The Balloons are Coming!  The Balloons are Coming!


I was up in the Casa Grande mountains this morning where I do either a morning run or a morning hike.  Suddenly, I looked up and saw a large object overhead.  With further perusal, I realized that it was a balloon.  Now I have seen many balloons over the mountains in the past twelve years, but this one was different.  It was large and round like so many are but this one was painted with red, white and blue stripes like an American flag.  Why I wondered would anyone paint a balloon with red, white, and blue stripes?

Moon over mountain

I was well aware that a Chinese surveillance balloon had been spotted over Montana and today another one was spotted over South America.  It has been in the news for the last two days about every hour.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if the Chinese wanted to fool us, what better way than to make a SPY balloon look like a hot air balloon with an American flag painted on it.  Who would suspect such a balloon.


As I continued to gaze at the balloon, I had the eerie feeling that I was being surveyed.  What if the Chinese were taking my picture?  What if they were scanning my body type and profile?  Could they send my picture back to Beijing?  The more I pondered these questions, the more terrified I became.  I realized it was time to get out of there and report my suspicions to the proper authorities.  Just as I started to leave, the balloon went hundreds, maybe thousands of feet in the air and headed to Picacho Peak.  It dawned on me that the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is just a few miles south of Picacho Peak.  What if the balloon was going to attack the base?  I had to get home quick.

As soon as I got home.  I went on my computer to find the number for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  I Googled “CIA phone number.”  All I could come up with was an address to contact them at:

To contact OIG, please send mail to the following address:

Office of Inspector General

Central Intelligence Agency

Washington, DC 20505

This would not do.  This was an emergency.  It was a matter of national security.  I tried again and found the following phone number for the CIA:  202–418–5000.

I dialed the number and was answered by a robot which said:

“You have reached the “Commodities Futures Trading Commission.”

Could this by a subtle ploy to hide the real identify of the CIA?  I decided that the number listed for the CIA must be wrong.  After numerous searches, (it took me about an hour) I found a number for Mr. William Burns, the Director of the CIA.  I can’t give you his number as it is classified, but I will describe my conversation with the CIA.

CIA:  Who do you wish to speak to?

John:  Hi, this is a national emergency.  I want to speak to the Director, Mr. Burns.

CIA:  Mr. Burns is busy now; would you like to speak to his secretary?

John:  No!  NO!  This is an emergency!  I just spotted another Chinese Surveillance balloon over the Casa Grande Mountains.

CIA:  Could you tell us where these mountains are?

John:  Everyone knows they are in Arizona.

CIA:  Can you hold please, while we find someone to talk to you?

John:  Please hurry, the balloon is headed towards an airbase.


 CIA:  Hello, I am the assistant to the assistant to the assistant for Mr. Burns, how can I help you?

John:  I just spotted a Chinese Surveillance balloon over Picacho Peak.  It is headed to the Air Force base in Tucson.

CIA:  How do you know the balloon is Chinese?

John:  Because it is designed to look like a hot air balloon and it is painted red, white and blue, with the American flag.

CIA:  This sounds serious.  We are recording this information.  Have you contacted anyone else about this?

John:  No!

CIA:  Good, then we want to advise you to say nothing to anyone else.  Are you planning any trips soon?

John:  Well, we have some Chinese friends in San Francisco who we were going to visit in April.

CIA:  My God!  You have Chinese friends?  How long have you known them?  Do you think that they could be spies for the Chinese government.

John:  We have known them for almost thirty years now.  I think they are in their late seventies and probably too old to be spies.

CIA:  They could be much younger and made up to look like old people.

John:  I doubt it.

CIA:  Look, there is a security risk here.  We advise you to terminate your vacation plans immediately with this family and do not mention anything about our conversation with them.  Can you give us their address?

John:  I would rather not.  I don’t’ think we should get them involved.

CIA:  Look, who is more important?  Your friends or your country?

John:  Can I have some time to think about it?

CIA:  Have you ever heard of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  This is the highest award for a patriotic American citizen, and you could be in the running for this award.

John:  Do I get any money with the medal?

CIA: That might be arranged.

John:  Ok, I will give you their names and addresses but you must promise that I will remain anonymous.

CIA: You have our word (Crosses his fingers behind his back while he says this).

John:  I have got to go now; I hear someone knocking at my door.

I hung up my phone and walked to my front door.  Opening the door, two tall White guys in suits with dark sunglasses were standing there.  I asked them “What can I do for you?”  The older of the two guys said “We are from the CIA, we are placing you in the witness protection program for your own good.  Get some clothes, we must leave immediately.”

“Can you wait a few minutes while I tell my wife”, I said.

“It is better if no one knows where you are going or why.  The less people who know the better.  This is an issue of national security.  Hurry, we don’t have much time.  By the way, do you have any papers or documents around that belong to you?”

“Well,” I replied, “I have several unpublished blogs that I started but did not finish.”

“Okay, we want those documents.  They are now classified TOP SECRET documents and belong to the US government.  Gather them up and let’s go.  We want you to put the following message on your voice mail in case anyone tries to call you.”


