Thursday, December 11, 2014

心內彈琵琶----回憶蘇慶黎和蘇媽媽蕭不纏 | Our lightning

心內彈琵琶----回憶蘇慶黎和蘇媽媽蕭不纏 | Our lightning:



很長的故事,ㄧ路讀著讀著,又淚又笑的、淚濕了又乾了無數回…讚嘆香燕老師的筆,和一雙ㄧ貫清澈純真的眼睛,從這雙奇妙的

安靜的眼睛捕捉到的,不管是幸或不幸的看見,竟然也都各自找到它存在的位置,不論美醜好壞,只讓行路經過的人,清晰的看見

那個時代的世間風景,人性的真實景象。很深很深的感動,久久還回不來… 

Monday, December 01, 2014

柯P 教我的幾件事

選舉是一時的,人性是永遠的。這一段時間關心柯P的言行,讓我對人生,有許多的反省。 只想寫下來,留個紀錄:
1. 試著原諒別人。
被傷害的記憶,總是最難忘掉。但是如果不能放下過去的委屈,就沒有辦法全心全意的努力面前,讓現在活得快樂,為未來奠定更好的基礎。

2. 什麼才是活著?
人有必死的命運,活著的每一天,都要活的有義意。經常思考自己的目標,雖有挫折,也不可懷憂喪志,憤世嫉俗。

3. 心存善念,盡力而為。
在這個全球化,市場化的時代,人很容易在追求金錢中,迷失了自己。追求金錢本來是要改善自己和家人的生活,但在競逐的過程,往往忘掉了金錢只是手段,反而 把 bottom line 當成了目的。甚至有財團以行善來沽名釣譽,增加利潤。但也許真相是,根本不需要那麼多錢,就能達到原先設想的目標。更多的金錢不但無益,反而有害。

4. 如果我能清晰的描繪願景,而這個願景是對大家都有益的,別人就會自動的來幫助我。我們雖有不同的過去,卻有著共同的現在。唯一務實的做法,就是攜手共創美好的未來。惡鬥沒有人能獲勝,只是徒然浪費時間。

5. 做為領袖,一定要為不好的結果負責,不可以把疏失錯誤推給下屬。因為如果這樣做,會失去下屬的信任,你就失去了領導的能力。團隊成員的信任,領袖要不計代價的保護,因為這是領袖唯一的倚靠。

6. 對人的尊重,可以換來諒解。 "家屬不會怪醫師沒有把病人救活。他們怪的是沒有盡力,也沒有尊重。" "當病人知道我已盡全力,反而會回過來安慰我,生死兩相安,再無遺憾。" 所有的人際關係,不都是這樣嗎?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Confusion on the term "liberalism"

What is liberalism? Is it about economic freedom, democracy, or social insurance? I found the term being used in all three possible meanings but the policies pursuing these different goals can actually contradict each other.

More economic freedom can mean less social protection. Democracy can cut either way: a democratically elected conservative government, in the British sense, can work to tear down social insurance programs.

So what is liberalism? and who is liberal?

Timeline of human evolution

6 million years ago, start to stand upright.
2.6 million years ago, use of tools becomes common.
1.8 million years ago, longer legs and wider strides.
500 thousand years ago, brain size increases rapidly.
250 thousand years ago, symbol communication.
160 thousand years ago, longer childhood and adolescence.
10 thousand years ago, domestication of plants and farming.

The progress of humanity

Life is a lot safer and more comfortable today than 300 years ago. Modernization is achieved by progress in science, technology, and method of production. Better infrastructure, public health, machinery and tools, quality of food, all contribute to the extension of life expectancy.

Before 1750 even the rich has a short and tough life. Most people have a short life and infant mortality is very high. People are very religious because death is a constant threat and plays an important role in their planning of life. Short and unpredictable life expectancy influenced people's attitude toward marriage, one of the most important institutions for the survival of the species. The political views were also conservative and societies were evolving very slowly.

Resilience

Resilient individuals show hardiness - the ability to create a meaningful purpose for one's own life. They can delay gratification while striving for future goals because of their belief systems.

They believe that you can shape your own life as you wish, and they understand that you learn from both positive and negative experience.

