Sunday, February 28, 2016

Presenting CWWN v02 - The Word of the Cross

kw: book summaries, watchman nee, christian ministry

Volume 2 of The Collected Works of Watchman Nee is titled The Word of the Cross. It primarily contains miscellaneous writings from the early and mid 1920's that were either self-published or printed in various Christian journals. One short item is a preface to the Chinese translation of the book Modern Science and the Long Day in Joshua by Harry Rimmer.

The first four chapters, which most closely match the title of the volume, deal with the cross of Christ as applied to Christian walk, and to knowing God's will. The preface to Harry Rimmer's book and three other articles are apologetical works, combating fallacies that arose around the early 1900's due to "Higher Criticism" and its emphasis on de-spiritualizing the Bible.

As is common for many young men who are extremely brilliant, Watchman Nee was an absolutist. A certain measure of absolutism is necessary in a Christian, for there are certain matters to which we will brook no controversy, including the existence of God, the primacy of Jesus Christ and His work for our eternal salvation, and the total authority of the Bible. Upon this last point, however, we must in particular maintain a very humble attitude that no one of us will ever encompass the whole of Biblical truth. Excessive absolutism, particularly regarding "what the Bible says" about this or that, is the direct cause of thousands of denominational differences among Christians, which is a great shame to the Name of our beloved Jesus.

But absolutism is required in the face of atheistic attacks upon the veracity and authority of scripture. Watchman Nee made a few brief forays into apologetics, later to forego such matters in favor of the much greater work of exposition and elucidation of deeper and more precious truths regarding the Christian life and the church life.

Roughly sixty pages are taken up with 26 outlines of "Bible Studies for Beginners." The first few lessons are suitable both for helping believers lead others to Christ and for showing to seeking unbelievers to help them come to Christ. Later lessons take us deeper and deeper into what Nee considered "basic" lessons, though I believe many Christians today would find them rather deep swimming!

The last section is called "Once a Year Through the Bible", with daily readings from both Old and New Testaments, in the format you see here. Key Words for each book and extremely brief topics for the sections are intended as a guide to the reader.

The items in this volume illustrate that, from the beginning of Watchman Nee's service to Christ, he felt responsible to teach others. He saw very early that our Christian life is largely taken up with practical sanctification in life, and that between our beginning by repentance as redeemed and regenerated children of God, and the completion of our salvation in conformation to Christ and glorification, we are being transformed, a process in which our cooperation with God is essential. We need to feed upon God's Word; this is a great deal more than just "Bible Study". We need fellowship with believers in spirit. We need to learn of God by spending time in His presence. We need to develop an attitude of service to God, according to His purpose and in His way, not according to our fleshly or soulish imagination. In all these things he sought to prepare himself to help believers grow and attain to spiritual maturity.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A little advantage is better than none

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, decision theory, advice

It's time to decide who's paying for lunch. Flip a coin? The "I flip-you call" method is probably about as fair as possible. "I flip-I call" is a setup for a two-headed coin. But what about Roshambo (also Rochambeau), or Rock-Paper-Scissors? Here we go, 1-2-3, what do you throw?

[For those who don't know, Roshambo is done in pairs. Each person waves a closed fist two times and then on the third time does one of three things. Rock is keeping a closed fist, Paper is opening the hand fully, and Scissors is opening only the index and middle finger in a narrow "V". Rock breaks Scissors, Scissors cut Paper, and Paper covers Rock. If both person throws the same, you repeat. Each "throw" can beat one of the others, and loses to the other, so there is no guaranteed winner for any throw.]

According to research (yes there is, lots of it!) cited by William Poundstone, if you're male, you'll probably throw Rock first, and if you're female, probably Scissors. Psychologically, the Rock is more macho, while Scissors is more the female's weapon in preference to rocks and other bludgeons. Knowing this, if you are "playing" against a man, choose Paper, otherwise, choose Rock.

But of course it is not so totally simple. Lots of folks prefer a "2 throws out of 3" game. You also repeat the process when there is a tie. The psychology of successive throws is a lot like the psychology of successive pitches by a baseball pitcher. A lot depends on how well the other folks know you. Suppose you throw the same thing the first two times. If you don't win in the first two throws (and aren't already "out"), is it better to throw the same, or a different choice? The best advice is, do whatever you aren't known for doing. With someone who doesn't know you, go ahead with the same choice a third time in a row. It is least expected!

