Saturday, October 30, 2010

YouTube Commercials

Arg, so many commercials. Since it's a few days before the election, it all political ads:

- ad for Carly
- ad against Carly (by "friends" of Barbara Boxer)
- ad for prop 19(?) which is the pothead initiative
- ad against prop 23 by some cute doctor

I really don't like the anti-prop 23 ad, not because I voted for the measure. In the ad, the doctor says something about dirty air and it's effect on children. However, AB32 was passed due to AGW and was meant to control CO2, not air particulates. I guess freedom of speech means freedom to lie.

The pro-marijuana is lame too. I think polls are 51/39 against the proposition but the ad lies about being ahead in the polls and we should go vote yes... or something. The ad is funded by Georgo Soros, who regularly funds extreme left groups. I can't understand why he's dumping all this money to sponsor drug legalization.

Since I already voted by mail, I can't wait until after Tuesday and for all these lame political ads to end.

New SNSD Song

Hoot - SNSD

The Hangul for Hoot (훗) looks like a guy wearing a Korean hat (deep, huh).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Data Massage

Not to be confused with massage parlors in China and Thailand...

IEEE Spectrum
New Zealander Kevin E. Trenberth has been a lead author in the last three climate assessments produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and he shared in the 2007 Nobel Prize awarded to the IPCC. He is head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. IEEE Spectrum Contributing Editor William Sweet interviewed Trenberth about the impact of the theft last year of climate scientists’ e-mails from the University of East Anglia and proposals for reforming the IPCC.

IEEE Spectrum: You were a lead coauthor with Phil Jones of East Anglia of a key chapter in the latest IPCC assessment, and messages of yours were among the hacked e-mails that aroused such consternation.

Kevin E. Trenberth: One cherry-picked message saying we can’t account for current global warming and that this is a travesty went viral and got more than 100 000 hits online. But it was quite clear from the context that I was not questioning the link between anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions and warming, or even suggesting that recent temperatures are unusual in terms of short-term variability.

Spectrum: It seems to me the most damaging thing about the disclosed e-mails was not the issue of fraud or scientific misconduct but the perception of a bunker mentality among climate scientists. If they really know what they’re doing, why do they seem so defensive?

Trenberth: What looks like defensiveness to the uninitiated can just be part of the normal process of doing science and scientific interaction. Scientists almost always have to massage their data, exercising judgment about what might be defective and best disregarded. When they talk about error bars, referring to uncertainty limits, it sounds to the general public like they’re just talking about errors.

Wow, just wow! That was not what I was taught in school. I know I'm just a lowly ex-engineer but is that how science is done nowadays... or just in climate "science"? At work (the engineering groups), there are no massages. The product either works or you've just wasted a bunch of silicon wafers and $$$. Is this how AB32 was passed in California? Massaging data?!

Vote YES on Prop 23!


BTW, I was a student member of IEEE way back in undergrad. Never read IEEE Spectrum then either.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Car Fire on the Way to Work

Not my car...

On my way to work this morning, I saw a dark plume of smoke ahead and traffic started slowing down. The CHP ended up shutting down all the lanes except for the carpool lane... this was right at the 55/405 junction. I was heading south on the 55 and it took me about an extra 30 minutes to get to work.

I didn't get a picture of the car but it was a white American made convertible... Chrysler something. The front was all burned up and I didn't see another car nearby so I wasn't sure if the fire was caused by a collision or if it was just a crappy car.

J-pop? K-pop?

Gee (Japanese) - SNSD (少女時代)

At least they don't have to compose new music... just translate the lyrics a bit. Since I'm used to the Korean version, the Japanese version sounds really strange, though I don't understand either. They should do a Chinese version too.

Propaganda Overdrive

Here's an article hack job on China Daily about Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner this year. In the story, they refer to the Tiananmen Massacre as the "severe political turmoil of 1989"... pathetic.

