Good Reads: Congress's failure, China's looming crisis, and sarcasm explained
Today's Good Reads include a look at the good in Congress's looming budget failure, how China's bubble may burst, and why sarcasm could make you smarter.
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"Though China's leaders have long planned to change the country's economic model – which is also at the heart of its political model – these crises mean that China must accelerate its plan to restructure its economy. Right now, China's economy is based on exporting to wealthy, developed countries. For that export-driven system to work, China's economy needs to remain weaker than those of its buyers. One of the biggest reasons that China sells so much stuff is because it can produce that stuff cheaply. But as China's growth accelerates and European and American growth slows due to financial crises, China is catching up with the developed economies faster than anyone had anticipated. If and when China gets too wealthy to continue exporting cheap products – or if the developed economies become too weak to keep buying them – it will be in big trouble."Skip to next paragraph
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Everyone's doing it
Economic discontent is all the rage these days, and Egypt’s streets are once more taken over by stone-throwing youths, demanding that the Egyptian military loosen its grip on political power. Here in the US, the Occupy Wall Street movement is shifting from financial districts to college campuses, and some Occupy Wall Street organizers see the rougher tactics of the New York City policy department in clearing out camping activists from Zuccotti Park as a possible boon for the movement’s next big thing.
The New Yorker’s Mattathias Schwartz spoke with Kalle Lasn, the 69-year-old Vancover activist seen as a leading light of the Occupy movement on the day after Zuccotti Park was cleared out, and Mr. Lasn sounded positively ebullient.
“I just can’t believe how stupid Bloomberg can be!” he said to me later that day. “This means escalation. A raising of the stakes. It’s one step closer to, you know, a revolution.”
A Good Read
But if there is one good thing that comes out of times like this, it is a need for introspection and study. And in that spirit, Smithsonian Magazine’s Richard Chin has written a story about the scientific study of sarcasm. It turns out sarcasm actually makes humans smarter. Who knew?
"Sarcasm seems to exercise the brain more than sincere statements do. Scientists who have monitored the electrical activity of the brains of test subjects exposed to sarcastic statements have found that brains have to work harder to understand sarcasm.
That extra work may make our brains sharper, according to another study. College students in Israel listened to complaints to a cellphone company’s customer service line. The students were better able to solve problems creatively when the complaints were sarcastic as opposed to just plain angry. Sarcasm “appears to stimulate complex thinking and to attenuate the otherwise negative effects of anger,” according to the study authors."
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