All posts by Richard Brown

Notes from the field: Apple car rumors not much of a surprise

Apple car

A couple of glorious hikes up the Four Beasts this weekend inspired some thoughts about the rising flood of rumors about Apple developing a car.

While I have no way of knowing whether these rumors are true, they certainly do not come as much of a surprise. Forget analyst noise about low margins and other challenges of entering the automotive market. From a strategic perspective, Apple has no choice but to join the fray in order to establish leadership in the development and integration of emerging AI, Lidar, cloud, wireless, and related autonomous driving technologies. If it does not, the company risks falling behind others that are already taking the leap. Continue reading Notes from the field: Apple car rumors not much of a surprise

Notes from the field: a hectic start to the year!

hectic start

A hectic start to the year! Many of the projects we have been quietly working on over the past couple of years are finally ready for prime time.

Take the strategic agreement we recently signed with King Long, one of the leading bus manufacturers in the world, as an example. We are very excited to be teaming up with them on the development of 5G passenger and commercial applications. The potential is huge, not just in China but throughout the world. Continue reading Notes from the field: a hectic start to the year!

Goodness in Analects Book 14: more than just an ethical gold standard

What is goodness (仁)? This is a question that confounded the followers of Confucius just as much as it has generation after generation of scholars hoping to capture the sage’s secret ingredient and wrap it up in a pretty package with a bow on top.

In the first chapter of Analects Book 14, Confucius’s follower Yuan Xian shows that he considers goodness to be the ethical gold standard when he asks the sage if you can be said to have achieved it if you overcome “aggressiveness, arrogance, bitterness, and greed.” Continue reading Goodness in Analects Book 14: more than just an ethical gold standard

Analects Book 14 themes: leadership for the common good

Analects Book 14 themes

Leadership is one of the most important Analects Book 14 themes. In addition to seven mentions of the term 君子 (jūnzǐ), the text is littered with related passages exploring how a ruler or official should act.

One of Confucius’s favorite followers Nan Rong, named Nangong Kuo in the book, sets the ball rolling in 14.5 by comparing the fates of Yi the Archer and Ao the Sailor, two great martial heroes from antiquity, with those of the benevolent sage king Yu and Hou Ji, the inventor of new farming techniques that led to an explosive growth in agricultural productivity. Continue reading Analects Book 14 themes: leadership for the common good

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Shao Hu

Shao Hu (召忽) is known for the extreme, some would say excessive, devotion he showed to his master Prince Jiu of Qi (公子糾). After the prince was executed as a result of losing out in a power struggle against his younger brother, Duke Huan of Qi, the grief-stricken Shao Hu committed suicide rather than return to his homeland together with his comrade-in-arms Guan Zhong (管仲) as the duke ordered.

Although many people like Zilu admired Shao Hu for what they considered to be the ultimate act of loyalty of a retainer towards their master, others such as Confucius strongly defended Guan Zhong’s decision to defy the convention that Shao Hu followed and return to Qi. As Confucius argues in 14.16 and 14.17, Guan Zhong’s subsequent achievements as Duke Huan’s chief minister far outweighed his violation of a rarely observed rule of ritual propriety. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Shao Hu

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Hou Ji

Hou Ji (后稷) is not only renowned for introducing the cultivation of millet and other new farming techniques that led to the explosive growth of agricultural production during the Xia dynasty. He is also celebrated as the ancestral founder of the illustrious Ji clan that went on to establish the Zhou dynasty in 1045 BCE.

Hou Ji was originally known by the name of Qi (棄), meaning “the abandoned one” thanks to a popular legend concerning his birth. The name of Hou Ji was posthumously bestowed upon him by Tang (湯), the founder of the Shang dynasty. It literally means Lord Millet. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Hou Ji

Historical figures from the Analects of Confucius: Ao the Sailor

Ao the Sailor (奡) was a martial hero from the Xia dynasty who tarnished his great reputation as a master of boatbuilding and naval warfare by becoming a brutal despot after murdering the holder of the throne.

Some sources claim that Ao was the offspring of a tawdry union between Han Zhuo (寒浞), the chief minister of the legendary archer Hou Yi (后羿), and Hou Yi’s wife, who had conspired to have Hou Yi murdered so that Han Zhuo could seize the throne. Others suggest that Ao was the son of one of Han Zhuo’s ministers. Continue reading Historical figures from the Analects of Confucius: Ao the Sailor

Analects Book 14: Confucius defends Guan Zhong to Zilu and Zigong

Confucius defends Guan Zhong

A total of seven followers of Confucius are featured in Book 14 of the Analects. The faithful Zilu and Zigong make the lion’s share of appearances, with six and four respectively. Yuan Xian, Nan Rong, Ran Qiu, Zengzi, and Zizhang are confined to solitary mentions. For Yuan Xian and Nan Rong, the book marks their final curtain call in the Analects.

