official appointments in advance of the final decisions to allow for a public comment period. The other was the introduction of a two-tier voting system that enabled villagers to vote among party members for their preferred candidates for certain positions. The local party committee then picked between the top two vote getters.

Qiu initially met tremendous resistance from the local bureaucracy and population. But today, he is credited with turning one of the country’s most backward regions into a vibrant urban center of commerce and manufacturing. Other poor regions have adopted many of his economic policy experiments. Moreover, the public commenting period has been widely adopted across China. Competitive voting is finding its way into ever-higher levels of the party hierarchy. Qiu has been personally rewarded, too, moving rapidly up the ladder: to vice governor of Jiangsu Province, mayor of Kunmin, vice party secretary of Yunnan Province, and now an alternate member of the Central Committee.

Even if critics accept that the Chinese government is adaptable and meritocratic, they still question its legitimacy. Westerners assume that multiparty elections are the only source of political legitimacy. Because China does not hold such elections, they argue, the CCP’s rule rests on inherently shaky ground. Following this logic, critics have predicted the party’s collapse for decades, but no collapse has come. The most recent version of the argument is that the CCP has maintained its hold on power only because it has delivered economic growth — so-called performance legitimacy.

No doubt, performance is a major source of the party’s popularity. In a poll of Chinese attitudes published by the Pew Research Center in 2011, 87 percent of respondents noted satisfaction with the general direction of the country, 66 percent reported significant progress in their lives in the past five years, and a whopping 74 percent said they expected the future to be even better. Performance legitimacy, however, is only one source of the party’s popular support. Much more significant is the role of Chinese nationalism and moral legitimacy.

When the CCP built the Monument to the People’s Heroes at the center of Tiananmen Square in 1949, it included a frieze depicting the struggles of the Chinese to establish the People’s Republic. One would expect the CCP, a Marxist-Leninist party, to have its most symbolic political narrative begin with communism — the writing of The Communist Manifesto, for example, or perhaps the birth of the CCP in 1921. Instead, the first carving of the frieze depicts an event from 1839: the public burning of imported opium by the Qing dynasty’s imperial minister, Lin Zexu, which triggered the first Opium War. China’s subsequent loss to the British inaugurated the so-called century of humiliation. In the following hundred years, China suffered countless invasions, wars, and famines — all, in the popular telling, to reach 1949. And today, the Monument to the People’s Heroes remains a sacred public site and the most significant symbol of the CCP’s national moral authority.

The CCP’s role in saving and modernizing China is a far more durable source of its legitimacy than the country’s economic performance. It explains why, even at the worst times of the party’s rule in the past 63 years, including the disastrous Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, the CCP was able to keep the support of mainstream Chinese long enough for it to correct its mistakes. China’s recent achievements, from economic growth to space exploration, are only strengthening nationalist sentiments in the country, especially among the youth. The party can count on their support for decades to come.

A final type of staying power comes from repression, which China watchers in the West claim is the real force behind the CCP. They point to censorship and the regime’s harsh treatment of dissidents, which undoubtedly exist. Still, the party knows very well that general repression is not sustainable. Instead, it seeks to employ smart containment. The strategy is to give the vast majority of people the widest range possible of personal liberties. And today, Chinese people are freer than at any other period in recent memory; most of them can live where they want and work as they choose, go into business without hindrance, travel within and out of the country, and openly criticize the government online without retaliation. Meanwhile, state power focuses on containing a small number of individuals who have political agendas and want to topple the one-party system. As any casual observer would know, over the last ten years, the quantity of criticism against the government online and in print has increased exponentially — without any reprisals. Every year, there are tens of thousands of local protests against specific policies. Most of the disputes are resolved peacefully. But the government deals forcefully with the very few who aim to subvert China’s political system, such as Liu Xiaobo, an activist who calls for the end of single-party rule and who is currently in jail.

