Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Birth of iPad

Well, here we go the iPad! There has been an avalanche of reports and critics about this latest creation from Apple in the last 24 hours. I've not watched Steve Jobs' keynotes yet, but based on what is available on, this product looks fine to me. There are many critics of iPad, saying that it lacks of this and that, like a video camera, flash support, background app running capability, etc. All of these sound to be me like when a bunch of kids opening their Christmas gifts and whining about not having Green Hornet, when they already have Batman, Spiderman, Ironman, etc. In fact, people jacked up unrealistic level of expectations of this product prior to its release, and there is just no way they are gonna be satisfied upon the 'birth' of this product.

I think many casual critics have lost sight that it is iPad generation 1.0! It is an infant! Unlike AppleTV or iCube, it will grow up! As a commercial enterprise that spent a fortune to develop a new category of product, it is gonna milk our wallet in every possible way for years to come. Apple is not gonna give us everything even if they can in the first go! Come on.... If they do that, what can they do next year, or the year after? Attach a can-opener to it?!

So, Apple will just take their time, add a camera next year, add another thing the year after, etc. In view of the 'evolution' of iMac, iPod, and iPhone, we can see that iPad is gonna follow similar growing path. So, I guess that people who are cranky about what they see in iPad 1.0 should just chill out and be patient.

I think iPad will kill Kindle and most other e-readers in two years. For netbook, I would say netbook will stay for a bit longer till iPad 3.0 comes out. There are articles out there comparing netbook and iPad 1.0. When the gaps are mostly gone, with the advantages of iPad become more apparent, netbook sales will dwindle as well.

For me, I'm excited of this product, but not yet to a point that I want to get one for myself now. Since I didn't buy my iPhone till its 3rd generation, I would most likely wait till iPad to be few years old before I'm gonna to harvest it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

3 ways to learn

I came across someone (forgot who) said in an article that mentioned his learning strategy that I want to share here. I can't recall the exact words, but the paraphrase is as follow:

Coming up with your own wisdom or building up your knowledge from your own is GREAT, learning through borrowing lessons from others is CONVENIENT (or the easiest), but learning through your own mistakes is PAINFUL!

Hmm.... that really get me is certainly a keeper.

By the way, in less than 24 hours, Apple will release its latest creation. I think its name is gonna be 'iPad'. Let's see if I'm right or not. I will certainly stay tune to get to know more about this product.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Further thoughts on Reading

Recently, I’ve come across a very interesting site that I would like to talk about it here. This site is a blog about what famous people read. What I found interesting is neither the design nor the content of the site, but the case that many famous people have time to read books and what kind of books they are recommending. Of course, I said this without any proof that those famous people really read all the books that they claimed that they had read, just like some people who bought lots of books to ‘decorate’ their homes or out of impulse, but ever really read their own book collections. Nevertheless, as I’ve recently blog about reading, it is just my further thoughts on this topic.

I remember reading in Malchom Gladwell’s book - Blink, he mentioned that it is possible to know a person better by checking out his living place in the absence of that person than talking to the person. Certainly, we are not invited to visit the home of those famous people. However, bookshelf is part of our living space, and what’s on it is also a good representation of what kind of interest and taste of the person has in terms of reading. Therefore, that site alternatively gives a peek of partially what the famous people are to the public. In many regular people’s mind, those famous people are just too busy in making money or enjoying fame. We could lose sight that they also do things that many regular people do, like leisure reading before bedtime or in traffic.

I always believe that reading is important to personal development. We might be forced to read while we were in school. Many people simply stop reading after they left school. They may still read magazine or newspaper. However, they would not go to library or bookstore to get books to read. Hopefully the boom of E-readers or Apple’s mythical tablet will make more people to read, especially young people¸ as they will have one less excuse of not reading provided the new convenience of book access.

