Wednesday, 31 October 2007

New details about Manhattan Project

An interesting article from New York Times:
a journalist talks to Robert Norris, who has chronicled the actual New York roots of the original Manhattan Project (secret project to develop the first nuclear weapon atomic bomb during World War II by the United States) in a new book called “The Manhattan Project” (Black Dog & Leventhal).

Why They Called It the Manhattan Project
Published: October 30, 2007

By nature, code names and cover stories are meant to give no indication of the secrets concealed. “Magic” was the name for intelligence gleaned from Japanese ciphers in World War II, and “Overlord” stood for the Allied plan to invade Europe.

Many people assume that the same holds true for the Manhattan Project, in which thousands of experts gathered in the mountains of New Mexico to make the world’s first atom bomb.

Robert S. Norris, a historian of the atomic age, wants to shatter that myth.

In “The Manhattan Project” (Black Dog & Leventhal), published last month, Dr. Norris writes about the Manhattan Project’s Manhattan locations. He says the borough had at least 10 sites, all but one still standing. They include warehouses that held uranium, laboratories that split the atom, and the project’s first headquarters — a skyscraper hidden in plain sight right across from City Hall.

“It was supersecret,” Dr. Norris said in an interview. “At least 5,000 people were coming and going to work, knowing only enough to get the job done.”

Manhattan was central, according to Dr. Norris, because it had everything: lots of military units, piers for the import of precious ores, top physicists who had fled Europe and ranks of workers eager to aid the war effort. It even had spies who managed to steal some of the project’s top secrets.

“The story is so rich,” Dr. Norris enthused. “There’s layer upon layer of good stuff, interesting characters.”

Still, more than six decades after the project’s start, the Manhattan side of the atom bomb story seems to be a well-preserved secret.

Dr. Norris recently visited Manhattan at the request of The New York Times for a daylong tour of the Manhattan Project’s roots. Only one site he visited displayed a public sign noting its role in the epochal events. And most people who encountered his entourage, which included a photographer and videographer, knew little or nothing of the atomic labors in Manhattan.

“That’s amazing,” Alexandra Ghitelman said after learning that the buildings she had just passed on inline skates once held tons of uranium destined for atomic weapons. “That’s unbelievable.”

While shock tended to be the main reaction, some people hinted at feelings of pride. More than one person said they knew someone who had worked on the secret project, which formally got under way in August 1942 and three years later culminated in the atomic bombing of Japan. In all, it employed more than 130,000 people.

Dr. Norris is also the author of “Racing for the Bomb” (Steerforth, 2002), a biography of Gen. Leslie R. Groves, the project’s military leader. As his protagonist had done during the war, Dr. Norris works in Washington. At the Natural Resources Defense Council, he studies and writes about the nation’s atomic facilities.

Dr. Norris began his day of exploration by taking the train to New York from Washington, coming into Pennsylvania Station just as General Groves had done dozens of times during the war to visit project sites.

“Groves didn’t want the job,” Dr. Norris remarked outside the station. “But his foot hit the accelerator and he didn’t let up for 1,000 days.”

For tour assistance, Dr. Norris brought along his own books as well as printouts from “The Traveler’s Guide to Nuclear Weapons,” a CD by James M. Maroncelli and Timothy L. Karpin that features little-known history of the nation’s atom endeavors.

We headed north to the childhood home of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the eccentric genius whom General Groves hired to run the project’s scientific side as well as its sprawling New Mexico laboratory. Last year, a biography of Oppenheimer, “American Prometheus” (Knopf, 2005), won the Pulitzer Prize.

“One of the most famous scientists of the 20th century,” Dr. Norris noted, got his start “walking these streets” and attending the nearby Ethical Culture School.

Oppenheimer and his parents lived at 155 Riverside Drive, an elegant apartment building at West 88th Street. The superintendent, Joe Gugulski, said the family lived on the 11th floor, overlooking the Hudson River.

“One of my tenants read the book,” Mr. Gugulski told us. “So I looked it up.” To his knowledge, Mr. Gugulski added, no other atomic tourists had visited the building.

The Oppenheimers decorated their apartment with original artwork by Picasso, Rembrandt, Renoir, Van Gogh and Cézanne, according to “American Prometheus.” His mother encouraged young Robert to paint.

By the late 1930s and early 1940s, blocks away at Columbia University, scientists were laboring to split the atom and release its titanic energies. We made our way across campus — with difficulty because of protests over the visit of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, which is widely suspected of harboring its own bomb program.

Dr. Norris noted that the Manhattan Project led to “many of our problems today.”

The Pupin Physics Laboratories housed the early atom experiments, Dr. Norris said. But the tall building, topped by observatory domes, has no plaque in its foyer describing its nuclear ties.

Passing students and pedestrians answered “no” and “kind of” when asked if they knew of the atom breakthroughs at Pupin Hall. Dr. Norris said the Manhattan Project, at its peak, employed 700 people at Columbia. At one point, the football team was recruited to move tons of uranium. That work, he said, eventually led to the world’s first nuclear reactor.

After lunch, we headed to West 20th Street just off the West Side Highway. The block, on the fringe of Chelsea, bristled with new galleries, and Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. On its north side, three tall buildings once made up the Baker and Williams Warehouses, which held tons of uranium.

Two women taking a cigarette break said they had no idea of their building’s atomic past. “It’s horrible,” said one.

Dr. Norris’s “Traveler’s Guide” fact sheet said the federal government in the late 1980s and early 1990s cleaned the buildings of residual uranium. Workers removed more than a dozen drums of radioactive waste, according to the Department of Energy in Washington. “Radiological surveys show that the site now meets applicable requirements for unrestricted use,” a federal document said in 1995.

We moved to Manhattan’s southern tip and worked our way up Broadway along the route known as the Canyon of Heroes, the scene of many ticker-tape parades amid the skyscrapers.

At 25 Broadway, we visited a minor but important site — the Cunard Building. Edgar Sengier, a Belgian with an office here, had his company mine about 1,200 tons of high-grade uranium ore and store it on Staten Island in the shadow of the Bayonne Bridge. Though a civilian, he knew of the atomic possibilities and feared the invading Germans might confiscate his mines.

Dr. Norris said General Groves, on his first day in charge, sent an assistant to buy all that uranium for a dollar a pound — or $2.5 million. “The Manhattan Project was off to a flying start,” he said, adding that the Belgian entrepreneur in time supplied two-thirds of all the project’s uranium.

We walked past St. Paul’s Chapel and proceeded to the soaring grandeur of the Woolworth Building, once the world’s tallest, at 233 Broadway.

A major site, it housed a front company that devised one of the project’s main ways of concentrating uranium’s rare isotope — a secret of bomb making. On the 11th, 12th and 14th floors, the company drew on the nation’s scientific best and brightest, including teams from Columbia.

Dr. Norris said the front company’s 3,700 employees included Klaus Fuchs, a Soviet spy. “He was a substantial physicist in his own right,” Dr. Norris said. “He contributed to the American atom bomb, the Soviet atom bomb and the British atom bomb.”

So how did the Manhattan Project get its name, and why was Manhattan chosen as its first headquarters?

Dr. Norris said the answer lay at our next stop, 270 Broadway. There, at Chambers Street, on the southwest corner, we found a nondescript building overlooking City Hall Park.

It was here, Dr. Norris said, that the Army Corps of Engineers had its North Atlantic Division, which built ports and airfields. When the Corps got the responsibility of making the atom bomb, it put the headquarters in the same building, on the 18th floor.

“That way he didn’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Dr. Norris said of General Groves. “He used what he had at his fingertips — the entire Corps of Engineers infrastructure.”

Dr. Norris added that the Corps at that time included “extraordinary people, the best and brightest of West Point.”

In time, the office at 270 Broadway ran not only atom research and materials acquisition but also the building of whole nuclear cities in Tennessee, New Mexico and Washington State.

The first proposed name for the project, Dr. Norris said, was the Laboratory for the Development of Substitute Materials. But General Groves feared that would draw undo attention.

Instead, General Groves called for the bureaucratically dull approach of adopting the standard Corps procedure for naming new regional organizations. That method simply noted the unit’s geographical area, as in the Pittsburgh Engineer District.

So the top-secret endeavor to build the atom bomb got the most boring of cover names: the Manhattan Engineer District, in time shortened to the Manhattan Project. Unlike other Corps districts, however, it had no territorial limits. “He was nuts about not attracting attention,” Dr. Norris said.

Manhattan’s role shrank as secretive outposts for the endeavor sprouted across the country and quickly grew into major enterprises. By the late summer of 1943, little more than a year after its establishment, the headquarters of the Manhattan Project moved to Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Despite this dispersal, Dr. Norris said, scientists and businesses in Manhattan, including The New York Times, continued to aid the atomic project.

