The state of Canadian race mentality

by phil on November 4, 2013

Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and to destroy. It is the enemy of freedom, and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out.
Pierre Burton

I never, ever thought that I would be in a position to write such a post as this. I am, after all, on what is normally the privileged end of the equation – white male, successful, English speaking, Canadian born. ie. safe, boring and probably as close to the definition of a white bread male as you can get.

As some of you may know I run – Canada’s leading lottery results website. But I also have a company based in Hong Kong. I use this company for various and sundry computer consulting tasks – one of which is sending out the daily emails to thousands of LotteryCanada subscribers.

All seemed normal, until I got this email yesterday (from someone who proudly calls themselves ‘X X’):

Your office is in Hong Kong – what business do you have listing yourselves as Lottery Canada


I see. Canada, the home to the cultural mosaic, the birthplace of the League of Nations ideal. And I am a Canadian.

I thought maybe X was wrapped up in this whole ‘my god everything comes from China’ thing. So I thought I would reply:

Normally I wouldn’t answer an email like this, but, for what it is worth LotteryCanada was started 12 years ago in Canada by two born and raised Canadians (white, English speaking Canadians, if you must make a distinction) – I am one of them! For all of this time we have been offering the most comprehensive lottery results service for Canadians. Free of charge, I might add.

The fact that 5 years ago I moved to Asia and have started using my own company (100% Canadian owned!) to provide auxiliary information services (mailing, etc) to Lottery Canada does not change the fact that we are Canadians, our staff are Canadians and of our half million monthly readers 95% are living in Canada.

If you wish to live in an all Canadian island I salute you, but also note that you will find it impossible to buy groceries, clothe yourself, drive a car or do pretty much anything else.

Ok – I was in a mood last night, so I sent the email. I know, never get involved in a flame war with a raving nut job, but, I did.

Here is X’s response:

Really, I’ve been alive 60 years and as I recall Canadians did just fine before foreign trade flooded our market with cheap, counterfeit products. orientals cheat lie and steal…. consider Tibet – chinese swarmed in killed the monks and overwhelmed the country. This is happening right now in Vancouver – a big slow ugly infestation. Oh and why does your site not say it’s already in china – huh! What a phony you are.

No way I’ll ever do business with you – or ever visit your site. I don’t buy anything sourced or fouled by orientals. Look what you’ve all done to your air – disgusting! You cannot be trusted.

so take your indignation and shove it!

X clearly missed the salient points of my email

  • I am not oriental. Stop saying ‘you’.
  • Canada has forever been a welcomer of foreigners and indeed was built by them! (CP Rail anyone?!)
  • How many Canadian-grown oranges have you eaten in your life?


  • Not all products from Asia are cheap and counterfeit. Ironically, I would imagine that whatever device this flag waving ignoramus is using to write his manifestos if probably made there! He should quickly throw it away.
  • I don’t think Orientals (really? we still use that word?!) cheat and lie to a higher degree than anyone else.
  • Yes, Chinese politics is a not nice thing. Nothing like Stephen Harper.
  • I don’t really think that what is happening in Vancouver can be compared to Tibet!
  • ‘Fouled by orientals’. sigh

I see no point in replying to this racist old bastard.

But I am saddened to get this kind of thing from my homeland – the nation that prides itself as being kinder and gentler. A nation where everyone gets to keep their identity and their language and if they are lucky even gets streets signs in their language!

I don’t know much about ‘X X’ – apart from the fact that he is 60 and lives in BC. Maybe he’s not even a ‘he’. But I feel sorry for him. And for Canada.


Death By Perfection

by phil on August 20, 2013


Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.
Salvador Dali

Perfection is one of the great things about Japan. Its something that, as a foreigner here I really admire. But, perfection is also stifling the Japanese.

Not Everything Can Be Done Perfectly

One of the great things about Japanese culture is the survival of the apprentice system. Young – and not so young – people still have to work up through the ranks under a ‘master’. This is true in traditional arts and crafts and traditional culinary techniques but also in more modern pursuits like some aspects of construction, and even some of the fast food chains employ this idea (especially ‘fast food’ ramen restaurants).

And in these cases perfection is, if not attainable, certainly worth striving for.

When I go to lunch I know that the food will taste great (has anyone ever had a bad meal in Japan??!) and be wonderfully presented. Each dish will be presented as it was intended. A uniformity will come through that has been evolved over time.


But, not everything can be done perfectly. And not everyone can do everything perfectly.

There is such a high expectation here that it is literally killing some people. I believe that a certain percentage of the high suicide rate can be attributed to this striving for perfection.

If you are failing your tests in school, you are not perfect. If you are not perfect in high school your chances of employment or getting into college greatly narrow.

If you are not outperforming at your job, you are not perfect.

If you are not working as much and as long as the company asks, you are not perfect.

I don’t have kids, nor did I go to school here, so I haven’t experienced the first point, and I don’t work in a Japanese company, so I don’t personally experience the others. But certainly people are killing themselves here because of these perceived failings.

 No one speaks English perfect(ly)

Where I have experienced it is in the Japanese reluctance to speak English. Most or at least many Japanese study English for years both in high school and in cram schools. But they are told not to speak it until they learn it perfectly. I mean, the teacher literally said that!

The flaw in the logic is that no one speaks English perfectly. And there are many kinds of English. From American to Canadian to British to Jamaican to Indian, there are many native English speakers.

Which of these is the bar to hold yourself to?

And then you look at all the people who speak English as a second language! There are more people in China speaking English than in Canada. Think about THAT for a minute!

So the Japanese remain terrified of making a mistake.

And how does this relate to business?

There is no way to start or run a business perfectly. The best businesses try and fail. The best creators of anything try and fail. And fail many more times than they succeed. But they don’t stop, go and sit in a cave until they have perfected something and then come out. Because in business we will never be perfect without including the customer in the loop. It is literally impossible. And always has been.

That is why I am surprised at people who think concepts like the Lean Startup are something new. They are not. They may be newly worded or detailed but it has always been our job as commercial creators of anything to find out what the customer wants and make sure we deliver.

Fail fast, fail often

In business, in language, in life, keep failing until you find the thing that works. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes and move on. I’m not saying anything new here. You’ve heard it before. But maybe you need to keep hearing it! I know I do.


Top 5 Ways to Be Mediocre

August 12, 2013

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August 7, 2013

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The Curse of the Belly Fat

August 5, 2013

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July 31, 2013

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July 29, 2013

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Is buying frequent flyer miles worth it?

June 6, 2013

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BannersBroker – the plot thickens (or the waters muddied?!). StellarPoint??

January 11, 2013

Tweet Well, I just got a very interesting email with a Word document attached. Here it is: The email looks like this: The problem is – I don’t advertise BB (as anyone who reads this would know!). I never have. I am a publisher! Who is StellarPoint? Where do they fit into the mix? Well […]

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BannersBroker – I’m getting heavily quoted!

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