Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lure of Chinese Tuition Squeezes Out Asian-American Students

The University of California system, rocked by budget cuts, is enrolling record numbers of out-of-state and international students, who pay almost twice that of in-state residents. Among those being squeezed out: high-achieving Asian-Americans, many of them children of immigrants, who for decades flocked to the state’s elite public colleges to move up the economic ladder.

In 2009, University of California administrators told the San Diego campus to reduce its number of in-state freshmen by 500 to about 3,400 and fill the spots with out-of-state and international students, said Mae Brown, the school’s admissions director. California residents pay $13,234 in annual tuition while nonresidents pay $22,878.

As a result, almost 200 freshmen from China enrolled in 2011, up from 16 in 2009, a 12-fold increase. At the same time, the number of Asian-American Californians enrolled fell 29 percent to 1,230, from 1,723 in 2009. The 2009 figure is from the UC system’s office because San Diego didn’t have it available.

Boy, I'm glad I went to UCLA while the state still had some money and there weren't that many foreign students from China. BTW, someone needs to tell the admissions people that "rich kids from China" <> Chinese-Americans.

The Troll Returns

So after a year, my personal troll is back:
Publish your phone number and address and we can talk about this in person. Or are you just a bitter, attention-hungry, effective weapon of Satan, coward?

Sigh... maybe this person gets bored after Christmas and needs to harass me about something that happened 2.5 years ago. I've been called a lot of names before, most by this same troll in the comments, but "effective weapon of Satan" has got to be the best yet. Maybe the commenter wants my address so he/she can lead a mob with torches and pitchforks to my house or something... hopefully Internet troll won't turn into psycho stalker.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Another Psycho


Wall Street Journal Asia
The portrait of Kim Jong Eun that emerges in his U.S. profile is that of a young man who, despite years of education in the West, is steeped in his father's cult of personality and may be even more mercurial and merciless, officials said.

A senior U.S. official said intelligence analysts believe, for instance, that Kim Jung Eun "tortured small animals" when he was a youth. "He has a violent streak and that's worrisome," a senior U.S. official said, summing up the U.S. assessments.

Tortured small animals?! Seriously? Are there still small animals in North Korea? I thought they were all eaten by the starving population during the perpetual famine of the past few decades.

White Monkey

Performing in China: Confessions of a White Monkey

In China, the image of white skin still pays dividends. Especially dancing white people.

Promoters for real estate opening parties spend tens of thousands of RMB to set the stage for potential homeowners. Magicians and mini-skirt wearing violin players are commonplace, but none earn even close as much as the coveted Anglo-Saxon musician/clown. The “White Monkey,” as some call the foreign performer, is the ultimate showpiece for any Grand Opening, be it for a multi-billion RMB high-tech zone or an apartment villa in the cabbage-picking boondocks.

I admit sometimes I'm jealous. I speak decent Chinese and have a bunch of college degrees from UCLA/USC. That should open a lot of doors in China but because I am Chinese and can blend in (sometimes), I am not treated like a laowai, which limits opportunities for me in China.

Kim Jong-Il is Dead


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Latest SNSD

The Boys - SNSD

I think this has been out for awhile too. It was posted by SM Entertainment on Oct 18 and it has over 23 million hits in <2 months.

Afterschool Subgroups


Night Into The Sky - Afterschool Red
Kahi, Jungah, Nana, and Uee

and Blue

Wonder Boy - Afterschool Blue
Juyeon, Raina, Lizzy, and new girl

I like the "Red" subgroup better. The two songs came out in July while I was in Beijing so I don't think I put up a post. Bekah (member from Hawaii) is not in either group; I think she's taking a break or something.


New girl is a beast on guitar. Too bad they just wiggle and sing.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Class

NYU charges ~$20,000 per term for tuition or $40k per year. If you take courses by the unit, then they charge you ~$1,200/unit. I heard on the radio that NYU was going to offer a class about the Occupy Wall Street "movement" and thought it was a joke, but it looks like it's true.

CBS New York
Don’t understand the Occupy Wall Street movement? Now, you can learn all about it.

New York University says it plans to offer two classes next semester on Occupy Wall Street through the school’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis.

It will be called: “Why Occupy Wall Street? The History and Politics of Debt and Finance.”

Another professor will be teaching a graduate-level seminar on the demonstration.

How ironic. I thought one of the things OWS was whining about was student loans. Some of the college-educated protesters were unemployed and unable to repay their loans. Inevitably, you find out they studied something totally useless, like a degree from the NYU Department of Social and Cultural Analysis for example. I couldn't find the course in NYU's catalog (too new?) but most classes were 4 units, which means the OWS course will cost ~$5,000 while providing zero value on a resume.

