Hopefully Lin Yu Chun 林育群’s English wikipedia page will stay up; there’s a fair number of links to interesting videos of him singing.

For instance, links include him on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, singing I Will Always Love You and Amazing Grace, and his own personal blog and photo album.

Haven’t heard of Lin Yu Chun?  Here’s a short article on him – Web sensation Lin wows US audiences.


A few days ago, I believe after installing an update to Snow Leopard for my Macbook, I noticed that my Macbook was having a problem.  My power settings were such that the display would turn off before the screensaver would get activated, yet now I was strangely finding my Macbook showing the screensaver with the display on rather than off (which was annoying because the screensaver actually seems to use a lot of the CPU and causes the fans to spin).

After some googling, I managed to find a potential solution on this forum, which said to go to Disk Utility and repair permissions on the main disk.  I was a little dubious, but after doing so and restarting, everything seems to work again!

  • Watch the Goldman case – “It accuses Goldman of intentionally designing a financial product that would have a high chance of falling in value, at the request of a client, and lying about it to the customers who bought it. It says that Goldman allowed that client — John Paulson, a hedge fund manager — to pick bonds he wanted to bet against, and then packaged those bonds into a new investment. Goldman then sold this investment to its clients, telling them the bonds were chosen by an independent manager, and omitted that Mr. Paulson was on the other side of the trade, shorting it, in the industry vernacular.”
  • Goldman’s stacked bet – “Portions of an email in French and English sent by Tourre to a friend on January 23, 2007 stated, in English translation where applicable: “More and more leverage in the system, The whole building is about to collapse anytime now…Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab[rice Tourre]…standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstruosities!!!””
  • What Goldman’s conduct reveals – “If the allegations against Goldman Sachs are true, then much of the blame for investors’ losses in the Abacus deal can be laid at the feet of an obscure statute passed by Congress in 2000, the “Commodities Futures Modernization Act.” In one dramatic move, that act eliminated a longstanding legal rule that deemed derivatives bets made outside regulated exchanges to be legally enforceable only if one of the parties to the bet was hedging against a pre-existing risk.”
  • The SEC’s lawsuit shows how Goldman Sachs put its own interests ahead of its customers’ – “Paulson wanted Goldman to create the CDO just so it could bet against it—Paulson thought the mortgages in the CDO would default at a high rate, thus rendering big chunks of it worthless. It’s kind of like a developer (Paulson) commissioning a construction firm (Goldman) to build a condominium tower while purchasing insurance that would pay off in case it fell down. But the SEC complaint alleges the scheme went a step further. The SEC says that Goldman worked with Paulson and ACA, a “portfolio selection agent,” to ensure that the edifice was composed of defective and subpar materials. The SEC presents evidence that ACA, as Goldman watched, included in the CDO specific assets that Paulson had chosen. Goldman then proceeded to sell condos (slices of CDOs) to other Goldman clients without telling them of the hazardous design.”
  • Looters in loafers – Krugman – “We’ve known for some time that Goldman Sachs and other firms marketed mortgage-backed securities even as they sought to make profits by betting that such securities would plunge in value. This practice, however, while arguably reprehensible, wasn’t illegal. But now the S.E.C. is charging that Goldman created and marketed securities that were deliberately designed to fail, so that an important client could make money off that failure. That’s what I would call looting.”
  • Don’t cry for Wall Street – Krugman – “These profits were justified, we were told, because the industry was doing great things for the economy. It was channeling capital to productive uses; it was spreading risk; it was enhancing financial stability. None of those were true. Capital was channeled not to job-creating innovators, but into an unsustainable housing bubble; risk was concentrated, not spread; and when the housing bubble burst, the supposedly stable financial system imploded, with the worst global slump since the Great Depression as collateral damage.”
  • How Wall Street became a giant casino – “Wall Street’s purpose, you will recall, is to raise money for industry: to finance steel mills and technology companies and, yes, even mortgages. But the collateralized debt obligations involved in the Goldman trades, like billions of dollars of similar trades sponsored by most every Wall Street firm, raised nothing for nobody. In essence, they were simply a side bet — like those in a casino — that allowed speculators to increase society’s mortgage wager without financing a single house. The mortgage investment that is the focus of the S.E.C.’s civil lawsuit against Goldman, Abacus 2007-AC1, didn’t contain any actual mortgage bonds. Rather, it was made up of credit default swaps that “referenced” such bonds. Thus the investors weren’t truly “investing” — they were gambling on the success or failure of the bonds that actually did own mortgages. Some parties bet that the mortgage bonds would pay off; others (notably the hedge fund manager John Paulson) bet that they would fail. But no actual bonds — and no actual mortgages — were created or owned by the parties involved.”