Little things like this, that gain little advantages on average, inform the second chapter of Rock Breaks Scissors: A Practical Guide to Outguessing & Outwitting Almost Everybody, by William Poundstone. Part One of the book shows a dozen ways to take advantage of the fact that humans are very bad at doing anything randomly, and equally bad at distinguishing genuinely random sequences from "random looking" sequences that are actually patterned. Part Two takes on Hot Hand Theory, the notion that a series of "wins" is more likely to continue when skill is involved, such as successive baskets at the free throw line. Its converse, the Gambler's Fallacy, is the notion that a series of wins or losses is more likely to be "balanced" by the opposite happening next, whenever human agency is not involved, such as in spins of a fair Roulette wheel.

It is interesting. When we want to be random, we can't. When we want to prolong a chain of successes, we have no guarantee that we can! Here is a string of light and dark blocks. Is it random?


It really isn't. Compared to a truly random sequence, it alternates too often and the length of the "runs" is too short. What about this one?


This has fewer alternations, and longer runs. It is from a random sequence of numbers, with darker chosen for numbers in the smaller half of the range, and lighter for the rest.

People given a series of five of these colored blocks, and asked to choose a sixth "at random", usually choose a lot less randomly than they'd like. If the string of five is ░█░█░, for example, some folks will say it "doesn't look random enough", but that if they must, they'll follow with a light box; others just glance over and also add a light box. Hardly anyone chooses dark as the more "random", and it isn't. Both dark and light are equally "random"! It doesn't matter what is in the first five boxes. If people are shown string of five that are all light, most will choose a black box, even though, again, the chance of light or dark is 50%.

Flip a coin six times. Write down the sequence, perhaps HTHHTT. How likely is it that you will flip six heads in a row? Once in how many sets of six throws? Did you say 100? or 1,000? The true odds are that you'll toss six heads in a row once in 64 sets, on average. But there is no saying that, the first or second time you make six tosses, you won't get six in a row. Just that if you do sets of six throws hundreds of times (it takes patience!), about 1/64th of them will be six heads. This chart illustrates the number of times each possible set of six throws occurred in 6,400 sets of six, calculated using the RAND function in Excel. Two total groups of 6,400 sets are shown:

If all 64 outcomes were equally likely, we would expect 100 of each. These are all near 100 occurrences each, but note how they nearly all cluster in a range from about 80 to about 120. If I'd used 64,000 rather than 6,400, the spread would be less, about one-third the proportional range, with about 1,000 occurrences of each outcome, nearly all contained in a range from 930 to 1,070.

Chapter after chapter of Part One shows how to take advantage of others' inability to guess randomly. Making play-by-play bets (or challenges with no money changing hands) in Football, for example, the author recommends, "…expect the opposite type of play (running or passing) next time, especially when the current play fizzled or was repeated twice in a row." (p. 86). Yet, since the coach on the opposing team is probably making the same estimation, the more winning strategy for the team is to make the SAME play about half the time, even if it just fizzled or would be a third-in-a-row play.

In the chapter "How to Outguess Passwords", after a discussion of how hard it is to pick and remember a truly random password, the author suggests, more slyly, for us to do the unexpected. We know that password-cracking hardware is able to try tens of billions of combinations per second, when calculating every possible encrypted password in a stolen .pwd file. Thus, a long password is better because lots of characters means the "cracker" will have to try many more combinations. How many? If you're allowed to use a very long password, but one you can easily type, you might get away with text only. For example, the string "strangerinparadise" has 18 letters. There are 26-to-the-18th power possible strings of 18 lower-case letters, or 30 trillion trillion. But most banks and online shops will require you to use "at least 8 characters, with at least one upper and one lower case letter, and at least one number". Now, if you meet this minimum requirement, the total number of combinations is at worst 26-to-the-sixth times 52 times 62, or almost exactly one trillion. A hardware cracking machine that can try 100 billion per second would figure that out in 10 seconds. Add a ninth character, and mix-n-match your string better, and the number of combinations is at least 62-to-the-8th, or more than 200 trillion. Few hackers are willing to wait the the half hour it would take to crack this one. The author's suggestions are useful, and I'll leave the rest for your own reading.

