US Cruise Missile Submarines Ride the Wave of Asia-Pacific Security Issues

  1. P8101743_Fotor_Collage_Fotor_CollageAs two mountains of steel made their way to the Asia-Pacific waters, they made waves to foreign shores.  Having been deployed underwater for three months before making scheduled calls, the two of the US Navy’s cruise missile submarines, the USS Michigan and the USS North Carolina, are serving as a peacemaking force in the disputed waters in the East China Sea, South China Sea and the Philippine Sea.According to the London-based Jane’s Defence Review, the United States plans to move up to 60% of its naval power to the Far East in 6 years to maintain the regional power of balance as China is set for expand its maritime power in the region.

    Security in the Asia-Pacific became the focus of global concern, particularly following the increasing tension between China and some of its neighbors like Japan, Vietnam, Philippines and India. Given territorial disputes have spiked across the region and China is viewed as partially menacing its neighbors. The United States has announced a pivot to Asia, but defense budget cuts and challenges elsewhere in the world like ISIS may undermine Barack Obama’s promises to the US’s allies.

    Paralleled with the shift in the US’s foreign policies, Japan’s prime minister Shinzō Abe is looking to expand the role that his country’s military plays in ensuring regional peace. The retired admiral Kaneda Hideaki called on both the U.S.A. and Japan to create a mechanism to take in Taiwan as they discuss the revision of Japan-US Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

    This event is drumming up for support to check the burgeoning Chinese hegemony, but also for the negotiation on trade pacts across Taiwan Strait. The disparity is also reflected in social attitudes and the ambivalent feelings held by many Taiwanese.  Various opinion polls indicate that people here welcome the business opportunities fostered by the ties with China, but also fear a string tag of political and cultural assimilation.

    I hope that we can find an answer from the impending Scottish independence referendum.

Photo Credits: U.S. navy and Reuters

Alibaba Headed into Soccer Field with Evergrande

About 3 months ago at the joint press conference hosted in Guangzhou, China, founder and chairperson of Alibaba Jack Ma (Ma Yun, in orange)and the chairman of Evergrande Group Xu Jiayin(in blue)confirmed their highly anticipated partnership during a signing ceremony. The e-commerce portal will pay 1.2 billion Yuan(US $19 million)for a 50-percent share of Evergrande.

 

Guangzhou Evergrande is one of China’s most successful football clubs and Alibaba is the Chinese, even to some extent, the worldwide leading e-commerce company.

 

So, what is the rational for this unusual horizontal alliance?

 

“We’re not investing in football, we’re investing in entertainment,” Mr. Ma told a press briefing on Thursday. “Alibaba’s future strategies are health and entertainment.”

 

It seems that Alibaba Group’s IPO has little to curb its appetite for acquisition, and this acquisition marks the firm’s latest attempt to diversify its business and to bolster its online entertainment offerings include Youku, AKA the YouTube of China.

 

Although it is not common for an Asian tech company wanting to make a foray into sports, it should not be surprising if you know Guangzhou is a stronghold of Alibaba’s arch-rival, QQ.

 

Who can be a better assistant in penetrating the market than a super property agent?

 

 

Photo Credits: BBC, CFP and Bizjournals

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Walk In with Honors and Walk Away with Partnership

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The summer about two hundred years ago, the Chinese government was called on the carpet to grant indemnity and extraterritoriality to Britain after the Anglo-Chinese War, which had been fought between the two over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade and other issues.

The circumstances were turned around completely 172 years later.

On 17 June 2014, Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang was followed by British Minister David Cameron as he walked past the Honor Guard at the Treasury Building in London.  This time, he was invited for the UK-China Summit, in which both sides committed to their economic and trading relationship while Li acted as an advocate for Chinese products and services in technology, finance, energy, education and infrastructure.

Record bilateral trade growth tells the story: Britain’s exports to China have risen by 15% last year and more than 200% in the last 5 years at a £1-billion-a-month pace. With more Chinese investment into the United Kingdom in the last one and a half years than in the whole of the last 30 years combined.

This would not only mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Britain comprehensive strategic partnership, but also the degree to which Sino-British cooperation stands to benefit both sides, as well as the global economy.

 

Photo Credits: CNTV, BBC and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

Literary Classics for the Young and the Elder

 

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As an English major, I do not recall enjoying reading those classics and understand them very well. I would say the first one I really enjoyed was The Scarlet Letter, with which I could really relate for its characters are quite strong and dare to buck the trend, and even stand up to the establishments.However, classics can take a while for people, especially ESL readers, to grasp the meaning and connotations arising from the contexts, let alone appreciation and pleasure.One of the difficulties readers may have when reading classics is the language used can be quite different from modern literature, even though many characters are relatable and the issues facing them remain relevant today.
I also struggled with the length of these books. Too often, those unfinished novels I shelved long time ago would come into my view and remind me of my laziness and stupidity.

