Monday, August 24, 2015

Why I jump out of bed every morning...

By Dennis Price

Our survival instincts require as to make quick, repeatable decisions. As you meander on the path of life, it is useful when you need to distinguish between a snake and a harmless stick. And is not so useful when you need to decide between a merger and acquisition.

It is liberating to know there are no secrets and no ‘keys’, and you consequently acquire permission to dream and are encouraged to take risks - with no better justification required than simply saying ‘who knows’ or ‘why not’?

So, are you worried if ‘that thing you want to do’ is going to work out the way you intended? Don’t be – nobody knows. And it is okay if you don’t either.

There is no panacea. There is no magic bullet. Just (re-)load the gun and keep shooting. Show up every day. Do the best you can with what you got where you are. Keep doing it if it makes sense to you and harms no one else.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Why I see China taking over the world in 2020

Calling on the Chinese to have faith and trust in themselves - Professor Chang Wei Wei. 

1.  For the past 30 over years there have been many positive and negative predictions on China. Looking back, most of the positive predictions have been realised but most of the negative predictions have been proven wrong. Before the opening of the 18th National Congress of Communist party, a BBC interviewer asked me, "Will China convene the next 19th National Congress of Communist Party?" I answered, "For the past 30 years, I don't remember any of your predictions having come true." The problem with western thinking is that if you are not following their way of society and government system you will surely fail. In 2011, during a debate with a Japanese American professor, I declared that my understanding of American politics is that the American political system is based on pre-industrial revolution ideas and in fact the Americans need more urgent reform than the Chinese... 4 years have passed; I think that I am even more correct now. This Japanese American professor has now published a paper "America in Decay". We should not just worship the American system blindly but evaluate it properly.
2. I have worked and lived in western countries for a long time; and now I feel that there are more bad than good. In one of my lectures, a participant asked me, "If China is so good now, why are there many who want to emigrate?" But my research shows that 70% of Chinese who emigrated to western countries have become even more patriotic. In the past 3 years, emigration from China is 190,000 people per year. Democratic Poland, with a 40 million population had emigration of 500,000 people last year! Our democratic Taiwan province, with 23 million population (less people than Shanghai); conservative figures put it at 1.5 million people working/living/studying in China.

 3. If you fly from Shanghai Pudong airport to any of New York's 3 international airports, you can feel like flying from a 1st world airport to a third world airport. Stay in a Newark suburb for a night and experience why you dare not go out at night. I have a friend in Newark medical school, and he remarked that the best medical specialisation is treating gun wounds. You will have lots of patients every day. In USA, the society is like a 1st world, 2nd world and 3rd world living together side by side. If you happen to be on the 3rd world side, your life expectancy is just like Africa's (50+). If you, like many of our students, through hard work, enter the 2nd world, you become middle class. For the past 20 years your real income has not increased; and you will be worried about your retirement.

4. Economically we have progressed well; poor people liberated from absolute poverty is 80% of world total. Our achievement exceeds the total of all other developing countries put together. I can see China overtaking USA's nominal GDP in 10 years. If you talk of GDP in ppp terms, according to IMF, China had already overtaken USA in 2014. (72.83% of overseas post-graduate students chose to return to China) a total of 1.44 million people. But critics argue that our population is 4 times the USA's, so per capita GDP is only a quarter of the US. But, we should also look at other parameters, using average household net asset (ie all assets and savings less debt). In 2010 USA average household net asset was USD77,300; in Chinese urban areas this is USD66,200. USA is a debt ridden nation, and the people are also heavily in debt. In terms of average household net assets China is already not far behind. The second parameter is life expectancy. China's now is 75 and America's 78, New York is 79 while Shanghai is 82. Even though US per capita GDP is far better than China, for the average household net asset and life expectancy China is only slightly behind. The reason behind this is China is a socialist country, and the state provides tangible welfare for the people.

5. In China, the richest 100 cannot influence national policy while in US the richest 30 can influence the White House. In USA elections, there is no limit to political donations by corporations and individuals. So democracy has become monetocracy.

 6. The western world keeps criticising China as an autocratic country as compared to themselves. A cold war era satellite photo contrasts the bright lights of West Berlin (progressive democratic country) versus a dimly lit East Berlin (backward autocratic country). But today, Berlin airport is small and primitive and their night scene is way behind Shanghai. So democratic/autocratic is irrelevant. What is relevant today is GOOD or BAD GOVERNANCE. So you can have a democratic bankrupt Greece or Iceland with bad governance.

7. One important part of politics is the method of producing a country's leader, using meritocracy to defeat a western democratic system. In China, the basic requirement to enter the Central Committee of Communist party other than qualifications is to have minimum 2 terms as Provincial Secretary (ie govern 100 million+ people with good results).

 8. Look at Xi Jin Ping; he governed 3 provinces Fujian; Zhejing & Shanghai totalling 120 million people and total GDP close to India's. He entered the Central Committee only with such experience and performance. Another 5 years to experience national political, economic, military and social issues before he became top leader. This is the most competitive system in the world. While it still has its shortcomings, the system ensures that it will not produce a 3rd class president like Bush junior. My thoughts were quoted by The Economist in their article "What's gone wrong with democracy?"