I turn instead to "Hot Hand". There are several folkloric explanations for "streaks". None can explain the fact that, when a series of, for example, free throws are analyzed for randomness as compared to some kind of "streakiness", they always are seen to be random. Random series include many short streaks, fewer streaks of medium length, and smaller numbers of longer streaks, both "good" and "bad". A professional basketball player who hits only half of his or her free throws is considered rather mediocre. Particularly when some players seem to score 90% of theirs. But statistical analysis shows that a streak of any particular length is half as likely as a streak of one "hit" shorter, for a shooter who scores 50% of the time. A shooter whose long-term average is 70% at the free throw line will frequently score five or six times in a row, and there is nothing "hot" about it. It is just, if the last four throws scored, there is still a 70% chance that the next throw will also score.

All this means that people are bad at recognizing randomness, and you can take advantage of that. There is even a long discussion in the last chapter about getting an edge on the stock market. The stock market is considered random, and it is in the sense that trade-to-trade or even day-to-day motions of a stock's price are not correlated at all. For example, if you record a stock's price at every day's close for a year or two, then determine the percent change from day to day, you can plot them with an offset of one day to see if there is any pattern. There is not. The result is a dot cloud that very symmetrically surrounds the (0,0) point. But in the long term, the profitability of a company, or better yet, the aggregate profitability of companies in, for example, the S&P 500 Index, shows long term trends. The author shows how to use a particular 10-year trend statistic that provides a Buy or Sell signal for a 500 Index fund, and it mainly allows you to avoid catastrophic bear markets. Beating the Index by just a couple of percentage points can be very beneficial to your 401-K bottom line.

This was certainly a fun book to read. Even more, it helps to gain more insight into the way most people think. The more the behavior of others can be anticipated, the more likely we are to gain an advantage. One might think from the title that "outguessing and outwitting" others could be a malicious pursuit. Con artists do use similar tricks, to our detriment. But the behavioral learnings in this book are quite benign. While some of them (consistently winning an office betting pool is an example) might cause you to lose a friend or two, they are generally a way to stay on top of things, rather than a way to put others down.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

At last! Sense about college choice

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, college, college admissions

One of my college housemates went on to become a billionaire, as did his brother. I'll call them Charlie and George. My housemate and schoolmate Charlie, and I, graduated from California State University at Los Angeles. He also received his MS there. George went to Harvard. So you could say, of my personal sample of two, that 50% went to an elite university. Of course, as my son reminded me, a sample of two is not enough to calculate a meaningful standard deviation.

Statistics about billionaires and other "elite" folk abound on the Internet. Particularly in America, having thrown off the shackles of European hereditary aristocracy in the 1600's and 1700's, Euro-Americans instead developed a fascination for three equally vapid aristocracies, based on celebrity, power, or wealth. Thus, it isn't hard to find that 52 of Harvard's graduates are billionaires, about twice as many as any other college, nor that nearly 40% of self-made billionaires went to an "elite" school, but also that 25% never finished college.

Charlie and George aren't entirely self-made; they took over a company worth a few tens of millions from their father, and built it into an empire worth 1,000 times as much. So I suppose they are 99.9% self-made!

I mentioned my son for a reason. His BA and MA are in the least-lucrative field: Education. In spite of valiant efforts on my part to direct him to a S.T.E.M. field, he majored in English with a French minor, and his graduate degree is also in Education. After a year of substitute teaching for about $75/day, and some twists and turns that include a stint as a night security guard, he had the opportunity to become a private tutor, preparing students to take the SAT or ACT. More recently, he has also been contract teaching courses that certain schools offer in the same area. He is particularly adept at teaching kids to ace the math portions of the tests, which is ironic because he sort of avoided math in his own coursework. Thus his understanding of statistical concepts, when he and I talked about this book. And, his income may not be as stable as that of a classroom teacher, but he earns more than they do, about double their average income.

