Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

March 12 2012

Four short links: 12 March 2012

  1. Web-Scale User Modeling for Targeting (Yahoo! Research, PDF) -- research paper that shows how online advertisers build profiles of us and what matters (e.g., ads we buy from are more important than those we simply click on). Our recent surfing patterns are more relevant than historical ones, which is another indication that value of data analytics increases the closer to real-time it happens. (via Greg Linden)
  2. Information Technology and Economic Change -- research showing that cities which adopted the printing press no prior growth advantage, but subsequently grew far faster than similar cities without printing presses. [...] The second factor behind the localisation of spillovers is intriguing given contemporary questions about the impact of information technology. The printing press made it cheaper to transmit ideas over distance, but it also fostered important face-to-face interactions. The printer’s workshop brought scholars, merchants, craftsmen, and mechanics together for the first time in a commercial environment, eroding a pre-existing “town and gown” divide.
  3. They Just Don't Get It (Cameron Neylon) -- curating access to a digital collection does not scale.
  4. Should Libraries Get Out of the Ebook Business? -- provocative thought: the ebook industry is nascent, a small number of patrons have ereaders, the technical pain of DRM and incompatible formats makes for disproportionate support costs, and there are already plenty of worthy things libraries should be doing. I only wonder how quickly the dynamics change: a minority may have dedicated ereaders but a large number have smartphones and are reading on them already.

February 23 2012

Four short links: 23 February 2012

  1. Why Mobile Matters (Luke Wroblewski) -- great demonstration of the changes in desktop and mobile, the new power of Android, and the waning influence of old manufacturers.
  2. It's Called iBooks Author Not iMathTextbooks Author, And The Trouble That Results (Dan Meyer) -- It's curious that even though students own their iBooks forever (ie. they can't resell them or give them away), they can't write in them except in the most cursory ways. Even curiouser, these iBooks could all be wired to the Internet and wired to a classroom through iTunes U, but they'd still be invisible to each other. Your work on your iPad cannot benefit me on mine. At our school, we look for "software with holes in it"--software into which kids put their own answers, photos, stories.
  3. DepthCam -- It’s a live-streaming 3D point-cloud, carried over a binary WebSocket. It responds to movement in the scene by panning the (virtual) camera, and you can also pan and zoom around with the mouse. Very impressive hack with a Kinect! (via Pete Warden)
  4. Starting an Online Store is Not Easy in Greece -- At the health department, they were told that all the shareholders of the company would have to provide chest X-rays, and, in the most surreal demand of all, stool samples. Note to Greece: this is not how you check whether a business plan is full of shit. (via Hacker News)

February 15 2012

Four short links: 15 February 2012

  1. Namebench (Google Code) -- hunts down the fastest DNS servers for your computer to use. (via Nelson Minar)
  2. Primer on Macroeconomics (Jig) -- reading suggestions for introductions to macroeconomics suitable to understand the financial crisis and proposed solutions. (via Tim O'Reilly)
  3. Smarter Cameras Plumb Composition -- A new type of smarter camera can take a picture but also assess the chemical composition of the objects being imaged. This enables automated inspection systems to discern details that would be missed by conventional cameras. Interesting how cameras are getting smarter: Kinect as other significant case in point. (via Slashdot)
  4. Not So Open -- 3D printing lab at the University of Washington had to stop helping outsiders because of a crazy new IP policy from the university administration. These folks were doing amazing work, developing and sharing recipes for new materials to print with (iced tea, rice flour, and more) (via BoingBoing)

October 10 2011

Afghanistan: Cost of UK military involvement

Nick Fielding writes that, according to a research paper published by the UK House of Commons, the nation's expenditure in Afghanistan totalled £3.774 billion in 2010-11.

October 08 2011

Brazil: FIFA's Demands in the Run Up to the World Cup 2014

Brazilian blogger José Carlos denounces [pt] the controversial demands of FIFA (the highest governing body of football) on the preparation of the World Cup 2014 . Several Brazilian laws, such as the half price tickets', may be violated to ensure greater exposure of FIFA's products and profits.

October 07 2011

Bermuda: Economic Impact of Term Limits

“One day it's [term limits] about long term residency. The next about not letting expats steal jobs from Bermudians. Just pick one already will you”: says that the government is “doubling down on term limits with an election coming. This is very dangerous for Bermuda.”

Analysis on Russia-North Korea trade

North Korea specialist Andrei Lankov posted an analysis on North Korea's recent talk with Russia on economic cooperation. In the East Asia Forum site, Lankov explained why the two most important potential projects are a railway and a gas pipeline.

