Asian American Commercial Watch: Getting Help is Simple

If you subscribe to the ad-supported Hulu streaming service like I do, you will sometimes see ads for, which sells products and services dealing with issues affecting men, such as hair loss, mental health, and erectile dysfunction. When I saw this particular ad, I was struck by the proportion of Asian Americans in it, including the men needing help, one of the men’s sexual partners, and the doctor who could help. It was great to see the representation and even an Asian American couple, and even better to see them overcome their issues.

More information about the ad can be found here on

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8Books Review: The Last Election by Andrew Yang

I met the former presidential candidate and founder/co-chair of the Forward Party back in July at a political event, and one of the first things he did was hand me this book, The Last Election – a political thriller he co-wrote with writer Stephen Marche, based on a lot of learnings of his run for president. I was like, “WTF is this?” Andrew explains his reasoning on his blog post back in March (which I obviously had not noticed):

“Last year, I interviewed the Atlantic columnist and author Stephen Marche on his non-fiction book, “The Next Civil War.”  It was a sobering conversation; I found that Stephen and I shared many of the same concerns about American democracy and society coming apart as institutions struggle. 
A few months later, Stephen and I were discussing ways to work together. How could we get out more of these ideas to the public?  We agreed that stories are the best and most powerful way for people to understand something.  We would tell a story that everyone would get and could access. 
Thus was born “The Last Election,” a novel starring Mikey Ricci, the campaign manager of an insurgent third-party presidential candidate and Martha Kass, a journalist who gets a hold of some material that could determine the future of American democracy. The story proceeds from the launch of the fledgling new campaign for fourteen months through Election Day and the swearing in of a new – or is it the old? – administration. 
I’ve written a few things, but I’m no novelist. Stephen, happily, has produced both fiction and non-fiction and had a bunch of research from “The Next Civil War,” that appears in “The Last Election.”  We also had my campaign manager Zach meet with Stephen to give him nitty-gritty details and stories from what it’s actually like on the trail.  I’m proud of the result and can’t wait to share it with you and the world. Hopefully it will both entertain and prepare you.”

I have not read fiction since college, so I though, “damn, I’m going to have to read and review this.” But The Last Election was an easy and enjoyable read. This novel is NOT based on Andrew Yang’s his presidential campaign run, but there are definitely certain elements of the campaign that are echos of the campaign. I asked if the third party candidate, Cooper Sherman, was modeled after himself – and he had said no – more of a combination between Mark Cuban and Dan Gilbert (and maybe a little of himself).

If you enjoy following politics and learning a little bit more about the behind the scenes of a presidential campaign, you will enjoy the book. The Last Election is a political thriller in the spirit of the film The Manchurain Candidate (2004 remake) and the TV series Designated Survivor. To be honest, I couldn’t get past the third or fourth episode of the first season of Designated Survivor because I thought the conspiracy nature of the series was just too over the top.

The Last Election almost goes into conspiracy theory territory. When you think, however, about what happened on January 6th attack on the Capitol and Trump’s efforts with the fake electors as well as the Gore vs. Bush 2000 election decided by the Supreme Court and throw in the Oklahoma City bombing, Joe Rogan and Alex Jones, you realize that we’re not too many steps away from what could happen. The culination of what has happened politically and societally the past 40 years could lead up to The Last Election, or what I have often commented when I post political news on Facebook bordering on the crazy, “Not from The Onion …

So if you’re into reading fiction, into politics, and looking for something entertaining to read, don’t miss The Last Election.

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“$110 Million” CEO Kiwi Camara leaves his Company CS Disco

legal discoveryFilipino American Kiwi Camara made the news earlier this summer for being one of 10 US CEOs receiving a pay package valued at than $110 million in 2022. The latest news is that he has suddenly left his company CS Disco.  Camara founded the company, which provides legal services and software, in 2013.

If you don’t know about his background and might think that he is just some corporate fatcat, you would miss that he is a rather remarkable individual. He is the youngest graduate of Harvard Law School, finishing at the age of 19.  Prior to starting CS Disco, he started the law firm of Sibley and Camara and built the first version of CS Disco’s eDiscovery product as an internal tool at the company, which he spun off later to become that company.

