Entries Tagged as 'World'

Movie Review: Death Note

The rage behind the manga and anime has hit the big screen. Yes, this is a bit older, but it’s interesting since most of the United States has just gotten a hold of this via Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
Death Note [affiliate] is about a high school student, Light Yagami, whom has come into possession of a “Death Note”, a book that death gods possess to take lives. The shingami, Ryuk, watches the story unfold in amusement as Light tries to create the “perfect world”. Having a god complex, Light becomes the target of an investigation where a little known eccentric genius only known as “L” plays a battle of wits with Light.
Strangely enough, this follows the anime and manga pretty closely, but the choice of actors was pretty strange since “L” was actually very close but in both manga and anime, Light is this perfect looking high school student that is actually pretty great looking. Unfortunately, Tatsuya Fujiwara just doesn’t quite cut the whole look in my opinion.
The movie itself was actually pretty decent, and sets up for the sequel of which is actually still a part of the manga and anime storyline. Personally,I found the movie to be fairly enjoyable and the story followed the original storyline fairly well enough that you didn’t think….. “WHAT is this?!!” So that was good too. It did seem a bit slower at the beginning, although it was really just trying to preface how the Death Note worked.

Crazy traffic merging in Asia

This video from YouTube depicts some merging in India. Reminds me of when I was in Beijing during my college years. What’s amazing is that this crazy footage is a regular occurrence in those countries and yet they have less traffic incidents on average than here in the States. I’d imagine that it’s because of the low speeds the traffic patterns flow upon.
Regardless, it’s still amazing to see that this is just a daily life thing on the other side of the world, while we just hold our breaths the whole time while watching it.

Seventy-one year old hip-hop granny

The Chinese are crazy. Yes. I admit it. I mean, where else would you find a seventy-one year old woman that dances to hip-hop? This lady can actually bust some moves like Jay Chou. What’s amusing is that she doesn’t have any clue what the music is about or what it says. Good thing she just dances to the beats eh? Instead of getting out your 9…

The somewhat genius of the Golden Shield

Before people get all huffy about this, no, I am not promoting the awesomeness of censorship. But quite on the technical side of it, the Golden Shield is actually a pretty brilliant design. The Golden Shield Project (金盾工程) is the routing and firewall project more commonly known as The Great Firewall of China.
In doing some research for my 8Asians post on the Great Firewall, I realized that the Chinese are incorporating some tactics that is more well known to the hacker underground more against what security firms defend against instead of using as a means to keep things “inside”. And in doing something like this, it’s using what is usually used as an offensive tactic as a defensive one.
I mean seriously. Who uses DNS poisoning against your own network? The blacklists and IP blocks used is common firewall practices, but some of the ways being used is totally unconventional. Even the fact that 8Asians itself is blocked in some places and not others means that the site hasn’t made it to the master blacklist, but is being routed differently and blocked by different means at different places within China.
It might be used to keep its people in check, and censor its users, but the technology behind Golden Shield? Still a pretty dang interesting one.

Gackt is on iTunes!

That’s right. iTunes, unknowingly to myself, has somehow or another added Gackt?
I mean seriously. This is the best find I’ve had in a while when it comes to jpop and jrock music.
Gackt, now in his solo career, is the idol of many Japanese fan girls. His persona is of a 400+ year old vampire of which he has kept up for years. The androgenous singer was lead singer for Malice Mizer, and now S.K.I.N.. His deep voice is probably one of the most gorgeous ones I’ve heard from many male singers in the Japanese music industry and definitely rocks the charts. He now does a little of everything, from acting to his usual singing. Such is that of the asian celebrity industry.
So if you were looking, look no further. Just click iTunes button to open up the vast treasure that awaits us all in the world of jpop/jrock.


Photo Credit: (Mullenkedheim)

Border Patrol recruitment issues could be solved by veterans?

dhs.jpg Two weeks ago, I saw on CNN how much it cost to train Border Patrol and how the State Department had sanctioned a contractor, DynCorp, to recruit people to train patrols in Iraq. Apparently they were robbing from Peter to pay Paul and just making a mess of everything.
Here’s my question in it all. Why isn’t the Border Patrol hitting up discharged veterans coming from Iraq? The reasoning is simple. If it costs approximately $130+ thousand USD to train a Border Patrol, then you have to account for some savings already due to the fact that these veterans have already seen combat. Less work, more pay off. What’s more is that many of these discharged veterans usually seek out jobs as police officers and security contractors. What better way than to recruit them right out of the military? You would think that there would not only be a training savings there, but you would be able to do exactly what DynCorp is doing but taking those that are being reintroduced into civilian life and give them a great job working for the government.
Sounds like a sound idea to me. At least on paper. Wish someone would actually act on it though.

Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core 10th Anniversary Limited Edition

The Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core 10th Anniversary Limited Edition [affiliate] will be released on September 13th, 2007. This Japanese PSP-Lite limited edition bundle will come with Crisis Core, and a Buster sword strap.
Crucial for any Final Fantasy collector, this system will work with any PSP game (due to the PSP not having a region coding). Limited to only 77,777 units for production, these will go fast. What you get is the new limited edition silver PSP-2000 model with more RAM, slimmer design, video out port, and custom design job with FFVII logo on the back and unique serial number. Also included is the 10th anniversary Crisis Core game and a strap that looks like the famed Buster Sword that both Cloud and Zack wielded.
You can pre-order now and put yourself on the list for one of these limited beauties.

How Americans don’t understand Chinese culture in politics

I found this post by Rebecca MacKinnon delightfully amusing because at the World Economic Forum, Thomas Friedman basically got ripped by a senior Chinese official because he didn’t understand how the culture works.
She makes the following observations:

It’s interesting that China’s diplomatic strategy is to score points with other countries who chafe at American superpowerdom by advocating geopolitical democracy. No wonder Chinese leaders see U.S. support for internal democracy in China as an effort to score points against them.