October 06 2011

China: The Runaway Bosses of Wenzhou City

Wenzhou, a city in southeastern Zhejiang province, has been a prosperous foreign trading port since early 19th century. Its citizens have migrated all over the world and small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) have been flourishing in the city since the Deng Xiaoping's open door policy in the 1970s. The term “Wenzhou model” has been used to describe the unregulated free market economic development in the region.

Recently a scandal broke out surrounding Wenzhou government officials who were involved in illegal loan sharking activities; it is estimated that billions of RMB have been trafficked out from banks in the city to the underground loan market and onto local SMEs.

Luggage factory, Wenzhou, China. Image by Malcolm M on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Luggage factory, Wenzhou, China. Image by Malcolm M on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

However, as a result of the economic downturn, the companies have been unable to pay the debt. So far more than 26 Wenzhou entrepreneurs have fled [zh] the country and the local government is pleading with the central government for help. In the past few days, ‘runaway bosses' has become a trending term on various social media sites and many believe that Wenzhou bosses do not deserve any sympathy.

Young entrepreneur Song Zude comments [zh] on the situation on the Sina Weibo forum:


The property speculators in Wenzhou do not deserve any sympathy. The major reason for high property prices is government's policy in lifting the land prices and chasing after GDP, at the same time, the property speculators in Wenzhou should also be responsible. In the past decade, Wenzhou people have been lifting property prices all over the country, disrupting the local property market and creating suffering for local residents. Many Wenzhou bosses are not focused on their businesses, they are involved in property speculation, the virtual economy, loan sharking activities and now in serious debts. “Runaway Wenzhou people” are all over the world, now it is time for them to pay back.

There are more than 300 comments in Song's discussion thread, many expressing their anger towards Wenzhou speculators:

-浩米- 温州炒房,潮州炒地,银行炒息,房都没买,先比人轮奸一轮!(今天 09:39)

-浩米-: Wenzhou speculates on property, Chaozhou speculates on land, banks make their profit on interest. For those who do not have property, they have to go through all these gang rapes first.

dengdaiyanguilai 就是啊!现在政府要救他们,那他们以前把全国人民的钱都挣完了,现在要救 ,以前的钱他们退、吐出来吗? (今天 08:03)

dengdaiyanguilai: That's right. They have extracted all our money, can they return all our money before the government helps them out?

靖江枫 温州籍老板们,国家受自然灾害袭击时你们在干什么?你们喝着拉菲红酒,开的是豪华跑车,抱的美女明星,而大部分钞票都靠投机倒把得来,被高利贷逼走的人有几个没参与这些勾当?(今天 03:15)

靖江枫: Wenzhou bosses, what were you doing when the country was suffering from natural disaster? You were drinking Lafite [an expensive French red wine], driving luxurious vehicles, hugging beautiful movie stars. For those who earn their money through speculation and are forced to runaway haven't engaged in the above mentioned activities?

丹东晓程 温州炒房团倒霉之日,就是贫农下中农幸福之时。

丹东晓程: The doomsday of Wenzhou property speculators is a happy day for the poor rural villagers.

本莫愁 炒高国内的,又跑去迪拜炒!结果赶上迪拜房地产业大跌,好多人栽里头!温八子们,拿着在国内炒房赚的钱,全跑国外去给人送钱,真害人不浅!(10月5日 14:59)

本莫愁: They have pushed up the property prices in the mainland then transferred their capital to Dubai. In the end the property price in Dubai fell and many have buried themselves there. The eight richest in Wenzhou, they have given the money they earned in China to foreigners!

VanTssei 既然ZF创造了一个能叫你稳赚的垄断市场,有资本为什么不赚?本来炒房团就是ZF为了有房市资金介入而鼓励下的产物,炒房先驱而已。真心的,祖德就时事针砭时弊和对娱乐圈冷嘲热讽就算了,别扯太多你的副业。(10月5日 14:44)

VanTssei: Since the government has created a sure win monopolized market, it is natural for those who have capital to make money. Property speculation has been encouraged by the government, Wenzhou people are just taking the lead in this. Zude should focus on commenting on entertainment business, economics is not your field of expertise.

State-run media, Chinese Central Television's finance commentator Niu Wenxin disagrees with the public sentiment and blames the United States (US) [zh] for the problem:


When China can no longer continue its tight monetary policy, the US forces RMB to increase in value. What does it mean? The increase in RMB's value is equal to a tight monetary policy. Let's take a look in Wenzhou - it is the consequence of the tight monetary policy. However, some people try to blur the issue by saying the problem of Wenzhou is caused by Wenzhou bosses' speculation activities and greed. This will lead to bringing the Chinese economy down.

