August 19, 2013

The Chinese love counting

The Count loves counting
From the NYT:
Communist Party cadres have filled meeting halls around China to hear a somber, secretive warning issued by senior leaders. Power could escape their grip, they have been told, unless the party eradicates seven subversive currents coursing through Chinese society. 
These seven perils were enumerated in a memo, referred to as Document No. 9, that bears the unmistakable imprimatur of Xi Jinping, China’s new top leader.

Why do the Chinese love to enumerate things? Are certain numbers unlucky? Does labeling your political rivals the "Gang of Four" instantly raise doubt about their inauspicious future because everybody knows that four is an unlucky number? Or do the Chinese just love numbers in general?

81 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe because math is the universal language and Chinese are quite good at it.

hdob said...

Here is what I have been told by Chinese persons:

The number 8 sounds like "money" so it is good to have it in your address, phone number, license plate, etc. Here in the SF Bay area, if you are Chinese and go to a Chinese car dealer, they will offer to hook you up with a license plate with 8s in it. So I have been told.

The number 4 sounds like "die" so it is to be avoided. An acquaintance refuses to stay in hotel rooms with 4s in the numbers.

Another number, maybe 6, sounds like "easy" so in combination with the above can be good or bad.

Probably all the numbers are homonyms with other words; this would explain the tendency to use them, as it gives an easy double meaning to the statement.

RKU said...

Well, I've always suspected it's because the Chinese language isn't alphabetic and hence can't use the sort of acronyms and abbreviations so common in most other languages. So the only way you can "abbreviate" a list of related Chinese items is to call them the "Seven Whatevers." But that's just my casual speculation.

Anonymous said...

Grouping things in sets and then identifying the set with a phrase that includes the number of items in the set is a habit that goes back to ancient times. The "Five Classics", the "Four Books", etc. etc. If you open a good Chinese dictionary you'll find that the entries for the numbers one through ten have a huge number of compounds listed under them because the number is usually the first character in the compound. We do it a little with things like "the ten commandments" or "the seven deadly sins", but in Chinese culture it's ubiquitous. It has little to do with the auspicious or inauspicious associations of particular numbers.

Anonymous said...

- The little hidden secret is that the Chinese, in general, are a deeply superstitious people, almost to the point that this trait is engrained in the genome, (along with the love of gambling, which is really another side of the same coin). The idea of omens, portents, meaningful patterns as 'hidden messages from the gods', the notion that nothing is coincidental but clues, changes, mysterious forces, fate, destiny etc are all weaving their secret tapesty everywhere - which mere mortals are powerless pawns caught in this cosmic web beyond their understanding - is everywhere. In fact all the earliest Chinese written texts are obsessed with the subject. Over countless millenia, these beliefs have been engrained to the point of being universal and ubiquitous. No matter how much a Chinese will write in her and denounce me and call me an ignorant fool etc, I maintain that if you scratch any Chinese you'll find a committed belief in the power of fate and destiny not too far beneath the surface. Perhaps too the Chinese preocupation with the idealised state of 'harmony' is liked with these ancient beliefs.

Anonymous said...

It's reassuring that other nations are taking the US as a negative object lesson in how to govern.

Orthodox said...

It's because of the characters. Numbers are easier, especially for bureaucrats.

Anonymous said...

Well, I've always suspected it's because the Chinese language isn't alphabetic and hence can't use the sort of acronyms and abbreviations so common in most other languages. So the only way you can "abbreviate" a list of related Chinese items is to call them the "Seven Whatevers." But that's just my casual speculation.

Yes, but I believe Chinese numbers are Chinese characters, just like other morphemes in the language are. From what I understand, numbers especially but characters in general are believed to have a magical or symbolic power.

Anonymous said...

Does labeling your political rivals the "Gang of Four" instantly raise doubt about their inauspicious future because everybody knows that four is an unlucky number?

"Four" sounds similar to "death" in Chinese, so it'd be like calling your political rivals the "Gang of Death" in English.

Anonymous said...

Numbers are prominent in Chinese magic and superstition.

Chinese magic works by the way. And it's not just Chinese magic, but certain other folk magic traditions work well. Finnish magic works very well. Norse and Celtic magic work well too.

