Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Nov 11, 2011

Hypocrisy, Amazing Feature and Culture

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:01 am

It happened before. It will happen again.

When I was sharing office with three other female coworkers in 2007 and throughout 2008, I was rather dismayed to have observed some extremely unpleasant events around me. My past workplaces have been primarily male dominant. This was the first time that I was in an all female office. Call it American culture 101. In fact, when I look back, I feel throughout my life, I have never been surrounded by so many females.

Here’s what must happen among these female coworkers. Whenever one of them was out of the room, the other two lost no time in gossiping about the absent one. The worst part was they all worn a super friendly mask when facing each other, fully exemplifying the concept of hypocrisy. Of course, they missed no chance backstabbing me whenever they got a chance. And I was always zen enough not to be disturbed by the goings-on around me.

Yesterday, I learned that two of them were going to hang out with our ex-manager, whom they were never tired of unfavorably gossiping about.

I try to find it amusing, but more often than not, I wish I could run away from this work environment.

1, Nov 5, 2011

Population, Culture, Education and the Future of America

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:41 am

On 10/4/2011, I chatted with a friend of mine over the phone during lunch hour. As always, we talked about education, my favorite topic. Not long before that, I read a white house April report on Latino children in school.

=> less than 50% of them are enrolled in pre-school;
=> just 50% earn their high school diploma on time;
=> half of those high school graduates are prepared for college;
=> 13% of them have a degree beyond high school

Consider these demographical facts:
=> Hispanics are the youngest and fastest growing group in US.
=> They make up 16% of the population now
=> The number will increase to 29% of the population by 2050.

Imagine the large army of future citizens trapped in low class because of their inadequate education!

People painfully offer many explanations and solutions to this problem, such as, language barrier, unfavorable immigration status, etc. However, none of them touch the essence of the issue. I might sound politically incorrect, but be it. The Latino education problem is inherent in their culture. No big change is possible without an overhaul of that culture.

The population comes with the burden of their culture. Asian population with similar language and immigration obstacles register much higher level of education because Asian cultures, be it India or China or Japan or Korea, all place education as their top priority in their families.

Here’s a sneak preview of coming attraction. With nearly one third of the US population being Hispanics by 2050 with their dominant culture and their lack of education, what is in stock for America to compete with cultures that emphasize education and churn out large pools of highly intelligent heads?

1, Oct 13, 2011

Currency Bill Targeting China, the Need for a Scapegoat

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:53 am

I read this news yesterday– “US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, said the bill reflects the frustration felt by many Americans. The US Senate has voted through a bill that aims to put pressure on China to increase the value of its currency, the yuan.”

When these politicians pick up China for their frustration and inability over American dire economic crisis, I was more than flabbergasted. Why can’t people see some of the simple facts that have led the nation to what it is now? It is simply preposterous that politicians choose to ignore these facts. Perhaps it is the cowardice in them that has disabled American politicians to claim their responsibilities. Or probably it is easy to find a scapegoat or create a common enemy to focus their energy on or even worse to shift people’s attention to the root of the problems, which are the following.

(1) The cost of the two wars runs up to more than a trillion dollars. A huge addition to the country’s debt burden.

(2) The revenue shortfall caused by the two massive income tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Bush tax cuts extension for two years alone will add $3.3 trillion to the national debt.

(3) The shortfall of revenue gets worse because of the 14 million jobless Americans. No job means no revenue for government and no consumer spending.

(4) Americans have been spoiled by the sense of entitlements and are so immune to any hardships that these entitlements start to accumulate and aggregate to the point of crisis

The passing of the currency bill reminds me of a Chinese saying on boomerang effect.

1, Oct 11, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring, Revolution

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:49 am


For some reason, the recent Occupy Wall Street demonstration reminds me of these words from Mao Zedong.

The demonstration started in New York City and spread to other parts of the country. I have a lot of sympathy for those folks. I am not sure what it can accomplish, though I am certain of what it is not.

(1) It is not and will not be an earthquake event like Arab Spring movement in Middle East, which is very close to Mao’s definition of revolution.

(2) It will not be as influential as Tea Party noise because Tea Party has been backed by the powerful moneyed class, whereas those demonstrators consist of the penniless, hopeless, helpless and even desperate ones. Let’s face it: how far can you go without a penny?

(3) They will not get what they ask, assuming they ask for jobs. A large quantity of jobs have been shipped overseas, gone forever.

