That is an interesting biographical article, thank you for sharing! Also the picture of the hair in the wind is classic, would make an awesome t-shirt! :)

China is its history: imagine America in 10,000 years, the depth of culture and history. I studied 3 years ancient Chinese history and literature, Tufts U 1974 time period - it was grand and I recommend studying that curriculum to everyone. The ancient stories such as The Story of the Stone are cultural legends that inform China today.

The archaeology tells of ancient, fairly sophisticated cultures 70,000 years ago and older in that region.

Ordinary Chinese citizens refer to their hero origins like we refer to Paul Bunyan, a northeast US logger of legendary strength and courage.

The earliest Chinese literature such as The Story of the Stone, and the great literature until the present - highly recommended for many entertaining hours, to understand our world neighbor's soul.

“Perhaps my fellow humans whom the dream of life has ensnared may find in this tale an echo, may be summoned back by it to their true home; while free spirits of the high hills may find in the record of Brother Stone’s transformations, as in that older tale of the Migration of the Magic Mountain, a reflected light to quicken their own aspirations.”

― Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone: The Dreamer Wakes

Britannica: Dream of the Red Chamber, Chinese (Pinyin) Hongloumeng or (Wade-Giles romanization) Hung-lou-meng, novel written by Cao Zhan in the 18th century that is generally considered to be the greatest of all Chinese novels and among the greatest in world literature.

The Tao Te Ching (UK: /ˌtaʊ tiː ˈtʃɪŋ/,US: /ˌdaʊ dɛ ˈdʒɪŋ/; simplified Chinese: 道德经; traditional Chinese: 道德經; pinyin: Dàodé Jīng [tâʊ tɤ̌ tɕíŋ]

is a Chinese classic text written around 400 BC and traditionally credited to the sage Laozi

Lao Tzu quotes, goodreads:

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”

"Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”

“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”

“Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to.”

“The best fighter is never angry.”

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”

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Jul 25, 2022·edited Jul 25, 2022

It is always gratifying to find one's personal experiences reaffirmed by others with the passage of time. One of the most important perspectives that I gleaned from CHINA AIRBORNE when it was first published was your description of the relatively contentious relationship between the civilian and military aspects of aeronautics in China. The opposite has been the case in the USA, and to a more subtle but still significant degree in Europe.

On the other hand, I wonder if you would agree that the challenges evoked by the FT author as well as by you at an earlier phase are not universal attributes of the Chinese embrace and deployment of new technologies, rail transportation being a primary example of a impressive success story. As an importer of US industrial software products into France during the 80's and 90's, I had multiple opportunities to work with French transportation firms selling high-speed rail and urban subway systems to different national actors in Asia, and their willful ability to embrace and master those technologies is reflected, in part, by the breadth of their success (esp. in the PRC, but not only there).

I have not had direct engagement in these activities since the early 00's and do not have a strongly held opinion of the degree to which industrial and governmental actors in the PRC have been able to reduce their dependence on external expertise for the further development of their rail technologies (including potential exportation). I do feel the two articles linked below demonstrate both their mastery of the underlying technologies and the fruitful application of transnational high-capacity (if not always high-speed) rail networks to increase China's links with the rest of the Euro-Asian supercontinent.



All of this, however, takes me to a more forward-looking question: Are there areas of technological research and development - and exploitation - where the PRC is actually progressing faster towards important and practical innovations in comparison with American and European actors? Sectors such as Artificial Intelligence and IT systems, in general, are at the forefront of this reflection.

This is not an invitation to another hyperbolic fear campaign but rather an invitation to consider that there are some sectors where Western "methods" are more or less effective than Asian "methods"; for example, I still do not know of a single major software innovation that had its origins in Japan or China while there are many that started in Europe rather than the USA.

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Anyone who has not read CHINA AIRBORNE will love it, learn from it, and find that it is NOT confined to matters of aviation. Rather, Fallows uses the aviation case to illustrate much broader and very important realities of the Chinese economy AND how Westerners can and do find their way to and through advantageous business arrangements even when China is trying to develop its own sectors and businesses to compete with the same Westerners. A typically great Fallows book, an atypically great and informative book about China -- and with a harrowing first chapter worth buying the book for itself alone. But the other chapters tell the story the first helps illustrate.

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Damned interesting. And concise enough for me, as this is a subject where I would not want to go into the weeds.

But I really wanted to hear about your most dangerous voyage.

And, can't remember if I told you that after he'd been a radar mechanic, my father was an air traffic controller on one of the US bases in USSR during WWII. I didn't learn that until after he was gone; I think I learned it from Serhii Plokhi's Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front.

PS: I think you looked great with your hair that was not optimized for wind. I'm sorry about the loss of your friend.

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An interesting and memorable last paragraph about the U.S. and fragile/vulnerable/resilient. Also fits well with your writings about American communities that have rebounded.

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Sorry to read about Peter’s death. I vaguely remember you saying something about his health. He was a very nice man.

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