Thursday, January 13, 2011

Link Party: Exchange Rates, Diamond Skulls, Jet Li

  • PICKING UR BATTLES: At the NYT, David Leonhardt argues that US should be less concerned about the RMB exchange rate and more concerned about intellectual property theft. Renault has just this week rocked France by unveiling a huge industrial espionage scandal - electric car technology was leaked, and they think Chinese spies are behind it. Matt Yglesias disagrees, saying that undervaluation of the RMB is basically a "regressive sales tax" benefiting "politically powerful Chinese exporters" - and that China's lax attitude towards intellectual property provides useful tension with the US' strict IP regime. Bradley Gardner disagrees with Yglesias' disagreement, citing RMB undervaluation as motivated by domestic public welfare concerns, and the IP issue as one that actually hampers tech. development in China itself.
  • BANNED IN PRCBaysian statistics, the term "civil society",
  • SHOWS: Damien Hirst solo show to launch at new Gagosian Gallery in Central (above Shanghai Tang on Pedder); Wang Qingsong and Others at "Photography from the New China" show at Getty in LA.
  • PHILANTHROPY: After much hubub, Jet Li's foundation finally has legal status in China and will now be registered in Shenzhen. There's optimism that this means a much more generous Charity Law will move a bit faster towards materialization. Yet the above banning of "civil society" as a term perhaps palls hope that this will lead to richer associational freedom.A great review of NGO related news in 2010 here.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Long Bin-Chen (陳龍斌) - Book Sculptures

Above,  a sculpture from Taiwan-based artist Long Bin-Chen, carved from New York City phonebooks with "first a band or chainsaw, then a dental sander." [via Oddity Central. Don't ask.] Apparently Long only takes materials purchased from trash collectors or directly plucked from the streets. 

Bumped due to highly circulated  NYT article today  "Selling a Book By Its Cover" - once in a while I catch whiff of a job that boggles my mind. These people. Get paid. To design other people's libraries. Almost exclusively based on the appearance of the book covers.

Some gorgeous galleries of other book-as-sculpture projects here and here. Perhaps we can use Long Bin-Chen's Boddhistava to smash Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Patents Per Million, Retraining Ant Colonies, "Cursory" Observation of Quantum Teleportation

Quick bits on technological innovation and more importantly technological imagination:

1. Two PRC related pieces on this recently much circulated - in the NYT, a piece analyzing a document put out in November by China's State Intellectual Property Office of China,  “National Patent Development Strategy (2011-2020)."  The major question is whether high-tech "innovation" oriented industrial policy will work, having not worked so well in Japan in recent years.  (Yet, recall that the Tigers - Japan, Taiwan, S. Korea - are the celebrated cases of successful industrial policy in their early rise.) Fun quote:
The Chinese patent strategy document is filled with metrics, right down to goals for patents owned per million people.
2. In a less meaty article in FP, Vivek Wadhwa also tackles the topic, his position summarized perhaps by the title "Chinese and Indian Entrepreneurs Are Eating America's Lunch." Citing his own previous research, he posits an interesting suggestion vis-a-vis the phenom of super low wages among college grads in China (the "ant colony"): its a result of crap training rather than a crap market:
India and China now graduate three to six times more engineers than does the United States. The quality of these engineers is, however, so poor that most are not fit to join the workforce; their system of rote learning handicaps those who do get jobs, so that it takes two to three years for them to achieve the same productivity as American graduates. As a result, significant proportions of China's engineering graduates end up working on factory floors; Indian industry has to spend large sums of money on retraining its employees, as my research team at Duke and Harvard learned.
3. And since this seems to have weirdly not made it on the parts of the China blogosphere I surf, some key WikiLeaks science and tech related wires are collected here. A key quote from a wire BRS forwarded, about Hefei's University of Science and Technology:
(COMMENT: A cursory walk through their labs seemed to indicate they had already succeeded in single-particle quantum teleportation and are now trying to conduct dual-particle quantum teleportation.)

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