These Asian Americans embody the charisma and intense drive toward great achievement that distinguish those born in years of the rat.

he Chinese New Year that begins February 7, 2008 celebrates the rat (or mouse, included in the same Chinese character). Unlike the negative image ascribed to them by western cultures, rats are among the most admired of the 12 creatures in the Chinese zodiac. They share the first trine of the 12-year cycle with the dragon and the monkey, both of which are also considered auspicious birth signs. Members of the first trine are blessed with an unusual degree of personal charisma and leadership ability.

     The X factor is whether this power will be used for great good or great evil, because, more than those born under other signs, rats are jekyll-hyde people.

     Generally people born in rat years (1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008) are intelligent, charismatic, confident, magnanimous, artistic, charming and authoritative. They are highly attractive to members of the opposite sex though most compatible with dragons, monkeys and oxen. They are thrifty, hard-working perfectionists with big ambitions, often becoming quite successful. But being easily angered, they have a weakness for gossip and pettiness. Those who cross them discover how quickly rats can resort to actions that come across as ruthless, deceitful, tyrannical, narrow-minded, petty and megalomaniacal.

     Some famous Asian American rats illustrate the admirable and not-so-admirable traits of people born under this sign.

     No one has shown more youthful ambition and confidence than tennis champion Michael Chang who, at 17, became the youngest man ever to win the French Open on the punishing red clay of Roland Garros. Along the way he overcame seemingly insurmountable physical obstacles to win seemingly hopeless matches against the world's top players.

     The rat's ability to inspire others to follow is embodied in the success of entrepreneur Tei-Fu Chen. When his fortunes had been reduced to a desperate struggle to feed his family, he created a multi-level sales organization and motivated it to mushroom into a global health products company.

     In Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle actor John Cho charmed us as a bumbling stoner with a heart of gold. In West 32nd Street he sends a chill down our spine as a hard-driven lawyer who flirts with evil in his drive to win a case. As an actor Cho taps into the rat's dual nature to shatter one-dimensional stereotypes that bedevil Asian American men.

     The Nobel-Prize-winning experiments using lasers to supercool and trap sodium atoms are the fruits of the soaring ambition of physicist Steven Chu to accomplish a feat that stymied countless top scientists. His recent work in seeking solutions to the climate change problem reveals the altruistic drive behind his scientific efforts.

     Philanthropist/entrepreneur Scott Oki drew heavily on the rat's industry and thrift in reshaping the marketing efforts of a struggling little startup called Microsoft. His $100 million reward afforded him a very early retirement to devote his time to helping underprivileged kids and indulge his passion for golf.

     In his early career artist Hiro Yamagata attained the enviable status of the world's most financially successful living artist on the strength of his endlessly charming canvases of city life. Today he seeks to use lasers to create cosmic works that go beyond ordinary human experience.

“The X factor is whether this power will be used for great good or great evil, because, more than those born under other signs, rats are jekyll-hyde people.”


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