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Four Flavors of Doom: A Taxonomy of Contemporary Pessimism - Quillette

According to Mahbubani, this enormous improvement in the human condition is a result of Western ideas and practices—modern science, liberal democracy, free markets—spreading to other societies.

Looking beyond their specific concerns, it is possible to identify four prototypical kinds of pessimism. Each has a different take on the course of human history, but all share a general skepticism about the idea of progress.

Right-wing declinists romanticize a time when people (especially the young) were still obedient towards authority and tradition, while their left-wing counterparts imagine a time in which solidarity and mutual trust were still widely cherished values.

Bad people can do bad things, but an apocalyptic mindset can encourage even good people to do bad things.

The French sociologist Bruno Latour, a former postmodern critic of science who has found a second calling in climate alarmism, sounds this note of despair in his book Down to Earth: The war is over, and we have probably lost it.

concept of progress—of the continual betterment of the human condition through the application of science and the spread of freedom
the methods of science, free markets, and liberal democracy provide our best hope of succeeding
progress  debate  enlightenment  pessimism  analysis  today  west  future  crisis  disaster 
3 days ago by aries1988

国语不是自然所赐,而是人工的产物。作为made in Japan,国语怎样造出来的呢?按照水村的说法:“追求睿智的人”翻译普遍语,使原来只是现地语的语言具有了和普遍语同样的水平,不仅审美上,而且智力上、伦理上都担起达到最高水平的重任。这种语言和国民国家诞生的历史交织,成为国民国家的国民语言,这就是国语。所谓追求睿智的人是“二重语言者”,不是会说双语(bilingual),而是能阅读和自己的说话语言不同的外语。从历史来看,翻译并不是对称的行为,水往低处流,从普遍语向现地语搬运睿智。日语在翻译普遍语——汉文的过程中产生了书写语言,但没有成为国语,始终属于现地语。
book  japanese  english  language  21C  crisis  translation  chinese 
14 days ago by aries1988
‘Overrun,’ ‘Outbred,’ ‘Replaced’: Why Ethnic Majorities Lash Out Over False Fears - The New York Times
That dynamic, sometimes known as a majority with a minority complex, is thought to be a major factor in the rise of right-wing populism in Europe, religious nationalism in Asia, and white nationalist terrorism in the United States and New Zealand.

When communal tensions broke out into the outright fighting known as the Troubles in the late 1960s, Northern Ireland’s Protestants were numerically, politically and economically dominant. But they were a minority on the island as a whole, feeding a sense of demographic peril.

Fears of existential, sectarian conflict can be self-realizing.

“more negative attitudes toward Latinos, blacks, and Asian-Americans” and “more automatic pro-white/anti-minority bias.”
rightwing  race  population  birth  usa  europe  banyan  crisis  genocide 
6 weeks ago by aries1988
Vous avez sans doute entendu parler d’un pour Perpignan bloqué 6 heures dans un tunnel à la sortie de Paris.6…
tgv  reportage  accident  france  sncf  transport  crisis  train 
6 weeks ago by aries1988
Fire of Notre-Dame: An elegy of Western decline - CGTN
if the collapse of the Twin Towers of New York City in 911 represented a deep wound of American capitalism, the fall of Notre-Dame spire is at least a sign of decay of Christendom in France and perhaps even a deny of the state's political order.
opinion  2019  chinese  intelligentsia  west  civ  christianity  france  crisis 
april 2019 by aries1988

欧盟为各国制定的未来发展方向是: 法国和意大利是专门旅游国, 西班牙和葡萄牙种菜和水果, 德国荷兰丹麦养猪牛, 波兰种粮食; 东欧各小国按人口总额交纳的欧共体分摊金少, 但领取的补助因货币比值差距大而实际受益最多。

俄和前南诸国向西欧贩卖军火, 大量投资滨海房产, 黑社会势力强大, 东欧的蛇头、娼妓、少年惯偷群, 波兰的长途运输业+电工和建筑工, 北非转来的毒品, 大量新老移民轻易获得法国(和西欧其他各国) 经过历史长期斗争而获得的社会福利, 诸多头疼问题导致各国极右翼迅速发展。


法国的税项门类和总额, 被"世界经济发展与合作组织"排名为欧洲最高额国家之一(丹麦第一, 德国第二, 法国第三)。 在至少十多种赋税和社会分摊金以及行业分摊金中, 增值税 1° 收益最大, 其次是社会保险税 2°, 然后依次为: 收入所得税 3°, 公司所得税 4°, 土地税 5°, 居住税 6°, 烟草税 7°, 社会奉献普及税 8° (法文缩写CSG), 以及颇有争议的 巨富团结税 9° (法文缩写 ISF)。

该税始创于1791年大革命时期, 1953年以法律形式正式确定。 几十年来, 法国所有城镇的基建和福利费用所需: 道路修缮, 垃圾清理, 街心花园, 体育中心, 图书馆, 幼儿园, 中小学交通和食堂等, 全指靠国家对此税收的反还款。

跟世界各地的都市布局和建筑艺术相比, 看来看去, 总觉得法国别具一格: 建筑群内临近楼房的风格一致,建筑物本身的外貌与内部功能一致, 内部装饰物的质地和颜色格调一致, 当时利用与未来的长远发展一致, 一句话, 各个市镇的规划设计, 体现出法国人对美的欣赏水平, 整体上高于其他国家。这正如法国人的穿衣习惯,当今世界生活普遍以务实为主, 不管出身是何层次, 穿着是否品牌, 法国人都注意上衣下裤鞋袜的式样搭配和颜色协调。 跟生活水平差距并不大的南欧北欧和德国相比, 法国人的这一点比较突出, 从旅游团的穿戴就能断定是否来自法国。

** 美国飞机向法国空投了3000台钢琴, 几万份爵士乐谱, 意在传播美国生活方式。

左翼上台后根据他们对"社会主义"理念的理解, 实施人人平等, 全民自由, 对犯罪分子从轻判决, 相信他们能自身改造思想, 实际是放纵坏人罪人。 他们主张"不要隔绝罪犯, 使他们远离生活现实, 不利出狱后再融入社会"。 这种对一小撮人的自由, 势必造成社会紊乱, 人身安全无保障, 更谈不上全民自由! 法国的传统左派应当对此负主要责任。

1986年6月我来到法国, 那时社会比现在稳定, 在"巴黎高等翻译学校"上课, 有时晚上11点乘公交车返回郊区住处, 毫无安全问题; 物价呢, 过去50法朗(折合现在7欧元)能买很多东西, 可现在100欧元(折合过去700法朗) 却买不到啥。 由此可见法国的物价涨幅, 人民的普遍购买力和生活水平下降多大, 我深有体会, 所以同情支持。

有位法国老知识分子曾对我说, 美国人称呼新闻媒介为"第四权力" (西方是"三权"鼎立), 此次法国的"黄马甲"运动, 我深有感触。
The derivation of the term fourth estate arises from the traditional European concept of the three estates of the realm: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. The equivalent term fourth power is somewhat uncommon in English but is used in many European languages (see: es:Cuarto poder and fr:Quatrième pouvoir, for example) referring to the separation of powers in government into a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.
analysis  france  anecdote  stereotype  media  2018  question  future  crisis  populism  history  français 
december 2018 by aries1988
Two Roads for the New French Right | by Mark Lilla | The New York Review of Books

Unlike her hotheaded grandfather and aunt, Marion is always calm and collected, sounds sincere, and is intellectually inclined.