So very true. If the U.S. supports democracy everywhere, then wouldn’t you think that a nudge of internal democracy would be a slap in the face? It’s like if China began to promote Communism everywhere in the world, and then started to tell the U.S. that Communism would really be better off for the people. You just don’t do that in someone else’s house, even when you might believe different.
Friedman makes a crack at how the people in power make boring speeches and Diplomat Sha rips into the argument itself. MacKinnon points out the differences in the culture and why Sha said what he says:

In Chinese culture, if you’re already powerful, you don’t want to act like there is a need to win anybody over. If you act like you care what people think of your speeches, you’re admitting weakness. You leave it to loyal henchmen like Sha to say provocative things on your behalf, but avoid stooping to verbal sparring yourself. It also runs directly against Chinese culture for a powerful person to admit to being powerful or talk about being powerful. It’s what you do, not what you say that counts.

No kidding. This was a brilliant observation.
Interestingly enough, I find that there are many people that just don’t understand how things work in China or other countries. Remember the sleeve yank incidence over a year ago by President Bush on a visit to China? His entourage should have told him about different cultures and how NOT to invade other people’s space. You know the saying… When in Rome, do as the Romans. So when you find someone that understands how the Chinese internal politics work, and willing to explain it to others, you just have to applaud and breathe a sigh of relief that at least some people get why it is the way it is.

Two Chinas: Part III

Disclosure: Yes, I am an ABC (American Born Chinese). On with the commentary. Part I is here. Part II is here.
Interestingly, the latest application has been turned down by the United Nations for Taiwan to join. For fourteen years, Taiwan has submitted the application as the “Republic of China” but this year, it was slightly different. Yes, it was sent in as Taiwan. To no avail, it was still rejected.
Very good for them to subtly go for independence. Although everyone in the West still has their history of the United Nations bid considerably incorrect. The San Jose Mercury News has it as:

Taiwan was expelled from the U.N. in 1971 when its seat—which it held under the name Republic of China—was transferred to the Beijing-based government of the People’s Republic of China.

Was this right? I had remembered Taiwan actually walking out on the United Nations before they were expelled. That was their first and foremost mistake, but everything on the Internet didn’t bother mentioning that part… until this juicy little tidbit showed up:

Taiwan also faced setbacks in the international sphere. In 1971, the ROC government walked out of the United Nations shortly before it recognized the PRC government in Beijing as the legitimate holder of China’s seat in the United Nations. The ROC had been offered dual representation, but Chiang Kai-shek demanded to retain a seat on the UN Security Council, which was not acceptable to the PRC. Chiang expressed his decision in his famous “the sky is not big enough for two suns” speech. In October 1971, Resolution 2758 was passed by the UN General Assembly and “the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek” (and thus the ROC) was expelled from the UN and replaced as “China” by the PRC. In 1979, the United States switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

That’s what I thought. Taiwan walked out on the UN to begin with when pride got the better of them, and never had a shot back since. Costly mistake.
John from 8 Asians points out the following:

This of course angered the People’s Republic of China (mainland China), which received entry into the United Nations at the Republic of China’s (Taiwan) expense in 1971. The reality however is that Taiwan has been functioning as an independent nation since its rejection from the U.N. and has a thriving economy with its own currency, native Taiwanese language, history, and self-elected democratic government.

I agree to a certain point with this comment although some of it is just plain wrong. In all technicality, it’s been functioning as an independent state when the KMT retreated there. Yet, the currency was brought by KMT, and the official language of Taiwan is actually Mandarin.

In Taiwan, Mandarin (guoyu 國語) is the official language, while Holo Taiwanese 臺語 (also known as Taiwanese or Minnanese 閩南語) is spoken mainly by those whose ancestors immigrated from China’s Fujian Province prior to 1949.

And I have to say that the self-elected democratic government for Taiwan is pretty amusing. Not that it’s not democratic, but if you’ve never seen a legislator slug another legislator before, you are totally missing out. It’s actually pretty cool that they (the legislators) believe in their jobs so much to see a little lady slug a guy in the face over a bill. If only you could watch something like that on C-SPAN. That channel could totally become a Pay-Per-View channel.
All in all, it’s not that I don’t agree with the independence of Taiwan. That’s fine, although I truly don’t see it happening anytime soon. Those like John, are definitely of the right mind in separating out from China. But from a standpoint of actual history, you cannot really stand there and say that Taiwan is a nation or has been when everything about it claims to be two governments within a nation. As I’ve said before, it would be no different than if Texas broke off and claimed it was a nation without actually declaring war. Nation? Not really. Unfortunately, there’s also the aspect of those of us that are Chinese that have backgrounds from those that retreated to Taiwan when the Communist overtook China. Are we also then Taiwanese? I can tell you that I’m not, and I’m just as proud to be an ABC as John is a TBC.
In the end, the results are the same. Regardless of who wants independence, and who’s oppressing the other, the painfully obvious is out in the open. It wasn’t until recently that President Chen’s 2007 campaign to move under the moniker “Taiwan” in the international community. With years of ROC under its belt, it will be difficult for Taiwan to establish itself under another name without drudging up that it’s one of two Chinas.

Northwest Airlines now accepts PayPal

paypal_logo.gif Go figure. Consumerist reports that Northwest Airlines is accepting PayPal as a payment form.
How cool is that? PayPal is now being accepted as a major form of payment.
That definitely gives PayPal another foothold to being similar to credit card corporations. The day that these services are accepted at most online vendors like say…. utility companies, and paying your taxes via PayPal or Google Checkout, is just a little bit closer.