Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lost in Translation: Recommendation Letter Edition

An enraged Chinese professor posted a recommendation letter from a UIUC faculty five years ago. Professor Liu of Hunan University was encouraged on kind words on the letter, and offered a job applicant the position. However, the guy failed miserably as both an instructor and a researcher.

While regretted of making the decision five years ago, Professor Liu fiercely blamed the applicant's adviser who provided a recommendation letter upon request from Hunan University. Professor Liu posted a scan copy of the original letter, and underlined words that allegedly had misled him.

However, this may be a case of 'lost in translation' (between eastern and western cultures). Had Professor spent more time on English 099 (pre-college level), he would be able to smell the clues. It's so stale that he did not even need to sniff. Actually the simple fact that the adviser did not voluntarily provide a letter was an obvious sign that was hard to miss. Not to say the wordings were so obvious that one should kick himself for failed to read the meaning/mood of the letter.

Red lines were marked by Professor Liu to illustrate how the letter was misleading, but on the contrary, they were crystal clear and unumbiguous in the tone:
1) '..has a perfect academic record (straight A)..
No other letter for a doctoral recipient would emphasize on GPA, not from a research lab for sure.
2) '..contribution to the understanding ... led to three publications'. Three publications were not impressive at all for a physics major, not to say the adviser seemed to be reluctant to mention the title and journal of them.
3) ' of importance..' This is probably the weakest way of praising the work might be of any significance.
4) The letter is simply too short.

In the conclusion paragraph of the letter, the adviser was straight forward as he could.
1) '.. is an intelligent and hard-working researcher.' This is an alert by itself since it was as far as the adviser was willing to go. Plus, it's the nice puddings to balance what he was going to say next:
2) '.. strong personality..'. Did you read this?
3) '..skill that will.., once he devote to it'. In other words, nothing had been observed, yet.
4) 'I 'think' he will be..' He was so unsure...

Professor Liu discussed in length on the returnee's job performance at Hunan University. Then Professor Liu went beyond his way to make comments on the returnee's relationship with students, females, and, his own father. It goes into details such as the guy forgot to zip after going to bathroom. It also cited tension between Professor Liu and the returnee throughout five years. Professor Liu credited himself on how he had helped the guy to get the job, bypassing all normal hiring procedures (no interview was conducted), then the associate professorship promotion, and finally transferring to another college. If the returnee was as terrible as Professor Liu described in the blog, to crash and burn in the classroom as early as his first semester, who did Professor Liu got him promoted to Associate Professor? If he was such as horrible person, why would Professor Liu helped him transfer to another college, after Hunan University wouldn't renew the contract? Now, why would Professor Liu disclose the ordeal in detail after it seems the guy would have nothing to do with him?


There is much left begging for an answer. Perhaps those again lost in the translation. Only this time, it was lost in the translation of Professor Liu's own mind.

学者刘全慧 发表于2009-11-21 22:01:19









Based on the information in the blog (the returnee republished his dissertation on the ACTA Physica AINICA), the seagull was able to identify the alleged 'unqualified' returnee to be Dr. Liang-Xin Li. Li was an associate professor in the Department of Applied Physics of Hunan University.

Li, Liang-Xin and Hu, Yong-Hua, 2004. Intersubband and intraband transitions of self-assembled quantum wires for the infrared detectors. ACTA Physica Sinica, p848-856, 54, 2.

Based on above information, the author of the recommendation letter is likely Dr. Yia-Chung Chang, a distinguished research fellow and director of the Research Center for Applied Sciences at Academia Sinica, Taiwan. Dr. Chang was professor of Physics at UICU from 1991-2008.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"The Terminal" as in Reality Show at Narita International Airport of Tokyo Japan

As in the 2004 movie, Feng Zhenghu was stuck in the terminal. Even worse, there's no McDonard to pick break crumbles. To be precise, Mr. Feng was stuck at the gate of the immigration pathway, only that Mr. Feng has a reversed problem: he did not want to enter Japan, despite a deal made by the Chinese and Japanese government.