So how can we make these classics more accessible?

With The Enchanted Attics, Lisa Samson engages readers with some of the tomes gathering dust in your attics. The series are based on what might happen if some of literature’s greatest characters wandered into modern times. Written in an approachable, easy-to-follow manner, the whole series can be appreciated by adults as well as young readers, which is why the classics earn that designation. And Lisa’s writing leave the reader more time to contemplate the characters and themes at their most basic.

I feel that reading can be a terrific substitute for those non-sense TV programs, especially they leave you a good sleep with some though-provoking plots and mind gymnastics.

 

 

 

 

Is Economic Forecast Becoming Fortune-telling?

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Life is full of uncertainties and choices, so we struggle to predict what lies ahead and what it would be like if we take actions. If we cannot fathom the secrets in the making, seeing the whole picture of economy will be too overwhelming for us to tackle alone. Hence, we need professional advice.

But, here is a problem. When forecast arrive on the scene, whom and what should we believe?

In the book Fortune Tellers the Story of America’s First Economic Forecasters, Walter Friedman offers a deep perspective on this issue by tracking back to the USA’s first economic forecasters. He notes that economic forecast is nothing but an autonomous economy that followed decipherable rules.

These empirical approaches to economy created econometric models, along with ideas of how to conceptualize the economy. And, this explains why we have founded so many institutions to analyze the past as well as forecast the future.

Many financial advisors rely heavily on business cycle, they know the client would feel more comfortable about investment plans if they catch the internal rhythms of economy. It is just like sailing ships in the tide, the feeling of not knowing where we are going would kill us. This is why a bunch of experts would gather data and send out newsletters to render the financial outlook to their entrepreneurial advantages.

That is the way a lot of people tend to think about the economy these days. When seeing the stock market, for instance, going way up, your mind tells you that it is probably going to come down a similar amount and reach some kind of normal level. And that was Babson’s Chart, a beautiful red and black chart that shows how areas of boom and bust will equal out over time.

How much growth would you expect from investments? Babson’s chart has a trend line driving through the curve. And that was the estimated normal growth rate of about 3% per year. Therefore, for those who cannot take too much risk, it would be a great tool for making investments.

On the contrary, Irving Fisher became a rival of Babson in analytical approaches to economy. As a trend analyst, Babson really believes in trends over a long period of time. Just the opposite, Fisher does not think trends are important at all. Instead, he believes in causation and tries to figure out how the economy works and the effects are entailed. What effect does it have if we plow earnings back? What effect does it have if we pour dividends back in to earnings? Fischer tried to find ways to quantify these changes and the effects they would exert. His perspectives corroborate econometrics and foster the idea of mathematical approaches to forecasting and to make sense of econometrics.

The big move in forecasting that really has made a difference, is the transition from the idea of a fixed business cycle, to one in which certain actors like the government may flatten cycles.

Once you start believing that cycles are not something simply happens to an economy, but are ones that government can make a difference in, this mindset may carry a risk of over-confidence.

The real problems that people have with forecasting is that they tend to look at past accuracy as an indication as to whether or not to follow a forecaster.

Without trying to figure out the reasons behind forecast, investors are probably going to fall for a financial advisor as Walter Friedman explain in the book:

“I think you need to think about forecasts a bit like a treasure maps. In that you always have to be skeptical of the person who would want to print and sell treasure maps on mass. When it’s much better for you to simply keep a treasure map, if you actually have a valid one, and get the treasure yourself. You have to keep in mind that these people are trying to sell their predictions. And that persuasion is as big a part of this industry as prediction is.”

Therefore, having a financial advisor does not make investors exempt from doing research.

 

When the Wind Blows, What Will Be Gone and Fall with It?

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It may be hypocritical of these critics to say that Taiwan has degraded itself by staging protests while they called those in Syria, Tibet, Ukraine and that staged by Falung Gong “fight for democracy.” I just believe Taiwan has gone through the incubation period and is enduring its labor stage.

These movements may be illegal and irrational, but they reflects two things:
1. People do not think they have a place in the political systems and social institutions, even they hold the voting right. This frustration is stoked by the increasing Gini coefficient in Taiwan, indicating the gap between the poor and the rich is widening.
2. As elections are approaching, many interest groups, parties and even individuals will hitch their leverage on these issues, but this does not mean the making of policies will depend on “the direction of the wind is blowing.” The situation will blow over, the momentum may wear off, so do populism and action other than civil disobedience.