In April 1945, General Groves traveled to the newspaper’s offices on West 43rd Street. He asked that a science writer, William L. Laurence, be allowed to go on leave to report on a major wartime story involving science.

As early as 1940, before wartime secrecy, Mr. Laurence had reported on the atomic breakthroughs at Pupin Hall.

Now, Dr. Norris said, Mr. Laurence went to work for the Manhattan Project and became the only reporter to witness the Trinity test in the New Mexican desert in July 1945, and, shortly thereafter, the nuclear bombing of Japan.

The atomic age, Mr. Laurence wrote in the first article of a series, began in the New Mexico desert before dawn in a burst of flame that illuminated “earth and sky for a brief span that seemed eternal.”

In Manhattan, the one location that has memorialized its atomic connection had nothing to do with making or witnessing the bomb, but rather with managing to survive its fury.

The spot is on Riverside Drive between 105th and 106th Streets. There, in a residential neighborhood, in front of the New York Buddhist Church, is a tall statue of a Japanese Buddhist monk, Shinran Shonin, who lived in the 12th and 13th centuries. In peasant hat and sandals, holding a wooden staff, the saint peers down on the sidewalk.

The statue survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, standing a little more than a mile from ground zero. It was brought to New York in 1955. The plaque calls the statue “a testimonial to the atomic bomb devastation and a symbol of lasting hope for world peace.”

The statue stands a few blocks from Columbia University, where much of the bomb program began.

“I wonder how many New Yorkers know about it,” Dr. Norris said of the statue, “and know the history.”

blog from jail

An italian criminal (Renato Vallanzasca), sentenced to spend the rest of his life in jail, opened his own blog.
The reality is that he can't accesse to Internet directly and he has some poeple
 who can put on the net his messages and tell him the comments of people.

If you lose (for some reasons) the right to be free, is is acceptable that you have
the right to communicate to the outside world through a blog?
And if you use that blog to send messages with a code?
And if you send propaganda messages pro-crime?

Interview with Naomi Klein

From the magazine Alternet an interview with Naomi Klein.

Why Can't the U.S. Have the Debate about Naomi Klein's Book That Europe Has?

By Jan Frel, AlterNet. Posted September 21, 2007.

In Europe and Canada debate is raging about Naomi Klein's new book on disaster capitalism, The Shock Doctrine. This interview with Klein considers why U.S. public debate is unable to ask fundamental questions about our economic system.

Naomi Klein's new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, tells the history of how the American version of "free market" capitalism has spread in moments of crisis and catastrophe, when societies are too traumatized and disoriented to challenge the introduction of radical economic policies that go against their own interests.

The Shock Doctrine has already been published and translated in several countries. Excerpts from Klein's book were published in the British newspaper the Guardian, and discussion about the book has raged on its online site Comment Is Free, as well as in the German, French and Canadian press. I attended Klein's U.S. book launch event at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Sept. 17, where she described her work and her experiences dealing with a foreign press frequently hostile to her arguments.

At least the foreign press is willing to tangle with writers who offer critiques of the capitalist system. There is plenty of economic coverage in the U.S., but fundamental questions on issues such as whether privatization of public assets benefits the public and if the focus on short-term economic growth is harmful in the long run are simply not discussed. I wondered how Klein's book, which has hit the best-seller lists all over Europe, would fare in the U.S. and what Klein's expectations were for the U.S. audience. I spoke with her on the phone about this and the issues she raises in The Shock Doctrine on Sept. 19.

Jan Frel: Your book has 70 pages of footnotes and has citations from over 1,000 sources. At the book launch in New York, you referred to this as your "body armor." The thinking seems to be that if you can back up what you're saying, then it has to be accepted. Is this what will give it legitimacy in the mainstream media?

Naomi Klein: It's more for the debate about my work. In the attempts to dismiss my work as conspiracies theories, the footnotes help.

Frel: It's often times the case that books that make powerful and damning claims with complete accuracy still don't break into public debate or hit the audience that ought to confront them. Isn't there something else that prevents radical interpretations of society and economics and buried history from reaching public debate?

Klein: I think that's true -- it's certainly true in this country. I wasn't talking about the problem my book would have getting into the mainstream; it's more about the debates around it. My books do get into the mainstream -- outside the U.S. That doesn't mean they aren't contested, but in Canada for example, The Shock Doctrine is already at No. 3 on Amazon. [Currently at No. 43 in the United States.]

Another book I did, No Logo, was a mainstream book in most of the countries where it was published, except for the U.S. In the U.S. it never was. The context I talked about the need for support for my arguments is in cases where my book is being debated and argued. So in the U.S., I totally agree that having solid footnotes are no guarantee that you can start a mainstream debate. I don't have any confidence that this book will be in the mainstream debate in the United States.

Frel: A lot of what you're taking on in The Shock Doctrine is a concept that is fused in deep into a big part of the American psyche -- that "the free market" and "free enterprise," which we don't typically debate or condemn in the mainstream but are to blame for a lot of the things the public does discern as problems, like our healthcare system. But how do you get people to see that they are being screwed by their own dominant economic beliefs?

Klein: It's actually not that hard. The hard part is getting past the media wall.

Frel: At your U.S. book launch on Monday you talked about getting past the "intellectual police lines" that prevent discussion.

Klein: That's a different kind of situation. In Britain, it's a mainstream book being debated on the BBC, the Times of London, the Guardian and so on. It's being dismissed in part -- part of the discussion is an attempt to dismiss it. When I was talking about "intellectual police lines," it was in reference to the kinds of questions I was getting from mainstream journalists in Europe and in Canada. But in the U.S., I would say that's this is not really the issue -- it's whether you get access at all.

Frel: Do you think that it's because in the States, there isn't really any debate about alternatives to our economic system in any form? In Europe, where your book has already been released, there is at least the residue of a public debate that is willing to debate fundamental questions on economic systems and the social contract.

Klein: In most parts of the world, it's easier to even identify the radical policies of capitalism as contested territory, as something to debate. Whereas in the United States, these policies are the air we breathe; they are invisible almost because they are so hegemonic. For example, when I talk about privatization in Canada, people understand what that means -- it's about the drive to privatize our healthcare system and our education system, and there is a very clear grasp in the public mind about what the public sphere actually is. People understand there that this is something to defend against -- that there is something to privatize, while in the U.S., the agenda to privatize has succeeded so fully that these ideas seem more abstract because the idea of the public sphere is almost abstract.

When I'm talking about these ideas in France or the U.K., people know what "public" is. There are large parts of their life that exist within a nonmarket space.

Frel: So do you think it's an issue here in America where people don't want to consider these questions or are unable to?

Klein: I think it's the issue of the media line, and there are a lot of issues around it. It's very hard to have discussion anything outside the parameters of partisan politics in this country.

Frel: It's been my experience that it's not always the issue that the media is preventing discussion, but rather that the media working on behalf of the public's general desire not wanting to get into an issue. For example, this Monday, AlterNet ran article about the recent report that 1.2 million civilians have died violent deaths since the U.S. invasion. It was our top story, and the number of people who read it (24,000) was far lower than we expected.

Klein: Really? And that's a progressive audience.

Frel: It seems to me that it's this kind of a phenomenon that has media, including the corporate media, acting on behalf the audience's "intellectual police lines."

Klein: I think it's a vicious cycle. The media acts as an amplifier.

Frel: It's also responsive to the interests of the audience.

Klein: It is, but look at Lou Dobbs. Here you have a CNN news anchor who makes a concerted decision that he is going to put the disappearing American middle class and the effects of outsourcing on TV every night, and he's going to use his pulpit to drum up outrage, except that he decides that he's going to direct that outrage to the weakest people in society, to immigrants. But what's interesting about that, talking about outsourcing, talking about free trade, talking about the middle class -- any media outlet in the past 20 years could have done a story on that, giving the audience permission to have outrage instead of ignoring it or normalizing it, and saying this is just the way the world works. Lou Dobbs made the conscious decision to make his show a platform for outrage, and people were attracted to it because they really are upset, and they had it validated back to them.

I think the same thing could happen with Iraqi casualties if you had the media saying night after night that this is a scandal and really put a human face on those deaths.

Frel: Your book may encounter resistance at the mainstream level here in the States, but there is an audience of progressives and people who consume alternative media who are certain to embrace it. How does your book speak to their sensibilities, and how do you think they will receive it?

Klein: The book is an attempt to front burner the economic project and the economic ideology that I think is so much at the root of the front-page stories of our time: climate change, preemptive war, the resurgence of torture. I believe we need an analytic framework, and I think the book provides one -- not the only one, but anything that draws connections -- I think that progressives and readers of alternative media aren't going to be shocked by the information in the book. The hope is that the analysis is empowering. I know as a reader what's valuable is having connections made -- you're often bombarded with information in an analytic vacuum you can feel terribly hopeless, but when you make those connections, even when the connections are grim, you're more oriented.

