Learning Chinese for Kids Blog
10% Off - Join our E-Mail List!
Subscribe so you get a weekly, fun to read Learning Chinese E-Mail newsletter including sales, tips, events, and new product announcements. Unsubscribe at any time safely! A 10% off one time coupon ($25 minimum purchase) will be sent to you with your E-Mail subscription.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In China, business travelers take extreme precautions to avoid cyber-espionage

Monday, September 26, 2011

Movie studios give up the DVD ghost, look to the Internet

I am amazed by how fast DVD Sales are down.  Blockbuster is but one example of this.  I look at the prices of DVD's in WalMart and Costco, and as a consumer I appreciate the low prices, but I am amazed.  Some DVD's are only a couple of dollars to buy. 

Looking at the current plans of the movie studios, my feeling is they are going to repeat the mistakes of the music industry driving people into getting movies through file sharing.  If its not convenient and a cost that is acceptable, people will find other sources.

Movie studios give up the DVD ghost, look to the Internet - LA Times

Labels: , ,

Diversity Sale at UC Berkeley

I did not realize there was a bill in CA to legally allow consider race, ethnicity and gender in student admissions.

'Diversity bake sale' at UC Berkeley stirs criticism - LA Times

The comments from an article on SF Gate are a good read (429)

Thought provoking the comment that suggested Asians should have been $3 (UC Berkeley is major Asian, but the population of CA is around 10%).

My two cents:
  1. I believe admissions should not be not based on race.  When you have race based admissions, Asians lose.
  2. Yes, many public schools that feed into the UC's have challenges and do not do a great job in teaching.
  3. Yes, there is a horrible problem with public schools that do a horrible job of educating non Asian and White, Minority students. I view this as a huge racial issue.  60% drop out rate at some 100% minority Schools!  This wrong.
  4. I agree with this quote from Albert Einstein: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
  5. And no, I don't have a magic solution to fix US public schools. 
  6. Good video to watch for CA residents - First to Worst, about how CA's schools have degraded.
  7. And yes, I am worried about the CA higher education system increasing cost.  I view it as a crown jewel in CA and, words fail me.

Labels: ,

FaceBook Privacy

Privacy is a big concern of mine, and its a challenge to figure out what should be public, and what is private (keeps me from getting in trouble with my family).  And as a business owner, it makes me very careful about customers privacy and understanding concerns.

Good article - Is Facebook killing your privacy? Some say it already has - LA Times

I was surprised when an author I read, mentioned the transparent society, and in the last couple of months I am finally understanding what he meant.  This article/editorial, along with the cartoon, helped me understand that unfortunately to FaceBook, I am a product, and not a customer, unfortunately. And this story about early FaceBook surprised me.

And yes, I have read about Super Cookies and other types of online tracking, and I know all new cell phones have GPS built into them, and I have read about Stingray. And to be fair, I am aware of all the data that Google and other search engines have collected on me, and how this can be combined with other information to build a very detailed portrait of who I am (and this was before Google +) 

I learned about E-Mail privacy the hard way, with the golden rule being never send an E-Mail you would not want to be published on the front page of the NY Times.  Physical letters were so less likely to be forwarded.  And now with twitter, anything you send can be instantly available to everyone!

Another article, Elgan: Fighting Facebook feature fatigue that has 3 great points:

Unfortunately, Facebook is now violating three unwritten rules for making users happy with social services:
Keep it simple.

Keep it linear.

Deliver the mail.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Observations on London, after a year in China

Good read, it's interesting the difference in culture.

Observations on London, after a year in China - Blog


Matthew Perrin's cautionary Chinese tale: Maley

Matthew Perrin's cautionary Chinese tale: Maley - Smart Company

Wow, the former owner of Billabong declared bankruptcy after investing in China.

I wish there was more details in the article.  Basically Mr. Perrin seemed to have no understanding of how business really works in China, and lost everything because of it. This is telling:

On one occasion, Global Mart finally completed the purchase of a supermarket chain, only to discover that the vendor had secretly sold the business to another consortium.

Labels: ,

Failing to learn Chinese: Trying too hard

About learning Chinese in China.  Good read.

I like the part about talk like a Pirate :-)   And yes, my wife is from Taiwan so I hear the Taiwanese accent all the time.

Failing to learn Chinese: Trying too hard - Blog


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NY Chinatown Stories

China closes Solar Panel Plant after protests!

I am surprised that the plant would be closed.  The other factory that was closed had demonstrations in the thousands, but the demonstrations were in the hundreds.  And there are over a 100,000 protests per year in China, because many people feel no other way to let their opinion known.

Creating solar panels is a dirty technology (its semiconductors that uses a lot of acids and other chemicals during the creation of solar panels).

China closes solar-panel plant after protests - LA Times


Monday, September 19, 2011

Angry Birds Moon Festival

Post Office's Future

ChildBook is a major user of the Post Office, so I am watching this closely.