More telling, here's the list of related "articles" on the subject:
Related Reading

* Acting against the will of Alfred Nobel
* Why Ideological War holds a peculiar fascination for West ?
* Nobel Peace Prize politically distorted
* Liu Xiaobo's Nobel win criticized as harming prize's spirit
* Nobel Peace Prize goes astray politically
* The Nobel committee owes China an apology
* Liu Xiaobo's Nobel win criticized as harming prize's spirit
* Gradual political reform good for China
* Liu Xiaobo's Nobel win comes amid western countries' push for values: Chinese scholar
* Western governments have "no right to interfere" in China's affairs: FM spokesman

So from media blackout to full-court press in a week... impressive. Of course, all dissenting views are suppressed.

Chinese Twitter user seized after supporting Liu Xiaobo

I though Twitter was banned/blocked in China.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No Early Heat

I saw this at
With the daily lowest temperature barely hovering above freezing point, winter seems come to Beijing earlier this year. Here at Danwei's headquarter, your correspondent has put on a feather jacket to fortify against the biting chill, huddling over the only non-human heat source in the office - a laptop.

According to Beijing Times, responsible authorities in Beijing conferred yesterday and decided that Beijing would not switch heat on before November 5th, citing that the average temperature in the next five days is unlikely to drop below 10°C. The current policy dictates that the heat will be turned on only when the average temperature in five consecutive days drops below 5°C.

I posted about this a few days ago. The policy doesn't make any sense. Instead of the average temperature, they should consider the daily low temperatures. If it was 10°C all the time, then it's bearable. However, there is a fairly large differential between the high/low temperatures and right now it's -1°C in Beijing.

I just talked to my friend in Beijing earlier and she said she is freezing her ass off at night. She said the real issue is that a lot of people, including large SOE (state owned enterprises) and companies, don't pay the central heating bill. This is mentioned in the Chinese article too (10亿供暖费收缴不上来) as ¥1 billion of uncollected fees. Since the system is centralized, there is no way to shut off heat to individual customers and lots of people just don't pay up. By turning on the heat early, all it does is increase costs... who cares about the millions of freezing people.

My friend said that she wanted to write a complaint online and pass it around to her friends. I told her to be careful that she doesn't get in trouble; the CCP don't like petitions. I'm pretty sure there's no heating in police labor camps.

Monday, October 25, 2010

CCP Whining Again

If you want to be #1, then you have to stop crying like a baby all the time.

Taipei Times
A-list movie stars about to make a grand entrance at the prestigious Tokyo International Film Festival became the latest victims of turbulent cross-strait relations on Saturday after both the Taiwanese and Chinese delegations missed the star--studded ceremony amid a spat over names.

Despite spending days preparing for the 11-day event, Taiwanese actors and actresses failed to reach the eco-friendly “green carpet” after a Chinese delegation insisted that the Taiwanese group add the word “China” to their country’s name.

“Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei” were the only titles the head of the Chinese delegation, Jiang Ping (江平), said he would accept, threatening to boycott the festival if the change wasn’t made.

“Don’t you want to sell your films in the mainland? Aren’t you all Chinese?” he asked the Taiwanese performers.

Well, at least he has an attitude to go with his whining. The WSJ said that this accomplished two goals at the same time: bring up Taiwan sovereignty AND embarrass the Japanese. Now the question is whether Jiang Ping did this on his own to suck up to the Politburo or if this came from the top.

Love Monkeys


My bass amp stopped working. I was going to bring it to CCCSB since I'm not playing anywhere but when I turned it on last night, there was no signal. I checked the amplifier section by plugging my iPod into the Effects In jack and got some sound, which means the bass preamp section is bad. Like any good engineer, I took the cover off the amp, even though I don't know how to diagnose it anyway. I just wanted to see if there was anything obvious, like remnants of an explosion or fire or something...

Internals of the SWR 350x bass amp. Most of the circuitry was for the preamp section (left). The actual amplifier section (right) was working.

The only user replaceable part is the 12AX7 vacuum tube. When I bought the amp used, the guy selling it to me said he just replaced it. The manual said it needs replacement anywhere between one to three years so I guess it's time. I went online and was surprised to find very few electronic component retailers left, and most are from the 50's and 60's. I guess nobody fixes stuff anymore. I ended up ordering two tubes from an online retailer so hopefully I can just replace the tube and get it working again.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chinese Climate Control

Another tidbit of information that my friend in Beijing told me. Her parents live in a 13 year old apartment building. Even then they still have central heating control. "Central" doesn't only mean it's built into the buildings; it also means that the Beijing government controls when the heat is turned on and off. I think the system is still steam powered, i.e. they burn coal at a central location and send steam through tubing into each unit's radiators. I dunno, maybe this is more efficient than having individual heating units in each apartment.

