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Sunday, October 31, 2010

After China’s Rare Earth Embargo, a New Calculus

The rare earth mine in California was closed due to environmental issues.  I did not realize how dirty the mining in China was.  Its smart of the Chinese government uses blow torches on the illegal mining equipment to make sure it does not get used again.I am not sure if its about environmentalism as much about controlling the exports of the rare earths.

After China’s Rare Earth Embargo, a New Calculus - NY Times


Europe’s Plagues Came From China, Study Finds

 Plagues have had a huge affect on history.  From the Byzantine Empire invasion of Italy to the end of Chinese dynasties.  The Rennaisance may have been helped by the black plague.

Europe’s Plagues Came From China, Study Finds - NY Times


With wealth comes fat, China finds

 With wealth comes fat, China finds - LA Times.

Obesity becomes more common as the traditional diet of vegetables and rice is weighted down with meat, oil and sugary snacks. And why ride a bike when you can drive your car?

Dumplings is a term I have heard.  Another is little emperors.

I remember some cousins who came here from Taiwan who were super thin in High School.  And then they got Americanized and are not so super thin.

As stereotypes go it used to be that all Asians are short.  Yao Ming at 7 ft 6 inches destroys that one (Chinese NBA player).  Sounds like the next stereotype to go will be the ultra thin Chinese.

Diet and weight is a hard subject to write about because there is so much that is not known.  The human body seems to be designed to make losing weight hard.  And with cheap high calorie food it is so easy to gain weight as shown by the US.


Friday, October 29, 2010

US Political Ads Scapegoat China

More political ads paint China as benefiting from weak U.S. economy - Washington Post

The video discussed in the article is good to see (not saying if I agree with it or not).  But the fears its tapping into about China are worthy of a term paper as well as the images that are used.

It's 2030 in Beijing. A professor addresses a class of students. "Why do great nations fail?" he asks. "The Ancient Greeks, the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and the United States of America."

The video is propaganda and is professionally done and the Chinese in its is correct.  And of course very political and by Citizens Against Public Waste.

It seems the remake of Red Dawn (China's the invader this time) is not being released due to the MGM bankruptcy.  I bought the original Red Dawn to show my daughter some culture from the 80's, specifically the Cold War.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Software Makers in China Try Lower Prices to Lure Users Away From Illegal Copies

Software Makers Try Lower Prices to Lure Users Away From Illegal Copies - Wall Street Journal

Same thing already happened in the US with family versions.  Now if Adobe would only do this with PhotoShop in the US.


Cihna said to resume Shipping Rare Earth Minerals

Per the NY Times - China Is Said to Resume Shipping Rare Earth Minerals for the US and Europe, but not for Japan.


Most powerful Supercomputer is in China

Per The Register - China takes HPC heavyweight title. The computer includes 14,336 Xeon processors and 7,168 of Nvidia's Tesla M2050 fanless GPU co-processors

Two points of view:

A. It shows that the Chinese government wants China's to become a technology power house.

B. Its easy to create a powerful supercomputer (just add more processors).  Hardware has become a commodity.  What is key is the software and in this area India is leading in general.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shark Fin Soup & the Grassroots Movement Against It

The Vancouver Sun has a week long series of articles about the decline of sharks.  Shark Fin soup is traditionally served at weddings.  Its seen as a delicacy.

The dangerous allure of shark-fin soup and the grassroots movement to combat it - The Vancouver Sun


Language classes in short supply but high demand in Oregon‎ - KVAL

Interesting statistic - 18.5 percent of U.S. students in kindergarten through the 12th grade were enrolled in a second language class at school in 2007-08.

Language classes in short supply but high demand in Oregon- KVAL


Change in US Gov. attitude towards China?

Taking Harder Stance Toward China, Obama Lines Up Allies - NY Times

I find this quote troubling:

Administration officials speak of an alarming loss of trust and confidence between China and the United States over the past two years, forcing them to scale back hopes of working with the Chinese on major challenges like climate change, nuclear nonproliferation and a new global economic order.


