廷龍政經閱讀 (20120129):美國復興

廷龍政經閱讀: The Week of Jan 29, 2012

接下來的十年,是否將迎來美國的復興?本週我推薦兩篇重磅文章,分別刊於Atlantic和NYT。

Adam Davidson: Making it in America (The Atlantic)

For most of U.S. history, most people had a slow and steady wind at their back, a combination of economic forces that didn’t make life easy but gave many of us little pushes forward that allowed us to earn a bit more every year. Over a lifetime, it all added up to a better sort of life than the one we were born into. That wind seems to be dying for a lot of Americans. What the country will be like without it is not quite clear.

Charles Duhigg & Keith Bradsher: How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work (New York Times)

But in the last two decades, something more fundamental has changed, economists say. Midwage jobs started disappearing. Particularly among Americans without college degrees, today’s new jobs are disproportionately in service occupations — at restaurants or call centers, or as hospital attendants or temporary workers — that offer fewer opportunities for reaching the middle class.

James Fallows: Annotated State of the Union Speech (The Atlantic)

In a nutshell, that theme—the intended message of the speech—is: I am a reasonable guy, still hoping to be a uniter rather than a divider, and I have a plan to deal with the trends that make us all worry about our economy and society. Also, I’m very patriotic—and if you think I’m weak or pussy-footing, go ask Osama bin Laden about that.

James Surowiecki: Year of the Yo-Yo (New Yorker)

In other words, while crazy volatility may be great for traders (who live for the chance to make two per cent a day), it’s lousy for the rest of us, and for the economy as a whole. It isn’t just that volatility costs ordinary investors money. It also makes them more likely to give up on the stock market entirely: over the past three years, investors have pulled almost two hundred and fifty billion dollars out of equity funds, even though stock prices have almost doubled since the lowest point of the crash.

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廷龍政經閱讀 (20120122):孔慶東不倒,則北大倒

廷龍政經閱讀: The Week of Jan 22, 2012

這個春節,港人終於領略到了偉大祖國最高學府的正教授的風采,全城學童們也搭順風車上了一堂國情教育課。諸多評論中,以彭浩翔的自白最為沉痛:

對於港人是否為狗,作為英國殖民地長大一代,不敢貿然反駁,因怕自己被毒太深,原來一直為狗而不自知。只好在變動大時代裡,誠惶誠恐努力守護這片小城的自由和核心價值。我不崇洋,我崇優良。作為英殖民政權下生活了廿幾年的,我沒恨也沒愛英國人,只是”被殖民”的屈辱,還真這幾天才能真正體會感受。

這場茶杯里的風暴(tempest in a teapot)裡,我站在香港一邊。有人說香港人不必放下身段,但是有北大校長周其風背書的孔慶東,絕不是一個普通公民,其公開散佈的種群仇恨言論在美國這樣的社會將令其無法立足。而港人較真的精神和和平抗爭的勇氣,開中華族群之新風。倘若孔慶東不倒,則北大將轟然倒落。

jcch: 答中大報社諸君 (香港獨立媒體)

港英政府即使非聖人,治港事事完美,但陳雲所言港英之恩德,仍有一定根據,除非諸君認定,港英所帶來之三權分立制度、半民主政制、各種自由、雙語義務教育、國際認可的標準及法律等,實不如中共六十多年來奉行的制度,否則對港英之貢献實難以抹殺—當年香港除英治中治以外,別無選擇,英治哪裏比不上中治?何況英治之影響彰彰明甚,客觀存在,若去之,香港豈非無根、無歷史?退一萬步而言,當年若非有香港此英治之地,中大創校先賢又能往何處去?

Simon Leys: He Told the Truth About China’s Tyranny (New York Review of Books)

Some on the left attribute the present spiritual and moral emptiness of Chinese society to the spread of the market and to globalization, which are also blamed for China’s enormous corruption. On the contrary, Liu shows that the deep roots of today’s cynicism, hedonism, and moral bankruptcy must be traced back to the Mao era.

Nicholas Carr: Is Google Making Us Stupid? (The Atlantic)

The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, for that matter, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas.

