Friday, February 27, 2009

Being Alone vs Being Lonely

During my adult time, certainly before I got married. I've experienced a quite long period of time of being alone. Yes, I'd friends and family. But I did felt lonely every now and then. That's why when my wife mentioned that some friends of her who are still single in late 30s and how they feel about being alone and feeling lonely, it was quite easy for me to identify or empathize how they feel. I'm glad that I'm not them at their ages. However, as I always believe that 'things have more than one side.' i.e. the 'half-glass' argument about things.

Being Alone is more a physical condition. Namely, you are the only person in your premise. Like you are left home alone, you go driving alone, etc. You live on your own. It actually is a sign of independence. You have all the freedom you want in your premise. You can be selfish and expressive without being considerate. You don't need to reach consensus or compromise. 'You eat what you cook!'

Being lonely is psychological. It is a feeling that you have. You can feel lonely on a busy street. It doesn't really depend on the physical environment.

So, being lonely doesn't mean being alone and vice versa. Being alone is demanding, like you need to be able to afford that, like renting/buying your own place to live. Or having your own car. Otherwise, you need to find a place to be alone is not easy for most citydwellers like us. For example, if your are living with other folks, and suddenly you want to be alone in the middle of the night. You can only lock yourself in your bedroom and put on a headphone. Otherwise, I wonder where can you go? Being lonely is a feeling usually only happen when you are not busy. i.e. got nothing to do and your mind can float....and think....and drift.... Or when you want to do something, but you can't find anyone that can accompany you. Busy people are not lonely people.

So, there are a lot of trade-offs for this topic. Some folks want to be alone, but they don't want to feel lonely. So, the work hard to afford living on their own, and work hard to keep contact with friends, wooing lovers, and joining group activities. In other words, they only want to be alone when they want to be, like after party to go home, and don't bother me when I don't want to be bothered. However, as I mentioned, most of folks that my wife mentioned to me are able to do just that. However, they just can't do one thing. It is that 'others' are not always available when they want them to be around. Cos, those others do have their own lives. They may have their friends, family, and other engagements as well. So, it is quite often that those lonely folks have to work hard to plan things ahead for Friday evening and weekends. Also, they do have to adjust their expectations and satisfaction thresholds on being with others. Cos, those that they really want to spend time and those end up they spend time with could be....different. They need to learn to settle for less.

For those folks who live alone, they may not need to develop hobbies that are for loners. Surely, they can read books, listening to music, doing photography of still objects or scenery, watching movies, jogging, swimming, playing racket ball, etc. Activities that they can enjoy or at least do alone. However, for lonely folks, they better try to do the opposites, like going to learn ballroom-dancing, rather than hip hop. Join tennis club, football club, rather than taking pottery-making class. To be more social and meet people, that's the way 'out' from being lonely. If they really wanna go for something long term, even going to dating services or match-making services would be advisable. Just need to be open-minded. Cos, I think that the wall between lonely folks and the rest are built by the former. They built it and they have to tear it down themselves. Being lonely is all in the brain!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

iPhone Design (Reprise)

Though we all know what iPhone looks like these days. However, before it was release in 2007, it had been a rumor that Apple would make a phone and many people did try to guess what it would look like. I got some times to look some old pics that I've in my harddisk and found the following. Just find them quiet funny retrospectively. Actually, if some of them were really what iPhone look like, I'm sure they would be sold quite good as well. Certainly, many product designers were into look and art, not functions, and programmers were into the contrary. So, here we go....and enjoy!

Da Da Da..The real thing!

How the U.S. Economy was Lost

Just came across a very good article and wanna share with folks who are interested.

Doomed by the Myths of Free Trade
How the Economy was Lost

The American economy has gone away. It is not coming back until free trade myths are buried six feet under.

America’s 20th century economic success was based on two things. Free trade was not one of them. America’s economic success was based on protectionism, which was ensured by the union victory in the Civil War, and on British indebtedness, which destroyed the British pound as world reserve currency. Following World War II, the US dollar took the role as reserve currency, a privilege that allows the US to pay its international bills in its own currency.

World War II and socialism together ensured that the US economy dominated the world at the mid 20th century. The economies of the rest of the world had been destroyed by war or were stifled by socialism [in terms of the priorities of the capitalist growth model. Editors.]

The ascendant position of the US economy caused the US government to be relaxed about giving away American industries, such as textiles, as bribes to other countries for cooperating with America’s cold war and foreign policies. For example, Turkey’s US textile quotas were increased in exchange for over-flight rights in the Gulf War, making lost US textile jobs an off-budget war expense.

In contrast, countries such as Japan and Germany used industrial policy to plot their comebacks. By the late 1970s, Japanese auto makers had the once dominant American auto industry on the ropes. The first economic act of the “free market” Reagan administration in 1981 was to put quotas on the import of Japanese cars in order to protect Detroit and the United Auto Workers.

Eamonn Fingleton, Pat Choate, and others have described how negligence in Washington DC aided and abetted the erosion of America’s economic position. What we didn’t give away, the United States let be taken away while preaching a “free trade” doctrine at which the rest of the world scoffed.

Fortunately, the U.S.’s adversaries at the time, the Soviet Union and China, had unworkable economic systems that posed no threat to America’s diminishing economic prowess.

This furlough from reality ended when Soviet, Chinese, and Indian socialism surrendered around 1990, to be followed shortly thereafter by the rise of the high speed Internet. Suddenly, American and other first world corporations discovered that a massive supply of foreign labor was available at practically free wages.

To get Wall Street analysts and shareholder advocacy groups off their backs, and to boost shareholder returns and management bonuses, American corporations began moving their production for American markets offshore. Products that were made in Peoria are now made in China.

As offshoring spread, American cities and states lost tax base, and families and communities lost jobs. The replacement jobs, such as selling the offshored products at Wal-Mart, brought home less pay.

“Free market economists” covered up the damage done to the US economy by preaching a New Economy based on services and innovation. But it wasn’t long before corporations discovered that the high speed Internet let them offshore a wide range of professional service jobs. In America, the hardest hit have been software engineers and information technology (IT) workers.

