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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Globalisation in the clouds

I have been reading this book, Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next, by Greg Lindsay and John Kasarda, and it is full of gems. We take the ability to order a book or other item online and have it delivered in days for granted, and perhaps tend to forget how much we have got used to this unless, that is, such services are disrupted by things such as security clampdowns or Icelandic volcanic eruptions.

Here’s a couple of paragraphs:

“Despite its handicaps, LAX has been the catalyst for the city’s metamorphosis into America’s premier trade entrepôt over the last 30 years. It was during those decades that the industrial fulcrum of California first shifted north – out of the hangars of Hughes Aircraft and into Silicon Valley – and then west, all the way to China. We have LAX to thank for our iPhones and iPods being `designed by Apple in California, assembled in China,’ as they advertise on their backs. Not just Apple, but every Valley company that began life combining transistors there – think Intel, Hewlett Packard, Sun, and Cisco – long ago began outsourcing work from its messy, depreciating factories to ones across the Pacific. Now they wait for airborne freighers to land in Los Angeles with the first samples of their latest holiday smash in the hold.”

(Page 29)

“Anyone lucky enough to have hitched a ride aboard a freighter or been taken under the wings of the `freight dogs’ who pilot them could tell ou enough stories to pass the eighteen hours to LA from Singapore. At any given moment, there are aloft `incomprehensible quantities of the mundane,’ in the words of one such witness: 160,000 pounds of roses leaving Amsterdam, 25,000 wiring harnesses bound for auto plants around the Detroit, or 5,000 pounds of Grand Theft Auto games inbound for LAX. Another writer babysat a stableful of horses in transit between O’Hare and Tokyo, including a dozen Appaloosas bound for a Hokkaido ranch. One pilot recounted the tale of a mysterious ice chest, insured for millions, which he later learned was the vessel for the first HIV drug cocktail.”

(page 33).

4 comments to Globalisation in the clouds

  • llamas

    Don’t leave out the Port of Long Beach.

    If you think the freight terminals at LAX, which handle about 2 million tons per year, are dealing with ‘incomprehensible quantities of the mundane’, try the container terminals at POLB, which moved almost 80 million tons of freight last year, worth more than $100 billion. A single new Panamax container ship may be carrying more than 7,000 40-foot containers, and they’re lined up at POLB like buses.



  • lucklucky


  • nt

    Ironically, the book is not available for Kindle download over the air in Australia. You’ve got to order the hard copy.

    Ps : Apple made Amazon take off the link for the Kindle Store in their Kindle for iPhone app…because Amazon wouldn’t pay them ?30% on each transaction. Just sayin’

  • Kevin B

    So I’m pondering whether to have the Aussie Cabernet or the Californian Merlot with the dinner tonight and I started thinking about this post.

    Does my wine come by sea or by air? Do they bottle it before they ship it or is their a terminus in Milford Haven where huge tankers offload their precious cargo into storage tanks whence road tankers pick it up and deliver it to the bottlers? I mean, shipping all that glass would be wasteful, no?

    Or perhaps the market has moved towards full efficiency, and what I’m drinking is actually produced somewhere in the EU and simply labelled as Aussie or Californian while in Jacob’s Creek and Blossom Hill, the local stuff is labeled as Medoc or Saint Emilion.