October 31, 2009

When Policeman Meets Chinese Post 90s Fei Zhu Liu

This is an episode from a popular Chengdu (成都) reality-TV program, Tan's Traffic Talk Show (谭谈交通). In the series, a traffic police by the name of Tan, Qiao (谭乔) patrols various streets in Chengdu, Sichuan and lectures people on traffic safety. Some of the encounters are hilarious, including this one.

I translated most of the dialogue into English. In case some culture references are too oblique, they have been marked with asterisks, and explanations are given below the embedded video.

I apologize for the low picture quality. This is the best I can do.

Those who can't access Youtube because of the GFW, here is the vid on Tudou: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/Ud8AqhU4T_E/

1. Post 90s (90后)
People born within the 1990-1999 time frame.

2. fei zhu liu (非主流)
Alternative, non-mainstream, counter culture.

In China, the term has come to be signify a specific group of people and style (the red-head in the video is an example). They wish to stand out and so adopt a very particular set of dress codes, hair styles, and facial expressions.

3. The part where Tan confused "serpentine" with "pornography":
The young man's mandarin was imperfect. He pronounced "she" like "se"--didn't roll his tongue, and the intonation was off.

4. Chinese Tamale (粽子, or zongzi)
This is a special type of food customarily eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival. Chinese tamale is prepared by stuffing glutinous rice with different fillings and then wrapping everything in bamboo leaves. The shape is also very distinctive, as shown below in the picture (from Wiki). Professionals make their zongzi to be the same size and shape.

4. Dongbang Shinki (东方神起, 동방신기)
This is a quintet vocal group from South Korea. Personally I don't think the group is all that great at singing. Their fame is due more to their handsome looks, hormones of their young fans (all mostly female), and of course successful marketing strategies. *Dodge bullets*.

Earlier this year, the group and its Chinese fans were involved in a huge scandal. What happened was that during a concert tour, one guy from the group had to go to the johns. Two of his Chinese fans, who were following him around, also took this opportunity to likewise relieve themselves. Because the man's bathroom broke, he decided to use the female one instead. That's when he saw the two fans, one of whom was pregnant and had a camera. He thought he would be photographed in an indecent pose, so he forcefully wrenched the camera from her. The misunderstanding escalated into a fight, and the woman was pushed unto the ground.

The next day, this irate fan followed Dongbang Shinki to the airport, hit the guy with her bag, and called him "crazy". The commotion was unfortunately recorded and the video uploaded to the internet.

Fans in China who saw this video became furious after watching the pregnant woman mowing down their poor Dongbang Shinki member (sorry I don't remember his name). Besides cursing the woman and the woman's unborn fetus, one fan was so apologetic that she went to a major Korean forum to apologize for bad behavior...on behalf of all Chinese.

Needless to say, this caused huge outcry among Chinese internet users, most of whom felt misrepresented. They were also angry at the fans, who expressed their love for the Korean pop group and their huge disappointment of being Chinese by bad-mouthing Premiere Zhou, one of China's most revered founding fathers. Incidentally, Dongbang Shinki downplayed the bathroom/airport mishap to the point where it seemed to never have happened.

And I wrote all this just to prove one point: in China, Dongbang Shinki's fans have become synonymous with severe mental retardation.

I wonder if Policeman Tan knew about this.

5. Dongfa Bubai (东方不败)

Straight from wiki

Dongfang Bubai (pinyin: Dōng Fāng Bù Baì; Jyutping: Dung1 Fong1 Bat1 Baai6) is a character from Louis Cha's Kungfu novel The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (笑傲江湖). His name literally means "Invincible East". He is the leader of the Sun Moon Holy Sect (日月神教). He castrated himself in order to learn the skills within the Sunflower Manual (葵花宝典) and becomes a powerful, if not, invincible martial artist in the novel with few being able to match him. His castration and prowess in martial arts makes him one of the most memorable and classic characters in Louis Cha's Wuxia novels and his name has become synonymous with homosexuality and sexual perversion.

6. Hua Mulan and the Ballad of Mulan
Remember the Disney animation Mulan and Mulan II? They are based on the Ballad of Mulan and tell the story of a young lady who out of filial piety decided to disguise as a man and joined an all-male army, so that her father who was drafted didn't have to go. The story has it that none of the fighters around her realized she was female.

October 29, 2009

Invasion of Plastics that Murdered the Albatross

My first thought after reading a Chinese translation of this was: "Probably someone is faking news by stuffing the dead bird with plastics."

But it is not made-up.

From Chris Jordan the photographer:

These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

~cj, October 2009

For more disturbing photos, visit http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php?id=11

October 28, 2009

The Truth Behind "Changsha Students Who Drowned Trying to Save Children"

"Three college freshmen who gave up their lives saving drowning children" has become a hot topic at every major mainland news source. Written in the tone of traditional Chinese textbook essays, lofty, moving, full of praises for the selfless students and Chinese governmental agencies, all the articles bring tears to the readers' eyes.

Then, much to the chagrin of some, the following thread appeared on Tianya, one of the largest forums in China.

The Truth Behind "Changsha Students Who Drowned Trying to Saving Children" (Already censored, but not before a hundred other websites re-published the article)

Note: Since the original article has been deleted, it is difficult to verify the accusations against the firefighters, the Maritime Safety Administration, and the fishermen. However, judging from replies to the thread and older news reports, the fishermen part at least is likely.
I don't know anything (我啥都不知道啊)
Date: 2009-10-27

This afternoon around 2PM in Jingzhou city (荆州市), two twelve year old boys were seen floundering in the Changsha River near the river bank . More than ten college freshmen from Yangtze University (长沙大学) were at the scene and promptly decided to save the children. One by one, they joined hands to form a human ladder until the last person in queue reached the boys. Among them were female students and those who could not swim. When the second child was almost pulled out of danger, however, the ladder broke because of students' physical exhaustion and strong undercurrents. Nine freshman fell into water. A winter swim team happened to pass by the area. Several members, aged 60 and up, jumped in to help. Six freshmen were saved, but three went down. Throughout this time there were two fishing boats nearby with people on board; they never stepped out.

A firefighting team was the first one to reach the scene. Claiming they lack life vests, the firefighters said they would stay by the river bank to hopefully get the bodies (News Screenshot). When they tried to leave just after a little awhile, hysterical students stopped them, so they had to return to watch. A boat from the Maritime Safety Administration of the People's Republic of China came to take a look but then left. Finally, officials of Yangtze University arrived two hours after the drowning. They discussed with the aforementioned fishermen to find the bodies. After some haggling, the price was set to be 12000 RMB per corpse.

When the first body was pulled out of the water, every on-looker cried, because it was just three meters away from the boat. If the fishermen had just extended their paddles, the student would have stayed alive. I stood there watching, feeling agonized. The doctors rushed to the corpse with oxygen masks and pretend to perform CPR (News Screenshot)...this was more than three hours after the drowning. The boss of the fishing gang stopped after pulling out the second body, because the promised 24000 RMB had not been paid yet. Despite of criticisms and scolding, he refused to do any more work. Finally, the teacher had to kneel before them to lower the price to 10,000 RMB per count.

Right now the children who were saved are playing hide-and-seek. All the news claim that it was the firefighters and the Maritime Safety Administration who fished out the bodies. You might not believe me, but watch the news more closely, you will see five or six firefighters walking around in just knee-deep water. Furthermore, the Maritime Safety Administration is no where to be found, even though their duty is to salvage bodies!