The American corporations quickly learned that by declaring “shortages” of skilled Americans, they could get from Congress H-1b work visas for lower paid foreigners with whom to replace their American work force. Many US corporations are known for forcing their US employees to train their foreign replacements in exchange for severance pay.

Chasing after shareholder return and “performance bonuses,” US corporations deserted their American workforce. The consequences can be seen everywhere. The loss of tax base has threatened the municipal bonds of cities and states and reduced the wealth of individuals who purchased the bonds. The lost jobs with good pay resulted in the expansion of consumer debt in order to maintain consumption. As the offshored goods and services are brought back to America to sell, the US trade deficit has exploded to unimaginable heights, calling into question the US dollar as reserve currency and America’s ability to finance its trade deficit.

As the American economy eroded away bit by bit, “free market” ideologues produced endless reassurances that America had pulled a fast one on China, sending China dirty and grimy manufacturing jobs. Free of these “old economy” jobs, Americans were lulled with promises of riches. In place of dirty fingernails, American efforts would flow into innovation and entrepreneurship. In the meantime, the “service economy” of software and communications would provide a leg up for the work force.

Education was the answer to all challenges. This appeased the academics, and they produced no studies that would contradict the propaganda and, thus, curtail the flow of federal government and corporate grants.

The “free market” economists, who provided the propaganda and disinformation to hide the act of destroying the US economy, were well paid. And as Business Week noted, “outsourcing’s inner circle has deep roots in GE (General Electric) and McKinsey,” a consulting firm. Indeed, one of McKinsey’s main apologists for offshoring of US jobs, Diana Farrell, is now a member of Obama’s White House National Economic Council.

The pressure of jobs offshoring, together with vast imports, has destroyed the economic prospects for all Americans, except the CEOs who receive “performance” bonuses for moving American jobs offshore or giving them to H-1b work visa holders. Lowly paid offshored employees, together with H-1b visas, have curtailed employment for older and more experienced American workers. Older workers traditionally receive higher pay. However, when the determining factor is minimizing labor costs for the sake of shareholder returns and management bonuses, older workers are unaffordable. Doing a good job, providing a good service, is no longer the corporation’s function. Instead, the goal is to minimize labor costs at all cost.

Thus, “free trade” has also destroyed the employment prospects of older workers. Forced out of their careers, they seek employment as shelf stockers for Wal-Mart.

I have read endless tributes to Wal-Mart from “libertarian economists,” who sing Wal-Mart’s praises for bringing low price goods, 70 per cent of which are made in China, to the American consumer. What these “economists” do not factor into their analysis is the diminution of American family incomes and government tax base from the loss of the goods producing jobs to China. Ladders of upward mobility are being dismantled by offshoring, while California issues IOUs to pay its bills. The shift of production offshore reduces US GDP. When the goods and services are brought back to America to be sold, they increase the trade deficit. As the trade deficit is financed by foreigners acquiring ownership of US assets, this means that profits, dividends, capital gains, interest, rents, and tolls leave American pockets for foreign ones.

The demise of America’s productive economy left the US economy dependent on finance, in which the US remained dominant because the dollar is the reserve currency. With the departure of factories, finance went in new directions. Mortgages, which were once held in the portfolios of the issuer, were securitized. Individual mortgage debts were combined into a “security.” The next step was to strip out the interest payments to the mortgages and sell them as derivatives, thus creating a third debt instrument based on the original mortgages.

In pursuit of ever more profits, financial institutions began betting on the success and failure of various debt instruments and by implication on firms. They bought and sold collateral debt swaps. A buyer pays a premium to a seller for a swap to guarantee an asset’s value. If an asset “insured” by a swap falls in value, the seller of the swap is supposed to make the owner of the swap whole. The purchaser of a swap is not required to own the asset in order to contract for a guarantee of its value. Therefore, as many people could purchase as many swaps as they wished on the same asset. Thus, the total value of the swaps greatly exceeds the value of the assets.*

The next step is for holders of the swaps to short the asset in order to drive down its value and collect the guarantee. As the issuers of swaps were not required to reserve against them, and as there is no limit to the number of swaps, the payouts could easily exceed the net worth of the issuer.

This was the most shameful and most mindless form of speculation. Gamblers were betting hands that they could not cover. The US regulators fled their posts. The American financial institutions abandoned all integrity. As a consequence, American financial institutions and rating agencies are trusted nowhere on earth.

The US government should never have used billions of taxpayers’ dollars to pay off swap bets as it did when it bailed out the insurance company AIG. This was a stunning waste of a vast sum of money. The federal government should declare all swap agreements to be fraudulent contracts, except for a single swap held by the owner of the asset. Simply wiping out these fraudulent contracts would remove the bulk of the vast overhang of “troubled” assets that threaten financial markets.

The billions of taxpayers’ dollars spent buying up subprime derivatives were also wasted. The government did not need to spend one dime. All government needed to do was to suspend the mark-to-market rule. This simple act would have removed the solvency threat to financial institutions by allowing them to keep the derivatives at book value until financial institutions could ascertain their true values and write them down over time.

Taxpayers, equity owners, and the credit standing of the US government are being ruined by financial shysters who are manipulating to their own advantage the government’s commitment to mark-to-market and to the “sanctity of contracts.” Multi-trillion dollar “bailouts” and bank nationalization are the result of the government’s inability to respond intelligently.

Two more simple acts would have completed the rescue without costing the taxpayers one dollar: an announcement from the Federal Reserve that it will be lender of last resort to all depository institutions including money market funds, and an announcement reinstating the uptick rule.

The uptick rule was suspended or repealed a couple of years ago in order to permit hedge funds and shyster speculators to rip-off American equity owners. The rule prevented short-selling any stock that did not move up in price during the previous day. In other words, speculators could not make money at others’ expense by ganging up on a stock and short-selling it day after day.

As a former Treasury official, I am amazed that the US government, in the midst of the worst financial crises ever, is content for short-selling to drive down the asset prices that the government is trying to support. No bailout or stimulus plan has any hope until the uptick rule is reinstated.

