September 29, 2009

A Japanese Lady

A work of my friend Kaye.

Life and Virginity

BBC: Egypt anger over virginity faking:

A leading Egyptian scholar has demanded that people caught importing a female virginity-faking device into the country should face the death penalty.

Compensating people's lives for virginity? How unbelievable this is.

September 26, 2009

New Proof (wonkish)

There is a lemma proposition for the Bolzano-Weierstrass Theorem, namely, a sequence converges to a number if and only if any and every subsequence of that sequence also converges to the same number (technically a trimmed-down version of this proposition, i.e. only the necessary condition part, also suffices to prove the B-W Theorem). Traditionally, this proposition, or theorem by nature, can be possibly proved with a deduction occupying one page or so. However, I discovered today that my schoolmate Ling Hao from the Math Department has a better solution to verify the sufficient condition part (from convergence of subsequences to convergence of the original sequence). He simply picks the original sequence as the selected "any" subsequence and it is obvious that this subsequence has a limit, and consequently the original sequence, which is exactly the same as the subsequence, also converges to the same limit. Proof complete. I advised he write an academic paper for this.

New Computers

I just realized the true reason why the printing service in the residence computer room is faster than before. It is not that the printer server has advanced its memory, but the whole set of computers has been replaced with new ones (though the operation system stuck with Windows XP).

China's Century?

In per capita terms, China is still a poor poor country; and it still faces numerous problems. Read more from

September 24, 2009

Eliminating Pirated Online Western Films Public morals and private property:
In mid-September the China Internet Video Anti-Piracy Alliance, a group comprising both big Chinese internet portals and foreign rights-owners, including the Motion Picture Association of America, announced a broad legal attack. It said that it had begun collecting evidence against more than 1,000 suspected violators of intellectual property and would start filing lawsuits, with the first target being 503 videos found on Youku, an increasingly popular website, that the alliance claims are pirated...

Websites that pay for content are understandably upset about losing a war to rivals that do not always do so. If Western entertainment were no longer widely available, they might regain the initiative. Bereft Chinese consumers, in turn, might help to achieve what foreign pressure could not, by persuading their government to allow more legitimate imports.

It will be a big step in protecting intellectual property in China if to succeed; but I do not think "bereft Chinese consumers" will persuade the government to allow imports. Such persuasion does not make sense in China.

Flea Market in BU

Hi I'm thinking about creating a Google Group where every BU student can freely visit and view and post to buy or sell stuff. One thing nice about Google Groups is that it allows everyone to participate and it facilitates the common need to browse and even search through all the posted information in the group. Also you can choose to subscribe to (bundled) updates about any new information posted in this group. I want your opinion before actually carrying it out. Thank you for your time.

If you have a minute, please help me fill out a questionnaire here.

September 21, 2009

What the Age of Information Has Brought Us

Days ago, when the new Marie Digby album was released worldwide, I wrote on Twitter:
Marie Digby's new album is out today. Still thinking about whether buy one.

8:39 PM Sep 14th from HelloTxt
The next day, I received this retweet:
mariedigby@hanrizon i was pondering the same thing ;) ... actually i think i am going to get it, i hear it's pretty okay.. lol

1:47 PM Sep 15th from web in reply to hanrizon
FYI, I've checked that this author is indeed Marie Digby herself.

September 20, 2009

How to Free Your Twitter Feed

Twitter has installed a mandatory user/password verification in every user's homepage feed a few months ago, making it incompatible with Google Reader. I understand that there are other ways to free this. One of them from the Google search result, says that there is a website dedicated to reburn your feed to be an unsecured one if you can provide your user name and password to them. Well personally I am doubtful about the credibility of that website, as it seems to be a small company. So now I've found another method to free your feed: using Feed Burner (now a service from Google). Insert "username:password@" after the "http://" and before anything else in your feed URL and burn it with Feed Burner. It's quite simple. As Google is (presumed to be) a trustworthy company (at least it's big and care about social influence), there should be less worry about the safety of your Twitter account.

September 19, 2009

No Room for Heterodox Economics

Notre Dame Plans to Dissolve the 'Heterodox' Side of Its Split Economics Department.

Does merely the inability to produce large number of top PhD students mean a failure for a university department? Does the fact that nowadays the field of economics is overwhelmed by neoclassicism and econometrics mean that these are the only and correct ways to do economics? Having just gone through an economic crisis that is rarely seen throughout decades, why cannot people demonstrate some openness toward a wider array of methods to study economics? A university can teach both traditional and modern medicine, then why not both mainstream and heterodox economics?

September 18, 2009

School Life

Vivid depiction of school life in China. This video is for those from my generation raised up in China.

