373. Robots, nano, and third world economies

April 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

*And so we have a Japanese restaurant with robot waiters.  Net unemployment?  The human value of contact with a real person? Probably quite high.


*Reading last night  on why science and democracy go together. This theme is important because science at its best contains an ethic of honesty and openness that is wonderful for its practitioners. But science has also mainstreamed itself into an instrument of power and money. This book is not very helpful because it keeps making statements that don’t hold up to any analysis. In fact these mistakes  so egregious I am almost inclined to believe the author must know this. The question then is one of motive. The science of liberty by Tim Ferris (once editor of  wired). Liberty is defined insucha an open way that those who merely wnt the capcity to crate monopoly corporations are included. In fact the problem of corporations as closed systems attempting market control is not touched on. He is rather a publicist and slings language the way a child (paiget) says the red block goes with the green ball goes with the green spoon,,


*Perhaps all farce is implcitly metaphysical.

-Harold Bloom in "shakespeare"


*Nanotech is seen by many, and I am inclined, as one of the great hopes for redesigning the economy, both as to purpose and as to means. But there are warnings


Amid Nanotech’s Dazzling Promise, Health Risks Grow


See the timeline for nanotech


And a conference  posted videos.


January 16-17, 2010

Palo Alto, California


We are happy to announce that all videos from Foresight 2010, our January conference, are now posted:http://www.vimeo.com/album/176287


Pasted from <http://www.foresight.org/>


*The tendency to feature Feynman as the founder of nanotech  raises the intriguing question. Einstein and Feynman are two of the world’s mot charismatic people, and give a a kd of humanist seal of approval to science in ways they might not like




The financial backbone of the economy is a corner of capitalism that requires more intrusive and careful regulations than a lot of economists thought. Because of the centrality of credit in a capitalist economy, a capitalist economy is inherently unstable. This instability can become catastrophic unless you have something in place to mitigate it. Unfortunately no one seems to have very many great ideas on how to do this.


Pasted from <http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/03/hbc-90006718>



This instability can become catastrophic unless you have something in place to mitigate it. Unfortunately no one seems to have very many great ideas on how to do this.


Pasted from <http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/03/hbc-90006718>


If you’re a company who owes your creditors their capital every night,


Pasted from <http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/03/hbc-90006718>


There’s a major exception to this, which is Raghuram Rajan. He is listened to a lot and has a lot of good ideas. He’s one of the skeptics of excessive deregulation. So he’s riding high now.


Pasted from <http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/03/hbc-90006718>


The point of quoting this is because it represents a major division toward the future: will it be one world of managerial necessity, or regional and local, with wars and fears? I think history is on the side of regional, avoiding the large bureaucratization of the world, but one humanity on one planet is compel
ling logic. there are major attempts ahead to deal with the problems, intertwined, of economics, finance, and consumption.


372. LRB · Joshua Kurlantzick · Red v. Yellow

April 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

Many are those I interact with who accept the logic that globalization has spread income throughout the poor of the world.  Having spent time in developing (sic) counries, I have my own strong impressions of decay, Guatemala being the last, and Costa Rica before that. here is some evidence

Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand

Now, however, the number of tourists visiting Thailand is beginning to level out and even to drop, perhaps because they have noticed what many Western governments, focused on the situations in Pakistan, Iraq and North Korea, have ignored: Thailand, once known as one of the most stable democracies in Asia, is in political and economic crisis. The scale and speed of the meltdown have been staggering. In 2001, I travelled in southern Thailand, through the three provinces near the Malaysian border. Most of the inhabitants there are Muslims, ethnically Malay people who speak their own dialect, and the region feels more like Malaysia than Buddhist central Thailand. At that time, the south seemed quiet. Women sold crispy fried chicken from handcarts at the side of the road, and Buddhist monks and Muslim prayer leaders walked down village streets. In Pattani, one of the larger towns, Western backpackers wandered through the market, where they stared at plates of biryani and mounds of jackfruit.

When I returned to the region five years later, it resembled a war zone. Militants opposed to the control of the Buddhist-dominated government in Bangkok had bombed markets, schools, monasteries, police stations and other public buildings; they kidnapped soldiers and local citizens and beheaded innocent people; they even attacked mosques, killing imams and worshippers. Many southerners now instinctively kept away from packages or baskets set down on the street, fearing they might contain improvised explosive devices. In response to the militants’ campaign, Thai security forces had set up checkpoints, machine-gun nests and roadblocks. Nearly every shop closed at dusk; many had closed for good for lack of customers. For the five days I was in the south, I didn’t see another foreigner.

