September 25, 2008

Byron's new blog:

Hey All,

Just want to let my fans all know that I now have a new blog. You can find me at It was time that I had my own domain name. I may be transferring all this old stuff to the new blog as well. In the meantime, I'll still be checking in on this one, so feel free to drop me a message anytime.

September 22, 2008

The College Issue

There was an extraordinary issue of the Times Magazine this past weekend: The College Issue.

September 20, 2008

Teachers from India

There is an article about teachers from India in the Times today. These teachers from India are being hired by American schools because of the shortage of math and science teachers in the U.S. Needless to say, it's a culture shock.

In India, Ms. Tallur was revered. When she entered her classroom, 70 students would rise, stand by their desks, and greet her in unison. “In India a teacher is next to God,” she explained, noting the contrast in behavior.

Now after a year of teaching at Harding in an international program, Ms. Tallur has become used to less respect. She is no longer surprised by profanity in the hallways and students talking out of turn in the classroom.

There's a good quote over here:

“In India, most of the disciplining happens when children are younger,” she said. “It’s easy to bend the stem of a plant when it is young. Once the stem gets strong, it is much harder.”

There's a funny quote over here:

At Bassick High School, Satya Mohan, a physics teacher, said he was surprised the first time a student put his head down on his desk and said, “I am not in the mood to listen today.”

“I thought to myself, well he is being honest,” Dr. Mohan said.

It's good that this is taking place, both in terms of the intercultural exchange and the much needed instruction in math and science.

By the way, I think India must do well in terms of teaching language too. It's not unusual to see Indian authors on the shortlist for the Man Booker prize. They definitely take their education seriously in India.

The Ultra-Rich

Someone on one of my listserves sent me this. We never ever get tired of talking about the ultra-rich or ultra-powerful. But in our own defense, some of these people truly are fascinating. It's a funny cycle. I think if I had that much money, I'd put it into promoting my non-profit. But that non-profit mindset is probably why I don't have that much money in the first place.

September 19, 2008

The Honeymoon is Over

It looks like the excitement regarding Sarah Palin's nomination for VP is starting to wear off. I was hoping it would, and I'm glad that common sense is starting to settle in. Not only is she not cooperating with the inquiry into her "Troopergate" scandal, but people are also starting to question other parts of her history that might make her unfit for the VP slot, such as her spotty educational record and achievements, and the fact that she repeats herself over and over in all of her campaign speeches.

If the numbers on her fading appeal are an indication of the country's assessment of her, then I'm happy that people are finally waking up. We don't need a VP who is an average American. We don't need a VP who has average or below average academic credentials. We don't need a VP who repeats the same lines over and over again. We need a VP who will be able to lead, innovate, think on her feet, and show Americans what we're capable of. We need a VP who has the ability to become a great President should the need arise. We're not going to get that with Sarah Palin. I hope Americans are starting to see this.

September 17, 2008

Microsoft's New Ad Campaign

Microsoft is beginning a new ad campaign to fight back against Apple's Mac Guy/PC Guy ads. It's supposedly a hip, cool, rebuttal to the ads that Apple has been using to hammer PC's for the last couple of years. Apparently they're investing heavily in these ads:

Mr. Gates makes a cameo appearance in the new Microsoft spots, along with celebrities like the actress Eva Longoria, the author Deepak Chopra and the singer Pharrell Williams. (Mr. Seinfeld is gone, at least for now.)

But the stars are everyday PC users, from scientists and fashion designers to shark hunters and teachers, all of whom affirm, in fast-paced, upbeat vignettes, their pride in using the computers that run on Microsoft operating systems and software.

I used to be an "everyday PC user" too...until, of course, I tried a Mac. It's a world of difference. First of all, Macs are better at doing fun stuff like podcasts and video. Second, the bootup time is around 30 seconds rather than two minutes. Third, you don't have to worry as much about viruses (though in all fairness to Microsoft, this is because hackers target Windows more often.). Fourth, the graphics abilities of Leopard are superior to Windows. Fifth, MacOS doesn't crash all the time. Sixth, certain things just make more sense--i.e. log in as a non-admin but require an admin password for software installation.

I honestly would never have tried a Mac if a friend hadn't bought one on a whim. I still use a PC for work and for spreadsheets, but as for my personal use, now that I'm on OS, I don't think I'll ever go back.

Edit 9/18: Funny comment here.

I wonder what computers the Crispin Porter creatives use...any guesses?

JP, San Francisco, CA

September 16, 2008

Generations of Hope

There's a beautiful, touching story in the New York Times today about a community called "Generations of Hope." The story in short is that Generations of Hope, a nonprofit adoption agency, has created a small community of adoptive parents and children along with surrogate grandparents. There is a permanent community of adoptive families, and there are older people who live there and agree to volunteer with the community.

For the most part, it works. Before she came here 14 years ago, Ms. Bohm, a retired schoolteacher and widow who never had children, said she was “bored and lonely and feeling like maybe I should just hang it up.”

She saw a pamphlet about Generations of Hope in a shopping mall. She now believes her years here have been the happiest, and most important, of her life. “I feel like a cowgirl on wheels around these kids,” she said.

Part of the beauty of the program is that these kids need grandparents, and these grandparents need grandkids. The philosophy to make families permanent is also a good one:

At the heart of the program is the ethos that parenthood and grandparenthood are permanent.

“I know of two ways to raise children: you have them biologically or you adopt them,” said Dr. Eheart, a former researcher at the University of Illinois. “Foster care is an oxymoron.”

There of course is the racial aspect--most of the grandkids are black, and most of the grandparents are white. It's always a difficult pairing because there are issues that an older generation of white folk will not understand when it comes to young minorities. But there's a strong need for mentorship with both age groups, so I think Generations of Hope is doing a great thing.

September 14, 2008

Frank Chin Video

Zach posted up the youtube version of the Frank Chin event, which Thymos hosted in July. You can see it here. Zach not only filmed, edited, and converted/burned the video, but he also wrote the music himself. Can you believe that? If you're interested in more of Zach's work, you can check out his homepage here.

NY Times article on Wayne Wang

There is an article on Wayne Wang in the NY Times today. His upcoming movies look interesting, although I can't say that I've seen all that much of his work. I've been told by many that I should see "Chan is Missing."

Little Italy

There is an article on Little Italy in the Times today about how there are less than 1,000 Italians left in Little Italy.

“The problem with Italians is we don’t really stick together,” rued Mr. Scivetti, who immigrated from Italy a half-century ago as a teenager. He broke the labor laws on shape-up journeys each dawn from Little Italy to suburban odd jobs. “Like the Latinos now,” he noted.
I agree that the Chinese "stick together," but I also think that it's because there is such a large influx of Chinese immigration. Chinese people live in Chinatown, and they immigrate through Chinatown, but most don't stay there. Most residents of Chinatown are 1st or 1.5 gen'ers. If Italians had a similar number of immigrants today, Little Italy would probably still be Italian.