Mr. Feng is not anti-government. He is a scholar who uses his writing to shed light on the life of poor people in China. Despite a strong economy as a whole, the per capital personal income of an average Chinese people falls blow all of its Asian neighbors such as Vietnam and Thai, and blow majority of the African countries. Mr. Feng annoyed the communist government simply because he reached his hands to poor people in the city he lives, Shanghai. To play down the possible political tone of his suffering, he cautiously not ask for coming back to China, but asking going back to Shanghai.

A Chinese citizen, Mr. Feng went to Japan for a short visit, but was denied entrance at Shanghai International Airport. Air Japan kidnapped Mr. Feng, by force at witness of hundreds of passengers on Nov 4, 2009, back to Japan under pressure from their business partnership in China.

Mr. Feng refused to enter Japan. He has since made eight attempted to return to China, but was denied and 'deported' each and every time.

An active human rights advocate, Mr. Feng had been persecuted by the communist government ever since the Tian'anmen Square Massacre in 1989. Even a three years jail time couldn't shut him silence. Mr. Feng had been a voice for poor people's welfare. The communist government adopted an innovative approach, to get a foreign company (Air Japan) to kidnap a Chinese citizen from Shanghai to Japan. The government had hoped Feng would stay in Japan in fear.

Mr. Feng believed he had committed no crime. He refused to enter Japan, and had been staying in the busy international arrival terminal at the Tokyo Narita International Airport for two weeks. The only way to move in the terminal is forward, to the immigration passage. The Japanese government at the request of the Chinese government has banned residents in Japan to provide food to Mr. Feng, counting Mr. Feng will move forward into Japan.

Each day, thousands of international travelers pass Mr. Feng's sitting place to enter Japan. If you are going to Japan, please bring Mr. Feng some food, toothpaste, etc. Thank you.

Mr. Feng's twitter account. Vidly video showing surroundings of the terminal. A detailed account of the ordeal.

Mr. Feng is a Chinese citizen. If Mr. Feng had committed any crime, the Chinese government should take him in and charge him accordingly. If Mr. Feng did not break any law, as a Chinese citizen, he is entitled to return to his home country. The incident had drawn attention from Japanese media as well as other media around the world.

When contacted by media, Japanese immigration official confirmed Mr. Feng was carried to Narita by Air Japan, but did not comment on the accusation of forceable kidnapping committed by Air Japan employees.

Dear Party, stop embarrassing yourself.

Air Japan, in a statement, criticized Mr. Feng for making a scene when he was kidnapped by force by Air Japan's employees to the flight back Japan. Air Japan was subsequently humiliated by the attending media in the press conference, and retracted the statement.

Japanese government played an unethical collaborator role in the incident. We can't ask much from Japanese government. However, stop making yourself a fool, like the communist Chinese government already did, in front of the world (in the least, in front of thousands of confusing international traveler passing Mr. Feng's spot).

How can you help?

  • You can contact the Japanese government, or your nearby Japanese consulate and asked for Mr. Feng's case. Ask them why a civilized government will collaborate with the communist rugime. Ask them how come Air Japan get away from kidnapping a citizen by force from another country and carry him back even without a ticket? Although the Japanese government played a lesser role than the communist China, they probably are under higher level of scrutiny from their own citizens and the international society. They are also a capable party in the ordeal since Mr. Feng is now staying on Japanese soil.
  • You can contact Chinese government or your nearby Chinese consulate. In additional, you should raise the case whenever there's an event of public relationship significance. For example, a TV show featuring a Chinese expert or a radio interview of a Chinese diplomat. Tell them feel free to shot Mr. Feng after he returns to China if they find him of violating any Chinese/Communist law. However, show the international community that China does have a legal system by following it.
  • You can join twitter and follow Mr. Feng's feeds. Somewhere the communist government must be following the case, and make them fear when counting the number of people who are following the story.
  • You can bring some food, cloth, books and batteries to Mr. Feng is you enter Japan through Tokyo International Airport. You can ask a friend to do it for you if you have a friend going there. Mr. Feng is stuck there in the international arrival terminal right before the immigration checkpoint, and it's hard to miss him.
  • You can vote with your money by boycotting Air Japan. There are plenty alternatives to use on any international routes operated by Air Japan.
  • Post the story on every venues you have access: Facebook, Youtube, to name a few. Ask your Chinese friends what do they think. Because of the effective media block and brainwash in the Chinese media world, an excellent job done by the propaganda branch of the communist government, less Chinese are aware of the incident than western readers.
  • You can show off your art talent by making a song, video about the real world 'The Terminal' ordeal and upload it to popular video sharing site, such as YouTube. If you happened to live next door to Tom Hanks, you may asked them to re-do his popular movie, only this time based it on a true story. Although there is not much you can if you do not live in China or Japan, you can certainly make every communist diplomat's public life miserable. They will report through their chain of command, especially when it's not their personal fault.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Belle de Jour Paid Better than Writing Code

The headline news was that a research scientist revealed she was a prostitute writer active from 2003 to 2004.