The voices of these demonstrators are too weak and too late. They are not even as forceful as anti-abortionists who have succeeded in killing an abortion doctor or as powerful as gay marriage opponents who have claimed equal success. That’s American priority!

1, Sep 11, 2011

A Decade After: Worse Than 9-11

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:24 am

Today marks the tenth anniversity of the 9-11 world trade center attack, the first time in American history that America was thus attacked. Are we better off now than a decade ago? Are you kidding?

People talked about that part of history. Yet, in their usual lack of reflection, most people never stop a second and reflect its far-reaching disastrous impact on us and other peoples now. Why we are in worse shape now than 2001?

Let me count the horrors happened because of 9-11:
(1) The bombing is horrible, yet even more horrible is American politicians used this as an excuse to start Iraqi war, the country having nothing to do with 9-11.

(2) The Iraqi war resulted in the death and wounded of both American soldiers and Iraqi civilians, millions of them.

(3) The war led the U.S. to the red ocean of debts, trillion of them, which rapidly drags the country down to the bottom.

America today reminds me of a nursery rhyme that I heard of when my children were little,

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

1, Apr 18, 2011

A Piece of Culture, An Interesting Observation at Work

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:56 am

A friend of mine whom we met on the flight to Beijing during my last trip home told me how she became acquainted with a young IT professional in China. The ease with which Chinese people get on familiar term with one another emphasizes one of the cultural differences that I have observed at work.

When I was working at our central office back in 2005, a colleague of mine, a rather over-weight one, was on very good term with me. Once I observed that she gobbled down a huge piece of high-calorie cheese cake. I felt a strong urge of telling her, “Hey, stop it. This is not helpful for you to lose weight.” But I politely held myself back. It would sound rude and not nice, even if it was purely for her benefit.

When I saw a nice lady with a smoking habit having this nagging cough, I was concerned and would very much like to advice her to quit smoking. Much as I cared for her and was worried, I said nothing. Because it is considered an intrusion into other people’s privacy even if I have all the good intentions. Culturally, it is difficult or even impossible to shorten this interpersonal distance. It is always safe to be polite and keep a safe space.

With another young colleague, I was on good terms and felt being trusted, but still I would not say what I thought I should as her senior, simply because it was considered none of my business or an intrusion on her privacy. Under situations like this, I know I would be more direct if I were among Chinese.

1, Apr 16, 2011

Experience of Marginalization at Workplace

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:51 am

On 11/10/2009, around 10:40 AM, the head of the practice came to our clinic and served as a tour guide for someone from outside. When he passed my office, he stopped right outside the door and introduced to that person something about clinic trial that I was working on. I could hear every word of it since it happened just by my office door. I knew he would definitely do it differently if an American were in my office. Normally, someone outside the practice would talk to me and view our office when they want to get information about our research study. This time, for some reason, it did not happen.

It might be because it would break his comfort zone to talk to someone he has never talked before, someone different from him. I used to consider him to be rather open-minded, as if he came from west coast. I thought he was at ease dealing with people at all levels. Obviously not.

The experience made me rethink of the concept of identity and acceptance. Some Chinese consider themselves thoroughly Americanized, so much so that they refuse to think themselves anything but Americans. Well, identity involves both objective and subjective sides. Chances are what you see yourself is vastly different from what the majority of Americans see you. I keep telling my children this hard fact — even if both of you were born and grew up in America, don’t cheat yourself into thinking you are always accepted as Americans here.

1, Feb 22, 2011

The Powerless Wisconsin Citizens and Others Soundly Slapped Their Own Faces

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:19 am

Republicans were voted in during last November’s mid-term election, on the promise that they would balance the budget and cut government spending. Tellingly, voters liked some cutting but stupidly, they never asked how and where to cut. Considering the nature of Republican party, people should know the cut will always benefit the rich and hurt the poor.

Even worse is the fact that they have voted for the republican Governor, Scott Walker, who not only cut whichever he sees fit but also threatens to deprive the legal rights of the powerless to collectively bargain with the powerful, so that the powerless mass will be totally at the mercy of whoever in power, just or unjust.

Now these same people have to live with the consequence of their election. While it might seem a bit far-fetched, it does remind me of a farmer who warmed back to life the frozen snake inside his shirt only to be bitten to death by the awaken hungry one.

Understandably, there is a need for the existence of an union who would speak on behalf of the powerless workers and function as a check against the greedy capitalists, especially when capitalists are boosted up by political power, as in the case of Wisconsin today. Sadly to say, their right to bargain could be outlawed just as easy as their rice bowls were shipped overseas.

