Thursday, March 31, 2005

Posts I want to make

OK, when this week of insanity is over, I want to comment on at least one of the following:

Mark Hurd is HP's new CEO. He has no flash or sizzle like Fiorina did, but maybe he'll have substance, which Fiorina didn't.

Should virtual game items be treated as property? Especially when people are paying money for them and start killing each other over them?

This comic has forced to me to think of the Firefox-IE battle in a different light; it made me remember an interesting quote from David Bank's Breaking Windows: How Bill Gates Fumbled the Future of Microsoft. Good book, by the way.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Innovation tossed to the wayside

I'm writing the longest paper of my life right now, so I don't have much time to blog these days. :) My topic is blogs (surprise, surprise), and how they can and currently are changing the way organizations handle stakeholder relationships and interests, both positive and negative effects. It's really quite an interesting topic, and I'm tempted to even post my final product online. I wonder if there are academic issues with that; I'd hate to promote plagiarism for one thing, and I can't remember if the paper would actually be my product or the university's product.

But while I'm busy writing, you can read about ignored innovations. CNET has compiled a nice list of missed opportunities. I've wanted to write a long blog post on creativity and innovation for a while. I'll get to it after these papers are all handed in. Perhaps it can be integrated into my leadership thesis.

But I've noticed one thing. The diversity of my news sources has really narrowed down in the last few months. I read mostly CNET these days. Whatever happened to wanting diversified sources of media and opinions? I should set up an RSS feed for myself after finals to make it easier to aggregate the stuff.

Now this is amazing

Matt at Machall linked this. I was very impressed. It's way cool. Reminds me of that visualization search engine. And I can't even remember the search engine's name. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? Created an entire map of the Internet for your string searches.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

How Do I Live?

So I get up early today to prepare for my phone interview with Ernst & Young. Planning out the final details of things I want to say, discuss, questions to ask, etc. And I wait by the phone. And wait. And wait. Then I check my e-mail. Oh. The e-mail said that the interview was March 29, not 22. Alrighty then!

So I watch Con Air for the first time, had borrowed it off of glimpse. It's been two weeks of hell, and I figure I'd relax with some nice escape fiction before plunging into the third (and final!) one. Now Con Air is supposed to be an action movie, starring Nicolas Cage. And I thought it was pretty good. But action movies are supposed to make you feel excited, give you an adrenaline rush, that kind of thing. However, the whole underlying theme of this ex-convict just wanting to get home to see his wife and daughter gave me the opposite. Chee. When was the last time you went to see an action thriller and came out of the theatre feeling like you should check out Lavalife? ~~ I've never used personals, and probably never will. But the thought actually entered my mind. Very strange. I still think it's very cool that an anonymous friend was willing to sing it to him during Truth or Dare Jenga. :) And hearing it sung while Cage hugged his wife and daughter made me want to weep. OK, so it didn't go that far. :)
How Do I Live
Leann Rimes

How do I,
Get through the night without you?
If I had to live without you,
What kind of life would that be?
Oh, I
I need you in my arms, need you to hold,
You're my world, my heart, my soul,
If you ever leave,
baby you would take away everything good in my life,

and tell me now
How do I live without you?
I want to know,
How do I breathe without you?
If you ever go,
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I, how do I, oh how do I live?

Without you,
There'd be no sun in my sky,
There would be no love in my life,
There'd be no world left for me.
And I,
Baby I don't know what I would do,
I'd be lost if I lost you,
If you ever leave,
Baby you would take away everything real in my life,
And tell me now,
How do I live without you?
I want to know,
How do I breathe without you?
If you ever go,
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I, how do I, oh how do I live?

Please tell me baby,
How do I go on?

If you ever leave,
Baby you would take away everything,
I need you with me,
Baby don't you know that you're everything,
Real in my life?

And tell me now,
How do I live without you,
I want to know,
How do I breathe without you?
If you ever go,
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I, how do I, oh how do I live?

How do I live without you?

How do I live without you baby?
This is a strange day indeed. As the guys know, never settle. Results from settling suck.

OK, back to the grind.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I ran into a girl today

I was running out of the skytrain to get to class and crashed into a girl that was running to get onto the skytrain. I bowled her straight over. Oh, that was fun. Love Hina stuff. Well, except she was really nice about it. It really scared me because I thought she had twisted her ankle.

