Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Wish I was around for this:

24 January 2004
(tentative) Double Standard
Produced by Aziatik Rhythmz 90.7
Los Angeles Chinatown

Support Asian American beat boxing, what. (more on Aziatik Rhythmz)

Monday, December 29, 2003

  • Saturday the 27th: Little Tokyo and Hollywood with Aaron and Annie. In Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, we ate ramen and udon for lunch at the Mitsuwa Yaohan Plaza, leafed through fashion magazines at the Asahiya bookstore (including Fruits), bought blueberry cheesecake imitation Pocky and other treats at the Mitsuya market, and sampled mochi ice cream in the village. We drove up to Sunset Boulevard and spent some time at the Tower Records (discovering Kahimi Karie, Fela Kuti and Papa Wemba in the world music section), checked out who was playing at the Viper Room, the Roxy, and the Whiskey-a-Go-Go (nobody special), caught dinner at Baja Fresh and spent a few minutes at the new Borders bookstore, and finally settled for watching Lost in Translation at the Dome theater, a pricy but nice experience: no pre-movie ads, the soundtrack to the movie playing in the background, an introduction to the movie by a real live person (like in Ann Arbor), an employee in the hall for the first ten minutes to check image and sound quality, and wide, comfortable seats.

  • Sunday the 28th: biking, dinner and movie with Dave and Alisa. After lunch with the grandparents, Dave and I drove over to his mother's fiancee's house with my own bicycle and borrowed a couple more bikes for him and Alisa. Unfortunately, our bicycle ride was cut short by a flat tire but we had a nice chance to chat on the walk back. Dinner at the Mad Wolf Mongolian BBQ, the Mongolian BBQ with the nicest atmosphere in Orange County. At Dave's house we looked at photos of his mom's trip to visit him in Kazakhstan, and watched Kill Bill.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Micah, Laurel and Annie like to make goofy faces at family holiday gatherings.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Add to Christmas list for next year: Eric Raymond's Art of Unix Programming.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Today was a day on the town with the Brea posse.

At 3:15 PM I grabbed a piece of left-over sausage pie and the Thomas Guide map book, hopped into the blue Sentra, and rounded up Eric, Julie, Kartik and Shirley. We drove up the 57, to the 60, to the 101, exited at Hollywood Blvd and parked across the street from the Pantages Theater. Catty-corner from the parking lot is the Hollywood/Vine Street stop of the LA Metro line, where we boarded the subway and headed south. We exited at 7th Street, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Kartik guided us to the posh Cafe Pinot, a fine dining experience. I ordered the New Zealand Thai snapper with toasted-coconut-garnished rice, topped with battered Maui onion, all on a bed of lemon sauce. The toasted coconut was a nice touch on the rice, and I couldn't get enough of the lemon sauce. Eric's Serrano ham and melon appetizer with green apple slices splashed with balsamic vinegar was enlightening. Shirley's ravioli were wrapped like jiao zi.

Racing back to the Theater, we arrived just in time for the start of The Producers, starring Jason Alexander and Martin Short. The story was amusing (producer and accountant set out to get rich by producing a flop—but will it succeed?), some parts of it were crude, the humor was occasionally subtle, and the acting was superb.

Overall, a very nice time: elegant food, cultured entertainment, and most importantly, good friends.

In case there are people out there Googling for it, Caltech's UGCS SSH servers are not resolving (neither to.ugcs.caltech.edu nor sex.ugcs.caltech.edu), but it is possible to log in directly to both the www server and the other servers by name (e.g. bolivar.ugcs.caltech.edu). Alternately, there is Huyle's homepage, where he provides a webmail interface for UGCS e-mail.

Monday, December 22, 2003

The Emperor had inquiries made and the scholars' houses searched. Subjected to severe interrogation, the scholars vied with one another in making damning accusations against their colleagues. The interrogators, taken aback, referred these to the Emperor, who cross-examined the scholars himself and exposed the contradictions in their evidence. He obtained four hundred and sixty-three confessions. The accused all admitted they were guilty of insults and slander against the Sovereign Emperor, of conspiracy, sabotage, and attempted murder. That they had tried to overthrow the dynasty and restore the hateful old regime of feudalism.