That is not to say that there aren’t problems. Corruption, for one, could seriously harm the CCP’s reputation. But it will not derail party rule anytime soon. Far from being a problem inherent to the Chinese political system, corruption is largely a byproduct of the country’s rapid transformation. When the United States was going through its industrialization 150 years ago, violence, the wealth gap, and corruption in the country were just as bad as, if not worse than, in China today. According to Transparency International, China ranks 75th in global corruption and is gradually getting better. It is less corrupt than Greece (80th), India (95th), Indonesia and Argentina (tied at 100th), and the Philippines (129th) — all of which are electoral democracies. Understood in such a context, the Chinese government’s corruption is by no means insurmountable. And the party’s deeply rooted popular support will allow it the breathing room to grapple with even the toughest problems.

ENTER THE DRAGON

China’s new leaders will govern the country for the next ten years, during which they will rely on the CCP’s adaptability, meritocracy, and legitimacy to tackle major challenges. The current economic slowdown is worrying, but it is largely cyclical, not structural. Two forces will reinvigorate the economy for at least another generation: urbanization and entrepreneurship. In 1990, only about 25 percent of Chinese lived in cities. Today, 51 percent do. Before 2040, a full 75 percent — nearly one billion people — are expected to be urban. The amount of new roads, housing, utilities, and communications infrastructure needed to accommodate this expansion is astounding. Therefore, any apparent infrastructure or housing bubbles will be momentary. In fact, China’s new leadership will need to continue or even increase investment in these sectors in the years to come. That investment and the vast new urban work force, with all its production and consumption, will drive high economic growth rates. The party’s extraordinary ability to develop and execute policy and its political authority will help it manage these processes.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurship will help China overcome threats to its export-fueled economic model. Externally, the global economic downturn and a rising currency value have dampened Chinese trade. Internally, labor costs have risen in the country’s coastal manufacturing regions. But the market will sort out these problems. After all, China’s economic miracle was not just a centrally planned phenomenon. Beijing facilitated the development of a powerful market economy, but private entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the system. And these entrepreneurs are highly adaptive. Already, some low-end manufacturing has moved inland to contain labor costs. This is coinciding with local governments’ aggressive infrastructure investments and innovative efforts to attract new business. In the costal regions, many companies are producing increasingly-higher-value goods.

Of course, the government will need to make some economic adjustments. For one, many state-owned enterprises have grown too big, crowding out the private-sector growth that is critical to economic vitality. Plans to require companies to pay out dividends to shareholders and other limits on expansion are already in the works. These will likely be implemented early on in the new administration. And some stalled measures encouraging financial liberalization, such as allowing the market to determine interest rates and the development of private small and medium-sized lending institutions, which would break the large state-owned banks’ near monopoly in commercial lending, are likely to get picked up. These reforms would facilitate more efficient flows of capital to businesses.

Economic liberalization will likely be matched by a two-track reform of social policy. First, the process of making the party more inclusive, which began with Jiang’s inclusion of businesspeople in the CCP, will be accelerated. Second, the CCP will begin experimenting with outsourcing certain social welfare functions to approved nongovernmental organizations. Rapid urbanization is facilitating the growth of a large middle-income society. Instead of demanding abstract political rights, as many in the West expected, urban Chinese are focused on what are called min sheng (livelihood) issues. The party may not be able to manage these concerns alone. And so private businesses or nongovernmental organizations might be called in to provide health care and education in the cities, which has already started to happen in Guangdong Province.

Corruption remains the hardest nut to crack. In recent years, family members of some party leaders have used their political influence to build up large networks of commercial interests. Cronyism is spreading from the top down, which could eventually threaten the party’s rule. The CCP has articulated a three-pronged strategy to attack the problem, which the new leadership will carry out. The most important institution for containing corruption is the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Its leader usually sits on the Standing Committee of the Politburo and has more power than the state judiciary. This person can detain and interrogate party members suspected of corruption without legal limits. In recent years, the commission has been very aggressive. In 2011, it conducted formal investigations into 137,859 cases that resulted in disciplinary actions or legal convictions against party officials. This number represents a nearly fourfold increase since the years before 1989, when corruption was one of the main issues that drove the Tiananmen protests. One sign to watch in the next administration is whether the commission is authorized to investigate wrongdoing within the inner sanctum of the party leadership, where corruption can be the most detrimental to the party’s credibility.

