Friday, November 2, 2012

Product Placement, Dyslexia, and Censorship

Now seems to be a good time to share a variety of links to stories that touch on subjects found in previous posts here. In no particular order...

1. Earlier this year I shared the story of a young man who traveled from his home in mainland China to Macau so he could purchase New Zealand baby formula. Due to past formula scandals in China, he and his family did not trust locally produced formula. If he could have purchased imports in mainland China from trustworthy sources at a reasonable price he would not have needed to make the journey to Macau. In addition to high tariffs, as Wang Shanshan reported on Caixin there is another reason for the inflated prices of imported formula (H/T C. Maoxian):
One reason is supermarkets force dealers to pay large commissions to put their products on shelves, Yao Wenhua, senior executive of a Beijing-based trade company, said. This has forced dealers to raise retail prices to make a profit.
Read the article here for more about the commissions and how they are driving grey market online sales of imported formula through sources such as Taobao.

2. I recently posted about China blocking The New York Times in reaction to a story about the wealth of Prime Minister of China Wen Jiabao's family. Similar to my comments last year about an example involving YouTube, Evan Osnos in The New Yorker mentions that the blocking is not only an issue of censorship:
China has now blocked two major American news organizations (Bloomberg has been blacked out for four months, after a similar story on the incoming President, Xi Jinping), without official explanation. They are large American businesses, with substantial financial investments associated with their operations in China. At a certain point, the United States Embassy will have to weigh in, which will only ratchet up the pressure.
See here for more from Osnos about the "fallout from Wen Jiaobao's family fortune".

3. In a non-China-related post I considered whether tennis player Andy Murray's dislike for reading could be connected to a cognitive deficit. I pointed out that having such a deficit would not necessarily prevent a person from being successful. Kate Rix on Open Culture shared an interview revealing how a long unidentified reading deficit not only did not prevent director Steven Spielberg from achieving success, it may have helped lead him to his passion:
What no one, including the DreamWorks co-founder himself, knew until recently is that all those 8 mm shorts were more than just a pastime. In a recent interview Spielberg revealed that he is dyslexic and that he was only diagnosed five years ago. “It explained a lot of things,” Spielberg told Quinn Bradlee. “It was like the last puzzle part in a tremendous mystery that I’ve kept to myself all these years."

Always two years behind the class in reading, Spielberg was teased by other kids in school. He dreaded having to read in front of the class. He never lacked for friends, though looking back on it several of his friends were probably also dyslexic.

“Even my own friends who were just like me, we didn’t have the skills to talk about it,” he recalled in the interview for Friends of Quinn, a site for people with learning differences. “I got bullied. I dealt with it by making movies. That was my cover up.”
See the post here to watch a video of the interview and read Rix's summary of it.

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