The fine print news was that Dr. Brooke Magnanti had a sting as a programmer but soon discovered that job didn't pay well, plus it was intelligent demanding and time consuming. On the other hand, her employment at a London escort agency allows her time and energy in daytime for her to complete doctoral study. Comparing to programming, Dr. Magnanti commented, the other job was 'so much more enjoyable'.

A programmer's life and career is sometimes equated to that of a prostitute. Younger people are easy to learn and master, while the energy and skills would die down soon in their mid-thirtish. Now we know which one is more difficult.

In interview with Times, Dr. Maganti described the whore job to be one "that doesn't require a great deal of training or investment to get started, that's cash in hand and that leaves" her spare time to do her work in. Sounds ideal for a graduate student everyone.

Belle charges £300 per hour for an normal 2 hours session of her services. She usually met two or three clients on weekly basis, "sometimes less, sometimes a great deal more".

Dr. Magnanti had Billi Piper played her role in a television series 'Secret Diary of a Call Girl', a show seen by many as the British version of American 'Sex and city'. Her book 'Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl' is a bestseller. Her blog, 'Belle de Jour: Diary of a London Call Girl' is a must visit for Net surfers worldwide.

On the other side of the Atlantic, a UMBC professor Brandy M. Britton was arrested for running a brothel house at her own residence in Ellicott City roughly around the same time period (2006).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Made-in-China Paint on Tian'anmen

Barely one month after the 60th anniversary of the Communist Regime, paint on the Tian'anmen is starting peeling off badly. The historic and political significant building was re-painted for the ceremony.

Xinhua News reported the renovation project was completed on September 10. Due to the sensitivity of the time and location, all labors must pass three layers of political examination and security clearance.

Tian'anmen is often seen as the symbol of ruling, or in ancient Chinese saying, the piece of land the emperor stood on. In west they say, the writing is on the wall, and now everyone saw it.


Monday, November 09, 2009

China Top 100

Tianhe-1, 563100, 24576, Changsha Institute of Technology, National Supercomputing Center Tianjin

BladeCenter HS21, 18146, 4048, IBM, GRI

Shenwei 4000A, 14180, 1344, National Parallel Computing Institute, CMA

SPPower4+, 10310, 3200, IBM, CMA

3000 BL460c, 10148, 2048, HP, GRI

3000 BL460c, 10117, 2048, HP, GRI

Shenteng 1800, 10114, 1984, Lenovo, GRI

Shenteng 1800, 10077, 1984, Lenovo, GRI

Cluster, 8216, 2560, Dawn, GRI

Cluster, 6809, 1024, Dawn, National Oceanic Bureau

Published Nov 1, 2009, by Mathematics and Software Chapter or the Chinese Software Industrial Association.

The format for above list is: Rank, Model, Rmax in GFlops, # of cores, Manufacture, Installation. The Seagull had the privilege of working with both GRI and CMA. The Tianhe-1 ranked No. 5 on the world Top500 list. Altogether 21 installations in China made it to the Top500 list.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Insider's Note on Jingzhou Drowning Accident