Still, I wish Wisconsin demonstrators could win their battle over Scott Walker and could set a precedent for demonstrators in other states. Otherwise, the domino effect of their defeat throughout this nation is just unimaginable.

1, Jan 31, 2011

Obesity is More than Lifestyle and Food Intake II

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:19 am

Although I have not read any research to see if concentration of obesity and low social class overlap each other, just from the amount of attention federal government has been pouring onto it, I have no doubt that you will find a heavy concentration of overweight folks among low class. This is what turns a personal problem of weight into a societal one.

Consider this — if obesity concentrate among low social class folks, they need government assistance to take care of their obesity-related health problems — heart disease, diabetes, certain type of cancer, and even higher risk of senior dementia. Hence their weight issue becomes a societal problem, making deficit-stricken government as nervous as other societal issues.

Then again as with any issues that arise from some deep-rooted cultural values and in the realm of personal behavior, if there is no change to the culture of insufficient self-control and self-discipline among the dominant obese population, no policy and government funding can bring a change in people’s eating behavior, lifestyle and do away with obesity.

It might not be politically correct to direct attention to the individual level, but be it if it is a hurting truth. This reminds me of my posting on 7/22/2010, “We Like to Cheat Ourselves with Streetlight” — we know that’s not where the truth is, still we search there because the light is good.

1, Jan 30, 2011

Obesity is More than Lifestyle and Food Intake

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:27 am

The convergence of some seemingly unrelated facts set me thinking again on obesity, healthcare cost and social class. Here are these facts from Reuters health and science editor, Maggie Fox, 8/3/2010.

*More than 72 million U.S. adults, or 26.7 percent, are obese.
**Recent estimates of the annual medical costs of obesity are $147 billion
***Blacks were the most likely to be obese, with 36.8 percent of U.S. black adults having a BMI of 30
****More than 41 percent of black women are obese
*****More than 30 percent of Hispanic adults were obese.
******Mississippi had the most obese people.
*******Obesity is a societal problem, according to Dr. Frieden, CDC director.

“The federal government and some states have been moving toward using legislation to help people to exercise and eat healthier foods.”

To be continued…

1, Jan 27, 2011

China and India, Job and Economy in President’s Speech

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 1:46 am

The president is finally a bit realistic when he talked about the success of China and India due to their advanced education.
“…, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They’re investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.”

“China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a ‘D.'”

He asks the nation to look ahead for a bright future.
“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.”

Talking is always easy and cheap.

1, Jan 8, 2011

Defense Budget Cut and “National Security”

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:04 am

On 12/30/2010 and 1/2/2011, I posted entries on US in the coming decade, enduring the dire economic consequence of its over-stretched global arms. I predicted the country would have to do some serious cutting here and there, a real European style austerity as part of its effort to fight the formidable burden of debt. On 1/6/2011, we learned US defense secretary Roberts Gates announced a $78bn military budget cut, to be achieved in part by scrapping a $14bn amphibious vehicle. The cuts over the next five years come in addition to $100bn in internal savings already announced. “As the biggest part of the discretionary federal budget, the Pentagon cannot presume to exempt itself from the scrutiny and pressure faced by the rest of our government,” Gates said

Here’s the irony about defense expense. After 911 attack of 2001, the US increased military spending tremendously in the name of protecting “national security.” After a gigantic military spending in which the US invaded other countries, did plenty of killings and bombings, with the two invaded countries like it is now, is America safer and stronger now than before? Do people worldwide love America more than before? Or the opposite is true?

I wonder when people will come to this understanding that a country cannot be safe and strong if it faces colossal national debts and a fast shrinking middle-class and a swelling lower class. I am sure there are some politicians who will jump out against the defense cut, always in the name of “national security” and at the cost of anything else.

1, Jan 2, 2011

USA in the New Decade 2

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:01 am

Whether or not America will continue on its way out as the world power in this decade depends on how it deals with its current challenges — the wars, the deficit, economy, and its education.

Regardless of its ability to meet the challenges, there is no doubt that USA will continue attracting millions of immigrants with its ideals, economic opportunities, vast stretch of land, and material abundance.

During the gathering with friends on the New Year’s Eve, I mentioned some areas where America is ahead of the four BRIC countries. Such as, in area of jing shen wen ming –spiritual civilization, China still has a long way to catch up, if she ever does or if the USA does not regress with the loss of middle class.

While the immigrants to America are transformed in the process of assimiliation into American culture, they will transform American society and will definitely bring in new hope to the country. In them probably lies the hope of the nation.

