School

More Quotes

More quotes from my crazy Communist professor from class Thursday-

-"This is something that Communists can do. They can move people if they want. Chinese are obedient people"
-"We don't do corruption. For favors we set up scholarship funds for the politicians' children so that they can study in the States or we hire their children as 'consultants'"
-"Women are equal in China. You can be a general. All you have to do is sing and dance"
-On defending why women in the government are forced to retire at 55, while men must retire by 65, "I bet its about physical strength. You must be strong and need a killers instinct. Women are supposed to be gentle"
-On China's intellectual property rights (or lack thereof) and human rights issues, "In 1910 in the US I'm sure intellectual property rights weren't big when it was developing. In the 1800s I bet human rights weren't big in the US"
-"China emits 1/3 the pollution of the US. We have agreed to cut pollution, but the US won't agree. While you are arguing we are suffering"
-"We really have a good control on the population. People die, people go on"
-"If China falls, everything will fall. Hong Kong will too"
-"Being environmentally friendly requires a lot of captial. We're a developing country. You could buy a lot of Rolls Royces with the money it would cost". Me: "Yes, but didn't you just say you have over $1 trillion in US reserves? You could sure buy a whole lot of Rolls Royces with that". No response.
-On Communist bureaucracy and employment rules, "I can't fire this guy, so I just pay him 2-3,000 RMB per month to not come in. It's easier that way"
-"Don't worry about counterfeiting. It won't hurt you. They might someday be customers". Ya, tell that to P&G and clothing companies who have been crushed by fakes in China.
-"The courts are ignorant. If Hu Jintao told everyone to stop it, it wouldn't work"
-"You can't stop counterfeiting because there's a demand". I can assure you there's a demand for cheap luxury brands all over the world, yet its not so much a problem in any other country.
-"Lets drop the topic [intellectual property rights] until it can be solved. If you're doing something stupid, stop it"
-"If you're not lucky, you get shot. That's China"
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Part II

So we're midway through our two courses here at Chinese University of Hong Kong for the summer program. Because of this, we've received two new professors. Both are Chinese. However, they couldn't be more different from eachother. One is ardently pro-China (and probably the closest I've ever come to a Communist [other than my liberal friends back home]), while the other is fervently anti-China. We had the pro-China professor first at the beginning of the week and were shocked by his lecture. Throughout class we would frequently look at eachother with puzzled looks as he uttered a seemingly ridiculous statement. Most Hong Kong people feel a connection to China because of their Chinese roots and heritage, but strongly and publicly criticize the country for its communist ways. So, this professor was something totally different for us.

A few quotes that I wrote down from class:

-When questioned about the removal of residents for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam- "Let me rephrase some of what you said. They weren't kicked out of the Three Gorges. They were 'relocated'". (The girl who asked the question has been there and says that these people most definitely were not simply "relocated")
-On Tibetan protests- "We call them disturbances" (as opposed to politically grounded protests)
-"Mao famously said that if we can feed every person in China, we're doing well. We're feeding everyone these days"
-"China is doing well on pollution now. That might not have been the case for the last 30 years, but we're better now" (as we're all still recovering from our coughs from the Beijing pollution two weeks ago)
-"Guanxi (the Asian practice of forming relationships to do business) isn't corruption. It's nepotism" (Oh, okay then. Nepotism isn't
that bad)
-"LG is trying to buy GE" (I watch the news almost 24/7 and highly doubt I and all my classmates would have missed a story like that)
-"The Communists are lucky. They've picked the right people to lead this country since Mao. The politicians have been well-trained. You may be cynical and say his [Hu Jintao] earthquake reaction is for show. It's not. He cares"
-On China's low GDP per capita rate- "GDP per capita doesn't mean anything. We need to focus more on the rich"
-"There are 7,000 people in Tibet causing all this noise"

On the other hand, our second new professor started off class today (the anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square) with a reflection on the incident and the actions and deaths of students. He strongly criticized the response of the Chinese government over the past years and hammered them for covering up the facts. We brought up the fact that when you search "Tiananmen Square" from Google in China, nothing comes up. He also tore into China's economic policies and human rights violations.

