Thursday, December 30, 2010

Have I lost sight of what I am living for?

Thinker illustration "How you are seen by others becomes the mirror that tells you what you are like and who you are. You need others to give you a sense of self, and if you live in a culture that to a large extent equates self-worth with how much and what you have, if you cannot look through this collective delusion, you will be condemned to chasing after things for the rest of your life in the vain hope of finding your worth and completion of your sense of self there." ~ Eckhart Tolle

A conversation with a friend yesterday made me realize what I've been saying. For the past few months, a flurry of activities have been occurring in quick succession. Many people are getting married, and some are even getting houses. While I will not get into the merits of each. I have to admit that I was in fact getting anxious. Why am I not getting married? Why was I not worried about getting a house? Just what am I doing? A friend knocked some senses into me, but I'm still feeling disoriented. Self-awareness is key, it is fleeting, and by surrounding myself with mortal din and mediocrity I feel blinded to my true desires. Yes I'm looking at you Shawana.

Give this article a read. I think what you get from it cannot be negative.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quote of the day: Like a G6

It is a song of illusions, “not-quite-there”s and unrealities. Like much electronic music, it is both within and preoccupied by the debiologicization (which was not a real word, UNTIL NOW) of human artifice -- the sense that what people make is made by automatons with interchangeable parts, appealing on teleological grounds to the relationship between song and dance (and the club experience in general) as the fulfillment of industrially and technologically admirable qualities of the human body.

Yeah, you just read that. If somebody could tell me what it means it could be helpful.

The original article is courtesy of Overthinking It.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Definitely too asian

This article resonated with me. I held similar attitudes with this girl when I was at UBC. I understand a lot of the stuff she's saying. Entirely worth a read.

MacLean's Too Asian Apology entirely misses the point. Here is an excerpt.

But what the Maclean's article did was tell people who are labeled "Too Asian" that despite their hard work, and their desire to fit in at Canadian schools and in Canadian society, they have never been accepted. Instead, they have been slotted into the usual racial stereotypes. The article tells them they have been grudgingly tolerated at best, and openly resented at worst.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

One view of QE

thoughts on popularity

I have often noticed that it is extraordinarily difficult to break free of how other people view you. Here is some thoughts from a very interesting source on the movie "social network"

"You are who you was when you got here."- Jay-Z

I finally succumbed and went to see The Social Network.

One of the reasons I wasn't particularly interested in seeing the movie is that I don't get Facebook. I don't have a personal one, I didn't have a Myspace, and I still don't really understand the desire to see what's going on with 200 people I barely know or went to school with.

Having said that...

The Social Network is really good. It raises some interesting questions about what "cool" is, social hierarchies, and the lengths to which guys will go to try to impress girls.

Let's address these issues one at a time:

What is cool?

Obviously as a dating coach/pua/amateur psychologist I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes someone or something "cool." This whole movie and Facebook's early business plan were based on the idea that if something is "cool" it can eventually become profitable.

The movie also addresses the relationship between something being "cool" and being exclusive. Initially access to Facebook was restricted to those with a email address.

Which brings up a larger point. The vast majority of people cannot be cool. There's some study that says something like 1 out of every 6 people considers themselves to be "cool."

Which means there's something like a BILLION people who think they're cool. Generally if a billion people think they're all something, it's not going to be a good thing.

Mark Zuckerberg is not cool.

And throughout the movie this point is beaten home again and again. Starting with the amazing opening speech from the girl who inspired Facebook, and culminating in the scene where the twins finally decide they are going to sue him and the nicer one screams out " Let's gut the friggin nerd."

No matter how much he accomplishes, no matter how much money he makes, no matter how successful he becomes, the World will always see Mark Zuckerberg as a nerd.

To me this was an underrated factor in the business behind all of this as Zuckerberg was so focused on keeping Facebook "cool" that he made some questionable personal and professional decisions.

Social Hierarchies- Social Hierarchies are for lack of a better word pecking orders. There are people at the top, in the middle, and on the bottom. People on top are more valuable than those in the middle and so on and so forth.

In the movie the Winklevoss twins represent the "Haves" that group of people who have it all. They're tall, good looking, Harvard men, who row crew and come from a very wealthy and powerful family.

Mark Zuckerberg represents the "Have Nots". Zuckerberg is a nobody who desperately wants to get invited into a secret "Final club".

Director David Fincher does an excellent job of juxtaposing scenes from the first party at one of these secret clubs, with the night Zuckerberg gets drunk and puts up the site that would become Facebook. On one hand we see a bunch of young overpriviledged, popular kids partying it up with rapidly disrobing girls. While in the next scene we watch Zuckerberg describe how he hacks his way into various Harvard related sites.

In a way this idea of hierarchies is related to the idea of "cool." Mark is an outsider and in an attempt to both impress these secret clubs and show up a girl, he created Facebook, which made him rich and famous beyond his wildest dreams.

But he's still an outsider.

The most stunning scene to me happens late in the movie when Rashida Jones who plays an assistant lawyer on Mark's legal team tells him they're going to have to settle. She says something like when a jury looks at you and looks at the Winklevoss' there going to believe you stole their idea, so pay them and it becomes a speeding ticket on the way to where you're going.

While on one hand this can be interpreted as a win for Mark, he still had to pay out something like $65 million dollars because he doesn't look or come across the "right" way to a jury. Which if you strip away all the lawyer speak and drama basically means that juries tend to believe the better looking, more socially put together people over the socially awkward nerd who may happen to be right...

And lastly the lengths to which guys will go to impress girls. I kinda touched on this earlier so to re-cap briefly for those who aren't familiar with the story of the movie ( Not reality as I know many things were changed for the film). Mark creates the site that eventually becomes Facebook after his girlfriend at the time Erica dumps him. Fast forward through the movie and we come to the final scene where Mark sits alone at his computer after being told that he is going to have to settle both lawsuits, and sends a friend request to the same Erica girl.

Now whether or not this actually happened in reality, the point is a salient one. No amount of success, material objects, or sex can fill the holes inside of you. After the newness wears off, we are often left the same person we were when we started out.

While the social hierarchies of the US may not be as rigid as the Caste system of India, we are still trapped by the views, opinions and institutions around us, which more often than we'd like to admit, tell us who we are.

hat tip sinns of attraction

Monday, November 15, 2010

Karma is BS!