The downside however, is that the system is not scheduled to begin operating until November 15th. Next week, night temperatures are forecasted to dip below freezing, and since Chinese buildings are typically constructed with concrete, there's not much insulation. It remains to be seen if they will move up the schedule. In the meantime, people either use the heater option in their A/C units or purchase portable heaters/burners.


Hmm, I found an article from 2007 online and it said that Beijing turns off the heating on March 15, again regardless of the outside temperature. It also said that many people get carbon monoxide poisoning since they use coal heaters indoors without proper ventilation. Nice.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Compassion International Revisited

I was having problems balancing my checking account just now. You'd figure that someone that does finance professionally should be able to balance a few accounts... and usually I'm pretty close. Anyway, it turned out that Compassion International has not transferred the $38/month since August. I received a few letters from them lately but I haven't paid much attention. I've been sponsoring this girl through Compassion in Thailand since 1996.

I finally read a letter with a scary "Final Letter" header dated June 13. It's written in Thai but the translation said that Yupa decided to go to work in Bangkok with her mother after her father passed away. Since she moved away from the project, they dropped my sponsorship. Well, the reason I chose to sponsor a Thai girl was to keep her from being sold/forced into prostitution. Sigh... I hope she finds a good job in Bangkok and stays away from Patpong. Maybe one day I'll run into her when I visit Bangkok. :)

Compassion assigned me another Thai girl with a much longer name. She is about 5 and a half years old and not very cute (sorry). Strange... I searched for her last name in Google and there were zero hits.

SuperTyphoon Megi

It's huge! Top wind speed so far was ~170 mph. It's supposed to hit the China coast north of Hong Kong on Oct 23. Leon is flying to Hong Kong this weekend, arriving in the morning of Oct 24. Maybe the flight will have to go around the typhoon, making the flight even longer. One time Cathay Pacific warned us that we may have to stop in Incheon to refuel but we ended up flying non-stop though the extended route took us over Russia, Mongolia, and much of China.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Home Computer

Hmm, I have the itch to buy another home computer (we already have six working systems at home) to "replace" my Sony Vaio notebook. This time I'm thinking about getting a fast gaming desktop... something like an Alienware setup. With an employee discount from work, I can get an Aurora for ~$1160 with a i7 920 CPU, 3GB of RAM, 500GB HDD, and an ATI HD5670 video card.

If I get the new system, then I'm going to try and install Mac OS X on the Sony. I saw someone install Leopard on a Dell mini 10 so it should be able to run on my Core2 Duo Sony. Or I can just go buy more PS3 games.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Heart & Mind

Yet another K-pop girl group... I think this is their third single. Their management company shortened their name and have been promoting them as... HAM! That's really unfortunate since they seem kinda cute and can sing/dance pretty well. If they left their name as Heart & Mind, no one would have thought to call them HAM so they have no one to blame but themselves.

So Sexy - HAM

T.T. Dance - HAM

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Vehicle Photos

Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG
Saw this on the way to work in the morning

Can-Am Spyder
It was in the 405N carpool lane. I guess it's more like a motorcycle than a car.

Vibrant Software Upgrade

I got a notice on my phone for a software upgrade. It took ~5 minutes and the phone seems to work okay. While it was upgrading, I read a few posts on the T-Mobile forum and people were complaining about the phone bricking after the upgrade. There are also a lot of complaints about the battery life post upgrade. I was already getting sucky battery life so hopefully it won't make it worse.

Model number: SGH-T959
Firmware version: 2.1-update1
Baseband version: T959UVJI6
Kernel version: 2.6.29
Build number: ECLAIR.UVJI6

The fix was mainly for GPS. I read that a lot of people had issues with the GPS functionality on the Samsung. My experience was 50/50... sometimes it would take minutes to acquire the GPS signal (or not at all), but other times it seemed okay. It always performed worse than the GPS on my Blackberry Curve. Now the GPS locks on in seconds, even indoors.

