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Monday, May 30, 2011

K-8 foreign language demand up

Learning a second Language is a huge advantage.

K-8 foreign language demand up - SF Chronicle


Counterfeit Cisco Ring

The article claims millions of dollars in sales.  Amazing.

The first charge is up to 5 years in prison, but other related charges could bring the prison terms into decades.

Feds break up Chinese-US counterfeit Cisco ring - The Register


Chinese Prisoners forced to Play Warcraft?

I have heard of people in low wage areas playing video games to amass items that can be converted to cash, so it makes sense to use prisoners.

The term seems to be Gold Farming.  Note, this does not seem to be official policy.

Welcome to the new gold mines - The Guardian

It's gotten a huge amount of attention on the Internet.


Yahoo! and Alibaba: What was ours is now mine

I am amazed by this.  No, not really.  Caveat emptor (Latin for Buyer Beware) is the rule for doing business in China.

Yahoo! and Alibaba: What was ours is now mine - The Economist

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Parents hope learning Chinese is children's ticket to success

About how in South Africa kids are Learning Chinese.

China is doing a HUGE amount of business with Africa ($100 Billion last year).  Africa offers raw materials, as well as a market for products.

Parents hope learning Chinese is children's ticket to success - CNN


LA Massacre of 17 Chinese in 1871

How Los Angeles Covered Up the Massacre of 17 Chinese - LA Weekly
Great article with a lot of details I was not aware of.
  • Largest hanging in the US (17 people)
  • Last hanging in Los Angeles
  • All convictions were set aside
My listing of  Racism Against Chinese in the United States


Study finds small language gaps in children adopted from abroad

Study finds small language gaps in children adopted from abroad - Canadian Press

A challenge, in my opinion, in the study is the age the students are being tested at.

The study was at 1 1/2 years to 4 years after adoption.  Then on average 16 months later. And most kids are adopted between 7 months to 2 years old.

I would not be surprised is as the students age and interact more at school, that the difference disappears.


College Applications Lessons

I am still recovering from my daughter's college applications.

The competition was brutal this year for the top University of California campuses.

Some things I observed:

1. For UC's, 50% of the application seems to be soft, 50% hard.  The 50% hard is the GPA, SAT, etc.  The 50% soft is the extra curricular and essay.  Cal States just look at the hard stuff.  The analysis by schools of the soft part is very subjective.  I would start as a Freshman in High School Volunteering in an area.  Focus on an area that is meaningful and would appeal to a college admission person.

2. College Applications are like Resumes.  You think they are a work of art and should be carefully studied, and the person reviewing them gives them a few seconds and type casts.  Keep it simple and attempt to avoid type casting.

3. Pick the major, and then the school.  A big name University may have not even have the major your child is interested in.  Find the school that has that major.

4. When picking a major, involve your kids.  Its their life.  Some parents do this at a very early age.  I met one 7th grader and she already knew she was going to be a Veterinarian.  Sometimes this works, and sometimes when the child gets to college, they change majors.  One of the tour guides at UC Santa Barbara changed majors 6 times.

5. Figure out what the salary is of graduates for the major at the school your going to is.  As well as the drop out and graduation rates.  Sometimes you need to dig on the salaries.  If its not easily available, this also tells you something. 

6. Visit the campus as early as possible.  Look at the bulletin boards on campus, this is a great way to figure out the culture of the campus.  If its a wrong fit for your student culturally, don't have your child go.

7. Beware of college tour guides.  Their job is to sell you on how great the school is, and their talk, is often carefully scripted.  Even down to the part where they walk backwards and talk to you.  I recommend on going on a few college tours, you will then start to recognize a lot of the same buzz words and notice the same claims being made. 

8. Your child is a product, and you need to figure out how to make this product stand out from everyone else.  Beware of doing the same type of activities along with everyone els (marketing).

9. Colleges want you to apply to them!  The more applications they get, the better they look for their selectivity.  Some colleges don't even charge a fee for applying!  This way they get more students to apply.

10. Don't expect things to work out perfectly on applying to colleges. Expect victory, but plan for defeat.  Have a plan A, B, and C.

Yes, I have become a bit cynical on the college recruiting process.  I saw a lot of amazing classmates of my daughter get turned down by schools they should have gotten into, and others get in that were strange.  My take away is the admissions process is very subjective and there is a bit of luck involved.


Lockheed Martin Cyber Espionage

What surprised me about the article is there is no mention of China.  Not of the hacking done to Google that was traced to China, or that China has a huge operation focused on this. Yes, Russian also does some cyber espionage along with Iran, but very little compared to China from what I have read.

I wonder why this was not mentioned?

