Thursday, March 12, 2009

James Fallows: China’s Way Forward

Idle factories, moored container ships, widespread bankruptcies, massive migration back to the hinterlands, strangely clean air—the signs of depression are everywhere in China. Because it makes so many of the goods the world isn’t buying now, China stands to be worse hit than the rest of the world —just as America was during the Depression, when it was the world’s sweatshop. But like America then, China will use tough times to design innovative products that will get it the high profits and the high-value jobs Americans kept to themselves for decades. And that is very bad news for the United States, unless it uses tough times to reinvent itself, too.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shanghai Ghetto (2002)

One of the most amazing and captivating survival tales of WWII, the overwhelmingly acclaimed SHANGHAI GHETTO has been declared "a don’t miss documentary...powerful...eye-opening" (New York Observer). Stirringly narrated by Academy Award winner Martin Landau (Ed Wood, The Majestic), SHANGHAI GHETTO recalls the strange-but-true story of thousands of European Jews who were shut out of country after country while trying to escape Nazi persecution in the late 1930s. Left without options or entrance visas, a beacon of hope materialized for them on the other side of the world, and in the unlikeliest of places, Japanese-controlled Shanghai. Fleeing for their lives, these Jewish refugees journeyed to form a settlement in the exotic city, penniless and unprepared for their new life in the Far East. At the turn of the new millennium, filmmakers Dana Janklowicz-Mann and Amire Mann boldly snuck into China with two survivors and a digital camera to shoot at the site of the original Shanghai Ghetto, unchanged since WWII. Their never-before-seen recordings--along with interviews of survivors and historians, rare letters, stock footage, still photos, and an orignal score by Sujin Nam and Chinese Erhu performer Karen Han (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)--depicts an incredibly moving portrayal of a rich cultural life, bravely constructed under enormous hardship. DVD Features: Filmmaker Commentary; Deleted Interviews; Hebrew/English Subtitles; Theatrical Trailer; Filmmaker Biographies; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

China & India: Catching Up With the West?China & India: Catching Up With the West?

India and China are the world's fastest growing economies. The multinationals of the developing world are challenging the dominance of Western firms.

China's oil companies and mining firms are spreading throughout the developing world, while India's hi-tech firms are more than a match for many in the developed world. The world's tallest buildings, largest airports, fastest trains, and biggest dams are now all to be found in the developing world.

Despite the rapid growth of the emerging economies, however, all reasonable projections point to a continued gap for decades to come between the West and the rest. China and India may soon become the world’s largest economies, but it is not certain they will ever be the richest. Does this matter?

'Good enough' technology such as Tata's Nano, only a tenth the price of a Mercedes Smart Car, may allow people to enjoy some of the benefits of development without having to catch up in dollar terms. Similarly, the rapid adoption of mobile telephony seems to have bypassed the need for landlines.

But without roads, an electricity grid and the provision of water and sewage systems to the majority of the population, how developed can a country really become?

Can the emerging economies jump a stage in development to become fully modern, or is their growth limited to dynamic pockets that lack the economic might to transform whole countries?

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Dr. Nicholas C. Hope: Economic Trends In 2009

Nicholas Hope uses his twenty-three years at the World Bank to translate economic data in today's trends that will create tomorrow's reality.

Will China and India be the economic engines that revive world trade? Will economic reforms from Washington cure Wall Street's failures, or corporate America's misfortunes?

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Revalorizing Gendered Self-Worth in China (Berkeley)

Elvera Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture in Chinese Studies

"Revalorizing Gendered Self-Worth in China's New Age of Private Property."

Professor Li Zhang, UC Davis

November 11, 2008

This lecture explores how the privatization of home ownership and a rising material culture of consumerism reconfigure the intimate realm of self-worth, love, and marriage in urban China. Through several ethnographic cases, my research shows how owning a private house has gradually become the decisive factor in considering marriage and a focal point of contention in dissolving that relationship. In this context, I suggest that self-worth has become more and more individualized and materialized through the idiom of property possession. After thirty years of economic reform, the socially embedded nature of the self that was once at the heart of a moral economy is being eclipsed by an individual-centered, materialistic determinism nurtured by a market economy. This social reconfiguration however is a gendered process. While the meanings of masculinities have shifted toward ones ability to make money, possess desirable material goods, or gain political power, the construction of self-worth among women tends to focus on the body and physical appearance, which serve as the material foundation for constructing femininities.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Explore the City of Macau (WSJ)

A Portugese colony until late 1999, China's gambling mecca of Macau remains as vibrant as ever. WSJ's Deborah Kan reports.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kung Fu Killers - Top 10 Deadliest Kung Fu Weapons (National Geograpghic)

From iron claws and meteor hammers to deer antler blades and emei needles, ancient Kung Fu weapons range greatly in shape and design, yet all have only one purpose - to injure. In the hands of a skilled assassin, even the humble chopsticks can become savage weapons. Brutal metal-link whips, miniature swords disguised as tobacco pipes, fans edges with razor-sharp blades and poison-tipped arrows are all lethal in their own right but pale in comparison with an almost mystical weapon of decapitation. This countdown reveals the ten deadliest Kung Fu weapons of all time, uncovering the dark secrets of their creation and the unbelievable ways in which they’ve been used.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Are Emerging Economies the New Innovators?

QQ, Tudou, Mixi and CyWorld are not familiar names in the West, but these websites based in China, Japan and South Korea are more popular, profitable and technically innovative than their Western counterparts, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube.

South Korea and Japan are the most advanced internet markets in the world, with China and India rapidly catching up. Yet we in the West seem oblivious to the development of such technologies in Asia.

The dynamic emerging economies of the East are conveniently pigeonholed as the world’s new manufacturing base (China) or a powerhouse for service industries (India), while the high-end 'knowledge economy' is still seen as the preserve of the West.Is it time to revise this view and hail the innovative character of the rising East?

The fast-paced economic development of the emerging economies seems bound up with a wider culture of dynamism. Innovation in China, for example, seems unhindered by the risk-aversion, regulation, and short-term instrumentalism that hampers innovation in the West. So is risk-taking Eastern ‘can-do’ outstripping overly-cautious Western 'know-how'?

How far can the pioneer pragmatism of the emerging economies take us in innovating new technologies? How far can a country such as China really extend the boundaries of technical and intellectual innovation while freedom of thought is confined by censorship, and democracy is curtailed? What, if anything, can the West learn from technical innovation coming out of the emerging economies? - Institute of Ideas

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