I swear on my honor what I have written is true. I feel chilled to the bone, because none of these three should have died. Their schoolmates begged and begged those fishermen, who were all unmoved! I heard that at places where frequent drowning occurs, there is always a professional corpse-salvaging team. One body is worth 12000 RMB, so they usually sit around waiting for people to die. Because death means money!

Corroborating reply:
This tale has finally been confirmed by authorities. I am a senior student in Radio and Television Journalism at Yangtze University. Today, my teacher described what happened. His wife was the person who had to deal with the fishermen. At the time, the three heroic students were still in water, fate unknown. But the fishermen refused to act until she knelt, agreed to the price of 10,000 RMB, and paid.

More Developments (October 31)
Ever since Tianya deleted the thread, more people came forward with the same story--that the fishing boats prey on the drowning victims, waiting for payments before they will "rescue" anybody; that the firefighting team and the Maritime Safety Administration had been ineffective in their efforts. No one can be certain if there will ever be official confirmation of this story. But thus far, everything indicates that the thread was true.

The People's Daily just came out with an article detailing a police investigation of this incident. Names of the witnesses were mentioned (the students and members of the winter swimming team). However, the news focuses strictly on just the fishing boats. The concluding paragraph is particularly chilling:

Translated, it says

According to the director of the Jingzhou police division responsible for river safety, they have previously received many reports of fishing boats parking around Bao Ta Wan (宝塔湾) and making profits by extorting money from victims' families. These fishermen care nothing for the living, only the dead bodies And because they are affiliated with gangs, no one else dares to rescue the drowning victims. [because they do not look kindly to people who pose a threat to their income].
http://www.tianya.cn/publicforum/content/free/1/1723261.shtml (Original thread, deleted)
http://bbs.hsw.cn/thread-1053330-1-1.html (Re-posted)
http://www.56.com/u31/v_NDcyNjQ0Njg.html (Official Newscast)
http://www.cqkx.com/html/200905/18/071015981.htm (News in May 2009 that mentions fishermen who stood by while children drowned)
http://focus.cnhubei.com/local/200910/t846269.shtml (Mayor of Jingzhou responding to internet rumors. He basically waxed eloquent for a page about nothing. Could neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Tianya thread)
http://society.people.com.cn/GB/10286937.html (Police investigating the fishing boats)

October 27, 2009

To Request Roommate Change, Beijing Graduate Student Threatens Hunger Strike

I know I shouldn’t be wasting more time. But this....

How far can roommate troubles go?
Recently, a letter addressed to the Beijing Institute of Technology (北京理工大学) attracted a lot of attention online. The person who wrote it is a graduate student by the name of Xiu, Liangzhang (修良章), who claim that he is driven to desperation after requests for roommate changes were brushed aside by his university. To protest this inhumane treatment, Xiu, Liangzhang declared that he will go on a 3-day hunger strike followed by withdrawing from the university.

Xiu, Liangzhang’s letter:
I am a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Beijing Institute of Technology. Ever since the semester began in September, I have repeatedly complained to school authorities about my roommate Tang, Lihong’s improper behavior, who habitually stays up all night to play online games. I have requested that I be assigned to another dorm room, but the reply from the university has always been “No, No, still NO". Up until yesterday, October 13, 2009, I was forced to share a room with this Ph.D. student, who even at 7AM was still immersed in games. The continual clicking sound from his mouse stung my heart like a needle. Night after night I have go through the same hellish experience, even though I have high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. And at day I have to drag my exhausted body to Liang Xiang (良乡) to conduct dangerous chemical experiments.

I am fed up with the perverted behavior of that Ph.D. student and apathy from the Beijing Institute of Technology. Pushed beyond my limits. Suffering from nervous breakdown. To express my strong dissatisfaction, I have decided to take drastic measures. Having endured till this far, I won’t be the next Ma, Jiajue (马家爵, a highly intelligent college student who brutally murdered all four of his roommates), nor will I seek to be the next ghost to haunt the Central Educational Building. Hence, I am going to go on a 3-day hunger strike. In addition, I am deeply disappointed and doubtful of BJST’s attitude and its Ph.D program. There is no need for me to further waste away my time and life here. I hereby declare my withdrawal from the university.

P.S. For the situation to reach this stage, Ph.D. advisors must shoulder a lot of the responsibility. I shall now expose them.

My roommate’s adviser Li, Qianshu (李前树), already retired, now holding a long-term position at South China Normal University (华南师范大学).

My own adviser, Lu, Gaoqing (逯高清), a part-time doctoral adviser at Beijing Institute of Technology, Director of Research Institute of Chemical Physics at Beijing Institute of Technology, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Professor at University of Queensland.

Signed: Xiu, Liang Zhang

Roommate’s response:
I just found out about classmate Xiu’s letter, in which he claims I am the one responsible for his masochism. In the beginning I thought it was a joke, then I saw my adviser’s name in his letter. Now I am angry. This matter has nothing to do with my adviser, and by publicizing his name, classmate Xiu has shown his disrespect. I demand that he apologize. As for his adviser, well that’s his business. My arm can’t extend that long.

Next I want to talk about the conflict between classmate Xiu and me. They are just little things; I don’t know why he created all this drama--you actually need some talent to be famous like Sister Furong (芙蓉姐姐, wiki). O(∩_∩)O~, yes I am a gamer, but staying up all night to play is rare for me [despite of what he claims]. But I want to ask everyone, since I always wear my earphone and have the lights off while I play, is it fair for him to claim heart troubles over my mouse clicking while I have to endure his 100 decibel snores? (Even our neighbors can hear him) I probably have a more legitimate excuse to have heart attacks. Speaking of snores, I have to say that I admire his girlfriend very much for her ability to put up with him.

Regarding room reassignment, I was actually the one to bring it up first. During the first semester, I sought out the resident adviser but received the following reply: I need to find a replacement roommate first. In order not to subject others to the same torture, I stayed and bought earplugs instead! This thing has become my salvation. O(∩_∩)O~.

I have read through the entire thread, including replies by those classmates who know the truth and spoke on my behalf. I thank you! Yes, his girlfriend is a source of headache for me. 9 days out of 10 she squats in our dorm. In particular, there was a time when she lost her job, and she came daily, refusing to leave even when I take my siesta. The two of them had one computer each and made phones call in the same room when I was sleeping. OK, I can put up with this. But during summer, when we had no air conditioning and I had to strip off all clothes except my underwear, she still came! I felt embarrassed. Every time she came, she stayed until the resident adviser cleared her out at night. If people don’t believe me, they can check with the apartment guards, who keep a record of visitor times.

And if they want to have sex, they can always check into a hotel, or rent an apartment of their own. I will not complain the least. But this is a semi-public dorm room, with roommates. Sometimes I would step out for a second to talk to our neighbors. When I return, they are already naked in bed. Because they lock the door, I tend to think they’ve already left; after I step into the roommate, I discover otherwise. ⊙﹏⊙b Huge sweatdrop. The pair of cockroaches…so I lock the door again and stay outside for half an hour until they finish their business.

What's more…his bed looks like a pig sty! Because he recycles (for a fee) plastic water bottles, there is always a gigantic pile of garbage under his bed, accumulated over the course of a year.

I should stop complaining. Other people who are familiar with my plight will give us a fair judgment.

I mean I went through all of this, but in the end, he says my mouse clicking is killing him? Such double standard! I have already moved to another dorm, but he is as of now still roommate-less. Whose personality is at fault here? I think it is obvious enough!