An editorial that has some good ideas.  The question is will any positive, meaningful changes be made?

Sorting out the Postal Service - LA Times

If the Postal Service is to survive without congressional largesse, it must be granted more autonomy, and then it must seize the opportunity to rethink itself.


Road Rage if your a Princeling in China

The basic story is amazing.  15 year old son of a General, unlicensed driver of a BMW with a friend (18 year old, Audi Driver) assaults a husband and wife driver of a Buick who were too slow with their 5 year old daughter in the back.  Their car was blocked and the police were summoned.  The 18 year old may be the son (illigitimate) of the local police chief.  Lots of pictures which caused the son to get sentenced to a year in prison.

Famous Singer Li Shuangjian's Son Involved in Road Rage Assault - chinaSmack

Key Points:

1. Buick Driver would not let this case go.  They could have gotten money, instead they pressed for a conviction.
2. The Buick Driver represents the middle class (Buicks in China are not cheap, I would guess $20,000).
3. BMW had a fake license plate on it.
4. A 15 year old driving without a license!
5. The fact the 15 year old and his friend thought he could get away with this beating.
6. My bet this was quickly microblogged that caused this to be deal with fairly.  The pictures in the story came from some where.


Where Universities Can Be Cut

Good article - Where Universities Can Be Cut  - Inside Higher Ed.

I was surprised when I found out my almer mater, had more administrators than teachers now (blog post I read from a Cal Poly teacher, which I now can't find).


Fun Movie - Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Fun movie I saw over the weekend with my wife. I found out about the movie from a very positive review in the Wall Street Journal.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

It was sad there were only 20 people in the theatre.

The moview was in Mandarin Chinese, with the titles in Traditional Chinese, with sub-titles in English.


Another LA Bookstore Closing

Metropolis Books in LA is closing, I had never visited, but sounds like a wonderful bookstore.

Bookstore's closing leaves a hole in 'postmodern Mayberry' - LA Times

And our local Borders also finished closing.  I visited twice during their going out of business sale, and felt incredibly sad each time.  The only bookstore left locally is a Barnes and Noble that has a restroom policy I disagree with.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 16, 2011

In China, what you eat tells who you are

An article about a separate system of food for the rich and political elite in China. 

I thought I had seen and blogged about a previous article on this.

In China, what you eat tells who you are - LA Times

Labels: , ,

Plastic Bag Ban in Surburban Chinatown

Recently I saw an older Chinese Man with a walker with some groceries on top of it exiting a market. Hi groceries dropped. He did not want to pay the 10 extra cents for a paper bag.
I have mixed feelings on the bag ban in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles (which includes Rowland Heights, where I live).  I don't understand the justification for the extra 10 cent charge for paper bags (which do decompose).  The ban on plastic Bags I can understand, sort of (we use ours for garbage can liners).  And yes, I understand the fact that plastic bags don't break down quickly.  And that they can choke marine animals. May be now if we don't get enough plastic bags when we shop for groceries (stores less than a mile from us don't have this ban), we will need to buy the liners for our garbage cans.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Post Office Update

Morale at the Post Office is not that great today I noticed.  An older employee was telling younger employees not to buy a house right now until their job is more stable.

Proposed Postal Service downsizing would slow mail delivery - LA Times


Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope - No Overseas Tracking

All other types of Priority Mail Overseas are trackable, but not the Flat Rate Envelope!



Chinese Mosquito

It bites during the day and has adapted to the urban environment.  And at least one infestation came in through Lucky Bamboo Plants.

Topical mosquito found in San Gabriel Valley -LA Times


Chinese Dry Wall

A site that with lots of helpful information



Made in China Smell

I have noticed some items that I buy that are made in China, I need to air them out because of a horrible smell. 

A quick Google Search shows this is more widespread than I thought.


UC Plans Potential 16% increase per year, 4 years

UC plan sees tuition rising up to 16% annually over four years - LA Times

Which translates as UC's being forced to either cut costs, or increase revenue.  Looks like they have decided to increase revenue.

Related - Higher Ed Cost Index Rose Faster Than Inflation in 2011 - Inside Higher Ed


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reinventing California's higher education system

Great article that discusses some ideas for fixing the CA Higher Education System.

I wish I could access the longer version at

Reinventing California's higher education system - LA Times

The Polytechnic Universities are a jewel of the Higher Education System that have a huge amount of potential, but are under utilized.  Community Colleges are another jewel, that are being starved during a time of huge need.


SpongeBob impairs little kids' thinking, study finds

The challenge is that many TV programs use lots of quickly changing images and move the camera a lot.  The reason is people are wired to notice movement and this keeps their attention. 

