Tonight we have the great Audio Conflict of Interest, eBay Pain, Iranian politics, Chinese macroeconomics, new Israel/Palestine horror, men vs. women, and the big debt problem. Unifying themes are for weaklings; the world’s not like that.

Compression vs. Truth · Real music being played in real spaces by real musicians is sometimes crushingly loud, other times caressingly quiet. This is good. Quality audio systems try to capture this goodness. But on an iPod, when you’re sitting in an airplane, this is not good. Ars Technica has the story.

eBay vs. Craigslist · Russ Beattie tries to sell an XBox, you’d think one of the basic things the Internet is for; he suffers extreme eBay pain and then finds Craigslist relief. Is there a big trend lurking here?

China Stands Up · The ordinary people I mean, and by standing up I mean asking for a decent wage. I’ve been predicting this for years, and I can’t see how it’s not the world’s most important economic trend. For a decade now, macroeconomics have been dominated by Chinese manufacturing based on cheap Chinese labor, but that doesn’t last. It never has. And once the outsourcers’ great global trot around the planet after low wages has exhausted the potential of China’s 1.3 billion, well, where to next? What does a world like where you decide to make things based on location and skills inventory and resource access and infrastructure, as opposed to where the pay sucks? We have no idea.

Al-Jazeera on Iran · If you care about anything Middle-East related, you really ought to be reading Al-Jazeera. Take Iran replaces Guards commander, which reads to me like big political news. Why isn’t it getting mainstream coverage?

The Horror · There are hardly words for how painful this is to read: West Bank Boys Dig a Living From Settler Trash. Everyone knows what the final settlement is going to look like... can’t the bleeding be stopped?

Men vs. Women · Prof. Baumeister asks Is There Anything Good About Men? and makes some telling points about the way; but I eventually ended up wishing his piece were on paper so I could throw it across the room.

All these clever questions and well-crafted arguments, and yet this kind of writing is at the same time terribly dangerous, because people confuse statistics with truth, and they’re not the same thing at all. Statistics are useful; essential, even, to understanding. But everybody is an exception, in at least one statistical minority, and the human mind is so prone to overaggressive pattern-matching. I am 100% sure that this work will be used to justify all sorts of oppression of the individual based on not conforming to behaviors that may apply, statistically, to some group she or he is a member of.

Mind you, I’m biased, partly because of being married to a Physics Ph.D. who sysadmins the Debian box in the basement and can edit a Windows registry without breathing hard. Arguments that begin with phrases sounding like “Women think...” or “Men want...” cut no ice around here.

Mortgage Clarity · These days, there’s precious little clarity in the debt market. But the Times’ While you were away - fear and loathing in the markets at least explains lucidly why the view is so obscured. Money quote: “Anyone loaded up with cash is in a strong position to buy assets cheaply.” Yep.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Hanan Cohen (Sep 01 2007, at 23:15)

re "Everyone knows what the final settlement is going to look like"

I have read somewhere that the window for a two states (Israel-Palestine) solution is slowly closing.

After this window closes, the options will be three states (Israel, Gaza, West Bank) or one state.

In my opinion, seeing this from the inside, in the long run only one state can peacefully exist on this o-so-small patch of land.


From: Rob (Sep 02 2007, at 11:32)

Re Good Things About Men

The evolutionary psychology boys (and they do tend to mostly be boys) have many interesting and seductive points to make, but they all skip the bit about exactly how a Y chromosome or testosterone manages to affect the equation, and you would think that that mechanism would be of pretty critical interest. The lack of interest in this mechanism is deafening.

They almost seem to think that men and women are different species, symbiotic or parasitic, depending on their level of misanthropy. And this is obviously wrong: you are half your mother's son and half your father's daughter, so any behaviour and capability has to be located in the teeny tiny Y chromosome (which mostly seems to unlock bits of the vastly larger X chromosome), or in the effects of mostly pre-natal hormones.

One of the deeply irritating things about anthropology (like my other professional preoccupation, immigration) is how everyone who actually knows only a little bit about the field feels qualified to make grand sweeping theoretical statements about it.


From: Simon Willison (Sep 02 2007, at 18:08)

I don't know much about global ecomonics, so here's a naive question: does China's communist form of government contribute significantly to the low wages there? If so, does that mean that it is in the West's interest to keep China communist to keep costs low?


From: Simon Willison (Sep 03 2007, at 19:22)

Just to clarify my last comment, I'm not personally in favour of encouraging the infringement of civil liberties in China just so I can have cheap consumer goods!


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