Category Archives: Politics & Opinions

Wrong Decisions

She knew it was wrong. Nothing has been right since this morning. The alarm didn’t go off at ten because it was out of battery and she didn’t even notice. When she woke up, it was around eleven already. She jumped out of her bed and started getting ready. After putting the mascara on, she opened her closet to pick up a dress. Until then, she realized she forgot her laundry in the dryer last night before going out. “Dammit, I’m so late.” She thought. So she just grabbed a dress from the closet. It was a flowery summer style from last year. Whatever, outfit didn’t matter that much now. Half an hour later, she was ready to leave. She was carrying a purse on her left shoulder, a binder in her left arm, and a bottle of water in her left hand. She really needed some water for her hangover. Last night was a disaster, even though she always promised not to drink that much anymore. After locking the door, she dropped the key. Coincidentally it rolled under her feet, as she moved her right foot, the key got kicked underneath the door. “FUCK!” But she was running late. She decided not to pick up the key, “No one will notice the key there. I will try to get it out when I come back.”

As she walked down the street, the doorman was staring at her surprisingly, and said hi. It was Friday morning, and she should be at work at this time now. She, as a journalist, had been working in Times magazine for 2 years now after graduated from Northwestern. But today was special – she had to take a day off. She almost jogged to the metro station. She picked the wrong shoes. This new pair of high heels were killing her feet, but she didn’t have time to go back to change. She kept drinking her water on the way, and thought, “well, at least the weather is nice today.” A black young woman and a baby in a stroller came towards her. The baby had blonde hair and round blue eyes, looking really cute. “Well, it’s not too bad to have a little thing to keep me company. Nope, not a good idea!”

At least the fucking train was on time today. She jumped onto the train. It was as full as usual. “What’s wrong with people? Don’t they need to work or what at this time? Well, they might be tourists. Everyone goes to Central Park.” As she was thinking, she noticed an odd black fat guy from 5 persons away was staring at her. The guy was trying to move towards her. Luckily, the train approached E 63rd St. station. She quickly got out of the train. When she turned back, the guy in the train winked to her with a creepy smile. She shivered and ran out of the train station.

Finally, 635 Madison Avenue, she made it on time. It was almost one o’clock. She signed in at the reception desk, and sat down. She looked around and didn’t find any acquaintances. She knew she should have chosen some other gynecologists, maybe in Brooklyn. Well, she didn’t trust those rustics. Ten minutes later, the nurse came out and called her name. She followed the nurse into a room. “Get changed into the clothes on the bed and lie down. Dr. Bartel will be right with you.” The nurse left.

She got changed, and lay down on the freezing bed. “I shouldn’t do this. I have good income. I can nurture a baby by myself. I will find a nice man who loves me as well as my baby in the future. It’s not fair to kill it. But what if…” The doctor knocked at the door and came in. He smiled to her, and asked, “Are you ready?” She nodded.

Didn’t remember how long later, she got up and changed. She paid for the bill at the check-out desk. As she walked down the street again, she thought, “I might have made a wrong decision today.” and feeling cramping in her stomach.

I was just inspired to write a short story a few days ago. There’s not racism. And I’m not anti-abortion, but I will never be against the human nature of being a mother as a woman. I just feel gloomy about this controversial topic. Enjoy!

