Showing posts from May 15, 2017

Today's Trumpery


India skips China's Silk Road summit, warns of 'unsustainable' debt

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[Chinese dreams of empire. This news is largely being presented uncritically from the Chinese perspective. For example, BBC describes the Belt and Road project by saying "The Chinese government is investing tens of billions of dollars as part of an ambitious economic plan to rebuild ports, roads and rail networks," and as providing "60bn yuan ($9bn) in aid to developing countries that form part of the Belt and Road project." India says here "Wait a minute, these are massive LOANS that China expects to make a ton of money off, and they are being forced down our throats!" *RON*]
Sanjeev Miglani, Reuters, 14 May 2017
India has not sent an official delegation to attend the "Belt and Road Forum" in Beijing and instead criticized China's global initiative, warning of an "unsustainable debt burden" for countries involved.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting dozens of world leaders and senior offi…

Why We Forgo Self-Interest for Others' Sake

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[I'm not convinced this explains what the title says it does (Scientific American appends "The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American." in tiny print), but the claim is that: "By looking at how the brain weighed up varying amounts of money and pain during decision-making, we were able to solve part of the mystery about why we might not take money from a lost wallet—ill-gotten gains seem less valuable to us." I.e., we're noble when we don't care very much about the outcome. *RON*]

Molly Crockett, Scientific American, 15 May 2017

Would you return a lost wallet filled with cash? Many people would, even if no one could know they pocketed the money. It’s obvious why we adhere to moral principles in public—we’ll get punished or shamed if others see us breaking the rules. But why are we so willing to do the right thing when no one is watching?

Over the past several y…

Why Amazon is eating the world

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["Amazon has become uncatchable — and not only because of its vast economies of scale and scope. Less obviously, but even more importantly, it has put in place a strategy to future-proof its operations against inefficiency and technological stagnation. Each piece of Amazon sells its services to third parties, so that any falling-off in competitiveness is exposed immediately. 'Amazon will only be brought down by an anti-trust case or a paradigm shift in how we consume physical products.'" *RON*]
Zack Kanter, Tech Crunch, 15 May 2017

I co-founded a software startup in December. Each month, I send out an update to our investors to keep them updated on our progress. But the past month was a bit different — our industry (retail) is going through a transformation.

Instead of just writing about our ‘internal’ news, I wrote about the impending apocalypse in the broader world of retail. More specifically, I included some thoughts on Amazo…

French polls show populist fever is here to stay as globalisation makes voters pick new sides

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[Interesting interpretation: the rift between global market's winners and losers has replaced the old left-right split. This fellow's books are unknown and untranslated in English. This is an older article, but if you enjoy it, consider it an appetizer for this much longer recent piece on Guilluy's work: The French fracture: A social thinker illuminates his country's populist divides. *RON*] Christophe Guilluy, The Guardian, 23 April 2017
All over Europe and the US, the populist dynamic is surfing on two basic trends: the demise of the traditional middle classes and the emergence of a multicultural society. The populist fever that has seized France, the UK and the US is consequently here to stay, reflecting a profound shift in western society and heralding political re-alignment along new social, territorial and cultural faultlines.

One of the forces driving the populist dynamic is the gradual sapping of the social categories whi…

Watching daddy die

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[Melodramatic, but not something you'll readily hear details about in the course of things. "When it came, the end for Osama bin Laden was swift — trapped and shot in his lair by US special forces. His wives and children saw it all and have given Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy their first account of that bloody night." *RON*]

Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, The Sunday Times, 14 May 2017
After eating dinner and clearing away the plates, Osama bin Laden’s family prayed, before he and Amal — his fourth and youngest wife — went upstairs to bed. By 11pm on May 1, 2011, the emir of al-Qaeda was deep in sleep. Outside his secret compound on the outskirts of Abbottabad the streets were plunged into darkness as the electricity went out. Power shortages were so common in this Pakistani garrison town that no one noticed in the “Waziristan Palace”, as locals called bin Laden’s house.

Just past midnight, Amal woke, her head buzzing with …