My unsolicited advice? If your degree is has the words "social justice" in it somewhere, use your last free elective and enroll in an intro finance class. It may be too late to do anything about the $250,000 wasted on your Ivy League education, but at least you will understand why TANSTAAFL (there ain't no such thing as a free lunch).

Go home. Get a job. Pay your loans.


Even though I'm basically talking to myself on this blog (it's therapeutic), I want to clarify that crony capitalism is bad. I believe Bush and Obama should not have bailed out banks and GM/Chrysler. Let them go bankrupt, reorganize, and the market will sort it out. Where I disagree with OWS is that they're just a bunch of protesters with no solutions. Don't like the system? Then get behind a candidate and get him/her elected to office. All these pointless "occupations" are basically making everyone poorer by disrupting business and commerce. Instead of creating wealth, let's destroy wealth and get rid of the wealth gap the socialist/communist way.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Night Traffic + New Lens

It took me about an hour to get home tonight, which is not too bad for Friday at 6:30pm.

405 South near Seal Beach

I also got a new lens for my Sony a55. I already have the 18mm-250mm kit lens so I got a fixed length 50mm f/1.8 lens. I really wanted the 50mm f/1.4 lens but it was $400; this one is only $150. I'm going to try and take more photos with this lens; without zoom, I think it will force me to compose my shots with more forethought.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tax & Spend & Lies

Surprise! Jerry Brown (Democrat) wants to raise taxes. His proposal raises both the sales tax by 0.5% and state income taxes by 2% for individuals making $250k. The current rate is already 9.55% and since the progressive ramp is so steep in California, I end up paying the 9% rate for most of my income. It's unclear whether the 2% adder is marginal or applies to the entire AGI for each taxpayer.

Here's a question to those OWS protesters. I pay a bit over 30% (marginal rate is higher) for federal taxes over the past few years. So if you add together federal taxes, state taxes, sales taxes, social security taxes, and Medicare taxes, it's ~56% of my income. Is that enough for you wannabe socialists? Should the government take 90%? What about the ~50% that don't pay any taxes? Is that fair?

Also, I hate the way Jerry Brown justifies the tax. We all know that California is in deep sh*t since the liberals in charge can't control spending... gotta keep taxing the minority to buy votes from the majority.

Brown says both tax hikes, scheduled to end within five years, would generate an extra $7 billion for the state to prevent deeper cuts to schools, universities and public safety.

That would free up some state money California could use to shore up social services and support for public universities.

Lame. Money is fungible. There is nothing else but political rhetoric which ties these tax dollars to education. If funding schools and universities is important, then cut something else. The state of California spent nearly $160 billion last year (2010); I'm sure politicians can find more savings if they have the courage.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Delivery status not updated

My latest Amazon order was shipped in two parts via USPS. On their "Track & Confirm" page, I entered the tracking numbers and both said "Delivery status not updated" from last night. Both packages were previously show as "Out for delivery". I asked my dad, who was a mail carrier and clerk in the USPS for many years, and he said that the regular carrier also delivered small packages. It's weird that the packages are out for delivery yet we did not receive anything, even though first class letter mail was delivered as normal.

I hope this is not part of some cost saving initiative to skimp on package tracking. UPS and FedEx do a much better job of tracking their packages.

Federal Way, WA is not that far from California. I think this would have taken only two days via UPS ground.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Telemarketing Scam?

I've been getting a lot of calls from a phone number in Arizona: 602-358-0068. After doing a Google search, I came up with this website (Coalition For Energy Savings). I finally answered a call from them today and they were trying to get more info on my utility spending. The lead-in was that they can save me 50% on my bills but then they ask how much I spend on electricity and gas. Anyway, it appears their goal is to send contractors to your house to sell you energy efficiency additions to your house. From their website:

At CES, we work hand in hand with local, certified, and licensed contractors to analyze the energy efficiency of your home, which then allows them to custom design a whole home energy efficiency package to reduce consumption---thus saving you money. These licensed and certified contractors will help you every step of the way in accessing government funds and rebate programs to allow you to enjoy these products and technologies and save money every month on your utility bills.

If they can get you government grants and rebates, that may not be a bad thing. However, they have a "Stories" page on their website with 2 testimonials. The included photos looked too professional so I did a Google image search... yup, stock photography! I told the caller that I was at work and to call later. After seeing the fake photos, there's no way I'm picking up any more calls from them.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Half The Sky and Chinese Government Spending

I've been supporting a charity called Half The Sky for several years. They support funding and training of full-time helpers for China's orphanages. Arguably this is something that the Chinese government should take more responsibility for. Anyway, I'm supporting a helper who takes care of a toddler boy who is missing his right forearm. HTS partners with various orphanages; while the Chinese government provides facilities and workers, HTS is supported by donations.