The other thing that was supposed to get fixed by this update was access to Samsung's Media Hub software. It allows you to buy/rent movies and TV shows. I just ran the app and it seems to work.

Now if they will just release Android OS v2.2 (Froyo) for my phone.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Safari - YouTube Crash

Something happened to either Apple Safari or the YouTube website. Each time I try to go to YouTube, Safari crashes. Other sites work fine and YouTube opens with Firefox. Weird.

Good thing I have three browsers on my Mac (+Google Chrome).
Process: Safari [1870]
Path: /Applications/
Version: 5.0.2 (6533.18.5)
Build Info: WebBrowser-75331805~1
Code Type: X86 (Native)
Parent Process: launchd [109]

Date/Time: 2010-10-14 19:38:59.388 -0700
OS Version: Mac OS X 10.6.4 (10F569)
Report Version: 6

Interval Since Last Report: 35694 sec
Crashes Since Last Report: 3
Per-App Interval Since Last Report: 64 sec
Per-App Crashes Since Last Report: 3
Anonymous UUID: 8E42B595-3E0D-4F66-962A-0AD4CC434AB5

Exception Codes: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE at 0x0000000000000000
Crashed Thread: 0 Dispatch queue:


Hmm, it's not just YouTube... I can't sign on to Facebook with Safari 5 either. I read that this may be a compatibility issue between Safari 5 and Adobe Flash 10.1 (I have installed. Strange that Firefox 3.6.10 works perfectly fine. If this is Steve Job's way of expanding his "war" with Adobe over Flash, then I'm uninstalling Safari on my Mac. Evil bastard.

Political Junk Mail

First one today! I got a mailer from the Whitman campaign. I'm probably voting for her anyway... not that I'm a supporter but Jerry Brown is a worse option. Sigh...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Brave" or Stupid

Or worse, negligent in their duties...

ABC News
Three weeks before his party could take a tough hit in the voting booths, President Obama said this evening that a “pleasant surprise” of his job is seeing members of Congress cast tough votes over the past 20 months even though it might lead to their congressional demise.

“There are a lot of folks who took some really tough votes over the last 20 months knowing that it was bad for them politically, who voted for health care reform even though the polls said this would cause them problems in the next election, who voted for financial regulatory reform even though they knew that by supporting it it would impact big money pouring in and directing negative ads towards them,” the president said during a webcast town hall from The George Washington University. "And they did it anyway. And that was risky for them.”

The president highlighted some of those members who cast votes that could put their congressional careers at risk.

The idea behind a democracy is for elected representatives to vote according to the wishes of their constituents, instead of pursuing their own agenda. If a majority of the voters wanted ObamaCare or wanted to pay more taxes, then there's no risk of losing the next election. The fact that Democrats are so unpopular right now should send a message to Mr. Hope'n'change but instead, we get clueless remarks like the above. I wonder if TOTUS (teleprompter) made him say it or if he was ad-libbing again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Japanese Blog Spam

Strange... I got three spam comments on my post about Sea World, and they're all in Japanese. Even more strange, the Blogger spam filter has been catching them and putting them in the spam comments box.



I put all the comments through Google Translate and they look like spam... though you can't trust the translations too much.

Aggressive Chinese Military

New York Times
“Why do you sell arms to Taiwan? We don’t sell arms to Hawaii,” said Col. Liu Mingfu, a China National Defense University professor and author of “The China Dream,” a nationalistic call to succeed the United States as the world’s leading power.

There's more stuff in the article but this comment caught my attention. Is he serious or just being an ass? Is this how the mainland Chinese think of Taiwan, without any acknowledgment of current realities? I think he should ask why Hawaii sees no need to buy Chinese (or any other country's) arms.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

$100B Wealth Redistribution

Dang, I wanted my 1500th post to be about K-pop girls. ;p

I see why there's so much interest in Global Warming Climate Change Disruption.

BBC News
But there was some progress toward the next round of climate talks in Mexico in November.

There are hopes that the meeting in Cancun could agree details of a fund to transfer $100bn (£63bn) a year from rich countries to help poor nations cope with the projected consequences of climate change.

That sum is described by developing nations as substantial but inadequate.