Tang, Lihong

Xiu, Liangzhang’s response (a little incoherent):
My family has always been poor. We barely have income. A few years back my home town was undergoing commercial development, so we sold some land. The profits from that gave us some breathing room, and this is the reason that I dared to enroll in the graduate program. But now we are under financial strain once more.

My dad is a gambler with a bad temper. No one at home dares to speak out against him. He gambled away the money we got from selling the land and accumulated even more debts. Every time after losing he threatens suicide. Having a son in the Ph.D. program is the only thing that gives him hope.

I have always been really attached to my grandmother. She is 90 years old, never had a single good day in her life. Her health has been constantly deteriorating, and she suffers from dementia to the point of not wanting to dress herself. She might die anytime now. Thanks to my dad, we don’t even have money to buy coffin for her.

My mom is always sickly. My dad often hits her. And she has to take care of her mother-in-law, with whom she never got along. If not for her Ph.D. son, she would have broken down.

My big sister sends her two daughters to live with my family. She was forced to go through tubal ligation after the birth of the second daughter, but my brother-in-law only cares for a son and never spares a glance for his daughters. He has grown increasingly cold toward my sister and supports a mistress outside of the house. My sister is going crazy. She cries every day, and the only thing I can do is to tell her I will take care of my nieces in the future.

My girlfriend and I have been going steady for six or seven years. She was working in Ningbo, but because of me she came to Beijing. Given the bad job market, she is frequently jobless and can’t pay rent—several times I had to borrow money from fellow students and friends to pay for her. She comes to our dorm because we can’t afford to go out.

Myself. Health. I don’t have very good health. High blood pressure and irregular heartbeat usually leave me feeling dizzy and suffocating.

Debt. My undergraduate university has not given me my diploma because of the money I still owe them. And it is more difficult to get loans now because I have gone through most sources, including friends, but haven’t been able to repay them. I expect a lawsuit from banks any day.

Income. I had believed that at Zhong Guancun (wiki) a part-time job outside of graduate school would be a possibility, but going to Liang Xiang every day rules that out. My adviser hasn’t given me a dime. My sole income currently consists the 500 RMB monthly stipend from the university, who has yet to pay me.

Research Topic. I saw my primary adviser just once. He probably doesn’t remember that he has me as his student. My secondary adviser is busy, so he just ignores me. We waste a lot of time running irrelevant errands for the advisers (PH: some advisers, espcially Asian, are like that), at the expense of our own research.

About the Roommate Conflict
Tang, Lihong. We never really spoke to each other.

Because of age and personality issues, there exist many differences between us. I admit that my girlfriend coming to the dorm is my fault, but she always follows university regulations while here and never stays past 10 at night. Tang mentioned that we did private business in the room; well, since we have been together for so long, sex is normal. From my point of view, the fact that Tang is old and still without girlfriend is very strange. He hangs around the dorm all the time, surfing the net, watching movie, or playing computer games. I strongly look down on him. Since I am conservative, I also don’t understand why he likes to walk around naked. He practices Taekwondo, which I consider to be violent. In addition, before going to sleep at night, he does a breathing routine to strengthen his Chi, and that’s just downright weird.

These are all insignificant things, because they boil down to personality and habits. But once roommate relationship starts to deteriorate, they evolve into prejudices. I find his watching porn in front of my girlfriend particularly offensive. Also, he frequently stays up all night to play games, even disrupting my rest. Without enough sleep, I almost caused a few accidents during my chemical experiments. Those two things I just mentioned are just too much, so I wanted to switch dorm.

Changing Dorm
I wanted to find another dorm on my own. This proved to be difficult because I don’t know many people. The ones who live by themselves, I really don’t want to bother them. The others who pair off, well, why would they want to swap when satisfied with their own roommates? At the end of August, I even advertised online, offering money to those who would exchange rooms. No one replied.

I thought, all right, perhaps contacting the school would be easier. I went to the management office on September 3 or 4, but the dormitory managers told me they are too busy to take care of my request.

I went there a couple of days later and was told that personality incompatibility is not a valid excuse for changing dorm. Once I find a better reason, I can fill out an application which must be approved by the dormitory director. So I used the fact that Tang stays up all night to play games. I submitted the forms on September 14th. The department agreed, but Director Hong balked at signing my application, because he thought that the department is making him do all the work instead of mediating between me and Tang.

I was busy with research for a period of time after that. On the 20th, Tang stayed up all night again. I angrily demanded for a new room. The department sent a teacher to talk to Tang but would not grant my request, telling me they need more time. For the next several days, Tang continuously pulled all-nighters and I continuously told the department I wanted to be moved. After my request was turned down so many times, I was mad, and so were the teachers. They even sided with Tang and asked if I wanted a room to myself, or said that I had plenty problems myself, etc. The situation worsened, and I was still sharing the room with him.

Before the National Independence Holiday, my secondary adviser was notified of this matter. He told me one solution would be to buy a noiseless mouse or to give him money and let him move out. I refused. But we reached an agreement that I would attempt to resolve the conflicts through my adviser first.

After the holiday, I repeatedly complained to my adviser about Tang’s night behavior to no avail.

Yesterday, probably because my previous complaints were too many, he said some nasty things. And old grudges were dug up. Under these circumstances, Ph.D is no longer possible. But I must speak about all the wrongs I have suffered, especially since I have already spent or wasted a year here. I hope in the future no one will have to go through the same tragedy that I did, so I wrote about my intentions to go on a hunger strike and to withdraw from the university.

Responses have been varied, but thanks to those who supported me. The university seemed not to care at all. I am very hurt. They probably know that I won’t jump off a building, cut my wrist, or drink poison or something. I am already 2 days into the hunger strike, yet there have been no phone calls, and no visit from university employees to placate.

Finally, I want you all to know that I don’t need your sympathy, but I want your understanding. I see no hope right now. I have plenty of reason to die and am not afraid of death, but I can’t. Once my hunger strike terminates tomorrow, I will withdraw from the university. I will work, make money, and feed my family.

Good-bye, Beijing Institute of Technology.
Not going to sign

What happened afterward:
--School employee replied in the thread, claiming that permission for dorm change is granted, and that the letter was sent out before Xiu wrote this thread. “Your reply has not indicated whether you have accepted it or not." Wrote the employee, "Your advisers and fellow students were trying to get in touch with you. If there had been miscommunication in the past, then the best way to resolve that is to sit down and discuss”

--University officer admits that the thread is not made up, and the said conflict is already resolved. He/she would not reveal details regarding how the matter was settled.

--Many netizens are sympathetic toward Xiu. But there are also many who think that the whole incidence is evidence of a tragedy called “graduate students”, and this one in particular has high IQ but low EQ.


Related post(s)

Ph.D Comics: Vacation Relaxation

October 26, 2009

Romantic Comedy "The Proposal"

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Year: 2009
Director: Anne Fletcher

Before movie/book reviewers assign a rating, they should always make known to which standard they are comparing the work to. Likewise, before readers take this rating to heart, they should understand how the reviewers are assigning the rating numbers. In addition, a fluffy, light romance movie should not be compared to, say, Un chien andalou; a comparison between apples and oranges is meaningless.