In countries as diverse as France, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Italy, efforts are underway to develop a coherent ideology that would mobilize Europeans angry about immigration, economic dislocation, the European Union, and social liberalization, and then use that ideology to govern.

a new legal status, dubbed a pacte civil de solidarité (civil solidarity pact, or PACS), for long-term couples who required legal protections regarding inheritance and other end-of-life issues but did not want to get married.

While it’s true that fewer and fewer French people baptize their children and attend mass, nearly two thirds still identify as Catholic, and roughly 40 percent of those declare themselves to be practicing, whatever that means. More importantly, as a Pew study found last year, those French who do identify as Catholic—especially those who attend Mass regularly—are significantly more right-wing in their political views than those who do not.

The National Front is nearly as secular and even less ideologically coherent, having served more as a refuge for history’s detritus—Vichy collaborators, resentful pieds noirs driven out of Algeria, Joan of Arc romantics, Jew- and Muslim-haters, skinheads—than as a party with a positive program for France’s future. A mayor once close to it now aptly calls it the Dien Bien Phu right.

They share two convictions: that a robust conservatism is the only coherent alternative to what they call the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of our time, and that resources for such a conservatism can be found on both sides of the traditional left–right divide. More surprising still, they are all fans of Bernie Sanders.

Three months later her Institute of Social, Economic, and Political Sciences (ISSEP) opened in Lyon, with the aim, Marion said, of displacing the culture that dominates our nomadic, globalized, deracinated liberal system. It is basically a business school but will supposedly offer great books courses in philosophy, literature, history, and rhetoric, as well as practical ones on management and political and cultural combat.
reportage  politics  interview  france  conservatism  culture  ideology  conflict  globalization  crisis  morality  family  value  debate  instapaper_favs 
december 2018 by aries1988
British Political Chaos, Explained for Chrissy Teigen (and for Americans in General)
This is not to say that polarization is good, but the non-polarization of this issue, and the composition of party politics, has paralyzed both parties on the matter. And both parties are internally fractured on what to do, making it even harder for either to act.

When you talk to people here, whether they support Brexit or oppose it, they tend to evince a decidedly un-British optimism about what leaving the European Union will mean. Often, it seems to begin with the assumption that Britain is still a great power, that the world needs Britain more than Britain needs the world.
uk  politics  usa  democracy  crisis  2018 
december 2018 by aries1988
from:rss  moi  immobilier  china  crisis  management  architecture  modern  law  association 
november 2018 by aries1988
Waking Up with Sam Harris: #133 — Globalism on the Brink
Legitimate grievances with immigration
Impact of automation
Universal basic income, solution?

It's one thing for the Chinese to steal our intellectual property, it's another for them to steal our strategy."
civic  nationalism  technology  crisis  transformation  society  politics  trump  2018  globalism  explained  cosmopolitanism  podcast 
october 2018 by aries1988








西方的思想界是开放的,种种不同的史观都出现过,其中还有反“进步”的史观大行其道的,如斯宾格勒(Oswald Spengler 1880-1936)的《西方的没落》(The Decline of the West)和汤因比(Arnold J Toynbee 1889-1975)的《历史研究》(A Study of History)

confucianism  chinese  tradition  culture  crisis  evolution  west  book  leader  intelligentsia  taiwan  dissident  instapaper_favs 
october 2018 by aries1988
Yuval Noah Harari on Why Technology Favors Tyranny - The Atlantic

- In 2018 the common person feels increasingly irrelevant.
By 2050, a useless class might emerge, the result not only of a shortage of jobs or a lack of relevant education but also of insufficient mental stamina to continue learning new skills.

- whatever liberal democracy’s philosophical appeal, it has gained strength in no small part thanks to a practical advantage: The decentralized approach to decision making that is characteristic of liberalism—in both politics and economics.
In the late 20th century, democracies usually outperformed dictatorships, because they were far better at processing information.
Democracy distributes the power to process information and make decisions among many people and institutions, whereas dictatorship concentrates information and power in one place.
- If you disregard all privacy concerns and concentrate all the information relating to a billion people in one database, you’ll wind up with much better algorithms than if you respect individual privacy and have in your database only partial information on a million people.

- What will happen to this view of life as we rely on AI to make ever more decisions for us?
once we begin to count on AI to decide what to study, where to work, and whom to date or even marry, human life will cease to be a drama of decision making, and our conception of life will need to change. Democratic elections and free markets might cease to make sense. So might most religions and works of art.
If we are not careful, we will end up with downgraded humans misusing upgraded computers to wreak havoc on themselves and on the world.

- For starters, we need to place a much higher priority on understanding how the human mind works—particularly how our own wisdom and compassion can be cultivated.
- More practically, and more immediately, if we want to prevent the concentration of all wealth and power in the hands of a small elite, we must regulate the ownership of data.
advice  future  crisis  ai  society  politics  people  life  work  mentality  human  democracy  dictatorship  competition  liberalism 
september 2018 by aries1988
Is the Algorithmification of the Human Experience a Good Thing?
Skeptics will point out that those algorithms are designed by corporations to serve their interests, not yours. Social media companies, for instance, want to keep you on their services as long as possible, which makes them prone to pushing emotionally charged content that might not be super healthy for you or for society. And even a benevolent algorithm can produce negative or unwanted results.

The video wasn’t directly crafted by a machine. But it wasn’t totally a human creation, either. Rather, it was optimized to appeal to YouTube’s content algorithm, which automatically plays related videos one after the other. “Johny Johny Yes Papa” copies enough elements of popular kid’s videos — a certain length, musical beat, color palette and visual style, along with key words and lyrics — that YouTube’s algorithm will line it up after more popular songs.

At least on a symbolic level, there is something unsettling about a global, faceless content empire that hoovers up human culture and processes it into homogenized nothingness to be fed to kids via tireless social media algorithms that seek, above all else, to maximize time spent on site.
society  engineering  crisis  question  future  children  video  ai  algorithm 
september 2018 by aries1988





kid  china  hospital  parents  crisis 
july 2018 by aries1988
黄章晋: 在隔壁的中国,那些孩子已经长大了



today  china  countryside  children  school  transport  crisis  opinion 
july 2018 by aries1988
RT : 'Labor shortage and low productivity were threatening the future of the Kato farm, on the Japanese island of Hokkai…
ai  video  japan  farming  population  crisis  youth  workforce  research  reportage  fromage  milk  robot  children  family 
may 2018 by aries1988
In China and India, men outnumber women on a massive scale. The consequences are far-reaching. - Washington Post

A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world’s two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.

