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.