Saturday, August 25, 2007

Intelligenzbestie March Tian Boedihardjo

Mad Minerva has the story about nine-year-old March Tian Boedihardjo, the youngest ever student to enrol in a university in Hong Kong. You go, boy! Well done! And all the best for your future.

In the German news, they used the term Intelligenzbestie to describe March. The English term is "brainiac", but the word Intelligenzbestie, literally Intelligence beast, is so telling. An intelligent person is a problem and a threat to society, as is a beast.

Btw, the press conference with March and his father had a very nice quote of the latter (my emphasis):

"I will advise parents in Hong Kong there's no need to know the IQ of your children. Just try to do your best to nurture them and give them space to develop," Tony Boedihardjo said.
That's it. Nurture and space. Education is easy.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Suicide Bombing Approval Rates And Stupid Statistics

How stupid can statistics get? I just came across an article in the Financial Times (EU Muslims: seeking jihad or democracy?) with a chart by PEW on "Muslims views on suicide bombing". The answers given were:

- often/sometimes justified
- rarely/never justified
- don't know (sic!)

For me, the only answer possibilities acceptable would be:

- justified
- never justified

The PEW possibilities given are plain stupid. What's the difference between "sometimes justified" and "rarely justified"? And why these two answers are in different clusters?

Btw, as the chart shows, about 1/4 of Spanish muslims think suicide bombings are justified, whereas only about 10% of muslims in Germany seem to embrace suicide bombings. Scary enough.

Backbone? Values? - Nah, just listen to the pollsters.

I really like the ECONOMIST, and sometimes, I like articles of the Wall Street Journal as well. On one issue, they both get it totally wrong: illegal immigration. It starts with bashing those who oppose the illegality and those who oppose immigration as a whole alike, and goes on by mixing all kinds of arguments only to make the point that the U.S. needs immigrants.

There's one point that really worries me. Couple of weeks ago, the Economist warned:

In the long term, though, anti-immigrant hardliners are likely to suffer most. Latino voters are growing quickly in number (see article) and history suggests they will punish intolerant talk on immigration. Mark DiCamillo, a pollster, points out that California's Hispanics used to lean only slightly leftwards. In 1990, for example, they favoured Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic candidate for governor, over Pete Wilson, a Republican, by 53% to 47%. Then in 1994 came a ballot initiative, supported by Mr Wilson, which sought to make life much more difficult for illegal immigrants. Since then California's Latinos have favoured Democrats by a margin of between two-to-one and four-to-one.
Today, Kimberly A. Strassel from WSJ's editorial board follows:

[F]or every base Republican who is gratified by talk of ID cards and border patrols, there's an entire family of Hispanic immigrants who are absorbing the mean language of "sanctuary cities," "lawbreakers" and "deportation." Many of these folks are religious, entrepreneurial, and true believers in the American dream; as such, they're the biggest new voting potential the Republican Party has seen in ages. But a growing number, just like those Catholics of yore, are angered by the recent rhetoric and wondering why they should pull a lever for any party that would go out of its way to tag their community as the source of America's problems.
So, to cross the border illegally does not involve breaking the law? And the American dream means leaving your family, crossing the border illegally, working illegally, hoping everyone involved keeps a blind eye and finally the government changes things for the better by launching a big "naturalisation campaign" (or similar - I still prefer the term amnesty here.)? This is what the American Dream consists of? If so, I have to recalibrate my mind set. Hands down, most of the Hispanic immigrants are religious and entrepreneurial - but you can't call yourself neither if not obeying by the law in the first place.

But what bothers me most is this idea not to ask whether something is right or wrong, but whether a large group of voters will react irresponsible. If Hispanic voters are really going to turn their back on those politicians who opposed the latest attempt of immigration reform - well, then be it. But I really doubt that. Plus, I doubt that it's a good idea to give the signal: "Hey, just threaten me a little and I'm doing what you want!".

A final point. In another piece, the Economist ranted:

[T]he immigration problem remains unsolved. The border enforcement system remains overwhelmed. Hostility to migrants remains high, even though large parts of the economy depend on migrant labour. Some 12m or more people are left toiling in the shadows, just as before, with many more to follow. The abject failure of this bill suggests any future efforts at reform will be similarly mired.
All those problems exist. But none of them would have been targeted, let alone solved, by the immigration reform that failed in June. And if the perspective of getting legalization within a decade or so isn't a bold incentive for more illegal immigration, what is?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stories from the 21st century (2): Web 2.0 Overkill

Some Web 2.0 tools are useful (like or diigo or wikipedia), but sometimes this whole hype leads to a huuuge waste of time:

300-page iPhone bill

Btw, I've really forgotten about the fact that telecommunication bills *could* be printed on paper. I received my last paper bill in ... 2005? Maybe.

Stories from the 21st century (1): Holy Innocents

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In Bed with Hugo

Come again?

Chávez oil dollars buy bus tickets for London

Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s president, broke new ground in his campaign of global oil diplomacy on Monday when London mayor Ken Livingstone announced half-price bus travel for poor Londoners, funded with millions of Venezuelan oil dollars.


Mr Livingstone on Monday denied he had been seduced by Mr Chávez’s petro-diplomacy. “When someone turns up and says: ‘Do you want £14m?’ they get my attention,” Mr Livingstone told the Financial Times.

But he told reporters: “Frankly I’d rather be getting into bed with [Mr
Chávez] than, as the British government has been, getting into bed with [US president] George W. Bush.”

I wonder how long Berlin's mayor would resist such an offer. He recently declared Berlin "poor, but sexy". Then again, who would not trade sexiness for some millions?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sounds of a moribund hard disc


Telling from the sounds my computer's hard disc is making right now, it is going to die in the very near future...

So, if this place will be silent again for a couple of days, this time, I might have a good excuse.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What kind of celebrity wedding is this?

My students in Nanning always used to say: "No, we don't like him! He is ugly!" They preferred to rant about Michael Jordan instead. Well, I like him, especially after reading this story about his wedding:

The three-hour ceremony was attended by over 70 family members and close friends while security guards patrolled the hotel to keep the Chinese and international media out.

Pardon me? Only 70 family members - and no media? Yonkers. What kind of celebrity wedding is this?

And he didn't even offer shark fin's soup. Perhaps because of his former team back in China...


That doesn't come exactly as a big surprise:


I know. I KNOW! (Chagrin of my life. Okay, one of the chagrins.)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Thank you, Nancy!

Since he is so heavy on my mind these days I put the energy in this thread instead of sitting vigil. I hope you enjoy these pictures of my dear friend.

Barton Lee and me: A brief retrospective - The Sinatra Family Forum

R.I.P., Lee Hazlewood.