The entire population of Double Light was ordered to be present at a show designed to intimidate the citizens and terrorize the opposition. Pits were dug and the scholars buried alive in them after suffering the five tortures: bastinado, amputation of the nose, branding of the cheek, amputation of the feet, and castration.

—Jean Lévi's The Chinese Emperor

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Got together with high school friends tonight at Steamers Cafe in Fullerton. Considering that it has been six years since we graduated and that we only sent out the invitation to a couple dozen e-mail addresses, we had a pretty decent turnout: Amy, Jennifer, Andy, Peter, James, Kevin and myself. We spent over three hours chatting about the weather, life, and people, over martinis and chips-n-salsa. Very classy, we are. We missed a couple of people who should have been there: Shirley, where were you? Kartik, are you coming home for Christmas? Kristin, who we could have made more effort to contact and who Amy really wants to get in touch with.

Peter brought his digital camera, so pictures should appear here soon.

Because my China page at Caltech is down at the moment, I'll post this here: on the laptop here at home I found a PDF of an article by UMich ALC professor David Moser titled "Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard" that would be amusing even to readers who aren't students of the Chinese language. I Googled to figure out where I downloaded it from, and this lead to the site pinyin.info, which is still under construction but has made available a number of texts about Chinese, and East Asian languages in general. Oh, and here is the Moser piece, "Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard." (and I see that this article was mentioned in an old Brainysmurf thread)

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Yesteday we didn't do much: lazed around at home getting in touch with friends through e-mail, went shopping for clothes at Mervyn's (ahh, to have a car and insurance), and snacked on Christmas cookies. This morning was Mary Ann's graveside gathering, and later this afternoon will be a funeral. Like was said, it's nice to have a funeral at Christmastime because it puts the proper perspective on a "death", that of two worlds and the joy of passing from one to the other.

The weather here is marvelous; nothing like Michigan!

One of my Southern California rituals is to scan the Los Angeles Times entertainment section on Thursdays, the Calendar Weekend, to check for cool concerts happening in LA. This weekend I confirmed that while there is nothing particularly can't-miss, there are several intriguing events:

Counting Crows and Wallflowers at the Wiltern (does Adam Duritz still have that special something?)
I Am Spoonbender at the Echo (futuristic sounding avant-garde group)
W.A.C.O. vs the Negro Problem at the Spaceland (the Negro Problem is a local band with a strong following, and this is the Wild Acoustic Chamber Orchestra doing covers of their songs)
Kinky at the House of Blues in Anaheim (one of the top new bands from Monterrey, Mexico... an unusual sound that runs hot and cold, a blend of cumbia and electronica, timbales and turntables, rock and salsa.)
Los Abandoned, Carmelize, and Fight Dirty at the Spaceland (Los Abandoned is a cool local Latin rock group, lead by Chilean singer)
Son Mayor at the Conga Room (rockin' salsa—makes me wish I could dance!)
Winter Formal Night at Chain Reaction (dress up in your punk rockinest best, with a touch of class; mainly for the 21 and under crowd)

As you can see, Latin flavor is alive, well and thriving in the SoCal atmosphere.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Ann Arbor Five Dollar Meals.

Southern California is Rocking.

I'd like to post some pictures later just to give you an idea of how nice the weather is here, and I'll do a little review of the concerts going down in LA this weekend. The basic gist of it will be: Latino rock is alive and well, folks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

While I do admit to being just as tired as the next guy of hearing the "five thousands years of history/culture" cliche, it also bugs me when people say things like "the Chinese do this..." or "Chinese philosophers thought that...". Both geographically and historically, China spans an inordinately large space. It's important to specify who in China is releasing the new computer chip, or when the Chinese believed that man's health was intertwined with the well-being of his deceased ancestors. I wonder if the USA may have gone through the same process with Japan: I seem to recall reading a lot of books about "the Japanese" that gave me the impression of being very antiquated. So now, let's not make the same mistake with China. And at least one person on Slashdot agrees with me.

