An all around great guy

According to the Shanghaiist, Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat is extremely wealthy but lives very frugally and plans to give his money to charity. Whether or not this story is all true or a bit of hyperbole, you’ll have to research and see if you can find out more details. But the message of the story is unusual and hopeful in this era of extreme income and wealth inequality.

Here he is using public transportation:

He is quoted as saying, “I feel that the money does not really belong to me. I am just in charge of keeping it temporarily!”

Chow Yun-fat lives on just $100 a month, will leave entire $714 million fortune to charity

You may have seen him in some movies, like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (the Japanese title was “Green Destiny”). Browse his IMDb page and see if you recognize any.

This may be more evidence that he seems to be “an all around great guy”:


No, not the 007 character (links to a YouTube video of the scene in Skyfall where James Bond meets the new Q).

This Q is, according to this article in the New York Times, the Chinese version of “al dente” (used to describe still firm pasta, noodles and rice; in Japanese, the word 堅め (katame) is used, especially in ramen places). It’s used to describe the tapioca in bubble tea, for example.

In Italy, ‘Al Dente’ Is Prized. In Taiwan, It’s All About Food That’s ‘Q.’”

One part I get, but I think it’s a bad comparison:

“Q texture is to Taiwanese what umami is to Japanese and al dente is to Italians — that is, cherished and essential.”

Al dente and Q are about texture, but umami is about taste. But I guess you could argue that still firm (katame) ramen noodles may not be as “essential and cherished” across the board for ALL people in Japanese society the way Q and al dente are in Taiwanese and Italian society?

Anyway, this is a good article to read and write/talk about for people interested in food, and especially Chinese and Taiwanese food.

If you’re not interested in food or Taiwan, try reading an article about how the Q character in the 007 series is, in real life, a woman, or watch the video above and do some of the listening tasks we practiced in the spring term.

Students who’ve hit the paywall on NYT, let me know and I’ll give you a pdf.


The voice of “smileville”

When I was in high school, I was on a study abroad program in a Spanish-speaking country, and I remember watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie dubbed in Spanish. The Spanish speaking actor’s voice was considerably deeper than Schwarzenegger’s and had a very different tone, and I remember thinking how “off” it sounded.

Many of my students will be familiar with some of the characters in this video clip of a voice actor and his various roles. One project you could try is to find the Japanese voice actors for these roles (or other movies or animated series you’re interested in) and compare them. While you’re at it, compare the content, too. Are the English and Japanese very different?

Another project you could try is to find out why China apparently bans anything related to Winnie-the-Pooh…

Recipes for success (or not)

“The AI revolution will be led by toasters, not droids” (from Aeon Magazine)

This article talks about how we may expect AI to become “wonder boxes” in part because of the movies we see (think C-3PO in Star Wars or any of these). But at this stage, we shouldn’t expect too much. If the technolgoy is used for more specific purposes and skills, it’s much more successful.

There’s a funny, if a bit scary, algorithmically generated photo, and an equally funny (and scary) recipe generated by looking at 30,000 recipes of all different kinds. The result is … head-scratching:

The last part says “Bake at 350F for 2 to 1 hour.” Okay…

When the algorithm was created to look at only recipes of cakes, it did much better, though it’s still a recipe for something inedible.

The article goes on to explain that ANI (artificial restricted intelligence) — focusing on specific, narrower functions, is working well.