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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Asian Quotas in Schools? Ivy's, UC's, NYC Schools, and ?

I am surprised that even with the Asian percentage of the US college age population doubling, the amount admitted to the Ivy League has stayed the same. This sounds very suspicious, and similar to the Jewish Quotas that were done in the 1920's. And it seems very similar tactics are being used, where instead of relying on exam scores the application process has gone into a holistic approach. NYC in their top schools uses an exam only for admissions, and there is pressure to change this since a huge percentage of students at the top schools are Asian. The key with a holistic process, is it's easier to hide discrimination. Sports, Leadership, hardships are ways that I have seen as part of the holistic process.

The danger of a holistic approach, is admitting students who are unable to compete academically. This results in a higher drop out rate, or the student changing to a less demanding major. If the student had gone to less challenging school, the student would do better academically. And by going to a college better suited for their academic ability, you actually have a higher overall graduation rate for African American and Hispanic students in UC's. In California, Asian's have about 3X more students, than their share of the population per this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Holistic applications are used as a way around requirements of race neutral application processes. UCLA has done this, where they have made the application process favor some races over others. The result is a poor Asian student at UCLA, with the same grades, SAT, and other factors has 50% the chance of admission, to a rich African American student.

Ron Unz has an excellent article about how the Ivy League is withholding data, so it's hard to prove what is going on. Asian Quotas in the Ivy League? “We See Nothing! Nothing!” - The Unz Review. The We see nothing, nothing is a reference to Sgt Schultz from Hogan's Hero's signature line, I see Nothing. I grew up watching that show.

My 2 cents on College Admissions:

  • Admissions to College should be Color Blind. All students should have an equal chance, based on their academic performance.
  • It would be great if somebody did something like Google is doing for employees, and find out what makes a successful college graduate.
  • There is a problem with schools, where many schools turn out students who are unable to compete academically at top schools. I view this problem as a huge issue for having a good society that everyone can perform to their full potential, and I hope it gets solved.
  • The amount of space at UC's should be increased, to correspond with the increase in California's population. over the past 50 years.
  • The California College Master Plan needs to be revisited  If you need proof, just ask any student attending a California community college on their experience getting classes...
  • The cost of a top education needs to be reduced. $62,000 a year for a top private school such as Duke with Room and Board does not make economic sense.
  • Online Education should be used, when appropriate by colleges, as a way to reduce overall costs.

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Versailles Treaty & China - Fallout Continues

Excellent must read to understand the origins of modern China. The WWI era and it's impact on China is one I did not know a lot about. Germany had a possession in China, that was taken over by Japan. At the Versailles Treat negotiations, China had an excellent case, unfortunately due to interests on perpetuating the imperial system, France and UK did not want to help China. If the UK and France had helped China, it would have thrown into doubt the morals of keeping their colonial possessions at the time. The US did not want to help, since per the article Japan had put into the treaty, a sentence about all races being equal. And at the time, unfortunately and shamefully, the US had a segregated society. The deal was to get rid of the sentence US President Woodrow Wilson, an idealist that wanted to prevent future wars by forming the League of Nations, backed Japan's interests, over China.

The Fateful Deception Behind a Century-Long Grudge Match - The American Interest


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Beyond College, Some of the Challenges and Opportunities

My Daughter Graduated!

I just attended my daughter's graduation from college, and she has a job she starts in a few weeks. So my wife and my job is done, and she is leaving the nest. Thinking back on it, what have we done right, and wrong in our 20 years of bringing her up? It's been a long journey, and I am generally happy with the results. She is an amazing young lady that has a super bright journey. And will she be able to adapt to our changing society?

Challenges & Opportunities:

  • Outsourcing
  • People skills - She has great people skills, fortunately
  • Automation
  • Continual Education
  • Perceived Value
  • Identifying Opportunities
  • Working toward a goal
  • Chinese Language & Culture


Outsourcing is a huge challenge for many industries. There are now lawyers and accountants working overseas, for US firms. IT and Call Centers have been traditional outsources areas, but any type of work that is not geographical, in person based, can be outsourced. 

A scary story, where a company had IT workers being fired, had to train their replacements:

One of the company I worked for outsourced my job. It got taken over by 3 people in the Philippines, and the company still saved money. What was nice was later on the company did offer me another job.

