Monday, December 20, 2010

Need a Plan to Rebut Calls for Permanent Tax Cut for the Rich

"Unless President Obama develops a plan to rebut calls for premature spending cuts, the tax-cut deal will not do as much good as he says it will." New York Times' Editorial published on December 19th, The Tax-Cut Deal, eloquently pointed out the compromise he made with Republicans would not help our economy much, particularly because the high cost of the little help to the poor and the unemployed, Republicans will call for more spending cuts, which will made the economy recovery more difficult.  It urged President Obama to prepare for the next showdown.  The editorial pointed out that:
In exchange for high-end tax breaks, Mr. Obama won a 13-month extension of federal jobless benefits, a modest one-year cut in payroll taxes and other temporary measures for businesses and low-income families...

New stimulus spending is undermined if it is offset by cuts in existing spending — and, in the next Congress, Republicans will clamor for immediate budget cuts. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, praised the tax-cut deal last week, precisely because he believes it will begin to force spending cuts. John Boehner, the incoming House speaker, has called for a spending level in 2011 that is more than $100 billion lower than President Obama wanted, though he has not said which programs he would cut to achieve those savings.

So the fight has just begun, and only one thing is sure. Unless Mr. Obama finds his voice and develops a plan to rebut calls for premature spending cuts, the tax-cut deal will not do as much good as he says it will...

Deficits are not as pressing a problem as economic recovery. A stronger recovery must not only come first, but is the best way to begin to heal the budget. Fighting to uphold health care reform is also crucial, because, in the long run, that is key to taming the deficit...

When deficit reduction begins in earnest, tax increases and cuts in big-ticket programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense — will be the focus. Before that, Mr. Obama must not be drawn into nickel-and-dime cuts that will not solve the deficit problem — and will impede recovery. He made a deal with the Republicans. Now he has to get them to live with it.
That was very important but far from enough.  In two years' time, Republicans will push to have the "temporary" tax cut for the super rich made permanent, no matter what state the economy will be.  We have heard such arguments before - our economy is good, therefore we must cut taxes; the economy is in terrible shape, therefore we must cut taxes.  This irresponsible argument will be used with great directness and striking efficiency against the poetic eloquence of President Obama.

Therefore, it is pertinent for President Obama to develop a plan to rebut calls for permanent tax cut for the rich.  He needs to act now, because in last two years he has not demonstrated that he was able to win an upper hand in a last-moment parrying.  By surrendering to the Republican now, he owes the lower- and middle-class Americans this.

Bombed Bridge, III / 炸斷的橋樑之三 / Bombardierten Brücke, III
Bombed Bridge, III © Matthew Felix Sun

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We Are The Compromise We Are Waiting For

Less than two years after Mr. Barak Obama became president, his audacious mantra has morphed from "We are the change we are waiting for" to "we are the compromise we are waiting for."

It is a sad trajectory.  Many of his wounds were self-inflicted, such as surrendering public options before negotiation for health care reform began, promising to open up gulf for oil exploration therefore before climate bill was debated, dismissing House's early bill to cut taxes for middle class only, and finally agreeing to tax cut for the super rich before any significant fight, and so on so forth.

I'm afraid that at this moment, the paean of "change we can believe in" sounds quite ironic.  The only "change we can believe" is this:

His Hopeness is now His Hopelessness.

I am not trying to be funny.  I weep.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dagger To the Hearts

After the congress tried to pass tax reduction bills for middle- and lower-class Americans, and provide assistance to unemployed, due to the opposition of Republicans, President Obama didn't stage any press conference to point it out that the Republicans wouldn't help the poor, and would make the tax rate go up in the middle of economic trying time.

Then, behind the back of his Democrats congressional members, he made a secrete deal with the Republicans, with some terms unacceptable to some Democrats legislators, whose opposition to the tax breaks to the super-rich, will be denounced by the Republicans as raising tax in the middle of crisis.

Obama's double dealing handed the Republicans, ironically who are not secrete about destroying him, besides a handsome ransom, a sharpened dagger to plunge into the hearts of congressional Democrats.

Two more years of such bipartisanship would be a harsh punishment to most Americans; four more years after that would be a crime, perhaps a tad better than a Republican's taking back the White House.  He will fight in two years' time, as he promised in his press conference.  But he has proved an unwilling and highly ineffective soldier.  In order to prevent a calamity bigger than 2010 mid-term election, Democrats must find an alternative candidate in presidential bid in 2012.

Division / 割裂 / Teilung
Division © Matthew Felix Sun

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where Had He Been in the Last Two Years?

In a hastily arranged press conference, Obama defended his compromise package capitulation deal "a good deal for the American people." But the president also said he had little choice but to agree to the Republicans' terms to avoid endangering struggling Americans dependent on the tax breaks and unemployment benefits.

"It's tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers — unless the hostage gets harmed," he said of his talks with Republicans. "In this case, the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed.''

What is the deal eventually is going to hurt the hostage even more, Mr. President?

Obama pledged to take up the fight again in 2012 when the tax cuts would expire under the new deal. He reiterated that he still opposes the Republican position that high-income earners should get the extension, delivering this message to "my Republican friends": "I'm looking forward to seeing them on the field of competition over the next two years."

He hasn't exhibited any aptitude or ability to fight in last two years, how can we trust that he would meet the challenge in two years' time?  If the congress doesn't stop this "deal", the Bush tax cuts will be permanent and more services will be cut, to reduce the ever growing deficit.  In two years' time, a new set of hostage will be produced.  Democrats senators, please don't forget that you can filibuster as well, particularly senators who survived this year's slaughter, like Ms. Barbara Boxer.  The very reason that she was sent back to Washington was to do this kind of fight.

As for this one-sided bipartisanship President Obama brought us, we can afford no longer.  It's time to draft a real fighters we can believe it. 

Mr. Obama, having achieved the historical status by becoming the first black president of America, has earned a place in history and also will be remembered kindly by averting an economic catastrophe.  But, at this juncture of history, he has proved disastrously wasted opportunity to fix the country.  He would do American a even greater favor by completing his one term and become one of the greatest ex-presidents of America.  We would thank him deeply.

Siege / 圍攻 / Belagerung
Siege © Matthew Felix Sun

Monday, December 6, 2010

No More Such Bi-Partisanship, President McO!

I felt awful - though cannot say I was betrayed.  I never believed President Obama would be a fighter, as he had eloquently stated in his campaign in 2008.

It looks like that we are condemned for two more years of "bi-partisanship" of Obama characteristics. If we don't want to endure six more years of that, let's draft a fighter to run for president in 2012 on Democrats ticket. Otherwise, let's pledge to vote for Green(, again)!

No more President McO!

