Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Quote of the Day

From Andrew Carnegie:
This, then, is held the duty of the man of wealth: first, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds which he is called upon to administer ... to produce the most beneficial results for the community.
Previous quotes can be found here.

Digg It! , Bookmark to , My Yahoo! , ATOM Feed

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quote of the Day

From St. Francis de Sales:

"Do not wish to be anything but what you are,
and try to be that perfectly."

Digg It! , Bookmark to , My Yahoo! , ATOM Feed

Monday, October 22, 2007

Occassional Dimes

  • Tom Brokaw interviews Yvon Chouinard: The founder of Patagonia at the recent Google Zeitgeist! His fingers have never touched a keyboard, and he has never owned a cell phone. Personally I held off buying a cell phone until 2004 -- even then I did so only because I needed a work/office phone. I advise all you techno-geeks out there to watch this interview. Money quote: "We are no longer citizens of the world, we are consumers."

  • Leaving Microsoft to change the World: John Wood left a successful life as an expatriate manager for Microsoft to start the highly-regarded education non-profit Room To Read. The book traces Wood's journey from successful technologist to the current state of his successful non-profit. Non-profit employees and managers will benefit from the numerous tips and good practices that the author refashioned from his experience in the private sector.

  • City Bike Share: SF looks to implement a bike sharing system, similar to those found in European cities.

  • Dumpster Divers Go Mainstream In Thrifty Germany: Unfortunately available only to subscribers.
  • In many other countries, dumpster divers like Mr. Brylla would be written off as eccentrics. In Germany, he's just a normal 36-year-old graphic printer brought up to look down on wasting money on new things when sturdy old stand-bys are there for the taking.

    "Consumption is nothing good," says Mr. Brylla. "It brings evil into the world."

    Germans like Mr. Brylla are the retail trade's worst nightmare. They make enough money to buy the latest wares but choose to live in a free-of-charge economy. People who don't want stuff put it on the sidewalk. People who like it take it home.

    "It's the culture here in Germany," says Dora Fecske, a Frankfurt businesswoman. "Why trash something if it's still good?" She recently found a large wooden dining table in the street and carried it several blocks to her home with help from friends.

    ... The trend is stubborn, with deep roots in history. Germans save their money partly because war and economic disasters during the last century make them think the future will bring more rainy days.

    Today, even though the German economy is growing solidly and unemployment is falling, consumer spending is in the doldrums.

    Previous Dimes can be found here.

    Digg It! , Bookmark to , My Yahoo! , ATOM Feed

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Occassional Dimes

  • Randy Pausch's Last Lecture: Beloved Computer Science professor at Carnegie-Mellon, a pioneer in the field of computer graphics and animation -- he has advanced stage pancreatic cancer. What a moving video! Randy also maintains a chronicle of his battle with cancer.

  • Canada's Highway To Hell: This insightful feature article will surprise a lot of Americans -- it did me. Our neighbors up in Alberta are extracting large amounts of oil and destroying vast landscapes in the process. Oil in the tar sands is extremely difficult and energy-intensive to extract. The demand is fueled mostly by the US , but the question remains, why are the other Canadian provinces tolerating such destruction? If we, in the lower 48 states, can stop oil drilling in the Arctic National Refuge in Alaska, why are environmentalists up north so powerless? Perhaps its Canada's over dependence on mining and commodities ("... the GDP of energy-rich Alberta expanded by 6.8% last year, compared with Ontario's 1.9% and Quebec's 1.7%"). I definitely need to learn more about the Canadian environmental movement. We consumers need to be aware of where are oil comes from: 16% of oil imports are from Canada, already the largest source, and with expanded exploration of the tar sands, slated to get even larger.

  • 11 Item You Don't Have To Buy Organic: Dr. Andrew Weil has a list of fruits and vegetables that you can buy, conventionally-grown, if you are on a budget. Hat Tip to zaddik2004.

  • Alms and the Monks: An informative perspective on the situation in Burma, from the Southeast Asian Press Alliance.

  • The Bay Area and the Microcredit Movement: The SF Chronicle highlights several Bay Area companies, including a few based in Davis, at the forefront of the microcredit movement.

  • China Bloggers Stew About Olympic Pigs: In China some people would rather eat like Olympic pigs.
    In recent weeks, news that hogs are being specially raised to feed the athletes at the next year's Beijing Olympics has spurred an outcry on the Internet. The pigs are reportedly being fed an organic diet and getting daily exercise, treatment that has China's bloggers variously mocking, lamenting and raging online.

    "I would rather be a pig for the Olympics than a human in a coal mine!" wrote a blogger who calls himself Shiniankanchai, referring to the reported deaths of thousands of workers in China's mines so far this year.

    Shiniankanchai's sentiments soon spread to other blogs and to Tianya, the biggest Chinese-language Web forum. They reflect a growing frustration among ordinary Chinese with tainted food, dangerous or inhumane work environments and corrupt officials -- a frustration that is being expressed with increasing frequency.

    It's "just ridiculous!" said Jane Xun, a 24-year-old employee of a Shenzhen logistics company, in an interview after she posted her own online objections to the pig-rearing program for the Olympics. "It actually shows how serious the food-safety problem is. What am I going to eat?"

    ... But a program to raise pigs specifically to feed the Olympic athletes, both the Chinese and those from other countries, is seen by many citizens as a sign of mad excess and pandering to foreigners.

    Pigs are such an important commodity in China that the nation has a strategic pork reserve, a little like the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, to stabilize prices. China's pork reserve releases frozen meat and live hogs in a supply emergency. A recent jump in the price of pork after an outbreak of blue-ear disease among pigs played a part in pushing up China's inflation rate to 6.5% in August -- a serious concern for a government worried about an overheating economy, asset bubbles and a disgruntled rural populace.

    Coming in the wake of reports of tainted Chinese food and toys, news of the Olympic-pig project are adding fat to the fire for some citizens. The special pigs "show how serious our food safety issue is," Shiniankanchai commented in an Internet posting. "While the government is devoted to solving the athletes' pork-eating problem, common people are asking: How about the food safety problem for people living in this country?"

    The Olympics pork supplier, Qianxihe Food Group, or Lucky Crane, as the company brands itself in English, held a press conference in Beijing in August to announce the project. According to reports in the Chinese press, which widely covered the press conference, the company said its aim is to provide athletes with the purest of meat, free of any substances that could cause them to fail doping tests.

  • Previous Dimes can be found here.

    Digg It! , Bookmark to , My Yahoo! , ATOM Feed

    Monday, October 01, 2007