Just a borrowed article on Karma today.  I'm lazy and can't think of anything good to say.

Will Wilkinson points to research that confirms my otherwise weakly substantiated biases and so naturally I am inclined to cite it.
Karma is not an exclusively Hindu idea. It combines the universal human desire that moral accounts should be balanced with a belief that, somehow or other, they will be balanced. In 1932, the great developmental psychologist Jean Piaget found that by the age of 6, children begin to believe that bad things that happen to them are punishments for bad things they have done.
My take is simple: Karma is bullshit – the greatest lie ever told. In truth, the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards death and destruction. The universe is either utterly indifferent to your suffering or it actively seeks to destroy you and repurpose your molecules for other uses. In no way, shape or form is it your friend. In no way, shape or form is it balanced or just. If there is evil in the world then it is nature. If there is a God then he is a demon. If there is fate then ours is doom.
This story only has one ending and it ends with the extinction of all life. Good will not ultimately be rewarded. Evil will not ultimately be punished. The story will simply end. It is not just. It is not fair. It is not OK.
The only remedy open to us is to fight daily for our survival and our values. To live in open defiance of the physical laws that will eventually extinguish us. To suck every ounce of happiness from the world before it is done. To eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow the universe will grow cold and all life will die.
And, to along the way, ease the suffering of those we can. Suffering is not a lesson or a just dessert. It is an evolved mechanism that serves not our purposes but the purposes of natural selection. Poverty is not the punishment for ills but where the evil of nature has not yet been beaten into temporary submission. It is an uncaring universe crushing our brethren underfoot.
This will not end well, because nothing ends well. In the end, the universe, like the house, always wins. Yet, we do not have to tolerate agony and pain all the way up until our inevitable demise.
We live. We love. We laugh in defiance of that inevitability. If we have our heads on straight we’ll do it right up until the cold, bitter, utterly unjust and utterly unavoidable end. We are mortals – those who die. That fact should infuse our every value and animate our every action.
When my loved ones take ill they sometimes ask me –with hope in their eyes – “Am I going to die?” Yes, I answer, I cannot change that. But not today.
Not today.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Late night musings

It is somewhat unsettling that I gave up on an identity for myself long ago.  If everyone is viewed through the lens of how we are similar, then how do I exist?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Future phone

Ever since my brief stint at Nokia I've been interested in smart phones.  Here's what Modzilla envisions.  I don't think some of the features are practical (especially the keyboards, your hands are gonna block the lights) but it does seem ultra-cool.  Hope the battery holds up, though.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thoughts on the future

I have been thinking about this for awhile. Actually, a lot longer than awhile.

I hear from my father that one of my uncles recovered a family tree of my direct ancestors, stretching back tens of generations. So somebody must really give a shit, or the family thought itself as incredibly important, which is true, my father's side of the family really think they're important. So in addition to having records of everyone since the one guy moved to Taiwan in 1802, I now can find out who my ancestors were stretching back hundreds of years.

But I digress. The reason I have been following China is because being a direct descendant of the Chinese my life and my experiences are inevitably tied to the fortunes of that country(and several other countries who share the ethnic makeup.) This is true as you can see from the many issues surrounding race relations today being the direct result of historical power-struggles of many nations across the globe. Therefore the fortune of China, overtime, has an effect of how people of my ethnic background are perceived.

I get the sense, that some people feel quite anxious about the ongoing power-shift in the world. To a point, they are right. Emerging countries, China being a prominent but far from the only one are reshaping established international power structures. Case in point is the G20 replacing the G8. To a point, this will be zero sum. As Asian guys stop being under-represented in popular media it is inevitable that somebody else will lose screen time. Overtime, long-held traditions will be challenged over and over, by groups and ideologies that are considered foreign and at one point unthinkable. The world will become more multicultural, and that isn't just having to learn french for a couple of years and having to enjoy the delicious cuisine coming from around the world. Things are going to change, and people hate change. This is perhaps why people are anxious. Despite the self-proclaimed hatred for the military industrial complex, I suspect that people are quite comfortable with Pax Americana. When the chips are down, it's going to be the American way, all the way. That is gonna be bad news all around.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Being alone gives us the power to regulate and adjust our lives. It can teach us fortitude and the ability to satisfy our own needs. A restorer of energy, the stillness of alone experiences provides us with much-needed rest. It brings forth our longing to explore, our curiosity about the unknown, our will to be an individual, our hopes for freedom. Alonetime is fuel for life.

I cannot agree more.  The rest of the story, from Psychology Today, is here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

China housing. Verdict: unclear.

China may have missed Aristotle, Smith and Jefferson but it has not escaped from Louis Vuitton and the whole phalanx of global consumer brands.

The rest is here. Definitely worth a read.

My take on China is that while it is unclear, the downside risk is higher than the upside. If you have to cover something up, it's most likely rotting inside.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Barrack Obama, disappointment?

So, as far as I know, torture is still happening in the United States.  Apparently, Barrack Obama has claimed the right to assassinate anyone on Earth, american or not.  I feel that this is really dangerous.  While the drive to fight terror is used a lot as a reason, one day that person might be you, and one day that person might be me.

This guy seems to think this is monstrous and evil.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How fake references affects the market

So I came across a site that sells people fake references for the purpose of a job or an apartment.  This got me to thinking about the implications on hiring and screening practices.  It also led me to wonder about the usefulness of a reference in judging a person.

The result of this might be people become more vigorous in checking reference sources, or relying on references less, and maybe shifting more to training periods.  Since more work always lose out to less work, I suspect the latter will be the case.

On to the merits of references.  How does one know a person's former boss likes him because he is a good worker rather than a good drinking buddy?  Or he might just be a mediocre worker who happens to share the same bias as the reference.  One boss' hard worker can be another boss' shit disturber.  How does a subjective review tell you anything if you don't know anything about the reference, given the fallibility of the human bias.  Also you are guaranteed that the references are going to be good, so how do you find reliable analysis from these?

Note that I think there is a large market in academic reference forgeries.  I wonder if somebody will try it, and how it can be done.  Schools are institutions that are hard to fake, and a community of professors is close-knit enough to make it easy to spot fakes.  Schools also have the power to retroactively void a student's credentials making it too risky for students to attempt.

