Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Portrait of Elitist Existence

Tucked in a little corner of an unmarked road leading into a plain-looking residential neighborhood, a little unassuming row of shops greets guests who may or may not intentionally drove down the one-way street.  At once lost and disoriented, the visitors would be rather surprised that a classy decor in a neat little room would even exist in such a place.  "A brother of a model opened up the place," the author was told as he sat down to have a meal in a shop specializing in crepes.  Despite it being lunch hours on the weekend, the shop seemed empty, with a few quietly chatting away, generating a relaxing ambiance.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Can Tourism Box out Other Industries?

In economics, there is something called "Dutch Disease."  It is an idea that a commodity boom lead to a huge surge in inward investment and the resulting increase in demand of the local currency makes the currency so expensive that it practically kills off all other industries that depend on international markets for survival.  The death of other exporting industries than set off a chain of destruction that wreck havoc on the entire economic system, to the point that only the commodity-producers and their related industries survive as viable portions of the economy.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sanitizing the "Organic"

About a year ago, the author spoke to a newly joined foreign coworker of his on the conditions of his current residence.  "It is a very organic place," the coworker remarked with a polite smile, continuing on to mention how cheap the local neighborhoods are for renting out living quarters.  As far as the classic spectrum of safety vs cost is concerned, this coworker is probably taking one extreme end, and in the process internalizing certain risks of personal well-being.  The author, at the time, questioned the wisdom of such decision.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Economic Costs of Political Alignment

This week the world celebrated 25th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall, an undoubtedly momentous event that signaled that the Cold War, and along with it the half-century economic division of the war, was coming to a precipitous, and some say, fortuitous, end.  News media outlets around the world spent pages of prime printed real estate to discuss the implication of the event for the modern world, especially in the context of continued economic disparities across the old East-West German border.  The reports made no qualms about highlighting the long painfulness that followed initial euphoria of unification.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

When Business Ideas Become Cultural Norms

Two years ago, this blog touched upon the then-quite-new idea of the Single's Day as new haven for Chinese online consumerism.  Some two years later, this "holiday" manufactured by the Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has not only remained strong and growing as the world's largest annual event of online sales, but has also begun to spread its idea to the non-Chinese world.  Out here in the depth of Southeast Asia, ecommerce firms such as Lazada has latched on to the idea, and now, trying to run with it in a decidedly unfamiliar environment for Single's Day adherents.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ebola, Food Security, and Public Surveillance

Since this blog previously remarked on how mass media uses clear double standards to judge whether a certain case is more worthy of coverage than another, the public's fear of an Ebola epidemic, despite news of optimistic recoveries and winning battles, has been continuing unabated.  More and more stories of lone travelers landing in other parts of the world, bearing fevers and other, more mysterious symptoms, have only served to stoke repeated feel of crisis among the general populace.  The sheer unpredictability of where the disease may land next have kept the public concerned in ways that exaggerate the lethality of the disease.