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On Chinese Mothers January 10, 2011

EDIT: It is my understanding that the WSJ article is an excerpt of her essay, so there’s a good chance they raped her meaning with that excerpt. I’m not surprised. The media is always about sensationalizing everything…

I sent this to her Yale email from my UIUC email. Hope she reads it. It’s the longest thing I’ve written in years.

This is the article I’m talking about.

Prof. Chua,

Recently, a few of my friends posted links to your article in the Wall Street Journal on Facebook, and as a first generation Asian-American, I must question the validity of the parenting techniques you have described. They may seem to work for your children, but I contend that they could have done just as well without the necessity that you “pretend” to demean them for motivation. I believe genetics has a lot more to do with why Asian Americans have been so successful compared to other Americans as opposed to the stereotypical strict parenting methods. (By the way, as an undergrad in ECE at UIUC, I’m a fan of your father’s studies.) Of course, all of the evidence you or I could provide for our respective cases is strictly anecdotal. After all, your article only justifies these practices with your own experiences and successful children, while I will also only be able to provide evidence to the contrary with what I have experienced. I can only hope to convince you that there may be better ways to raise kids to be highly successful without so much “tough love.”

What I would like to present to you is a happy medium of the strict stereotypical Asian parents and the typical overprotective western parents that I was lucky enough to experience in my own parents. (Not race-wise. My parents are both from Taiwan)

Not once in my entire life has my mother or father told me that I must get an A on every test, nor have they expected that from me. I’m sure they honestly believed I was capable of getting an A on every test up through high school, but they never demanded anything of that nature from me. They would ask me, “Do you think this is really the best you could have done?” at the sight of a subpar test score, and usually I knew the answer myself. If they had called me “dumb” or “garbage” I would have stopped respecting their opinions a very long time ago. That’s how you get rebellious children abusing drugs and alcohol the moment it becomes available to them in college.

I also need to address this slight jab at sports in addition to your opinion on extracurricular activities as a whole:

“Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.”

Any time spent on a sports team could just as easily be spent on practicing a musical instrument, which you don’t speak about in the same negative light. Both lead to lifelong passions. Both take time, effort, and usually money. Yet you gave this statistic as if Western kids participating in sports was a bad thing. If anything, I would say that participation in a team sport was more beneficial than practicing a musical instrument for me.

In eighth grade, my mother had told me, “Perhaps you should try doing cross-country.” I heeded her suggestion, but I can assure you that it was entirely my own choice, and my parents never pushed me to run or to do my training. I stumbled through cross country that year (training was very loose since it was still junior high) and before I knew it, I was in high school. The first day of practice for high school cross-country was in late June, just a few weeks after I graduated from junior high. Suddenly, I was at the bottom of the totem pole: a freshman. The older members of the cross country team were running up to 14 or 15 miles a day. The most I had ever run up to that point? 3 miles. It seemed like reaching the same level of endurance as my upperclassmen would be impossible. After all, they were running 5 times as much as I could. But that summer, I went to every single cross country practice, and by the end of the summer I had gotten to the point where I could run 7 miles some days at a mediocre pace, and such a rapid improvement encouraged me. Still, I was thousands of miles of training away from being anywhere near the Varsity guys, and I knew it. All I wanted to do was to keep listen to my coaches instructions: “Never walk. I don’t care how slow you run. Just try your best, and never walk.”

Fast forward to the end of my high school running career. I was running upwards of 90 miles many weeks. I had run a 4:33 mile. I was the second best guy on the track team’s distance crew. (I was probably about the 40th out of 60 boys on the team my freshman year. The best guy was top 25 nationally. You’d need a little more talent than I had to beat him) My long runs were 16 miles on Sundays, and I ran doubles (doing two runs in one day) a few times a week. How did I get to this point? I spent all of my sophomore, junior and senior years finding ways to improve. At first I went from running 5 days a week to 6 and then 7. And then I began changing my diet and working on my core and upper body strength after my runs. And of course I could always do my training runs faster and longer. I even began sleeping more. (Think of how influential this sport was. It caused a high school student to go to sleep early…) I did this early on because I saw how much work my coach and my upperclassmen had poured into our cross-country team, and I couldn’t let them or myself down. But later, it changed such that all I wanted was to improve myself and see how far I could push my limits. No one forced me to change my lifestyle to become a faster runner. This was the type of dedication that can only come from the true love of an activity. It gave me the confidence to succeed in all other facets of my life.