I was at Pacific Central Station again on Saturday. How come every time I go there, the men's bathroom is closed down for cleaning or repairs? Chee... no, I didn't accidentally walk into the women's room this time. I learned the first time around.

iPods contribute to Mac sales? Who woulda thunk that there was still a value proposition there after iTunes got a version made for Windows? Especially Apple: they originally wanted to avoid the cross-platform thing to add value to the Mac.

RIM closed at $99.30, while WJA closed at $17.00 today. Doh. Doh, doh, doh, doh, doh!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Sure enough...

Well, did I call it or what? On March 17, 2005 at 8:51 AM, someone found this site by searching for the words "digimon porn" on MSN Search. The culprit uses Road Runner High Speed and lives in the EST time zone, meaning that it was 11:51 AM their time when they came to my site. They were using Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6.0. Amazing. It really happened. Wow.

Other search strings that have directed people to my site in the last few days:
"arrogant attitudes"
"koreans Crazy"
"tamaki nami mp3s"
"how to do parabolas"
"www.free sex" (seriously people, I have no clue!)
"really cute pif"
"Tamaki Nami- realize mp3"
"dirty butts" (ok....)
"puffy amiyumi mp3"
"puffy ami yumi lyrics"
"filipino porn"
"msn Really cute.pif"
"xxx eyes wide shut"
"japanese school dropout rate"
"what's a vertex of parabola"
"facts movie to kill a mockingbird"
"Amazing Facts on To Kill a Mockingbird"
"Peter Twist HSBC"
"porn girls do it"
"Harry Stonecipher educational background"

Those are your search strings all the way back to March 13. Why on earth are all these xxx search strings coming to my site??? When do I ever write about anything smutty??? Well, the digimon porn one I can understand, having used the statement once. ;) And there'll probably be more. Heh.

But seriously. Digimon porn? @@ I will never understand this society.

Friday, March 18, 2005

No Nuts For You!

In my research on corporate social responsibility, I came across quite the interesting case study. Ben and Jerry's ice cream is possibly one of the most cited case studies for corporate social responsibility. Started by two hippies, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Ben and Jerry's devoted 7.5% of all their pre-tax profits to charitable causes. In addition, they grew their ice cream business from starting up in a little old gas station to go multi-national, achieving millions in profits. And being hippies, they did everything in their power to use their corporate influence to save the rainforests, etc. Ben and Jerry's was essentially the corporate darling of the political left.

But this particular case study details the history of another one of Ben Cohen's ventures. And this venture failed miserably because Cohen's commitment to CSR drove him to make irrational and even unethical decisions; he sacrificed important primary stakeholders for the sake of tertiary stakeholders. I think academics should cite this case a bit more in CSR studies, no? :) The article is well worth the read for anyone interested in CSR (corporate social responsibility).
But operating problems seemed of lesser concern to Cohen than abstract issues such as the values, vision, and culture that he stressed in numerous memos to his managers. In one such message he wrote, "I want to be known as a company that uses business to meet human needs." In another, he saw CPI as part of a new world where what counted was "putting people ahead of profit and passing laws that end up getting more money into the hands of poorer people and less money into the hands of richer people."
This is a dangerous mindset in that if it's not managed properly, it can become Communist. Suffice it to say that the Communism does not work as an economic system because you reward according to existence instead of merit (the logic and morals would require a separate post). This particular case study has really spotlighted to me what The Economist was saying in its January 22-28 issue:
The one thing that all the nostrums of CSR have in common is that they are based on a faulty - and dangerously faulty - analysis of the capitalist system they are intended to redeem. Admittedly, CSR is now so well entrenched and amply funded that to complain about it may be pointless. We are concerned that it may even be a socially irresponsible use of scarce newsprint. Nonetheless, if businessmen had a clearer understanding of the CSR mindset and its defects, they would be better at their jobs and everybody else would be more prosperous.

Simply put, advocates of CSR work from the premise that unadorned capitalism fails to serve the public interest....
I think CSR is still necessary in this world. But it should never subvert free markets as Cohen attempted to do. That makes for an unsustainable CSR initiative that has multiple potentially negative ramifications, including poor product quality, chaining a poorer nation's economy to inefficient markets, and unjustifiably high prices. CSR efforts that promote things like high quality free trade coffee is good. CSR efforts to implement environmentally friendly technologies that can save money and increase efficiency is good. But the key thing about CSR initiatives like quality free trade coffee or environmentally friendly technology is that the firm is actually able to benefit. Free markets would have encouraged firms to go in that direction whether an onus for CSR existed or not. CSR that exists for the sake of CSR really is just corporate welfare. Give a fish to a man and he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he eats for the rest of his life. We think too little of other people if we think that they are incapable of fishing for themselves. And they don't have to fish in ways that we impose upon them for the sake of our own CSR ideals.