China’s official one-child policy, in effect from 1979 to 2015

Another unintended result — urban housing prices are rising fast.

Around $10,000, Li reckons, will have to be paid to his future bride’s family, just to gain their approval for the engagement. A centuries-old tradition, the bride price in China is similar to a dowry elsewhere in the world, but paid from groom’s family to the bride’s parents — rather than the other way around.
india  china  children  female  crisis  culture  numbers  future 
april 2018 by aries1988
The Interpreter
(1) It’s over. We failed. North Korea is a nuclear power now.
2017  korea  asia  crisis  usa  war  nuclear  military  success 
november 2017 by aries1988
Where Millennials Come From

Millennials, according to recent headlines, are killing hotels, department stores, chain restaurants, the car industry, the diamond industry, the napkin industry, homeownership, marriage, doorbells, motorcycles, fabric softener, hotel-loyalty programs, casinos, Goldman Sachs, serendipity, and the McDonald’s McWrap.

Parents overemphasized self-esteem and happiness, while kids took their cues from an era of diversity initiatives, decentralized authority, online avatars, and reality TV. As a result, millennials have become irresponsible and fundamentally maladjusted. They believe that every job will be fulfilling and then can’t even find a boring one. They must lower their expectations and dim their glittering self-images in order to become functional adults.

the notion of disruptive self-interest

a homeowner with negative equity: in possession of an asset that is worth much less than what she owes.

Millennials, in other words, have adjusted too well to the world they grew up in; their perfect synchronization with economic and cultural disruption has been mistaken for the source of the disruption itself.
millennials  politics  habit  generation  work  cliche  young  crisis  economy 
november 2017 by aries1988
Stalin’s Lengthening Shadow

The authoritarian streak, excused by nationalism. The accusations of anti-state activities against the opposition. The constant references to conservative cultural values — Roman Catholic in Poland, Orthodox in Russia — and enrollment of religious leaders in the political fight. The difficulty in accepting pluralism. The appetite to control the media and civil society.
poland  urss  russia  europe  crisis  value  politics 
november 2017 by aries1988
How Europe's far right fell in love with Australia's immigration policy
Conjuring an imaginary “queue” was a clever way to conflate two different sorts of refugees in the mind of the public: those who manage to reach UN camps and patiently wait for years to be resettled, and those who flee their homelands and attempt to claim asylum upon arrival in Australia. But there is no such queue, because countries are not obliged to take in refugees assigned for resettlement by the UN; if they do, it is purely good will. Signatories to the UN refugee convention are, however, obliged to assess the claims of asylum seekers reaching their shores. Australia is a society obsessed with rules and fairness, and the queue-jumping argument resonates perfectly with a population primed to think in terms of orderly regulations, most of whom have never faced state-sponsored violence or war crimes.

More than 51,000 asylum seekers arrived in Australia by sea between 2009 and 2013.

The EU has earmarked around $2bn in the past two years to address the drivers of migration.

Libya offers a worrying picture of what the future might hold if politicians like Espersen and Le Pen get their way, or if these sorts of outsourced solutions come to be seen as palatable by mainstream parties.

The EU has declared it a goal to “significantly reduce migratory flows by enabling the Libyan coast guard to ‘rescue’ a higher number of migrants and bring them back to Libya before they reach EU ships or EU territory”,

if the Australian model is adopted more fully in Europe, then there will be no hope for legitimate refugees to claim asylum through legal channels, and more of them will seek illegal paths to Europe.

The far right’s goal is to make European social benefits the exclusive property of native-born citizens, a hard-earned jackpot to be protected from the grasping hands of supposedly undeserving new arrivals.

“We are encumbered throughout ex-Christian Europe by the phenomenon of compassion,” he tells me, hinting at the logical endpoint of the policies his ideas have unleashed. “Compassion is fabulous … but it is obvious that without the use of force, we will never stop the invasion.”
far-right  australia  reportage  refugee  2010s  crisis  europe  politics  today 
november 2017 by aries1988
专访王柯:极端的民族主义,一定是与世界为敌|深度|端传媒 Initium Media





opinion  research  politics  history  china  chinese  japan  nation  state  religion  ethnic  crisis  bio 
november 2017 by aries1988
Le syndrome catalan | Le blog de Thomas Piketty
La crise catalane est-elle due à un excès de centralisation et à la brutalité du pouvoir madrilène ? Ou bien plutôt à une logique de mise en concurrence généralisée des territoires et des pays qui a déjà été beaucoup trop loin, en Espagne comme en Europe, et qui conduit à toujours plus de surenchère vers le chacun-pour-soi ?
europe  region  government  state  taxe  debate  crisis 
november 2017 by aries1988
middle-life  crisis  howto  advice  list 
october 2017 by aries1988
The Interpreter Thursday, October 12, 2017
Rapid modernization means more than rising incomes. It means rural-to-urban migration, population density and shifting social hierarchies. This changes how society and politics work. Of course, most countries manage to modernize without committing atrocities. But in countries already predisposed to sectarian conflict, modernization can trigger terrible violence.

Economic change disrupts how people organize themselves socially and therefore relate to one another. Identity becomes more salient as people search for new ways to root themselves. This means that contradictions or faultlines in identity — for example, between Myanmar’s ethnic majority and the minority Rohingya, long seen as outsiders — become more salient as well.

As we wrote earlier in the week, this is not to say that the people of Myanmar are inherently predisposed to sectarian conflict or were unready for modernization. Rather, these developments reflect the weakness of institutions, as well as political and social norms, that are meant to safeguard societies through turbulence. When they are not up to that task, as in Myanmar, the consequences can be severe.
modernization  society  ethnic  economy  banyan  crisis  2017 
october 2017 by aries1988
Sweden's Sexual Assault Crisis Presents a Feminist Paradox - Quillette
Previous studies (by now more than a decade old) have shown a large overrepresentation of immigrants, particularly from patriarchal societies in the Middle East and North Africa, among the suspects of sex crimes in Sweden. Overrepresentation of immigrants has been even higher when it comes to group rapes, especially with three or more assailants. According to an official study from 1996, immigrant males were 4.5 times as likely as Swedes to commit rape. Immigrants from Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia were particularly overrepresented, being more than 20 times as likely to commit the same crime. In total, 53 percent of rape suspects were either first or second generation immigrants.
sweden  crime  female  immigration  society  politics  crisis 
october 2017 by aries1988
Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers
Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say
environment  entomology  crisis  science  research  numbers  earth  europe 
october 2017 by aries1988
L’impasse technologique du diesel propre
De la désormais fameuse vanne EGR au filtre à particules, l’arsenal antipollution ne permet plus de respecter les normes.
2017  car  france  industry  crisis 
september 2017 by aries1988
The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea

the two men making the existential strategic decisions were not John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev but a senescent real-estate mogul and reality-television star and a young third-generation dictator who has never met another head of state. Between them, they had less than seven years of experience in political leadership.

