Do we need a bank?

I woke up to an 5:29 email saying that I have a check to review from Fraud Protection group at Chase. I called them right away. I didn’t log in is because log in is such a big production that I’ve given up. After verifying everything, my local branch said, “but the check has already been paid.”

So why was I getting the first email? Then half a day later, at 3:08pm I got the second email. To say time is running out at 4pm, pls verify the check. I called their 800 line, the operator and her supervisor are pretty rude and unhelpful. Seriously, IF I could give your the check # and the exact amount, do you still need to verify my ten other credentials?

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Lime green orchid

A lime green orchid from Duane & Reade /Walgreen -:)


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The perils of learning in English

The Economist: Young children should be taught in their mother tongue instead
From the print edition | Feb 21, 2019

WHEN WINSTON CHURCHILL was at Harrow School, he was in the lowest stream. This did not, he wrote in “My Early Life”, blight his academic career, for “I gained an immense advantage over the cleverer boys. They all went on to learn Latin and Greek and splendid things like that…We were considered such dunces that we could learn only English…Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence—which is a noble thing.”

Partly thanks to Churchill and the post-war Anglo-American ascendancy, English is these days prized, not despised. Over a billion people speak it as either their first or second language; more still as a third or fourth language.
English perfectly exemplifies the “network effects” of a global tongue: the more people use it, the more useful it is. English is the language of international business, law, science, medicine, entertainment and—since the second world war, to the fury of the French—diplomacy. Anybody who wants to make their way in the world must speak it. All of which has, of course, been of great benefit to this newspaper, which has floated on a rising linguistic tide.
It is not surprising that there is a surge in “English-medium” education all over the world. In some regions—such as East Asia and Latin America—the growth is principally among the rich. In others—Africa and South Asia, where former colonies never quite escaped the language’s grip—it is happening at all income levels. Parents’ desire for their children to master English is spurring the growth of private schooling; parents in the slums of Delhi and Lagos buy English-medium education in the hope that their children will gain a university degree, obtain good jobs and even join a glittering world of global professionals.
Where the private sector leads, governments are following. Some countries have long chosen to teach in English as a political expedient, because a local language would prove contentious. But even where public schools teach children in their mother tongue, or a local language, education authorities are switching to English medium, in part to stem the outflow of children into the private sector. That has happened in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan; many Indian states have started large or small English-medium experiments. In Africa most children are supposed to be taught in a local language in the first few years, but often, through parental pressure or a lack of textbooks, it does not happen.
Teaching children in English is fine if that is what they speak at home and their parents are fluent in it. But that is not the case in most public and low-cost private schools. Children are taught in a language they don’t understand by teachers whose English is poor. The children learn neither English nor anything else.
Research demonstrates that children learn more when they are taught in their mother tongue than they do when they are taught in any other language (see article). In a study of children in the first three years in 12 schools in Cameroon, those taught in Kom did better than those taught in English in all subjects. Parents might say that the point is to prepare children for the workplace, and that a grasp of English is more use than sums or history. Yet by year five the children taught in Kom outperformed English-medium children even in English. Perhaps this is because they gain a better grasp of the mechanics of reading and writing when they are learning the skills in a language they understand.
English should be an important subject at school, but not necessarily the language of instruction. Unless they are confident of the standard of English on offer, parents should choose mother-tongue education. Rather than switching to English-medium teaching, governments fearful of losing custom to the private sector should look at the many possible ways of improving public schools—limiting the power of obstructive teachers’ unions, say, or handing them over to private-sector managers and developing good curriculums and so on.
Pakistani Punjab has decided to end the English experiment; Uganda has introduced mother-tongue instruction in 12 different languages in the first four years of schooling. More should follow. After all, it was a good education in his mother tongue, rather than in the classics then favoured by the British aristocracy, that won Churchill the Nobel prize for literature.

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Horror game Devotion pulled from Steam

Fresh off the press

Devotion is a horror game designed by Taiwan-based Red Candle studio. Many players agreed that it’s pretty good but, hmmmm somewhere gone wrong, bec of similarity to someone important and sensitive …

Oh well…. oh boy ….

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Iwo Jima flag returns to Japan

S. Korea-based US airman returns Japanese flag taken as war trophy in Battle of Iwo Jima

Senior Master Sgt. Lowell Armstrong returns a World War II-era flag to family members of its original owner during a ceremony in Takasaki, Japan, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.

