Some design thoughts:

Why is it that we prefer the foreign?

For example, within the rap hip-hop community, the desire to drive a “foreign”. A foreign as a foreign car, and if you think about it, almost all luxury goods are foreign, for example, all of the luxury fashion goods typically come from Italy and France.

Also, in terms of prestige, which literally just means magic trick or phantom, it seems that people prefer a BMW, or a Mercedes over an Asian car, whether Japanese or Korean.

For example, talking to my friend Josh White, him telling me a story of how Koreans in order to appear successful, will borrow their mother-in-law’s or aunts Audi, rather than just show up in a Hyundai ELANTRA.

But the funny thing is, at least for myself, I actually think a lot of the modern day Korean cars, especially the new Kia cars and Hyundai Genesis, actually look far superior to any modern day made German car. In fact, it looks like Mercedes and BMW are still trying to piggyback off their past legacy, when in the past, their cars were in fact were the supreme vehicles to own, because back then, Japanese cars were extremely unreliable and cheap, the same thing with Hyundai and Kia.

But nowadays, it seems that the only reason people would prefer to drive a German car is more for the brand-name and prestige. For example, let us consider Volkswagen, or the VW group. Essentially they own almost all of the prestige luxury vehicle brands, Ducati the high-end motorcycle, Audi, Lamborghinis, Bentley, Bugatti, etc. Porsche as well.

Leica camera?

Essentially after Leica camera went bankrupt, Andreas Kaufman bought it, an Austrian, and revived it, positioning it as a high-end luxury good. So now, even if we think about Leica camera, they are still trying to piggyback off of their brand legacy with Henri Cartier Bresson. Essentially, the only reason you would buy a Leica camera is because you want to become Henri Cartier Bresson, just like when people buy Michael Jordan sneakers, they want to become Michael Jordan. Or when people buy Yeezy sneakers, essentially they want to become Kanye West.

Same thing with people who buy a Tesla car. Essentially they want to become Elon Musk.

Why the preference for German design?

I think there tends to be a bias that Germans are more industrious, focused, brutal, no nonsense, efficient, intelligent, fastidious, etc. And for the most part, I consider this to be true. Having gone to Germany a bunch of times, and done a bunch of workshops in Berlin, etc., I really like Germans and German people. Even one of my favorite things was buying an ex military jacket at some random flea market in Berlin, which had the dominant German flag on it. I thought it looked really cool, but essentially I got pressured to get rid of the German flag, because nowadays, people consider individuals who wear clothing with German flags to be new-Nazis.

Also, I really love Bauhaus design. I first learned about the Bauhaus through studying Steve Jobs, who was also inspired by the Bauhaus. Even if you study a lot of Jony Ive designs, he borrows much from the Bauhaus school. Dieter Rams, etc.

How Americans are now on top

Let us consider, there is no electronic device or phone which is as desirable as an iPhone, iPhone Pro, etc. Even the most rich Chinese, Korean, etc. person would not be caught dead having a Xiaomi phone, a Huawei phone, or even a high-end Samsung phone. Everyone would prefer to have the brand new iPhone Pro.

Even apparently the CEO of Hyundai in the past was spotted being driven around in a Rolls-Royce or a Jaguar instead of a high-end Hyundai car. Not a good sign.

People don’t have pride in their own things?

Nowadays, nationalism gets a bad reputation. That is, if you have strong feelings towards your nation, you’re either seen as backwards, unintelligent, or some sort of fascist. However, I do believe that it is good for a nation to have some sort of healthy form of nationalism. For example, I like the idea of being nationalistic without being insane or hateful.

Therefore, I like the idea that an insanely successful Korean businessman in Korea would prefer driving the most expensive Hyundai Genesis out there, instead of striving to drive the Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes Maybach, etc.

In America, shouldn’t it be the same? That the most rich and successful Americans would aspire towards having the most expensive American made car, whether the Tesla model S plaid, Tesla model X plaid, or even a Ford muscle car? Or a Lincoln? Or a Cadillac?

