Saturday, November 29, 2003


Snow covers Michigan Stadium tonight.

Thursday: spent the day at Dina and Woody's house in East Detroit. Big turkey dinner, and music from Woody, Dan and Van until late at night.

Friday: lazy morning sleeping in and reading, breakfast for lunch, then a walk downtown for dinner at Jerusalem Garden (we recommend Falafel Sandwich with Hummus; delicious) and browsing at Shaman Drum and Dawn Treader bookstores. Hot apple cider back at home.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

University of Michigan web cam round-up:

And remember, dear readers, this Friday is Buy Nothing Day.

This entry will consist of four items related to Simon Willison and web design. First, check out the redesign at Simon's site. He went from Zeldman orange to a forest green that is pleasant and easy on the eyes. My only gripe was that the link blog was floated awkwardly into the first entry, but it looks like he has framed it by adding some margins, so it is not as smooshed as it was before.

Second, Simon mentioned using the edit styles Javascript bookmarklet to preview style changes as he redesigned. This bookmarklet fills a niche because it updates pages in real time as styles are typed into a new, editable pop-up window; as of now, this is the simplest WYSIWYG CSS editor to have this function that I know of. Not only that, but this latest version of the bookmarklet imports existing linked and inline stylesheets into the pop-up window to make editing even simpler.

Third, I took advantage of the bookmarklet to do my own re-re-design of Simon's site, which I captured in a screenshot. Thanks to the flexibility of the edit styles, though, the screenshot will only be necessary when Simon decides to change the markup of the page: the new CCS styles can be applied at any time by simpy invoking the bookmarklet on the page, and copying-and-pasting the saved new styles over the contents of the pop-up window. This even works on the pages of individual entries. This is a credit to an elegant site design on Simon's part. (By the way, I did DiveIntoMark too, screenshot and all.)

Fourth and somewhat unrelated, I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I read the first two comments on Simon's entry on the Berkeley DB. It looks like somebody discovered his anti-blog-spam measure, seconds too late:

Damn, your blog has high pagerank, how do you do it? Well i can only hope some off it will rub off on my site. oh, and don't forget to vissit Online Casino Chique $30 Bonus!

Online Casino Chique $30 Bonus! - 26th November 2003 03:06

Damnit, what kinda re-direct is this, greedy bastard.

Online Casino Chique $30 Bonus! - 26th November 2003 03:07

Simon's method for discouraging blog spam is based on the premise that the purpose of weblog spam is to increase the Google ranking of a spammer's site by leaving URL of the site as part of comments on highly ranked weblogs. Simon changes the code of all links in comments into redirects, so that links themselves do not point towards the intended page. This means that Simon is not contributing any of his own PageRank (Google's notion of how valuable a web page is) to any of the site URLs left by people in their comments. The spammer above didn't realize this until after he had left his first comment, hence the frustrated rejoinder.

As always, on matters of public health policy, Helena brings insightful analysis to bear.

Here's where the debate comes in: selective phc can theoretically be more cost effective in targeting specific problems, like HIV/AIDS patients, but it's inherent narrowness precludes investment in more sustainable comprehensive care that could potentially be more effective at monitoring AIDS patients.

Read on for the complete thought.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Found my bike, in the other bicycle lot.

I somehow misplaced my bike (I know, how do you misplace a bike?!? welcome to Micah's world). That meant that I had to walk to school this morning, the morning of Ann Arbor's first snowfall. Not a great snowfall; I learned that snow melts on contact with asphalt and pavement, but doesn't melt on wooden fenceposts. But it was snow, and that means it was cold enough to numb my entire face by the time I reached school: a little embarassing, because speaking Chinese at 10 in the morning is bad enough. Try doing it with a non-responsive jaw.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Quick links tonight:

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Which comes first: democracy or the rule of law? Via Lokman:

Intriguing chat transcript between Larry Diamond, Stanford Political Science Professor and Coit Blacker and Donald Emmerson, both from the Institute of International Studies, Stanford. The topic is whether democracy comes first or rule of law. I think it is interesting to see how the question is posed, it rules out the possibility of the two together (it is either or).