You have reached the voice mail of John Persico Jr.  I have gone away for a while.  I do not know when I will be back.  If you see any balloons in the sky or have knowledge of balloons that do not look like helium balloons, toy balloons, weather balloons, or hot air balloons, please leave the following details:

  • Where did you see the balloons?
  • What suspicious activities were these balloons up to?
  • Which direction where they headed?
  • What was your last contacts with any ethnic Chinese people?

mixxed ballooons


The Balloon has been shot down over the Atlantic Ocean. The Republican response to this crisis has been summarized by the Governor from Texas:

“The China balloon flying over the U.S. is a direct assault on our national sovereignty,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted on Friday. “Biden’s refusal to stop it is a dereliction of duty. From flying balloons to open borders, Biden has no regard for our national security and sovereignty.”

John’s Top Ten Sleepless Night Questions  – This Past Week 😊


I woke up last night wondering and wondering and wondering.  A series of recent events had caused confusion and chaos in my sleepy mind.  I realize that I am no genius, but I could not stop thinking and pondering a number of questions which were continuing to nag me during the past week or so.  Maybe, in fact very likely, a number of my readers are much wiser than I am and can help me with my questions.  I would appreciate any thoughts that some of you might have on any of the following questions.  Your answers would help me to sleep better in the upcoming nights.

  1. How is rioting and destroying lives and property “Legitimate Political Discourse?”
  1. Why do peaceful civil rights protestors get beaten and arrested and scorned but Neo-Nazi groups are free to march and stage violent protests?
  1. How come we can use the RICO act to arrest and convict gamblers and drug dealers, but we can’t use it to arrest politicians who advocate or support the violent overthrow of the United States?
  1. Why can we send hit squads to take out terrorists in Syria and other parts of the Mideast, but we can’t send hit squads to Florida, Texas, and other parts of the USA to take out domestic terrorists?
  1. How come ISIS is an “official” terrorist group but the KKK, Proud Boys and Neo-Nazi groups are not terrorist groups?
  1. How come all the USA TV news on the Ukrainian Crisis constantly use military weapons, troops firing, howitzers blasting, tanks rumbling and other pictures of war as a backdrop to their news updates on the Ukrainian Crisis?

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in multiple social media posts in January 2022 alongside a claim it shows Ukrainian troops “preparing for potential combat” at the border with Russia. However, the video has circulated online since at least 2020 in a post by a Ukrainian military command about its troops conducting a military exercise.

7. How do we have time for a political discussion with Putin when the “analysts” say he is simply using the time to strengthen his military position?

8. Why has not one US politician from either party or end of the political spectrum commented on the beautiful moving opening ceremony and the spectacular technology displayed to date at the Chinese Winter Olympics?

9. Why are all the headlines in today’s news featuring negative comments about China and/or its role in the Olympics?  Some examples below from this mornings headlines:

  • Criticism of Zhu Yi, a US born skater, show harsh scrutiny of naturalized athletes in China – The New York Times
  • Teenage Olympic sensation Eileen Gu wins gold and crashes the Chinese Internet -CNN
  • Olympics put Chinese authorities’ press intimidation on full display – Axios
  • China’s holiday box office plunges by 23% as theaters push prices to record highs – CNBC
  • Beijing 2022: Winter Olympics hit by deluge of complaints from athletes -BBC
  • China stirs controversy with Uyghur torchbearer – The New Arab
  • Olympians accuse refs of bias after controversial penalties help China -Insider
  1. Why are US politicians more concerned about the rights of Uyghurs than they are about the rights of Blacks and minorities in America?

Does anyone in the USA know who or what a Uyghur is? Here this might help.

Who are the Uyghurs? — From the BBC World News

“There are about 12 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, living in Xinjiang, which is officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

The Uyghurs speak their own language, which is similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. They make up less than half of the Xinjiang population.

Recent decades have seen a mass migration of Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority) into Xinjiang, allegedly orchestrated by the state to dilute the minority population there.

China has also been accused of targeting Muslim religious figures and banning religious practices in the region, as well as destroying mosques and tombs.

Uyghur activists say they fear that the group’s culture is under threat of erasure.”

The Xinjiang Conflict – Wikipedia

“Since the incorporation of Xinjiang into the People’s Republic of China, factors such as the mass state-sponsored migration of Han Chinese from the 1950s to the 1970s, government policies promoting Chinese cultural unity and punishing certain expressions of Uyghur identity, and harsh responses to separatism have contributed to tension between the Uyghurs, and state police and Han Chinese.  This has taken the form of both terrorist attacks and wider public unrest such as the Baren Township riot, 1997 Ürümqi bus bombings, protests in Ghuljia, June 2009 Shaoguan Incident and the resulting July 2009 Ürümqi riots, 2011 Hotan attack, April 2014 Ürümqi attack, May 2014 Ürümqi attack, 2014 Kunming attack as well as the 2015 Aksu colliery attack.  Other Uyghur organizations such as the World Uyghur Congress denounce totalitarianism, religious intolerance, and terrorism as an instrument of policy.”  — Wikipedia

Concluding Thoughts:

John Donne’s famous line, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls” strikes me as a good reason to pursue justice everywhere in the globe.  We should never be so comfortable that we tolerate injustice in any country whether friend or foe.  Nevertheless, we should be careful about waving a flag of righteous indignation as to the houses of other countries when our own house is far from being in order.  To do so, presents a ludicrous form of hypocrisy that is evident to the rest of the world.

