Who Is the World’s Most Typical Person?


National Geographic collected statistics on the world’s population (which currently stands at 7 billion). Do you know what they found? Apparently, the most average/typical/frequent person on this planet is male, 28-years-old and is Han Chinese in ethnicity (with 9,000,000 alive). But they didn’t stop there. Taking images from 190,000 of those fitting the criteria, researchers created a composite image to show what the most average person looks like.


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Chinese Develop Gait-Biometrics Surveillance

gait tech wiki note

Another way to be under surveillance.

A confidential United States embassy dispatch released by Wikileaks provides details about a new technology developed by the Chinese Academy of Science to identify people by their gait.

The technology is designed to be deployed beneath existent flooring. From there it measures pedestrian pace and walking pressure to create a unique biometrics profile which can be used to identify and track the movements of individuals without their knowledge…

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Chinese Language Will Soon Dominate the Internet

In the beginning, the language of the World Wide Web was English. Times change though, and the United States’ military’s gift to civilization knows no national boundaries, and growing worldwide adoption of the internet has changed the audience make-up to such an extent that the dominant language of the internet is about to become Chinese. That’s not to say the Chinese are all that comfortable with this either. There has just been an official decree requiring the use of Chinese translations for all English words and phrases in newspapers, magazines and web sites. While all countries have watched the unregulated global nature of the internet erode traditional cultural values and the integrity of national languages, it seems the Chinese powers-that-be have concluded that the purity of the Chinese language needs to be preserved.


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World Languages – 24 Unusual Statistics & Facts


Language spoken by the greatest number of non-native speakers: English

There are approximately 6,900 languages currently spoken around the world today, the majority of which have only a small number of speakers. About 4 billion of the earth’s 6.5 billion people, or over 60% of the earth’s population, speak one of the top 30 languages as their native tongue. The rest are suffering a slow death.

Here are some rather unusual statistics about the world’s languages that you may not know.

Number of living languages: 6912
Number of those languages that are nearly extinct: 516
Language with the greatest number of native speakers: Mandarin Chinese [See Top 30 languages]
Language spoken by the greatest number of non-native speakers: English (250 million to 350 million non-native speakers)
Country with the most languages spoken: Papua New Guinea has 820 living languages. [See Top 20 countries]
How long have languages existed: Since about 100,000 BC
First language ever written: Sumerian or Egyptian (about 3200 BC)
Oldest written language still in existence: Chinese or Greek (about 1500 BC)
Language with the most words: English, approx. 250,000 distinct words
Language with the fewest words: Taki Taki (also called Sranan), 340 words. Taki Taki is an English-based Creole spoken by 120,000 in the South American country of Suriname.
Language with the largest alphabet: Khmer (74 letters). This Austro-Asiatic language is the official language of Cambodia, where approx.12 million people speak it. Minority speakers live in a handful of other countries.
Language with the shortest alphabet: Rotokas (12 letters). Approx. 4300 people speak this East Papuan language. They live primarily in the Bougainville Province of Papua New Guinea.
The language with the fewest sounds (phonemes): Rotokas (11 phonemes)
The language with the most sounds (phonemes): !Xóõ (112 phonemes). Approx. 4200 speak !Xóõ, the vast majority of whom live in the African country of Botswana.
Language with the fewest consonant sounds: Rotokas (6 consonants)
Language with the most consonant sounds: Ubyx (81 consonants). This language of the North Causasian Language family, once spoken in the Haci Osman village near Istanbul, has been extinct since 1992. Among living languages, !Xóõ has the most consonants (77).
Language with the fewest vowel sounds: Ubyx (2 vowels). The related language Abkhaz also has 2 vowels in some dialects. There are approximately 106,000 Abkhaz speakers living primarily in Georgia.
Language with the most vowel sounds: !Xóõ (31 vowels)
The most widely published language: English
Language with the fewest irregular verbs: Esperanto (none)
Language which has won the most Oscars: Italian (12 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film)
The most translated document: Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, written by the United Nations in 1948, has been translated into 321 languages and dialects.
The most common consonant sounds in the world’s languages: /p/, /t/, /k/, /m/, /n/
Longest word in the English language: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters)

