Waffling in THREE dimensions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Serious Post

Well, serious post. Mostly. I guess I should have used "the relevant to my interests" cat instead. Oh well.

When my friend and I were riding the metro access express through Portland, we saw a group of protesters assembled in Pioneer Courthouse Square. They seemed to be from the International Tibet Independence Movement, or a related cause. I certainly recognized the beautiful flag of Tibet, which is outlawed in China. I casually remarked that I didn't know why China was so interested in occupying the region and the man sitting ahead of me scoffed (or was it a grunt?) in agreement. With all the commotion, I decided it was time to find out, which means briefly read the Wikipedia article and feign intelligence.

I know full well that I won't be able to understand such a complex topic in an hour, but establishing a few heuristics would be a nice start. It's not like this is skub or anything that straight-forward. The first thing I did was check out the economy of Tibet and found this:
In January of 2007, the Chinese government issued a report outlining the discovery of a large mineral deposit under the Tibetan Plateau.[112] The deposit has an estimated value of $128 billion and may double Chinese reserves of zinc, copper, and lead. China sees this as a way to alleviate the country's dependence on foreign mineral imports necessary for its growing economy. However, critics worry that mining these vast resources will harm Tibet's fragile ecosystem as well take valuable resources away from the Tibetan people.
That seems like it might be fairly contentious. There all this stuff with demographic swamping and what Tibet actually is. And then there are ethnic groups. I felt satisfied at this point. I now had sufficient reason to justify my psuedo-indignation at an emerging superpower. But then I wondered, what else could I be mad at the Chinese for? Poisoning children? Circumcision? Then it hit me: fur.
“We thought this was a great opportunity for exposure,” said Caroline Nasella, 24, whose organization was In Defense of Animals. She stood holding a big banner that read “China: Stop Your Bloody Fur Trade!” [source]
I have a slight desire to make some snide comment about those darn hippies and their San Fransisco values, but I'm much more intrigued by what sorts of furs China is exporting. There are the obvious tiger, panda, and saiga. Luckily, Google opened my eyes. I guess that's pretty horrible and whatever; I'm still kind of hooked on that saiga thing. It looks like a mix of a tapir and an antelope! Awesome.

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