January 2006 Archives


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I said after Firefly went off the air that I was never going to watch television again, not that I watched much anyway. And I haven't. I still don't own a television and never have.

And I was in denial about watching television, but really, I'm doing it.

I'm talking, of course, about Lost.

I think that a large violent conflagration is on the horizon and it is most likely to involve India and China.

The reasons are thus:

1. India and China are attempting to industrialise. Both economies are growing rapidly (I've already talked a bit about China's runaway economic growth). As they make further attempts to undergo an industrial revolution, both will go through environmental upheavals that may well be unacceptable to already industrialised nations who are attempting to reduce the effects of industrial output on the environment. The kerfuffle over the Kyoto Protocol largely stemmed from the fact that the U.S. didn't want to be held to a standard that wasn't going to apply to China, India and Brazil. It's not clear how to transform a third world economy into a first world economy without a massive amount of pollution.

2. India, China and Indonesia have a coming sex gap crisis. The ratio of women to men usually holds at a natural 51% women. India is more like 47%, mostly due to the abortion of sex determined foetuses and infanticide. China is the same; Indonesia is worse. While this troubles me personally (I rather enjoy there being more women than men), the effects on the state of mind of India and China in twenty years, when there will be tens of millions of men of marrying age for whom there will be no one to marry nor with whom to make a family, are potentially catastrophic. I expect that there will be violence.

3. The expanse of irreconcilable forms of Islam continues. In these societies, again, women are treated as second class citizens. At the risk of sounding Victorian, I believe that women have a civilising influence on the men around them. When denied of a voice, they can no longer temper the vituperations of the bitter and what emerges is often unalloyed bile. Witness the words of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; it would matter less if he was just some anti-Semite spouting off, but he's a head of state, so calls to wipe Israel off the map are none to clever.

4. The U.S. will not want to quietly surrender hegemony to China. It's in a state of denial at the moment, not wanting to acknowledge the rapidly approaching economic eclipse, but once it is fully realized, America may well start pushing issues like greater Taiwanese independence. Given the States' history with international diplomacy of late, this is likely to be either cackhanded or hamfisted or both, more likely to provoke than accomplish any kind of policy goal.

A war between China and India is not unthinkable and has the potential to draw in an enormous number of nearby nations. Pakistan may very well take advantage of the distraction to seize Kashmir, for instance.

Back to front.

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Golden Wonder makes potato chips and other snacks. They are also closing. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, administration is the same as receivership or Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. Golden Wonder is a privately held company.

For those of you in Cleveland, they're not much bigger than Tom's.

The story is notable specifically for a few lines down near the end of the article:

Usdaw divisional officer Gary Holz said: "The union was only informed today that the announcement was being made and as you can imagine our members have been left absolutely devastated.

"Many of them are in tears and are wandering round in shock trying to come to terms with losing their jobs despite having done nothing wrong except work hard to keep this plant alive."

*Sigh.* It seems that unions never tire of this argument, and what's worse, the public only occasionally rouses itself from slumber to examine the claim and evaluate it. I suspect that there possibly are some cases where factory workers care about the company they're working for, but my experience working in factories indicates otherwise.

First off, there is no easy way in most industrial plants to feed back to decision making management ideas about improvement of the operation. Plant managers are going to be disinclined to listen to workers from the line in any event, so such feedback mechanisms would be wasted.

Second, I'd doubt that there are too many workers at the Golden Wonder factory who are skilled labor. Factory jobs tend to not be skilled labor; just about anyone can do them.

Third, it's better for all workers in Britain if inefficient places close and more efficient ones buy the resources of the old plant and re-use them more efficiently. That's how economies grow; people stop making candles and start making lightbulbs.

I'm not arguing that widespread unemployment can't happen; it does happen. But labor mobility and a churn of resource from inefficient industry to efficient industry keeps structural unemployment low. So the folks who are devestated have the story back to front. They should be happy that their plant is closing first, because it gives them a head start on finding new and better jobs.

The Dragon is Stirring.

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On the 20th of December, the BBC reported that China's GDP had exceeded that of Italy and was headed for UK territory.

The official figures released from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in China revised the previous growth rate from 9% to 25.8%, a jump of 16.8%, giving them an economy with a value of $1.45 trillion. Various sources place the actual figure perhaps 15% or even 20% higher again, because the NBS frequently underreports small and medium sized enterprises.

Also, I have bought a car. Pictures below.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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