Archive for the ‘Great Moments in Globalization’ Category

Great Moments in Globalization, Going Away Party Edition

So an Indian, a Pakistani, a Ukrainian, a Brazilian, and an American walk into a bar…

This isn’t the setup to a joke, but just me and four of my coworkers arriving for our friend Zain’s going away party. We gathered at the Edge Grill in downtown Seattle and had a hell of a good time.

Zain, best of luck with your new job. Microsoft is lucky to have you, and we’re sad to see you go.

The Shard

The Shard was inaugurated this past Thursday. It’s currently the tallest building in Europe and will open to the public next February. The BBC has a clip showing off the view from the 69th floor. The Shard stands on the South bank of the Thames, opposite the City of London, towering over most of the structures around it.

The Shard

Photo courtesy of Geograph.org.uk – Click for Full-Size

I, for one, really like the architecture of it. Its got clean, classic lines and it carries in several stellar architectural traditions. Plus, I’m a huge sucker for glass, spires, and anything glass spire related. As the video linked above notes, the Shard is truly a globalized effort. Qatari financing brought together materials from Germany, architects from Italy, specialized fittings from Holland, and skilled labor from Britain to make one of the most intricate and striking fabrications mankind has ever produced.

Great Moments in Globalization

jwz edition:

So we’re seeing here an indie rock band, with a sitar, named after a song by an English band, at an event that is a Quebec / Iceland co-production… in Texas. So there’s that.

Seattle and Globalization Hypocrisy

It snowed this morning. Big fat flakes wafted down for the better part of an hour and then immediately started melting. In most places in the country, this would hardly be grounds for comment, but snow in Seattle causes the whole town to be gripped with terror. You’d think an annual occurrence would eventually become mundane, but no, Seattle is Chionophobic1 to an impressive degree.

Being in need of groceries, I elected to brave the crowds fighting for provisions and head up the road to Trader Joe’s. I could have jumped into my Japanese-designed, American-manufactured car and driven, but it was a pleasant day out and Seattle drivers lose their shit when they’ve been spooked by a dusting of winter weather. So I walked.

The walk took me over the University Bridge and along one edge of the campus of the University of Washington. In the few blocks of walking by the campus, I heard students speaking in at least three distinct languages. A group of students that I think were Japanese threw snowballs at each. A young hispanic couple speaking in Spanish did their best to scrape together a small, soggy snow man.

By the time I reached the store, the roads were bare and wet. Despite that, I saw at least three cars drive by with chains on. Two were Toyotas, one was a Mazda.

I went to the store, did my shopping, and trudged home. I’m now snacking on berries grown in Chile and pre-packaged sampler of cheese from Spain.

Thanks to globalization we educate students from all over the world, eat fresh berries in the midst of winter, and can enjoy the best culinary and engineering accomplishments from any nation.

It’s unfortunate, then, that Seattle has such a strong anti-Globalization streak. We were, after all, the site of the WTO riots in late 1999. During the height of the Occupy movement, protesters, with the help of the local unions, shut down University bridge during rush hour to strike a blow against Capitalism. Unions are strong in this town and Seattlites tend to value a curious mixture of feel-good Fair Trade economics and trade protectionism. “Free trade” and “capitalism” are generally held to be self-evidently evil.

And yet, when the scourge of snow descends menacingly onto our streets, we chain up our sensible, high-gas mileage Japanese automobiles, head for Trader Joe’s, and buy fresh Chilean raspberries and Spanish cheeses.

For most people, I’m sure they find no cognitive dissonance in such positions, but I can’t help but wonder about a town that prizes the fruits of globalization while vociferously opposing the trend itself. Whether it’s ignorance, bad faith, or guilty hypocrisy I can’t say, but Seattle is a town in which the status-conscious pride themselves on their diet of exotic cuisine, their naturally-impossible year-round vegan diets, and also on their “enlightened” liberalism, complete with its anti-globalization and anti-capitalist stances.


1 – “chionophobia ( ′kīänə′fōbēə ) An abnormal fear of snow.” Thank you, Google!

Great Moments in Globalization, Part n+2 in a Series

Globalization.  Tasty, tasty globalization.

Globalization. Tasty, tasty globalization.

This is a Mexican beer, named after a region in the Czech Republic, which I purchased from the very nice Japanese family that owns the little grocery on the corner.

Great Moments in Globalization, Part n+1 of a Series

So programmers based in Russia, Argentina, Pakistan, and America log into a forum…

It’s not the start of a bad joke, I promise. It’s just the kind of thing that happens now. In this case, the four programmers, all located in different quadrants of the Earth, got together because they all had a common code problem that none of them had figured out on their own how to solve. For three days, they swapped ideas, source code, jokes, etc. until eventually they were able to find a clean, efficient, elegant solution to their shared problem.

None of them were working on the same project. None of them had ever met before, nor probably ever will. And yet they were all able to get together and work together towards the resolution of a common problem, in nearly real time.

Do these globalization effects show up in GDP figures? In aggregate, maybe, but it’s far more likely that such meetings of mind do nothing but marginally improve the lives of the four individuals involved.

And really, that’s more than enough.

(Not So) Great Moments in Globalization

I’m a bit late on this one, but I couldn’t let this astute comment from the Cato Institute‘s Justin Logan go unhighlighted.

“… the United States is currently borrowing money from China to buy precision-guided munitions to give to the Europeans to drop on Libya.”

Great Moments in Globalization, Part n of a Series

I’m currently drinking port from Portugal that I purchased at my local grocery store. I’m also composing a blog post on my recent trip to England, a trip for which both the outward and return legs were a mere 9 hours. I’m also waiting on a pizza (an American imitation of Italian food) that I ordered from my favorite local shop, which is owned by a very nice family of Russian immigrants. I then plan to email my girlfriend, who’s currently traveling in France and whom I could call with my smartphone made in China from a Japanese design, if not for the inconvenience of different time zones.

Yesterday, at work, I found myself in the breakroom at lunch time. In the time it took me to make myself tea (green, the extra fancy kind imported from Japan), I heard one coworker take a call in Italian, a pair of coworkers greet each other in their native French, and a large group of fellow developers having lunch at a table near by talk excitedly in a language that I assumed to be Hindi. Hindi is a language spoken by almost one person in twelve in the world and probably closer to one in five in my group.

No one tell any of this to the xenophobes or trade warmongers in government. While they’re busy standing astride history yelling “STOP!” the rest of us can quietly enjoy the fruits of the globalization that they have (thankfully) failed to prevent.

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Magic Blue Smoke

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1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
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