Personal resilience is associated with such characteristics as optimism, confidence, and ego control.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reuters: China turns up heat on ex-security chief with crash probe

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/12/us-china-corruption-specialreport-idUSKBN0H700820140912

comment: "rule by law" and "rule of law" are completely different concepts.

The story reminds me of the story of power struggle in the Qing Dynasty court.

The decline in the government's debt is one of the major economic stories underway.

Eleven months into the government's fiscal year the government's fiscal debt is down a sizable 22.0 percent, at $589.2 billion vs $755.3 billion this time last year. The improvement includes a 14.3 percent rise in corporate tax receipts, to $247.2 billion, and a 4.9 percent rise in individual tax receipts, to $1.23 trillion. The spending side of the ledger shows a 5.1 percent decline for defense spending, to $555.4 billion, and a 1.6 percent decline for Medicare, to $467.4 billion. For August separately, the government's deficit was in line with expectations at $128.7 billion.

Survey of Consumer Finance by FRB

http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/scf/scfindex.htm

Sunday, August 31, 2014

An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024 - CBO

An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024 - CBO



Around $500 billion deficit for fiscal 2014, down from more than a trillion in 2009 and 2010.



Due to baby boomers retiring federal debt is projected to growing again in just a few years down the road.



At more than $15 trillion we are deeply in debt.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Obama's China Challenge

President Barack Obama lands in Japan Wednesday to kick off a week-long Asian Reassurance Tour, and not a moment too soon. Amid the summitry in Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Manila, Asian leaders will be watching the showdown over an obscure speck of land in the South China Sea.
Second Thomas Shoal sits some 125 miles off the western coast of the Philippines, one of more than 750 rocks, reefs and islets known as the Spratly Islands. Today it is the site of China's boldest attempt to forcibly exert sovereignty over the resource-rich, 1.35-million-square-mile South China Sea, through which one-third of all global maritime traffic passes.
Early last month Chinese ships blocked the Philippine military from resupplying its marines on the shoal, which is 700 miles from China's coast and has had a Philippine military presence since 1999. This marked an escalation in China's "cabbage strategy" of seizing Philippine territory by gradually surrounding it with layers of Chinese boats, from fishing vessels to coast guard patrols and warships.
Beijing's move essentially dares Manila to risk a shooting war whenever it resupplies or rotates its marines, as it last did on March 29. That time a Philippine supply ship successfully reached the shoal, having maneuvered past Chinese coast guard vessels at a distance of a few hundred dangerous meters. Manila's next supply run could come any day.
This is the latest in a string of Chinese provocations against the Philippines. In 2012, several hundred miles to the north, Beijing seized Scarborough Shoal after Philippine patrols had the temerity to try to arrest illegal Chinese fishermen. The U.S. brokered a June 2012 agreement for China and the Philippines to withdraw from Scarborough, but only Manila complied. Chinese ships have since used water cannons to keep Filipinos from fishing in the area.
In early 2013 the Philippines challenged China's territorial claims through arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both countries have signed. Furious at this appeal to a rules-based international order, Beijing responded by squeezing Second Thomas Shoal, demanding that Manila withdraw its marines and barring Philippine President Benigno Aquino from a trade fair in China unless he abandoned his call for arbitration. China blockaded the shoal last month as Manila was poised to submit its 4,000-page case to the U.N.
All of this constitutes a challenge to Washington. The U.S. and the Philippines signed a mutual-defense treaty in 1951, but Washington has signaled that it wouldn't cover a Chinese attack on Second Thomas Shoal, which falls within Manila's 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone but wasn't claimed by Manila until 1978.
Visiting Manila in February, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert answered a hypothetical question about China seizing Philippine-controlled territory in the Spratlys. "Of course we would help you," he said initially--before adding: "I don't know what that help would be specifically. I mean, we have an obligation because we have a treaty. But I don't know in what capacity that help is."
With statements like that from Washington, no wonder Beijing feels emboldened. At a press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this month, Chinese Defense Minister General Chang Wonquan insisted that there would be "no compromise, no concessions" on territorial disputes with U.S. allies.
If Mr. Obama this week simply reaffirms the standard U.S. position of neutrality on sovereignty disputes and support for peaceful resolutions of differences, he will provide little reassurance to America's friends. More effective would be to directly question the legitimacy and origin of China's South China Sea claims, as State Department official Danny Russel recently did before Congress. The President might add that China's blockade of Second Thomas Shoal endangers the lives of Philippine forces and violates Beijing's promises under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Like Russia in Eastern Europe, China is trying to rewrite the international order to dominate the Western Pacific. And like Vladimir Putin, Beijing's leaders will press their advantage against weaker powers unless America makes clear by word and deed that it will push back

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Taiwan's crisis signals that détente with China could end fast

What Taipei's Protesters Know; Taiwan's crisis signals that détente with China could end fast.