It's time to renew support ($600/year) but reading all the news about corruption and government abuse in China, it makes it very hard to make the decision. Money is fungible... if I donate to help fund social service in China, that leave more money for the Chinese government to hire internal security to beat up political prisoners, buy gifts for their bosses or ernais with tax money, or even invest in their space program that may eventually cause me to lose my job. The reality though is that most of the Chinese government doesn't give a sh*t about the smallest and weakest citizens, and the orphanages will remain underfunded. Sigh...

Latest news:

他喜欢到活动室玩,看见木马他会立即走过去,用左手握着手把,用右臂支撑着做好, 然后把左脚抬起来, 右脚点起来, 坐在上面前腰后仰的, 边摇边发出笑声来, 发扬嘴喜欢到户外活动, 看见五颜六色的花草, 他会用手轻轻地抚摸它们一下,然后拉着我的手对我说:“妈妈,花。”发扬喜欢到儿儿乐园玩滑梯,看见楼梯就向上爬,我牵着他的手,叫他把一只脚一只脚的抬起来上楼梯,就这样一梯一梯的伤,发扬走的满头大汗,但是他还是没有放弃,我一边牵着他一边给他加油:“发扬,加油,加油。”听了我的鼓励,发扬走的更起劲的,终于走上了楼梯,发扬站在楼梯上开怀大笑。

Translated (from Half The Sky):
Fayang is smarter and smarter. He has a great capacity to imitate our behaviors. He follows us and learned to call aunt, mum and dad. When I kiss his cheek, he will kiss back. I taught him to say hello and goodbye, he will clap his right hand with his left hand to welcome others to the room. When we sing the children's song, Fayang can join in the chorus and clap to the music. Fayang can walk by himself though not steadily and falls sometimes. He stands up immediately after he falls and keeps walking again.

He likes playing in the activity room. He will walk to the rocking horse at the sight of it. He sits on it by holding the handlebar with his left hand and supporting himself with his right hand. Then he raises his left foot and stomps his right foot, and laughs as he shakes his body with the movements of the rocking horse. Outdoor activities are his favorite. Once seeing the colorful flowers, Fayang will touch them and pull me to see it, saying "Mum, flower". He likes the slide in the children's playground. He will go upstairs at the sight of the slide. Taking hold of his hand, I teach him to go up the flights of the stairs step by step. He does not give up. I take him by his hand and encourage him with the words, "Fayang, come on! Come on!" Hearing the encouragement, Fayang tries his best to climb the stairs and finally he finishes the climbing, he bursts out in laughter at the top.


Category 2 Hurricane

I heard on the news driving into work that gusts as high as 100 mph were recorded on Mount Wilson last night. That's equivalent to a category 2 hurricane. A lot of schools were closed throughout the San Gabriel Valley and in the Pasadena area today due to downed trees and power lines. Strangely, there was almost no wind down in Orange County. It was quite windy when I left work (Hawthorne) last night but nothing when I got home (Orange).

LAX is operating normally today (flights landing/departing east to west) despite the Santa Ana winds.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good Riddance

LA Times
City crews were busy surveying the damage to the park surrounding City Hall, and erecting fences and concrete barriers around the block, hours after police evicted hundreds of Occupy L.A. protesters.

At 7 a.m., dozens of tents were still on the City Hall south lawn, collapsed and surrounded by the debris and belongings that were abruptly abandoned in the wake of the raid -- books, luggage, mattresses, folding chairs, miniature chalkboards, canned goods and jars of instant coffee. Not far from a newly installed security fence, static interspersed with music came from a small portable radio.

Peter Sanders, a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said it would take eight to 10 hours to clean up the South Lawn.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wind Advisary

I heard on the news this morning that there will be very high winds this Thursday and Friday.
Currently the watch covers Los Angeles and Ventura county mountain areas. A high wind watch is a precursor to an actual advisory or warning. Because of the potential magnitude of this event, Southern California travelers should be attentive to and monitor the developing situation. Extreme atmospheric pressure differences resulting in winds as high as 70 mph. or more are a good possibility from Thursday morning Dec. 1st through late Friday, Dec. 2nd.

70 mph?! Not driving the SUV to work. Normally we get these Santa Ana winds during fall season though not typically 70 mph. These winds typically blow from east to west (towards the ocean), maybe flights at LAX will have to land in reverse flow again.


Looks like all the wind activity is north of the San Bernardino mountains... not much down in the populated areas.

Korean Airlines to Las Vegas

I saw a tweet that Sistar was returning to Korea from Las Vegas on KE006. It looks like Korean Airlines has three direct flights per week from Seoul/Inchon to Las Vegas. I thought all the Asians are gambling in Macau now.

