Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Mongolian Sushi Chef and the Blood of Genghis Khan

For the last few years, I've been lucky enough to be friends with two guys with Mongolian blood who are outstanding doctoral candidates in the sciences at UCLA. In China, those who have a Mongolian bloodline are called "meng gu." They frequently have Han blood in them. (94% of Chinese are Han).
Inner Mongolia is the third richest province in China with a lot of natural resources. There is much to be proud of in Inner Mongolia.
I recently became friendly with a sushi cutter from Mongolia. He works in a Japanese restaurant run by Koreans. (This is not unusual in Los Angeles. Not a lot of Japanese immigrate to America so Korean-Americans have jumped in to provide a popular cuisine for Americans). They hired this Mongolian guy and taught him to be a sushi chef.
Since I'm just an average horseman, this guy impresses me because he's one of the outstanding horseman produced by that country of 2.6 million people. He can do things I could only dream of. His language is written in Cyrillic, because the Russians controlled Mongolia for a long time. But things are changing. Mongolia is set to become as rich as inner Mongolia, with resources that have the world's miners salivating.
The way I figure it, those with the blood of Genghis Khan flowing through their veins are going to end up on the top of the pile once again. These hard-working, intelligent people conquered the world before, and I expect they may do it again.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spousal Respect in America and China

I have a friend in Beijing who is very proud that his wife has a Masters in Architecture from Peking University. I'm very proud of my wife's achievements.
But in China, and sometimes in America, having a wife who's achieved more than you have, seems to be a problem for men. In China men seem to feel mei mianzi (loss of face) when their wife has an advanced degree and they don't.
There is a wonderful article today in the New York Times about matchmaking In China. In one interview a Chinese father, whose eldest daughter can't get married because she has a doctorate in economics, forbids his younger daughter from attending graduate school to guarantee someone will marry her.
I once received acupuncture from a man who had been a med school professor in China. His wife, who he treated like chattel, had been an orthopedic surgeon in China. She noticed that that the acupuncture was not working. Making sure her husband was in the other room, she said, "cortisone shot." Maybe it was okay when he was a med school professor for her to be an orthopedic surgeon. But now that he was an acupuncturist, it was essential she become a nonentity.
There are  men in America who are threatened by their wife's achievements. It is such an outdated concept that I feel sorry for the guys who are just looking for a pretty face and someone who keeps quiet when he talks.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Rich Have Stacked the Deck

I don't understand why more Americans aren't angry. Over the last 10 years, the incomes of middle-class Americans have not gone up, while the rich are richer than ever.
The American dream worked for me but it doesn't work anymore. When my father died at seven, with no insurance, I was supported by Social Security checks. When I went to college Social Security gave me money. My mother never made more than $5000 a year, but I ended up with a PhD. I eventually became a University vice president.
Could that happen today? I severely doubt it. Despite the fact most Americans believe in the American dream, the middle class has been pummeled almost out of existence. The future for rich kids is bright, but the future for the African-American and Latino students that I taught in University are not.
But we accept this. Despite the fact we are one of the least upwardly mobile societies now, people still think the American dream is alive. And that is what is killing us.
The Republican Party protects the rich. The Democratic Party makes a lot of noise. But the fact is, the rich are getting richer and we all are getting poorer.
Our world has changed and we cling to old realities. We need to get pissed off and demand a more fair society. Clinging to elusive old stories won't fix things. Making the rich richer, is making most of us poorer. It's time to wake up and take some action.