As a writer, I'm very pleased with the reception to the book. Already we've got people writing into the website citing examples of disaster capitalism: "Look at what's going on in Greece, they're handing over land after the forest fires. Look at what's going on in Peru." All you can hope for as an analyst is that people read the newspaper better.

Frel:And you have a daringly simple solution for events of disaster capitalism that you identify, which I summarize as: Society should be informed and aware of what governments are trying to do to them after a catastrophe and apply this lens of analysis to their living context.

Klein: Shock only works if you don't know it's happening to you. Shock is a state of disorientation, which happens when we can't match events with analysis. For me, just understanding how shock affects our brains and that there is a philosophy of how to exploit that opportunity and push through economic policies people wouldn't normally accept in that window of time -- just realizing that makes you more resistant. But this is not my solution. I provide examples in my book of societies that have learned from their history when they were exploited in moments of shock, and delegated authority to figures of security that promised to take care of them. Because they have learned those simple lessons, they've become more shock resistant. But it does require looking at history without the blinders of denial.

In the sense that the book is an alternative history, I do hope that it helps people become more oriented, both in terms of more connected to our recent past, our pre-9/11 past, and more aware of what is happening in a moment of crisis or disaster.

The timing of The Shock Doctrine's release in Canada is very relevant here because it just hosted a summit with George Bush and Mexican President Calderon to meet with Prime Minister Steven Harper to talk about the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) which is basically like NAFTA-plus -- NAFTA plus security issues. The SPP is an example of the shock doctrine I outline in the sense that this was an agenda that would have been unspeakable in terms of integration with the United States before 9/11, and in the panic after -- in that shock -- the SPP agenda moved forward in technocratic circles, and it was presented as a done deal.

Once Canadians began learning about the SPP, they started rejecting it, and then they had this summit, where it was announced that, "Don't worry, nothing's going to happen here." But they said in the final press conference at the summit in Montebello, Quebec, at the end of August that the one exception that they would push for the SPP to be pushed through is if there's a disaster -- if there's an avian flu outbreak or a terrorist attack or a natural disaster -- then they would implement tightened integration between security forces in all these countries.

In Canada this was front-page news -- in the U.S., it wasn't reported on. When my book came out a week later people saw the connections immediately. They realized that what the Canadian government was saying was, the next time there's a disaster, we will use it as a moment of opportunity to push through these policies that you're rejecting where there isn't a disaster going on. It's incredibly naked.

Frel: There's an issue that I've seen a lot of critics and journalists already getting into about your book, and I've seen that you have a good term already to explain it. You don't argue that economic elites try to cause disasters they reap the benefits from, rather that they have "acute intellectual disaster preparedness" -- they are only cynical enough to take advantage of catastrophe.

Klein: I think that's right. The think-tank infrastructure in this country is organized to leap into the chasm right away after disaster has struck. The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute stockpile free market ideas in the way that people stockpile canned goods. I don't say that anyone is causing these disasters for their benefit, but in the book I do say that if there's anything the market delivers on is a stream of increasingly intense disasters. I think the current economic model in America is a slow-motion disaster.

Now we're at the intersection of a weak public infrastructure that has been starved for two and a half decades and increasingly heavy weather, thanks to climate change, which I believe has a lot to do with this pursuit of short-term growth that is at the heart of the economic model, and we're going to have more and more of these disasters. If we aren't careful, each of these disasters offers the opening and a rationale for more disaster capitalism.

Frel: An economic feedback cycle, like the one scientists are warning about the compounding power of the effects of climate change.

Klein: If there's one thing we don't need on this planet it's disasters, because disaster capitalism will keep coming.

Frel: Since capital is not monolithic and has competing interests among economic elites, it seems as though the disaster capitalism model would have taught some of its adherents by now that it doesn't work in the long term, or at least have some elites who would fight against it. You write extensively on the free market laboratory implemented in Chile when Pinochet took over, which of course was a failure. Isn't there resistance to disaster capitalism at the levels of economic power and government that institute them?

Klein: Yes. In the Chile chapter I talk about how the country's manufacturing sector was furious that cheap products were flooding into the country, that people who were making the money in this case were the people involved in speculative finance. There are absolutely these competing interests. If you look at the Bush administration, this is an administration that is particularly tied to the disaster capitalism complex: the arms dealing, homeland security, pharmaceuticals that treat pandemics and the oil industry, which benefits handsomely from each and every disaster.

Frel: There's also the phenomenon that the way the capital markets work is to search out weak points and opportunities in any circumstance in which they arise.

Klein: You can depend on capital to arrive at any vacuum and exploit any weakness. It is not the case that politicians need to facilitate this and fund it lavishly with taxpayer money. What is disturbing is the seamless alliance between government and capitalism.

Frel: You end the book with a quote from a declassified letter from Kissinger to Nixon where he says that the real threat of Allende wasn't what he was telling the public -- that Allende wanted this totalitarian system. Kissinger wrote that the real threat was the problem of social democracy spreading. What was so scary about this idea to him?

Klein: I think it's always been the scary idea, because it's so popular. People like to have consumer choice, and they also like to have basic necessities protected and to have a life with dignity: housing, water, electricity, healthcare. And with democratic socialism you can actually have both: a mixed economy that has an essentially controlled economic model but that has room for diversity within it and has these social guarantees. And that's always been the bigger threat to a radical vision of capitalism than totalitarian communism, because people don't actually like living in communist countries, but they really do like living in democratic socialist countries.

Naomi Klein's works:
-2000 No logo
-2002 Fences and Windows
-2007 The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Naomi Klein's official website

40 years ago, The Prisoner

On 1st October 1967 the british channel ITV broadcast the first episode of one of the best tv show of all times, "The Prisoner". Only seventeen episodes were produced, with the last airing on 4 February 1968.

In the tv series the actor Patrick McGoohan plays the role of a british agent of secret service who, at the beginning of the first episode, decides to retire without giving them any explanation.
He goes back home and he's kidnapped by somebody and taken to a strange place called 
"The village".
In this place, a bizarre village full of other people (who look completely brainwashed and they gave up the idea of escaping), he's called "Number Six" and they try everything in order to know why he resigned. All the series is the story of all his 
attempts to run away and be free again. When a massive ball is chasing him and 
he's caught, he shouts "I'm not a number, I'm a free man!!"

While i'm writing i see that this show as a vote of 9,2/10 given by 1000 imdb users.

The creators of the film Truman Show (1998) and the tv show Lost (2004) took some ideas from The Prisoner.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Google getting in phone business

WSJ writes: "Within the next two weeks, Google is expected to announce advanced software and services that would allow handset makers to bring Google-powered phones to market by the middle of next year"

Can a Google Phone Connect With Carriers?
October 30, 2007

Google Inc. is close to unveiling its long-planned strategy to shake up the wireless market, people familiar with the matter say. The Web giant's ambitious goal: to make applications and services as accessible on cellphones as they are on the Internet.

In a move likely to kick off an intense debate about the future shape of the cellphone industry, Google wants to make it easier for cellphone customers to get a variety of extra services on their phones -- from maps to social-networking features to video-sharing. To get its way, however, the search giant will have to overcome resistance from wireless carriers and deal with potentially thorny security and privacy issues.

Google is trying to loosen the grip wireless carriers have over the software and services consumers can access on cellphones. Carriers have considerable clout, especially in the U.S., where they control distribution of phones to consumers through their retail stores.

Within the next two weeks, Google is expected to announce advanced software and services that would allow handset makers to bring Google-powered phones to market by the middle of next year, people familiar with the situation say. In recent months Google has approached several U.S. and foreign handset manufacturers about the idea of building phones tailored to Google software, with Taiwan's HTC Corp. and South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. mentioned in the industry as potential contenders. Google is also seeking partnerships with wireless operators. In the U.S., it has the most traction with Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA, while in Europe it is pursuing relationships with France Télécom's Orange SA and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.'s 3 U.K., people familiar with the matter say. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Google-powered phones are expected to wrap together several Google applications -- among them, its search engine, Google Maps, YouTube and Gmail email -- that have already made their way onto some mobile devices. The most radical element of the plan, though, is Google's push to make the phones' software "open" right down to the operating system, the layer that controls applications and interacts with the hardware. That means independent software developers would get access to the tools they need to build additional phone features.

Developers could, for instance, more easily create services that take advantage of users' Global Positioning System location, contact lists and Web-browsing habits. They also would be able to interact with Google Maps and other Google applications. The idea is that a range of new social networking, mapping and other services would emerge, just as they have on the open, mostly unfettered Web. Google, meanwhile, could gather user data to show targeted ads to cellphone users.

"The most likely scenario from a Google perspective is to build some, if you will, inspirational platform [applications]; but primarily focus on getting third parties to do it because that's where the innovation will come from," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at the All Things Digital conference in May. He said that "the new model of these phones is going to be person-to-person" with people exchanging videos and other types of data.

