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Fake Eggs

This is old news, but I am still fascinated by the concept of fake eggs.  I can’t believe this is even possible…

20090424-fakeegg-0620090424-fakeegg-07

20090424-fakeegg-23

You can read all about it here.

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Scott Adams on China

I just want to put in a link to Scott Adam’s blog (the creator behind Dilbert for those who care).  It is China in Dilbert’s eyes if you may.  Here is the link, and here is an exerpt. 

First of all, there are 1.3 billion Chinese, but only 73 million of them are members of the Communist Party. The party has a monopoly on power. They decide who gets to run for office. The Communists manage a vast bureaucracy that apparently has provisions for weeding out the idiots. I make that assumption based on the fact that the country functions at all, given its size and complexity. Check out this chart of the Chinese government.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chinese_political_system.jpg

Although the Communists run the show, I assume most citizens have the right to join the party and work their way up the ranks. So merit appears to be important in their system. Obviously any big political system will have its share of corruption and favoritism. It’s unclear to me if China is better or worse than the United States on those measures. But I imagine that getting caught with your hand in the public till in China means death. Here it means reelection. Advantage China.

Chinese citizens can vote for their local leaders, at least from the slate of candidates deemed appropriate by the party. And those local leaders in turn select higher level leaders, and so on. Is that less fair than the political systems in so-called democratic countries? Philosophically, it might be less fair. On a practical level, that’s not so clear.

Bear in mind that Scott is the creator of the comic below (source: http://www.dilbert.com):

Dilbert Strip

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For my most recent trip to China, I used a travel agent called WildChina.  WildChina is a high-end travel agent tailored for foreign tourists who prefers the unbeaten path, yet requires a lot of hand holding.  They organizes private customized tours and supplies a 24/7 (almost!) tour guide and driver.  I would recommend them if you’re looking for a hassle-free way to see China – if you’re young and adventurous though, this might be a little too much.

Anyhow, one of the benefits of such a tour is the chance to interact with a local tour guide.  Ours is a 26 yr old college graduate with degree in Chinese History.  As we got acquainted, he shared some stereotypes of foreign tourists from the guide’s perspective:

1) French tourists don’t tip, or tip very little -> the worst
2) Japanese tourists know the prices of everything (from their magical guidebooks).  They will demand compensation from the travel agency if they bought something at the market for a premium -> quite bad as well
3) Israelie tourists like to get the most of their value.  They will make sure the the guides work for their money -> tiring, but not too bad
4) US tourists talk nonstop, wanting to draw conclusion from everything they see on the way.  Also, they look for poverty… or whatever that fits their stereotype -> annoying, but generous tippers
5) British tourists are the best. 
6) Almost forgot about Chinese/Taiwanese tourists.  They never follow instructions so you end up yelling and running around looking for them. 

That’s it folks.

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Dogs off Menu

FT has an article called “Beijing Want Dogs off Menu for the Olympics“.  I am sure by now you’re gasping at the idea that someone is actually eating dog meat, and many of you are hugging your adorable pets…  Why do dogs get so lucky?!

Beijng is doing a lot for the Olympics – and seemingly everyday now, more and more for the cosmetics.  Some policies have wonderful long-term impact, e.g. teaching cabbies basic English, better public bathrooms, cleaner air (although some are short-term messures only).  But others, as least to me, leads to the loss of part of the charm of a city with deep traditions.  Broken English translations in signages and on menus are being corrected.  Having dogmeat on the (english) menu is now banned.  There will be nothing left to call home about!

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An interview

Interviewer (I)
Candidate (C): profile – 25 yrs old, hometown in the north China province, graduated from a design college in Beijing

I: Why did you decide to get into this industry?
C: I wasn’t that good of a student in high school.  My teacher saw my talent in drawing and suggested I go to a design college.  My major was in art design.  Reason I studied that is because I think the advertising agencies will need a lot of talent.  Later, I realize that unless you’re really really good, there’s not much of a career.  It wasn’t what I thought it’d be like.  So I looked around, and the Internet was ramping up.  I thought, well, they got to need a lot of talent, so I took some classes and started this career. 

I: Are you more interested in website design, or website development?
C: Website design.

I: Why?
C: Development work is hard (long hours), and I don’t see a future.  But I can do both design and development.

I: What’s your career goal?
C: I see myself doing this (website design/development) for another few years, until 30 yrs old.  That’s it.  There are always young guys graduating so I cannot do this forever.  Again, it is not what I thought it will be like.  My hope is to move into management. 

I: What kind of management?
C: Whatever kind.  I don’t care.  Management.

I: Do you have any questions for us?
C: Yes.. well, your kind of company (startup).  A lot of these companies do not survive after 3-5 years.  What happens when you run out of money?

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On a recent trip to Beijing, I met an American who was on his first visit to China.  He made a comment that he’s a bit disappointed about Beijing because it “didn’t feel like China”.  I wasn’t quite sure how to respond since, 1) if that was his first visit, how does he know what China should feel like?, and 2) it is true that Beijing is looking more and more like any other international city – at least for the areas where foreigners usually visit.   

Reminds me of what a local told me while I was in Thailand a while back – the odd phenomena that westerners like to see poverty in their travels.  We do tend to equate poverty to culture for some reason. 

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I’ve received all kinds of advices about getting over jetlag quickly.  Some suggested that I stay awake on the 13 hr flight and crash at night.  Some suggested that I take Ambien, or Tylenol cold or some other forms of chemicals.  Some suggested that I keep a slightly off-cycle in Beijing so the adjustment will be easier (like getting to bed at 9pm and waking up at 4am or something like that).  For me, I think the solution is to sleep as much as I can, whenever I can.  Having said, 4 days into it, and I’m still feeling it.

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