The shrinking of middle-class in American society shrinks the consuming power as well as tax revenue for the government. Where do we get money for foreign war and foreign debts and domestic programs? With the pinching national purse, one would expect the US will take back some of its outstretched arms. It will be interesting to see if it will happen or what will happen by the end of this decade.

1, Dec 30, 2010

USA in the Coming Decade 1

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:50 am

As we approach the end of the year and of the first decade of the new millennium, looking into the next decade, there is no other topic more interesting than that of the future of America as the world power.

During the last decade, the USA has effectively dragged its economy downhill by over-stretching itself in the way of foreign wars with its huge military expense. Throughout history, many great nations have gone the same self-defeating path, having their resources drained away by these wars of attrition. While the US was busy burning its wealth, other countries lost no time in accumulating it. Imagine its consequence in the coming decade.

Because of the huge war cost and Bush tax cut, the country has incurred a colossal debt, a heavy burden on the future generation. This burden behaves like a chronic disease that will slowly consume the nation. Sadly to say, Obama’s compromised tax bill serves to save his own skin at the cost of future generation. It does not help in raising productivity and reducing deficit.

American politics has become ineffective and stalemated, just look at Obama’s healthcare reform and then his even more stupid tax bill! The powerful politicians representing some interested groups are totally on top of everything. Where is the future for the aspiring middle-class folks and for the nation?

The final worrisome problem is America’s K-12 education. To be sure, if a good education has been the key to the rise of many nations from Japan to Israel, America’s lack of it can be attributed to its decline. To predict prison population in the coming decade, one simply needs to count the high school dropouts today. With the decrease of highly educated workforce, America will see the shrinking of middle class. Even worse, a good basic education come from a culture that value education like that of many Asian and Jewish culture. You cannot say the same of American culture!

To be continued…

1, Nov 29, 2010

Sarah Palin Called North Korea US Ally

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:17 am

Back to work after a week off. I find it hard to resist this posting. Here it is to cheer up the end of November weather.

Knowledge is power, so was it true when Dan Quayle failed to spell the word potato in 1992 and remains to this day number one America’s dumb politician; so it is true today when Sarah Palin twice called North Korea US ally on 11/25/2010.

In both cases, their lack of knowledge empowered their political opponents with much needed ammunitions to send them to where they belong and surely guarantee them a place for them in the history book as the dumbest politicians in the U.S.

How much educated can we expect American youngsters to become if the nation were governed by the folks like Dan-Palin alliance?

1, Sep 16, 2010

“I like Americans, but they are somewhat monocellular”

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:34 am

From Time magazine Verbatim page, 9/13/2010 issue, I read a quote of Ichiro Ozawa, a member of the governing Democratic Party of Japan.

I like Americans, but they are somewhat monocellular. When I talk with Americans, I often wonder why they are so simpleminded. ” So adorable, not!

The quote brought to my mind one of the phenomena in modern world, that is, the fast rise of Japan in the matter of two decades. I am sure there have been many books written on this topic; and nice to say I have not read any of them.

But as far as I can see, without even dipping into any research, there are two things that are essential for a country’s economical growth and that are characteristic of Japan — highly educated work force and conservative saving behavior, that is, savings for security in the future, rather than spending to the maximum for the present, or living on borrowed money. Sounds so familiar, right?

Look at Americans, its woeful state of education now and consider the distinctive winning features in Japanese culture and society, one would not be surprised over Ozawa’s unflattering comments on Americans.

1, Sep 2, 2010

End of Iraq War But No Celebration

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:31 am

This should be a day of celebration upon U.S. exit from Iraq, at least for those who have dear ones fighting in Iraq. Still, I am in no mood for this sort of thing as I am bitterly disappointed over the President’s position on Iraq war. Obama is right that Iraq war has been a huge waste of money and lives when domestic needs are screamingly urgent. He wanted to keep his promise and stop this senseless waste. However, there is a sense of something not right in his speech, and he gave the impression that he stopped Iraq war mainly out of economic concern, totally void of any sense of justice, as if money is all he cares. One step further, if America were not in this desperate economic shape, he would not withdrawn the troops.

I don’t understand this. How could he fail to understand this simple fact — the war was absurdly waged on the assumption of the existence of the weapon of mass destruction. Since WMDs were not found, let’s just go home. If he understood it, why didn’t he say, “The war kills so many innocent lives who are as valuable as my dear daughters. It is morally wrong and unjustified!” Mistake made, time for correction. Why did he have to beautify the brutal acts of invasion, mass-killing and bombing with the lofty claim of building democracy and freedom for Iraqis.

