RoW: Links for 18th September, 2019

  1. How was London’s tech scene built?
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  2. If you ever get the chance to pick a train journey…. for me, this one, for sure.
    “And so it was no small relief when, there the next morning, was the train at the platform. Its Chinese provenance was confirmed by the ethnicity of the “Captain” ushering people aboard, and by our salmon-colored tickets, the same as those issued by China’s National Railway.An hour later, we were enjoying a rare sensation: swift, ceaseless movement through a sub-Saharan landscape.”
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  3. Or wait, hang on
    “For most of human history, it was impossible to grasp the range of the habitable world in a single day. Beginning in the mid-20th century, one could fly from a cool region to a hot region in one day. But that was an artificial experience—you missed everything in between. That all changed in 2012, when China built a high speed rail line from the north to the south of the country. Now you could board a train at 9am in cold, snowy Beijing, and get off 8 hours later in tropical Guangzhou, at the same latitude as Havana.

    A few years later the line was extended further south to Hong Kong, where you arrive an hour later. For the first time ever, humans can see the gradual change in landscape from the temperate zone to the tropics, all in a single day.”
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  4. “In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow.”
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    Especially given the context, the rest of this first paragraph is some of the finest writing I have ever read. That is not an exaggeration.
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  5. “But improving American higher education would be the final plank of the Tyler Cowen industrial policy.”
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    Tyler Cowen on industrial policy in America.
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RoW: Links for 11th September, 2019

  1. “Bangkok has 9.7 million automobiles and motorbikes, a number the government says is eight times more than can be properly accommodated on existing roads”
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    As an Indian, this is a somewhat reassuring read, in the sense that misery loves company!
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  2. A little vague, but I got to learn what sanuk means.
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  3. “The rapid expansion of the middle class among India’s 1.3 billion people has prompted Thai authorities to upgrade their estimates of Indian visitors. At least 10 million are now expected to arrive in 2028, a more than five-fold increase on 2018 visits. That sort of growth trajectory would mimic the rise of Chinese tourists, who jumped from 800,000 in 2008 to more than 10 million last year.”
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    I can account for three out of those 2 million.
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  4. “Obesity has reached alarming levels in Thailand, which ranks as the second-heaviest nation in Asia, after Malaysia. One in three Thai men are obese, while more than 40 percent of women are significantly overweight, according to Thailand’s national health examination survey.”
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    This was, to me, rather surprising.
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  5. “A couple of generations ago, Thais were rural folk who ate at home and took pride in offering food to the monks, but as they have moved to the cities they are likely to grab a polythene bag of curry on the way home to reheat. There is almost a stigma attached to cooking for yourself. “There is an embarrassment about spending time in the kitchen, it is seen as old-fashioned and a sign that you haven’t made it.”
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    On why Thai street food in Bangkok is so delicious. The article is about much more than that, but this was my main takeaway.

ROW: Links for 4th September, 2019

  1. “Culinarily, they are among the most homesick people I have ever met.”
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    Guess who? The last paragraph I enjoyed thoroughly, by the way
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  2. Sanjaya Baru on the (new?) geopolitics of Asia.
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  3. speaking of which
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  4. On aspirations.
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  5. Would you recognize the queen if you happened to bump into her?

Row: Links for 28th July 2019

  1. “Until the 1985 Plaza Accord no one outside a tight official circle knew when the seven finance ministers met or what they agreed upon. The summit was announced the day before and a communiqué was issued afterwards.”
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    Today’s articles are about the G-7. Its history, its purpose, and its shortcomings. The excerpt above is from the Wikipedia article about the G-7’s formation. I learnt today that it was earlier called the Library Group.
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  2. “They have similar names and similar functions. While the G7 mainly has to do with politics, the G20 is a broader group that focuses on the global economy. It’s also known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy” and represents 80% of global GDP.”
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    Time Magazine explains the difference between the G-7 and the G-20. That last sentence is a useful way to understand the 80-20 rule, by the way.
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  3. “In addition to its internal divisions, the G7 is no longer as influential as it once was, many analysts note. Some argue that without China and other emerging global powers, the group lacks relevance. In 2018, Jim O’Neill and Alessio Terzi of the European research institute Bruegel wrote that the G7, “in its current formulation, no longer has a reason to exist, and it should be replaced with a more representative group of countries.””
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    CFR weighs in on the future of the G-7, and finds it to be pretty bleak. Worth reading for the charts alone.
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  4. “Some enterprising chronicler of the leisure industry should surely write a full account of the importance of hotels in political history. After all, now that the president of the United States is a hotel tycoon, and is seemingly always keen to use politics and diplomacy to advance his hotel-building business plans, the interface between hotels and politics has rarely been more relevant.”
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    Martin Kettle in the Guardian, in a snarky but informative piece about the roles that hotels have played in important historic events, including snippets about hotels in Biarritz.
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  5. A list of other country groupings from Wikipedia. I cannot believe they didn’t think of a way to turn CAME into CAMEL.

RoW: Links for 21st August, 2019

  1. “Aides expressed both expectation and reservation at the President’s still-unclear interest in the idea and had questions about the island’s military and research potential, the Journal reported. ”
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    President Trump is interested in buying Greenland. (Why not?)
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  2. Via Marginal Revolution, why not indeed.
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  3. Especially because of opportunity costs.
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  4. Plus, there’s precedence, of course.
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  5. Lots of it!

RoW: Links for 14th August, 2019

Five links about gun control from the United States of America:

  1. First, from Chriss Blattman, who knows a thing or two about violence.
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  2. Slatestarcodex, on trying to make sense of the data
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  3. and what the comments section from that blog has to say.
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  4. Gun control, the Japanese way.
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  5. To circle back to the beginning, a contemplative article from Vox.

ROW: Links for 7th August, 2019

We’re off to Thailand this year for our holiday (can’t hardly wait!), and am therefore reading up a fair bit about that country. And that’s why today’s links are about Thailand! Thai culture, today – and for me, that mostly means my particular interest area: food.

  1. “For weeks leading up to the coronation, officials collected water from more than 100 sources across the country between 11:52 and 12:38 – deemed an auspicious time in Thai astrology.”
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    Thailand has a new king, and his coronation took place recently. That much I knew – but the ceremony itself had some interesting details.
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  2. “The forty-seven stanzas of the poem are divided into three sections: savory dishes (khrueang kao), fruit (phonlamai), and sweets (khrueang wan). It provides reference to fourteen types of savory dishes, fourteen kinds of fruits, and sixteen kinds of sweets. Moreover, despite its theme of love and longing of a man for a woman, in the genre of a poetic boat song (kap heruea) used for pacing oarsmen in the procession of royal barges, the detailed description of food provides not only their name, but also the ingredients as well as the cooking techniques. Reading the poem today, its vivid description appears still very relevant to the repertoire of dishes in Thai cuisine.”
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    A very (very!) long read on the origins of Thai cuisine, with digressions into trade, war, geopolitics, literature and etymology. There’s a Thai love poem that has not just 47 different dishes, for example, but also their recipes. Bookmark and savor at leisure.
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  3. Just the Goodreads page on the best book that I have read (so far) about Thai food.”
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  4. “Thoresen Thai’s CEO Chalermchai Mahagitsiri said that Taco Bell Thailand should do well in the territory as “the strong flavours meet the palate of Asian people.”
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    Taco Bell itself might not be the best ambassador, but Mexican food being paired with Thai food is… interesting.
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  5. The 36 hours in… series has always proven its worth, and hopefully Bangkok will be no exception!