Monthly Archive: July 2009


There’s a band playing in the plaza downstairs today, and Anna couldn’t move her feet when she saw the drum set. When the band was done, the drummer invited her to the stage and let her play with the drums. I snapped a picture with my blackberry. Anna loves musical instruments. She now claims that she wants an oboe when she grows up. I am just glad that it’s not a trumpet or drum set that she wants.

* * * * *
Since the recruiting season is just around the corner, I thought I’d share one random question I came across when I was going through OCI. Can’t remember whether I heard or read it somewhere, or I was actually asked the question during an interview. Anyhow, the question is this: why would people ever want to invest in the stock of gold mining companies when they can directly invest in gold, the product of these companies? I think the unstated logic behind the question is this: Presumably the price of gold is positively correlated with the price of the stock of gold mining companies, and as some may argue, gold has intrinsic value as a hard currency, whereas the stock certificate does not. So why doesn’t every investor in gold mining companies just buy gold instead if they think gold is going up in price?

I think I have an answer. But this may well be one of those open-ended questions for which there is no “correct” answer, or multiple “correct” answers. What do you think the answer should be? Comments are, as usual, welcome.

Volcano, Violin, Valentine

When I came home from work yesterday I was greeted by an ecstatic Anna who dragged me into her room and showed me this. It’s her rendition of a volcano erupting in the ocean. Why would a 4 year old paint an erupting volcano? I have no idea. But she seems happy, so I’ll spare the psychological analysis.

Anna trying out her new violin. 1/10 size. Not that Ping and I want to be the stereotypical Asian parents. Anna seems to like classical music a lot–she could listen to Bizet and Tchaikovsky all day and hum with the music and pretend-play the violin the trumpet the cello and what have you. She now loves the musical instruments with all the same intensity with which she loved the dinosaurs, the horses, and the elephants that used to be her favorites before the symphony orchestra. On the other hand she seems not at all interested in my Eminem collection.

Who’s my valentine?




Media Relations

The way the Western journalists seem to operate: the Chinese government is guilty until proven innocent, and the applicable standard is somewhere between “absolutely, positively, beyond any doubt” to “just plain impossible”. The recent riot in Xinjiang is yet another example: these journalists’ knee jerk reaction was that the hundreds dead must have been killed by the Chinese military, despite immediately available information that indicated otherwise. The self-contradictary hearsay offered by the exiled dissidents are presumed by these journalists to be more reliable than the account offered by the government based on first hand investigation. It is also amazing how uniform their reportings are when they mention the beating, the burning, the killing in passing but also took care to point out that these minority rioters have legitimate grievances (a point which I do not dispute). On the other hand, to the same journalists, the Han counter-demonstrators are just vigilante mobs looking to kill and destroy, and we don’t get much of a hint of whether they too have their “legitimate grievances.” If the viewpoints were flipped, you’d think this is the work of Xinhua or People’s Daily.

A little over a year ago when the Tibet riot erupted, I was really angry over the biased reporting. now the same pattern repeats itself, and I am not sure if anger is the proper response, because if, as the journalists say, the bias that Han Chinese hold against the Uighurs is deep-rooted, so is the Western journalists’ bias towards China, and I really can’t do to the journalists what the Uighurs did to their perceived racists — bash their heads with bricks, slash their throats in alleyways, or burn their office buildings, and then play the part of an innocent victim in front of others, can I? So I wonder if anything could be done on the Chinese government’s side.

The Chinese government is flush with cash. Not that it should bribe any journalists to violate their so-called professional ethics (if there’s any left of it), but that, with sufficient funding, one could do a lot of legitimate things to improve its own image in the international press. Also, where are our ambassadors, media spokespersons, press secretaries in times of crisis? When the opposition manages to spew venom in an op-ed piece on Wall Street Journal, couldn’t our ambassador write something to set the record straight (and I am sure plenty of US newspapeprs would be willing to publish such a piece in their opinion column). When other countries, such as Israel, face a public relations crisis, their foreign service people in the US from their ambassador down go all out on a media assault: appearing on TV shows, appealing to the American public, writing op-ed articles, etc. So instead of hearing about the events through biased intermediaries, the public get to hear the other side of the story, unfiltered.

I wonder where’s our spokesmen at this time. Keep doing the press conferences, keep issuing press releases, but please, also bypass the intermediary and go straight to the public. Perhaps this is something that our public officials are not used to doing, but to the extent we do care about our international image as a country and as an ethnic group, we must have people who are willing and able to forcefully speak on our behalf directly to the foreign public, especially when the opposition factions are already way ahead in this game.


认真学习美国主流媒体对新疆骚乱的报道, 旧华社二零一一年九月十一日纽约电:


这场运动(和其他所有反美帝国主义运动一样),开始是和平的, 非暴力的。尽管示威者在驾驶过程中造成了一些乘务人员的伤亡,他们还是非常平稳熟练地驾驶飞机在空中游行并呼喊安拉伟大等口号,但随后两座大楼非但拒绝给示威群众让路,还悍然撞毁了飞机,才导致了人员伤亡惨重。





Day 7 – Horses and Whales

Carriage ride in the woods in the morning. Rockefeller bought much of the island that is now Acadia National Park, created an elaborate system of carriage roads, and donated the island to the federal government. Now the carriage ride has become a must-do in Acadia, much like having afternoon tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond restaurant and going whale-watching from Bar Harbor.

Anna admiring the horses again. So predictable.

Took a whale-watching boat ride into the open ocean in the afternoon. What did she see?

Fin back whales, in the distance.

Holding whale baleen for the first time.

Day 6 – Jordan Pond and Lobsters

Jordan Pond is a glacial lake on Mount Desert Island.

At the southern tip of the lake there’s a restaurant that serves “afternoon tea” with “popovers” on their “tea lawn” overlooking Jordan Pond, as seen here, a tradition dating back to the 1800s. It was still early for afternoon tea, so we opted for a way overpriced lunch instead.

In the afternoon we hopped on a boat…

A lobstering boat. We rented the cottage from the captain, a local fisherman, and he took us out on a lobstering trip. If you watch the Discovery Channel, this is basically “The Deadliest Catch”, tamer lobster version.

Look at what I caught! We probably ate way too many lobsters in the past few days we’ve been in Maine, but seeing how lobsters are caught is a lot of fun!

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, viewed from the lobstering boat.