Monday, July 03, 2006


Speaking of independence, there have been several recent articles in the New York Times about the completion of a train line from Beijing to Lhasa, Tibet. Sunday's article discussed some of the engineering and cost issues associated with the line, as well as some of the political concerns. The line officially cost $4.1 billion to construct, although it almost certainly cost way more. Apparently the gross domestic product of Tibet in 2005 was $3.12 billion. The line has a number of bridges constructed over permafrost, with a system of underground pipes to ensure that there is a constant block of ice for the pylons to rest on. Some of the passes it goes through are at 16,000 feet. Apparently altitude sickness is a real problem. People seem to be concerned that the train represents a new means for the Chinese government to import Han Chinese into Tibet and dilute the Tibetan culture and race. People are also concerned that tourism will erode the Tibetan culture. They are probably both right to an extent. On the other hand, the Chinese are not going away, and Tibet is unlikely to regain its independence any time soon. An influx of tourists might give the Chinese a reason to leave temples, monks, etc. alone. Therefore, on balance, it appears to me that the train line might help Tibet more than it hurts. Let's hope so.

In other news, apparently the Anglicans are really going at it. The Nigerian Church (Anglican Communion) has elected a bishop to act as a missionary to the United States so that Nigerian Angicans, as well as disgruntled conservative American groups who are not comfortable with the more liberal Episcopal Church. Meanwhile, the more traditional liberal Episcopalians are shaken by this division, as well as a plan coming from England that would leave the Episcopalian church "Anglican" but not "fully Anglican" because of its liberal policies. Whew. I had no idea that it was so interesting being an Episcopalian.

The times also had an article about AOL and its customer service problems. Apparently AOL fights people tooth and nail when they try to cancel. Sometimes they just don't do it. They just keep sending you bills and providing service. They pay people based on their number of retentions when people call to cancel. I sort of felt bad as I read it. Then I realized that these are people who still use AOL in 2006! Are you kidding me? You get what you get, I guess.

It was not a great week in the paper.


Post a Comment

<< Home