Monday Aug 15th reading

One of my university classmates once entered into an inpromptu debate with our labour relations professor on the merits of more private goods. I think I’ve found the perfect rebuttal.

This is the problem with super homogenous societies. Everybody does something out of habit regardless of whether they like it or not, now the silent minorities (or maybe majorities) don’t like it anymore, and have to invent societies to curb it.

Warren Buffet wants to pay more taxes.

Short TED talk for China watchers. Also, as far as interesting interviews are concerned, search for Zhang Xin at Charlie Rose, the female billionare founder of SOHO real estate corporation in China, self-made from factory worker. Sometimes I worry about how much Europe misses out on the emerging economies, sole because there’s so much 1) navel gazing, and 2) constantly looking up to the US as the ultimate measuring stick, even when the US has long moved on to the next bright thing.

August 21 readings

The anxiety economy.

Social and political progress will always accompany economic progress.

Pepe Escobar writes for Al-Jazeera.

I get the feeling that it takes something the proportions of an Olympics to seriously assess a city.

Imagine if Chinese pagentry goes all hard-core tiger mom, this is but a start.

When does economy of scale when it comes to city management stops to make sense?

August 24 reading

Animals felt the tremours first. Red ruffed lemurs win hands-down, a full 15 minutes of warning, if you knew what was coming, that is. Flamingos were also pretty clear in their signalling. Pandas proved useless in this instance.

Rest of the world has to pick up the slack.

So resistance to maintain online annominity is futile?

Cheating on tests, cheating on taxes, principle is the same: when people over-estimate other people’s tendency to cheat, cheating becomes rampant.

Boys are maturing faster too, but we are in general all growing up slower.

Global competition doesn’t spare any specific industry.

And the centre of the world keeps shifting, east and southwards.

Adoptions and corruption.

It’s this time of the year again, amusement park rides and fair foods.

August 17 reading

Will more reverse endorsements like this come about in the coming years? Imagine if Burberry offered British soccer hooligans to stop wearing its pattern.

This will not be without consequences. (h/t JW)

Big Pharma in my opinion is scarier than Big anything else.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about Ron Paul either.

Yet another example of completely unintended progress, this time in Brazil. This is the hilarious 5 point plan in crashing fertility:

  1. Industrialize dramatically, urgently, and late, causing your nation to hurtle through in 25 years what economists used to think of as a century’s worth of internal rural-to-urban relocation of its citizens. Brazil’s military rulers, who seized power in a 1964 military coup and held on through two decades of sometimes brutal authoritarian rule, forced the country into a new kind of economy, one that has concentrated work in the cities, where the housing is cramped, the favela streets are dangerous, babies look more like new expense burdens than like future useful farmhands, and the jobs women must take for their families’ survival require leaving home for ten hours at a stretch.
  2. Keep your medications mostly unregulated and your pharmacy system over-the-counter, so that when birth control pills hit the world in the early 1960s, women of all classes can get their hands on them, even without a doctor’s prescription, if they can just come up with the money. Nurture in these women a particularly dismissive attitude toward the Catholic Church’s position on artificial contraception. (See number 4.)

3. Improve your infant and child mortality statistics until families no longer feel compelled to have extra, just-in-case babies on the supposition that a few will die young. Compound that reassurance with a national pension program, relieving working-class parents of the conviction that a big family will be their only support when they grow old

4. Distort your public health system’s financial incentives for a generation or two, so that doctors learn they can count on higher pay and more predictable work schedules when they perform cesareans rather than waiting for natural deliveries. Then spread the word, woman to woman, that a public health doctor who has already begun the surgery for a cesarean can probably be persuaded to throw in a discreet tubal ligation, thus ensuring a thriving, decades-long publicly supported gray market for this permanent method of contraception. Brazil’s health system didn’t formally recognize voluntary female sterilization until 1997. But the first time I ever heard the phrase “a fábrica está fechada,” it was from a 69-year-old retired schoolteacher who had her tubes tied in 1972, after her third child was born. This woman had three sisters. Every one of them underwent a ligation. Yes, they were all Catholic. Yes, the church hierarchy disapproved. No, none of them much cared; they were women of faith, but in some matters the male clergy is perhaps not wholly equipped to discern the true will of God. The lady was pouring tea into china cups at her dining table as we talked, and her voice was matter-of-fact. “Everyone was doing it,” she said.

5. Introduce electricity and television at the same time in much of the nation’s interior, a double disruption of traditional family living patterns, and then flood the airwaves with a singular, vivid, aspirational image of the modern Brazilian family: affluent, light skinned, and small. Scholars have tracked the apparent family-size-shrinking influence of novelas, Brazil’s Portuguese-language iterations of the beloved evening soap operas, or telenovelas, that broadcast all over Latin America, each playing for months, like an endless series of bodice-ripper paperbacks. One study observes that the spread of televisions outpaced access to education, which has greatly improved in Brazil, but at a slower pace. By the 1980s and ’90s all of Brazil was dominated by the Globo network, whose prime-time novelas were often a central topic of conversation; even now, in the era of multichannel satellite broadcasting, you can see café TVs turned to the biggest Globo novela of the season.

And, finally, number 6: Make all your women Brazilians.