The bald fact is that the combination of ignorance, negligence, and ideology that permitted the crisis to happen still prevails and is blocking any remedy. Either the people in power in Washington and the financial community are total dimwits or they are manipulating an opportunity to redistribute wealth from taxpayers, equity owners and pension funds to the financial sector.

The Bush and Obama plans total 1.6 trillion dollars, every one of which will have to be borrowed, and no one knows from where. This huge sum will compromise the value of the US dollar, its role as reserve currency, the ability of the US government to service its debt, and the price level. These staggering costs are pointless and are to no avail, as not one step has been taken that would alleviate the crisis.

If we add to my simple menu of remedies a ban, punishable by instant death, for short selling any national currency, the world can be rescued from the current crisis without years of suffering, violent upheavals and, perhaps, wars.

According to its hopeful but economically ignorant proponents, globalism was supposed to balance risks across national economies and to offset downturns in one part of the world with upturns in other parts. A global portfolio was a protection against loss, claimed globalism’s purveyors. In fact, globalism has concentrated the risks, resulting in Wall Street’s greed endangering all the economies of the world. The greed of Wall Street and the negligence of the US government have wrecked the prospects of many nations. Street riots are already occurring in parts of the world. On Sunday February 22, the right-wing TV station, Fox “News,” presented a program that predicted riots and disarray in the United States by 2014.

How long will Americans permit “their” government to rip them off for the sake of the financial interests that caused the problem? Obama’s cabinet and National Economic Council are filled with representatives of the interest groups that caused the problem. The Obama administration is not a government capable of preventing a catastrophe.

If truth be known, the “banking problem” is the least of our worries. Our economy faces two much more serious problems. One is that offshoring and H-1b visas have stopped the growth of family incomes, except, of course, for the super rich. To keep the economy going, consumers have gone deeper into debt, maxing out their credit cards and refinancing their homes and spending the equity. Consumers are now so indebted that they cannot increase their spending by taking on more debt. Thus, whether or not the banks resume lending is beside the point.

The other serious problem is the status of the US dollar as reserve currency. This status has allowed the US, now a country heavily dependent on imports just like a third world or lesser-developed country, to pay its international bills in its own currency. We are able to import $800 billion annually more than we produce, because the foreign countries from whom we import are willing to accept paper for their goods and services.

If the dollar loses its reserve currency role, foreigners will not accept dollars in exchange for real things. This event would be immensely disruptive to an economy dependent on imports for its energy, its clothes, its shoes, its manufactured products, and its advanced technology products.

If incompetence in Washington, the type of incompetence that produced the current economic crisis, destroys the dollar as reserve currency, the “unipower” will overnight become a third world country, unable to pay for its imports or to sustain its standard of living.

How long can the US government protect the dollar’s value by leasing its gold to bullion dealers who sell it, thereby holding down the gold price? Given the incompetence in Washington and on Wall Street, our best hope is that the rest of the world is even less competent and even in deeper trouble. In this event, the US dollar might survive as the least valueless of the world’s fiat currencies.

*(An excellent explanation of swaps can be found here.)

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oscar 2009

As a self-proclaim fan of cinema, though I've not seen as many movies as I want to, I do pay attention to the 81st Academy Award this year. My favorite is the Benjamin Button movie, cos that's the only one that I got to see. Any, as the internet is such a convenient way to find out the results, so I just didn't catch the show live till rerun.

I didn't watch the whole show as I was engaged in other things, for the part that I saw, I think posthumous Oscar for supporting actor that went to Heath Ledger for his performance in The Dark Knight really make me think that the Academy finally made some wise and right choices in picking winners. Heath deserves it. Period.

Sean Penn for best actor is fine for such a good actor. Though I don't like all his movies, but he really shows that he is a serious actor in movies like the Game, U-Turn, Mystic River, etc, that I saw. Kate Winslet is a great actress, at least she deserves to win much more than some ex-winners like Harry Barry, Julia Roberts, etc. Brangelia are good looking couple that deserves award someday, not now - that's fine with me. Cos, they got compensated with fame and money for now. Don't get me wrong that I think that they can't act, on the contrary, they are very good actor/actress. They just need a bit more time to do good works on their resume, particularly Brad Pitt.

Other than the above, I don't remember much about the show except it was very nice to see Natalie Portman in that pink gown, so elegant.

As an afterthought, will Heath Ledger's daughter be an actress when she grows up? Her situation is kinda remind me of Kurt Cobain's daughter. However, my latest search of her on Wiki showing that she is not really into playing music, so I guess that's it for her for now. Honestly, the kids of great artists usually can't outperform their parents. So, sometimes, it is wise to take of 'don't even wanna try' approach in terms of career selection.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the Slumdog. I will check this movie out if I've time. Indians are very pump-up that this movie won big. Pounding their chest saying 'We are the kings of the world' or something. From my point of view, they are fine to be happy. However, if you look at the history of Oscar award, the 'Last Emperor' and 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' come to mind. The movies exploit eastern culture and all that. The Chinese won some technical awards, like the Indian did this time. But, neither naive actor/actress were nominated. So, the Academy simply made that up to give the actor/actress the chance to present awards, like the Indian did this time. At the end of the day, the Academy is always about American. Other cultures will have their moments, but it won't be a trend or integrated part of Hollywood.

Here it go of my two cents in comment.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I got these pics from a colleague today. Not sure if they are done by photoshop or not. But it is just funny, and told us a sad story!....
TARP・・・はじめにTARPとは、「Troubled Asset Relief Program」の頭文字を略 して表記した用語で、日本語では「不良資産買取りプログラム」になります。TAR P(不良資産救済プログラム)は、サブプライムローン問題やオルトAローン問題 等より派生した米国の金融危機解決の為、総額7000億ドルの金融安定化法に よって創設された「公的な金融救済プログラム」の事を言います。

No Comment.......

Thursday, February 19, 2009

End of the world in 2013?

