Tag Archives: random thought

A Story of a Diplomat

13 Sep

 

If we want to be excellent in our chosen profession, we cannot have glory without working hard. My recent retrospection propelled me to tell a wonderful story about a Chinese diplomat.

First, let me share my reason to give you this wonderful story. At work, I was unpleasantly being called  the “dignified old lady” by a male colleague.  I naturally ignored this insult at first. I paused as if I did not hear it at all. Then, I acted as if I am passing him a secret, I whispered, … “are you a carefree young man?”  we both laughed because he was anything but young.

The story of a diplomat that I am about to tell was a story I heard by when I was a third grader, told by my classmate. The story was hidden in the back of my distant memory and triggered by my experience with my colleague mentioned here.

It was 1954, five years after the end of the last Chinese civil war that resulted in the communist party taking over the mainland of China. Countries were then separated into two major camps: the socialist big family and the western free world. The world was divided by an Iron curtain, a term coined by Winston Churchill. People on the both sides of the curtain were taken as enemies and  hostile to each other.

It was an international conference, in Geneva, hosted by United Nations, to negotiate peace in Indo-China, a region to the south of China. The first prime minister of the New China, Zhou Enlai, a top diplomat, was sent there for the peace talks.  This diplomat had studied as a foreign student in France when he was young and he was carrying out a hidden mission during the conference, which was to find allies for New China from the western world.

At the conference, a top diplomat of Israel was introduced to the Chinese diplomat by a French diplomat, who was a mutual acquaintance of the two diplomats,  the Chinese and the Israeli. They were supposed to shake hands while they were introduced to each other; and they did. But, the Israeli diplomat did it after putting his gloves on. That was very rude.

The Chinese diplomat noticed it but acted as if he did not, or he didn’t mind it at all. After the two done shaking hands, the Chinese diplomat politely took out his handkerchief, slowly wiped out his hand used to shake hands with the Israeli diplomat, and quietly walked to the nearest garbage can. He dropped his handkerchief in the garbage can.

The Chinese diplomat ignored his offender and came up with actions matched the insult on him quickly and diplomatically. The story had passed on orally. Since I was born and raised in China, I heard it long before receiving the title of “dignified old lady”.

In retrospect, in 1954, China was looking for allies from outside of the socialist camp because China was oppressed by Joseph Stalin, the dictator of the socialist camp at that time. Israel was approached by Chinese for an ally because both countries were young and had few friends. The Israeli diplomat had made an insult to the Chinese diplomat because Israel was created with the help of the United States and the United States was the staunch supported of the defeated government of the New China.

A country has no friends, only interests. –Charles de Gaulle

What would you do, or do you give an approval to the Chinese Diplomat with such an action? Who we act depends on what we have perceived in each circumstance. This Chinese diplomat was well known to the world as one of the smartest Chinese.  A diplomat should and ought to be the most capable people who can defend their national pride, and sometimes, who might have to swallow the obvious national pride for the sake of a mission undertaking.

Please do share your stories of diplomats with me 🙂

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Understanding trademarks

18 Oct

My curiosity has served me well.  The action I choose this weekend is to go to a seminar and listen to presentations at the national trademark expo with the theme:

Protecting Your Trademark
Enhancing Your Rights through Federal Registration

http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/notices/tmexpo.jsp

It stimulated my thinking and I had a revelation on who we are as social beings.

 bourgeoisie as a class came about due to the important concept, trademarks.

Two contrasting views on who we are had led me to such a revelation.

On one side, it is the individualistic instinct in us; i.e., we need to be different and to stand out from others.
On the other side, it is the social instinct in us; i.e., we need each others approval.

Both instincts are necessary for us to compete. seeking for fairness in competition leads to the government involvement; thus, the patent & trademark office becomes necessary in civilization.

Who are we?

18 Oct

I am back! I am a writer because I believe in sharing my thoughts with others.