Friday, November 25, 2011

TwitCasting K-pop

Since I traveled to Canada yesterday, I was unable to attend the K-pop Masters concert in Vegas tonight. I did find a link to someone livecasting the event on TwitCasting. He/she is offline right now, trying to conserve battery so they can cast Brown Eyed Girls. I just "watched" GN.A perform Top Girl; the audio was pretty good though the video was really bad, probably due to slow upload bandwidth.

Amazing technology...


I brought my new camera with me to Toronto and I took some plane photos (surprise!) at places other than LAX. It took 13 hours to get to Toronto (door-to-door) on Wednesday and about the same to get back today.

John Wayne Airport (SNA)

N835UA - United Airlines Airbus A-319

N530UA - United Airlines Boeing 757-200

N23721 - United Airlines Boeing 737-700

N125MX - Evektor Aerotechnik Sportstar Max (?)

N714CB - Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700

Chicago O'Hare Airport (ORD)

Connecting tunnel in Terminal 1 to reach 2nd set of United gates. This was oddly familiar though I can't remember transiting in ORD on United before. I practically never fly on United but because of flights on other Star Alliance carriers (Air Canada/All Nippon Airways), I had enough miles to get to Toronto on Wednesday.

N76504 - Continental Airlines Boeing 737-800 (this one hasn't been painted with "United" yet)

N199UA - United Airlines Boeing 747-400 (just landed from Hong Kong)

N983CA - United Express Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-200

N951TW - American Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-83

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Naked Travel

Sort of. I'm at John Wayne Airport traveling to Toronto via San Francisco. This is the first time in many years (10?) that I'm not carrying a computer. Instead, I only have my iPad, which I'm using to post this (free wifi at JWA). Since this is a short trip (1 day, 2 nights), I won't be doing any work anyway. It is much harder to type on a touchscreen though... and I can't post any photos from my DSLR since there is no SD card reader.


It appears that I'm on an Airbus A319 for both legs of my flight. For some reason I thought I was on a CJR-700 from SNA to SFO.


Dang it. My flight is delayed 90 minutes. Good thing I have a ~3 hour layover in SFO. Hopefully my next flight won't be delayed too. Hmm, what to do for 2 hours in JWA...

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Billboard K-pop Masters Concert

Next Friday in Vegas... both Sistar and Brown Eyed Girls. I really want to go.

Official Website

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tesla Model S

On a tour of several satellite buildings at work this afternoon, we walked through the Tesla Design Center that is right behind our main building. In the main building space, there were several full sized clay models being sculpted. I thought the Model S was finalized so I wasn't sure what they were working on. In the other area of the building, there was a beta version of the Model S Signature (not sure what that means). It had a California manufacturer's plate and the Tesla guy said they drive it to PR events. The huge center console display was pretty cool but I wasn't too impressed with the two jump seats in the back. It's a "seven" seat car like Bret's Porsche 911 is a "four" seat car.

No photos... though there are many on the Internet already.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Who is Chen Guangcheng 陳光誠

From Seeing Red in China

Please read... it will only take a few minutes.

Part 1 - A celebration of life on his 40th birthday
Part 2 - Fighting forced abortion and his trial
Part 3 - From a small prison to a big prison

From Part 2:
Confinement, Escape, Kidnapping, Beating, Imprisonment, Isolation

Beginning August 11, 2005, Chen Guangcheng and his wife were confined in their home and watched by dozens of people scattered around the area. In the night of August 25, Chen Guangcheng managed to slip out in the dark, shake off guards running after him, and eventually arrive in Beijing, but not without taking detours through Shanghai and Nanjing.

In the afternoon of September 6, 2005, six men who claimed to be Public Security officers, without showing any ID or legal documents, seized Chen Guangcheng and took him away in a Santana sedan (license plate 鲁B13237) in front of three witnesses, including a Chinese lawyer and Philip Pan of Washington Post.

Badly beaten in the car, that night he was taken back to Yinan County to a hotel room. On the morning of September 7, Liu Jie (刘杰), the head of Linyi Public Security Bureau paid him a visit. “It is enough to give you a five-year sentence just for being interviewed by Washington Post. Another interview, you’ll get ten years!” He then suggested that Chen Guangcheng withdraw from exposing the abuses. Chen refused.

After a 26-hour hunger strike, he was sent home, but was under close watch and not allowed to leave. In the following days his telephone was disconnected, computer removed, and cell phone signal disrupted. No outsiders were allowed to go into his house. He was completely cut off from the outside world.

From this time to early 2006, rights lawyers and other friends and activists, mostly from Beijing, visited Linyi hoping to meet Chen Guangcheng, but were beaten and turned away. Villagers who protested Chen’s confinement or who tried to help the visitors were repeatedly beaten and detained. More international media outlets reported what was happening in Dong Shi Gu, and human rights organizations called for his release. Chen Guangcheng himself was beaten several times, as was his wife.

