Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Assembly

One of the software applications I installed on my Dell 1705 is VeohTV, which is similar to YouTube but is much smaller. However, unlike YouTube where uploads are limited to 10 minutes, Veoh allows unlimited length uploads and you can also download the original video file in its original format; YouTube and Google Video converts the files to Flash (.flv). Anyway, since my parents are taking the computer back with them to Canada, I was showing them how to use Veoh to search for movies. My dad put in "chinese movies" and among the search results were The Three Kingdoms and The Assembly.

I've seen The Three Kingdoms starring Andy Lau and Maggie Q, but I've never heard of The Assembly. It turns out to be a war film, similar to Saving Private Ryan, but telling a story from the Chinese Communist POV. Surprisingly, it was pretty apolitical and really focused on the story of one man during and after wars. The movie starts out strong with lots of gory battle scenes between the Communists and the Nationalists during the Chinese Civil War, then follows one of the characters, Captain Gu, to the Korean War then his life afterwards. It was pretty enjoyable overall but the plot becomes pretty predictable during the latter half of the film. Here is a longer review from Love HK

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone

Since we're talking about animation, it looks like Neon Genesis Evangelion is being re-released; I just downloaded 1.0 from Veoh. I bought the original series on DVD plus the two alternative endings. It was much different than I anticipated. The series started out great with huge robots (or something) and stuff blowing up but eventually became a bunch of psycho-babble and weird religions symbolism. Anyway, it appears they are going to compress the entire series of 26 TV episodes down to three movies plus a new ending (third attempt). I'm interested to see if they changed any of the story but I probably won't go out any buy it again after spending $100+ on the original series.

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Woohoo! Another Hayao Miyazaki animated film. I thought he retired from Studio Ghibli after Spirited Away. Every one of his movies (yes, every single one) has been awesome; can't wait for this one to be released with English subtitles (not dubbed). George Lucas should have hired him to make Clone Wars.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Clone Wars

I just watched Clone Wars with Leon/Steph/kids. It was so so. I expected it to be better since it wasn't burdened with lousy acting but it was pretty much like the recent 3 episodes. Actually, I read a few reviews before seeing the movie so I wasn't expecting much. Too bad. I had really wanted to see a good Star Wars movie.

Even worse, it was almost 2 hours long even though there was only enough plot line to fill 45 minutes or so. One good thing: no Jar-Jar.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"New" Computer

My parents brought the notebook computer my dad was using in Canada to swap with the Dell 1705 I'm giving him. The old computer is the Compaq 1702 that Shirley used before we bought the PowerBook. I'm reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling Windows XP Professional. The CPU is a 1.13GHz Pentium III and the computer only has 512MB of RAM and a 20GB hard drive. I'm going to put a USB 802.11b dongle on it so I can connect it to my TV so I can watch Internet videos. This means I still have 8 computers at home (one is not working).


I hate Windows. I formatted the partition and 30 minutes into the install, I get the dreaded product key dialog. None of the numbers I have work so I had to dig out the Quick Restore CD's that came with the Compaq notebook. I guess I'm back to Windows XP Home v1.0 or something. I'll probably spend the next 3 hours downloading SP1, SP2, and millions of security updates. Now I'm a bit paranoid since I did not receive any CD/DVD with my new Sony VAIO. What if I need to reinstall the OS?

Sigh... Since I'm bored, I'll try to install Half-Life 2 on my Sony VAIO running Vista. I want to play Counterstrike again.


Wow, that took forever. It's funny to see what came pre-installed on the Compaq. I had to delete AOL, CompuServe 2000, Netscape 6.1, and Microsoft Works. Does Microsoft even sell Works? I've uninstalled it from more than 10+ computers. It's trying to install Window XP SP2 right now. I also got a notice on my Dell 1705 that Microsoft wants to install Windows XP SP3. All I need now is Vista SP1 or something. With a million or so software engineers, why can't they get it right the first time?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why is it taking so long for you to fix the mess I made?

–noun Slang.
1. unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall.
2. audacity; nerve.

China Post Article
Leaders of the DPP and pro-independence groups said the major themes of the demonstration include highlighting the people's grievances as indicated in the general misery index and rising consumer price index after Ma's inauguration on May 20 by lifting the long freeze on fuel prices imposed by the DPP administration regardless of the soaring costs for imported crude oil.

They also blamed Ma for failing to quickly clean up and cure the economic and financial malaise created under Chen.

The people can no longer tolerate Ma's failure to rectify -- within 100 days -- all the problems left by the DPP in a long period of the past eight years, they asserted.