A few of his quotes:

-"The logic of control for the Chinese government has not changed over the years. However, we see the power of the NGO's as change after the earthquake"
-"The office of propaganda won't let media publish reports of poor quality school buildings or coruption. It will only allow the publication of heroic military stories and rescues"
-"All countries find enemies. In China, the Chinese people are the enemies"
-"In China it doesn't matter which university your degree came from, only the type of degree" (regarding the effect of the Communist system on competition and hiring practices)
-"Fords and American cards last forever. Japanese cars fall apart after 10 years" (This isn't really anti-China. I just found it funny that his view of American cars was the exactly 180 degrees opposite of Americans' views)

Anyways, the second half of the term looks to be much more interesting than the first half class-wise as we will get the opportunity to see two radically different approaches to business and politics in Asia and China. As absurd as some of the first professor's rantings are, its interesting to see the other side of the story argued for the first time here in ultra-capitalist Hong Kong.
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More

Our first weekend has come to an end and I'm trying to get back into school-mode for class early tomorrow morning. Since my last post we've had a number of new speakers and explored the city a bit more.

On Friday morning we got up and went to class like it was a normal school day to see a young MBA student teach us about Feng Shui, which is the Chinese way of organizing your home and office that hoity toity Americans do these days. It was interesting, though I don't buy any of it. Apparently you're doomed if you position yourself across from a 90 degree angle at any time. I'll pass on losing sleep over my 90 degree angles. Then directly after that we had a presentation on living and working in Hong Kong, where the speaker pretty much told us that Hong Kong workers work the longest hours, have their dollars stretched the thinnest, produce the fewest children, inhale the most pollution, and are constantly threatened by an incompetent government and China. I'll pass on that as well :). After heading back to the hotel to do some research for our term projects we went to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which would have been a lot more interesting had the presenter known how to do a proper Powerpoint presentation. Instead she dragged on for almost two hours in a stifling hot room and lost most of our focus. The subject is interesting, though. In the 1970s and 1980s Hong Kong used to be a city totally ruled by corruption. It was a place where to receive any sort of medical or police help you had to pay someone off and a place where all business deals were greased. Through strict enforcement and education by the ICAC, though, Hong Kong has now become remarkably un-corrupt. It was ranked the 2nd least corrupt city in Asia last year, behind Singapore. After that, we moved out of downtown on our way to one of the best experiences of the trip so far...

Before dusk we took the famous Victoria's Peak tram up a steep mountain to a position that gave us an unbelievable bird's eye view of the city. Atop the peak there is a huge shopping mall full of restaurants (even restaurants that have American license plates!) where we ate and shopped for souvenirs a bit. After dusk fell we went to a clear viewing site and just relaxed in the beautiful weather, took pictures, and admired the view of the dark city lit by millions of colored florescent lights. Check out the pictures under the "my pictures" tab to see what I'm talking about. On the train ride home we also ran into a creepy, drunk, self-important British professor from a university here in Hong Kong who thought we were crazy for not wanting his business card. All he could talk about was how he came here to "chase some skirt" and hasn't left for 20 years. I'm now convinced that all the older, white men in this part of the world are perverts. Anyways, we went home after that and just crashed.

On Saturday morning we woke up early to get a Tai Chi lesson from the same guy who taught us about Feng Shui. Every morning you can see hundreds of Honkies, ranging from young to elderly, doing Tai Chi along the waterfront behind our hotel. I was amazed the other day to find out that the average lifespan for a Hong Kong woman is 85.4 years! The book I was reading attributed this partly to exercises like Tai Chi that a huge portion of the population takes part in every day. After Tai Chi I went back to my room and took a glorious four hour nap.

Waking up motivated, I decided to do a little exploring on my own. I walked out of the hotel door and stumbled into the shuttle that takes guests to Tsim Tsa Tsui, which is a busy downtown area. With no particular destination in mind, I hopped aboard. I then wandered down towards the water front (no surprise there) and found that a harbor-tour ferry was leaving in eight minutes! I quickly bought a ticket and hopped aboard the Star Ferry. After the boat made a quick trip across the harbor and then back to port, I realized that I had of course hopped on the wrong boat. Doh! Well, the tour cost HK$50, so there was no way I was putting that ticket to waste. So, I hung around for another 45 minutes until the next ferry took off. The later ride was just before dusk. It was a nice ride through a crowded Victoria Harbor, though I wish the boat had gone a little deeper into the harbor. I then hopped off at around 7 PM and faced my next debacle: how to get home.