Complementing the party’s own antigraft efforts is the increasing independence of media outlets, both state- and privately owned. News organizations have already exposed cases of official corruption and disseminated their findings on the Internet. The CCP has responded by pursuing some of the cases that the media have brought to light. Of course, this system is not perfect, and some media outlets are themselves corrupt. Illicit payments to journalists and fabricated stories are commonplace. If these problems are not corrected quickly, Chinese media will lose what little credibility they have gained.

Accordingly, the next administration might develop more sophisticated political regulations and legal constraints on journalists to provide space for the sector to mature. Officials have already discussed instituting a press law that would protect legitimate, factual reporting and penalize acts of libel and misrepresentation. Some might view the initiative as the government reining in journalists, but the larger impact would be to make the media more credible in the eyes of the Chinese public. Journalists who take bribes or invent rumors to attract readers can hardly check government corruption.

Also to tackle corruption, the party plans to increase open competition within its own ranks, inspired by the efforts of officials such as Qiu. The hope is that such competition will air dirty laundry and discourage unseemly behavior. The Hu administration initiated an “intraparty democracy” program to facilitate direct competition for seats on party committees, an idea that received high praise at the 18th Congress.

HISTORY’S RESTART

Should the 18th Party Congress’ initiatives succeed, 2012 might one day be seen as marking the end of the idea that electoral democracy is the only legitimate and effective system of political governance. While China’s might grows, the West’s ills multiply: since winning the Cold War, the United States has, in one generation, allowed its middle class to disintegrate. Its infrastructure languishes in disrepair, and its politics, both electoral and legislative, have fallen captive to money and special interests. Its future generations will be so heavily indebted that a sustained decline in average living standards is all but certain. In Europe, too, monumental political, economic, and social distress has caused the European project to run aground. Meanwhile, during the same period, China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and is now a leading industrial powerhouse.

The West’s woes are self-inflicted. Claims that Western electoral systems are infallible have hampered self-correction. Elections are seen as ends in themselves, not merely means to good governance. Instead of producing capable leaders, electoral politics have made it very difficult for good leaders to gain power. And in the few cases when they do, they are paralyzed by their own political and legal systems. As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels around the world extolling electoral democracy, the legitimacy of nearly all U.S. political institutions is crumbling. The approval rating of the U.S. Congress among the American people stood at 18 percent in November. The president was performing somewhat better, with ratings in the 50s. And even support for the politically independent Supreme Court had fallen below 50 percent.

Many developing countries have already come to learn that democracy doesn’t solve all their problems. For them, China’s example is important. Its recent success and the failures of the West offer a stark contrast. To be sure, China’s political model will never supplant electoral democracy because, unlike the latter, it does not pretend to be universal. It cannot be exported. But its success does show that many systems of political governance can work when they are congruent with a country’s culture and history. The significance of China’s success, then, is not that China provides the world with an alternative but that it demonstrates that successful alternatives exist. Twenty-four years ago, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama predicted that all countries would eventually adopt liberal democracy and lamented that the world would become a boring place because of that. Relief is on the way. A more interesting age may be upon us.

Condoms and Ethnicity I

Family Health International (FHI) performed three studies using stereotypes for ethnic populations (yes you read that correctly). In one they measured the preference in African countries (Ghana, Kenya and Mali) for a larger condom (55 mm). In two Asian studies (Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka) they studied the preference for a smaller condom (49 mm). They did not explain why they should not have investigated the preference for all three standardized sizes (55, 52 and 49 mm) in either population sets.