We need to walk a fine line between advocating for the rights of others and stepping into a conflict that we have no legitimate right to be involved in.  There are 12 million Uyghurs who may be being persecuted because of their perceived separateness.  I wonder how many LGBTQ people, how many Indigenous People, how many Black people, how many women in the USA are being persecuted every day because of their differences?  The following charts depict some statistics in respect to my question.  The numbers seem to be going up each year rather than down.




1_in_6_Women 122016

Leading Economist Talks about China America Relations – Dr. Jeffrey Sachs


Is China really the enemy, or are we just creating self-fulfilling prophecies? If you want to hear the truth about China from a leading economist who has been involved in China since 1981, you need to listen to this video discussion. Dr. Sachs presents his views on why China should not be seen as the enemy and why almost all the politicians both Dems and Republicans are misguided. I have not heard it stated so clearly as Dr. Sachs puts it but it is time Americans realize that reality is not what our so called political leaders are telling us.

A Tale of Two Restaurants – Part 1


This is a story of two restaurants.  There is a moral embedded in these two stories.  Perhaps it will be obvious, perhaps it will not be.  The first tale happened long ago.  The second, very recently, in fact, one week ago.  You may think that between the first tale and the second that the author of these stories would have learned his lesson.  Sadly, he did not.  History repeated itself both times.  That old adage that “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” proved itself once again.

imagesThe first tale begins with a trip back from Duluth, Minnesota over thirty years ago.  Karen and I were returning from a scenic ride up the North Shore to our home in White Bear Lake.  It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July.  We decided that we were hungry.  We were nearing the Cloquet exit on Interstate 35.  Not seeing anything near the exit, we decided to pull off the freeway and try to find a place to eat in Cloquet.

Cloquet was a quiet little town this Sunday.  It almost appeared deserted.  We drove around the streets not finding any open restaurants other than fast food ones.  Suddenly, in a rather isolated area of town, we spied a Chinese restaurant with a sign in the window that said “Open.”  Somewhat skeptical of a Chinese restaurant in Cloquet, we succumbed to the rule that “beggars can’t be choosers.” We parked in front of the restaurant and cautiously entered.

Downtown_Cloquet (1)

We were greeted by a young Caucasian girl.  Looking around we saw only two other non-Chinese diners.  Two strikes already.  I figured we would be lucky to get Chinese food from a Chung King Chop Suey can.  The young girl (mid-teens) brought a standard Chinese menu.  We gave our orders to the same young girl who was our greeter and settled back for a less than desirable dinner.

Chinese_mealThe quantity of food when it came was plentiful, but the quality of the food was a big surprise.  We have been to many a good Chinese restaurant in Shanghai, Huangshan, Nanjing, Suzhou, and several other Asian cities including American cities with large Chinese populations.  The food here was wonderful.  It was tasty, spicy, and as good as we have eaten anywhere in the world.  We were beyond surprised.  I could not believe our good fortune.  How could this be?  A diamond in the rough where diamonds were not supposed to exist.

When we had finished eating, our server came over with the check.  I told her how good the food was and asked if it would be possible to speak to the chef.  She replied, “Probably not.”  Thinking it was not to busy, I inquired as to why I could not speak to the cook.  I was curious concerning how he learned to cook Chinese food so well.  She then told me, “He does not speak any English.”  I asked her where he was from and how he had been selected to cook there.

Chinese Lantern - matchbookShe advised me that Mr. Huie (who started the well-respected Chinese Lantern restaurant in Duluth) had decided that Cloquet would be a good place for a small take-out style Chinese restaurant.  He placed an ad in a San Francisco paper which found its way to mainland China.  Mr. Huie (son of the founder of one of the first Chinese restaurants in Duluth) reviewed a number of applicants who answered his ad.  The present cook was selected for the job.  Who would believe a genuine Chinese food restaurant in Cloquet Minnesota?

Next Week:  Part 2

101 Reasons Why I love the Chinese – 我愛中國人的101個理由



Let’s start with the most obvious reason.  Without the Chinese there would be no Chinese restaurants.  No egg rolls.  No chop suey.  No fortune cookies.  No egg foo young.  No dim sum.  No cute little sayings to make me think about my life.  No Confucius.  No wonderful tea.  No China plates.  But the biggest reason, is that without the Chinese we would have no one to hate.

China being half-way around the world, makes an ideal enemy and scapegoat.  Let anything go wrong in the USA and we can blame China.  We can blame China for the Corona Virus.  We can blame China for a system where communism seems to work fairly well.  We can blame China for having the audacity to become a world power.  We can blame China for Tik Tok.  We can blame China for a complicated language that seems difficult to learn.  We can blame China for huge buffets with unknown foods that taste wonderful.  Have you ever been to one of the Chinese restaurants where they have a gigantic buffet full of great Chinese food?  Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  Of course, I always eat too much.  The third go-around is what usually kills me.

