September 22, 2013

End of Posting for Information Farm

Thanks for visiting Information Farm.

As of September 22, 2013, I am no longer updating or posting to Information Farm. I am grateful for your support throughout these many years.

If you are interested in the iON material, all the iON posts and audios at this site as well as current updates are now available at iON & BOb.


iON | September 2013


September 21, 2013

Melody McCloskey | StyleSeat

Kevin Rose

Melody McCloskey shares how her frustration with finding a stylist inspired her to build the platform for StyleSeat.

Robyn Sue Fisher | Smitten Ice Cream

Smitten Ice Cream

Robyn Sue Fisher discovered that freezing ice cream at super low temperatures could create a smoother product and freeze ice cream in record time. So, with liquid nitrogen as her secret weapon, she set off to build a machine that perfected the ultra-cold churning process using double-helix beaters. What is LN2? Nitrogen is an inert element that makes up 78% of the atmosphere all around us. Liquid nitrogen is gaseous nitrogen brought down in tempearture until it changes its state of matter at -321 degrees F (darn cold!).

China’s Central Party School is Talking the Unthinkable: the Collapse of Chinese Communism

Central Party School in Beijing, training academy for China elite
Photo: Eric Gregory Powell

Financial Times
by Jamil Anderlini

As the economy slows and middle-class discontent grows, the question is being asked: How long can the Communist party survive in China?

Modernization theory holds that authoritarian systems tend to democratize as incomes rise, that the creation of a large middle class hastens the process and that economic slowdown following a long period of rapid growth makes that transition more likely. Serious and worsening inequality coupled with high levels of corruption can add to the impetus for change.

All these factors now exist in China but some political ­theorists, including many at the Central Party School, argue that the country is culturally and politically exceptional and the wave of authoritarian collapse still surging through the Arab world will never reach Chinese shores. Others, including influential Chinese intellectuals, distinguished western sinologists and even liberal-minded senior party members, believe these are the final days of the Communist era and the party will be washed away if it does not launch serious political reforms soon.

Tucked away between China’s top spy school and the ancient imperial summer palace in the west of Beijing lies the only place in the country where the demise of the ruling Communist party can be openly debated without fear of reprisal—the campus of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the elite training academy for the country’s autocratic leaders that is described in official propaganda as a “furnace to foster the spirit of party members”.

“China’s political model is just not sustainable.”In keeping with some of the momentous changes that have occurred in Chinese society, the curriculum has been radically revised in recent years. Students still steep themselves in the wisdom of Das Kapital and “Deng Xiaoping Theory” but they are also taught classes in economics, law, religion, military affairs and western political thought. As well as watching anti-corruption documentaries and participating in revolutionary singalongs, the mid-level and high-ranking party cadres who make up the student body are given lessons in opera appreciation and diplomatic etiquette.

“China’s political model is just not sustainable because of the rising middle class – the same force that has driven democracy everywhere. The new generation in China is very different from the one that left the land and drove the first wave of industrialisation – they’re much better educated and much richer and they have new demands, demands like clean air, clean water, safe food and other issues that can’t just be solved by fast economic growth.” ~Francis Fukuyama

“The party’s ideological foundation is really very hollow. People join the party these days to make connections and get ahead rather than for any kind of socialist ideals.” Perry Link, professor at the University of California Riverside and one of the most well-respected western experts on China.

David Shambaugh, director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University and a leading expert on China’s political system, believes that the party is in a state of decline that echoes the dying days of Chinese dynasties throughout history.

The signs include a hollow state ideology that society does not believe in but ritualistically feigns compliance with, worsening corruption, failure to provide the public with adequate social welfare and a pervasive public sense of insecurity and frustration. Other signs include increasing social and ethnic unrest, elite factionalism, over-taxation with the proceeds mostly going into officials’ pockets, serious and worsening income inequality and no reliable rule of law.

Shambaugh says a powerful indicator of just how little faith exists in the system is the number of wealthy Chinese elites with offshore assets and property, offshore bank accounts and children studying in western universities.

“These individuals are ready to bolt at a moment’s notice, as soon as the political system is in its endgame – but they will remain in China in order to extract every last Renminbi possible until that time,” he says. “Their hedging behaviour speaks volumes about the fragile stability of the party state in China today.”

Read the complete story at Financial Times.

Timothy Blaise | Bohemian Gravity

Thanks, Jean-Pierre.

September 20, 2013

Fly Like an Eagle

An eagle soars through Mer de Glace in the French Alps with a camera strapped to its back.

China Ghost Cities Update


Adrian Brown returns to China and finds 20 new cities are taking shape in this year alone.