Steve Kelman on Politics, Culture, and Life

I am Steve Kelman, Harvard Kennedy School professor. I do research on improving government performance and am interested in China. This blog will reprint many of my Facebook posts in these areas.


K pop star and Chinese fans

I have just seen the most amazing full page ad ever in The Times. This is actually an ad for a Korean K pop boy band member for his birthday. The ad features a picture of him and greetings for his birthday. The text is, "You are the only treasure we ever have in our lives." What makes it especially amazing is that it is signed, "love from Chinese fans." The Communist party has been campaigning against excessive fan idolatry and China. Maybe they have a point?

Saga of my laptop repair

I left my laptop in for a monitor repair at the Kennedy School that normally takes two days. Three weeks later, still no laptop. Parts shortages for computers.

”Vocational training” in Xinjiang

The new issue of Beijing Review an article on "vocational education" in Xinjiang, described as "a key battlefield in the fight against terrorism and extremism in China." This is what in the West we often call internment camps. The article discusses "exchange programs" with vocational schools in other provinces, "providing students with opportunities to study outside of Xinjiang and broaden their horizons." This is what we call in the West sinification.

”Foreground” as a verb

If you see somebody use "foreground" as a verb to mean "pay special attention to," do you assume they are left wing/"woke"? I do. "Privilege" as a verb rather than a noun is similar. I think what I don't like about it is that it suggests that there is no reality, only different points of view that have to be accepted and not contested.. I don't like the word "narrative" for the same reason. Both are also neologisms, which I don't like for different reasons.

Trump cult

Trump has criticized Republicans in Virginia who who don't support him fanatically enough. "Oh yeah, I love trump, love trump OK let's go, next subject. When they do that, they never win, they never win. They have to embrace it." Cult or nothing

Loudoun County Virginia extremism in a DC suburb

One of the members of the Loudoun county, Virginia, school board has resigned after ceaseless attacks by by local trump supporters. This disgusts me, these are unpaid positions, and people serve out of a sense of civic obligation. They should not have to be subjected to this kind of viciousness. Fox ran a gloating story on the resignation this morning.

President Macron remembers Algerian War victims

President Macron has attended a commemoration ceremony for the killing of 60 Algerian independence activists by the French government 60 years ago. A demonstration of real decency, hats off to him.

Bizarre dreams

Where do bizarre dreams come from? Last night I had a dream where I was asking a Chinese friend whether there was a requirement in China to report if you drank Coca-Cola to the tax authorities. She said she was not an expert on tax law, but she thought you did have to report this. Where did my mind get the idea for the dream?

350,000 tweets a minute

I am reading in an academic article that 350,000 tweets are generated every minute. That we ever get heard above this din is truly amazing, and I am guessing more of this than we suspect depends on serendipity.

Fear of needles

An op ed in The Times today notes that about 15% of the unvaccinated have a strong fear of needles. The UK and Canada have provided privacy rooms and counseling for people with these fears. An idea for us in the US?

Trusting doctors and hospitals

39% of the unvaccinated report that they trust doctors and hospitals "a lot," compared with 71% of the vaccinated. Their distrust of expertise and authority extends beyond just distrust of government.

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