While many software developers are likely to cheer Google's open wireless platform, there are some potential risks for consumers. If Google isn't careful, sensitive user information could end up in the wrong hands, leading to spamming, stalking or other invasions of privacy.

There is broad momentum already to make software development on mobile phones easier and more open. Apple Inc. initially limited the kinds of applications it allowed outside developers to make for its iPhone, but the company recently said it would release tools next year to broaden the range of features allowed. (Handset maker Nokia Corp. said its new Internet and multimedia platform, Ovi, is open to third-party applications.)

Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile operating system already gives software developers access to a range of tools to build programs for consumers, though the company does put all new services through a certification process to screen for programs that could hack into a customer's phone or pose other risks.

Microsoft executives question what impact Google will have. "The idea that there are all these things software developers can't do -- it's just not true," said John O'Rourke, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Mobile unit said. "It's hard to imagine what huge breakthroughs [Google] is going to have."

Google's push comes as carriers are under pressure on other fronts to relax their hold on the wireless market. They face litigation over "locking" of phones, which prevents people from transferring devices from one provider to another.

Sprint Nextel Corp. agreed this month to unlock the phones of departing customers as part of a settlement in a California class-action lawsuit. Google and others, meanwhile, have criticized carriers for being a bottleneck on what software and services consumers can access.

Google helped push through controversial rules for a coming spectrum auction at the Federal Communications Commission that would result in a new cellular network open to all devices and software applications, even those not favored by an operator. Google has said it will probably bid for the frequencies.

For now, the company knows it has no choice but to work with operators to make its open platform successful. D.P. Venkatesh, CEO of mPortal Inc., which makes software for wireless operators, puts it this way: "There are a few things carriers control that will always keep them in charge at the end of the day."

35 beautiful minds

Since 1999, the editors of Technology Review (magazine of Massachussets institute of technology) have honored the young innovators whose inventions and research we find most exciting; today that collection is the TR35, a list of technologists and scientists, all under the age of 35. Their work--spanning medicine, computing, communications, electronics, nanotechnology, and more--is changing our world.

2007 Innovator of the Year: David Berry
2007 Humanitarian of the Year: Tapan Parikh

Here's the complete list:

J. Christopher Anderson (31 - University of California, Berkeley)
Creating tumor-killing bacteria

Erik Bakkers (34 - Philips Research Laboratories)
Combining semiconductors

David Berry (29 - Flagship Ventures)
Renewable petroleum from microbes

Sanjit Biswas (25 - Meraki Networks)
Cheap, easy Internet access

Josh Bongard (33 - University of Vermont)
Adaptive robots

Garrett Camp (28 - StumbleUpon)
Discovering more of the Web

Mung Chiang (30 - Princeton University)
Optimizing networks

Adam Cohen (28 - Harvard University)
Making molecules motionless

Javier García-Martínez (34 - University of Alicante - Spain)
New zeolites for cracking petroleum

Ali Khademhosseini (31 - Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology)
Living Legos

Tadayoshi Kohno (29 - University of Washington)
Securing systems cryptographically

Tariq Krim (34 - Netvibes)
Building a personal, dynamic Web page

Ivan Krstic´ (21 - One Laptop per Child)
Making antivirus software obsolete

Jeff LaPorte (30 - Eqo Communications)
Internet-based calling from mobile phones

Ju Li (32 - Ohio State University)
Modeling designer materials

Karen Liu (30 - Georgia Tech)
Bringing body language to computer-animated characters

Christopher Loose (27 - SteriCoat)
Beating up bacteria

Anna Lysyanskaya (31 - Brown University)
Securing online privacy

Tapan Parikh (33 - University of Washington)
Simple, powerful mobile tools for developing economies

Babak Parviz (34 - University of Washington)
Self-assembling micromachines

Kristala Jones Prather (34 - MIT)
Reverse-engineering biology

Partha Ranganathan (34 - Hewlett-Packard Labs)
Power-aware computing systems

Neil Renninger (33 - Amyris Biotechnologies)
Hacking microbes for energy

Kevin Rose (30 - Digg)
Online social bookmarking

Marc Sciamanna (29 - École Supérieure d’Électricité and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-France)
Controlling chaos in telecom lasers

Rachel Segalman (31 - University of California, Berkeley)
Cheap electricity from heat

Shetal Shah (32 - State University of New York, Stony Brook)
Cushioning preemies

Abraham Stroock (34 - Cornell University)
Microfluidic biomaterials

Desney Tan (31 - Microsoft Research)
Teaching computers to read minds

Doris Tsao (31 - University of Bremen - Germany)
Shedding light on how our brains recognize faces

Luis von Ahn (29 - Carnegie Mellon University)
Using “captchas” to digitize books

Xudong Wang (31 - Georgia Tech)
Powering the nanoworld

Lili Yang (32 - Caltech)
Engineering immunity

Mehmet Yanik (29 - MIT)
Stopping light on microchips

Mark Zuckerberg (23 - Facebook)
Circle of friends

Scientists and communication

Michael Skapinker (Associate Editor of the FT and a columnist) writes: "Journalists often demand definitive answers. Scientists need to explain that they are not always possible."

Scientists must learn to talk to the media
By Michael Skapinker

Published: October 29 2007 17:53

I occasionally speak to school students about journalism and they usually ask the same questions. Have you interviewed anyone famous? (Richard Branson and John Cleese seem to pass muster.) What do you do if there is no news? (There is always news.) What should I study if I want to be a journalist?

I spend some time on the last one, advising them to study whatever they are most interested in, whether it is history, foreign languages or economics. The craft of journalism is something they can learn later. Far better to acquire some knowledge to bring to the job. And I tell them there is a desperate need for more scientists who can broadcast and write.

Science and the media have not always served each other well. Last week, the Royal Society of Arts and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism hosted a stimulating discussion on the theme “Do scientists get the media they deserve?” The speakers were Craig Venter, the genome research pioneer, and Niall Dickson, a former BBC journalist who is now chief executive of the King’s Fund, the independent health charity.

On the basis of his performance, Mr Venter, who was once described in The New Yorker as an “idiot”, does not get the press he deserves. He was amusing and quietly spoken. He was also easier on journalists than Mr Dickson, who worried about the media’s tendency to sensationalise, to oversimplify and to reduce the world to black and white.

On the other hand, Mr Venter said scientists, driven by their need for research grants, were guilty of exaggerating what they hoped to achieve. They were happy if they fell 50 per cent short of their stated goals. Business executives who fell even slightly short were adjudged failures.

Mr Dickson said he was not entirely pessimistic. Organisations such as the Science Media Centre, whose director, Fiona Fox, chaired the discussion, helped scientists explain themselves. (“Large numbers are very difficult to imagine,” the centre tells scientists. “Rather than 1 in 1,200, talk about one child in a large secondary school.”) The centre also helps journalists with “thumbnail sketches” entitled, for example: “What is peer review? Peer review is where scientists open their research to the scrutiny of other experts in the field.”

Based on my experience as a non-scientific journalist, occasionally writing about controversies such as mobile phone emissions, genetically modified food and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination, here are a few other suggestions for scientists.

First, do not assert a certainty that science cannot sustain. Journalists often demand definitive answers. Scientists need to explain this is not always possible. This can work. The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme last month issued a nuanced report on the health risks from mobile phones.

The programme, funded by the UK government and the industry, found no evidence of ill health in mobile phone users but added that “cancer symptoms are rarely detectable until 10 to 15 years after the cancer producing event and, since few people have used their phones that long, it is too early to say for certain whether mobile phones could lead to cancer or indeed to other diseases”.

The Daily Express reported it this way: “Scientists have admitted there may be long-term health risks from using mobile phones. A major study published on Monday found no evidence of a link between short-term use and brain cancer. But experts behind the research said it was too early to know what will happen in future.” Not bad.

Second, people, however well-meaning, generally make sacrifices for the wider good only if they can see benefits for themselves or their families. People may be prepared to buy hybrid cars because they can see that global warming might affect their loved ones.

But European consumers refused to set aside their suspicions about genetically modified food just because US companies claimed it would help farmers in the developing world. Consumers could see nothing in it for themselves and they suspected the alleged benefits would accrue mainly to the companies. Third, while people may be prepared to tolerate some risk for themselves, they are prepared to accept far less for their children.

When a lone British doctor claimed the MMR vaccine could cause autism (an assertion that has attracted no scientific support), public health officials violated all these suggestions.

They baldly asserted that the vaccine was safe, when people knew no vaccination was completely safe. They told parents who refused to vaccinate their children that they were risking the health of the community. Parents were not prepared to sacrifice their own children for the community.

With patient persuasion, and the discrediting of the alarmist research, immunisation rates in England are climbing again but, at 85 per cent, are still short of the 95 per cent needed to ensure widespread immunity.

