Monday, December 25, 2006

I too believe in the rule of law

I believe in the rule of law. While the law is not perfect, it is the best method of last recourse to decide contentious issues that arise between entities -- whether they be individuals, corporations, or governments. It is far better than resorting to violence or war.

For a great perspective on the rule of law, please read or listen to:

While the rule of law is important, it should also be the last resort after other avenues are exhausted, because it can be very expensive (resource intensive) to decide a matter through the rule of law.

First of all, it is best to avoid legal conflicts altogether by centering on a good set of values or ethics. This keeps you on the high road and provides a good role model for others. Examine your values closely and stick to them.

If necessary, also establish a reasonable set of policies which keep people well within the bounds of laws. This mostly applies to organizations (and families). Be very careful with policies to make sure they are reasonable, enforceable, and legal. If you cannot really enforce a policy, don't make it a policy.

If this still does not suffice, talk it out. What goals and what issues really exist? It is most unfortunate when one party or the other is not able to engage in discussions, but it does happen.

When all else fails, then we are lucky to have a balanced legal system as the ultimate arbiter. And it is important for us to continue to refine and improve our legal system so that it stays balanced and reasonable.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Want Democracy? Then Practice It!

It is so easy to be lazy. And it is so easy to blame others.

It seems to me that too many people these days are lazy (at least in the US). And too many people are ready to blame others rather than take responsibility themselves.

All of us can control and are responsible for our own destinies.

Who are we to force democracy on others? Forcing others to practice democracy is by its very nature undemocratic. Would the US have become a successful democracy if some other country had come in and told us we had to conform or else? Hell no!

We don't want others to tell us what to do. Others don't want us to tell them what to do. Democracy by its very nature is rooted in the people. As such it has to grow from the people. Power to the people!

It is far more powerful for us to teach by example. It is far more effective to nurture and grow democracy through education. This takes patience. It takes time. But in the long run it can be successful. And the results are much more likely to sustain themselves.

For democracy (as well as our environment, efficient use of resources, and our world), the US was wrong to invade Iraq.

Who are we to force democracy on others when we oppress others and make them too afraid to speak out?

Be brave, speak out, and be heard. Free speech is necessary for democracy to thrive and spread. If you don't stand up for free speech, who will? It is a requirement for democracy. So do it!

Who are we to force democracy on others when so many of us choose not to participate in our own democracy?

If you really believe in democracy, prove it -- go vote!

Tim Oey
Sunnyvale, CA

Copyright 2006 Tim Oey

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Why Do I Write?

I write to educate and to communicate.

To understand something properly, it is important to read several viewpoints. Then, from these, draw your own conclusions. Do not trust any single source for the whole truth. Do cross check what you read and critically evaluate it to see if it rings true.

At a speech about bicycles and computers for the 1993 LAW National Bicycle Rally in Pennsylvania, I extended the quote "The pen is mightier than the sword" from Edward Bulwer-Lytton to read "The pen is mightier than the sword, and the computer is the mightiest pen yet invented by mankind."

I am pleased that computers and the Internet have greatly expanded the ability of us all to write and to communicate. The US Constitution protects a US citizen's right to bear arms (the second amendment). I believe it is much more important that it continues to protect our right to bear a pen (the first amendment). Freedom of speech is critical to the proper functioning of a democracy.

While I strive to make my writings as accurate, truthful, concise, and clear as possible, I am only human.

Thus, I offer you, the reader, my writings on this blog and hope you find them useful on their own or in conjunction with the writings of others. Peer review is the best way (perhaps the only way?) to build a solid reputation of trustworthiness.

If you find inaccuracies, please let me know. If you find accuracies please let others know and link to my blog.

Tim Oey
Sunnyvale, CA

Copyright 2006 Tim Oey

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The American Way, Osama, and Truth.

Today I wrapped up a business trip in India and had the pleasure of visiting the Taj Mahal with a colleague. I also had the pleasure of talking about the world at large with Sanjay, our tour guide in Agra. Sanjay shed new light on my knowledge of the American Revolution. He said that many in the world greatly admired the United States after it successfully gained independence from England in 1776. And the US inspired many other countries, like India, to also seek independence.

I wish the US could continue to inspire people rather than hurt them.

In Greg Mortenson's book "Three Cups of Tea", one Pakistani says regarding the US-Iraq war "I'm a moderate Muslim, an educated man. But watching this, even I could become a jihadi. How can Americans say they are making themselves safer? Your President Bush has done a wonderful job of uniting one billion Muslims against America for the next two hundred years."

In response to Greg's retort saying "Osama had something to do with it, too." The Pakistani goes on to say "Osama, baah! Osama is not a product of Pakistan or Afghanistan. He is a creation of America. Thanks to America, Osama is in every home. As a military man, I know you can never fight and win against someone who can shoot at you once and then run off and hide while you have to remain eternally on guard. You have to attack the source of your enemy's strength. In America's case, that's not Osama or Saddam or anyone else. The enemy is ignorance. The only way to defeat it is to build relationships with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business. Otherwise the fight will go on forever.