On March 11, 2006, Chen Guangcheng and two others were arrested. By then he had already been under house arrest for 197 days.

On June 11, 90 days after Chen Guangcheng was held incommunicado without authorization, his wife received a notice of criminal detention issued by Yinan County Public Security Bureau for allegedly “gathering crowds to obstruct traffic” and “destruction of property.”

By then his wife had written letters to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, Chinese President and Prime Minister respectively, and UN Secretary General Annan, pleading for justice. After Chen Guangcheng was formally detained, she wrote to Deng Pufang, the son of Deng Xiaoping and Chairman of China’s Disabled Persons’ Federation.

To publicize Chen Guangcheng’s case, lawyers, scholars and friends in Beijing planned a press conference on June 16, and Chen’s mother and son were to attend. But the press conference had to be cancelled, because every single organizer had been called on, followed or confined by authorities in Beijing that day. Most shockingly, Cheng Guangcheng’s mother and his toddler son were kidnapped outside Teng Biao’s apartment building by ten unidentified men and spirited away in a van without a license plate. They were brought back to Yinan to the home of one of Chen Guangcheng’s brothers.

Chen’s lawyers were allowed to meet with him in the Yinan detention center. They were later prevented by thugs from visiting Yuan Weijing, Chen’s wife, to discuss the case. While in his hotel room, Li Jinsong (李劲松), one of Chen’s defense lawyers, received telephone threats from an unidentified man. “Have you lived enough? Have you?” The man menaced repeatedly.

In Beijing, national security personnel called on the lawyers and activists; while in Linyi, Chen Guangcheng’s lawyers were followed, threatened, beaten on the street by unidentified thugs, had their camera smashed and their cars overturned.

Friday, November 11, 2011

LAX Reverse Flow

I went out to lunch today and saw that the planes taking-off and landing at LAX were going the other way, i.e, headed east. Normally due to wind direction, runways 24/25 are used (east to west) instead of 6/7. Too bad I don't have my camera (waiting for a new camera backpack) today; it would be interesting to see landings at Imperial Hill and take-offs at In'n'Out.

I looked online and could not find any real-time notifications on when (and why) this happens. It seems to be a pretty rare event.

I guess I can "watch" the planes land on FlightAware and tell which direction they're headed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday Traffic

Dang it. I thought I could go home a bit earlier and have dinner at a "normal" time... i.e., before 9pm. However, looking at Google Maps traffic, there seems to be more red than green on the map. I guess I'll hang out here for another hour to see if traffic improves. Thursday night appears to be the worst traffic night for my ride home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

21 and Over

From the director of The Hangover and The Hangover Part II, 21 and Over is another stereotypical "buddy" comedy movie. Here is the description from Variety magazine:
Miles Teller ("Footloose"), Justin Chon ("The Twilight Saga"), Skylar Astin ("Taking Woodstock") and Sarah Wright ("The House Bunny") star in the pic, which follows two childhood friends who drag their straight-arrow buddy out to celebrate his 21st birthday the night before an important medical school interview, in an evening of debauchery that spirals out of control. But when one beer leads to another, the evening spirals into a wild misadventure of debauchery that none of them will ever forget.

Yawn... sound terribly boring. Anyway, the interesting (to me anyway) part of this story is that they're filming part of the movie in Linyi, China. Looking at the brief blurb above, I don't see how a scene in China fits into the story, but who says crappy movies need a logical plot. More importantly, Linyi has been in the news lately due to Chen Guangchen. From Wikipedia:
Chen Guangcheng (born November 12, 1971) is a blind civil rights activist in the People's Republic of China who drew international attention to human rights issues in rural areas. He was placed under house arrest from September 2005 to March 2006 after talking to Time magazine about the forced abortion cases he investigated in Linyi Prefecture, Shandong Province. Authorities formally arrested him in June 2006 for destruction of property and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic. During his trial, Chen's lawyers were forbidden access to the court, leaving him without a proper defender. On August 24, 2006, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months for "damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic."

Chen was released from prison on September 8, 2010 after serving his full sentence, but remains under "ruanjin" or soft detention at his home in Dongshigu. Chen and his wife were reportedly beaten shortly after a human rights group released a video of their home under intense police surveillance on February 9, 2011.

