from the world's big
Re: How has China changed?
David Dollar has served as the World Bank's China Director and is currently the U.S. Treasury Department's Economic and Financial Emissary to China.
Before this assignment, Mr. Dollar worked as Director for the development research department of the World Bank, overseeing the Bank’s research on the investment climate and growth. He co-authored the recent World Bank reports Globalization, Growth, and Poverty and Assessing Aid. His earlier work focused on aid and growth, and the determinants of the success and failure of reform programs supported by structural adjustment lending. He has been a key World Bank spokesperson on investment climate, globalization, and the effectiveness of aid.
He has a PhD in economics from New York University and a B.A. in Chinese history and language from Dartmouth College.
Virginia Postrel: Good question. Well I went to Taiwan 30 years ago. I didn't get to the mainland, but I did live in Beijing in 1986. So 21 years ago I was living in Beijing, and I belonged to a Chinese work unit when I was teaching at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. And even after 10 years of reform, you still had rationing. I had to get a ration coupon in order to buy a bicycle. And because I was a foreign expert I kind of jumped the queue, and I had all the resentment of my coworkers. In a short time I got a lot of insight into many of the problems with planned systems and rationing. And now if you go back to Beijing, it's just unbelievable how open the economy is. You can just walk into an ordinary supermarket, buy all kinds of recognizable brands from around the world. You can by Kellogg's Cereal. You can buy Australian wine cheaper than in the United States. You can buy a wide range of electronic products. You can go get an iPod Nano more or less the same price you pay in the United States. Now some of that may seem shallow. And if you're a very rich country you can sneer a little bit at availability of electronics and food; but if you're a poor country where in living memory people were starving to death, it's quite a remarkable thing to go into markets and have a wide range of products; to be able to buy food; to be able to buy imported goods. This has really tremendously improved the material standing of people in China. And I think that's a key first stage of development . . . of economic development. It's just meeting the basic, material human needs. I wouldn't want to exaggerate. So it is still a one party system, and the most recent speeches of President . . . make it clear that the leadership envisages the continuation of a one party system for the foreseeable future. But there has been some political change. There is much more open dialogue in many areas, not in every area; but for a lot of economic, and environmental, and social policy, there's a wide debate in the press, and on university campuses, on television. So I do a certain amount of live TV where we argue about environment policies or social policies. So I think there's more freedom to speak out about a range of issues, but not about every issue. I think there's more participation of ordinary people at the local level. So you see lots of examples. In the countryside you have some villages where they're actually electing the village heard; and probably more importantly, cases where people vote on how to spend the small amount of village budget that there is. They have a little bit of money, and people vote on do you want to improve the road into town? Or do you want to dig new wells? Or do you want to improve the school? So I think that kind of participation at a very local level is important for getting good public services. And you definitely see that kind of participation both in cities and the countryside growing in China, but all within the context of a one party system.
Recorded on: 7/3/07
In the last thirty years, people's lives have become more open and comfortable.
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.
- Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
- More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
- SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis [PDF]<p>Work in understanding the skills at the heart of the new digital economy is leading to novel assessments that allow individuals to prove mastery to faithfully represent their abilities—but also to give weight and stackability to the emerging ecosystem of micro-credentials that make education more seamless across time and education providers. And we are seeing the beginnings of a renewal in the liberal arts, focused on building human skills in affordable ways that are accessible to many more individuals and far more effective.</p><p>Amidst these dark times, there is much opportunity to refresh the nation's education and training solutions to support the success of individuals and society writ large.</p>