Continue reading… “World Languages – 24 Unusual Statistics & Facts”


Chinese Plan to Acquire U.S. Media Businesses

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China’s bid for Newsweek was the first of many

China’s Southern Daily Group’s recent attempt to acquire Newsweek magazine – the country’s first bid for a Western publication – has failed, but the bidder is expecting to make other, similar purchases, the publication’s senior management said on Thursday.
“The offer to Newsweek is a volunteer action of Chinese media professionals and investors,” said Xiang Xi, managing editor of Southern Weekly, a weekly owned by the Group, who was granted an exclusive interview with President Obama during his visit to Beijing last November.
“With nine-language versions, Newsweek’s platform with global communication resources and influence is in line with our pursuits.”
The head of China’s most influential weekly denied any government involvement in the investments behind the bid for the Washington Post-owned news weekly.
Xiang said the Group partnered B-raymedia, a Shanghai-listed company based in Chengdu of Southwest China’s Sichuan province that owns several metropolis papers, and two other investment funds in the purchase attempt.
Secretary to the board of directors of B-raymedia surnamed Zhang told China Daily that the business talks involving bidding for overseas media have a long way to go.
“It is like dating,” Zhang said, “it doesn’t matter if one date does not like you. You grow from it.”
About 70 bidders are interested in acquiring the current affairs weekly. Newsweek, which has been engaged in a fierce decades-long rivalry with Time magazine, lost more than $28 million last year and advertising revenue dropped 37 percent.
“No information is going to be released until the transaction is completed,” Post spokeswoman Rima Calderon told AFP.
Xiang said the money is not what is keeping the Chinese bidder outside of the door.
“They don’t really understand Chinese media people,” he said. “They are not sure of why we are bidding. But I understand it is easier for a US media to take over the operation.”
The tagline of Southern Weekly – described by the New York Times as “China’s most influential liberal newspaper” – is “to understand China”.
Xiang said the move is for the world to have a better understanding of China, and for China to know more of the world.
The attempt to buy Newsweek is a beginning, said the 38-year-old, adding that they are “seeking to round up investors to bid on other media abroad.”
“The move is an encouraging trend for China’s going-out strategy,” said Yu Guoming, vice-president of the journalism school at the Beijing-based Renmin University of China. “The strategy has, for a long time, focused on overseas expansion of Chinese media.”
The global impact of China’s conventional media that speaks and thinks on Chinese logic has been questioned, he said.
“No matter if the media organization is State or privately owned, the Western stereotype always views it as a propaganda vehicle,” Yu said. “But it could be changed if Chinese media understand and play with the West’s rules.”
“The investment in Western media is our first step to get involved,” he said, “then the two sides can talk and know each other.”

China’s Southern Daily Group’s recent attempt to acquire Newsweek magazine – the country’s first bid for a Western publication – has failed, but the bidder is expecting to make other, similar purchases, the publication’s senior management said on Thursday.

“The offer to Newsweek is a volunteer action of Chinese media professionals and investors,” said Xiang Xi, managing editor of Southern Weekly, a weekly owned by the Group, who was granted an exclusive interview with President Obama during his visit to Beijing last November.

Continue reading… “Chinese Plan to Acquire U.S. Media Businesses”


China’s Labor Unrest Helping U.S. Manufacturers

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Worker showing their frustration as wages are not keeping up with rising costs