Camara has generated some controversy. He came under fire over his use of a racial slur at Harvard Law, which is yet another demonstration that academic and technical brilliance does not guarantee greatness in other aspects of life. He later apologized for his action. Camara’s apparently huge pay package attracted negative attention, although as this article points out, the $109.5 million of that package is stock related and subject to goals and is most likely to be worth zero.

Bloomberg law reports that Camara seems to be starting a separate venture called Camara Ventures.

(photo credit: originally by Nic Youngson, licensed under Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0))

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Asian Americans Malls Thriving Despite General Shopping Mall Decline

Westfield Valley Fair Mall

There are have been a number of stories about the decline in US shopping malls, but Asian malls seem to be defying that trend.  After reading that story and thinking about the malls and shopping areas here in Silicon Valley where I live, the malls here seem to match that theme.  Even giant malls like Westfield Valley Fair Mallthe most profitable mall in California, which on the face of it isn’t an Asian mall, fits into that pattern.

So it Valley Fair an Asian mall? It’s not like it has a Ranch 99 there. Not all of the stores and restaurants are Asian-oriented, but there are many Asian restaurants packed together in the mall, with long lines for ramen and udon joints.  Some restaurants, like Gold Hill Bistro and Shihlin Taiwanese Street Snacks, catering almost exclusively to Asians and Asian Americans. There are seven places to get Boba in Valley Fair the last time I counted. On the second floor near the movie theater where many of these restaurants are located, Valley Fair does feel like an Asian Mall! Baekyoung Korean BBQ just opened up at Valley Fair, and may family and I are eager to check it out.

Catering to Asian Americans seems to be good business here in Silicon Valley.  Main Street in Cupertino has many Asian oriented restaurants and businesses.  My family usually gets ramen there and then a dessert at Meet Fresh. The Asian mall story mentions how malls can build community and attract business in that way. Lower end malls like the Great Mall of the Bay Area in Milpitas not only have restaurants like Jollibee, but holds events like the 626 Night Market. I joked about Valley Fair mall not having a Ranch 99, but Westfield Oakridge mall actually has one!

Will Asian malls stay viable?  I think they will for some time.  One reason for my opinion is that I see many younger people frequenting these areas.  Number One Son and Number Two Son have been to more of those Asian shops and restaurants than I have.

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Steely Dan’s “Do it Again” performed on the Korean Gayageum

“Asian American” implies a fusion between Asian and American, and this performance by Luna Lee of the Steely Dan classic Do it Again, is definitely a cross-cultural fusion. She plays the song on the Korean gayageum.  I am reminded of songs from the band Hiroshima and their use of the Japanese koto.

Links to Luna Lee’s music and how to support her are here. Hat tip to Open Culture’s sharing of this performance.

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Love in Taipei: Review, Paramount+ Promo code, and SF Q&A

Earlier this month, Love in Taipei premiered on Paramount+ on August 10th. I’ve been behind on my blogging, but wanted to let everyone know about some things about the movie, including a free promo code to see it, a review, and a Q&A session held in San Francisco that I attended (warning – spoilers in the Q&A).

Promo Code
Love is Taipei is available on Paramount+ streaming service.  If you don’t have that service, you can watch it on Paramount+ with the one month free promo code: TAIPEI. This offer is good until 9/10. Note that the normal free trial is only for a week. If you’re already subscribed, you can click here to start the film.

Overall, for a streaming film aimed for the Young Adult (“YA”) audience, I enjoyed this romantic drama adapted from the best selling book, Loveboat, Taipei. In contrast, a friend of mine, who also went on the actual Love Boat like I did, thought that there was more drama in an episode of Saved by the Bell than in the film. As stated on Parmount Plus, the plot of the film is:

“A young woman’s cultural immersion program in Taiwan turns out to be a liberating free-for-all known as “Loveboat” where unexpected romance leads her to question her future. Based on the best-selling book “Loveboat, Taipei” by Abigail Hing Wen.”

I never got around to reading Loveboat, Taipei, as I don’t think I’ve read any fiction since college … so I couldn’t exactly tell you what the differences are, except from this review:

“When she wrote her bestselling YA novel “Loveboat, Taipei,” Bay Area author Abigail Hing Wen met her audience where they were, detailing the delightful summer debauchery of Taiwanese American teens. Sure, there’s earnest self-discovery and cultural exploration as her characters take in their ancestral homeland, but there’s also sex, racy photo shoots, backstabbing and reconciliation.

