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Consequences of the Rise of Design

On Tynan

I was walking through the mall a couple days ago. My path took me past a bunch of stores and kiosks, including the Nike Store. I walked past it and looked at their window display. They had a really nicely photographed poster and some cool looking shoes in a bunch of different colors. The store was beautiful and looked like a fun place to be. At the same time, their shoes aren't particularly great, they aren't actually innovative, and they're made of cheap materials. There are many shoe companies that are way lower quality than Nike, but I don't know if there are any with such a disparity between their presentation and the actual product.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this isn't just nike or most of the clothes in the mall-- it's how our culture works now. Back in the day, if you wanted a pair of shoes you'd go to a cobbler. He would design a pair for you, or use one of his existing designs, pick out some nice leather, and make you a pair of shoes. His design work, his execution, and his materials could all be leveraged about equally, so I'd guess that you'd tend to have either poorly designed shoes that are poorly executed and made of poor materials, or well designed shoes that were well executed and used good materials.

These days, things have changed. Design can be leveraged almost infinitely, which has changed the whole equation. Mass manufacturing ensures decent execution, but supplying top quality materials is difficult. A cobbler who makes a hundred pairs of shoes a year can take the time to pick out the best hides to get the best leather. That doesn't scale to making thousands of shoes a day, so material quality drops. Execution has become more consistent, but the benefits of cutting corners is magnified. Saving a penny on making a pair of shoes didn't matter to the cobblers, but it matters to Nike.

So these days, most of what people buy is well designed, decently and consistently executed, and uses relatively poor quality materials. In the mall I walked past a kiosk of phone cases. There were some that were blinged out. Pretty good design in that they fit perfectly on the phone the're meant for, the rows of fake diamonds are all uniform, etc.. Each one looks the same and is okay quality. But the materials are crap-- cheap plastic painted to look like metal covered in lackluster plastic "gems".

Elderly Population and physical activity in China and the US

On The Thoughtful Young Djedi from Bermuda

[Note: I wrote this as a sophmore in university.]

The elderly population of a developing country can be a good indicator of its development and social progress. It can show an improved standard of living, technological innovations and economical advances within society. Fundamentally, a look at the lives of an elderly population can give good insight to the general direction and prosperity of that country. No better example of this phenomenon is happening in present day China, which hosts the largest population of elderly people in the world.

In the last 10 years China’s economic development plans has enabled it to grow at an unprecedented rate of 7-8% per annum. The rapid development of China’s economy has produced great advances in the living standards of Chinese people. Moreover, China has experienced both rapid growths in the sheer number of elderly people and in their proportions of the total population. This has created an ageing problem in China and is one of the countries’ biggest challenges moving into the 21st century, with the elderly ratio projected to reach 27 percent by 2050.

An extended period of post-work life and an increased standard of living have been the results of the economic reforms implemented by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s. As a result the lives of elderly people, particularly their leisure life are an increasingly important topic of social conversations in China. This demographic shift in the structures of Chinese society can be observed in Shanghai, China’s largest city in terms of population. Leisure life of elderly people in Shanghai is centered about public parks and this will be the main focus of the paper.

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