Monday, January 30, 2006

CCTV Spring Festival Show

The CCTV show on the eve of traditional Chinese Spring Festival has been the most watched show ever in any given year since its first debuet in 1979. Consequently, it has been one of the most sought after advertising events in which NEC paid more than $100 for 10 seconds commercial in 2005. Nonetheless, like anything else in China, it has also been a stage for political expressions in support of the CCP. Although the producers have never exhausted ideas in appealing the CCP, they reached a new height in this year's show, when they glorified the family names of president Hu Jiantao and the still influential former president Jiang Zemin in this scene. At the moment, the performers were supposed to go through the 'One hundred Names' of Chinese people. All Chinese characters representing family names flew by, while the two 'Jiang' and 'Hu' received extra time. Bravo!

Leaders First

Remember the fire of 2005.

On December 8th, 1995, 288 school kids died in a theater fire. Many of those could have survived, if they were not ordered to remain on their seats waiting for the CCP leaders to walk out the theater first after the fire started. Thirty six teachers died too, trying to protect the kids, but none of the 26 leaders died or injured. The leaders either walked out while letting those kids sitting on their seats, or found safe harbor for themselves. In one such instance, Ms. Kuang Li 况丽, the associate Party education secretary got in a fire-proof room by herself. The room has a capacity of 30, she locked the door behind herself, left more than 100 kids crying for get in the hallway. Later, she had the courage to brag her 'survival skill' to local newspapers. These are memories that will haunt the soles of CCP members forever, if they even had soles.

Other who should have died, and the Seagull command for their miserable death:
Mr. Tang Jian 唐舰, associate director of regional education department, who issued the ordere that students remain their seats until all CCP officials left;
Mr. Fang Tianlu 方天录, the highest rank official at the scene. Not only he walked out, but left hundreds of kids behind, he didn't even notify the fire station on his trip home;
Ms. Zhao Lanxiu 赵兰秀, vice mayor;
Mr. Zhu Minglong 朱明龙, city education department;
Mr. Zhao Zheng 赵征, city education department.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Tough Guy in Toronto

Via boingboing, this tough guy opened his driver side door while he was still driving, and threw whatever left of a two person meal to the groud in Toronto, Canada. A cyclist Leah who was walking up Agasta saw the scene. She picked up the meal, and handed it back to him. The tough guy then dumpped two cups of coffee on the woman's face, then beated her up. When he was tossing her around the car, her bracelet scratched a 1.2 cm mark on the clearcoat.

Hearing police serans closing in, the guy drove off the scene, but only returned to beat up the woman again as well as stomped her bike. That's when the photographer Hool noticed and started shooting. The tough guy charged the photographer with a baseball bat from his trunk.

Hool testified to the police as one of two witnesses, and then posted his pictures at the forum City Noise. The Canadian policemen talked her not to press charges. If you see this face someday, tell him that he sucked big time.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

None Censorship Statement Pulled

"Does Google censor search results?" Not long ago, there was an answer to the question on Google's Support Center, but not any more. Google answered the call from the China Communism Party government for data censorship by creating a new domain and isolating its Chinese services from everything else. Google's Sergey Brin justified Google's China policy as it 'ultimately' made more information available to its Chinese users, 'though not quite all of it'. January 25th, 2006, Google announced that it is officially launching its services in China.

Does Google censor search results?

Google does not censor results for any search term. The order and content of our results are completely automated; we do not manipulate our search results by hand. We believe strongly in allowing the democracy of the web to determine the inclusion and ranking of sites in our search results. To learn more about Google's search technology, please visit

Friday, January 27, 2006

Academic Misconduct in its Deadliest Form, Update

A U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orlean released an EMail from the executive editor of New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Dr. Gregory D. Curfman to the leading author of a critical journal paper Dr. Claire Bombardier, in which Dr. Curfman wrote, 'Your explanation lacked scientific objectivity'. He also laid out five points which the journal expected the authors to make corrections:
1) The deletion of the critical data;
2) The deleted data 'would have invalidated your claim' that only people already at risk of a heart attack were at a greater risk from Vioxx;
3) The article doesn't mention a cut-off data for information gathering; however even if it does, a scientific journal expects updates;
4) When comparing the safety between two drugs, the authors use misleading writings by saying naproxen protects heart, but failed to point out that Vioxx may actually do harm to heart.

In the past two days, editors and former editors of the NEJM were grilled by attorney representing the Merck & Co. on their November 2004 editorial accusing Merck of concealing critical data from a published study on its now withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.

Merck received made progress on the other front last week when FDA announced a new policy that could prevent any FDA-approved drug being sued in a state court.