Yes, I like CSR. But I am still an Adam Smith type at heart. CSR should work within an Adam Smith framework, not vice versa. At the same time, Adam Smith ideals can only have their intended beneficial results in a proper ethical and legal environment. Adam Smith ideals in a land with no respect for the law is a recipe for disaster. But that is an entirely separate discussion for another day.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Should have bought

So last week, I was thinking of buying WestJet and RIM shares. They both seemed undervalued. I thought that WestJet made some good changes for the future by retiring their old planes and moving to more fuel-efficient ones. Also, I thought they would be able to still make further inroads on Air Canada. And WestJet had been rated a buy by many analysts for a while now. For RIM, I thought there was undue panic about the increased competition that would come from convergence and competitors like Nokia, Microsoft, Palm, etc. RIM was dropping like a rock and I wanted to get it as soon as it something like $65. RIM got as low as $72.

So of course, before I actually buy WestJet and RIM, Jetsgo goes out of business, shooting up WestJet stock by 39% in a single day. Then RIM announces a settlement with NTP, the patent company that sued them for patent infringement. NTP will allow RIM to continue its Blackberry business and requires RIM to pay a settlement fee of $450 million. Considering how much cash RIM has on hand (I believe the number was over $900 million), this won't break RIM's back by any means, even though it is a substantial amount. So of course I check the price today and the stock's trading at $95.

I love this world. And the segregated fund that Rom sold me makes 1% on the year. Yay. Long-term, long-term, breathe in, breathe out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

When all else fails

One of my favourite t-shirts of all time still has to be Daniel's "When in doubt, read the instructions" t-shirt. There it is on the back, a big fat Bible. :) The decision trees for lots of things really do have an exponential order of complexity. Bleh....

On My Knees
Jaci Velasquez

There are days when I feel
The best of me is ready to begin.
Then there're days when I feel
I'm letting go and soaring on the wind.
'Cause I've learned in laughter or in pain
How to survive.

I get on my knees, I get on my knees;
There I am before the love that changes me.
See I don't know how, but there's pow'r
When I'm on my knees.

I can be in a crowd
Or by myself, in almost anywhere
When I feel there's a need
To talk with God; He is Emmanuel.
When I close my eyes no darkness there,
There's only light.

I get on my knees, I get on my knees;
There I am before the love that changes me.
See I don't know how, but there's pow'r
In the blue skies, in the midnight
When I'm on my knees.

I get on my knees, I get on my knees;
There I am before the love that changes me.
See I don't know how, but there's pow'r
When I'm on my oh, when I'm on my,
When I'm on my knees.

Tsunami-chan, hayaku tasukete yo!

So I decide to check out Tsunami Channel for the first time in months and discover that Akira is posting again! :D He's concentrating all his efforts to code his own drawing applets to make his drawing process better and more efficient. I'm impressed by his results so far. I hope he really does get back to drawing the stories of Kotone, Onni-chan, Laika, Konstantin, and the rest again. His comics were always so cool. :D But wow, that drawing software package an ambitious effort. Hardcore coders never cease to amaze me. The man works 12-hour days and still does this in his spare time? Chee....

Checking out the network

Professional network, that is. I joined Techvibes finally. First heard about it from Winston a couple of years ago, then talked with Alex about it a bit more last year. So now I joined. Yay.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Searching for My Blog

Wow, so after my education post, two people came to my blog by searching on MSN Search for the following:

"how do you graph parabolas?"
"why college students dropout"

The second hit came from someone at Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. I think that's kinda cool.

Other search strings that have brought people to my blog in the past:

"stonecipher"
"cute.pif"
"where to buy telephone poles" (Huh???)
"super mario brothers 3 secrets" (This one happens a lot for some reason...)
"statistics on canadians over weight" (I can't remember writng about this...)
"Markstrat cheat" (This one happened WAY too much...)
"women in Burnaby that want to have sex" (I really don't know how this one happened...)
"PakG1" (Whoah... people search for me :D)
"Nami Tamaki Realize lyrics" (Who DOESN'T want to know them? ;)
"Puffy Ami Yumi" (See above!)