According to Michael Montesano, one of the most astute observers of Thailand, by 2007 household income in Bangkok was roughly three times that of households in the rural north-east. Indeed, while the urban middle classes have benefited from trade and globalisation, the rural poor have seen the agricultural sector collapse in the face of competition from China and giant Western agribusinesses…

via LRB · Joshua Kurlantzick · Red v. Yellow.


BANGKOK, April 5 (Reuters) – Thai authorities will seek a court order on Monday to arrest leaders of tens of thousands of protesters occupying Bangkok’s main shopping district, hoping to derail an increasingly bold four-week rally to force elections.

Despite repeated warnings they could face up to a year in jail, the red-shirted protesters occupied the area of upmarket department stores and luxury hotels for a second night on Sunday.

Thai stocks .SETI, which have climbed 81 percent over the past 12 months, looked set to open weaker in response.

Reuters – Pisit ChangplayngamAmbika Ahuja – ‎1 hour ago‎

353. water in vietnam

March 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Bad news.

Across Vietnam, high temperatures and parched rivers are setting off alarm bells as the nation grapples with what’s shaping up to be its worst drought in more than 100 years. At 0.68 meters high, the Red River is at its lowest level since records started being kept in 1902. With virtually no rainfall since September, timber fires are burning in the north and tinder-dry conditions threaten forests in the south. Soaring temperatures in the central part of Vietnam have unleashed a plague of rice-eating insects, damaging thousands of hectares of paddies. "It’s the beginning of everything," Nguyen Lan Chau, vice director of the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, says gloomily.


pictures of the world’s water crisis.)

251. The Way We Think

September 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

How do we get humanity from being expansive and exploitative and successful to some form of creativity, development without growth, still successful but more stress on gardening the environment and relationships and art,  and contained by something like what farmers called “husbandry” (which comes from “house boundary” in the 1200’s?) (now to manage, esp. with prudent economy, to use frugally; conserve: to husband one’s resources.)

To this end we have just launched a new initiative,


We talk a lot about thinking but not so  much what to think about. The content helps arouse thinking and its seriousness, because there is something worth thinking about.

via The Way We Think Item 1 “The Way We Think: America’s Unfinished Revolution”.

240. What Motivates the Suicide Bombers? | YaleGlobal Online Magazine

September 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

The more understanding the better.

The heart-wrenching and horrible daily accounts of suicide bombings rarely reveal the underlying cause of the bombers’ motivations. But a comprehensive database at Australia’s Flinders University that has compiled information on these types of attacks from as early as 1981 can shed light on such motivations. And the conclusions are startling, Professor Riaz Hassan, author of a forthcoming book on suicide bombing, tells us. For one, the conventional wisdom that bombers are insane or religious fanatics is wrong. Individual bombers show no personality disorders and the attacks themselves are often politically motivated, aimed at achieving specific strategic goals such as forcing concessions or generating greater support. Moreover, the motivations are complex: “humiliation, revenge, and altruism” all drive the individual to engage in, and the community to condone, suicide bombing. Indeed, as Hassan notes, participating in suicide bombing can fulfill a range of meanings from the “personal to communal.” Without understanding these motivations and addressing them, it would appear the governments or organizations that seek to end suicide bombings are likely to be disappointed. – YaleGlobal

via What Motivates the Suicide Bombers? | YaleGlobal Online Magazine.

211. Climate and the security threat.

August 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

If security is the leverage, it will strengthen the security mindset. 

Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.

Pasted from <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/science/earth/09climate.html?hp>

WASHINGTON — The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

207. Land of the Rising Yen – NYTimes.com

August 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

I consider this very important. Americans have consistently been critical of Japan as a model bad economy, but what they have failed to notice is that Japan kept a positive balance of payments and in fact was growing rich in ownership, of treasuries, stocks and south asian manufacturing. The result is that with a slowing world economy and less exports, japan can turn its wealth toward internal consumption and manufactign rising to the occasion. The US, by comparison  is broke, and we do not have much potential for internal demand unless – unless we restructure what  we are doing even more radically than the Japanese will have to do, because we need to create jobs, go green, and distribute income more widely.

Japan has been hit hard by the global financial crisis, and this time exports are not going to save us. Instead, we must scrap some of our long-held traditions and start from scratch. Many in government will be reluctant to make this change, but they may soon find that they have no other option. Japanese policy makers cannot keep the yen weakened forever because doing so is costly to the domestic economy, and thus to voters. It’s time for us to learn from the free-spending ladies of the 17th century and enjoy a strong yen.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Land of the Rising Yen – NYTimes.com.

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