Sunday, June 27, 2010

China in Africa

The latest on the China-Africa relationship. The article talks about the "trade not aid" approach to Africa that China has been pioneering. "Beijing doesn't do gifts; it does deals." The IMF doesn't like that the countries it's making loans to has another source of funding, though, and some argue that African nations are selling out their resources for cheap. There is a danger to having a colonizer-colony relationship, and there is already resentment of the Chinese from the local population. It will be critical to make sure Chinese companies are dealing with African countries fairly, for a fair price, and for there to be enough benefits to the local populations. In other words, after infrastructure is completed, the local population should be able to be technically proficient enough to maintain and use it and also be in charge of the management.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jon Stewart on Energy Independent Future

On the Daily Show last week, Jon Stewart did a cool video essay on presidents who promised to move away from foreign oil and invest in alternative energy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Some music I liked on Bats in the Belfry, a radio show on WMBR, MIT's radio station

China Appreciating Yen

I appreciate the Yen.

NYT article that China recently announced they're letting the RMB float, but that appreciation will be gradual.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chinese Demands

Interesting article about the labor market in China.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Environmental Economics' Implications for Monetary Policy

Lately I've been trying to figure out exactly where money comes from and who really adds to the money supply. It seems that very few people really know the answer to this, and even now I think I still do not know the full answer. As far as I can tell, there is some initial supply of money, and then additional money is simply created when people take loans. There still seems to be a conservation law missing, though, since more loans are needed to pay interest on those loans unless the Central Bank really just adds to the money supply when paying interest when it borrows from private banks.

Smark and I watched a documentary called Money as Debt by Paul Grignon. The descriptions of how money is created and exchanged seem accurate although the ultimate message ends up sounding kind of paranoid. Even so, some of the suggestions for alternatives sound reasonable.

Maybe one thing that needs much more focus on is creating a monetary policy and banking system that is financially sustainable, but also environmentally sustainable.

Art Project Social Context

I think I have a good concept for an art project now that would allow me to draw lots of people, which I like to do, and also spaces (like architectural stuff) which is something I also really like to do.

I want to explore how people look silly or really good depending on the people around them and their surroundings. So it would be cool to make the same person look really good or really stupid with different backgrounds and people around them. I think it would be a good thought exercise for people, and it would show what I think about material wealth and pride.


People don't really need the fear of God. They need the fear of other people.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

How to do the Asian Squat

In other breaking international news:

The Asian Squat

Thinking About Thinking

I finally feel like I have a better understanding of my thought process, its benefits and weaknesses. When I solve problems, it's more visual and spatial. I visualize all the components of a problem and then it's like I try to ram them all together in my brain. If they all fit, then it's like there's a click, and if it doesn't then I try other configurations or focus on in on a particular part. It sort of feels like there are really gears turning in my head, and I get an answer when they're done turning. I think a strength is that since I am thinking about the whole problem at once, sometimes it's faster because I can find the root systemic problem faster. A weakness is that if the problem is big and complex, I can't figure out where to start. Then I wait while it stews sometimes over days or even months as my brain lets parts of the problem settle into different configurations eventually finding something that works. Thus, I'm almost guaranteed to come up with an answer but it might take a really really long time since it's not a very conscious process and it's very touchy feely. In order to speed up this process I have to make an effort to be more methodical either by using other kinds of thought processes to pick where to start or just trying to be more consciously aware of my thought process to reduce redundant thoughts. Reducing redundant thoughts by writing things down or drawing diagrams has been somewhat effective, but learning to use other more linear and methodical thought processes has been more difficult since I rely more on memorizing the steps.

Big weakness of this process, though, is that it's not really connected to the verbal part of my brain or the social interaction part of my brain so I can't explain with words what I'm thinking while I'm thinking, and I can barely even communicate at all while I'm thinking. After I have come up with answers, I then have to go back and think about how to explain the answers in a totally separate process. It's been getting better, but being able to communicate by thoughts and my ideas is definitely something I'm still working on.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Expect More Inequality But Less Poverty?

Not very many Americans seem to be bothered by the growing inequality of wealth in the United States. This is partly because logically there doesn't seem to be a reason why some people might not have been more productive or more creative than others. It would not seem to be fair to set a maximum limit on how much a person can make, and it's hard to see why there would be any physical limit.

At the same time, if this idea is extended globally, then that implies that Americans and the developed world might always be more wealthy than developing nations. But one of the arguments for globalization is that developing nations will develop and the standard of living will improve for everyone even if GDP per capita continues to be higher in developed nations. The mental image of a nation like China once it has developed, though, is that the citizens' standard of living will eventually equal the standard of living of Americans. Is there a contradiction? People usually think of South Korea or Japan as developing nations that successfully became developed nations. Some food for thought.