The DPP is organizing a rally on August 30 to protest the newly elected president of Taiwan. Their complaint: Ma Ying-jeou hasn't fixed the mess left behind by 8 years of a-Bian and the DPP. He's only been in office for 100 days. I'm sure it took more than 100 days for the DPP to mess up Taiwan.

The participants will gather at two sites and march towards the Anti-Corruption Plaza.
Motorists and travelers are advised to shun the parade routes and areas surrounding the Anti-Corruption Plaza, named after the largest-ever public rallies held on the island against rampant corruption during the eight years of former president Chen Shui-bian's DPP administration.

Is this a parody? The DPP is gathering at a plaza named in honor of protests against themselves? At the same time as a-Bian and his family is being investigated of stealing $20M and transferring it to Swiss accounts?! Amazing!

Lost in Translation

Not content with censoring news with its state-owned media, the Chinese government "translates" articles from foreign media into propaganda pieces. Sentences and entire paragraphs are deleted from the original article and critical/neutral statements are changed to positive ones. How lame.

From: Black and White Cat
How the New York Times (should have) covered the Olympics
(line by line comparison)

New York Times Article
Beijing Puts On Happy Face for Games, Without Wrinkles

BEIJING — No one knows for sure how many people live in China, but the population is at least 1.3 billion. And thanks to increased longevity and the one-child policy, it is quickly aging. Demographers estimate that by 2050, more than a quarter of the people in China will be 60 or older.

Visitors to the Olympics, however, can be forgiven for thinking that China is a land of unnatural youthfulness where nobody is older than 30. About 100,000 volunteers, wearing blue “Beijing 2008” shirts, are working at these Games, staffing the security stations, driving golf carts, answering questions or just standing around and greeting people — “communicating smile and building harmony,” in the words of a Beijing organizing committee news release. Close to 90 percent of them are in their 20s. Older Chinese, and there are plenty in Beijing, are mostly out of sight.

Beijing Daily News "Translation"



Why do they do this? They even faked the title of the article. If the censors don't want the local people to read about certain topics, why even publish the article from NYT or elsewhere? Probably the CCP want to give the impression that even the foreign barbarians love China so there's no need to replace the corrupt communist government.

More editing disguised as translation.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sunny & Steve's Wedding

I just got back from Sunny & Steve's wedding earlier this evening. About 90 people showed up, mostly family and Broadcom related people. I got to meet some co-workers that I haven't seen for awhile since I'm stuck in the executive floor; hardly anyone goes up there. I had RSVP'ed for two people but my guest wasn't able to get her visa to come to the US from China, and my other potential guest won't be back in the country from Singapore until Monday. Oh well...


Wedding party

I helped usher somewhat at the beginning of the ceremony but I was trying to stay off my left leg. It got sore a bit during the evening and my ankle is swollen now, but it's not as bad as I imagined it would be. I walked Sunny's mom in during the ceremony and gave a short toast after they cut the cake. I didn't think I would be nervous but I forgot some lines and ended up reading most of it from my notes. At least I didn't forget the Korean part: 축하함니다!

Korean raspberry wine used for toasts. I got to bring back some extra bottles... :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wedding Rehearsal

I went to a co-worker's wedding rehearsal this afternoon at Sherman Gardens in Newport Beach. It turns out that I'm ushering after all. My main job though is to escort in the bride's mom. Her parents flew in from Korea a few weeks ago and they don't speak English. I was also asked to give a toast for the bride since she does not have any bridesmaids; I have to work on that before the wedding this Saturday.

The groom's family is from London, Ontario, which is pretty close to where I grew up in Canada. The best man is his brother and their family just drove here from Toronto. The other two groomsmen are from the analog group at Broadcom, both Canadians. It turned out that one of them also grew up in Mississauga and we starting working at Broadcom the same week.

During the rehearsal, the groom's parents asked me whether I was Korean. I said that I was Chinese. Then they asked me if I could understand the bride's parents. Hmm, did they think I was multilingual or that all East Asian languages were similar? My Korean knowledge consists of hello, thank you, goodbye, and I just learned congratulations for the toast. I don't even know any swear words.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yang Yilin Interview

ESPN (Associated Press)
Then, a little hesitantly, Yang started to answer the questions. And the more she said, the more shocking it was. The answers were brief, spoken without heart. What emerged was a picture of a young girl who has been kept largely cut off from family and the outside world for more than a year, so she could be intensely trained to win medals for China at its own Olympics.

Were your parents here to see you compete, among the cheering crowds?

"I don't know."

When was the last time you went home?"

