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.
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 LotteryCanada.com – 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 JUST UNSUBSCRIBED – YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS BEING HERE IN 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.
Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.
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.
Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them.
I’m tired of trying to be exceptional. Let’s face it. I am mediocre. But, since I always strive to be good at something, I want to be the best mediocre person I can be.
Here is my list on how I plan to do that.
Don’t try and change reality. The only way to separate cotton is by hand. The best light is oil lamp. No, candle light. No, burning embers.
Spend your time and energy thinking about what others have or what others did to you. Bonus points if the person you are jealous of really doesn’t have anything anyway (like celebrity from reality tv shows!).
Don’t do. You get a bonus with this one – at the end of your life, if you’ve spent enough time thinking and not doing, you’ll have a long list of things you can tell people ‘If I’d only…’.
Do What Works For You
You’re perfect, right? Your life is perfect? It’s ‘working’. So don’t change it.
Failure means failure
If you failed, you’re obviously no good at it. Stop trying! If it was meant to be it will come naturally. Like spelling when you’re a kid. Or riding a bike. Or learning to drive. Hmmm. Maybe we are only allowed to fail when we are young. When we hit our 20s our ‘failure pass’ is revoked and we have to do everything right. First time.
Bonus Tip: Eat what you want!
Our bodies love salt and sweet. It’s proven. Therefore salt and sweet must be very good for us – because we are animals and a large percentage of us still believe that animals instinctively know what is good or bad to eat.
I hope that by following this list I can be the most mediocre person EVER! Will you join me?
 – This is an interesting diversion: Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin. The Cotton Gin was so much faster that production of cotton cloth could be greatly increased. To fuel the boom industry needed more cotton. One major source of cotton was the American south. More cotton meant more slaves were needed. Hence, the Cotton Gin greatly fuelled the increase in slaves and brought on the US Civil War.
 – This explains why my dog likes to eat cat poo.
It’s the price of success: people start to think you’re omnipotent.
How special do I feel???
Today I received a personal email from the head of the US Federal Reserve, none other than Ben Bernanke himself!
Now, I found the following things a little strange about the email
- He uses hotmail. Come on, Ben! Are times so tough that they have shut down all the .gov servers?
- He personally gets involved in financial transfers
- I was unaware that people actually had accounts with the Federal Reserve Bank. I didn’t know it was like a real bank.
But thanks to good old Ben being so diligent, once I give him my personal banking details he will release $10.5 million to me! Woo hoo!
For those of you that haven’t figured it out – this is sarcasm. This is a spam email. If you get an email like this delete it, or blog about it. Just don’t hand over your banking details.
I guess I don’t so much mind being old, as I mind being fat and old.
I believe it started out like this:
Once upon a time, in a quiet, small town in Canada, a boy lay asleep in his bed. Unbeknownst to him or his family a horrible ogre had slipped into the home and made his way to the boy’s bedroom. The ogre pointed at the sleeping boy with a bulbous finger and uttered a curse:
“Your stomach will grow fat and nothing you do can change that”
- I love to eat. Food has always been a source of joy and a source of comfort. A dangerous combination.
- I hate sports. I have never enjoyed playing them and come from a time that in high school I actually never had to take PE.
- Eat less
- Exercise more
- eating lots of variety – they don’t sit down to a single plate of food with 3 things on it. They sit down to a meal of many small dishes (ideally each meal has to have 10 components, perhaps across 5 dishes).
- Not so much meat. Meat is a little expensive here, but also it is used as a flavouring, not a feature.
- Seaweed. There is seaweed in lots and lots of dishes. Seaweed is full of yummy goodness, according to the internet.
If you read somebody’s diary, you get what you deserve.
Blog’s really are online diaries. And by that I mean you can find thousands of them that have lots of entries between (metaphorically) January 1st and 15th, then things peter off to every once in a while and then the rest of the year is ‘Aunt Gladys’s Birthday’.
- I get nothing from it
- I have nothing to write
- it reminds me of my empty, pointless life
- someone else might read (or worse, has read!) my private feelings and embarrassed me with ridicule
- there is no time
- no one reads it
- I’m not making any money
1) I get nothing from it.
2) I have nothing to write
3) It reminds me of my empty, pointless life
4) Someone might read it.
5) There is no time
There is always time.