Gems from the web

First off, Master Sarge is from India:

Also, A special message brought to you by our favorite Arnie

This is Arnold in Action:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Inequality across success of good-looking/successful mating schemes

I'm going to have to find and read this book.

The author seems to think that successful and good looking people close themselves off to less successful/good looking people. Those who are slightly less successful/good looking in turn close themselves off to those who are even less successful/good looking as a rational response. This is not so much a response but rather as instinct as people tend to look for mates who are as successful/good looking possible. This in turn ensures that people look for others who are similarly successful/good looking as they are, leading to a stratifying social order.

Unlike Emmanuel, however, I do not believe an emergence of a global multi-cultural elite because, let's face it, social order is to a large degree, racial in nature. People will trade success/good looks for other things simply because the color of their skin. This is especially true for women. The implication of this is probably a great deal of resentment.

Depression Redux

Once upon a time, I knew a person who had been chronically depressed displaying all the symptoms. From what I know about depression, having a traumatic experience where something bad happens and you feel depressed for an extended period of time, ie, unemployment, significantly increases the chances of relapsing later on in life. It is also, unfortunately, contagious. While I believe whether the knowledge i have about depression will be beneficial is moot since it's already there, I do feel that I have a better idea now about what contributes to my well being. Every once in awhile I have the urge to blame my psycho-motor retardation on her, but I think that's just me making excuses. From the video, I believe it is pretty clear that I do not possess the symptoms of depression. This lecture though, is infinitely interesting.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Productivity measurements and offshoring jobs

This guy says offshoring jobs results in measured productivity gain. Real productivity does not really gain and corporations not workers benefit. There is a lot of truth in this.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

wage cutting for exports

I can see this happening. Eventually, this will be a wage-equalizing phenomenon between here and China. This is bad news for us, because we earn so much more than Chinese per capita. Methinks, this is the necessary conclusion to the inclusion of developing countries into the world economy. From Angrybear:

Yesterday I argued that Latvia's cost-cutting efforts are evident compared to a cross-section of European Union countries. Latvia's efforts, while commendable, were very much a function of the emergency IMF loan in December 2008 and the ensuing recession in 2009.

After an email exchange with Marshall Auerback, and thinking more about the cross-section of Europe, I now see a very scary trend emerging across Europe: the fight for exports.

To be sure, Latvia's efforts are of note, as the acceleration in hourly labor costs dropped from a 22% pace spanning 2007-2008 to just 2.8% in the first three quarters of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008 (the Eurostat data are truncated at Q3 2009).

But look at the similar wage-cutting behavior occurring across the European Union, especially in the Eurozone hopefuls (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are preparing to adopt the euro in coming years).

The battle for exports has begun. Compared to the same period in 2008, Q1-Q3 2009 annual hourly labor costs growth are down 4.9% in Lithuania, 0.8% in the U.K., and 0.5% in Estonia. In fact, every country across the 26 countries listed except Belgium, Germany, Greece, and Spain, saw the rate of hourly wage growth decrease since 2008. The currency is pegged, so the only mechanism to increase external competitiveness is through price (wages) declines. To be sure, this growth model cannot work for the Eurozone as a whole.

Latvia's model: drop wages to increase export income. Greece: drop wages to increase export income. France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, etc., etc. It's impossible that the whole of the Eurozone will drop wages to increase export income. It's especially bad for countries like Latvia or Hungary, where the lion's-share of trade occurs withing the boundaries of Europe.

And what happens when export income does not provide the impetus for aggregate demand growth? Well, there's not much left. Can't devalue the currency (via printing money), and tax revenues will fall faster than a ten-pound weight: rising deficits; rising debt; rising debt service (via surging credit spreads). Sovereign default seems like a near-certainty somewhere in the Eurozone!

This article is crossposted at News N Economics

Rebecca Wilder

Friday, March 26, 2010

boomers fighting me for my job

Sometimes it helps to get back to the fundamentals. Michael Shedlock has shed some light on the implications on the housing market as a result of boomers staying in the work force.
# The labor pool participation rate will stay elevated instead of contracting as much as one might have thought. In turn ...
# The unemployment rate will stay elevated longer than economists think.
# Kids out of college will have a harder time finding jobs.
# Kids out of college will be forced to move back in with their parents.
# Kids out of college will have no way of paying back college loans.
# Parents who co-signed for their kids education will come to regret it.
# The above factors will pressure discretionary spending of both boomers and those just out of college.
# Those out of college will postpone family building.
# Postponement of family building will further pressure housing prices.
# Bankruptcies, foreclosures, credit card defaults, and walk-aways will continue longer than economists think.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bruce Lee Philosophy

"Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against."

---Bruce Lee---

George Carlin's view of America

This guy has a point. I was thinking today, on how even people who claims to be a force for good quickly breaks down when self-interest is involved.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Favorite quote on currencies

Krugman wants a weaker dollar, Mundell wants a weaker Euro, Japan wants a weaker Yen, and everyone wants a stronger Yuan except China.
courtesy of Michael Shedlock.

Literally white winter olympics.for white people

I had the same feeling while watching the games on TV. At the end there was one little east asian girl at the end of the commercial for a second and a half. This is understandable because it's way easier for children and females of asian descent to get screen time than adult males. I won't get into the media bias here just read the following:

Mike Barber of The Huffington Post is the fellow asking:

In the weeks leading up to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), Tourism British Columbia released a new commercial it spent millions of dollars on in order to promote tourism in the province. The fact that most of the world already knew the 2010 winter Olympics were being held there apparently was not enough. The commercial features notable Canadians Michael J. Fox, Sarah McLachlan, Ryan Reynolds, Kim Cattrall, Steve Nash, and Eric McCormack; what it doesn’t feature is much ethnic diversity.

There are two versions: the 90-second and the 30-second version. The version most are likely familiar with is the 30-second version. I say that because it is the only version I have personally seen aired on Canadian TV; I wasn’t aware the 90-second version even existed until I came across it while searching for the commercial on YouTube. In either case, it is clear the intended target amongst potential tourists are only those as white as the snow featured in the many expensive aerial shots.

Never mind the fact that all the celebrities featured are white, in this version of the commercial there is not a single tourist with a discernible race other than white to be found. There is a token nod to Aboriginal culture for literally a second towards the end, but that’s about the only thing “ethnic” you’re going to see in this version of the promo.

