“Innovation and Invention Don’t Grow Out of the Government’s Orders”

ZhouYouguangTrendyOldGuy2012-03-07.jpg“”You can have democracy no matter what level of development. Just look at the Arab Spring.”- Zhou Youguang” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. A5) BEIJING. EVEN at 106 years old, Zhou Youguang is the kind of creative thinker that Chinese leaders regularly command the government to cultivate in their bid to raise their nation from the world’s factory floor.
So it is curious that he embodies a contradiction at the heart of their premise: the notion that free thinkers are to be venerated unless and until they challenge the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party.
Mr. Zhou is the inventor of Pinyin, the Romanized spelling system that linked China’s ancient written language to the modern age and helped China all but stamp out illiteracy. He was one of the leaders of the Chinese translation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in the 1980s. He has written about 40 books, the most recent published last year.
. . .
His blog entries range from the modernization of Confucianism to Silk Road history and China’s new middle class. Computer screens hurt his eyes, but he devours foreign newspapers and magazines. A well-known Chinese artist nicknamed him “Trendy Old Guy.”
. . .
THE decade-long Cultural Revolution that began in 1966 wiped out Mr. Zhou’s lingering belief in communism. He was publicly humiliated and sent to toil for two years in the wilderness.
. . .
About Mao, he said in an interview: “I deny he did any good.” About the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre: “I am sure one day justice will be done.” About popular support for the Communist Party: “The people have no freedom to express themselves, so we cannot know.”
As for fostering creativity in the Communist system, Mr. Zhou had this to say, in a 2010 book of essays: “Inventions are flowers that grow out of the soil of freedom. Innovation and invention don’t grow out of the government’s orders.”
No sooner had the first batch of copies been printed than the book was banned in China.

For the full story, see:
SHARON LaFRANIERE. “THE SATURDAY PROFILE; A Chinese Voice of Dissent That Took Its Time.” The New York Times (Sat., March 3, 2012): A5.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the article has the date March 2, 2012.)

Euro Haiku

Welfare states’ debt due
Ratings downgrades, states default
Euro muddles through

Arthur Diamond

The haiku above was my entry in response to the haiku challenge in the Kauffman Foundation’s First Quarter 2012 survey “of top economics bloggers.” The haiku challenge was: “The euro is troubled, so what is its fate in 2012 and/or what should policymakers do?”

The results of the Q1 2012 survey can be found at: http://www.kauffman.org/uploadedFiles/econ_bloggers_outlook_q1_2012.pdf

My Jobs Haiku “Most Popular”

Yesterday (10/31/11) the Kauffman Foundation issued a press release reporting the results of their fourth-quarter survey of “top economics bloggers.” The URL for the press release is:
http://www.kauffman.org/newsroom/only-half-of-economics-bloggers-expect-employment-growth-in-the-next-three-years.aspx

The last few lines of the press release are summarized below:
In their fourth-quarter survey of “top economics bloggers” the Kauffman Foundation asked the panel of bloggers “to describe the U.S. economy in haiku. Nearly 20 haiku were submitted and subsequently voted on by more than 500 public readers. The most popular was by Professor Art Diamond (http://artdiamondblog.com):”

jobs and Jobs are gone
need more Jobs to get more jobs
innovate to grow

More on Jobs Haiku

My Jobs haiku has received some discussion in the blogosphere.

It is reproduced, along with haikus submitted by other economics bloggers, in an entry of the blog of the Economist magazine:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2011/10/poetry?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/theeconomyinhaiku

I especially like a comment to the Economist blog entry:

CaitP

Oct 26th 2011 7:59 GMT

What a creative way to describe the economy. It is so interesting to see how everyone interprets the economy through poem. I personally like the “jobs and Jobs” one. I think it describes our economy, and gives a snapshot of a major moment in our history.

kbuch5

Nov 2nd 2011 1:41 GMT

It is interesting to see people’s opinions about the economy being put into haikus. My favorite out of these is the haiku that refers to the fact that we have lost Steve Jobs and many jobs for US citizens. And in order to regain these jobs we are going to need more people to contribute in ways Steve Jobs has.

(Note: I added kbuch5’s comment on 11/7/11.)

CNBC correspondent Jane Wells describes my haiku as “poetic” on her blog:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/45078738

Jobs Haiku

jobs and Jobs are gone
need more Jobs to get more jobs
innovate to grow

Arthur Diamond

In his Q4 survey of influential economics bloggers, Tim Kane of the Kauffman Foundation whimsically requested that we create a haiku that speaks to the state of the economy. I sent him my haiku, above, on Sunday, October 16, 2011.
(Do not worry—I have no plans to retire and devote myself to writing poetry.)

Castro’s Communist Goons Impound Cuba Libre

SanchezYoaniCubanBlogger.jpg “Her writing, said Yoani Sánchez, above in her Havana apartment, describes “the sentiments of one person but sums up the reality of many people.”” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. C1) Like any other first-time author, Yoani Sánchez was looking forward to receiving copies of her book, “Cuba Libre,” after it was published last year. But when the package sent from Buenos Aires by her publisher arrived in Havana, the Cuban customs service impounded the parcel and, after she complained, sent her a notice explaining its action.

“The content of the book entitled ‘Free Cuba’ transgresses against the general interests of the nation, in that it argues that certain political and economic changes are necessary in Cuba in order for its citizens to enjoy greater material well-being and attain personal fulfillment,” stated the document, which Ms. Sánchez posted on her Web site. Such positions “are extremes totally contrary to the principles of our society.”

Outside her homeland, though, Ms. Sánchez’s writing is free of such censorship, and she has emerged as an important new voice, both literary and political. Published in the United States in May under the title “Havana Real” (Melville House), her book draws on the same collection of sketches of daily life in Cuba — a dreary, enervating routine of food shortages, transportation troubles and narrowed opportunity — that she has been posting on her Web site, Generation Y (desdecuba.com/generationy), since 2007.
. . .
(p. C6) Recently Ms. Sánchez completed a second book, a manual whose title translates as “WordPress: A Blog for Speaking to the World.” A new fiber-optic cable connecting Cuba with South America has just been laid, and when it begins fully operating later this summer, it is likely to increase opportunities not just for her, but for other dissident bloggers and writers, many of whom have attended the seminars she conducted that led to the writing of the second book.
“It’s interesting that we’re talking not about a bearded 80-year-old man, but a sharp, fearless, skinny 35-year-old mother,” said Ted Henken, an expert on Cuba and the Internet who teaches at the City University of New York and visited Ms. Sánchez in April. “That’s new, and in some ways, by spreading the virus of blogging and tweeting to others, she has displaced Che and Fidel among young, progressive people.”

For the full story, see:
LARRY ROHTER. “In Cuba, the Voice of a Blog Generation.” The New York Times (Weds., July 6, 2011): C1 & C6.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story is dated July 5, 2011.)