The Reconn Reader: 11 January, 2020

Each week, I share some of the most interesting articles I’ve come across in the past seven days. Here is this week’s selection. Inclusion does not mean endorsement. -CA

World & Politics

Taiwan manufacturers come home from China, as trade war feeds into economic debate at election

“Quanta didn’t have any production facilities in Taiwan two years ago, as it had gradually moved production lines to mainland China over the past decades. We sort of gave them our facility overnight, and we needed to find a new facility on our own,” Scott Huang, the chief operating officer at Techman Robot told the South China Morning Post. (SCMP)

The Future of America’s Contest with China

LFrom the balcony, Xi presided over fifteen thousand goose-stepping troops and phalanxes of tanks and jets—five hundred and eighty pieces of equipment in all. For nearly a century, the U.S. has been the dominant military power in the Pacific, as it has in much of the world. Xi sees this as an unacceptable intrusion. “It is for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia, and uphold the security of Asia,” he has said. To achieve that, China has strengthened its military to the point that Pentagon analysts believe it could defeat U.S. forces in a confrontation along its borders. (New Yorker)

Australia’s Catastrophic Fires Threaten to Upend the Way People Live

Progress on economic issues may be helping Mr Bolsonaro’s reputation at home. So too is a reduction in the number of murders in 2019, although that For Mr. Bowman, the fire scientist, the increased severity and frequency of fires also augurs significant changes in Australian life. “After this, I think there is going to be a lot of soul searching about where people want to live, how they are going to live,” he said. (Wall Street Journal)

The Clash of Capitalisms: The Real Fight for the Global Economy’s Future

The government claims that the new act won’t impact the rights of any Capitalism now has no rival, but these two models offer significantly different ways of structuring political and economic power in a society. Political capitalism gives greater autonomy to political elites while promising high growth rates to ordinary people. China’s economic success undermines the West’s claim that there is a necessary link between capitalism and liberal democracy.  (Foreign Affairs)


Business & Economics

Rescuing Economics from Neoliberalism

But the looseness of the term neoliberalism also means that criticism of it often misses the mark. There is nothing wrong with markets, private entrepreneurship, or incentives—when deployed appropriately. Their creative use lies behind the most significant economic achievements of our time. As we heap scorn on neoliberalism, we risk throwing out some of neoliberalism’s useful ideas. (Boston Review)

The Hidden Dangers of the Great Index Fund Takeover

One difficulty in studying language usage stems from the fact that every My corporate self-image had yet to catch up with the past six months in which I’d become, I supposed, a labor organizer. I’m a good Googler, a team player, I thought. Someone the old guard knows and trusts. Two years A 2018 study found that, when the same institutional investors are the largest shareholders in branded drug companies and generic drugmakers, the generic companies are less likely to offer cheaper versions of the brand-name drugs. Consumers could be paying higher drug prices as a result. “The potential effects on anti-competitive conduct are really serious,” says Melissa Newham, a Ph.D. candidate at KU Leuven in Belgium and a co-author of the study. It isn’t clear whether funds are somehow pressuring management or management just knows that competing hard isn’t in the interest of their key shareholders. (Bloomberg)

Meet ‘Chet.’ His Employer Knows What Time He Woke Up Today.

In December, Andrés Gutierrez was robbed at gunpoint outside his home in Follow a day in the life of our fictional American office worker as his company tracks what he does, where he goes and whom he meets (WSJ)

The Rise of Re-commerce: Why Everything Old Is New Again

What happened to that trillion dollars of foreign-subsidiary profits shifted In Hyman’s fireside chat, she described what originally inspired the company’s unique business model. It was actually a customer group long considered “department stores’ worst customers”: those who would buy an expensive outfit to wear to an event, keep the tags on it and return it. Hyman said it was a difficult behavior for retailers to stop, especially because this group included shoppers who often spent plenty of money elsewhere in the store. But she glimpsed in the behavior a new opportunity for supplying women with formal wear. (Wharton)


Science & Technology

Can Nuclear Power Offer a Way Out of the Climate Crisis?

