Sunday, December 09, 2018

Review: The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure

The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't think there's anything earth shattering here, but then again it might be because I ready many business books of this type. By and large, 10x means what it sounds like. He's less of the Tim Ferriss type of "find hacks" mentality, and more of the Gary V "hustle your ass off" mentality. I do like the way he puts it. Someone might think that to hustle means doing an extra sales call at the end of each day, or something along those lines. But by labeling it 10X, he makes it clear you need to think bigger. So you should be up making sales calls in your PJs and maybe even hire an intern or part-timer to get a sales team going (or something like that, I'm sort of inventing here) so you can make ten times as many calls as before.

I saw he has a TV show now (The Turnaround guy), which I'm interested in checking out.

Some of my notes:
Never diminish your target
Instead increase your input
Success is your duty
Average achievements are worse than no achievements, because people feel like they're putting in the effort already.
Don't get the victim mentality. If bad things happen to you, it's your fault, even when it isn't. Just think of a way to make sure it never happens again and move on.
Competing is copying
Don't let a good recession go to waste
Go all in (unlike with poker, you don' t have a limited number of chips)
You want new problems (means you're growing and doing new things).
Don't give Fear time to grow
Trying to avoid complaints is wrong (just another way of avoiding expansion). Complaints are direct ways customers give feedback. Encourage them, and you can improve.
Don't try to get money. Try to get wealth.
It's unethical not to achieve your full potential. You're robbing others of possible well-being
Be uncomfortable

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Review: Hoofprint of the Ox: Principles of the Chan Buddhist Path as Taught by a Modern Chinese Master

Hoofprint of the Ox: Principles of the Chan Buddhist Path as Taught by a Modern Chinese Master Hoofprint of the Ox: Principles of the Chan Buddhist Path as Taught by a Modern Chinese Master by 聖嚴法師
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up on a visit to Fagushan Nongchan Temple (法鼓山農禪寺) in Taipei, looking for an overview of Chan (Zen) Buddhism. The introduction is basically Sheng-yen's biography. The first chapter seemed to be an overview of Chan Buddhism that got way too technical for me, but I'm glad I stuck with it. The second chapter starts dealing with meditation, and then the other aspect of Chan Buddhism.

This is probably an excellent book if you are ready to set out and are serious about getting into Zen Buddhism. If you're just mildly interested and want to read more about it (like I was) this may be a bit much. Certain things were just too dense for me. For example, here's a sentence taken at random:

"The fourth station of mindfulness of dharmas entails taking a microscopic look at the continuum of psycho-physical experience from which concepts of self, mind and body are produced, using its constituent dharmas as the frame of reference".

It's not as bad as it may sound there, since the terminology is all explained beforehand, but it still ain't easy.

Having said that, it basically details all the aspects, history and beliefs of Chan Buddhism. The title is explained in the final chapter.

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Sunday, December 02, 2018

Review: Religion in Taiwan and China: Locality and Transmission

Religion in Taiwan and China: Locality and Transmission Religion in Taiwan and China: Locality and Transmission by Institute of Ethnology Academia Sinica
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A collection of essays and articles. Once again, these are hit or miss. However, there was something interesting in each one of these for me. I either learned about a new person (Yu Yue), or a new sect (Yi-Guan Dao, which is apparently huge in Taiwan), or about a Chinese-born Christian sect (Local Church), or Chinese Sufism, or Shamanism for the Paiwan tribe. .

The Chapters:
1) In Search of the Original Scriptures. About a Japanese and a Chinese monk who try to find original Indian Buddhists scripts, mostly via London
2) Locality and Temple Fundraising in Northern Qing China
3) Yu Yue
4) Inside and Outside the British Settlement in Shanghai
5) The Construction of Fundamentalism in I-Kuan Tao
6) The problem of Locality. About the Little Flock, or the Local Church, the Chinese-born Christian sect.
7) Singing your own song? About New Age in Taiwan. Not sure why this would be considered religious, and the author seems to be criticizing one of the founders (and probably rightly so), but pretty interesting nonetheless.
8) Rituals as Local knowledge. How Several Indigenous populations relate to Millet.
9) A resurgent Temple. All about Fengtian temple in Xingang, Jiayi.
10) Decline and Revitalization of Shamanic traditions in Paiwan village. Relates it to Shamanism in Siberia and Korea. Also discusses how Christianity (and the Japanese and the KMT government) relegated these traditions and tried to get rid of them.
11) City of Saint. About Sufism in China. Quite fascinatin
12) Rivers and Lakes. About Diviners (fortune tellers, Feng shui experts, etc.)