Now adapted as a film, the most risque thing to happen in the novel’s story onscreen just might be a closed-mouth kiss. And it’s a shame, because this is one absolutely gorgeous cast.”

I’m assuming the decision was made due to audience considerations. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed the racier version! What I did love was that Love in Taipei was actually filmed in Taiwan. Taipei is a character in the film, very much like how Singapore was in Crazy Rich Asians. I think Taipei and Taiwan are underated vacation destinations for most Americans, so I’m more than happy to see when they can get highlighted in popular culture or in the news.

In any case, the main character, Ever Wong (Ashley Liao) does a lot of self reflection during her stay in Taiwan and meets two very different young men who relate to her challenges differenty — Boy Wonder Rick Woo (Ross Butler) and troublemaker Xavier Yeh (Nico Hiraga). There isn’t a lot of drama, but the characters are relateable. I thought that the lead actors all did an excellent job, especially Ashley Liao – her first leading role. If you liked To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, you should enjoy Loveboat, Taipei – and audiences seemed to have enjoyed the film as well, with an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.

WARNING – Spoilers in Video below!

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Ashley Park’s Showstopping Duet with Meryl Streep in Only Murders in the Building

The Wife, my Brother-in-law (BIL), and I were watching Only Murders in the Building when we  were blown away the showstopper duet of Meryl Streep and Ashley Park. Having never seen Emily in Paris and having not known about her musical theatre and Broadway background, I was pleasantly stunned that Ashley Park could sing so incredibly well. So for those you who like myself didn’t know that or having only seen her in Joy Ride, I thought I would share.

In addition to the performing abilities of Meryl Streep and Ashley Park, one additional reason that the song is so good is that it was created by professional broadway professionals Sara Bareilles, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul. The show has made the song available for streaming.

I am looking forward to more wonderful musical performances in the series, which has been weaving Broadway themes together with a murder mystery. Only Murders in the Building streams on Hulu and drops a new episode every Tuesday.

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28% Asian American Admissions Disadvantage to Selective Colleges

graph showing white preference in admissions

(graph credit: by Joshua Grossman, Sabina Tomkins, Lindsay C. Page, and Sharad Goel, © 2023)

While Harvard is being sued by for its legacy admissions policy, a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) shows that Asian applicants to a set of highly selective colleges have a 28% disadvantage compared to white applicants.  The paper breaks down Asian admissions into three  subgroup categories: East Asians, Southeast Asians, and South Asians. South Asians were found to have an even higher disadvantage of 49%.

The authors attribute the disadvantage to legacy admissions and an apparent bias against Asian applicants from areas with large numbers of Asian applicants. The effects of the legacy admission advantage is visible in the graph above. While this graph shows groupings by test scores, the author did comparisons of students with similar sets of test scores, grades, and extracurriculars.

I know that selective colleges seek geographical diversity, and I suspect that this works against Asian Americans applying from states with many Asian Americans such as California, Texas, and Washington. Figure 3 in the paper shows this. I also wonder if Asian American parents will use this data to apply to selective colleges from states with small Asian American populations such as North and South Dakota.

I have gone over the results of the paper at a very high level. I think that the way it disaggregates Asian Americans is timely and revealing. The actual paper has much more detail.

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Tuning Asian American Diets for Heart Disease and Diabetes Prevention

The American Heart Association reported on a recent paper describing how Asian American diets can be tuned to prevent heart disease and diabetes.  An important point that the paper makes make is that understanding the diets of each Asian ethnic group is key in order to improve them. Dr. Latha Palaniappan says that her patients are often asked to fill out food surveys based on an American diet:

Her Asian patients were going to nutritionists and being told to not eat foods such as hamburgers, fries or mayonnaise. “The patients would say, ‘Oh, well, I don’t eat those things anyway.’ And they would go back to eating their samosa (fried pastries stuffed with anything from meat to chocolate), jalebi (a syrupy dessert) and fried foods and not connecting that those, also, were not healthy for their heart or their blood vessels.”

The report goes into detail about specific strengths and weakness of different Asian Ethnic groups by region.  It doesn’t advocate that everyone turn to the Mediterranean diet, but suggests how Asian American diets can be tuned to improve them. For example, South Asian diets could benefit from adding more vegetables to stews.