Mis hijas y seguramente la mayoría de vosotros pertenecéis a esa generación de niños del petisui, yo, pertenezco a la generación del Coca Cao con galletas, mi madre a la del pan con aceite y mi abuela… esa generación no sé siquiera si comía.

How nostalgic, but I'm not sure if I'm of the Petisuis generation or the Cola Cao with cookies generation. I had the pleasure of snacking on a Petisuis somewhere along my Central American trip this summer of 2003; creamy little pot of scrumptious fruit-flavored cheese. A single serving is never enough.

Water freezes, ground cracks,
Don't put strain on the Yang.
Sleep early, rise late,
Be sure to wait for the sunshine.
Keep an intent as though lurking, hiding,
As though it were a private thought,
As though you had succeeded already.
Avoid the cold, stay near the warm,
Don't allow the seeping through the skin
Which lets the ch'i be quickly stolen away.

When your mom told you to put on your jacket or you would catch a cold, you did not know she was quoting ancient Chinese cosmological works.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Shed Unbidden Tears album: photos of China's poor. There's still a lot of work to be done in this country. (via Asian Labour News, via China Digital News)

The ancient Chinese (Zhou dynasty, thereabouts) put north on the bottom of the map, and south on the top. Also, they followed the convention that the compass points south.

So I'm usually not big on these online quizzes. But I had to find out what kind of post-modernist I am:

You are a Gender Nazi. Your boundary-crossing lifestyle inspires awe in your friends and colleagues. Or maybe they're just scared you will kick their asses for using gender-specific language. Either way, the wife-beater helps. What kind of postmodernist are you!? (brought to you by Quizilla)

And I'll let you guess what category of Indie I am.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

I've been looking for this for a couple of days: Frank Sinatra - Mrs Robinson.mp3

No-sword (blogging from Japan) has a review of The Last Samurai that exactly confirms the bad premonitions I had about that movie:

if you believe that Asia is a magical, mystical place whose people are closer to a true spirituality than Europeans and their descendents; if you believe that to fight and die for a centuries-old idea is always better than to compromise and then go home to help your wife and kids adjust and thrive in the new compromised world; if you believe that modernity is why humans are generally unhappy; if you believe all of these things, then you will find The Last Samurai to be the most profound movie-going experience of your life.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Ann Arbor webloggers are insane:

my friend Ralph was home in London over break and one morning his mom woke him up and suggested he open an English-language newspaper in Iraq... well, one thing led to another, and Ralph found that when he began talking to financiers, they didn't think it was such a bad idea... (remember, these are the same people who fueled the dot-com bubble...) so, a couple weeks and a few thousand pounds later, Ralph and I are here in Amman, hoping to begin printing the 'Baghdad Bulletin' within a month

Oh, and there are more Ann Arbor bloggers out there, even a Bloglines feed collection.

Congratulations to the Dow Jones Industrial Average for hitting 10,000. The last time it was above 10,000 was in May of last year.

The Dow originally crossed the 10,000 mark in early 1999, eventually peaking at 11,722.98 on Jan. 14, 2000. Then, the economy began to falter, and investors began to lose faith in what many considered an overvalued stock market. After a series of corporate scandals and weak economic reports, shares fell further.

The Dow, which fell to a five-year low of 7,286.27 on Oct. 9, 2002, has not been above 10,000 since May 31, 2002.

(Source: Holy cow! Dow at 10 thou)

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Sushi.come (why the "e" at the end? I don't know) has six pieces of sushi for USD 3.99 plus tax, which includes a small salad and a bowl of miso soup.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

It's USD 4.96 for a sandwich and cookie at Potbelly's, on the corner of West Liberty and State.

