First Asian mayor of a major U.S. city, longest serving Dept. of Transportation, Civil Servant Norman Y. Mineta

18 08 2008 Mr. Norman Mineta, Mr. Safety. He is a Democratic U.S. politician who is also the longest serving Secretary in the history of the U.S. Department of Transportation, becoming the 14th Secretary of Transportation on January 25, 2001.

Norman was also the first Asian-American Cabinet member during the Clinton administration. In December 2004, Norman accepted President Bush’s invitation to continue his service in the Cabinet during the President’s second term until July 6, 2006.

As Secretary of Transportation, Norman oversaw an agency with almost 60,000 employees and a $61.6 billion budget. Created in 1967, the U.S. Department of Transportation brought under one umbrella air, maritime and surface transportation missions.

Norman has achieved:

  • The lowest vehicle fatality rate ever recorded
  • The highest safety belt usage rate ever recorded
  • The lowest rail fatality level ever recorded
  • The safest three-year period in aviation history

Norman was instrumental in persuading every state to set a blood alcohol rate at .08 percent, an alcohol level that has proved to be effective in preventing automobile crashes and improving safety.

Norman also oversaw the Coast Guard’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, including:

  • Developing the Sea Marshal Program
  • Maritime Safety and Security Teams
  • Expanding the number and mission of Coast Guard Port Security Units.

So what’s Norman’s background?

Norman and his family were among the 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry forced from their homes and into internment camps during World War II. Still, he joined the Army in 1953 and served as an intelligence officer in Japan and Korea after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley.

This former San Jose mayor was the first Asian Pacific American mayor of a major U.S. city. As mayor, he favored greater control of transportation decisions by local government, a position he later championed in ISTEA.

In December 2006, Norman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On February 4, 2008, the day before the closely contested California Democratic Primary, Norman endorsed Barack Obama.

Congratulations to our civil servant hero: Norman Y. Mineta



The Real Life Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Chen Chang

15 08 2008

chenchang04Chang Chen started his film career at a very young age. He was selected by Taiwanese director Edward Yang to be the protagonist of his 4-hour critically acclaimed film A Brighter Summer Day.  More recently, he played Lo “Dark Cloud,” in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  The movie’s so popular that there are action figures of his character here. Recommended for all ages and up, no batteries required.

Chang is currently filming Red Cliff, alternatively known as The Battle of Red Cliff, an epic film based on the Battle of Red Cliffs immediately prior to the period of the Three Kingdoms in ancient China. The film is directed by John Woo and more information may be found here.

Chang is also working on the movies “Green Mansion” and “1949”  (A big budget romance based on true events at the end of WWII and the final years of the Chinese Civil War).

Image from:

World’s Biggest WWE Wrestler, Dalip “The Great Khali” Singh

15 08 2008

Dalip Singh, better known as “The Great Khali” to his WWE fans, stands at 7ft 3in and weighs 420 pounds. The ringname comes from the Hindu goddess Kālī, who is said to be a destructive ruler.

Singh became the first Indian professional wrestler to be signed by WWE on January 2, 2006. His bio on WWE notes,

“This enormous monster has walked the jungles of India unafraid of pythons and wrestled White Bengal tigers. Legend states that the Punjabi Warrior has ‘stared into the abyss and the earth trembled at his gaze.'”

In his short time at WWE, he has already been crowned World Heavyweight Champion–an honor accomplished by a select few that puts him in the same league as Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and the Undertaker.

Well, actually, he pummeled the Undertaker on two separate occassions. You can watch it here. He even executes his signature moves: “The Khali Bomb” and “The Khali Vice Grip.”

The Great Khali is also a Hollywood movie star–he’s in the new movie Get Smart and also starred in 2005’s The Longest Yard alongside Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. BBC has also reported that Singh is back in India shooting a documentary on his life. The Great Khali was spotted at the age of 15 by a senior Punjab police official and joined the police force as a constable. He is also a powerlifter who won Mr. India in 1995 and 1996.

To further scare you into working out more:

The best part?

Maintaining his size requires a strict and intimidating daily dietary regimen: one gallon of milk, five chickens and two dozen eggs, along with chapatis, juice and fruit…