Academic Misconduct

Google Cache Legal

Via boingboing, from EFF, A district court in Nevada has ruled that the Google cache is a legal, because:
  1. Caching itself does not directly infringe the copyrighted works at issue, because i) the chching is done automatically; ii) that there are meta-tags available to prevent this automatica process; iii) Cached contents can be removed by owner's requests;
  2. Google is granted an implied license to reproduce and distribute copies of the copyrighted works at issue;
  3. It's a fair use under 17 U.S.C. § 107;

Author and attorney Blake Field of the state of Nevada also contributed to this significant process by losing a lawsuit manufactured and brought up by himself. Furthermore, the court finds Field estopped himself by deliberately setting up a trap. Another blunder Mr. Field made was he failed to bring up a case against Google's robot in making copies of his works, which may be seen as closer to a 'direct infringement' of his copyrighted works. Instead, he brought up the case against the caching, which qualifies for the DMCA's 512(b) caching 'safe harbor' for online service providers.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Evicting Souter

People in David Souter's hometown Weare, NH will decide in March whether they could have a better use of his 8 acre farmhouse with an inn to be known as the Lost Liberty Hotel.

Joining a 5-4 vote in June 2005, Justice David Souter decides that private land can be taken away not only for public use, which is the traditional understanding of a legal cause 'eminent domain', but also for any commercial development, as long as at the moment it looks profitable.

If the measure passes, I for one will travel to the town of Weare, lunch and dine there, and stay in the Hotel of Lost Liberty for at least one night.

Jiang Qing: Others' Wives Prettier

Ms. Wang Guangmei has long been known for her beauty. She was the wife of former President of China (1959-66) Liu Shaoqi. In a book published by the Central CCP Archive, she recalled several occasions when Mao invited her to go swimming together. In one vivid depiction, she was putting on silk stockings in front of Liu before going to see Mao, which probably made Liu a little uneasy that he made a small comment. The two persons swimming continuted during July and August of 1959 when the CCP were holding a conference on Lu Mountain in Jiangxi Province. In a separate occasion, Mao enjoyed a day with wives of several CCP leaders when his own wife Jiang Qing came home. Jiang did not hide her annoyance and ridiculed Mao in front of all his women that "Others' wives are always prettier".

Seven years later, Liu was half beaten half starved to death in 1966.

Huang Zheng, Wang Guangmei Talks, Central China Communism Party Archive, 2006, ISBN: 7-5073-2024-3, RMB 45 Yuan. The book can be purchased online here.

Friday, January 20, 2006

1001th Reason Why Yahoo is Inferiorer

Besides marrying to scam companies (such as 3721), ratting out political dissident even when they don't have to, Yahoo just added a new entry on the list of why they are inferior to any decent business, including although not limited to, Google et al.

According to Boingboing, Google rejected the Department of Justice's subpoena to expose its user search record, while Yahoo said yes. Although what DoJ had requested were seemingly randomized data with no direct references to any personal profile, these kind of movements are of great concern because 1) It sets a dangerous precedent full of potential of imaginations, especially when these data are derived from actual personal information search engines hold; 2) It's hard to tell what information data mining techniques can provide today or tomorrow on these kind of data; 3) An immediate effect could be that DoJ isolates a particular attention-drawing person or group of persons, and demands identifiable information on legitimate causes. John Shinal of Market Watch wrote, I'm not sure what's more troubling -- the fact that the U.S. government wanted to get its hands on the Internet search results of millions of its citizens, or that some of the leading search firms were so quick to provide the data.

More information at Danny Sullvin's Search Engine Watch.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Software Engineering is not Computer Science

Article by Steven McConnell, author of many acclaimed books in software development.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Alienated Employees

There are already zillions of ways to effectively alienate your employees, but this one must be better because it costs nothing on either side.

How about the company ask the employee to rent their working space very month on a discount market rate, then automatically reimburse them the cost plus any applicable interests at the beginning of each month? This process should be designed the way so smooth that no party should be materially inconvenienced by it. I challenge anyone for a better idea that conveys the message of unwelcoming without even saying a word.

The brilliant idea came dawn to the Seagull when he learned from corporate EMail list that the campus security was re-keying all the entrances to the buildings so that employees who work night shift would have to ask an escort to get inside the building.

Friday, January 13, 2006

But You Are a Woman

Margaret Jackson, the chairman of largest Austrian air carrier Qantas, is visiting Beijing to push for a expansion of the Beijing Sydney line when a Chinese reporter complained to her about the security line in Australian airports. She responded with a personal experience at LAX.

She was stopped by the security guards last year at LAX after he noticed she was carrying airplane documents. She told the security guard Bill that she was the chairman of an air carrier. 'But you are a woman', said Bill. She was allowed to continue her trip after they were able to verify her identity about an hour later. Before she left, she wrote Bill with Qantas letterhead, 'Dear Bill, this is a letter from the Chairman of Qantas, and she's a woman'.

The blogger had bad experience at LAX too. While I was packing my laptop after going through the security check, a woman picked up my cell phone from a plastic box of mine and ran away. A TSA officer later told me that he witnessed the whole scene, but he didn't say a thing when she was running away. I waited half an hour for a police officer to log a case number, who never came until I had to leave for my flight.

Goddess of Democracy

Washington D.C.'s planning commission approved a new monument to be built on the triangular park at Massachusetts and New Jersey avenues. The preliminary design is a paved plaza with a granite seating wall, trees and a towering bronze version of the 'Goddess of Democracy', which was torn down by the CCP in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

New One Hundred Names

According to Xinhua News 1/10/2006, the currently Top 10 family names in China is Li, Wang, Zhang, Liu, Chen, Yang, Huang, Zhao, Zhou and Wu. There are 129 names each associated with people greater than 0.1% of the total population. Combined, the 129 names represent around 87% of the total population.