Did Tourism BC err on this or are all of our readily identifiable (in the US market) celebrities white like rice? I understand David Suzuki probably isn’t very big in Texas, but with the absence of any colour in the spot, Barber has a point, albeit a cynical one. Call me naive, but I prefer to think we’re so post-racial here that it never even occurred to the team that greenlit the ad. That said, ad creatives do think about these things, don’t they? I’d hate to think a meeting was held and it was decided that BC would be more marketable if it was portrayed as a rugged whitefest. One of the BC’s greatest strengths is its diversity. It’s something that should be celebrated and sung to the rafters, no?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Most important haiku this year

Financial Crises
Stalled too many customers
CEO no more

From the ex-CEO of Sun Microsystems.

On a tweet.  How times have changed.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Alouette Lake

Courtesy of Maple Ridge Daily Photos

Future of University is online

I thought Kaplan ran a respectable outfit when I went there for prep courses.  I think students might benefit.  Harder to tell is the attitude change towards these degrees.
Kaplan University is offering students who have been squeezed out of CA community colleges the opportunity to take online classes toward their degree under a new agreement.

The agreement also allows California community college graduates to transfer to Kaplan to complete online bachelor’s degrees at a reduced tuition rate.

a) Innovative. b) Troubling. c) Emblematic of the future. d) all of the above. 

Hat tip The Narrow Bridge

Pop Psychology Fail

Pop psychologists, beware! In the current issue of Psychology Today, the magazine’s expert bloggers debunk some of our most cherished conventional wisdom, including popular social myths surrounding anger (no, “venting” doesn’t help), lying (it’s not about eye contact), and romance (Paula Abdul and her cartoon-cat-lover were wrong). The piece isn’t available online, but here are a few fun examples, with links to the Psychology Today blogs the magazine's experts call home:
Venting Reduces Anger One of my pet peeves is how widely the notion of catharsis has been accepted. People think they will feel better by “getting it all out” or even that a hockey game is a release for their aggression. Aggression begets aggression. People are better off taking a deep breath and counting to 10 than “venting” their hostilities. — Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D., professor at the University of California–Irvine College of Medicine 
Opposites Attract A persistent myth is that in romance, opposites attract. In fact, one of the most powerful predictors of liking is similarity, regardless of the type of trait—personality, values, interests, or physical characteristics. — Andrew Galperin, graduate student in social psychology at UCLA 
Men Aren’t Romantic Many people think men are less romantic than women. Yet men fall in love faster (because they are so visual); men tend to be more dependent on their girlfriends or wives for intimacy; men are over two times more likely to kill themselves when a relationship ends; and men show just as much activity in brain regions associated with romantic passion. — Helen Fisher, Ph.D., anthropology professor at Rutgers University

Courtesy of  UTNE

Football is bad for your brain

I heart Brazen Careerist.  I think her latest column is a good read.  Talks about Aspergers syndrome among other things.  Here is my favorite quote from the entry.

I hate the glorification of abnormal. People who are abnormal have an enormous struggle to find a place in the world. It’s not fun or glamorous. The celebration of abnormal is a delusional luxury of the relatively normal population.

For ages I have always looked at people who try to be "unique" with annoyance and possibly a fist to smack them down.  Overtime I have learned to tell them how unique they are while at the same time making a mental note of assigning them a drone number.  Oh and lastly, just because you conform to a lesser known, less mainstream group does not make you any more unique than the person who rocks out to Nickelback.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hope and Dreams.

Anya Kamenetz, author of Generation Debt, and the new DIY U, is still my hero.

Here is a fresh dose of her optimism:

This month's issue of The Atlantic contains a long thoughtful and downcast article about the possible effects of long-term unemployment on the American national character.

One section in particular is very much up my alley: about how the shifting job market and how it might affect the Millennial generation. Graduating into a recession, it turns out, can afflict your income for a lifetime. "Seventeen years after graduation, those who had entered the workforce during inhospitable times were still earning 10 percent less on average than those who had emerged into a more bountiful climate."
As my sister Kezia, a 2009 Yale graduate, commented on Buzz: "UM....scary for peeps my age :(" And her friends chimed in , "Schnikies." " i had this article mentioned to me today during a job interview. needless to say, there was no real job being offered."
The article argues that Millennials are
especially ill-equipped to deal with this unprecedented era of long-term joblessness because of their (supposed) crippling high-self esteem, and because they don't understand the meaning of hard work. It also argued that there are widespread socially negative effects of long-term joblessness--especially for men--include depression, alcoholism, and broken families.

But...I think there's a hole in this logic. It crystallized for me yesterday when I was part of a panel (including this technologist, this simplicity expert, and this social media maven) speaking to Professor Kyra Gaunt's Anthro 101 class at Baruch College. This was a very diverse group of 19 and 20 year olds and we were talking to them about hacking their way through the system to get what they need.

I realized that it's exactly this generation's unreasonable optimism that gives me the most hope for our future. Millennials aren't full of despair if we don't get the "perfect" job right out of college--our expectations are already adjusted. Young men are free from the demand that they automatically be breadwinners. Young people are learning to cultivate other values outside of work, and to take risks to seek work that meets their values. All that time we're spending inventing and building social networks and new ways of communicating with each other will translate into social capital and will serve us to build a society that doesn't depend on income to buy happiness. We will increasingly turn to each other to get what we need and to make what we want.

Yes, we still need to figure out better ways to get people health care and housing and education. The legacy problems of an economy in decline are not going away any time soon. But I have confidence that past performance does not have to guarantee future results. And this generation might just be the perfect people for this time.

Nudest colony warning

The sad thing is, I think this actually works.

Via failblog

Olympic rant, outsourced.

I enjoyed the games while it was here, but that doesn't prevent me from enjoying the critisms.