I remember many years back, I saw an ad on TV which about promotion of reading. In that ad, a rough guy who looks like a hell’s angel biker got on a bus with few passengers. As he was walking towards the backseats, people were looked kinda intimidated. The guy then settled in his seat and pulled out a something from his pocket. Instead of a gun, a knife, a cigarette or some sort, it was unexpectedly a novel of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. He started flipping it with a smile on his face. People was then relieved with that scene. It was a pretty funny ad, but it does send a message to audience that reading could change your image on other’s mind. I’m not saying that you should bring a book all the time for the sake of making people viewing you as a scholar of some sorts. I just think reading, besides benefiting the reader, do have a side effect of improving an image of a person.

Certainly, reading the right book in the right place at the right time does matter. Reading junk or reading a book in a gathering will make people think otherwise, you can certainly still doing that if you like. I know a person who I would describe as bookworm. He doesn’t do any entertainments except reading. He doesn’t buy books, all his reading is done through borrowings from local public library. I would say that he read well over 100 books per year, and the books that he read are not popular fictions, but topics of various specific interests, like economic theory in recession, etc. This guy has a full time job and is married. Though I think his marriage is on a rock, that’s a separate story. I respect his hobby, I don’t know how much knowledge he can pick up on the difficult topics that he read as he is quite a speed reader. What’s weird about him is how extreme and obsessive he reads. I was told that he reads when he went to his wife’s gathering with friends. He certainly didn’t enjoy the gathering, but he still went because he thought he should be with his wife. However, he never came across the fact that reading in those occasions is simply impolite or offensive to the feeling of others. Well, that’s an odd case anyway.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What we read as we age

As we are aging, we live differently. One aspect that I think do reflecting how we age is the things that we read. I’m not talking about picking up a newspaper or a variety magazine to skim through trivial articles of different sort. Here, I’m talking about reading books which really do eat up our time. As an urban dweller that lives busy life, time for reading books are getting difficult to come by. For me, it is simply precious! Taking into account having a full time busy job with family and kid, so, I’m very selective in what I read. I just don’t wanna to read trash, especially spending a lot of time reading and end up finding out it is trash.

Come to think of it, I think when we are young, we do read all kind of stuffs due to our curiosity and ample of time for leisure. However, as we grow older, we are just getting selective, and I would say there are three topics of books that are usually very common among older readers or people of ‘old’ minds (don’t mean to be in any negative way)…There are ‘Special hobbies’, ‘History’, and ‘Philosophy/religious materials’

Special hobbies - are books about specific topics, or reference/self-help guides on learning a hobby from scratch to become an expert of it. Let’s say gardening, the older reader will read a book of special topic like growing Dutch pepper. Other similar special topics in hobbies would be like ‘trading of Coca Cola cans’, ‘wall-painting Buddha statue from 500 A.C., etc. Older readers who read these kinds of books are usually retired or semi-retired, got loads of cash, living with spouse or alone without any financial burden, have reasonable health, and usually have kinda Bourgeois Bohemian life of some sorts in their earlier lives. They read those books for learning a new skill, kinda like a chapter of passage of starting a second life. Usually, they select the topic themselves, but which book of that particular topic that they read will likely be coming from recommendation of others. They read those books to build up their fundamental in order to fit in a special group of friends that are bonded by the same hobby. I would say that if you have time to read this kind of books frequently, you would consider that you are a lucky person who is living a pretty enjoyable life.