New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians

New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians - WSJ

My daughter loves to go the library and just browse and get a HUGE stack of books home.  The story talks about an Amazon type method of where products are ordered online and put into lock boxes for pick up, reducing labor costs.  What is missing from this is the experience of just browsing a shelf and finding products.  I find going to a bookstore or a library with a good selection relaxing - for bookstores not to my wallet, unfortunately :-)


Monday, October 25, 2010

Strapped schools ax foreign languages


Strapped schools ax foreign languages - Journal Sentinel


Will China keep rising or...

Good read -

Will China keep rising or succumb to its paranoia? - David Ignatius at the Washington Post

I am betting that China will keep on growing their economy.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Learning Chinese Textbook Page Updated

I was doing a bit of updating on Kids' Learning Chinese Textbooks & Curriculum and I may be adding a category to separate the middle school from the Elementary for textbooks.  The one that should just be middle school is Kuaile Hanyu (Happy Chinese).  And the way they learn is different, but I have seen many textbooks used for both such as Chinese Made Easy and Chinese Made Easy for Kids.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Students Still Cling to Paper Textbooks

E-books are still very early in the adoption and where you are depending on an item for your grade my guess is students are going to be very careful.

In a Digital Age, Students Still Cling to Paper Textbooks - NY Times


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Global Food Chains

What I found interesting in the article was the globabilization it showed.

The cost of a global food chain - LA Times

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California Community Colleges - 70% drop out

And the UC's want students to first go to a community college for the first two years?

Community colleges not preparing California's future workforce, study says

Seventy percent of students seeking degrees at two-year schools failed to obtain them or transfers to four-year universities within six years, the report says.

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China Is Said to Halt Exports to U.S. of Some Key Minerals

Monday, October 18, 2010

Amazon's Customer Service

Amazon is the leading E-Commerce provider, but their customer service seems to be going down hill.  My guess is cost cutting and its hurting their customer experience.

My evidence:
  1. Review I read that has me wondering what is going on with Amazon Customer Service.  It seems to be getting worse. 
  2. I am also noticing they are cheapening up the packaging.  I have had 3 damaged books due to Amazon using a bag for a thin paper back book this year.  In my over 10 years of buying from Amazon I have never had anything damaged before.  Yes, I wrote a note to them about the damage.
  3. And when I complained about one book being damaged (2nd time), the customer service rep. told me just return it for a refund and since the same problem would happen again, they would not ship me one.  Yes, I could tell the customer service I was dealing with was in India.  I hit the roof!  And I called Amazon and complained and a person with a US accent answered.  A new book sent to me and I did not have to return the other.  I still had to explain in their system I did not have to return the other one (I kept on getting notifications and UPS even showed up expecting a pick up).


Unemployment lasts longer for Asian Americans

Unemployment lasts longer for Asian Americans - LA Times
Unemployment is lower among people of Asian heritage, but it drags on longer.

  • My guess is the unemployment rate is longer for immigrants, than Asians born in the US.
  • Listing El Monte as an Asian enclave?

  • I was not aware a lot of Asians work in the construction industry.  If this was renamed Real Estate industry I would agree.  Real Estate Sales - yes.  Finance - yes.  Contractors - yes. 
My heart goes out to anyone unemployed in this challenging economy.


iPhones for Toddlers?

Interesting article about how some Toddlers love the iPhone. Soft article (no statistics).  The problem right now is cost with how many people are going to spend $199 plus a monthly service plan for their toddler for a super cool toy.

iPhones for Toddlers - NY Times


Friday, October 15, 2010

Bilingual Education Pays Off, New Documentary Says

Video is streaming through today (but I can't figure out the link). - Bilingual Education Pays Off, New Documentary Says.  Web site of the documentary - http://speakingintonguesfilm.info/

I understand the issue of bilingual issue.  My view is children in the US need to be fluent in English, but they can also learn a second language that has so many positives!  For example, Chinese has a lot of good reasons on why to learn it.  My opinion is a lot of bilingual education was not true bilingual education which lead to the English only rules that many states have adopted.  They key is having the goal of fluency in both English (a necessity in the US) as well as a second language.