John Cassidy: The Bain Bomb: A User’s Guide (New Yorker)

Even if the companies they invest in ultimately run into trouble, buyout firms like Bain Capital can make a lot of money in the interim. They can sell off non-core assets, extract generous management fees, and pay themselves special dividends financed by debt issues.

廷龍政經閱讀 (20120115):青春

廷龍政經閱讀: The Week of Jan 15, 2012

photo by courtesy of Vogue

本月的Vogue的封面人物是Meryl Streep,創下了Vogue封面人物年齡的記錄。可是,通讀這篇專訪,你會發現Streep的心靈依然年輕。反觀我們這些看起來很年輕的人,真是意氣如灰——彷彿看透了世間萬事萬物,不再相信理想。王爾德 (Oscar Wilde)的話真是妙極了:”I am not young enough to know everything.”

Meryl Streep: Force of Nature (Vogue)

In 1989, she turned 40. “I remember turning to my husband and saying, ‘Well, what should we do? Because it’s over.’ ” The following year, she received three offers to play witches in different movies. She saw the subtext pretty clearly: “Once women passed childbearing age they could only be seen as grotesque on some level.” But with The Bridges of Madison County (1995) she captured “the audience that were my girls, that I knew they’d get it if we could get the movie made,” hence Dancing at Lughnasa and One True Thing, which were also about “women whose usefulness had passed.”

Eamonn Fingleton: The Myth of Japan’s Failure (New York Times)

Japan should be held up as a model, not an admonition. If a nation can summon the will to pull together, it can turn even the most unpromising circumstances to advantage. Here Japan’s constant upgrading of its infrastructure is surely an inspiration. It is a strategy that often requires cooperation across a wide political front, but such cooperation has not been beyond the American political system in the past.

E. B. White (1949): Here Is New York (umb)

New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute.

魏城:蔣經國:台灣民主“開閘者” (FT中文網

恰恰因為蔣經國在台灣、在國民黨內的獨裁地位,他才能力排眾議,解除戒嚴,甚至有人認為,正是因為蔣經國臨終之前“以專制手段結束專制制度”,台灣的民主才能沖破國民黨內保守勢力的阻力得以推進。即使是曾經多年從事黨外民主運動的台灣政論家孫慶餘也認為,“蔣經國在世最後兩年的開放措施,以國民黨的體質來說,堪稱是‘驚天動地’。蔣經國若不開放,繼他之後掌權的國民黨保守派更不可能也不願開放。而既已開放,除非出現動亂或台獨運動失控大事,導致國民黨保守派有辭可借,國民黨開明派及廣大的台灣中產社會也不會容許再關閉了。”

Václav Havel: The Power of the Powerless (vaclavhavel.cz)

Individuals can be alienated from themselves only because there is something in them to alienate. The terrain of this violation is their authentic existence. Living the truth is thus woven directly into the texture of living a lie. It is the repressed alternative, the authentic aim to which living a lie is an inauthentic response. Only against this background does living a lie make any sense: it exists because of that background. In its excusatory, chimerical rootedness in the human order, it is a response to nothing other than the human predisposition to truth. Under the orderly surface of the life of lies, therefore, there slumbers the hidden sphere of life in its real aims, of its hidden openness to truth.

我為什麼對韓寒失望

韓寒的三篇論革命、民主、自由的文章,加上一篇2011年小結一出,我看到的最多的評論,不是公共知識分子罵韓寒的,反倒是群眾們爭先恐後罵公共知識分子的。評論一致認為,這些公共知識分子罵韓寒的姿態和專制政府的話語方式如出一轍。很遺憾,根本算不上公共知識分子的我,也剛好加入了質疑甚至“拋棄”韓寒的行列。

但在twitter及新浪微博上簡單搜索一下“韓寒”,你會發現90%的群眾其實還是力挺韓寒,嘲諷公知的——這很契合群眾的一貫特點:你越嘲諷他,他心裡越爽,因為他心裡從來不把自己當做被嘲諷的一員。韓寒這幾篇文章出來之後,不僅沒有讓他的聲譽受損,反倒增加了他的市場價值。我的姿態根本算不上隨大流,而且可能是遠離群眾的。像我這樣徹底否定韓寒的,基本上屬於韓寒所說的那種極端自由主義分子了。