TAKASAKI, Japan — A South Korea-based U.S. airman brought a World War II-era Japanese flag to a small city in Gunma prefecture Thursday to complete a family mission started after his grandfather died nearly two decades before.

Senior Master Sgt. Lowell Armstrong, 44, presented the signature-covered flag to the family of Masashi Ito, who was killed in the bloody Battle of Iwo Jima on March 17, 1945.

Such flags were often signed by servicemembers’ families, neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers wishing for good fortune in war. The warriors would then fold the flag and carry it into battle.

Armstrong put on white gloves, unfolded the relic and presented it to Ito’s nephews, Michio Miki, 90, and Hideo Ito, 76, during a formal ceremony attended by local officials at Gunma Gokoku Shrine, which honors war dead.


Ito’s flag is covered with more than 30 signatures and messages wishing him good luck and congratulating him for joining the Japanese Imperial Navy.

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Two signed Japanese flags belonging to fallen World War II soldier Masamoto Abe have been returned to the his family in Yokohama, Japan.
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Family receives a second Japanese flag taken off soldier’s body during WWII
Ventura resident Tom Hodges contemplates the flag of a World War II Japanese soldier brought home by his father, Roy T. Hodges, as a wartime souvenir. Such flags were signed by family and townsfolk. Hodges is returning the flag to Japan through the nonprofit Obon Society, which tries to find the soldiers’ families.

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California man hopes Japanese soldier’s flag from WWII finds its way home

“I’m truly grateful that my grandfather kept this flag in great condition all these years and my family decided to return it to its rightful owners as we know how much it means to your family,” said Armstrong, who works in traffic management at Kunsan Air Base. “My grandfather would be happy that this flag is being returned.”

This signature-covered Japanese flag, taken as a war trophy during the Battle of Iwo Jima, was returned to the family of its former owner in Takasaki, Japan, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.

Armstrong’s grandfather, Lowell Armstrong, had not talked about his experience during the war nor about the Japanese flag. After his death in 2002, his son, Steve, took possession of the flag and began researching how to return it. He eventually reached out to the Obon Society for help in 2016.

The Oregon-based group, which assists Americans with returning Japanese flags taken as war trophies, helped identify Ito as the original owner last fall.

“Out of respect to his family, it is only right to return it,” Armstrong told Stars and Stripes days before Thursday’s ceremony. “From my understanding, the Japanese believe the spirit of the soldier lives on in the flag.”

Ito’s nephews said they were shocked to find that their uncle’s flag had survived after more than seven decades.

“It was a great surprise to have it returned like this out of millions of those that died [during the war],” Miki said. “I am thankful for the thoughtfulness of Mr. Armstrong’s grandson to return it like this.”

While such repatriations are common, Tuesday’s ceremony marked the first time an active-duty soldier returned one of the flags, according to Keiko Ziak, co-founder of the Obon Society.

“I am honored to represent my family in this return ceremony,” Armstrong said. “I was named after my grandfather … he was one of the kindest, hardworking men anyone would ever meet. He would do anything for anyone.”

Senior Master Sgt. Lowell Armstrong unfolds a World War II-era Japanese flag during a return ceremony in Takasaki, Japan, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.

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Anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer

WaPo | 2019.2.14 | by Fareed Zakaria

In recent weeks, attention has focused on two freshman Democratic members of Congress, Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), both of whom are Muslim and have made critical statements about Israel and its most ardent American supporters. Their tweets and comments have been portrayed by some as not simply criticisms of Israel but rather as evidence of a rising tide of anti-Semitism on the new left.

I don’t know what is in the hearts of the two representatives. But I believe that Muslims should be particularly thoughtful when speaking about these issues because anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer. (Omar and Tlaib are not responsible for this in any way, of course, but they should be aware of this poisonous climate.)

It should be possible to criticize Israel. Unfortunately, by phrasing the issue as the two new representatives sometimes have, they have squandered an opportunity to further that important debate.

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Lost in the Woods with James Brown’s Ghost

Wow … a fascinating story by Thomas Lake of CNN. The three parts investigation on James Brown started by a phon call made by Jacque Hollander.