I made the posters below in August 2008, when Obama was walking on water.  Sadly, they ring too true now:





What Compromise?

Obama administration is touting a "compromise" they made with Republican congressional leaders to extend Bush-era tax cuts for two years for every one, including the richest people in this country, as part of a package that would extend jobless aid and cut payroll taxes, despite its previous demand that the tax rates for people with the highest income would be restored to previous higher level.

The White House was also said to have agreed to Republican demands on the estate tax that would result in an exemption of $5 million per person and a maximum rate of 35 percent.

The package would cost about $900 billion over the next two years.  The deal includes reducing the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax on employees by two percentage points for a year, which would put about $120 billion back in the pockets of workers and the unemployment benefits would cost about $60 billion, officials said.  Continuing the lowered tax rates for the highest-earners, by contrast, would cost the government $700 billion in lost revenue over the next 10 years, according to budget analysts.

Obama administration would like to call this a deal, but it is capitulation, considering that Democrats still have the majority of both House and Senate at this moment, this so called deal is absolutely unacceptable.

Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman said right in his article Let's Not Make a Deal
But while raising taxes when unemployment is high is a bad thing, there are worse things. And a cold, hard look at the consequences of giving in to the G.O.P. now suggests that saying no, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, is the lesser of two evils.

Yes, letting taxes go up would be politically risky. But giving in would be risky, too — especially for a president whom voters are starting to write off as a man too timid to take a stand. Now is the time for him to prove them wrong. 

Lone Traveler / 孤獨的旅行者 / Einsamer Reisender
Lone Traveler © Matthew Felix Sun

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Unsustainable Consumerism As Economic Engine

Greece, Ireland, and now Spain is the target for bailout and austerity plan in order to satisfy their debtors.

All those countries had been following the once shining example of American consumerism and "ownership" society.

That trend of relying on consumerism to propel economic has proved unsustainable, yet some economists are hoping that tomorrow, the after Thanksgiving spectacle in the US, a.k.a. Black Friday, will rescue the US's economy.

On international level, they are preaching the once frugal Chinese to splurge.

Perhaps, it's time for the world to turn inwards and consume less precious resources, be a good steward of fragile earth, and rely on self-sufficiency more, and rely less on the unsustainable growth of economy for the basis of a wonderful and meaningful life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bush Tax Cuts? Let's Talk About Obama Tax Cuts

President Obama and his Democrat congressional colleagues are outmaneuvered by their Republican opponents once again and was dragged into the debate of partially or fully extension of Bush Tax Cuts, which was allowed to pass on the condition that it would expire at a fixed time. The time is approaching and the Republicans are now demanding to made the tax cut permanent, therefore made that condition a pretext and a cover for Blue Dog Democrat for robbing the poor to pay rich.

Instead of debating if Bush tax cut should be extended at all, for how long and for whom, Democrats should propose a new temporary tax cuts to combat the economic crisis we are still in.

Only by fully owing the tax cuts Democrats want to sanction, they will be given due credit. Otherwise, be prepared that people would bestow the mantel of hope to George W. Bush.

Kampf / 抗爭 / Kampf
© Matthew Felix Sun

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nancy Pelosi vs Barak Obama

Nancy Pelosi was elected House minority leader for next session.  Someone thought that she ought to make way to moderates.

Wrong.  The voters punished the Democrats not because they did too much, too boldly, rather too timidly, or too quietly.

After eight miserable George W. Bush years, American people were eager to reclaim democracy and human decency in this once great country and that was why Obama's "change" mantel fired up so many people's imagination.  People wanted to resurrect like phoenix.  It was a great opportunity to move the country forward.

Once Obama entered the White House, he could have moved the agenda boldly, with a clear reasoning and articulation.  The Republican congressmen and senators could be called upon to join his then unstoppable bandwagon, or face the fate of eternal irrelevancy.

Obama took the opportunity but flaunted it.

It was due to Nancy Pelosi's skill as House Speaker that Obama could claim any achievement in the first two years of his presidency, but he not only declined to lead, he never lifted a finger to help his fighters, refused to articulate what those agendas could help people.  He instead sat on his hands and waited for a bi-partisanship to emerge, and ceded bully pulpit to his opponents who wanted only his destruction. 

I think President Barak Obama owns House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her congressional colleagues an apology, and above all, an apology to American people who installed him to move the country out of the dark age of George W. Bush.

Someone were upset and blamed Pelosi for losing the majority of the house.  If you don't wield your power, then what was the point of granting you that?

The voters didn't punish Pelosi's actions; the voters punished Obama's (seemingly) inaction.

I am afraid that next two years, we won't be able to see much achievement, even if Obama became a fighter.  The golden opportunity was lost and there was no remedy for that.  Pelosi or anyone else as the House minority leader has been neutered as well.

This poor country will get poorer.

Leisurely / 悠然 / Gemächlich
© Matthew Felix Sun

Gini Index - UN Human Development Report

Nicholas Kristof reported in his article "Our Banana Republic" that the richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976.

C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

The recently published UN Human Development Report, though still ranked the US No. 4 overall, it did point out that the US Income Gini coefficient is 40, while No. 1 country Norway has Income Gini coefficient 25.8.  Below is the list of such index in a sample of other countries: 
Canada (ranking 8): Income Gini coefficient 32.6
Mexico (ranking 56): Income Gini coefficient 48.1
China (ranking 89): Income Gini coefficient 41.5
United Kingdom (ranking 26) Income Gini coefficient (not listed in UN report; according to Wikipedia map, it falls in the range of 30-34)

According to Wikipedia, "The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" (Italian: Variabilità e mutabilità).

The Gini coefficient is a measure of the inequality of a distribution, a value of 0 expressing total equality and a value of 1 maximal inequality. It has found application in the study of inequalities in disciplines as diverse as economics, health science, ecology, chemistry and engineering.

It is commonly used as a measure of inequality of income or wealth. Worldwide, Gini coefficients for income range from approximately 0.23 (Sweden) to 0.70 (Namibia) although not every country has been assessed."

It also has a visual demonstration of global information:

The inequality in our country is getting greater yet most Republicans are demanding the extension of Bush tax cut for the super rich.

It's plainly immoral.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It Will Be A Bumpy Ride

The preliminary report by President Obama’s bipartisan debt-reduction commission recommended many painful changes in order to rein in the unsustainable national debt, including increasing social security collecting age with reduced benefits and the inevitable tax increases, which drew fire from both left and right, who vowed to defeat these measures.

Perhaps, only perhaps, there are alternative means to any specific solution, but there is absolutely no alternative to shared pains - both the rich, the poor and those saddle in the middle will have to give some, and the way of life most Americans have been enjoying for generations will have to change.

Otherwise, the abyss will grow deeper.