xilei 发表于 2009-11-4 9:06:00


  其次,说一下人为的因素,住在长江边上(主要是指宝塔河那里)的人都会在孩子小的时候这么教育“看见有人掉下去了千万别去救,不然你自己也要死”。看了这句话是不是觉得人性很残忍?不是的,这是事实,宝塔河边上每年死多少人大家知道吗? 报纸,电视上?还是百度一下?去查下? 20多对吗?告诉你们,我一个暑假平均每天都看见有人拉尸体上来,多的时候一天就看见拉出4,5具尸体.(一个救孩子的父亲,还有一个老奶奶带着2个孙子的尸体,以及一个从上游冲下来的,这是我看见的最多的一次)。所以,对那几个死亡20多的数据,看了笑一下也就算了。别当真。这一段是告诉大家,那段水域的死亡率有多高。
  说了半天还没说重点,这么时候说重点来了。差不多在8年前。在这段水域来了一票现在大家口中所谓的“渔夫”。他们开始来的时候专门打鱼,后来发展成了打捞死人,没记错的话在00年左右的时候一个死人的价格大约在2500-3000左右,便宜的时候好象有过 2000的样子。我能确定,他们不是沙市人。很简单口音不对,我和他们聊过。最开始只是单纯的拉死上来。只有2个小船。到后来,我在一次偶然的时候和冬泳队的那群职业帮子去救一个人,快速游出去的时候,那船也动了,我以为他们是准备等别人死了又来打捞的(那时候他们已经发展成了一个口号,“只捞死人,不救活人”),我们也没准备和他们说什么,毕竟社会没要求每个人都是雷锋,最多我个人看不下去而已。但是郁闷的是,我游出去的路线,与他们的船开的路线,居然很巧合的会在某一点重合。于是我不得不绕一圈,先顺水后逆水的绕过去。等我游到那溺水人的身边时候我的体力基本消耗2/3,剩下的体力要连自己带那个人一起拉回去,我一游到那边上就把游泳圈丢过去(我去长江无论什么时候都有一个用摩托车轮胎内胎做的游泳圈,且用麻木绳系在身上,不离身),那个溺水的人估计是看见我了,伸手就抓我,瞎抓了2下,马上一手扣死我的颈部,直把我搞得呛一口水几乎见上帝。最后靠着游泳圈,我还是活着回来,不然今年就是我的2周年祭日。可能大家会更早的听说我这个名字,也成了“英雄”。


Thursday, November 05, 2009

LAST DAY! $10 donation can make a difference to a Chinese child in Need

Save Chinese Children (OSCCF) is a 501(c) organization aims to help sick kids to obtain medical assistance.

Overseas Chinese Education Foundation (OCEF) is a 501(c) organization aims to provide education opportunity to poverty kids.

Both organization are participating the Facebook/Causes Giving America Challenge. The challenge ends at 15:00 Friday Nov 6, 2009 EST (4:00 am Saturday Nov 7, 2009 Beijing Time). The challenge counts how many people (only once per day is allowed) donate to a charity and will award top 10 winners.

Unlike most other charities, both organizations boasts $0.00 operation cost in history of several years. Both are all volunteers organization and volunteers donates time as well as essential overhead. Donors can be assured that their money are 100% given out by these two organizations.

Click here to donate for OSCCF; click here to donate for OCEF.

It is the last day of the month long challenge. The last day is often the most important and decisive day in the making of history. Help Chinese children by giving $10. Your $10 could be the key to tip off $50,000 award to be used on Chinese kids. You do not need a facebook account to donate.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Notice the body dragged in water with one hand tied to the boat.

That body was one of two first year college students of the Yangtze University who sacrificed their own lives to save to kids fallen to the river. The local 'rescue and recover' company recovered the body, then bound them on the side of the boat waiting for a cash payment.

The time: Oct 24, 2009

The place: Jingzhou, Hubei Province

The white head: Mr. Chen Bo, CEO of the 'Yangtze Salvage Limited Inc.'

The company: Yangtze Salvage Limited Inc. was founded by a Wuhan businessman Mr. Chenbo in 2004. With help from local communist party, the company enjoys a market monopoly on the segment of Yangtze River along Jingzhou of Hubei Province. The place where the two kids drown took hundreds of lives each year.

It used to be a slow and shallow beach, but a big drop was dug a few years ago, which could not bee seen from the surface because of murky water. The picture was taken from the bank. Further into the river, the water is as high as barely covering one's feet. The two person in swimming trucks helped save six other students.

The rule is simple. Rule No. 1: no one shall rescue a drowning person out of the river in that segment. If a fisherman saves a person, he will be beat on his way home that night, and find his boat burned next morning. Rule No. 2: no one shall recover a body from the river in that segment, except the Company. National media who rushed to the scene reported that while several government agencies were called to the scene, including the Yangtze Maritime Affairs and paramilitary Fire Department, all refused to take action. Local police told the students to negotiate with the Company.