Aren't search engines wonderful? At least nobody's coming to my site to look for Digimon porn. Oh crap. Now they will.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Charlene Choi Cheuk-yin Is My Hero

OK, maybe not quite my hero, but she totally gets my admiration. If there were more women like her, I think the world would be a lot nicer. I think I'm in love.

New blogs

Well, not really new new. But I should note that Erica and Alice both changed their blogs over to Blogger. Blogger is so much nicer than Xanga, no? ;)

Daydreaming ForeverBlue
XXX and Beyond

This advertisement has been brought to you by the letter L, the number 8, and the word "blog." Have a nice day.

The Leadership Thesis: Integrity

Coutesy of Merriam-Webster Online at http://www.m-w.com:

Main Entry: in·teg·ri·ty
Pronunciation: in-'te-gr&-tE
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English integrite, from Middle French & Latin; Middle
French integrité, from Latin integritat-, integritas, from integr-, integer
entire
1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values :
INCORRUPTIBILITY
2 : an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided :
COMPLETENESS
synonym see HONESTY

While there are many attributes needed to be a good leader, I think integrity is one of the most important attributes in both strategic and tactical areas of leadership. We don't just want leaders who say what they will do, we also want leaders who will do what they say. Integrity is basically doing what you say should be done, when it comes down to it. You need to follow the standards and values that you promote. Otherwise you are two-faced and that can be detrimental for several reasons.

Integrity makes it possible for people to trust their leaders to have sound vision, make good long-term decisions, and care about the interests of all stakeholders. Meanwhile, leaders without integrity offer empty promises without proper execution, make selfish decisions that benefit only themselves, and care not for the short-term and long-term interests of other stakeholders.

Harry Stonecipher, former CEO of Boeing, is a good case study in this regard. The man came out of retirement in order to guide Boeing away from a defense contract scandal; Boeing was in rough water at the time. He is an extremely competent CEO and as of today, Boeing's stock is trading near a 52-week high. Boeing was able to leave the defence contract scandal behind under his leadership and tackle more pressing competitive threats. However, today Stonecipher was fired for breaking his own code of conduct within the corporation: he was having an affair with a female executive.
"Harry was really the staunchest supporter of the code of conduct," Platt said. "He drew a very bright line for all employees, let everyone know that even minor violations would not be tolerated and when [he] does that you have to live by thatstandard."
Stonecipher's ability to successfully operate Boeing was undeniable. His track record speaks for itself, and it was the reason why he was brought back to Boeing. However, the Chairman of the Board noted that Stonecipher's decisions "reflected poorly on Harry's judgement and would impair his ability to lead the company going forward." This poor judgement in the affair in turn allowed some things to happen that were not in the best interests of the company, the details of which have not yet been made public. However, the public disgrace of a CEO committing adultery (yes, he's married) with another person within the company's ranks already defies the company's interests enough.

The most important thing about a leader with integrity is that you can believe that the leader will look after your interests and the interests of all other stakeholders. If you're willing to lie, cheat, or act unethically in other ways, you manifest a lack of integrity that begs this question: if they're willing to act unethically to get things done, how do I know that they're not willing to act unethically for selfish motives? This is what happened with the accounting scandals at Enron, WorldCom, the sponsorship scandal with the PWGSC, and countless other examples. Leaders acted deceptively to gain an end that they would not otherwise be able to gain.

As soon as a culture that lacks integrity is created and endorsed, it's extremely easy to utilize that culture for one's own gains and ignore the interests of stakeholders. This is why we need integrity at the foundation of leadership and the foundation of individual decisions. And we need to stop the corruption of integrity at the root of the problem. I can applaud Harvard Business School for denying admission to 119 applicants that hacked into the admission system.
''Our mission is to educate principled leaders who make a difference in the world," Clark said in yesterday's Harvard statement. ''To achieve that, a person must have many skills and qualities, including the highest standards of integrity, sound judgment, and a strong moral compass -- an intuitive sense of what is right and wrong. Those who have hacked into this website have failed topass that test."
Leaders with integrity are able to ignore and avoid the temptation to act selfishly in all situations, whether the decision has small or large implications. Dropping that standard to fulfill an organization's interests in the short run creates the epidemic culture that will destroy the same organization in the long run because leaders will no longer need to answer to the organization.

Next: TBD
Previous: Introduction

Monday, March 07, 2005

Tears of Joy, Screams of Pain

I cried again.

