Friday, June 29, 2007



Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Everflo Snugli Crossroads baby carrier goes for $40 at Target, $50 on eBay (plus $19 shipping), and RMB 99 on Taobao (plus RMB 10/20 for shipping, a total of about $14).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shanghai Expat: Pudong or Puxi ?

We're moving in August to Shanghai and this has been an area we're still deep in research. I think though we're leaning more towards the Puxi area. We're moving from central Toronto--for those who know it's the St. Clair/Dufferin area--which is not quite downtown however a 10 minute walk down the street and we'll be downtown. We love our neighbourhood for the "classic Toronto" feel--We just have to turn the corner and we have well over 20 family owned mulit-cultural restaurants that cater to anything our taste buds desire. We also love that there are schools around us, parks galore and the neighbourhoods are settled. I was working out in the 'burbs' of Toronto and my partner was working downtown yet we chose not to live in the burbs--and this for me is what Pudong seems like--that urban sprawl that is Mississauga or Markham. Manufactured neighbourhoods. I think Puxi appears more settled, diverse and while it is 'dirtier' it's Shanghai. We also have a child and I cant help but feel I would be letting her down if I was to live in the 'burbs'.

Correct me if I'm wrong but this is how I see it--I suppose we'll find out if our feelings are the same when we actually arrive.


Really have a think before u settle down in Century Park. Sure, it is a nice and fairly clean and quiet area, close to Carrefour and quite convenient.. But it is also very far from things! I lived there for 6 months, and enjoyed it OK, but in the end I was so fed up with catching the metro and doing that annoying change at (always crowded) people square, as well as having to pay an expensive taxi ride every time I missed the last metro home.

I find Puxi to be more enjoyable in terms of things going on, and living at Century park proved to be annoying a lot of times when someone called and asked if I wanted to grab a quick bite somewhere (like in the french concession), and I knew it would take me maybe 45 min to get there, and then 45 min home.... I moved after 6 months and now live in the french concession, which I like so much better! I don't find the FC noisy or overwhelming. Pollution is everywhere, and I can still go and visit Pudong when I have an errand there. But overall I find life on the west side more convenient.

Really, you catch different vibes from the Puxi and Pudong peoples' answers. It's like the Caltech and Harvey Mudd rivalry: Techers speak fondly of their campus, and Mudders yap at our heels trying to justify how good they are, always using their rival's yardstick to measure themselves.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Grading finals and listening to "Music like The Smashing Pumpkins".

Via Tim and Valerie.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

On Thursday we took Charlotte in for her 50-day check-up. We had seen textblaster5000's photo of Thomas swimming in the unmistakable Peace Maternity nurses' diaper-changing room, so we asked about it. For RMB 100 (a little steep, but hey) we were able to get some swim time for Charlotte. At first she was a little baffled by the whole set-up, but after a few minutes of being pushed around she got into it a little more. Still, she has a long way to go before the Olympics. Haha.

Pushing one through

Who said I'm short?


Graceful dive

Underwater kung-fu

Watchful eyes

Frog in a tub

Rabbit ears

Actually, Jodi wrote a better post than me about the hospital visit. Except, it's all in Chinese.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My co-worker Jeff just wandered onto this:

<style type="text/css">
foo { color: red; font-weight: bold; }

(Works in Firefox 2.0 on Winders. Click to see in action.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Your search - "国务院办公厅关于2008年部分节假日安排的通知" - did not match any documents.


Federal Holidays Calendars from 1997 to 2010

Sincerely frustrated,
Micah Sittig
Academic Calendar Planning Committee chair

Watson's used to be a soda company.

On Friday night I took my computer out of storage and set it up on top of Jodi's. I wiped Redhat 9 (it's been a good 5 years) and did a net install of the latest Debian Etch, but found that I couldn't make an ADSL connection to upgrade or add packages. So I called it quits for the night.

On Saturday morning Jodi and Charlotte accompanied me to the high school graduation ceremony. In the afternoon Jodi's cousins came over for lunch and to take pictures with Charlotte. In the evening, Jodi and I went out to have hotpot at the 傣妹 on Sichuan Rd. We hardly recognized the stretch of Sichuan Rd that we walked along; Hongkou is really doing a nice job changing/renovating that street: there are flower boxes all over, newly paved sidewalks, and a mix of decent middle-of-the-road and empty luxury malls. The Daimei we were looking for had closed down "temporarily" so we had hotpot at the Nanhua across the street. We also had pastries from the Paris Baguette next door, twice. We were going to hit up Xujiahui for a movie but realized we'd have to take a taxi back. Darn you, Pudong!