Can bilingualism improve your brain's multitasking power?

It could delay the onset of Alzheimer's and help with multi-tasking per this article:

Can bilingualism improve your brain's multitasking power? Je ne sais pas - LA Times

And since my High School daughter know's four languages, this explains her multi-tasking ability...


iPad in China

Either this is really important or it's a fluke, but I am not sure which one.  And what does that say about China?

China finds 'disadvantages' in Apple iPad: users must pay for music and movies - CS Monitor

The People's Daily, a mouthpiece for the Communist Party of China, criticized the Apple iPad for making it too difficult to install pirate software or illegally download movies.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Philadelphia Assault on Asian Students

Last year there were assaults on Asian Students in Philadelphia and the same thing seems to be happening this year, 2 Asian students just got sent to the emergency room.  The local school administration seems to have a policy of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.


The US Department of Justice found merit in a civl rights complaint about the 2009 violence filed by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).


Unlucky at the Moose

Interesting real life soap opera.  A Chinatown merchant in Toronto caught a repeat thief at his store and was charged with kidnapping.  One time he apprehended another thief and it took the police 5 hours to show up, another time it was 3 1/2 hours for an Apple thief.

Unlucky at the Moose

Thief fortunate Chen didn't mete out prairie justice

Calgary Herald October 9, 2010


25 Suggestions for Kids Learning Chinese

A Mother was asking for some ideas on how to have her 5 year old Learn Chinese. The Mother is fluent, where the Father is like me (non Chinese).  Some of these may be obvious, but sometimes even the obvious gets forgotten.

1. Kids are very smart.

2. Kids can be very stubborn.

3. Kids are usually very short sighted.

4. Parents have to guide kids to do things they don't want to do, but should do.

5. Kids know exactly how to manipulate their parents.

6. Kids sometimes lie - I don't understand you, when they really do, but they don't feel cool speaking Chinese. I also see this with the use of selective hearing.

7. Its important to look at what your doing as behavior modification or creating a habit.

8. Gradual is a good approach, where you use Mandarin for so many minutes and build up to it.

9. When using Mandarin, do not get upset when your child claims not to know it. Explain it using body language.
10. Make a game of Learning Chinese if possible. Label everything in your house in Pinyin.

11. Use rewards as part of your habit forming. If they love peanuts for example, give them a peanut for each correct word in Mandarin. My daughter learned a lot of Taiwanese this way.

12. Watch video's that are all in Mandarin.
13. Create an environment where Mandarin is seen as cool.
14. Singing is a great activity where both you and your child can participate together. There are some products that have both Chinese and English in them.
15. Sometimes you need to have an outside person teach Chinese, because a child just does not listen to their parents.
16. Repetition is very important. Set aside a key time every week for Learning Chinese.
17. Use the idea of they can speak a language that nobody else knows.
18. Sometimes competition can be used as a way to increase motivation for learning a language. Where a child decides they are going to be better than so and so. I know somebody who did this with Taiwanese and decided she was going to speak better than their friends. It wows her friends parents when she speaks to them in Taiwanese, and her friends have problems speaking Mandarin, much less Taiwanese.
19. If you have relatives in Taiwan or China, send your child for a mini-vacation their for some full immersion to force them to speak Chinese. This happened with my daughter and first she tried to speak English, and nobody would speak to her in English. After the 1st day she starting speaking Mandarin to everyone and even some Taiwanese.
20. Set goals for your kids and track them for Learning Chinese.

21. Look on Youtube for Free Content for Learning Chinese. There is a lot there.
22. Celebrate Chinese culture in your house such as the Moon Festival, Chinese New Years, etc.
23. If your parents don't speak English, use this as another reason for your kids to speak English.
24. Make sure you Husband is supporting you in your speaking of Chinese. My wife and I agreed since my daughter was born, that I would speak English to her and she would speak Mandarin.
25. Make Learning Chinese fun for you and your kids.


