Category Archives: Globalization

why can’t I look away from these epically bad videos?

EMILIA – Shtom taka go iskash

Why can’t I look away? I’m not even sure what language it is? Bulgarian? Turkish? And don’t say it’s because of the beautiful people in the videos as there are plenty of those (isn’t that all videos now?). There is something about the style, cinematography, cheeseyness factor, just something that is somewhere between appreciation and rubber necking at traffic accident. I’mt not sure which.

aoi sola - the second dream still3

via the economist’s article on pornography and patriotism

China and Japan both lay claim to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. These little guys:


View Larger Map

Nobody lives there. But with land comes international rights to nearby water. The Guardian explains it thusly:

What is the row about?
The eight uninhabited islands and rocks in question lie in the East China Sea. They have a total area of about 7 sq km and lie northeast of Taiwan, east of the Chinese mainland and southwest of Japan’s southern-most prefecture, Okinawa.

They matter because they are close to strategically important shipping lanes, offer rich fishing grounds and are thought to contain oil deposits. The islands are controlled by Japan.

Before we laugh it off, remember that Iwo Jima is also an uninhabited Rock that our country fought mightily to conquer for strategic reasons.

What I wasn’t expecting was to read about a Japanese actress / adult-film star stepping into the fray as a voice of peace. Apparently Sora Aoi is very popular in China. From the article in the Atlantic:

A Japanese actress reminds her Chinese fans how conflicted they are

OF ALL the positions with which Sora Aoi has excited her Chinese fans (and there have been many), this was among the more surprising. As anti-Japanese sentiment flared across China, the former porn star issued an online appeal, in fetching calligraphy, for Sino-Japanese friendship. One placard waved at anti-Japanese protests over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands read simply: “the Diaoyu islands belong to China; Sora Aoi belongs to the world.”

And somehow a recent microfilm she released that is about 5 minutes long it tied into the whole thing. The tone of the video is very much in line with the American movie China Town (G rated) and very soulful.

I don’t understand the film, although artistically it is beautiful. A quick image search on the actresses name suggests not all of her films are of the same caliber. It is just interesting that a former porn actress is the messenger of peace and reinvention. To help two countries avoid going to war over a rock.

boyhood fantasies (not) fulfilled

“This summer, at the age of 51—not even old—I watched on a flatscreen as the last Space Shuttle lifted off the pad. I have followed the dwindling of the space program with sadness, even bitterness. Where’s my donut-shaped space station? Where’s my ticket to Mars? Until recently, though, I have kept my feelings to myself. Space exploration has always had its detractors. To complain about its demise is to expose oneself to attack from those who have no sympathy that an affluent, middle-aged white American has not lived to see his boyhood fantasies fulfilled.”

- Neal Stephenson on Innovation Starvation

no genuine attempt to address the issues

The West went to Vienna accusing Asia of trying to undermine the ideal of universality and determined to blame Asia if the conference failed. Inevitably Asia resisted. The result after weeks of wrangling was a predictable diplomatic compromise ambiguous enough so that all could live with it, but settled very few things. There was no real dialogue between Asia and the West, no genuine attempt to address the issues or forge a meeting of minds.

-  Ambassador Kausikan, World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, June 1993

 

perceived american narrative on islam

Wow, I think I’m guilty of this. And I’m not sure I can change either.

The Capital at NightI read “Why Muslims are still mad at America” by Steven Kull on CNN and I can’t say that I think the Muslim perception of the American narrative is incorrect. Speaking for myself, I do view freedom and civil rights for women as an evolution past Sharia law. I believe our Democratic-Republic is a more evolved form of government than a theocracy. Of course the non-sequitur in my thought pattern is that Sharia is opposed to rights for women, which I realize does not follow. Non-sequitur or not, that is how my brain processed it. And that is how governments like the Taliban implemented it.