In Niu's discussion thread:

poliwang 现在世界经济增长在放缓,国际大宗商品价格连续暴跌,中国的出口将会面临严峻的冲击,中国如果不马上停止紧缩政策而转向刺激内需,中国经济很可能出现200年时的断崖式滑坡和硬着陆!我们现在首要的问题是要多创造就业,避免出现中小企业大规模倒闭和大量的失业! (10月5日 07:55)

poliwang: The economic growth in the whole world is now slowing down. The price of many commodities are trembling down. Our export [market] is facing a critical situation. If China does not stop the tight monetary policy and stimulate internal demand, we will face a hard landing. Currently we have to create more jobs and prevent SMEs from shutting down and unemployment.

清蒸_小老虎 温州地下金融资金链断裂的根源其实是金融系统的低效和利率的扭曲。再加上腐败和无效监管,于是形成了事实上的庞氏骗局,最终必然走向崩盘。信贷紧缩只是提早刺破了这个泡泡。毕竟当全民放贷开始出现时,我们应该知道离盛宴结束已经不远了。(10月5日 00:38)

清蒸_小老虎: The broken underground financial chain is the result of the twisted interest rate and the ineffectiveness of the current finance system. In addition, the corruption and lack of regulation has created a de facto fraud and will eventually collapse. The tightening of the load just squeezes the existing bubble to burst out. When loan sharking activities start emerging all over the country, we know the prosperous time is near the end.

Fallacies About the Singapore Welfare State

Ng Kok challenges the view that Singapore should not aim to be a welfare state because the Western welfare state is doomed to fail and social welfare is fundamentally un-Asian.

October 04 2011

Bermuda: Back & Forth Over Retail Measures

“The 40% hike in airport duty (combined with a steep reduction in allowances) has people freaked”, says Vexed Bermoothes, adding: “Is the Government so broke that it needs to restrict Bermudians’ freedom for a mere $4.2 million in additional tax revenue?” Beach Lime, meanwhile, quips: “There is not a facepalm photo big enough to represent the frustration at these spur-of-moment hairbrained schemes that Government has tried to roll out in recent times.”

China: Student Interns Or Cheap Labourers?

Since 2004 a labour shortage has begun to emerge in China; in order to tackle the problem the Chinese government has started encouraging privately run institutes to expand the number of vocational schools. According to Education Bureau statistics, the number of students in secondary vocational schools rose from 12.56 million in 2003 to 21.95 million in 2009.

In 2006, the government introduced the so-called “factory in front, school at the back” or school-business cooperation model. However, the students involved are not protected by the minimum wage and the businesses do not need to pay for their social insurance, even though these students work like ordinary workers.

Student labour

Young shoe factory worker in Shenzhen Longgang, China. Image by Martin Coyne, copyright Demotix (27/04/2009).

Young shoe factory worker in Shenzhen Longgang, China. Image by Martin Coyne, copyright Demotix (27/04/2009).

Asia Monitor Resource Centre has published an indepth report, ‘Cheap Labour in Essence, Students in Name: Vocational School Interns In China‘, on the systematic exploitation of student interns in China:

…what China’s overall industries need is non-skilled workers only; the majority of secondary vocational school students, whatever their major studies maybe, finally get sent to the production line, where some students say that their work only takes a day to learn and did not need any professional knowledge. Therefore, the student internship, in essence, is just a way to exclude the students from being recognized as having a labour relationship to the enterprise, and thus without the protection of labour law, so that the enterprise can reduce its labour costs.

This phenomenon has not only deprived the students of their labour rights, but also affects the overall  labour market negatively. Many enterprises have used student workers permanently, some using them for even as high as 70% of their workforce…

A number of student workers from Guoyang Military School or Guoyang Secondary Vocational School decided to expose the problem online. Below is their introduction in Sina Weiblog [zh] back on July 19, 2011:


We are graduates from the Guoyang Military School. The school treated us as profit making tool. We feel angry and decide to defend our rights and seek for justice. We want to share our experience, please support us! Our blog url is:

One of the student workers Xiao Luo told his story to a local newspapers [zh] in July:

“在 学校根本学不到东西。”小罗学的是市场营销专业,2007年7月入校,在学校只待了5天,他就被安排到深圳的一家公司实习。直到2008年2月才回到学 校。在学校上了两三个月的课之后,他再次被送到外面当没有人指导、实习内容完全不对口的“学生工”。小罗说:“每次勤工俭学回去后,都会有一个星期的假 期,学校就会给我们很多招生简章,并下达任务,回家要招多少学生,如果招不够回来的话,我们的教官就会被罚钱。如果帮他们招一个学生的话,就给600元奖 金。实际上,这笔奖金不是学校支付,而是在所招到学生的实习工资里扣除。”

“You can't learn anything at school.” Xiao Luo's major is marketing. He entered the school in July 2007, stay there for five days and was sent to a company in Shenzhen as an intern. He worked there until February 2008, then came back to school for two to three months of course work and sent out to work again. “There wasn't any guidance in the workplace, we were just de facto workers.” Xiao Luo said, “Every time when we were back from our work, the school gave us one week holiday, gave us all these school pamphlets and asked us to recruit students back home. If we failed to recruit enough students, our teachers would be fined. On the other hand, we had 600 [yuan] bonus for one successful recruitment. Actually, the money was not paid by the school, but was taken from our salary.”

按照法律规 定,实习期间的劳动报酬应该发到实习生手里。但据他们介绍,3年来,小罗及他们同学的所有工资都直接打入学校账户。…此 外,学校帮他们每个人都申请了国家补助金,两年共计每人3000元,小罗这级共有1801人。他们至今不知道这些钱长啥样子。“

According to the existing regulations, the internship salary should be given directly to the students, however, in the past three years, all the salaries were deposited to the school's account… In addition, the school had applied for government subsidies for the students and each student should have received 3,000 yuan in two year times. There were 1,801 students in Xiao Luo's grade, but none of them had received any government subsidies.

The students also use Weibo to alert local media workers [zh] about their situation:

对@中国新闻周刊 说:你们好!我们是贵阳市的中职学生,学校违规办学,包括学校滥收费、强迫学生长时间实习、强迫童工实习、克扣学生工资、代收和骗取国家补助金等。我们已向教育局、物价局、教育厅投诉,可教育态度搪塞,学校恐吓学生,我们媒体报导。我们有个材料,是否有邮箱给发过去。谢谢!

To @ChinaNewsWeekly: Hi we are students from Guoyang secondary vocational school. The school had violated many regulations, including abusive fee, long period of internship, underage student workers, withholding students' salaries and government subsidies. We have filed complaints to the Education Bureau and Price Bureau. But the Education Bureau's attitude is ambivalent and the school has started threatening the students. We have evidence and can send it to you. Thank you!

Eventually a number of online media outlets had followed up the story, such as [zh]. The students then further exposed in August 26 [zh] through their Weibo that the school sent child labour to work in sweatshops:


I came from this school. I entered the school in 2007 when I was only 15. Like all other workers, my shift is 12 hours a day and I only had two holidays a month. At that time, there was an industrial accident involving a child labourer in the industrial campus and the factory returned all the child labourers back to the school. The school then changed our birthdays in our documents and sent us to another factory. There were around 100 students under the age of 16, some were just 14!

On September 8, two days before Teacher's Day, the students release a video, urging educators to show concern for the exploitation of student workers:

October 03 2011

Puerto Rico: Occupy Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has joined the occupation movement that has spread across the United States, and they are also using Facebook and Twitter to communicate and share information.

USA: Occupy Together

The website Occupy Together offers a wealth of information on the social movements catalyzing in many cities in the United States and in other countries around the world against corporate greed and corruption.



this entry is part of the OccupyWallStreet compilation 2011-09/10, here.

Cape Verde: Fishing Agreement with European Union

Cape-verdean journalist Odair Varela, on his blog, makes a critical analysis [pt] to the new agreement between Cape Verde's government and the European Union for the exploitation of the country's vast fishing resources.

Bermuda: What's the Plan?

“What Bermuda needs is a plan. Multiple plans actually: a retail plan, an international business plan, a tourism plan” - and is afraid that the government doesn't actually have one.

Meritocracy in Singapore

Elvin Ong proposes some reflective questions in understanding meritocracy in Singapore society. Some scholars blame the system for being ‘elitist and heartless.'

‘Rural Cosmopolitanism' in Southeast Asia

Dr. Pun-Arj Chairatana writes about the rising ‘rural cosmopolitanism' in Southeast Asia. The author also notes the impact of improving digital literacy in the rural economies of the region

September 30 2011

Trinidad & Tobago: Expenditure & Accountability

“Discussion is revolving around the country’s earnings from our energy resources and the likely size of the next year’s budget, expected to be delivered in early October”: Afra Raymond warns that “without proper control over expenditure, we will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis.”