History – Young people rarely like reading history; it is because they misunderstand the concept of reading history. Firstly, young people are more creative, and like imagination more. So, they will read fictional events that created/imagined by others. Secondly, they think that history is boring; events occurred already, no surprise! If they read a book about WWII, they already know the Nazi would be defeated. If they read about Titanic, they know the ship sank. Also, many of them has an impression that history books are all about dates of wars, empire risen and fall, kings got killed, etc. So, things are linear and boring. On the contrary, older readers think differently and they find history not boring at all. What they see is that history is about things that actually happened. It records what decisions that people made and their consequences. Certainly, there are many valid critics about history from different perspectives. The most obvious one is how do we know if what were described in the books are 100% facts without biased edits from author. Therefore, many readers won’t read just one book; they will read multiple books on the same topic in order to stitch together the dotted lines of questionable pieces of what are created in their mind while they are reading those books. Also, what is so interesting about history is that we can learn from the past for the preparation of future. It doesn’t mean that history will always repeat itself. However, as long as human decisions are involved in risky events, their prone to similarities from time to time. So, history is just valuable for reference sake. I would say that many people who like to read history are quite selective on what they read. They won’t go for the general history, it would be too broad. Instead, they will usually go for certain specific topics or eras. Like 15 century Spanish naval history, or rise and fall of the Third Reich, something likes that. Cos, you gain more from reading in depth of focused topic. In my opinion, I would also group autobiography of famous people in this category as well, cos, that’s simply the history of a person in an era.

Philosophy/religious materials – I think this is kinda related to the benefit of reading history. Cos, it goes back to understanding how people think. Though everybody has a brain to be developed for individual unique thinking, we do think in certain predictable ways in many cases after all. If a response has to be coming from our animal survival instincts, that would be natural and we will all pretty much know. E.g. if a person is hungry, he/she will go for foods. However, if we are talking about a level up decision that involve higher intelligence and knowledge, what will be applied in decision making would take more than science which can tell us whether we ‘can’ do it or not, but not whether we ‘should’. There is when religion and philosophy comes to mind. Cos, those two schools of thoughts are trans-cultural and have been tested through time. Therefore, they are good reference material to understand human behavior. You may say that there decision makers are neither religious nor philosophical. Well, I would argue that yes it is true, but we are talking about historical figures, not our friend’s granduncle or some unknown Jack or Joe. If they could reach to certain status of becoming a significant historical figure that affected many people, most likely they would be educated (even if they are self-educated, they must read books) or achieving ranks of some sorts. I would say majority of them would be very likely more or less affected by either philosophers or religions. Certainly, their decisions would also be affected by their upbringings, personal family background and experiences. Therefore, to understand human behavior in history, those philosophy/religious materials would be valuable to be read.

For elder people, time or opportunity is relatively not on their side. They may not have the chance to make major decisions or planning for many big events to come in their lives. So, besides reading hobbies stuff, reading history or philosophy/religious materials doesn’t necessary is for the future. It could be a simply reflection of life experience, to think about what we did or didn’t do, and self-reassure if our own decisions were correct or not from a more detached perspective. Also, reading these topics usually takes not only time, but patience as well. That’s what an elder mind has, but not in the younger ones.

I don’t know if my views are true or not for other people. Nonetheless, I can’t help but thinking that I would be very likely to fall into one or more of this scenarios that I just described when my times come.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How an iPhone save a life

Just came across a news article about the latest Haiti Earthquake tragedy. A guy trapped in the rubble and was able to use an App on his iPhone to save his life. Basicially, he referred to a first aids app. to treat his wounds and use the camera to help his netvigate where he was about. For details, please read this. I guess this is just another story that marketeer of a product must dream of. That remind me of another similar story about the 9/11 incident. There was a guy using the light of his Timex watch to lead people going down the escape staircase to safety. I think there was an ad mentioned that afterwards. I'm not sure if Apple will bring this incident up somewhere in near future. Given all the buzz about iPhone, I doubt Apple would need such to boost its product. Nevertheless, it is a good story about a piece of general tech product that really do something great. What's greater than saving a life!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cyber Espionage

With the Google vs. China saga still unfolding, it is still too early to tell what would be the actual fallouts of that in the areas of business, technology, and politic. However, while the dust is far away from settlement, while reading the news headlines related to this saga, the topic of cyber espionage has been popping up a lot in the last few days. Certainly, there is a spectrum of opinion on this issue out there. There are views saying that cyber espionage has been around for almost a decade, and many countries are doing that. As China is the focus in the current saga, there are articles talking about the history of China’s cyber development and we learn new terms like Titan Rain and Zero-day vulnerability. On the other hand, there are blood-boiling bloggers citing the terms of Cold Cyberwar and want to see a united front from all major tech players to against China, etc.