The problem is not only the federal issue.  In California, about only a month after current year's budget passed with 100 days' delay, emerged another $6 billion deficit and it is projected that there will be $25.4 billion deficit in next 20 months.  California's current fiscal year budget is $86.6 billion.  Petulant Californian voters just approved a spate of propositions which would tie governor and legislators hands further and will make it even more difficult to solve this problem.  The state is golden no more.  So are many other states.

People might choose to behave like ostriches but that won't stop our descending to the netherworld.  True, we are still in economic crisis therefore those austerity measures must be introduced in the (near) future instead of now.  However, act we must.

In order to act, we need a national leader who will educate the masses and persuade people to accept hard choices.

Next few months would be crucial for Obama to achieve this.  I surely hope he will change his hands-off style as displayed disastrously during Health Care Reform.  He hid behind the congress and Nacy Pelosi's skirt and allowed his opponents to convince people, including those who'd benefit the most from the reform, that the good bill was actually poisonous.  He cannot hide again, behind the deficit commission this round.  He must man up and lead. 

We don't need an Obamiccolo.

House of Hope / 希望之家 / Haus der Hoffnung
House of Hope
© Matthew Felix Sun

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beer Pong Nation

Recently, I learned in a gathering a new term - "Beer Pong". According to Wikipedia,
Beer Pong, also known as Beirut, is a drinking game in which players throw a ping-pong ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in a cup of beer/water on the other end. The game typically consists of two two-to-four-player teams and multiple cups set up on each side set up in triangle formation. There are no official rules, so rules may vary widely, though usually there are six or ten plastic cups arranged in a triangle on each side.

The order of play varies—both players on one team shoot followed by both players on the other team, or players on opposite teams can alternate back and forth.


Beer pong tournaments are held in the United States at the local, regional, and national levels.


The Wall Street Journal, Time and other media outlets have reported on the increase in businesses selling beer pong paraphernalia, such as tables, mats, cups, or clothes

I am no moralist and enjoy a mug of beer or a glass of wine time to time.  But the cheers Beer Pong game is receiving is incomprehensible, because it is nothing but brain decimating, manner destroying activity.

When the US is heading to be a Beer Pong nation, it is high time to cede the claim to a great nation forever.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Victory They Paid So Much For

2010 mid-term election is largely over.

Meg Whitman, who spent $141.5 million her own money trying to win buy the governorship of California conceded her defeat.  She said that such:
... We did not achieve the victory we worked so hard for, but that is not a reason to give up on what’s most important. ...

Really?   I think she meant that they did not achieve the victory they'd paid so much for.

Barbara Boxer survived.  So did Harry Reid.  Otherwise, it was a dismal night and this country is further doomed.

Falling / 墜落 / Fallen
Falling © Matthew Felix Sun

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rich But not Run-for-Office Rich

A cartoon on New Yorker's November 1, 2010 issue caught my attention.  In a luxurious party scene, two women commented about an apparently rich man: "He's rich, but not run-for-office rich."

I almost fell off my chair laughing then my mood got darker.  Indeed, haven't we seen things like this?  This year, the obscenity of someone's wealth reached to the dizzying height, embodied by Californian gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman who has so far spent more than $140 million of her own money in her campaign.

What's wrong with this picture?  In regardless of her candidacy and her policies, one has to wonder that in a society when a person could afford to spend such vast amount of money on an elected office, something was seriously wrong.

How could we allow a person accumulated billions of dollars while some people in this country don't have enough food, decent education and health care?

This country has been robbing from the poor and giving to the rich for way too long.  It's high time to change it.  But real change, alas, is nowhere to be found.

Schism / 裂縫 / Schisma
Schism © Matthew Felix Sun

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Tragedy of Our Own Doing

When President Obama wooed the enthusiastic crowd with his change mantra and the chant of "Yes we can", it seemed indeed a new era was to begin.

Alas.  It was not so.  Convinced by his own amazing ability to transform, Obama reached out to his opponent with open arms and weapons laid down.  Unfortunately, his ability to transform the bitter politics, which he obvious had no taste for, was only an illusion.  He could surely inspire but he could not transform.  The country is as divided as never before.

In his first two years as president, he stood aloofly behind Nancy Pelosi and her foot soldiers, who were pushed to make lonely and tough calls, and surrendered many points before his jousting with the Republican began.  Reluctant to criticize the people he wanted to embrace, he didn't use many crises as educational moments, refused to engage the people in the process of any change, kept mum about his plans and ideas and the motivations behind them.  Consequently, he allowed his irresponsible but smart opponents to outmaneuver him in every step and successfully framed the debate in their terms therefore won over many voters who have been conditioned not to have independent thinking of any kind. 

Many people from the left wrung their hands and bemoan the weakness or betrayal of Obama.  No, Obama is exactly what he said he would be during the campaign, the fault lies on the insistence of his enthusiastic supporters seeing through rose-colored lenses.  Now, they are reaping what they sowed.

If laying down one's weapon in front of enemies is the criteria for a hero, Obama won his medal.  If a fighter needed to be our president, the old Obama is not the right person to fit the bill.  He can be a fighter but it seemed all too late.

The failure of Obama to communicate and engage, was as tragic as the personal failure of Bill Clinton.  Both had such promises and both floundered.  This time, tragedy is not Obama's, or even Pelosi and her soldiers, of which many will fall next week.  The tragedy is of our nation's.

Domesticity / 家居 / Häuslichkeit
Domesticity © Matthew Felix Sun

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

For the Sake of a Pair of Socks

Last week, when I did my laundry in the laundromat, I witnessed something hard to believe.  After she unloaded her laundry from dryer, a woman found out that a pair of socks wasn't dry enough.  She put the pair of socks back to the dryer, put in more coins and let the huge commercial dryer run to make that pair of socks dry.

Do we really have that amount of energy to waste?

At Home / 安逸 / Bequem
At Home © Matthew Felix Sun

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Would the Rich and Powerful Sacrifice?

Ex-CEO of eBay Meg Whitman in her debate with her opponent for Californian governor stated that all Californians must share sacrifices to make California viable again. Yet, again and again, in her campaign commercials, her vision is the sacrifice from middle- and lower-class residents and none from the rich and the powerful.

This country and California have underwent a most despicable wealth-redistribution from middle-class to the rich and the powerful, and her solution is to continue the same voodoo economic policy and she is having a fair chance of winning?

What's wrong with our state and our country?

Swamp /  沼澤 / Sumpf
Swamp © Matthew Felix Sun

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg, Cyndi Norton and Upward Mobility

NPR recently broadcast a story on economy, titled Jobless After 50? You May Be Out Of Luck, which was a grim account of what pains so many people in the US and what illness this once great country is suffering from. An except below is painful to read:
The economy officially crept out of recession in June of 2009, but for many Americans, the economic markers that really count are the ones that come out each month from the Department of Labor: unemployment statistics.

