Roundup for Week 7

Tuesday 22 February 2011, 4.15pm HKT


Roundup for the week of 14-20 February 2011.

A lot of things happened, a lot of thinking and remembering went on, a lot of tl;dr nonsense as a result.

* * *

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

(Image: Social Arts Network)

Seven weeks into 2011 and it looks like the Year of the Robot Bunny just got real, especially in the Arab world, signalling more horrors in store:

CBS journalist Lara Logan for ’60 Minutes’ was gang-raped by a mob in downtown Cairo on the day Mubarak was ousted, suggesting that the narrative painted by the media is false and something else entirely different is going on in the Mideast. [via Atlas Shrugs]

Africa’s worst dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, takes over as chairman of the African Union, an omen of dark days ahead for the Dark Continent. [via afrol News]

Anti-government rallies are a-rising in Kyrgyzstan [via Al Jazeera TV, 19/2], a development that has the potential to spill over into the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

Good Ole’ USA is removing any doubt that it’s moving towards a hate-filled, vigilante society:

South Dakota tried to legalise justifiable homicide of abortion providers, effectively legalising domestic terrorism and murder. [via AlterNet, Mother Jones]

… and won’t be long before others go down the same road:

British PM David Cameron says multiculturalism imperils the UK and must be reversed, even if only for security reasons. [via Doug Geivett]

… and the picture looks less than salutary when you add this to the equation:

The World Bank’s chief economist says global food prices are rising to dangerous levels and 1 billion people in the world have been pushed into extreme poverty since June 2010, mainly through speculation of food commodities by financial institutions. [via Al Jazeera TV, 19/2]

P.S. The Naked Listener’s Weblog covered this topic two weeks ago [see Week 6 roundup].

If money solves most problems, how then to solve money problems?

The International Monetary Fund issued a report saying SDRs (or Special Drawing Rights) could be made a possible replacement for the volatile U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency and help stabilise the global financial system. [via CNN Money]

(Methinks: How is a quasi-currency like the SDR, which isn’t equity or debt, supposed to be more stable than standard reserve currencies? The SDR carries a weekly interest rate, a fact that already indicates it’s even more prone to value volatility.)

Speaking of money, this will add to the general market volatility:

Shanghai forges bourse links with Brazil with an agreement expected to lead to cross-listing of stocks, hot on the heels of the possible tie-up between Deutsche Bourse and NYSE. [via personal discussions]

On a relatively more hopeful note:

LinkedIn recently data-mined the career histories of its 90 million users to develop a picture of labour trends. It found January to be the biggest month for promotions, followed by April, July and October. The worst month is December. [via eWeek]

… so better get that promotion soon, as our days seem numbered:

The Sun is ramping up for a maximum solar flare in 2013 and it’s headed for Earth. Last year, solar flares have already briefly disrupted radio communications in southern China. [via CBS Local/Los Angeles and Breibart]

If the world gets fried in 2012/13, just infringe patents and home-brew your favourite gargling water:

A team at This American Life has ‘rediscovered’ the jealously guarded secret formula of Coca-Cola. [via Time]

… along with whatever else we’re putting into our gobs:

Obesity has nearly doubled worldwide since 1980. The USA tops the list of countries with the most obese population, followed by New Zealand and Australia. [via U.S. News]

* * *

ONLY I CAN SEE THIS

Thoughts and recollections from the past and present, sometimes even the future

(Image: Heriot-Watt University Library)

A lot of people in Asia are convinced to the bone that academics are the best writers and arbiters of language.

The mentality is as if academic writing is the only kind of writing (‘genre’ = kind) that’s up to scratch or worth paying attention to. Hogwash.

That might have been so in the past in all fairness, when a tiny fraction of society belonged to the educated classes and the rest — well, they’re mainly illiterate.

Reality check: The academic world radiates bad writing and academics are in fact the weakest writers. A reminder:

Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground. — Noah Webster, lexicographer (1758-1843)

* * *

When you do anything, you are creating something original, inventing something unique — even if the subject matter or the way you’re doing it isn’t. You might well be reinventing the wheel, but you still shouldn’t want to be influenced by anyone else’s work. Your wheel might be a wheel, but it’s another wheel.

* * *

High testosterone levels reduce your empathy. Think of macho men — not exactly empathetic or even sympathetic, are they? Heaven knows how many years yours truly has been saying this, now finally confirmed by research. [See Science Daily]

* * *

The world is actually stagnating, despite our technologies and the Internet. Somebody says it better than yours truly. [See The Guardian]

* * *

There is no economy if people are not making or growing stuff. Entertainment and knowledge are worthless intangibles if not backed up by something physical. It’s like saying software is king — but who makes your keyboard and hard disk? This is why prices of intangibles are going down all the time and the prices of food and other tangibles are skyrocketing.

In other words, a ‘knowledge-based’ economy sounds nice enough but is doomed to fail.

* * *

The 1971 Dodge Challenger is one helluva sexy muscle car. Its successor, the 2008 Dodge Challenger, is a nice enough design, but still ugly, especially its front end. (Click on image for larger picture and see for yourself.)

Dodge Challenger: 1971 (left) vs. 2008

(Images via Dodge Challenger Site)

* * *

Linguists (as in linguistics) and sociologists are totally unable to write anything short, direct, witty or even slightly offbeat, let alone humorous. They are the tensest bunch of people I’ve ever known. They’ve got this automatic gearbox built into their heads to impress others but talk down on them at the same time — a sure-fire way of screwing up royally.

* * *

Branch out. Don’t write about things or people you know. Stuff you know (especially people you know), they suck most of the time. And people don’t want to read about that.

People with the worst problems branching out in nearly anything they do are: any professional or academic, but especially psychologists, medical practitioners, sociologists and linguists (as in linguistics). By contrast, philosophers are very good at branching out into PR, lobbying and sales work.

* * *

(Image: Zazzle)

Copycats often have self-inflicted disasters. You and I knew that for a long time. Now confirmed: “High levels of mimickry can be quite a general indicator of the potential for self-organised crises.”

* * *

Is China the only place in the world that confuses nationality, citizenship and race? You can’t be Chinese unless you’re … umm … Chinese. Actually scrub that — there are lots of places like that, mostly in Asia.

* * *

An individual’s love of morality tales is often in inverse proportion to the morality that individual practises in private life.

* * *

PARADISO e INFERNO

Heaven and Hell: things happening in and around my life, or even away from it

Brrr! Phew!

The week kicked off with 9°C (48°F) on Monday, warming up to 16°C (60°F) by the weekend. But it also become more humid.

No prob

Natasha C. deconnected my months-long friend request on Facebook. I’m fine with that. We all get to choose our friends, online and in real life. It’s just the request housekeeping that needs dealing with that keeps me preoccupied.

Future tense

I honestly don’t know how D. is going to make a living in future. D. is very close to working age now. Knows practically no English. Chinese only marginally better. D. thinks catching up later ain’t no problem. And then D. will realise it’s all too late. Mark my words.

Images (all pilfered and used without permission):

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011

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