The Strangest Food Yet: Chicken Egg With Embryo

The English text on the menu said “egg with legs”. The Chinese text wasn’t much more reassuring. Huo zhuzi (活珠子) translates to “living bead”. What it is is a chicken egg with a partially developed embryo.


One look at it, and I probably wouldn’t have decided to eat it if I wasn’t with some Chinese friends. In fact, I wouldn’t have even known about it if they didn’t tell me about it. When I posted a picture of it to WeChat, a Chinese social network app, a friend from Hong Kong asked what it was. It is a specialty food of Nanjing and not very popular in China outside of Nanjing. (A related food, the balut, is eaten in the Philippines and southeast Asia.)

Of course, it’s not a terribly strange food for Nanjing people, but it’s unique enough that Nanjing people know it is strange for foreigners. With that said, it isn’t the worst tasting food I’ve eaten either. In fact, it was actually kind of good. I mean, it tasted basically like an egg, anyway, and the partial embryo tasted like meat.

To eat it, you are supposed to crack the top of the shell and then suck the soupy liquid out of it then put some salt and spices on the partially developed embryo and eat the yellow of the egg. Leave the hard white part at the bottom.

If you are in Nanjing and want to try it–or other Nanjing local foods–I would recommend Nanjing Da Pai Dang (南京大排档). The chain has restaurants all over the city, and all of them are decorated with lanterns and rustic wooden tables like the set of a Zhang Yimou film (i.e. old fashioned Chinese country houses).

Does Nate Silver Know Anything?

Pundits and journalists from multiple outlets have been eviscerating Nate Silver since he launched his new ESPN website recently, so I thought it was time for me to add a few thoughts. After predicting sports and politics, Silver is now trying to extend his statistical analysis to a lot of other fields, including many that cannot be analyzed statistically because they are qualitative, not quantitative pursuits.

Sports and politics are not completely quantitative either, for that matter. Sports is also entertainment and emotion-driven. Fans care about more than just winning. We also want a good story. Comparing Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds, one of them hit a few more home runs, but no one likes him more than the other because of his feat. But at least sports, in terms of wins and loses, can be largely predicted and gamed by use of statistics. Indeed, sports fans and managers had been using statistics long before Silver came around, but Silver and his contemporaries did refine the science.

As for politics, statistical analysis of polls also has some predictive value. But a poll can’t tell you what is happening. Put simply: If a candidate gives a major speech, spectators have to watch the speech or at least read about it in order to know what happened. They can’t form an opinion about the content of a speech by reading a statistical analysis. Nor can they form an opinion on a complex moral issue without considering the arguments for and against, many of which are philosophical.

If the question, however, is, “What is public opinion?” statistics are very important. That is why Gallup was founded in 1935. And, as the science of polling has been refined, polls have proven to be very good at discerning public opinion.

The polling averages of Real Clear Politics predicted all 50 states correctly. Unsurprisingly, Nate Silver also predicted all 50 states correctly. Continue reading

Recent Writings: Taiwan Protests, Hong Kong Protests, Disgusting Trains, and More

Forget about Ukraine (until an article I wrote about it gets published). Taiwan’s legislature has been invaded by students protesting a trade deal with China. Hong Kong is next (this summer), if Occupy Central does its thing. They praised the Taiwanese protests as a model. Here are some articles I have written recently about those and other topics:

Chinese netizens slam Taiwanese celebrities for supporting Occupy Legislature protests

Taiwanese musicians and celebrities are under fire on Weibo for lending their support to the protesters who have occupied Taiwan’s legislature in opposition to a trade deal with China.

The musician Zhang Xuan (张悬) and the director He Yizheng (柯一正) were both present at demonstrations against the deal, as reported by People Online.

The musicians taking a stand against the deal face backlash in China where they have large fan bases. Weibo users have been referring to them as being supporters of “Taiwanese independence.” The hashtag #Taiwanese Independence Stars Get Out of the Mainland# (#台独明星滚出大陆# ) is trending on Sina Weibo with 81,012 mentions this week.
Full Article: Mayday band receives Chinese hate after they support Taiwanese protests

Occupy Central Hong Kong expresses support for occupy Taiwan legislature protests

After one of the leaders of Occupy Central, a pan-democrat protest movement in Hong Kong, visited an outspoken Taiwanese politician last October, critics of Occupy Central claimed the movement was backing “Taiwanese independence.”