Also via Lokman—and in fact, hosted by him—is a foil to Living in China: Living Outside China. (use the Chinese Tool to read it.)

Bible study Thanksgiving dinner tonight; met with Josh, Mike and Jin at 2pm to make the mashed potatoes and carve the turkey, then at 6pm converged on Trotter House and partied until almost 10pm. Good company, new people to meet, and great food.

One of the questions I'd like to investigate in economics is how people incorporate intangibilities into their value calculations. This problem of valuing intangibles is especially acute in the Information age, because the process of placing value on information is still fuzzy and subject to interpretation. This has serious implications for moral and ethical systems. The article Three Systems Of Ethics For Diverse Applications makes a convincing case for the co-existence of three systems of ethics in the contemporary world: Guardian, Commercial and Information. What are the first two, and where is the third system different?

I have said that Guardian ethics are best for dealing with zero-sum or negative-sum situations, and Commercial ethics are best for dealing with positive-sum situations. The invention of computers has created unlimited-sum situations... The authors of scientific papers and the programmers of Open Source software want as many people as possible to use their work—as long as they get appropriate credit. The more such information is copied, the more benefits accrue both to the inventor and to the users.

One thing I don't quite agree with right off the bat is the following: If we see someone acting unethically, we may feel that they are unfair or untrustworthy. If we see someone acting immorally, our reaction is usually stronger. Ethics can—and should—change depending on the situation. I'll have to do some more thinking about that.

Near the bottom of the article it echoes an idea I've heard around the net lately; namely that the Free Software movement is untenable, while the separate Open Source movement is more practical and acceptable. I think this idea has merit.

The reason I really like this article is that it takes an analytical, philosophical look at the ethics of the new Information age, rather than shouting "pirating music is bad!" or "I'll download as much as I want!" I think there is still a need to develop an acceptable system of ethics for this new age, and that this article goes a long way towards advancing that cause. To tie this into China, I would say that China's traditional ethical framework was largely obliterated by the past 50 years of economic and political upheaval, and that developing a new system of ethics will be very important for the country's stability, and consequently for the well-being of the Chinese people. It would be encouraging and exciting to see China lead the world in this respect, but I don't see that happening until the economy stabilizes and the academic and cultural world gains a voice outside of China.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Chinese class, language exchange, and frittered away the afternoon chatting with Helena at Rendezvous over a large hot chocolate. Very worth it.

In Friday night ACCESS, Pastor Seth is doing a good series on guy-girl relationships. I'm keeping notes. The church also posts audio files to the website.

I got a submission posted at Angry Asian Man:

See here: XploitAsian Flicks, from writer/director Joe Kim, bringing you "a new genre of films that destroy Asian stereotypes." His latest work is A Primer, a controversial short film doing just that, head on. With music from DYP tha Goldyn Child. Check it out.

Also note the Goldynchild's record label, Likwit Productions.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

It's words like 主流 that make me think there is some ancient connection between the Chinese and English languages. literally means "main", and means "flow" or "stream." Hence, "mainstream." This happens about once a month, I'll be reading an article and I come across a word that I don't recognize at first glance, but then I identify the characters and examine the context and voila, the meaning becomes obvious and I'm floored again by the similarity to English. Here was the context for this one:


Approximately: Some stuff that can't be shown in mainstream media, can always be found in the online media. Yah yah, I know it's probably a borrowed, newly coined word. But it's still fun to imagine.

In the same paragraph: , "new wave."

I feel we had a very fruitful and on-target discussion tonight in CCS seminar. From where I sat, we managed to capture the key questions semi-independently of James and Albert. The first question was, to what extent do villagers use village elections to replace corrupt or incompetent leaders? The bigger question behind this one, which Shuang Chen was right on about, is whether village elections are used to effect democracy. Democracy is actualized as self-governance, in the form of self-chosen village leaders. James reminded us that China has a historical legacy of self-chosen local leaders who are utilized by the central power, so village elections are just a formalization of that process. Another key question was, to what extent are these political reforms motivated by local initiatives, or to what extent by initiatives from mid to high-level government agents. We didn't quite isolate this one, but James Lee reminded us of it at the end of the lecture.