I then saw a bunch of people running towards a bus at the bus station across the street. I saw the bus that everyone was madly running to said something in Chinese (which might as well have been Jibberish to me) and ended in the word "Estate". Remembering that there was a bus stop ending in the word "Estate" near my hotel, I got caught up in the craze and bolted for the bus. I sat down and immediately said to myself, "Well, that was dumb". Sure enough, it was. The bus took me about an hour into suburban Hong Kong, far from anywhere I had ever been before. I ended up just completing the loop after realizing I was totally lost and ended up right back where I started two hours later. I then took the MTR (HK's version of the T or Metro) back to the hotel, which is what I should have done in the first place. Oh well, it was an adventure. That night we went out to a festival in Long Kwai Fong, which was pretty fun.

This morning myself and a few others ventured out to go to mass in Hong Kong. We ended up at St. Benedict's in Sha Tin. The mass was pretty similar to mass back home, since we picked the one that was in English (though the priest didn't speak very good English. I think he was from Italy). Here they don't shake hands for peace (they bow slightly) and they dip the Bread in the Wine during communion. I'm guessing these are a result of the SARS scare a few years ago. I'm also pretty sure that I accidentally donated my room key to the collection basket with the change in my pocket. Not looking forward to that HK$200 fine! After mass we went to Pizza Hut in the mall across the street. It's funny that in Hong Kong Pizza Hut is positioned as a luxurious place to eat. We had to wait almost half an hour for a table (a table with a table cloth and fancy chairs). The decor is all new and the menu is much, much larger than that in the U.S. But, there was a bit of a language barrier when ordered, so my order of a sausage deep-dish pizza with marinara sauce somehow arrived as as deep-dish pizza with Thousand Island sauce (yes, Thousand Island dressing) with sausage, chicken, pineapple, and mushroom toppings. Surprisingly it didn't taste that bad. It was also funny that they had a pizza called the Adventurous American, which included sausage, pepperoni, and corn. Apparently they think Americans like corn on their pizza.

When we got back from lunch we went to my first horse race! We caught the last three races of the day. It was pretty cool. There were probably about 10,000 people in the stadium on one side of the huge racing track. I won HK$125 on the first race when my pick, horse #1, came in first. Great start! Of course, I lost the next two races. But, I ended the day up $25. Not too shabby for my first horse race!

Now we're all just laying around. I'm going to go for a run, do some reading, and head to bed early so I'm not too tired this week. Anyone have any book suggestions for me? I just finished John McCain's
Faith of My Fathers. I highly recommend it to anyone. After reading it, I don't know how anyone could not vote for him, regardless of some political disagreements (of which I have quite a few).

Happy Memorial Day to all back home! Enjoy the long weekend.

Pictures from the first week of Hong Kong will be up later tonight, so check those out too.
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Speech

Senator Brownback of Kansas is one of my favorite politicians because of the fact that he really isn't a politician- in ordinary terms, anyways. He's a man who leads an incredible life of faith and uses his conscience to sort through his decisions in the political arena. He's also humble. After seeing him speak tonight on the interaction of faith and politics in Copley Formal Lounge, he stayed after for over half an hour to personally meet and answer the questions of everyone who hung around. Luckily, I was last in line and got talk to him for five minutes and then get my picture taken. It's pretty sweet to think that I was able to talk to someone who plays such an important role in our government.

What struck me most about his speech tonight was one simple, yet profound statement that I've been thinking about all night. He stated:

"We need to start thinking of people as people and not of people as problems"

It doesn't sound like much, but when I think it over and take the statement apart, I find a heck of a lot more than those few words. I do see that politicians and citizens, myself included, treat people mainly as problems. Whether this be the problematic prison inmate, the problematic protester, the problematic tax payer, etc. We take away the humanity of these people in thinking of them as problems.