The reason I stress this is because of two recent examples in which the reviewers were comparing apples and oranges. In the first case, I was browsing through a book review website that for the most part restricts itself to romance and fantasy novels. Yet when the site owners explain the rating system, they mention Siddhartha as an example of a book that merits a 9, full mark being 10. Does this mean that when I see a romance novel likewise being given a 9, I should automatically think it is Nobel Prize Quality? In the second case, I saw a reviewer on Douban (wiki) assigning 1s and 2s to perfectly enjoyable Hollywood-type movies and assigning highest score of 5 to those like Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl (wiki). In layman terms, the movies he recommended were often pompous ones that are dressed up to be presented for Chinese movie awards, and the ones he belittled were actually what ordinary people actually watch. Speaking of Xiu Xiu, my friends' parents who also had gone to the countryside as the female main character angrily denounced it as a twisted film that intentionally exaggerates and maligns the Chinese government to curry favors at foreign film festivals. I wonder which side is right, the director or parents.

But I digress...getting on with the movie review.

The Proposal is one of the better stories in the romantic-comedy genre. Margaret Tate, played by Sandra Bullock, is a fearsome autocratic book editor at a publishing firm in New York. Her "faithful" assistant Andrew Paxton (played by Ryan Reynolds) follows her every order but trashes the editor behind her back. The story quickly takes a turn towards the hilarious when Canadian citizen Margaret is informed of her visa expiration and imminent deportation, but instead of leaving US of A and potentially losing her job, Margaret decides to marry Ryan to gain legal residency. Ryan agrees to the scam of a "brief marriage, quick divorce" because of the enticing promotion she presents to him.

To convince the skeptical immigration officers as well as Andrew's disbelieving family, who by this time have had an earful about Margaret, the two invent dating tales as they go. As befitting their characters, Margaret plows right on, while Andrew at times appear unconvinced and much put-upon. Adding to the fun is Grandma Annie, an outspoken and eccentric character who is into giving thanks to Mother Earth by dancing to the sound of drums.

For me the female main character contributed much to the watch-ability of this film. There is something about a mixture of stubbornness, independence, and also a soft vulnerability (revealed during the Alaska trip) that I like very much. Andrew's character is convincing but gets eclipsed by the more dominant Margaret.

The film has its boring trite moments, for example the bedroom scene where the two have their tête-à-tête. But these are required for plot development and are not dragged out. Even if the ending is predictable, there is plenty of comedy to compensate.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

October 23, 2009

How to Store, Wash, and Clean Grapes

I saw an article on Qihoo that teaches people how to wash and clean grapes (funny what information can be found on internet these days). It appears to be similar to what I do when my grapes need to look clean, except for the toothpaste part, because the flavor of the toothpaste can remain after washing. Ugh.

In the following portion, I have summarized the steps for cleaning grapes, followed by the pictures from Qihoo for illustration.

Picture 1:
When buying grapes, make sure to get the ones with green stems. Better-looking stems imply fresher fruits.

Grapes can be stored by wrapping them in paper and placing them in refrigerators. The paper will absorb some of the fluids. Remove any spoiled grapes before storage.

Grapes should only be cleaned right before they are eaten, because washed grapes for some reason don't keep long.

Picture 2:
For easy handling, remove the grapes from the stems using scissors. Do not damage the outside skin, while trim the stems as much as possible.

Picture 3:
There is usually a layer of white stuff coating the grapes. It can be a mixture of insect body parts and unknown fluids. We want to remove it before eating or making grape juice.

Picture 4 & 5:
Squeeze out some toothpaste (I would personally use edible starch or flour). Rub the grapes along with the toothpaste. Then slowly pour in tap water. Wash and rinse until none of the bubbles remain and the water clears up. Let the water drain.

Picture 6:
Get a big flat lid and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Place the still wet grapes on the towel. Gently shake the lid and let the grapes roll around (don't let them fall). The towel will absorb the remaining moisture.

Picture 7:
The dry grapes can be stored unspoiled for 2 to 3 days.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6

Picture 7

October 22, 2009

Chongqing Rich Kid Receives Death Penalty for Killing Schoolmate

Yang Shiya, the victim

Killer Zou Hongcheng at Chongqing First City Court

Zou Hongcheng (邹鸿成, pseudonym Chen Renzheng), whose father is an official of Chongqing's local militia, received the death sentence on October 19, 2009 for stabbing female schoolmate Yang Shiya(杨诗雅) to death, thus ending for the time being a three-month murder case that has ignited fury across the Chinese online community. Although Zou's parents allegedly expressed strong displeasure at the court decision and pledged to appeal case, Netizens all over China applauded the verdict.

19 year-old Zou Hongcheng and Yang Shiya are both students of the Sichuan International Studies University. The two first met on QQ, a popular instant messaging computer program in China, in 2008. Zou supposedly fell in love with Yang at first sight and tried to court Yang. Yang did not return the feelings. On July 13, 2009, a month after his advances were rejected, Zou concealed two steel knives on his person and arranged a meeting with Yang in a nearby mall. After his invitations for lunch were again turned down, Zou pulled out the lethal objects and stabbed Yang in the neck, head, waist, and wrists areas more than 100 times. Yang died on spot. It was said her head almost got severed.

Witnesses of the attack wrote about the vicious crime online, and the human search flesh engine (人肉搜索) quickly provided details on Zou's family background, including his name and his parents' names. In the process, it was also revealed that Zou had a criminal past, raping his home tutor while still in high school.

Court proceedings for this high-profile homicide case began in the morning of October 19 and was attended by more than 300 people. Zou's lawyer prepared three points in defense, each of which was refuted. Zou claimed that he and Yang had confirmed their relationship in February and had been dating since then. The fatal attack in the mall was merely a crime of passion, arising from a lover's quarrel. The court, however, said that since Yang rejected Zou's advances, claim of their relationship is untrue. Furthermore, Zou bought the two knives separately, one in June and the other in July, clearly indicating some level of premeditation, not to mention the stabs were almost all fatal. Finally, not to disappoint Netizens who already heard of plans by Zou's parents, the defense argued that Zou's obsessive-compulsive disorder was responsible for the attack. Again, the court maintained that Zou was judged to be perfectly capable, OCD is not a valid excuse for mitigating punishment.

In addition to the murder charge, the prosecutor brought rape accusations against Zou. While Zou insisted that the sex with his high school tutor was consensual, the court produced evidence of a phone call that the tutor placed immediately after the rape, during which she tearfully recounted the harrowing experience.

After the conviction, the public sighed a collective sigh of relief. Previously the Chongqing media had been silent on the murder case, and rumors of hush money abound. Witnesses as well as Netizens expressed their concern that the prosecution will take at least one year, after which Zou will successfully fade from public view. Precedents indicate that in such situations Zou would be more likely to receive a life sentence instead of the death sentence, which can then be more easily altered to some limited term of imprisonment.

It remains to be seen if the Zou family will seek to appeal and whether the next court will overturn this ruling. It was said that Zou previously got off easily on the rape charge because of bribes his parents paid to the local law enforcement.


October 21, 2009

Document/Ebook Readers and Download Sites

Apps Designed for Computers, Not Mobile Phones.
I wish there were an all-purpose document reader.

1. To open .rtf, .txt files
-Notepad (come with Windows Operating Systems), functionality is minimal
-Wordpad (come with Windows Operating Systems)
-See #2

2. To open .doc files
-Microsoft Word or Word Viewer
-Open Office

3. To open .pdf files
-Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader

4. To open .lit files
5. To open .prc files

October 18, 2009

I don't want to be Fenqing, but this news makes me depressed.