  • A difficult path in Goldman case – “But Donald C. Langevoort, a law professor at Georgetown University, said the case was consistent with other government efforts in past years to broaden the definition of material information. “The S.E.C. has long insisted that context is important,” Professor Langevoort said. “If you think of it more broadly in that way, this isn’t an unprecedented case.” Professor Langevoort cited as an example the commission’s 2003 settlement with 10 investment banks over accusations that their research departments were providing recommendations to investors without disclosing that favorable reviews were used to attract underwriting business from the companies issuing the stock.”
  • Innovation and ethics – “Guys like John Paulson didn’t have enough real mortgage pools to short, so the geniuses on Wall Street had to invent synthetic mortgage pools to increase the amount of “product”. There is an inverse connection between innovation and ethics. I’ve been reading No One Would Listen, Harry Markopolos’ tale of exposing the Bernie Madoff fraud. What is so astonishing is that the investigators at the SEC were mostly lawyers and they were completely conned by the math whizzes like Madoff. They had no idea what they were looking at and Madoff convinced them that his innovation (the supposed “split strike conversion”) was really taking all of the volatility out of the market.”
  • Top Goldman leaders said to have overseen mortgage unit – “Mr. Tourre was the only person named in the S.E.C. suit. But according to interviews with eight former Goldman employees, senior bank executives played a pivotal role in overseeing the mortgage unit just as the housing market began to go south. These people spoke on the condition that they not be named so as not to jeopardize business relationships or to anger executives at Goldman, viewed as the most powerful bank on Wall Street. According to these people, executives up to and including Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chairman and chief executive, took an active role in overseeing the mortgage unit as the tremors in the housing market began to reverberate through the nation’s economy. It was Goldman’s top leadership, these people say, that finally ended the dispute on the mortgage desk by siding with those who, like Mr. Tourre and Mr. Egol, believed home prices would decline.”
  • What are banks for? – “Goldman Sachs, in an epic effort to spin the SEC indictment, say they lost money on the Abacus deal at the center of the suit. This is such nonsense. The whole point of an investment bank is to guarantee that an individual security will be sold. If the investment bank can’t find takers for every tranche of the deal, they hold it in their “book” while they try to unload it. What Goldman will not say is how much they collected from insurance claims (probably placed at AIG) on the Abacus deal.”
  • Is any illness covered by insurance? – Kristof – “Then Ms. Walker gave me the company’s definition of “chronic” (you couldn’t make this up): “Chronic means a medical condition which has at least one of the following characteristics: has no known cure; is likely to recur; requires palliative treatment; needs prolonged monitoring/ treatment; is permanent; requires specialist training/rehabilitation; is caused by changes to the body that cannot be reversed.” That sounds like a spoof from “The Daily Show.” To translate: We’ll pay for care unless you get sick with just about anything that might be expensive. Then we’ll cut you off at the knees.”
  • Jeff Sheng’s photos of gay military personnel – “Mr. Sheng, a photographer, had finished the first phase of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a series of portraits of gay men and lesbians serving in the military, all of them in uniform and with their faces obscured in some way — by a hand, a door frame or by darkness. Some subjects turn their backs to the camera. In one image an airman who takes the pseudonym Jess sits on a hotel bed leaning forward. One elbow rests on his knee, his hand cupping his face to shield it from the camera. The portrait is pervaded by a sense of loneliness and isolation.”
  • The fishing lobby wins again – “By a depressingly lopsided margin, countries meeting in Doha at the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species rejected a proposal by Monaco and the United States to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, which is spiraling toward extinction. The convention had earlier rejected, also by a wide margin, a softer motion by the Europeans that would have placed the tuna high on the international list of endangered species but delayed a trading ban for one year.”
  • School law clinics face a backlash – “Law school students nationwide are facing growing attacks in the courts and legislatures as legal clinics at the schools increasingly take on powerful interests that few other nonprofit groups have the resources to challenge. On Friday, lawmakers here debated a measure to cut money for the University of Maryland’s law clinic if it does not provide details to the legislature about its clients, finances and cases. The measure, which is likely to be sent to the governor this week, comes in response to a suit filed in March by students accusing one of the state’s largest employers, Perdue, of environmental violations — the first effort in the state to hold a poultry company accountable for the environmental impact of its chicken suppliers.” – the effect of money on government and education…
  • From a songbird, new insights into the brain – “Some 50 laboratories around the world are studying the zebra finch, many in the hope of gleaning clues about how human language is learned. Like people and a few other species, the finch can imitate a sound it hears. The mechanisms of this vocal learning seem to be quite similar in birds and people, from the level of the brain’s anatomy down to specific genes. People with mutations in a gene called FOXP2 have several kinds of speech defects, and researchers have found songbirds cannot sing when their version of the gene is disrupted. With the zebra finch’s genome in hand, researchers have learned that a surprising number of the bird’s genes are involved in singing and listening to the songs of other zebra finches. Some 800 genes become either more or less active in the zebra finch’s neurons during singing, the researchers say in the current issue of Nature.”