I think a pertinent example of this is the example of panhandlers. So often I pass these people either with eyes downcast or ears shut- uncomfortable by them and the situation. However, my faith calls me to see that person not as a problem of sorts, but simply as a person- a person with worth and dignity.

Senator Brownback is someone to whom I look up to as a challenge to live out my faith in every day life. I certainly fail to do so, and hope that with the continued reminder and challenge set forth by people like him I can motivate myself to rise to the occasion and see the humanness behind the face, regardless of the circumstance.
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Rafting!

Went whitewater rafting today for the first time! It was a lot of fun. The Credit Union took its yearly excursion this year to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania for some level 3-4 rapids. The four hour bus trip was actually really scenic, as it was all through mountains and farmland- a reminder of what America is really like outside the bubbles in which most of us live in the suburbs and cities of the U.S. The weather worked out for us as best as we could ask. The air was probably low 50s all day, but the sun was out. The water was pretty cold though and most of us couldn't feel our toes at the end of the 3 hour, 7.5 mile river course. Thankfully I managed to stay onboard the raft, so I wasn't shivering the whole time like a few others who got tossed thanks to a few big rocks or a big rapid.

So, if you ever have the opportunity...I can now recommend that you should definitely check out whitewater rafting.
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Resource Forum

Well I somehow lost the article I had emailed to myself earlier this week with the intention of posting about. However, I found a much more interesting article that includes the quote that I wanted from the old article and even more (!). I'll get the quote from the first article out of the way first:

Barack Obama on teaching his daughters about sex:

"I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby".

The quote speaks for itself, but it just shows how out-of-tune Obama and many members of the Democratic party are on this issue. Since when are children punishments? The Democratic Culture of Death is at work here. It's quotes like this that make us realize how pathetic and disgusting it is.

Next,
this article in the Washington Post discusses how Obama has been attempting to portray himself as a somewhat moderate on the abortion issue throughout the campaign, not wanting to appear an extremist. The article does a good job showing just how untrue this image really is. Obama is an abortion extremist just like he's an extremist on most other issues. He was against the ban on partial-birth abortion, which 70-80% of Americans supported depending on which polls you read (if you feel like feeling sick to your stomach, Google "partial-birth abortion" and become informed of the procedure. The actual court transcripts of the case are the most telling, in my opinion). He didn't support a bill that made it illegal for a doctor to kill a child that survived an attempted abortion. He's favored abortion unapologetically and to the max throughout his career.

On another separate, but semi-related matter, I attended Georgetown's Pregnancy Resource Forum last night. The event included panelists from Georgetown, local pregnancy center directors, and a local student-mother. These people were brought together, not to debate abortion, but to discuss ways to better serve pregnant and parenting students on Georgetown and other college campuses so that abortion doesn't seem like the "only option". Georgetown supplies a townhouse for student parents, diapers and baby supplies, some babysitting, counseling, etc. for student parents. However, the vast majority of students don't know this and don't even think there are any parenting students on campus (there are). So, a lot of the night was spent discussing ways to increase the general knowledge of these important facts and ways to improve them even more. Overall, it was a very enlightening and productive event. It's nice to know that there are so many different people out there who care about students in these situations and do their best to aid them through what can be a traumatic experience.

Thats all for now. I should be back tomorrow with comments on a piece published in the Economist recently that shows that conservatives lead happier lives than their counterparts. No surprise there in my opinion. But, its a good article. So be excited for it.
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Ron Paul

I saw Ron Paul tonight in Gaston Hall. He's just as kooky as he appears on TV- rest assured. He certainly has some interesting ideas, but I found it surprising that he didn't speak from a speech. Now, some people like Mike Huckabee can pull this off. Paul couldn't. At times he appeared to just ramble and lose his train of thought.

Unfortunately (in my opinion) he seemed to focus his speech on what he thought the audience wanted to hear most. And I guess he did a pretty good job at that. His speech was mostly focused on ending the war in Iraq and discontinuing American imperialism. He also said that he thinks people should be able to smoke and drink whatever they want. You can bet that was popular.

