8 Asians

Taiwan Trip 2013 Monday Tuesday 300

I’m more of a night owl than a morning person, but there are definitely things in this world worth getting up before dawn for, and the Alishan Sunrise experience would have to be one of those.

We were pretty bummed that the train up to Alishan was out of commission due to typhoon damage repairs, but the ride on train up to the Alishan sunrise look out point made up for that a bit.

Taiwan Trip 2013 Monday Tuesday 292
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Because I have two teenagers who are active in an extremely strenuous sport and one of them (Number Two Son) started complaining about chest pains, I started reading an article with a title about children dropping dead from exercise.  What caught my attention was a story inside about a family who lost two sons to Pediatric Cardiomyopathy.  I can’t imagine losing one son much less two, but Lisa Yue and her husband Eddie Yu moved beyond mourning and acceptance to starting the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation, which is dedicated to driving research on this disease and to provide services and information to sufferers of this disease and their families.

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Anime Review: Fairy Tail

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Another shonen (boy’s) series, Fairy Tail is action packed with a lot of competition, camaraderie, and tragedy. A young wizard named Lucy joins this guild called Fairy Tail, and the story revolves around the trials and tribulations she and her teammates have to face as guild members.The characters are pretty much classic anime archetypes, dark cold guy, rambunctious hothead, strong female warrior, girly girl with a lot of heart, etc. Although there are a lot of serious scenes and major and intense battles through the series, it overall has a pretty comical undertone, so it’s generally fun to watch if you’re looking for a good laugh with some combat action along the way. Overall, a feel-good series where misfits find a place where they belong.

As I had mentioned when I had blogged about Columbia Law professor Tim Wu’s run and loss for Lt. Governor for New York in the primary, because I am living in Silicon Valley, I have not been aware of Wu being a candidate, nor until very recently, Leland Chung running for Lt. Governor of Massachusetts. I happened to be included in an email from my Aunt in the Greater Boston area, and one of her friends in an unrelated email thread was encouraging everyone on the email list to vote for Chung. What really sucks is that both Wu and Cheung both got major endorsements from their most influential local newspapers, The New York Times and Boston Globe respectively:

LC“Cheung, a three-term Cambridge city councilor, is the strongest candidate by dint of his determination to reject the past uses of the job as a political liaison with strong links to patronage. Instead, he plans to advocate for broadband access and high-tech jobs to underserved areas. … Cheung, however, has an entirely different and more ambitious vision for the job, a keener understanding of why it’s fallen into disrepute, and a promising record in elected office. While he plans to maintain Murray’s municipal portfolio, Cheung says he will not get involved in political hiring. Instead, Cheung wants to serve as a liaison to the innovation economy. He boasts of being the only candidate in the race (or, likely, any other statewide race) who knows how to write computer code. Cheung’s competent record on the Cambridge council suggests he has a knack for using low-profile jobs effectively, having advocated for preserving office space for small startups and helping innovative companies like Bridj take root in the city. Cheung also shows some reform inclinations: He favors abolishing the archaic Governor’s Council and changing the state constitution to make lieutenant governor a more meaningful office.”

Unfortunately, Cheung came in second in the Democratic primary, winning approximately 29% of the vote to first place winner, Stephen Kerrigan, who won 51% of the vote. If it’s any consolation, Cheung did beat out the third place candidate, who garnered only 20% of the vote. I took a quick look at Cheung’s bio, and it is pretty impressive.

I’m sorry such a qualified candidate lost, but it is kind or reassuring to see more more Asian Americans running for higher and higher offices at the local and state level – so much so that it’s hard to keep track of everyone who is running! I’ll be really,really excited when a viable Asian American runs for national office – and especially if he or she wins!

Have you seen these fire hazards known as “The Amazing Happy Birthday Candle?”

Easily found on the Internet and evidently legal and available in the United States (via Amazon and other websites), these candles have been popular in mainland China and other parts of Asia before making their way here.

