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The Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office

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A big thank you to the Hong Kong Commissioner to the United States, Clement Leung, and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office for hosting us last night.

Here is some of what we learned:

Hong Kong is a great place to do business- The World Bank Doing Business Reports rank it as #4 in the entire world for ease of doing business, and #3 in the world for the ease of starting a business.  It only costs one dollar to register a new business, and less than an hour of time. And paying taxes takes less than fifteen minutes - Clement Leung joked that this is easier than ordering a pizza on-line!

Hong Kong is a great hub country for building a multinational business. For instance, Hong Kong is the US's fifth largest importer of beef. With a population of less than eight million people, most of that is destined for trade with other countries in the region. If you expand business into Hong Kong, your company’s opportunities in neighboring countries will multiply.

Hong Kong is relatively conservative with financial regulations. They do not allow for complex structures, and each common stock gets one vote. This is why they lost out on the IPO of Alibaba to the New York Stock Exchange. 


This event was put on by the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office and the Wharton Club of DC, and was open to business professionals from all backgrounds.
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Looms
1 day ago
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1984 is the new Bible

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In the age of Trump, Orwell's book 1984 is becoming the new Bible: a religious text which few read, but which many claim supports their beliefs. A good demonstration is this CNN op-ed, in which the author describes Trump as being Orwellian, but mostly just because Trump is a Republican. 
Trump's populist attacks against our (classically) liberal world order is indeed cause for concern. His assault on the truth is indeed a bit Orwellian. But it's op-eds like this one at CNN that are part of the problem.

While the author of the op-ed spends much time talking about his dogs, and how much he hates Trump, he spends little time on the core thesis "Orwellianism". When he does, it's mostly about old political disagreements. For example, the op-ed calls Trump's cabinet appointees Orwellian simply because they are Republicans:
He has provided us with Betsy DeVos, a secretary of education nominee who is widely believed to oppose public education, and who promotes the truly Orwellian-sounding concept of "school choice," a plan that seems well-intentioned but which critics complain actually siphons much-needed funds from public to private education institutions.
Calling this "Orwellian" is absurd. Republicans want to privatize more, and the Democrats want the state to run more of the economy. It's the same disagreement that divides the two parties on almost any policy issue. When you call every little political disagreement "Orwellian" then you devalue the idea. I'm Republican, so of course I'd argue that the it's the state-run education system giving parents zero choice that is the thing that's Orwellian here. And now we bicker, both convinced that Orwell is on our side in this debate. #WhatWouldOrwellDo

If something is "Orwellian", then you need to do a better job demonstrating this, making the analogy clear. For example, last year I showed how in response to a political disagreement, that Wikipedia and old newspaper articles were edited in order to conform to the new political reality. This is a clear example of Winston Smith's job of changing the past in order to match the present.

But even such clear documentation is probably powerless to change anybody's mind. Whether "changing the text of old newspaper articles to fit modern politics" is Orwellian depends entirely on your politics, whether the changes agree with your views. Go follow the link [*] and see for yourself how your principles change, how quickly you'll agree to the changes.

It's this that Orwell was describing. Doublethink wasn't something forced onto us by a totalitarian government so much as something we willingly adopted ourselves. The target of Orwell's criticism wasn't them, the totalitarian government, but us, the people who willingly went along with it. Doublethink is what people in both parties (Democrats and Republicans) do equally, regardless of the who resides in the White House.

Trump is an alt-Putin. He certainly wants to become a totalitarian. But at this point, his lies are juvenile and transparent, which even his supporters find difficult believing [*]. The most Orwellian thing about him is what he inherits from Obama [*]: the two Party system, perpetual war, omnipresent surveillance, the propaganda system, and our nascent cyber-police-state [*].

Yes, people should read 1984 in the age of Trump, not because he's created the Orwellian system, but because he's trying to exploit the system that's already there. If you believe he's Orwellian because he's Republican, as the foolish author of that CNN op-ed believes, then you've missed the point of Orwell's novel completely.

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wreichard
25 days ago
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I read 1984 again not long ago, and I am enjoying seeing the right draw on a book that clearly was meant to spur lapsed socialists to rise up against an autocratic elite.
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Looms
25 days ago
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Research into Twitter Bots

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There are a lot of them.

In a world where the number of fans, friends, followers, and likers are social currency -- and where the number of reposts is a measure of popularity -- this kind of gaming the system is inevitable.

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Looms
30 days ago
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Inevitabile
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Why Trump's Staff Is Lying

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer makes a statement to members of the media at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. This was Spicer's first press conference as Press Secretary where he spoke about the media's reporting on the inauguration's crowd size. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Looms
33 days ago
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Obama's Legacy in Internet Security

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NextGov has a nice article summarizing President Obama's accomplishments in Internet security: what he did, what he didn't do, and how it turned out.

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Looms
34 days ago
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Fair reporting. Rosenzweig said it best: "Government moves at 60 miles per hour and internet innovation moves at 6,000 miles per hour; Hackers are ahead of defenders, defenders are ahead of legislators and legislators are ahead of regulators.”
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And the Tweet Goes On

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U.S. President Donald Trump, center, salutes while standing with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in the presidential review stand outside the White House during the 58th presidential inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Trump became the 45th president of the United States today, in a celebration of American unity for a country that is anything but unified. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Looms
36 days ago
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I've just started studying the Federalist papers so I may be wrong, but didn't the authors initially write under the pseudonym 'Publius'. Writing anonymously vs using your real identity are, in my opinion worlds apart in terms of responsibility of the writer.
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