Lockheed Martin attack highlights rise in cyber espionage - Chicago Sun Times


Elder Care

In then morning when I was taking my daughter to school I would often see Van's for Elder Care.  I am guessing this is unique in the US, to Chinese.  Basically the Van's pick up elderly people and drive them to a location where they are taken care of during the day.  Basically Baby Sitting, but for the elderly.  This way the parents can live with their children who work during the day, and at night they can be together.

I am guessing that the mainstream is the elderly live alone as long as possible, then go to a senior apartment/rest home.

My parents took care of my Grandmother till she died, and I am proud of that.  I can understand others who make different decisions.  Its hard, especially if dementia is involved.  My family visited an older friend of ours on Sunday, and it was sad to see how far she had gone mentally.  She asked about my ring, and she had forgotten she had gone to my wedding where I received the ring. 

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chinese is Mandarin?

Some misconceptions I have come across.

Yes, Chinese does not equal Mandarin.  There are other dialects.  But Mandarin is the one that matters for most Learners since its the official language of China.

When I have customers who want that in Chinese, when the word Mandarin comes up they get worried they are buying the right material.

Does Cantonese matter?  For cultural reasons, yes if your famly speaks Cantonese.  For business, Mandarin is the one to learn.  I did stock some Cantonese material, but I found it does not sell.  When I get customer requests for Cantonese material I refer them to a traditional Chinese bookstore in Monterey Park and another in San Franscisco.

Taiwan does speak Mandarin.  I had one person who made the statement that Taiwan does not speak Mandarin.  My comment back was that was news to my wife (who has been complimented by people from China on her Mandarin, as they ask where she is from.  She's from Taiwan).

Some of the other Chinese dialects:

- Cantonese (spoken in HK and Guangzhou)

- Taiwanese (Fukanese).  Becoming more important in Taiwan.  For the longest time Taiwanese was discriminated against by the government.

- Shanghainese (very pretty)

Accents for Mandarin Chinese
Standard Chinese
Beijing Accent - close to standard Chinese, but a little different I am told.
Taiwan Accent - a bit softer than the Beijing Accent

Each of the Chinese dialects use the same type of writing (simplified or Traditional Characters).  Sometimes the grammar is a bit different, for example with Cantonese and Mandarin.


100,000 Unsold Apartments in Beijing

The post believes that tighter credit is slowing down the Chinese domestic market for real estate, which has become a bit frothy.

100,000+ unsold apartments in Beijing - Daily Artifacts


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Man Bites Dog - Cal Poly san Luis Obispo

Within 9 days there were 3 rapes in the campus community.  My guess the reason this got so much notice in the newsmedia, was this was a man bites dog story.  Cal Poly SLO is known to be boring, and does not have the reputation of being a party school as UC Santa Barbara does.  The official records at Cal Poly since 2007 show 5 sexual offences on campus.

The comments here surprised me:
Three rapes reported at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in nine days ‎ - LA Times

Have I mentioned, it's very challenging to be a parent.


Bursting Watermellons

Fields of watermelon burst in China farm fiasco - SF Gate

The problems of food quality in China are well know.  What surprises me is the increased publicity within China on this issue.  As well as some other publicity, such as:

China environment regulators block work on high-speed train line

China warns of 'urgent problems' facing Three Gorges dam - The Guardian

Something to do with Chinese politics is pushing this openess.  I view it as a positive change and I hope it continues.


SpaceX cheaper than China's Cost!

I am impressed and surprised.

China has been offering relatively low cost launch services. 


I was looking at the SpaceX site and it does not appear they offer tours.  One time I went on a tour of the Rockwell plant in Downey.  A friend of mine had done the Space Mural on the wall.


Monday, May 23, 2011

China Becomes World Largest Gold Buyer

What has caused China to become the world's largest buyer of Gold is:

  1. Low amount of Gold owned per household.
  2. Fear of inflation
  3. Growing income in China
China Becomes World’s Largest Gold Buyer - Resource Investor


Chinese Food Choices reshaping Food Prices Worldwide

The huge growth in China in income has increased demand for food that is leading to higher food prices (along with some bad weather).

The US won't see much of an impact, but there will be a significant impact on poorer countries that will increase instability in many countries.  Many countries in the world subsidize many basic foods and combines with a higher price for oil (also subsidized) to make for a lot of unhappy people.

China food choices reshaping world markets - Washington Post


E-Books Marketshare


Kindle - 65%
Borders - Over 28%

And the biggest genre is:

Romance - 20% of the total market (only 13% for physical books).

What surprises me is Apple Book Sales per the above information are low.  Please note these are estimates.


BEA 2011: “The E-Book Era is Now”
Reaction to $1 Billion Bid for Barnes & Noble- WSJ


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chinese IPOs No Longer Sizzling

So far Chinese IPO's on the US market are not doing that well.  Most are only 4% over their initial offering price.

Chinese IPOs No Longer Sizzling - WSJ

A great analysis from Daily Artifacts


Testing of Blogger

Seeing what happens with a change the Google just pushed through.