We can blame China for all our economic problems.  If things are going bad in the USA, it must be because they have stolen all of our ideas.  If our stock market declines, it must be because they have stolen all of our patents.  If our GDP is in the tank, it must be because they have stolen all of our great innovations.  If our country is in deep debt, it must be because the Chinese have a flourishing successful economy.  And now they want to steal a cure for the Corvid-19 virus.  How selfish these Chinese can be?  Don’t they realize that we will be more than happy to sell them a cure for the virus at billions of dollars of profit for our drug companies.

A major reason why I love the Chinese is based on the old saying that “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  My biggest enemy on the face of the earth is a man so despicable, so immoral, so degenerate that he has no scruples or conscience about destroying thousands of lives as long as he can get what he wants.  The man has identified the Chinese as America’s biggest enemy.  That is reason enough for me to love the Chinese.  Not only are they the enemy of my biggest enemy, but if a man who lies every time he breathes is now telling me that the Chinese are my enemy, I can seriously doubt that anything he tells me about them is true.  If he says that they cannot be trusted or that they are trying to destroy our country, I am not about to believe one single word of what he tells me.

Another reason I love the Chinese is based on something that Muhammad Ali once said when he was asked why he did not want to be drafted during the Vietnam War.  To quote Ali:

Muhammad Ali. Speaks With Journalists After The Sentence For Refusing To Enlist. 1967.

Muhammad Ali. Speaks With Journalists After The Sentence For Refusing To Enlist. 1967. (Photo by: EyeOn/UIG via Getty Images)

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?  No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end.  I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars.  But I have said it once and I will say it again.  The real enemy of my people is here.  I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom, and equality.  If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow.  I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs.  So, I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

Times have not changed since Ali refused to fight a war that we now know in hindsight was unjust and immoral.  A war with China would serve no more purpose than the war in Vietnam served or the war in Iraq served.  Except to kill millions of people who are doing no more than we are in the USA and just trying to make a living.  I have no desire or need to fight China.  China is not destroying Democracy in my country.  The Chinese have expressed no hatred for me or desire to come over and kill Americans.  The Chinese have not started any wars with the USA, nor have they threatened to start a war with us.

In 1989, Karen and I obtained permission to visit mainland China.  The occurrence of our visit coincided with the death of Communist General Secretary Hua Yaobang in April 1989.  The uprising associated with what has been called the “1989 Democracy Movement” had already begun when we arrived.  We stayed in China for three weeks.  We left a few days before the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4.  In fact, we left just a day before the airports in China were closed for foreign travel.


We traveled to China by ourselves.  We were not on a tour nor did we have a guided itinerary.  We arrived in Shanghai.   We went south to Huang Zhou, then we went northwest to Huangshan or the Sacred Mountains.  We then went east to Nanjing and then finally back to Shanghai.  We traveled by foot, train, bus, bicycle, and rented car.  On our trip we met many wonderful Chinese people.  Some took us on local tours of their cities.  Some hiked with us.  Some invited us over for dinner. Some became our long-time friends.  Some even emigrated to the USA and have become citizens here.  No one expressed any hostility towards us during our travels.  No one cursed us.  No one insulted us.  Many desired to speak to us about our country and some simply to practice their English.   Let me tell you one funny story that happened while we were walking about.


One day while Karen and I were out sightseeing, a bunch of soldiers saw us and came over to engage us in conversation.  Everywhere we went, people wanted to talk to us.  There were about fifteen soldiers in the group who were all heavily armed.  They jostled to take turns talking to us.  We had been warned about staying away from politics while in China but somehow the conversation drifted to our respective political leadership.  Someone asked who our president was.  I noted that George Herbert Walker Bush was our current president.  Immediately, the person who had asked me this question replied in clear English that “Your president is an asshole.”  Now, I had not voted for Bush nor did I particularly like him.  However, my immediate reaction was defensive as my country had been attacked.  I replied without thinking “Your chairman Deng Xiaoping is an asshole too.”  Karen caught her breath.  I thought she might have a heart attack.  Suddenly, a voice said “You are right.  He is too.”  Everyone started to laugh ridiculously hard.  We went our way amidst many hand shakes and pictures that they wanted to take with us.

I bought Karen her wedding ring in China.  We were married three months after we returned from our trip.  Several years after we returned from China, Fu Xibo, a man we met in Shanghai who helped us to arrange some of our travel while in China contacted us.  We had met Fu and his wife Mary and his daughter Dan Dan in Shanghai.  We had been invited to their apartment for dinner and we had traveled on part of our trip with Xibo.  We had many things in common and we quickly established a bond together.  We kept in touch via email after we returned from China.  Nevertheless, I was surprised at the request Xibo made.


Xibo expressed a desire to immigrate to the USA with his wife Mary.  He wanted to know if we would sponsor him as a US citizen.  Despite our friendship, I had my doubt or perhaps qualms.  I would be financially responsible for Xibo and Mary if they had no visible means of support.  I had to submit three years of my tax returns to show that I had the financial ability to support Xibo.  Karen and I discussed this and the resultant problems it could cause us financially.  I am not a rich man.  We lived in a house that Karen bought in 1970 for thirty thousand dollars.  I was working as a consultant and educator.  We had about a $100,000-dollar yearly income between the two of us.  Nevertheless, we decided to support Xibo and Mary in their desire to become US citizens.  It was perhaps one of the best decisions we have ever made in our lives.  We have never had any regrets.