Of course it's inadequate. When have you seen recipients of free money say they've had enough?! A major reason why some of these countries are "poor" or "developing" is because they're run by corrupt dictators... and we want to give them more money?

And what are these "projected consequences" of climate change? If these "projections" turn out to be false, do I get my share of the $100 billion back?

New Battery

The Z wouldn't start again yesterday. When I turn the ignition key, it just sits there and clicks. I can probably jump start it but I think the battery is not holding a charge properly. I'll probably head out to Sears to pick up a replacement battery and try to install it myself later today. My only worry is messing up the stereo when the battery is disconnected. The CD changer in my 4Runner is all messed up because it thinks it was "stolen" when I changed the battery several years ago and I haven't been able to find an unlock code.


I checked out prices at Sears and Auto Zone and they both wanted $100+ for a new battery. Instead, we went to Costco and found one that fit for $60 (last one). They charge a $9 battery core fee but will refund it if we bring the battery back to Costco. It took me about 20 minutes to replace the battery. To make the engine bay look fancy, Nissan added a bunch of useless plastic covers and dividers that made the job a lot harder than it had to be.

Under the hood... the battery compartment is at the upper left.

Closer look at the battery compartment. The blue cable is an extra grounding kit that I put in when I bought the car back in 2004. Unfortunately, that's the only mod I made to it. At different times I considered a cold air intake, true dual exhausts, nicer rims/larger tires, and even a turbo/supercharger... but I just got cables.

Old battery... back to Costco for $9

New battery installed. There is a metal brace that holds the battery down. It hooks to a small bracket on the firewall behind the battery. That part took 15 minutes to reinstall since there is no room to work. In comparison, the 4Runner's battery is right in the open and it only took me 5 minutes.

I started up the Z and it appears everything is fine. I do have to reset all the radio presets though. I wanted to take more pictures but I was so pissed at the stupid hook that I forgot until everything was re-installed. No way was I going to tear everything down again just to take photos.

SNSD Screensaver

In order to balance out the ratio of posts between China rants and K-pop girls, here's a screensaver video of SNSD:

In the old days of CRT monitors, screensavers were supposed to blank out your screen to prevent image burn in. I don't think this would qualify... the blue background would probably burn in to the screen pretty quickly.


Yes, I downloaded it. The PC version was ~113MB.

This is the best one... Yuri!

CX Reply

Hmm, they didn't ignore me after all. I got a reply from CX saying that they will extend my "renewal" period to Dec 31, 2010. That means if I fly CX to China on my November trip, I will have enough miles to get back to Silver status. Oh well... too bad I already booked my flight on Air Canada. I checked fares for LAX-HKG-PEK on CX and it's $450 more AND I won't have lounge access. I had wanted them to extend my Silver status (marginal cost to CX = $0) but if I'm going to slum it in the normal waiting areas, I may as well save enough to pay for my hotel room for the week.

The last hotel I stayed in Beijing was a bit too small and ghetto for me. My friend managed to find me another place near the south train station for ~$40 per night that looks more upscale. It's supposed to be 4 stars but the ratings in China seem a bit inflated. Chinese 4 star hotels << US 4 star hotels.


I found their website and it says they're a 3 star hotel. :( The site seems to be written in Engrish and the online reservation system quotes prices from 2007.
Beijing Foreign national Garden Hotel is situated nearby the south two ring circuit mizar bridge, east depends on the Beijing south station, west is near Prospect Garden, separates the river with the carefree pavilion park to face one another, is apart from Tiananmen 6 kilometer, the transportation is convenient, the environment is graceful, the assembly lodgings, the dining, the entertainment are a body touch on foreign affairs the star class fixed point hotel. The hotel has started doing business since November 7, 1982, passes through repairs the transformation many times. Presently has standard guest room 200, in the comfortable room is equipped with the central air conditioning, the refrigerator, the telephone, the network wide band and the independent bathroom 24 hours hot water, conference room 5, may hold 70 human of school desk type conference. The dining room by the Shandong cuisine primarily, asks the Shandong cuisine famous kitchen ingredients, the taste orthodox school tunnel, the Sichuan Cantonese cuisine, the Beijing roast duck also to be able especially to meet the more consumer's need. The hall may hold 300 people also to dine, has KTV package of 10, but the self-entertainment from happy, good dines the environment, the high quality service can let you feel urgently kindly. In the hotel each kind of facility is complete, is equipped with the singsong house, the chess sign room, the cosmetology styles hair the center, the business center, the shopping center and handles services and so on international postal service and purchasing commercial aviation airplane ticket, train ticket, traveling ticket. In the courtyard is equipped with the large-scale parking lot, berth hundred, may satisfy you to travel the board and lodging and the entertainment need.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Liu Xiaobo Wins Nobel Peace Prize

