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Matthew Stinson
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Matt, 马修, 丁麦修
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I'm a native Floridian who has been living and working in Tianjin, China, since 2004.  I went to The Florida State University, where I studied international conflict and Chinese culture.  I relax by taking photos and learning how to cook food Sichuan stye.
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Matthew Stinson

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I find Bell's China-as-political meritocracy claim fairly amusing. It might have been true in the Third and Fourth Generation of leaders, but the Fifth Generation is full of people who bought their degrees and bribed their way into higher posts, with Bo Xilai as the most public of examples. In Tianjin, which I assume to be a fairly representative, second-to-first tier city, every university has given public officials free postgraduate degrees, which those officials need to get higher positions, in exchange for future political favors. Barring Li Keqiang's transformation into the second coming of Zhu Rongji, by the time the Sixth Generation gets into power, the rot will be systemic. 

Moving on, when he considers possible flaws within the Chinese system, Bell neglects to mention the fact that it encourages unsustainable investment and short-term thinking on the part of county, city, and provincial leaders. If you do a good job, you are given a promotion within a handful of years. If you stay on as a leader, then people will assume that you aren't any good -- as the people of Tianjin often say of their mayors. This affects China negatively in two ways.

First, despite Bell's claim that leaders avoid risk, leaders are inevitably drawn to make their name through large-scale projects, such as damming rivers in south China, funding white elephant developments in north China, and the bulldozing and gentrification of historical cultural areas in the west of China. These projects are often accomplished by running up public debt, and along with China's Beijing-centered tax system, they help to explain why localities are always short of money. Second, and perhaps this is my bias as an American talking, but why shouldn't mid-tier cities like Shijiazhuang, Yantai, and Baotou keep good leaders for a longer period of time? It seems fine in principle to draw China's "best and brightest" into first-tier cities and then into the capitol, but in practice it means that localities are often shortchanged by turnover.

As for meritocracy within the party, one wonders if Bell looked at the feelings of CCP members at second- or third-tier universities. Elite schools are one thing -- they'd be generating political leadership if the KMT were still running China, after all -- but ask students not going to Tsinghua, Beida, or Shanghai Jiaoda what they get out of CCP membership and they say "a line on the resume." This doesn't suggest a groundswell of enthusiasm for party membership.

I wanted to write additional commentary, but by the time I got to Bell's observation that "Cadres are also expected to set a model of corruption-free rule" I had to restrain myself against bashing my head on the computer screen. As this would be an extremely unhealthy course of action, I leave it to you all to find the other holes in Bell's thesis.

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Global-Viewpoint/2012/0724/What-America-s-flawed-democracy-could-learn-from-China-s-one-party-rule
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Daygan S's profile photo
 
Thanks for this post, Matthew. Great observations.
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Matthew Stinson

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Damn it.

Facebook just added IP sniffing security to logins which means that every time I change my VPN IP I have to jump through hoops -- and I mean HOOPS -- to login.

Is Zuckerberg trying to lose the last Chinese Facebook users he has left?

Update: I might add say that the "identify your friends in tagged pics" CAPTCHA is super-creepy, and also a problem for people with large online friend counts. Do you know what all of your online friends look like? I don't.

For what it's worth, Facebook could handle this in a simple way. Steam simply emails you and asks you to confirm a "new computer" (i.e. new IP). They could also add a "I use a VPN" setting to your Facebook settings that would disable the IP security.
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Larry Salibra's profile photoJason Toy's profile photoMatthew Stinson's profile photoAnn Danylkiw's profile photo
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It makes no sense for facebook to prioritize at all on facebook users in China. The security measures make the system safer for 99% of the users while potentially causing some issues for the 0.001% who need to access facebook via vpn.
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Matthew Stinson

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One frustrating part of jumping on Google+ with a VPN is not knowing whether it's the VPN that's messing up or if it's Plus.
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Larry Salibra's profile photoMatthew Stinson's profile photoRichard Hintz's profile photo
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+Larry Salibra That seemed to do the ticket, thanks!
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In other Google+ musings, lack of search or a hashtag system for Public posts is really killing the service when it comes to covering breaking news. As fast as the posts came in about Murdoch and the Wenzhou train crash, they were still mostly private conversations between small circles of people (pun not intended).