After class ended, prof Yu Xie came and talked to us about sociology, and grad school in general. I took notes; prof Xie is very charismatic, and very intelligent. He's lucky to do what he loves. In that way, he is also very inspiring and would be a great person to study under. I envy his grad students.

On a very different train of thought... some days I wish I had the Indian look. You know, Asian Indian: dark skin, close-cropped curly black hair, a noble brow... like those guys in the Bollywood movies. That would be cool.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Who would have thought you could slip Garrison Keillor into an article about Chinese automobile fuel economy standards:

But under the Chinese rules, the fuel-inefficient models—especially new ones introduced after the standards take effect—would be subject to fines no matter how well their siblings do, Mr. Zhang said, and the maker would not be allowed to expand production of the gas-guzzling models. In Garrison Keillor's phrase, China plans to require that every vehicle be above average.

Talk about a non-sequitur.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

This is pretty hilarious. is shamelessly trying to dominate Google as far as English language coverage of the Mu Zimei phenomenon. And he's succeeding too: as of the moment, he's the first and only relevant search result in a Google search for "mu zi mei". Disregarding his blatant self-promotion, he still has a pretty good round-up of other English language sources, and some good original content.

For those out of the loop on this, Mu Zimei is a Guangdong-based journalist whose story and online diary dictating her sexual escapades are garnering much attention in the Chinese popular press. Pretty low brow stuff.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Jenny thinks that reform in China will come from external or grassroots forces, and at one point I may have agreed. Since I've been here at Michigan, however, a very different picture has been developing in my head regarding Chinese political reform. I would agree that reform will not come from the top, at least not from the Hu level. Hu Jintao is in too precarious a position, balancing reformers and Jiang cohorts through symbolic gestures and speeches lauding the Three Represents. But political reform will not come from the grassroots either—rural areas, although holding succesful limited elections, have little sway with the more imporant urban areas; urban areas are behind in democratization, and still under tight government control. Anyhow, the likelihood of succesful reform in one province spreading to other provinces is low because of the regionally fragmented control structures that govern China. Horizontal relationships are more about economic competition and regional protectionism than about sharing ideas that would benefit each other socially.

Instead, look for political reform to come from the mid-level national government. In fact, we've already seen an expansion in the power of the National People's Congress starting in the early 1980s and continuing until today. The NPC now has a significant voice in creating and approving legislation, and is populated with competent representatives and knowledable, consultative experts who support, for now, limited reform. I think if reform happens, it will happen in a top-down fashion from that strata of the government.

That's where reform would come from. As to whether it will actually materialize, I think it's too close to predict anything concrete. Hu is showing political competence, but not brilliance, and the SARS episode really cut back any chances he had to run the show his own way. Look for the Jiang group to muster efforts against any overt reform, but also look for mid-level legislators to work their own quiet "subversion" as they pursue an agenda of reform that is best served subtly.

A topic came up on Slashdot today that happeneds to be something I feel strongly about, and evidently is the same for a lot of people, garnering 69 posts moderated up to +5—the average "active" topic gets about 25. In this case, the topic was Rules for Teenage Internet Access. Surprisingly, Slashdot readers are not all as liberal as I had thought, and plenty of people came down on the side of generous filtering, logging, and oversight. A few kids chimed in, some very mature, and others a little less so but when interpreted correctly, still fitting into the big picture. My own stance might be labelled as pretty liberal. I think that kids have the potential to mature a lot earlier than they do these days; it's just a matter of what the parents expect of their children. I place a high value on open, honest, and critical discussion of "unpleasant" subject like gender and racial discrimination, homosexuality, drugs, &c. The post that most resembles my stance (and I think deserves a read) gives an example:

Let me use a personal example: My son, at the time was age 9, went to spend the night at a friends house. While there they watched an austin powers movie. This came out in conversation a couple of days later. My wife and I were horrified that this happened, but we didn;t yell and hoot and holler. We asked about the movie and he told us about it (We had seen this movie a couple of years before at a friends house (Strange how things work out)) During this conversation we talked about attitudes toward women and sexuality. And we talked about whe we found certain things objectionable. But it wasn't a lecture. we were having a conversation and he understood why it was inapproriate when we had finished.