韓寒的四篇文章出來之後,南都又做了一篇頁碼充實但文字不甚專業(和The New Yorker的文章做的功夫有天淵之別)的專訪。我讀完了這篇專訪,對韓寒的失望一點也沒有消失。這種失望,和韓寒讀書多少或者其他被廣泛引用的立據毫無關係。我的失望,來自韓寒對自己的智商的炫耀以及那種談論鬥爭策略時的洋洋得意之情。

知識分子們不懂統戰,而且糾纏與概念,喜歡搞極端…… 這些指控,乃是韓寒批評的群眾們一直津津樂道的。而聰明的打擦邊球的手法,也是古已有之且屢戰屢敗,韓寒根本夠不上申請專利。

我真的好懷念那個小鎮青年形象的韓寒。今天的每天花費五個小時讀書、坐一次飛機都要讀十幾本雜誌的韓寒,實在給我太大的壓力。而博覽群書之後繼而獨立思考的韓寒,以一副傲視群雄的姿態一統左中右,不討好任何人,簡直有點讓人肅然起敬了。但是韓寒的政綱是什麼呢?《要自由》一篇簡直是小孩子過家家的胡鬧,沒有任何操作價值,而且一點也不吸引人:這也不談,那也不談,只望前看,這簡直變成《人民日報》了。這種自由,簡直和齊澤克說的笑話有的一拼:

有個傢伙從東德給派到西伯利亞工作,他知道自己的郵件都會被人監看,因此他告訴朋 友:「我們定一個暗號,假如我的信件用藍墨水寫,裡面說的都是真話;如果我用紅墨水,說的都是假話。」一個月後他的朋友收到他第一封信:「這兒一切都美 好,商店裡塞滿了好吃的食品,戲院播放著來自西方的好電影,住宅又大又豪華。唯一買不到的東西就是紅墨水。」

如果深究我真正對韓寒失望的原因,那要追溯到歷史深處,看看今天被譽為中國最勇敢的意見領袖的韓寒在數十年前的對等地位的人。我不準備掉書袋,儘舉一例。七十年代末文革過後,北京西單出現民主牆,認為中國要有制度現代化,矛頭直指被譽為思想最開明的領導人鄧小平。40年過去了,再看看中國的意見領袖如此孱弱的文筆和思考。我聽見歷史在偷笑。

韓寒當然有資格做他相信的任何事情,但嘲笑那些有擔當有正義的知識分子們相互攀比悲情,乃是我無論如何不能容忍的。中國的知識分子何曾不願意妥協和退讓了?真正永不妥協的是這個政府。如果你細細考究一下最近幾年被判重刑的知識分子們——包括劉曉波——就會發現知識分子已經溫和退讓到了不可想象的地步了:劉曉波甚至在那篇著名的《我沒有敵人》的法庭陳詞裡面歌頌了中國的監獄。面對這個極端到了不可理喻的政府,任何主張溫和甚至無謂的“不清算”反倒是一種令人髮指的極端。這一點,韓寒比任何人都清楚:《獨唱團》打擦邊球都打到球桌下面去了,還是被血腥謀殺了。

默默地忍受一個專制政權的強姦,並且淡定地有策略地降低被姦的痛苦的從而被群眾歡呼的英雄,固然值得激賞,但卻沒有資格嘲笑那些因為反抗強姦而喪失自由的失敗者的。我理解韓寒的聰明和傲氣,但是在巨大的不可理喻的專制機器面前,韓寒的乞討自由的舉動不光不值得讚頌,而且註定失敗。

強調策略,犧牲原則,是被傳媒歡呼的韓寒讓我不寒而慄的一點。中國的制度固若金湯,很大程度上就在於像韓寒的這樣把所有的問題都想通了的聰明人太多了。而艾未未的話,可以做一個註腳:

中國人向來就是太重技巧了,

放棄基本原則,

愈來愈無血性,

才令當局為所欲為。

2011年十大愚蠢公司

這個排行榜已經公布過三次(有興趣者請看2008年2009年2010年的榜單)。今年的排名一如既往隨機排列勿論愚蠢程度,因為在商業世界裡沒有最蠢,只有更蠢。另外,本排行只針對如下公司的管理層的愚蠢商業及政治決策,不涉及其普通員工及日常運作。

2011年十大愚蠢公司No. 1. Google

這是Google首次上榜(之前上榜的是谷歌中國)。進入2011年的Google,其行事手法宛如一家邪惡、愚蠢、尾大不掉的公司。2011年,Google黯然關閉兩大失敗產品Google Buzz及Google Wave。有趣的是,Google隨後推出的Google Plus亦有望成為下一個被砍產品。

但真正讓這家公司列入愚蠢公司的原因乃在於它偏離自身的價值觀,強悍地全面推行界面醜陋且操作不便的”new look”,激起廣泛的憤怒。其深受歡迎的RSS瀏覽器Google Reader,伴隨着share功能的消失,更淪為為人問津的孤島。連Google Reader的第一代產品經理也著文抨擊Google管理層的決定。這家一度被人縱情歡呼為對抗邪惡的微軟的偉大的公司,究竟會向何處走?如下是Newsweek雜誌對其2012年的搞笑預測

Google announces the end of its “do no evil” era and embraces huge profits, tracking of users, selling of personal data, and domination of the world’s information.

2010年十大愚蠢公司No. 2. ESPRIT

這樣一家在歐洲知名度甚高,在中國大陸粉絲無數的企業,從一家籍籍無名的小公司迅速成長為香港恆生指數成分股的公司,終於被他們的管理層搞垮了。2007年這家公司的股價一度高踞127元,如今已經跌破10元,而且公司迎來史無前例的虧損。讓小股東們痛哭吧,ESPRIT的歐洲高層要的就是刺激的失敗感。

2010年十大愚蠢公司No. 3. 嘉漢林業

說到這家公司,不能不提Muddy Waters LLC這家功績彪炳的研究公司。這個誠信徹底破產的國家,藉助可笑的中國概念的力量,成功把毫無技術含量的騙術通過嘉漢林業這樣的公司輸出到美國。

2010年十大愚蠢公司No. 4. Netflix

這家被Wall Street廣泛認為the biggest loser of 2011的公司,在2011年上半年的時候還是市場新貴——從年初至7月上旬,Netflix的股票上升70%,同期Dow Jones Average的升幅則不及8%。耐人尋味的是到了年底,Netflix全年下跌60%,Dow Jones反升5.5%。原因何在?這將是商學院的一個經典失敗案例,強應分割rental和streaming業務,並大幅加價,而且分割之後其傳統業務命名為愚不可及的Qwikster。誰會使用一個叫Qwikster的服務?

這是一個無論Wall Street還是main street的管理層都日漸愚蠢化的時代,人人奉Steve Jobs的Don’t listen to your customers為經典,但可惜他們都不是Steve Jobs。

2010年十大愚蠢公司No. 5. Bank of America

夏日時分,BoA強行徵收每月5元的服務費,引起全國範圍的憤怒。BoA六周之後才宣佈取消這項收費,但永久性的傷害已經釀就。

2010年十大愚蠢公司No. 6. Hewlett-Packard



對這家董事會被冠為”most dysfunctional board“的公司2011年的所作所為,我已經徹底無語了。只想在這裡問一句:它到底想幹什麼?

2010年十大愚蠢公司No. 7. Cisco

Cisco在2011年做出了關閉大受歡迎的Flip Camcoder的決定,而兩年前Cisco剛剛收購這家公司。為什麼是關閉,而不是出售?沒有人知道John Chambers是怎麼想的。以至於New York Times的David Pogue忍不住要問

[H]ow could anyone be so stupid? When do people become so stupid?