Here are some basic facts about this war that should go down U.S. history —
Name of the war: “Operation Iraqi Freedom”
Start date: 19 March 2003.
Justification: existence of WMD
Place: oil rich land
Accomplishments:
(1) Loss of human lives, 4,421 US soldiers died, Iraqi civilian deaths, by month, according to IBC (Iraq Body Count), there have been between 97,568 and 106,466 civilian deaths up to July 2010. The Lancet journal in 2006 published an estimate of 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths related to the war of which 601,027 were caused by violence.

(2) Money squandered
: according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, the US will have spent almost $802bn on funding the war by the end of fiscal year 2011, with $747.6bn already appropriated. Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard’s Linda Bilmes put the true cost at $3 trillion once additional impacts on the US budget and economy are taken into account.

(3) War always creates a large army of displaced people and refugees. According to International Organization of Migration (IOM), U.S.-led war against Iraq displaced over 1.6 million Iraqis, 5.5% of the population, some skilled workers and professionals leaving the war-torn land for anywhere they could find security.

(4) Leaving behind a land totally devastated, ripped through by civil wars, a true Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, far away from the end of the long tunnel of dark miseries, insecurity and instability of the region.

(5) This unlawful invasion into another sovereign state severely tarnished the image of the United States as a nation of Peace Corps established by JFK. Instead, it exposed to the world the true color of an invader.

(6) Bringing home tens of thousands of war-wounded and traumatized U.S. soldiers, whose young hearts and souls have been thoroughly ravished by the bloody killing experience at war.

The only almost sensible comment that Obama made was this — the strength and the position of a nation in the world are maintained not only through invasion of others but also through its economic soundness. The latter is what U.S. needs at this moment. It takes a historian with true courage and integrity to tell future generations what accurately happened during those most shameful years in American history.

1, Aug 31, 2010

What LA Public School Really Needs in Order to Completely Turn around

Filed under: American Culture,Education — admin @ 12:26 am

On the Sunday of 8/22/2010, I read an article by CHRISTINA HOAG, Associated Press writer, “LA unveils $578M school, costliest in the nation.” Here are some facts that make the whole story absolutely ridiculous.

(1) The new building will house the same old group of teachers who have created 50% dropout rate and one of the lowest performance schools in the U.S.
(2) Schools with worst performance are often rewarded with the highest funding – New York City has a $235 million campus; New Brunswick, NJ, a $185 million high school.
(3) This came in the time when nearly 3,000 teachers were laid off, with many needed programs slashed.

The assumption behind this colossal spending is people attribute the poor school performance to lack of good facilities, instead of honestly confronting the real issues of parental responsibilities, the student’s lack of interest and any much-needed work ethics, and on top of its all, the whole culture that breeds the main student body .

I don’t have ready data to back up this but I strongly believe on the average the U.S. public schools spend far more than the average schools in China, yet the performance and achievement are depressingly lower here in the U.S.

Let’s face this simple fact: education is not something you can buy. Emphasis on education is inherent in a culture. You find it in most of Asian and Jewish cultures. Without a thorough cleaning of the whole culture involving predominantly Hispanic and black student body, this bleak situation will remain stubbornly hopeless, regardless how many millions are poured into these schools. It will only get worse as this student body grows bigger.

1, Aug 17, 2010

A Peek into Coming Attractions

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:48 am

On the Saturday of 8/14/2010, we had a family over for a dinner gathering. Their first daughter and mine grew up together. We talked about their generation, the second generation, born and grown up on this land, embraced the cultural values and the best of both sides, given all the opportunities to make it here. Most of them have worked very hard from early age, highly accomplished in many aspects.

Later I told my daughter that I anticipated an unprecedentedly high visibility of Asian Americans from her generation, first time in U.S. history. I know many of them have gone to the top-notch institutes of higher education and there is no doubt that some of them will play key roles in the positions they occupy, regardless which field they enter.

As their generation merge into American society, we will definitely see more and more eminent Asian-American scientists, politicians, CEO, businesspersons, and of course, more Asian-American philanthropists. This is a peek into coming attractions.

As the parents of this exciting new generation, we are both awed and humbled by this great history-making process. More than anything else, we are honored.

1, Jul 31, 2010

The Rich Americans Love the Poor and the Needed Outside the U.S.

