Gleanings and Observations

Vice president Kamala Harris stopped off in Vietnam to assure a nation that had witnessed helicopters taking off from Saigon rooftops in 1975 that her boss will stand with them against China. Harris giggles softly but carries a big stick. When it comes to the South China Sea, “We are going to speak up.” And she showed our muscle: we are sending a Coast Guard cutter to support Vietnam’s maritime-security capabilities against the naval build-up that Xi Jinping swore the PRC would not undertake.

The economy is opening up and some far-sighted hoteliers have hit on a new strategy to lure and please customers. They plan separate charges for early check in, use of the pool on Saturday, daily housekeeping, high-speed internet and other features of your holiday stay. Their model is the airlines that have antagonized customers with similar ways of raising fares. Marriott CEO Tony Capuano expects guests to “push back” against such à la carte pricing, favored by academic economists except when computing the tax-deductible portion of the hotel bills from the innumerable conventions they schedule for themselves.

In November British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be co-hosting, with Italy, the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. His goal: to persuade the signatories to the Paris climate accord to strengthen non-enforceable commitments made in 2015, in part by phasing coal out of the world’s energy economy.

Boris has pried votes from traditional Labour supporters by promising to support economic development in the economically moribund north of England.

Immediately before or after the green gathering he will have to decide whether to approve a project that will produce 500 well-paid ($60,000 per annum) jobs in the northern town of Whitehaven, which hasn’t seen a new job since its coal mines closed. Oh, yes, the project is a new coal mine. Developers say that the new mine will not add to greenhouse gas emissions because, if they don’t dig the new mine, some other country will. Besides, coal is needed to make steel with which to build wind turbines.

China has announced that video gaming operators will be allowed to offer gaming to minors only from 8PM to 9PM on Fridays, weekends and public holidays, a bit more than 3 hours per week.

In the U.S. 66% of tweens between the ages of 8 and 12 play video games an average of 14 hours per week. Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 so amuse themselves for 17.5 hours per week.

In China school days start at 7:30AM and run until 5:30PM. To those 65 hours add special weekend “cram schools” in math, English and physics. Total 77 hours per week reports the Australian Financial Review. This is the private school regimen to prepare kids for admission to a senior high school rather than a vocational school.

In America, college students spend about 15 hours per week in class and about 15 hours studying ( the latter about 1.5 hours short of their teachers’ expectations), for a total of 30 hours per week, reports the National Survey of Student Assessment.

In China last week, the regime preempted some of study hours to make room for a study of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” reports China Digital Times.

In America, the American Council of Trustees And Alumnireports that only 23 of 75 colleges listed by U.S. News & World Report as America’s best require courses in American history.

The appallingly inept players on the New York Mets decided to retaliate against fans who have taken to booing them as only New York fans can. Whenever a player accomplishes something, say a base hit, he turns to the stands and gestures a thumbs down, his way of booing the fans. The billionaire owner of the team, who has fashioned a $200 million annual payroll, expressed dissatisfaction with their on-field effort, decided that fan-abuse was not in his or the team’s long-term interest, which prompted the players to apologize to the fans, sort of. They may not know how to win very often, but they are undoubtedly sufficiently familiar with 17th century English literature to know that since fine words and gestures butter no parsnips, failure surely does not. The ringleader, however, is protected by a 10-year, $340 million contract.

The state of California is afflicted with periodic shortages of electricity, resulting in blackouts. It is also subsidizing a switch from gasoline-fueled to electric vehicles, and requiring all new houses to abandon use of plentiful natural gas in favor of electricity, at a cost of $20,000 per home.