What generally doesn't work is the stuff that's heavily promoted commercially, the stuff you see at Barnes & Noble's New Age: Wicca, Egyptian, Neo-Pagan, etc.

Anonymous said...

Buddhism - together with Confusionism and Taoism - forms the triad of Chinese religion. Buddhism has the four noble truths, the eightfold path, the three marks of existence, the three jewels, the five precepts and much more presaged by numbers besides.

I guess these are a form of mnemonic, and as has been alluded by RKU, acronyms likely don't lend themselves to Sandskrit or Pali nor Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese.

Nick Pretoria

Dr Van Nostrand said...

7 7 comments aah aah aah!

as hdob said 8 is a lucky number.
The Rogue Trader Nick Leeson used the account number 88888 to conceal his losses when he was the head trader for Singapore Mercantile Exchange on behalf of Barings. The bank collapsed and that "lucky" number couldnt help matters.

Anyway numerology is an even worse pseudo "science" than astrology.I dont understand how exactly can anyone take it seriously when there are so many hidden variables involved when choosing a number.

Julian O'Dea said...

I once asked a Chinese woman this, after she had put three apples in front of me, as a joke, and called them "the three sorries". She said that Chinese words do not have plurals and adding a number indicates plural. But I have no idea if this is the real reason, although it sounded plausible.

Orthodox said...

The first document was #1. The second was #2.......now is #9.

Chinese do not have plural. A word is a picture, they don't add things to the picture. The only way to modify the amount is to say several or enumerate it.

The funniest thing to me is the Three Represents. It sounds as stupid in English as it really is in Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Chinese magic works by the way. And it's not just Chinese magic, but certain other folk magic traditions work well. Finnish magic works very well. Norse and Celtic magic work well too.

I have a magic bridge to sell you. It's Chinese therefore it's a great deal.

Anonymous said...

8 Ways to get rock hard abs!
10 diet secrets of the stars!

Maybe the Chinese have just had a literate society longer and this magazine promotional gimmick has become entrenched in their society.

Sid said...

I think that enumerating goals and such is a holdover from the Maoist era, and I think Mao utilized it as an easy, convenient propaganda technique.

Here are some Maoist campaigns and theories that I can recall:

* The Three Antis
* The Five Antis
* Four Pests Campaign
* Four Olds
* One Strike-Three Antis
* Three Worlds
* Hundred Flowers Campaign
* Third Front

Mao actually gave the Gang of Four that title. It signified that he, in his advanced age, was wary of their ideology.

Mao was not a mathematical sort of person. He had little understanding of economics, and I remember once reading that he couldn't even keep numbers straight while addressing economic policy. I think he was writing a letter to one about Chinese economic policy, and he lost track of how much money they were talking about while he was writing - imagine adding $100 million or so to a figure, while writing about it. Mao was indeed intelligent, but his intelligence was more fit for attaining an exceptional grasp of Chinese history, producing gibberish philosophy and plotting against his rivals. You know, the kinds of talents you will find in a liberal arts professor.

So, I don't think Mao necessarily loved numbers himself, but he may have understood that they appealed to many Chinese people.

dearieme said...

The first 100 days - wasn't that a JFK slogan?

spandrell said...

They do love numbers, the language is also full of number expressions. e.g. to be a sucker is to be a 250, don't ask me why.

They're also compulsive gamblers, so there's some part of their brain that just gets high on math.

Anonymous said...


- The little hidden secret is that the Chinese, in general, are a deeply superstitious people,


I wonder if they are more superstitious because they are less religious. I remember a study that showed religious people were less superstitious than the religious. The effect could be caused by other factors, of course, or could be specific to the US.

spandrell said...

And this is not a Communist thing, they do it in Taiwan too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noes_and_One_Without

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Links

Hell there's a Wikipedia category on the idea:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Chinese_numbered_policies

Google came up with this:

http://laowaichinese.net/numbers-with-special-meanings.htm

Many historical events are named not by the place, say "Tiananmen riots", but by their numerical dates. So Tiananmen is "64", i.e. June 4th. Taiwan has the 228 incident, the invasion of Manchuria is "918 incident", etc.

In short, when they can use numbers for something, they always do. They love'em.

Anonymous said...