Wherein official sponsor of the 2010 Winter Games takes on those grumpy brits at The Guardian. "If you're going to say the Vancouver Games cost $6-billion, have the decency to note $4-billion is for infrastructure that was going to get built anyway".
OK, if we're going to have an honest discussion Gary, let's not argue on the price tag but ask how we're going to pay for it, and how long that's going to take? Let's just pretend that every cost expenditure was completely warranted, including the triple over budget convention centre next to a convention centre in the age of the internet. The Sea to Sky was going to get built anyways you say, but would Harriet Nahanee have died? The RAV Line was going to built anyways you say, but would we have ram-rodded it through council, inflated ridership numbers, forced it to go down Cambie, then switched to cut and cover at the last minute? Let's pretend Translink didn't go bankrupt forcing them to raise fares, tax parking stalls, and cancel the Evergreen Line. Let's pretend that the Athlete's Village didn't go bankrupt and we didn't bail them out under a shroud of secrecy. Let's pretend that VANOC did everything right and held open and transparent meetings and did its best to dissuade Olympic evictions, let's pretend they're not spending a billion on security, only to harass local activists. Let's pretend the Assistance to Shelter act was never passed, and that cops haven't been ticketing DTES residents for jaywalking. Let's pretend they didn't just publish a guide on how to be polite. Let's not even get into the free speech limitations. So let's pretend all of that is totally fine; how are we going to pay for it? I mean if all this was going to get built any how, you know even after a massive recession, how would we tell the public that we were raising taxes while cutting services? Oh yes that's right, the cheerleading local media.

More here from Beyond Robson.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nimby Nimby Nimby

I was going through some of my old papers, and I came accross something that I thought was worth mentioning.

Maple Ridge residents trashed a plan to convert a single family lot to a townhouse complex, citing a number of reasons.  I will respond here to each and every one of them:

1. Concerns about the fact that the area only has one access route, which is a problem in the case of emergencies.
This is easily mitigated.  I imagine the very act of constructing this complex will bring in multiple roads.

2. Concerns about increased traffic on narrow roads.
This is because people doesn't want a wider road to accomodate traffic because they prefer the quiet.  Meaning other people shouldn't move there even though they did the same thing only a few years ago.

3. Lack of transit.
This is due to the lack of population density, which they fight so hard to ensure.

4. Increased street parking.
Only people who live in houses has the right to park on streets, or so they think.

5. Further strain on Yennadon Elementary School.
Enrollment is falling because people are having fewer kids.  This is hogwash.

6. Concerns expressed about the need for better protection of wildlife corridors and preservation of green space.
Green space can be better preserved if people lived closer together.  This is hypocrisy.

7. People arguing their property values will decline.
Boo friggen hoo.

Here are some things people actually wrote in about.
George Popp wrote that "had I any inkling whatsoever that a development of this intensity would rise up in front of me" he wouldn't have bought a house there.
George Popp is anti-development.  He should go live in Africa.
"There is plenty of scope for increased density in the core of Maple Ridge," he said. "Putting high-density housing as proposed here would only create more car intensive commuter traffic on crowded country roads."
So it's okay if other places develop, but damn it if it happens to be near the house he lives in.  Can anyone be more of a NIMBY?
Brook Calhoon wrote that traffic on 236 is a "death trap" and 113 Avenue is also unsafe.
You know what's safe? Having people live closer together and walk rather than drive to where you need to go.  Oh I forgot, Brook Calhoon moved to Maple Ridge so that she can drive around on country roads and it's perfectly safe if she were the only one doing it.

She wrote 51 townhouses "makes us worried what kind of people it will attract."
"Will it be renters who don't care as much about their homes as we all do? Will it bring crime to our neighbourhood?"
No Brook renters do not bring crime.  No one wants to live in a dump whether they rent or own.  There is no reason people can't respect other people's right to live peacefully.

Jason and Carla Banbury argued that the development would be "counterintuitive" to Smart Growth because it would increase the carbon footprint without public transit and it will increase vehicle traffic.
Jason and Carla Banbury should look up what Smart Growth is because their argument is "counterintuitive" to what they're saying.  Having more density actually decreases carbon footprint because infrastructure would be concentrated rather than spread out to service the same amount of people.  Having public transit requires enough people taking them at stops most rider can get to on foot.  This requires more density.  This argument does not make sense.
Christopher Bester argued the townhouse complex would be "aesthetically unbearable" and would negatively impact his property value.
Christopher Bester does not care about the environment as much as his property value.
"With townhouses the amount of renters in the neighbourhood would inevitably increase in which case pride in ownership would inevitably increase in which case pride in ownership would decrease proportionally, crime rates and nuisance complaints would likely increase and traffic congestion would intensify substantially," he said.
Pride in home ownership is overrated.  I wonder how much pride he will have when his property loses value like he said it would.  I live in a townhouse. I have not heard of any crime here in the past 4 years, nor have i raised or received any complaints.  In fact a townhouse may actually increase security since there are more pairs of eyeballs on possible intruders.  Traffic congestion is coming whether you like it or not.  The goal should be to ameliorate it rather than fight it off.  I am fairly certain Christopher Bester is a driver who is part of the traffic congestion he speak of.
Parking on the street would also be "unsightly" and the development would ruin the "unique synergy with nature" because of "overdevelopment." Karlis Kesans wrote that "existing property owners on 133 Avenue will have to look at congested housing across the road."
Karlis Kesans wants to stop people from moving into Maple Ridge, even though she did so herself.  She seems to think it's okay to turn greenspace into single family subdivisions that she currently occupies, but not okay to turn the same greenspace into townhouse lots so we don't have to use up as much greenspace.   The "unique synergy with nature" just means that she wants to waste a large track of land for her viewing pleasures.  With housing prices the way they are townhomes are hardly "overdevelopment."  If anything we need more density to house the population growth.  Again it's okay for her house to be in the scenary but other houses apparently are not.

"This type of development could result in potential rental property in the area which could possibly attract a transient population. Transients do not have the ownership mentality the owner residents have which could result in property neglect. If this ends up being a medium to low rental development unsavory characters could move into the area which could result in escalation of crime in the area," continued the letter.
Karlis clearly believes that she does not deserve to live with "medium to low" rental developments and unsavory characters live only in town homes.  Note that plenty of "unsavory characters" live in houses, in fact, a lot of these "unsavory characters" own multiple homes.  Also it is not uncommon for single family units to rent all or part of the house out.  Lastly neglect has to do with the owner as much as it has to do with the renter.
Lyn Peters said the development in Silver Valley over the last 15 years has been "nothing more than standard urban sprawl, has nothing to do with Smart Growth and has twisted the intentions and plans of all involved."
 She described development as "standard clear cut and blast" and said there are no parks, equestrian, bike or pedestrian routes or "interlinked greenways."
Lyn Peters is right, however this rezoning is a small step in the right direction.
Anita Hoggard said Rock Ridge is "a more upscale area" and the townhouses are not in keeping with that.
"Our decision to move from Port Moody to Maple Ridge was because we absolutely loved the trees, wilderness and the pure peacefulness of Rock Ridge," said Hoggard.
Anita Hoggard think she is better than everyone who does not live in single family homes surrounded with tracks of land.  Townhouses anywhere near her is an affront to her high social status.
Paul Wild wrote that he loves the "beautiful, scenic and environmentally friendly neighbourhood" and he "can't imagine replacing these beautiful trees, graceful deer, and all the bears, coyotes and birds with extra vehicles that will be lining the side of 133 Avenue."

