Sunday, March 29, 2015

'Tis the season for Tiger Mom's to start relinquishing their cubs.

The college acceptance letters are coming back to the high school kids at my church.  This being an Asian church in America's densest concentration of Tiger Moms, that has rather severe implications.  Many will go off to Harvard, MIT or CalTech, but a few will need to stoop to the top four University of California schools:  UC Berkeley, UCLA (Los Angeles), UCSD (San Diego) or UC Davis.  We won't discuss the emotional ramifications (for both parents and children) of going to lesser schools, although I have personally observed that youth from some of the lesser schools are often more successful.

Many parents were wanting to know information regarding UC open house days where parents and students get to visit campuses to help make up their mind.  This brought back recollections of 11 years ago when we went to the UCSD open house.  The children were quickly separated from the parents and taken out to a court yard where a leader organized them into events that were designed to train them to have "fun".  The parents (including my wife and myself) were then herded into a large classroom where a professor of Psychiatry gave us an extended group counseling session.  The gist of her lecture was that after eighteen years of upbringing, the kids have gotten what it is that you wanted to teach them, whether you realize it or not.  So get over it.  Or something to that effect.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Those who live by the Pao will die by the Pao.

The verdict was that Kleiner Perkins was not guilty of discrimination in firing Ellen Pao.  No doubt we will continue to be inundated with pseudo moralizing regarding gender discrimination being rampant in Silicon Valley.  As a Christian, I am constitutionally obligated to keep my morals to myself, so will make no comment on this.  I will, however, go off a bit into dangerous waters by suggesting that Silicon Valley might get a completely different message from what has officially been determined as the message that we are supposed to get:  Beware the ambitious woman.  It would be better not to hire them in the first place.  At least that is what would seem to be a better conclusion based on the statements that have been made, which again, is not my Christian take on things.  What is certain is that we can look forward to a lot more rhetoric on the subject.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

UCLA and the Diversity Inquisition

One of the privileges of sending your kids to college is that you inherit the school magazine after they leave home a second time.  Or was that the third?  Anyway, the article that cought my eye is "True Colors: Hollywood's Diversity Dilemma".  The crisis is the white males are over represented relative to their percentage of the population.  For example, "Film studio heads were 94 percent white and 100 percent male".  Clearly this implies a conspiracy worthy of another James Bond movie.  Preferably with a black, female playing James Bond.

"This year's findings also confirm that multicultural storytelling sells.  Films with relatively diverse casts enjoyed the highest median global box office receipts and the highest median return on investment."  Yes we need some more episodes of Lord of the Rings.

"We found that people want to see shows that they can relate to.  Shows with casts that roughly reflect the society do better."  Chewbacca comes to mind here.  I can relate to the Hulk in some ways.  Maybe we could have the next Star Wars movie done with half the storm troopers being female.

Nearing the end, we are treated to, "There is no greater imperative for a media company than creating content that authentically resonates with all audiences, especially younger audiences ..."  Like Spongebob Squarepants.

The thing that puzzles me most, however, is that the overall argument is that the studios aren't maximizing their exploitative financial potential because they are discriminating against minorities and women, which hurts their image with the media addicts, thus, diminishing the return on investment to the vulture capitalists.  Additionally, the literal turn-off due to overly white, male broadcast TV will necessarily reduce ad revenues, which in turn will diminish sales of V-12 Ultra-King Cab trucks and exotic cruises, which will cause Americans to consume less irreplaceable natural resources than our neighbors, thus, losing the competition to be the greatest materialistic power in the universe.  Or perhaps I misunderstood?

Update: Following up on Ramana's comment, you can guess the race and gender of the author of the article, Jack Feuer, by following this link.  The breakdown of gender and ethnicity of the students is here.  As the slang goes, UCLA stands for University of Caucasians Lost Among Asians, given that Asians are the largest, um, racial group and whites are second.  Then we must also note that UCLA discriminates against Chinese and Indian students, and in favor of other racial minorities with respect to enrollment.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Good Bye, Lee Kuan Yew

I first went to Singapore in the winter of 1979-1980.  Or was that 1980-1981.  Can't quite remember the date, except that it was a very modern and clean city, with a few throwbacks to earlier times.  I had an impression that all south east asian countries would be like Singapore, only to be totally shocked when I learned the truth.  Singapore was in a class all its own, and this has continued until today.  Yes, Japan and Taiwan are also modern, but they aren't as consistently modern as Singapore.  Today Singapore is the third richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita, after Qatar and Luxembourg.

The genius behind the transformation was Lee Kuan Yew whose combination of Confucianism and western ideals produced the ultimate clean government molded from a people for whom this behavior was totally alien.  Western amoral moralists like to howl about the methods used, but I am really quite happy to hang out in a tropical place where even the mosquitos know that they must obey the law.  How much better it would be if the intellectualoids would have tried to learn and implement something constructive from Lee.  So as I say my goodbye, may the Singaporeans continue with the good lessons from their founder and not try to emulate the post-law and order behavior of the West.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

&*^%$@# Bam! Wam! Pao!!!