The AFRICAN study: Joanis et al. (1990) c1 Study Question: Which condom did you like better? If the African stereotype is correct (i.e. African males require the largest condom size), we should expect the majority preferring the larger condoms. However, only 41% did and some 48.5% preferred the standard size. Also, there was a two-fold preference for the larger condom by Malians (60% vs. 30%). Make of that what you will. Problem #1: About half preferred the standard size. 

c2Study Question: Which condom was bigger? If the African stereotype is correct, we should expect the majority to be able to tell which condom is wider. But of the total sample, 36% did not detect that the larger condom was actually larger. Also, it would have been better if a smaller condom was also an option. Problem #2: Over one third could not identify the larger condom.

c3Study Question: Which condom(s) broke? If the African stereotype is correct, we should expect more condom breaks with the standard size. Only 7.5% broke the standard condoms, 5.5% broke the larger condom and 6.5% broke both. So only 6.5% were too big even for 55 mm condoms and this would incorporate the 5.5% who only broke the larger condom and 1.0% who broke the standard size. Additionally only, 14% (6.5 + 7.5) were larger than the standard condom. That means that 86% could use standard condoms. Problem #3: More than four-fifths could use the standard size.

c4Study Question: Which condom(s) slipped off during use? Slippage can occur if the penile girth is somewhat smaller than the condom width. If the African stereotype is correct, we should expect almost no slippage especially with the standard size. There was 6% slippage with the standard condom, 8.5% slippage with the larger condom and 8.5% slippage with both condoms (including the 6% for the standard size). Thus 94% did not slip from the standard condom and this would seem to confirm the stereotype.

We thus have three problems with the stereotype that African males are more endowed in penile thickness.

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The ASIAN studies: Andrada et al. (1993) & Neupane et al. (1992)

The Neupane study could not be sourced. Thus we only have the Andrada study to examine Asians and this is only applicable to the Philippines. Unfortunately, the Andrada study is riddled with problems. They used a sample of 150 Malay Filipinos and gave them 5 smaller condoms to use first. They then waited a month before gathering data. They repeated the process with 5 of the standard condoms so that the study lasted two months. In contrast, the African study lasted 2 weeks and they had to use both condoms during this time. Thus Andrada et al. skewed the results by implying that the second condoms were different. In other words, this study is practically useless. The data representation also leaves much to be desired as the number of condoms is used for sampling instead of the number of individuals (see table below).

c6But what does the data signify if we assume that the results are correct? If the East Asian stereotype is correct (East Asians require the smallest sized condoms), we would expect the following:

Expectation

Findings

Very low breakage for small condoms

Confirmed

Very low breakage for standard condoms

Confirmed

Low slippage for small condoms

Confirmed

High slippage for standard condoms

Not confirmed

This may indicate that the average Malay Filipino penis is not likely to require a larger condom but we cannot state this scientifically since a larger condom was not used in the study. But Andrada et al. (1993) also states:

The United States Agency for International Development (A.I.D.) currently provides smaller (49mm) latex condoms to several Asian countries, including the Philippines. An article which appeared in the Philippine popular press in 1992 [see PDE (1992)] summarized results of a survey of condom users commissioned by the Philippine Department of Health. According to the article, the study found that among typical condom users, the most common complaints were that condoms are oversized, painful for women, not effective, and easily torn. Among the 2477 commercial and public outlets in three cities included in the study, 10% reported that they received complaints from the condom recipients.