In fact, reading this post changed my mind about filtering. The key is that the poster discussed it with his kids, and uses it to protect them and not to monitor them. Also, in the last example where he discusses the webcam invite, parent and children are using the computer together: that's something important that I think nobody got exactly right, that actions speak louder than words and that your example will have a great influence on the values formed by your kids.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

I had thought that watching a movie made entirely of text was impossible. I was wrong.

Mplayer played a hip hop music video in the console using aalib.

Can you make out a big shark costume rapping into the camera, in front of some palm trees? This is possible thanks to mplayer and aalib.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

In a fit of unjustified financial distractedness, I signed up for a Virtual Private Server at JVDS, on a lead from 0xDECAFBAD. Actually, I could justify it for a few reasons:

  • I've always wanted a web server that I had root access to.
  • If the Zhongwen Tool reaches any degree of popularity, I'd rather not put too much strain on the SDF servers.
  • The short domain name!

So 无比.org ( has been born. Nothing much to see there right now, but notice that the Zhongwen Tool runs at about the same speed as my home box, petisuis, which is about five times faster than on Freeshell.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Walter Hutchens is an assistant prof of Logistics, Business and Public Policy at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business, and previously worked at Apple Computers. He keeps a weblog on Chinese business law.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Before I start this blog entry for real, let me brag about one technical feat. By changing the Zhongwen Tool to pass array references between subroutines rather than pass the arrays themselves I not only cleaned up the code significantly, I also sped up the speed of execution by a factor of four. Check it out:

The code took: 1 wallclock secs ( 1.33 usr + 0.04 sys = 1.37 CPU)
The code took 1 wallclock secs ( 0.33 usr + 0.01 sys = 0.34 CPU).

Monday of last week was my birthday. Like pretty much every year, I did not tell anybody before-hand. I think that by the time November 3rd rolls around each year, I've forgotten how nice it is to be feted by friends. Hopefully by writing it down, I'll remember.

Despite keeping it quiet and hoping it would slip by, many people did notice that it was my birthday. So I have to give credit to a few groups. First, the Impact Bible study baked a cake for me on the Wednesday before my birthday, to be eaten after the study. As luck would have it, that night I decided to ditch and hang out with my colleagues from CCS at Sabor Latino. So I feel sad that it didn't work out. My second birthday celebration came at the hands of my housemates. On Monday night, the night of my actual birthday, Dina cooked a big pot of delicious chili, Marta contributed a salad, Woody broke out the feta and saltines, Seongool cut up a crunchy Korean pear for desert, and I brought a tomato and my smiling face. Dinner was scrumptious, accompanied by Woody's bicycling stories, and followed by gifts (flowers, Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, a 天马 bookmark). Thanks guys!

The following Wednesday, November 5th, I did go to Bible study. Afterwards, Young and a bunch of folks took me out to the Westside Grill for foosball and wings. People here are so thoughtful.

The next day, I went to the weekly research seminar to hear Edward Steinfeld talk about market culture in contemporary China. Dwight and John G both came, and we got to hear Prof Lieberthal be the main discussant on Steinfeld's manuscript. Albert Park even brought up the sticky issue of using the word "culture" that we had touched on in our seminar on guanxi study Wednesday evening; we preferred the term cognative space. After the seminar, Dwight and I had an hour or so before Lieberthal's PS 339 lecture, so Dwight treated me to the Mediterranean Wraps at Mr. Greek's Coney Island. So generous!