I'm not sure what the movie producers were thinking. Chen Guangcheng's story is not small local news; it has been featured on TIME, BBC, New York Times (often), NPR, and lots of other "Western" media. Relativity Media for its part, seems to be quite happy with the Chinese arrangement:
Joining Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman (The Fighter) and Todd Lieberman (The Fighter), are producers on the film, Andy Yan of SAIF and Hugo Shong of IDG. The Relativity and Sky Land production is being made in association with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced (Limitless). In addition to previous footage shot in Seattle, Washington, filming locations include Linyi, a city in the south of Shandong province. Principal photography on scenes in China began shooting in Linyi on October 26, 2011.

Party Secretary of Linyi Municipal Committee of the Chinese Party of Communism (CPC), Zhang Shajun, whose position is directly above the Mayor, said “Linyi is a beautiful city and we welcome international filmmakers to come to Linyi to make beautiful worldwide films, and particularly welcome my good friend Ryan Kavanaugh and his great company Relativity to be shooting in our historic city. We promise to provide the best service possible in order to help make the movie successful worldwide.”

This will mark the first of many projects that Relativity plans to shoot and do post-production work on in China.

Keeping lots of thugs around to intimidate and beat up visitors to an entire village is costly. I read that there are up to 300 "guards" and they get paid ~RMB 100 per day. With other expenses, that's probably RMB 1M per month. I don't know whether a small city like Linyi has that kind of discretionary budget but some cash from a "Hollywood" movie production company will sure come in handy. Just wondering how well the movie will do once it's linked to illegal detention and torture of a blind human rights lawyer. Probably not good.

From Charlie Custer at ChinaGeeks:
So, what should you do? I’m no expert, but let me help you weigh the options here. You can either piss off the American media and whatever percentage of your audience chooses to pay attention, or you can piss off some government leaders who are giving you a great deal on shooting your hilarious movie so long as you keep quiet about how they’re using your money to hold a blind man hostage.

Personally, I’d say leave Linyi. Like, tomorrow. Or hey, even today! It certainly seems like the moral choice, and I don’t understand why you’d want to shoot an American buddy comedy in China anyway (well, except for because of this).

We know you’re aware of the issue (see image). And while I understand the “no comment” response — you probably need some time to get your ducks in a row — please be aware that people are not just going to forget about this if you choose to do nothing. People haven’t forgotten about Chen and his family, and even though they’re beaten and robbed, people keep trying to visit him. Relativity Media needs to seriously consider which side of that equation it wants to be on.

Because maybe it’s just my sense of humor, but holding an innocent blind man and his family in their house, beating and robbing well-intentioned net users trying to visit him, and then lying about it to the world does not sound like a great premise for a hilarious buddy comedy. And every day you’re in Linyi shooting 21 and Over, you’re funding that, too, whether you want to be or not.

Do the right thing here.

I uploaded a photo to a few days ago. They have lots of great photos of just about every airplane. I found out after uploading that all photo submissions are moderated which keeps out the crappy or mundane shots... I have lots of those. :)

My photo is still stuck in the moderation queue. It's probably the most unique shot I have so hopefully it gets posted.

Singapore Airlines A-380 landing at LAX

How to say nothing in 500 words or less...

Global Times, one of the many English "news" sites run by the Chinese communist government, has an article regarding the terrible air quality in Beijing/China. Instead of talking about the real issues: dangerous levels of air pollutants and improper monitoring standards, it talks about politics.
Since the problem cannot be solved quickly, a consensus is needed. The government should play a key role. Local governments usually leave the impression of "playing down bad news" among the public, which makes many people exaggerate the gap between their feelings with the government's figures.

It is probably the same reason why the monitoring standard of the US Embassy is emphasized by netizens. That means local governments need to establish absolute authority over monitoring pollution without concealing information. If they are defeated by foreign embassies in this regard, they will lose more than just authority in monitoring air quality.

Heh, how is the CCP going to accomplish this?! Their entire political system is based on concealing information from the public.


I guess I've been lucky though. Each time I've been to Beijing, the weather has be either mostly clear, very windy, or raining. I have not experience anything close to "crazy bad" air, though a mysterious "fog" did roll in during the afternoon on our visit to the Olympic Park in 2008.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sandy Lam in Concert

After attending the Jacky Cheung concert last year and enjoying it more than I thought I would, I want to go to this concert too. Unfortunately, I'll be in Portland so probably won't be able to make it to Vegas on Christmas Eve. Hotel prices are going to be crazy expensive too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

More LAX at Night

To pass the time while I waited for Leon to clear immigration, I sat and watched planes again. Even though it was too dark to take photos, I tried.

Long line of planes arriving at LAX. It's much easier to see them at night.

A Quantas A-380 parked at gate 101. Did LAX retrofit this gate to handle double-decker planes?