Just came across an article related to 'End of the World', a topic that is always the interest of many folks who are curious about future. The link is here. And I simply cut and paste below, in case the link will be dead in future.

End of the world in 2013?
New book recalculates Newton's endtimes clock

Posted: September 16, 2008
10:27 am Eastern

© 2009 WorldNetDaily

The Hadron Particle Collider did not destroy the world last week, and scientists at CERN outside Geneva are sipping champagne and celebrating.

But if the No. 1 best-selling author of a new book is correct, they might want to re-cork the bottle.

In "Temple at the Center of Time: Newton's Bible Codex Deciphered and the Year 2012," by David Flynn, a book that has skyrocketed up the best-seller charts following its release this month, the author makes a correction to Isaac Newton's research, pointing to the year 2013 as "the time of the end."

In 2003, the Daily Telegraph in London published a front-page story declaring that, according to Isaac Newton, the world would end in 2060. This was the first time that this calculation of Newton became widely known. However, various biographers and researcher of Newton's theology had encountered it since 1991 when most of his manuscripts were released on microfilm at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.

According to Flynn, in the 1660s when Newton believed that the end of days was imminent, there seemed no reason to work out the approximate year in which it would occur. With the Great Plague, the fire of London and the apocalyptic fervor of the times, it seemed obvious to Newton that the end time had already arrived. But over the ensuing decades of his life, Newton became increasingly aware that his convictions had been premature. Near the year 1705, when Newton was in his sixties, his concern for preventing the repetition of the same error compelled him to invest his considerable knowledge to setting the matter of the time of the end to rest. The paper in which Newton recorded this calculation was the subject of the article in the London Daily Telegraph in 2003. Very few readers understood Newton's reasoning for the date, not being scholars of end time prophecy themselves. Newton wrote concerning it:

This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, & by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. Christ comes as a thief in the night, & it is not for us to know the times & seasons which God hath put into his own breast.

Newton arrived at the year 2060 in a straightforward manner. He believed that the last world empire at the coming of the Antichrist would be a revived Roman Empire, a concept wholly embraced by eschatologists in modern times as well. He also believed that this had actually occurred in A.D. 800 through the coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III as ruler of the revived Roman Empire in the West.

As described by the prophet Daniel, and John in Revelation, the revived Roman Empire will rule for one "week," a period of seven times 360 days, or 2,520 days total. In the midst of this week, at 1,260 days, the Antichrist will desecrate the future temple in Jerusalem. Following the day/year guideline, Newton assigned 1,260 years of the Revived Roman empire before Antichrist's desecration of the temple. This he did realizing that the rebuilding of the temple and the judgments of Revelation did not follow the rebirth of the Roman Empire in A.D. 800. None of the prophecies of the End of Days followed the coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor of the revived Roman Empire after 1,260, nor for that matter, any of the years up until Newton's day. Therefore, he established each day with a year from A.D. 800, arriving at the year A.D. 2060.

In a manuscript number 7.3g, f. 13v. of the Yahuda collection, Newton was even more specific about the 2060 date.

So then the time times & half a time are 42 months or 1260 days or three years & an half, reckoning twelve months to a year & 30 days to a month as was done in the Calendar of the primitive year. And the days of short lived Beasts being put for the years of lived [sic for "long lived"] kingdoms, the period of 1260 days, if dated from the complete conquest of the three kings A.C. 800, will end A.C. 2060.
But Newton's prediction of Charlemagne's revived Roman Empire starting in A.D. 800 and existing until the return of Christ was contradicted in 1806 when Napoleon forced the Empire's dissolution.

"But," says Flynn, "there remains a valid aspect of Newton's calculation. There is reason to believe he was correct in his assumption that there would be 1,260 years until the return of Christ at the rebirth of the Roman Empire, but that the year he chose was incorrect. There is actually a better date based on the founding of Rome and the methodology of Daniel's prophecy."

Flynn explains: "The Romans had fixed the birth of the city of Rome and the Empire in 753 B.C. It was believed that the patriarch of the city, Romulus, had marked out the boundaries for the wall of Rome in this year. Known as Ab Urbe Condita (literally, from the founding of the city) the Roman calendar began with 753 B.C. according to the dating of Marcus Terentius Varro (116–27 B.C.) who lived at the time of the Empire itself.

Because of how the prophet Daniel divided the prophetic week in half, Flynn believes the original founding date for the empire of the prophecy, Rome, would follow this pattern and be bisected. Therefore, correcting Newton's date, the year 753 B.C. designates the founding of the physical Rome while A.D. 753 establishes the rebirth of spiritual Rome. Counting 1,260 years forward from A.D. 753, one arrives at the year 2013.

Additional significance can be attached to this finding when considering that 2013 follows the end of the great cycle of the Maya calendar and the planetary cycle of the Aztec calendar, which concludes Dec. 21, 2012. This date has raised apocalyptic fears in corners around the world. According to "The Bible Code," the world will end on this date due to a collision with a meteor, asteroid, or comet. Another theory – the "Novelty Theory" – claims time itself is a "fractal wave," which will end abruptly in 2012. Even the popular television program X-Files speculated that colonization of the earth by "aliens" would occur in December 2012.

The Maya themselves describe past visits of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, descending through a "hole in the sky" on a rope ladder. They believe at the end of 2012 the serpent rope will emerge again from the center of the Milky Way, and Quetzalcoatl will return, heralding a new era at the start of 2013. Another version of the story has Quetzalcoatl sailing down on a winged ship, causing some to speculate that a UFO armada or "mother ship" could descend and take up position over earth on that date.

Besides this type of speculation, an unusual number of important events will occur beginning in 2012. NASA is predicting the next Solar Maximum will arrive in 2012 and will be the strongest in 50 years. At the same time, the sun will align with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in 26,000 years, on the exact date of the end of the Mayan calendar, Dec. 21, 2012. This will also be the year when the United States and the United Nations elect a new president and a new secretary general, considered by some to be the two most powerful "thrones" on earth, and the seat from which prophecy experts say the Antichrist will rule or receive power.

