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Posts Tagged ‘business’

Ma Jun: Information Empowers by John Haffner, Ma Jun

In Asia, ecology, economy, environment, government, human rights, information, politics, science on June 3, 2013 at 21:19

From: Ma Jun: Information Empowers by John Haffner, Ma Jun, Policy Innovations, http://www.policyinnovations.org

Sitting with Ma in his office last year, I asked him to talk about the remarkable 20-year career that propelled him to the forefront of China’s environmental movement.

Ma was lucky enough to find a job with “the privilege of asking questions.”

He took me back to 1992, the year Deng Xiaoping made his famous tour to open southeastern cities to commerce. China remained closed in many ways but Ma was lucky enough to find a job with “the privilege of asking questions.” He was a fresh journalism graduate from the University of International Relations and had landed a position as a researcher and translator in the Beijing office of the South China Morning Post, later working his way up to office manager. At the paper he found himself immersed in every kind of issue and story.

While working as a journalist Ma came to realize that China was in an environmental crisis. He had grown up learning the poems of Li Bai and Du Fu, poets who spoke of China’s lakes, rivers, and land in lyrical, beautiful images. “I grew up reading these books, knowing this landscape through the words of ancient literary giants. I had an image in my mind, but when I traveled—it was just so different.”

In 1994, he found himself at the Three Gorges Dam site covering the story for his paper. Ma was saddened to find that the trees had been clear cut, the river muddied and polluted. “Li Bai and Du Fu had both been so inspired by the landscape, by the gorge, by the torrential flow. When I saw the river, I felt such a big loss.”

When he traveled to Dongting Lake in 1996, he expected to find a place he knew from ancient literature as “vast and extremely pretty.” But when he got there, he “found that the lake during the dry season had been reduced to a few rivers. The degradation was just so obvious.”

And when he went to the Fen River in Shanxi province, Ma saw “streams coming out of different villages with different colors, representing different industries: copper green and iron red and iron brownish, and yellowish and reddish. And they all came together to form a very highly polluting flow, eventually ending up in the Yellow River.”

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Reposted with permission from: Policy Innovations

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Africa Shining by Anjan Sundaram

In Africa, Asia, ecology, economics, ethics, politics on May 11, 2013 at 19:35

From: Africa Shining: Can India compete with China in an emerging Africa? by Anjan Sundaram, The Caravan, http://www.caravanmagazine.in

… Fifteen years ago, Africa, and particularly its troubled centre, was seen almost exclusively as an exotic high-risk investment destination for the brave and adventurous, for those with privileged connections to Africa’s dictatorships and large pools of capital to risk. Most investors had all but forsaken central Africa after Rwanda’s 1994 genocide killed more than 800,000 people in three months.

But the economic interest in Africa has lately become intense. It is now routinely described as the continent of the future: by some measures it is soon to be the world’s fastest growing region, with a large and rapidly expanding consumer base—its middle class is now estimated to be larger than India’s—and an abundance of rich mineral deposits.

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Reposted with permission from: The Caravan

Austin At Large by John Davidson

In architecture, community, economics, ethnicity, government, North America, performing arts, politics, space on December 21, 2012 at 17:55

From: Austin At Large by John Davidson, n + 1, http://nplusonemag.com

Austin is the fastest-growing city in the United States. More than 150,000 people moved there in the last decade and the city now has almost 800,000 residents. The greater metro area added almost half a million people in the past ten years and now has a population of about 1.7 million. This rapid growth has made Austin one of the few cities in the country where the housing market is strong and stable. The total dollar amount of single-family homes sold in Austin in October was more than $543 million, and with the population expected to keep growing and spreading into other parts of the city, the future looks good for realtors and developers in Austin.

For everyone else, the future looks expensive. Central Texas is struggling with an overloaded infrastructure and crippling congestion, which will keep getting worse unless Austin and Travis County can figure out how to build light rail, buy more buses and establish more routes, carve out more bike and pedestrian paths, and build larger highways—all of which comes with a price tag in the tens of billions. That money would have to come from ever-increasing property taxes and fees paid by current residents, and of course those living in growing neighborhoods will be hit hardest.