BBC News
Jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been named the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Making the announcement in Oslo, Nobel Committee president Thorbjoern Jagland said Mr Liu was "the foremost symbol of the wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China".

Mr Liu's wife and some Western nations have called for his immediate release.
Continue reading the main story

China said the award was a violation of Nobel principles and could damage relations with Norway.

I think by threatening the Nobel Committee and Norway, the CCP pretty much guaranteed that Liu would win the prize.

What's China going to do now? Regardless what you think about the Nobel Peace Prize, it's a big international story that the CCP will find hard to censor. I'm disheartened to read some of the comments though. The legacy of Mao and his cult of personality is that the CCP = Chinese. That's total BS. How is it a "Chinese characteristic" to lock up and violently abuse those with a different political opinion? Is getting rich the so important that everything else is secondary?


Yahoo! News
In China, broadcasts of the announcement by CNN were blacked out. Popular Internet sites removed coverage of the Nobel prizes, placed prominently in recent days for the science awards. Messages about "Xiaobo" to Sina Microblog, a Twitter-like service run by Internet portal, were quickly deleted. Attempts to send mobile text messages with the Chinese characters for Liu Xiaobo failed.

Seriously, if you have nothing to hide, then don't act like a thief. If the CCP thinks they're right for sending Liu to jail for 11 years because he wrote a document, then why censor the news? This is the typical Chinese way: ignore/hide and hope it goes away.


Well, if the CCP will even censor their own Premier (Wen Jiabao), then there's no chance the Nobel Prize news will be discussed officially in China. Lame... but I'm repeating myself.

WSJ Blog
An official news blackout in China surrounding Premier Wen Jiabao’s interview over the weekend with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria hasn’t kept it from becoming one of the hottest topics on the Chinese Internet. If anything, censorship has only made it hotter—possibly giving Wen additional political clout in the process.


Information about the interview on the Chinese Internet appears to come almost exclusively from Phoenix TV, blogs and micro-blogging services like Sina Weibo. News portals in China are running a commentary on the interview from the official Liberation Daily newspaper that manages not to quote Wen at all, focusing instead on the differences in Zakaria’s questions from 2008 and 2010.

The irony of Wen’s statements on freedom and censorship being censored in official media was not lost on Chinese observers.

Next China Trip

I just booked tickets for my next trip to China. Since Cathay Pacific has so far ignored my email regarding my Marco Polo Club account, and I found tickets that are $450 cheaper, I'm flying Air Canada (connecting in Vancouver) this time. When I went to Beijing back in 2008 with NewSong, most of the other people on the trip took this flight since it seems to be the cheapest itinerary. Total round trip cost: $800.15 through

Originally I was going to fly American Airlines which cost $940 and connects in Chicago. The only plus side was that I can leave from John Wayne Airport. The other option from SNA was to fly United and connect through San Francisco for about the same fare. However, since my parents said that they could drop me off at LAX, I went with the cheaper option... I haven't told them that my flight departs at 7am which means leaving our house ~4am!


Crap! Air Canada does not allow you to choose seats online if you didn't book your flight through their website. If you call their phone line, they charge $22 to choose seats. Since I'm going cheap, I guess I'll have to check in online early and hope that I get a aisle seat. :(

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One more...

New song from miss A, another JYP girl group. The two girls on the left as the video begins are Chinese.

Breathe (브리드) - miss A

K-pop Request

Here... some new single by K-pop girl groups:

Shady Girl (가식걸) - Sistar (4)

No Playboy - Nine Muses (9)

A - Rainbow (7)

That's a total of 20 pairs of legs. Happy now?!


Arg! All the videos were deleted by copyright notices. I had to replace them with "official" versions, which are typically better quality but are uploaded way later.