Xibo and Mary now live as retired senior citizens in San Francisco.  Their daughter Dan Dan (Diana Fu) married a wonderful Chinese man in the states and has become a full US citizen.  Dan Dan and Woo have two sons and a daughter.  Xibo and Mary have become the day care providers for their grandchildren.  It is a job they undertake with joy and passion.  They are ensuring that the children learn Chinese and appreciate their cultural heritage.  We have visited them in San Francisco twice during the past few years and they have come to Wisconsin to visit us.  Xibo still has an apartment in China and wants us to come again to Shanghai and see the many changes that have taken place since 1989.  I love Xibo and Mary.  We have become Aunt Karen and Uncle John to Dan Dan and honorary Grandma Karen and Grandpa John to Aidan, Braydon and Corrina, the three grandchildren.  They are in the picture below with Dan Dan and her husband Wou.


I do not see the Chinese as the enemy of our country.  I see a country that in 2020 has 1,439,323,776 people according to UN data.  The Chinese population is equivalent to 18.47% of the total world population.  It is a country whose immigrants have helped to build the United States.  It is a country that fought with us against the Japanese in WWII.  It is a country of hardworking industrious people who all want the same things we do in the USA.  Freedom, equality, and justice.  I can think of nothing more despicable than using the Chinese as a scapegoat for our own economic problems.

I have been a business educator and management consultant for over thirty years now.  I have advised some of the largest organizations in the world on process management and quality improvement.  I have worked with leading experts in the field of business management.  If there is a single thing that I have learned in my thirty years of consulting, it is that we make our own problems.  Business leaders will tell you this.  We are responsible for our economy.  China is not responsible.  We claim to embrace capitalism because competition is vital to a growing robust economy but then we attack China because they are a competitor.  Business leaders look for solutions to problems.  Politicians look for easy answers and scapegoats.

  • Blame China for the virus that our leaders have helped to spread.

“Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages—immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise—it floundered.” — “How the Pandemic Defeated America,” The Atlantic, Ed Yong, September 2020.

  • Blame China for our national debt that relies on loans from China.

“Japan and China own about 5.2% and 4.6% of the U.S. debt, respectively. Japanese-owned debt doesn’t receive nearly as much negative attention as Chinese-owned debt, ostensibly because Japan is seen as a friendlier nation and the Japanese economy hasn’t been growing at a 7% clip year after year.” — How Much U.S. Debt Does China Own?

  • Blame China for cheap imports that Americans readily buy.

“Suppose, overnight, Americans stopped buying Chinese products. Some store shelves would be empty, and prices would be higher. One way or another, our economy would shrink.”  Forbes, May 2020

  • Blame China for stealing trade secrets but trade secret theft is a common occurrence among US companies.

“The National People’s Congress of China amended the Anti-Unfair Competition Law (AUCL) in April 2019 to protect the trade secrets of companies doing business in China.  We consider these changes to be major improvements to Chinese trade secret law, giving more protection to companies doing business in China.” — Trade Secrets 2019 Year in Review

Its about time we stop blaming the Chinese for our problems.  Think very carefully before you point any fingers at the Chinese.  No doubt they engage in some unfair trade practices.  No doubt they steal some trade secrets from us.  No doubt they have spies in the USA.  But you are a complete fool if you do not think that we are not doing the same thing to them and other countries.

Trump Administration Proposes $86 Billion Spy Budget to Take On Russia and China — New York Times

“When we understand people;
when we understand situations;
when we understand what matters;
when we understand the why’s, the what’s and the how’s;
when we understand the trigger of actions, we least inflict pain on ourselves and unto others.”  ― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah




3547– Thursday, August 15, 2019 — Buddha and the Duck   


My name is Siddhartha Gautama.  I was born into a rich family.  I was living a life of privilege with servants and maids to cater to my every whim.  I had no need to work to earn money since we had more gold than we knew what to do with.  My days were full of eating, drinking, playing and indulging my whims.  As I grew older, I could see that my life was going nowhere.  It had no meaning or purpose beyond my daily pleasures.  I soon decided that I must leave home to find out what life was really about.  I left home when I turned twenty.  My goal was to find the true meaning and purpose of my life.

It was a sweltering day in July, and I was trudging down yet another long dusty road somewhere between China and India.  I had been walking unnamed roads for many months now.  The only meaning I was finding was the dust and sweat covering my skin from my exertions on these unpaved rural roads.  I was getting more and more depressed as my journey now seemed fruitless.  I was about to conclude that life was hopeless and that I would never find my meaning or purpose.