OT, but the Mexican media and government are trying to not be apathetic and start up a controversy.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/08/19/mexico-shocked-by-attack-on-sailors-at-polish-beach/

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=4a0_1376930944&comments=1

So, from my understanding 57 mexican sailors were taking some time off on a Polish beach. One of them was hitting on a Polish girl until she pushed him away (rejected), which apparently is the mexican cultural impetus to punch a woman.

At this point a Polish man came in and was stabbed by the mexicans, don't worry the media articles around the world will not include that in their report. After the stabbing, a bunch of football club supporters (most likely inebriated and out of shape) destroyed an entire mexican sailing fleet.

If you search the web for articles, almost all articles are trying to give the mexicans sympathy and frame the argument in favor of the mexicans. mexicants thought they were in mexifornia and could act with reckless abandon towards whites, I don't think so.

You can always count on my countrymen.

P.S. I have mentioned this in previous posts, going to Poland along with Eastern Europe as various PUA's and game advocates recommend can result in a beating like the one above. I have been to Poland many times and can speak Polish at a highly proficient level. Yet, I have gotten my ass beat, because I "talked" on someones girlfriend. I can't imagine some clueless magical thinking american entering clubs in Poland, Russia, and EE, hitting on women, and walking out in one piece.

slumber_j said...

When the very surname of their "new top leader" means "11" in Roman notation, why wouldn't they be obsessed with numbers?

The Chinese: They're just like us! They love a winner!

sunbeam said...

Anonymous wrote:

"The idea of omens, portents, meaningful patterns as 'hidden messages from the gods', the notion that nothing is coincidental but clues, changes, mysterious forces, fate, destiny etc are all weaving their secret tapesty everywhere - which mere mortals are powerless pawns caught in this cosmic web beyond their understanding - is everywhere."

Hmmm it has a certain ring to it.

What if they are right, and Western thought on the matter is wrong?

Like Perl programmers say, "There's more than one way to do it."

From where I sit they've had some bad centuries, but now they're back baby.

The idea that's it's all a game and we are manipulated by forces from beyond...

Good luck disproving that, especially if the guy you lost the Nobel too actually believes something similar.

Judo Five said...

"Why do the Chinese love to enumerate things? Are certain numbers unlucky? Does labeling your political rivals the "Gang of Four" instantly raise doubt about their inauspicious future because everybody knows that four is an unlucky number? Or do the Chinese just love numbers in general?"

The Chinese, and Asians in general, for that matter, are more superstitious than Westerners, so yes, they attribute more meanings to numbers.

'Four' and 'Death' in Mandarin Chinese sound similar so four is considered unlucky. Eight is lucky, and in general, other even numbers like, 2, and 6, are somewhat good in overall meaning as well.

In HK and probably other parts of China, people pay big bucks to get license plates with 8's and not 4's on them.

Anonymous said...

They're also compulsive gamblers, so there's some part of their brain that just gets high on math.

I doubt it's the math per se, as people who are good at math at least will pick a form of gambling where the odds favor them (e.g. the casino, or vs other people). More likely it's getting high at receiving money or other rewards at infrequent intervals.

Dahinda said...

Every time I watch "Yan Can Cook" on PBS, he will impress the viewer with his ability to chop a vegetable with a very sharp cleaver really fast and with paper thin slices. He will always count while he is slicing. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 and so on. Here is an example but he did this on his show constantly even when the count wasn't important. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV8FPk5qN9k

Svigor said...

Clavell was always ramming home their obsession with numerology. I can't recall him even bringing it up vis-a-vis the Japanese.

Luke Lea said...

For all their smarts, the Chinese are a very irrational people. Especially in large numbers.

Anonymous said...

I thought about this when I studied Chinese. I'm pretty sure it mostly has to do with the fact that Chinese lacks plurals. For instance, what we call the "Great Lakes" in English becomes the "Five Great Lakes" (wu da hu) in Chinese. If they called them just "da hu", it would be unclear whether "Great Lakes" or simply "Great Lake" were intended.

Luke Lea said...

More on China's irrational way with numbers:

http://qz.com/114784/how-china-added-1-trillion-to-its-economy-by-fudging-data/

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the communication is referred to as secretive. What's to hide if you've got all the cards? It could be they don't have all the cards.