New feature on my weblog: Five Dollar Lunches in Ann Arbor. Hah.

Monday, December 08, 2003

The weather has turned positively Icelandic. I need to get home so I have access to a car, to run down to Mervyns and pick up some warm clothes.

The Fleetwood Diner at Liberty and Ashley is open 24 hours. It seats about twelve at the tables, and five or six at the bar. The atmosphere is smoky. A cheeseburger and half-serving of fries comes out to USD 5.14, plus tip.

On Saturday evening, the Byers (John, a classmate, and Ellen, his wife) had a potluck dinner at their house for CCS students. The turnout was decent, all of the food was superb, and the setting was beautiful—their house is tastefully decorated and the red-black-white color scheme is classy. We spent most of the evening chatting, then as the talk wound down John brought out the mat for some DDR (Dance Dance Revolution). It's funner than it looks, honestly.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Is this the first rock track I've posted? Veruca Salt - Seether

Saturday, December 06, 2003

This is going to be one of those old-school, what did I do today posts.

Biked to school in the nick of time for the Chinese listening test, only to find out that I was at the wrong place. Showed up late to class but no problems, completed the assignment the second time through the tape. After class, chatted with prof Lin about writing tests and students "blowing their top" when the multiple choice answers don't exactly match up with the dialog on the tape. Rushed off to Cafe Ambrosia, and studied Chinese politics for an hour or so with Mark and Steve. After a quick trip to Kinkos for note trading, we all went out to lunch at Sushi.come—weird name, I know—which has surprisingly cheap sushi: four dollars for a salad, miso soup, and six pieces of spicy tuna sushi.

Walked over to the School of Social Work Building and checked e-mail in the library downstairs. At 2:30, I picked up a packet of reading from the CCS office and then met Helena and our language exchange partners for 40 minutes of English, and 40 minutes of Chinese. I headed over to the Fishbowl (big computer lab) and checked e-mail, printed out CCS seminar reading, caught up on the usual weblogs, and composed/translated the entry below on Chinese Revolutionary cellphone messages.

Access bible study tonight was the final installment of the guy-girl relationships series, whose notes I will be typing up shortly. Afterwards, a bunch of us grad students who had not eaten dinner got together and rode a caravan down to the Great Lakes Chinese restaurant for a big feast, including "fried squid with spicy salt" and seafood bits plus thousand-year-old egg in an egg pudding, which was better than it sounds.

Josh gave me and my bike a ride home, and I've been catching up on the news, chatting at SDF, and writing up this entry. Now, off to bed.

Sohu.com MMS cellphone images:

Get a house, get food, get a wife.

Vigorously/actively answer the wife's call.

I just want a New Year gift!

Do you love me? I really love you!

Don't touch my phone!

We're off work!

The Michigan Walk.

Friday, December 05, 2003

It's the little behind-the-scenes connections that professor Lieberthal draws that make the class absolutely fascinating. For example, today he talked about the recent escalation in cross-Straits tensions between China and Taiwan. The people of Taiwan will be voting in presidential elections next year and incumbent, DPP candidate Chen Shui-bian, is pursuing a strategy of hinting at Taiwanese moves towards independence. This is obviously meant to incite the authorities in Beijing, whose hostile reaction tends to inflame Chen's native Taiwanese supporters because they see China as a big bully. But Chen knows (as does the mainland government) that even if the PRC says nothing in response, the Taiwanese president will be able to assert that Taiwan has nothing to fear from the mainland because they are silent, and gain support from the very same crowd of separatists.

So either way, Chen Shui-bian gets to play off the PRC government and build support for his campaign. It happens that PRC Premiere Wen Jiabao will be visiting Washington next week (for some reason, he is skipping Ann Arbor) and prof Lieberthal says that one of the things he'll be sure to bring up is a request for Bush to bring pressure on Chen to stop his inflammatory rhetoric.