Team sports teach exactly the same lesson that Chinese parents forcibly impose on their children: hard work leads to success, and the harder you work, the more successful you can be. In fact, the team sports probably teach them more effectively than strict parenting ever could. Multiple psychological studies have been done on the advantages of intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation#Intrinsic_and_extrinsic_motivation. I know there’s a good chance you look down upon referencing Wikipedia, but I’m sure a psych professor at Yale would be happy to explain it to you better than a paper or article ever could)

This leads into my next point: That you should let your kids pick their extracurriculars. I’m sure while you were reading the bit about my cross country experiences you were thinking “Not every kid is going to buy into their sport like that. Not every person who has run cross country has changed their diet, slept earlier, and overall learned about the values of hard work.” That’s where I think you’re wrong. If you allow you children to choose an extracurricular that they truly love, they will, without a doubt, to pour their heart into it. There’s no guarantee being forced to play the piano could do that if your child’s true desire is to be in theater (the school play).

The success that Asian-Americans seem to enjoy over their fellow Americans is more from their genetics than their parenting. This is not to say that Asians are more intelligent than other races. Their parents, immigrants from Asia, must have needed a certain level of success and intelligence to make it out of their respective countries and into America, especially considering the poor state that most Asian countries were in when they immigrated here. Thus, their children are much more likely to have a set of genes that would make them more intelligent and predisposed towards success. There are millions of poor, unintelligent, lazy workers still in Asia living under the same social norms of parent-child relationship as Asian-American children. That also would explain why we see similar academic success from non-Asian cultures as well. (The Irish, Korean, Ghanaian mothers you refer to at the beginning of your article)

I don’t entirely disagree with you though. When I played the piano, I couldn’t have been nearly as successful without the help of my mother. She let me know when I still wasn’t playing a piece correctly, even when it sounded good enough to me, and then she would sit beside me and have me play the incorrect part until I could do it properly all the time. I wouldn’t have been good enough to perform at Carnegie Hall without her help. However, I don’t believe she ever threatened to not feed me or throw away my toys. I don’t believe that should be necessary with any kid. (It sounds awfully scary. Depending on the kid and age, they could actually believe you to be capable of starving them. That can’t possibly be good for your relationship with someone later on.)

Your husband has an excellent point: “Children don’t choose their parents. They don’t even choose to be born. It’s parents who foist life on their kids, so it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide for them. Kids don’t owe their parents anything. Their duty will be to their own kids.” Your response was, “This strikes me as a terrible deal for the Western parent.” If it’s such a bad deal, use birth control! My parents have shown me that they share your husband’s philosophy. They’ve done everything they possibly could to support me financially, emotionally, and physically. (My father once told me that if he had to sell the house to pay for my college education, he would do it easily with no regrets. That statement has been the source of my drive in college) Because of this, I couldn’t be more thankful for them, and I attribute much of my success to their willingness to let go and have me choose my own path. I strive for myself as well as them, knowing that they went “all in” on me and my sister. (“All in” is a poker term. In case you’re not familiar, it’s where a player places a bet that comprises of all of his remaining chips. You are betting everything you have.) And it certainly helps that they had no influence on what major I chose for college. No one ever told me I had to be a doctor or a lawyer. Instead, I chose on my own, and I am currently studying Electrical Engineering, a field that I love and wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I wouldn’t be pulling 3 all-nighters a week studying for something I didn’t love.

Finally, I want to make you aware of a crisis that is affecting Asian-American males everywhere: inability to attract girls. Think about how many Asian-American males get dates with non-Asian-Americans. Now think about how many Asian-American females get dates with non-Asian-Americans. The discrepancy is staggering. The reasons for this are low self-esteem, social ineptitude, and stereotypes regarding penis size. The low self esteem and social ineptitude stem from the type of parenting that you condone. Maybe the penis size too. Calling your son names and forcing him to study and get A’s instead of hanging out with friends is just asking for him to be socially inept and suffer from low confidence. You might wonder why Asian-American females don’t suffer this hit in sex appeal. Due to natural selection and man’s previous hunter-gather society structure, women are hard-wired physiologically to be more attracted to men with a more aggressive and confident disposition. On the other hand, this is not true of what men look for in women. Meanwhile, on the social ineptness, we can both agree that females are naturally inclined to be much more social than males. Thus, they would be more likely to overcome the social barriers that a childhood of missed playdates and friends. That said, this Asian male crisis is just something I have noticed. Obviously it doesn’t apply to every single Asian male, but it certainly seems like they have a lot less success with the opposite sex… (disclaimer: I’m lucky enough to have a girlfriend since I never had these parenting and self esteem issues. I’m not complaining just because I don’t get any action :P)

I hope you don’t just delete this email before reading it….