The Global Times said that meant the Hong Kong opposition was “at risk of becoming [an] enemy of the State.” Protesters outside of an Occupy Central deliberation day in October held a sign that said, “Oppose Occupy Central, Resist the Influence of the Taiwanese Independence Movement Attacking Hong Kong.” (“反占中,拒台独势力袭港.”)

Now Occupy Central has expressed support for the Taiwanese protesters who have occupied their legislature in opposition to a cross-straits trade deal.
Full Article: Occupy Central solidarity with Occupy Taiwan


China’s Dirtiest Trains

See more disgusting pictures of China’s dirtiest trains in my article.

“On March 16, Xinhua reported the story of a Hunan farmer who turned his motorcycle into a helicopter…

Taiwanese mothers are on the scene to support their little protesters, and Claudia Mo, a leading Hong Kong pan-democrat politician, posted their photo to her Facebook fan page.

Xinhua Reports That Snowden Claims Aliens Control the US, Retracts Report

Xinhua, China’s state press agency, reported on the morning of January 28 that Snowden had claimed aliens controlled the United States. They deleted the story within 24 hours, but the story has spread all over the Chinese blogosphere and become a trending topic on Sina Weibo.

According to Xinhua’s original story:

Central Broadcast Website Beijing January 27 reports, according to the voice of China “Peak Evening News”, the leaker of the American “Prism” program, Edward Snowden, has currently accepted a secret interview with North German radio and TV at Russian capital city Moscow. This is the first interview time Snowden has accepted an interview since he left Hong Kong for Russia. The interview is 30 minutes long and will be broadcast on a German talk show this morning Beijing time. What kind of surprising information will Snowden reveal to the media?

Recently Snowden has revealed an “earth-shattering secret”, he said that America’s government has already become a puppet government run by aliens. This coincides with bizarre claims by former Canadian Defense Minister Paul Heller. Snowden also revealed that the aliens, who are headquartered in Nevada, supported Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930′s, but after Germany lost World War II, they changed objectives and supported America. The present American government is already completely under the control of aliens.

Continue reading

United Airlines Lies Then Doesn’t Compensate for Canceled Flight — UPDATE: United Issues Compensation

A few weeks ago, I told you about how United Airlines canceled and delayed some of its flights because of problems with crew availability. In that case–and according to United’s own stated policies–United should compensate its travelers for lodging and transportation expenses caused by United’s failure to operate its flights as scheduled. In fact, United didn’t even respond to a request for compensation after 19 days.

I sent the request 19 days ago for compensation for the transportation and lodging expenses their cancelation and delay caused me to incur and no response what so ever.

Lies? This follows the fact that their employees gave false information at the gate, saying that the flight was canceled due to weather, only for one of their own employees to state that the flight had been canceled due to crew-related reasons the next day.

From my original blog post:

After United flight 4116 from Cincinnati to Denver was cancelled on Monday, January 6, the United gate staff denied affected travelers hotel and transportation compensation, claiming the flight was delayed due to weather. It was a transparent excuse. A member of the gate staff had already made an announcement saying that the flight would fly empty because no flight attendants could be found for the leg to Cincinnati. On January 7, a member of the gate staff for the flight to Houston said that the flight to Denver was in fact canceled because of crew-related reasons and that compensation may be provided.

Read the full post: United Airlines Flights Canceled – Will United Compensate its Travelers?

UPDATE: United Twitter has responded saying that current response time is 14-21 days. This story will continue to be updated as it develops.

UPDATE II: I respond on Twitter:

UPDATE III (Final Update): On February 7, United issued a travel certificate in the amount requested.

The Yushukan War Museum is Even Worse than the Yasukuni Shrine

A few weeks before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine, I was there in Tokyo visiting it. How did I know the shrine would be in the news a few weeks later? It always is. I wanted to see what it was really like there.

Not only is there the shrine, but there’s also the Yushukan war museum, which contains the Japanese view of World War II. As I found out, Yushukan is even worse than the Shrine. I wrote about it in an op-ed in the Shanghai Daily.

When it comes to Yasukuni, the on-site Yushukan war museum may be even more offensive than the enshrined war criminals, for within the Yushukan there is no apology — nor even any acknowledgement — of many of the massacres those very war criminals presided over.

Take the Nanjing Massacre. Shortly after the start of the Sino-Japanese War ­— it is known as the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in China — in December 1937, Japan ransacked the city, burning and looting, and executing civilians.