"Ummm ... before I joined the national team," Yang said, her small voice hard to hear.

When was that?

"More than a year ago."

Will you go on holiday after the games?

"I don't know."

How many holidays do you get a year?

"I have not had a holiday since I joined the national team."

Sad. With a $40 billion budget, the least the government could do was bring her parents to watch her compete. Though with her medals, her family is probably better off than before. Let's hope she's 16 years old. This would be a lot worse if she was only 14.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

HIPAA Craziness

I received a bill for my day at the ER room back in July. The biggest line item was "MRI - GENERAL" for $5,150. Since Hoag Hospital messed up and scanned my leg twice, I wanted to make sure that I (and Broadcom's self-funded health insurance) wasn't billed incorrectly. Also, my part of the co-pay was ~$100. After waiting for 10 minutes, I finally talked to a CSR. However, she could not see more information on my bill because of HIPAA; she can only order a detailed billing statement to be sent by snail mail. I then asked her who I should talk to if there is an incorrect billing since no one can see details on a computer screen. The answer was that I have to write a dispute letter and mail it in.

Even worse, both scans were read by radiologists from another medical group and they billed me for both MRI's as well. I called them up too and the first response I got was, "The original bill was over $700 and insurance is paying most of it. Your co-pay is only $50." I guess the implication was why I was complaining about the bill since insurance paid for most of it.

Sigh... this is probably going to drag on for awhile. Leon said I was being Chinese, i.e., cheap, and he's probably right. I'll end up spending hours more on the phone and writing this dispute letter for ~$60. With insurance, there's really no real incentive for me to follow up; it's easier just to pay the relatively small co-pay. Since our company's health insurance is self-funded, there's also no incentive for Aetna, who administrates our plan, to be diligent in verifying bills. I wonder how much of the $60M we spend each year on healthcare costs is billing errors.

Why I Hate Living in an Apartment, Part 2

I got tricked twice by a busted dryer today. After the first drying attempt, I opened the dryer to find my clothes were still wet. Thinking that I forgot to push the start button, I tried again. Well, I just checked the dryer and my clothes are still wet. I did hear the motor start up so the heating element is probably broken. I'm out $2.20 and wasted 90 minutes. :(

What's worse is that I have inconsiderate jerks living downstairs. They would blast their stereo and/or game console at random hours in the morning, usually 2am or 3am. Most of the time it's in the living room but I think they just put a Nintendo in the bedroom so I hear that all the time too. As an added bonus, they're now smoking inside their apartment. I'm pretty sensitive to cigarette smoke and I started smelling it earlier tonight. Oh yeah, there's also the occasional loud shouting matches with plenty of f-bombs, also at 3am.

Maybe it's time to look for that house...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Protest Permit Applications, 77; Protests Approved, 0

Xinhuanet(!) Article
BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Beijing authorities have received 77 applications for demonstrations since Aug. 1, a spokesperson with the municipal public security bureau said here on Monday.

These applications involved 149 people, including three persons from overseas.

Most of the applicants applied to protest in public for issues like labor disputes, medical disputes or inadequate welfares, the spokesperson said.

Seventy-four applications have been withdrawn so far, because the problems those applicants contended for were properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations, added the spokesperson.

I guess it comes down to how you define "consultation" with the government. To the CCP, the fact that you want to protest is the problem so by arresting and detaining applicants... problem solved.

[8/18/08 - 1:04 PM]


I just saw a story on NBC news about the lack of protests. The reporter talked to Zhang Wei's son; she was detained for "disturbing the peace" after applying for a permit. NBC then went to the office taking applications and were chased away to the Beijing police headquarters. There, police officers took photos and videos of the NBC reporters (why do they always do this?) then said they would look into it, while denying that anyone has been arrested for simply applying for a permit. Finally, NBC went to the detention center where the prison director verified they were holding Zhang Wei but would not let anyone speak to her. Of course, there was no trial nor was she even charged with a crime, just detained until the Olympics are over.

MSNBC Article
But Wang Wei, vice president of the Beijing Olympics organizing committee, on Monday defended the protest plan to journalists, some of whom have pressed Olympic officials to show how China has improved human rights as it promised to do while bidding to host the games.

“This is not realistic,” Wang said. “We think that you do not really understand China’s reality. China has its own version and way of exercising our democracy.

Yeah, China's version is called "Communist dictatorship."

Crying Over Hurdles

What happened? Did someone die? Nope, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang pulled out of his qualification heat at the Olympics after hurting his Achilles tendon. He was the defending Olympic gold medalists from 2004. I feel sorry for him; it must suck to train that hard yet not able to compete. Since I tore my calf muscle a few months ago, I can imagine how much pain he was in (stay off the Levaquin).