From time immemorial, there is a tradition of giving foreigners the best service, Pak explained. The No. 1 thing is to protect them, unless they are spies or enemies.

George W. Bush refused bilateral negotiations, then switched tacks and convened what are known as the Six-Party Talks.

Pyongyang is a city of simulated perfection, without litter or graffiti—or, for that matter, anyone in a wheelchair. Its population, of 2.9 million, has been chosen for political reliability and physical health. The city is surrounded by checkpoints that prevent ineligible citizens from entering.

Physically, he transformed himself into a near-reincarnation of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who was much more popular than Kim Jong Il. He bore a natural likeness to his grandfather, and, to accentuate it, he gained weight, cut his hair in a shorn-sided pompadour, and began wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a panama hat. (When foreign media suggested that he had undergone surgery to enhance the similarity, the state news agency condemned the speculation as sordid hackwork by rubbish media.)

So the Wall Street Journal is conservative? he asked. The editorial page is conservative, I said, but the news coverage is straight.

For him, basketball was everything. Kim drew pictures of Michael Jordan and slept with a basketball, according to Ko Yong Suk, the aunt who cared for him. She took him skiing in the Alps, swimming on the French Riviera, and to the Disney park in Paris. He showed flashes of stubbornness. If he was scolded for not studying, he’d refuse to eat. He wasn’t a troublemaker, but he was short-tempered, Ko told the Washington Post last year. (She and her husband defected to the U.S. and now run a dry-cleaning business, under assumed names.)

Dean Rusk, who later became Secretary of State, recalled, in an oral history in 1985, that the United States bombed every brick that was standing on top of another, everything that moved. General Curtis LeMay, the head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984, Over a period of three years or so, we killed off—what—twenty per cent of the population.
korea  history  war  crisis  2018  interview  usa 
september 2017 by aries1988
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.

Gen X managed to stretch adolescence beyond all previous limits: Its members started becoming adults earlier and finished becoming adults later. Beginning with Millennials and continuing with iGen, adolescence is contracting again—but only because its onset is being delayed. Across a range of behaviors—drinking, dating, spending time unsupervised— 18-year-olds now act more like 15-year-olds used to, and 15-year-olds more like 13-year-olds. Childhood now stretches well into high school.
essay  teenager  generation  crisis  device  iphone  parenting  children  health  technology  2010s  moi  sociology  psychology 
august 2017 by aries1988
Back on his pedestal: the return of Friedrich Engels

Finally they came to Mala Pereshchepina, where the local authorities were only too glad to get rid of what was by now a legally toxic artefact.

The artist’s timing is impeccable. June’s UK general election saw a surge of support for the Labour party led by the far-left Jeremy Corbyn. Like Bernie Sanders in last year’s US Democratic primaries, this ageing socialist appealed first of all to the young.

Even now, when — for all the excesses of capitalism — the stark exploitation Engels evoked has disappeared in the western world, The Condition of the Working Class is an uncomfortable read. The homelessness of the rising generation; the precariousness of freelance work; the feared mass unemployment once artificial replaces human intelligence; the long, spiky tail of the banking collapse of 2008; the end of the postwar expectation that children will ascend further and richer than their parents — these are plausibly presented by the left as a 21st-century equivalent of the Condition of the Working, and even Middle Class of England, and the rest of the capitalist world.

It’s the only building left where Engels definitely was. He worked with Marx at a table, still there, with the books they both used. When I take Chinese visitors to see it, some of them cry.
uk  politics  communist  leader  thinking  russia  today  sculpture  economy  crisis  history  art  manchest  artist 
july 2017 by aries1988
Southeast Asia enters the danger zone
what is good about Southeast Asia — including kindness to strangers, humour, inclusiveness and flexibility — but rather that he sees these very qualities being eclipsed by a mixture of old-fashioned tyranny and baneful new influences from abroad.

inequality — and the selfishness of the business-political elites that have benefited disproportionately from economic growth both before and after Asia’s financial crisis.

America, in Brexit Britain and in oligarchical Hong Kong, so the 40 per cent of Indonesians clustered around a poverty

the 40 per cent of Indonesians clustered around a poverty earnings line of $2 a day are easy prey for demagogues. It is true that prosperity has also swollen the ranks of Asia’s middle class, but this aspiring and increasingly educated bourgeoisie is governed by the same set of authoritarian leaders and their coterie of tycoons. “This is not a sustainable paradox,” the author writes. It sounds like a recipe for revolution.

As for religion, the increasing influence of extremist Sunni interpretations of Islam over the past 30 years is startlingly visible in the dress codes and religiosity of the Muslims who make up 40 per cent of the region’s population
asia  banyan  geopolitics  today  book  opinion  economy  politics  religion  numbers  crisis  inequality 
july 2017 by aries1988
Catalonia’s referendum exposes a divided Spain 
Catalonia has been part of the Spanish state for centuries, yet many Catalans regard themselves as a nation apart, with their own language, culture and history. The region is one of the country’s 17 “autonomous communities”, with powers over matters such as education, healthcare and welfare, and a police force of its own. Despite occasional rumblings of discontent, the arrangement was, until recently, broadly accepted by Catalans and Spaniards alike. 

Catalans express their views from balconies and windows, thousands of which are covered with the distinctive red-yellow-and-blue estelada, the flag of Catalan independence. To know the political allegiance of a city, village or street in the region, all you have to do is look up.

Five centuries after the Catholic kings united the crowns of Castile and Aragon, Spain has to live with the fact that Basques and Catalans have not only preserved their languages but that many still see themselves as nations apart. For some Spaniards, who dream of a monolithic nation state à la française, this is hard to accept. For others, it offers an opportunity to overhaul old structures, both mental and constitutional, and turn Spain into a state that provides more room for different identities and nations, even the Catalan one.

The problem, he tells me, is that each camp looks at distant historical events through the lens of contemporary politics, and “projects back in history a kind of relationship that is anachronistic . . . History does not move in a steady direction. It is full of twists and turns.”