Wall Street Journal (Online) 27 Mar 2014

The student-led occupation of Taiwan's legislature, now in its second week, concerns much more than a pending Taiwan-China trade agreement. Six years of warming relations between Taipei and Beijing--and of relative calm across the explosive Taiwan Strait--may now be coming to an end.

Taiwanese democracy is known for heated disputes, but the current situation is unprecedented. At times 20,000 protesters have been in the streets. Several hundred stormed the legislature on March 18, barricading the doors and demanding that the ruling party withdraw consideration of the pending trade deal. Five days later, additional protesters tried to take over the nearby offices of the executive cabinet. Police blocked them, in the process injuring 150 people and arresting 60. The legislature remains occupied as protest leaders and government officials negotiate.

The deal at the heart of the fracas was signed last June by Taipei and Beijing to liberalize trade in service industries from banking to publishing, hospitals and beauty parlors--a total of 64 industries in Taiwan and 80 on the mainland. It follows on the 2010 Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which launched a new era of cross-Strait commercial expansion. Today annual two-way trade is nearly $200 billion (up almost 100% from 2008), with 40% of Taiwan's exports and 80% of outbound investment now going to China.

Protesters argue that trade with China is a special case in which Taiwan risks an economic dependency that would undermine its own self-government. China already has enough military and economic power, they warn, without the ability to freeze Taiwanese stores, banks and medical services whenever it is displeased with voters' tastes on the island.

This concern is widespread and even appears to be shared by the protesters' adversary, President Ma Ying-jeou, who in recent months has spoken urgently of the need to expand trade ties beyond China, including the need to push domestic reform far enough to earn an invitation into the 12-nation, U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership. The difference is that Mr. Ma calculates--likely correctly--that Taiwan can secure new international trade links only if Beijing tacitly accedes. And for Beijing to do so, the cross-Strait détente must continue with measures such as the services trade agreement.

That's not to say the ongoing protests over closer trade ties were inevitable. Mr. Ma and the Kuomintang he leads erred in not working hard enough to explain their rationale for the deal to the public. Compounding that error, on March 17 they tried to ratify the trade pact unilaterally, violating a promise made last year to allow line-by-line parliamentary review. Then came the students' lawless takeovers of government buildings, which the opposition Democratic Progressive Party quickly embraced. All sides have mishandled the situation.

But today's scene in Taipei represents broad political currents. Since 2008 Beijing has hoped that muting threats of military action and strengthening economic exchange would encourage Taiwanese to support "reunification with the motherland," but polls show the opposite is happening. Although only about 20% want to move toward independence, far fewer want unification and most prefer the decades-old status quo that Beijing continues to reject.

Part of the explanation is that Taiwanese see Beijing's repression of citizens on the mainland, broken promises of autonomy to the people of Hong Kong, and escalating aggression toward neighboring states. In a widely circulated essay supporting the current protests, Taiwanese lawyer Richard Chiou-yuan Lu writes that the trade deal would be acceptable "with any other country" but with China "we don't give an inch . . . because we're afraid of you, China. Really. We're very afraid."

This view, rather than the conciliatory approach of Mr. Ma, may soon come to dictate Taiwanese politics, perhaps even before the expiration of Mr. Ma's term in 2016. If so, China's leaders could decide to return cross-Strait relations to the bad old days, making one of the world's perennial flashpoints far more dangerous.

U.S. officials might consider all this as they prepare to resume bilateral trade talks with Taiwan next week. Advancing bilateral trade--and encouraging eventual Taiwanese accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership--would help quiet nerves on all sides of Taiwanese politics. The U.S. has largely ignored Taiwan in recent years, but Taipei's current crisis highlights the extent to which trouble still lurks in that corner of Asia.