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:38 am

This is the most fitting topic for the 4th of July national holiday, supposed to be the most patriotic day. This article was carried on The Wall Street Journal, “Wealthy Give More Overseas, Less to Education, Religion,” 6/9/2010. Wealthy Americans care more about the underpriviledged people globally than those at home.

The giving to international aid see an increase of 6.2%. Domestically, donations to church, education, public society, and arts have declined greatly. It is heartening to see more money poured into environmental protection at home and international aid abroad.

It is an welcome sign to see the rich Americans becoming more catholic in heart and less parochial as the mainstream so soundly demonstrate.

The article reminds me of my son’s recent paycheck, one-third of which was given to Uncle Sam. I still believe donation to any charities is the best solution if any money has to be chipped off your paycheck.

1, Jul 30, 2010

It Is the Immigrants Who Make the Land Great

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:12 am

The following message was emailed around by one of my colleagues this week. Never mind about the ignorance and prejudice thickly exuded in the message. I don’t expect anything enlightened from the sender anyway.

I post it here to remind people of the anti-immigrant sentiment deeply rooted in the minds of not an isoloated few Americans. Have this in mind when you try to merge your youngsters into mainstream American culture and imagine how they will be holy welcome. You might choose to ignore this anti-immigration force, but this is the reality that we and our children have to be aware of and live with. Now enjoy.

If you cross the Iranian border illegally you are detained indefinitely.
If you cross the Afghan border illegally, you get shot.
If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally you will be jailed.
If you cross the Chinese border illegally you may never be heard from again.
If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.
If you cross the Mexican borders illegally you will jailed for two years.
If you cross the Cuban border illegally you will be thrown into political prison to rot.
If you cross the United States border illegally you get:
1 – A job
2 – A driver’s license
3 – A Social Security card
4 – Welfare
5 – Food stamps
6 – Credit cards
7 – Subsidized rent or a loan to buy a house
8 – Free education
9 – Free health care
10 – A lobbyist in Washington
11 – Billions of dollars in public documents printed in your language
12 – Millions of servicemen and women who are willing to – and do – die for your right to the ways and means of our @#$%—-ution
13 – And the right to carry the flag of your country – the one you walked out on – while you call America racist and protest that you don’t get enough respect.

Regardless of what they feel about immigrants, I have no doubt in my mind that the future and the greatness of this country lie heavily on the shoulders of millions of immigrants who believe in the dream and ideal of the founding fathers of the nations and continue to lead the nation in the world. Without them, to the valley and a steep downhill this country will dash into like a flash.

1, May 31, 2010

The BP Oil Spill and An Example of Inefficiency at Work

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:35 am

The April 20, 2010 Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill, the deep-water horizon spill reminds me of a similar incident of inefficiency and frustration at work.

I was not able to login to a portal for a long time and I don’t really care to go there if I can help. On May 6, my colleague asked about a dictation from it, so I tried and failed again, using my old login info. So I emailed the customer service which is provided on the site, expecting a quick fix. I would not waste any minute if there was no quick fix. The site person got back to me immediately, which meant the person on the other end was not crazily busy. I was told to contact the IT support person who “handles all of the user admin for your clinics, you will need to fill out a heat ticket and she should be able to resolve the problem.” Forget it. I have a lot more better things to do than dragging myself through this hell of trouble. I would rather taking care of my own agenda than anything like this.

I am too familiar with the procedure of getting any IT job done. We are supposed to contact the manager who would fill out and send a heat ticket to the IT people. If the manager is not available or busy at the time, the process will take a few days and it really discourages people to go through. Last time I had login problem with my pc and had to borrow other’s pc for a week waiting for any solution, spending more time wandering around, decreasing productivity and wasting time. When I asked my colleague why it got to be this way, I was told that this was the only way the company can keep track of productivity of IT people, with the consequence of lowing productivity of those people whom IT is supposed to serve. Sometimes, you have to go through some detours to get a simple task done, even if the direct and fast lane is available.

Imagine what it would be like if such practice prevails in most of companies here in U.S. This fully explains why it takes forever to stop the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I can understand perfectly why people are frustrated with Obama administration, that is, with his slowness in response to the crisis and his failure to see the urgency of getting the disaster under control. Why can’t Obama issue an ultimatum, asking BP to keep spill under control within a deadline? Failure to meet the deadline will grant the U.S. the right to do whatever is needed to get the job done. I can’t believe the supposedly most powerful country in the world, with the most advanced technology and the money to get the brightest heads in the world, cannot even stop the environmental disaster in a matter of a day or two. I think it more a matter of inefficiency than inability. The highest level of inefficiency!

