Give Me a Break


I recently read John Stossel’s book, ‘Give me a Break‘, and found it to be quite ‘refreshing’. While most of the news you read seems determined to frighten you, his book shows you that there’s little need to be worried about things that the mainstream media seems to obsess over such as airline crashes, cancer threats, or exploding Bic lighters. John exposes lots of myths and also the government programs that often seem to do more harm than good for the people they are supposed to help. I guess I’m a bit of a free market liberatarian, because I found myself nodding in agreement with many of the conclusions he draws in the book. One of the most unusual aspects of the book is where he exposes himself for taking advantage of a government handout called National Flood Insurance that uses taxpayer’s money to insure wealthy people for building ocean-front homes in areas where it is not safe to build. He also mentions that when he was slapped around by a 280 lb. WWF wrestler (which I saw on TV when it occurred) his hearing ‘injury’ stayed with him until his lawsuit was settled. Then it mysteriously disappeared. That seems to be a common trait of being a victim. Until we rise above it, our victimhood will follow us around. I think that is probably one of the most profound messages in the book.

Taiwan visit


I’m back in the U.S.A. after a short trip to Taiwan. I visited Taiwan for the first time in 2000 and have been back more than a half dozen times. My dad talked of Taiwan often, since he visited it several times when he was in the Navy but he referred to it by its Portugese name, Formosa, which means ‘beautiful island’. I mentioned Taiwan in another blog a few times when I was there in January/February of this year.

Many of HP’s technology partners are based in Taiwan and so there are ample opportunities to travel there to meet with them. Lately, I’ve been traveling to discuss HP’s LightScribe technology with various optical drive partners. The Taiwanese people are hard working, friendly, and very gracious hosts. My hosts are often women professionals, and Taiwan is ahead of the U.S. in recognizing the value that women bring to the workplace, promoting them into customer-facing jobs with a lot of responsibility. They are certainly much farther ahead in placing women in these jobs than countries such as Japan, where the only time I saw women in meetings was when it was time for them to serve the tea. 🙁

The first time I was in Taipei, Terri was also traveling in Asia and our stays in the capital of Taiwan coincided. Her trip was for 3 weeks through 4 Asian countries, so it was quite a coincidence to run into her in Taiwan and we were able to share a hotel room which was nice because we hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks by that time. The last time Terri visited Taiwan, she talked about beautiful women in glass booths selling gum. I’d had never noticed these girls or their booths. After she had piqued my interest about them, I began to look around and sure enough it seemed that they were everywhere, at least a few on each city block with the tell-tale neon lights to help you locate them. They sell gum that is made with an extract of the betel nut. The truckers like the gum and are good customers of the betel nut girls. I did a little research on the betel nut and found that people chew it for stress reduction, feelings of well-being, and heightened awareness. It contains three major alkaloids: arecoline, pilocarpine, and muscarine. I recall that in James Mitchner’s Pulitzer Award winning book, Tales of the South Pacific, he frequently mentioned the chewing of the betel nut by natives of the south pacific islands. He made it sound rather unappealing, like chewing tobacco, but I suppose if you can put it in gum form, maybe it makes it socially more acceptable. I didn’t get a chance to stop and buy any of it, but next time I may. It appears to be in the same league as caffiene as far as its addictiveness. I’ll just have to remember not to take it to Singapore with me, where chewing gum is still illegal. 🙂