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The Future of Hong Kong

Living and working for the past seven months in Hong Kong has been nothing less than dream. Hong Kong is full of all the luxuries of the west, but also has a charm that only the east could provide. I have been treated to fun and exciting things to do on a weekly basis, and although the air pollution is terrible compared to San Diego, it doesn’t hold a candle to the levels in some of the cities in Mainland China.
Yet, things in Hong Kong aren’t all they seem to be. There is an anxiety about the city. The leadership of the CCP in the Mainland has said a number of times that they hope to turn Shanghai into a major financial center by 2020. Obviously this would transfer the center of ‘financial services’ gravity away from Hong Kong, a financial service heavy economy, challenging the city to find new industries to keep it relevant and to maintain its high standard of living. But to be honest, when Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang announced his plan to add new industries to Hong Kong’s repertoire a couple months ago, few seemed to take him serious. Economically speaking, Hong Kong could be looking at a difficult future.
So why am I not scared for Hong Kong?
I regularly read one of Hong Kong’s free newspapers: The Standard. Earlier this week, as I was flipping through the pages on my lunch break, I got to a cluster of articles under the “China” section. The first was an article entitled “Internet fears deepen over ‘white list’ bid”. Apparently Beijing plans to block even more websites from people using websites in the Mainland. They say that this is to block the growing number of porn websites but politically dissenting websites will almost certainly be blocked too.
The next article was about a Father who started a website for parents of children who became ill from drinking tainted milk (tens of thousands of children became sick after executives at a baby formula factory put an industrial chemical into the formula to boost protein levels). The website was designed to provide information and resources to parents. The Father was arrested and jailed for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.
The last article was of a 53-year old man who was charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for co-authoring a widely circulated petition that called for political reform (what was this guy thinking?). After a year, he is finally going to trial. European and US diplomats have been barred from attending the trial.
The collection of these three articles was too much for me. I started laughing. If I’m a country, I would be doing my best to make my country as enticing as possible to global talent. Yet it seems like the government is doing everything it can to make the prospect of life in China a nightmare. As a foreigner, I’m giving a lot of thought to if I ever want to work in the mainland. Can I get away with living and officing in Hong Kong, and just visiting the Mainland? Would any foreigner in their right mind ever think of setting up a ‘life’ in this country? Currently facebook is blocked there. When you consider the fact that the language barrier in even the most developed cities is still a very big issue, keeping in touch with friends from home (via facebook) is a very important thing.
The top global talent will continue to flock to Hong Kong. The economic opportunities of China combined with the freedoms and luxuries that only a global city like Hong Kong could provide will ensure this. As long as the leadership in China continue to make stupid moves, no foreigner in their right mind would bother to stick around the Mainland after their fortune has been made.

And Btw, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!!

Let’s Be Problem Solvers

I sometimes get mad when I receive emails complaining about this or that. Someone isn’t happy about Healthcare reform or someone isn’t happy about outsourcing work to other countries. It is always the same name calling, bickering and complaining.

Do people simply like complaining? Does it help them deal with the ambiguity of an uncertain future? I have always heard that in a for profit company (arguably the most efficient and productive human organization) constantly pointing out the problems without offering solutions is a sure way to get yourself canned. Your CEOs and Managers don’t care if you’ve identified a problem, they care if you’ve identified a problem and then SOLVED it. After all, problems without solutions just cause more problems, E.g. time delays, or complete inactivity. (there are always exceptions, some problems should be pointed out even when there is no solution yet)

There are thousands of voices all telling us how much is going wrong, but so few that are telling us how to solve those problems. When did society turn into a bunch of complainers? Has it always been like this? And most importantly, what can we do to reverse the tides of ignorance?

As I have said before, we must first become educated and then we must become the change in which we hope to see in the world.

There are a number of places that great ideas are being spread every day. TED.com offers a number of “ideas worth sharing” on a daily basis. Sharing them is easy. The site offers a number of ways to email or link the videos to friends. This is a video of Bill Gates talking about the work his foundation has been doing on malaria and education. It’s really good.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bill_gates_unplugged.html

I received this video from csrwire.com. By subsribing to the RSS feed using igoogle (you can do this with a number of programs including facebook and outlook) I don’t even have to waste time visiting their website. I simply receive a link to their latest news articles on my google homepage. The video is about how architects at Virgina Tech have created a home that has a very small carbon footprint. The technology is really cool and has the potential to reduce energy consumption considerably. It is a great watch.

Know some other great websites? Please share!

Could you imagine if all of the people arguing about healthcare in the US, on the left and on the right, were actively seeking constructive solutions for the problem? What a different world we would be living in. What a BETTER world we would be living in.

I had planned on solving a problem of my own, but I will save that for my next post 🙂

Cultural Differencecs

My (our) friend from France, Alexandra, sent me this amazing piece of comedy last night. Being a global business major and all.. this stuff is important to me ;). What do you think, true?

Cultural differences are obvious in this picture…..
(Les différences culturelles sont très apparentes sur cette photo..)

The American is all business, looks ahead, nothing distracts him…
(L’américain est très professionnel, regarde ailleurs, rien ne le perturbe…)

The Canadian, a bit “out there”, worried about his appearance…
(Le canadien est un peu ailleurs, soucieux de son apparence…)

Now…….the French and the Italian………………………………?!
(Quant au français et à l’italien…)

presidents

A Tribute to Milton Friedman

Today, 31 July 2009, marks what would have been the world-renowned economist Milton Friedman’s 97th birthday. The Lion Rock Institute, based here in Hong Kong, put on a cocktail celebration for the late superstar economist, with a panel discussion, a few youtube clips featuring Mr. Friedman’s thoughts on the markets, and an open bar that I made sure to take advantage of.