Come to think of it, I want to add my two cents from my pocket on two possible fallouts of this saga:

U.S. and European companies, particularly those in tech or financial fields will be more hesitant to promote or even hire ethnic Chinese, particularly those of first generation immigrants from China, to top level of tech-related positions, especially those in the areas of security and design. There will even be possible trickle down effect to mid level positions and affecting the employment of Chinese American or Asian American in general. Cos, from point of view of those in power, Chinese and Asian in general are all look alike. In addition, new glass ceiling will be put in place for those already have a job in those companies. Related to that, those tech companies will start to build ‘walls’ between their HQ and their China branches, not only on the tech security side, but also personnel side. They will try to reach the optimal balance of milking the low cost talents in China, but blocking them from infiltrating in their core competency or central security on both tech and financial sides. It’s gonna be very difficult, but I won’t doubt that they will try to do that. Cos, pulling out from China is not a good business decision, but they may not feel total comfortable for being too open to the China market there either.

I also think that major chip makers or core tech component manufacturing companies may expand their manufacturing facilities outside China (not leaving there) as hedging the so-called risk of “contamination” of their products. As a matter of fact, according to articles that I read, some U.S. government agencies have already stopped purchasing Lenovo PC/laptops since IBM’s hardware branch was acquired by the Chinese company. I think the development in this direction is quite normal. I remember there was saying that China security authority had conduct thorough checking of every little detail throughout the special jet built for Chinese President from Boeing, so as to find out if there is any monitoring device installed on it for spying purpose. Similar thing in reverse also occurred for U.S. embassy built by the Soviet in Moscow, U.S., in order to check where the structure was bugged, it even tore down part of the structure and rebuild it themselves. In view of the technology advancement, it is not irrational to think that the West governments will suspect the microchips manufactured in China may be bugged as well. Therefore, firms like Intel or others will have plants in other countries, like Czech Republic or Vietnam to produce chips that the governments will be more confident to use in their advanced weapons or systems. Currently, no evidence that those produced in China are ‘tainted’. However, when we dealing with matters of national security on things that most people can’t see, people usually behave like paranoids than normal.

Anyway, I’m sure there have been a lot going on behind the scene for so long, just with Google for some unconfirmed reasons to go public in such high-profile. The ongoing cyber war among countries have finally brought to surface for regular people like us to know and blog about. I just think this whole thing is dangerous, serious, and fascinating at the same time. Stay tune!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What China Censors online...

Just came across this post and wanna share with anyone who is curious...


It is never too late to read a good book. I’ve just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. After reading Tipping Point and Blink, I’ve quite high expectation of Outliers. The result is that it is a good read as well. The theme of this book is to dissect the myth of ‘successes. E.g. what make Bill Gates different from us? Why Asian kids seems to be better in Math? Why Jews are so successful in legal profession in NYC? etc. The myth of genius by birth is debunked in the book. Are those evidences convincing? Well, I think that it certainly opened my mind to see things from a different perspective and I think it is the best part of reading this kind of book. The way author thinks out of the box certainly helps me to think out of my box as well. Actually, as he did the research and build up evidence to support his view, through reading his works, it is just like borrowing his key to open my box. How convenient!