My new idea in writing is called “who are we?” It is going to be an introspective series of essays stimulated by what I did during my leisure time, such as reading, doing things, and chatting with people.

In general, “who are we?” is my pondering about interesting aspects of things throughout our daily activities.

As a bystander, which is my living philosophy of being an observer, I would rather write about what I see than what I can do with respect of getting the best of a situation for myself.

In this introductory blog, l am going to examine my motivation first:

 “unexamined life is not worth living.”

This quote is the most quotable saying of Socrates’.   Does the saying make sense to you? It might be too soon to tell if you have just started your journey in your adulthood. I started to examine my life a great deal more lately; and I found out that the quality of my living has increased substantially. If I share the examination of my living with you, will it be helpful to improve the quality of your lives as well?

Let’s see 🙂

History, Culture, and Future

26 Nov

The second edition:

History, culture, and future

Society is about people and their living environment; it is identified by its history, culture, and its future.

Language reflects culture of the society we live.

Language communicates history, from which we learn.

Language expresses future, for which we create and build together.

Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone. – -Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Culture is the trending of the happening today collectively, and separated with pop culture and traditional culture or with lowbrow and highbrow culture.

 

For example “swag” is a word popularized via pop singers and their hits. I stumbled on it recently and did a little research to understand it. Justin Bieber, a Canadian teenager singer, had a new song “boyfriend”. In it, he brags that he is going to  “swag, swag, swag on you” swag can be used as a noun or a verb. It is the latest high profile hip-hop slang term, for which, Jay-Z, an American rapper has claimed credit in 2001: “I guess I got my swagger back” from the song “all I need”.

 

“Who invented swag?”is an article of the online magazine, slate, published in March, 2012. Among comments to the article, one noted: swagger was invented by Shakespeare in his “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Act III, Part I, Line 79.) Another has commented: it’s not important who initiated the term, but it’s important whether the new meaning has impacted the pop culture.

Culture reflects contemporary trends, the pop culture’s representation of slang language is like fashion in clothing: it is timely, unlike the traditional culture, which passes on generation to generation.  However, an attractive design in language is the same as in fashion, it gets recycled.

 

Language reflects culture. Here is another example, in one of my toastmaster assignments, I was the general evaluator and I made some comments about one of evaluations of a toastmaster’s speech.  A senior toastmaster provided me his feedback afterward: “You should evaluate not criticize.” My immediate response was “what’s wrong with criticize?”  To me criticism is the most important part of any evaluation and an improvement is achieved via criticism.

 

In Chinese culture, where I grew up, Evaluation and criticism are the synonym.  Studying and working in the states, as a researcher, I hold my motto dearly “research grows in criticism.” As an engineer, my goal is to build products that work. Criticism can be the best of all helps, which not only sharpening my thinking, but also is keeping me be honest as well as from getting complacency.

 

On the other hand, hearing the explanation of my fellow toastmaster’s definition on the word “criticism,” i.e., “putting down on the people you are criticizing,” I get his point: nobody wants to be criticized. His comment reminded me of a rule of thumb given by an American, a management guru: “it’s more effective if you surround one criticism with five praises.”  That is the culture of our society.

 

It is true that culture is different in different societies. However, the futures of different cultures may have a lot in common.

For example, “Atom” is the word initially used to mean indivisible by Ancient Greeks. It was later recruited by physicists to name small particle of matters in English. It was popularized by its usage in Atomic bomb, a lethal weapon.  Since it is the fundamental concept in nuclear energy, it becomes a popular word. It may have a long lifespan into the future of any society.

 

We learn from yesterday, history. We live today, immersed in culture. We create future, for us and our offspring to live tomorrow. The question or concern is that,  What is the best in us to contribute to the building of our society: history, culture, and future?

I hope I am able to inspire you to ponder along this thinking.

 

criticism

[krit-uh-siz-uh m] Show IPA noun

1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.

2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.

3. the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of a literary or artistic work, musical performance, art exhibit, dramatic production, etc.