On a YouTube video here, well-known preacher Jack Van Impe says that the year 2012 and the end of the Mayan Calendar could mark the return of Jesus Christ.

Based on his research into the Jewish Feasts, Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries (as laid out in a series of two DVD teachings produced by WND Videos called "The Feasts of the Lord") believes this time frame between 2012-2015 could be prophetic and may signal the return of Christ. He says for people who believe in a "pre-tribulation rapture," this would make the year 2008 very important. For those who believe in a mid-tribulation rapture, 2012 may mark their departure. And on his website, he adds "if you're prewrath, then 2014 might be interesting [and] if you're a posttribber, 2015 is the date to watch for."

"Temple at the Center of Time: Newton's Bible Codex Deciphered and the Year 2012," by David Flynn

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Human Resources

When I was in college, I took many business related courses. There was not one really about HR - Human Resources. Yes, there were Management, Psychology, that sort of HR-related somehow courses. Therefore, when I left college, it was very relevant for me to pursue career other business areas, like accounting, IT, etc. However, after all these years, I began to find that HR is such an 'unique' area that, I wish I would pay more attention and try to understand more about this area.

Every sizable company has a HR department. However, most people who are in management position has to perform certain HR functions. So, HR skills are essential in business. When the business is good, HR needs to do hiring and training. When the business is bad, HR needs to be involved in counselling and firing. When the business is so-so, HR needs to do all those. Whether you get hire or not, HR is always there, rather than helping you, they are trying not to hire you, unless you know your future manager directly. Otherwise, you may be very qualified, but you will not have a chance to step into the door to have an interview by someone that really matter. If you are a manager, you want to hire someone, HR always seems to be forwarding you someone that you don't want. It wasted your time to meet the wrong folks, but you still have to politely meet them, spend an hour with them though you know that he/she is not someone that you will hire after 10 minutes speaking to that person. That's my experience in my previous company.

When you have management issue with your staff, especially at the bad time. HR just wouldn't be helpful. You as a manager will need to do all the 'dirty' works, or making 'tough' decisions, and take all the bad consequences about staff issue, and the HR will probably just doing paper works and a time-wasting exit interview. That's why sometimes, I do think that HR has easy life. Their job security is not that bad, their market demand is also not that bad. They know all the interview tricks, cos they are supposed to be an expert of that. Though I'm sure HR may not be as easy as I thought they are, there must be a whole of specialties and skills that you need to be equipped with in order to be a good HR person, I just have never really met one so far.
Would I be a good HR person? I don't really know. Maybe, I'm just a bit tired of HR issues these days.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Time to think

When I'm busy with something, I can't think. Or I should say, I would not distract myself to put my mind on something else that make me loses focus on the task on hand. Certainly, that's wishful thinking in many cases, especially when I was doing something that I was not very interested in at the time. e.g. when I was preparing for exams when I was in school.

These days, when I'm working, certainly I've to concentrate on my tasks, particularly those involve communication with others. So, during the whole routine boring daily life, the time slots that I would say I can really think without any hesitation shower, in traffic between home and office, and after saying good night to my wife but before I fall into sleep.

I do cherish those times that I can think, not that I've come up with any 'great' idea or things like that. Just really enjoy the free time to think, cos thinking randomly or on topics that I like is an enjoyment to me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My most anticipated movies 2009

10. Knowing - I always like movies about predict future, trying to change it and all that. Just trying to play with certain paradoxical scenarios. Though I think this Nicolas Cage movie is gonna be another typical Hollywood flick of this genre, I would still check it out if I can.
9. Watchmen - Not a follower of the comic, but just viewing the trailer make it quite interesting to me. Not sure if it is like X-Men, the idea of using less known actors/actresses are good move to save budget and put more costs on effects. Hopefully, the story would be good too.
8. Public Enemy - This pic is not even the poster which has yet come out. What make it attactive to me? Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Leelee Sobieski in Michael Mann's crima drama movie. Nough said!
7. Monsters and Aliens - Not that I've doubt in Pixar's Up (below), the trailer of Monsters and Aliens is really funny. I think Dreamworks has improved their characters creation. This film's characters look more like 'The Incredibles' + 'Monster Inc.', than the old Dreamwork animations. Surely will check this out, if not on screen, definitely on DVD.
6. Up - I've never missed a Pixar film. Though 'Cars' is the worse so far, but it was still better than most others. Up seems to be unique in using an old man as the main character, but Pixar is the best when it goes unconventional, I surely will check this out as M&A above.
5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine - I love the 'X-Men' series. I think Wolverine is definitely one of the best developed character in the movie series. The trailer looks good, though there are not as many X-men as in that series, it should be good enough to pull me in, if the story is as good as the first two in the series. If this one becomes successful, I'm sure more will be coming.
4. 2012 - I always love diaster movies for their special effects. This one should be good, just wanna see how far they can push it after 'Days after tomorrow'.
3. Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen - Love the first one. Yes, the story is stupid, but the candies to the eyes. Really wanna see how far they can push it.
2. Terminator Salvation - Being a fan of the past 3 movies, I even like the cheezy TV series, I just can't get enough of Terminators. I hope this one will be good. This time, the focus this time is on the human resistance side rather than the terminators, though there are many of them. Let's see how this one against those transformers! 1. Avator - This movie has been 'cooked' for so long. Only very few tipbits have been released so far. Why it is my #1? James Cameroon making sci-fi movie. That's enough to beat anyone, even Spieberg from my point of view. Really looking forward to see those claimed to be newly invented visual effects that merge CGI and human seemlessly. Last time when James Cameroon gave us new 'liquid' FX in 'Abyss'. That was already eye-popping. Just wanna see how he put all the rest to the shame with this massive massive cash-burning masterpiece. Also, one more thing about James Cameroon's movie that differ from most other sci-fi, his movie's script are usually very solid and the characters, particularly female one, are usually very good. Just can't wait till end of the year for this one!

Imagine...his Second Coming....