The timing couldn’t have been better. Many of the principles that Mr. Friedman was an advocate for are apparently being trampled over by President Obama and a seemingly clueless US congress. The panel, which was comprised of well known Hong Kong economists who actually went to school in Chicago and studied under Mr. Friedman, were quick to critique the rational behind President Obama’s stimulus package, pointing to the fact that as the US begins to exit the recession, only the tinniest amount of stimulus money has actually been spent.

One thing Mr. Friedman was not, and it is important to highlight in order to save him from the hands of disenfranchised Americans, was a protectionist. If your business were going under because of outsourcing to India, “you are mistaken” Mr. Friedman would have said. Your business is actually going under because you have failed to innovate—“Tuff luck”. Only by exposing our businesses and industries to increased competition and pressure will we increase the necessity for innovation. Furthermore, it is innovation that is the key to providing the new and higher paying jobs necessary in order to continue raising living standards. An industry protected by government will likely destroy the need for innovation, in turn causing incomes and living standards to stagnate.

Mr. Friedman was very fond of Hong Kong. In the youtube clip below, he points out some of the reasons why Hong Kong has been able to increase it’s living standard so dramatically.

The world is getting crazy. As the US government, the spokesperson for freedom and capitalism around the globe, begins taking over banks and car manufacturers, it is the People’s Republic of China, the last great stronghold of communism that has adopted an increasingly free market economy. One has to wonder what will happen to Friedman’s teaching. In the US, will they be washed away by fiscal irresponsibility and a sense of entitlement? Will they gain further adoption by the hard working, status seeking Chinese? Or will Mr. Friedman’s free market system be blended with some sort of social collectivism, which is beginning to seem necessary in order to combat long-term imperatives such as climate change and resource conservation. Only time will tell.

A letter to the BBC

Come On England!

Come On England!

I know everyone has heard of England, although I want to educate you the basics which many fail to distinguish between, First of all lets clear things up:

Q. Why is England or the UK sometimes called Britain?

A.”England” is sometimes, wrongly, used in reference to the whole United Kingdom, the entire island of Great Britain (or simply Britain), or indeed the British Isles. This is not only incorrect but can cause offence to people from other parts of the UK.

Did you know?

England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain refer to different ‘parts of the UK. The British Isles includes many islands not even part of the UK The name United Kingdom refers to the union of what were once four separate countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (though most of Ireland is now independent).

The UK’s full and official name is the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.

Some random stuff:

The English drink more tea per person than any other people in the world (over twenty times more than Americans!) Mmmm how much i love my tea ^__^

Shakespeare invented the word “assassination” and “bump.”

The shortest war in history was between Zanzibar and England in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes. Ahhaaa!

On Italians. Or rather: why Italians bear (and re-elect) Silvio Berlusconi.

Tonight I attended a public discussion with an important Italian journalist in my hometown Cesena. Although the main theme was gaffes and politicians, this evening gave me a good chance to analyze Italians and italian politics.

Here’s a few facts on Italians:

1-Italians regard themselves as the highest achievement of the human race and civilization- Well, this is indeed a fact.

2-An Italian will always have the last word on any given issue. Period.

3-Italians are firmly convinced that their jokes are extremely funny. If these jokes go too far, and end up being considered offensive- well, that’s only because others don’t have our sense of humour.

4-Italians can’t take any responsibilities. Italians blame other Italians, in order not to bear any responsibilities.

These antropological features make it possible for us to have such a Prime Minister as Silvio Berlusconi, and to bear his jokes and gaffes.  Having lived and travelled for a long time around the world, I know what foregneirs think about us- I know they can’t accept the idea that we have re-elected this guy over and over again since 1994.

Italy has a long history of charismatic leaders ruling our territory. Even during the ancient times, wealthy business men decided to pursue their interests through the conquer of political power: they were indeed ante-litteram Berlusconis. A charismatic leader completely fulfills Italians’ expectations: he guarantee them someone to blame when things go wrong, and set them free from any responsibilities.  In modern times, the political leader has turned into a populistic leader- overcoming the disadvantages of representative democracy in order to enjoy direct contact with his public.

Well, Berlusconi is a populistic leader. We love him because of this. And he makes good jokes.

He makes good jokes because he reflects the deepest essence of Italy: our cultural superiorness, our arrogance, our laziness, our love for food, wine, and sex. Last but not least, our fear and suspicion for others: take one of latest jokes- calling B.Obama a “tanned” , young and good looking guy.

He pays prostitutes to have sex, he is caught by his wife, he gives tips on orgasms, and holds huge trasgressive parties while his family is away.

He’s one of us: this is why we like him. Like it or not, this is a fact.