United States: Increase in Poverty Rate among Hispanics

The American economy is at a standstill and seems stuck on that plateau. The unmovable unemployment rate has been added to the poverty rate that affects more than 46 million people, the 15.1 percent of the population, according to the latest Census figures. Experts confirm that this is the highest rate since 1993.

The numbers reveal a panorama that isn't very encouraging. The average domestic increase suffered a drop of 2.3 percent since 2009. The number of people without medical insurance coverage is about 50 million people, and the number of people older than 16 who haven't worked at least one week, increased to 83.3 million in 2009 to 86.7 million last year.

Unfortunately, the minorities, Hispanics in particular, aren't excluded from the spectre of poverty. The average suffered a sharp decrease of 2.3 percent, from US $39,667 to US$37 37,759 in 2009, which indicates that this group still hasn't recuperated from the effects of 1999 that caused the drop in 2001. To put the severity of this issue in perspective, poverty in the United States also exceeds that of other countries in Latin America like Argentina (8.1 percent), Chile (9.8 percent), Uruguay (6.3 percent), and is getting closer to that of Brazil (19.3 percent), according to a report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

USA español [es], a blog by Cristina F. Pereda, cites the disheartening figures that avoided the advancement of Hispanics:

Mientras que la renta per cápita se redujo en 1.2 por ciento para el conjunto de la población, en el caso de los hispanos descendió un 3.5 por ciento entre 2008 y 2009. También empeoró el nivel de ingresos de las familias, que se redujo casi un 8 por ciento, sólo por detrás de las afroamericanas (con un 11.8 por ciento) y en comparación con niveles del año 2000.

While the per capita income decreased by 1.2 percent for the entire population, in the case of Hispanics the reduction was actually of 3.5 percent between 2008 and 2009. Family incomes were heavily affected, from a reduction of almost 8 percent, closely following African American women (with 11.8 percent) as compared to the data from the year 2000.

The blog GB Latino TV [es] included a video report from an Argentine reporter in which the presenter is shocked by the levels of poverty in the United States. He gives a short summary with respect to this:

El 15,2% de los estadounidenses vive en la pobreza, lo que se traduce en más de 46 millones de habitantes. Su nivel más alto desde 1993, informó la oficina de censos de ese país.

15,2% of Americans live in poverty, which translates to about 46 million inhabitants. This is the highest level since 1993, according to the national census data.

InmigranteTV [es], besides offering the same census results of Hispanic families, outlines that the recent patterns in the economy have been overshadowed by the Obama administration:

Esta es otra situación muy negativa, sobre todo cuando el presidente acaba de presentar un plan de empleo con el cual se espera darle un estímulo a la economía.

It's not a very favourable situation, especially after the president just presented an employment plan in which he promises to boost the economy.

Twitter users didn't expect the results of this Census. PV Marketing (@pvmkt) shares a video:

Video que habla de que uno de cada cuatro #hispanos en EU, son pobres.

A video that talks about one in four Hispanics (#hispanos) in the US being poor. [es]

Meredith Dodson (@dodsonadvocate) isn't so surprised by these halting statistics:

Alarmante, pero no del todo :( RT @alexcawthornedc: tasas de pobreza para negros e hispanos (>27%) más de 2 veces q los blancos #povertydata#Census

Alarming, but not all of it :( RT @alexcawthornedc: poverty rate in blacks and Hispanics (>27%) more than twice that of caucasians #povertydata #Census

Carmen Ortiz-McGhee (@ortizmcghee) is astounded by the state of poverty among Hispanic children:

Hispanos=37 por ciento de los niños en pobreza según un nuevo reporte del censo…espeluznante!

Hispanos=37 percent of poor children according to a new report on the census… hair-raising!

Alex Guerrero (@Vzla22 ) says it all in the first word of his tweet:

Inaceptable: 15% de estadounidenses viven en pobreza. Entre los latinos el % es 26.1% = 1 de cada 4 >>

Unacceptable: 15% of Americans live in poverty. Among Latinos the percentage is 26.1% = 1 in every 4 >> #latism

In conclusion, for Eileen C. Rivera (@eileencrivera) the results of the census are another bad precedent for minorities in the the country:

Más malas noticias del reporte del Censo: tasa de pobreza para hispanos se disparó al 26.6 por ciento, para los negros aumentó a un 27.4 por ciento.

More bad news about the Census report: the poverty rate for Hispanics shot up to 26.6 percent, for blacks it went up to 27.4 percent.
Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!