So why are Muslims still mad at America? From Dr. Kull’s article on CNN:

“…there is one thing that is the most fundamental: their (Muslim) perception that America seeks to undermine Islam – a perception held by overwhelming majorities.”

and

“According to this American narrative – which Muslims perceive as arrogant and dismissive – human society naturally and inevitable evolves through the stages that the West has gone through.  As in the Renaissance, religion is largely banished from the public sphere, thus allowing pluralism and diversity of beliefs in the private sphere while maintaining a secular public sphere.  This leads naturally to the elevation of individual freedoms and the emergence of democratic principles that make the will of the people the basis of the authority of law rather than revealed religious principles.

From this assumed American perspective, Muslim society is seen as simply behind the West in this evolutionary process.  Retrogressive forces in Muslim society are seen as clinging to Islamic traditions that make Sharia the basis of law, not the will of the people, and inevitably keep women in their traditional oppressed roles and minority religions discriminated against.”

I would be interested to know how many Americans, right or wrong, actually do view Islamic governments as earlier than Western governments in the course of natural evolution. I had never thought about it in exactly that way, but it makes sense. I’m guilty of thinking that. And I don’t think it was Islam where the west first threw off the shackles. I suspect we can credit Henry VIII, Martin Luther and Ann Boleyn for ending the rule-by-fiat from Rome for that part of the West’s evolution in political thought.

There was an article a while back I read that opined that Muslims view Judaism as “Religion 1.0″, Christianity as “Religion 2.0″ and Islam as “Religion 3.0.” Thus the later releases should be “superior” to those prior. And if Islam is indeed superior to Christianity or Judaism in the eyes of Muslims, then why do the people who subscribe to these 1.0 or 2.0 religions prosper more than the new-fangled 3.0 release? (I tried to find the article but instead found message-boards full of crazy posts, so I won’t link them.)

I can see how the Muslim perception of the American narrative could be particularly galling from that world view. Although the irony of a perception of American arrogance based on an arrogant assumption of religious superiority means both narratives aren’t fact based. Narratives are stories. In this case it’s a perception of a story you think the other person thinks without actually asking them. This thought pattern is best expressed by a quote from Vizzini in the Princess Bride:

“But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.” (and he goes on and on…)

You think that I think that you think that I think that you…etc… You can’t resolve that or even have a reasonable conversation about something that amorphous. After Vizzini drops dead from switching and then drinking from the Goblet that was in front of our hero, the Man in Black explains to Buttercup how he did it:

“They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.”

In closing, why can’t we all just get along man? And it seems to me keeping religion out of politics is the first step and was a wise decision. If any of the religions are more or less “evolved” is not really the point. It is that this quote from James Madison:

“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.”

Which became the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

To me at least, separation of church and state is a more evolved political structure. And that, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the superiority or inferiority of any particular religion. It simply speaks of a political system designed to reduce people killing each other in the name of God.

(This is a cross post. if you wish to comment please comment on the chron post here.)

radiation + north pacific gyre = bad

I don’t think we are even close to fully understanding the Nuclear crisis unfolding in Japan. Just read this on CNN:

Radiation in water rushing into sea tests millions of times over limit
Tokyo (CNN) — Another attempt by Japanese officials to stop the leaking of highly radioactive water from a nuclear reactor into the ocean failed Tuesday, the country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

Both the utility and Japan’s nuclear safety agency say they don’t know how much water is leaking into the sea from reactor No. 2. But engineers have had to pour nearly 200 tons of water a day into the No. 2 reactor vessel to keep it cool, and regulators say they believe the leak originates there

Earlier Tuesday, Edano apologized for the decision to intentionally dump 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the sea — all part of the effort to curb the flow of the more toxic liquid spotted days ago rushing from outside the No. 2 unit.

Yup, they don’t know how much water is going into the ocean. Although I’d guess it is about the same amount as has been dumped into the reactor from helicopters and fire hoses.

Here is the problem for those of us in the states. The North Pacific Gyre is the largest ecosystem in the world and it circles between Asia and the West Coast of the US of A. So when you hear “don’t know how much water is leaking into the sea” and “had to pour nearly 200 tons of water a day into the No. 2 reactor vessel” and “intentionally dump 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the sea” it starts to become our problem very quickly.