As I came over a rise in the road, I saw a duck waddling across the road.  I called out in jest “Hey, Mr. Duck why are you crossing the road?”  I started to laugh when all of a sudden, I thought I heard the duck say, “Why do you think stupid?”  Clearly taken aback, I looked around to see where the voice had come from.  “What are you looking for dummy?”  This time I was sure that the duck was talking, and it was looking directly at me.  I began to think that the summer sun was addling my brain.  I spoke “Ducks cannot talk.  You are an illusion.”  “Well, now” said the duck, “another human who thinks they know everything.”

duck on road

“Okay, just supposing that you really are able to talk, why are you talking to me.”  “Well, you asked me your dumb question, so I thought that I would reply to you.  Most of the time, it is not worth bothering talking to humans since their only thoughts are about sex, food, drink and money.”

“I am not like everyone else.  I am traveling in search of the meaning and purpose of life and particularly my own life.  I do not care about sex, food, drink or money.”

“Ha” said the duck.  “You think that you are so special that you have a meaning or purpose ordained by the gods for your existence.”

“Well, you raise an interesting point Mr. Duck.  I simply assumed that we all had a purpose for existence.”

“You humans are always assuming things.  You think that the world and everything in it are made for your purposes.  You believe that you are the center of the universe and everything revolves around you.”

“I think instead of crossing this road, I will also journey down the road and look for the meaning and purpose of my life” said the duck with a funny cackling laugh.

“You are making fun of me” I replied.

“Why is it funny to think of ducks looking for the purpose and meaning of their lives?  Should it be any funnier than humans looking for the purpose and meaning of their lives?”

“You humans are all the same.  You think that you are so important.”

“But what,” I replied, “If there is no purpose or meaning to anyone’s life?”

“Maybe, there would be no worry, no power trips, no greed, no lust, no hate, no war” replied the duck.

“Are you saying that the problems humans have come from a search for meaning and purpose?”

“I am not saying anything.  I am only walking to the other side of the road.  I will be on my way again.  I hope you have a good day.”

“Good day to you as well Mr. Duck.”

The duck continued on his way across the road and through the brush until he was no longer visible to me.  His last question had left me in a quandary.  What if all of my discomfort and unhappiness came because I was searching for meaning and purpose?  What if these were truly irrelevant concepts to the universe?  What if I stopped this search and could simply BE as the duck was?  Eat when I was hungry.  Sleep when I was tired.  Walk when I felt like it.  What would a life without purpose and meaning be like?

Free the mind from disturbances.  Get rid of entanglements.  To simply be.

“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” — Buddha

“Life has no meaning.  Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life.  It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”  — Joseph Campbell







Why America Needs Asian Immigrants or Why We Should be Friendly to Asia!

asian_american_republicansI can tell you one reason we need them.  Without them we would not have any Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese or Japanese restaurants.  I for one do not want to have to drive to China for takeout Chinese food!  Another good reason we need them is because they love science and math subjects. This makes them very astute when it comes to computers, engineering and some of the other hard sciences that many White kids can’t seem to handle anymore.  I could mention Chinese laundries, but I have not seen any of them since I left Brooklyn many years ago and I am not sure if they still do laundry.

We like to think that we have been more tolerant to Asians than we have to other minorities but a brief historical review of how we have treated Chinese and Japanese immigrants in this country suggest we may be kidding ourselves.  We let many Chinese in during the 19th century to help build railroads and when we did not need them anymore, we passed a law excluding Chinese from immigrating to this country.

The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. It was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in US history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. The act followed revisions made in 1880 to the US-China Burlingame Treaty of 1868, revisions that allowed the US to suspend Chinese immigration. The act was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902. It was finally repealed by the Magnuson Act on December 17, 1943. Http://

Early stereotypes of Chinese have them as bumbling servants as in the old Paladin show where the hotel bell hop is called Hey Boy or cooks as in the Ponderosa show where Hop Sing with glaring pidgin English was often portrayed wielding a cooking knife and yelling at Hoss to get out of the kitchen.  The Slanted Screen is a 2006 documentary which explores many of the stereotypes that put Asian actors into a narrow range of roles that were generally stereotyped caricatures of Asian men.  It was many years before Asian men could find leading roles.  Marriage outside their ethnic background was taboo for Asians as it was for Blacks and was the subject of a series of laws.

“Anti-miscegenation laws discouraging marriages between Whites and non-Whites were affecting Asian immigrants and their spouses from the late 17th to early 20th century. By 1910, 28 states prohibited certain forms of interracial marriage. Seven states including Arizona, California, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah extended their prohibitions to include people of Asian descent. The laws of Arizona, California, Mississippi, and Utah referred to “Mongolians”. Asians in California were barred by anti-miscegenation laws from marrying White Americans (a group including Hispanic Americans). Nevada and Oregon referred to “Chinese,” while Montana listed both “Chinese” and “Japanese” persons.”  Wikipedia

Many of our Asian stereotypes, when not depicting them as servile cooks, depict them as inscrutable, diabolical, cunning and malicious.  Do you remember the arch villain in the first Hawaii Five-O?  Mc Garrett’s recurring nemesis was named Wo Fat.  He was so cunning that he managed to return in many of the episodes of Hawaii Five-O to cause mayhem and havoc.  I still remember the early serialized Flash Gordon episodes from the 1930’s, where the major villain was a character called Ming the Merciless.  Ming was incredibly evil and used many scientific gadgets from death rays to rocket ships to Pacific Chivalry.try and capture Dale Arden and make her his unwilling bride.  What could be worse for a White woman then to be married to an evil Asian?  She of course was in love with Flash Gordon but provided a suitable excuse for being rescued about every other episode.  Back then, women were rather helpless creatures who always needed a man to rescue them.  Come to think of it, it is still a favorite role for women as noted in many movies today, but that is another story.  Another classic villain was Dr. Fu Manchu.  He was a fictional character introduced in a series of novels by British author Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century. The character was also featured extensively in cinema, television, radio, comic strips and comic books for over 90 years.  He became an archetype of the evil Asian criminal genius.