30 second wide-angle shot of LAX. One plane took-off while another one landed during the exposure time.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Gaggle of A-380s

There are three Airbus A-380s in the photo. The big blue one is flight KE18 (Korean Airlines) taking-off for Incheon/Seoul. Right behind it, flight SQ12 (Singapore Airlines) just arrived from Narita/Tokyo and is pulling into gate 123, the only double-decker gate at LAX. If you look carefully, right behind the SQ A-380, you can see a red tail fin. That should be flight QF11 (Quantas Airways) that arrived from Sydney at 9:45am this morning.

According to Wikipedia, there are only 7 operators currently using the A-380. In addition to the three above (Singapore, Korean, Quantas), the list includes Air France, Emirates, Lufthansa, and China Southern. Hmm... my friends from Guangzhou all hate taking China Southern (only direct flight to/from LAX). Does this just mean more unhappy and/or rude Chinese people on each flight?

SQ12 mentioned above landing at LAX


I also saw a few Boeing 747s today. There are a lot more of them in service than the A-380s but they're still pretty impressive close up.

Evergreen flight 802 from Anchorage... probably a freight flight even though there are lots of windows on the main deck.

Polar Air flight 214, also from Anchorage. This is definitely a freighter since there are no windows other than on the top deck.

Lufthansa flight 456 from Frankfurt

Thursday, October 20, 2011

LAX at Night

Warning: may be boring

The tripod I ordered from Amazon arrived last night so I went to Imperial Hill after work today to try out night shots. The sky was overcast so there was lots of refracted(?) light. Since the runway was not lit up, you could hardly see the planes anyway. I was really trying out the P/A/S/M setting on the camera to see if I could take decent pictures at night.

250mm 10 second exposure at f/13

90mm 5 second exposure at f/8
The long white streak was a plane taking off through my FOV during the 5s exposure

China Daily Chutzpah

China Daily
Isn't that a serious concern for journalists, whose primary responsibility is to speak for the voiceless in their society?

It is a shame that most so-called mainstream media outlets have miserably failed to inform the public over the past two weeks.

Wow. Chinese "journalist" criticizes US media. It says he's based in New York but the story he writes appears to come straight from the propaganda department in Beijing.

Here's an experiment for Mr. Chen. It's been a month since OWS protests started. Go ask random New Yorkers and see how many has heard about it from "mainstream" media outlets. Now go back to China and ask random Beijingers if they know who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. It's been a year... has Xinhua or CCTV "informed the public" in China?

This is the problem with the CCP and modern China. There is no sense of morality... instead, whatever gets you more money or power is right. That's why Mr. Chen can write nonsense like this day after day because it gets him a cushy posting in New York. This is also partially why 18 people walked by a bleeding and dying toddler in Foshan because helping her won't gain them anything.

I think I would go crazy if I had to live in China.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Running Man Episode 61

For this episode of 런닝맨 (Running Man), they are in China. I just started watching the parts on YouTube. I'm surprised they got permission to film in Beijing with all the running around they have to do.

Part 1

Part 2

The first stop is the Great Wall at Mutianyu; I thought they would go to Badaling but it's probably too crowded for their games. Too bad they weren't there when my family and I visited. I could have met Kang Jiyoung of KARA!

Mutianyu Great Wall with almost no tourists in Sept 2009

Luckily they didn't try to film the episode during China's National Day holiday. Can't run when 1.3 billion people are crammed in one place. [Ministry of Tofu]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Air China 983

Air China Boeing 747 (flight 983) from Beijing landing at LAX on Sunday. About 8 months ago I picked up Sindy from this flight. It was her third and probably final trip to LA.

Tintin Movie

Yay! I love Tintin. I have all the Tintin comics and even a couple in French that I bought in a Paris bookstore. Let's hope the movie doesn't suck.

Most of the books are in the small, three-per-volume format. I did read most of them in the large format while working at the Mississauga Library.

French... for some reason, when I bought these I thought I could read French. Nope.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wasn't I just here last week?!

Sitting around waiting for the next airplane to take-off or land is kind of exciting. You never know what will show up on the runway, even though the flight schedule is all over the Internet. There were a lot of plane spotters on Imperial Hill today. I think the goal is to write down the tail number of each plane though I don't know what they do with the info. Is there a website where everyone keys what planes they saw?

Earlier this afternoon, I tried to find other locations to take photos of LAX, especially on the north side of the runways. I drove west on Imperial Highway, north on Pershing Drive, then east on Westchester Parkway; there were No Stopping signs posted on all streets. On the map, it appears there are a bunch of side streets just north of Westchester Parkway but looking closer on Google Maps, all of them are blocked off by fences. Is this because of 9/11? I ended up driving around the Century/Sepulveda area a couple times before parking outside of the In-n-Out on Sepulveda and Westchester. The place was packed but fortunately, there is a tiny park next door and there were lots of people hanging out. It was just like any neighborhood park but every few minutes, a jet would roar by and land on runway 24R.