PS: I can understand Asian parents wanting their kids to learn an instrument, but why must it be the piano or violin? It has boggled me for years. The guitar, saxophone, and percussion all require just as much skill, and they’re all well appreciated in the world of music.


A Fancypants Adventure March 30, 2009

Filed under: College,I'm sure you're wondering why sex is tagged,Running — bertbusdriver @ 10:59 pm

More on this later.



First day off of running since Spring Track began. As a result I felt fidgety the whole day and had trouble falling asleep at 1:30, but still felt pretty energetic compared to usual the next day. I finished off the Infernal Affairs trilogy by watching the third movie that evening. It was crappy compared to the first two, but I figured it would be. All of the other time during the day was spent doing some miscellaneous hw for psych and english.



Relatively decent day. I decided to wear the fancypants I bought on Saturday along with this shirt that Lisa got me ages ago. A ton of people were like “I like your pants,” or something of the like. 17/18 of them were guys. Fuckin’ A, Kev Hsu… And Keith was like “Oh, where can you buy clothes like this in America?” (Pointing at shirt) I told him I was pretty sure it was from H&M, and he was like “What is H&M?” in typical Keith fashion. Only downside? When someone asked JC whether he liked my pants, JC said that he doesn’t care about my pants.


Besides deciding to look slightly more dashing than usual, my day was pretty standard. Cockblocked Owned Raped by Keller today, calling me out on what was about to become a great WAG. Also of note: I didn’t fall asleep in school at all today. This is the first time since sometime before midterms.


3xbiggieloop tempo today. 12:15, 12:00, 11:39. It’s good to have Ollie back for some of our runs. 800-3200 double on Wednesday is gonna be sick. Got Vinay to do some core stuff with me after we got kicked out of the weightroom by catfucker. This kid also needs epic JC-approved abs.


Leaving to visit UCSD on Friday until Sunday night. Rejected by CMU on Sunday, but not too distressed over that. No expectations this tuesday either. UIUC or UCSD is looking pretty likely. Cornell is the only remaining possibility i think. Or if i get into HMC off of the waitlist, but I’m acting as if that isn’t an option at this point.


I am on a blogging rampage recently. I have no idea. I just have more free time, I suppose. It’s also nice to have an idea of what’s happened at certain points in your life even if some of these things were mad trivial.


wasn’t going to post today, but here goes March 23, 2009

Filed under: College,I'm sure you're wondering why sex is tagged,Running — bertbusdriver @ 10:02 pm

Spent the entire day moping around school and not wanting to do much. When I somehow manage to do less than usual in AP Stat, then something is fucked up because I’ve definitely gone into the negatives of productivity at that point. Then I tried to blow off steam with running and weightroom afterwards, but wasn’t able to physically kick the crap out of myself because we had a moderate day of running, and there’s only so much you can do in the weightroom before there’s a possibility it will interfere with running. (Running with really sore arms blows. I figured that out after my 80+ pushup days in the summer when i was still on the hundred pushups program.) Then I went home to find out that I was waitlisted by Harvey Mudd. Fuckin’ awesome day.


Resolution: Don’t let this shit bother you anymore. You’re doing 200 pushups (nonconsecutively… Hopefully i can get it done in 4 or 5 sets) tomorrow if you can’t get over this by the time you get to school. Because it’s not okay to be acting all pissy for multiple days in front of everyone like the world has wronged you in too many ways. At that point it becomes bitching. I will not bitch. I am no bitch. I am better than that.


Only bright spot: Ran shirtless after the first two toploops today. My way of sticking it to nature. The calendar says it’s fuckin’ spring. I’m gonna run shirtless like it’s fuckin’ spring. I don’t care if it’s 40 degrees outside. At least I’ve still got things like this to make my day.


The girls in our school must be fucking retarded. Horace and the JC’s have yet to get dates for prom. Good luck finding a counterarguement. I mean, I could possibly understand being intimidated by the JCs’ immense manliness and godliness, but Horace is pretty approachable. Alas, a pilgrimage to foreign lands and/or ages is seeming inevitable.


Running was 4 toploops moderate. Started at 9:50ish and went down to 8:59.