Chinese Movie Market

Interesting that a major movie studio is targeting the Chinese market, and how they are doing it.

By developing movies for the local market with localization.  I remember a teacher who told me, all marketing is local.

Fox gets teeth into Chinese movie market - Inquirer.net


Is this insulting?

Hi Ray,

I just found your website online and would like to order some DVDs for my children. However, before I proceed, I would like to know if Childbook.com is worth my time to do business with.

And then has a question on my guarantee.


Chinese Aid Boosts Mandarin-Language Instruction in U.S.

Good article. 

Chinese Aid Boosts Mandarin-Language Instruction in U.S. - Education Week

Key Information:

1. 4% of all US Schools offer Chinese in 2008, up from 1% in 1997.
2. 60,000 students in the 2007-2008 school year studied Mandarin in US Public Schools.
3. Chinese government is spending in the Millions to push Chinese in US Schools.
4. It's controversial about this.


Understanding ‘Ba Ba Ba’

Even the babbling of a Baby has a purpose, and that seems to be to signal they are ready to learn new information.  I believe in a rich learning environment for all ages, including reading to babies. 

18 and Under: Understanding ‘Ba Ba Ba’ as a Key to Development - NY Times


U.S. and China Soften Tone Over Disputed Seas

Good news - U.S. and China Soften Tone Over Disputed Seas - NY Times.

But this is worrying...  U.S. Alarmed by Harsh Tone of China’s Military 

The US Military's image with China seems to be in a lose lose situation.  No matter what the US does, it's actions are taken in a negative manner.  And with the strong Chinese nationalism being exhibited, this is worrying.


Worrying Over China and Food

I have mixed feelings on this.  A government owned Chinese company is interested in buying a major supplier of Potash, that is used as fertilizer in Canada.

Worrying Over China and Food - NY Times

Its interesting how many countries are making investments overseas due to worries over food. As much of the word becomes richer the demand for food increases,especially meat that has a higher ecological footprint.


Monday, October 11, 2010

killing a chicken to scare the monkeys

New Chinese phrase - killing a chicken to scare the monkeys is the idea of scaring a group by harshly punishing one.  As can be seen, this time it has not worked.

I feel that China is shooting itself in the foot (An American idiom).  China is making the front page of US papers repeatedly in a negative way with their actions toward the latest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. And creating even more opportunities for news the Chinese government does not want to high light. 

I am surprised, because usually the Chinese government handles the media better.

A good article - Nobel Prize Guys Shouldn't Hold Breath on China: William Pesek - Bloomberg.

An article that shows more of the Chinese Government View that is a good read to understand the Chinese Government on why they are doing what they are doing - Why won't China argue the case for locking up Liu Xiaobo? - UK Telegraph

This is a great quote from the Telegraph Article:

 It is this brittleness, this startling paranoia, this terror (to use their word) that even incremental reform might bring the house down that should worry everyone in the West which needs a China with functioning legal, political and social institutions.


China's Nobel Threats Backfire - The Daily Beast.
Chinese activist dedicates Nobel prize to Tiananmen victims - Yahoo News
Chinese Nobel prize winner's wife detained - CNN.com
Wife Detained After Visiting Nobel Winner - NY Times
UN experts urge release of Chinese Nobel laureate - Associated Press.


Acing Parent-Teacher Conferences

Good article for those of you who are going through Parent Teacher Conferences.

Acing Parent-Teacher Conferences - WSJ

Preparation is importat for parents who want to get the most out of the conference.  Just don't be surprised if the teacher you meet at the conference is different than the one you child experiences at school.  My daughter's US History Teacher was at back to school night in a suit.  This was the first time my daughter ever saw him wear one.  He put on a great dog and pony show and is an A+ teacher, but it was different than the teacher my daughter experienced day to day.