Having said that, I really don't understand the outpouring of grief and anger (some people are calling him a loser). I know a lot of people in China expected him to win the gold medal but why do so many people feel personally attached to him? Are people crying for him or themselves? Maybe I'm just not as compassionate as all those grieving Chinese people. There were no tears when Tom Brady choked late in the season last year, knocking me out of my fantasy football league playoffs.

I'm watching the Beijing Olympics on TV but whether an athlete (yes, including Michael Phelps) wins any medals has no impact on my life. However, I never believed the number of gold medals won by the USA has anything to do with how "great" this country is. The Olympics is just a bunch of athletes competing with each other for medals and future commercial endorsements. I realize it takes a lot of time/effort/sacrifice to get to the Olympics but it's an individual choice. I spend my free time sleeping or playing computer games, knowing there is no medal (not yet!) but it's my choice.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


A couple of guys from church and I are starting an off-road racing team. We are going to be in a class/division called JeepSpeed which uses Jeeps with minimal modifications to keep costs low. We already purchased our base vehicle, a 1994 Jeep Cherokee with 4WD and manual transmission. We decided that we would get a stock car and build ourselves instead of buying a race-ready car so we can learn how to fix it if/when we break something during races. It will probably take another year and ~$10k to complete the build. One of the goals is to eventually enter the SCORE Baja 500 or Baja 1000 race down in Mexico.

Some YouTube videos... Randy is on our team. I wonder how fast I can drive my stock 4x2 4Runner on dirt.

32.8 MPG

Seeing all the commercials for cars with 30+ MPG (highway), I wanted to see how my 350Z compared. There is a built-in trip computer in the Z and one of the display option was MPG/MPH. Driving home on 405 South from Torrance yesterday, I put the car on cruise control at 65 MPH and reset the trip computer. The analog speedometer in the Z reads a bit fast, so I was actually going 63 MPH and just about every car was passing me, even a Toyota Yaris. However, the computer showed 32.8 MPG and it held steady for about 5 minutes. I bet I was getting better mileage than that Yaris passing me at 70 MPH. I normally get about 19-20 MPG combined in the Z so the mileage must be terrible for city/stop-n-go driving. The 4Runner gets about 18 MPG, seemingly regardless if I'm on the freeway or not. Maybe it's brick-line aerodynamics offsets any highway driving fuel efficiency.

I think if I have a manual transmission in the Z, I could probably get even better mileage on the freeway since it has a 6th gear; the automatic only has 5 speeds and at 80 MPH, the engine is running at 3,000 RPM, almost halfway to the 6,500 RPM redline.

Snooker, Darts, and Dog Shows

NBC just showed a women's cycling pursuit final where the UK won both the gold and silver. Out of the 25 medals they've won so far, 10 have been in track cycling. The commentator said that the UK invested $5M into the cycling program and it's starting to pay off in international competition wins. Then he said something like, "If only snooker, darts, and dog shows were Olympic events." That's pretty funny. I wonder if it was ad-libbed or if he was reading it off the TelePrompTer.

I've watched darts competition on TV. Those guys are usually quite large and have a beer gut from hanging out in pubs playing darts. They're pretty amazing with their accuracy but not sure if we can consider them world-class athletes.

World-class athlete


Canadian Olympic Medals

Canada finally got some...

Gold: 2
Silver: 1
Bronze: 4

Saturday, August 16, 2008

China's Choreographed Detentions

Washington Post story about Americans and other foreigners being deported from China for attempting to protest at the Olympics.
Mahoney said the sudden anger was like one end of a seesaw they had been on for about seven hours of interrogation, as officers were alternately sympathetic and harsh. Their mobile phones had been seized, and their requests to call the U.S. Embassy had been denied.

Is that legal? I know the US Consulate is probably too busy denying visas to help but I thought foreign citizens were allowed to contact their embassies in case of legal problems. Maybe China wants to deport these protesters without further publicity. Also, if they are being deported because they broke a Chinese law, shouldn't there be some sort of judicial process that requires legal representation for the accused? It seems a lot more difficult to deport someone from the US.
About seven hours after being picked up, Hocevar and five others were marched to a plane to New York. Although they also refused to purchase tickets, police simply took their wallets, extracted their bank and credit cards, and used them to complete the purchases. "I have reported my card stolen to the bank," Hocevar said. "I will contest the charges."

That seems illegal too. If it was a department store and the police pulled the same stunt, I wonder if the store clerk would accept the credit card. What if they forced charge a first/business class seat or a ticket to another destination, i.e., New York instead of Los Angeles?