Whatever, all these will mark a page in our history, and we should not be the only one to make a judgment call.

Photo credit: AFP

“When the wind blows” by The Economist:http://www.economist.com/node/21601553/email

〈經濟學人:台灣前途恐越來越由街頭決定 〉聯合新聞網

http://udn.com/NEWS/NATIONAL/NATS1/8651531.shtml#ixzz30hYREB7n

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Why Working Under the Same Roof?

Why Working Under the Same Roof?

If coffee shops are too rowdy and there’s too much activity for you to focus on the work at hand, then you may find the real working mindset in a communal working office space. It is like a library for people with cell phones and a strong desire to meet like-minded people with different background; hence, this style of work offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience while working at home, while at the same time letting them escape the distractions of home.

In an economic sense, early-stage start-ups often cannot afford hefty rents, and their uncertain success makes a long-term lease less desirable.

However, budget is not the only concern at play. The coworking space offers that age-old human connection leading to collaborating with professionals.

What lies behind the growing trend of doing jobs in a coworking space is to actively manage and facilitate presence, as technology allows more people to contribute from around the world. This may have changed the role of place in our work lives.

Amarit Charoenphan completed his degree in accounting from Thammasat University. He helps people realize their dreams and become more successful startups, entrepreneurs, and freelancers through the best coworking spaces, as well as events, education and media. His areas of professional interest include capacity building of start-up social ventures via incubators and accelerator programs, scaling up social enterprise via impact investments as well as the emergence of social venture philanthropy, angel investing and venture capital industry in Thailand. He co-created Hubba, Thailand’s first coworking space for Tech & Creative startups and is actively supporting the Chiang Mai start-up scene through partnership with Pun Space, a coworking space in Chiang Mai. Amarit (and Hubba) has also co-organized and facilitated events such as Echelon Ignite Thailand (e27) and Startup Weekend.

Transcriber: Samson Zhong
Reviewer: Elisabeth Buffard
Language: English

‘Winter’s Tale (2014)’ Review

I have worked as a translator and interpreter for a long time now, offering services to help people speak to different cultures while these experiences lend me some insights into things as restaurants, films, books, concerts, seminars, news coverage and even bodybuilding competitions. This is my first crack at film critics, and I would be lying if I said that I am more than excited about making my debut at Hollywood production, which I used to despise for a lack of great stories and an unhealthy obsession with sex and violence, let alone product placement brought up by commercialism. That said, I am a little shocked but very pleased to tell you that my reservations are unwarranted, as “Winter’s Tale (2014)” is truly a spectacular movie. The performance of Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, and Russell Crowe will remain imprinted in my mind.

The story is set in 1916 and present-day Manhattan, and recounts the life of Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), an burglar with the gift of reincarnation, and the romance that has gone out of his raid into a house occupied by Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay). When Peter finds that Beverly is dying from tuberculosis, he comes to her rescue as the reincarnation of Peter. However, Peter’s memories is being lost in the afterlife…How can a man save his love if he does not even remember her? Everything from the set, costumes and the soundtracks are terrific in this emotional roller coaster, and even though it is a drama, the pace is torrential, so men do not have to worry about being caught falling asleep on a cinema date.
The audience is moved to tears on several occasions, sometimes by moments of despondency and others by the faith shared by both characters and their spectators.

I bill “Winter’s Tale (2014)” as a must see for the upcoming Valentine’s Day. It is suitable for a fate, the whole family and the single. If you forget when is the last time you look into someone’s eyes and retain the touch, then you may find that bond in this great film.

Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

The Chinese subtitle was translated by Samson Zhong

Find More Hours in My Days

Find More Hours in My Days
I have always had trouble finishing all the items on my to-do lists, though I really enjoy checking them off at night. It may be that I squeeze too much into the list, or distractions keep me from keeping to the schedule. However, the news clip reminds me of the basics of time management: priority and simplicity.
Have been doing multitasking for a long time: listening to podcast news while doing house chores; typing on my tablet PC during commute and I even read books while sitting on the toilet, I am still desperate for more hours given in each day. Of course, we are all given only 24 and no one can literally buy more.
The problem is that I put ahead the tasks that I enjoy or easy to do instead of those matters of great urgency. I take time to enjoy what I like to do and procrastinate when it comes to tedious jobs.
The time management coach Elizabeth put it in a way that really makes sense: thinking of time like a credit card. Most of us would avoid maxing the card out by budgeting and allocating, and usually the most critical one would stay on top of the list.
Another tip I agree with is that keep life simple. If I can do it only once a day, I should not bother repeating it several times, even meals can be prepared at a time.

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