Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy New Year to all my Chinese students, teaching assistants, colleagues and friends!  Celebration!!

EW&F: You're a shining star, no matter who you are...


R.I.P. Mr. Maurice White - Founder of "Earth, Wind & Fire"

It's really difficult to pick a favorite "Earth Wind and Fire" song. But if I had to choose one, I'd have to say "Fantasy". I played it nonstop when I finished my Harvard PhD thesis. I especially like the part when they sang "VICTORY in a land called fantasy"!

Thank you Mr. Maurice White for so much beautiful music. Rest in peace sir!

Maurice White also had a substantial side career producing other artists, including Barbra Streisand and Cher. In the 1970s, he co-wrote and co-produced the Emotions' No. 1 hit "Best of My Love."

White was born in Memphis in 1941, the son of a doctor and grandson of a New Orleans piano player. He showed musical gifts at an early age, studying at the Chicago Conservancy. During the 1960s, he backed Muddy Waters, the Impressions and others and worked as a session drummer in Chicago.

The band performed in the movie, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and had hits with the ballad "After the Love Has Gone," ''All 'n' All," ''Let's Groove" and "Fall in Love With Me." The band took a four-year hiatus in the 1980s and then returned, its primary success then on the road.

"We live in a negative society," White told Newsweek at the height of the band's success. "Most people can't see beauty and love. I see our music as medicine."

White's memoir, "Keep Your Head to the Sky: My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire," is scheduled to be released Sept. 13 by Amistad. The book features a forward by Steve Harvey and an afterword by David Foster.

Earth, Wind & Fire are to be honored at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 15.

MIT Tech Review: AI-Powered Hedge Funds


At an important academic event for AI researchers, the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), held in Montreal last December, several thousand academic and industry researchers gathered to discuss progress in developing new machine-learning algorithms. In an area reserved for poster presentations by graduate students, big tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM, had paid to set up recruitment tables, hoping to lure the hottest new talent to come work for them. But almost half of the companies recruiting at NIPS were not tech companies at all but hedge funds and financial firms.

Please read more here and here.

Math Humor: Zachary and the "Plus Sign"


Little Zachary was doing poorly in math. His parents, after exhausting all other incentives, finally decided to enroll him in the local Catholic School. After the first day, Little Zachary came home with a very serious look on his face. He went straight to his room and started studying. This continued for some time. His mother was baffled as to why he had become so dedicated. 

Finally, Little Zachary brought home his report card. He quietly laid it on the table and went to his room to study. With great trepidation, his mother looked at it and, to her surprise, Little Zachary got an "A" in math. She asked, "Son, what was it? Was it the nuns, the books, the discipline, the uniforms?" 

Little Zachary said, "No!" 

"What was it?" she asked. 

Little Zachary looked at her and said, "Well, on the first day of school, when I saw that guy nailed to the Plus Sign, I knew they weren't fooling around." 

Homeless Ex-Banker: "The American Dream Is a Load of Crap"

by Rudy Panko

Russia Insider

If you are an American who hasn't chemically lobotomized yourself with prescription drugs, you probably know that "something is wrong around here." Even the genetically modified potatoes at your local Walmart are aware that something is horribly amiss.

But the full weight of our current nightmare is difficult to comprehend; it certainly can't be condensed into a 100 character "tweet".

But the story of "Allen", a former banker who now spends his days in San Francisco soup kitchens, serves as an sobering allegory for America's universal decline. Allen, who worked for 30 years in the corporate world, is 61 years old with 2 college degrees. Now he has nothing. His story was featured in an HBO documentary, "San Francisco 2.0". Coming from an ex-banker, Allen's comments about the state of America are both damning and poetic:

I think we're rapidly becoming something like Venezuela, where there's a very small, ultra-rich class, and everybody else is poor — and the middle class is shrinking. I think the American Dream is a load of crap. There is no American dream. It's a nightmare for most people.

Please read more here.

NASA Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion: 30 years ago (1/28/86)

I had the honor and the pleasure to get to know Dr. Ronald McNair.  He was one of the reasons I applied to the astronaut program.  May he and the other Challenger 7 astronauts rest in peace.

What are kids learning in American schools?


I hope the young lady in this video is acting.  If not, then America is in big trouble!

China Warns Soros Against Starting A Currency War: "You Cannot Possibly Succeed, Ha, Ha"

(Zero Hedge) George Soros may have broken the BOE and may well have been at least partially to blame for the Asian Financial Crisis, but he will not win an FX battle with the PBoC. At least that’s Beijing’s message to the billionaire, as conveyed via a characteristically hilarious “op-ed” in the People’s Daily entitled Declaring war on China’s currency? Ha ha

Yes, “ha, ha.” Although there’s nothing funny about the $1 trillion in capital that fled the country in 2015 on the heels of the PBoC’s bungled effort to “manage” a controlled devaluation of the yuan.

Although Soros didn’t specifically mention either the RMB or the HKD, he did indicate he is betting against Asian currencies in an interview with Bloomberg TV last week and that, apparently, was cause for Beijing to issue a stern warning. 

Soros’s war on the renminbi and the Hong Kong dollar cannot possibly succeed — about this there can be no doubt,” the People’s Daily says, after calling Soros “the financial crocodile,” and blaming the billionaire for “increasing volatility in already unstable financial markets.”

Please read more here.

Halliburton sheds another 4,000 jobs


Oil field services giant Halliburton shed another 4,000 jobs in the final three months of 2015, as the Houston-based company continued to aggressively cut costs amid the worst oil crash in decades. 

With the latest job cuts, Halliburton has reduced its global workforce by 25% (a total of about 22,000 employees since its peak in 2014). And more cuts could be on the way if a recovery in crude prices stalls, company executives said Monday morning.

Please read more here.

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