The Company charges a flat fee of 12,000 RMB Yuan ($2,000) per body in daytime and 18,000 RMB Yuan ($3,000) after sunset. 200 RMB Yuan goes to the fishing boat hired to conduct the work, while the rest goes directly to the Company.

Despite a national outrage, local police refused to investigate. The police chief told the reporters the incident showed lack of applicable laws and urge the national congress to make more laws. Two days later, the central government in Beijing ordered all national media to level the area, and prohibited further reporting on the case.

The bodies would stay in the river for another 4 hours after the picture was taken, before the students, professors and college administrators were able to collect the ransom in cash.

from 韩寒 by 韩寒



第一,根据报导,船主陈波垄断了荆州段的尸体打捞业务,其他打捞船过来便会受到威胁。所有的经验告诉我们,在中国,垄断行业只有两个可能,政府行为或者政府参与。当然,政府不会设立捞尸部,所以,陈波之所以能再当地垄断,和当地政府之间很有可能是有关系的。另外,更具照片的分析,陈波的举手投足以及后面随从人员的相貌形态,都颇有政府处级以上领导从业经验的风采。而且陈波一口咬定,捞尸费一定是12000元,少一分钱都不干,而且见钱才给人。如果是正常做生意,假设是你,捞三具尸体,36000元,你至少能够抹去零头吧,这是人之常情,况且遇见这样悲惨的事件,而且还是在英勇救人的情况下,任何人都会动容。我认为,陈波之所以一分不让,可能这12000元中,有相当的一部分是打点给他的后台的,如果你只收了5000元,很可能他还要倒贴。而之所以要看见钱才给人,表示他非常害怕别人不给钱。有三个尸体打捞上来,其中有一个真的不给钱,常人的反应都是继续要钱,实在要不到也没有办法,因为至少赚了 24000。但是陈波宁愿被人当模特狂拍照还不给尸体,除了此人道德品行恶劣以外,还可能是支持他垄断经营的后台知道打捞起的人数,按照人数收取打点费用,所以必须要收到这笔钱。








Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Lynching upon Yangtze River

Three college students sacrificed their lives to rescue two drowning kids on the Yangtze River. Their bodies were dragged behind a boat of a local mafia with political connections in the water when their boss was negotiating ranson with the university administrators. Despite tearful pleas from 40 some students and professors at the scene, the mafia refused to release the bodies while waiting for the money to be retrieved in four hours.

An investigative report by the Shanghai TV presented the complete story to people outside for the first time.

The scene of the tragic accident was a popular tourist destination and busy fishing resource. When the two kids fell to the water by accident in bright daylight (2pm), however, no local people dare to rescue. A local mafia with political connections enjoys a monopoly in the body recovering business. They pocket 12,000 RMB Yuan ($2,000) to recover a body in daytime, and 18,000 RMB ($3,000) Yuan for a night job. Anyone dares to save drowning people will be attacked, their boats burned. Fishermen were blamed by initial media for leaving the scene after the accident, but actually they said they were fleeing so that not to get into trouble.

The college students who were holding a picnic were not from the local area so they did not know the rule. After getting the two kids out of the river, the human chain broke, and 9 students fell to the water. At this time, there were several boat right at the scene, as close as within 3 yards but they quickly drove away.

Half an hour later, local Maritime Affairs officials and local Paramilitary firemen (firemen in China are active duty armed police under the military, similar to the status of Coast Guard in the US) arrived the scene but all refused to get into the water, citing conflict of interests with the mafia.

40 minutes later, the mafia boats arrived. They soon found two drowned students. They did not remove them from the water to check, but rather tied their hands to the the boat, and dragged them behind in the water while they urged the other students and professors to raise money. The mafia insisted they would have to wait until the $24,000 cleared before they look for the third one. 12,000 RMB Yuan is a big sum of money and they do not have that much. Some students were sent back to the university to collect money. It took them 4 hours to get the money. However, it was about the evening, and the mafia now demand to trade at the 18,000 night rate.

At the end, students got bodies back after clearing the deal at price set by the mafia.

The Jingzhou police refused to charged the mafia even after the media exposure. The local police complained no law regulating this area and urge the government to make laws.