Ex-Taiwan president quits his party

LA Times Article
Former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian resigned from the opposition party Friday after Swiss authorities requested help in an investigation of suspected money laundering involving his family members.

Taiwan's Justice Ministry said in a statement released late Thursday that its Swiss counterpart wanted information on Chen's son, Chen Chih-chung, and daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching. The island's authorities said they were cooperating with the inquiry.

Chen's resignation capped a bad week for the former president. On Thursday, he held a news conference to say that his wife, Wu Shu-chen, had transferred some of the leftover money from presidential and mayoral campaigns to offshore accounts.

What a disgrace. When I was in Taiwan in 2006, corruption regarding his family and in-laws was in the news the entire time. It was so bad that Taiwanese people wanted him to resign. He also led he charge to erase Chiang Kai-shek's name from Taiwan's landmarks/monuments and main airport (a lot of people still call it CKS airport).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Spanish Eyes

A couple of friends and I have been wondering about the reaction in China to the Spanish ad with their national basketball team doing the slit-eye gesture. I haven't read much about it in Chinese blogs.

I think to Chinese-Americans, it is associated to anti-Chinese racism, though mostly of the playground taunting type. Growing up in Canada, I've had kids running up to me, pulling their eyes in a slit, and calling me a Chink. To be fair, I haven't had that experience in a long time.

Even though racism exist to some extent in every country, it probably takes different forms in multicultural societies (US/Canada) versus more mono-cultural societies (China/Spain). I'll need to ask around when I'm in China next month but my sense is that they do not attach the same significance to the slit-eye gesture as we do here in the US/Canada. It's mainly a taunt by non-Chinese people, usually kids, and I can't see how that situation would be common in China. Likewise, there's probably not enough Chinese people growing up in Spain for the gesture to be associated with anti-Chinese racism.

An article in The Guardian said that no one involved with the ad thought the gesture was inappropriate which is probably true. Maybe no one in China was offended by the ad but they ended up offending a whole bunch of oversea-Chinese/Asians.

Nigerian Scam Moves to China

Maybe he found me from all my blog posts about China... :)
Exclusive Partnership Investment Offer
From:Mou Xinsheng
Date:Friday August 15th,2008

Hello, Let me introduce myself,my name is Mou Xinsheng (Minister of General Administration of Customs of the Peoples Republic of China).I have a secured business proposal for you,which i believe will be beneficial to both of us i want to solicit your attention.The purpose of my contacting you is because you live outside China.

Actually i got your contact during my discreet search for a reliable,successfull,business oriented partner.I feel it would be huge surprise for you to receive such email from a serving minister of the People’s Republic of China.I will give you more information about myself and the business.My name is Mou Xinsheng (Minister of General Administration of Customs of the Peoples Republic of China). Forgive me if you see my business proposal as shameful and not honorable because of my governmental status. But please excuse me and understand that this is the situation I am and must find a credible partner outside China.In my years of government service as Narcotics Control Commission and General Administration of Customs, I have received kick backs from smugglers and business people seeking favors from me and as a public officer my bank accounts are monitored hence I diverted the funds Thirty million United States dollars for safe keeping abroad.I want you to receive the money which has been in deposit since the last Two years. When the money is in your bank account, I want to use Sixty Percent of the money for charity to help orphanage Children suffering (You will spare head this project and my name will not be mentioned).You will receive Twenty Percent as your commission and I will take the remaining Twenty Percent as my share which I intend to settle with outside China.Please consider this proposal and reply to me soon. It will certainly do you no good to report me to my government authorities or divulge this information to anybody because doing so will only destroy my person and my career.

If you are interested in my proposal,please contact me on my private email will send you more information about myself and this proposal.

Thank you.
Mou Xinsheng.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Current Medal Count


Country: Gold/Silver/Bronze
USA: 14/12/17
China: 22/8/6
Taiwan: 0/0/2
Canada: 0/0/0 :(

Sigh... maybe my fellow ex-countrymen in Canada do not know that there is also an Olympics during the summer. There's more to sports than hockey and curling.

Broken Promises

I'm speechless (almost). This typifies why I hate the communist government in China. All politicians stretch the truth here and there but this is blatant beyond belief. How do these people sleep at night?

BBC Article
Speaking at a press briefing, Mr Wang said that when he was secretary-general of the Beijing Olympic bid committee, he was "confronted with many questions".

"I did say that the Olympic Games coming to China will help China open up further and reform better," he said.