New Way to Learn Math

Though I finally decided to take Numerical Methods in a later semester, Differential Equations already requires some mathematical analysis knowledge that I do not have (and this course is deem most intensive even by math majors). Dr. Xue will only teach linear algebra in this whole year during his Saturday sessions, which is not much to my current interest. Reading textbook by myself is kind of boring and requires hard effort to persist. Therefore I think I'd better to come up with some new ways to acquire this with the aid of something similar to a classroom.

Emperor Norton

Did you know that the United States once had an emperor?

September 15, 2009

Chrome 3 Is Out

Google launched the third version of its browser today. It is claimed by Google, that Chrome 3 is 25 percent faster in rendering JavaScript than the previous version and 150 percent faster than the original Google Chrome (reported on Computer World). Also, this new version is equipped with the long-awaited themes feature (gallery). Try it on!

Dan Brown Has New Book

It's called The Lost Symbol. The Da Vinci Code has been my favorite movie as well as novel but I am kind of tired of such plots after watching Angels and Demons.

Dads' Maternity Leave


New fathers will be able to take six months' leave under plans to "split" maternity leave... The plan would allow mothers to return to work after six months and fathers to stay at home with the baby.

I am not sure why the British government is carrying this out but it will inevitably discourage discrimination over young ladies in the job market significantly.

Fast Flip

Want to try a new news reading experience? Google has launched a news service called Fast Flip. It aggregates news from major media and allow users to view the screen shots with speed. Google would like it to help the newspaper industry currently in struggle. More information on BBC.

September 14, 2009

Facebook Retweet

Facebook has announced a new feature: status tagging. Basically it is linking to your friends, pages, or other connections by typing their name following an "@"while updating your status. Sounds familiar?


Out of my unfading interest in paleontology, I came across an article telling the origin of the names of apatosaurus a.k.a. brontosaurus. I found it quite similar to TOEFL reading passages. It can be found here.

Personally, from a scientific view, I recommend the use of the name "apatosaurus".

September 13, 2009

Green Dam's Twin Sister

Now website servers in China are required to install the Blue Shield - a similar filter software, server-side counterpart of the de-facto-aborted Green Dam.

Change of License

The copyright license of the posts in this blog has been changed to Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (from the CC Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license before). That means readers of this blog have gained more freedom in using the items posted here. For more information, please visit

Why Health Care Needs Reform

A Harvard medical scientist explains.

September 12, 2009

Speaking Italian

Second language instructors always tell us to be brave and try to speak with the language in whatever occasions we can find.

Reflection on the H1N1 Flu

Eight days ago, on September 5, the Student Housing Section (SHS) sent us residents an email that has the sentences:
The number of confirmed H1N1 cases increased from 8 on 1 Sept to 16 on 2 Sept and 19 on 4 Sept. A lot of residents who had fever earlier have now recovered. At this moment, there are only 4 students suffering from fever.
...While this wave of flu seems to be going away, you are advised to remain vigilant in enforcing all the health precautions.
I do not know from what does SHS recognize that the wave of flu is fading, as the report from Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health reads like this:

One can easily tell from the diagram that on September 4, the day before this message was distributed, there were about 370 reported cases of H1N1 flu in Hong Kong (and yesterday, Sept. 11, the number was 625).
Also, according to the SHS message,
The Environment Health and Safety Unit informed us of a latest advice of Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s that once the fever of a confirmed H1N1 patient has gone for 24 hours without the use of any fever-reducing medication, isolation is no longer necessary. In view of this, the Hall Management has now revised the isolation policy of confirmed H1N1 residents as follows:
1. Isolated residents previously confirmed of H1N1 may return to the Halls if fever has gone for at least 48 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. 
2. After returning, the resident should wear face mask for at least 3 days,
3. Resident shall avoid social contacts with other persons for 3 days.
4. Resident shall wash hand frequently and maintain good ventilation.
I still remember that just about a week ago, when a student was tested positive for swine flu in a university in Beijing, not only was the student isolated immediately (I am not sure of the exact length of time, but I heard that in China it's usually one to two weeks), all the classes in the university had been canceled and students are advised to stay at home and rest.

Now, with my next-door diagnosed of swine flu and a student taking class with me having just recovered from 38-degree fever, and I am still required to attend classes and free to go to any populated venue, the difference in the attitude toward the pandemic between Hong Kong and China is now obvious. That is probably not the minutest contributor to the fact that there are only 7,505 cases among China's enormous population (and actually most of these should be located in the South, especially Guangdong Province which shares its border with Hong Kong), while in Hong Kong, a city of 7 million, there are already nearly 17,000 by yesterday.

Cultural Difference

I met a young couple traveling for sightseeing in Hong Kong on the train from Beijing earlier this month. The wife was a fresh graduate with an associate degree from an institution in the Province of Guangdong; the husband was a white American with a degree in agriculture and currently teaching ESL at a university in Beijing. At first I thought they were probably just girlfriend and boyfriend, but later, after I asked the girl, I found that they had got married a few months ago. The lady encountered this American man from a course she had been taking; they fell in love and got married in a few months after that.