4. a critical comment, article, or essay; critique.

5. any of various methods of studying texts or documents for the purpose of dating or reconstructing them, evaluating their authenticity, analyzing their content or style, etc.: historical criticism; literary criticism.

criticism c.1600, “action of criticizing,” from critic + -ism. Meaning “art of estimating literary worth” is from 1670s.

Society is about people and their living environment; it is identified by its history, culture, and its future.
Language reflects culture of the society we live.
Language communicates history, from which we learn.
Language expresses future, for which we create and build together.
Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone. – -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Culture is the trending of the happening today collectively, and separated with pop culture and traditional culture or with lowbrow and highbrow culture.

For example “swag” is a word popularized via pop singers and their hits. I stumbled on it recently and did a little research to understand it. Justin Bieber, a Canadian teenager singer, had a new song “boyfriend”. In it, he brags that he is going to “swag, swag, swag on you” swag can be used as a noun or a verb. It is the latest high profile hip-hop slang term, for which, Jay-Z, an American rapper has claimed credit in 2001: “I guess I got my swagger back” from the song “all I need”.

“Who invented swag?” is an article of the online magazine, slate, published in March, 2012. Among comments to the article, one noted: swagger was invented by Shakespeare in his “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Act III, Part I, Line 79.) Another has commented: it’s not important who initiated the term, but it’s important whether the new meaning has impacted the pop culture.
Culture reflects contemporary trends, the pop culture’s representation of slang language is like fashion in clothing: it is timely, unlike the traditional culture, which passes on generation to generation. However, an attractive design in language is the same as in fashion, it gets recycled.

Language reflects culture. Here is another example, in one of my toastmaster assignments, I was the general evaluator and I made some comments about one of evaluations of a toastmaster’s speech. A senior toastmaster provided me his feedback afterward: “You should evaluate not criticize.” My immediate response was “what’s wrong with criticize?” To me criticism is the most important part of any evaluation and an improvement is achieved via criticism.

In Chinese culture, where I grew up, Evaluation and criticism are the synonym. Studying and working in the states, as a researcher, I hold my motto dearly “research grows in criticism.” As an engineer, my goal is to build products that work. Criticism can be the best of all helps, which not only sharpening my thinking, but also is keeping me be honest as well as from getting complacency.

On the other hand, hearing the explanation of my fellow toastmaster’s definition on the word “criticism,” i.e., “putting down on the people you are criticizing,” I get his point: nobody wants to be criticized. His comment reminded me of a rule of thumb given by an American, a management guru: “it’s more effective if you surround one criticism with five praises.” That is the culture of our society.

It is true that culture is different in different societies. However, the futures of different cultures may have a lot in common.
For example, “Atom” is the word initially used to mean indivisible by Ancient Greeks. It was later recruited by physicists to name small particle of matters in English. It was popularized by its usage in Atomic bomb, a lethal weapon. Since it is the fundamental concept in nuclear energy, it becomes a popular word. It may have a long lifespan into the future of any society.

We learn from yesterday, history. We live today, immersed in culture. We create future, for us and our offspring to live tomorrow. The question or concern is that, What is the best in us to contribute to the building of our society: history, culture, and future?
I hope I am able to inspire you to ponder along this thinking.

criticism
[krit-uh-siz-uh m] Show IPA noun
1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.
2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.
3. the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of a literary or artistic work, musical performance, art exhibit, dramatic production, etc.
4. a critical comment, article, or essay; critique.
5. any of various methods of studying texts or documents for the purpose of dating or reconstructing them, evaluating their authenticity, analyzing their content or style, etc.: historical criticism; literary criticism.
criticism c.1600, “action of criticizing,” from critic + -ism. Meaning “art of estimating literary worth” is from 1670s.

Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Language reflects the culture.

Language communicates history, which includes the culture of the past.

Language expresses the future, for which we are going to create or build together.