Took a nap. After waking up, a friend sent me this article on Jiang, Yan's husband. "Anyone still remember the girl who committed suicide because her husband Wang, Fei Cheated on Her"? For background on Jiang Yan suicide, go to http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20080120_1.htm

The problem is that the marriage laws in China are "strange." According to the information that I found on-line, one literally has to catch the adulterers naked, in the act, and in one's own home to prove infidelity. I think a pregnancy outside of wedlock might count as evidence but there are people who say no. Never a day goes by without some Chinese woman on-line crying about her father, grandfather, or husband cheating--it is all very numbing.


Are there people who still remember Jiang, Yan from two years ago? She jumped off a building because her husband Wang, Fei cheated on her. I heard Wang, Fei is being promoted now and making a fortune.


I saw online what people who know Wang wrote. Wang, Fei married that third party (Chinese word for those who sleep with married people and break up marriages) Dong, Fang. What's more, he is being promoted now and making a fortune. I think about Jiang, Yan, and I have to sigh. If only she resisted the urge and lived, how good it would have been.


  来爆个小料:大家还记得两年前因为出轨导致老婆跳楼的事情么?(魅力1千) Post By:2009-10-16 9:32:00
(The insider story)
Requires Reading Points to be 1000 to view  
I made the reading threshold pretty high. Want to keep the story inside our forum Hua Ren  

Everybody remembers the girl who at the end of 2007 jumped off from the 24th floor of a building and died. Whose husband is named Wang, Fei
According to reliable sources, Wang, Fei has now returned to work at Ogilvy & Mather. His position is higher than before. If it weren't for the Jiang, Yan mess, he would already have been promoted to this position.

Wang Fei returned because his old boss at Ogilvy & Mather regards him highly, demanding that he go there to work (At the time Jiang, Yan died, Wang Fei was working in Saatchi. He and the "little three" (Chinese: 小三, meaning young girls who sleep with older married man) met at Saatchi.)
He and the "little three" are now married.  

Even after he was fired by Saatchi because of the scandal, he still had income as a freelance artist, because a lot of advertising agencies gave him projects.  

After I heard about Wang's return, I really didn't know what to say. There are some things against which the law is quite ineffective, and public admonishment can only do so much. May the dead rest in peace.

My browser is not working properly. Cry.  

The part about his boss has been deleted. After all the man is not directly related to the scandal.

October 17, 2009

Inside the Great Firewall: Censorship 2009

One intuitively knows that something is not right when the following "disclaimer" repeatedly shows up after any potentially sensitive article:

It roughly translates to
"I inadvertently (emphasis on "unintentionally") browsed through the aforementioned content. I in no way understand a word of what has been written and after browsing, voluntarily brainwashed myself, so organizations [and authorities] please rest reassured. I refuse to claim legal responsibility for the content above and decline any inter-province pursuit/arrest. For specific legal accountability, please contact the original author [not me], thank you!"

Complaints against the Great Firewall are many, particularly from expats living in China. But what does censorship entail for Chinese living in China? Beneath the facetiousness of the comment above I sense a fear almost tangible. As 2009 draws to a close, a review of the various censorship measures put into effect this year reveals some alarming implications. To illustrate, I have compiled a list consisting of all the small and major events that I as a forum/blog addict noticed (By the way, Leechblock does work to some extent). Even without access to general statistics, the list should be representative of the current status in Chinese web-sphere.

Government Initiated
Thrust to eliminate all vulgarities from internet. Vulgarities include, but are not limited to, porn, pictures showing excessive amount of bare skin, and writings that touch upon homosexuality (Chinese term: BL) and incest. In addition, any website not officially registered with the government are forcibly shut down.

First-hand Account
To avoid being branded a vulgar website, some installed code that indiscriminately replaced any "vulgar" characters with the Chinese word for "mouth" (口). The changes came overnight, so instead of normal content, the readers suddenly saw a junk yard full of squares. Bemused netizens were driven crazy when words like "snow white" (雪白) and "luring" (诱人) become meaningless rectangles, even though the contexts in which they appear are assuredly innocent.

Personally I welcomed this because some websites I go to increasing rely on soft and outright porn to attract traffic.


One thread appeared on a small forum that I visit, in which the author mentioned warnings from friends and family about the disease-ridden pork sold in his city (they warned him not to buy or eat pork anymore). Fellow netizens either joined him on condemning the inferior food quality in general or spoke of similar incidents in their cities. Among them, a man said that when his town was hit by avian flu, the local officials suppressed all negative news, punishing anyone that contributed to the leak of unfavorable information because it could potentially impact the local poultry trade. "Such rumor-mongering is greatly frowned upon [by the government]," he concluded.

Five hours later I discovered the thread was deleted. Because the author and my family live in the same city, I took personal interest in the matter. However, he did not respond to the messages that I sent to him.

(Note: I think the thread was deleted because the moderator wanted to avoid possible legal troubles)

Hangzhou planned to become the first city in China to require real-name registration for web users.

First-hand Account
Netizens, whether they are Hangzhou-based or not, collectively worried about the implication of this move. Few people are cheered by the prospect of more reliable information (made possible by supposedly holding individuals legally responsible for what they publish online). Rather, most fear that the content they put online will one day come back to haunt them and result in legal repercussions/persecutions. Probably due to the heated and widespread protest, Hangzhou quickly mollified its stance by stating that the real-name registration system only applies to online businesses and organizations.


Forum T (another one that I go to) received the following warning from the government:

Dissemination and discussion of sensitive or inharmonious topics are prohibited. Especially in relation to politics. Any articles about national leaders, history of CCP and history of PRC will encounter swift deletion (special mention goes to Culture Revolution, Great Leap Forward, and XX Square). Discussion of current events and hot topics (for example writer Han Han) must also cease. Violation will result in permanent banning of account.

(Note: 90% of the people who visit this site are males. Therefore, the direct consequence of this warning is that they promptly switched from politics to discussion of girls and adult videos....)

Also in June
Remember Air France Flight 447 that mysteriously plunged into the ocean? There were six Chinese citizens on board, none of whom survived. Later a thread on Tianya exposed the six individuals (all employees of a steel company) for corruption, taking the expensive and ultimately fatal trip to Brazil at public expense.

The thread first appeared on Tianya and soon went viral. The deletion and ID banning came equally quickly.


The list of "inappropriate" words grew ever longer in Baidu forums. In the lists are words like "64", "Arabic" (阿拉伯), and "tofu crumbs" (豆腐渣, in reference to the shoddy construction jobs that populate the Chinese infrastructure scene).

Baidu users whose tolerance level for censorship has long been exceeded joined together to create a "hot" words website, dedicated specifically to checking for these special phrases. The site cannot keep up with the growth rate of the banned word list, however. It is never up-to-date.

Link to the Checker:

Online blog providers began to request real name registration for new users. Some even require that the newcomers provide their personal identification number--equivalent of SSN in US. In the name of promoting mental health for the youths, online RPG games also joined the movement of asking for names and personal IDs. To ensure the accuracy, they even teamed up with the police network to review provided information.

At the small forum mentioned previously, a netizen warned us about the danger of being indiscreet on internet. Specifically, one neighbor was furious about the supposed unjust treatment he received from his company and discussed, in a high profile thread, of organizing a protest. Within two days, the man was handcuffed and taken to the police station.

A friend explained away the increasing number of regulations by saying that this year is a special year. I can't help but wonder, is it really a once-in-every-60-years occurrence or is it just the beginning?

Another Type of Censorship?
Those interested in China should know about Baidu, the indigenous and unrivaled search engine in China (unrivaled in terms of number of users). Being a Chinese business, it will obviously comply with the government censorship. But, there is more.