These words ring true whereas much of what President Bush has had to say has not.

I highly recommend that everyone buy a copy of Greg's book and read it. It is chock full of insights and real truths. Please read it and let ignorance fade away in the light of reason and accurate information. The truth shall set us free.

Tim Oey

Friday, April 07, 2006

Longevity, durability, and death...

I was very pleased to learn from Blogger Support that their intent is to retain information on blogspot "forever" (must fall within their TOS -- which means it basically must be legal -- and, of course, they have to stay in business).

This is quite reassuring. As a historian and archivist, I value permanence and durabilty. Plus I would really like my writing to stay around for a very long time, so that others may learn about me and what I think. Here is the email I got from the blogger folks.

Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2006 17:39:54 -0700
From: "Blogger Support"
To: "Tim Oey"
Subject: Re: [#443986] Longevity, durability, and death...

Hi Tim,

Thanks for writing in. Blogger will never delete or remove any blog
content unless the blog violates our Terms of Service. We intend to retain
content "forever," even after the author dies. Please let me know if you
have any further questions or concerns, and thanks for using Blogger!

Blogger Support



Sunday, April 02, 2006

Death is hard...

Today was a hard day. Actually this whole week was hard.

Young people think they are invincible or simply don't think about death because they have so much life in front of them. They are lucky. They deserve to enjoy their youth as much as they can; before they become more burdened with other realities of life.

I am no longer as young as I once was. As you get older, you are exposed more to death. While my educated philosophical perspective says that death is as natural as life, death still hurts. A lot. Especially for those of us left behind.

This past week, Ben Sumner, the 20-year-old son of a good friend of mine, hit a tree and was killed while skiing. My wife and I attended his memorial service today. It was a beautiful service full of his friends, family, and wonderful memories. He was a fantastic guy -- bright, witty, and full of life. As a parent of two growing sons, I am heartbroken over this tragic loss.

Also this past week, we lost Karen Ballantine, one of our good family friends, to cancer. She was a mother of two children just a bit younger than our own. Our families are both a part of the Minnows Mariner group at the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church. As a part of this group we got to know each other before any of us had kids, and our families grew up together. Her memorial service will be in a few weeks.

Finally, on Saturday afternoon, we lost another good friend to cancer: Lonnie Toensfeldt. She was older with two grown daughters. She had accomplished much for hundreds, even thousands of kids through her outstanding work in the California 4-H program. She was my mentor as a 4-H leader during my adult involvement in the program. I had the good fortune to get to know her well and to share memories with her at a celebration of her life hosted by her friends last summer when we learned her cancer had taken a turn for the worse.

Life is so delicate.

These recent life passages make me appreciate more fully the short, precious time I spend with my kids, as well as with my friends, my family, and my wife. Here's to them and to all of you reading this. May all of us enjoy each others company while we have the chance. And remember the good times and friendships of those who go ahead of us.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Greg Mortenson and "Three Cups of Tea"

This evening (3/20/2006) I had the pleasure of meeting Greg Mortenson in person at Kepler's in Menlo Park during a discussion of his book "Three Cups of Tea". He gave a great talk with about 250 people attending.

Some highlights that stood out for me:

1) Schooling girls has greater benefit then schooling boys for a number of reasons. Boys tend to leave the community and take their education with them whereas girls tend to stay with communities and help build them. Educated girls are more likely to raise educated families. When boys go off on a "jihad" (which is not necessarily a war, but can be any crusade or struggle to make a difference), it is supposed to be approved of by their mother to be socially acceptable. If the mother is educated she is less likely to approve of a warlike jihad and more likely to approve of some other endeavor.

2) Greg and some statisticians at the UN believe that the best way to to get over population under control is to educate women.

3) The amount of money that the US spent on the war in Iraq would have been enough to eliminate illiteracy worldwide (spending that much money on schools rather than the military). Imagine the kind of message that would give the world instead of making war.

4) Greg's group has set up 53 schools and these schools have educated 20,000 children so far.

5) Greg is a very humble guy who freely admits that he has made lots of mistakes -- and making those mistakes was necessary for him to learn. When his first school was being built he made the mistake of trying to manage things very closely to make every penny count. The town elder said the people loved him but asked him to back off and let the people build their own school. Greg was driving them crazy. They proceeded to finish their school just fine in 6 weeks. Greg said he learned it is important to give power to the people.

I now have a copy of Greg's book and hope to read it in the next few weeks.

For more details on the book please see:

For more on Central Asia Institute please see:


Monday, February 27, 2006

Absolute free speech

Like many absolutes, absolute free speech cannot be reasonably maintained.

However, free speech in general should be protected as much as possible.