In Outliers, the author mentioned that individual’s success is a result of environment factors and personal effort. Actually, it is simply the old lesson of karma aka causes and effects. From my point of view, it is nothing new about it. However, his researches did provide very good support on his view and gave me better insight on many phenomena. Namely, what are those causes that produce those well known effects? For example, when he talked about how the Korean Airlines improved their safety records, that story was fascinating to me. I always thought the reason why they had so many accidents back then was because of those pilots were fighter pilots who flied the passenger aircraft with the mindset and skills as a fighter pilot. However, after reading the book and learn that many of those accidents were actually related to their culture of hierarchy, that’s amazing to me. Also, after reading this book, it kinda strengthens my belief of “achievement of excellence through intensive practice”, namely, the “10,000 hours practice” rule. I’m not sure if I can convince my son to adopt such lesson in future, but it doesn’t hurt to learn that there are plenty of evidences to prove that works. That’s better than…’Oh, I didn’t know that…I wish that I know earlier..’ that sort of thing.

Malcolm Gladwell has a newer book just published few months back. I will go to get it later when there is sale at bookstore. Well, we are in the era of ebook, but I’ve not got into that game yet, as the cost, configuration of existing hardware and the corresponding services level are not yet meet my expectation. Also, for this kind of books, I think I would prefer to own it than borrowing them from library. So, I’m still an old fashion book-buyer for now. Anyway, I’m happy with this reading, and this book is a keeper.

Well, it is about time for me to start another book. If I find that to be interesting, I will certainly blog that too.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Google vs.China (Cont'd)

The latest saga of China vs “xxx” has a new player. I think Google’s threat of pulling out of China market is the most interesting tech/politic/business news for a long time. Certainly, as this story is still being unfold as I’m blogging now. It would still be a lot of actions and reactions in coming days/weeks/months. However, based on what have happened and the information publicly available so far, there are more speculations than serious analysis of this incident in the media. There are still more questions than answers. So far, I think the following things and questions are simply interesting to follow up:

Chinese netizens put bundles of flowers outside Google’s office in Beijing (I thought that only happen to dead people?!), and Chinese cops remove them and forbid people to do that, would those folks be arrested?

Rumor saying that Baidu's search technology is mimic/tailgate Google's somehow, with Google pulling out, what would the effect to Baidu?

Would Google pull out simply its search business or everything else? Like Chrome, Chrome OS, Android, etc…

Will Microsoft and others follow Google?

Some (or all?) employees in will be laid off for sure, what will happen to those millions of Gmail users in China?

Will the whole Google vs. China thing turns ugly, I mean will Google or others publish the “Great Firewall climbing guide” to China internet users? Instead of staying underground?

Who are the other 20 or so companies that are hacked along with Google? Rumors include Yahoo, Symmatec, etc. Will they join force to with Google to take next steps?
Well, this saga is just fascinating, let’s stay tune….

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Canon IXUS 200 IS

Well, I bought a Canon IXUS 200 IS last week out of an impulse which was kinda unusual to me. I did have another Canon camera before I bought this one, the one that I had wasn't broken or anything, I just suddenly felt that it would be time to upgrade. Anyway, this is my third Canon and I've been using this brand for a long time. I did pondering of buying a Panasonic Lumix, however, I still end up getting a Canon. Cos, the quality meets my expectation and I did get use to the navigation of its menu which I consider to be a pain to learn a new one. I think this is a key to product manufacturers to know that customers, regardless of how tech-savvy some consumers are, we are all humans after all. Besides being lazy often, we just don't like to learn something new provided that the new thing is pretty much the same thing as existing. If a Canon camera can do x, y, and z, and a Panasonic or whatever, pretty much do the same. Why bother to learn another one? That could explain to why Microsoft still beats Linux, and how Apple to get a whole of the market. Certainly, there are many other factors involved. But, the issue of familiarity is certainly an important one that shouldn't be overlooked.

Going back to the camera, I'm not a good critic, so I don't have an in-depth review of this camera. However, I do like the quality of the pictures and the functionalities of this camera. One in particular is the motion sensor thing which is new to me on a camera, as it let me to flip up and down to view picture library, this is kinda cool. I just need to get more time to learn to use it, besides taking pictures for my son.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Y Intersection

I don't blog about my works too much. First of all, I like to keep certain thing private. Secondly, my job is neither 'flashy' nor 'excited' to blog about it. Thirdly, blogging to me is a 'relaxing' thing, while working is not, I like to separate them as far as possible as if I'm 'living a double life'. However, it is undeniable that work life does take a great trunk of my waking hours. I know the part about "I don't live to work" very well, and I've been able to do that most of the time. In fact, I practice "work to live"extensively. That's how I pay my bills, for God sake!...However, maybe I'm paying a price for adopting this concept for too long. Certainly, nothing is perfect, "We work to live, not live to work" is no exception.