Why Laptops in the Class Room may be a distraction

Why laptops in class are distracting America's future workforce - CS Monitor

Laptops in college classrooms are no longer just educational tools – they're distracting our future workers. During class, students tumble down these rabbit holes of diversion – losing their focus and undermining human connections so crucial to learning.
I read recently where a local school just got a bunch of laptops.  My first thought was how will this help students?  Laptops with Internet access in a class room are potentially a huge distraction. 
An old movie about a Cal Tech type university, had students using tape recorders in classes.  And then later on it shows the professor using a tape recorder to lecture with, while all the students using tape recorders.

I favor an interaction type of educational experience with communication going both ways.  Straight lectures can be automated, but a great educator goes beyond lecturing.


Death of Picture Books

I was surprised by this article - Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children - NY Times

I have seen that a bit in my sales.  I have some amazing books that are Chinese/English bilingual picture books that are a joy to look at, but the sales are down.

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Barnes & Noble - Death of a Bookstore

Last night the family and I went to the local Barnes and Noble at 17490 Colima Road, Rowland Heights, CA 91748.  We usually buy a couple of books when we visit a bookstore.  And yes, I can buy books wholesale since I have an online bookstore, but it's convenience and its fun to go through a section of books (even if my Sci Fi selection at home is much better).

What surprised me was a new policy of no public restrooms per Ronni.  Anyway, we had to leave in a hurry because of this new policy.  Ronni referred us to a Starbucks that is in the same plaza, but instead we went to a place with shaving ice. 

What had happened if my Father had gone there with his health issues.  I see this as the continuiing death spiral of BN.  Great customer service is the foundation of any business.

Ronni wrote down the E-Mail address of the district manager to write a complaint too. 

And it gets even better!  The e-mail address does not work.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Some Blogs about Families Raising Bilingual-Chinese Kids

I've been looking for nice blogs written by parents raising bilingual/ multilingual kids because you might be interested to read about their experiences at home. Most likely, their experiences are very similar to yours.

Here are some I have found that you might like.  Plus if you are already following a blog with similar themes, raising kids to learn Chinese, please give us the heads up and we will add it here.  Thanks.

http://yunmay.blogspot.com/ - The writer and her Korean-born husband raise multilingual and multicultural children in English, Korean and Chinese...
http://thelocaldialect.wordpress.com/ - Jessica is American while her husband is Chinese. Together, they share a life and a love in a place called Yunnan, in Southwest China. Join her as she chronicles the trials and tribulations of being in an international marriage, living in a foreign country, and bridging the gaps between two very different cultures.
http://wenjonggal.wordpress.com/about/ - A blog of one of our favorite ChildBook parents, raising her child in English, French and Mandarin.
http://www.littlepim.com/blog/ - A blog from Julia Pimsleur Levine, creator of the Little Pim multilingual DVDs.

$40 Million Blg to make Hot Sauce

Huy Fong Foods breaks ground on Irwindale facility - SG Tribune

Amazing what this says about the growth of Asian Food in the US.


Rampant Fraud Threat to China’s Brisk Ascent

Good Read - Rampant Fraud Threat to China’s Brisk Ascent - NY Times

I am surprised that the head of Microsoft's China operation who claimed to have graduated from Cal Tech, had not.  Wow!  In the US resumes are checked left and right for this type of fraud.

What is even more worrying is the attitude behind it. A quote from the article:

 “Perhaps it’s a cultural difference but there is nothing bad or embarrassing about it,” said Mr. Lu


Banyan on the Economist

The comments are fascinating and what they show about opinions of people of some pro Chinese readers. They are over whelming the comment boards. 

A half-pike up the nostril, China’s overreaction to a Japanese “provocation” has set its regional diplomacy back years - Banyan on the Economist

A previous post that also noticed this http://blog.childbook.com/2010/08/great-comment-on-economist.html as well as this 50 Cent Commentors - the Chinese government is paying people 50 cents per comment they do on boards as a way to push a more pro China view.  And their may be as many as 280,000 people doing this.  Wow!


Chinese Currency Wars

I am afraid of a race to the bottom where everybody is manipulating their currency so they can export out of the current recession.  The Big Mac Index from July 2010 suggests China is under valued against the US by 48%.  A Big Mac costs $1.95 in China, verses $3.73 in the US.