Running-wise I’m near a peak in terms of fitness, which is an awesome thing. In the rest of my endeavors, it can only get better from here. If you continue to do at least one GAR thing a day, things will definitely look up.


nope March 22, 2009

Filed under: College,I'm sure you're wondering why sex is tagged,Running — bertbusdriver @ 11:41 pm


I’m working backwards from today…

Today – 90 minute long run with Joe and Stefan. Jayram was there but ran a bit more. Everyone else is feeling injured or had to go to church or something since it’s a sunday.

Saturday – Scrimmage vs. Ocean. I don’t think any of the top 10 or so distance guys raced. We did a workout before the meet instead. 10x300m at 53-51 s (70-68 second 400m pace), last one was 49. We took pretty short recovery: only the 100m in between each 300m that completed the lap. Feels good to get some turnover. Mad props to Changa. This kid ran 5:23 in the 1600 in his first outdoor meet freshman year. I was 5:25-5:30 my first outdoor 1600. If he works hard and focuses during his races, he has a good shot to break 5 minutes this year.

Friday – Supposed to be a 4 mile tempo on the track with Stefan and Friggly. (Arthur and Kyle were in our group, but Coach probably would have stopped the, after 3 miles anyway since they’re sort of injured/getting back) Started at 5:43, 5:37, then 5:40ish. Then coach stopped us after the third mile because the group was breaking up. Took a lap of recovery, then ran a mile in 5:29. Definitely could have gone 5:10 if mccaff had said to go all out. (He said to maintain pace at 5:40.)

Thursday – 45 minute recovery run. Lots of people feeling slightly injured/getting back into shape. Luckily I’m not one of them. I felt a weird soreness on the outside lower right calf this past week, but it’s gone now, and besides that, I felt fucking ready to fly.

Wedensday – 67 minutes not too hard.


Overall, I’m feeling really fit these past 2 weeks, and I can’t wait to light some shit up on the track this season. It certainly helps that I have external motivation as well at the moment.


Two months left to make things happen and blow shit up. 4:25 isn’t that far out of reach for three of us is it?


Other Stuff

Holy shit. Doing ab work is the most gratifying experience ever. Next goal is to get past the regular 6 pack and go into epic 8 pack territories. (Need to clean up the lower 2 packs and the obliques as well) JC would approve.


Duke and Berkeley come out this week. Not high hopes for Berkeley since UCLA rejected, but there have been stories of people getting rejected from UCLA but getting into Cal. Originally price was an issue for my family if i were to consider Cal, but since they’re already considering moving for UCSD, i guess that would be an option if i somehow got into berkeley as well. I have somewhat higher hopes for Duke, but no expectations. (I’ve learned not to have expectations for admissions offices. Those fuckers could screw up wiping their own asses. I still don’t even know if Columbia ever got Mccaff’s rec actually…) Oh yeah, CMU also should be coming out this week. Getting in would be nice, but I haven’t visited yet, so I have no idea how badly I want to go.


I went to IHOP with Sam and crew after the scrimmage yesterday. Note to self: Make sure everyone agrees to go to Red Oak before Sam drags us all to that hellhole again. IHOP doesn’t even have better pancakes than Red Oak. Plus Mr. Clean – the world’s baller-est waiter -  works there.


Watched Infernal Affairs off of my XBMC rig on the plasma screen yesterday. Great movie. Highly recommend. I can’t wait for AP tests to end so I can have people over for movies like every weekend. (Got a ton of HD movies. Suggest a few in comments so I can get a hold of them before I start needing new ones every week?)


I want to get a new pair of baller shoes to hang out in. Nike Dunk High id’s (Mad expensive. 125.) or hitting up Mercer 21 for Flywire Air Max 95’s? (I don’t even know if Mercer 21 still has these. They were probably limited edition.) I’m leaning towards a pair of hightops. Because hightops are friggin’ awesome. Then again, I need to save up the moneys. We’ll see if I can find a pair of decently priced hightops next time I hit up a Nike outlet.


Advertisement: The JC twins are going to prom. We need two lovely ladies for them. If you think you’re eligible, please figure out your plans with them ASAP. It helps my planning if I already know that the two most fuckin’ awesome dates are already taken.