Among some Chinese Baidu is also known as gangster corporation, a nickname that speaks volumes about its business practices (besides blatantly plagiarizing Google). For example, the Search Engine Results Page Rank on Baidu can be bought. It has long been public knowledge that BD has a special hotline catering to businesses that wish to promote themselves. In other words, one can pay money to Baidu for an improved SERP rank. This is not all. Baidu also offers to censor any negative news for a fee. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons that Baidu came under fire was because when San Lu Milk scandal first broke out, netizens could not find any relevant reports via Baidu searching (One cent if you correctly answer the question "why?" I will say though that the rumors as to this reason have never been officially confirmed).

October 15, 2009

Letters and Notes Written by Elementary Students

(English poem as it is)
Look at the ending word in each line (don't count the last one).
Also, yesterday when school was dismissing, why did you lean on me? Unless you want to???

Hehe. Not bad, you have learned to write "cang tou" poem (Definition of 藏头诗: Poem in which the first character of each line make up a complete sentence). Listen well, I mean, read carefully: I love you (I swear with my life this is true!) but you? Aiya, are you brainless? I wasn't leaning on you. I just want to be closer to you? Understand?

I am asking you 4 questions today:

1. Why did you hit Li XX? (Reply: He is such a bother)
2. What were you thinking while I "leaned" on you? (Reply: You are so gentle)
3. You were on the bus with Zhang Jing yesterday. Were you happy? Don't worry, I am not angry (Reply: Laoda, why would I be happy? I got on the bus without saying a word to her)
4. If possible, you wish that I were your () (Reply: girlfriend/wife. Do you really want to be close to me? How does your foot feel today? My heart aches for you!)

I am just so happy to see you jumping and running. You should know: You are the only one in my heart. I will not like anyone else again, because
I love you! Yes, "love", not like.

I wish we have some alone time, it would be so relaxing, delightful, and my heart would feel so warm.

What questions did you want to ask me?

I "heart" you!

A few questions for you. You must answer honestly.
97. That day when you mentioned "4 good points". Were they really about me?
(Reply: Yes)
96. If my foot swells up, will you give me a piggback ride? (Reply: Yes, only for you)
95. If you could choose your deskmate again, who would you pick? (Reply: You)
94. Why did you go to Group C? (Reply: Even if I stayed in B, we wouldn't be together)
93. Are you happy or sad that the tape is lost? (Reply: Happy)
92. What does the circle in your Chinese textbook mean? (Reply: It represents you.)
91. On June 1, Children's Holiday, if I ask you to perform with me, will you? (Reply: Yes)
90. What percentage of you is me? (Reply: 87.5% . The rest is me)

Yuan Yuan:

I want to tell you that I love you. In the past, I kinda love X Jing. Now I finally realize what is friendship and what is love.

I must say: Sorry that I made you sad before.

Let us enjoy the good times.

It is sixth grade already. We will be separated in less than one year. I am truly sad, because I don't know that we will be going to the same middle school. If not, phone will be our only way to get in touch...

Yuan, I am so glad that we sit together. I am sure you feel the same. OK, finally, I want to say to you: I love you! Don't forget to write back!

Keep my heart safe.

Doesn't the smiley face mean "Yuan yuan is laughing"? You even said so yourself.

I wish you could gift me with your kiss on Christmas Eve.

You are really willing to give me your virgin kiss???

If Zhang Jing likes me again, I will not like her back. Because "good horses don't eat leftover grass".

I love you! And you?


Today I said to Wang Xiaomeng several times: You love me. But she didn't even lend me her eraser, so I rejected her love, because love requires giving.

Tian Zhixing
Second Grade

Today Dad's friend from internet Aunt Purplesun and its son Da Yuan are coming to our home to play Mom told me not to fight. Gosh, Da Yuan is so fat, even if I wanted to fight him, I wouldn't dare. Adults sometimes are too naive.

Tian Zhixing

October 11, 2009

The Shockingly Transparent Swedish Society--Ratsit

Imagine a U.S. website that allows its users to snoop around the profile of any resident--famous and ordinary people equally open to examination. Not only are the home address, phone number, and part of the social security number publicly listed, the website also offers reports of the person's income tax for a nominal fee.

Such a site is hard to imagine. Given the fierce protection of individual privacy rights in the U.S., and fear of identity theft, no website like this can operate legally within the country. Therefore, when I first learned of Ratsit, I was totally shocked!

Ratsit, a popular Swedish website, is yet another manifestation of the openness of this Scandinavian society, where one can easily find out almost everything about a person, including who his spouse is, what companies--however small and unprofitable--he founded, and how much money he makes. This is in addition to the home address and phone numbers.

When it first came online, Ratsit had no restrictions in terms of who can search what, and it serviced 50,000 credit checks per day free of charge. Swedish people had a field day back then, snooping on everyone from their bosses to their relatives-by-marriage...until they realized others are just as blithely searching them. Now, addresses are still free, but salary number cost a few kronas, and the income/tax investigations are no longer anonymous.

Ratsit is only one of the many websites that offers these services. Internet together with the tax offices means that all of the following information are freely accessible by the public:

1. Address and phone number
2. Last taxed income
3. Vehicle ownership and license plate number.
4. Current passport photo.
5. School grades if the person went to a public school or university.

By making all these data available, the idea is to let citizens monitor one another, thereby reducing the occurrence of corruption--if someone only earns $100 per month but goes on cruises everyday and lives in a huge mansion, then something illegal is bound to be going on.

Well, that's the theory at least. And the Swedes seem to have a lot of faith in this system.

Ironically, Sweden does not list any information about criminals (for example, sex offenders) like U.S. sometimes does.

October 10, 2009

Woman Shuts Off Electricity to Neighbor's Apartment to Win an Online Game

I play a similar (probably the same) game. If this article is an indication of people's determination to win, then no wonder my fields always get raided, even at midnight Chinese time.


Zhao Jing and Tang Hong, who are neighbors living on the same floor, share a common hobby -- an online virtual farming game where players can grow, harvest, or steal (fellow players') crops. This past Independence holiday both of them stayed at home. With so much free time, they could concentrate on being "city farmers", and somehow, this led to a fight.

Zhao Jing and Tang Hong live at Hong Ling Apartment Complex in Dalian City. They are good friends and often hang out together. A few weeks ago co-workers invited Zhao Jing to a website that offers an online farming game. She thought it was a fun application, taking great enjoyment in planting and stealing. She in turn taught Tang Hong how to play.

During the long Independence holiday, they planted more expensive crops than usual, because not having to work they could pay more attention to their game status and prevent others from stealing their plants.

On the nights of October 4th and 5th, Zhao Jing's apartment experienced strange power outages whenever her crops are about to be ripe for picking. Though the outages only last about five minutes, this time is enough for a lot of her crops to be stolen. Zhao Jing became quite annoyed. Thus, on October 6th, she stayed by her apartment door, using the peephole to see if anyone is playing tricks on her. What she saw was surprising: Tang Hong walking to the breaker boxes and flipping the switches which controlled the electrical lines to Zhao Jing's home.

Furious, Zhao Jing screamed at her friend: "Even if you want to steal plants, you should not have cut off my electricity!" This started a heated argument. After the fight ended, the two are no longer on speaking terms.

The manager at Hong Ling Apartments decided to mediate. She advised them, "Are you willing to give up so many years of friendship just because of one virtual game? It is not even real houses at the stake here."

Zhao Jing asked Tang Hong, "If you wanted to steal my plants, you should have told me. Why go to the trouble of cutting off my electricity? What if the electronic appliances break?"