Over the weekend, Taiwanese pop star Amber Ann (安心亞) posted a video of herself lighting the candle (and I presume screaming for her life):

8A-2014-09-22-AmazingHappyBirthdayCandleI know I am a total fuddy-duddy by being all “safety first” about these things, but seriously, do these things LOOK like they’re safe to light in your home?

First, you light it and it shoots a FIREWORK in the air.

Then, presuming it works correctly and doesn’t immediately fall over and set your table on fire, it opens up and spins while playing the “Happy Birthday” song (although the song can supposedly be disabled for non-birthday uses).

Do you feel safe blowing out the candles on this thing?

I wouldn’t because I already have visions of my hair igniting if I leaned in and the flames spun into my hair.

And, according to Chinese language news reports, a 7 year-old kid in China lost an eye when the candle exploded in his face in June. (Yes, this really happened.) The news report says that basically, the battery overheated (when the flame hit it) and exploded. Lovely.

So if you don’t extinguish the candles fast enough, not only could the flower melt (and start a fire), but it could also BLOW UP IN YOUR FACE AND MAKE YOU BLIND.

Please parents, don’t get any ideas about buying this for your kids for birthdays or the holidays. It would give new meaning to “you’ll shoot your eye out.”

(This has been a public service announcement from jozjozjoz.)

Unfortunately, I have been busy and per-occupied lately. Somewhat recently, The New York Times did an excellent profile of Taiwanese-American (of Canadian decent) of Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu, who was running for Lt. Governor. I had heard and read about Wu, since he is the guy who coined the term “net neutrality.” I hadn’t realized that the New York state election primary was happening and didn’t get a chance to blog about the article and about Wu:

Tim_Wu,_Campaign_Event,_Summer_2014“Only when he learned to read Chinese, as an adult, did Mr. Wu learn that his father had been a pioneer in the blacklisted Taiwan independence movement and had exhorted dissidents, in the extant documents, to oust the “thief” Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist government. “They were revolutionaries who basically said, ‘Let’s organize!’ ” Mr. Wu said. “Maybe I am borrowing from that tradition.” For the last couple of months, Mr. Wu, a Columbia Law School professor, has waged a shoestring anti-establishment campaign for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary, which is scheduled for Sept. 9, alongside his top-of-the-ticket running mate, Zephyr Teachout. … Mr. Wu, 42, may actually have higher name recognition among engaged Democrats, especially in voter-rich New York City. An expert in Internet law and policy, he coined the phrase “net neutrality,” and is a best-selling author who has appeared on “The Colbert Report.” He has also picked up the endorsements of The Nation and the editorial board of The New York Times, among others.”

Wu lost to Kathy Hochul approximately 40% to 60% of the vote.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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Is Vietnamese food going to be the “next big thing” in American Dining?

Yum Brands, which owns Taco Bell and KFC, is trying out Fast Casual Vietnamese food with the launch in Dallas of “Banh Shop, an experimental fast casual restaurant specializing in Vietnamese food like Banh Mi.   Part of this experiment’s learning experience has been with local Vietnamese Americans, who have reacted angrily to the red star in the logo, which to them is an ugly reminder of communism.

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8A-2014-09-18-OKCupid-Linsanity-LeelandLee

by Leeland Lee

The headline from the Huffington Post was grim: “Black People and Asian Men Have a Much Harder Time Dating on OKCupid.”

Reading this, I braced myself to be castigated, to be verbally castrated.

The article linked to a recent blog post by Christian Rudder, co-founder of OKCupid. Back in 2009, Rudder made waves with another blog post analyzing the racial dating preferences of the site’s members. His analysis was based on millions of data points culled from how men and women rated each other’s attractiveness.

And the verdict for Team Asian Dudes circa 2009? Not good. Women generally rated Asian men below average. Asian women rated Asian men 10% above the average male on the site, which was encouraging. However, while nearly all women preferred men of their own race, Asian women were the lone exception: They generally preferred white men, rating them 16% above average.

Depressing stuff for the average Asian male, right? The imposing shadow of Big Data seemed to confirm our gnawing suspicions that the growing AF/WM trend was here to stay. How could you argue against it?