I was teaching a course in China a few months ago dealing with civil society, one of the no-talks. There was party people all over the university--they are a kind of parallel bureaucracy. But no one talked to me about it. In fact, the original communication on the web was pulled after a couple of days. That is not the sign of confidence. Now, it does appear that Xi has gotten his act together and his dander up, since the communique is once again public, or at least semi-public. But the problem Chinese authorities have with higher ed is that they know greater autonomy is useful from an institutional point of view, but dangerous from a political one.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/08/the-ideology-behind-michael-grunwalds-repugnant-tweet/278790/

David Sirota: I can't wait to find out that the Boston Bombers are tea party members.

Michael Grunwald: I can't wait to defend the killing of Assange.

Support and push the Narrative at all costs.

Anonymous said...

Internet is turning Chinese.

5 best this
10 hottest that
100 greatest whatever
etc

Maybe Chinese use numbers for both superstitious and 'scientific' reasons.

Chinese do find something mystical about numbers as symbols(like I Ching) but numbers are also associated with the clarity of math and logic.

Possibly, it might have a bit of Christian missionary influence. When Christian missionaries sought to spread awareness about better health and hygiene, they used slogans with numbers so that the masses of illiterates would better remember them. Many Chinese couldn't read but numbers stick in your mind. If your told you must 4 or 5 things, then you are more likely to remember what they are.

China was a huge messy nation with so many ethnic and local differences and so much political confusion. So, if you just a few things must be done, it creates the impression of clarity and unity.
It's like Deng's FOUR MODERNIZATIONS--4 used as positive number--made Chinese feel that transformation was doable. Focus on just 4 basic thing than worry about countless innumerable things(in a nation of innumerable people and problems).
Maybe Deng intentionally used an unlucky number to bring about a change in attitude, slyly suggesting that China could break out of the old mold of thinking.

Anonymous said...

OT: Not sure whether you're following this but all the media in Australia have been following the death of Chris Lane, who was killed by three "youths". Apparently 2 were black, one was white.

They've released photos for the first time. Stupid Australians are calling for a boycott of the US for its gun laws.

Anonymous said...

Many historical events are named not by the place, say "Tiananmen riots", but by their numerical dates. So Tiananmen is "64", i.e. June 4th. Taiwan has the 228 incident, the invasion of Manchuria is "918 incident", etc.

9/11

May 1968

1848

War of 1812

Ten Days That Shook the World

2001 A Space Odyssey

30 yrs war

100 yrs war

6 million Jews(though many say 5 million)

1776

4th of July

the 60s

the fab four

threepeat

Control the numbers, control the narrative.

Anonymous said...

"The first 100 days - wasn't that a JFK slogan?"

Now it's first 100 gays.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/about/exhibition/education/chinesepublichealthposters/highereducation/class2.html

"These groups promoted Western medicine and public health in the name of progress and modernization of China, despite their different agendas. Like the campaigns in the West, the Chinese ones made extensive use of graphic illustrations to convey health information. They included maps, charts, diagrams, cartoons, paintings, pictures, placards, tracts and epigrams, as well as lantern slides and large mechanical and electrical devices. The Chinese public were at first indifferent to the talk of “Health Pays Dividends” and death rates; and they were rather suspicious about the motives of the campaigns until the lectures of the campaigns began to link the importance of public health with national strength. In the transfer of Western health campaign techniques and strategies to China, the meanings of public health changed in the Chinese context."

Anonymous said...

Google translate for
Gang of four, gang of death, death squad
respectively
Sìrénbang, siwáng de tuánhuo, xíngxíng duì

Doesn't sound similar. Google translate failed me, as usual for eastern langs.

Can any of you give the romanizations for gang of four, and whatever it is supposed to sound similar to?

Anonymous said...

300

Anonymous said...

http://rockefeller100.org/exhibits/show/education/china-medical-board

master_of_americans said...

Interesting question. In fact, "four" is highly unlucky. In Chinese, "Gang of Four" (literally "Four People Kingdom", the kingdom being implicitly a gang or clique) sounds almost exactly like "Dead People Kingdom" (or "Dead People Gang").