2010年十大愚蠢公司No. 8. United States Postal Service



為什麼這家獲得美國政府巨額資助的公司一再虧損?不要再怪罪email了! USPS的收費不菲,服務日漸惡化,且不斷關閉網點。而和USPS關係密切的stamps.com則被列為美國史上最流氓無恥的公司之一。我無法想象這家公司繼續變差下去了。

2010年十大愚蠢公司No. 9. 中華人民共和國鐵道部

 

 

 

 

人神共憤,無需贅言。

2010年十大愚蠢公司No. 10. Olympus


百年老店清譽毀於一朝,進而令人懷疑日本這個國家的企業誠信。

2011年十大愚蠢公司排行榜

No. 1. Google
No. 2. ESPRIT
No. 3. 嘉漢林業
No. 4. Netflix
No. 5. Bank of America
No. 6. Hewitt Packard
No. 7. Cisco
No. 8. USPS
No. 9. 中共鐵道部
No. 10. Olympus

廷龍政經閱讀 (20120108):令人震驚的一年

廷龍政經閱讀: The Week of Jan 8, 2012

沒有人料到2011年是革命風起雲涌,中國人民的老朋友們齊聚黃泉的一年。2012年也會是令人震驚的一年。

“廷龍政經閱讀”在2012年的目標是盡可能減少推薦數量,最好可以降低一半。本人選擇文章的標準是:有趣,耐讀且清晰。如果某些星期沒有發現有趣的文章,則不推薦任何東西。

Andy Kessler: The Rise of Consumption Equality (Wall Street Journal)

[A]s far as millionaires and billionaires are concerned, they’re experiencing a horrifying revolution: consumption equality. For the most part, the wealthy bust their tail, work 60-80 hour weeks building some game-changing product for the mass market, but at the end of the day they can’t enjoy much that the middle class doesn’t also enjoy. Where’s the fairness? What does Google founder Larry Page have that you don’t have?

伊璐卡卡:素質在民主變革中的影響 (伊璐卡卡

很多左右翼的保守派將49年的悲劇解讀為:某個群體依靠土地革命給農民群體許諾利益,然後用底層的“均富”需求將這些農民改造為暴民,奪取了政權,造成了幾十年的動盪和悲劇。 然而這個解讀並不能輕易接受,放到那個時代整個世界的大環境下看,蘇聯滲透了與之地緣相關的幾十個國家建立了類似的組織,但它們奪取權力的模式並不相同,很多國家並沒有任何土地革命,同樣也奪取了政權,無一例外。 而建政後,並沒有組織紅衛兵搞文革,卻也發生了相似的悲劇。 其奪取勝利的秘密,更像是蘇聯所創造的這套極權主義的組織模式的戰鬥力,與意識形態的影響力,發生的悲劇,包括執政黨內部清洗,民眾普遍喪失自由等情況,其原因,也是這套極權主義的組織模式的本質所致。 而不是什麼“暴民政治”。

Zoher Abdoolcarim: Neither Independence Nor Unification (Time)

What should Taiwan be? Neither Ma nor Tsai can resolve the island’s existential problem. In fact, they reinforce it. Still, they do Taiwan proud. Both are informed, confident, articulate (in English too), well educated (he has a doctorate from Harvard, she from the London School of Economics), well traveled, passionate about making a difference and genuinely concerned about the future of their land — traits any electorate would want in its leaders. Too bad one of them has to lose. But whatever happens, as the freest place in the Chinese world, Taiwan wins.

Paul A. Ruggieri: Secrets of the Operating Room (Wall Street Journal)

Why does this guy have to bleed like this? As if it were his fault. Here I was blaming him, even though I was the one causing the bleeding. But in surgery, it always has to be someone else’s fault. It’s never the surgeon’s fault.

Pico Iyer: The Joy of Quiet (New York Times)

The average American teenager sends or receives 75 text messages a day, though one girl in Sacramento managed to handle an average of 10,000 every 24 hours for a month. Since luxury, as any economist will tell you, is a function of scarcity, the children of tomorrow, I heard myself tell the marketers in Singapore, will crave nothing more than freedom, if only for a short while, from all the blinking machines, streaming videos and scrolling headlines that leave them feeling empty and too full all at once.