A year ago, my wife said to me, “I need you to do me a favor.” I knew that was bad news. A charity she is heavily involved with, Half the Sky, was planning an event in Chicago and she had volunteered me to be the speaker.
In principle, this was no big deal. I speak in front of groups all the time. I can talk about Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics, and my academic research in my sleep.
I knew immediately, however, that this speech would be completely different. Although I often tell stories about myself and my life, they are never stories about emotions. I am one of the most closed off people you’ll ever find when it comes to emotional topics. I have never learned, or really even tried to learn how to express emotions. I’m not proud of this, it just is the truth.
There was no way, however, that I could speak at a Half the Sky event without opening up my emotions. Half the Sky is an amazing charity – perhaps one of the world’s best – doing incredible work with Chinese orphanages. The only events that ever fully penetrated my emotional wall were the death of my son Andrew and the subsequent, deeply moving process of adopting a daughter (eventually two daughters) from China. More than a decade later, the emotions associated with these two events remain shockingly raw, hiding just below the surface. Read More »
One of the biggest story lines of the 21st century is going to be the continued economic rise of China and India. According to the World Bank, both countries grew at a rate of 9.1% in 2009. Here’s a chart of their growth since the 1960s:
While their recent growth has been roughly similar, China and India also boast the two largest populations on the planet. But a new study by RAND shows the giants heading down different demographic paths. From the abstract:
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Demographic contrasts between China and India will become more pronounced in the coming decades, and these differences hold implications for the countries’ relative economic prospects. China’s population is larger than India’s, but India’s population is expected to surpass China’s by 2025. China’s population is older than India’s and beginning to age rapidly, which may constrain economic growth, whereas an increasing percentage of India’s population will consist of working-age people through 2030, giving India an important demographic advantage. How much these demographic changes affect economic growth will depend on several other factors, including the infrastructure, education system, and health care systems in each country and how well each country integrates women into its workforce.
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Timely, since our latest podcast is “The Paradox of Suicide.” It focuses on the specter of suicide and how, strangely, it tends to be more prevalent in rich societies than in poor ones.
One country not mentioned in the podcast is China, where suicide is definitely a cultural problem. Yesterday, China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that China’s official suicide rate is among the highest in the world. It’s so high, that someone tries to kill themselves every two minutes. Roughly 287,000 people commit suicide each year, out of a population of 1.3 billion. From the AFP: Read More »
From the Washington Post:
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The unexpected announcement raised questions about whether taxpayers would be responsible for the entire $535 million in loans that the company used to build a Silicon Valley factory. The wisdom of loan guarantees granted to the company by the Obama administration had already been questioned by government auditors and been the target of a subpoena from House Republicans.
The start-up venture has long been an administration favorite, and its Fremont, Calif., factory received visits from both the president and Energy Secretary Steve Chu. Both used their visits to praise the company for creating jobs and leading the way into a new economy fueled by green energy businesses.
The price of gold has hit all-time highs recently, touching $1,800 an ounce as the stock market swooned last Wednesday. But there’s another commodity that’s enjoying an even bigger bull market these days: rhino horns. According to a recent study by Kenya-based ivory expert Esmond Martin, and his colleague Lucy Vigne, the ivory trade is hotter than ever, fueled by booming demand in China, where it is coveted for its supposed medicinal purposes. The study found that the number of ivory items on sale in southern China has more than doubled since 2004. And most of it is traded illegally. Read More »