Friday night is when the CCS students typically hang out together, and that week we had two good reasons: my birthday, and the new Matrix movie. I think I already outlined what I planned to do that day; new I'll give a hindsight view. Albert Park had lots of good advice on what general course to take here at Michigan, and helped to clarify several questions I had about plans for next semester and the summer. I was actually pretty nervous about talking to him one-on-one, but he was very warm and accomodating so I walked out feeling pretty good about our talk. After talking with our language exchange partners, I chatted with Helena for too long (again!), and only had time to run to Miranda Brown's office and photocopy some reading for her History of Science class, before we met up for dinner at Dominick's: pizza and antipasta, thank you Helena! The owner's little kids were running around the whole time and talking to customers; very cute kids, they reminded me of my students in Tianjin. A very long and cold walk later, we got to Dan's house to watch the second Matrix movie, and then piled into John's van to catch the third Matrix movie at the Briarwood Mall. After the movie, we stormed into the Full Moon on Main Street for beer and billiards, as Helena puts it. My driver's license actually expired a couple of days ago, but they didn't even notice at the Full Moon (Dominick's made a big fuss, and we didn't even intend to order alcohol!).

You might think that this would be enough socializing for a while. But no, on Saturday I went out after the 8pm CCS film series movie with Dwight, Dan, Xiaomu, Kim, and a bunch of hispano-parlante grad students from PoliSci and Public Policy. But yes, that marked the end of the flurry of social activity surrounding my birthday. As you can see, I'm surrounded by generous and caring people, I don't think I could have asked for a better group of friends this year!

About the weather: all the leaves have fallen off the trees, and some light showers have wetted them into a decomposing organic slush that splatters onto my jacket as I ride to class in the morning; it has been freezing cold for the last week or so, but this morning it turned warmer, around mid-afternoon the wind picked up, and now I hear rumors that Ann Arbor is on tornado alert. Tornadoes!

School life in general is still busy. I've got a ton of reading for my CCS seminar, the History of Science class is a hundred times more interesting than the history class I swapped it for, and I'm feeling a lot better about my Chinese class now that the lessons are getting harder. I've got a big research paper due for Lieberthal's class next week that I should put a major dent into this weekend; wish me luck.

There are a couple of things I would like to do before the semester is over, I just need to find somebody to do them with: go to the art museum here on campus, and take a day trip into Detroit. Also, I'd like to hook up with Tomo again for some activity or another. Shoot the breeze about computer stuff some more. Yeah.



Tonight/tomorrow afternoon I will post a personal update, per the request of the parental units; including a summary of birthday activities, the strange weather, and life in general.

Lots of debugging and a new look for the 中文 Tool, to be uploaded tonight.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Beijing photo weblogs make me nostalgic.

This simplified my code a lot:

my $utf8 = q{ [\x00-\x7F] # One-byte range | [\xC2-\xDF][\x80-\xBF] # Two-byte range | \xE0[\xA0-\xBF][\x80-\xBF] # Three-byte range | [\xE1-\xEF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF] # Three-byte range | \xF0[\x90-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF] # Four-byte range | [\xF1-\xF7][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF] # Four-byte range | \xF8[\x88-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF] # Five-byte range | [\xF9-\xFB][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF] # Five-byte range | \xFC[\x84-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF] # Six-byte range | \xFD[\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF][\x80-\xBF] # Six-byte range };

Thanks, O'Reilly (PDF).

Monday, November 10, 2003

Above is a picture of my latest completed project. At the top is the title, "Zhongwen Tool". Below it is a text box that takes Chinese characters as input. When the Submit button is pressed the computer thinks for a while, then prints out the text with all the words that it can find in the dictionary underlined. When the cursor is hovered over a word in the text, a box pops up and shows the pinyin pronunciation and meaning of the word.

Just today, I've used it to read an article in Chinese on what changes the latest round of opening and reform have brought to the common people of China, and decisions by Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao regarding the direction that the socialist market economy will take in the future.

For now, the "Zhongwen Tool" (gosh, that's an awful name) is only available on my own computer. On some other weekend when I'm less busy, I hope to make it available for public use.

Some of the tool's cool features are only obvious behind the scenes. For example, I have the ability to create custom dictionaries to supplement the main dictionary (the CEDICT) for proper nouns like "The Matrix: Revolutions" (?? 3) and words that don't quite make it into the formal dictionary like "movie fan" (??). Also, every time the tool runs it reads a list of punctuation to ignore. Lastly, I actually wrote what I think is a recursive function to hunt for words in the text. I haven't written a recursive function since I took at class on C in 1997.