Also with China, there are tons of new start up electric car companies from China. Faraday Future, Karma, etc. Perhaps a good aspiration is for the most rich Chinese elite to drive the most high-end elite Chinese vehicle, once again, instead of any foreign brands.


Currently, my favorite camera is the digital Ricoh GR 3X camera. It is made by Ricoh Pentax, a Japanese company. It is also built in Vietnam.

I have zero interest in any new Leica digital camera, regardless of price or newness. However saying that, I will keep and hoard my film LEICA MP until I die.

Technically, the most innovative digital cameras are American; iPhone, iPhone Pro, both for still photography and video photography, as well as GoPro, technically an American company, for their GoPro hero cameras. Some of my best and favorite videos that I’ve ever shot were on the GoPro hero, typically with the point of view perspective, and street photography etc.

Also, Google and their Google pixel computational photography deserves a big shout out. In my opinion, the photos that come out of the Google pixel are superior to any iPhone pro, yet their clumsy integration with Google photos is what makes it unappealing. The big game changer for Apple is there a deep integration with iCloud, and now their new direction with syncing the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook laptop even deeper together. Shout out to the Apple photos team. Currently speaking, I have zero interest in any Adobe Lightroom products, Apple photos is superior.

Chinese cameras?

Hasselblad is now owned by DJI, the popular Chinese drone and now video company. People apparently really like the new Hasselblad compact digital medium format cameras. I think it is great, and I still find it hilarious that these Chinese companies are trying to pretend to be something else; still pretending to be Swedish. The same thing with China buying out Volvo, and developing Polestar, pretending to be Swedish as well.

Why don’t these companies just have the courage to come out of the closet, and probably declare they are Chinese? I like the idea that in the future, “made in China“ will be seen as a luxury item.

And technically, when do you think about old Victorian American and English people, for the most revered guests, they bust out the “fine China”, which literally means rare dishware that comes from China, mainland China.

Innate in design is racism?

What is racism? Racism is essentially a hierarchy of the different races. For example, design racism is innately believing that Chinese design is inferior. Also, considering that German design is superior to Korean design. Also considering that Japanese aesthetics is superior to Korean aesthetics.

If I could create a current design hierarchy in the general sense it would be something like:

  1. German design
  2. Japanese design
  3. Everyone else…

Perhaps the great innovation of Americans in American design is that they steal shamelessly, it was Steve Jobs who had the genius of blending both the Bauhaus and Zen minimalist design to create the iPhone. Do you remember how much of a uproar there was that iPhone only had one home button and no physical keyboard?

Also, it seems that Americans are better at handling criticism in the general sense. For example, people sent Steve Jobs so much hate mail when he first announced the iPad, considering that there were no external USB ports. Steve Jobs had the balls to stick to his guns, and he was right.

Self pride

What does it mean to be a barbarian? Essentially it was any individual who was not Greek. The Greeks saw themselves as the supreme race, and the only race. They saw any foreigner who was not Greek as a “barbarian”. There is also a funny theory that the word “barbarian“ comes from the notion that when Greeks hears other foreigners speaking their mother tongue, it sounded like “bar bar bar bar bar” to them, very much how Americans are Westerners will make fun of Chinese people as speaking “ching chong”.

Therefore my intervention is this: self pride, pride in your own race, nationality, etc., without stepping on the toes of others. And yes, I do believe that we are intelligent and advanced enough to have pride in ourselves which is not zero sum, which requires putting down of others to feel better about ourselves.

Even a big thing I’m trying to do is whenever talking about myself or Seneca or anyone else, to not use other people as a benchmark. Why? To be frank, I don’t really care too much about the kids of others, my great interest is focusing on Seneca, my son, my pride and joy. To compare him to others is to stunt his potential growth; he is incomparable.

Perhaps it is a good idea to also think of yourself as incomparable. Perhaps this is the big thought that could help you unlock your hidden potential.





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Rabbit holes

  1. Barbarian Wikipedia page

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Ars long, vita brevis (art is long, will last long, whereas life is short) – Hippocrates via Seneca