And the numbers released this week continue to look grim, with almost 15 million Americans out of work and few private sector jobs available.

The typical unemployed worker spends about eight months out of a job, but for people over 50, finding a new job can take a lot longer — if it happens at all.

Cyndi Norton has managed to find work. She makes $10 an hour in a California factory. She has no benefits and says she's basically homeless, relying on friends for a place to sleep. But not too long ago, she was a high-powered administrative assistant at the Rand Corp., sitting in on board meetings and once, memorably, showing Henry Kissinger around the building.

Newly married, Norton decided to quit her job and start a small business. "I had a little savings," she tells NPR's Guy Raz. "I had a 401(k), but not a lot."

Then the recession hit, and Norton's life fell apart. She got divorced, the business failed, and at age 50, she found herself looking for another job.

At first, Norton thought it wouldn't take long. She sent out resumes to old employers, aced interviews, passed tests with flying colors … and never got the job.

"I may not be young, but I'm bright," she says. "But see, I've also heard this from other people — and from younger people, too — saying that they have been instructed by their managers at these recruiting firms, 'Yeah, bring her in, interview her, have her take the test.' But for this particular position we're looking for? They don't want anybody over 30."

Norton says her situation is bleak. "I've done everything I possibly can to find work. I've signed up with temp agencies, I've taken all the tests. I'm a nationally certified medical assistant. I tried to retrain — school loan coming due in December which I can't pay. [I've] basically put ads on Craigslist for everything from caretaker to secretary to house-sitter. ... It's very disheartening, because I know I can do what's required of me."

Well, people may argue that US still has innovative entrepreneurs who are successful, such as Mark Zuckerburg of Facebook. But for every Mark Zuckerberg, there are hundreds of thousands Cinci Norton.

For a society devoid of visible and sustained upward mobility for the most, it is a society seriously ill.  Without healing the illness, this country cannot be wonderful again.  Yet, we don't see any resolution from our national leaders, either in government or economic leadership.

I am scared.  Are you?

Falling / 墜落 / Fallen
Falling © Matthew Felix Sun

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nobel Prize, Democracy, and Corporate Taking Over

The Nobel Peace Prize 2010 was awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a jailed dissent, "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China".

People like Mr. Liu go to jail for fighting for democracy in countries like China, Cuba and Myanmar, while in the US, people have taken democracy for granted for so long, that many people don't bother to vote.  Even worse, take California for example, there are two candidates who have demonstrated their utter contempt for civil service and democracy in the past (by not voting at all in years), now decided that they ought be be the governor and the US senator. The fault don't stay with Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina's wanting to take over like another business merger, rather lies with people giving them fair chance of winning!  When people don't care about the consequences of their action/inaction, democracy is in name only.  Perhaps, we are just in as bad a state as poor Chinese people.

Progression / 進展 / Entwicklung
Progression © Matthew Felix Sun

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ice Balls, Honey Dipper, Etc.

Last weekend, I stopped by a Peet's Coffee and saw some colorful plastic balls in a package next to the fancy tea cans.  Study closely, I realized that they are so called Ice Balls that they can chill drinks without diluting the liquid.

Quite clever, yet necessary?

The same Peet's carried something called Honey Dippers as well.  Instead of using spoon, one can use this wooden equipment to dip into honey jar, and carry the honey in the grooves.

The list of these seemingly clever and useful but utterly unnecessary items is long and is sickening - banana hangers, apple slicers, bagel slicing holders, etc.  How much precious resources do we, as steward of the earth, need to plunder in order to gain an ounce of convenience?

Most appalling is the commercial I encountered online.  Watch it and judge for yourself. How sick our society has become and where is the outrage?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Neither Her Husband Or She?

Republican candidate for Californian governor, Meg Whitman is being accused of knowingly hiring illegal immigrant and she issued denial.

According to San Francisco Chronicle, she stated that:

"'Neither my husband or I received any letter from the Social Security Administration,' Whitman insisted. 'We never saw any such letter.'"

I cannot believe that a candidate for governorship made such a grammatical mistake.  What she should have said was "Neither my husband nor I received..."

I did a little online search and was confirmed my believe that she made mistake.  However, the online resource claimed that such an "informal" pattern is common now.  Commonly committed mistakes don't make them correct, even though language itself should remain a living thing.

Not only Whitman failed to vote in many years past, she even failed to speak proper English, if the quote from Chronicle was accurate, therefore she should not be the governor of California for sure!

Matthew Felix Sun's Drawing_7251

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prosperity Gospel and Bishop Long

Since I didn't grow up with a religion, it fascinated me in many ways, however ambivalent I am about it as an institution. Sometimes, I found religion is a place people seek comfort and spiritual growth, and sometimes, I watch it with weariness, when the dominant tenor of the sect become material gain, versus spiritual one.  Even the one champions eternal salvation of souls, as the Catholic does, however debatable, warrants less distrust.

I have not heard of Bishop Eddie Long and my grasp of the concept of "Prosperity Gospel" was vague, till the recent lawsuit against Mr. Long.

I don't want to discuss Mr. Long's litigation here.  What I want to address is this brand of Christianity and the lavish life style of Mr. Long.

Last night on NPR I heard a story on Mr. Long and Prosperity Gospel by Barbara Bradley Hagerty.

Long's church and his personal life are manifestations of the "prosperity Gospel" he preaches. Also called "name it and claim it," this style of preaching states that God does not want you to be poor — indeed, Long preaches that Jesus was not poor — and that riches are a sign of God's blessing.

Long himself drives a $350,000 Bentley, bought a $1.1 million home in 2005 and favors gold necklaces and Rolex watches. When the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked him about the $3 million he received from the church and its charities between 1997 and 2000, Long was defiant.
"We're not just a church; we're an international corporation," he said. "We're not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can't talk and all we're doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around the world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation."
His lifestyle as a spiritual leader is questionable and troublesome if not downright deplorable.  His preaching that God wants you to be rich stresses material gain instead of spiritual growth, which is the opposite of what Jesus would have preached.

Mr. Long has not a spiritual house, rather a huge corporation, which he had freely admitted.  To me, his church is not much different from an Amway enterprise.

Ecstasy / 狂喜 / Ekstase
Ecstasy © Matthew Felix Sun

Saturday, September 18, 2010

$499, With Kids $599

I usually am able to pay no attention to the advertisements in newspapers, however, one such block on San Francisco Chronicle drew my attention to it.