When I was a kid, I love to imagine stuff. Namely, thinking about those ‘what if’ scenarios, like having superpowers, etc. Being a grown up, just likes most folks, I’m just more ‘grounded’, especially considering that I’m working in a position that requires day-to-day creativity. Though, my job is not routine or boring at all, just not like an artist, designer or script writer that needs to come up with something new in order to do my job.

I’m not particularly religious or spiritual, just a bit more so that most regular folks. Among Christians, there is a brief that Jesus Christ will come to earth again, I guess he will reborn or something. However, in this day and age, I just don’t think that if a person with Jesus’s abilities nowadays would be able to live and preach like what Jesus did two thousand years ago.

Birth - I don’t know where he will be born, in most ‘civilized’, ‘developed’ or some ‘developing’ countries, there will be registered birth. So, can Jesus born again without a dad? I think the answer is yes. The case is that would believers able to accept Jesus to born in place other than Israel? What is he is born in Beijing? Or Rio? Or in Tahran? Or in Downtown Manhattan? Or in Moscow? Just his nationality will be controversial. On top of that, will he be still White? Or Black? Or Yellow?

Growing Up - he will have to enroll in educational system of some sorts, and will have his life being tracked by modern technology, in database everywhere. Certainly, Jesus can stay in animosity until he is an adult, like he came before. In the current version of bible, Jesus’ growing up history is ‘blank’. Will he be able to keep that way this time? I doubt it. Then, what friends that he has, his hobbies, love interests, grades in schools, etc will undoubtedly be dug up. For a guy who wants to be elected for president of a country, he has to go through so much scrutiny of background check. Imagine for someone who claims to be the second coming Jesus, not only the church, but the whole world will be very much addicted to find out everything about him since his birth, and his mom, etc. Any mishap that he did during his time on earth will be dissected, analyzed and debated. Forget about some serious crimes or moral mishaps, just as simple as dumping a girlfriend for another, getting drunk, or went into a fight with playmates during childhood will be a big deal.

Coming out of the ‘closet’ – for sure, this case is about Jesus coming out to the public to let the world know that he has arrived again. It is a catch-22 situation. If he simply says ‘I’m Jesus!’ Nobody is gonna buy that. As there have been so many buffoon coming before him, either in the form of Jesus or anti-Christ, so he has to do something to prove himself. So, the answer must be miracles. Then, he need to make sure his miracle is so believable in these days and age. He has to do something that much more dramatic and shocking, but stay in the holy good way. Otherwise, people will think that he is new magicians that wanna follow the footstep of David Blaine, Criss Angel, etc. So, if he can perform miracle once, then most likely he needs to do that again and again for different folks, like for the Vatican, for certain government leaders, for the regular Joes and Janes. Then, there will be TV crews to film it, putting his miracle on TV, on youtube, etc. There will be skeptics trying to dispute and discredit him, while he will gain ‘fans’ or believers to support and defend him, etc. Just imagine the whole media circus!

Being Jesus – as a holy figure, all the things that we need to worry about ourselves won’t be applied to him. His clothes, foods, accommodations, traveling would be taken care of. Certainly, it will be best by the Church; otherwise, there will be corporate sponsors fighting to be holy! However, what will and can he do all through the days? Once he is known to be Jesus, all the sick, disables, unfortunate, poor and desperate folks from all over the world will want to see him, get his blessing and want miracles from him. If he says yes to them, then, he will be busy healing and helping the needier 24 x 7 until God knows when. Can he say ‘No’ to anyone? I really doubt it, he will discredit and fall from grace by the around the clock coverage by paparazzi, and media crews. What if Vatican locks him up to shield him from the public? If that is the case, why does Jesus wanna come again? If he can’t escape from Vatican, then he is not that powerful to be regarded as Jesus. If he can, where can/will he go? Whether he will be sitting under a tree in India, or leading a gang of new disciples in Morocco, he will still need to perform miracles all day long. Even if he know teleporting, just the hints or impression that he gave to the world that he doesn’t want to help as much as he can/should, he will be regarded as an anti-Christ, rather than Christ.

I’m not going to imagine what will happen that would lead to his death again this time. Certainly, things are not gonna be pleasant. Just imagine the situations above…. Jesus…how difficult his life will be?

Monday, February 9, 2009

God & Religions & Religious Organizations & Us

I've seen quite a few stories in media and blogs about the recently hot debate on the standpoint of 'right-winged' religious groups' view on including/excluding homosexuals in domestic violence protection legislation. I don't have a strong view on this particular issue. However, I would like to express my view of the relationships among God, religions, religious organizations, and us. Certainly, I'm no expert in this topic. So, bear with me if you don't agree with what I'm gonna say.

Human beings in most cultures tend to believe in the existence of the supreme being, i.e. God, or whatever name you want to use it. Like Judaism, Catholicism, Christianity, Islam, etc. They all have the concept of God. They all talk about heaven and hell. Buddhism doesn't really talk about God, it talks about achieving the stage of 'Nirvana'. Nonetheless, I would assume Nirvana would be a nice stage of existence somewhat comparable to living in heaven. Anyway, the bottom line is that wherever we go, it won't happen till we are dead.

Religion to me is a set of beliefs for human to understand where we are from, why we are here, what we can/can't do now that will lead to where we will be in afterlife. Usually, the religious beliefs aim to make us better person. So, as a set of references to provide certain guidelines when we have problem figure out what to do in our daily living, particular those moral related issue. They could be quite useful. Most 'authentic' religions, I'm not talking about the cults, or newly created alternative religions, do have over thousands of year of history, so their existence, survival or belief do stand with time.

For these 2 items - God and religions, I do have quite high respect to them.