And unfortunately, under current US law, H1B holders are treated as indentured servants. Basically a worker who comes here on an H1B visa, needs to stay with the same employer or they have to restart their immigration process. This usually takes 4-5 years till they can get a green card. My strong opinion, is H1B workers should not lose their place in the immigration que if they change employers. Indentured servitude is just wrong. While I was getting my Masters, I had an outside immigration lawyer come speak to at my school about the immigration process.

People Skills:

People skills are such an important area for success! You need to learn to get along with your co-workers, or you will fail. Office politics, unfortunately, is a fact and just part of human nature. Understanding what your boss wants from you, and meeting that is a requirement. My under-graduate is in Engineering, and after falling on my face a few times early in my career, I focused on improving my people skills and it has helped a huge amount. 


The robots are coming - The Terminator is here! No, that's not totally true. Robots are coming, and it's a huge change. What is happening is a lot of automation, both in the factory as well as with knowledge systems. A good article - No Sector Is Safe from Robots. You can now buy a basic robot, to move boxes for $25,000. A knowledge systems are helping in decision making, such as in white collar jobs. Law offices have gone through a huge amount of automation, a simple example is where discovery used to take an auditorium full of lawyers going through documents. Now it's done by scanning them in, OCR them, and do a Google search along with any other electronic documents. The is a lot of automation going on, in both in the factory and in the office, and this will be changing the way many people work. The exception, for now, is the service industry that requires physical interaction. The important skill to have, is being able to think and do the right work. To be a knowledge worker, that is at least one step above what can be automated. To add value. With my daughter's education, I believe she can adapt successfully to a world that will be changing more and more.

Continual Education

A key part of having a successful career is keeping up to date. New college graduates have the latest knowledge, and after a few years out working, will they still be up to date? The good news is with e-Learning it's become easier and easier to keep up to date. MOOC's are amazing. I see huge changes in the higher education model that will lower cost, and is great for the student / customer. An example of the insane cost of higher education is this post. $62K a year, for 4 years? That's $260K. In most places that is a house. And what is the ROI on a $248K investment? Verses going to a state school for a lot less. My daughter went to a state school, and it was a lot less than $248K, and she has no student loans! And got done in under 3 years. 

Perceived Value

This is a harder one, but basically you need a linkedin profile and make it as great a possible since a lot of people will use it to check you out. It establishes your credibility. My linkedin is not a great example of what to do, since it's been more of a hobby that I worked on for fun and understand linkedin better. My daughter's linkedin will grow, as her career advances.

Identifying Opportunities

This is a hard one to teach as a parent, but it's so important. There are so many opportunities out there, but such limited time. Having a Goal helps. My wife and my goal for my daughter was to be a good person, to have her do well in K-12 by going to a great school, keep her Chinese Language and Cultural skills (she is fluent in English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese), have good friends, and go and finish college. And then get a good job. And all of those have been accomplished. 

Chinese Language & Culture

Teaching my daughter Chinese has been a challenge, and a lot of work. The result has been worth it, where my daughter has a great relationship with my wife's parents, that don't speak English. That is so valuable! And with her fluent Chinese and understanding of Chinese Culture, she has future opportunities in working with Chinese businesses, or US subsidiaries in China. This is a great addition to who she is.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

How Amazon treats Publishers

How Amazon treats publishers:

  1. Amazon will use every means possible in negotiating. This includes how publisher books are displayed in search results, messaging availability, and in some cases not even offer them.
  2. Publishers by insisting on DRM (Digital Rights Management), have made it very hard to sell e-books, except through Amazon
  3. Amazon makes a huge amount of money per e-Book
  4. By owning the hardware (Kindle) and with a proprietary format, this gives Amazon a huge amount of power.
  5. By selling the Kindle below cost, this has helped Amazon a huge amount.
  6. Amazon is going around the publishing industry, and having authors sell directly on Amazon.
  7. Traditionally, the publishing industry has treated all authors, except the biggest, badly.
  8. The publishing industry is incredibly inefficient.
  9. Amazon has around an 80% marketshare in e-Books in the US.

Excellent write up of the issues.