The research conducted by Yuan Yida took two years to finish, while 296 million people in 1110 counties and cities were studied. The final result was derived by using statistical methods.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

USC Scams

Since November 2005, many Chinese main stream media have reported the news that USC invested 150 million YMB ($19 million) to build its first oversea graduate school in Tianjin, China. After data mining news coverages, we now know the person behind this event, as well as many other similar scams in China in names of academic collaboration, is a Chinese looking guy using name Dr. Xie Qimeng (谢启蒙) who can be seen in the picture (on the left) signing financial agreement with his Chinese counterpart. Readers are encouraged to Google his Chinese name to find out relevant information on his adventures, some even involve a couple of prestigious Chinese universities, such as Jinlin University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

What makes this particular incident distinctive is the fact that they usually operate under names that could be easily confused with legitimate academic institutions, such as Berkeley University (to be confused with UC Berkeley), Southern Columbia University (to be confused with Columbia University) or California Southern University (to be confused with USC), etc. However this time, they operate under the authentic name of the University of Southern California as well as its abbreviated form USC. Therefore, we are skeptical that USC, or some representatives of USC, may actually get involved into this criminal scam. There's also possibility that they were unaware of the incident, and were taken advantage of in a criminal act.

This close-up shot shows the USC representative exchanging signatures with the president of Tianjin University of Science and Technology. If you happen to be a friend or family member of the lady on the right, and if you happen to be a nice person, you should tell her stop embarrassing herself in front of the world. The blogger is no big fan of USC, so he is not going to tell them.:)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Geaux Tigers, Go!

LSU finished the football season No. 5 after dominating Miami 40-3 in the Peach Bowl. The two games they lost to Tennessee and Georgia were testimonies of the toughness of all SEC games. Had they scheduled more out of conference games, the result could be different.

I was sitting with several USC students watching the Rose Bowl a moment ago. It bothered when people kept mentioning how USC was about to be the third team that won three consecutive national championships, because they never had the previous 'two'. They may have one and a half at most. Two years ago, they claimed 0.5 championship by getting the AP vote. However, 1) they didn't get the crystal football trophy; 2) AP had agreed to vote align with BCS result on championship, which technically voided AP's vote.

As to tonight's game, Texans were belivers and they had God's bless.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Quote of the Day

......the collapse of the Internet ("chaos of viruses, worms, spam, terrorism and busts by the FBI anti-porn squad") turns bloggers (including me) into crazed San Francisco street-people who shove bits of paper into the faces of passers-by, hoping to interest them with novel tidbits......

from link via boingboing

If a listener nods his head when you're explaining your program, wake him up.
Everyone can be taught to sculpt: Michelangelo would have had to be taught not to. So it is with great programmers.
The use of a program to prove the 4-color theorem will not change mathematics - it merely demonstrates that the theorem, a challenge for a century, is probably not important to mathematics.
the are two ways to write error-free program; only the third one works.
You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing vitality of FORTRAN.
The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; by that's because it's the best book on anything for the laymans.
Beware of the Turing tar-pit in which everything is possible but nothing of interest is easy.

Epigrams by Alan Perlis

Monday, January 02, 2006

White Horse not a Horse

Gongsun Long is a philosopher who lived in the Warring States Period (475 B.C. - 221 B.C.). Once he argued that a white horse is not a horse based on three reasons: 1) A horse is an animal, white is a color and while a white horse is a colored animal. Therefore the three concepts have different connotations; 2) a horse can be any horse while a white horse can only be a white horse, therefore the two have different extensions; 3) A horse could have no color so the two do not share common characteristics. He successfully convinced the security officer to let him ride a white horse out of the city, while no horse was supposed to be let out.

Mr. David Almacy, the White House's Internet and E-Communications Director said that the White House did not violate a rule when visitors to its website were individually tracked and analyzed. Federal agencies are not allowed to use cookie, a data package, to track visitors to their official websites. Mr. David Almacy said the cookie discovered by outside security experts were not placed by the White House, but rather by a contractor hired by the White House, if visitors also use other services supplied by the contractor WebTrends.

Almacy 34, grew up in Bethesda, holds titles from webmaster to White House spokesman, or this.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Angels Fly

So I am wandering through the deaf-causing firecrackers on my bike. In the past years I spent more new year's Eves on a travelling vehicle than in a family home. I've been used to the scene from a midnight train on a northern rural terrains, where endless darkness occupied the window except occasional simple fireworks rising in distance. Everything looks so surreal when you don't take yourself too serious.

They say angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.

Auld Lang Syne

Does it make any sense counting down the big ball at Times Square of NYC? I am not even saying all the troubles in getting through the blocked security lines, and staying through the sleet and snow and chilly winds and crowded tiny bars. I mean, is it seemingly making sense to celebrate a time one hour before people do in Chicago? What's all the fuzz about the Counting-downs for? What's the point?