I wish he had focused more on the entitlement and social programs that are bankrupting the US government. Though he did, in the question and answer session, touch on some of these, he could have done it more often. Two of his most impressive talking points, which he also discussed in Q&A are illegal immigration and abortion. He correctly believes that it is the government's job to protect its sovereignty through its national borders. He also has the guts to unapologetically say that hospitals shouldn't be forced to treat illegal immigrants when they show up for care. He correctly states that such circumstances often eventually bankrupt hospitals, eliminating emergency care for Americans and causing more harm than good. On abortion, he gave a touching story about how he became pro-life and again, refused to apologize it even though it was probably an opinion that wasn't too popular with the crowd.

Given his eccentricities, it was an interesting event. But, I just can't take him seriously when he talks about going back to the gold standard, which goes against everything I've ever learned in economics, business, and government classes my whole life, and when he claims that the only reason radical Muslims hate us is because we are involved in their territories. I just don't buy that. There's far more involved that some crazy extremists simply being bitter over the past.

Well, bearing any surprises, that's all for this stretch of seeing impressive/important speakers.

Good night.
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Condi

I saw Condeleezza Rice speak this morning at school. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any pictures because the Secret Service sniped the camera I was trying to sneak in. But, it's pretty clear that she's a genius. She was incredibly knowledgeable on a very wide range of foreign affairs topics (as you would expect the Secretary of State to be, I guess), and extremely well spoken. I was especially impressed with how she answered the submitted student questions off-cue after the speech. She had a good, straight-talk answer to "what can we do to fix the image of the U.S. in the eyes of countries that don't agree with what we're doing in the world?"

A lot of the speech was over my head, since it was sponsored by the School of Foreign Service and thus involved a lot of international development and global policy stuff, but it was worthwhile nonetheless.

On to Ron Paul tomorrow...
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Government Class

So I'm in a government class this semester called Contemporary Conservatism in America taught by Professor Carey. It's a fascinating class to say the least. I'm torn, though, because we're assigned a theoretical 400 page novel plus a three to four page paper on the novel pretty much each week. This class alone dominates my Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights. In addition to that pain in the neck, the other twelve kids in the class must be government majors, because the knowledge and comments that they bring up in class make my head spin. Professor Carey is a character for sure, though. At first glance you'd think he's a few years past retirement and a slow, dry lecturer. However, once he gets into the readings and especially their application to the debacle of modern politics, he spruces right up and gets really excited. It's kind of funny to watch. He's one of those older people who likes to throw 'hell' and 'damned' into his claims and arguments. "Whatever the hell those damn politicians..."

Anyways, today we began discussing Bertrand de Jouvenel's "On Power: The Natural History of Its Growth". It was the first time that I have really had the opportunity to sat back and marvel at just how much power, of both man and government, has grown over time. Jouvenel claims that the almost-dictator Henry XIV would have been jealous at the power that today's U.S. President holds. That's a pretty crazy thought. I thought democracy was supposed to be the power of the people? He argues this through the frame of ever-increasing taxation, conscription, and the decline of natural law. We're just starting the discussion, but so far it's been very entertaining. Maybe all that reading and writing will be worth it...
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On a Second Note...

January 21, 2008 Read More: Miscellany
Catholic schools to be honored. This reporter is not happy