On to the book: Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, by Frank Bruni. Boiling down a huge amount of material, the author presents the case that, now more than ever, college is what you make of it, and far too many college-bound young Americans covet an elite education in hopes that the school will make them into someone great. Nope. You have to do that yourself. "We are dealt the cards, but play our own hand." (to quote myself)

Researching the subject, I found several critical reviews of the book. All mistake the message, thinking that Bruni is saying "It doesn't matter where you go." No, he is saying that it matters most how well the school environment matches the student, and to what extent the student takes advantage of it. Let's look at it this way. If the hype about the Ivy League (just eight institutions) were accurate, tens of thousands of their alumni would be billionaires, not the actual couple of hundred.

Even more, Bruni blames the hype itself as the gasoline on the conflagration he calls Mania. Our son's work feeds on that mania. He lives in central New Jersey, where thousands of wealthy parents will spare no expense to get their children into the Ivy League, or at least, one of the "second rank" colleges. Who decided what the ranks are? For 3+ decades, the journal U.S. News and World Report has published a yearly ranking of a great many colleges in the U.S. Their methodology is well known, and the schools that can afford to have been gaming the system almost from the beginning.

One of the weightiest factors is "selectivity", which keeps Princeton near the top of the rankings, because they admit only about one in thirteen who apply: 7.5%. To keep the applications rolling in, they advertise heavily, as do all the schools that bubble to the top of the U.S. News rankings. Bruni says the rankings themselves are a great part of the problem, and result in a majority of our most ambitious students being disappointed by "elite rejection". At one point he uses the word "fraudulent", and I agree.

The book abounds with stories of people, some very prominent now, who were rejected by most of the schools they applied for—frequently, rejected by all but one—yet became very successful. They made lemonade out of the lemons they were offered.

But here is the point. The majority of American universities are not "lemons". They offer fine educations. Our son attended only one university, Rutgers. It is considered "almost elite". I attended two state schools (in different states) and spent a year in a junior college in between, and then went to graduate school at a second-rank mining school. I don't consider myself a failure. I pretty much got what I'd aimed for.

So it comes down to this: "One man's meat is another man's poison." How would George have fared at Cal State, and how would Charlie have fared at Harvard? Probably about as well, but perhaps not. Knowing the two men, I think each found a match to his temperament. Had I been accepted to my first choice, UCLA, rather than Kent State, where I began, and Cal State, where I finished, what would have happened? There is no way to know. But I'm happy with how things turned out. I had work that I considered my "paying hobby" for 40+ years, even though it was not "in my field."

The core of Frank Bruni's message is, knock on several doors. Go through the door that opens. Who you are already will determine the outcome, not which door you pass through.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Presenting CWWN v01 - The Christian Life and Warfare

kw: book summaries, watchman nee, christian ministry

Watchman Nee was born November 4, 1903 and given the names Henry and Shu-Tsu. He received Christ in February 1920, under the preaching of Dora Yu. The biography by Angus Kinnear, Against the Tide, states that he came to Christ "in his eighteenth year" (p. 36), meaning before the age of 18, but this is by Chinese reckoning, which adds a year for the time spent in the womb; he was actually 16 years and 9 months old.

He understood that the Lord wanted to gain him in two ways, both to life and to service. He struggled with this for several weeks until late April, when he fully dedicated his life to service to Jesus Christ. He sought a more fitting name for a consecrated Christian. His mother suggested a name that seemed to strike the right balance: To-Sheng, meaning Watchman.

After finishing college he began to write. He began publishing a small Christian magazine, The Christian, in November 1925, about the time of his twenty-second birthday. This was no eight-page rag. The first issue contained fourteen articles taking up more than 60 pages. Two years later he selected nine of the articles he had written and ten items by other English writers that he had translated and published in The Christian, and published his first book, The Christian Life and Warfare. The contents of this book, plus certain apparatuses, form Volume 1 of The Collected Works of Watchman Nee. His own writing has been translated to English, and writings that began in English are printed as found in their English versions as appendices. This frontispiece is from the June 1927 first printing.

It is said that, whatever income or support he received over the years, Nee spent a third of it on books, typically writing to booksellers in England with a "want list". The Christian Life and Warfare bears a strong influence from Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis of the Overcomer Literature Trust; she wrote seven of the articles he translated from English. The other three are by Charles Usher, Evan Roberts and S. D. Gordon.

