ARCHIVES 1997-2007  --- ARCHIVES 2007 +

JULY  2009.


Chinese born Australian citizen and Conzinc Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu has been arrested and accused of corruptly bribing Chinese Iron manufacturing officials. 

Ostensibly, that charge sounds reasonable.  Bribing for commercial gain is naughty.  The Federal opposition is having conniptions.  The government is softly softly.

The Moslem Uigars in China are in revolt.  Several hundred are reported as killed, mostly by Han immigrants retaliating (it has been reported) against Moslem youths rape of a Han girl.

Chinese Premier Hu returned abruptly from the G8 meeting in Rome.

I do not think these three events are unconnected.


Australian authors are up in arms because their rort is being stopped.  At the moment paperbacks in Australia cost from about $23 upwards.  That is about 50% more expensive than US or UK editions of the same book.

That money is purportedly to promote Australian authors.

I walked into Dymocks bookshop in Bondi Junction today.  There was a single shelf labeled "Australian Authors".  By my quick estimate, that shelf contained less than 0.5% of the books in that shop.

So a ~50% increase in the price of all the books that we buy is needed to subsidize the authors of one half of one percent of the books that we buy.

I think it would be very much cheaper for the Australian people to subsidize those authors directly.

Another scary story about Copyright.  Senator Conroy has been reported in Slashdot as planning a law
to protect copyright in Australia.  That law will be similar to that which was recently enacted in France and presumably using software similar to that used by China and Iran to suppress free speech.

After all, (and I am sure that our Australian writer's community would agree) a minuscule diminution of the liberty of the masses is not too high a price to pay to protect the rights of the elite.


The problems in China (mentioned above) are only part of an emerging picture.  Other indicators are the unrest in Iran, the higher interest rates being offered in Australia, the rising stock market in the USA, the rising price of iron ore, the unsettled politics in Japan and Israel.  The list goes on.

One narrative that fits the detail is that the falling world GDP is creating a worldwide dissatisfaction with government.  Those who think they control things see this unrest as a threat, and are planning to inflate their way out of the problem.  Anticipating that inflation, prices for money and raw materials is rising.

I don't think that they will succeed.  The world faces the biggest social upheaval since the fourth/fifth century BC.  That is when China was first melded into one state, and when Alexander the Great remodeled West Asia.


One of the more interesting philosophical questions is "why did technological culture arise in Western Europe?"  Other great cultures of the past had science, but apparently had a taboo against the application of technology to labour saving devices.  The starkest example is in the Tao Te Ching, Pien 80.  I have chosen the authoritative Arthur Waley translation.

"Let there be contrivances requiring ten times, a hundred times less labour, they should not use them."

On any measure of being civilized, (meaning having a culture that has been shaped to provide it's people with the social tools to live in cities) the Chinese and Indians and Iranians and Iraqis and Egyptians were there long before any of the Europeans.  So why did our industrial culture originate in Western Europe, most specifically in England and it's ex-colony, the USA?

Perhaps the seed event of Western European Culture was that Menelaus' dick was not big enough to stop Helen from eloping with Paris.  That elopement caused the siege of Troy and hence the writing of the Iliad, which was a central work in Greek culture, which is credited with being the seed of Western European culture.

A necessary ingredient would have been the Roman empire, which took Greek culture and spread it as a civilizing influence over Western Europe.

Another vital ingredient is Jewish culture, from which sprang Christianity. and thence the protestant religions, which provided a separation of religion and state.  It could be argued that Jewish culture has evolved to provide the model for professional and business service sectors in our culture.

And the German language provided the final ingredient; a language of torturous logic that helped shape the muddy Greek philosophy of science into a sharp tool allowing rigorous analysis of natural phenomena.

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