Scientist heroes who helped Flint

Photo credit: Travis Dove for the NY Times

Photo credit: Travis Dove for the NY Times

There’s a cool story here about the scientists from Virginia Tech who fought for the residents of Flint, Michigan, to be heard: As Flint sought to be heard, Virginia Tech team sounded alarm. For whatever reason, we rarely hear in the American media about scientists using their brains to save lives. The VT team is diverse, with members coming from the U.S., India, and Singapore. They used their knowledge to build trust with the residents of Flint, some of whom said that they won’t trust the water unless the VT team gives its okay.

The beauty of waiting

Photo credit: Dave Killen, the Oregonian, via Associated Press

Photo credit: Dave Killen, the Oregonian, via Associated Press

Congratulations to the federal authorities who arrested Ammon Bundy and some of the other lawbreaking occupiers of federal land in Oregon. For weeks, Governor Kate Brown had been (rightfully) asking the federal government to do something. It was a very smart move for the feds to wait for the leaders of the occupiers to leave the wildlife refuge before going after them. By doing so, they were able to avoid a larger shootout that would have ended in lots of lives being lost on both sides. Someone must have been reading Sun Tzu.

“We’re more used to losing.”

This past Saturday, my son was in a chess tournament. He did well, defeating a reigning scholastic state champion and avenging a loss against another opponent who had won in their last outing. He was telling me about how after a game in one of the lower sections, the loser, who happens to attend a Chinese immersion school, came out in tears. He sat outside the playing area, bawling and crying. This is actually not atypical–chess is a sport that pulls strong emotions out of its players. Grown men have cried after losing hard-fought battles on the chessboard. I usually expect to see one or two kids crying after matches.

San Toy Laundry


Michael Huang, Photo credit: Hilary Swift for the NY Times

This is a really beautiful story of a Chinese laundry in New York: He Irons. She Stitches. It’s a story about two working-class Chinese immigrants who meet and fall in love in New York and then take over a laundry in Park Slope. They’ve been running it for years. They’ve done the immigrant thing by sending their kids to good schools so that they’ll never have to work in the laundry, and so they know that someday they’ll either close it or sell it–most likely close it, since mom-and-pop stores like theirs are disappearing. The pair bought the laundry at a pittance from another Chinese immigrant who made them promise never to change anything about it. They’ve kept the promise for over 30 years.

Political correctness

Thanks, L, for sending this. It reminds me a lot of our conversations with certain other people in the blogosphere. I notice that they’ve got Australian accents. I wonder if it’s as bad over there as it is here.

Spoiler alert:

The girl’s got the best lines:

5:35: “You think you’re so great with your maths, your science, and your facts? What about feelings? Huh?”

5:50: “Stop violating me with your different opinions!”

Old guy at the club

Man, I’ve forgotten how funny Chris Rock is. Nobody compares to Chris Rock. Above is a clip with his “old guy at the club” joke.

I looked up the clip because of this article: Meet the New York Bachelors Who Yearn For Something More. The article is interesting, but I think it’s particularly interesting what it says about energy and age. When you’re young, you think you can continue doing whatever you’re doing forever. But it’s part of the natural life cycle that people tone down when they get older. As someone says in the article, priorities change. People change. It’s human nature.

The benefits and dangers of defensive thinking

Yesterday a blog reader e-mailed some Asian American bloggers (me included) about the new movie The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis’s book about the mortgage collapse. The reader noted that the big villain in the movie is a guy named Wing Chau, an Asian dude. I read the Big Short a while ago, and while the name Wing Chau does ring familiar, I don’t think Lewis’s book puts all the blame on Mr. Chau. He was a minor character, if anything. But Hollywood being what Hollywood is, it wouldn’t surprise me if once again, they Pinned the Tail on the Asian Male. Sexism? Blame the Asian Male. Racism? Blame the Asian Male. School too hard? Blame the Asian Male. The Subprime Mortgage collapse? Blame the Asian Male. The Asian Male has always been Hollywood’s favorite whipping boy. Anyway, the blog reader posed a good question. He asked whether he should be publicizing what he felt was a racist portrayal, or whether it was better not to bother giving the movie writers additional publicity.

Two interesting NY Times articles on Whitey vs. Chang

Helen Yin, photo credit: Mark Makela for the NY Times

Helen Yin, photo credit: Mark Makela for the NY Times

Merry Christmas, everyone. Hope everyone is eating lots of food and getting lots of rest. For Christmas, I received…two interesting articles from the NY Times, delivered not from the chimney, but by e-mail.

1. In New Jersey, White parents are trying to dial back school. Evidently, the Asian parents are making life too academically competitive for their kids: Reforms to ease students’ stress divide a New Jersey school district. It’s a phenomenon that we’ve seen play out in places like Palo Alto. The Asians move in, school standards go up, and White parents go up in arms over their stressed kids. It’s true. Asian American kids do work harder. But they have to. Asian American kids face racism in college admissions, and so they have to do better.

John McWhorter: Actually, Scalia had a point


We live in an era where people look for reasons to be offended, and it’s killing dialogue. But here’s an excellent piece by John McWhorter: Actually, Scalia had a point. In his piece, McWhorter (who is black) addresses the data that show that Scalia makes a good point–liberal extremists can talk until they’re blue in the face about how unprepared students with lower test scores can drop into a higher level class and surpass expectations, but the data show otherwise. Liberal extremists have made it sound as if Scalia is a racist, but he was making a statement based on common sense outside of race–if a person has lower test scores and grades and extra curriculars and has had little preparation, he’s unlikely to do well. Both the data and common sense support that view.