Amazon Is NOT the Vladimir Putin of the Publishing World - The Daily Beast
The author basically says that Amazon provides lower prices, so it's OK what they do to publishers.

Bad publicity for Amazon

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

How “Green” are China’s Solar Panels?

Great question! I am not surprised that Solar Panels manufactured in China are dirtier, than those made in Europe. The sad part is the huge environmental degradation done that is impacting the health of many Chinese people.

How “Green” are China’s Solar Panels? - The American Interest

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US Indicts Chinese Military Officers for Cyber Spying

I have very mixed feelings on this. Somehow, the US wants to have this imaginary line between hacking done for politics purposes, verses that done for commercial reasons. The amount of Chinese hacking in the US is amazing.

And with the revelations of Snowden, I worry about a foreign government inditing US officials for hacking. Snowden, right or wrong, only has disclosed information on the US and British hacking efforts. This may be because he worked for the NSA, but it's strange that he ended up in Russia after passing through China. Both China and Russia have extremely active hacking communities.

The revelations in Der Spiegel  on the NSA surprised me, and if I was overseas and worried about the US hacking me, I would be very careful on buying US equipment. And the sales of IBM and Cisco in China seem to reflect that. As well as many countries requesting cloud services to host their citizens data in their own country, due to privacy concerns. I was surprised to find out how the NSA was hacking Google and Yahoo (through the interconnections between their data centers, so both companies now encrypt this data).


US Indicts Chinese Military Officers for Cyber Spying - World Affairs

Edward Snowden: The 10 Most Important Revelations From His Leaks - Mashable

Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit - Der Spiegel


The Battle for the South China Sea


Quick Summary: Vietnam and China are very nationalistic, and there is a history of armed conflict. And both sides are spending on their navies.

China is confronting Vietnam in the South China Sea. Vietnam has responded both with riots against Chinese owned factories in Vietnam, as well as confrontation at sea.

Vietnam and China in the last 40 years have had 3 major armed confrontations, the largest in 1979 where over 30,000 died.

1979 - Chinese invasion of Vietnam. Probably around 30,000 dead, with the majority being Chinese. China's army after this went through major changes to improve it's ability for offensive operations and logistics.

1974 - Battle of the Paracel Islands
1978-1979 - Ethnic Chinese boat people, over 250,000 left Vietnam
1979 - Sino-Vietnamese War 30,000 dead
1988 - Johnson South Reef Skirmish 2 Vietnamese ships sunk
2014 - South China Sea Confrontation

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Mudslinging in Rowland Heights 55th Assembly Race

There were two ethnic Chinese running for the 55th assembly that includes Rowland Heights. I was amazed at the amount of mailings I got from the two. Ling-Ling Chang and Gregg Fritchle won the primary, to face each other in the November election.

What I noticed about this extremely negative campaign:
  1. Ling-Ling Chang did lots of robocalls and offered a telephone number to speak with her.
  2. Phillip Chen focused on him being a reserve office with the LA Sheriffs department.
  3. Both candidates clarified the resume of the other. I was amused by the pictures chosen by each site of their competitor, compared to the picture they used for their own candidate. The past experience and business ownership, and conflict of interests were another area each highlighted. 
  4. Chang and Chen both raised about $600,000, out of a total of $1.4 Million spent by all candidates.

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Sriracha hot sauce Update

Not Chinese related, besides there are a lot of Vietnamese restaurants in the suburban Chinatown of Rowland Heights. And Irwindale is near Rowland Heights.

Sriracha hot sauce factory no longer considered a public nuisance in Irwindale - SG Tribune

There is a lot that is not being said about what happened.

My understanding is:

  1. Srichacha moved from Rosemead to Irwindale. They got some type of deal and loan from the city on moving their factory.
  2. Srichacha paid off the loan early.
  3. Complaints then started coming in, per some comments I read it may have been from one family.
  4. CA State inspectors stopped the shipment of product, while it had to sit for a set amount of time based on a new interpretation of a state health law.
  5. Srichacha threatened to move and was courted by Texas, among others. Irwindale's reputation for business took a huge hit.
  6. CA state and Irwindale officials visited the plant, saw the improved filters, and the city council moved to remove the public nuisance.

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