  • Animal abuse as clue to additional cruelties – “Responding to growing evidence that people who abuse animals often go on to attack humans, states are increasing the penalties for animal cruelty and developing better methods for tracking convicted offenders… “It’s not that animal abuse is more prevalent,” said Stephan Otto, director of legislative affairs with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “What has changed over the past few years is the recognition that animal abuse is often a warning sign for other types of violence and neglect.”… In Idaho, which is one of the states without a felony cruelty penalty, farmers and ranchers are pushing a bill that would more clearly distinguish livestock from pets and would exempt livestock from the protections afforded pets.” – the final line speaks volumes…
  • Taiwan and fauna:
    • Ministry gives migrating butterflies helping hand – “Green protective netting stretching 860m will be set up along the Formosa Freeway for the next two weeks to help purple crow butterflies on their annual northbound migration, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday. Drivers are asked to travel well within the speed limit to minimize butterfly fatalities during their yearly trek. The National Freeway Bureau will also shut down the outermost lane during peak migration hours from today to April 11.”
    • Team uses radar to track birds migrating to Kenting – “Lee Teng-chih (李登志), director of the office and a participant in Pan’s project, said the team members would provide real-time radar images of the migration to bird watchers at home and abroad on the Web so that bird watchers would know when and where they could see the birds. “Japan has a sakura blossom forecast telling people when and where they can appreciate the beauty of the blossom and we would like to build a raptor migration forecast with our system,” Lee said.”
    • Legislator urges protection of local endangered insects – “Chiu said in the letter that his father and he had seen vendors almost wipe out the population of beetles in Baguashan (八卦山), Changhwa County, while local environmentalists have been working to restore the two species of beetle in the area. “Those vendors have been catching [the beetles] without restraint. I think it is very cruel. Please stop them from catching [the insects],” Chiu said. Beetles have been popular pets in Taiwan in recent years, particularly with elementary school children. The insects are usually sold at stationary stores near elementary schools or pet stores.”
    • No molesting Chaishan’s monkeys, Kaohsiung says – “From next month, visitors to Kaohsiung’s Chaishan Mountain (柴山) who feed Formosan macaques living there will be fined, the city government said yesterday. Under the new policy, hikers are being asked to observe “four noes and one help” — do not feed the wildlife, do not play with the monkeys, do not threaten or attack them, do not let children or pets out of sight and help stop inappropriate behavior by visitors to the mountain.”
  • Through cage bars, an exotic peek into drug wars – “At almost every turn at Villa Lorena, animals display indignities suffered at the hands of man. A caiman with a severed limb stretches under the tropical sun. A macaw with a sawed-off beak flutters in its cage. Luís, a cougar who once belonged to a drug trafficker, limps around his cage, the result of having a front leg cut off. Ms. Torres speaks of each case with passion, somewhere between outrage and desperation, bringing to mind the episode in Nietzsche’s life when he broke into tears and threw his arms around a horse on the streets of Turin while attempting to save it from a coachman’s whipping.”
  • Be horrified by the existence of billionaires – “Sixty-two of the 1,011 are Russian oligarchs. Twenty eight are Turkish oligarchs. Even Carlos Slim made his fortune from being the monopolist who controls 90 percent of Mexico’s telephone landlines and 80 percent of its mobile phone subscribers. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) notes that he charges among the highest usage fees in the world. But hey! He is a billionaire and what matters today are his riches — not the manner in which the money is made. He may have started out as a productive entrepreneur. Today he is using his power to expropriate wealth on a grand scale. The contrast with his rival Gates could hardly be greater. Microsoft may have had its head-to-head confrontation with the EU Commission over anti-competitive practices, but Gates built his company by innovating around one of the great historic general purpose technologies. Information and communication technology is like the railway, internal combustion engine or air travel — a technology with massive spill-overs and implications for society. It is a classic example of productive entrepreneurship.”