Having said that, what I mean is that I should kick myself 'HARD' to drive myself out of my comfort zone and strive for 'something' in my work life. I've not been doing that for a long time with various 'excuses'. Now, I think it is time for me to think and start doing the otherwise.

I'd an annual review session with my boss today. It was a good chat with him. The main thing that I need to do is to make a decision about what I want to be if I stay in my current company. I always know my goal, just didn't know what options available to get that until today. How lazy I've been!? Now, I've to make a decision and once I do that, my boss promised to help me get there. I trust him and will do my part accordingly.

Now, I'm standing at an intersection on my career path (at least the part that is visible). I just need to make my decision on which direction I gotta take. One advice that my boss said that has really stuck on my mind is that "Focus on your strengths, and strengthen them! You will always have your weaknesses, and what you need to do to them is to cover them to some extents...cos, no matter how much effort you are gonna make to improve your weaknesses, they are gonna be stronger than your existing strengths." Woa!! What a "flesh of lightning" across my mind!.....It is not something hard to understand, it is just something that I've never really thought of it. Just a thing that make me go 'Hmmmm......'!

Well, I will begin my personal analysis seriously very soon, and hopefully something good will come out.......

Monday, January 4, 2010

The U.S. vs. China

I came across this article and found it interesting enough to share with you all.

As China and the U.S. are getting more interwine with each other in terms of their financial well-being, and geopolitical accommodation, the U.S. vs. China topic is gonna be written to death and still show no side of dwindling down. The view of the author of this article is very clear. I guess he is a patriot who is just really frustrated with what the U.S. government elite is doing. That's understandable. What I found interesting about this article is that he picked all supplementary information of his view from one day (Dec 28, 2009) of FT. Certainly, that date is not just another day, cos China doesn't have new high-speed train goes into services everyday. Anyway, please have a read of this:

The US and China: One Side is Losing, the Other is Winning
By James Petras
Global Research, January 3, 2010

Asian capitalism, notably China and South Korea are competing with the US for global power. Asian global power is driven by dynamic economic growth, while the US pursues a strategy of military-driven empire building.

One Day’s Read of the Financial Times

Even a cursory read of a single issue of the Financial Times (December 28, 2009) illustrates the divergent strategies toward empire building. On page one, the lead article on the US is on its expanding military conflicts and its ‘war on terror’, entitled “Obama Demands Review of Terror List”. In contrast, there are two page-one articles on China, which describe China’s launching of the world’s fastest long-distance passenger train service and China’s decision to maintain its currency pegged to the US dollar as a mechanism to promote its robust export sector. While Obama turns the US focus on a fourth battle front (Yemen) in the ‘war on terror’ (after Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan), the Financial Times reports on the same page that a South Korean consortium has won a $20.4 billion dollar contract to develop civilian nuclear power plants for the United Arab Emirates, beating its US and European competitors.

On page two of the FT there is a longer article elaborating on the new Chinese rail system, highlighting its superiority over the US rail service: The Chinese ultra-modern train takes passengers between two major cities, 1,100 kilometers, in less than 3 hours whereas the US Amtrack ‘Express’ takes 3 ½ hours to cover 300 kilometers between Boston and New York. While the US passenger rail system deteriorates from lack of investment and maintenance, China has spent $17 billion dollars constructing its express line. China plans to construct 18,000 kilometers of new track for its ultra-modern system by 2012, while the US will spend an equivalent amount in financing its ‘military surge’ in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as opening a new war front in Yemen.