The subject of the book is living a victorious Christian life, which requires spiritual warfare. It is a long exposition on Romans 6, primarily verses 11-13:
11 So also you, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but living to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Do not let sin therefore reign in your mortal body so that you obey the body's lusts;
13 Neither present your members as weapons of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as alive from the dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness to God.
(The Bible translation I use is The Recovery Version, published by Living Stream Ministry*.) The first verb is central to Watchman Nee's understanding of Christian victory: Reckon. This word means more than just counting or calculating. It means fixing the will on the facts as presented by God in His Word, and acting accordingly.

To do so, we have to know where things are. Thus the book begins with a chapter explaining that we are tripartite, spirit, soul and body, as Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:23. The human spirit is our organ for contacting God and the things of God. Seeking God with body or with mind (part of the soul), is as foolish as trying to see with your ears. Fellowship between fellow believers must also be spiritual, not done in the soul, or it is vain. Thus, after exposing the folly of using fleshly and soulish means to carry out service to God, he turns to this word Reckon, in a chapter titled "Fact, Faith, and Experience".

Many have heard this kind of preaching: "First Facts, then Faith, and only then Feeling". The term "Experience" is more far-reaching than "Feeling". We may or may not have "feelings" while in our spirit. If we seek to have such feelings, we can be misled. The senses in our spirit are deeper and more delicate than our emotions, and in fact may contradict them. An experienced Christian knows what it is to be "in tears while obeying". The crucified flesh and "unemployed" soul might indeed evoke bitter tears, while the spirit, and shortly the whole person, rejoices in the Lord's burden and His strength to carry it out.

The Word of God contains certain facts, and for this passage, key facts include that we are "dead to sin", and "living to God". Later, in Romans 7, the example of a dead husband is used to show how death frees us from the bondage to the law. In Romans 6, death first frees us from bondage to sin, for the dead do not sin. Are we dead? Christ having died for us, we are reckoned dead to sin by God. Victory is that we also reckon ourselves as dead to sin, in Christ. How do the dead react to temptation? With indifference, with no reaction. For us, being dead to sin but alive to God, to react to sin with indifference requires that we lean on Him that His beauty draws us away from any temptation to sin. We really can be so enrapt with God that we don't notice temptations. Thus, we find that Satan desires to distract us from God's beauty, and we need to oppose such distraction.

Watchman Nee describes the kind of prayer that opposes Satan. It is refreshingly different from the kind of preaching I've heard from some, who seem to spend much time speaking to the evil one directly. According to the teaching here, we might indeed say, with the angel Michael, "The Lord rebuke thee, Satan", but that is the end of that, and we continue in fellowship with the Lord, persisting in our petition that He would do just that and rebuke the Devil. This is in accord with the poor widow of the parable, who spoke again and again to the unjust judge, but not to the opponent against whom her suit was brought.

I was also struck by a certain fact. When speaking of the hill of the crucifixion, Watchman Nee consistently uses the term Golgotha. In the ten articles by others that the editors of CWWN printed in their original form in English, those authors use the term Calvary. "Calvary" is from Latin, and occurs only once in the Authorized Version (KJV), in Luke 23:33. "Golgotha" is from Aramaic, the dialect of Hebrew used in Judea during the life of Jesus, and this term is used everywhere else in the four Gospels. Luke wrote in Greek and used the Greek word for skull, "kranios". Who knows why the translators of the KJV didn't just write "skull"?

Verse 13 of the passage above is equally important, to all the authors of these articles. We are weapons. That is a fact of our being. To whom then should we present ourselves? To Sin in the service of sins, or to God in the service of righteousness? This can only be accomplished by applying the crucifixion of Christ to our subjective experience, to serve Him by His life and His power. All things of "the old man" must remain on the cross.