This is all fascinating. Lieberthal is an old-school China watcher, except that he now has the advantage of being able to visit China and chat with high-level government officials. He has some revealing stories to tell.

Speaking of fascinating, I recently stumbled onto some magazines that are a window into the past. I've been studying in the Center for Chinese Studies Annex, that run down house across the street from Frieze and the Modern Languages Building. Upstairs is a small kitchen with a table and a refrigerator (don't go snaking my Mountain Dew now!), and big windows look out over the street and let in a pleasant natural light. This old building used to house the offices of Ken Lieberthal and Michel Oksenberg, back when they were working together on China studies here at U of M. The upstairs is now abandoned but the previous occupants left stashes of old magazines, including pictorials publications from the 1970's, still Cultural Revolution era. Pictures of Mao and Lin Biao holding the little red book, and later Chairman Hua Guofeng greeting foreign dignitaries. "Reviews" of the latest performances of the revolutionary operas. And in a dusty closet, two wall maps of China, and a cardboard box of papers typewritten by grad students probably twenty years ago.

A well thought-out draft specification is great to read, because it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. It's not an easy thing to create: it takes foresight and critical thinking to anticipate all the ways in which people might use/abuse a new standard, and it takes creativity to invent something flexible enough to have a million uses but strict enough to be called a standard. Thus, I highly respect good standards writers.

That said, when I have the time I would like to read Hixie's first draft of an XForms Basic specification. He has some interesting stuff in there, including:

  • Backwards compatibility (where possible).
  • Basic data typing, providing new controls for commonly used types.
  • Validation on the client side (while recognizing that server side validation will still be required), including "patterns" (regular expressions).
  • Dynamically adding more fields (repeating structures) on the client side.
  • XML submission.
  • The ability to initialize forms from external data sources.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Military English Learning from the PLA Daily:

100. Where is your battalion commanding post?
101. What's the total strength of your unit?
102. How is the morale of your unit?
103. Where is your vanguard?
104. Do you know our lenient policy towards POWs?
105. The chief criminals shall be punished without fail.

Or try Lessen [sic] Three Weapons and Equipment:

A: 欢迎,请进。
Huān yíng, qǐng jìn.
You are welcome. Come in please.

B: 啊,这么多武器,真棒!
A, zhè me duō wǔ qì,zhēn bàng!
Oh, so many weapons. Great!

Funny how they're not studying Taiwanese dialect.

Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich will be in Ann Arbor tomorrow (Thursday). His schedule includes: 12:35 pm: Walk from the League to Borders to support the striking workers and join their picket line. Sweet! Learn more about the Borders strike in Ann Arbor. (via Ann Arbor-Ypsi's Journal.)

It's driving me crazy that Everything2 is still not back, and posting mysterious and taunting messages.

Hits to this webpage during the recent Muzi Mei mania:

A bar graph generated by my counter service shows that hits peaked on November 30.

To get an idea of how the hits of November 30 dwarfed normal traffic, here is the hit count starting on November 15: 47, 32, 46, 22, 41, 93, 72, 43, 51, 55, 30, 43, 62, 162, 265, 1457, 526, 69, and 91 today. The reason is that I was the fourth and fifth results of a Google search for "mu zimei" when the story broke, first in Singapore and then in the New York Times. The little blip on November 20 was when the story was getting big in China, and a few people searched for her name in English. Simon reports a similar effect.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Just because this is a good entry, I'm reposting a China, Michigan, Books entry here:


Special Report: Rural Migrant Brothers, We Live A Different Life

In our daily lives, we can often see the presence of this community. They do all of the heavy work on construction sites, work as nannies or deliver milk for city residents, serve in all manner of restaurants; in other words, they do all of the dirty jobs and live the tired and bitter life that city folk aren't willing take on. In everything they do, of the prosperity of the city is intertwines itself with their contribution. These people are the migrant labor force (流动劳动力) that has come from the countryside to the cities and towns of China. They are called nong min gong (农民), or min gong () for short. But, in reality, how many of people are watching out for the survival of this community? Are they living well, or barely getting by?