Culture is the trending of the happening today collectively. Culture is divided into pop culture and traditional culture. Pop culture is naturally sectored, such as corporate culture, community culture, and so on, and so forth. Culture is created by people within communities and ethnic groups by the use of languages.

For example, “swag” is a word popularized via songs, the hits. I stumbled on it recently and did a little research to understand it.

In Justin Bieber’s new song “Boyfriend” he brags that he is going to “swag, swag, swag on you.” “Swag” can be used as noun or verb; and it is the latest high-profile appearance of the hip-hop slang term, for which, Jay-Z, an American rapper, has claimed credit in 2001: “I guess I got my swagger back” from the song “All I Need”.

Among comments to the slate article, “Who Invented ‘Swag’?” one noted: swagger was initially used by Shakespeare in his A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act III, Part I, Line 79.) . Another replied, it is not important who used a word initially, but it is important that the new meaning of the word has impacted the pop culture. Pop culture, as opposed to traditional culture,  reflects the contemporary trends, the pop culture’s representation in slang language is like fashion in clothing. That is, it’s rather timely.  Traditional culture, on the other hand, include things that are passed on from generation to generation.

Here is a fairytale posted on the Internet from which we can peek into the meaning in “swag”:

…The palace chiefs are in search of a personality that exceeds all the attributes and quality of the late king in terms of aesthetic, swag, creativity, intellectual abilities, and wits.

Among listed qualities possessed by the late king, swag is to display the rest in a charming manner, the charisma.

Here is another example to explain “swag” with a comic drawing: “who needs good grads when you have swag?” The clue via the title: swag can only get you so far; and the illustration has indicated the meaning of “so far” as working at McDonald’s.

swag

My immediate thought upon reading this drawing is: what’s wrong with working at McDonald’s?

Apparently, “swag” is a quality within people naturally; moreover, the quality in a person is being attractive to others, a leadership quality. It fulfills us with the satisfactions to stay where we are without being motivated to do better.

On the contrary, we should bring out the best of talents in us through education and training. The meaning of “to do better” is that we can build a better future for the next generation and leave a better history for the future generation to learn.

We learn from yesterday, the history and the culture of the past.

We live in today, immersed in culture.

We create future, for us and our offspring to live tomorrow.

My question or concern is that, what is the best in us to contribute the building of our society, History, Culture, and Future?

Humility vs. Arrogance

2 Oct

Coming back from toastmasters meeting this morning, I was prepared to spare a little time to do some internal reflection. It turned out to be the time for my response to a recent discussion on “humility” via reading the blog by Liz Keogh, “Joy of Arrogance.” My immediate joy of reading this blog is my appreciation of the beauty in the natural language, i.e., the richness and the context sensitiveness.

I believe that “Arrogant” is a wrong word in that context, and I realized that being arrogant would be very expressive in venting out our feelings.

Here are my reasons to say so. In any dictionary, arrogance is described as showing an offensive sense of superiority.  We can be offensive without realizing being so because it is  universally true that everyone wants to be respected and nobody want to be reflected as being inferior. Trying to be nice to others purposely we want to avoid being arrogant toward others, especially those who are powerless in thinking. On the other hand, being arrogant is like using curse words, it helps us literally venting out an oppressed feeling.

Now, let’s look at the word, “Humility”, in my opinion, the opposite of being humble is not being arrogant but being extreme. It is a word describing a state-of-being when we are in an interpersonal communication.  Humility can keep us being moderate, not being extreme.
Referring the blog, “Joy of Arrogance”, I am adding my random thoughts as follows:
Doubt what you know” is another state-of-being, not to be faithful in what you know but being open-minded to be curious about what you don’t know. It is not to throw away what you know but to be ready to assimilate new and likely contradicted information into our belief system.
Find out what you know” is a state-of-being in which we want to go deeper in any interpersonal communication hoping to be persuasive to others who disagree with us, therefore, through reflection, to find out what we know.