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