Even today, more than half the Catalan population says Spanish is the language of daily use. Their children, however, have mostly been through Catalan schools, exposed to lessons and texts that have little in common with the vision of Spain their parents grew up with. In some cases, schoolbooks replicate the broader Catalan narrative — of a nation apart, suppressed by Spain.
espagna  history  state  catalonia  barcelona  crisis  identity  2017 
july 2017 by aries1988

china  hongkong  chinese  identity  government  democracy  cause  local  youth  opinion  comparison  conflict  today  crisis  history  killing  communism  64  idealism  politics 
june 2017 by aries1988
Are Liberals on the Wrong Side of History?

for many pundits, too, now is the only time worth knowing, for now is when the baby is crying and now is when they’re selling your books.

one wonders whether what Mishra traces through time might really be not a directional arrow but more like a surfboard, rising and falling on the quick-change waves of history.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s romantic reaction to Voltaire’s Enlightenment—with the Enlightenment itself entirely to blame in letting high-minded disdain for actual human experience leave it open to a romantic reaction.

father of the Romantic movement, of both the intimate nature-loving side and the more sinister political side, with its mystification of a general will that dictators could vibrate to, independent of mere elections

cold Utopianism and hot Volk-worship

the idea of Rousseau, the Genevan autodidact, as the key figure in the romantic political reaction against modernity, even as the godfather of Nazism, was present in Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy, back in the nineteen-forties

in China the minds evolved but not the makers. The Chinese enlightenment happened, but it was strictly a thinker’s enlightenment, where Mandarins never talked much to the manufacturers.

Sapiens, a bracingly unsentimental history of humankind

By humanism Harari means, instead, the doctrine that only our feelings can tell us what to do—that we ought to give as much freedom as possible to every individual to experience the world, follow his or her inner voice and express his or her inner truth.

we have merely a self-deluding, narrating self, one that recites obviously tendentious stories, shaped by our evolutionary history to help us cope with life.

The argument of Candide is neither that the world gets better nor that it’s all for naught; it’s that happiness is where you find it, and you find it first by making it yourself.
book  thinking  debate  today  history  culture  crisis  opinion  liberalism 
march 2017 by aries1988
The True Believers: Sam Harris
# Instapaper (2017/02/24)
## Added on Saturday, February 24-25

What I’m arguing for in the piece is not to discard either type of explanation but to remember the latter one and take the words of these ISIS people seriously. Even though at various points in the past we’ve ignored political or material causes, this doesn’t mean that ideology plays no role, or that we should ignore the plain meaning of words.

that’s really one of the things that social sciences have triumphed in doing: explaining that within certain boundaries, rationalities lie behind what at first looks like mere craziness or barbarity. Just calling behavior craziness is a trap that a lot of ISIS-watchers have fallen into. If you see members of the Islamic State as thrill-kill nihilists, then you’re not giving them enough credit.

There’s also a deep urge to deny agency to the Islamic State, and I think it’s fundamentally connected to a reluctance to see non-Western people as fully developed and capable of having intelligent beliefs and enough self-knowledge to express them. These people articulate well-thought-out reasons for what they do. And yet ignoring what they say somehow gets camouflaged in the minds of liberals as speaking up for them. It’s delusional.

although the Islamic State wants a civilizational war, of Muslims versus Crusaders, I think they’re consciously avoiding terrorist attacks on Western targets that would provoke too strong a response too soon. If they bombed the Super Bowl, they’d probably be looking at a ground invasion within weeks. They want the invasion, but on their own schedule.

I think we might be in a situation analogous to seeing someone writhing around on the ground in front of us, showing every symptom of having appendicitis. But instead of being surgeons, armed with sterile scalpels, we are just laymen who once read a first aid manual and have no tools other than a rusty soup can. There’s no good option, even though we recognize the problem. The overwhelming probability is that the patient will die a terrible death, and we will have to watch.

it’s abundantly clear that we are not good at massive occupations of countries we poorly understand. Not only that, we just don’t have the appetite for it.

The point of all propaganda is to create narratives about the world. Their view—and the view of jihadis everywhere, really—is that Muslims are under attack by a Crusader West.

confirm their narrative for other Muslims who are already inclined to believe that the West is at war with Islam. That’s not a view I would like to encourage.

The idea is that if we don’t walk on eggshells until the end of history as we fight jihadis, taking great pains to deny any link between the chaos they cause and the doctrine of Islam, then we’re doomed to provoke more-mainstream Muslims into choosing the wrong side in this conflict.

One of the things that is so refreshing about your article is that you didn’t do that. But you now seem to be saying that we must be very careful not to do anything that could give fodder to a “clash of civilizations” narrative.

The Islamic State leader identifies as Salafi, which means that he takes as his sources of authority the Qur’an, the hadīth of the Prophet Muhammad, and the actions of the generations immediately succeeding Muhammad.

The percentage of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims who identify as Salafi—who subscribe to this literalist version of Islam—is quite small, probably single-digit. The percentage of Salafis who would identify as jihadis is vanishingly small. And then, of course, within that population a lot are going to be noncombatants because they’re too old, or too young, or whatever. So we’re still talking about large, but perhaps now manageable, numbers.

The point of bringing up this quietist group is to say that the problem isn’t Islam, or even Islamic literalism. Most literalist Muslims are essentially harmless, or even better than harmless—nice people you would like to have as neighbors. So the specificity of interpretation that leads to the Islamic State is really quite narrow.

What you seem to be expressing is a fear that there could be a mass changing of sides based on some secret sympathy, or some susceptibility to moral confusion, even in the face of the clearest case for a just war that may have ever existed. Whatever the underlying causes of this form of jihadism, at the end of the day we have pure, fanatical, implacable evil vs. basic human sanity.

in the face of the clearest case for a just war that may have ever existed. Whatever the underlying causes of this form of jihadism, at the end of the day we have pure, fanatical, implacable evil vs. basic human sanity.

The Salafi neighbor may not be the neighbor you’d choose, if you could pick from a menu of atheists and liberals and, more generally, people who didn’t care what you thought about god.

there are many religious people whose beliefs about a far-off apocalyptic battle, and mass conversion at the sword, do not affect their lives much at all. People are good at compartmentalizing, and if they weren’t, the world would hardly be livable.

it is a lack of meaning or fulfillment in their lives, related to deep malaise and feelings of rejection or dissatisfaction with the worlds where they live.

If you think the high point of your life in England is going to be eating KFC, the promise of joining the greatest battle the world has ever known might be pretty attractive.

many of us experience such existential concerns early in life.

Where are your scholars?

huge numbers of scholars have been co-opted by politics—either the politics of the Middle East or the politics of the United States.

These differences between the palace scholars and ISIS seem minor, but I would encourage you to see them as significant.

I try studiously not to take a position on which one of these views is correct. I just don’t have any credibility as a non-Muslim to say whether one scholar or another espouses the best form of Islam. However, if I were able to choose what people believed, I’d hope it was the caliphate-later view.

