The Ol' Bloviator realizes he's asking a lot simply to expect readers to figure out what he's trying to say while they struggle valiantly to make it to the blessed relief that awaits them at the end of one of his typically lengthy and lugubrious posts. Now, he's daring to ask you either to try to recall his last post or worse yet, actually go back and refresh your memory. The reason for this imposition is that he wants to complexify the whole story of the efforts of China and other economically laggard societies to utilize the innovations and strategies devised in more advanced societies to narrow the distance between them and those societies.
The last post hereabouts touched on native Chinese who come to the U.S. for training in science and engineering, etc. and return to China to put what they have learned over here to use in helping their homeland play catch-up. In recent years, however, by no means all of the individuals who are part of their nation's efforts to leap forward by using insights and techniques devised elsewhere have found it necessary to relocate for extensive periods of time, thanks to the worldwide web, which has been the biggest, simplest and least expensive boon to global efforts to pole vault from Third World to First. Despite all the bandwidth devoured by porn, fetishism, and other less elevated perversions that one encounters out there in the timeless, border-less, and largely lawless expanses of cyberspace, there's still more than plenty allotted to the serious exchange of data and ideas, and a great deal of it is available at no cost whatsoever to anyone who can scrounge up a functional laptop and hunker down someplace where the Wi-Fi flows freely. Not only is all of this amazing stuff out there for the pilfering, but there are a multitude of vehicles available to help you locate the specific goodies for which search and spit them out on your desktop in a matter of nanoseconds. Google is where we're headed, of course. In addition to the general search engine, for the pointy-heads obsessed with info of the intricate and arcane variety, there's "Google Scholar" and "Google Books," both of which make billions of words of wisdom instantly available to folks who've never even carried a library card.
Here's the rub, though. Google also brings in just about everything that's out there roaming the Interweb vastness. Not only are there videos of really fat guys who specialize in seducing chickens, but there's also a bunch of nonsense about human rights, individual freedoms, civil liberties and the injustice of totalitarian rule. The people who run places like China are gung-ho about grabbing all the practical and scientific data they can use to give their nation a developed economy, but they ain't the least bit interested in foolish notions about the rights and needs of the masses and other such stuff that comes out of places where they believe a developed economy ought to be the means to a developed society as well. Herein lies the conundrum confronting China's leadership in its current tiff with Google, which is threatening to hit the "delete" button on its "Google.cn"operation in that country because of what it perceives as possible government complicity in massive hacker assaults aimed not only at cracking into supposedly secure corporate information at Google and other large companies, but also at "accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists." These would be the folks most likely to imbibe of the aforementioned radical notions circulating among cyber gabbers based elsewhere. There's also the possibility that these sensitive, hand-wringing sorts might be spilling their guts about what's really going on behind the glittery but extraordinarily thin facade of progress in China.
As usual, in cases where its controversial aberrant practices have come under fire, China is trying to use its huge internet search market as leverage with Google, but where that tactic has succeeded in cooling things off with other corporate entities, let's face it, the Googlers ain't exactly your typical bunch of bottom-liners to begin with (although their fourth quarter net income was up fivefold over last year's in any event) and if anybody is going to stand up to Beijing, they're as good a bet as any. One thing's for sure, the young, upwardly mobile Chinese demographic is anything but keen on the idea of giving up Google, both as a vital research tool for students and a source of information about life in societies far more open and seemingly eventful than theirs. Most folks are inclined to assume that social upheavals arise from the suffering of the masses, and God knows, there's an abundance of that in China. Yet, my quick take on the entirety of human history sez the catalytic figures in most successful revolutions have been drawn from at least the more middling economic strata who find their own paths of ascent blocked by the same government or political entity that oppresses the masses so egregiously. I'm not predicting that the onset of Google deprivation will lead directly to the overthrow of the world's most capitalistic communist regime, but stay turned to this one folks, it'll be interesting, I'm pretty sure.
Speaking of interesting, now that you've stretched those prodigious memory muscles of yours, let's do some real power lifting by recalling the numerous times that your humble bloviator warned President Obama against trying to take on health care until the economy was in better shape and people were less worried about losing their jobs, homes, and cars than about getting sick. But would he listen? Hell, no! Mr. Smooth-Confident-Cool-and-Deliberate waded right on in there, stuck that cherry bomb in the pile of cow plop and lit the fuse. Well, let's just say after Tuesday's explosion of red voting in the nation's bluest state, the green stuff on Oby's chin probably ain't pesto. By his ill-timed excursion into the health-care minefield, the prez practically begged his enemies to attack him where he is most vulnerable, and they were only too happy to oblige. Here was the socialist emerging from the closet, trying to foist yet another expensive "big government" program on the overburdened tax payers who were already dodging layoffs, foreclosures, and the repo man. As I have argued here more than once, most Americans would rather have the health care they've got than take a chance on anything they might be promised, and the notion that they might now be asked to pay for theirs and somebody else's as well was just more than a lot of them could handle. The hodgepodge plan that the Dems put together came across, rightly or not, as the consummate federal bureaucratic boondoggle and made the remarkably conservative Oby (by Democratic standards thus far) look like an old-fashioned taxer-and-spender extraordinaire. Had he eschewed this either arrogant or naïve (and possibly equal parts both) course and stuck with trying to put people back to work and protect the jobs that we still have, the "big government" charge would likely have seemed too risky to politicians fearful of seeming indifferent to economic suffering and distress among people who were not especially accustomed to it. As a matter of fact, when it comes to helping these folks get back on their feet, government can't get too expansive or expensive. It's only when it stoops to help those who have spent most of their lives on their knees that it starts to get too "big" or intrusive.
There's no good spin that the denizens of Obamaland can put on the loss of Teddy Kennedy's seat to a Republican--albeit one not particularly eager to advertise the fact--who once posed au naturel for the cougars over at Cosmo. (Content Advisory: "Don't look, Ethel!".)
On the other hand, for all the damage Oby has done to his approval ratings in the health-care fiasco, I can't find any poll anywhere suggesting that disappointment with him is making the Republicans seem any more appealing. I can, however, find polls showing that nearly 80 percent of the voters in last Tuesday's election cited "electing a candidate who will strengthen the economy and create more good jobs" as their first priority, and that 56 percent of those who complained about a bad economy voted for Brown.
I rest my case, whatever it was.