Celebrities and foreign policy

FT columnist Gideon Rachman writes: "Celebrities tend to see things in the stark and simple terms favoured in Hollywood movies, rock songs and the speeches of US president George W. Bush. It is always black versus white; good against evil."

The aid crusade and Bono’s brigade

By Gideon Rachman
Published: October 29 2007 18: 06

Here is a selection of recent newspaper headlines: “Redford slams Bush over Iraq”; “Bono takes IMF to task over Liberia”; “Jolie blasts US military spending”; “Clooney’s foreign policy – sexiest man has a plan to save Darfur”.

You do not have to buy supermarket tabloids to read this stuff. The Bono headline was in the Financial Times; the Clooney story was in the Chicago Tribune. The news editors of these high-brow publications have not gone mad (as far as I can tell). They are simply reflecting the fact that film stars and rock musicians shape public opinion – and therefore public policy. Daniel Drezner, an academic, argues in a forthcoming article for National Interest – “Foreign Policy Goes Glam” – that the growth of “celebrity activism” reflects the decline of traditional media and the rising power of star-struck “soft news” outlets.

Something about this mix of glitter and public policy makes me uncomfortable – and apparently I am not alone. When I suggested recently on my FT blog that Bono was a “grandstanding poseur”, I was astonished by the gleeful vitriol I unleashed in response. One commenter called the Irish anti-poverty campaigner a “preening narcissist”; another castigated “the absurd legal case he brought to reclaim a hat”; others pointed to the use of Dutch tax shelters by his band, U2; another accused him of being “a yobbo teaching PhDs how to do their jobs”.

After a while, I became a little alarmed – even ashamed. Bono and other celebrity campaigners may be irritating, but are they really that bad? Would it actually be better if they devoted themselves to more traditional rock-star pastimes such as smashing up hotel rooms and choking on their own vomit? As one of Bono’s sidekicks pointed out to me, in a pained e-mail, the star has “helped bring about debt cancellation of $70bn for African countries” and raised money for antimalarial bed-nets and drugs to combat HIV.

All of this prompted me to try to be more precise. It seems to me there are three problems with mixing stars and foreign policy. The first is aesthetic; the second is to do with legitimacy; and the third is about the kind of policies that appeal to celebrities.

To get a sense of the aesthetic problem, take a look at the July issue of Vanity Fair – guest edited by Bono and concentrating on African poverty and luxury-goods advertising. Graydon Carter, the magazine’s full-time editor, records how he first met Bono “at a small dinner given by Robert De Niro”. (God forbid that it should have been a large dinner.) He records that “Bono was a difficult man not to like”. Bono reciprocates. “Graydon,” he writes, is a “true rock star”. As for “our corporate partners – American Express, Apple, Emporio Armani. . . ” – they are “heroic”.

Let Bono into your life and you can be sure to be garlanded with gush. Ignore him and he can turn nasty. At the most recent Group of Eight leading industrialised nations summit, the rock star secured meetings with the US president, the German chancellor and the French president. But when Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, said he was too busy to meet him, Bono snarled that it was Mr Harper who had “blocked progress” on aid for Africa. A chastened prime minister promised to find time in his diary for a meeting.

There is something unedifying about an unelected celebrity intimidating politicians. But if Bono and pals really are saving lives, then surely it is all for the best? To their fans, there is little doubt. By raising money and awareness – and by pressurising politicians to “do the right thing” – the stars are making the world a better place.

The trouble is that celebrities tend to see things in the stark and simple terms favoured in Hollywood movies, rock songs and the speeches of US president George W. Bush. It is always black versus white; good against evil.

So George Clooney has been quoted as saying of the war in Darfur: “It is not a political issue. There is only right or wrong.” Anguish over Darfur is appropriate. But no political issues? Try telling that to the people who tried and failed to persuade rebel groups to attend peace talks last weekend.

African poverty – still the stars’ favourite cause – is particularly vulnerable to stark over-simplification. The rock-star analysis was most pithily expressed during the Live Aid concert in 1985, when Bob Geldof implored a television audience to: “Just give us the fockin’ money.”

Twenty years on, more “fockin’ money” is still the musicians’ basic prescription for Africa. Bono’s crusade centres around foreign aid and debt relief. There are experts who agree with him. Jeffrey Sachs, the stars’ favourite economist, favours an aid-driven approach to African poverty – and, according to Angelina Jolie, he is “one of the smartest people in the world”.

But the Sachs-Bono-Jolie prescription for Africa is hardly uncontested. There are experts who believe that aid to Africa is often counter-productive. Even some of those who agree that aid and debt relief are important see them as only a small part of the solution. In a much-praised book on global poverty, The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier argues that many of the problems of Africa are essentially political. He laments the fact that at the G8: “We have had leadership without an adequate agenda, because to date the agenda has been dominated by aid.”

And who is setting the agenda? Look no further than an Irish musician in wrap-around shades – perfect for those hot African days.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Is or isn't the world flat?

In 2005 New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote the book The World Is Flat and Pankaj Ghemawat from Foreign Policy explains us why he disagrees.

Why the World Isn’t Flat

Pankaj Ghemawat is the Anselmo Rubiralta professor of global strategy at IESE Business School and the Jaime and Josefina Chua Tiampo professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. His new book is Redefining Global Strategy (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, September 2007).

Globalization has bound people, countries, and markets closer than ever, rendering national borders relics of a bygone era—or so we’re told. But a close look at the data reveals a world that’s just a fraction as integrated as the one we thought we knew. In fact, more than 90 percent of all phone calls, Web traffic, and investment is local. What’s more, even this small level of globalization could still slip away.

Ideas will spread faster, leaping borders. Poor countries will have immediate access to information that was once restricted to the industrial world and traveled only slowly, if at all, beyond it. Entire electorates will learn things that once only a few bureaucrats knew. Small companies will offer services that previously only giants could provide. In all these ways, the communications revolution is profoundly democratic and liberating, leveling the imbalance between large and small, rich and poor.” The global vision that Frances Cairncross predicted in her Death of Distance appears to be upon us. We seem to live in a world that is no longer a collection of isolated, “local” nations, effectively separated by high tariff walls, poor communications networks, and mutual suspicion. It’s a world that, if you believe the most prominent proponents of globalization, is increasingly wired, informed, and, well, “flat.”

It’s an attractive idea. And if publishing trends are any indication, globalization is more than just a powerful economic and political transformation; it’s a booming cottage industry. According to the U.S. Library of Congress’s catalog, in the 1990s, about 500 books were published on globalization. Between 2000 and 2004, there were more than 4,000. In fact, between the mid-1990s and 2003, the rate of increase in globalization-related titles more than doubled every 18 months.

Amid all this clutter, several books on the subject have managed to attract significant attention. During a recent TV interview, the first question I was asked—quite earnestly—was why I still thought the world was round. The interviewer was referring of course to the thesis of New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman’s bestselling book The World Is Flat. Friedman asserts that 10 forces—most of which enable connectivity and collaboration at a distance—are “flattening” the Earth and leveling a playing field of global competitiveness, the likes of which the world has never before seen.

It sounds compelling enough. But Friedman’s assertions are simply the latest in a series of exaggerated visions that also include the “end of history” and the “convergence of tastes.” Some writers in this vein view globalization as a good thing—an escape from the ancient tribal rifts that have divided humans, or an opportunity to sell the same thing to everyone on Earth. Others lament its cancerous spread, a process at the end of which everyone will be eating the same fast food. Their arguments are mostly characterized by emotional rather than cerebral appeals, a reliance on prophecy, semiotic arousal (that is, treating everything as a sign), a focus on technology as the driver of change, an emphasis on education that creates “new” people, and perhaps above all, a clamor for attention. But they all have one thing in common: They’re wrong.
The Failed States Index 2007 - Click Here to Buy the Poster

In truth, the world is not nearly as connected as these writers would have us believe. Despite talk of a new, wired world where information, ideas, money, and people can move around the planet faster than ever before, just a fraction of what we consider globalization actually exists. The portrait that emerges from a hard look at the way companies, people, and states interact is a world that’s only beginning to realize the potential of true global integration. And what these trend’s backers won’t tell you is that globalization’s future is more fragile than you know.


The few cities that dominate international financial activity—Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, New York—are at the height of modern global integration; which is to say, they are all relatively well connected with one another. But when you examine the numbers, the picture is one of extreme connectivity at the local level, not a flat world. What do such statistics reveal? Most types of economic activity that could be conducted either within or across borders turn out to still be quite domestically concentrated.

One favorite mantra from globalization champions is how “investment knows no boundaries.” But how much of all the capital being invested around the world is conducted by companies outside of their home countries? The fact is, the total amount of the world’s capital formation that is generated from foreign direct investment (FDI) has been less than 10 percent for the last three years for which data are available (2003–05). In other words, more than 90 percent of the fixed investment around the world is still domestic. And though merger waves can push the ratio higher, it has never reached 20 percent. In a thoroughly globalized environment, one would expect this number to be much higher—about 90 percent, by my calculation. And FDI isn’t an odd or unrepresentative example.