Of course, there are Christians who think about the end times, which are also not envisioned as very pleasant. If you ask them, “Is it happening now?” some of them will say yes. But very few of them will act as if they actually believe it’s happening now. If they’re envisioning a terrible bloodbath at some unimaginably distant time, I can live with that.
illusion  debate  to:marginnote  islam  warrior  middle-east  religion  war  crisis  terrorism  explained  interview  muslim 
february 2017 by aries1988
Industrial Revolution Comparisons Aren't Comforting

The early to mid-19th century saw the rise of socialist ideologies, largely as a response to economic disruptions. Whatever mistakes Karl Marx made, he was a keen observer of the Industrial Revolution, and there is a reason he became so influential. He failed to see the long-run ability of capitalism to raise living standards significantly, but he understood and vividly described the transition costs and the economic volatility.

along the way the intellectual currents of the 19th century produced a lot of overreaction in other, more destructive directions. The ideas of Marx fed into the movements behind the Soviet Union, Communist China and the Khmer Rouge. Arguably, fascist doctrine also was in part a response to the disruptions of industrialization in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

an estimated 38 percent of the EU budget will be going to farm subsidies. Farms as a share of total employment are quite small (about 2 percent), but farmers as an interest group have not gone away, even hundreds of years after agricultural employment started to decline.
opinion  automation  revolution  industry  future  crisis  job  workforce  comparison  history  money  agriculture  economy 
february 2017 by aries1988
Peace and prosperity: it is worth saving the liberal order
The system established after 1945 was built on US power. But it endured and, after the end of the cold war, expanded because US leadership was embedded in multilateral rules and institutions. Everyone had a stake. Washington sometimes over-reached — in Vietnam or with the invasion of Iraq. By history’s standards, however, the Pax Americana was essentially benign, resting as much on the force of example as military might.
history  uk  world  order  crisis  challenge  china  populism  brexit  nostalgia  immigration  society  politics 
february 2017 by aries1988
How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next | William Davies

In France, it has been illegal to collect census data on ethnicity since 1978, on the basis that such data could be used for racist political purposes. (This has the side-effect of making systemic racism in the labour market much harder to quantify.)

Speaking scientifically about the nation – for instance in terms of macroeconomics – is an insult to those who would prefer to rely on memory and narrative for their sense of nationhood, and are sick of being told that their imagined community does not exist.

the geography of capitalism has been pulling in somewhat different directions. Plainly globalisation has not rendered geography irrelevant. In many cases it has made the location of economic activity far more important, exacerbating the inequality between successful locations (such as London or San Francisco) and less successful locations (such as north-east England or the US rust belt). The key geographic units involved are no longer nation states. Rather, it is cities, regions or individual urban neighbourhoods that are rising and falling.

Immigration may be good for the economy overall, but this does not mean that there are no local costs at all. So when politicians use national indicators to make their case, they implicitly assume some spirit of patriotic mutual sacrifice on the part of voters: you might be the loser on this occasion, but next time you might be the beneficiary.

Why then do the events of the past year feel quite so damaging to the ideal of quantitative expertise and its role in political debate?

Statistics, collected and compiled by technical experts, are giving way to data that accumulates by default, as a consequence of sweeping digitisation. Traditionally, statisticians have known which questions they wanted to ask regarding which population, then set out to answer them.

In this new world, data is captured first and research questions come later.

First, there is no fixed scale of analysis (such as the nation) nor any settled categories (such as unemployed).

Second, the majority of us are entirely oblivious to what all this data says about us, either individually or collectively.

What is most politically significant about this shift from a logic of statistics to one of data is how comfortably it sits with the rise of populism.

These data analysts are often physicists or mathematicians, whose skills are not developed for the study of society at all.

During the presidential election campaign, Cambridge Analytica drew on various data sources to develop psychological profiles of millions of Americans, which it then used to help Trump target voters with tailored messaging.

The new apparatus of number-crunching is well suited to detecting trends, sensing the mood and spotting things as they bubble up. It serves campaign managers and marketers very well. It is less well suited to making the kinds of unambiguous, objective, potentially consensus-forming claims about society that statisticians and economists are paid for.
statistics  expert  data  crisis  opinion  conflict 
january 2017 by aries1988
documentary  china  environment  plastic  crisis  money 
january 2017 by aries1988
China healthcare: Missing a beat

At the core of the problem is an overreliance on hospitals and absence of family doctors. “There is no other country in the world where it is entirely hospital based,” says Mr Gisserot.

China’s breakneck growth was fuelled by mass mobilisation of the labour force, but it must embrace change in areas such as healthcare, education and the environment to narrow the gap with the developed world in wealth and quality of life.
hospital  china  crisis  health 
january 2017 by aries1988
Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra — in the danger zone

mass murder and totalitarianism have been generally presented as aberrant departures from an essentially benign western liberal tradition that brought millions out of feudal servitude, emancipated women and gave dignity to the poor — and which has kept the European peace since 1945.

carnage and bedlam have in fact been the dominant modes of western modernisation, and that totalitarianism, far from being a distorted reaction to a benevolent Enlightenment tradition, in fact took to their conclusion the themes of that same Enlightenment project: scientific racism, jingoistic nationalism, imperialism and the violent struggle for existence as set down by Darwin.

the age of anger is dominated by a type who is utterly familiar from the west’s own history of modernisation — the superfluous and alienated young man of promise who takes it badly when he fails to grasp the plump fruits of modernity, and responds by resenting those who have somehow got ahead of him, or allegedly stood in his way, all the while falling back in defence of his own, indigenous culture.

answers are urgently required to the disarray of the world and its systems, for it is more than likely that today’s chasms between rich and poor, rooted and mobile, debtor and creditor, will grow rather than contract, and the alienated of our species will continue to seek newer, more spectacular ways of expressing their dissatisfaction. Pankaj Mishra shouldn’t stop thinking.
opinion  crisis  world  history  globalization  instapaper_favs 
january 2017 by aries1988
Professeurs un jour, mais pas pour toujours

Il y a dix ans, Sébastien Chauchot savait déjà qu’il ne s’y consacrerait pas « jusqu’au bout », alors même qu’il s’y était engagé avec conviction « pour la relation aux enfants, la polyvalence… »

Une décennie de direction d’école et d’« injonctions en tous sens » l’a convaincu qu’il ne réussirait pas à faire « bouger les choses ». Qu’il lui faudrait trouver ailleurs une reconnaissance dont la profession tout entière semble manquer.

« Des collègues n’anticipent pas le temps de travail, le sentiment d’envahissement, l’impact sur la vie privée, explique Francette Popineau. Face à ça, on n’est pas tous équipés pareil. Que certains dépassent l’état de désenchantement pour démissionner peut ne pas être vu seulement comme négatif. »

Dans une société où les engagements – politiques, syndicaux et même privés – se font plus au coup par coup, l’idée de se projeter professionnellement le temps d’une vie aurait presque, pour lui, un petit air démodé.
teacher  teaching  france  job  crisis 
january 2017 by aries1988
Our Automated Future

"I for one welcome our new computer overlords."