The program is working reasonably well. Even though the CEDICT has 24k words, it can't cover every possible term. It has trouble particularly with suffixes and prefixes, which sometimes get tacked onto the wrong word. But it shouldn't be a problem for somebody whose Chinese is at a reasonble level and is able to pick that stuff out. As the custom dictionary grows, it should eliminate some of the misses. Also, this will be a good way to build up a contribution to the CEDICT, an open Chinese dictionary project which takes submissions of new entries.

If anybody is really interested in trying this out, I've put up a copy at my Freeshell site. Please note several things: I built this on my RedHat box and Freeshell runs NetBSD, so there may be some bugs/weirdness in certain outputs; second, this tool is hosted on a free server, and has to parse a 10 MB dictionary file every time it runs, so please don't tax it too much (if you want it for heavy usage, e-mail me and I'll send you the files); also, for the moment, this only takes input in UTF-8 encoding (RedHat changes everything on the clipboard to UTF-8; convenient!); finally, the definitions are actually output in the title attributes of span tags around the characters, which Mozilla pops up in little boxes, and I know that Safari doesn't do these pop-ups. If I can find a Javascript that'll do them, it'd be nice. But like I said, all these limitations will have to be overcome some other day.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Techie post: Would it be possible to input Blogger entries in XML, and then include an XSLT link in the template, to convert it to HTML? A List Apart and Mozilla make it look possible, but I'd have to be able to serve the files with the xml extension, and serve them with MIME-type text/xml. Blogger doesn't give up control over either of those.

A nerdy new sweatshirt is on its way to my mailbox. Thanks for the birthday present, Grandpa Stu and Grandma Honey!

More techie stuff—a random sort in perl:

Paul suggested this program. It randomly shuffles an array until it gets it in the right order. It's pretty good for up to six elements; seven starts to be noticeably slow; eight starts to be really slow (tens of seconds); and I haven't tried nine yet.

Kristof hits the bulls-eye again:

And when dictatorships crumbled in places like Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, Brazil, Spain and Portugal, it was because growing wealth nurtured a middle class, not because of sanctions.

Why fight planned economies with a planned economic policy? In the case of South Africa the regime was politically and socially repressive, that's why economic sanctions worked. Kristof is echoing my feeling: unleash the forces of capitalism against the planned economies of the world.

Also, note that the title of the article, Our Man in Havana, is taken from the name of a Graham Greene book. Graham Greene is the journalist's author, having written books about battle-toughened correspondents all over the world. He also wrote The Quiet American, which I read while working at Borders last year after I heard that the movie was good. It's a good story wrapped around a European perspective on world affairs.

SWV pretty much rocked. Where did they go? For now, they're available on Freeshell:

  • SWV - Human Nature (Extended Remix)

Saturday, November 08, 2003

According to the Buttafly Guide to Interpreting Friendster Photos, I'm Dangerous, possibly a pirate.

Big vocabulary review quiz this morning in Chinese: I blew it out of the water. It's nice to be good at something.

Full day ahead of me today, let's do some mental organization by writing this stuff down:

  1. Chinese vocab quiz: done.
  2. Lieberthal Brown Bag: cancelled.
  3. Meet with advisor: plan topics to bring up.
  4. Language exchange time: brought a cookbook.
  5. Study with Helena:
    1. print out/glance over CCS reading.
    2. Lieberthal reading.
    3. if time, photocopy 535 reading in Frieze.
  6. Catch some dinner, or eat lunch leftovers.
  7. Matrix marathon with CCS folk at Dan's house.

Friday, November 07, 2003

I thought this would be worth posting on both of my weblogs: Caijing magazine is an investigative publication that runs a small section in English. Good articles from an atypical Chinese perspective. (Found at

Thursday, November 06, 2003

This is probably my favorite Faye Wong song, so I put it on Freeshell:

  • Faye Wong - Wo Yuanyi.mp3

This afternoon I went out to lunch with Miranda Brown, Lenore, and Li Xiang after 335. We went to TK Wu's, the new Chinese place that everybody is raving about, on Liberty down from Borders. Last time, I ordered off the lunch special menu like the tight-fisted Scrooge that I am and so I thought the food was nothing special. Today, I was shown the "special menu" and the Chinese-language-only menu sitting behind the bottle of sweet-and-sour sauce, from which you can order much more authentic and delicious food.

