09 December 2007

The Height Tax

Should we tax tall workers at a higher rate than their shorter peers? The answer — yes — “follows inexorably” from reigning academic theories of taxation, argues Greg Mankiw, an economics professor at Harvard (and former chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers), in a working paper first circulated in April. »More...

Of course I say: 强词夺理. Even if it is my favourite NYT.

02 December 2007

Wounds of the Revolution

Wounds of the Revolution - New York Times
The Cultural Revolution swept away much of the old Chinese culture. Dignity is now defined by money and French and Italian luxury goods.

Well-put. I alluded to this phenomenon previously in »this post.

01 December 2007

9 Days in the Kingdom by 55 Great Photographers

Saw a very nice photography exhibition in Bangkok in honour of the King's 80th birthday (a really big thing there):

Bangkok photo exhibition

It was partly sponsored by Canon and at the exit, there was a fun sign which said:

Thank you for coming to the exhibition.
And now you have to buy a camera!

Loving Bangkok (and not for the shopping)

This time, I really like Bangkok. Apart from a familiarity which allowed a leisurely revisiting of places without maps (a la Paris), it was also helped by a conscious choice to abandon the monolithic and fanatical Asian take to Bangkok (i.e. shopping) and instead focus on a different interpretation of the city.

It was an infinitely more superior experience (even as it was predominantly a solitary one since most people are not interested in this experiment). A cocktail on the the sky-high, open-air bar of Banyan Tree was a real treat after a day of inane corporate-speak, as was the extremely value-for-money pasta at Zanotti and SUPERB Thai food at Baan Khanita. Instead of shuffling straight to Siam square blindly, I noticed how I could stroll out of a Coach store and two seconds later, be prostrating in front of the harmoniously co-existing Erawan shrine.

Then there are the polite and gentle ways of the Thais, the cars that don't assassinate you on the streets, the perfectly tropical weather which was neither humid nor to the point of perspiration, and most of all, the night scenes of working class Thailand that rivals Shanghai's and makes me want to buy a dSLR straight away. (I am getting very impatient at how crappy my Canon Powershot is with night shots.)

Absence often makes me forget, but Southeast Asia is gorgeous.

Post-script: Alright, I'll admit that I don't dig the new Bangkok airport much. I feel like I should like the minimalist steel and concrete structure, but the truth is that I don't. Did anyone also mention to the architects that metal chairs are an extremely bad idea in (cold) airports? I thought I could get some shut-eye while my flight was delayed, but it was just impossible to fall asleep even though I was lying flat across three chairs - they were sucking heat from me like vampires. So at a glorious 1 am, I had to go on a grumpy hunt of non-metal chairs in the airport. I finally found a cushioned backseat of a parked golf buggy to curl up in the end.

St Ignatius Loyola Cathedral of Xujiahui

Courtesy of the Shanghai Heritage group, I managed to get a preview of the gorgeous stained glass that were newly installed in the »St Ignatius Loyola Cathedral of Xujiahui. The original ones had been blown out during the Cultural Revolution:

stained glass and shadowsMore pictures »here.