Many deaths, questionable that included James Brown’s.

Lake reported on the unsolved murder of Darren Lumar, a son-in-law of Brown in 2009 that led to the phone call.

Good heaven …

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A panda

Does this orchid look like panda or Beijing Opera? And more: pinky, whity, BJ Opera

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Ron Anejo Aniversario Pampero

Reserva Exclusiva

This rum is made in Venezuela – a country is in crisis at the moment. Best wishes for the people of Venezuela and may they choose the path that’s best for them. Because of the recent news I thought of this bottle I have for a long time. Drinking it straight and the taste is a little sweet and smoky – not bad even I won’t go out of my way to buy or drink -:)

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The wonder of genealogy

Two Sisters Bought DNA Kits. The Results Blew Apart Their Family.
In an age of ubiquitous direct-to-consumer genetic testing, family secrets are almost impossible to keep.
Feb. 1, 2019  | By Amy Dockser Marcus

Sonny and Brina Hurwitz raised a family in Boston. They both died with secrets.

In 2016, their oldest daughter, Julie Lawson, took a home DNA test. Later, she persuaded her sister, Fredda Hurwitz, to take one too.

In May, the sis­ters sat down at the din­ner ta­ble in Ms. Hur­witz’s Falls Church, Va., home to share their re­sults. A man’s name popped up as a close ge­netic match for Ms. Hur­witz. Nei­ther had ever heard of him.

Ms. Law­son searched for the man on Face­book. When she saw his pho­tos, she knew. He looked like their late fa­ther. Based on his age and the close phys­i­cal re­sem-blance, Ms. Law­son im­me­di­ately told her sis­ter, “He’s got to be our brother.” This was their fa­ther’s se­cret. He had a child they never knew about.

Then came a sec­ond shock. Ms. Law­son’s test showed she didn’t ap­pear to have any ge­netic con­nec­tion to this new man. This was their moth­er’s se­cret: Ms. Law­son was the prod­uct of a brief ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair. The man who raised her wasn’t her bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther.

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Beijing Opera

An orchid, from Trader Joe’s. And panda, pinky, whity


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It’s wrong …

NYT published this opinion, under the title My Mother’s Secrets, on immigration.

Ms. Zia is the author of the forthcoming book “Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution.”

I posted this comment: With all due respect, I’ve two issues with this article. On the immigration part, yes they contributed greatly to this country but that doesn’t mean we should open borders to all. Two, “… Who Fled Mao’s Revolution” – isn’t right because Mao wasn’t in power until Oct 1, 1949. From the photo we knew her mother was in New York in 1950, so, much of time, author’s mother spent was under Jiang Jieshi/Chiang Kai-shek, and the civil war. (Using Mao, I suspect bec he’s better known than Jiang??) In fact, 1949 was an optimistic time in China. The rebel Mao and his band of brothers were emerging victoriously, beating US backed Jiang Jieshi and shortly they formed the new China on October 1, 1949. What Mao did afterward is another story but in 1949, Beijing, Shanghai and many major cities were liberated peacefully, which was a strong indication, showing the confidence toward the ‘rebels’. Back to immigration, many Chinese elites chose to stay in and after 1949. The huge influx of refugees came in 1960s when Mao’s policy produced 45m death. US had always been accepting refugees around the world, that incl. Hong Kong. JFK issued an emergency executive order to take in an additional 3,000 Chinese who had an education, with a skill from Hong Kong during this trying period.

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The Hottest Hair Color of the Moment is…Gray

Oh my … says who? Says WSJ

Silver tresses, both dyed and natural, are trending among pop stars and CEOs alike. But is this a passing fad or a true revolution in our outdated notions of women’s beauty? Plus: How the dyeing game is different for guys.

Happy graying

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Got this truffles brie from Trader Joe’s which I like a lot. Very mild and subtle, need to enjoy it slowly.

Le Rustique is seasonal according to the cheese man at the store. Its wiki page states – established in Normandy in 1975 – which is a baby given the length of European history.

I use the Eiffel Tower Canadian Brie (from Canada) to cook – like in a bread bowl. It’s ok, inexpensive.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season.

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They don’t look alike

My new pair of Timerland boots – I merely asked them to repair the old one but they offered me this. Looking close, I see the different: color isn’t identical, neither the shape of the toes, one is pointy while the left is more round.