Paul Wild is part of his own problem.  If he truly loves the "beautiful, scenic, and environmentally friendly neighbourhood" so much, he should move away from there.

I hope council approves this.  The Nimbyism of this town is through the roof.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Frugality as Career Aid

While I generally agree with the post below, I have to ask: what if Mozart was better at kickball than composing??

Nevertheless, this makes sense.  If you always have uncommitted cash, you'll always be able to take advantage of opportunities as they come up.

Here's something from the always insightful Brazen Careerist:

I have earned a lot of money in my life. But I have never had an extravagant life. I don’t own a house. I’ve never bought a new car. I’ve never bought a new piece of living room furniture, and I do not own a single piece of real jewelry. What I have spent money on was always intended to help me with my career. That was so I know that I can always earn money doing something I love.
I leased a BMW when it was clear that that mattered when it came to making deals in LA. I hired a stylist when I realized my clothes were holding me back in NYC. In Madison I have tons of household help so my kids don’t have a crazy schedule because of my work schedule.
I am convinced that frugality is a key quality for a successful career.  Here is why frugality helps your career:
1. Spending money is generally a distraction.
We know this. That people use it as therapy. People use it to fill holes they perceive in their lives. But the psychic energy it takes to spend money actually distracts us from what matters to us. Pay Pal reports that people wish their significant other would spend less money on Valentine’s Day. This encapsulates the whole problem to me.
2. Spending money is a vehicle for overcommitting.
The biggest example of this is graduate school.  The people who do best in a bad economy are those who are flexible about the types of jobs they can take and the types of careers they can move into, according to Philip Oreopoulos, professor of economics at University of Toronto. This flexibility is specifically limited if you go to graduate school – you commit two, three, four years to a given career whether or not it’s going to pan out for you in the long run. And you commit to paying back school loans, which means you need to take a job that earns enough to pay those loans.
3. Spending money limits possibilities.
If you invest in an expensive bicycle because you’re going to do triathlons then you limit your ability to take off more time from work to actually train for the triathlon. In most cases, renting a house is better for you than buying one: If you buy a house, you cannot easily downsize, you cannot as easily relocate, and you end up limiting your earning power. (That link is to my brother's blog. This is dinner table conversation in my family.)
4. Entrepreneurship is a safety net if you're frugal in your home life.
Careers today are unstable, and while companies used to provide safety nets for employees, today we have to create our own safety nets. The best way to do that is with entrepreneurship. But starting your own company is nearly impossible if you have high income requirements. Startups don’t provide high incomes at the beginning.
As I write this, I think about my friends who spend a lot more money than I do. I have friends with really nice houses, friends who take super fun vacations, and I have friends who would not be caught dead in the clothes I wear to work (for example, plastic rain boots because I don’t want to pay for snow boots.)
My friends would say there’s a compromise: You don't need to invest everything in your career. You don’t need to give up all the creature comforts of life. You can still have a good situation with both.
Maybe it’s my obsessive nature. I’m willing to make extreme tradeoffs. I wrote earlier about wanting to be an expert. About how it takes a singular, daily focus. And I think I have had that with writing. But in order to do it, I have given up a lot. I’m not sure if that’s right.
Do we hear about Mozart playing kickball? I know, there wasn’t kickball. But if there had been, he wouldn’t have played it. Because you give up stuff.
So I guess what I’m saying is that being an expert in something requires frugality. It’s not just a spending frugality. It’s a focus frugality. It’s the recognition that spending money is actually a distraction from the passion at hand. So the less you spend, the less you’re distracted.

Diamond Parking Inc. Is Not a Person

I am outraged.

I do not believe in the corporate vote.

Why is the least affordable city in the world the same one I want to live in?


Not fair! I want some sprawl!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

There will be a Gen Y pushback

Boomers are joining the labor force, while youth are not.

Calling this generation the Entitlement generation with bloated self-esteem is beyond cruel.  Before the end of this decade I predict a cultural movement coming from my generation, feeling shafted and disillusioned.

Greeks wants German gold, or just a heartfelt thankyou

So, apparently Greeks wants something from the Germans, citing WW2 again.  I think this is a little too embarrassingly much.  Greek cannot scapegoat Germany for its fiscal troubles.  I mean, this is ridiculous; are the greek politicians really that desperate?

Is it time to buy the US treasury?

Bubble bubble?

My bet is on Copper, China, Emerging markets, and Treasuries

The story of China is muddled and not very heartwarming


This is a ridiculously good read.  The world, largely, does not know much about China even after all these years.  This guy put things into much sharper focus, making the story way more nuanced.

I sometimes wonder, is the rising of chinese power a net plus or negative for me?  On the one hand, it allows people like my parents  who claims that their philosophy is really superior than my western-influenced thoughts.  This not surprisingly correspond to an increase in their authority and a decrease in my personal freedom.  On the other hand, China having prestige allows me to simply gain status by affiliation.  I feel that the former is real and immediate and the latter is intangible and far off, I might just favor China NOT gaining prestige.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Apple Name Fail

Someone at Apple's marketing department needs to step up.

Via Failblog:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Keynesian VS Austrian economics in 7 minutes

Somebody has too much time on their hands. The economics profession certainly has gained prominence these past couple of years as people try to understand what is causing all this to happen. I know because I am one of them.

Vancouver housing up or down??

I saw a post on America Canada on the housing values of canada vs the trend in other countries. I also saw the home construction vs prices chart somewhere else(can't remember exactly where at the moment.) The argument is that the canadian housing market is like a tennisball rather than a bubble, whereas it has been whacked by the recession and returning it's original shape based on the fundamentals.