I love Asian names.  There was a Mr. Hu I worked with for a time.  Recently it was brought to my attention that there was a woman named Sue Yu, who had a propensity for lawsuits.  I fell in love with and married a Wu, although my misogynist upbringing tells me that it is the man who is supposed to do the Wuing.  The most recent one is in the news and her name is Ellen Pao, who is engaged in a gender discrimination lawsuit with a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.  The news has her legally punching well beyond the welterweight class, in spite of her petite frame.  But the jury is still out, or to be more accurate, hasn't been sent out yet, so we have to wait for a final decision. A Fortune magazine article on this affair is here which adds some more twists.  Some more claims are here, which I don't care to summarize.

I don't know nearly enough to comment on the particulars of this.  It just has me reflecting on the idea that too many men in high paid jobs is symptomatic of a misbehaving boys club.  Perhaps it is, but I doubt that lawsuits will do anything other than make the misbehaving boys more cautious.  Then there seems to be a notion that boys chronically misbehave, while women are always victims.  My instincts are that both boys and women come from roughly the same moral culture, but would be happy if someone could show me in some way that women are inherently different in terms of morality and ethics.  I am unapologetically a fan of chivalry, so am guaranteed to treat women differently from men, which is intended as a matter of respect.  But can liberated males really treat liberated women in a way that is identical with how they treat their male comrades?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Goliath vs. David - Observations from the Corporate R&D World

No, this isn't about Netanyahu (David) vs. Obama (Goliath).  It is my observations of large companies getting thrashed by the smaller ones.  Most of my career has been in the small companies with the startup spirit, so the David perspective is the one I am most familiar with.  My job was to thrash, not to be thrashed.  In recent years, I have moved to the large behemoth organization, so now I get to see first hand the problems of the Goliath mentality.

Getting slightly more specific, there is a large R&D organization with the best equipment in the world which tends to hire the best and the brightest from top universities, like MIT and Caltech.  They were recently in competition with a startup, which being short on money and in the middle of nowhere with almost no resources hired a typical engineer who liked the business and was willing to move to the middle of the desert.  It really wasn't a competition, since both organizations were hired to do the same problem by a government agency.  Yet it was (is) a competition since it is a high visibility contract and both organizations are doing their best to show off their stuff.  The large organization assigned Ph.d's who specialized in the problem, whereas the small organization's engineer is a bit out of his experience.  How has it gone?

The lone engineer from the small outfit turned out hundreds of difficult simulations over a nine month period, while the large organization failed to turn out anything for the first few months, then produced some one-off mediocre simulations.  Being from the small company environment, I have offered to save the necks of my big company colleagues several times, but they have steadfastly refused, while always insisting they were on the verge of being able to compete, only to fail again and again.  Since I really don't want them to fail, I have pushed harder, but anger is all I have gotten in return.  There is another set of anger directed at the young man at the startup who they are convinced is cheating outlandishly somehow, but they can't figure out quite how.

It is a little too early for the full post-mortem, but here are my thoughts:

The young man from the small organization knew he was a loner.  We will call him the Lone Engineer, or LE.  But LE had some friends at a small software vendor who knew how to solve parts of the problem.  They agreed to help Lone Engineer make the computer models and LE returned the favor with marketing support for their product, which I will call The Widget.  LE managed to convince another large organization to donate some computer time and was rapidly off and running.  Since this was a marketing exercise in addition to an engineering one, Lone Engineer gave credit to The Widget for his success.  From my perspective, the key feature here wasn't The Widget, but rather having friends and knowing what friends are for.  Friendship + talent + energy are the driving forces behind a startup.  When the friendship fails, which is usually due to people behaving badly, then the company ceases to be a startup.  The fact that the The Widget was used was almost incidental.  It could have been any similar product, but the friends needed just to agree on something so that they could work together.

The large organization failed with their equivalent to The Widget, which was obtained from a third party so workarounds weren't possible.  I wasn't immediately part of this section of the organization, but I had also produced a version of The Widget, and demonstrated my ability to solve the problem.  My efforts to help were all rebuffed. There are also free products on the internet that would do the job as well.  Rather than exploiting friendly relations (which were free in this case), however, the organization persisted in failure when there was clearly no hope without changing directions.  What did provide some hope to the big organization was a marketing pitch from Lone Engineer claiming that his big secret to success was The Widget, rather than basic relational skills regarding friends.  Thus, Big R&D Incorporated invested in The Widget, but then proceeded to struggle and fail for several more months.  Then a sudden inspiration occurred:  We need formal training on The Widget!  Never mind that the original marketing pitch was that The Widget would solve all problems with no effort.  So the Vendor of The Widget was paid to do more training, and more resources were invested, so that the total cost to Big R&D Incorporated now probably exceeds the development cost of The Widget.  I am not sure how this will come out as the saga continues, but it seems to me that Lone Engineer's friends, since they work for the software vendor, will always be ahead of Big R&D Incorporated (BRD), and that BRD's best hope in following this path is that they can convince the government sponsor that they can do industry standard work at 10X the time delay and 100X the cost, using people who are world-class experts, rather than Gen-Y losers.