Geithner stokes world pressure on China over currency - Washington Post

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English Learning Resources

Some CD's I picked up for teaching Chinese speaking Kids English.  Most of our products are for teaching Chinese, not English.  I like Teach Me Chinese (songs in English and Chinese) made for learning Chinese, but it would work the other way.

Children Learn from Heaven & Earth: American English Classroom #1 (2 CDs)

Children Learn from Heaven & Earth: American English Classroom #2 (2 CDs)

Children Learn from Heaven & Earth: American English Classroom #3 (2 CDs)


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Language Revitalization

There was a segment on NPR about a group that found an unknown language in India, Koro.  The group, the Enduring Voices documents vanishing languages and cultures and assists with language revitalization.

Their suggestions to saving a language was give it respect, so the children will use it.  Young children are smart and will notice if you have two languages, which is being used more.  They had an example of some teenagers who were using the language for a RAP Song. 

I heard the same thing about another language in Mexico, where there is now a Rock Band for a language that is hardly used.  The result is its now seen as cool to use the language.

Lessons for this for Learning Chinese is how do you make kids have pride in Learning Chinese?  How to make it interesting.  What works with them.  Can you create a repetitious environment for Learning Chines that promotes learning?


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's World Teacher's Day!

Happy teacher's day to you!

Do we need to mention you make the world a better place?

Thank you for doing what you do :-)

Monday, October 4, 2010

ChildBook Anniversary

My wife and I registered the ChildBook name over 13 years ago in 1997.

When we first started payments had to be done via check and we did not even have a shopping cart and the items were kept in a closet.  The original pages were in Big 5 and our target market was Chinese speaking families in the US.  We found out, to our surprise, that a lot of non-Chinese speakers were interested in Learning Chinese.  We then changed all our pages to English (which meant I could update them, instead of my wife).

ChildBook has grown a huge amount.  With 1000+ active Learning Chinese items we now operate out of a warehouse.  It's amazing how much the Internet and ChildBook.com has grown in the last 13 years.

A quote to on my mind - there is no Wisdom without Regrets.

I have learned so much in running this business and everyday brings new challenges and areas to improve.  I am sure in another 13 years ChildBook will also go through huge changes.  I am thankful for my wonderful customers who have been a great help with their patience and purchases.


Ray, Owner


Singapore Math

Singapore Math looks very good.  I wish my daughter had been taught with it.  The problem I see with Math in California is its very broad and shallow.  Yes, they can claim that an amazing amount of stuff has been covered, but how well have the students learned it?  The Singapore Math concept is go over fewer concepts, but more in depth.

Making Math Lessons as Easy as 1, Pause, 2, Pause ... - NY Times

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

To Error is Human

I just deleted a blog comment that a bit upsetting.

Our goal is to have great customer service and we do our best. ChildBook is more a labor of love than just a business run by the numbers. Its about providing great products at a fair price with great customer service.

If there is a mistake on the web site, such as pricing, let me know and I"ll fix it. Mistakes happen and when you spot one, please do a quick E-Mail and let me work it out with you. When a page is hard coded, sometimes the price on it does not get updated, unfortunately. Which is why it's a bad idea to hard code a price, but sometimes it's the best way. Soft coded is where you change it one place, and updates everywhere. Hardcoded is where the price is just text and if I don't remember the page its on, it does not get updated.

One mistake on pricing that was in the customer's favor was an $14.95 book for a $1. I shipped the 4 books I had in stock and canceled the item from the one order I did not have stock to fulfill. And then the person I canceled it from asked for free shipping on their $4.95 order I gave them (lost money on that order with the free shipping).

And yes, I do moderate blog comments because for a while I was getting a lot of online Chinese School Spam comments. People trying to get better search position and they would paste the same comment on my blog with a link to their school (very annoying). I even wrote to their school and they still kept on doing it. Then I went to moderation and it finally stopped.


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