Unless people you follow are posting news stories themselves it's difficult to use Google+ as a news source. (Sparks doesn't count, IMO, since it's a rebranded Google News.) Instead, Google+ turns into a kind of watercooler conversation, which is fun, but let's remember that, for the most part, watercooler conversations happen after the fact.

Similarly, until Public posts are searchable, blegs for information such as, oh, a good restaurant in Beijing or the best lens for a micro 4/3 camera will go unanswered, which makes Google+ less useful for problem-solving than Twitter.
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Thomas Morffew's profile photoMatthew Stinson's profile photoParvez Halim's profile photo
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+Parvez Halim You can be totally private on Twitter, but that takes away the fun.
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Seeing a lot of Google+ posts about the Wenzhou train crash which feature shared English translations of an original Chinese text. If I share them, my English-speaking readers will only see the original text and not the translation and commentary.

This is one of those situations in which Google+ really needs to let us chose the level we want to share instead of forcing us to only share the original.
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In his circles
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Matthew Stinson

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The only thing more fun than watching nationalist-minded Chinese post ludicrous internet memes is watching other Chinese take them down. This was in our company chat room (and I smell a PR company at work here):

Supervisor: The Japanese devils haven't bought any tickets to see the Chinese film Thirteen Girls in Jinling. The little Japanese will release the movie Sadako 3D in Mainland China on May 12, 2012. May 12 is also the anniversary of the Nanking Massacre, a day of national calamity! Never forget China's national humiliation. As a Chinese, are you willing to ensure Sadako 3D makes no money at the box office on May 12? My friends, take your mouse and copy this message to others!

[A few minutes pass...]

Coworker: Supervisor ...
Coworker: The anniversary of the Nanking Massacre is on December 13.
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Matthew Stinson

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The most fascinating and unrevealed aspect of this may be why and how dolphins teach one another to use tools.
Jeffrey J Davis originally shared:
 
Dolphins prove that they are freakin awesome by using conch shells to catch fish
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Matthew Stinson

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No offense Apple fans, but a high disposable income is not a realistic technical support solution for most people.

"Buy a Mac!"

"Buy a new Mac!"

Um, sure, I wasn't going to do anything important with my savings like buy a house or anything.

Sent from my iMac ;-)
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Thoth Harris's profile photo
 
One should only need to buy a computer every five years, or more. I still have my 2005 iBook G4 (which came out just before they started releasing MacBooks with Bootcamp, and all that).. I wanted to buy a MacBook (be it Pro, regular, Air, etc.) this time around when I had some money back in March or April, but Apple's products are still just too expensive. I bought a Toshiba instead.
Why buy something we can't afford? The whole idea of a Mac, for me, was the durability (and sure the smartness and stability), as well as the fact it could last for decades, or even a century. So why has it suddenly become a necessity to buy a different one every few months?
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Matthew Stinson

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Keep noticing that Google+ asks me if I want to share new posts by email to one or two users who were in my circles as Google+ users before. Do they all have suspended accounts or did they just cancel their Google+ account?
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Thomas Morffew's profile photoMatthew Stinson's profile photo
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Few things still to iron out. Keep using the feedback button.....
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Matthew Stinson

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This hack is a pretty good workaround until something more official comes around.

Via +Jeffrey J Davis.
Edward McGuire originally shared:
 
You can arrange for any status update you share on Google+ to be optionally shared on Facebook. This is safe and easy to do.

Step 1. Look up your "Facebook Mobile personalized e-mail". Log in to Facebook; click Account, Account Settings, Mobile, Go To Facebook Mobile; look for "Your personal email is".

Step 2. Add your "Facebook Mobile personalized e-mail" to Google+. Log in to Google+; click Circles; click "Add a new person"; enter your Facebook personalized e-mail from Step 1; enter a name such as "Facebook Update"; click "Save".

Now, when you post a status update and want Facebook friends to see it too, add "Facebook Update" to the circles or people to share with before you Share.

I have noticed the number of characters passed to Facebook is pretty limited, so this seems useful for short, twitter-like status updates. Maybe around 42 characters.

Incidentally, keep your "Facebook Mobile personalized e-mail" a secret. If you think it's gotten out, go back to that Facebook page in Step 1 and change it.
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