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Alex Tung Needs a Bone Marrow Donor

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8A-2014-09-TeamAlexThis is the type of post that we would like to do less often, but until more Asians and Asian Americans are in bone marrow registries, will continue to do so.

Alex Tung has Acute Myeloid Leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant to live, but doesn’t yet have a match.

The Team Alex Facebook page has more info how to register. 

There is also a fund raising effort to help with his medical expenses here.

Anime Review: Hunter X Hunter

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Hunter x Hunter is totally a shonen (stereotypically boy’s) anime. The story primarily revolves around two young boys who want to become Hunters, a sort of strong arm professional, highly skilled mercenary. There are a lot of characters that come in and out of the story, and with hundreds of episodes, there are some pretty long story arcs.

There’s a lot that’s reminiscent of DragonBallZ and Naruto in this series, but Hunter x Hunter takes things to another level. It’s overall a lot less PG-13 and a lot more R. It’s scarier and more gruesome in a lot of ways.

One aspect of the story telling that I found particularly impressive is the ability for the characters to slide seamlessly back and forth between antagonist and protagonist. I’m just getting ready to hate a character when they do something that complicates their existence for me, revealing the motivation or some human quality that causes me to withhold judgment. I might be totally frightened of a character one moment and then touched by their tenderness the next. I’ll be rooting for someone and then realize they’re crossing over into the deep end and might turn out to be more merciless than their opponent that I wanted them to beat just a few seconds earlier.

It’s rare to experience a story in which the lines between good guys and bad guys are not only blurred by dynamic. I think it’s a good exercise in the complexity of the real world. If you enjoy shonen (boy) anime, martial arts, or complex characters, Hunter X Hunter is a must.

I saw a few weeks ago that my fellow Cornell alum, Jenny Yang, will be leading the Equal Employment Commission:

Jenny_Yang“As a child, Jenny Yang says that she found inspiration in her mother who challenged discrimination at her workplace. Now, Yang is the new Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency committed to ensuring equal employment opportunities for all Americans. She is also the first Asian American to serve in that position.

The EEOC, created by Congress fifty years ago, protects workers and job applicants who face discrimination in the workplace because of their race, national origin, gender, sex, religion, age or disability. Despite much progress, workplace bias continues to exist, and Americans continue to face pregnancy-related, faith-based, and other forms of discrimination.”

Yang was in a slightly different class year than me, but a fellow friend and alum that I later met in business school recognized Yang when I posted on Facebook the article about Yang. Given the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley tech companies making the news lately, it’s nice to know that an Asian American is heading up the EEOC.

 

Taiwan Alishan

In Hawaii, they’ve got that Polynesian Cultural Center, which on the one hand is a way to educate people about some of the culture and history of the various polynesian people, but at the same time, it reeks of colonialism. There’s just something about putting a people’s way of life into a living museum that’s just too much like a zoo. I mean, can you imagine coming to Los Angeles and visiting a Los Angeles Cultural Center where you can eat the actual food that Angelinos eat, see what real Angelinos wear on display, and watch re-enactments of the cultural myths and legends us Angelinos tell? Imagine a luau-like meal with In N’ Out burgers served while “native” people dressed as hipsters re-enact the latest Avengers movie on stage. Ridiculous right? I’d feel really insulted by a stereotype-generating machine like that.

Nevertheless, in the post-colonial economy and environment, it provides jobs for the the local community, and it can even support new artistic works that modernize old customs into new forms to be passed on to a new generation. For example, the last time I went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, I watched the production “Ha: Breath of Life” which is supposedly based on a common story shared across many of the Polynesian cultures. The show was really stunning and well put together and provided not only jobs but a forum for new and meaningful cultural expression.

Cultural centers are quite the mixed bag, so when we arrived at the Alishan Zhou Cultural Center, I tried hard not to roll my eyes at the amusement park feel of the place, but at the same time, I did learn about Zhou culture and history at their museum and, by visiting and purchasing goods at the place, I was supporting the actual Zhou people descendants who were employed at this Cultural Center. So the whole thing wasn’t half bad.

It also helped that the Cultural Center itself was beautiful and had a gorgeous view.

Taiwan Alishan

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