This view makes intuitive sense, and there has been little debate over whether Canada is in a bubble or not. Living near Vancouver I have seen housing values double in the last 10-12 years and prices in Vancouver is now 800K on average with a median household income at about 65K. This seem a bit out of line, since if the median family cannot afford a median house, either the median family has to earn more or the median house has to cost less or a lot of credit needs to be created. Since supply is still tight and credit seems to still be flowing, it's not surprising to see prices making new highs. However, this cannot be sustainable, as the American experience tells us. A credit bubble will eventually need to be deleveraged, and prices of the collateral eventually has to fall.

While I have been saying for years that housing prices will come down, I do not expect it to happen soon. Sentiment is still running high that houses will go up, and these things can go against the fundamentals for a long time. We'll see what happens, but I suspect a lot of people putting money down now will come to regret it later.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This is why I am not going to Graduate School right now

When I was growing up, my parents used to tell me that I needed to get into a good university and a good program that ensures my future earning potential. For the longest time, I let them make my academic decisions and ended up in Electrical Engineering at university.

Looking back, I would say that this particular path is not a bad choice, since I did manage to learn some pretty interesting stuff while I was there, and I could do worse with than an Engineering degree. However, the earning potential never really materialized partly due to my lack of real-world experience combined with the untimely financial crises. I had a couple of contracts and while things are generally okay, I am not where I envisioned myself when I pictured my life post-grad.

If someone had told me that an engineering grad might be unemployed for months on end when I was in school, I would not have believed it. After all, every single professor and other adults keep telling you that there is a global tech shortage, and that engineers are highly sought after. However, I have found this to not be the case.

Right now I work as a contractor for a communications company as a test technician. While I'm thankful for a job and disposable income, I find the job monotonous and intellectually uninspiring. In fact, all my coworkers feel the same and most have left or are trying to leave. This plus the many months I spent unemployed, has led me to review my life decisions and how I got here.

It seems that since I did not understand why I was taking thing courses I was taking in university, or rather, why I wanted to take the engineering classes and the biology/chemistry sidetrack that took me an extra year, I was not a particularly good student. It made sense to me then that my then-girlfriend was more important to me than my grades, and when her brother died I dropped everything to be with her. This predictably had disastrous effects on my grades as I dropped from a B+ to a C average that year. In retrospect, this probably was not the wisest thing to do.

After graduating, my parents pushed and prodded me to go into medicine, or graduate school somewhere, and at first I relented. I took time off to take the MCAT and the GRE and had pretty impressive scores (at least 90% quantile on both) and sent out applications. I discovered, however, that I draw a blank when I had to fill out the questions on what I intend to do there and why I wanted to go to graduate school in the first place. It became pretty clear to me that I was doing it because that was what was expected of me. I was following the path everyone else in my family took. It also seemed pretty suspicious that no one talked about graduate degrees until other people's kids started going to them. I started to understand that, if I had kept going on that path, I would not excel because I wasn't properly motivated. That was definitely not what I envisioned for myself when I pictured how I spend the best years of my life.

I then decided that it was important for me then, to go out, try things and see for myself what I would do with my life. That was when I spent 6 months trying to find a job related to what I was trained in and I discovered that, unlike what I was told in school and by my parents, the market for people with Electrical/electronic degrees is skewed heavily since it was a popular profession, thanks to the tech boom, and many immigrant engineers are vying for the same jobs. I realized then, that it was folly to follow the crowd. If I followed my parents' directions and they got their perspective on what everyone else was doing, I was going to be one of many, and likely out-competed in this increasingly globalized economy. Subsequent relocation of the R&D centre in the first company I worked for to India only reinforced this view.

This left me with the profound question of what to do with my life. I tried to search for the things I want to do: I took up different hobbies, I volunteered, I helped manage a election campaign, I traveled, and I started paying attention to the world around me and learning everything I can that interests me. I also stopped talking about my future with my parents, for they don't understand why I have this dilemma. To be honest, I still do not know the answer to this day. The only thing I know now, is that I do not wish to live for anyone else, and that I will not stop until I find a path in life I can devote to. I know this may sound incredibly selfish, but I believe settling for anything less will do no justice for all the kind people in my life who give me support.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jeff Rubin on Peak Oil

The movie "The End of Suburbia" was the door that opened my intellectual curiosity.  At first I would read nothing besides peak oil related things.  Over time, my interests drifts towards other things.  Some of them are academic while others are entertainment.  I do, however, occasionally go to my roots and spend time updating myself on the peak oil topic, for I believe it is going to affect us in an irreversible way.

The concept of Peak Oil was also a partial driver of my desire to travel now rather than later.  For I believe the age of cheap airline tickets are coming to a close, and the future of travel is one where you stay close to where you live.  Many people, including my family, do not understand this.  They extrapolate past trends and conclude that progress will ensure a steady if slow rise in the standard of living.  This I cannot look at the data and agree with.

Nevertheless, I do not believe we will have a catastrophic discontinuity like some apocalypse theorists suggest.  Major changes occur in much the same way as our recession: over many months or years.  My standard of living has not significantly changed over the past 2 years, though I would be so foolish to say that the financial crises has not affected my life or my future has not been changed.

Here is Jeff Rubin, author of the book "Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller"

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Yesterday at the Roxy I was at first rejected because I was wearing steel-toed boots.  I did not know they don't allow steel toes and I just came from work.  After calling my two white friends already inside they talked the bouncer into getting me in(the power of white girls!)  This leads me to wonder, does the roxy institute some sort of screening rule like that club in knocked up?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

You can be who you choose to be

I’ve given this topic a whole lot of thought throughout my life.  Here’s how I feel about it now.

I came across an old friend of mine.  She has chosen to identify herself with a country that she left when she was 5.  Now, I have no problem with this country per se, it just makes me uneasy when other people identify themselves in ways that emphasizes how they are different, especially if this difference is completely outside of anybody’s control, such as race, height, or nationality.  I believe this because this creates an invisible wall of in-group/out-group mentality in which I am clearly the out-group and makes my dealings with said person that much more difficult.  I know as Canadians we are supposed to be appreciative of each other’s differences, but isn’t Canada about building a common identity?  A common set of values in which all are included regardless of who you are or where you come from.