6) No one reads it.
7) I’m not making money
Don’t give up.
For me the definition of a selfish person is clear
I don’t like what you are doing, so I want you to change for me.
Recently a friend of mine seems to be running up against this from inside their family. And it got me thinking.
I’ve been accused of being very selfish because I primarily do what I want, what is in my best interest. But there is a difference between THAT and being selfish. To impose your values on someone else and expect them to change because you don’t like how they violate your ‘rules’… that is incredible to me.
Of course, society does this to maintain order – they are called laws. And the enforcement of just laws is vital to maintaining an ordered society.
But I am not talking about laws. I am talking about ‘I don’t like the kind of books you read, please read these instead’ or ‘I don’t like the colour you have painted your house, change it’. These things don’t affect the other person. What does it matter? Why is what you want more important than what I want?
While attending a conference about gender issues and their effect on the recovery in the aftermath of the Great Eastern Japan Disaster (i.e. the bloody big earthquake and tsunami) I was shocked to hear some of these tales of selfishness like mothers of young babies had to sleep outside (if they were lucky in a car) of the shelters because some people didn’t like to hear the baby crying. If you don’t want to hear the baby crying YOU leave. Don’t ask someone else to change for you. I really wanted to check the babystroller-reviews after seeing this, just so that I could help these families a little bit.
I can be selfish in my actions. This is indisputable. But… I try to not impose my values and opinions on others.
In some cultures maybe this is more normal – certainly in Japan men feel they can impose their will on women. I know this happens in other cultures too. If I try and say anything about this in Japan then I am told ‘you don’t understand Japanese culture’.
I hope I never do!
Right now Miles and More (Lufthansa’s StarAlliance rewards program) is having a sale on. You get 20% more miles when you buy.
Often this scheme is touted by people (like Chris Guillebeau for example) as a good way to get more miles. But, I sometimes wonder if it is worth it.
During the sale, if you spend €290 you get 14,400 Miles (12,000 + the bonus).
To buy a ticket from Frankfurt to Tokyo using miles costs 80,000 miles. Note that you still have to pay the tax.
So, I looked at a particular date range I was interested in (from August to September). The tax on the flight would be around €450. So, to get an economy ticket using points + tax would cost $1611 (the cost of points) + €450 (the tax) = €2061.
I can buy the same seat with cash for around €1000. In reality those 80,000 are only worth €600, not €1600.
Am I missing something?
Comments greatly appreciated!
(I do know that you can only buy 12,000 miles/year with Miles and More and that you would need to use ‘earned’ miles for this actual transaction. I have 100,000 Miles and More miles anyway).
It’s rare, even for my very cynical self, to have so many negative things to say in such a short period of time about an airport and airline.
I am writing this in terminal 1 of toronto’s pearson airport. Not from the lounge. More on that in a minute.
Now, I fly a lot. In 2012 I will take 49 flights. About half of them on Lufthansa or others star alliance partners – like air Canada. Most partners and airports give me something for my star alliance frequent travell status. Usually a free checked bag, or entrance to the lounge.
Air Canada and Toronto airport does none of these things. So I needed to pay for my second bag. Ok I booked through Expedia (as I almost always do) and they had quotd me $70 for the second bag. I went to air Canada’s self service kiosks, where I as told the fee was $90. Ouch. But what can I do. Except that neither of my European credit cards would work in the kiosk (I have used them throughout my 18 day trip to Canada).
So I weren’t to check in assistance, as the kiosk instructed me.
Except here the fee was now $100. They charge you $10 for not using the kiosk. I tried to explain that this was a great way to earn money for air Canada – just turn off the credit card functionality!
So the charge went from $70 to $90 to $100.
Now I asked about lounge access. No. Sorry. And there is no buy in lounge in this brand new terminal. I would have paid, but they would not give me access, for any amount of money.
All of this makes me wonder why I bother to be somewhat loyal to an airline or alliance.
Ok, it’s not starving kids in Africa, it’s just me whining but, I have definitely learned to avoid air Canada. I could have flown on Lufthansa one hour later today, but, I knew I would already have a long wait at the airport. If I had flown Lufthansa I would have actually saved money. That will teach me.
But really it teaches me to avoid Toronto. I got extra bags and lounge access in Detroit. That will be my destination in the future to get to south-western Ontario.