B-18717 Boeing 747-409F (China Airlines 5108 TPE-LAX)
When I first got to the park, I heard people yell, "A big one is coming!" I then realized they were referring to an incoming plane, I quickly got out my camera (with the 18-250mm lens) and snapped of a few photos.

Not sure if this park has a name... I think everyone just calls it the In-n-Out Park. That guy lying down seems to have been there for a long time.

Three American Eagle Embraer jets landed one after another. Since Terminal 4 is on the "other" side of LAX, I think all these plane have to taxi around the west end of the airport to get to their gates.

N209UA Boeing 777-222ER (United Airlines 878 PVG-LAX)

With the sun low in the southwest, it's hard to get anything once the plane passes the park, and definitely no take-off photos from here.

N524VA Airbus A-319-112 (Virgin America 932 SFO-LAX)
Virgin must have registered "Virgin America" in the US since the tail number starts with "N" (USA) instead of "G" (UK).

Southwest! Since SWA is in Terminal 1, I have not seen any planes up close from Imperial Hill. The photo is a bit blurry so I can't make out the tail number but this appears to be flight 1982 from Austin. The plane is a Boeing 737-300... I think SWA only flies 737s.

HB-JMD Airbus A-340-313X (Swissair 40 ZRH-LAX)

HL7420 Boeing 747-48E (Asiana Airlines 966 ICN-LAX)

This is the Asiana 747 freighter (no passenger windows) again. I like this shot... it reminds me of a scene from Ghost in the Shell.

Instead of going home, I figured that since I was here, I may as well go to Imperial Hill and take some more shots... since every other flight seems to be an American/Delta/United 757, I'll ignore those for now.

By the time I drove under the runway on Sepulveda and arrived at Imperial Hill, the Asiana 747 had taxied around to the south side of LAX to get to it's "home" near Terminal 8.

N120AK Bombardier Global Express (GC Air LAX-SJC)

N908SW Bombardier CRJ2 (Skywest 6288 LAX-MRY)
MRY = Monterey. I was wondering how much the fare was... the same flight next Sunday would cost $239 one way on United Express (same plane).

HL7498 Boeing 747-4B5 (Korean Airlines)
They were moving the plane from TBIT to the remote gate area so I'm not sure which flight it was. Korean Air bought A-380s from Airbus; hopefully they will operate them on the Incheon-LA route.

4T94101... wait, that's not a plane.

F-OSUN Airbus A-340-313X (Air Tahiti Nui 7 LAX-FAA)
FAA = Faa'a International Airport in Papeete, French Polynesia

N262DG Cessna T303
This small twin propeller plane was flying over LAX. It looked really far away... I was surprised that I can read the "tail" number in the photo.

HL7756 Boeing 777-28EER (Asiana Airlines)
This was also being towed to the remote gate area, probably to open up a gate at TBIT for another incoming flight.

9V-SGE Airbus A-340- 541 (Singapore Airlines 38 SIN-LAX)
This is the all-business-class flight from Singapore to Los Angeles... 16.5 hours non-stop and one-way ticket costs ~SGD6000. Not sure how much that is in US dollars but it's expensive.

I tried out the panorama mode on my Sony a55 camera. You press the shutter button and move the camera slowly to the right. The camera is taking lots of photos and stitching it together automatically... pretty cool, but the camera makes an awful racket when it's taking the photo. Final output is 8192 x 1856 pixels (shrunk down here to only 800 pixels wide).

Anonymous readers getting bored? Just fivesix more to go...

N563SW Embraer EMB-120 (Skywest 6338 LAX-SAN)
Wow, airfare for the same flight next Sunday is $460.

N864GA McDonnell Douglas MD-81 (Allegiant 378 LAX-EUG)

N452PA Boeing 747-46NF (Polar Air Cargo 214 - CVG-LAX)
CVG = Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. I guess they ran out of room on the Ohio side and put the airport in Kentucky.

JA716A Boeing 777-281ER (All Nippon Airways 1006 HND-LAX)
I was all excited when I saw a big ANA jet, thinking it was the new Boeing 787... but it turned out to be a regular 777-200ER. Coincidentally, this is the same flight I took from Tokyo to LA on my last trip to Beijing.

I couldn't get the tail number but this is a old McDonnell Douglas DC-10. I don't think there are any passenger carrying DC-10s left. FedEx usually flies a MD-11 on this Memphis to LA route so I'm lucky to have seen (part of) the DC-10.

G-CIVF Boeing 747-436 (British Airways 282 LAX-LHR)
For some reason, it took forever for this flight to taxi to the end of the runway and take-off. There were several of us waiting to see this jumbo jet take-off before leaving Imperial Hill.