The fact that China had set up protest areas for its citizens during the Olympics showed it was heading in the right direction, he said.

"I think China has been stepping forward, and if you ask the ordinary Chinese on the streets they will give you the same answer," he said.

In hindsight, it's pretty apparent that China had no intention to keep its promises about human rights reform. They pretty much said whatever it was necessary to win the bid to host the Olympics. Even now, he is still lying about allowing protests.

BBC Article
Just before the Olympic Games began, officials said ordinary Chinese people would be able to apply for permission to vent their feelings.

But several would-be demonstrators appear to have been detained by the authorities after trying to apply for that permission.

New York Times Article
Like scores of other aggrieved citizens in China’s capital, Zhang Wei was stunned last month to learn that the Chinese government would allow demonstrators to air their complaints during the Olympics at specially designated protest zones around the city. All they had to do was fill out a form at their local police station.

In an authoritarian country that bans almost all forms of public protest, the newfound openness seemed too good to be true. And it was.

Ms. Zhang, a Beijing resident who has been seeking redress for what she claims was the illegal demolition of her house, applied for a protest permit in early August and began planning her public demonstration. On Aug. 6, police officers came to her home — not to deliver the requisite license but to take her into custody. She is now serving a monthlong sentence for “disturbing social order,” according to her family.

Sigh... so in order to "fulfill" their promise of allowing protests during the Olympics, the Chinese government designate three parks as protest zones (mentioned once during a press conference). However, you still need to apply for a permit to demonstrate. Not only are permits denied, some people are arrested and detained just for applying for a permit. It's a win-win-win situation for China: they effectively block all dissent, identify and detain potential protesters, yet get to brag about providing forums for protests.

People's Republic of China... how ironic.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chinese Food

It seems that every reporter on NBC has to do a story on gross Chinese food and they always end up at the same night market stand selling fried scorpions and other insects. I wonder if it's as popular all these American reporter seem to make it out to be. I did see a Chinese-American reporter walking around reporting but NOT eating anything until she got to some steamed buns... I'm with her. I get grossed out pretty easily by food, even stuff here in the US.

Ha ha, they just showed some spicy rabbit heads in Chongqing. Ewww!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


NewSong North Orange County has been meeting at a converted warehouse in an industrial park in Brea. We moved out of Fullerton College in order to save money to support an Art Center in Beijing. It took about a week to transform an empty space into a worship sanctuary. I helped set up the sound reinforcement equipment and played bass during the inaugural Sunday (August 3, 2008).

Video/CGI/Lighting table

Setting up decorations

Service from this past Sunday

China's Milli Vanilli

OK, it's not that bad but you have to question the "wisdom" of the senior Communist Party official. I wonder if he personally told Peiyi's parents that their 7-year old daughter wasn't pretty enough.

LA Times Article
But it wasn't Miaoke who was singing. Chen Qigang, the ceremony's music director, told state broadcaster Beijing Radio that the voice heard around the world belonged to 7-year-old Yang Peiyi.

Peiyi had the voice and was supposed to perform, but was yanked at the last minute because her looks were deemed not suitable by a senior Communist Party official, Chen said.

"It was for the national interest," Chen told Beijing Radio. "The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression."

Well, I'm glad that the music director originally wanted Yang Peiyi to sing and the stupidity lies with the CCP official. I wonder why he/she didn't object to the change; maybe it's not wise to go against a senior party official.

OMG! Where did this come from? I am truly embarrassed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Awkward Olympic Moments

Japan won the men's 100m backstroke just now. NBC showed the medal ceremony and I heard the announcer telling everyone in Mandarin to stand up for the Japanese national anthem. Hmm, if WWII turned out differently in the Pacific 60 years ago, China would probably be a colony of Japan, and that phrase would have a totally different meaning.

I wonder what anthem they would play if Taiwan Chinese Taipei won a gold medal.


The US 4x100m freestyle relay team also just won the gold medal, beating France by 0.08 seconds. This is awkward because France promised to smash the American team in the event.
The Americans' relay victory was all the more sweet considering the way France declared itself the favorite prior to the Olympics. The Frenchmen weren't shy about repeating it either. In a news conference prior to the start of the Games, Bernard, who boasts a tattoo of a shark on his abdomen, was asked what he thought about his country's chances against the United States.

"The Americans?" Bernard said. "We will smash them."

Several of Bernard's teammates followed his lead, even going to far as to suggest that the Americans were scared of the French.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

K-pop in the Olympics

I just watched the first semifinals for the women's 100m butterfly. Right before they cut away to a commercial, I heard the music they were playing over the PA system in the Water Cube. The song was Girls' Generation by 소녀시대, which translates to Girls' Generation. I guess it's kind of appropriate.