After Bible study tonight, a bunch of guys and Sandy took me out to the Westside Grill for Wings. We rocked the foosball table, and supped on buffalo wings and celery sticks. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

I have a feeling i would get along splendidly with New York Times editorialist Nicholas Kristof. Not only was he bureau chief of the NY Times's Beijing office for several years and co-authored the book China Wakes with his wife, he also seems to have a humanitarian heart (like me), stays out of political fads (like me), and sees right through the games people play (well, actually I'm pretty naive when it comes to games). So it was just confirmation to see him write this in his column today, Death by Optimism:

The administration chose to rely not on intelligence but on wishful thinking, and it became intoxicated by the siren calls of Ahmad Chalabi, a silver-tongued charlatan.

So I'm not the only one who saw right through this opportunist Chalabi.

I got a spreadsheet from MaryEllen today with all the classes taught by CCS faculty next semester, and I almost fell out of my seat when I saw Computers & Chinese. But I was disappointed, because it's basically "Microsoft Computing and Chinese". Now if there was a class on how to set up X to do Chinese input, that would be a class to die for. And some lessons on Unicode and other East Asian encodings—that would be cool too. We Linux users sure could use some good news right about now, what with RedHat abandoning the desktop and SuSE getting bought by Novell.

Because the CMS that runs the LS&A Course Guide changes URLs often, rendering my links outdated, I'll post the class description here:

Computers and the Internet are rapidly becoming an important part of Chinese culture. Chinese, after English, is now the most widely used language on the Internet. At the same time, however, processing the Chinese language on a computer and applying various software packages in a Chinese environment remain a big challenge. That is why a course is desirable to provide training on Chinese language use in an electronical environment. ASIANLAN 405 will cover language use in four computer applications, namely, Chinese word processing, Chinese e-mail, Power Point presentations in Chinese, and creation of Chinese web pages. Although involving training in computer skills, this primarily still will be a language course because the requirements and activities will emphasize all the aspects of language use, listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The instructional strategy of the course will emphasize collaborative learning. Students will work in pairs or teams for the two major projects. Throughout the term, peer feedback will be abundant in frequent group discussions. There are no written exams. Grades are based on successful completion of homework and project assignments.

What I mean by "Microsoft Computing" is that the four applications are likely to be Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Powerpoint, and Microsoft Frontpage. I think this class is not likely to reach the level of abstration, in regards to encodings and standards, that I would like to learn.

Today's vocab: 鱼尾纹 [yu2 wei3 wen2/yú wěi wén] : literally translated"fish tail lines", or commonly, wrinkles. Examples:

Just when I thought I had done everything I could as a young person, my wrinkles get even more pronounced! (Source)
How To Get Rid Of Wrinkles (Source)

And, to bookmark when I get home: a Chinese English dictionary that takes utf8-encoded input.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

How come I didn't know about this before?! Every day, the website of Washington DC's Newseum makes available the front pages of 276 newspapers from 36 different countries. My picks: Madrid's El Pais, Los Angeles's LA Times, Arlington's USA Today, New York's The Wall Street Journal, and Hong Kong's The Asian Wall Street Journal.

The World Birthday Web is one of those left-over sites from the heady days of the WWW's infancy, whose genius lies in its simplicity. People can sign up to list their homepage and e-mail address under their birthday. It used to be huge, with hundreds of names listed on each date. Every November 3rd I would get dozens of e-mails from individuals and organizations wishing me a happy birthday (most notable was a greeting from the Klingon Language Institute). Then in 2000 the World Birthday Web shut down for reasons which are still unclear to me (besides the obvious spam harvesting potential). But earlier in May of 2003 they re-opened with a blank slate and new spam-deterrent methods, and naturally I listed myself. Discouraging but expected, the popularity of the relatively unsophisticated World Birthday Web is in the dumps. Lo and Behold though, I have eight messages in my mailbox this morning, about double the normal number--because half of them are birthday greetings! Thank you World Birthday Web.