Their demands may seem commonplace: Better pay and better conditions.
But the impact of Chinese workers walking off their factory lines in recent weeks could one day reshape China’s economic relationship with the United States.
Labor unrest at companies including Honda Motor Co., electronics giant Foxconn and, on Friday, a parts supplier for Toyota Motor Corp. has shifted attention in China toward the gap between rich and poor and the sustainability of cheap labor. It also comes as minimum wages are rising in a handful of provinces and cities.
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For those keeping score, such responses would qualify as a step toward rebalancing China’s economy — something American lawmakers have been pleading for to help the U.S. win back a larger share of global trade.
Workers have not shared in China’s booming economy. In 1999, the ratio of Chinese laborers’ income to the gross domestic product was 53%. Today it has declined to 40% — compared with 57% in the U.S.
Many economists have long argued that boosting Chinese household income is a key to resolving the yawning trade imbalance with the U.S., which grew to $19.3 billion in April — up $2.4billion from March.
In theory, getting more money into the hands of ordinary Chinese would spur the buying of goods and services. That would take pressure off Beijing to rely on exports to keep its share of the economy humming and would give U.S. manufacturers a more level playing field.
The problem is that such structural changes in any economy can take years to achieve. Raising wages too fast could decimate manufacturers and their supply chains and spark ever-higher inflation. And despite robust expansion, China’s efforts to balance its growth are complicated by mounting risks.
As much as policymakers would like to increase wages, they must weigh the effects of the European debt crisis on exports, of a sizzling property market that could jeopardize the nation’s banks and of an end to the Chinese government’s approval of new stimulus projects — and then gauge how much slowdown they can stomach.
“The Chinese government is very closely watching the economic picture at home and the state of other economies before we decide on our economic policies, including on the … exchange rate,” Zhang Tao, director of the international department of China’s central bank, said at a news conference Friday in Beijing on Friday, Bloomberg reported. “The recent volatility in the international financial markets indicates the global economy still faces challenges.”
The World Bank — which predicted strong but slower economic expansion in China this year — noted in a forecast released Friday a menu of moves being undertaken by the central government to better balance the economy. Among those moves: bolstering the nation’s social safety net, curtailing over-investment in state-owned companies and trying to improve conditions for private enterprises.
The problem with imbalances, said Ardo Hansson, the bank’s lead economist for China, is that “it’s not one where there’s a silver bullet…. It’s a slow process.”
Rebalancing won’t come nearly fast enough to ease Washington’s calls for China to revalue its currency. Congress is threatening legislation to urge China to appreciate the yuan if it doesn’t do so after the G-20 summit in Toronto this month.
Raising China’s exchange rate could immediately make that country’s exports less competitive, benefiting U.S. and other international producers.
Some analysts predict Beijing will eventually agree to strengthen its currency this year, but only about 3% against the dollar to combat rising inflation — far below the more than 25% that some U.S. manufacturers believe the yuan is undervalued.
Although it is still somewhat taboo for officials and economists in China to support currency appreciation, speaking in favor of labor and wage increases is acquiring populist cachet.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said this week that conditions for China’s 130 million migrant workers needed to improve. And on Thursday the People’s Daily, a Communist Party mouthpiece, ran an editorial saying that adjusting the gap between rich and poor was crucial for China’s economic development.
In China’s tightly controlled media, coverage of the unrest in factories has been muted. There were reports Friday in foreign outlets that strikes were continuing at a Toyota parts factory in the northern city of Tianjin and at a Carlsberg brewery in the southwestern city of Chongqing.
Factory workers at Honda and Foxconn appear to have won wage concessions, but experts are still divided on whether China stands at a turning point in favor of labor.
Some see the declining population of working-age Chinese and recent labor shortages as evidence that companies will have to raise pay.
Others believe that the demand for workers is cyclical and that ample labor still remains in the countryside, waiting to be pulled into factory towns.
The need for workers could also ease when stimulus-financed infrastructure projects are completed and if a widening European financial crisis stalls exports. In addition, domestic consumption will grab a bigger share of China’s growth this year as investment in infrastructure such as roads, rail and buildings slow down with the tightening of credit, economists predict.
“The effects of the stimulus will diminish and thus will release more labor,” said Yasheng Huang, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “One danger is that there is a massive rise of labor costs, forcing some firms to go to Vietnam, but in two years the stimulus money wears off and you have lots of labor seeking jobs again.”
“I support labor getting their due,” he said, “but I have always argued that it is best to do this in a gradual manner.”

Their demands may seem commonplace: Better pay and better conditions. But the impact of Chinese workers walking off their factory lines in recent weeks could one day reshape China’s economic relationship with the United States.