Asians seem to make either very good cooks or very good villains.  I have not mentioned their role as Karate, Kung Fu and martial artists. That would take a blog of its own to cover.  Suffice it to say, that all Asians are Kung Fu experts except when it comes to portraying the role in the movies.  At that time, we can substitute White actors such as David Carradine who played the lead role in the TV series Kung Fu.  Charlie Chan, a Chinese detective had been played for many years by Warner Oland who was Swedish and by Sidney Toler who was Scottish.  But you know, you can’t really tell those Scotch and Swedes from an Asian, at least if you are Caucasian.

Animosity towards Asians increased during the Second World War.  Japanese-American citizens were stripped of their lands and most of JapaneseAmericansChildrenPledgingAllegiance1942-2their belongings and sent to forced relocation camps throughout the US.  Families were uprooted and split apart because of a national fear that those “Dirty Japs” would support their homelands and sabotage the war effort.  It is worth noting that no such disruption or internment was waged against Germans or Italians or Austrians.  Upon the end of the war, thousands of the relocated Japanese-American citizens found that their lands had been sold or confiscated and that they had nowhere to return home to.

Many Americans lump all Asians together and a variety of derogatory names can often be heard when listening to talks discussing Asian-Americans including:  gooks, slant eyes, chinks, slopes, Buddha-heads and zips.  The failure to make distinctions between Asian cultures is not only a problem for many Americans in conversation but it was a prime reason for the Vietnam War.  In the documentary “Fog of War”, the former Vietnamese war minister Võ Nguyên Giáp can be seen telling McNamara how dumb he was for not realizing the animosity that existed between the Chinese and the Vietnamese.  Part of our war assumptions was that Vietnam would go communist and ally themselves with the Chinese.  This was an assumption that as Giap told McNamara was utterly false and totally unsupported by any historical data.

We can pat ourselves on the backs and tell ourselves that these stereotypes and assumptions are all a thing of the past, but this would continue our delusions of acceptance and racial tolerance.  Even today our attitudes towards China and Japan and much of Asia tend to be condescending and arrogant. According to some experts modern anti-Chinese sentiment is the result of China’s rise as a world major power.  Self-delusion can be harmless or it can be extremely dangerous.  In this case, it is extremely dangerous.  Consider the following:

“As part of the Chinese exclusion policy of NASA, many American space researchers were prohibited from working with Chinese citizens affiliated with a Chinese state enterprise or entity. In April 2011, the 112th United States Congress banned NASA from using its funds to host Chinese visitors at NASA facilities.  Earlier in 2010, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) had urged President Barack Obama not to allow further contact between NASA and the China National Space Administration (CNSA).”

Or consider these comments and situations:

  • According to foreign media reports, on October 16th, a “kill everyone in China” remark appeared during the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” a late-night talk show program of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and shocked American public opinion. For days, over 25K people on the net petitioned on the White House website, demanding that the American Broadcasting Company cancel this program as well as apologize for the racist speech in the program.
  •  Thousands of Chinese Americans and overseas Chinese rallied Saturday outside CNN’s studios in downtown Los Angeles to protest anti-Chinese remarks by one of the network’s commentators. Cafferty (news commentator) said in CNN’s political news program ‘The Situation Room’ that goods from China were “junk,” and referred to the Chinese as being “the same bunch of goons and thugs they’ve been for the past 50 years.”
  •  It is difficult to look at a newspaper or go on the Internet without seeing another analysis or op-ed about the rise of China. These pieces often range from cautionary tales to alarmist declarations of inevitable Chinese aggression. japanese-internmentThough time will tell, the majority of these commentaries reinforce the belief that a more powerful China will be belligerent and upset the current status quo. Paradoxically, China is being led down this very path by regional actors who insist on publicly labeling China as a regional antagonist, creating an environment of suspicion and distrust, and using rhetoric that marginalizes China’s growing economic and political power.
  •  Republican candidates have repeatedly cited China as an economic threat to the United States, and some have run political ads that civil rights groups say are xenophobic and racist. Concern is growing that such attacks may lead to more discrimination, or perhaps violence, against Asian-Americans.
  •  On Super Bowl Sunday, Pete Hoekstra, a Republican former member of Congress and now a senatorial candidate in Michigan, ran a statewide campaign ad featuring an Asian actress “thanking” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., for sending American jobs to China. “Your economy gets very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs,” the actress says, accompanied by Chinese-sounding music while perched on a bicycle after riding on a path next to rice paddies. After a public outcry that the ad played on Asian stereotypes, Hoekstra stopped running it and deactivated a companion website with Asian themes.

