Observant

She was very observant.
She was very determined.

“I never gave up and I never let anyone or anything get in my way.”

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“It was very difficult when we came to New York because I spoke no English. We moved to a neighborhood with many other German and Jewish immigrants but I mostly befriended Americans since that was the easiest and quickest way to learn the culture, language, and customs of my new homeland.”

“She seems to be able of growing enormous by sheer force of will,”

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Maybe Crazy, but not Stupid

Ma Yun applied to study at Harvard 10 times and was rejected each time.

Yun had to deal with rejection many times in his life: born during Mao’s Cultural Revolution when schools and businesses were being destroyed, such that formal education and trade was at a low in China during Yun‘s youth.

He failed the entry exams for colleges in China several times and was also rejected for many jobs in China, including one at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Despite this, at an early age, Yun had developed a desire to learn English, so he rode his bike for 45 minutes each morning in order to go to a nearby hotel and converse with foreigners. He would guide them around the city for free in order to practice and improve his English. Later in his youth, although he failed the entrance exam twice, he attended Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute and graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in English.

Yun — his English name, Jack — Jack Ma started an e-commerce company in his apartment in 1999….

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Can We Talk

She sure could.

“I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.”

“People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made.”

“I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware.”

And her friend Barbara Walters accused her of “Frankly, she did almost anything for a laugh” — but Joan would definitely disagree, for she said of herself “I will do Anything for a laugh.”

In Memoriam
Joan Rivers
[June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014]

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The First Visible Crack

I remember the exact moment and place.  As we talked, Karel had made the gesture of flicking his finger at an imaginary glass globe in his hand that would crack into a million pieces:

“It would just take a small Ping — the whole thing could shatter and fall apart” he said.

I thought, yes, just like the edge-of-chaos/order: a phase transition.

Soon it happened.  Few, if any, but Karel could have imagined it happening — and so soon.

He knew the system well: as a kid, he had been prevented to pursue what he was good at — mathematics — for the powers of Czechoslovkia wouldn’t let him go to school, because his father had escaped from the Soviet bloc, leaving Karel and his mother to suffer the consequences.  Karel knew what it is like not to trust anybody outside his immediate family — not say what everybody knew but could not say — the Soviet system was a human prison: Private Truths, Public Lies.  Karel did get out in 1978 by Jimmy Carter’s diplomatic initiative with Alexander Dubček’s short regime. Only a few could escape from the system.

Karel obtained his PhD in Mathematics from Stanford University a couple years later after our talk.   Nobody really thought it would happen.  The Iron Curtain seemed still solid in 1988.  The Soviet system had lasted for more than 75 years.  The Soviet Union was one of the two superpowers: a military and nuclear super power. Rebellions had failed before: Hungary and Czechoslovakia, otherwise subversive acts had to keep a low profile.

The first real crack on the surface of that Curtain had started in 1982, three years before Mikhael Gorbachev took power. That first crack, that finally spread like that imagined shattered glass globe of Karel’s in 1989, was Promoted by one man….

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Crucial Point

It is a popular Western view to say Crisis in Chinese is a simple combination of danger and opportunity.  But that is not exactly correct.  It’s a little more complicated.

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Crisis

Chinese philologist Victor H. Mair of the University of Pennsylvania calls the popular interpretation of wēijī in the English-speaking world a “widespread public misperception.” Mair suggests that  in wēijī is closer to “crucial point” than to “opportunity.”

Nevertheless, They can relate to either interpretation.

They struggled much of their young lives, very close to danger and no opportunity before the crucial pointwhen the opportunity was encountered and made, by hard work and being very smart TOGETHER.

The Danger has passed.  Now, China is the land of Opportunity for those who have the right combination and the right timing  — and…

They do.

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Good Time Chavez Died Today

He was bigger in life.

Some gotta win, some gotta lose.
Good time Charlie got the blues
Good time Chavez got the blues

hugo_chavezNo, He didn’t lose the election.  He rigged that. He didn’t lose his power, or his macho — well, until he died.

Hugo Chavez died March 5, 2013 of cancer.  He was 58 years old.

Good time Chavez gotta lose.

So what about Hugo Chavez.

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Good Time Charlie..

Some got to win
some got to lose
Good time Charlie
got the blues…

Carlos Irwin Estévez at the moment is not singing the blues, for he is up now.  Not down and out.

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He has a new successful show.  He plays a similar role: himself, a rascal, you got to love.

Anger Management is Charlie Sheen doing what Charlie Sheen does—on-screen. It’s not artful, it’s not elegant … It will likely give his fans what they want. And if there are enough of them to trigger the order for the extra 90 episodes, then FX, Helford and everyone else will feel justified in taking another chance on the guy, despite what happened in the past.”

Forgotten is forgiven
F Scott Fitzgerald

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The Talent Scout

It was three o’clock in morning, a cold winter day in New York City, he had left the Jazz club, and turned on the radio in his car.

He scanned the radio stations, listening.  Then he heard it.

It was something new.

He knew natural talent when he heard it.

His ear was incomparable and he knew who and how to promote them.

From Billie Holiday to Bennie Goodman to Pete Seeger to Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen: generations of musicians. The Ultimate HIP.

But he looked like a square.

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Misery Acquaints

…there is no other shelter hereabout:
misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.
I will here shroud till the
dregs of the storm be past.
— Shakespeare

They couldn’t be stranger bedfellows.

They couldn’t be more different — in Temperament and upbringing.

But there they were.  Bound together in tragedy and purpose, at this point in time.

They needed each other, and they wanted each other’s help.

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The Single Girl

She attempted to have the book censored or banned in the United States.

No, she wasn’t your socially conservative female.

Yes, in 1962 it was viewed as a scandalous book:  Sex and the Single Girl advocated having sex before marriage, and gave advice on how to have an affair.

And she was married.

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