As an Asian immigrant to an all-white neighbourhood I quickly learned the only way to achieve any sort of social success is to quickly adapting to whatever social behavioural norm expected of all the other kids.  An insistence on one’s uniqueness based on nationality quickly banishes you to the social fringes.  (You’re different?  That’s cool we respect that.  Now go be different in that corner because the rest of us who are the same are gonna go hang out in the other corner, seeya!)  Unfortunately we human beings are herd animals who are comfortable around people who are just like ourselves but ever-so-slightly different.(This is what makes the movie Avatar works, the aliens are just bigger bluer versions of human beings, but that’s a topic for another day.)  The logical conclusion of this would be systematic bias towards everyone who is not of your kin.

I, however, hold that we can be better.  What differentiate us can be our thoughts and beliefs, our temperament and our constitutions or even the gods we choose to worship.  What it should not be are the colors of our skins or the flags we are told to wave.  I know this sound elementary but so many people are unapologetically swayed by superficial and arbitrary markers I find it frustrating to explain that this is the very thing that leads to intolerance and hatred.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am quite proud of my Taiwanese heritage.  I love the country and everything about it, and consider it to be an important part of who I am.  A major difference, however, is that I understand that although all Taiwanese people have something that I also have, I need not hold them above anyone and everyone in the world.  I have come to see that at its core, there is little difference between each and every one of us human beings.  We eat, we laugh, we cry, we make friends and enemies, and we feel pain when we are hurt.  The differences in nationality are artificial, and take second place to the more important things like aspiration, philosophy, way of thinking and degree of maturity.  What differentiates us is not how we look and where we come from, it is how we think.

With that said, I’ve noticed that Turkey, like many other countries in the world, is fiercely nationalistic.  YouTube is banned because someone made a video disrespecting Atutark, founder of the Turkish Republic.  I’d like to raise the general point that patriotism everywhere has been know to be quite destructive, at times inspiring people to wage or go to war.  Yet if nations are going to be the largest effective organizational units humankinds can muster, I wonder if they can function effectively if they do not instil somehow a sense of common purpose.  That is the key difference between a failed state and a state that endures.  I will enlarge the scope here and ask is patriotism a necessary evil?

I have to come clean and say that one of the reasons I wrote this post is because this friend of mine is pretty attractive, and views Turkish people differently from others.  She goes so far as to only date Turkish men, despite their notoriously lacklustre respect for gender equality.  I have also noticed when the two of us travel together in Turkey, people always seem curious because we seem like an unlikely duo, and always seem just a bit relieved from the way they look at me when she explains to them we’re just friends.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thoughts on Globalization and Labor

Just read the article The Disposable Worker, which offers some really insightful ideas.  I'd like to offer some thoughts of my own.

Globalization in supply chain has meant that much value can be added using labor forces without having to worry about where the workers come from.  The natural consequence of this is firms will shift production of goods and services to laborers that cost the least. 

It is no secret that the wages of most of developed countries like America has been stagnating, or worse retreating, over the past few decades.  Not surprisingly, those few decades have also coincided with the integration of massive workforces from poorer regions of the world into the world economy. 

Economists like to say that the economy is not a fixed pie, or a finite resource.  We will always be able to integrate more people into our economies, i.e. find more job for more people to do, in more specializations etc etc.  While in the long term this may be true, I must argue also, in the long term we are all dead, and many people will be left out before they can enjoy the fruits of progress.

I think, what has happened in the recent past, and what is happening now, is that massive amounts of labor are joining the world economy in a constant basis, consistent with an increasing population and rise in working age demographics worldwide.  This process has overwhelmed an economy's natural tendency to balancing itself out.  The end result of this is a persistent glut in labor.  Now, when there is an excess of supply, simple theory predicts that price of labor must go down until the demand for labor evens out.  The fact that wages in developed countries are still as high as they are is due to the fact that developing countries are still catching up to the sophisticated organizational structures and skillset developed countries has.  However, if you look at how R&D and finances in China and India are growing, you will have to be convinced that sooner or later the difference of skills will even out, and jobs will move over there, all jobs, until the wages equalize.  The same services, that someone else can do more cheaply, will generally evetually be done by someone else.  This means a lawyer in Bangledesh and a lawyer in Idaho will eventually have roughly the same income and purchasing power, adjusted for cost of living. 

In a perfect world, this is not a bad thing.  Our wages goes down as their wages go up, and they equalize until everyone starts to do better, due to technological progress.  One problem, however, arises since this process has taken decades, and can still take decades more to play out.  Since there are a lot more people in developing countries than developed ones, the average wage decrease will be far more significance than the gains made from any increase.  Very few people are going to be kosher with the prospect of their income dropping to 40% of what it is now over the next thirty years.  Moreover, the incorporation of more human activity into the global system virtually guarantee a great degree of disruption to the natural world, and this will be felt disproportionately by the poorer populations in all countries, making the sting that much worse on people who perceive their suffering coming from those taking advantage of trends that make the majority financially worse off.

Secondly, perhaps more importantly, the developed world has been a consumer of a larger proportion of global resources than their population share.  The United States consume more than 20 percent of the world's petroleum even though its population is about 5%.  Resources like water, petroleum, and precious metals, unlike human ingenuity, are not infinite.  No amount of innovation is going to preserve the standard of living for the already-affluent if all people in the world claim an equal share to the world's resources.  This unfortunately is a zero-sum game.  One more SUV driver in Scandinavia means one less in Equador.  Some people might disagree.  There is a possibility that technological progress may preserve or even improve the way of life of rich countries on vastly smaller amounts of energy and other materials.  While I am open to that possibility, I remain pessimistic at this inflection point when many indicators points downward.

Economists, when they recommend a laissez-faire approach to economic policies are making a moral stand, meaning, benefitting most people involved over the long term.  However, the audience they're trying to convince, the middle classes in developed countries, are quickly losing faith in the proposition that they belong to the "most people" category that will benefit over the long term.  In fact, it is starting to feel more and more like they are really the minority getting the shaft as free trade make a few selected people ultra rich. 

Where does all this leave us then?  We can't turn back the clock.  Peak Oil is already here, and world commerce has picked up such momentum that it is impossible to unwind.  One thing is for sure though.  For a great many people, the direction of the future is not as bright as it used to be.