You also see the passion for enumeration in early (and sometimes not-so-early) Buddhism. My guess is that this arises from having a culture that prizes learning at a time when the technology of media made it very difficult to have access to books (early on, Buddhist scriptures were exclusively memorized by oral repetition). If you wanted to remember a set of facts or principles, you needed to develop the skill of holding numbered lists in your head. Of course, nowadays we have Wikipedia (or, in China, Baidupedia) so by this logic the list-fixation is vestigial. Maybe it promotes some other beneficial habits of mind or promotes general intelligence, like lifting mental dumbbells.

Of course, Chinese enumeration habits may be less an endogenous result of Chinese culture and more a direct influence of Buddhism. Although Buddhism has been considered gauche and has not had much impact on Chinese philosophy for something like 1,000 years, prior to that, in the mid-1st millennium, it was enormously influential.

Anonymous said...

"Power could escape their grip, they have been told, unless the party eradicates seven subversive currents coursing through Chinese society."

The biggest one on the list should be sexual promiscuity imo. STDs mess with the brain.

Fernandinande said...

I worked with a Taiwanese woman who had a fender-bender; her mom wanted her to sell the car because it was now "cursed" or "unlucky" (...translation problems).

Anonymous said...

OT: The three thugs who murdered the Australian baseballer in Oklahoma were black:

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/three-teens-accused-of-murder-of-baseball-player-chris-lane-identified/story-fnii5smp-1226700172461

You have to go to the Australian media to find that out. One kid is mixed race; the U.S. media is trying to pass him off as "white."

Anonymous said...

I think 4 is an unlucky number to them, so yeah gang of 4 would be bad.

James O'Meara said...

"I guess these are a form of mnemonic, and as has been alluded by RKU, acronyms likely don't lend themselves to Sandskrit or Pali..."

Not sure ... Panini's Grammar of Sanskrit is full of I guess acronyms, where he'll take the first letter of the series and the last letter to for an artificial word to designate the class, like out A-to-Z. Does that count?

Anonymous said...

Four doesn't always mean something bad -- e.g. the Four Heavenly Kings = 四天王, or the Four Beauties = 四大美女. Well, maybe the latter is kind of negative (there's the implication of too much love of women bringing ruin), but the former, at least, is not.

Whiskey said...

The Hundred Days referred to Napoleons return from Elba. Cracked has list form articles as a standard. Top 40 Countdown? Top 25 college football ranking.

The ancient greeks and hebrews were big into numerology, and used the alphabet for numbers. What is the number of the beast? 666.

Anonymous said...

"Well, I've always suspected it's because the Chinese language isn't alphabetic and hence can't use the sort of acronyms and abbreviations so common in most other languages. So the only way you can "abbreviate" a list of related Chinese items is to call them the "Seven Whatevers." But that's just my casual speculation."

There's other ways. You could, for example, take the first character of each item in the list. I don't know Chiense, but this is a common way of abbreviating long phrases, at least in Japanese. For example:

公正取引委員会 (Kousei Torihiki Iinkai) is the Japanese Fair Trade Commission. That breaks up as follows:

公正 = Kousei (fair)
取引 = Torihiki (trade)
委員会 = Iinkai (commission)

So it gets abbreviated in Japanese as "公取委" (Kou-tori-i), just taking the first character of each of the compounds/words that make up the overall title.

cinc210 said...

Chinese love to buy the San Gabriel Valley and Irvine. Sometimes one with a lot of bucks will buy in Beverly Hills or Newport Beach.

peterike said...

** sigh **

Such a pity that the West is basically shrugging and throwing in the towel, handing civilizational victory to a bunch of saps who believe in numerology and that rhino horn wards off demons or makes your dink hard, whatever they believe.

We packaged up our industry and gave it to them, so a few rich people could get a lot richer. We could bankrupt China in ten years simply by re-patriating all our manufacturing. Yes, all of it. Might even find a job or two for Americans doing that.

Oh well. Whites lose. Chinese win. What do the Chinese think about Jews, anyway?

John Derbyshire said...

They may love it, but they haven't historically been all that great at it.

Anonymous said...

Was Mao the fortune cookie monster? He devoured too much?

Anonymous said...

I know an ethnically Chinese surgeon in Singapore who will only park in certain numbered parking spaces or on certain floors of a parking garage because some numbers are "unlucky". His behavior is extremely common among Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Before you get snared up in the Chris Lane death, it appears now that one of the youths that participated in his murder was actually white. Michael Jones. But he's not charged with the murder.

