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The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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Travels around the flattened world
I've been traveling a lot this past couple of weeks, and haven't had much time to post here. Went to Houston for a User Group meeting for ABB...and then to Brazil to visit a company called Smar. You can read the "official" CONTROL magazine blog at http://www.livejournal.com/~waltboyes.

Smar is the only latin american company to be recognized as a completely worldclass competitor, and in a very high tech area: process automation and digital communications buses designed expressly for the plant floor. They even make "silicon" for most of the other companies who work in the area.

They are located in a small town in southern Brazil, Sertaozinho, which is very hard to pronounce since it is pronounced, like many Portuguese words, very differently than spelled. Like all of Brazil, there are huge disparities. While it is true as Tom Friedman has written in his book _The World Is Flat_, that the playing fields are leveling, it is not true that they are truly level. There are hills and valleys, some large, and some difficult to pass. Shanty towns vie with new, Western-style subdivisions in most Brazilian cities, and there is a layer of sophisticated middle and upper class, but at the same time, you can see the disadvantaged everywhere.

Every one of my acquaintenances in Brazil told me that what Brazil needs is education, opportunity, and the institutional stability that we in the USA take for granted. It wasn't that long ago for example that the Army declared a dictatorship in Brazil, and they could certainly do it again, anytime.