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Archive for August, 2010

links for 2010-08-30

  • For many Westerners, this is a familiar picture. We have not only accustomed ourselves to the atomizing forces of capitalism and modern culture, we idolize them. They only make us freer (we think), and anything that increases our freedom is good (we think), given that freedom is the highest good (our unquestioned questionable assumption). Q.E.D. But China isn’t there yet. People I spoke with my age or older still think in traditional ways about family and society, even as economic growth and the one-child policy promote individualism, selfishness, and narcissism. They are disturbed by the prospect of atomized individuals facing a powerful state and largely un-regulated market forces without mediating social institutions. Western nations have somewhat adapted to the cultural contradictions of capitalism because they are politically and socially democratic. China hasn’t, and isn’t.
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links for 2010-08-27

  • Two years ago, psychiatrist Daniel Carlat wrote a piece in the New York Times Magazine called Dr. Drug Rep, in which he told his story of being paid to push the anti-depressant Effexor to his colleagues.

    Carlat joins Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies today to talk about his new book, called Unhinged: The Trouble With Psychiatry. But the book isn't just concerned with the influence of drug companies in the profession.

    Carlat believes in prescribing medication, but he says too many psychiatrists have all but abandoned talk therapy — leaving in-depth interaction with patients to others — while they pursue medical fixes for mood problems and mental disorders.

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links for 2010-08-26

  • Herding and cascades are rather problematic to financial markets; they leads investors to artificially bid up asset values, thereby leading to bubbles and eventual crashes, even if investors knew better all along, which, it turns out in the housing market, they largely did. But because investors, like fashionistas, react to each other as well as to the aggregate traces of fellow investors’ actions (captured well in signaling instruments like options), they exacerbate systemic risk. Essentially, valuing financial goods is a matter of trying to be in fashion, which is a gamble.

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links for 2010-08-19

  • For the Obama administration, the prospect of a nuclearized Iran is dismal to contemplate— it would create major new national-security challenges and crush the president’s dream of ending nuclear proliferation. But the view from Jerusalem is still more dire: a nuclearized Iran represents, among other things, a threat to Israel’s very existence. In the gap between Washington’s and Jerusalem’s views of Iran lies the question: who, if anyone, will stop Iran before it goes nuclear, and how? As Washington and Jerusalem study each other intensely, here’s an inside look at the strategic calculations on both sides—and at how, if things remain on the current course, an Israeli air strike will unfold.
  • Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting. Chris Anderson explains how this new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism. And Michael Wolff explains why the new breed of media titan is forsaking the Web for more promising (and profitable) pastures.
  • We are at a global inflection point. Half the world's population is now urban — and half the world's most global cities are Asian. The 2010 Global Cities Index, a collaboration between Foreign Policy, management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, reveals a snapshot of this pivotal moment. In 2010, five of the world's 10 most global cities are in Asia and the Pacific: Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, and Seoul. Three — New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles — are American cities. Only two, London and Paris, are European. And there's no question which way the momentum is headed: Just as more people will continue to migrate from farms to cities, more global clout will move from West to East.
  • We've had so much record heat around the world lately that the records themselves are setting records: 17 nations have reached new temperature highs, a new record for records in a year. Pakistan hit (129F) 54C, a new record for all of Asia. Moscow had never hit 100F (38C) before; lately it's been a rare day when the mercury settles lower.

    Now scientists have confirmed what's been pretty obvious: the entire world has just come through the warmest six months, the warmest year, and the warmest decade on record. Following the hottest June ever, AccuWeather.com yesterday said July was the second hottest July recorded – and the warmest ever for land temperatures alone.

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links for 2010-08-18

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links for 2010-08-17

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links for 2010-08-16

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