Zilu and Zigong set off the most contentious discussion with Confucius in the book by questioning the goodness of Guan Zhong, the great chief minister of the state of Qi, in 14.16 and 14.17. When they imply that Guan Zhong should have committed suicide alongside his colleague Shao Hu following the execution of their master Prince Jiu, Confucius launches into two remarkable rants that reveal a much more hardheaded side of the sage’s character than is usually seen in the Analects. Continue reading Analects Book 14: Confucius defends Guan Zhong to Zilu and Zigong

Analects Book 14 by numbers: a huge supporting cast

Analects Book 14

Not surprisingly for a volume of its size, Analects Book 14 delivers pretty big numbers across the board, particularly when it comes to the huge supporting cast that appears in its 44 chapters. This includes 18 historical figures and 18 contemporary figures, plus four unnamed ones that perform more than just walk-on roles.

The cast of historical figures ranges from mythical sovereigns and heroes from the dawn of antiquity such as the sage king Yu and Hou Ji, who is renowned for introducing agricultural techniques to China, to some of the titans of the Spring and Autumn period like Duke Huan of Qi and his chief minister Guan Zhong. There’s room for a couple of villains, too, in the form of Yi the Archer and Ao the Sailor, who both used their strength and martial skills to take over the reins of power only to be assassinated themselves.

Continue reading Analects Book 14 by numbers: a huge supporting cast

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Hou Yi

So many fantastical myths have grown up around the legendary archer Hou Yi (后羿) that it is easy to forget that he started out as a minor tribal chieftain who treacherously seized control of the Xia dynasty, only to be murdered by his most trusted minister who was perhaps working in league with Yi’s wife. How he became portrayed as a great hero who saved the world from incineration by ten suns and lovingly honored the sacrifice of his moon goddess wife is a mystery that will never be fully unraveled.

Most ancient historical sources agree that Hou Yi was the king or chieftain of a small state or tribe who was famous for his martial prowess with bow and arrow. Although Yi was purportedly allied with the Xia dynasty, the Bamboo Annals reports that he launched an attack against the Xia capital during the first year of the reign of Tai Kang (太康) while the young monarch was hunting and seized control of its government. Other sources claim that after being made regent of Tai Kang in recognition of his great martial feats, Yi usurped power for himself.

Preferring to spend his time on honing his archery skills, Hou Yi delegated his government responsibilities to an official called Han Zhuo (寒浞). Perhaps with the encouragement of Hou’s wife, Zhou arranged for his sovereign to be assassinated. Some particularly gruesome accounts of this incident claim that Han had Hou Yi’s flesh prepared for his sons to eat and to order their execution when they refused to partake of their father.

Having seized power for himself, Han Zhuo married Hou Yi’s widow and the happy couple had two sons. According to some sources one of these sons was called Ao (奡), who grew up to become famous for his boatbuilding and naval warfare abilities and succeeded his father after his death. Other sources claim that Ao was the son of one of Han Zhuo’s ministers and murdered Han Zhou to grab the throne for himself. Regardless of who his father was, Ao went on to meet the same fate as his two predecessors when he was assassinated by one of his own ministers!

The most obvious connection that the mythical version of Hou Yi has with the historical one is his great skill as an archer. Rather than a treacherous king, he is portrayed as a heroic, perhaps even divine, figure who descended from heaven to save the earth from being scorched by ten suns that appeared in the sky one day.

At first, Hou Yi is said to have tried to reason with the suns. But when they refused to listen to his warnings, he shot nine of them down – turning each one into a three-legged raven as it dropped from the sky. As he was about to fire at the final one, the sage king Yao and the mother of the sun stepped in, with the latter begging Yi to spare her solar progeny in return for ensuring that humanity would live in eternal peace and prosperity.

In addition to being made a king in recognition of his valorous deed, Hou Yi was, according to some more fantastical versions of the story, given the elixir of immortality by the gods as a reward for shooting down the nine suns. Unable to bear the thought of living forever without his wife Chang’e (嫦娥), however, the doting Yi refused to drink the potion. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Hou Yi