There is seven smiling people, male and female, welcome the viewer with their beaming teeth. A cheerful bunch. When I read the text, I did an experiment with a friend. I hid the text and asked to guess what it is advertising for.

- Dental service?
- No. Legal services.
- Help you to foreclose your neighbor's house?
- No. More personal.
- Getting unemployment benefit?

Well, the answer is revealed in the large texts: "Divorce?" $499. It added that it costs $599 with kids.

This advertisement was stunning in it sunny way and served as a primal example of how ill our society has become. Sigh!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Presidential Carpet

NPR recently broadcast of a story by Associated Press: Oval Office Makeover Has Comfy, More Modern Feel. It is such a strange read during this depressing time.
Every president eventually puts his own mark on the Oval Office, decoratively speaking, and the White House unveiled the Obama makeover on Tuesday, just hours before a major presidential speech on Iraq from his famous Resolute Desk (still there.) Obama had long been making small changes in the Oval Office, aided by California designer Michael Smith, but held off on a broader redesign until now, mindful of the nation's economic distress.

The White House wouldn't reveal the overall cost of the new look, but said in a statement that it was "in line with the amount spent by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush on the redesigns of their Oval Office." It added that the funds came from the nonprofit White House Historical Association, through a contribution from the presidential inaugural committee.

NPR's broadcast mentioned the man-hour needed to make his brand of presidential carpet. But that information, perhaps deemed too sensitive, was no where to be found online.

I did more searching and found it on The Detroit News:

The Obama administration declined to divulge the cost of the office makeover but said it was comparable to what other presidents have spent. It took 30 craftsmen and more than 570 man hours to produce the rug at the Scott Group. The rug, installed last week, contains 25 percent recycled wool and uses natural colors and undyed thread as part of the office's all-natural theme.

If the average salary of those skilled works are $20/hour, that makes $11,400, not including design, material, machinery, and transportation costs. Excuse me! Every time, when we have a new owner of the Oval office, a whooping amount of expenses. I would have thought that 1600 Pennsylvania have changed the name to Château de Versailles!

I wonder what happened to the previous presidential rugs. I would have hoped that Obama would stop this insane practice of wasting of material and resources every four or eight years. I guess the audacity to hope, will always get disappointed.

Matthew Felix Sun's Drawing_7339
"Chairman" © Matthew Felix Sun

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Martha's Vineyard, What Hast Thou?

Recently, President Obama's family vacation at Martha's Vineyard made it to the news and once again, drew some tired attention to that little island. According to Wikipedia, "the island is primarily known as a summer colony, and is accessible only by boat and by air. Nevertheless, its year-round population has grown considerably since the 1960s. A study by the Martha's Vineyard Commission found that the cost of living on the island is 60 percent higher than the national average and housing prices are 96 percent higher."

It continued to say that Presidents Ulysses Grant, Bill Clinton and the former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis all had visited or kept houses there.

I cannot entertain a vacation in an isolated island, with nothing but wind, sea, and celebrities whose names or faces I don't care to know. And politicians too.

Personally, I don't care where my president and his family enjoy their vacations but I couldn't escape from knowing it, since the "news" was reported everywhere, including pictures of Obama's book purchases for his daughters, who are admittedly adorable but if I hear their names in the news again, I'd scream.

This country doesn't have royalties; it yearns for one. This country do have aristocrats, with a long family tradition, like the Bushes, or not, like Clintons. Only if people were striving to gain noble education, bearing and manners. Alas, this is a country produces nobles as entertainers.

Swamp /  沼澤 / Sumpf
Swamp © Matthew Felix Sun

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lessons Not Learned

In my previous blog entry, Irrationality Must Be Repudiated, I discussed the debates regarding the planned new mosque near the site of former World Trade Center in New York.

People need to be reminded that it was a group of radicals who flew two passenger jets into the World Trade Center, not being sanctioned by entire Muslim people, therefore the opposition to the plan is misguided. This reminded me of the internment of Japanese Americans after the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese Air Force. It seems that the historical lessons have yet to be learned.

Mus I, a Chinese American, run to Canada for protection, if a war breaks out between China and the US?

Yesterday, I heard Margaret Atwood on radio and I remembered that when the attack on World Trade Center happened, I was reading her "The Handmaid's Tale" and was chilled by my prediction that the US was poised to become the country she described in that book. In the past decade, I observed the marches or inching over towards that apocalyptic end. It seems that we have become a nation with only one resolve, which is undermining all values we have held dear.

Sheltering / 掩护 / Schützen

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Naïveté, Arrogance, Stupidity

It is reported by New York Times, that "The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who irritated fellow Democrats recently by saying Republicans might reclaim control of the House in November, is once again in hot water with his own party, after lambasting President Obama’s critics on what he called 'the professional left.'

In an interview with The Hill newspaper, published Tuesday, Mr. Gibbs unloaded his frustration with liberals who are themselves frustrated with the president.

'I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested – I mean, it’s crazy,' Mr. Gibbs was quoted in the newspaper as saying.

He went on to condemn the 'professional left,' saying: 'They will be satisfied when we have Canadian health care and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.'"

The left have many reasons to be upset with Obama's administration. However, to give Obama credit, that he never claimed to be a progressive candidate. His many now disappointed supports, simply read too much between words, and deliberated ignored many warning signs and the obvious that Obama was much less progressive then Clinton and Edwards. Yet, they believe that Obama was a closeted liberal and winked and winked, believing that Obama would should true colors once occupied the White House. Obama did not change. People who are disappointed had no cause.

But this does not excuse Obama of his certain failures. Going to a negotiation with true faith is one thing, while showing all your cards and bottom lines before negotiations started is another. He had conceded so much and in exchange for almost nothing. His firm standing in the middle dose not deter his opponents calling him a liberal. Politics as usual. Nothing changed. He is not a transforming president he believes to be.

Was it naïveté, arrogance, or stupidity? You decide.

Blindness / 失明 / Blindsein

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Irrationality Must Be Repudiated

The planned new mosque near the site of former World Trade Center in New York has generated a lot debates yet the most controversial aspects of this whole debate is the fact that Anti-Defamation League came out to oppose the project.

CNN reported that Anti-Defamation League's opposition to ground zero mosque sparks debate:
A proposal to build a mosque near the site of Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center's twin towers were destroyed by Islamist hijackers on September 11, 2001, has triggered debates for the past two months.

Critics said building a mosque near Ground Zero would insult the victims of 9/11.

Supporters, like CNN Belief Blog contributor Stephen Prothero, said accepting the mosque would demonstrate religious tolerance and send a message that the U.S. is not at war with Islam.

Here's Anti-Defamation League's rationale:

The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found.

At the same time, the ADL condemned those who opposed the proposed mosque out of religious bigotry:

Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.

