Charles Peeto

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Charles Peeto
Posted over 1 year ago
Manu Prakash: A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami
The talk was great, the work groundbreaking. Congratulations. The trouble was TED. It is an absurd concept that great ideas can be reduced to a few minutes of presentation. Everyone watching the talk wanted you to go on for a whole hour, describing the history, production and issues, giving demonstrations, showing fieldwork and all that. Of course many people are going to read your papers, but we also need something like TED to convert technical jargon about "multi-modality lens-array microscopes" into language that ordinary people understand. The trouble is that TED is not hitting the spot. It is not taking scientists or its audience seriously. Educated people can handle - and want - more information than TED is supplying, but without some of the technical details about "nOAR, RES, and MAG" that technical papers require.
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Charles Peeto
Posted over 1 year ago
Suzana Herculano-Houzel: What is so special about the human brain?
Two interesting ideas in the talk: 1. The human brain is not special, just big for a primate brain. 2. Our brain size relative to body size was made possible by cooking. The idea of cooking raises questions: First, what were we cooking 1 million years ago? Other apes live mainly on a diet of fruit and leaves. These don't cook so well - we still mainly eat fruit raw and leaves don't provide a large amount of our energy. Roots and seeds? If so, which ones because we don't eat many roots and seeds of East African origin today? If it was meat, then wouldn't the invention of hunting technology be the equal (or superior) of cooking in terms of importance? Once we worked out some good hunting techniques, all the other animals were on the menu which opened up a huge food resource. Second, cooking requires set meals. You have to collect all the raw ingredients, refraining from eating them all as you harvest, then bring them back to a single location and cook them in one go. That seems to presuppose well developed societies and thinking. These things were necessary to get to the point where we start cooking, so we must have had pretty good brains before cooking even started, brains that were doing much more than other apes can do today.
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Charles Peeto
Posted over 1 year ago
Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?
I've got no idea what you're talking about. What does the US have to do with it? Why don't you look at what's happening in Thailand? Are you trying to say "China has a billion people, of course old people should buy black market food in the early hours of the morning before the 城管 get to work"?
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Charles Peeto
Posted over 1 year ago
Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?
Your analogy is perhaps not so good. Yes, hedge fund managers can get rich but that doesn't mean that everyone associated with them gets rich. Get out in the morning in any city in China and you will see long queues of old people lining up for eggs or black market vegetables. How does an extra new watch on the arm of some government official add to their wealth?
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Charles Peeto
Posted over 1 year ago
Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?
Ztoa's first comment in this thread is not so good. "Money that the government controls but works for you" only makes sense if you control the government or the government works for you, which gets us to the heart of Moyo's talk. Australia's current property boom is being financed by hot money from China. There are a lot of government officials buying a better future for themselves and their children. When did the Chinese people lose this money and start to get poorer? When it went into the hands of corrupt officials or when it was mis-invested? The Chinese government has done a lot of good investment but corruption (along with pollution, land degradation and food supply) is the biggest problem in the country at the moment.
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Charles Peeto
Posted over 1 year ago
Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?
The idea that employees make $2 a month in China is pure fantasy. Here are the facts: We pay our part time cleaner in Shanghai $2.50 an hour (RMB15). The minimum wage for restaurant workers in some parts of the USA is $2.13 an hour. Minimum wage for restaurant servers in USA have remained unchanged for 20 years. In China there has been massive growth with some employee categories getting pay increases of 20% or more per year.
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Charles Peeto
Posted over 1 year ago
Dambisa Moyo: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?
Nice talk. I think the definition of the "Chinese model" needs some fleshing out: Democracy: China's strength is not that it is "undemocratic" but that it is so flexible and tries to bring everyone with power, drive and energy into the system. Eg. young people are given opportunities/old people thrown out, successful businesses given opportunities/unsuccessful ones closed down, small protests crushed/big protests negotiated with, successful artists, musicians, actors are often given the opportunity to work with the party. It is not a rigid social system but until now at least has been a very dynamic one that is continually renewing itself. Which country outside of China (and perhaps South Korea) has a similar system of government? The three drivers of the Chinese economic boom in the 2000s were: FDI, construction and exports based on a massive supply of cheap labor. I have no idea how African countries can replicate these. How would Zimbabwe for instance get all the Global 2000 companies to open branches and operations in their country, where would the money to build enormous infrastructure come from and where's the massive amounts of labor with highly regulated wages? The country that looks most similar to China at the moment is Bangladesh. They are in a similar position to China in the early 1990s which was: get exploited, just so long as money comes in. Moving from there to the next step of progress depends on the will to change and a good marketing strategy. China's marketing strategy was: 1 billion people, come and get 'em. What's going to be the slogan for all the other up and coming countries? And are these countries going to be willing to ruthlessly trash every unsuccessful idea in order to get ahead or will interest groups prevent this?