Throughout the thousands year of history in various religions, as people were supposed to be less informed and relatively naive. So, the spread of religions must gone through many people, and they do group together to form certain organizations. They form hierarchy to manage their existences, they set rules 'based largely' on their religious beliefs within the organizations. They also have frequent gatherings in designated places. There is no doubt that religious organizations, such as church groups, synagogues, temples, etc, are all 'man-made', though some of them do emphasize their existence is designated from God or whatever. If people pay more attention about religious history, you can see that those organizations do 'evolved', some of them were linked to political regime, led by political leaders, anyway, has close relationships with people in power in general. Also, those people in those religious organizations do have the indisputable role to 'screen' or interpret religious beliefs on behalf of God, as they said. They hold their power in 'judging' what's right or wrong. Cos, many religious beliefs, the reason why they can stand against time, are because there have certain degree of ambiguity, so interpretation does seem necessary and the power of which was up for grab. In addition, some beliefs are coming from 'life stories' of some spiritual leaders. So, interpretation can be done by 'editing' the story contents. With thousand years of history, change of personnel in those organizations, and further through 'language' translations, you are welcome to take a wild guess what religious texts messages have left and how accurate the current interpretation of religious beliefs by religious organization.

Do I against people who want to seek religions to go to church, temple or joining those organizations? No, I absolutely respect individual's rights to do whatever suit them as long as they don't affect the others who don't want to be affected. However, I just think that in these day and age, with the convenience of technology, typical folks like us, can easily access to 'all' sorts of religious information, including the 'official' ones and the 'alternative' interpretations. We have the freedom and up to our ability to seek out what is right for us. Also, I think with such technology, I believe that human being's relationship with God should be closer rather than the farther. Internet as a tool can help sellers directly contact with ultimate buyers, bypassing all the middle mans like it have ever been before. So, it should be the similar case in religions or spiritual life. I'm not saying religious organizations have no role or value. But, the way we access religious beliefs, via which we contact God should be more direct than before. At least we have more choices. So, I believe that in order to reach God, going through religious organizations should no longer be a 'must', and should be more an 'option' these days. On the other hand, for those religious organizations who claim that we must go through them or to hell, I think their messages are facing diminishing returns.....

Friday, February 6, 2009


Since I became a parent, I started to pay more attention to news stories that related to kids. The latest shocking tragedy is the 4 years American old girl somehow trapped in a washing machine for 2 minutes and died of crushing bones in the head of something. It was supposed to be caused by a hide-and-seek game that she played with her younger brother of 15 months. She hided in the washing machine and her brother punched the start button in his reach that caused such accident. Certainly, that get me thinking what kids can do these days and I think I've to really check out my apartment to spot any 'traps' that can cause harm to my son.

As a second thought, I'm not trying to implying anything here. As a believer of Karma, I think most people, once they have kids, they would less likely to do harmful things intentionally to others in order to avoid any kind of retribution. Cos, there is a belief that if you do something bad to other people, bad deeds will come back to haunt you or your kids. Nonetheless, even if we don't do bad things to others, bad things can still happen to our kids. Cos, for believer of karma, most of us believe in reincarnation as well. So, we may did bad things in our past life that could cause payback this life. That's something we can't avoid. Also, even if we didn't do any bad things in our past life, our kid might have done bad deeds in his/her past life that could come back to hurt him/her this life! Certainly, we wouldn't know what happened in our past lives and even if we do, we can't change that. So, the only thing that we can do is to make good deed and don't do bad things in our lifetime.

With such attitude and belief, as least that can help us to make some senses of why certain unfortunate things happen to superficially Innocent people and would help to make it relatively easy to accept their happenings. That didn't take away the pain and sorrow for tragedies. However, once the emotional part is fading away, the logical sense will kick in in higher gear. For folks like me, logic does help, though we may never know the truth.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A 'Catch 22' no-win question

During lunch discussion today with colleagues, someone mentioned a 'Catch 22' question that illustrate a situation that if such question is asked, no matter how you respond, there is something wrong with you.

The question is "Have you stopped beaten your wife?"

Certainly, you can make it into different variations, such as:

Have you stopped committing crime?
Have you quitted drugs?

Basically, the format of the question is 'Have you' + 'stop/quit/discontinue' + 'some bad things' ?

If you say 'Yes', it means that you did do such thing before, usually that's something never being disclosed to anyone. In spite of the fact that you claim that you are NOT doing that anymore.

If you say 'No', it means that you have been doing that bad things and is going to continue.

Of course, you can always say 'No comment!', 'None of your business!', 'Why you ask?', 'How about you?', and 'Back off!'

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Ugly Truth: America's Economy is Not Coming Back

Just came across an interesting article, wanna share with folks around.

Wed, 01/28/2009 - 18:31 — dlindorff
President Barack Obama and his economic team are being careful to couch all their talk about economic stimulus programs and bank bailout programs in warnings that the economic downturn is serious and that it will take considerable time to bounce back.

I’m reminded of an experience I had with Chinese medicine when I was living in Shanghai back in 1992. I had come down with a nasty case of the flu while teaching journalism at Fudan University on a Fulbright Scholar program. A Chinese colleague suggested I go to the university clinic. When I told him there wasn’t much point since doctors couldn’t do much for the flu besides recommend fluids and bed rest, he said, “That’s Western doctors. You could go to the Chinese medicine doctors at the clinic. They can help you.” I figured, what the hell, and we went. The doctor inquired into the lurid details of my illness—how my bowel movements looked, the color of the mucus in my nose, etc. He didn’t really examine me physically. Then he prescribed an incredible number of pills and teas and sent me home with a huge bag of stuff, and instructions on the regimen for taking them through the course of each day. I followed the directions dutifully, and my colleague came by each day to check on my progress. By the fifth day, when I was still running a fever and feeling terrible, I told him I didn’t think the Chinese medicine was working. He replied confidently, “Chinese medicine takes a long time to work.”

I laughed at this. “Sure,” I said. “But the flu only lasts a week or so, and now, when I get better, you’ll say it was the Chinese medicine, right?”

He smiled and agreed. “Yes. You are right.”

Obviously the Obama administration recognizes that it needs to keep the finger of blame for the current economic collapse squarely pointed at the Bush administration, which is certainly fair in large part (though the Clinton deregulation of the banking industry played a major part in the financial crisis and its enthusiastic promotion of globalization began the massive shift of jobs overseas that has left the nation’s productive capacity hollowed out). But it also seems to recognize that it cannot tell the bitter truth, which is that our national economy will never “bounce back” to where it was in 2007.