Right now I'm watching a women's soccer game between China and Canada. The score is tied 1-1 in the 2nd half. It's like watching a USC-UCLA football game; I'm trying to decide who to cheer for. As expected, the cheering in the packed stadium is one sided. I wonder how many people there are regular sports fans.

I think this is my order of preference:
- Taiwan
- Canada
- China

Relative of US Olympic coach killed in Beijing

Yahoo! News Article
BEIJING - A Chinese man stabbed the in-laws of the U.S. Olympic men's volleyball coach, killing one and injuring the other while they visited a Beijing tourist site near the main venue where Olympic competitions began Saturday.

The victims were Todd and Barbara Bachman of Lakeville, Minn., parents of former Olympian Elisabeth Bachman, who is married to men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee. Bachman's father was killed.

The assailant also stabbed and injured a Chinese tour guide with the Americans. He then committed suicide by leaping from a 130-foot-high balcony of the ancient landmark the Americans were visiting, the 13th-century Drum Tower, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Wow! Violent crime against foreigners is very rare in China. There's lots of petty theft--bicycles and cell phones are stolen all the time--but physical attacks are almost unheard of. The assailant also attacked the female Chinese tour guide.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Celebrity Face Recognition

Watching the Olympics ceremony (ok, not all of it... I stopped after 90 minutes) and seeing Hu Jintao on TV, I remembered this website. You either upload a photo or give it an image URL and it matches your face to a celebrity. I tried two photos of myself, both taken in China, and Hu Jintao came up high on the list for both. Maybe that's why I got my visa; the Chinese Consulate looked at my passport photo and thought I was his relative or something. :)

Olympics Opening Ceremony

After 7 years, finally it's here. Of course, the opening ceremony happened about 15 hours ago but we finally get to see it in the US on NBC. I saw part of the wire-fu torch lighting on YouTube (thanks Sam), so I hadn't planned to watch it on TV. However, my mom called me at work several times today to remind me to watch it so I'm watching it. The NBC coverage actually started at 7:30pm and they had an interesting video introduction of China. Right now they're counting down to 8:08pm... ooh, lots of fireworks.

The NBC announcers said that the opening ceremonies has 15,000 performers and cost ~$300 million; Athens spent only $30 million in 2004. Crazy. I guess you can say this about any government spending but that's a lot of money. Even 1/2 that amount would go a long way in helping rebuild Sichuan. Maybe the Chinese government has so much money that $300 million is pocket change; supposedly ~$40 billion was spent on preparations for the Olympics. Somehow that just feels wrong for a communist country. Perhaps China is similar to the US but more extreme; it's a rich country (the government anyway) with a lot of poor people.

They just show a shot of George Bush talking to Vladimir Putin. Was this before or after the border skirmish between Russia and Georgia? Some people think that Russia is using the Olympics as a distraction while their tanks roll into Georgia. Interestingly, the US has been training and supplying the Georgian military for several years. Sorry Ronald Reagan, the cold war ain't over.

Now they're doing something with a huge scroll that is supposed to depict Chinese history. Leon just called me and we were thinking the same thing... are they going to show stuff about modern Chinese history? The Great Leap Forward (more like the great famine)? The Cultural Revolution? Sure China has a long 5,000 year history but the craziest shit all happened after 1949, thanks to Mao. It still irks me to see his portrait hanging everywhere in China.

OK, I'll stop typing and watch the rest of the ceremony. It's pretty impressive but starting to drag a bit; did previous opening ceremonies last this long (60 minutes and counting)? This keeps reminding me of Mass Games and North Korea except over there it's 100,000 performers and Kim Jong-Il is the only audience. Ironically, the huge show was created by Zhang Yimou, a famous director from China. I've seen many of his films but some of them were banned in China.

Secret Email

I got an email from a Director in the legal department at work today. The subject matter of the email is confidential. Actually, the fact that there is a distribution list and that I'm included on this list is also confidential. Perhaps I've said too much already.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

China Visa

So despite all the doom and gloom news about China visas, I got my passport back this morning from the travel agency and I was given a one-year multiple-entry tourist visa. The only thing that changed was that I needed to have my flight itinerary attached with my application. However, I did not have to provide hotel/room information even though the Chinese Consulate website says otherwise. I was a bit worried since I'm staying with a friend in Chengdu and not even sure where I'm staying in Beijing.

I guess no one from the Chinese Consulate is reading my blog... or maybe this is a trap! Just kidding.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tibet Olympic Protests, Part One

The China Blog

The comments are both funny/amusing and sad.