We have some experience recently on trying to take the pee out of the pool. The use of chemical dispersant apparently helped. As did microbes that eat oil (who knew?). The problem with Radiation in the water is a bit different for a number of reasons.

  1. Currents. The Deepwater Horizon was in the Gulf of Mexico which has a loop current, but for the most part the oil didn’t make it even to Florida. The Pacific also has a loop current but the loop goes between Asia and the United States quite efficiently.
  2. You can’t see radiation in the water. You can’t fly a plane over the ocean and see a sheen like you can with oil. You can detect radiation, but only people with the right equipment. Thus citizen journalism and distributed responses aren’t possible from civilians.
  3. You can’t control fish. They swim where they want to swim. And many swim all over the world. So beyond the currents dispersing the radiation, you have radioactive fish. Does Pike’s Place Market put in a Geiger counter? How long till Amazon is sold out?
  4. Japan makes a lot of stuff. We like to buy stuff. But we prefer if it is radiation free. Not sure how the economics on this play out.
  5. Japan makes a lot of pharmaceuticals. Will consumers continue to trust these products? From wikipedia:
    1. In 2006, the Japanese pharmaceutical market was the second largest individual market in the world. With sales of $60 billion it constitutes approximately 11% of the world market.[2]
  6. China makes a lot of steel. We buy it. They unfortunately share an ocean with Japan. And even more unfortunately a tremendous amount of water is used in the steel manufacturing process. Is the source freshwater or ocean water? And if ocean water then how does this play out in the steel market.
  7. Culture. In Japan shame is handled quietly according to everything I have read. As Gladwell explains, a culture of deference can be deadly in a crisis. So what little we know coming out of the crisis right now is suspect. It is not that the facts they are telling the world aren’t true. It is the “what are they not telling us” that scares me.

And now I guess we should all check the WSJ to see when Berkshire Hathaway buys the leading non-Japanese manufacturer of Geiger counters. Because sadly the ones from Japan might be detecting themselves.

What do I think will happen?

I don’t really know. What I hope is that given the majority of the planet is ocean, that the amazing creature that is our living ocean will be able to absorb the radiation and disperse it to safe levels. What I hope is despite the folly of man, nature will once again protect us. That is what I hope. And I continue to pray for Japan. Both for the victims of the Tsunami and now as victims of a nuclear disaster.

 

neoliberalism

Worth a read. A revolution against Neoliberalism

Guaranteeing the sanctity of markets is supposed to be the limit of legitimate state functions, and state interventions should always be subordinate to markets. All human behavior, and not just the production of goods and services, can be reduced to market transactions.

And the application of utopian neoliberalism in the real world leads to deformed societies as surely as the application of utopian communism did.

and

Social media may have helped organise the kernel of a movement that eventually overthrew Mubarak, but a large element of what got enough people into the streets to finally overwhelm the state security forces was economic grievances that are intrinsic to neoliberalism.

V for Vendetta

Interesting to me that the movie V for Vendetta was the motivation for this and this hero both. Synopsis:

Tells the story of Evey Hammond and her unlikely but instrumental part in bringing down the fascist government that has taken control of a futuristic Great Britain. Saved from a life-and-death situation by a man in a Guy Fawkes mask who calls himself V, she learns a general summary of V’s past and, after a time, decides to help him bring down those who committed the atrocities that led to Britain being in the shape that it is in. Written by ameelmore

New to me anyway.

work smarter and harder

The false axiom “work harder not smarter” came up in conversation today. Which reminded me of this paragraph I did on the book Rework called When to Apply Business Advice:

Sometimes advice is populist, but there is a logical flaw. A company who follows the infamous “work smarter not harder” quickly falls to a company that believes “work smarter AND harder.” Working smarter-not-harder would only work if hard workers were dumb. But we get smarter through experience! So unfortunately, hard workers are typically also smarter than you. Oooops. But we don’t like to admit that. What we want to hear is that the 4 hour work week is a winner.  I certainly wish the global economy worked that way. (But it doesn’t)

You can read the full post at When to Apply Business Advice.