Invasion of the Robots

December 13, 2017

Recode.net reported in May 2017, why manufacturing jobs are coming back to the U.S. – even as companies buy more robots. “In April, 12.4 million Americans worked in manufacturing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up by about 25,000 jobs from a year prior, and almost a million from early 2010. But it’s still down by about one third, or more than six million jobs, from 1980. …

“Last year, for the first time in decades, more manufacturing jobs came back to the United States than left, according to data compiled by the Reshoring Initiative, a firm that works to bring jobs back to the U.S. …

“Even though now both human jobs and robotic manufacturing are on the rise, in the end machines do take away jobs from humans. For every robot brought into the U.S. workforce between 1990 and 2007, six human jobs were lost,”

However, jobs coming back will not stop the popular political pass time in the United States to bash China for stealing jobs from US workers.

In addition, Smirking Chimp.com says, “The perception among some Americans is that immigrant labor and off shoring of jobs are the major causes of unemployment. Indeed, American corporations choose to utilize migrant labor and off shoring to India and China in order to pay out lower wages. Yet, studies have estimated that off shoring accounts for 10 percent of unemployment and would only affect two percent of employed Americans.”

Does that mean that 90% of jobs lost in America were to robots and computers and not to China or other countries with cheap labor?

No matter the facts reveal, it is a safe bet that if someone is out of work, it is easier to blame it on China or Japan or India or South Korea, or Bangladesh, for example, than on some machine probably made in America by another machine that caused the  lost job.

The New York Times even published this in December 2016: “The Long-Term Jobs Killer Is Not China. It’s Automation.”

And it isn’t just the United States that firing humans and replacing them with robots. China is also doing it. Quartz Media reports, “It’s not just the US: Chinese factories are turning to automation as wages rise. … In 2015, according to the International Federation of Robotics, factories in China bought 68,000 industrial robots, 20% more than the year before, and more than all European countries combined.”

Next time you hear someone curse China for stealing jobs from the United States, see if you can shut them up long enough to tell them what’s really happening. “It isn’t other countries that are stealing our jobs, Stupid, its robots.”

What will happen when there are no jobs left for humans because robots took them all?  Will the robots become the consumers of the products they produce?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 5 of 5

September 23, 2017

As you have discovered, while many in the West have praised Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao as an accurate portrait of a manipulative egomaniac with little tolerance of dissent and a penchant for young women, the book was also criticized in China by those closest to Mao and by both eastern and western scholars of China.

In addition, some in the West have rejected or ignored what Dr. Li wrote about Mao and the famine during the Great Leap Forward. It’s as if, there are too many who only want the scandal, the rumors, the bad stuff.

According to the people that knew Mao best, most notably Dr. Li Zhisui, Mao was not aware that the situation that caused the great famine amounted to more than a slight shortage of food.

Li wrote, “But I do not think that when he spoke on July 2, 1959, he knew how bad the disaster had become, and he believed the party was doing everything it could to manage the situation.”

While many in the West believe most of what Li wrote of Mao in his memoir, those same people do not accept what Li says about the famine because to do so would be to admit Mao wasn’t the butcher of twenty, thirty, forty or sixty million people (depending on who you read and want to believe) due to the famine and starvation during the Great Leap Forward.

This is known as cherry picking, which is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, confirmation bias, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict what you think.

Confirmation bias refers to a form of selective thinking that focuses on evidence that supports what believers already think while ignoring evidence that proves their thinking was wrong. Confirmation bias plays a stronger role when people base their beliefs on faith, tradition, and prejudice.  A perfect example is Fake President Donald Trump and his loyal supporters.

One example of confirmation bias is from Hong Kong-based historian Frank Dikotter’s book on the great famine where he claims that Mao was responsible for the famine and did nothing to save lives.

The point I want to make is if the West accepts the revised and sensationalized English version of Li’s memoir of Mao as accurate, how can anyone dispute what Li said about Mao not knowing the extent of the Great Leap Forward famine?  By 1959, Dr. Li had been Mao’s physician for almost three years and according to the doctor, he knew intimate details of Mao’s life at least during those few years during the famine.