What’s going on?

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Online shopping

In 2015 NPR has an episode Buy Low, Sell Prime: there is a cottage industry, buy from a physical store and sell it on Amazon.

You may ask, why doesn’t the physical store sell on Amazon itself? Well, the physical store wants you to shop at it store, not on Amazon.

I’ve been buying online for a long time and like it a lot. Today I just found one more reason to like online: receipt. Record. This Timerland boots I got in September but today one of the hooks just ran away. I called the store where I purchased, “sure … within 60 days … but you need receipt …” First of all, I don’t have a habit of keeping such receipt. Two, I couldn’t readily remember it was Sept 1st or 30th. P.S. By sheer of luck I found the old receipt in the shoebox – so I got a new pair.

At Whole Food Market, I made two purchases with the same credit card during a trip. When I wanted to return one, did I realize the receipt I kept was the wrong one. The store clerk said, sorry, no receipt no return. She didn’t even bother to look up with my cc. The story manager did look up. Guess what, their system has only one purchase, according to him. Does their system work at all???

If I shopped the above online, I won’t have this dilemma!

On the subject, I’ve no problem with online shopping at all, for all those years. Good for them. While I couldn’t foresee what the future holds, in terms of Amazon and online shopping, but the stores have to do better to compete. Why does Lord and Taylor close?

Bed, Bath & Beyond is one of my fave stores. I went there today and at check out, the lady said, “we changed our policy … you’ve 1 year to return.” I’m shocked. ONE year? Are they crazy?

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Michael D. Hsu

A first, full fledged Chinese heading a fortune 500?

The new CEO (appointed) of Kimberly-Clark, will replace Thomas Falk on Jan. 1.

Pre opening, KMB was at $106, now is trading at $104, down about 2% – amid 497 points drop in Dow industrials, to 25,820 or 2% – just about the same.

There isn’t much personal info on Mr. Hsu, no wiki page on his either, except the following from his Company:

Hsu joined Kimberly-Clark in November 2012 and currently oversees the company’s nearly $8 billion North American Personal Care and Consumer Tissue businesses. Since joining K-C, he has reinvigorated the North American business, delivering excellent financial performance, improved market shares and strong innovation, marketing and sales execution.

Prior to joining K-C, Hsu was executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Kraft Foods. Before Kraft, he spent six years at H.J. Heinz, holding the positions of vice president, marketing for Ore-Ida and Frozen Meals, and later as president for Foodservice. He launched his career in the consumer products industry as a consultant with Booz Allen & Hamilton, where he rose to partner in the firm’s consumer practice.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He and his wife will relocate to Dallas.

Years ago, Motorola had an interim CEO from Hong Kong, I think was a Chen (?) and not sure if he succeeded to be the CEO. Mr. Hsu will be the first Chinese CEO (?). There are more than a dozen India CEOs in the US. A scientific breakthrough 科学性的突破, as a friend joked.

华人第一个?纸巾金伯利克拉克宣布新任首席执行官 Michael Hsu (徐? 许?)将于1月1日取代托马斯福尔克. 小徐 2012进入金佰利. 之前在 Kraft (卡夫)食品. 再之前是 Heinz (亨氏) 6年. 他毕业于卡内基-梅隆, 芝加哥的MBA. 他开始是在 Booz Allen & Hamilton 当顾问.

开盘前KMB是$106, 现在$104 – 不过整个市场都在拉稀 – 道琼斯工业平均指数下跌了497点.

多年前, 摩托罗拉有一位来自香港的临时首席执行官, 好像姓陈(?)不确定他最终是否升任首席执行官. 徐先生将成为第一位中国CEO(?). 在美国有十几位印度CEO. 科学性的突破, 一个幽默的朋友开玩笑说.

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Postal Union

US under President Trump, is threatening to leave the 144-year-old Universal Postal Union. The postal (stamp)  rate that was made a long time ago, puts US in disadvantage when Chinese economy began to surge. A shipper in China pays $2 while an American pays $10 to move a package or letter. The old organization has 192 member states, not sure one country one vote is a good thing. But is there a better way to make matter fairer within the organization?

This is finally coming to light – shows one part why the clothes from China can reach us so inexpensively.


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