So why post on this now?  Because BRD just issued a press release talking of their contribution to humanity as a result of winning this contract.  In the end, it will be all about politics, so Goliath is still standing strong.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617)

This short work was just the right length for my flight back to San Francisco.  It is the story of a young lady who was the first person from the Americas to be "canonized" by the Roman Church.  The lady's real name was Isabel Flores who was of the Spanish settlers.  A passion for Christ at the youngest age caused her to rebel against all the requirements of a young lady and pursue a life of fasting, sleep deprivation, and self-inflicted tortures of various sorts as a nun.  I can personally relate to the self-inflected tortures, but generally avoid the fasting and sleep deprivation.  Supposedly she helped the sick and hungry, although I don't quite see how that would be possible given what she had done to her body.  Or to put it another way, her life was a slow act of suicide done in the name of spirituality.

Much of her biography seems to be visions of Catherine of Sienna, Mother Mary and the Baby Jesus.  This is combined with a power for prophecy and healing.  It is these last two features that would cause the most problems for a Protestant like myself.  The easiest way to deal with these is to dismiss them as so much rubbish that is unfit for a modern, scientific outlook.  As if intellectuals weren't constantly receiving their own mystical revelations which they simply re-labelled as "science".  I should prefer a revelation from God to one that was obviously a fraud dreamed up by an intellectual hiding behind a Ph.d.

Yet what do we make of visions of Mary?  From my view, this is totally contrary to the Bible and I completely reject the Mariolatry of the Papists.  Yet at the same time, I cannot condemn this as the work of evil spirits.  A separate pretext for dismissing the whole thing as delusions is thus on offer to the Protestant:  That it isn't theologically sensible.  At this point, I am more inclined just to put the airplane seat back and listen without offering too much judgment.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hanging out on the right coast.

Unfortunately I just missed the snow.


Sunday, March 08, 2015

Friday, March 06, 2015

RRRIIIIINNNNGGGGG! "This is a Red Alert from the Fremont Police Department"

I hang up and go back to bed, but then 30 minutes later the call happens again: "This is a Red Alert from the Fremont Police Department, stay on the line or press any button for a message."

I was skeptical.  Haven't the communists already taken over California?  Or perhaps we are facing a Zombie Apocalypse?  No, that would be a "Pale Alert".  There was no tension reported in nearby Oakland recently, so I was pretty sure that this wasn't the source.  We won't mention what kind of alert that would be.  No Earthquakes.  We should be safe from Tsunamis where I am at, and a firestorm requires high winds and heat, which we aren't experiencing.  Carmageddon happens out here now and then, but not in the middle of the night.

Finally curiosity got the best of me and I pressed the button to listen to the rest of this dire warning: "Mr. Lee has been found.  We repeat, Mr.  Lee.  Has.  Been.  Found.  We thank you for your assistance."  Were they talking about the car?  My brain was fuzzy and the first thing that came to mind was the General Lee.  No, "Mr." Lee cannot be the "General" Lee.  Perhaps someone had named their cat "Mr. Lee".  Or maybe I heard wrong and it was really "Mr. Li".  Then I start having a fuzzy recollection of another call like this a few weeks back where the alert was with regard to an elderly man wandering off.  This reminds me of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and backseat leader of Singapore, whose health is deteriorating and may soon wander off permanently into the heavens.  But Lee Kuan Yew is the sort who finds you, not the other way around.  Then I think of the Dear Leader who runs North Korea, and quickly realize I am in error.  The leader of North Korea is a Kim.  Mr. Lee is the prime minister of South Korea.  No wonder he wandered off.

A final note is that there are probably hundreds of Mr. Lee's and Mr. Li's here in Fremont.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Netanyahu for President?

As always, I believe God is in control of all political outcomes and does this for His good purposes.  Thus, I trust that the madness that is multiplying around the world is the least bad of the possible outcomes that man could conceive of.  That is, man's evil nature precludes a better path.

Setting that aside, it is fun to have a pointless fantasy now and then.  I wish America's conservative politicians had the same backbone and clear headedness that Netanyahu has.  It would also be nice if the leftists who run this country could conceive of some solution to the Palestinian problem that didn't involve exterminating Israel and the Jews.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The California "Drought" saga continued.

This article features some photographs of my swimming hole, Shadow Cliffs Lake.  I am wondering if my lake will finally be shut down this summer.  We still have a small chance of getting some decent amount of water before the next dry season starts, but we will likely get inundated with drought conservation rhetoric soon.