Posts Tagged ‘Asia’

Vietnam (scraps) II

Arrived in Hanoi a few hours ago (first time in the northern part of Vietnam). Will be here a couple of days, then down south to Hoi An, and Hue. I’ll try to ad some notes pics, in stages.

One less than massively-inspired snap so far, of the Hanoi Old Quarter, (near our hotel):


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May 14, 2016admin 14 Comments »

Quote note (#159)

Thomas Friedman doesn’t dig very deep, but he gets it 80-90% right (the title alone — whoever chose it — deserves to win some reality points):

Asian autocrats tended to be modernizers, like Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, who just died last week at 91 — and you see the results today: Singaporeans waiting in line for 10 hours to pay last respects to a man who vaulted them from nothing into the global middle class. Arab autocrats tended to be predators who used the conflict with Israel as a shiny object to distract their people from their own misgovernance. The result: Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq are now human development disaster areas.

— that’s the bread and butter, but here’s the jam:

Egypt may send troops to defeat the rebels in Yemen. If so, it would be the first case of a country where 25 percent of the population can’t read sending troops to rescue a country where the water comes through the tap 36 hours a month to quell a war where the main issue is the 7th century struggle over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad …

(Also grimly relevant.)

April 6, 2015admin 23 Comments »
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Tough Asia

Scott Sumner has a good post on the topic, using low government spending and unemployment (a proxy for “get a job” social attitudes) as indicators. East Asian countries — China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan — do indeed cluster at the ‘hard’ end. Europeans, predictably, are softies. The Anglosphere (or “immigrant”) societies are intermediate.

My favorite part of the post, though, was this:

… the great Simon Leys once suggested that 5000 years of Chinese history could be divided up into two types of periods.
A. Times when the status of the Chinese masses was little better than slaves.
B. Periods of turmoil, when the Chinese masses yearned for period A.

March 26, 2015admin 24 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations
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Uncanny Valley

State-of-the-art in Japanese android design. (Thanks to @existoon for the pointer.)

It’s not really — or even remotely — an AI demonstration, but it’s a demonstration of something (probably several things).


Wikipedia provides some ‘Uncanny Valley’ background and links. The creepiness of The Polar Express (2004) seems to have been the trigger for the concept going mainstream.

From the level of human body simulation achieved already, it’s looking as if the climb out to the far side of the valley is close to complete. Sure, this android behaves like an idiot, but we’re used to idiots.

ADDED: Some hints on how the inside out approach is going (and speculations).

July 8, 2014admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Technology
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The Worst Question

At news aggregator Real Clear World, Frank Ching’s recent article comparing the economic performance of the earth’s two demographic giants was given the tantalizing headline Why India Keeps Falling Behind China. There’s no sign of the “Why?” at the original, published in Taiwan’s China Post. No surprise there.

As Ching notes:

While India and China are both being hailed as rapidly developing emerging markets, the gap between the two countries is widening with India being left behind as China continues to power ahead. China’s growth in 2013 was 7.7 percent while that of India hit a low for the decade of 4.5 percent in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Despite being positioned for catch-up (i.e. being far poorer), India simply doesn’t grow as fast as China. “The average estimated productivity growth rate of China (5.9%) is more than double that of India (2.4%).” India hasn’t matched Chinese growth rates in any single year since the end of the Mao-era in the late 1970s, even after launching its own much-heralded market-oriented economic reform program in the early 1990s. Despite pulling itself from the dismal 3% “Hindu” growth rate, which was roughly doubled to a 5-6% range, China’s average 9.8% growth rate, sustained over three decades, has remained far out of reach.

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March 27, 2014admin 31 Comments »