On Friday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the ADL to retract its Wednesday statement:

"It is shocking that a group claiming to seek 'justice and fair treatment for all' would side with those engaged in one of the most egregious Islamophobic smear campaigns in recent memory," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "We ask the ADL to reconsider and retract this ill-considered and divisive statement. With its shameful statement, the ADL is exploiting and fueling the rising level of anti-Islam sentiment in our society."

New York Time's article Debate Heats Up About Mosque Near Ground Zero mentioned that when asked why the opposition of the families was so pivotal in the decision, Mr. Abraham Foxman, the national director of Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor, said they were entitled to their emotions.

“Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” he said. Referring to the loved ones of Sept. 11 victims, he said, “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.”

This is very upsetting indeed. Irrationality is what has been driven people to mad behaviors in the long history. The fear of Jews in the Christian world in the medieval time which culmulated in the Holocaust was the manifestation of such irrationality.

Irrational behaviors from different corners generated the attack on World Trade Center, created Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, and ensured the miserable conditions in West Bank.

An enlightened era must repudiate irrationality of any kind. For an organization like Anti-Defamation League to make excuse for irrational behavior, it is shameful and hurtful.

To be fair and complete, I also include the Statement On Islamic Community Center Near Ground Zero by Anti-Defamation League, which is not without merit:
We regard freedom of religion as a cornerstone of the American democracy, and that freedom must include the right of all Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths – to build community centers and houses of worship.

We categorically reject appeals to bigotry on the basis of religion, and condemn those whose opposition to this proposed Islamic Center is a manifestation of such bigotry.

However, there are understandably strong passions and keen sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center site. We are ever mindful of the tragedy which befell our nation there, the pain we all still feel – and especially the anguish of the families and friends of those who were killed on September 11, 2001.

The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process. Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found.

In recommending that a different location be found for the Islamic Center, we are mindful that some legitimate questions have been raised about who is providing the funding to build it, and what connections, if any, its leaders might have with groups whose ideologies stand in contradiction to our shared values. These questions deserve a response, and we hope those backing the project will be transparent and forthcoming. But regardless of how they respond, the issue at stake is a broader one.

Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.
According the footnotes of this statement on Anti-Defamation League's web site, "The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry."

Century's Greeting / 世紀的問候 / Jahrhundert Begrüßung
Century's Greeting © Matthew Felix Sun

Friday, July 23, 2010

Socialist Seedlings and Capitalist Weeds

During Chinese Great Culture Revolution time, there was a well-known slogan: "Rather have the socialist weeds, does not want the capitalist seedlings". The slogan was mostly used in late 1970s through early 1980s. Since 1980s, Chinese people realized the idiocy of this slogan and largely abandoned from that ideological rigidity and embraced many elements, both with socialism and capitalism characteristics, beneficial to the economic development.

Here in the US, it seems that a large section of the society has adopted that cast away slogan, with a sole difference of turning it up-side-down.

Now, they shout: "Rather have the capitalist weeds, does not want the socialist seedlings". Idiocy also has market.

Can we stop asking the question if its family name is capitalist or socialist?

Controversal late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping has expressed vividly before: "It doesn't matter if the cat is white or black. As long as it catches mice, it is a good cat."

Tree Trunks in Gray Landscape / 灰色風景裡的樹幹 / Baumstämme in Grau Landschaft
Tree Trunks in Gray Landscape © Matthew Felix Sun

Sunday, July 18, 2010

End Game?

There are a lot of frets and hand wringing lately, over US's losing jobs to the rising economic powerhouses such as China and India. The crying bringing jobs back is loud and louder with mid-term election's fast approaching.

I have serious reservations on such notion. Even if it can be done, which is highly doubtful, I strongly believe that morally the US should not attempt it, rather adjust our lifestyle to face up the new world.

In the later half of the twentieth century, the US enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom, largely due to globalization which was highly beneficial to the US, on the burden of many other countries. It was a world order wearily accepted by other nations and eventually they eagerly embraced to play catching up. Now, the table turned and we found that globalization is not so benign after all and suddenly the advantageous years we enjoyed it were utterly forgotten and we demand a change of rules!

We are becoming a nation of crying babies.

World changes. Nothing will stay static forever. The US had a great run as the most economically advanced nation for a long stretch and those days are over and we must accept it as stoically as other nations endured their economical hardship.

The best President Obama and his successors could do is ministering the decline as gracefully as they can and usher us into second tier nation with least pain as possible. A second tier nation is not bad at all - there are many nations would die to be included in this rank. All feast will come to an end. End it with style, please.

Falling / 墜落 / Fallen

Falling © Matthew Felix Sun

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Professionalization of Children's Games

Football, or Soccer, World Cup ended with a thrilling match. More and more Americans tuned in for this global sans one phenomena. Yet, the future of football in the US is not as rosy as this new passion displayed during World Cup period predicted.

The future of football in the US might be doomed by its staunchest supporters - Soccer Moms.

The football has a long tradition and a glorious past and future in South America and Europe, and African and Asian countries are trying hard to catch up. But the terms of Soccer Mom or Football Mom is a uniquely American phenomenon.

In other part of the world, kids play football with casual attires and casually organized. It's fun and spontaneous, easily accessed and relatively cheap. Here, minor leagues are equipped and organized like professional organizations and players were pampered or yelled at as if their moms's lives depend on the results of the matches. The young players were organized according to their skills, and covertly, their family wealth. Such effort not only tinted kids games with pre-mature commercialism, it also created a divide separated well-offs and the poor, deliberated or not. This can only hinder the progress of this sport in the US and the progress of the society.

Hands off, moms!

Ecstasy / 狂喜 / Ekstase

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Online Education

San Francisco Chronicle in their article UC online degree proposal rattles academics reported that "University of California wants to jump into online education for undergraduates, hoping to become the nation's first top-tier research institution to offer a bachelor's degree over the Internet comparable in quality to its prestigious campus program."

"'We want to do a highly selective, fully online, credit-bearing program on a large scale - and that has not been done,' said UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley, who is leading the effort."

This proposal is controversial not only in doubt of the validity of the claim that by teaching online, it will save money, more important, many people, students and faculty included, don't believe that face-to-face interaction is dispensable, even for the courses lab hours are not needed.

At this very moment, a minor academic scandal is raging in China. A former Microsoft executive turned entrepreneur, Mr TANG Jun, was confronted with the unpleasant fact that his doctorate degree in Electronic Engineering was issued by an uncredited Pacific Western University ("PWU"), which was established in 1988 and closed in 2006.

In 1994, Louisiana's Board of Regents closed PWU's office in that state, because PWU gave theses too many credits, had too few lecturers and did not provide enough courses, amongst other reasons.