A violation of privacy will result in autonomy being undermined, In other words, conditions are perfect for tinkering with revolutionary ideas for reactors. It doesn’t hurt that Gates himself is convinced of what he’s doing. “Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change,” he noted in an open letter a year ago. And he’s not alone with that assessment. Thirty-three years after the Chernobyl reactor disaster and eight years after the Fukushima meltdown, nuclear power is once again gaining broader acceptance. (Der Spiegel)

The Scientific Problem That Must Be Experienced

You get the point: turbulence, a ubiquitous and eminently practical problem in the real world, is frighteningly hard to understand. Nearly a century after Heisenberg, scientists are still trying to figure it out. And it’s still a cutting-edge problem: Russian mathematician Yakov Sinai won the 2014 Abel Prize for mathematics — often seen as the Nobel of math — partly for his work on turbulence and chaotic flow. (Medium)

The Ornate Objects of Early European Technology

A particularly impressive piece is the “Two Spherical Clocks” (before 1688) comprised of two brass weighted spheres balanced by an arm representing the hand of God and evocative of the crown and divine motifs. Here we see the intersection of the totality of God, the sovereign body, and the overarching desire to express technological dominance and its associated prestige. “Astronomical Table Clock” (1568) similarly hints at its patron’s nobility and boasts an intricately ornate façade to match its technologically complex interior.   (Hyperallergic)

CRANE will unfold over four phases. The first, which is now underway, is a call for proposals. Designs have already been submitted by a variety of industrial and academic teams (including Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works). These plans are closely guarded, which makes it tough to guess what the new X-plane will look like. “I didn’t want people to lock into a concept, a picture, too early,” Walan explains. He adds that the X-plane might be piloted or pilotless, as well as tailless or more conventional-looking.  (Scientific American)

Culture & History

What happens when we find out how much everyone else is making?

Technological advances have made it possible for everyone to know potentially everything about everyone else. Sci-fi shows such as Netflix’s Black Mirror imagine dystopian scenarios that could result from these new technologies. In the real world, social media is already allowing individuals to disclose details about their personal lives with strangers. This technological change has sparked a policy debate too: should governments disclose data such as tax records? (LSE)

Here’s What Directing a Star Wars Movie Is Really Like

“I think the stuff that would shock people the most is the amount of time and detail it takes to just get something as simple as a shot where there is a creature, a human, and a lightsaber,” Mahoney says. “There’s so much math on just the geography where they’re standing.” Often, scenes like that (like, maybe, capers with Babu Frik or Rey among the Aki-Aki on the desert planet Pasaana) would nearly run out of time, filling whole days with coverage shot after coverage shot.  (WIRED)

Google Loved Me, Until I Pointed Out Everything That Sucked About It

One difficulty in studying language usage stems from the fact that every My corporate self-image had yet to catch up with the past six months in which I’d become, I supposed, a labor organizer. I’m a good Googler, a team player, I thought. Someone the old guard knows and trusts. Two years earlier, the day before I left for my first maternity leave, I received a glowing performance review from the head of my department. “When you come back, Claire, you can really do anything here,” she said, in that kind of arm-around-the-shoulder way important people use to make younger people feel good, but also indebted. “You’re coming into your power as a leader.” I guess that turned out to be true—though surely not in the way she intended. (ELLE)

In 2017, the conservative writer Rod Dreher published The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, in which he describes growing hostility to Christian values in the secular world. Dreher, a convert While following the conventional script may still bring social and professional rewards to boys and men, research shows that those who rigidly adhere to certain masculine norms are not only more likely to harass and bully others but to themselves be victims of verbal or physical violence. They’re more prone to binge-drinking, risky sexual behavior, and getting in car accidents. They are also less happy than other guys, with higher depression rates and fewer friends in whom they can confide. (The Atlantic)

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