In an unrelated article, 军事专家谈反“台独”战争:六条代价 战犯必惩 (Military Specialists Discusses anti-Taiwanese-Independence Conflict: Six Prices to be Paid), major general Peng Guangqian of the Military Academy of Science reveals that Vice-Premiere Wen Jiabao is willing to pay six prices in case of a military conflict with Taiwan, prices which include cutting relations with certain countries, risking armed conflict on the south-eastern coast of China, and loss of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Andy Ahn requests, and I comply: link to an English version of the latter article.

"Pre-inscribe" to travel to North Korea next summer to take part in the "March for the reunification of Korea."

Ever wanted to see the inside of North Korea?

DO YOU want to see the things ordinary tourists don't?

DO you want to talk and work with ORDINARY people, farmers and workers in North Korea?

The DPRK, Democratic People's Republic of Korea invites YOU!

EXPERIENCE now for the first time, direct contact with DPRK people and discover the reality of the 'land of the morning calm'.

In our REUNIFICATION MARCH we will show our solidarity with the Korean People and visit many places while participating in events and activities. In Pyongyang, this historic event marks a revolutionary new experience for peace and understanding.

I'm guessing Americans aren't invited.

Charles Rosenberg, in Disease and Social Order in America: Perceptions and Expectations:

A minority of early twentieth-century physicians did protest the tendency toward mechanistic reductionsism in diagnosis and treatment. Their successors have continued. But such warnings could not compete with the laboratory's allure; they still cannot.

Ahh, the laboratory's allure. Helena invoked it this morning as a reason for doing an MD. But unlike the physicians that this article implicitly criticizes, I think she has a balanced view of diagnosis and treatment.


Stan Abrams (who does not have permalinks, by the way) (who permalinks by day) writes that the People's Daily announced Walmart's intention to open three new stores in Shanghai, starting next year.

Starting from 1996, Wal-Mart has opened 31 stores in 15 cities around the nation, employing over 16,000 people, but it is yet to make a foray into eastern China.

The company plans to get the three stores up and running with a total investment of US$18 million and registered capital of US$7.2 million.

According to Walmart China's website, there are 24 Walmart Supercenters in China. Walmart's US site claims there are 25, but strangely lists 26 locations. A case of strategic ambiguity? For comprehensiveness, I list the 26 below:

Province City
Guang Dong Shenzhen (6), Dongguan, Shantou
Yunnan Kunming (3)
Fujian Fuzhou (2), Xiamen (2)
Hunan Changsha
Jianxi Nanchang
Liaoning Dalian (2), Shenyang
Jilin Changchun (3)
Heilongjiang Harbin
Shangdong Jinan, Qingdao

I was surprised that Walmart has not opened a store in Beijing. There is a Sam's Club in Beijing, owned by Walmart. Walmart's China operation is based out of Shenzhen.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Tomorrow morning (hmm, actually this morning) I will be going out to breakfast with Emily Hannum, professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. She will be giving the noon lecture for the Center for Chinese Studies tomorrow, titled Poverty and Children's Schooling in Rural Northwest China. For reference, she got her PhD at the University of Michigan under professor Yu Xie, taught at Harvard for a few years, is now at the Department of Sociology of UPenn, and collaborated with Albert Park on a few papers. She currently works on education in developing countries, and her last big project was in Gansu province, in central/western China.

I just had a couple of undergrads call me "sir" in the library. Is it because I was wearing a light-blue collar and a navy lamb's wool v-neck sweater? Because I was in a hurry and didn't shave this morning? Was it my lordly stance and steady gaze?

Laurel and I were listening to this one at the Bubble Tea shop: Portishead - Sour Times.mp3.

Programming fun: the Perl advent calendar returns. (via afongen.)

In China, old folks grow on trees. Nah, seriously, when I retire I'm moving to China for sure. And I recommend browsing through the other photos at that site, including this moving photo narrative.