As the chart above demonstrates, the levels of internationalization associated with cross-border migration, telephone calls, management research and education, private charitable giving, patenting, stock investment, and trade, as a fraction of gross domestic product (GDP), all stand much closer to 10 percent than 100 percent. The biggest exception in absolute terms—the trade-to-GDP ratio shown at the bottom of the chart—recedes most of the way back down toward 20 percent if you adjust for certain kinds of double-counting. So if someone asked me to guess the internationalization level of some activity about which I had no particular information, I would guess it to be much closer to 10 percent—the average for the nine categories of data in the chart—than to 100 percent. I call this the “10 Percent Presumption.”

More broadly, these and other data on cross-border integration suggest a semiglobalized world, in which neither the bridges nor the barriers between countries can be ignored. From this perspective, the most astonishing aspect of various writings on globalization is the extent of exaggeration involved. In short, the levels of internationalization in the world today are roughly an order of magnitude lower than those implied by globalization proponents.


If you buy into the more extreme views of the globalization triumphalists, you would expect to see a world where national borders are irrelevant, and where citizens increasingly view themselves as members of ever broader political entities. True, communications technologies have improved dramatically during the past 100 years. The cost of a three-minute telephone call from New York to London fell from $350 in 1930 to about 40 cents in 1999, and it is now approaching zero for voice-over-Internet telephony. And the Internet itself is just one of many newer forms of connectivity that have progressed several times faster than plain old telephone service. This pace of improvement has inspired excited proclamations about the pace of global integration. But it’s a huge leap to go from predicting such changes to asserting that declining communication costs will obliterate the effects of distance. Although the barriers at borders have declined significantly, they haven’t disappeared.

To see why, consider the Indian software industry—a favorite of Friedman and others. Friedman cites Nandan Nilekani, the CEO of the second-largest such firm, Infosys, as his muse for the notion of a flat world. But what Nilekani has pointed out privately is that while Indian software programmers can now serve the United States from India, access is assured, in part, by U.S. capital being invested—quite literally—in that outcome. In other words, the success of the Indian IT industry is not exempt from political and geographic constraints. The country of origin matters—even for capital, which is often considered stateless.

Or consider the largest Indian software firm, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Friedman has written at least two columns in the New York Times on TCS’s Latin American operations: “[I]n today’s world, having an Indian company led by a Hungarian-Uruguayan servicing American banks with Montevidean engineers managed by Indian technologists who have learned to eat Uruguayan veggie is just the new normal,” Friedman writes. Perhaps. But the real question is why the company established those operations in the first place. Having worked as a strategy advisor to TCS since 2000, I can testify that reasons related to the tyranny of time zones, languages, and the need for proximity to clients’ local operations loomed large in that decision. This is a far cry from globalization proponents’ oft-cited world in which geography, language, and distance don’t matter.

Trade flows certainly bear that theory out. Consider Canadian-U.S. trade, the largest bilateral relationship of its kind in the world. In 1988, before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, merchandise trade levels between Canadian provinces—that is, within the country—were estimated to be 20 times as large as their trade with similarly sized and similarly distant U.S. states. In other words, there was a built-in “home bias.” Although NAFTA helped reduce this ratio of domestic to international trade—the home bias—to 10 to 1 by the mid-1990s, it still exceeds 5 to 1 today. And these ratios are just for merchandise; for services, the ratio is still several times larger. Clearly, the borders in our seemingly “borderless world” still matter to most people.

Geographical boundaries are so pervasive, they even extend to cyberspace. If there were one realm in which borders should be rendered meaningless and the globalization proponents should be correct in their overly optimistic models, it should be the Internet. Yet Web traffic within countries and regions has increased far faster than traffic between them. Just as in the real world, Internet links decay with distance. People across the world may be getting more connected, but they aren’t connecting with each other. The average South Korean Web user may be spending several hours a day online—connected to the rest of the world in theory—but he is probably chatting with friends across town and e-mailing family across the country rather than meeting a fellow surfer in Los Angeles. We’re more wired, but no more “global.”

Just look at Google, which boasts of supporting more than 100 languages and, partly as a result, has recently been rated the most globalized Web site. But Google’s operation in Russia (cofounder Sergey Brin’s native country) reaches only 28 percent of the market there, versus 64 percent for the Russian market leader in search services, Yandex, and 53 percent for Rambler.

Indeed, these two local competitors account for 91 percent of the Russian market for online ads linked to Web searches. What has stymied Google’s expansion into the Russian market? The biggest reason is the difficulty of designing a search engine to handle the linguistic complexities of the Russian language. In addition, these local competitors are more in tune with the Russian market, for example, developing payment methods through traditional banks to compensate for the dearth of credit cards. And, though Google has doubled its reach since 2003, it’s had to set up a Moscow office in Russia and hire Russian software engineers, underlining the continued importance of physical location. Even now, borders between countries define—and constrain—our movements more than globalization breaks them down.


If globalization is an inadequate term for the current state of integration, there’s an obvious rejoinder: Even if the world isn’t quite flat today, it will be tomorrow. To respond, we have to look at trends, rather than levels of integration at one point in time. The results are telling. Along a few dimensions, integration reached its all-time high many years ago. For example, rough calculations suggest that the number of long-term international migrants amounted to 3 percent of the world’s population in 1900—the high-water mark of an earlier era of migration—versus 2.9 percent in 2005.

Along other dimensions, it’s true that new records are being set. But this growth has happened only relatively recently, and only after long periods of stagnation and reversal. For example, FDI stocks divided by GDP peaked before World War I and didn’t return to that level until the 1990s. Several economists have argued that the most remarkable development over the long term was the declining level of internationalization between the two World Wars. And despite the records being set, the current level of trade intensity falls far short of completeness, as the Canadian-U.S. trade data suggest. In fact, when trade economists look at these figures, they are amazed not at how much trade there is, but how little.

It’s also useful to examine the considerable momentum that globalization proponents attribute to the constellation of policy changes that led many countries—particularly China, India, and the former Soviet Union—to engage more extensively with the international economy. One of the better-researched descriptions of these policy changes and their implications is provided by economists Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner:

“The years between 1970 and 1995, and especially the last decade, have witnessed the most remarkable institutional harmonization and economic integration among nations in world history. While economic integration was increasing throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the extent of integration has come sharply into focus only since the collapse of communism in 1989. In 1995, one dominant global economic system is emerging.”

Yes, such policy openings are important. But to paint them as a sea change is inaccurate at best. Remember the 10 Percent Presumption, and that integration is only beginning. The policies that we fickle humans enact are surprisingly reversible. Thus, Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History, in which liberal democracy and technologically driven capitalism were supposed to have triumphed over other ideologies, seems quite quaint today. In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations looks at least a bit more prescient. But even if you stay on the economic plane, as Sachs and Warner mostly do, you quickly see counterevidence to the supposed decisiveness of policy openings. The so-called Washington Consensus around market-friendly policies ran up against the 1997 Asian currency crisis and has since frayed substantially—for example, in the swing toward neopopulism across much of Latin America. In terms of economic outcomes, the number of countries—in Latin America, coastal Africa, and the former Soviet Union—that have dropped out of the “convergence club” (defined in terms of narrowing productivity and structural gaps vis-à-vis the advanced industrialized countries) is at least as impressive as the number of countries that have joined the club. At a multilateral level, the suspension of the Doha round of trade talks in the summer of 2006—prompting The Economist to run a cover titled “The Future of Globalization” and depicting a beached wreck—is no promising omen. In addition, the recent wave of cross-border mergers and acquisitions seems to be encountering more protectionism, in a broader range of countries, than did the previous wave in the late 1990s.

Of course, given that sentiments in these respects have shifted in the past 10 years or so, there is a fair chance that they may shift yet again in the next decade. The point is, it’s not only possible to turn back the clock on globalization-friendly policies, it’s relatively easy to imagine it happening. Specifically, we have to entertain the possibility that deep international economic integration may be inherently incompatible with national sovereignty—especially given the tendency of voters in many countries, including advanced ones, to support more protectionism, rather than less. As Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, put it in late 2006, “If you put globalization to a popular vote in the U.S., it would lose.” And even if cross-border integration continues on its upward path, the road from here to there is unlikely to be either smooth or straight. There will be shocks and cycles, in all likelihood, and maybe even another period of stagnation or reversal that will endure for decades. It wouldn’t be unprecedented.

The champions of globalization are describing a world that doesn’t exist. It’s a fine strategy to sell books and even describe a potential environment that may someday exist. Because such episodes of mass delusion tend to be relatively short-lived even when they do achieve broad currency, one might simply be tempted to wait this one out as well. But the stakes are far too high for that. Governments that buy into the flat world are likely to pay too much attention to the “golden straitjacket” that Friedman emphasized in his earlier book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, which is supposed to ensure that economics matters more and more and politics less and less. Buying into this version of an integrated world—or worse, using it as a basis for policymaking—is not only unproductive. It is dangerous.

