Interesting sight this morning: All three of the newspapers we receive featured front page images of yesterday’s remarkable dust storm in Australia.
That’s a line from Anand Giridharadas’s Letter from India in today’s IHT: “For tips on frugality, look to India”
VERLA, India: Watching Americans try to make themselves frugal is like watching Mongolians try to make Bordeaux wine.
Thrift does not come naturally to a country that turned layaway, zero-interest home loans and pre-approved credit cards into a mode of living. And so as they trudge through a cruel holiday season, Americans are cutting back, but hesitatingly and maladroitly.
They are standing in line by the thousands at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, pushing and pulling, and on one occasion trampling an obstructive employee to death with their frantic, frugal feet.
They are embracing the alien idea of sacrifice. Mothers are forgoing personal shopping to spend on the family, and, according to Consumer Reports, pet owners are depriving themselves before shortchanging their pets.
Fourteen percent of Americans are making gifts, not buying them, that magazine reported. Twelve percent are plotting to pass on to others the gifts others give them. Many plan to tip less, scale back charity and go shopping accompanied by that leafy commodity so foreign to Americans: cash.
And then it hit me. The jostling in line, the stampeding, the motherly sacrifice, the homemade presents, the regifting, the thick wads of rubber-banded cash: America is becoming India!
HONG KONG: It’s the end of the era of the white man.
I know your head is spinning. The world can feel like one of those split-screen TVs with images of a suicide bombing in Baghdad flashing, and the latest awful market news coursing along the bottom, and an ad for some stool-loosening wonder drug squeezed into a corner.
The jumble makes no sense. It just goes on, like the mindless clacking of an ice dispenser.
On the globalized treadmill, you drop your eyes again from the screen (now showing ads for gourmet canine cuisine) to the New Yorker or Asahi Shimbun. And another bomb goes off.
There’s a lot of noise and not much signal. Everywhere there is flux and the reaction to it: the quest, sometimes violent, for national or religious identity. These alternate faces of globalization – fluidity and tribalism – define our frontier-dissolving world.
But in all the movement back and forth, basic things shift. The world exists in what Paul Saffo, a forecaster at Stanford University, calls “punctuated equilibrium.” Every now and again, an ice cap the size of Rhode Island breaks off.
The breaking sound right now is that of the end of the era of the white man…
Read the whole thing.