And the test results are!

I am not sure.  We just upgraded our Google Application account.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Number 4 in Arcadia

A Taiwanese friend of mine had his warehouse address changed for his unit #, it used to have a 4 in it.

Superstition prompts Arcadia City Council to weigh taking address change requests again - SG Tribune

Arcadia, California due to its good school system has a large Chinese population.

For Chinese the rankings for schools in LA County basically are:

San Marino
Walnut/Diamond Bar
Rowland High School/ Wilson (Hacienda Heights)

And this is reflected in the housing prices...

The number 4 in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese has the same sound as death.  Which is why in Japan you can get a discount on an apartment with the number 4 in it :-)

Reference - 4's Chinese Unlucky Symbol


Why being a Teacher can be scary

Fairfax teacher found not guilty of molesting girl - Washington Post

The comments are worth a read.

I sent my daughter a Christian School for Kindergarten, and one of the major reasons was the teachers were willing to give hugs to kids.  It was a very loving environment and as a parent I appreciated that.

At public schools I was very uncomfortable when I was subbing when a little kid gave me a hug, asked me to tie their shoe laces, or adjust their pants (I had the Principal do this one - it was a strange pants/shorts combination).  I was also very careful never to be in a classroom with only one student (if I got there early, the class room door stayed close).  Yes, I was a bit paranoid, but it only takes one complaint, even if an innocent mis-understanding, to ruin your life.

From the comments:

What some people need to realize is that some kids in school, when they get a pat on the back or a hug from a teacher, have just received the one and only show of affection and positive reinforcement they'll get all day, because they won't get it at home. How terribly sad that we, as educators, can't do the things necessary to help children learn, and make them proud and happy while they're doing it. I can't even count the number of times students have run over to me and given me a big hug. I consider it a privilege to be a positive influence in their lives. It's a real shame that there are people out there who will give it a completely different interpretation, whether it be a student or an overzealous parent. I'm glad I'm close to retirement, and I hope I don't get hauled off to court for trying to help a needy student know that someone cares

Another sad story where the Teacher committed suicide after being accused.  What is worse is he was found innocent, but had not been told by the school in time.
His reputation sullied, teacher commits suicide False accusation leads to tragedy in Virginia city - Washington Post

The problem is with this type of accusation, once your accused your basically thought to be guilty, until your proven innocent.  And with the Internet it spreads so quickly.  And to fight it takes money, time, and has a huge emotional impact on your family.

Another scary story where a Vice Principal investigating Sexting ($150,000 and 1 year to fight the charge to clear it up). ‘Sexting’ Hysteria Falsely Brands Educator as Child Pornographer - Wired Magazine

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E-2 Visa's

I did not know about E2 Visas.  Unfortunately there is no way to get to a Green Card from it.

Personal opinion - the current immigration system is broken and does not make sense.

E-2 visa helps many non-U.S. citizens start small firms - LA Times

A business can be approved for as little as a $50,000 investment. But meeting the visa requirements is not easy, and if the firm hits hard times, the owner can lose the right to stay in the country.


Friday, May 13, 2011

DVD Revenue down 44% in the US in 2010

The selling of DVD's was a cash cow for Movie Studio's, but times a changing.

The thought was online streaming video would kill DVD's eventually as happened to the music industry, but this seems to be happening faster than expected to DVD's.  The bankruptcy of Blockbuster is a symptom of this.  NetFlix is pushing that streaming video's, and Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon are not far behind.  RedBox has changed the rental market on the low end.

Reference - DVD revenue plummets 44% in 2010, SNL Kagan study says - LA Times

For ChildBook, I have been surprised how slow these DVD's have been selling.  They are great!
Discovery Planet Mandarin/English DVDs


Hollywood pushing to release more films in China

The hope is the number of movies released in China can be doubled to 40. Theoretically due to WTO rulings there should be no limits, but reality is different.

Hollywood pushing to release more films in China - LA Times

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Blogger Problems

Blogger had an outage, I am glad it's working again.

Now if Google could just add in a contributor ability, I would be set.  WordPress has this!

Ann Alhouse Blog that I have read posts on (smart Lady), is having issues with Google and giving a
 bX-kd9wlm error.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dessets in Houston's Chinatown

I like the combination of Japanese, French, Chinese, and Vietnamese that is  possible!  French/Vietnamese bakeries are a favorite of mine which you find in the San Gabriel area such as Van's Bakery.

Get sweet on Chinatown: 10 must-try Asian dessert spots in Houston - Houston Culturmap

OK, I admit it, Rowland Heights area where I live, has a great selection of desserts :-)

My list of Chinatowns:

Chinatowns of the United States and Canada

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Wine Culture in China

It started with brand names (which has increased the price of them world wide).  10 years ago it was mixed with Coca Cola, and now that is gone.