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Reposted with permission from: n + 1

The Making of Cezanne’s Palette by Philip Ball

In aesthetics, art, Europe, history of art, nature, science on November 14, 2012 at 20:54

From: The Making of Cezanne’s Palette by Philip Ball, http://www.philipball.co.uk

Innovation in art has always been a gamble. While originality may be given lip-serving credit, unfamiliarity has an even chance of breeding contempt. There is no other word to describe the critics’ response to the first independent exhibition by the Impressionists in Paris in 1874. These artists, it was claimed, had rejected “good artistic manners, devotion to form, and respect for the masters”. Part of the outrage was directed at the choice of subject-ordinary people going about their business, for goodness’ sake-and part at the quick-fire style of the brush strokes. But the detractors were also offended by the colours.

The critic E. Cardon said sarcastically, “Soil three quarters of a canvas with black and white, rub the rest with yellow, distribute haphazardly some red and blue spots, and you’ll obtain an impression of spring in front of which the adepts will be carried away by ecstasy.” The second group exhibition two years later elicited similar complaints: “Try to make M. Pissarro understand that trees are not violet, that the sky is not the colour of fresh butter…”. Renoir’s “green and violet spots” in areas of flesh were seen to “denote the state of complete putrefaction of a corpse”.

Yet these were not new charges. In England, the Pre-Raphaelite painters such as William Holman Hunt and John Millais stood accused in the 1850s of using greens “unripe enough to cause indigestion”. J. M. W. Turner, the supreme British colourist of the early nineteenth century, had in 1829 been denounced for producing “a specimen of colouring run mad” in his Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus (Figure 1).

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Reposted with permission from: Philip Ball

It’s a Fruit, Goddamn It! by Barry Sanders

In art, history, society on October 31, 2012 at 19:33

From: It’s a Fruit, Goddamn It! by Barry Sanders, Cabinet Magazine, http://cabinetmagazine.org

He consumed Alka-Seltzer tablets like chickpeas. He swore that every person he ever met—including my mother and brother—was stealing him blind. My mother tried to stay out of his way. I stayed completely out of his way. Little by little, tomatoes started to scare the hell out of me. They reminded me too much of his life, his furious, unpredictable, eruptive, and shadowy life. When I saw The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, I immediately thought of my old man. I even had a hard time with ketchup, a substance we were forbidden to have in the house because the Heinz Company—obviously German—made their sauce out of the leftovers, the bottom of the barrel, the rotten of the rotten. Absolute crap.

Dig slightly below the level of the mob, and you’ll come face to face with the wholesale fruit and vegetable business. It was its own kind of underworld, designed to be sordid: the life is a fast-paced, all-male, cash-based affair, transacted in the darkest hours of the night. Customers knew better than to ask for a receipt. Truckloads of fruits and vegetables—worth thousands of dollars—got sold with just a handshake or a nod of the head. Skimming cash is a way to beat the odds. Produce men pay off the cops to leave them alone. Hookers—the “hot tomatoes”—strolled by every few minutes. Bookies were on first-name basis with every sales guy. Runners made their way from produce stall to produce stall carrying punch cards. Punch out the right number and win an easy fifty or even a hundred-dollar bill.

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Reposted with permission from: Cabinet Magazine

Men in Suits: Fine and Dandy by Paul Sweeten

In civilisation, history, society on August 31, 2012 at 03:57

 

From: Men in Suits: Fine and Dandy by Paul Sweeten, The Oxonian Review, http://www.oxonianreview.org

According to Baudelaire, the Dandy “must live and sleep before a mirror”. The Dandy must always be alert, attentive and fussing over his look because to be a Dandy, as Albert Camus noted, is to be “always in opposition” (a pursuit far more demanding than to be always conforming). In challenging the herd mentality of fashionistas, Dandies were required to be stubbornly unfashionable. Here we find a familiar paradox shared by many “alternative” subgroups. From Dandies to punks, the discord between the libertarian and mimetic compulsions of a group’s members has drawn its associated clothing as both uniforms as well as an antidote to uniformity. The suit has always straddled this divide, and though it remains occasionally daring, it has suffered the transition from innovative style to requisite dresscode in the three centuries of its evolution.

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Reposted with permission from: The Oxonian Review

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