One has to shudder to think that the glorious Cal will be mentioned in a single sentence of other uncredited diploma factories.

Even with better monitoring and administration from the universities, what can they do to prevent someone else other then the enrolled students "take" and courses and exams? Are we to dispatch monitors to the remotest part of the world to guarantee that the online education is just as good as they sit in the classrooms with stimulating discussions with peers and professors?

Interaction by Matthew Felix Sun on Flickr


According to Wikipedia,

Pacific Western University in Hawaii and Pacific Western University in California were once owned and operated by the same party. According to Inside Higher Ed, the association ended in 2004 when Pacific Western University in California) was sold and began operating under new ownership, administration, and faculty.

Pacific Western University in California has subsequently changed its name to California Miramar University. On June 6, 2009, California Miramar University received accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Joe DiMaggio's Sand Box

The (San Francisco) Historic Preservation Commission had voted to make the North Beach branch library a landmark, but forgot to say why, according to San Francisco Chronicle. I have to wonder what made it a landmark.

When I lived in North Beach, I used that branch often. It is very small and cramped. It boasts no significant architectural distinction, it doesn't really fit into the richness of Italian-American neighborhood North Beach like gloves. It is dilapidated and in urgent needs of expansion or replacement.

I don't like the modernistic design for the replacement but that should not be the excuse of keeping this deplorable old facility. I believe that one of the reasons for some to keep it was due to Joe DiMaggio factor - he used to play there, in a tiny sandbox no bigger than your flower bed, perhaps. I don't think a library is a fitting tribute to a baseball player, however, if one insists, wouldn't a statue of DiMaggio a better monument than this pathetic, outdated little barn?

St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral, San Francisco / 聖彼得和保羅教堂, 舊金山 /  Heiliges Peter und Saint Paul-Kathedrale, San Francisco
St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral, San Francisco © Matthew Felix Sun

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thoughts on the Fourth of July

Fourth of July is approaching. It is rather a poignant date. For a long time, America did represent freedom and the Star and Stripes was a beacon of democracy.

Yet, it is so stained and I wonder when it will ever be clean.

I also remembered an incident in my life. Once I was chatting with my colleague in a large corporate, about life in my home country, China. We talked about holidays there and she asked me, in absolute sincerity: "Do you celebrate Fourth of July?"

I struggled hard not to show my astonishment. Of course Chinese are not celebrating Fourth of July. But they would, when America represents liberal democracy, without stains and qualifications.

Prisoner Calendar

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cheap Goods for Wal-Mart No More?

There are a lot financial news from China lately - China just loosened a little bit of its currency control and Renminbi moved up a bit against US Dollar; several foreign-owned companies increased the labors' salaries, up to 120%; several provinces increased minimum wages. All these pointed to the direction of the end of dirty-cheap "Made in China" merchandise one can find in Wal-Mart, etc.

Considering the low prices of iPhone and iPad, we cannot deny that there was exploitation involved. If the trend hold and if the manufacturer cannot move to lower-waged region efficiently, it is the end of the golden days of low-priced goods in the US. It would be a more just world, though average Americans must pay up more to support such more just world. Are we willing?

Shade / 陰涼處 / Schatten

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thoughts on Flag Day

Today is American Flag Day. Today I would love to celebrate the national flag of my adopted country but I feel rather queasy about it.

The flag, as I see it, is rather stained by our collective refusal to live up to the standards we have been boasting about and been demanding others to follow.

American Flag

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's So Yesterday

When Carly Fiorina, the fired CEO and politician-to-be, Republican nominee for US Senator from California, mocked her opponent's hair as so yesterday, we know that this country has indeed reached its nadir indeed.

Is this the person we can trust to fight for the average folks's rights and benefits, instead of glamorous, rich and fabulous people rule on top?

If this über-reich vanity candidate wins the day, our country is absolutely doomed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Apocalypse Now!

I wonder if we live in the pre-apocalyptic era.

The jobs are bleeding away, housing marketing is crushing down, glaciers are melting away and the oil is gushing into the ocean.

The over-population and irresponsible behavior of human kind, particularly the consumerism of American brand, are making the earth unsustainable.

Bob Herbert had a just published an interesting article Our Epic Foolishness. He said:

If a bank is too big to [let] fail, it’s way too big to exist. If an oil well is too far beneath the sea to be plugged when something goes wrong, it’s too deep to be drilled in the first place.

When are we going to stop behaving so stupidly? We nearly wrecked the economy and we’re all but buried in debt. But we can’t break up the biggest banks, and we can’t raise taxes. Now we’re fouling the magnificent Gulf of Mexico and ruining entire communities along the southern Louisiana Coast.

BP and the Obama administration have been equally clueless about halting the millions of gallons of oil that have flowed into the gulf since the Deepwater Horizon explosion more than a month ago. President Obama's top adviser on energy policy, Carol Browner, unintentionally underscored the monumental futility of the response in a comment she made on NBC's 'Meet the Press' on Sunday.

'This is obviously a difficult situation,' said Ms. Browner, 'but it's important for people to understand that from the beginning, the government has been in charge.'


We see it in the shrinking middle class and in the black community where depressionlike conditions are fostering not just a sense of helplessness, but despair.

What's needed is dynamic leadership (it doesn’t have to come from the top) to reinvigorate the spirit of America and turn that sense of helplessness around.
Yes, indeed. We need it now. Otherwise, this will be Apocalypse Now!

Dirge / 輓歌 / Elegy

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Friendship with Clientele Countries - China and North Korea, USA and Israel

Recent two events - the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, apparently by a North Korean torpedo resulting the death of 46 sailors on board, and Israeli raid on an aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip that ended with Israeli soldiers killing nine activists -made an unlikely connections to the two special international relationships: China and North Korea, and that the USA and Israel.

The refusal to criticize let alone condemn the aggression of their close friend, or more accurately, their clientele country, China and the USA are dancing the same dance. They both tried to maintain the appearance of neutrality and reason. They both argued for more thorough investigation, more deliberate approach.

It is inconceivable to image that China and the USA have so much similarity. Yet, it happened. As it happened, when the USA tried once again to stand by its friend and clientele country, it lost its moral authority to demand China to do obviously correct otherwise.

Schism / 裂縫 / Schisma

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Copernicus, Sister Margaret McBride and Motherhood

New York Times reported that "Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose findings were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical, was reburied by Polish priests as a hero on Saturday, nearly 500 years after he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave."

I have visited the place he was burned in Rome - Campo di Fiore, a lovely farmer's marketing in the morning and hugely popular hangout for locals and tourists alike. I am very glad that finally he was treated as a hero as he has been for a long time in secular world.

This reminded me another story related to Catholic church.