On the other hand, if we accept that Dr. Li’s memory was wrong about Mao and the famine in 1959, how many other claims in his memoir of Mao are inaccurate?

In fact, Frank Dikotter sensationalized his book. the same as Random House did to Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao. by increasing the number of people that died by fifty percent to allow for possible under-reporting to come up with an unproven claim that 45-million died of starvation during the famine when in fact, the number of people that died may have been much lower.

Is it possible that Mao’s image outside of China has been unwittingly engineered by the western media to be worse than it should be?

Return to Part 4 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 4 of 5

September 22, 2017

In addition, Li cannot be credited with the English edition of his flawed memoir since the original manuscript written by Li was translated from his native Chinese into English by Professor Tai Hung-chao, before being edited by Thurston that Dr. Li later accused of cutting substantial parts of his original manuscript without his knowledge.

I was also told by a friend that read the Chinese language edition of the memoir that it reads as if it were an accountant’s ledger.

In addition, Professor Tai, the translator, alleged that the English-language publisher Random House wanted more sensationalist elements to the book than that which Li had provided them, in particular requesting more information about Mao’s sexual relationships.

Despite Li’s own protests, Professor Tai said Random House overruled him, and put fictional sexual claims in Dr. Li’s memoir anyway.

Then there is an Open Letter published in April 1995, a statement that said many of the claims made in Li’s memoir were false. One-hundred-and-fifty people that had personally known or worked with Mao signed that letter.

Then there is Professor Frederick Teiwes, a western academic specializing in the study of Maoist China, who was also critical of Li’s memoir. Professor Teiwes argued in his book The Tragedy of Lin Biao: Riding the Tiger during the Cultural Revolution 1966-1971 (1996) that despite Li’s extensive claims regarding the politics behind the Cultural Revolution, Dr. Li was actually “on the fringe” of the events taking place in the Chinese government.

Does that mean Dr. Li was a fraud, a liar, and that Random House helped make that fraud worse?

Continued in Part 5 on September 23, 2017 or return to Part 3

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 3 of 5

September 21, 2017

In 1994, a year before he died, Dr. Li Zhisui published his memoir of Mao, The Private Life of Chairman Mao.

Li based the book’s contents upon his own memories of Mao several decades after the actual events because he burned all of his personal diaries during the Cultural Revolution in case something he wrote about Mao might get him in trouble with the teenage Red Guard.

In 1988, Dr. Li left China for good with Lillian (his wife), who was suffering from kidney trouble and joined their sons, Chong and Erchong, and daughter-in-law Mei, near Chicago.

His decision to set down his account of Mao’s private life was not easy since he had destroyed the forty notebooks of his private diary during the Cultural Revolution almost thirty years earlier.

It wouldn’t be until after Dr. Li’s wife died of kidney failure in 1989, that he started writing his memoir. “In her last days in the hospital, before she slipped into a coma,” says Li, “she urged me to write this book …”

One of Li’s collaborators involved in editing and revisions of the memoir, the western historian Anne F. Thurston, noted that because of this, Dr. Li’s claims were “fallible” and might “be wrong”.

One of the many critics of Li’s memoir was Qi Benyu, a former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China that was connected with the left wing of the Cultural Revolution Group and the red-guard power seizures of 1967.

Qi had no reason to love Mao since he was arrested and imprisoned by Mao’s in 1968 and stayed in prison until 1986, a decade before Li wrote and published his memoir. Before prison, Qi spent several years near Mao and says he never heard any rumors of Mao having extra-marital affairs despite the fact that other senior Party members were known to have done this. Qi also said that most of the Cultural Revolution part of Li’s memoir consisted of information gleaned from newspapers, journals, and other people’s writings.

Continued on September 22, 2017, in Part 4 or return to Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 2 of 5

September 20, 2017

Eighty-nine percent of the Amazon reviews of Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao earned 4 and 5-star reviews giving the book a 4.5 out of 5-star average. Before reviewing the book, it would have helped if the readers knew more about Dr. Li’s life.