Harmonized Google Maps

I saw this article on Shanghaiist:
Thousands have been flocking to the brand new Apple store on Huaihai Lu since the mainland release of the iPhone 4 this past Saturday. However, many are becoming frustrated with their new purchase after discovering the mapping app on the Chinese version of the iPhone is rigged in line with government propaganda.

The map that comes along with the new iPhone is censored to comply with the official stance of the Chinese government on border divisions. Arunachal Pradesh, for example, is a territory currently in dispute between China and India. But even as the region is administered by India, any Chinese iPhone will show that it belongs to China. Further, owners report that access to an international map, previously made possible via a VPN, is no longer. The new incarnation is VPN-proof.

I remember asking my friend working at Google (in Beijing at the time) what the difference was between and His response was that the Chinese version (ditu) was harmonized. I thought that just meant they didn't include "questionable" businesses, such as special massage parlors and KTV bars, but evidently it meant showing CCP's version of the world. From the article, it looks like the map application on Chinese iPhones uses instead of Is the regular Google Maps app available as a download on Apple's App Store or is it locked up in the iOS?

Comparing the two map databases from Google, there are other differences:

1. Arunachal Pradesh is not shown as disputed in ditu (mentioned in the Shanghaiist article)
2. Disputed border in Western Tibet with India not shown in ditu
3. Taiwan clearly shown as part of China (inside gray border lines)
4. Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands also shown as part of China

That's pretty lame... the propaganda never stops. I'm surprised that ditu didn't show Mongolia as part of China proper. We already know that Apple is evil but I thought Google pushed back against China's censorship and bullying... I guess not. Does Google produce a different version of "maps" for each country with a border dispute?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

USC vs. Washington

My sister came down to visit on short notice last weekend. Since I had nothing planned, we decided to go to the USC game on Saturday. Even though I have two (graduate) degrees from USC, I've never attended a football game. Since I went to UCLA for undergrad, there was a natural tendency to avoid all USC sporting events, unless they were playing UCLA.

We checked out Stubhub but they charge a huge handling fee for tickets. We finally ended up getting tickets from the USC ticket office online. They were $55 each but USC also charged a handling fee for each ticket and some other fee for us to print the tickets from an email. I thought only Ticketmaster charged a "convenience" fee. Most venues don't charge you an extra fee if you buy the tickets directly from their ticket office... except USC. We also paid a lot for parking... $40 at the Shrine.

We spent about 2 hours on campus walking around. My sister bought some clothing from the USC bookstore and a flag to hang from her house in Portland. It seemed like the entire campus was full of people eating and drinking. Since I've never been to a USC football game before, I didn't know if this was normal or not.

Scoreboard and giant TV at the Coliseum

USC marching band before the game. I got an invitation to audition for the band when I was here the first time in 1990. I didn't try out because I was in grad school and band people are really strange.


USC scored their first touchdown in under 5 minutes. This was the point-after attempt. I had to explain rules and scoring to my friend from Beijing (we brought her along). Football is a hard sport to explain.

My first USC game and they lost (32-31) to an unranked team. At least it was a close game. It got too cold when the sun finally set so we left early in the 4th quarter and listened to the end of the game on the car radio.

There was some other event at the Shrine so the streets around USC was jammed with people leaving the game early and what looked like lots of Persian people trying to find parking. We went to Noodle World in Alhambra for a late dinner then home. I wanted to go and find a Kogi BBQ truck but was too tired to bother.

Universal Studios, Take 3

Last Wednesday, I brought my Beijing friend to Universal Studios Hollywood. She's been to Disneyland and Sea World so there's not much left to do. I was just here last year with Leon and family so I still remember where everything was. Since it was a pretty warm weekday, there weren't too many visitors and most of the lines were short.

There was a longish line for the studio tour. I think we waited ~40 minutes in line, about twice as long as when I was here with Leon. The only new attraction was King Kong 3D and it was pretty amazing, though I didn't like the water spraying effects.

Waterworld! The movie sucked but the show was decent. I don't remember ever seeing this show before. Most of the actors were pretty serious but the guy playing the main villain seemed to ad lib most of his lines and kinda ruined the show.