  • ASEAN free trade agreements disaster for all but China – “Thailand, in particular, had a bitter experience. In 2005, tariffs for 200 items of vegetables and fruits were abolished. Thailand expected to export tropical fruit to China and import winter fruit from it at zero tariff. But what happened was that Thai farmers of garlic, longan and other fruit and vegetables were decimated by cheap Chinese imports. Worse, Chinese officials reportedly either refused to lower tariffs on Thai imports or left the Thai produce to rot in warehouses.”
  • China will not block FTAs: MAC chair – “Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said yesterday she believed Beijing would not obstruct Taiwan from signing free-trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries. “I personally do not think the mainland will interfere,” she said. “Based on the experience we have over the past 20 months, we don’t think the mainland will hamper our efforts.” When asked what she based her assertion on, Lai said the council hadn’t received any messages from China since last spring saying that Beijing would hinder Taiwan’s bid to sign agreements with other countries. When asked whether the administration had any strategy in place in the event of obstruction by Beijing, she reiterated that she did not think this would happen.” – brilliant.
  • The police in Taiwan asked Plurk to head over users’ registration details and IPs – “One of the Plurk’s founders Alvin Woon posted a message on Plurk, saying that he’s recently been asked by the police for Plukers’ personal information, IP addresses and records of their messages. Alvin was wondering what would be the due process in relation to privacy in Taiwan, as so far, he has only received a letter from the prosecution but no court orders.”
  • Signs: The most useful thing you pay no attention to – very interesting article series from Slate.  I particularly liked part v: the war over exit signs, and the mention of the symbolic language LoCoS.  It would be an interesting thing to learn.  This is the best reference I could find for it online.
  • Why net neutrality isn’t dead – Wu – “Given these kinds of problems, from 1910 on, firms that offered communications services were declared common carriers and obligated, basically, to treat everyone the same and not to charge outrageous prices. But as the 21st century began, the Bush administration, in one of several experiments in neoclassical economics, decided to abandon the common carrier model for communications. Cheered on by economists, industry, and some technologists, the FCC, under Chairman Michael Powell, declared that both DSL service and cable broadband were no longer covered by the FCC’s authority to regulate common carriers. Instead, they were “information services,” a category over which the FCC had limited say (more limited than even Powell thought). That is why the D.C. Circuit said last week that the FCC lacked the authority to punish Comcast when it began to block the popular BitTorrent protocol. It isn’t that the court hobbled the FCC; under Powell, the FCC, it turned out, had crippled itself.”
  • News sites rethink anonymous online comments – “When news sites, after years of hanging back, embraced the idea of allowing readers to post comments, the near-universal assumption was that anyone could weigh in and remain anonymous. But now, that idea is under attack from several directions, and journalists, more than ever, are questioning whether anonymity should be a given on news sites.” – I don’t know about this; my inclination is to think that the cure is worse than the disease…

I just added my first page under Knowledge 知識 on CangJie 倉頡.  CangJie is different from the standard phonetic methods of inputting Chinese, instead based on the graphical decomposition of the actual word.  That means that a five letter code either entirely specifies a word or narrows it down to a very small number of words, meaning that you do not need to search through the long list of words with the same pronunciation, as with phonetic methods.  Unfortunately, there are not many English resources for learning CangJie, which is really too bad, as using a graphical decomposition is a good method for learning and remembering Chinese characters.  I’ve compiled the English language resources and other useful sites on CangJie that I’ve come across on the linked CangJie page.

Keeping their causes and sacrifices in the news:

  • US and EU call for release of Chinese dissident – “The US and European Union today renewed calls for the immediate release of high profile dissident Liu Xiaobo, as a Chinese court upheld his 11-year-sentence. He was convicted for inciting the subversion of state power after co-authoring Charter 08, a call for greater political freedoms. Although the vaguely-worded offence carries a maximum term of up to 15 years, the writer’s sentence was one of the longest handed out in recent years on the charge. But a reduction would have been remarkable in such a high-profile political case and his wife said she had expected the decision. She added that Liu shouted out his innocence after hearing the court’s statement.”
  • China can’t ‘frighten the monkey’ – Ma Jian 馬建 – “When former Czech president Vaclav Havel knocked on the door of the Chinese embassy in Prague to demand the release of writer Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), I had an eerie sense of deja vu. Thirty-three years ago, Havel helped initiate Charter 77, the landmark document that crystallized the ideals of all the dissidents — and many others — trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Havel, of course, was rewarded with a long jail sentence for his efforts. Now Liu has been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for much the same crime — initiating Charter 08, perhaps the bravest attempt yet to chart a peaceful way to freedom for China. History is said to repeat itself, first as tragedy, second as farce, and it is indeed farcical for China’s government to try to suppress the yearning for freedom in the same brutal ways that Soviet-era communists once did. Jailing Liu on the absurd charge of trying to overthrow the Chinese state is typical of the type of thinking found in the closed societies of 20th century communism, where the state asserted its absolute right to judge every thought and every thinker.”