America, and individual Americans, have been living profligately for years in an unreal economy, propped up by easy credit which inflated the value of real estate to incredible levels, and which led people to spend way beyond their means. Ordinary middle-class working people have been encouraged to buy obscenely oversized homes at 5% down, or even no down payment. They have been lured into buying cars the size of trucks, one for each driving-aged member of the family (in our town, so many high school kids drive to school that the school ran out of parking spaces and the yellow school buses, largely empty on their runs, are referred to by the students as the “shame train,” an embarrassment to be seen riding). They’ve installed individual back-yard swimming pools, unwilling to share the water with their neighbors in community pools. Boring faux ethnic restaurant franchises of all kinds have befouled the landscape, filling up with families too stressed out to cook, and willing to endure over-salted, over-priced and tasteless cuisine and tacky plastic décor night after night.

Now this is all crashing down. Property values are in free-fall. Car sales have fallen off a cliff. Joblessness is soaring (At present, it’s approaching an official rate of 8%, but if the methodology used in 1980, before the Reagan administration changed it to hide the depth of that era’s deep recession, were applied, it would be 17% today, or one in six workers).

Eventually, the economic slide will hit bottom and begin its slow climb back, as all recessions do, but there will be no return to the days of $500,000 McMansion developments, three-car garages and a new car every two or three years for both parents plus a car for each highschooler. Not only will banks no longer be able to offer such credit to clients. People, having been burned, will not be willing to borrow so much. Company health care benefits, pension programs or 401(k) matching programs that were slashed during this downturn will not be restored when the economy picks up again.

Over the last 20 years, America has degenerated into a nation of consumers, with 72 percent of Gross Domestic Product (sic) now being accounted for by consumer spending—most of it going for things that are produced overseas and shipped here.

That is not an economic model that is sustainable, and it is a model that has just suffered what is certainly a mortal blow.

What we are now seeing is the beginning of an inevitable downward adjustment in American living standards to conform with our actual place in the world. As a nation of consumers, and not producers, with little to offer to the rest of the world except raw materials, food crops, military hardware and bad films (none of which industries employ many people), we are headed to a recovery that will not feel like a recovery at all. Eventually, productive capacity will be restored, as lowered US wages make it again profitable for some things to be made here at home again, but like people in the 1930s looking back at the Roaring 20s of yore, we are going to look back at the last two decades as some kind of dream.

It would be better if the new administration would be honest about this, because with honesty, we could have a recovery program that would actually address the real critical issues facing the country—the decline of our educational system, the irrationality of official promotion of home ownership that has led to the proliferation not just of suburbs but of exurbs, the over-reliance on the automobile for transportation, the unprecedented waste of resources, the pillaging of the environment, not to mention the decimation of the retirement system and the creation of a vast medical-industrial complex that is sucking the life-blood out of families and businesses alike.
With honesty, we could also confront the other big obstacle to national recovery—the nation’s obsession with militarism and foreign wars. The honest truth is that the US is technically bankrupt and in a state of chronic decline, and yet the nation persists in spending a trillion dollars a year on war and preparations for war, as though America were in mortal danger from foreign enemies.

The truth is that we are not threatened by Communism, by drug lords, or by Muslim Jihadists in any serious way. Rather, we have become our own worst enemy.

The administration could start by telling us all this straight up, but the problem is, most of us probably don’t want to hear it, which explains why we’re not hearing it. It also explains why we’re about to blow another trillion or so dollars on propping up failing banks, funding pointless highway and bridge construction, and blowing up illiterate peasants in remote places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Monday, February 2, 2009


This morning, my boss asked me how's my weekend. I said 'fine! nothing special!...just spending time with my boy and family stuff.....'. 'Why people these days are so easily satisfied?...with low expectation on things?' He said. I said...'Well, I can't speak for the others, I can only say that I didn't expect much...."....

Come to think of what my bosses said. I think I've my points and so did he. People just don't have same expectation when their lives are so different. When I was single, I 'live' my life. I could wake up anytime I wanted, went to bed anytime I wanted. I just did my own things. I was only responsible to myself. Now, I'm living with my wife, my son and my housemaid. I've responsibilities. My life don't just evolve myself only anymore. I'm NOT complaining or anything. Just that everyone has his/her needs and interests, as a head of a household, in order to make things work, I just have to compromise!

There are times that my interests are not being prioritized, or simply in conflict with others. Just a simple things like getting up in the morning in the weekend. Of course, I like to sleep late, but I got things to do. Before I became parent, I still woke up earlier because I want to check news and surf the net before my wife got up. Cos, when she was up, I would be occupies with some activities that she needed me to be involved, etc. Since I had a son, I still had to get up early, cos my boy wakes up as early as I'm or even earlier, and he needs attention. Also, I need to go to market to buy groceries and food for his lunch, etc. So, that's part of compromise that I'm running into. Am I upset about that? No, but would I be happier to do other things? I would say I'm happy to take care of those extra responsibilities, but also be happy to have chance to do other things that I like to do.

I found that life is just full of compromises. At works, yes. At home, yes too. Would I trade that for being just doing things for myself? No, cos, life just has different stages, and as an adult with a family, you just have to suck it up. Do what're right, though sometimes those are not in line with my selfish guilty interests.

I think make compromise is not something that thought in school, even if it did, kids were too young to understand and to feel the importance of it. Compromise is a art as well as a skill. It can make you as well as break you. I think the most difficult part of making compromise is making it with someone who doesn't like to compromise. It is really hard, a tough pill to swallow. But, hey, that's part of life! Sometimes, I do wonder if I have to, but what is the alternative? Just think of it would make the 'pill' less bitter. The most successful way to 'master' compromise is to achieve the stage of being 'selfless'. It is quite 'Zen', but it is. Only if you can just 'forget' about yourself, then you can master the 'art' of compromise. Just like WATER! It is 'squarer' in a squarer pot, it is spherical, if it the pot is a sphere, etc. Just fit in, then you are fine....Well a theory, but it takes a lifetime to master. By the time we are able to master it...perhaps, we don't need to compromise anymore!.....