Anonymous said...

"Can any of you give the romanizations for gang of four, and whatever it is supposed to sound similar to?"

"Gang of Four" is 四人帮 / "Si-ren Bang"

The reason four is considered unlucky is because 4 (四) is pronounced the same way as death (死). Only (I just checked on Google Translate) they evidently have different tones in Mandarin so they don't really sound that similar anymore.

They must have at one point, though, and might still do in Cantonese, I suppose. Both Japanese and Korean borrowed words and characters from Chinese in the distant past, so their pronunciations of Chinese characters give some clues as to how they were pronounced in Chinese in remoter aeras. In Japanese, they are both pronounced "shi." And in Korean, "sa."

Anonymous said...

Photos of the trio who murdered the Aussie student.

Anonymous said...

You have to go to the Australian media to find that out. One kid is mixed race; the U.S. media is trying to pass him off as "white."

A mixed race kid is white when he does something bad and black if he does something good. You gotta love it.

Emma's Keeper said...

"OT: Not sure whether you're following this but all the media in Australia have been following the death of Chris Lane, who was killed by three "youths". Apparently 2 were black, one was white.

They've released photos for the first time. Stupid Australians are calling for a boycott of the US for its gun laws."



Not sure I'd call the third one 'white'- he looks like he's of mixed ancestry to me. But I'm sure the media would love to blame a 'white' kid somehow, like their 'white' Zimmerman.

Wag said...

"A mixed race kid is white when he does something bad and black if he does something good. You gotta love it."

I know an entire ethnicity who plays this game.

rob said...

One woulda thought that a big country full of smart people would have come up with a way to distinguish singular and plural. Or come up with a phonetic alphabet. Even if they couldn't come up with the concept, they could copy the West. The Japanese managed it. Heck, even a Native American created an alphabet once he got the concept from whites.

David Davenport said...

"The idea of omens, portents, meaningful patterns as 'hidden messages from the gods', the notion that nothing is coincidental but clues, changes, mysterious forces, fate, destiny etc are all weaving their secret tapesty everywhere - which mere mortals are powerless pawns caught in this cosmic web beyond their understanding - is everywhere.

Hmmm it has a certain ring to it.

What if they are right, and Western thought on the matter is wrong?


Western thinking about the world, whether Christian, pagan, or anti-Christian, as in Herman Melville's thinking, is replete with is replete with numinous signs, portents,and omens.

On the quarter deck, Ahab offers a sixteen-dollar doubloon to the first man who spots the white whale.... This is the second time the white whale is mentioned; for, in the first chapter, Ishmael has had a vision of "endless processions of the whale, and mid most of them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air."

Ahab concludes with a peroration:

"All visible objects, men, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event --- in the living act, the undoubted deed --- there some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall shoved near to me. ..."

RonMexico said...

My mother is selling her condo in Del Mar. Well, it hasn't been listed yet and she and her agent are looking to list for $410-415,000. A Chinese couple who were visiting her neighbor discovered that my mom wanted to sell her place, so they invited themselves in and offered $388,000. Mom called her agent and he came over and reiterated the price would be $410,000. No, no, they said, it can't have a 4 in the price, and they won't go up to $399,000. $388,000 is their offer because it has 8s in the price. I joked after the fact that mom should have made the offer $588,888, what with all the lucky 8s. I imagine negotiating with Chinese is like negotiating with Arabs here in MI. Deal only with white people.

rob said...

You have to go to the Australian media to find that out. One kid is mixed race; the U.S. media is trying to pass him off as "white."

If that one is white, then he's pretty strong evidence that some genes that influence facial morphology are pleiotropic for behavior and personality. Which is pretty close to physiognomy now that I think about it. Such a hostile and sullen expression and primitive features coupled with light skin and light eyes that are that empty is a bit shocking.

Chancey Luna's mother looks white. Chancey doesn't look mulatto. Maybe his father was a raw black, and he's really only 1/2 white. Maybe adopted. No mention of a father, so I'm guessing she made poor reproductive choices.

The only reason the black on white murder rate is not sky high is that whites work so hard at avoiding them. The federal government forcing section 8 and neighborhood or street level integration will end in tears and backlash. Then more tears.

Is it my imagination, or has the average age of black murderers gone down in the past ten years or so?