Could another person learn to do your job by studying a detailed record of everything you’ve done in the past? Martin Ford, a software developer, asks early on in Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (Basic Books).

Imagine a matrix with two axes, manual versus cognitive and routine versus nonroutine. Jobs can then be arranged into four boxes: manual routine, manual nonroutine, and so on. (Two of Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s colleagues at M.I.T., Daron Acemoglu and David Autor, performed a formal version of this analysis in 2010.) Jobs on an assembly line fall into the manual-routine box, jobs in home health care into the manual-nonroutine box. Keeping track of inventory is in the cognitive-routine box; dreaming up an ad campaign is cognitive nonroutine.

Later, Ford notes, A computer doesn’t need to replicate the entire spectrum of your intellectual capability in order to displace you from your job; it only needs to do the specific things you are paid to do.

Each new technology displaced a new cast of workers: first knitters, then farmers, then machinists. The world as we know it today is a product of these successive waves of displacement, and of the social and artistic movements they inspired: Romanticism, socialism, progressivism, Communism.

Even as robots grow cleverer, some tasks continue to bewilder them. At present, machines are not very good at walking up stairs, picking up a paper clip from the floor, or reading the emotional cues of a frustrated customer

Routine jobs on the factory floor or in payroll or accounting departments tend to fall in between. And it’s these middle-class jobs that robots have the easiest time laying their grippers on.

As recently as twenty years ago, Google didn’t exist, and as recently as thirty years ago it couldn’t have existed, since the Web didn’t exist. At the close of the third quarter of 2016, Google was valued at almost five hundred and fifty billion dollars and ranked as the world’s second-largest publicly traded company, by market capitalization. (The first was Apple.)

Google also illustrates how, in the age of automation, new wealth can be created without creating new jobs. Google employs about sixty thousand workers. General Motors, which has a tenth of the market capitalization, employs two hundred and fifteen thousand people. And this is G.M. post-Watson. In the late nineteen-seventies, the carmaker’s workforce numbered more than eight hundred thousand.
ai  automation  robot  manufacturing  industry  workforce  future  crisis  opportunity  politics  book  opinion  prediction  history  explained  watson 
december 2016 by aries1988
Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

despite its lavish funding, neoliberalism remained at the margins. The postwar consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes’s economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarrassment, developing new public services and safety nets.

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream.

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Stedman Jones notes, it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised.

But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet’s Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.

Neoliberalism’s triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years.

the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.
capitalism  economy  ideology  crisis  theory  history  opinion  politics  liberalism 
november 2016 by aries1988
How science goes wrong | The Economist
Conversely, failures to prove a hypothesis are rarely even offered for publication, let alone accepted. “Negative results” now account for only 14% of published papers, down from 30% in 1990. Yet knowing what is false is as important to science as knowing what is true. The failure to report failures means that researchers waste money and effort exploring blind alleys already investigated by other scientists.
science  explained  crisis  truth  scientist  ethic 
november 2016 by aries1988
Lights out | The Economist
Philips’s strong designs allow it to charge a premium for its food processors and electric razors, especially to Asians. To stay close to them, the division moved its headquarters to Shanghai three years ago. Its kitchen appliances are adaptable to different cuisines: with a few modifications, a rice-cooker for the Chinese market is repurposed to make borscht in Russia or cassoulet in France.
electromenager  company  crisis  2014  china  history 
november 2016 by aries1988
Does Trump’s Rise Mean Liberalism’s End? - The New Yorker

Decisions made by Web designers years ago mean that today the Internet is a free and lawless zone that erodes state sovereignty, ignores borders, revolutionizes the job market, smashes privacy, and poses a formidable global-security risk.

This is not the first time the Liberal Story has faced a crisis of confidence. Ever since this story gained global influence, in the second half of the nineteenth century, it has endured periodic crises.

The liberal phoenix next faced a challenge from the left, during the Che Guevara moment, between the fifties and the seventies. While Fascists found the liberal story soft and degenerate, socialists accused it of being a fig leaf for the ruthless, exploitative, and racist system of global capitalism.

the Liberal Story proved to be far more supple and dynamic than any of its opponents. It triumphed over traditional empires, over fascism, and over Communism by adopting some of their best ideas and practices (such as government-sponsored education, health, and welfare for the masses).

it might be much harder for the Liberal Story to survive the current crisis of confidence, because the traditional alliance between liberal ethics and capitalist economics that has long underpinned the Liberal Story may be unravelling.
politics  trump  crisis  liberalism 
october 2016 by aries1988
What Chinese corner-cutting reveals about modernity | Aeon Essays
Why is China caught in this trap? In most industries here, vital feedback loops are severed. To understand how to make things, you have to use them. Ford’s workers in the US drove their own cars, and Western builders dwelt, or hoped to dwell, in homes like the ones they made. But the migrants lining factory belts in Guangdong make knick-knacks for US households thousands of miles away. The men and women who build China’s houses will never live in them.

If what you’re making represents a world utterly out of reach to you, why bother to do it well?

In the end, what perpetuates China’s carelessness most might be sheer ubiquity. Craft inspires. A writer can be stirred to the page by hearing a song or watching a car being repaired, a carpenter revved up by a poem or a motorbike. But the opposite also holds true; when you’re surrounded by the cheaply done, the half-assed and the ugly, when failure is unpunished and dedication unrewarded all around, it’s hard not to think that close enough is good enough. Chabuduo.
craftsmanship  chinese  today  china  society  symptom  crisis  trust  instapaper_favs 
october 2016 by aries1988
Planet of the apps — have we paved the way for our own extinction? —
Harari’s skill lies in the way he tilts the prism in all these fields and looks at the world in different ways, providing fresh angles on what we thought we knew. No matter how scary and incomplete, the result is scintillating.

He points to the success of the Montreal Protocol of 1987 as a great model of international co-operation and solidarity. This treaty, ratified by 197 countries, played a vital role in reducing the release of harmful ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons from aerosols and refrigeration systems.

For the moment, the rise of populism, the rickety architecture of the European Union, the turmoil in the Middle East and the competing claims on the South China Sea will consume most politicians’ attention.
human  future  biology  technology  challenge  environment  book  ai  debate  crisis 
september 2016 by aries1988
Who Is Polluting Rio’s Bay?
A major part of Rio’s winning Olympic bid was a plan to capture and treat 80 percent of the sewage that flows into Guanabara Bay, something organizers now admit will not happen — certainly not by August, if ever.

Guanabara Bay was discovered by Portuguese explorers on Jan. 1, 1502 — hence the name Rio de Janeiro, or River of January, for the settlement that grew on its shores.