 My Final Conclusion: Chinese should have faith in themselves.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

An ancient Indian legend

There was once a time when all human beings were Gods, but they so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief God, decided to take it away from them and hide it.
But where? Brahma called a council of the Gods to help him decide.
“Let’s bury it deep in the earth,” said the Gods.
But Brahma answered, “No, that will not do because humans will dig into the earth and find it.”
Then the Gods said, “Let’s sink it in the deepest ocean.”
But Brahma said, “No, not there, for they will learn to dive into the ocean and will find it.”
Then the Gods said, “Let’s take it to the top of the highest mountain and hide it there.”
But once again Brahma replied, “No, that will not do either, because they will eventually climb every mountain.”
Then the Gods gave up and said, “We do not know where to hide it, because it seems that there is no place in existence that humans will not eventually reach.”
Brahma thought for a long time and then said, “Here is what we will do. We will hide their divinity deep in the center of their own being, for humans will never think to look for it there.”
All the Gods agreed that this was the perfect hiding place, and the deed was done. And since that time humans have been going up and down the earth, digging, diving, climbing, and exploring – searching for something already within themselves.
If you’re prepared to stop searching in the wrong places, you will finally rediscover your own inner divinity in YOURSELF

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Advice to a high schooler

Last night, I had to counsel Ethan because he didn't understand why he had to prioritise his studies over his fun stuff.
Maybe this article will help him comprehend.

By Bob Perks

Dear High School Graduate:

You're moving on and leaving behind some of your best friends ever. At the same time you are taking them with you, because who you are today is a combination of things.  That includes those people you hung out with, those people you tried to avoid and those who were like family to you.

You are a collection of all of them and yourself at the same time. Through your high school years you were like a sponge absorbing everything around you.  The good and not so good. 

As you step off that stage onto the solid ground of growing up, you will begin to shed some of those influences.  The cap and gown is returned.  The party is over and you are on your way to another world. 


I can't tell you what that world will look like.  I can tell you that you are about to make a bunch of new friends who will have the biggest impact on your life. 

It is very important that you set boundaries and guidelines in this area.

Unlike high school friends, this next round will have more of an impact on you as you get closer to entering adulthood. You are all developing habits and skills at the same time.  You are all on your own for the first time.  These years will be filled with firsts.

I suggest that you look at it as auditioning people for different roles in a new feature film or play you are about to write.  Every person will play a  part, know their lines and help you to make this a block buster hit, or a complete flop.

You are the director.  Who plays those roles is your choice.  YOUR choice.
No one else can choose your friends.

You will have a hard time keeping in touch with friends of the past.  That's fine.

You will need to make time for a social life in college, but you will not go out as much as you think.  There is work to be done and it needs to be done right.  Your real world life ahead depends on it.  The time will go fast, too.

These new friends you have chosen will either help you to get there or hold you back.  Find the friends who believe that, too.

Seek out friends who have a plan.  Not people who are simply passing through.

One study shows, "having and keeping close friends throughout life is important for emotional health," said Glenn Sparks of Purdue University. "And college is a key time for generating close friends," he said.

"This is a kind of a unique time in people's lives, and they have the time and the frequency of contact with each other to really develop these kinds of close relationships," Sparks said.

Put down the phone and pick up the conversation around you.

Still another report says, "While it is tempting for new college students to stay connected with high school friends through Facebook or email, a communication expert encourages them to take time to mute their phones, close their laptops and meet people the old-fashioned way: face to face.

"College students should take advantage of conversational time around them as they wait for a class, walk around campus or sit outside to eat a snack," says Glenn Sparks, a Purdue University professor of communication who studies how mass media affect people's relationships. 

"Keeping in touch with family and friends back home is important, but it can take students away from interacting with those in their immediate environment.

"It can be tempting, and sometimes easier, to spend free time glancing at Facebook or responding to text messages, but when other people are present, students should turn off their phones and get to know those around them."

So, my new High School graduate..."I wish you friends" is the best advice I can offer.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Make Someone's Day

Make Someone's Day!

October 26, 2007

Show Someone You Care

I was sitting at the bar of a local restaurant having lunch and taking a break from the daily grind, sitting there thinking about how tough I had it lately and how I was sick of what I was doing. I own a landscape company and never felt I made a difference in people's lives.

As I sat there feeling sorry for myself, a pretty girl who looked about 25 walked in and sat down in a booth waiting for her friend. It didn't take long before I saw she was trying to stay hidden in a way from other people's gazes and my heart sank. You could see her hair was falling out and, at such a young age, she was receiving chemo.

I sat there watching her trying to remain composed and she was having a tough time of it. I ached for her, imagining what it must be like to go through this and yet I know some of her pain.

You see I buried my wife, the love of my life just a few short years ago and watched her slowly fade away. I needed to get a message of hope to this girl but how? What could I do?

Then it hit me! I called over her waitress and explained that I wanted to buy the girl and her friend's lunch but I also told her you can't tell her it was me, it had to remain anonymous. In doing so, I handed her a note to give to the girl when she told her that her tab was paid.

The note read as follows:
"Someone today thought you were beautiful, someone today thought your smile glowed with excitement, someone today thought your eyes lit up the world, someone today cared and wanted you to know this. Enjoy the rest of your day, pretty young lady".

About 15 minutes later the young girl asked for her check and I watched as she was told it was paid for. She asked why? Who? What for? The waitress simply handed her the note and informed her that the gentleman who did it left, as to keep me anonymous.

I watched as she slowly read the note. Her eyes teared up, for only a moment, and then came the smile! A huge, beautiful, hopeful smile! She lit up the room and then sat up straight, not caring who saw her. Her friend also beamed, not for what was done but because her friend was feeling beautiful again.

It's not how we look or what we have, it's not our houses or how many cars we have, nor is it how much money we can earn. No, it isn't. You see it's all about how much we care and what we do, even if it's making someone feel pretty only for a moment.

Yes, lunch cost only a few dollars but you see the wonderful part, the magic was free.

Make a difference today in just one life; it's free.

--- Copyright © 2007 Bill Renda
In memory of my best friend, my lover, my partner in crime, my wife and the most wonderful mom who ever graced this planet:
Sasha Renda 12/05/67 - 9/25/00
I miss you.