These are high and powerful truths to be found in a book published by a young prodigy, not quite 25 years old!
*Some have criticized the term "recovery version", joking that the Bible's text doesn't need to be recovered. The Bible itself has been with us a long time, but it is poorly understood, even by many prominent Christian "authorities". In particular, most are influenced by this or that denominational viewpoint or doctrinal system. Within a few years after Watchman Nee received Christ, he saw that Denominationalism is sinful because it divides Christians (My own proverb is, "Doctrines are a filter used to figure out whom to exclude from fellowship"). This understanding is a foundational teaching of the local churches worldwide that follow his teachings, and of the leaders of the Living Stream Ministry in its publishing and evangelistic work. LSM was set up by Watchman Nee's most prominent co-worker, Witness Lee, who used the term "recovery" to refer to the process begun with the Protestant Reformation, and continuing today, of "unlocking" the truths that have been ignored and neglected for two millennia. The text of The Recovery Version is a readable translation from Hebrew and Greek; it is the notes and cross-references—which seek to help believers understand the text, particularly the neglected portions—that constitute the "recovery" of lost truth.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A new series for the new year

kw: book summaries, watchman nee, christian ministry

Many years ago I obtained a set of The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, edited by and, for the most part, translated from Chinese by brothers who prefer to remain unnamed, and published by the Living Stream Ministry. Prior to this publication I had been reading books by Watchman Nee for nearly twenty years. A few of the earlier volumes are seen at lower right in this image, and next to them, single volumes from a paperback version, obtained prior to purchasing the whole set in hardback.

Most of the books published under Watchman Nee's name, including famous titles such as Sit, Walk, Stand and The Overcoming Life (formerly The Normal Christian Life), are translations of expanded conference notes originally taken in Chinese by a few of his early co-workers, most notably Stephen Kaung. His most controversial title, The Normal Christian Church Life (Chinese title Concerning Our Mission) was published first in Chinese and then translated by Nee into English for publication in England and the United States. In the years prior to 1939 and the outbreak of World War II he published a number of books in Chinese, but the greatest volume of his own writings was in the form of Christian newspapers that he published, most notably The Christian and The Present Testimony.

The Collected Works (CWWN) includes translations of the contents of his newspapers and the books that he published in Chinese; re-translations of other titles formerly published in English, but including source material from a wider array of conference notes; and the books and articles he translated into English himself. I once spoke to one of the translators, who told me they were guided in their work by his own translations into English. The set includes 62 volumes in three sub-sets of 20, 16 and 26 volumes, each covering a distinct phase of his ministry.

I have read parts of many of the volumes, a little here and a little there, but decided at the beginning of this year to read through them all. I plan to continue the wide variety of reading I have engaged in previously, but to alternate "other" titles with volumes from CWWN. I tag this series of posts "book summaries" because I am hardly qualified to "review" spiritual books at this level, and I hope the tidbits I am able to glean might encourage others who are less familiar with Watchman Nee's work to re-acquaint themselves with his ministry.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

A curious grid in China

kw: analysis, china, machine vision, imaging

I recently happened upon a series running on the Science Channel called "What on Earth?". In an episode from last year they speculated for a 15-minute segment about this image of a funny grid pattern seen in China, in the desert west of Mongolia:

The show reported it as being first seen in 2006, but this satellite image from Google Earth was acquired May 29, 2005. The grid is big, not on the scale of the Nazca lines, perhaps, but it is 1.0x1.8 km in size, and the lines are 20 m wide. This image is centered near 40°27' N, 93°44' E. The area looks quite different, now that ten years have passed (see below).

The show segment was all speculation about what it might be. They noted that it is about 300 km west of a missile base, and it does seem logical that it is a test target for machine vision. I thought of a possibility the show doesn't mention: target acquisition when GPS is not an option, such as in the aftermath of a nuclear exchange, which would knock out GPS because of the massive EMP (electromagnetic pulse).

I noticed the disturbed area nearby on the left of the grid; here it is closer up:

The grid had apparently been recently finished, and not many buildings or vehicles remain in the area. Just six weeks earlier, it was a different story:

Here we see a lot more going on, with a pool of water near a pile of white stuff, probably chalk.

A wider view shows the partly-finished grid:

This image is from April 13, 2005. Seeing that they didn't just build the grid in a sweep from top to bottom or whatever makes me think of a further possibility. On the show they said analysts had been trying to match the pattern to street maps from various major cities. I think it possible that it actually combines sections of more than one city. It is equally possible that it is entirely made up, with various combinations of angles and spacings to test components of the vision system.

Regardless, here is how it looks today:

This image is about two years old, from March 27, 2014. It is the clearest and most complete image that Google Earth has to offer.

Rain is rare in this desert, but is being allowed to wash away the white lines. Whatever the reason is that the Chinese laid down this grid, it has clearly served its purpose.