There weren't many people at the bottom portion of the theme park. The line for the Mummy ride was only 2-3 minutes; however, the ride seemed to only last 30 seconds. We also rode the Jurassic Park water ride. On the way back up, my friend wanted to take the stairs... and she did for all 4 escalator segments. This was one of the longer sections. I was tired just watching her climb.

I'm so out of it (food fads). First it was Kogi BBQ food trucks a few months ago, and now Yogurtland. I've never been to a self-serve/weigh-your-dessert yogurt places before. It was pretty good but pricy at ~$5 for what you see.

Since Universal Studios was running a promotion, I have two more free visits on the same ticket for the next year. My friend does too but I doubt she will come to LA from Beijing again just for this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CX Flight Delay

My Beijing friend just called me from Hong Kong. For some reason, her flight from LAX-HKG arrived late and she was unable to make her connecting flight to Beijing. Now she has to spend the night in Hong Kong, probably in the same airport hotel that I stayed in last time my CX flight was delayed 13 hours.

I got a text message from her that they were boarding in LAX at ~12:54pm, which was ~20 minutes late. Usually they build in a lot of slack in the published flight time but her flight arrived 45 minutes late. Probably the rain we had earlier in LA caused even more delays.


Hmm, I think the airport hotel is outside of HKG immigration. How is she going to get there without a Hong Kong visa? Also, she has probably thousands of dollars of stuff in her checked luggage and right now CX has no idea where her bags are. Lame.


Since there are no hotels inside the controlled part of HK Airport, they gave my friend a 7 day stamp in her passport. I think she already has a HK/Macau visa from a prior trip to Macau. Anyway, she arrived in Beijing 12 hours late and her luggage was waiting for her as well. Leon thinks that Air China already sold her seat when she arrived in Hong Kong since they didn't issue a boarding pass for the HKG-PEK flight when she checked in at LAX. If the connecting flight was operated by CX/KA, I think they could have waited a bit since there was still ~40 minutes between flights.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Surprise Trip

So my friend in Beijing made a surprise last minute trip to Los Angeles. She had a few months left on her US tourist visa so she came to visit during China's National Day holiday. Since I just took two weeks off to go to Asia, I was only able to sneak in one more vacation day.

Mon 9/27: arrival and dinner with parents
Tue 9/28: sleep in and late check-out; Fashion Island; move in to guest room
Wed 9/29: Universal Studios and dinner with parents again
Thu 9/30: shopping and dinner with her Beijing friend living in US
Fri 10/1: more shopping and Ducks hockey game
Sat 10/2: Huntington Beach and USC vs. Washington game
Sun 10/3: even more shopping and dinner with parents
Mon 10/4: departure

Not sure if that sounds like an interesting trip. The last minute tickets cost her ~RMB9000 which is about the same as what I paid last month to go LAX-CTU/PEK-LAX on Cathay Pacific.

Airplane Ticket Madness

I'm looking for tickets from LAX to PEK during Thanksgiving week and prices are confusing. Since I no longer have elite status with Cathay Pacific (CX) and I'm not going to Chengdu, I'm open to flying on other airlines. I searched for LAX-PEK directly and the cheapest tickets I found were on Air Canada through Vayama (consolidator) for ~$800 connecting through Vancouver. The only direct flight is through Air China and tickets are $1,113 on Expedia. If I stick with CX, ticket are $1,243 connecting in HKG. Since I have Asia Miles on CX, I check LAX-HKG and it was ~$1,200; I would then have to use 20,000 miles for HKG-PEK round trip... not worth it.

The weird thing is that Air China is charging $950 to go from LAX-HKG through Beijing. The LAX-PEK segment is on the same flight as the $1,113 tickets above. WTF? That doesn't make any sense. Why would it cost less? Can I buy the LAX-HKG ticket and skip the Hong Kong flight?

I need to see if I can take three days off in November but it looks like I will try to get the cheap Air Canada tickets. The Transpacific portion is on a smaller Boeing 767 instead of 747/777, and the LAX-YVR flight is on an Embraer E90 which only has 4 rows of seats. The total flying time is only ~14.5 hours which is much less than the CX flight. They're part of Star Alliance... maybe I'll starting collecting miles there instead of oneworld now.