China builds a transport system linking producers and labor markets from the interior provinces with the manufacturing centers and ports on the coast, while on page 4 the Financial Times describes how the US is welded to its policy of confronting the ‘Islamist threat’ with an endless ‘war on terror’. The decades-long wars and occupations of Moslem countries have diverted hundreds of billions of dollars of public funds to a militarist policy with no benefit to the US, while China modernizes its civilian economy. While the White House and Congress subsidize and pander to the militarist-colonial state of Israel with its insignificant resource base and market, alienating 1.5 billion Moslems (Financial Times – page 7), China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 10 fold over the past 26 years (FT – page 9). While the US allocated over $1.4 trillion dollars to Wall Street and the military, increasing the fiscal and current account deficits, doubling unemployment and perpetuating the recession (FT – page 12), the Chinese government releases a stimulus package directed at its domestic manufacturing and construction sectors, leading to an 8% growth in GDP, a significant reduction of unemployment and ‘re-igniting linked economies’ in Asia, Latin America and Africa (also on page 12).

While the US was spending time, resources and personnel in running ‘elections’ for its corrupt clients in Afghanistan and Iraq, and participating in pointless mediations between its intransigent Israeli partner and its impotent Palestinian client, the South Korean government backed a consortium headed by the Korea Electric Power Corporation in its successful bid on the $20.4 billion dollar nuclear power deal, opening the way for other billion-dollar contracts in the region (FT – page 13).

While the US was spending over $60 billion dollars on internal policing and multiplying the number and size of its ‘homeland’ security agencies in pursuit of potential ‘terrorists’, China was investing $25 billion dollars in ‘cementing its energy trading relations’ with Russia (FT – page 3).

The story told by the articles and headlines in a single day’s issue of the Financial Times reflects a deeper reality, one that illustrates the great divide in the world today. The Asian countries, led by China, are reaching world power status on the basis of their massive domestic and foreign investments in manufacturing, transportation, technology and mining and mineral processing. In contrast, the US is a declining world power with a deteriorating society resulting from its military-driven empire building and its financial-speculative centered economy:

1. Washington pursues minor military clients in Asia; while China expands its trading and investment agreements with major economic partners – Russia, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere.
2. Washington drains the domestic economy to finance overseas wars. China extracts minerals and energy resources to create its domestic job market in manufacturing.
3. The US invests in military technology to target local insurgents challenging US client regimes; China invests in civilian technology to create competitive exports.
4. China begins to restructure its economy toward developing the country’s interior and allocates greater social spending to redress its gross imbalances and inequalities while the US rescues and reinforces the parasitical financial sector, which plundered industries (strips assets via mergers and acquisitions) and speculates on financial objectives with no impact on employment, productivity or competitiveness.
5. The US multiplies wars and troop build-ups in the Middle East, South Asia, the Horn of Africa and Caribbean; China provides investments and loans of over $25 billion dollars in building infrastructure, mineral extraction, energy production and assembly plants in Africa.
6. China signs multi-billion dollar trade and investment agreements with Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia, securing access to strategic energy, mineral and agricultural resources; Washington provides $6 billion in military aid to Colombia, secures seven military bases from President Uribe (to threaten Venezuela), backs a military coup in tiny Honduras and denounces Brazil and Bolivia for diversifying its economic ties with Iran.
7. China increases economic relations with dynamic Latin American economies, incorporating over 80% of the continent’s population; the US partners with the failed state of Mexico, which has the worst economic performance in the hemisphere and where powerful drug cartels control wide regions and penetrate deep into the state apparatus.