100 living geniuses

Today Daily Telegraph showed us the top 100 living geniuses.

The list, compiled by a panel of six experts in creativity and innovation, is jointly topped by Sir Tim and Albert Hofmann, the Swiss scientist who created the drug LSD.

They are followed by George Soros, the American financier and philanthropist, Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Nelson Mandela, the former South African president.

Creators Synectics, a global consultants firm, chose their geniuses by awarding scores out of 10 to each entrant against a number of factors: paradigm shifting; popular acclaim; intellectual power; achievement and cultural importance. The firm emailed 4,000 Britons this summer and asked them to nominate up to 10 living people who they considered geniuses.

The journalist Aislinn Simpson is so proud of the british in the list:
"Britain has more living geniuses per head of population than anywhere else in the world, according to a new survey which reveals the country's influence on science, technology, business and the arts.
With 24 Britons in the list, the country has generated one living genius per 2.5 million people – a higher proportion than any other country."

1= Albert Hoffman (Swiss) Chemist 27
1= Tim Berners-Lee (British) Computer Scientist 27
3 George Soros (American) Investor & Philanthropist 25
4 Matt Groening (American) Satirist & Animator 24
5= Nelson Mandela (South African) Politician & Diplomat 23
5= Frederick Sanger (British) Chemist 23
7= Dario Fo (Italian) Writer & Dramatist 22
7= Steven Hawking (British) Physicist 22
9= Oscar Niemeyer (Brazilian) Architect 21
9= Philip Glass (American) Composer 21
9= Grigory Perelman (Russian) Mathematician 21
12= Andrew Wiles (British) Mathematician 20
12= Li Hongzhi (Chinese) Spiritual Leader 20
12= Ali Javan (Iranian) Engineer 20
15= Brian Eno (British) Composer 19
15= Damian Hirst (British) Artist 19
15= Daniel Tammet (British) Savant & Linguist 19
18 Nicholson Baker (American Writer 18
19 Daniel Barenboim (N/A) Musician 17
20= Robert Crumb (American) Artist 16
20= Richard Dawkins (British) Biologist and philosopher 16
20= Larry Page & Sergey Brin (American) Publishers 16
20= Rupert Murdoch (American) Publisher 16
20= Geoffrey Hill (British) Poet
25 Garry Kasparov (Russian) Chess Player 15
26= The Dalai Lama (Tibetan) Spiritual Leader 14
26= Steven Spielberg (American) Film maker 14
26= Hiroshi Ishiguro (Japanese) Roboticist 14
26= Robert Edwards (British) Pioneer of IVF treatment 14
26= Seamus Heaney (Irish) Poet 14
31 Harold Pinter (British) Writer & Dramatist 13
32= Flossie Wong-Staal (Chinese) Bio-technologist 12
32= Bobby Fischer (American) Chess Player 12
32= Prince (American) Musician 12
32= Henrik Gorecki (Polish) Composer 12
32= Avram Noam Chomski (American) Philosopher & linguist 12
32= Sebastian Thrun (German) Probabilistic roboticist 12
32= Nima Arkani Hamed (Canadian) Physicist 12
32= Margaret Turnbull (American) Astrobiologist 12
40= Elaine Pagels (American) Historian 11
40= Enrique Ostrea (Philippino) Pediatrics & neonatology 11
40= Gary Becker (American) Economist 11
43= Mohammed Ali (American) Boxer 10
43= Osama Bin Laden (Saudi) Islamicist 10
43= Bill Gates (American) Businessman 10
43= Philip Roth (American) Writer 10
43= James West (American) Invented the foil electrical microphone 10
43= Tuan Vo-Dinh (Vietnamese) Bio-Medical Scientist 10
49= Brian Wilson (American) Musician 9
49= Stevie Wonder (American) Singer songwriter 9
49= Vint Cerf (American) Computer scientist 9
49= Henry Kissinger (American) Diplomat and politician 9
49= Richard Branson (British) Publicist 9
49= Pardis Sabeti (Iranian) Biological anthropologist 9
49= Jon de Mol (Dutch) Television producer 9
49= Meryl Streep (American) Actress 9
49= Margaret Attwood (Canadian) Writer 9
58= Placido Domingo (Spanish) Singer 8
58= John Lasseter (American) Digital Animator 8
58= Shunpei Yamazaki (Japanese) Computer scientist & physicist 8
58= Jane Goodall (British) Ethologist & Anthropologist 8
58= Kirti Narayan Chaudhuri (Indian) Historian 8
58= John Goto (British) Photographer 8
58= Paul McCartney (British) Musician 8
58= Stephen King (American) Writer 8
58= Leonard Cohen (American) Poet & musician 8
67= Aretha Franklin (American) Musician 7
67= David Bowie (British) Musician 7
67= Emily Oster (American) Economist 7
67= Steve Wozniak (American) Engineer and co-founder of Apple Computers 7
67= Martin Cooper (American) Inventor of the cell phone 7
72= George Lucas (American) Film maker 6
72= Niles Rogers (American) Musician 6
72= Hans Zimmer (German) Composer 6
72= John Williams (American) Composer 6
72= Annette Baier (New Zealander) Philosopher 6
72= Dorothy Rowe (British) Psychologist 6
72= Ivan Marchuk (Ukrainian) Artist & sculptor 6
72= Robin Escovado (American) Composer 6
72= Mark Dean (American) Inventor & computer scientist 6
72= Rick Rubin (American) Musician & producer 6
72= Stan Lee (American) Publisher 6
83= David Warren (Australian) Engineer 5
83= Jon Fosse (Norwegian) Writer & dramatist
83= Gjertrud Schnackenberg (American) Poet 5
83= Graham Linehan (Irish) Writer & dramatist 5
83= JK Rowling (British) Writer 5
83= Ken Russell (British) Film maker 5
83= Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (Russian) Small arms designer 5
83= Erich Jarvis (American) Neurobiologist 5
91=. Chad Varah (British) Founder of Samaritans 4
91= Nicolas Hayek (Swiss) Businessman and founder of Swatch 4
91= Alastair Hannay (British) Philosopher 4
94= Patricia Bath (American) Ophthalmologist
94= Thomas L. Jackson (American) (1) Aerospace engineer 3
94= Dolly Parton (American) Singer 3
94= Morissey (British) Singer 3
94= Michael Eavis (British) Organiser of Glastonbury 3
94= Ranulph Fiennes (British) Adventurer 3
100=. Quentin Tarantino (American) Filmmaker

(1) the Daily Telegraph wrote Thomas A. Jackson but the correct name is
Thomas L. Jackson

Video didn't kill the radio debates

Get a pen and write down the timetable of theese interesting radio programmes of BBC Radio 4, switch off your mobile phone and listen to BBC Radio4 on the Internet (if you are not in the UK).

The British Newspaper Industry

A series of programmes examines the influence of the internet and changing technologies on the British newspaper industry. How are newspapers adapting and what influence will the national and local publications retain?

Monday 5 November, 11.00am
A farewell to print
After 150 years of little change in the print industry, the last few years have witnessed a revolution as the internet increases its dominance on the media landscape. Readers’ attention and loyalties have become divided as papers compete with round the clock reporting and unmediated comment.

Tuesday 6 November, 9.00 am
The disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and the editorial and ethical questions coverage of the story have raised.

Tuesday 6 November, 11.00am
How journalism is changing
Kim Fletcher interviews Jessica Callan,the founding '3am girl' on her coverage of the nightclubs of London, and the draw of celebrity journalism. And in a world where print journalists now broadcast online, Emily Bell of the Guardian discusses the impact of the internet on the print journalist.

Wednesday 7 November, 11.00am
The end of the age of influence
In 1992, after Labour’s unexpected defeat, The Sun's headline proclaimed, 'It was The Sun wot won it'. But what influence does the partisan press have, both in Westminster village and on the public? David Yelland, former editor of The Sun, and Peter Preston, former editor of the Guardian, discuss.

Thursday 8 November, 8.00pm
More than 40 million people read a local paper. Philippa Kennedy talks to editors about the business side of running a newspaper and asks whether the local press and their increasing preoccupation with 'new media' has changed the relationship between the local newspaper and the community it serves.

Tuesday 13 November, 9.00 am
A panel of sports journalists discuss how Sven-Goran Eriksson's managerial career was reported in the press.

Thursday 15 November, 8.00pm
Philippa Kennedy investigates the changing role of the local journalist and visits Manchester, where a journalist's most treasured item, their contacts book, has been replaced in the fast-paced multimedia newsroom by an open book policy. How have staff adapted to a new way of working - does this represent a completely new type of journalism?