Continue reading… “China’s Labor Unrest Helping U.S. Manufacturers”


The Mystery of Non-Egyptian Pyramids in China

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Pyramids in China???
Egyptian pyramids? Sure, everyone knows about the ones at Giza – and a few aficionados might know about the 138 others (!) scattered around them. Mesoamerican pyramids? Okay, a lot of folks know about them, too — or even that the great one at Cholula is considered to be the largest one in the world.
But, unfortunately, not many people know that pyramids have come in other flavors as well, including the mysterious and legendary ones in China.
“Legendary” because the story of the Chinese pyramids initially reads like something from a wild and woolly dime-store pulp serial: JAMES GAUSSMAN AND THE JEWELED PYRAMID OF CHINA!

It all began in 1945 – well, actually it started way before that, but for most folks out here in the West, that’s when they first heard that pyramids might exist outside Mesoamerica and Egypt…


China’s 56 Ethnic Groups


Ethnic China

The vast majority (>90%) of Chinese are Han Chinese.  The remainder are distributed among 55 other ethnic groups.  This diversity was awkwardly displayed during the opening ceremonies of the last Olympic games, when a parade of 56 children representing those groups was later revealed to have been comprised of 56 Han Chinese children wearing the ethnic clothing of the other groups.

Now there is a photoessay which appears to correct that gaffe…

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China’s Bubble is Coming – But Not the One You Think

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China’s economy has fewer influencers than the U.S.