Dr. Li Zhisui (1919 – 1995), attended West China Union University in Chengdu now known as Sichuan University that’s one of the oldest in China.

Soon after graduating from the university as a Western trained medical doctor in his mid-twenties, Li fled China in the 1940s to escape the ravages and dangers of the war and he ended up working as a ship’s surgeon out of Sydney, Australia.

In 1949, The Lecturn reports, “Madly enthusiastic about the Communist victory in 1949, he gives up a promising young career in Australia to take part in the efforts to rebuild China after a century of warfare and internal struggle…”

Since Mao officially declared an end to the Cultural Revolution in 1969 [its active phase lasted until the death of the military leader Lin Bao in 1971], we may assume that Dr. Li returned to Beijing from the destitute village in Zhejiang Province and/or rural Jiangxi Province mentioned in Part 1 of this five part series, where the doctor was sent in 1965 as part of the Socialist Education Program.

By this time, Dr. Li may have become a bitter man as we discover when we read his opinions in Around the Bend With Mao Zedong.

“As Dr Li presented it, the Socialist Education Program amounted to an elaborate waste of time … given the disparity between the living standards of the city people and the poor-beyond-all-imagination villagers.”

Mao held power in China for twenty-seven years but Dr. Li spent only eight of those years with Mao (less than 34-percent). That does not sound like someone that was with Mao every day he was in power.

How do we know that Li did not become Mao’s doctor until 1957?

In 1995, two years before the British gave Hong Kong back to China, a Chinese language book was published in Hong Kong. It was called Lishi de Zhenshi: Mao Zedong Shenbian Gongzuo Renyuan de Zhengyan. Translated that means The Truth of History: Testimony of the personnel who had worked with Mao Zedong.

Three people who had known Mao personally wrote that book. One was his personal secretary Lin Ke. The second person was his personal doctor from 1953 to 1957, Xu Tao, and the third person was his chief nurse from 1953 to 1974, Wu Xujun.

The three authors argued in this Chinese language book that Dr. Li didn’t know Mao that well, and Li presented an inaccurate picture of Mao in his obviously flawed memoir. The trio attacked Li’s claim that he had been Mao’s personal physician in 1954 and presented copies of a document from Mao’s medical record showing that Li only took on the responsibility of caring for Mao on June 3, 1957.

Continued on September 21, 2017 in Part 3 or return to Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Questionable Private Life of Chairman Mao: Part 1 of 5

September 19, 2017

On the Amazon page of The Private Life of Chairman Mao, it says, “From 1954 until Mao Zedong’s death 22 years later. Dr. Li Zhisui was the Chinese ruler’s personal physician. For most of these years, Mao was in excellent health; thus he and the doctor had time to discuss political and personal matters. Dr. Li recorded many of these conversations in his diaries, as well as in his memory.”

The previous paragraph as you will discover if you finish reading this five-part series is not correct.

But first, let’s examine how accurate a memory is. According to Elizabeth Loftus, “Memory is imperfect. This is because we often do not see things accurately in the first place. But even if we take in a reasonably accurate picture of some experience, it does not necessarily stay perfectly intact in memory.”

Loftus is an American cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory. She has conducted extensive research on the malleability of human memory. Loftus is best known for her ground-breaking work on the misinformation effect and eyewitness memory, and the creation and nature of false memories, including recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse.

Loftus says, “Another force is at work. The memory traces can actually undergo distortion. With the passage of time, with proper motivation, with the introduction of special kinds of interfering facts, the memory traces seem sometimes to change or become transformed.

“These distortions can be quite frightening, for they can cause us to have memories of things that never happened. Even in the most intelligent among us is memory thus malleable.”

For an example of what professor Loftus is talking about, we learn about faulty memories from Amy Chua when she discussed the writing of her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

The Stamford Advocate reports, “The book was in many ways a family project. Rubenfeld, Chua’s husband, and their daughters read every draft and tried to reconcile their different memories. The final version reflects “four different sets of memories,” Chua said. “It was like family therapy.”

