Interaction: it’s over-rated

I’ve been living in dorms for three days now, and I’m bored. The flat structure of Seminar House 3 means that you only really see those people you share a kitchen with (which is a laugh in itself – you’re not allowed to cook anything for the first week, so eating out or living on instant ramen are the options), and out of those my roommate is the only person I talk to regualarly. There is a miniature colony of Dutch people (by which I mean about 2 or 3) who do nothing but watch films on their latops in the communal area (very loudly) when other people are trying to sleep. There’s also a guy who is always in the communal area tapping away on his laptop. Out of all of them, he seems the least objecttionable. I talk to him on occasion because I myself have little to do apart from sit around reading. Still, I wonder what on earth the impetus (or lack of such) is to make him stay in the same spot all day?

In other news, the Arctic Monkeys’ album release looks like becoming the fastest-selling debut ever. Good for them, but I’m generally suspicious of bands with too much hype surrounding them, as it sets them up for the inevitable abandonment by the media, who move on to the ‘next big thing’ around second-album time. I managed to pick up my copy at a Tower Records in Kyoto a couple of days before the UK release date (heheheh), and can say that the hype doesn’t mean a thing and would count against the band if it wasn’t for the one thing the album has in spades: solid-gold tuneage.

A BBC report on Chinese migrant workers heading back home for lunar New Year and not returning. A Chinese academic quotes a survey of 800,000 migrant workers in Shanghai:

“Most migrant workers, when they first arrive in Shanghai, work in factories,” he says.

“When they have made enough money, they will either take that money home to build a house, get married and return to farming or they will set up their own small businesses here in the city because it pays better.

“If the factories want to keep this second group of people they will have to offer them more money.”

The article ends with the line “Many are beginning to realise that China’s legendary low cost labour is not as low cost as it appears.” That ending misses the point of the above quote. Surely less penniless migrant workers relying on the largesse of their bosses and more prosperous farmers and small businessmen is a good thing, and part and parcel of a developing economy? Then again, on the other side of the picture, this growth can’t be maintained if urban-rural inequality increases along with it.

(1:00 pm)


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