Friday, September 28, 2007

Looming water crisis in China

Cities in the North China Plain, such as Shijiazhuanh, are experiencing a boom in the local population due to local economic growth topping 11 percent. To support all these people, the underground water table below the plan is being reduced by roughly four feet a year. Municipal wells have already drained two-thirds of the local groundwater.

Water usage in China has quintupled since 1949, and leaders will increasingly face tough political choices as cities, industry and farming compete for a finite and unbalanced water supply.

According to Richard Evans, a hydrologist who has worked for the world bank and China’s Ministry of Water Resources, China will run out of groundwater within 30 years if the current rate of extraction continues.

The other coast for today

Pet tchotchkes have gone a bit too far.

Today's Bizarro

The Feline theocracy has some competition.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

India is outsourcing outsourcing

One of the constants of the global economy has been companies moving their tasks — and jobs — to India. But rising wages and a stronger currency here, demands for workers who speak languages other than English, and competition from countries looking to emulate India’s success as a back office — including China, Morocco and Mexico — are challenging that model.

In May, Tata Consultancy Service, Infosys’s Indian rival, announced a new back office in Guadalajara, Mexico; Tata already has 5,000 workers in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Cognizant Technology Solutions, with most of its operations in India, has now opened back offices in Phoenix and Shanghai.

Wipro, another Indian technology services company, has outsourcing offices in Canada, China, Portugal, Romania and Saudi Arabia, among other locations.

And last month, Wipro said it was opening a software development center in Atlanta that would hire 500 programmers in three years.

For its part, Infosys is building a whole archipelago of back offices — in Mexico, the Czech Republic, Thailand and China, as well as low-cost regions of the United States.

Original NYT article here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jane Fonda to blame for global warming - So says NYT

The New York Times in a feat of contortionist logic has declared that Jane Fonda's 1979 movie The China Syndrome is responsible for the death of the US nuclear industry. They claim that the movie's release just prior to the Three Mile Island accident helped to fan the publics' fear of the industry. Somehow, they forget that the movie was largely ignored until the actual incident and that the industry was already wounded by scandal and corruption.

Yes I'm still alive

I've been absent from blogging the last two weeks. I have a couple of posts started, but none of them quite came together. On top of that I've been dealing with a minor case of identity theft. I say minor because it only cost me time and aggravation.

A few days ago I was flooded with emails thanking me for registering at various commercial sites I hadn't visited. As I started working through the two dozen messages I discovered that I wasn't the real target. The thief had used someone else's name, address, phone and credit card number, but my personal email address. I was able to track down the victim by accessing the registration information on one of the sites. When I spoke to R, she informed me that she'd recently switched from a PO box to a new address. The address on the registration was her old PO box and clearly someone had intercepted enough of her mail to open these accounts and purchase a lot of stuff.

That settled, I wanted to contact the companies and get my email removed from their lists. It really shocked me how hard this was to do. Blockbuster was the easiest. They had an obvious link on their main page with an online form that allowed me to address the process. Other companies required me to call them during normal business hours. A couple of the sites had login screens on the front page of their web sites, so lacking the needed information I was unable to reach their support links. But the most annoying was Columbia House. When I reached a customer service representative, they were unable to do anything unless I game them my registration number. But I explained, I didn't receive the registration email and the bill didn't have a registration number on it. So then I asked if they could just search for the membership by the email address. Apparently not. After all this, they sent the DVDs anyway.

The iPhone is everything!

Thanks to the Omnipotent Poobah for pointing this one out.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday avoiding work

A Gentlemen Duel - ZappInternet

An economic model for the surge

Economics professors have a game called a dollar auction which they use to demonstrate how apparently rational decisions can create a disastrous result.
The professor offers a dollar for sale to the highest bidder, with only one wrinkle: the second-highest bidder has to pay up on their losing bid as well...

The problem surfaces when the bidders get up close to a dollar. After 99 cents the last vestige of profitability disappears, but the bidding continues between the two highest players. They now realize that they stand to lose no matter what, but that they can still buffer their losses by winning the dollar...

Following this strategy, the two hapless students usually run the bid up several dollars, turning the apparent shot at easy money into a ghastly battle of spiraling disaster...

Theoretically, there is no stable outcome once the dynamic gets going. The only clear limit is the exhaustion of one of the player's total funds. In the classroom, the auction generally ends with the grudging decision of one player to "irrationally" accept the larger loss and get out of the terrible spiral. Economists call the dollar auction pattern an irrational escalation of commitment. We might also call it the war in Iraq...

In the bigger game of democratic politics, the dollar auction scenario has a particularly dangerous power. Politicians fear that voters will unfairly punish the realist who cuts off the escalation early, in the process also clearly "losing" the ever-diminishing prize...

...there is one other way out of the spiral — in the classroom, if you allow some kind of negotiated settlement between the two sides, they can sometimes agree to split the dollar and halt the contest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday is humor day

In honor of the not gay senator Larry Craig from the great state of Idaho, I bring you Male Restroom Etiquette.

Its a bit long, but worth it.

And just because its the Simpsons, what other reason do you need.

The Simpsons Star Wars - ZappInternet