Category Archives: Business

A Toxic Shroud: "China is choking on its own success” and endangering neighbors and American cities


Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley of the New York Times, on August 26th, produced an excellent story on China’s industrial success/toxic pollution nexus. The situation is dire, and China’s difficulties overcoming the Victorian England-like pollution troubles in order to host an Olympics palpable to the rest of the world are well known, and have been covered recently in similar excellent coverage in the Wall Street Journal. Here’s a brief section of the NYT report:

…it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.

Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. Beijing is frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.

Environmental woes that might be considered catastrophic in some countries can seem commonplace in China: industrial cities where people rarely see the sun; children killed or sickened by lead poisoning or other types of local pollution; a coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life.

China is choking on its own success

And this is not merely a problem for the Chinese. Acid rain containing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from Chinese coal-fired power plants falls on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo. The Journal of Geophysical Research reports that much of the particulate pollution over Los Angeles originates in China.

The World Health Organization and World Bank independently found that total deaths in China due to pollution have reached 750,000 a year. Chinese experts interviewed claimed that the Western estimates “probably understate the problems.” The World Bank told the NYT that China’s environmental agency asked them to remove this number from the Spring 2007 final report, claiming the numbers could detrimentally impact “social stability.”

The question, of course, is who has the credibility and sway to either guide China toward responsible environmental policies, or model a path forward by example.


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Filed under Business, Environment, International, Science

The HD Molehill/Spitwad battle; and, Paramount and DreamWorks choose HD-DVD

HD DVD Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG–including, inter alia, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies, and MTV Films–announced today (Monday Aug 20th 07) that they will release their next-gen DVD titles exclusively on HD-DVD, dropping the Blu-Ray format. Want to watch Transformers, Shrek the Third, and Blades of Glory? Gotta do it in HD-DVD, if you’re looking for that 1080p picture on your flatscreen. (And as we all know, the new Battlestar Galactica is HD-DVD only.)

Paramount described HD-DVD as superior due to “market-ready technology” and the “affordable high quality choice for consumers.” Paramount found that HD-DVD offered better quality, lower-priced players, and lower manufacturing Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Entertainment, Gaming, HD-DVD, PS3, Tech, Television, Xbox 360

Confirmed: Xbox 360 Price Drop / Rumor: HDMI to all SKUs?

Xbox’s Major Nelson confirmed Monday that there will be price drops come August 8th–the 360 “Premium,” as we’ve known it (20 gig) will drop $50 to $349. The Core (without hard drive) will drop $20 to $279, and the Elite will drop $30 to $449.

Official MS Press Release HERE.

Also, ArsTechnica reports that a “source” at E3 told their reporter that, across the SKUs, “HDMI will probably be the standard moving forward.” Microsoft officially states that HDMI will appear only on the Halo 3 special edition ($399), and the Elite “for now.” However, the same Microsoft official also declined to comment on what new electronics would appear in any of the consoles coming this fall, leading one to speculate…

Lime out

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Filed under Business, Entertainment, Gaming, Tech, Xbox 360

UPDATE: $50 Xbox 360 price cut details emerging

Yesterday (the 24th of July), AO updated the 1 August $100 price cut rumor with news from XboxScene, which vaguely commented that the 360 would see a price cut of $50. No further details had emerged from that original rumor about a 1 August price drop, and the news from XboxScene seemed not worthy of more than a quick update.

Close on the heels of the XboxScene report, however, The Hollywood Reporter comes with more details that mirror the XboxScene report. With the corroborating reporting, it now seems the appropriate time to revisit the rumor mill.

David Ward over at Hollywood Reporter reports that “sources” have said that 8 August 07 is indeed the date of a 360 price drop, and that the price cut will be $50. Microsoft would respond only indirectly, saying: “”We have no announcements to make on pricing at this time. While price matters, content is king. And no other system is offering all the games people want to play this holiday at a better price than Xbox 360.”

The reporting doesn’t specify whether the $50 cut will be across the board, only apply to a few SKUs, or if, in fact, some SKUs will see a larger price drop.

As you know, the report we had on 13 July, which I discussed HERE, predicted an across-the-board price cut of $100 across the board.

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Filed under Business, Gaming, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360

Exactly who is buying the Wii???

2 stories were released today that seem to be a contradiction in terms. Both stories involve NPD – a market research firm. Taken together, they could indicate that Nintendo’s recent dominance will eventually evaporate.

The first is from TG Daily. They are reporting that NPD’s latest data indicates that Nintendo’s Wii outsold both Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3 combined. If your too lazy to jump, all you need to know is according to NPD’s latest data, the Wii was the top selling next-gen home console system for the month of June, with 380,000 units sold last month. The Xbox 360 took its usual #2 spot with 198,000 units and the PS3 lagged behind once again with only 98,000. (AO would report this ourselves, but we seem to be a little short on research capital. Or even a coffee machine.)

In contrast – NPD itself is reporting that “heavy gamers” have eight times the purchasing power of “average gamers.” According to their report, of the 191 million gamers who personally play games Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Gaming, PC Gaming, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360

An open letter to Bethesda Softworks

From: Aidyn

To: Bethesda Softworks

Re: Fallout 3 – please don’t fuck this up.

fallout 3 pic

First of all, I do want to thank you for all the work that you did in the first place in keeping my love alive.

After the demise of Interplay due to bankruptcy, you bought the IP rights to make a single player game. And I am grateful. While I’m not going to recreate the entire history of the development process, lets just say that I’m grateful that you took on the reins. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Gaming, PC Gaming, PS3, Xbox 360

Boba Fett May Find Work With the IRS: Bounties Double Under 26 U.S.C. § 7623

Lime, you had better make sure that you completed your W-2 correctly, or you could be on the receiving end of a qui tam action filed by yojoe.

Boba Fett Poster CardThe Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, (26 U.S.C. § 7623), provides additional incentives for those who come forward with information about individuals or other tax entities who have underpaid their taxes. The IRS has had an informant-reward program since 1954, but the provision was not used extensively by qui tam lawyers (a.k.a. bounty hunters) because the government was free to deny a reward, or bounty. Under the new law, a whistleblower can file an appeal with the U.S. Tax Court to enforce her right to a reward. This reward may be up to 30% of the amount recovered by the IRS.

It is unlikely, however, that H-Lime has much to fear as the jurisdictional minimum for the new law is $2 million, including taxes, interest, and penalties. Even with his lucrative second income as a professor, it is unlikely that the Lime makes that kind of money.


P.S. As Mr. Lime is a very honest and trustworthy fellow, it is unthinkable that he would cheat on his taxes.


Filed under Business, Law, Science Fiction