From this it is not clear if they had issues with the smaller or standard condoms. Here is the abstract from PDE (1992) article from Popline (n.d.):

The typical condom buyer is male, middle-aged and a middle class employee. His most common complaint is that condoms are oversized. A study commissioned by the Department of Health, showed that only 10% of 2477 outlets surveyed in 3 cities–Metro Manila, Greater Cebu City and Davao City–received complaints from buyers of condoms. The other 3 complaints about condoms are that they are painful for women, that they are not effective, and that they get torn easily. Of the 247 outlets which received complaints, 87% said their customers complained that the condoms they bought were either oversized or did not fit. Mike Gomez, DOH information officer, theorized that complaints about oversized condoms may be traced to improper use. He said the user may not be fully erect when he puts the condom on. Peter Resurrection of the National AIDS Center said the women may be hurt by condoms that are ribbed or are not lubricated. Metro Manila dealers included in the survey received the most number of complaints (225 of 1878 drug stores and supermarkets where condoms are available), followed by Davao dealers (28 of 148). But the 450 storeowners interviewed in Cebu City said they had received no complaints whatsoever.

So there are many issues with the PDE (1992):

  1. The study did not directly study the complaints but relied on the reported complaints to condom outlets;
  2. There is no metric stating how many of the outlet’s customers complained about ‘over-sized’ condoms, it may be that a few complained and this resulted in the outlet being used as a data point;
  3. If women were being hurt by the condoms, then the condoms were most likely of poor quality and not well lubricated;
  4. If there was a size or quality issue, there would be a somewhat uniform level of complaint which does not explain the wide differences between cities (19, 12 & 0 %).
  5. We do not know if the complaints were due to size or differences in manufacturing quality. Perhaps controlling for quality would diminish or extinguish the ‘over-size’ claim.

It should be clear that these studies do not verify any ethnic stereotypes. Scientifically, one study per population would not be able to do this anyway. If anything, these studies might question the premise that the majority of Africans require larger condoms but also does not rule out that some East Asians may require larger condoms as well. Unfortunately, both studies were not rigorous though the African study was better designed and presented. Both studies should have used all three condoms sizes as well as a set questionnaire and report format. Rather, both relied on Eurocentric stereotypes (explained in Condoms and Ethnicity part II) from one page of a WHO latex condom document (WHO 1998) wasting time, money and resources.

Condoms and Ethnicity II will investigate a FHI’s monograph’s assertion that there are differences in ethnic penile girth and also investigate psychologist J.P. Rushton’s use of said assertion/data to further his race-realist cause.

SOURCES:

Andrada, A., Ravelo, N., Spruyt, A., et al. 1993. Acceptability and Functionality of Standard and Smaller Latex Condoms during Human Use: Philippines. Durham, USA: Family Health International.

Joanis, C., Brookshire, T., Piedrahita, C., et al. 1990. Evaluation of Two Condom Designs: A Comparison of Standard and Larger Condoms in Ghana, Kenya, and Mali. Durham, USA: Family Health International.

Neupane, S., Abeywickrema, D., Martinez, K., et al. 1992. Acceptability and Actual Use Breakage and Slippage Rates of Standard and Smaller Latex Condoms: Nepal and Sri Lanka. Durham, USA: Family Health International.

PDE. 1992. Condoms are too big, city users complain. Philippine Daily Enquirer, Feb 25: 11.

Popline n.d. Condoms are too big, city users complain. Popline. http://www.popline.org/node/317539 [accessed: 2013-01-15].

WHO. 1998. The Male Latex Condom: Specification & Guidelines for Condom Procurement. WHO & Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/1998/ WHO_RHT_FPP_98.15_spec&guidelines.pdf [accessed: 2012-01-23].

Dear Professor Bogaert

Email sent to on Anthony Bogaert, 4 December 2012. No reply to date.

Dear Professor Bogaert,

You and Rushton state in ‘Race differences in sexual behavior: Testing an evolutionary hypothesis‘ that:

“We averaged the ethnographic data on erect penis and found the means to approximate: Orientals, 4 to 5.5 in. in length and 1.25 in. in diameter; Caucasians, 5.5 to 6 in. in length and 1.5 in. in diameter; blacks, 6.25 to 8 in. in length and 2 in. in diameter.”

Could you please explain:

To what confidence interval is the data range valid?
What methodology and bias control was used?
What corroborating peer-reviewed medical data is there?