1, May 3, 2010

Global Nuclear Abolitionists Protest in New York

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:03 am

My heart jumped up with excitement when I saw this picture. I can’t believe it happened in America, that someone in New York shares my peace-loving sentiment. It happened yesterday, the day after International Labour Day. Folks in war-torn countries, hang on there. There is hope after all.

1, Mar 16, 2010

A Test of Power Between A Declining Father and its Fostered Son

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:50 am

Not long ago, Obama snubbed China by meeting Dala Lama. Today, we see the same thing happens when Israel announces building of more settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, directly confronting the U.S. VP Joe. Now, the “affront” and “insult” come back to Obama.

The Jews have built more than 100 settlements since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, all of which are considered illegal under international law and have continued up to now, mostly because the Jews have the backup of number one superpower in the world. The alliance, of course, has angered most of an otherwise powerless un-Jews and spread bad feelings against both the U.S. and the Jews.

Now the U.S. wants to be friend among the Arabs and to play the role of peace-maker. But the monster it has fostered refuses to abide and rejects any attempt to curb its expansion.

While China has a few cards to play when Obama ignored her protests, it is almost interesting to see what U.S. can do if its fostered son goes ahead with his decision to build 1,600 new homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

P.S. today we learn of Palestinians riot in East Jerusalem, so much for the peace-loving Uncle Sam and his rebellious son.

1, Feb 16, 2010

You Reap What You Sow from Iraq to Iran

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 1:43 am

The US invasion of Iraq always reminds me of someone who takes action brainlessly and impulsively without ever thinking of the consequence. When US first bombed Iraq, it felt so safe and so good, like a six-grader slaps the face of a first-grader in primary school. The U.S. was certain that it could do whatever it pleased on the land of Iraq because there was no threat of nuclear weapon or something like weapon of mass destruction in Iraq.

It does not care how other nations perceive it. However, if anything, the US invasion of Iraq woke up everybody around and sent a clear message to them that they got to arm up to the teeth with something that the U.S. is afraid of. Otherwise, they will end up like Iraq, if they happen to have rich oil deposit.

This is what Iran is doing at the moment and much more, its challenge has not been met so far. The U.S. only powerlessly recognizes the coming of a “military dictatorship.”

A person is very much like a nation. If he does not think about the percussion of his action, he will eventually end up like the U.S. today, ensnared in two wars and threatened by Iran. As with everything, always remember you reap what you sow. Nothing comes from nothing.

1, Feb 8, 2010

A Bull Stampeding in a China Shop

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 1:38 am

After all, Obama is the man who has made history as the first black in white house. That’s all he has achieved so far and I am afraid that’s all he will be remembered. Too bad nothing more than this. He was smart and could talk smart to mobilize a majority of voters for his political gain.

You would think Obama was like President Lincoln, being a calculating lawyer at heart and a pragmatic politician like Nixon and would go down history like Lincoln. Wrong. Now he is more like a bull stampeding in a China shop, first $6.4 billion military sell to Taiwan, then offers to meet Dalai Lama. This equals to nothing less than open defiance to any decent dignity that Chinese nationals demonstrate. I can’t see any practical purpose of seeing Lama.

Why does he do it? After a year of white house life, Obama must be frustrated for not having accomplished anything big, from the two costly wars to economic stimulation to healthcare. He must feel like a big wimpy loser and be extremely desperate to show his masculinity by provoking China. Oh boy, he just doesn’t care hurting Chinese! By so doing, he is losing the hearts of billion of Chinese, who used to see him favorably.

How stupid can Obama be when he expects China to finance his 3.8 trillion budget proposal and when he looks to China to help with US economy recovery? His uncommon-sense way of asking for help! If China goes ahead with sanctioning Boeing, that means more job loss in US and a political suicide for Obama. Even if he does not intend to run for second term, he does not need to behave so brainlessly and irrationally.

1, Jan 27, 2010

Over-praise or Over-criticism: Parent’s Distortion of Fact

Filed under: American Culture,Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:20 am

I have been fortunate to know some parents who either unduly over-praise or over-criticize their youngsters. I know of one parent who keeps saying her child is the best even if the fact points to the opposite. On the other hand, another parent always find faults with her children even if they are far better than the average. The over-critical parents must have an extremely high standard for their children, which is equally damaging to the children.

