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Posts filed under 'politics'

Emergency response team

We’ve just upgraded our swine flu response team at work from Silver to Gold. Wait, Gold and Silver?  Can’t they come up with normal names like Red and Amber?

Add comment April 30th, 2009

秋後算帳

There is one new Chinese trick that Americans learned today called 秋後算帳. In the old days, when farmers try to lease land from their landlord every year, landlord would use this term to mean they will determined the rent after Autumn’s harvest. More often than not they will be more than the farmer expects. But then again they have no choice. Under the eyes of contractual law, such term is unfairly favoring the landlord, as the terms are determined after the contract has been executed and forced upon the farmer by the landlord.

As a capitalist society, today marks a dark day when the congress decided to retroactively change the term of a contract already executed. It is requiring employees who work in companies that received “bailout money” to pay a 90% tax on their bonus. Of course the money has already been accepted. And if the companies know of such term I bet the majority of them who have a choice would not take the money. I bet many ate thinking how they can payback the govt right now.

The issue here is not whether these people deserve the money, but the spirit that a deal is a deal, a contract is a contract. It’s unfortunate that we the tax payer is paying for these greedy bastards who caused the crisis. But shaking investors confidence in our contractual settlement system will cost us far more than whatever money we can’t collect. Suck it up and deal with it.

Add comment March 20th, 2009

Dear president bush

Dear president Bush

I would like to congratulation on your decision to consider using the 700 billion dollar originally allocated to stabalize the banking system to bail out the auto industry. There is nothing more delighted to see our government supporting philantropy at a time like this. I am a small business man in New York city, and I too run a money loosing business. My business model calls for me occasionally take our fine young tax paying female to suppport our local resturant, bars, florist, theater and other hard working merchants. But for some reason I don’t make any money on my business. That’s a shame because my business do support a lot of hard working americans who may loose their job otherwise. I am writing to you on behave of these good american tax paying citizens that you give me a bailout. To show some comitment, I’ll be taking my date on the subway instead of a cab. I will look forward to your check in the mail.

Kavin

Add comment December 14th, 2008

The difference between a CEO and a President

Mike Bloomberg’s Op-ed piece on NYT

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/opinion/28mike.html?hp

Add comment February 28th, 2008

It’s another recall, yet again from China

That was the headline from one of the reporters in the evening news.  Yes, it was a toy recall.  This time for safety reason, because the beads were too small that a young child can swallow.  What the hell does it have to do with China?

When 95% (or some ridiculously large percentage) of our toys are made in China, of course when problem happens, there is a ridiculously high chance that the
product is manufactured in China.  Some problems such as this one are not even manufacturing error at all.

The recent public finger pointing at China is a result of various political engine at work.  Various lobbying group is taking the opportunity to get what they need to get done.  China problem sells paper, design flaw doesn’t.  The media is happy to cooperate.  if a statistical study of percentage of problem cause by the lack of governance and inspection as a result from manufacturing in China, minus those that are designed to be quality controlled in the US, I bet the numbers are not interesting at all.

As a matter of fact, the recent recalls are examples of consumer consciousness and the check and balances at work.

Add comment January 3rd, 2008

American media on subprime crisis

A while ago I was watching some news magazine program on TV.  They were exploring subprime “victims” where they borrowed beyond their means to pay back.  The 60 year old “victim” bought a townhouse in Brooklyn for $30K some 20 or 30 years ago.  The property is now valued at $750K.  He should have made a fortune.  He took out a balloon mortgage of $300K last year from a lender; and when the Adjustable Rate Mortgage resets, this retired man would be facing a $2500  monthly payment he can’t afford.  He will be evicted from the house he has been living in for 30 years, a place which he intended to pass on to his son.

So basically it’s the bank’s fault.  The banks were pushing all these deals to the consumer at low initial rate.  They care less if the customer can afford it or not.  Wait a minute.  First take a look at what happened.  The “victim” had $300K sitting somewhere.  Whether he spent it or hid them under his mattress, he took out $300K.  He borrowed more than what he initially paid for the townhouse, with the town house as the collateral.  From the bank’s point of view, they are lending $300K to someone who put down a collateral valued at 200% of the loan as a lien.  Why should they care if the guy can pay or not?  They are going to make the loan whole by liquidating the lien.  If he can make the payment, it’s a bonus.  If he can’t, the bottom line is protected.  It’s a sound business decision.

What is this “victim” complaining about anyway?  He walked away with $300K!!, $270K more than what he had paid for the place.  Of course a 60 year old man tricked by the evil banks that toold his house sells more paper.