After reading about Dr. Li on his Amazon book’s page, it may come as a surprise to those that read Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao that Li was only one of Mao’s doctors. In addition, he wasn’t with Mao every day he was in power.

In fact, Dr. Li did not become Mao’s doctor until June 3, 1957, and Mao became the leader of China in 1949.

Then in 1965, according to  Around the Bend With Mao Zedong, eight years later, at the start of the Cultural Revolution, Dr Li was recruited into what was called the Socialist Education Program, and he was sent to a destitute village in Zhejiang Province.

In addition, in “Mao’s Last Revolution” by Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, we discover that Dr Li was also living in rural Jiangxi Province, so maybe he spent time in both provinces during the ten year long Cultural Revolution that didn’t end until Mao died in 1976.

Continued on September 20, 2017 in Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China is Leading the World in Alternative Energy

August 23, 2017

The United States Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970 because of polluted rivers, lakes, and dense, visible smog in many U.S. cities and industrial centers.  I grew up in the Los Angeles basin in the 1950s – 60s and was a witness and victim of that air pollution.

A 2016 Report of the Trends in Global CO2 Emissions said, “top emitters China (1st place) and the United States (2nd place) set an example by effectively reducing their CO2 emissions over 2015 by 0.7% and 2.6%, respectively, compared to 2014 levels. … The largest decreases in coal consumption were seen in the United States and China.”

But all of the gains made by the United States since the 1970s are being reversed by #FakePresident Donald Trump and his extremist administration.

Yes, the United States is listed as the second largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions in the world, but if the U.S. had China’s population, the pollution generated would dwarf China. In 2015, China’s global share of emissions was 29 percent vs 14-percent in the United States, but if both countries had equal populations, the U.S. share would be almost twice China’s.

China’s first Clean Air Act was signed into law in 1987. In 2006, Greenpeace was consulted by China’s CCP on an early draft of a renewable energy law by China’s National People’s Congress. Now China is the world’s leader in the production of renewable energy. DW.com reports, “China is one of the driving forces behind the solar power boom. Last year, around 45 percent of the world’s new solar installations were built there. The United States, Japan and India were also top adopters of the technology, albeit significantly behind China.”

China’s one-party system has demonstrated the ability to get things done quickly and, yes, mistakes are made but so are course corrections.  For instance, I witnessed China’s ability to get things done in Shanghai. At the time, we were staying in what was once the French concession. The stately mansions that once housed wealthy French families and their Chinese servants had been converted to communal multi-family homes still surrounded by high walls.  When we went to sleep one night, the walls were there. In the morning, the walls were gone.

An army of workers arrived at night, took down the walls and trucked out the debris without making enough noise to wake people.

History already shows us that when China’s leaders set a goal to achieve something, they get it done even if it takes centuries.

Need proof? China is responsible for two of the largest engineering projects of all time: The Great Wall and the Grand Canal.

China Highlights reveals that “Over 2,000 years, many imperial dynasties and kingdoms built, rebuilt, and extended walls many times that subsequently eroded. The latest imperial construction was performed by the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), and the length was then over 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles). This is the wall often referred to when we talk about the Great Wall.”

Britannica.com says, “The Grand Canal was built to enable successive Chinese regimes to transport surplus grain from the agriculturally rich Yangtze (Chang) and Huai river valleys to feed the capital cities and large standing armies in northern China.”

Global Securtiy.org says, “The Grand Canal is composed of the Beijing-Hangzhou Canal, Sui-Tang Canal and Zhedong Canal, and is over two thousand years old. It starts in Beijing and passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Zhejiang, Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu. It is 21 times longer than the Panama Canal, and surpasses the Suze Canal by 10 times … the Grand Canal of China is the longest waterway in existence and one of the most ancient.”

When someone thinks China can’t replace coal with renewable green energy sources, remind them of The Great Wall and the Grand Canal. All China needs is time to get the work done. Want another example?  About thirty years ago, China decided to seriously deal with poverty and led the world by reducing global poverty by 90-percent but only in China. The rest of the world was only responsible for 10-percent of that reduction.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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