Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Task for Liberals

I think more liberals should become rich executives, entrepreneurs, economists, and bankers. How about it guys? Infiltrate!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Penguins are Dying

Tragedy In Black and White
The north and south poles are affected by climate change first. Penguins and polar bears are among the species that will not be able to adjust quickly enough. And to some extent, yes, there is no human need for those animals. However, they represent what's to come for others including humans. Unfortunately, not all damage can be undone or at least will take time and a lot of effort.

Kind of depressing

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shanghai Students Are #1

There was an article today about Shanghai's participation in PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), outperforming all the best performing cities and countries. Even though I don't have anything to do with it, it still makes me feel proud as a Shanghainese person.

Some commenters point out that Shanghai students routinely score lower than their inland counterparts on the national examinations because the inland counterparts are more motivated. Shanghainese students already tend to be better off financially. It is also not true that students do not participate in any extracurriculars, as many students play instruments and sports. It's just that American students spend almost all their time on extracurriculars. I think people should also note that there has been a "brain drain" from China to Western nations for the past 30 years. This is why people claim that Chinese American students such as myself do better than American students (because our parents were the best and brightest already).

Interesting comment

Oh and speaking as someone who reads a lot of comments by Chinese Internet users on Chinese BBS, I think it's safe to say that if the situation is reversed, namely Shanghai trailing the U.S., the Chinese commenters would

1) Bash the Chinese education authorities to no end
2) Try to figure out what's wrong with Chinese education
2) Tell themselves that they should learn more from the U.S.

And that's it.

Seeing how a significant portion of the comments here at the Times have been directed at finding this or that fault with China (human rights), the Chinese culture (lack of critical thinking and authoritarian) and the Chinese people (book-learnin' automatons), you really can tell the difference.

And the thing is, even when Shanghai's students did outperform their American counterparts, the Chinese commenters (yes the news has already been published in China, too) are still

1) Bashing the Chinese education authorities to no end
2) Trying to figure out what's wrong with the Chinese education (they are fully aware of the creativity thing, too)
3) Asking themselves what can be learned from the U.S.

Just based on the comments, you can see who is leaving whom in the dust.

Microfinance in China

Google TechTalk by a representative from Wokai

Really interesting. I think I'll sign up.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Some People Were Trying

Today on NPR I heard about Brooksley Born, who was the chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. She lobbied Congress, banks, and the the President to let the CFTC regulate derivatives. However, she was opposed by Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, and Larry Summers. What is really disturbing is that even though someone in a position of power knew what to do, she was blocked by people who had more power. It shows that economic policy decisions have to be backed by one of a select few.

Raghuram Rajan was the chief economist of the IMF when he also foresaw a collapse in the financial markets. He was also ridiculed and marginalized by Larry Summers and others.

This makes me more pessimistic about preventing economic crashes in the future.

Update on Bush Tax Cuts

The situation has gotten very frustrating. Democrats are about to agree to allow all tax cuts to be extended because Republicans refuse to extend unemployment benefits otherwise. Why are the Democrats always getting cornered? And then in the end, Democrats end up most angry at Obama.

Krugman Let's Not Make a Deal

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Good Venue for Climate Change Agreements

How to Change the Global Energy Conversation

Latest Breakthrough Institute article in the Wall Street Journal

Common Complaints of Engineers

What Good is Wall Street?

Article in the New Yorker

Wall Street’s role in financing new businesses is a small portion of what it does. The market for initial public offerings (I.P.O.s) of stock by U.S. companies never fully recovered from the tech bust. During the third quarter of 2010, just thirty-three U.S. companies went public, and they raised a paltry five billion dollars.

In the first nine months of this year, sales and trading accounted for thirty-six per cent of Morgan Stanley’s revenues and a much higher proportion of profits. Traditional investment banking—the business of raising money for companies and advising them on deals—contributed less than fifteen per cent of the firm’s revenue.

Twenty-five years ago, the slice taken by financial firms was about a seventh of the whole. Last year, it was more than a quarter. (In 2006, at the peak of the boom, it was about a third.

At Harvard this spring, about a third of the seniors with secure jobs were heading to work in finance.