China Blogs and Comments

I've been paying attention to several China blogs since I found Alltop:China. There are a lot of sites listed and most are very specific in their post subjects. The most interesting ones are the blog run by Western MSM (Mainstream Media) such as Time, Wall Street Journal, or BBC. These blogs typically have several reporters posting their thoughts or experiences about China, particularly as the Olympics are about to start.

What is most interesting are the comment sections. Overwhelmingly, the comments are negative towards the reporters, to the point of calling them liars. Maybe it's the anonymous nature of the Internet but the level of rudeness is amazing. Each site has been invaded by trolls that seem to regurgitate CCP propaganda or just insult the blog posters. I'm pretty sure some of them are paid by the Communist government (50 Cent Army) but others seem to be overseas Chinese and fluent in English.

There are several common themes in the comments:

1. Wester media is anti-Chinese. They never report anything nice about China.

I think most of the negative reporting is about the Communist government and not about the Chinese people. Sure some of the posts show ignorance about Chinese culture but I haven't seen anything that's anti-Chinese whereas some comment trolls are vehemently anti-US/UK. As for saying nice things about China, there's enough of that in the Chinese state-controlled media.

2. The Communist government is great. It lifted 500 million people out of poverty in one generation. Democracy won't work for China; if elections were held, the country would collapse into total chaos.

Sigh... sure millions of people were starving a generation ago but it was caused by Mao and his crazy policies. If someone beat you and starved you everyday for 10 years then suddenly gave you a band-aid and some rice, would you praise that person for caring about your needs? As for Chinese people and democracy, one word: Taiwan. It took a few decades and is sometimes chaotic but there has been several peaceful transition of power between the KMT and DPP. Ironically, the biggest threat to Taiwan is the Communist Chinese government.

3. Foreigners have oppressed and humiliated China for over a hundred years and current criticism towards China is just a continuation of the same.

Whatever. I studied modern Chinese history in college. True, during the late 19th century, there were a series of unfair wars and treaties against the Qin dynasty. Particularly shameful was the Opium Wars. However, the biggest oppressor and murderer of Chinese people in recent history are other Chinese people. There's constant criticism and protest about Japan and WWII (rightly so), but silence when it comes to the social and economic disruption caused by the Cultural Revolution. It's always easier to lash out at others than to do the hard work of introspection.

I feel the anti-Western feelings and the constant claim of "hurt feelings" come from shame. A lot of Chinese believe that China was once the most powerful country in the world, almost conquering all of Europe during the Yuan dynasty. Now, China is a developing third-world country, famous for human-rights violations and cheap labor. Maybe that's why the Olympics are so important; some (many?) Chinese people probably feel that it will help China gain respect from other countries and erase some of that shame. I think they will be disappointed when the games are over.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Government Customer Service Update

I checked the mail last night and to my surprise, I received both Form N-445 (Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony) for my dad and my temporary disabled person parking placard. It's been a 3+ year ordeal waiting for USCIS/FBI to clear my dad's fingerprint; now he won't get harassed about renewing his old "Green Card" or why he hasn't applied for U.S. Citizenship each time he travels to/from Canada.

The placard I got is the big red one. It only took three weeks to get it. Sure could have used it when my leg would cramp up every 5 steps.

Post #666

Number of the Beast

Friday, August 1, 2008

K-drama: Women of the Sun

In addition to the Bowers Museum promo, I also caught 10 minutes of a Korean drama on a local multi-language TV channel. The title was Women of The Sun or 태양의 여자. I think it just finished showing in Korea and it was the #1 drama over there this week. There are several episodes posted on Veoh and YouTube but nothing with English subtitles yet, though what I saw last night on TV had subs. Here's the synopsis:
Shin Do Young is an announcer who instigates the jealously of all women around her because of her superior looks, great abilities, and great background. But Do Young has a deep, dark secret. She was actually abandoned at an orphanage when she was young but luckily she was adopted by a nice couple. The couple were unable to have their own children but were surprised when their biological daughter was born. Do Young, afraid that her parents would no longer love her anymore abandoned her 5 year old little sister, Ji Young, at a train station. Years have passed and Do Young meets a joyful girl, Sa Wol, who becomes her personal shopper. What happens when Do Young's terrible misdeed is revealed and that Sa Wol is actually the sister she abandoned at the train station all those years ago?

K-dramas have the most convoluted plotlines. Usually someone gets amnesia, goes blind, or is lost/found after many years. I guess this one falls into the third category.

The one with short hair is Shin Do Young