NPR reported that "Last November, a 27-year-old woman was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was 11 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, and she was gravely ill. According to a hospital document, she had 'right heart failure,' and her doctors told her that if she continued with the pregnancy, her risk of mortality was 'close to 100 percent.'

... The patient, who was too ill to be moved to the operating room much less another hospital, agreed to an abortion... Sister Margaret McBride, who was an administrator at the hospital as well as its liaison to the diocese, gave her approval.

The woman survived. When Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted heard about the abortion, he declared that McBride was automatically excommunicated — the most serious penalty the church can levy. "

Wasn't Sister McBride struggle with her conscious? Wasn't a woman's life worthy saving? Heck no to the Catholic Church apparently. Bishop Olmsted would be happy to see the woman die with her fetus. I wonder if he could, if Bishop Olmsted would have Sister McBride burned as heretic?

This story connected me to motherhood. Most people revere motherhood and see it almost as saintly. Yet, on the June election ballot I just received, I was startled to see a woman put her profession as Mother, denigrated Motherhood to the same rank as businessman, lawyer, state senator, grocer, etc. Is motherhood simply a job? Is it an identity for a woman? This labeling is an insult to both motherhood and womankind.


Nüwa Creating Humans / 女媧造人 / Nüwa Herstellen der Menschen

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Texas Board of Education Continues Culture War

According to San Francisco Chronicle, "Texas schoolchildren will be required to learn that the words "separation of church and state" aren't in the Constitution and evaluate whether the United Nations undermines U.S. sovereignty under new social studies curriculum.

In final votes late Friday, conservatives on the State Board of Education strengthened requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers and required that the U.S. government be referred to as a 'constitutional republic' rather than 'democratic.'

"During the monthslong process of creating the guidelines, conservatives successfully strengthened the requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers and attempted to water down the rationale for the separation of church and state."

Though I do agree that the US is not a democracy, rather than a constitutional republic, I disagree with almost everything else their revision of history.

Texas is determined to rage culture war. It might spread to other states as well due to the influence of its large population. If so, the future of education in the US is rather bleak.

Devils' Dance / 魔鬼的舞蹈 / Teufels Tanz

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gushing Oil in the Ocean

The recent oil spurting into the ocean and the revelation that the government issued permits without due process is a deeply depressing reminder that no government could be trusted as a good guardian of the world and the people. One thought these stories only took place in corrupted countries like China. America does have a somewhat better system but still one must remain vigilant. Always remember that all crows are equally black.

Crow / 烏鴉 / Krähe

Thursday, May 13, 2010

High Speed Rails

Railroad system in the US is far behind the rest of the world that we are the third world now.

Only recently, California is working on the propose of building a 465-mile high speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles. At this moment, there is not even a direct rail road from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

A San Francisco Chronicle report listed some interesting data:
  • Japan - Shinkansen/Bullet Train
    Year started: 1964, Miles: 1,400, Top speed: 186 mph
  • Italy - Treno Alta Velocita
    Year started: 1978, Miles: 500, Top speed: 186 mph
  • France - TGV
    Year started: 1981, Miles: 1,100, Top speed: 199 mph
  • Spain - AVE
    Year started: 1992, Miles: 800, Top speed: 186 mph
  • Germany - ICE (InterCity Express)
    Year started: 1991, Miles: 800, Top speed: 186 mph
  • South Korea - KTX
    Year started: 2004, Miles: 160, Top speed: 200 mph
  • China - China Railway High-Speed
    Year started: 2007, Miles: 4,100, Top speed: 217 mph

Shinkansen in Japan

TGV in France

China Railway High-Speed

In the US, the only existing high-speed-rail is Acela Express, which serves along the Northeast Corridor. The highest speed they attain is 150 mph:


Can we become more pathetic?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Voter Turnout in the US

The aftermath of the recent general election in the UK commanded many's attention and imagination. The voter turnout rate reached 65.1%, an increase comparing to 2005's 61.4%. Yet it is a dismay low turnout rate. In last three decades, the highest turnout rate there was in 1992 - 77.7%.

Yet, a 65.1% turnout rate would be a dramatic improvement in the US, whose voter turnout rate in 2008 presidential election in the US was only 56.8%, a supposedly big improvement over 2004, due to the excitement over the candidate Obama's appeal. Alas, it was an improvement from 2004's 55.3%. In 2006, the mid-term election had the turnout rate of 37.1% only.

Below is a chart shared by Wikipedia on the voting trends in a few major countries:


When people had to die in order to gain the right to vote, or risk of losing life in the polling station, here, in this "beacon of democracy", so many people don't bother to vote. Where

Friday, April 30, 2010

Someone Sufferes More Than Others

San Francisco Chronicle reported that Oakland mayor Ron Dellums broke his promise to take pay cut, citing family difficulties. Apparently, to Mayor Dellums, someone suffered more than others and that person was him.

San Francisco is debating on boycotting the state of Arizona due to the draconian immigration law passed there. Shouldn't San Francisco start from home and boycott Oakland as well?

Swamp /  沼澤 / Sumpf

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Drill or Not to Drill, Mr. Obama?

Facing the catastrophe of the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico, I hope that President Obama will retract his Offshore Oil Drilling Plans.

We cannot drill our way to prosperity. Obama, without a fight, gave much to his opponents. It is time for him to find terra firma again.

Explosion / 爆破 / Ausbruch

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happiness of Denial

New immigrants to the United States of America are often struck by how insistently sunny, cheerful and youthful Americans aspire to be. This touching naïveté in the end becomes annoying. Many new immigrants wondered when would these Americans grow up and face the reality. They do, alas, only through the Reality TV shows.

Recently, a writer friend of mine mentioned a culture phenomena in his blog Retreat to happiness, relating a story reported by a not always reliable newspaper, that many adults in the US are fleeing from serious themed novels and literature, and trying to find comfort in teenage literature. Though the original source is not reliable, I would rather believe in this reporting. The trend is obvious. Instant reward and satisfaction, easy fame, great sense of humor, things Americans treasure are mostly luxury in reality-based countries and cultures. The one here is the wonderland of group-hugs. Growing up? Not a chance. Both Bush and Obama have been adamant that we [the Americans] will not change our lifestyle, after the trauma of September 11 attack and economic meltdown. Only if it can be sustained.

Awakening / 喚醒 / Wecken

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Clout of Unions

The unions in the US have suffered great membership decline in the past decades. One cannot pin all the causes on the efforts of union busters. Many unions have become so ossified and only work for their own benefits, other than members.

My job at University is covered by a small union, which is trying to leave the current one and join the other one. Any difference? From corrupted to more corrupted?

I just received a flyer from the current large union, which promised so much that I wondered if they are to catch the moon for me.