Tang Hong replied, she didn't think through the matter. Since Zhao Jing is an old hand at the game, she always stole Tang's plants, but Tang never had the pleasure to return the favor. Tang admit that what she did was stupid, something she thought up at the moment and regretted afterwards. "It won't happen again," Tang promised.

1. This sounds so fake. Don't the news editors have better things to do?
2. Tang is creative! My daughter also plays this game, so I should do the same to her friends.
3. This is a blatant advertisement for the game.
4. What game?
5. Are these women retarded?


October 09, 2009

First Place Modern Dance--Maybe for Flying


Jerky, abrupt movements. Black hair whips everywhere. Simple white dress and semi-nudity exude a certain vulnerability. Is it just me? Or does the portrayal look like either an onryo or that the girl is in throes of a demonic possession?

And the title "也许是要飞翔". Flying to where? It doesn't look to me like she is going to fly. More like she is dying.

October 08, 2009

LeechBlock Comes to the Rescue of Internet Addicts

I spend so much time on the web each day and loudly complain that I waste too much time. Finally a person recommended LeechBlock. After downloading as well as test driving it, I thought: what a neat idea! I should share with others.

LeechBlock is a Firefox add-on "designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day". It does so by halting the webpage transfers and displaying a figure like the one on the left.

Interested? Please read on.

This small program is easy to add. Go to https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4476 or google "LeechBlock" for installation file. Once the installation finishes, LeechBlock becomes an accessible option under "Tools". There are three features provided: Lockdown, Options, and Statistics.

First-time users should start with Options, where they can specify which sites they want to block and when to block them (or after certain number of hours of usage). The user can create up to six sets of to-be-blocked sites; each set can contain unlimited number of URLs. What's even better is that the guy who created this piece of software also thoughtfully provided the option of "Prevent access to options" or to "about:config" when the blocking is on.

I believe Options basically contains the bulk of the functionalities. One of the other features, Lockdown, allows the user to block sites specified in Options on a per-use basis. And those curious about their web usage habits can select the Statistics to view how much time is spent on each set of websites.

Finally, before concluding this entry, I have to admit a certain irony in this situation. First, I am blogging and promoting LeechBlock on Blogspot, when blogs are one of the major drains on my time (whether because of reading or writing). Second, while testing Lockdown, I accidentally enabled that option, which initiated the blocking of Blogspot/blogger....then I promptly switched to Internet Explorer, which has no similar add-ons/restrictions, to publish this entry.

October 04, 2009

"Unfortunately, Due to Illness Dr. Tu Fell to His Death From a Building"

This news came from Zhejiang University, though I can no longer find it from their website. Only a short attachment remains.

Zhejiang University (ZU) is one of the most prestigious universities in China, just not as famous as Tsinghua or Beida.


Engineering Department Held Memorial Service for Dr. Tu Xuxin (学院举行涂序新老师遗体告别仪式)
Dated: 2009-09-30

Memorial service for Professor. Tu Xuxin was held yesterday at 8:30AM in Zhangzhou Funeral Home. It was attended by more than 100 people, including university administrators, colleagues, students, Dr. Tu's relatives, and classmates.

Because of illness, Professor. Tu fell to his death from a building on 19th of Septemer, 2009, at 2A.M. He was 32 years of age.

Professor Tu was born August, 1977 in Jinhua, Zhejiang. He studied in Tsinghua University from November, 1995 to June, 2001, and obtained two Bachelor degrees there, one in Water Conservancy and Hydropower Engineering and another in Law. In the next 6 years, he was at Northwestern University in U.S., from which he received Masters (2004) and Ph.D. (2007) degrees in Civil Engineering. In June, 2009, after some postdoctoral work in Northwestern, Dr. Tu came to work in Zhejiang University.

Professor Tu was a kind and sincere person, well respected by all. Towards colleagues he was thoughtful and caring . Towards students he was patient and approachable, often going to dormitories to counsel them. In research, Professor Tu was deeply knowledgeable, visionary, and conducts experiments with dedication and rigor.

We would like to use this opportunity to thank all those who expressed concerns regarding this matter.

Attached is a summary of Professor Tu's stay in Zhejiang University (the portion that still remains on the website)

Dr. Tu applied via email for a teaching position in the Department of Civil Engineering.

Dr. Tu came on campus for interview. Plane tickets and boarding were provided by the Department.

The Department sent Dr. Tu Notification of Employment. Dr. Tu expressed his acceptance of the position (and all entailed treatments) the next day, via email.

Dr. Tu signed contract with the university.

Dr. Tu rented an apartment on Yu Quan Campus.; the housing is provided by the university to its teaching employees. Apartment area totaled 57 square-meter (Contains separate kitchen, bathroom, TV, refrigerator, air conditioner, microwave, electrical burner, bed, desk, chair, other furniture and appliances). After settling down, he joined the Organization for Scholars Returning from Overseas and participated in the Conference on Environmental Civil Engineering, where he served as a committee member helping to organize and set up the conference. He also was the Class Teacher for the entering class of 2009

Dr. Tu enrolled in training programs for new teachers.

University initiated assessments of employees for professional and technical promotions.

Dr. Tu applied in the university online system for associate professorship.

Due to illness, Dr. Tu fell from a building at 2A.M, and unfortunately died。


Responses from Netizens:

1. "Due to illness" "fell from a building"???

2. Faint, poor man is now made to "fall from a building"

3. It means he fell from a building. Why? Because he is sick. So there is no one to blame but the guy himself.

4. Is there any problem with this sentence? Did he not jump because he was suffering from severe depression? A 30 year-old with both wife and kids doesn't have an inkling of family responsibility or the courage to face a little hardships.

And a bunch of people go howling for him. What a worthless piece of specimen.

5. He probably climbed the building at 2A.M to ponder some profound research topic. Then he was hit by a wave of dizziness and fell.

6. This news is so artful and suave. How?

If it said Dr. Tu committed suicide because of mental depression, all those who know the conflict between the University and Dr. Tu will be angry.

If it said Dr. Tu committed suicide because of family and career troubles, the University will not be happy.

So, the reporter compromised by writing "due to illness", "fell from a building"

As if Dr. Tu had taken ill, and this strange ailment caused him to be like Sisyphus's stone, which automatically starts to fall when it reached high altitudes. Therefore Dr. Tu was suffering from the "Sisyphus's Stone Syndrome". The first person to invent this illness is this reporter from Zhejiang University. And the poor doctor died.

Well-written news. Very obvious how much thought has gone into its creation.

7.What a pity! I always thought my alma mater is one of the better universities in China. This kind of scandal is unexpected.

I know that students who stayed in China to do their Ph.D. have a much easier time. They just have to publish (not even good ones) to stay. With the support of their advisers, 2 years is enough for them to get tenure.

Since this favoritism is so common, and any capable new researchers are severely discriminated against, it is not surprising that the level remains so low.

I think students overseas should maintain a file of all universities that do not honor its promises. Everyone of us should unit together and boycott them. Only we can help ourselves.

8. Finally, the supposed "inside story"

14 years ago we both matriculated in Tsinghua and were classmates for 5 years.
I graduated in 2000, but Tu stayed on for an extra year to get his degree in Law.
Then he came to the U.S., Northwestern University.

Four years ago when I first came to America, Tu was already 3 years into the Ph.D. program. He, his wife, another classmate of ours and I gathered together for dinner. He appeared to be so optimistic at the time.