As it slows and widens, the Rio Sarapuí passes thousands more homes and several factories and refineries, all of which see the river not as a waterway for beauty and enjoyment but as a back alley, a channel to carry away their unwanted waste.
rio  brazil  2016  river  nature  city  crisis 
august 2016 by aries1988
Why Singapore’s kids are so good at maths

Aiming to move away from simple rote-learning and to focus instead on teaching children how to problem solve, the textbooks the group produced were influenced by educational psychologists such as the American Jerome Bruner, who posited that people learn in three stages: by using real objects, then pictures, and then through symbols. That theory contributed to Singapore’s strong emphasis on modelling mathematical problems with visual aids; using coloured blocks to represent fractions or ratios, for example.

A switch from an ability-based model of individualised learning, to a model [which says that] all children are capable of anything, depending on how it is presented to them and the effort which they put into learning it.

unlike Singapore’s office buildings, which are so deeply chilled by air conditioning that workers regularly wrap themselves in sweaters, the classrooms are open to the tropical humidity. Ceiling fans stir the air and the chatter of other children sometimes drifts through the open windows.

Meritocracy is an element of the glue that binds Singapore together. Alongside the promise of shared prosperity and security, the idea that the brightest can rise to the top is a component of the political bargain that the city-state has struck with its citizens, under which some political freedoms are restricted in exchange for significant material benefits.

Singaporeans frequently use the Hokkien Chinese word kiasu to describe themselves. The term translates as being afraid to lose out
investigation  interview  singapore  asia  education  children  learn  methodology  comparison  uk  crisis  world  future  creativity  debate  society  history  reportage 
july 2016 by aries1988
Way, José | The Economist
BRAZILIANS delight in Portuguese words that seem to have no equivalent in other languages. Saudade is yearning for an absent person or a place left behind. Cafuné is the act of running one’s fingers through a lover’s hair. More newsworthy is jeitinho, a diminutive of jeito (“way”). It is a way around something, often a law or rule.

Some scholars think that Catholics, tempted to regard confession as an alternative to compliance, are especially prone to jeitinho-like behaviour. Others suggest that mestiço (mixed-race) societies like Brazil’s are liable to be flexible, about the law as much as ethnicity. Perhaps inequality plays a role: the rich and powerful flout the law, so why shouldn’t ordinary folk?
language  brazil  portugal  story  comparison  nation  crisis  today  law  explained 
may 2016 by aries1988
How to change the face of Europe -
‘Europe today faces a problem: it lacks a clear creation myth with unifying heroes’
europe  crisis  opinion  currency  people  nation  globalization  leader  myth  human  concept  instapaper_favs 
may 2016 by aries1988
islam  youth  crisis  war  idea 
february 2016 by aries1988
The Arab winter | The Economist
Five years after a wave of uprisings, the Arab world is worse off than ever. But its people understand their predicament better

The West’s naivety, which was shared—and paid for—by those hopeful demonstrators, lay in underestimating two things. One was the fragility of many Arab states, too weak in their institutions to withstand such ructions in the way that, say, South Africa did when apartheid fell. The other was the vicious determination with which established regimes would seek to retain or recapture control. Who could believe that a soft-spoken leader such as Mr Assad would prefer to destroy his country rather than leave his palace? Those were the truths that brought hope to the ground.

Arabs may take heart from the fact that in Europe, the supposedly revolutionary years of 1848 and 1968 produced little forward motion; indeed their immediate effect was to prompt a conservative backlash. A.J.P. Taylor, a historian, described 1848, a year of continent-wide insurrection against autocracy, as a moment when “history reached a turning point but failed to turn.”
middle-east  2015  history  conflict  movement  revolution  dream  crisis  opinion 
january 2016 by aries1988
Germany on the Brink
In the German case the important number here isn’t the country’s total population, currently 82 million. It’s the twentysomething population, which was less than 10 million in 2013 (and of course already included many immigrants). In that cohort and every cohort afterward, the current influx could have a transformative effect.
immigration  opinion  population  deutschland  crisis  female  germany 
january 2016 by aries1988
The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion -
One thing that happened on the road to doom was that the world figured out how to feed itself despite its rising numbers. No small measure of thanks belonged to Norman E. Borlaug, an American plant scientist whose breeding of high-yielding, disease-resistant crops led to the agricultural savior known as the Green Revolution. While shortages persisted in some regions, they were often more a function of government incompetence, corruption or civil strife than of an absolute lack of food.
population  future  opinion  crisis 
june 2015 by aries1988
L’éducation dans les méandres du capitalisme financier
Les universités françaises, fidèles à leur mission de service public, demeurent réticentes à l’idée de sélectionner les étudiants à l’entrée alors même que leurs moyens sont limités.

Améliorer le modèle économique des universités et des grandes écoles françaises sans marchandiser l’éducation et sans surendetter les étudiants, telle est l’équation complexe que la France est d’ores et déjà amenée à résoudre dans les prochaines années si elle veut conserver sa capacité à produire de l’innovation et à assurer sereinement et durablement l’une de ses principales promesses sociétales : l’éducation.

Les études supérieures coûtent de plus en plus chères, de 400 euros à l’université à 15 000 euros/an dans certaines grandes écoles (voire 30 000 dollars dans certaines universités américaines) sans que ce coût puisse d’ailleurs être jugé excessif eu égard au contenu de l’offre et aux modèles économiques sous-tendant ces formations.
france  education  university  money  crisis  student 
may 2015 by aries1988
Fixing America’s inner cities | The Economist
AS BALTIMOREANS sweep up broken glass and haggle with insurers over fire-gutted shops, many are wondering why the city exploded into riots last month, and how to stop it happening again. The proximate cause of the mayhem is clear: it erupted after Freddie Gray, an African-American man, died in police custody. Young black men in Baltimore, as in many other American cities, are fed up with being manhandled by cops. Most demonstrated peacefully, but some seized the opportunity to steal, smash and burn.
opinion  crisis  race  usa 
may 2015 by aries1988
How Washington Derailed Amtrak
And those stats don’t figure to improve anytime soon. While Amtrak isn’t currently in danger of being killed, it also isn’t likely to do more than barely survive. Last month, the House of Representatives agreed to fund Amtrak for the next four years at a rate of $1.4 billion per year. Meanwhile, the Chinese government—fair comparison or not—will be spending $128 billion this year on rail. (Thanks to the House bill, though, Amtrak passengers can look forward to a new provision allowing cats and dogs on certain trains.)

This is a public service,” argues Andy Kunz, president of USHSR. “Our highways don’t make a profit. Our airports don’t make a profit. It’s all paid for by the government.” (Together, the Highway Trust Fund and the Federal Aviation Administration receive about 45 times what Amtrak does, through subsidies and gas taxes.)

For decades, Amtrak ran a long-distance train from Los Angeles to Jacksonville called the Sunset Limited. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina washed out the tracks from New Orleans to Florida. The service was never restored, and the Gulf Coast has been without rail travel for nearly a decade now.
train  usa  crisis  future  transport 
may 2015 by aries1988
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