  • Lawyer says Hong Kong violated Chinese dissident’s rights – “The complex case of the dissident, Zhou Yongjun, who had been living in exile, has raised questions about whether Hong Kong authorities handed him over to the Chinese police in violation of the “one country, two systems” form of governing. Mr. Zhou was sentenced on Jan. 15 to nine years in prison by a court in the city of Shehong, his lawyers said last week. He was also fined $11,700. Mr. Zhou, 42, from Sichuan, was a prominent student protester in the days leading to the June 1989 killings around Tiananmen Square, when soldiers took the lives of hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians. Mr. Zhou fled to the United States in 1993 and became one of many stateless exiles.” – a warning for Taiwan…
  • Chinese activist surfaces after a year in custody – “Since Mr. Gao disappeared into the custody of public security personnel in February 2009, the Chinese government has provided a series of contradictory and cryptic explanations of his whereabouts, despite entreaties by the United Nations, the White House and the European Union. During a previous detention in 2006, Mr. Gao said he was tortured by his captors. He said they repeatedly applied electric shocks to his body and warned him that he would be killed if he revealed how he was treated.”
  • Crusading Chinese lawyer gives up activism – “Gao acknowledged that his seeming turnabout is sure to dishearten his backers and asked for their understanding. ”Everybody will be disappointed. Some people were really involved, concerned, supportive, making appeals. So when they read my words they will definitely feel disappointed. To them, I apologize. I’m extremely sorry,” he said. His previous imprisonment and run-ins with police — including a time in 2007 when security forces gave him electric shocks to his genitals and placed cigarettes in his eyes — helped him survive the last 14 months.”
  • Chinese lawyer says he favors family over dissent – ““I don’t have the capacity to persevere,” said Mr. Gao, sitting straight-backed at a tea house near his apartment in northern Beijing. “On the one hand, it’s my past experiences. It’s also that these experiences greatly hurt my loved ones. This ultimate choice of mine, after a process of deep and careful thought, is to seek the goal of peace and calm.” His eyes brimmed with tears several times when he discussed his family, especially when he described seeing their shoes when he returned home for the first time on Tuesday. “I completely lost control of my emotions, because to me these are the three dearest people in the world, and now, we’re like a kite with a broken string,” he said.”
  • Ailing Chinese dissident is denied early release – “Joshua Rosenzweig, a researcher at the Dui Hua Foundation, an advocacy group, said it was worrisome that prison officials refused to provide any documentation of Mr. Hu’s medical condition. “The lack of transparency leaves the impression that they are trying to hide something,” he said. “They seem to be saying, ‘Don’t worry, we know what’s best for him.’ But how is his family supposed to take those assurances at face value, given what they’ve been through?” It is the second time Mr. Hu has been denied medical parole.”
  • Gao Zhisheng, Hu jia, Liu Xiaobo – “This latest disappearance has been devastating for Mr. Gao and his family, which had been under constant police surveillance for years. Press reports said that his teenage daughter had tried to commit suicide. His wife and children escaped to the United States last year. Chinese authorities also are doing their best to break two other men of conscience who are still being held. On Monday, family members said the government had rejected a request for a medical parole for Hu Jia, who has shown signs of possible liver cancer. He gained prominence fighting to protect AIDS patients, environmental causes and democratic rights before being charged two years ago with subverting state power.”
  • Chinese workers find mass animal grave at Harbin zoo – “Mr. Eich and Ms. Pruitt illustrate the huge shake-up in photography during the last decade. Amateurs, happy to accept small checks for snapshots of children and sunsets, have increasing opportunities to make money on photos but are underpricing professional photographers and leaving them with limited career options. Professionals are also being hurt because magazines and newspapers are cutting pages or shutting altogether. “There are very few professional photographers who, right now, are not hurting,” said Holly Stuart Hughes, editor of the magazine Photo District News. That has left professional photographers with a bit of an identity crisis. Nine years ago, when Livia Corona was fresh out of art school, she got assignments from magazines like Travel and Leisure and Time. Then, she said, “three forces coincided.””
  • Tiger deaths raise alarms about Chinese zoos – “Among the charges under investigation at the Shenyang zoo are employee reports that bones of dead tigers were used to illegally manufacture a liquor believed to have therapeutic qualities. One employee said he had made vats of the liquor and served it to visiting government officials. The government action comes after years of troubles at the zoo, the Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo. The zoo’s animal population has declined from a high of more than 1,000 to about half that now.”