China is not an exceptional capitalist country. Under Chinese capitalism, labor is exploited; inequalities in wealth and access to services are rampant; peasant-farmers are displaced by mega-dam projects and Chinese companies recklessly extract minerals and other natural resources in the Third World. However, China has created scores of millions of manufacturing jobs, reduced poverty faster and for more people in the shortest time span in history. Its banks mostly finance production. China doesn’t bomb, invade or ravage other countries. In contrast, US capitalism has been harnessed to a monstrous global military machine that drains the domestic economy and lowers the domestic standard of living in order to fund its never-ending foreign wars. Finance, real estate and commercial capital undermine the manufacturing sector, drawing profits from speculation and cheap imports.

China invests in petroleum-rich countries; the US attacks them. China sells plates and bowls for Afghan wedding feasts; US drone aircraft bomb the celebrations. China invests in extractive industries, but, unlike European colonialists, it builds railroads, ports, airfields and provides easy credit. China does not finance and arm ethnic wars and ‘color rebellions’ like the US CIA. China self-finances its own growth, trade and transportation system; the US sinks under a multi trillion dollar debt to finance its endless wars, bail out its Wall Street banks and prop up other non-productive sectors while many millions remain without jobs. China will grow and exercise power through the market; the US will engage in endless wars on its road to bankruptcy and internal decay. China’s diversified growth is linked to dynamic economic partners; US militarism has tied itself to narco-states, warlord regimes, the overseers of banana republics and the last and worst bona fide racist colonial regime, Israel.China entices the world’s consumers. US global wars provoke terrorists here and abroad.China may encounter crises and even workers rebellions, but it has the economic resources to accommodate them. The US is in crisis and may face domestic rebellion, but it has depleted its credit and its factories are all abroad and its overseas bases and military installations are liabilities, not assets. There are fewer factories in the US to re-employ its desperate workers: A social upheaval could see the American workers occupying the empty shells of its former factories.To become a ‘normal state’ we have to start all over: Close all investment banks and military bases abroad and return to America. We have to begin the long march toward rebuilding industry to serve our domestic needs, to living within our own natural environment and forsake empire building in favor of constructing a democratic socialist republic. When will we pick up the Financial Times or any other daily and read about our own high-speed rail line carrying American passengers from New York to Boston in less than one hour? When will our own factories supply our hardware stores? When will we build wind, solar and ocean-based energy generators? When will we abandon our military bases and let the world’s warlords, drug traffickers and terrorists face the justice of their own people?Will we ever read about these in the Financial Times?In China, it all started with a revolution…
James Petras is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by James Petras

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New York, I Love You

Per my wife's request, we went to see this movie over the weekend. Well, what can I say about this movie?......I'm not a professional film critic, I think this movie is ok....but not great. I can be a much better movie and it is not bad by all means. I've mixed feeling of this movie.

First of all, this movie composed of 11 short films, none of them longer than 11 minutes. It's supposed to be sequel of another movie which has nothing to do with the story, but the overall premise which is about people and stories about a big city. Last one was in Paris and this one is in NYC. I've been NYC, this movie doesn't film NYC at its best. Yes, some directors put few seconds of Statue of Liberty, Empire Building, Grand Central, Time Square, etc in their movie. However, no story in the movie is really about NYC. Except the scenes about the cabs, and the openiness, multi-ethic side of it. As such, this movie is really about people.

Out of those 11 stories, some of them are good, but most of them are so-so. The good thing is that we did get surprised by some well-written ones, but they don't last, and vice versa. Anyway, as this movie is not an 'effect' movie, so it is all about the performance of actors in those short stories, and how to portrait their characters and dialog in those few minutes. I would say that out of all the stars that I could recognize in those stories, Maggie Q and Ethan Hawke did jump out among all. Probably it has to do with the well dialog written of their story about a writer and a call-girl. I also like the other story about prom night of the teenage guy with the wheelchair girl. Cos, these two stories are the most funny ones. For the others, most of them are kinda so-so. Another part that I would say is my favorite in that movie gotta be the soundtrack. The music match every story very well.

Well, that's my two cents about this movie. It is not bad, but not great either. I heard that the third and fourth one for this movie series are in the work. Not sure if I will see them, well, I guess that doesn't matter neither....