I never seriously thought about a marriage between a Westerner and a Chinese. The cultural difference was just too huge to be dealt with in a marriage that was to last a couple of decades hopefully, and I truly wondered how this couple had been managing it. Watching the wife talking in English with an obvious Chinese accent, the question mark grew even bigger.

The second day on board, I woke early and met the husband sitting by the window. I took the next seat and began initiating a conversation. After talking about his career, my university life and other things, I raised the question: Is there any cultural differences that are difficult to overcome in your marriage? "Of course!" He replied loudly, laughing. I laughed with him and changed the topic.

I do not believe in anything racial; neither am I stating something nationalist. It just that, even when the language obstacle is fully overcome, the cultural difference, which could be in religions, ideology, past education received, political beliefs, and even merely cuisine, is sufficient to break many happy couples apart, or at least make the relationship a challenge to be worked out.

The girl and I exchanged our emails before debarking, and had some correspondence afterward. I am never against any marriage on the basis of love and commitment, and I sincerely wish them happiness till death.

September 11, 2009

Mathematics in Economics

It's now during the add/drop period of this new semester. I've been struggling in deciding what math courses to take that do not conflict with my core courses, and at the same time maximizing the total utility in getting myself into a good shape for future studies in economics. That's when I come across this article by Paul Krugman on the relationship between math and econ, and he writes:

[Y]ou can have great work in economics with little or no math. I can’t pull up papers now, but as I recall, Akerlof’s market for lemons had virtually no explicit math in its main exposition; yet it was transformative in its insight.

And later he says, "So by all means let’s have math in economics", but also stresses: "as our servant, not our master."

September 10, 2009

Laissez Faire

God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!
- Robert Browning, Pippa Passes

College Drop-out

An NYT report startled me:
Only 33 percent of the freshmen who enter the University of Massachusetts, Boston, graduate within six years. Less than 41 percent graduate from the University of Montana, and 44 percent from the University of New Mexico. The economist Mark Schneider refers to colleges with such dropout rates as “failure factories,” and they are the norm.
This dropout rate is kind of unimaginable in China, or Beijing at least. I can't stop thinking how difficult it would be to graduate from a graduate program, say, a PhD.

Economists as Prophets

The Age:
Professor Roubini embodies the old joke that a good economist is someone who accurately predicted nine out of the past two recessions.
Update: My friend Amy Wang sends in with a nice story:

In one of my economic lecture, when the professor Tony talking about the basic assumptions about economic theory, he said that Let's assume there is no arbitrage in the world, and then some students look at him doubtfully, then he said" Hey, we are economists!"

I think it is the assumptions behind the theory that make it hard to apply to the real world and fail to predict with accuracy about the past and future events.

September 6, 2009

Walt Whitman Quote

I read this sentence in the Leaves of Grass today:
Yet we walk unheld, free, the whole earth over, journeying up and down till we make our ineffaceable mark upon time and the diverse eras. 
-Walt Whitman "To Him That Was Crucified"
I should remember this.

September 3, 2009


My family moved from the bungalows at Lane 7 Hongju, Xuanwu District, to an apartment in a building of more than a score stories near Zhongguancun in the second year of my life. Parents have been telling me that in the first few nights of our new life there, I could not recognize this apartment as home and was always crying to “go home”. At that time, home to me was a place that I was familiar with and could rely on as a shelter from the complicated world outside. A change of location was enough to deprive me of the sense of security.

When ten years later my family moved again to a house in outskirt Beijing, I did not have such resistance anymore. What was left was a strong feeling of inconvenience brought by unacquaintance. I had to give up almost all I had: my friends, my neighborhood, and a proximity to downtown. What was preserved was my family who stayed with me as before, and made this place feel like home again.

Last year, a floormate in our residence hall asked where my “old home” (literal meaning of the Chinese word for “hometown”) was. I told her, I had no old home. I came from Beijing, and that was where my home was. I am not saying that I do not enjoy life in Hong Kong or something, but I really do not feel at home here, although the University has made every effort in making the student hostel like one with hall tutors installed on every floor and hall activities every now and then. It just isn’t home. Here’s no family.

One night a week ago, I was lying in my bed at home in Beijing, thinking, throughout my life I would probably travel to many places and take them as temporary residences; but wherever I went, there were always family waiting for me at home, the people who supported me and cared for me.

Thinking about them, I know I am not far from home.

September 2, 2009

Performance at AMHKY Singing Contest 2009

Stan [Live] AMHKY Singing Contest 2009 from Han on Vimeo.

Featuring Catherine Young

Due to the Internet cencorship in mainland China, I could not post this video here until now.