Financial commentators are obsessively debating whether the recent rise in the Chinese stock market means there’s a bubble — and if so, when it’s going to burst.
My take? Who cares! What happens to the broader Chinese economy is what we should really be watching. It will have a far-reaching impact on the rest of the world — much more far-reaching than a decline in stocks.
Despite everything, the Chinese economy has shown incredible resilience recently. Although its biggest customers — the United States and Europe — are struggling (to say the least) and its exports are down more than 20 percent, China is still spitting out economic growth numbers as if there weren’t a worry in the world. The most recent estimate put annual growth at nearly 8 percent.
Is the Chinese economy operating in a different economic reality?  Will it continue to grow, no matter what the global economy is doing?
The answer to both questions is no. China’s fortunes over the past decade are reminiscent of Lucent Technologies in the 1990s. Lucent sold computer equipment to dot-coms. At first, its growth was natural, the result of selling goods to traditional, cash-generating companies. After opportunities with cash-generating customers dried out, it moved to start-ups — and its growth became slightly artificial. These dot-coms were able to buy Lucent’s equipment only by raising money through private equity and equity markets, since their business models didn’t factor in the necessity of cash-flow generation.
Funds to buy Lucent’s equipment quickly dried up, and its growth should have decelerated or declined. Instead, Lucent offered its own financing to dot-coms by borrowing and lending money on the cheap to finance the purchase of its own equipment. This worked well enough, until it came time to pay back the loans.
The United States, of course, isn’t a dot-com. But a great portion of its growth came from borrowing Chinese money to buy Chinese goods, which means that Chinese growth was dependent on that very same borrowing.
Now the United States and the rest of the world is retrenching, corporations are slashing their spending, and consumers are closing their pocket books. This means that the consumption of Chinese goods is on the decline. And this is where the dot-com analogy breaks down. Unlike Lucent, China has nuclear weapons. It can print money at will and can simply order its banks to lend. It is a communist command economy, after all. Lucent is now a $2 stock. China won’t go down that easily.
The Chinese central bank has a significant advantage over the U.S. Federal Reserve. Chairman Ben Bernanke and his cohort may print a lot of money (and they did), but there’s almost nothing they can do to speed the velocity of money. They simply cannot force banks to lend without nationalizing them (and only the government-sponsored enterprises have been nationalized). They also cannot force corporations and consumers to spend. Since China isn’t a democracy, it doesn’t suffer these problems.
China’s communist government owns a large part of the money-creation and money-spending apparatus. Money supply therefore shot up 28.5 percent in June. Since it controls the banks, it can force them to lend, which it has also done.
Finally, China can force government-owned corporate entities to borrow and spend, and spend quickly itself. This isn’t some slow-moving, touchy-feely democracy. If the Chinese government decides to build a highway, it simply draws a straight line on the map. Any obstacle — like a hospital, a school, or a Politburo member’s house — can become a casualty of the greater good. (Okay — maybe not the Politburo member’s house).
Although China can’t control consumer spending, the consumer is a comparatively small part of its economy. Plus, currency control diminishes the consumer’s buying power. All of this makes the United States’ TARP plans look like child’s play. If China wants to stimulate the economy, it does so — and fast. That’s why the country is producing such robust economic numbers.
Why is China doing this? It doesn’t have the kind of social safety net one sees in the developed world, so it needs to keep its economy going at any cost. Millions of people have migrated to its cities, and now they’re hungry and unemployed. People without food or work tend to riot. To keep that from happening, the government is more than willing to artificially stimulate the economy, in the hopes of buying time until the global system stabilizes. It’s literally forcing banks to lend — which will create a huge pile of horrible loans on top of the ones they’ve originated over the last decade.
But don’t confuse fast growth with sustainable growth. Much of China’s growth over the past decade has come from lending to the United States. The country suffers from real overcapacity. And now growth comes from borrowing — and hundreds of billion-dollar decisions made on the fly don’t inspire a lot of confidence. For example, a nearly completed, 13-story building in Shanghai collapsed in June due to the poor quality of its construction.
This growth will result in a huge pile of bad debt — as forced lending is bad lending. The list of negative consequences is very long, but the bottom line is simple: There is no miracle in the Chinese miracle growth, and China will pay a price. The only question is when and how much.
Another casualty of what’s taking place in China is the U.S. interest rate. China sold goods to the United States and received dollars in exchange. If China were to follow the natural order of things, it would have converted those dollars to renminbi (that is, sell dollars and buy renminbi). The dollar would have declined and renminbi would have risen. But this would have made Chinese goods more expensive in dollars — making Chinese products less price-competitive. China would have exported less, and its economy would have grown at a much slower rate.
But China chose a different route. Instead of exchanging dollars back into renminbi and thus driving the dollar down and the renminbi up — the natural order of things — China parked its money in the dollar by buying Treasurys. It artificially propped up the dollar. And now, China is sitting on 2.2 trillion of them.
Now, China needs to stimulate its economy. It’s facing a very delicate situation indeed: It needs the money internally to finance its continued growth. However, if it were to sell dollar-denominated treasuries, several bad things would happen. Its currency would skyrocket — meaning the loss of its competitive low-cost-producer edge. Or, U.S. interest rates would go up dramatically — not good for its biggest customer, and therefore not good for China.
This is why China is desperately trying to figure out how to withdraw its funds from the dollar without driving it down — not an easy feat.
And the U.S. government isn’t helping: It’s printing money and issuing Treasurys at a fast clip, and needs somebody to keep buying them. If China reduces or halts its buying, the United States may be looking at high interest rates, with or without inflation. (The latter scenario is most worrying.)
All in all, this spells trouble — a big, big Chinese bubble. Identifying such bubbles is a lot easier than timing their collapse. But as we’ve recently learned, you can defy the laws of financial gravity for only so long. Put simply, mean reversion is a bitch. And the longer excesses persist, the harder the financial gravity will bring China’s economy back to Earth.

Financial commentators are obsessively debating whether the recent rise in the Chinese stock market means there’s a bubble — and if so, when it’s going to burst.

My take? Who cares! What happens to the broader Chinese economy is what we should really be watching. It will have a far-reaching impact on the rest of the world — much more far-reaching than a decline in stocks.

Continue reading… “China’s Bubble is Coming – But Not the One You Think”


Chinese Farmer Builds Homemade Helicopter

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Made out of wood and a motorcycle engine. Look up, then look out!

20 year old Chinese farmer Wu Zhongyuan built himself a helicopter using only — according to the man — what he remembers of middle school physics lessons and “relevant knowledge found whilesurfing the Internet via my mobile phone.”

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