Saturday 17 November, 8.00pm
From Hugh Cudlipp to Kelvin McKenzie, Arthur Christiansen to Paul Dacre, Andrew Neil examines their changing style and their place at the high table of influence and decision-making. The sense of power an editor experiences in the newsroom is comparable to that of a cabinet minister, and often greater. Or at least it has been. Is there a sense that we may have seen the last of the Big Beasts?

Tuesday 20 November, 9.00 am
How the media covered the debate over gambling and the controversial decision to award a supercasino to Manchester.

Vinyl isn't dead

An article from Wired talks about vinyl records.

Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD's Coffin
by Eliot Van Buskirk

As counterintuitive as it may seem in this age of iPods and digital downloads, vinyl -- the favorite physical format of indie music collectors and audiophiles -- is poised to re-enter the mainstream, or at least become a major tributary.

Talk to almost anyone in the music business' vital indie and DJ scenes and you'll encounter a uniformly optimistic picture of the vinyl market.

"I'm hearing from labels and distributors that vinyl is way up," said Ian Connelly, client relations manager of independent distributor alliance IODA, in an e-mail interview. "And not just the boutique, limited-edition colored vinyl that Jesu/Isis-style fans are hot for right now."

Pressing plants are ramping up production, but where is the demand coming from? Why do so many people still love vinyl, even though its bulky, analog nature is anathema to everything music is supposed to be these days? Records, the vinyl evangelists will tell you, provide more of a connection between fans and artists. And many of today's music fans buy 180-gram vinyl LPs for home listening and MP3s for their portable devices.

"For many of us, and certainly for many of our artists, the vinyl is the true version of the release," said Matador's Patrick Amory. "The size and presence of the artwork, the division into sides, the better sound quality, above all the involvement and work the listener has to put in, all make it the format of choice for people who really care about music."

Because these music fans also listen using portable players and computers, Matador and other labels include coupons in record packaging that can be used to download MP3 versions of the songs. Amory called the coupon program "hugely popular."

Portability is no longer any reason to stick with CDs, and neither is audio quality. Although vinyl purists are ripe for parody, they're right about one thing: Records can sound better than CDs.

Although CDs have a wider dynamic range, mastering houses are often encouraged to compress the audio on CDs to make it as loud as possible: It's the so-called loudness war. Since the audio on vinyl can't be compressed to such extremes, records generally offer a more nuanced sound.

Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary.

"The digital world will never get there," said Chris Ashworth, owner of United Record Pressing, the country's largest record pressing plant.

Golden-eared audiophiles have long testified to vinyl's warmer, richer sound. And now demand for vinyl is on the rise. Pressing plants that were already at capacity are staying there, while others are cranking out more records than they did last year in order to keep pace with demand.

Don MacInnis, owner of Record Technology in Camarillo, California, predicts production will be up 25 percent over last year by the end of 2007. And he's not talking about small runs of dance music for DJs, but the whole gamut of music: "new albums, reissues, majors and indies ... jazz, blues, classical, pop and a lot of (classic) rock."

Turntables are hot again as well. Insound, an online music retailer that recently began selling USB turntables alongside vinyl, can't keep them in stock, according to the company's director, Patrick McNamara.

And on Oct. 17, launched a vinyl-only section stocked with a growing collection of titles and several models of record players.

Big labels still aren't buying the vinyl comeback, but it wouldn't be the first time the industry failed to identify a new trend in the music biz.

"Our numbers, at least, don't really point to a resurgence," said Jonathan Lamy, the Recording Industry Association of America's director of communications. Likewise, Nielsen SoundScan, which registered a slight increase in vinyl sales last year, nonetheless showed a 43 percent decrease between 2000 and 2006.

But when it comes to vinyl, these organizations don't really know what they're talking about. The RIAA's numbers are misleading because its member labels are only now beginning to react to the growing demand for vinyl. As for SoundScan, its numbers don't include many of the small indie and dance shops where records are sold. More importantly, neither organization tracks used records sold at stores or on eBay -- arguably the central clearinghouse for vinyl worldwide.

Vinyl's popularity has been underreported before.

"The Consumer Electronics Association said that only 100,000 turntables were sold in 2004. Numark alone sold more than that to pro DJs that year," said Chris Roman, product manager for Numark.

And the vinyl-MP3 tag team might just hasten the long-predicted death of the CD.

San Francisco indie band The Society of Rockets, for example, plans to release its next album strictly on vinyl and as MP3 files.

"Having just gone through the process of mastering our new album for digital and for vinyl, I can say it is completely amazing how different they really sound," said lead singer and guitarist Joshua Babcock in an e-mail interview. "The way the vinyl is so much better and warmer and more interesting to listen to is a wonder."

(Eliot Van Buskirk has covered digital music since 1998, after seeing the world's first MP3 player sitting on a colleague's desk. He plays bass and rides a bicycle.)

DAB is growing in the UK

An article from the Guardian shows that 28% of UK radio listeners listen to radio using DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) technology.

Britons are becoming DAB hands

The latest Rajar figures reveal that it is the digital networks that are witnessing the largest audience growth

Paul Robinson
(Paul Robinson is managing director of KidsCo Worldwide)
Monday October 29 2007

Despite the efforts of commercial radio to match BBC ratings, parity still seems something of a distant goal. BBC Radios 1 and 2 are piling on audience, with the latest Rajar audience-listening figures showing that in the third quarter of 2007, the BBC attracted 54.5% of listening, up 0.3 percentage points year-on-year, with commercial radio 0.3 percentage points down to 43.3%.

Modest increase

Local commercial stations seem to have stemmed their audience losses with a modest year-on-year increase in reach, although total listening is down slightly, suggesting that listeners are spending less time with these services.

The opposite is the case with Radio 1, which has put on extra listening. Although the network has not added any new listeners in the past 12 months, it has increased its share from 9.8% to 10.6% - which means people are listening longer and have become more loyal to the station. The stability of the weekday DJ line-up and the extension of Chris Moyles' breakfast show to start half an hour earlier at 6.30am will probably further drive this growth.

Over at Radio 2 the audience is up by a quarter of a million people year-on-year and market share is also up from 15.5% to 15.8%. Terry Wogan is unlikely to be unseated by Chris Evans or Jonathan Ross in the immediate future. Johnny Vaughan is also safe in the breakfast chair at Capital Radio, which made a strong gain in number of listeners, adding 246,000 year-on-year with market share holding steady.

The worry for Capital is that its new listeners are very "light" and could easily evaporate. Capital must now try to build on these gains if the station is to catch up with Heart and Magic, both of which have opened up and sustained a sizeable lead in London. Radio 1 and Radio 2 have also both increased their listener base in the capital in the past 12 months.

When commercial radio is successful at pinning back the BBC in London, its revival will be complete. But for now, the decline in total listening to local commercial stations, which has now been the trend for eight Rajar quarters, continues - with a drop in the past year from 32.6% to 31.7% of total listening.

Stations such as Radio City in Liverpool, Clyde 2 in Glasgow and Smooth Radio in north-west England were among those to lose audience. But the falls were not universal. Choice FM in London piled on 111,000 new listeners, taking the station to a new record of 611,000 listeners and Xfm Manchester, after a disappointing debut last year, increased its weekly audience by 33%, lifting its market share by a third.

Commercial radio started in the UK as a loose association of regional/local stations and still regards itself as a local player with muscle. It dominates BBC local radio in local markets and, although national commercial has always been the poor relation, it has been growing in recent months - and now accounts for over a quarter of all UK commercial radio listening. Classic FM, for instance, has grown in London and in the UK overall over the past three months with the addition of 140,000 new listeners.

Cause for optimism

The continuing build-up of listeners to DAB digital radio services - both commercial and BBC - is also impressive, with the weekly reach (proportion of the population) who now listen to digital radio up to a new record high of 28.4%. The largest growth is coming from DAB digital radio which has shown a 15% increase in the past 12 months.

The total number of hours of listening each week by UK radio listeners is now 153m, which represents nearly one sixth of all weekly listening. We are a long way from approaching analogue switch-off, and unlike with television there is no date or timetable for the transition to digital. There is also, in an analogous way to TV, the challenge of multiple radio sets - the average UK household has five each - and there is no converter "set-top box" that will make an analogue radio capable of receiving DAB digital radio.

But the audience growth of many of the digital networks is a cause for optimism. BBC 6Music and BBC7 have achieved record audiences this quarter (of 485,000 and 795,000 respectively), and more than half the commercial national digital networks have also hit new record Rajar audience numbers.

The biggest gains year-on-year are by the Magic Network, up 395,000, The Hits 312,000, Kiss UK 207, 000, Choice UK 186,000, and Planet Rock 126,000.

Other smaller gains and new all-time records have been notched up by Sunrise, Virgin Radio Classic Rock, Real Radio UK, Galaxy and Heat.
- -