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Saturday, December 01, 2018

Review: Pompeii

Pompeii Pompeii by Robert Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was excellent. Pompeii and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius is something we've all heard about. I thought I had heard quite a bit about it, and I also went to visit Pompeii several years ago, and yet it wasn't until reading this book that I felt I got a real sense of what it must have been like to go through this ordeal. I've heard it said that A Tale of Two Cities does a better job than any history book of conveying what it was like to go through the French Revolution, and I suspect this is its equivalent for Pompeii and its inhabitants.

I also enjoyed the angle, and how the observations started from the changes in the water supply and aqueducts.

The (love) story in itself was a tad simplistic, but there were many other reasons to enjoy this book. The story was almost just an excuse to tell all the rest.

Also (SPOILER AHEAD) it seemed to be a bit of a stretch how Attilius manages to be on Mt. Vesuvius when the eruption starts, passes through Herculaneum and then Misenum, and the gets to Pompeii for the final pyroclastic surge (and obviously survives).

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Review: Voices from the Beautiful Island

Voices from the Beautiful Island Voices from the Beautiful Island by Chiu, Tzuhsiu Beryl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A nice collection of bilingual poetry and stories from various authors, with the Chinese and English side by side. My favorites were "Spring rain" (春雨), by Cheng, ching-wen, and "Soul Palanquin" (魂轎), By Tonfang Po.

Apparently the version of Spring Rain is slightly altered here, at least the English translation is. I also noticed there is a story by Husluman Vava, which was featured in The anthology of Taiwan indigenous literature, and this was different as well. I'm not sure why in either case.

Still, a good mix, also with an indigenous story and an ode to the military compounds that many mainland Chinese grew up in when they came here.

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Review: Twain’s Feast

Twain’s Feast Twain’s Feast by Audible Originals
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More of a chat amongst friends than a book. If these friends happen to be experts on Mark Twain or subjects related to him.

This is also a fascinating journey into certain aspects of Americana from Mark Twain's time, stemming from a couple dishes and types of food he writes about.

It would have been much better had they actually tried eating the food mentioned (every dish seems to be a "vegetarian" or "Wagyu beef" version of what Mark Twain once had). It would have been interesting to at least hear what his favorite foods tasted like.

Very anecdotal, very colloquial, but also entertaining.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Review: A New Illustrated History of Taiwan

A New Illustrated History of Taiwan A New Illustrated History of Taiwan by Wan-yao Chou
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is probably the definitive history of Taiwan to read (in English) for those who are interested in the subject. It is actually quite a quick read, and the illustrations are excellent.

The complicated history of how Taiwan feels vis-a-vis Japan, China, the ROC, and Taiwan itself is outlined very clearly, as well as how its history relates to the region, including Okinawa and Korea. I also appreciated that the author touched upon issues such as the frivolity of the news in Taiwan, which one notices when living here, but is hardly ever addressed.

A couple of my notes:
- The name "Taiwan" comes from an indigenous word
- Japan was able to use Taiwan to have China recognize it (Japan) as ruler of Okinawa
- Suniuo, an Amis, went to Indonesia as a soldier for Japan, and then hid in the forests of Indonesia for 30 years following the defeat of Japan in WWII.

A couple issues:
Why Wade-giles?? I understand it might have made sense when it was first written, in the 90s, but now they include a Wade-giles - Pinyin glossary at the end, which seems would be more trouble than just changing everything to Pinyin.

Would be interesting to have an update for the past 20 years or so, especially the whole China-Taiwan relationship and lack of recognition on an international stage, and maybe another look at the 90s from more of a historical perspective. An update would make me revise this to 5 stars.

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