It seems a big challenge for parents to be realistic and objective about their children, as it is a rather emotionally charged topic and as with any emotional topics, people tend to get unreasonable and very subjective.

Every time I hear parents bragging out of proportion about their children, I ask myself, “What is it for? Is it for parents’ vanity or what? Is it to prove that they have been successful as the parents?” When parents deliberately ignore the stark fact, there are always some unspeakable reason behind their minds.

It would help tremendously if we understand perception influences and often becomes reality. Until we can get closer to reality and confront with the unpleasant truth, we cannot expect to initiate any change for the better.

1, Dec 21, 2009

Christmas Giving to Those In Need

Filed under: American Culture,Economy — admin @ 12:43 am

Our clinic asked everybody to make donations to sponsor a family in need. This family hands us a list of what they want for Christmas. The list includes Jeans, Any new release DVD’s, Revlon new completion #2 makeup, any kind of kid movie on DVD, Axe for men, board games, Wal-mart, Best buy or Game Exchange gift cards, any kind of musical DVD, remote control car, Action figures, Transformers, Bi-onicals, … I become so impatient going their list.

I am not going to donate anything. Here’s why:
(1) I never did Christmas shopping for my children and never encouraged them to get anything for nothing, as if there were a real Santa burning money for all the kids in the world. Why should I deviate from my normal practice this time?

(2) As far as I can see, they can live very well without these stuff. That is, they don’t really need any of them and they just want something extra. I will take care of the need first and wait till I deserve it to indulge the want. They can do the same.

(3) I never bought anything that I cannot afford, other than the house. I wait till I have enough for the purchase. Why can’t they wait till they have enough? Nobody’s life is easy.

I have made clear my position on Christmas shopping. Yes, I am firmly against this wasteful practice of shopping spree, commercialization of a religious holiday, as if it were Jesus’ wish for everybody to buy and spend in celebration of his birthday.

Even more stupid is the saying “shop till you drop.” Indeed, shop till the nation drops. How ridiculous can we be? Watching Christmas shoppers often reminds me of the statement that the average intelligent level of the nation is that of a six-grader. No wonder I become impatient so easily among six-graders!

P.S. Before posting this, my daughter read the draft and asked me “Did you email it to your co-workers?” No, not that I am afraid of anything but that I don’t care sharing any of my thoughts with those around me. Here’s one funny thing at my office, some of my co-workers always do the writing on my behalf when writing is needed. Because they know my English writing is pitifully incompetent. Bless their hearts.

1, Nov 18, 2009

Holiday Season and Shopping in Material-Oriented Culture

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:42 am

Yesterday, two monitors showed up at the same time because of a scheduling error. Since we only have one room for monitor and cannot put monitors from two companies in the same room, I placed one in my office, which turned out fine. That is, both got what they wanted and left happily. The one in my office was so happy that she took us to lunch at Cheese-cake factory.

Every time the topic moved into shopping, I found myself very much out of it. As I was sitting there and looked around, people all looked well-fed and clothed and in need of nothing. Yet, as holiday season is approaching, people at my office are still so enthusiastic about shopping, flipping through ads at break room and trying to find some good deals.

I told my daughter, not the first time though, Christmas shopping is not part of the tradition in our family. Holiday is the occasion for joy of family reunion, not a burden or excuse for spending and creating tons of holiday wastes. So was it before when they were small, so is it now, and so shall it be in the future. I remember so fondly how my daughter, almost 10 years ago, pitched in money at Salvation Army stands during holiday season. Every time she heard the bell, she stretched her arm and said, “Mom, money.”

1, Nov 13, 2009

No Vacation Nation — the Richest or Poorest?

Filed under: American Culture — admin @ 12:31 am

On 10/22 posting, I mentioned from my previous reading that “Europeans work less and enjoy more vacation than Americans do.” Last weekend, I read an article, published in 2007, referring America as “No-Vacation Nation.” The article reviews a report on international vacation and holiday laws.

The big discovery is “the United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation or holidays. As a result, 1 in 4 U.S. workers do not receive any paid vacation or paid holidays. The lack of paid vacation and paid holidays in the U.S. is particularly acute for lower-wage and part-time workers, and for employees of small businesses.”

What does it say about American culture, a culture of workaholics or what? Do we really work harder and longer but enjoy less than Europeans? Sounds like Americans are more like merry-go-around money-generated beings. So pathetic! At best for the poor only.

See the original article, “European Economic and Employment Policy Brief,” http://www.etui.org/research/Media/Files/EEEPB/2007/3-2007

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