On Sunday Jodi and her mom went out shopping all afternoon so I stayed home and took care of Charlotte. In the meantime I had realized that I had an old router sitting around, so I added that to the mix and was able to aptitude a bunch of software onto my computer (hostname: petisuis): ssh, screen, x-windows, xmms, blackbox, firefox... Once I had Firefox up and running, I wrote up a Shanghai Public Transportation weblog post and waited for Jodi and her mom to get home. They brought 炒河粉 fried noodles and 菠萝饱 buns with fresh butter from the Bifengtang at the Yaohan mall, one of the better locations in Shanghai. Jodi also gave me a Father's Day present, a cute alarm clock and a weblog post with a bunch of her online friends (what have I done?!) wishing me happy father's day. Stayed up until 1:30am working on sound (solved) and fonts (still working on this).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

i sing of Olaf glad and big

A Poem by e. e. cummings

i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelovéd colonel (trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but—though an host of overjoyed
noncoms (first knocking on the head
him) do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments—
Olaf (being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds, without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightaway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but-though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skillfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat—
Olaf (upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ (of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you

· · · · · ·

Edward Estlin Cummings (1894-1962) was a controversial American poet who was accused of being an elitist and an anti-semite misanthrope. He experimented radically with form, punctuation, spelling and syntax, abandoning traditional techniques and structures to create a new, highly idiosyncratic means of poetic expression. He is regarded as one of the best known modernist poets.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Riku on WappBlog introduced me to a new internet euphemism in his post Flickr被和谐了?, "Has Flickr been harmonized?" Some Chinese internet users are finding the Flickr image servers to be blocked by the GFW today.

(UPDATE: it's a strange one. Connections made to get reset but I get through when I try the IP for the Yahoo-rented Akamai server hosting the data. Block or DNS misconfiguration?)

(UPDATE: On Twitter, user sidekick shows another way to talk about the block without directly saying "blocked": 希望Flickr只是因為最近4 june 而暫時GFW and Flickr 真的被GFW了? John, what's that type of linguistic construction called?)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ten awesome points for whoever can tell me what this sign says, and 20 points for whoever can tell me where I took this picture.

It's some crazy sign on a building that only shows the outlines of the lower halves of the characters.  Very hard to make out what it says.

(There's a larger version on Flickr.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

(I sent this post as an e-mail to my Stats students this morning.)

Hi fellow statisticians,

I found a couple of interesting articles online this week that I'd like the share with you. They're important because they show how important it is to know good statistics in order to reach reliable conclusions from data.

"Linguistic tone is related to the population frequency of the adaptive haplogroups of two brain size genes, ASPM and Microcephalin"
The first is a "statistical study" released by a couple of linguists from the UK. This study is making the news because people are using it to say that you can't learn Chinese if you don't have the right genes. I quote Language log:

Dediu and Ladd again

This research began (as I understand it) when Bob Ladd noticed that maps of the geographical distribution of two particular genetic traits (from a couple of articles published in Science in 2005) seemed similar to what he knew of the geographical distribution of lexical tone. So he worked with Dan Dediu to check this impression statistically. They looked at the geographical distribution of 26 linguistic traits (from Haspelmath et al.'s World Atlas of Language Structures) correlated with the geographical distribution of 1,000 genetic variants, yielding 26,000 correlations. The statistical distribution of these correlations looks like this:

The image.

And sure enough, as the arrow on the graph indicates, the correlation between the geographical distribution of lexical tone and the two genes of interest is way out in the tail of this bell-shaped curve of empirical gene/language correlations. This clearly tends to confirm Bob's original intuition.

But even in a distribution created by completely random effects, without any meaningful connections among the variables studied, something has to be way out in the tail.

There's a tricky point of statistical reasoning here, which is clear in general, although even experts often seem to wind up disagreeing about particular cases. If you started with 26,000 correlations, and no reason to expect any causal relations among the variables, and a situation (like geographical diffusion of genetic and cultural traits) where it's not clear what distribution of correlations to expect in the absence of causal connections, then you probably wouldn't draw any conclusions at all from the fact that some of the correlations were fairly high. On the other hand, if you thought that there might be some meaningful connections in the mix, then the tails of the distribution are a good source of examples to study further -- and this is the main conclusion that D & L draw from their results, quite properly.

So it's important to be cautious when using results like this, because, I quote our textbook:

"Many tests run at once will probably produce some significant results by chance alone, even if all the null hypotheses are true." (YMS pg 592)

So not only is the article being distorted by story-hungry journalists, the fact is that the statistical methods used to support the paper's hypothesis are dubious to begin with.  Oops!

Apple Takes a Bite out of DRM - MrMick - Maximum PC
The second article is about a test that was done to see if music fans could distinguish between audio files encoded at two different high-quality rates, with two different quality of earbuds. I recommend you read it, but beware of the results because the experiment design has some vital flaws. Can you pick them out?  How would you change the setup if you were asked to repeat this experiment?

Have a nice weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing your presentations on Tuesday.