Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

On Attrition

I wasn’t really planning on making a series on Chinese proverbs. But it happens that every time I start writing a post I can think up of a proper Chinese expression to introduce it. Such is the vastness of the language.


This is not a proverb actually, but it is an idiomatic expression inherited from the Classical Chinese. Word-by-word it means “what bitter”. Which is pretty ungrammatical. But Asian languages in general have quite flexible grammars, and Chinese more so. The expression usually translates as “why bother?”, “why make things so hard”? Bitter is the Chinese word for hardship, hence Coolies 苦力 “bitter force”.

It is a very frequently used expression, because Chinese have this habit of making things harder than they need to be.  For all the talk about HBD having its future in the practical-minded Asian countries, East Asia is very much about effort. At least since Confucius, the key to success in China has been relentless self-improvement. There’s two kinds of humans, “small people” 小人 and Gentlemen 君子. They key to being a Gentlemen is having a good education. Fast-forward 2500 years and you have the Banzai-charges of Japanese army troops against the mechanised Soviet batallions in Khalkhin Gol. They lost, and didn’t learn from it. This year there was a report on some US advisors to the Japanese army saying that their performance sucks because of a lack of fatigue management. They won’t give the soldiers a break.

The obsession of Asians with pointless effort has become a popular topic of discussion with the increasing numbers of Asians in the US, and the  ensuing bitterness for all the other kids who have to compete with them. Everybody hates those Asian kids in cram school getting straight As in topics they don’t give a shit about. Just when people were starting to notice it, Amy Chua had her book, and the infamous article on the WSJ. Really exquisite timing. All in all it was a very interesting book. It’s not often that Asians explain their own culture in proper English. And doing so in a conflicted tone, that one of someone who has properly assimilated to a Western culture, and can explain it on Western terms.

Still for all her explanations, the consensus is that she’s a heartless bitch who mistreated her children, and all Asians parents are freaks. I won’t comment on that. Moralising is cheap. I think you should judge things by their results. So what was the result of Amy Chua terrorising her children for a decade? Did she produce smart, polite, humble and tasteful kids?


Nah, she produced a run-of-the-mill overbearing, loud and full-of-herself liberal bitch.

Go check out yourself. Lotsa pics of the chick in short skirts. The writing is impossibly annoying but the pics are nice. And very telling.

Amy Chua spent 15 years of her life filling her family life with fights and shouts and sheer unpleasantness… to produce yet another narcissistic liberal. Confucius would be proud.


29 responses to “On Attrition

  1. john December 14, 2012 at 22:56

    Having kids of my own, it is very disheartening to see this. Hopefully, I will do a better job, but I know of so many people who think that they are doing the right thing and turn out garbage.

    • spandrell December 15, 2012 at 05:56

      John Derbyshire’s daughter is an annoying anti-racist teen. He’s never believed in parenting though.

      • John December 16, 2012 at 19:19

        I think he is wrong. I don’t know what went wrong with John, but definitely parents play a big role in shaping their kids. It is true genetics have a big factor to play in their temperament or IQ, but their core believes and attitude comes in big part from their relationship with their parents.

  2. RS-prime December 15, 2012 at 03:25

    I am voting because
    I am voting because

    — Rhetorical deep-structure analysis: anaphora

    I am voting because I believe you have the right to what you earn, and to me that says you shouldn’t have to take a pay cut for being a woman.

    Also, helping the less-fortunate.

    I believe a homo in uniform can take away sin. Make up for some of the wrong we’ve done (and just keep on doing). Especially if it is a gay woman or man of a holy race, and you can’t even tell which gender it is. Touch a gay man living with full-blown AIDS.

    That would be true blessedness. Not romantic love, devotion, children, not knowledge, adventure and struggle, art, attainment of mystical states, self-discipline to be able to be personally responsible for measurable real-world outcomes, conquest of the moon….

    I believe a sex-positive slut dying of AIDS should be admitted to the US Armed Service Corps. The slut should be stationed in the tank unit of the Army, being unable to walk, so skeletal that rations are intravenous. Because of the effort it took to do that as a blighted slattern, regardless of whether combat was part of her service the slut should be granted a military triumph in the streets of Washington DC, complete with a slave to whisper in her ear ‘remember that you too are mortal’.

  3. thalesomiletus December 15, 2012 at 04:47

    Tiger Mom sent her to Harvard. Send your child to study at the Vatican, don’t be shocked if she returns Catholic.

    • spandrell December 15, 2012 at 05:51

      Do all girls in Harvard put sexy pics of themselves on the internet?
      I’d pay a lot to see Xi Jinping’s daughter in that outfit.