A friend of mine who probably had one of the most significant effects on my entire life decided to start up again. And it brings me tears of joy.

On another note, I would like to apologize for the cute.pif worm that was sent out from my computer. I can't believe how stupid I was to open it. Dom needs to take his share of the blame too, for opening it first. ;) If you received the worm from me and opened it, you should try running some spyware scanner or something. I all of a sudden went from 0 spyware to over 200 counts.

I have to say that I'm impressed though. Whoever made that thing was pretty creative. Ingenious. Innovative. It's horrible that I'm expressing admiration for someone who created a worm. But I'd liken it to expressing awe at Daniel Ocean's mind-blowing execution of a casino robbery. Things that you'd never want to condone, but impress you nevertheless.

I've never seen anything like this worm before. And so I was caught flatfooted while my jaw dropped as I watched this worm do its thing on my screen. Sending mass MSN messages, opening up my Hotmail account and mass e-mailing, even going through Firefox to do stuff! Then I realized what was happening and screamed in pain.

Over 200 counts of spyware. Chee....

EDIT: OK, that did it. I never needed an antivirus solution for such a long time. I practiced safe computing. This one mistake forced me to download AntiVir again. AntiVir's a free virus scanner, if you're using it for personal use. Get it at www.free-av.com, I've found it to be excellent and on par with anything you would get from Symantec, McAfee, or other well-known antivirus companies. The stupid worm left a Trojan Horse on my PC that left me wide open to security attacks. And I got to see the worm do its thing again. Grr....

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Education Vents

Did I mention how much I dislike the education system in North America?

So Intel VP Pat Gelsinger says, "We have a lousy education system." I agree. But the biggest problem I have with the Canadian education system in particular is what I call the "Black Box Phenomenon."

I've seen way too many high school teachers (and university professors for that matter) focus on teaching black box concepts, rather than actual knowledge. Let's use the parabola as an example. I remember we had to graph parabolas by looking at the function but avoiding any actual math to calculate individual x and y points. This was taught to emphasize the fact that all parabolic functions had similar attributes. We'd break the the function down to the form y=a(x-p)^2+q. So for example, y=2x^2-4x+1 would become y=2(x-1)^2+3. Then we'd be able to immediately conclude that the function's vertex was at (x,y)=(1,3) because p=1 and q=3, and that the graph was twice as narrow as a regular parabola, since a=2. This allowed us to draw our graph. But nobody ever was taught why the vertex was always at (p,q), nor why a determined how "narrow or wide" the parabola would be. We were expected to figure it out on our own, or maybe the teachers never really cared whether we figured it out. I'll presume that we were expected to figure it out on our own, since it was an honours class.

But the point is, drawing parabolic functions was like using a black box. We were given a model, inputted stuff into the model, and took the outputs to get our answer; we never thought about what happened inside the black box. I found that educational mentality everywhere among my non-honours peers and in my non-honours classes. I was appalled at how many teachers focused so much on making sure students passed or achieved a good grade that they ignored whether the same students were actually learning anything. It got to the point where the BC Provincial final exams (at the time worth 40% of a grade 12 course's grade) seemed like a system that needed to be beaten, rather than a way of benchmarking the knowledge and analytical abilities of students. Can you believe that? Teachers taught more about tips to handle specific types of questions than about what the intended learning material actually was.

When we get to the point where we're just learning how to use tools, rather than how to actually create tools, we are prone to make profound mistakes even when we're simply using tools the way we were taught. I think the E. coli crisis in Walkerton, Ontario epitomizes this. Here was a man who essentially knew how to push buttons in a plant, without knowing the true significance of each button. It was that lack of knowledge (in combination with various other breakdowns in the process no doubt) that allowed the E. coli disaster to happen.
Koebel spoke for the first time on Monday, saying he was sorry and describing himself as unqualified for the job he held for 12 years as manager of the water utility.

"Words cannot begin to express how sorry I am," Koebel, 47, said. "I am one of the pieces of the puzzle that came together in May."

Koebel spoke in a calm, measured voice on Monday in confirming much of what others had said about him during the two months of hearings so far by the inquiry led by Justice Dennis O'Connor.

"I didn't have enough educational background and experience," he said at one point during six hours of testifying.

Koebel told the board he was never given tests to prove he could handle the job before he was hired as plant manager in 1988. He was unable to explain several technical terms, and admitted he regularly falsified records.
It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer uses Eeny Meeny Miney Moe to avert a nuclear disaster. And it's scary. Anyone can push buttons and handle a situation with a black box. Few people can do it and actually understand what they are doing.