You can read the paper at the American Heart Association Journal Circulation.

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8Asians Exclusive: Interview with Randall Park on His Directorial Debut of ‘Shortcomings’ & Review – Opens August 4th

I had the great honor and pleasure of interviewing Randall Park as he visited San Francisco as part of his directorial debut to promote his upcoming film, Shortcomingsreleased by Sony Picture Classics and coming to a theater near you on Friday, August 4th. Shortcomings premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah earlier this year and currently holds an 80% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.

As I told Randall, I’ve been following him since I ever noticed him in a Wells Fargo commercial back in 2008, which eventually became a regular series which I called Asian American Commercial Watch. This was followed up by The People I’ve Slept With (which was written by former 8Asians blogger Koji Steven Sakai), The Interview, Always Be My Maybe, his work in the MCU as Jimmy Woo, and UCLA’s 2023 commencement address. I forgot to mention what Randall is probably most known for – Fresh Off The Boat! I had mentioned I had interviewed Hudson Yang and his father Jeff Yang, who I first met a long time ago back in the mid-90s.

Interviewing Randall was my first time interviewing a well known actor (and now film director!), but he was so down-to-earth that I felt very comfortable talking to him. My only concern was that I was asking meaningful questions around his directorial debut on Shortcomings. Please view above or click on this link to watch!

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Paramount+: Official Trailer: Love in Taipei – Streaming August 10th

I first met author Abigail Hing Wen at her book launch event of her Young Adult novel “Loveboat, Taipei” in Menlo Park, California. As a producer (one of many), on the documentary “Love Boat: Taiwan,” I had a great interest on the subject matter. I bought the novel to support Wen’s efforts, but to be honest, I never got around to reading it. After college, I don’t think I’ve read any work of fiction. Still, I am super excited to watch the film adaptation of the book, “Love In Taipei”:

“Based on the best-selling book “Loveboat, Taipei” by Abigail Hing Wen, LOVE IN TAIPEI tells the story of the young American Ever Wong, whose summer takes an unexpected turn when her parents surprise her with a trip to Taipei for a cultural immersion program. Ever is surprised to discover that she hasn’t signed up for homework and history lessons, but instead for a summer-long free-for-all the locals and other students call “Loveboat.” And it quickly lives up to its name when Ever finds herself trying not to fall for two attractive but wildly different boys who are vying for her attention, while at the same time finding the courage to defy her parents’ high expectations and pursue her true passion: dancing.

The film directed by Arvin Chen (Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?), which stars Ashley Liao (Physical), Ross Butler (Shazam! Fury of the Gods), Nico Hiraga (Booksmart) and Chelsea Zhang (Titans), will premiere this summer exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. and Canada on Thursday, August 10, also coming to the service in the UK, Australia, Latin America, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and South Korea.”

I am excited that the film was shot on location in Taipei, not like Vancouver, where many films often are. I will try to interview Abigail in the near future and am delighted to get a sneak peak next week!

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Bay Area Singer thuy getting Radio play and Streams with “girls like me don’t cry”

I had heard girls like me don’t cry a number of times on the radio, but when the DJ said that the singer went to Newark Memorial High School (where I went to high school), I was immediately intrigued. After I saw that the singer was named thuy, I decided to check out who this singer was. thuy actually did go to my high school, and she is an emerging Asian American pop performer to watch and to listen to.

In many ways, her story is like a lot of Asian American performing artists.  She always had a love for music but went with her family’s desire for her to go into the medical field, majoring in Biopsychology at UC Santa Barbara.  After working a number of medical jobs, she decided to pursue her passion full time. Her parents wondered if she would go back to physician assistant school after this “phase.” I am reminded of the story of Simu Liu working as an accountant. According to Billboard, girls like me don’t cry peaked at 9 on the Vietnamese charts and 39 in New Zealand, and it is getting airplay in the US now.  A look at her Spotify numbers shows that her songs have been streamed tens of millions of times.

thuy is currently opening for singer Ella Mai on her Heart on My Sleeve Tour and will next be performing in that tour on August 19 and 20, 2023 in Sacramento.  You can see her music web site at site at

(photo credit: musiegeek licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)


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