You just can’t trust those inscrutable evil scheming Chinese.  Why give them the benefit of the doubt?  Is it to our advantage to start a war with China?  Perhaps a pre-emptive nuclear strike would end the threat of China as an emerging world power? Consider the following news headlines:  (Listen to the song We are the Children as you ponder these headlines)

Amazon has several popular books that are focused on our “inevitable” coming war with China.  The vast majority of Americans do not seem to think that there is anything wrong with this “drum roll” to war.  Then we wonder why our foreign relations with China seem to be up and down.  Imagine you were a Chinese-American living in this country, how would you feel sitting in the middle of this barrage of anti-Asian rhetoric?  Are we still looking for scapegoats because of the economic recession that hit this country, or is it simply that we cannot tolerate people who come from a different culture or who look different than we do?

Karen and I have an adopted Korean daughter who came to this country when she was 5 years old.  Within three weeks she would not speak Korean and quickly learned English and realized that to fit in she had to be like “other’ Americans.  “Other” in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, meant like Caucasians.  She never felt like she was like the rest of the family despite our best efforts to help her assimilate. In elementary school she felt angry and sad when other children called her “Chinese eyes”.  As an early adolescent she would often stand in front of the mirror pulling her eyes rounder and saying “I don’t look Korean do I?”  Later in high school and eventually when she went to college she began to accept her Korean heritage.  She relearned the Korean language and began an intense effort to find her birth mother. She was successful in both endeavors.  She not only found her birth mother but also her birth father who had left her mother early in the marriage.  021

In 2000, Karen and I went with Susan and her youngest son to meet her birth parents.  Because Sam (her youngest son)
was turning one year old, her Korean family arranged a large celebration on the occasion of his first birthday as is traditional in Korea.  At first, we were treated rather suspect, since her birthmother had thought, Susan (Hei Sook) was stolen by her American parents.   When the entire story of her adoption was laid out, attitudes changed and we had a warm reception with Susan’s birthparents.  Now Susan is raising two young Korean American sons (our grandsons) and learning some of the difficulties they are having as they try to fit into a predominately White culture.

No one has ever said it would be easy for immigrants.  Irish, Jewish, German, Italian, Polish, and many other minorities have all had difficulty fitting in.  However, White minorities have the advantage of similar ethnic characteristics.  African Americans, Mexican Americans and Asian Americans are much more easily discernible (although of course this is not always true) and therefore much easier to stereotype and discriminate against.  A recent study done at Cornell University and published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology (Vol. 60:2), reported the following findings:

“Our findings suggest that exposure to day-to-day racial micro-aggressions is common and that seemingly innocuous statements,41-kids such as being asked ‘Where were you born?’ or being told ‘You speak good English’ can have an adverse effect on Asian-Americans, in part, because such statements often mask an implied message that you are not a true American,” said Anthony Ong, associate professor of human development in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, co-author of the study with Anthony Burrow, assistant professor of human development at Cornell.”  “The combination of having one’s racial reality questioned, and having to decipher mixed messages, is a core feature of the micro-aggression experience,” Ong added.

For two weeks, 152 Asian-American college freshmen in the study completed a daily evaluation of their experiences, emotions and physical health, including a checklist of 20 racial micro-aggression events.

The researchers found that approximately 78 percent of the participants reported some form of racial micro-aggression within the two-week time frame. Overall, participants experiencing more racial bias events had more negative emotions, fewer positive emotions and more symptoms of physical discomfort (e.g., headache, stomach ache, sore throat).

For individual participants, the racial bias events were associated with higher levels of negative emotion and more physical symptoms that day and the day after, suggesting that the experience of these daily stressors may influence health and well-being over time. The researchers also found that racial invalidations (e.g., being treated like a foreigner or overhearing racially biased sexual stereotypes) were more prevalent and harmful than racial micro-insults (e.g., being told an offensive joke or comment concerning how Asians talk).  (See Cornell Chronical April 24, 2013)


Prejudice again st Asian Americans is often more subtle but no less prevalent then prejudice against other minority groups.  Systemic racism against Asian Americans exists in various forms and to varying degrees at all levels of American society.  Numerous studies have documented this bias and several well-known books have been written that discuss the problem.  One of my favorite was the book:  A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki (Dec 8, 2008).  It is fruitless to deny discrimination and it is equally fruitless to ignore our biases and prejudices.  The best solution entails frank discussions of the cultures that we create in our country and more transparent attitudes that openly acknowledge our biases.  Only through honest and open dialogue can we overcome our ingrained stereotypes.  It does no good to ignore them or pretend that they do not exist.

Racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, or hatred of anyone with different beliefs has no place in the human mind or heart.”   — Billy Graham

Time for Questions:

Do you know any Asian Americans?  Do you have any Asian American friends?  How much do you know about Asian cultures?  Have you ever traveled to any Asian countries?  Have you seen any examples of discrimination against Asian Americans?  Why do you think people discriminate against Asian Americans?  What can you do to help prevent discrimination?  Do you speak out against prejudice and discrimination?

Life is just beginning.

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