I think our education system became like this because it thinks too lowly of our students. It actually thinks they are incapable of thinking. And it's sad. I posed it this way in a speech to a high school teacher conference in my grade 12 year:
I’ve observed several types of teachers in my brief high school career. There were autocrats, good cops and bad cops, jokers, and leaders. They all took their own approaches to teaching and all try to come up with the same result. However, there seems to be (from my limited case study of a small sample) an alarming trend. Teachers seem to be focusing on the delivery. Well, teachers are the deliverers of education. It is their job. But picture education as a gift. Now picture this gift wrapped in the shiniest paper in the world and adorned with sparkling ribbons and tantalizing decorations. Open this gift. Some might expect treasures. I see… air.

Education has become air. It still exists, but for an inactive student, it is intangible. Students who care will try to do something to taste it. They will move their hands swiftly, breathe deeply, or listen for the faint sound of wind. Some might even peer closely enough to be able to see dust particles floating. But the gift box is still void of substance. There are two problems here. Firstly, the student who wants to learn is being stymied by the lack of content. Secondly, the student who doesn’t care has little chance of learning anything.

Attempts to solve the second problem are the cause of education’s emptiness. Teachers have tackled the problem of the uninspired student in various ways. Some teachers try to be funny. Others use technology to spark curiosity. And others may just give the students work to do and hope that a spark gets kindled. All these may be viable ways to solve the problem, but they will be in vain if the content itself is not appealing. Without the content, the entire package has no substance. Only air. Whatever solution is used to motivate the uninspired student must not neglect what is supposed to be taught.

You see, teachers are so focused on getting the student’s attention that they neglect to fill up the box before handing it over. Instead, they put all their effort into dressing up the box so that it will at least be received. It’s even better if the box is light! The student won’t get so tired of carrying it around! In fact, let’s just hand the box over empty! It’s hard enough to get the student to even want to pick it up! Have you ever heard of the expression, “worth its weight in gold” used to describe anything? Education is worth its weight in gold. Ponder that.
Like my English teacher agreed, we need to put stuff back in the box. But there's also a culture that stymies student efforts to learn. For one thing, it's just not cool. Bill Gates noted the following in a recent speech:
When I visited High Tech High in San Diego a few years ago, one young student told me that High Tech High was the first school he’d ever gone to where being smart was cool. His neighborhood friends gave him a hard time about that, and he said he wasn’t sure he was going to stay. But then he showed me the work he was doing on a special project involving a submarine. This kid was really bright. It was an incredible experience talking to him – because his life really did hang in the balance.
For another, there is this air of arrogance in North America, that since we're currently on top, we have nothing to worry about. Our education sucks? Yeah right, we're #1! How can we not be? We have some of the best standards of living in the world! Bleh. I remember one friend who had moved to my city from South Africa. One of the brightest guys I ever met. The BC government actually mandated that he be put back a year so that he could catch up with Canadian students. He couldn't believe it because the stuff he was learning in South Africa was way more advanced than what he was getting in Canada. He actually went out and bought university-level physics textbooks to keep his mind engaged. He's not alone. I remember in my university-level discrete and continuous mathematics courses how the European and Asian international students laughed and aced exams without studying because they had already learned things like linear algebra in high school. It was sick.

Finally, there's this attitude I already mentioned that kids just aren't capable of learning. If Bill Gates' speech is any indication of what high schools in the US are really like, I'm speechless. Kids are actually forced to learn how to balance checkbooks instead of algebra, based on their demographic group? Now that would be sick. What're these arrogant attitudes and low standards doing to us? Gates notes that these are the results:
When I compare our high schools to what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our workforce of tomorrow. In math and science, our 4th graders are among the top students in the world. By 8th grade, they’re in the middle of the pack.

By 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations.

We have one of the highest high school dropout rates in the industrialized world. Many who graduate do not go onto college. And many who do go on to college are not well-prepared – and end up dropping out. That is one reason why the U.S. college dropout rate is also one of the highest in the industrialized world. The poor performance of our high schools in preparing students for college is a major reason why the United States has now dropped from first to fifth in the percentage of young adults with a college degree.
We have an education system where kids are taught how to act like computer algorithms, not how to think. And if the trend continues, I'm never sending my kids to a public school.

By the way, that's totally how I remember To Kill a Mockingbird. :D