Anonymous said...

One woulda thought that a big country full of smart people would have come up with a way to distinguish singular and plural. Or come up with a phonetic alphabet. Even if they couldn't come up with the concept, they could copy the West. The Japanese managed it. Heck, even a Native American created an alphabet once he got the concept from whites.

The Japanese have syllabaries, not an alphabet.

Chinese is an analytic language, not an inflected one, so it doesn't distinguish singular and plural through inflection, but through other means.

The Chinese were familiar with phonetic writing systems, and have devised phonetic systems for their writing in the past, but kept their characters.

Anonymous said...

4 in Chinese means something more than death. It means demise, destruction, collapse, apocalypse.

Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

The Three Noes and the Gang of Four are examples from recent history. The Five Confucian Relationships‎ go back a bit further, as do the Three Obediences and Four Virtues. The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are pre-Chinese. In our tradition, we have the Three Theological Virtues, the Four Sins that Cry to Heaven, the Four Cardinal Virtues, and the Seven Deadly Sins.



Applying Occam's Razor, I would say that Chinese and Catholics "love to enumerate things" simply because it makes them easier for the masses to remember. As one of the masses, it does

Anonymous said...

Think what a disadvantage it is for a civilization to have a writing system that has no really brain-dead easy way to perform alphabetical ordering, sorting, and indexing.

It's a great advantage to be able to organize records alphabetically. Makes
dictionaries, file-folder organizers, encyclopedia organization, library indices, and for that matter access to government tax records, near trivial.

How did Asian governments deal with this, say, 500 years ago?

Anonymous said...

My mother is selling her condo in Del Mar. Well, it hasn't been listed yet and she and her agent are looking to list for $410-415,000. A Chinese couple who were visiting her neighbor discovered that my mom wanted to sell her place, so they invited themselves in and offered $388,000. Mom called her agent and he came over and reiterated the price would be $410,000. No, no, they said, it can't have a 4 in the price, and they won't go up to $399,000. $388,000 is their offer because it has 8s in the price. I joked after the fact that mom should have made the offer $588,888, what with all the lucky 8s. I imagine negotiating with Chinese is like negotiating with Arabs here in MI. Deal only with white people.
That's true you need 8's and no 4's,

Kevin B said...

"its features from behind the unreasoning mask"

Emersonian transcendentalism.

Anonymous said...

One woulda thought that a big country full of smart people would have come up with a way to distinguish singular and plural. Or come up with a phonetic alphabet. Even if they couldn't come up with the concept, they could copy the West. The Japanese managed it. Heck, even a Native American created an alphabet once he got the concept from whites.

The Japanese have syllabaries, not an alphabet.

Chinese is an analytic language, not an inflected one, so it doesn't distinguish singular and plural through inflection, but through other means.

The Chinese were familiar with phonetic writing systems, and have devised phonetic systems for their writing in the past, but kept their characters.

Anonymous said...

"How did Asian governments deal with this, say, 500 years ago?"

The Chinese characters can be decomposed into a series of what are called "radicals" in English -- essentially, the graphical building blocks of those characters.  Although the selection and organisation of radicals has varied over time (the set most widely used today for traditional characters is from the reign of the KangXi Emperor in the 18th century), they are generally ordered by increasing number of strokes. Characters incorporating those radicals can then be sorted under the radical, by stroke number and other radicals.

From the perspective of the ancient Chinese bureaucracy, though, I think it was more common to sort records by subject-matter, time, and sometimes number.

Anonymous said...

The third kid is Michael Dewayne Jones. Looks a lot whiter than Zimmerman at least.

Svigor said...

My mistake, I thought the crime was in Oz. It's odd that the dirty white boy (I wouldn't call him "mixed" if that photo's any guide) wasn't charged; implies that he had a pretty damned good story to tell the cops, because OK has felony murder laws, and the cops are certainly looking to fry any GWDs they can get their hands on, especially when they're looking to fry the two blacks involved, and double-especially when it's a high-profile case and the media's watching.

BrokenSymmetry said...

JS Bach, who may, or may not, have been obsessed with musical number symbolism, died in the middle of composing Contrapunctus 14 (14=yat sei, or "one will die" in Cantonese). And, Contrapunctus14 was meant to be a, you guessed it, four-part fugue.