      • Candide III December 15, 2012 at 15:12

        Xi Jinping’s daughter is definitely not “all girls”, and she studies under an assumed name anyway so how shall you know? Maybe she’s goddessing on 4chan. Correct “all girls” to “many girls” and “most popular girls” and you have it. Plenty of anecdotal and statistical evidence around Dalrock’s and “Hooking up smart” sites.

        • spandrell December 15, 2012 at 15:24

          Well that’s exactly the thing. Why bother spending years bullying your children if they’re just going to behave like everyone else? So they can play piano? Big deal. The girls are hot anyway, it’s not like they’ll have trouble finding suitable mates.

  4. asdf December 15, 2012 at 08:20

    Didn’t you read Last Psychiatrists Chua takedown.

    Anyway, wasn’t her other book cooler. Never read it.

  5. Simon December 15, 2012 at 13:13

    Let’s see how long it’ll take spandrell to put two and two together.

  6. spandrell December 16, 2012 at 05:43


    The link is behind the Asahi paywall. You’re paying for the stuff?
    The news are awesome, give it 20 more years and there’s a baby boom in the horizon. People are starting to feel poor I guess. Poverty is really the best enforcer of traditional mores.

    • Candide III December 16, 2012 at 13:51

      > The link is behind the Asahi paywall. You’re paying for the stuff?
      God forbid :) The free registration gives access to 3 paid articles per day. There isn’t anything of much interest in the remaining part of the article, just professors’ speculation. The raw poll report is available for free anyway.

      > People are starting to feel poor I guess.
      That sounds about right from my interaction with the locals.

  7. bbtp December 16, 2012 at 13:51

    That’s shamefully bad writing. From the top post:

    “Let more eloquent writers articulate the hollow pain of tragedy, while we pray for and mourn the victims of yesterday’s massacre. But know that those prayers and tears are for ourselves, so that we will have the strength to move forward, and not for the children who lost their lives. We prayed and cried after Virginia Tech, and then there was Aurora. We prayed and cried after Aurora, and now 18 innocent boys and girls in my home state are dead. As social animals and moral beings, we must respond with grief. But if grief alone is our response, then we disrespect the memory of the victims. They were robbed of their chances to live long and meaningful lives. It would be wrong and self-serving of us to make their deaths meaningless as well. So mourn for our shaken nation, and pray for the strength of the survivors. But most of all, honor the victims: nothing will bring those children back, but if we demand change, at least they will not have died in vain.”

    Behoove me no ill-behooves, kid.

    • spandrell December 16, 2012 at 14:16

      But she can play the violin!!1

      And look at her little sis’ make up in Twitter. How old is she again?

      I’m starting to agree with Jim Donald that our new elite is quite dumb really.

      • bbtp December 16, 2012 at 22:26

        I notice she’s learned a key skill for establishment libs, though: hitting the news cycle with “why this tragedy means we must support my politics.” IOW, her politics are a panacea, a cure-all, the true science of government. After all, if they’re what smart people (like Harvard grads) believe, they must be scientifically vindicated, the consensus view of the best researchers that all responsible people must therefore adopt, since to do otherwise is to insist on believing something contrary to expert consensus — the most intellectually irresponsible thing you can do. Etc. etc. etc.

        Of course, this argument would also have compelled assent to leading opinion in other times and places…

  8. Reny Bocuse December 16, 2012 at 19:30

    OT, I saw the term “third uncle” in a Chinese movie last night. All I get if I google it is Brian Eno lyrics. What does it mean?

    • spandrell December 16, 2012 at 19:35

      Doesn’t ring a bell. Perhaps she just happened to have 3 or more uncles. Uncles (and siblings) are called by different names according to their age and side of the family.

      What movie was that?

      • Reny Brunoise December 17, 2012 at 02:43

        “Let the Bullets Fly” with Chow Yun Fat and a couple other guys. Actually, have you seen it? We were wondering about a few things in it.

        It was a man calling another man Third Uncle. They were just pretending to be related, and they didn’t invent any other uncles.

        • spandrell December 17, 2012 at 06:00

          Oh, that one. The original is 老三 , which means “the third oldest”. Traditionally, ranking of males in an extended family (or any gang fashioned as one) depended on age. And men called each other by their rank, “big one” “second oldest”, “third oldest”, etc. Very hard to translate. Third uncle is accurate enough I guess.

          There’s an old expression, 你算老几呀? literally “Which age rank do you count as?”, and meaning “Who do you think you are?”. i.e. arrogant people behave as if they were the oldest, which have power.

          • Handle December 19, 2012 at 09:26

            In “Dream of the Red Chamber” – the author (translator?) frequently switch from proper names to the numerical nicknames, but the numbers also corresponded to “rank” as in “second in command”.

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