Sunday, December 27, 2009

Linkism, wrapping things up.

I’m back from the holidays, briefly (I’ll be stepping out again at December 30th), so here are the links (as you may have guessed). But, here’s my plan from now until the 30th. Were you aware that a decade is ending in a few days? Were you aware that writers often enjoy encapsulating decades in essays or lists? Well, since you’re blissfully unaware of such things, let me hit you with a novelty: I’ll be using several “lists” and “essays” and perhaps even an “lissay” to encapsulate/sum up/make important points about the decade.

But first, the links:

This op-ed by Ross Douthat on Obama and his image makes some intriguing points.

This history of Central Asia reveals some things I didn’t know, but makes some points I think aren’t quite right and some conclusions that aren’t warranted.

Colbert reveals some of the considerations behind the White House correspondents dinner speech. Really good.

Why we should worry about our shrinking manufacturing sector. This one reason is the most persuasive (though there are others that are very persuasive also)
What of the idea that we can continue to shed l0w-value-added manufacturing functions and focus on the most sophisticated and innovative parts of the sector? For example, you could outsource production of laptop components and assembly to Asia, but continue to develop and design laptops in the United States. In that case, we might have a smaller manufacturing sector, but a much more profitable one.

Unfortunatately, the evidence suggests it's nearly impossible to thrive at R&D and product-design unless you're also actively involved in the production process, too. (And that's setting aside the income-inequality issue.) To stick with the laptop example, while U.S. manufacturers initially outsourced less sophisticated components and assembly to Asia, laptops are now almost entirely developed and designed in Asia, too. (Apple is really the only exception to this trend.)

A handy summary of Rupert’s wars.

And an excellent article in The Nation on China’s advances. A good graf:
When you talk to Chinese officials, they seem competent, focused and obsessed with stability (if also, sometimes, arrogant and pedantic). But occasionally you can glimpse the dangers and threats to the established order that lurk just outside the frame. "Chinese government officials face a lot of pressures," Wen Tianping, the spokesman for Chongqing's municipal government, told us. "We work under extreme pressures and we have a lot of difficulties."

The foremost difficulty is immigration. In English we'd call it "migration," but our translators unfailingly used the word "immigration," and I began to see that it was the more accurate description of what was happening. Just as developed countries like the United States and members of the European Union face an influx of workers from the developing world, so does China: it's just that China contains both the developed and developing worlds within its borders.

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