Chinese number mysticism - works even when you don't have a clue of its existence!

Sarkoboros said...

From Kim Stanley Robinson's alternative history novel, [i]The Years of Rice and Salt[/i]:

"We have a wonderful feast for our passengers today," Shen cried as they arrived and filed aboard. "We'll be serving the Eight Dainties today––dragon livers, phoenix marrow, bear paws, lips of apes, rabbit embryo, carp tail, broiled osprey, and kumiss."

[...] Bold laughed. "The Eight Dainties," he said. "What these people think of!"

"They do love their numbers," Kyu agreed. "The Three Pure Ones, the Four Emperors, the Nine Luminaries––"

"The Twenty-eight Constellations––"

"The Twelve Horary Branches, the Five Elders of the Five Regions . . ."

"The Fifty Star Spirits."

"The Ten Unforgivable Sins."

"The Six Bad Recipes."

Kyu cackled briefly. "It's not numbers they like, it's lists. Lists of all the things they have."

Anonymous said...

His findings provide a deeper look than most federal government assessments, which don’t require residents to identify themselves as Iranians on survey forms, though they can write in that detail.

Hosseini’s research found that more than 1.2 million Persians live in the U.S., with about half located in California, which became home to many Iranians after the first big migration in the 1960s.

Higher education was gaining prominence in Iran at the time, fueling an exodus to the West. University of California, Los Angeles, and the university system’s main campus in Berkeley were among the early favorites of many students from Iran.

After graduation, a lot of them stayed in California—where the weather is similar to Iran’s. They eventually started families, and many brought relatives to join them here.

The suburban quality of life and vibrant business landscape brought many to Orange County, which offered better school systems and safer communities at a time when big cities were struggling with hollowed-out cores, rising crime rates, and falling property values.

The Persian community has thrived here and elsewhere in the U.S. It boasts a median household income of about $70,000, compared with $53,000 nationally, according to census data.

About 60% have undergraduate degrees, and 30% hold master’s degrees or higher. Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation, a private educational foundation, estimates that in 2011, 38.7% of Americans held a two- or four-year college degree. 2011 is the most current year available for analysis.

Prior to the revolution, most Persians immigrating to the U.S. were Muslim, but after the fall of Iran and the ensuing war with Iraq, a flood of Iranians practicing Judaism and Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion, migrated here.

Many wealthier Jews settled in Beverly Hills, giving it the nickname “Little Persia.”

Zoroastrian followers and a number of ethnic Armenians who had lived in Iran for years moved to suburban areas north and south of Los Angeles.

Other areas with sizable concentrations of Iranian-Americans include New York, New Jersey, Texas, Florida and Washington, D.C.

“The footprint is all over the place, but especially in Irvine, which was one of the favorite cities,” says Hosseini, who arrived in the U.S. in 1976 to attend Iowa State University in Des Moines.

Prominent Players

Persian influence has boosted the Orange County business landscape for generations.

Some of the first migrants were student doctors who later established practices here. Attorneys, accountants and engineers soon followed, propping up the technology and professional services sector and laying the foundation for future transplants.
The Persian influence as well and this is a result of Ted Kennedy.
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Anonymous said...

Chinese is an analytic language, not an inflected one, so it doesn't distinguish singular and plural through inflection, but through other means.

The Chinese were familiar with phonetic writing systems, and have devised phonetic systems for their writing in the past, but kept their characters.


The structure of the Chinese language where most words (or word components - morphemes, basic units of meaning) are monosyllabic and tend to rhyme with one another makes using a large set of characters formed by a category+rhyme system (how the Chinese writing system works, for the most part, the "categories"/associations are what are called "radicals") halfway practical. It's still bloody hindering awkward to learn all these category+rhyme characters to write, but harder for cultural change to emerge.

Compare the Egyptian system where for typical use there was basically a semi-alphabetic system with category+triconsonantal semitic root from the start. Dropping the category part when the meaning is clear enough is a lot more predictable as an outcome.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese are insanely superstitious in my experience. Look at the # of c-sections in Hong Kong: Everyone wants their child born on a lucky day. I have met brilliant Chinese individuals who truly believe in fortune tellers. I cannot explain it, I wish someone would.

Anonymous said...

One child policy. I guess that aint much fun.