Wine culture starting to take hold in China - SF Chronicle


College Tuition X 4 Increase in

25 years ago it was $225 a quarter I think.  Now its $10,000 a year.  Amazing!  And it could go up 30 more in the next school year.  Its already doubled in the last four years.

Cal State considers drastic plan in case of an 'all-cuts' budget - LA Times

10 Year History at Cal State Long Beach of Fees (x2 for a year, since per Semester).


Remedial Classes in California Colleges?

I am amazed by the amount of remedial classes required by college students in California.


90% of California Community College Students need remedial Math and 75% Remedial English.

30% of Freshman entering the UC System required remedial classes

25% of UCSD's Freshemen had to take a remedial class in writing - 

50% of CSU Freshmen in 2005 required remedial instruction in English or Math


More college students require remedial courses - The Press Enterprise (Feb. 9, 2011)

Remedial Writing and Collegiate Performance: Using Grader Failing Preliminary Paper

California Education Report Card, Pacific Research, 2007

Perfect GPA in high school – remedial class in college? - Higher Ed Morning.

Remedies tackle California’s remedial education program - ASIA Media Frontpage


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dual-language immersion programs growing in popularity

Dual-language immersion programs growing in popularity - LA Times

I have heard about more dual language programs, per the article there is now more than a 1000 nationwide.  Looks like the article is re-fighting the Proposition 227 fight (my complaint against bilingual education pre Prop 227 was it was not truly bilingual).

I am surprised that Glendale in California offers German, Japanese, and Italien, but not Chinese.  Glendale has a large Armenian population and is home to some great restaurants. Porto's (Cuban) is a favorite of mine.


Simplified and Traditional Pro and Con

A customer E-Mailed me with:

I am interested in getting my kids to learn mandarin but not sure on whether to start them on Simplified Mandarin or Tradional Mandarin.

And my reply:

Here is a blog post I wrote on the pro's and con's of each.


The comments are also useful.

I try to be non-judgmental, since there are positives to both. Most US schools are now teaching Simplified Chinese. I have a personal preference for Traditional (I like the idea of a system, but Simplified is what is used in China.


On Tue, May 10, 2011 at 3:03 AM, Nicki Steele wrote:

Dear Ray and Lilian

What are the pro and cons?




Monday, May 9, 2011

How a networking immigrant became a spy

How a networking immigrant became a spy - SF Chronicle (part 2)

Scary.  Basically the networking immigrant was entrapped into becoming a spy.

And fits with something else I read.

And part 1

IMPACT: China's spying seeks secret US info - Miami Herald

I did not realize the Chinese government was recruiting more non-Chinese as spies, such as Glenn Shriver. 


Friday, May 6, 2011

iPad 2 Launches in China to Long Lines and Sellouts

iPad 2 Launches in China to Long Lines and Sellouts- MacRumors

The local Apple store (Brea, California) is reporting they still have lines every morning for the iPad.  I was there yesterday trying to buy one for my Father.  No luck, so need to go online.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Groupon enters China

Groupon enters a crowded market for deals in China - LA Times

This will be interesting. In another country that has a lot of Groupon type clones, there are some issues of businesses not honoring the deals. Groupon is known for being super high quality in their customer service.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

China's Investment - Not in US?

Interesting, over the next 10 years China may invest as much as 2 Trillion Dollars overseas.

The article writes the US may miss out on this investment (personal opinion - I disagree with this.  The US is open to investment as long as its not in key technology/industries that do become political footballs.  Japan when they were giant overseas investors, did a lot of deals in the US such as Columbia Pictures.  Also note a lot did not make financial sense and were Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware ).

As China Invests, U.S. Could Lose - NY Times


Wow!  $3000 for tutoring per month.

Two families choose different paths to academic excellence - LA Times

And the term for a B is Asian Fail, ouch...

I have seen burn out where kids get pushed too much, get into college with a Computer Science or some other similar hard major, and then change majors to something easier.  Our tour guide for USSB was Chinese from the LA area, started in Computer Science and changed major 6 times.  I think he ended up in Public Relations (please note I have some very good friends in PR and its hard to do well).


Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans

I knew about this from reading a book on the history of Yreka County, a small paperback (My Grandmother lived in Yreka for a while).  And also when I was doing research for this list - Racism Against Chinese in the United States

Book looks very good

Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans - Jean Pfaelzer

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Contraband Fish

A fish called the snakehead fish is banned from being imported live into the US.

And of course, some people still import it.

A Delicacy on Chinatown Plates, but a Killer in Water - NY Times

Per the WikiPedia Article" https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Snakehead_%28fish%29

They have been found across the US.  I remember when they were found in Maryland and that created a big ruckus.  It seems the fish can also go on land for a bit.

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