Add comment January 3rd, 2008

Economic baseline, risk and Innovation

One of the fuel of innovation is companies and individuals who are willing to take risks.  Even thought no everyone who take risk will innovate, if noone deviates from “industry best practice”, we would have no innovation.  However, certain economic baseline has to exist for people to take risk.

One of the thing I observed in China was that there is little risk taking going on.  People are afraid of asking the wrong question, or giving the wrong answer.  People tend to follow what the guy in front of him does, and are willing to happily accept current condition.  But why?  Why would people not willing to take risk?

I discussed this over tea with George.  To encourage people to take risk, a society has to have some sort of safty net.  In the States, if you failed, you can still get a job pumping gas and survive with minimum shelter and food.  In China, if you failed, you have to sleep on the street.  Not only that, your parents and your kids has to sleep on the street as well.  Simpily for that reason, people are more adverse to taking risk.

But then, risk taking doesn’t seems to be thriving in wealthfare countries either.  It turns out if the safety net is too comfortable, peole tend to absue it and stay in the safety net instead of where they should be.  The incentive of doing extra work to take risk isn’t big enough to justify doing so.  So how would China evolve into a country that encourage innovation.  I think this would take at least 10 more year.  Innovation came from necessity, whcih China has now.  But the country need to establish a social safetynet to make sure everyone can at least have basic needs, yet expose everyone to the potential reward of taking risk temselves.  With more risk taking in the marketplace, people will have a higher tolerance for risk taking, thus propelling innovation

Add comment July 10th, 2006

On Chinese education system

Before I went to China, my thought was to go meet all my developers, get to know them, put a face to their names, and identify who would be responsible for each module, and do some knowledge transfer so they can do the requirement, design and code.

Man, was I in for a surprise.  The Chinese software market is still at its infancy.  If you think about it, US has about 40 years of SW development experience.  India has 20.  China has about 10.  The developers in China are treated more like blue collar workers in the technology sector than actual developers.  Independent thinking was so discouraged that my developers were afraid to ask questions, let alone challenge your design.

So I took a developer out for dinner.  We went to this sushi place in a prime building in the business district.  The quality and the choice of sake rival that of Seattle, so as the price.  I wasn’t surprise we didn’t see any locals there.  We talked about a lot of things, and one of them was China’s education system.  In China, there is a national curiculum issued by the government to ensure that all colleges in all Proviences fills the same base level of requirement.  The requirement is so literal that most college choose to test if student remember these requirements stright from the book than anything else.  Of source for the student, if you can recite the entire text book, you get a good grade.  This is not too different than American public high school, where the goal is to make sure everyone get some base level of an education, at the expense of the top performing gropup.  It is an impressive task given how many people China has.  But because of that, Chinese student were not encourage of independent thinking.  Universities are just factories to produce engineer ready to code, rather than education institutes taking on a particular view on an academic subject (i.e. CMU A.I. vs MIT A.I.).  There is little variation or need for innovation either because of the lack of a domestic market.  Student are satisfy with the status quote and just following the crowd rather than challenging it.

Mind you, at 1.6 billion population, this is not an easy task.   But since that’s the case, student seldom challenge  what was taught.  They are afraid of giving the wrong answer or asking the wrong question.  If you spoon fed them, everyone of the engineer will be capable of executing exactly what you tell them, exactly the way it is.

But I have every confident that this is going to change in 10 years.  As soon as China develop a domestic market, there will be greater and greater to innovate locally.  Which make me think the only thing outstanding as a bottleneck is the talent to train all of the Chinese developer, to establish a culture for innovation.  I am doing my share.  Hopefully China wiill have 5 more real developer than it has today by the time this is finished.

Add comment July 10th, 2006

Bill Maher

Watched a rerun of the show on comedy channel, with former Canadian prime minister as one of their guest. This is by far the most clever and the most witty talk show I’ve seen. http://www.hbo.com/billmaher/episode/

Add comment May 13th, 2006

The FDA and plan-B

Since when do we allow our prist give medical advise?  And if not, what in god’s name (excuse me for this one) is FDA telling the Americans if they should allow to get a monrning after pill called plan-B or not?

The job of the FDA, (food and drug administration, for those who forgot), is to oversee the safety of the drugs that’s avaliable to Americans.  That include making drugs that are relatively safe such as Claritan readily avaliable to you and I without a prescription.  Now the FDA has stepped beyond its boundary and use social behavial prediction as a reason to ban having plan-B be avaliable over the counter.  The efficiency of the drug depends on timely intake the morning after intercourse.  FDA’s job is to evaluate if this drug is safe, and if making it avaliable over the counter may benefit those who may need it.  Instead, they decided that american are not capable of deciding for ourselves and they have a role in setting the moral value for us.

We might as well ask our priest to do our triple bypass.

Add comment May 8th, 2006

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