For the technically inclined, I just noticed, the top November 3rd birthday on the list in 1996 was 3 november: Jamie Zawinski, of jwz, Netscape and Mozilla, DNA Lounge, etc fame.

I mistakenly thought I blogged this, so here it is for future reference:

mann tracht und gott lacht - "man plans and God laughs" or "man proposes and God disposes."

Monday, November 03, 2003

To sign up for a weblog at, I had to agree to the following:

1. Weblogs are personal online diaries, and should not be used for commercial purposes.

2. You should not reproduce, publish or disseminate content that:

  • (a) Violates the basic principles set forth in the Constitution;
  • (b) Endangers national security, divulges national secrets, subverts the current regime, or threatens national unity;
  • (c) Is harmful to national honor and interests;
  • (d) Incites racial hostility, racial discrimination, or shatters racial unity;
  • (e) Violates national religious rights, promotes cults, feudal thinking, or superstition;
  • (f) Disseminates rumors, endangers social order, or creates social instability;
  • (g) Disseminates obscenity, pornography, gambling, violence, murder, terror, or advocates criminal activity;
  • (h) Insults or slanders other people, or infringes on the legal rights of others;
  • (i) Or any other content that is prohibited by administrative statutes.

3. You should not mis-use the weblog by engaging in the activities listed below:

  • (a) Breaking into computer information networks or using network resources without permission;
  • (b) Deleting, altering or adding to the capabilities of computer information networks without permission;
  • (c) Deleting, altering or adding to the applications and data in memory, in the processor, or in transmission, of a computer information network without permission;
  • (d) Purposefully making or disseminating computer viruses and other disruptive programs;
  • (e) Other behaviour that threatens the safety of computer information networks.

4. Users are responsible for their expressed opinions and viewpoints; all opinions and comments by users are unrelated to this site.

(This translations breaks from my usual preference for a very literal rendition of the original text. Thus it should be loosely interpreted.)

And they say that totalitarianism has been replaced by authoritarianism in China.

I have to admit, I watched an episode of Dekichatta Kekkon today...

Alaric says to Read Easy, Read Medium Easy, and Read Hard. Reading the new Chinese marriage rules was hard for me, and reading weblogs in Chinese is easy.

Unfortunately, today I will be doing neither. It's a CCS 501 marathon day.

Japanese dramas are a bad habit!

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Two notes to myself: the quote "anything is possible if you don't know what you're talking about", and that I should learn LaTeX.

Went to a potluck dinner organized by the grad bible study group. Fell asleep during The Italian Job.

I'm trying out ksh on otaku.

Shonen Knife closed off their North American tour at Detroit's Magic Stick last night. I caught a ride into Detroit with Tomo. At the venue, we met up with his friend Seth. Both of these guys work with computers/unix &mdash conversation tended towards favorite shells and editors, links on Disjointed, and Seth's MAME box (fun, I don't get the chance to chat about this stuff very often IRL). Smoke-filled bowling alley on the first floor, hopping bar, pool hall and stage on the second floor, the Magic Stick was the location of Houdini's last show The crowd was largely dressed up for Halloween. Shonen Knife didn't appear on stage until midnight, and the show was over by 1:30 AM. I enjoyed it a lot; Shonen Knife's music isn't anything to write home about but it's something I can rock out to, and I'm happy to give my support to any band that crosses cultural lines like Shonen Knife does. Mad props to Tomo for the ride, let me know if you find any other worthwhile events around here.

Vocab word for today is 微软: [wei2 ruan3] /Microsoft/. The first character is literally micro, or small, and the second character is literally soft, the same character used for "soft" in soft sleeper train tickets, and in software.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

The Global Competitiveness Report 2003-2004, from the World Economic Forum, is out. Top countries:

  1. Finland
  2. USA
  3. Sweden
  4. Denmark
  5. Taiwan

In other news, two Beijing punk rock bands are playing at the Gilman in Berkeley today, Hang On The Box and Brain Failure.