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) has offered a resolution that will be taken up the by the House this week (H.Res. 916) honoring Catholic schools.
The resolution, which is co-sponsored by 43 other lawmakers, congratulates America's Catholic schools for producing "students strongly dedicated to their faith, values, families, and communities by providing an intellectually stimulating environment rich in spiritual, character, and moral development."
But for many survivors of a Catholic-school upbringing, the memories are not so great. Sure, we can read, write and do 'rthmetic (Note: I did 11 years in Catholic schools), but we also suffered under power-mad nuns hellbent on beating an education into us.
Sister Marion of Resurrection Grammar School in Rye, N.Y., was once such unindicted criminal, as was Sister Theodosia (who smelled really bad) and Sister Luke (btw, does anyone else but mean know why nuns change their names once in the convent? They needed aliases, that's why!). These were horrible, horrible women who should have never been let anywhere near young, impressionable innocents. One nun told me that as soon as you thought of a sin, it was as bad as if you had committed it. I still think that I murdered a lot of people, which never happened. Or at least you can't prove it.
High school wasn't much better. I had Irish Christian Brothers as teachers. I saw one brother literally pick a kid up by his nose once. That had to hurt.
But worst of all were the lay teachers at Catholic schools. They had a license to whup ass (I think they got a special dispensation from the pope or something), and they used it. Mrs. Fitzpatrick, you are lucky the statute of limitations has expired or you would be in the Big House.
So I think the House should reject this resolution and launch an immediate probe into Catholic schools nationwide. I will volunteer my testimony as a starting place.
Of course, I was a terrible little s*** as a child, so the nuns probably kept me out of prison. And now I am journalist, doing all sorts of crimes against the truth, country and those nice elected officials, as some of my readers claim.
One quick anecdote - I ran into Sister Marion years later. Upon saying hello to my former principal, all she had to say was this: "Your poor mother, God bless her." And that perfectly sums up my memory of Catholic school as a child.
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Only in America

After our monthly diaper drive today I was reflecting on how great of a country the U.S.A. is. I know- patriotism, blah blah blah, but i'm serious. American people are what make America great.

Once a month GURTL goes to a bunch of local Safeway supermarkets to collect diapers and other baby supplies for the Northwest Pregnancy Center, which is a great center for needy pregnant moms in DC. Today, there were nine of us, so three people went to three different Safeways. Guess how many diapers and other supplies shoppers donated in three short hours?

Almost 8,000 diapers, hundreds of wipes, and some bottles of formula.

This stuff isn't cheap. Every single month I'm amazed at the kindness and generosity we see from these people. It certainly makes me think twice every time I walk by someone handing out fliers asking for donations. These people and their generous hearts make America great and keep it running strong. Let's hope it stays that way.
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Romania and the EU

Last year I did a short research project in International Business on the potential effects of Romania and Bulgaria's entrance into the European Union before the two countries entered January 1, 2007. These two countries are drastically different than the majority of EU countries. They are poor, underdeveloped, and years behind the other countries in healthcare and well-being. Understandably, many existing EU countries were hesitant to welcome these two countries. Ireland and the UK were especially hesitant. Their presidents feared an uncontrollable influx of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants, who would put a strain on social services, employment, and crime. Alternatively, others argued that the market would reach an equilibrium after a bit and the demand for unskilled labor would come to a halt, ending the influx.

Unfortunately, it seems that populations and migrants don't work on a perfect supply/demand graph. Instead of Ireland and the UK, Italy has been hard hit by Romanian immigrants since Romania's entrance. There have been numerous public murders, rapes, and assaults of Italian citizens committed by Romanians. This has lead to increased calls for a moratorium on free immigration (which is a part of the EU constitution) in Italy and increased xenophobia by Italian citizens. Since January, Romanians have jumped to 1% of Italy's almost 60 million population. 75% of the arrests in the Rome in the past year involved Romanians. Is open immigration the Achilles heel of the EU?

It's probably too early to make a decision on this. But thus far, I would certainly argue that it is. There are too many other factors that affect immigration (such as social services) which make it differ from a simple supply and demand situation. Unrestrained immigration, as we have seen in the US, can negatively impact communities, budgets, and cultural values and traditions. While we would also be foolish to ignore the reality of harsh inequalities between countries, it isn't fair to put that burden solely on the shoulders of a single country, such as Italy. The world must work through globalization and aid to develop these underdeveloped countries and bring them into the 21st century.

Italy questions EU immigration
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Intrade

So in Business-Government Relations class today my professor showed us a pretty neat website. Check out Intrade. It's like the futures market or a gambling site, whichever you prefer. The site allows people to bet on the outcomes of events such as elections, trials, etc. Perhaps the most fascinating is the 2008 Presidential election. Things aren't looking so good for the Republicans, at least according to people's bets. The site acts as a gauge for people's anticipatory feelings and guesses. On the subject of the 2008 election, those betting could certainly be Republican voters, but feel that the Democrats will win in '08. So, it's not forecasting the actual better's preferences, but their moods and beliefs. Interesting.
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