SpongeBob impairs little kids' thinking, study finds - LA Times

The challenge is small kids, who's brains are still growing, may be affected by watching images of rapid movements in video's.  A study I read a while ago noticed the Amish had lower rates of Autism.  Video's are a good Learning tool for Chinese, but they need to be used as part of an entire holistic solution.  And some video's are better than others.


China's Handwriting Challenge

In the US handwriting has also gotten worse over the past 50 years.  My GrandMother has beautiful handwriting and had required classes in penmanship.  My Mother's is pretty good.  No comment on mine :-)  And my Daughter's handwriting is readable, but does not have the beauty of the older generation.  And with computers, I type so much more than I use penmanship.

And China has a similar issue with Chinese characters, where people forget how to write certain characters.  Nice article with examples of common people in Beijing asked to write characters.

China's Handwriting Challenge - The Atlantic


Thursday, September 8, 2011

In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores

I am a big fan of good teaching, and technology is a tool that sometimes is helpful, and sometimes not. Having the right materials makes a huge difference, especially for Learning Chinese (which is why I try to have the right Learning Chinese materials that are actually interesting).  I am not anti technology, but I am pro being effective.  And yes, I am excited about what the iPad could do in the classroom :-)

Have I mentioned that the middle school my daughter went to is giving hp laptops to half of their eighth grade class.

Great article that I hope leads to more common sense in funding:
In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores - NY Times

And a great quote about using Technology for Education:

Phil's take: At $12 billion a year, digital technology in the classroom is primarily a business and secondarily a tool for learning. But, the way we know technology is not fundamental is not because test scores don't go up but because for thousands of years learning has been more about the human software - curiosity and the motivation to learn - than about the tools of the day.


Amazon Sales Tax Possible Deal Update

The deal that has been proposed and is on the California Governor's Desk is Amazon will delay collecting sales tax for one year, while work is done on a nationwide sale tax.  And in exchange, Amazon will drop a ballot initiative to overturn the sales tax ban.

I am surprised at the deal, because I don't see much of a chance of the US congress doing anything on taxes until after the next Presidential election.  Of course Amazon may figure out forcing every internet business to collect sales tax could be a competitive advantage (sales taxes are a mess with thousands of jurisdictions, and few Internet retailers would be able to collect them under the current system correctly).  My previous post on this mess Amazon CA Affiliate Sale Tax.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In E-Mail Age, Postal Service Struggles to Avoid a Default

I have seen a couple of articles recently on the challenges the Post Office has.

In E-Mail Age, Postal Service Struggles to Avoid a Default - NY Times

As a volume shipper of the Post Office I have a few opinions...

One thing as a business I don't understand is why is it so hard to get pick up in the afternoon without paying extra?  I don't have this issue with UPS or FedEx!


Bilingual Education in Illinois

Bilingual Education if done right can be wonderful and result in a child fluent in both their native language, as well as English.  When bilingual education is done badly, the child is not fluent in either language.  In California a proposition was passed getting rid of most bilingual education because the majority of voters felt the students were not learning English.
Illinois to require bilingual preschool programs for students who don't speak English - chicagotribune.com

Labels: ,

China's Spilled Secrets

An official private briefing about espionage in China that was supposedly, accidently released.  But, as with much else in China, its not clear why and who released the video.
China's spilled secrets - latimes.com


Friday, September 2, 2011

No, she's foreign!

Cute post about Learning a Foreign Language, and what was an embarrassing moment.  The comments are a great read!

No, she's foreign! - The Economist

My favorite comments:

Favorite thing in China.
Lots of young children (which for some reason speak Chinese much more clearly than adults) will see a foreigner and immediately yell, "外國人!“ ( waiguoren literally "other country person")
At which point, the only thing to do is look back and respond "中國人!" (zhongguoren Chinese person)
Everyone laughs.


King Memorial Made in China?

The Martin Luther King memorial in the Capital Mall was designed and made in China.  And then assembled by Chinese on the Mall.

The memorial for MLK is impressive.

Give King memorial a chance - Chicago Tribune

A blockheaded memorial - The Economist


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Home Made Mooncakes

Per the article there is a huge demand for the locally made in teh SF area Moon Cakes.

Their most popular flavor is lotus paste with double egg yolks - not mine :-)

At Koi Palace, it's mooncake mania - SF Gate


Mailboxes disappearing as usage drops off

Rowland Heights, I can't remember any mail boxes, except the ones in front of the Post Office.

Growing up in Monrovia, I remember one down the street in front of retirement home.

At my parents house, mail got delivered to their door and a mailbox next to the front door (still is).  At our house, mail gets delivered to a locked metal box shared by 6 other families, each having a separate compartment.  This way the post office can just open the box and do the mail for 6 families driving between boxes, instead of walking to size different locations.

How times change...

Mailboxes disappearing as usage drops off - SF Gate


Company Info
Account Info
Customer Service
News & Info