According to the findings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, within the first six weeks of Japanese occupation, over 200,000 civilians and unarmed soldiers were killed and 20,000 women were raped.

Yet at Yushukan, in the text about the “Nanking (Nanjing) Incident,” there is no mention of these atrocities, only an assertion that “General Matsui Iwane distributed maps to his men with foreign settlements and the Safety Zone marked in red ink. Matsui told them that they were to maintain strict military disciplines and that anyone committing unlawful acts would be severely punished.” Matsui was convicted at the war crimes tribunal for his failure to control his men in Nanjing.

There’s more:

The Japanese view of the war today has not changed much since the International Military Tribunal for the Far East published their judgments in 1948.

Read my whole article here: Yushukan museum whitewashes wartime atrocities

How Net Neutrality Could Hurt Writers and the Media

Common Cause is opposing a court ruling that struck down “Net Neutrality” regulations on the internet. Common Cause program director Todd O’Boyle’s argument in favor of “Net Neutrality,” however, could have some scary repercussions for writers, reporters, producers, and artists of word and content.

In a world where content-creation is already being devalued by content scraping sites like Buzzfeed, content-creators are finding it harder and harder to earn a living. Journalism is struggling to keep ad revenue with the transition to the internet.

Mr. O’Boyle’s solution could make the problem worse if it were to be implemented. He told the Huffington Post:

“Information shouldn’t become a luxury.”

And the Huffington Post further contextualized:

And yet it’s clear that at least as far as the purveyors of cable television are concerned, information is a luxury — and one that should be paid for. Those who subscribe to Time Warner Cable’s expensive “Preferred TV” bundle get access to all the TV news channels, while subscribers to Time Warner’s relatively bare-bones “Starter TV” bundle must content themselves with C-SPAN and Time Warner Cable News NY1.

What he refers to as “information” is the work of many people who gather it, present it in a digestible form, and broadcast it. Continue reading

How Avril Lavigne Dodges Chinese Territory Controversy on China Tour…

IMG_5890When Avril Lavigne tours in China this February, she isn’t going to “Hong Kong”; she’s going to “Chinese Hong Kong.” This tour poster, written in Chinese, lists her first destination as “Chinese Hong Kong” (中国香港) rather than simply saying “Hong Kong” (香港).

Hong Kong is still a Special Administrative Region and was returned to China in 1997 from Great Britain. There are some in Hong Kong who seem themselves as being different than Mainland China and want autonomy. This poster seems to be an affirmation directed towards the Chinese audience that Hong Kong is indeed a part of China.

I recall a few years ago when Lady Gaga was touring Asia, she listed “Taiwan” as one of her destinations in an English-language promo. On Facebook, some Chinese friends saw that as an endorsement of Taiwanese independence. The situation with regards to governance is very different between Hong Kong and Taiwan, but most Chinese people see Taiwan as being a legitimate part of China.

United Airlines Flights Canceled Due to Crew — Will United Compensate Its Travelers? /// UPDATE: United Issues Compensation

Flights across the East Coast and Midwest have been canceled and delayed because of extreme cold and new anti-fatigue regulations. United Airlines is just one of the many companies that had flights canceled in droves. Its not their fault that the weather sucked, and the flight delays an inevitable part of travel from time to time… But there’s no excuse for lying about flight delays.
United Airlines Arrival Counter at Midnight -- late flight
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John Hawkins is Confused About Freedom

John Hawkins’ article at Townhall arguing from a conservative perspective for more personal freedom made it onto the front page of The problem is, Hawkins doesn’t know what personal freedom is.

Hawkins is a conservative. His premise is that liberals, in supporting government regulation, are restricting personal choice. Unfortunately, in this very same article–in the space of two sentences–he expresses his support for regulations that restrict personal choice.

The problem with that is not so much liberals living how they want to live; it’s that liberals want to force everyone else to live how they want to live. They don’t like guns; so no one should have guns. They like gay marriage; so everyone must be forced to like gay marriage. They like PBS; so everyone should be forced to pay for PBS.

See that? He thinks that people shouldn’t have the ability to choose to marry other people of the same gender just like some liberals think people shouldn’t have the ability to choose to own a semi-automatic “assault riffle.” In both cases, there is a debate about how such choices impact society, but Hawkins had already come up with the premise that “force[ing] everyone else to live how they want to live” is a bad thing in and of itself.

He does it again a few paragraphs later: Continue reading