Recent happenings March 9, 2009

Filed under: College,Geeky Shit,I'm sure you're wondering why sex is tagged,Running,Sex — bertbusdriver @ 10:14 pm

Here is the long-awaited fanservice fight scene in our Macbeth movie for the Herman project. We spent 4.5 hours filming at Pavan’s house on friday, but we still have 2 more scenes to finish up because Santosh had to leave early. We’ll have to edit it on my computer this weekend, mostly likely using Sony Vegas, but Windows Movie Maker if we’re strapped for time. (If so, I might go back and spruce it up with Vegas when i get a chance)



As of this current writing, I’m using Windows Live Writer to make my WordPress posts. The software is very robust, and it allowed me to upload video directly to youtube while embedding it in my blog post (just did so for the fight scene). There are also a bunch of plug-ins that allow Live Writer to use photos from your picasa and flickr accounts quite easily. I’d highly recommend making the switch for your blog posts if you’re running Windows.


On Running

Spring Track just started last Friday, and it’s a welcome change to stretch and warmup with an entire team rather than just 4-6 guys that i run with during off time. It’s my final season of high school running, but I’m definitely going to continue running after high school. There’s no way I’d give up my killer bod to laziness after all. Additional goal for this spring: run fast enough to give ‘em sick speed goggles for kev hsu. Although I’d like to point out, that for the kids in our state that are fast enough to get nice speed goggles, those speed goggles are unlikely to save them from having their gene pool ended by natural selection.


Today was 6 toploops. Haven’t done this many in ages. 53:45 for the whole thing. (8:57.5 average, finished in 8:26.)


Everything else because i decided to stop categorizing this post

I got rejected from Caltech, but I was basically expecting this and realistically, I was hoping for a wait-listed at best. Mostly due to my shitty junior year grades. No worries though. Everywhere else decisions come out in the next 3 weeks.


I have a beautiful moneymaking scheme. I bought 3 copies of C&C Red Alert 3 Premier Edition, 2 copies of Crysis Warhead, 1 copy of Crysis, and 3 copies of Orange Box for $10 each plus tax at BB because of a $20 off coupon. Resell value is at least $20 for each. I’m planning on keeping a copy of red alert 3 for myself and maybe 1 each of the crysis games. Might make another stop to another best buy to pick up more games before the offer expires. (I cleaned out the stock at the holmdel BB except for 1 copy of red alert 3, so don’t even bother checking.)


Went to see Watchmen with kev li, mike choie, and paco. I’ve only gotten through a little of the graphic novel, but it’s really apparent that the source material is much better. The movie is still decent on its own though. If a blue penis doesn’t make you laugh, what will? I should go out more often now since school is winding down….


stop actin’ like yah so fly February 17, 2009

One week since the last legit post… I guess if I started posting everyday, I wouldn’t forget where I left off on the previous post. Then again, all the posts would be crappier since I wouldn’t be able to cherry pick all of the more interesting stuff out of the past week or however-long-it-is-between-posts.

I haven’t run with a group in about a week. I’ve been either running with george or alone for the past few days since Stefan and friggly were tapering for Group 2. Trying to get in some more core exercises lately.

Afro Samurai was out of control. I can’t even begin to describe how baller SLJ is in that movie. And the soundtrack is like sex in the ears.

Valentine’s day was a great day on the whole. I ran a bitchin’ 300 workout with george (~66-64 second 400m pace), then went to ihop with mccaff, friggly, Stefan, and changa. Then sam walter and jon tai showed up late. After that, I got home at 12 and had to go out to lunch with the whole family at Bando (Formerly Hunan House, now under new ownership) Getting home at 2ish, I showered and abandoned all attempts at work, instead, going with the family to perry’s house for some get together with family friends. I played tetris party for the first time, and I definitely need to scrape together enough wii points to download it because it’s awesome. Unfortunately, since I was outnumbered 2 to 1 by girls, I also had to sit through 4.5 hours of chick flicks that were showing on TV. (the end of how to lose a guy in ten days, all of sweet home Alabama, and the first half or so of the breakup.) However, all my trouble was well rewarded =) It was a totally Newtonian gravitational moment for me. (I’m not sure that I’ll remember what I meant by this sentence a week later when I read this to see where to start my next post…)

The Bluetooth USB adapter arrived from dealextreme over the weekend, but I’m still waiting for the portable amp since it got delayed due to Chinese new year screwing with all of the productions stuff. I spent 2 hours trying to get my wii guitar working with frets on fire to no avail, but I think I figured out what my problem was. I should be able to get it working this weekend.

I recently discovered slashfoods, a blog solely about food, and have fallen in love.

One more month until more college acceptances start trickling out. A bit of choice would be nice. Especially since I get the feeling that I could get royally screwed by the fact that the only colleges I’m into so far are public schools that possibly won’t give me shit in financial aid.

Wahoo. Things are alright recently.