I just wrote this in an email to a friend, and figured I’d share it:
My iPhone is utterly busted, which is problematic. Hilariously, the thing that isn’t working: a narrow strip of the touchscreen that happens to be where all numbers and the first letter of the keyboard are permanently located.
Please try composing a message without the aid of the letters Q W E R T Y U I O P. I really wish there were a Dvorak setting on the iPhone.
Seriously, I’m switching to Dvorak somehow. I was seriously contemplating a gPhone. But then it occurred to me that I’d have to carry my music in a separate pocket. I haven’t got time for the pain. Apple has me in its clutches. So I think I’ll have to cave and buy the iPhone 3G today, and thus be enslaved to this malfunctioning monstrosity for another 2 years. I have to assume there’s a better way. Worse yet, I’m eagerly anticipating the new products that will be announced today. Reihan Salam: glutton for punishment.
Speaking of which, I’d like to note that we are going to live with a nuclear Iran because we have no choice. Turning Afghanistan around is going to be a formidable enough challenge. And so all kinds of bad guys will be emboldened. The “good news” is that our relative power might actually be enhanced by the crisis — we have pneumonia, many other countries are about to hit by a bad case of dengue fever, including some that have adhered to pretty strict macroeconomic discipline. Chavez’s Venezuela is kind of mini-rogue state. It is also suffering from all kinds of severe economic problems, despite being a petrostate. The same goes for Iran, which is awash in all of the heavier crudes the world used to think it didn’t want, though that might change to some extent. I’m hoping Brazil makes it through. What happens to the exporters? Bangladesh, for example, exports huge amounts of apparel — it is the bright spot in their economy. But even discount retailers are cutting back orders, which never happens, even in recessions.
I’m thinking a lot about China. I ordered this amazing-sound book that will take a million years to arrive — Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics, which I read about in last week’s Economist.
As the state reversed course, taxing the countryside to finance urban development, growth in average household income and poverty eradication slowed while income differences and social tensions widened. Rural schools and hospitals were closed, with the result that between 2000 and 2005 the number of illiterate adults increased by 30m. According to Mr Huang, the worst weaknesses of China’s state-led capitalism—a reliance on creaking state companies rather than more efficient private ones, a weak financial sector, pollution and rampant corruption—are increasingly distorting the economy.
The shell game depends on a flourishing export sector — and what happens when the bottom falls out? My friend Ben always says China is the country in the world most likely to experience a classic Marxist revolution. I think he’s right.
An economic downturn could also mean that some vulnerable states will seek other ways to enhance their legitimacy — delivering prosperity is the best and most constructive way to build legitimacy, but there are others as well, like demonizing “market dominant minorities” or picking fights with weak neighbors.
All of this is to say that the world is about to get a lot more interesting, and not necessarily in a good way. My friends have been joking about the new ’70s, and my line has been that, basically, the movies will be much better and everyone will be having more sex and taking more drugs. (I don’t endorse this approach to life, rest assured, not least because I like terrible movies.) Also, the world will be poorer and somewhat more strife-prone. Oh man, this is going to be rough.
Enjoy Earth, next president!
Honestly, all I can think about is my crush on Kat Dennings, how hungry I am right now, and the Canadian federal election. Peace in the Middle East, yo.