Four months ago I went to Chicago to say good-bye and see him off. He was still cheerful, telling me that Zhejiang University verbally offered him Associate Professorship. I warned him that the university might not keep its promise, and there have been precedents with Stanford graduates who went back. He might just get a position as lecturer.

He told me, it doesn't matter if he just get the lecturing job. The key is to work hard and build up good relationships with others.

Last night a good friend of mine D called me up on the phone, and said I should read a certain article online. He has heard me talking about Tu going to ZU and felt that the stories are too similar. It indeed was very similar. So I wrote to the author and contacted friend H who is also working in Zhejiang Province. H was shocked.

After much effort we got in touch with people in the Civil Engineering Department, and we were told that it was Tu. The incident happened three days ago. The author by this time replied: "Sorry, it was him."

We don't know all the details yet, and we haven't been able to contact his family. The contents of the will have been talked about but not confirmed. The only thing we can say for sure is that at the time of his death, Tu was merely a Postdoc with "possibility of advancing to professorship". He was not even a lecturer. We can also say that at this time ZU is conducting promotion assessment for employees.

As his classmate of many years, I don't think the main reason [of his suicide] is work pressure. He was the type of person who enjoyed pressures and challenges. Our alma mater Tsinghua is known for its highly competitive environment, but he worked diligently and excelled. He was deservedly The Head of the class. During his Ph.D., Tu had trouble publishing papers because he and his Adviser disagreed on who should be the first author. But he never gave up. To date, he has published 3 papers as first author, 1 as second, and a bunch of others are currently undergoing review.

I don't think "family problems" was the cause either. I have met his wife briefly. She was an amiable person, who in support of her husband also returned to China, even giving up a faculty offer in U.S.

I am writing down all this out of great sadness and pain.
To commemorate my good brother,
and to warn others who come after us.

9. Another conjecture
Several internet sources claim that Dr. Tu committed suicide because of mental and verbal abuse suffered at the hands of his wife Dr. Fang Xin and her family. They reportedly called him loser, a failure at the high age of 32, and just another member of the "three have nots"--no house, not car, no income.

http://www.douban.com/group/topic/8099635/ (A summary of the various rumors surrounding Tu's family problems)

October 03, 2009

Kaixin Poll: What "skill(s)" did you fail to learn growing up?

The options paint a fairly accurate picture of how life was like back then. Chinese youths these days have become too sedentary, because the academic pressures is often crushing.

Format is "Skill--Number of People Voted--Percentage Out of All the People Who Voted"

Using chopsticks: 2571 (9%) -- I wonder if they mean "the correct method of holding chopsticks"; otherwise, how do these people eat???

Tying shoelaces: 633 (2%)

Whistle blowing: 13012 (47%)

Snapping fingers: 6216 (23%)

Swimming: 13220 (48%) -- Implies lack of natural and/or unpolluted streams, and swimming facilities

Rope Jumping: 888 (3%) -- We used to have rope jumping contests!

Badminton: 1093 (4%) -- Seriously, this should be considered one of the Chinese national sports.

Table Tennis: 6189 (23%) -- Again, implies lack of facilities

Mahjong: 9429 (34%) -- This, coupled with gambling, is the favorite past-time of many adults

Poker: 1912 (7%)

Sit Ups: 863 (3%) -- One of the "skills" my PE classes tested for :'(

Pen twirling: 5019 (18%)

Bicylce:2112 (8%) -- How else do you go from one place to another, esp. if there is no public transportation system in your home city?

Blowing Bubblegum:1677 (6%)

Climbing Trees:16611 (61%) -- There are fewer trees in my city now.

Others: 2829 (10%)

October 02, 2009

Popular Article on How to Write a Successful Chinese Romance Novel, Part 1

(Book Cover of One Romance Novel...are both of them guys?)

More accurately, the original full title is "Fast-Track Course on Writing of High Click-Through Rate, Psycholagnic Fiction" (Chinese: 高点击率的意淫小说之写作速成)

For anyone--man, woman, it doesn't matter--who is aspiring to become a profitable Romance novel writer in China. Or anywhere.

Note: What is happening now in the Chinese light novel publishing business is that most plots follow certain patterns, and this is probably true in other countries too. There are a few templates targeting female readership, and a few targeting the male readership. Not only are these high repetitive novels hugely popular, but such genres also have higher chances of being selected for publication. To date, the industry has already catapulted several post-70 and post-80 writers to millionaire levels (70 and 80 refer to the birth year)

Author: Knight (Chinese: 骑士), "I" in the article
Translator: PH

The term "high click-through rate" refers to the wildly popular, frequently lauded, and often re-posted books one reads on websites like Sina, Tianya, or Jinjiang. The term "Psycholagny" (Chinese: 意淫, Yi Yin, or YY) refers to a special type of novel, often written by female authors, in which the entire story revolves around the emotional entanglements between 1 female and more than 2 male characters. I do not dislike these novels, which make the readers drool, the blood boil, and allow readers to gain certain gratifications vicariously. They add some rose-colored romance to people's mundane daily lives.

The ancestor of YY novels is Qiong Yao (Chinese: 琼瑶, Bio here). But Xi Juan (Chinese: 席绢, Chinese Bio here) is the person that can claim the most profound impact on this genre and the most significant contribution to the development of YY stories in China mainland. Two of Xi Juan's books, Climbed the Wrong Sedan Chair, Married the Wrong Guy and Love Across Time and Space, are veritable classics. And I am sure every single one of the girls here have read them (Boys, I am not referring to you)

To write a successful, psycholagnic fiction that enjoys high readership, one essentially needs to possess two personality traits. The first is imagination in abundance, and also the courage to turn these fantasies into words, no matter how ludicrous and farcical. The Key Word is COURAGE. I wrote countless stories about love between myself and Richard Clayderman at the age of 14, but because I lost courage and felt embarrassed about these fantasies, I can only stand by now as others publish their stories one by one and collect profit. The second important trait that the writer must have is the tendency to abuse the girl character--the heroine by definition revels in pain and perseveres. This virtuous quality is not to be scoffed at, because it is same in nature as the those shining characteristics observed on the persons of Yue Fei and other national heroes [and will naturally attract readers].

Yesterday, I read the novel Dream of Going Back to the Qing Dynasty (Chinese: 梦回大清), and loved it! Since I derived the idea of writing this crash course from the very same book, I shall use it as an example to explain how a female literary intellectual should go about generating a successful YY novel.

Book synopsis first: The book Dream of Going Back to the Qing Dynasty has as its backdrop the brutal fights for rights of succession among the many sons of Kang Xi, fourth emperor of Qing Dynasty. Those who read Er Yue He's (Chinese:二月河) Kang Xi Emperor will be no stranger to this period in history. The crown prince was Kang Xi's second son, but there are others who aspire to take the throne, notably the fourth and the eight sons. Each of them has his own supporters. #13 supports #4; #9, #10, and #14 all support #8 (PH: Yes, Kang Xi was a stud). The story is about a 25 year-old woman from modern China whose soul mysteriously traveled back to the Qing Dynasty and took possession of a Manchurian girl's body. She was so lovely that #4, #8, #13, and #14 all became madly infatuated after meeting her. After much internal turmoil the girl accepted the love of #13, who was motherless and much neglected when he was young and continued to be unlucky after he reached adulthood.

Now that the synopsis is out of the way. I will talk about character building in a YY novel.

1. The Heroine.
An heroine in the YY novels will typically be described as "not very pretty, but very special/unique". I can tell you straight up that this description is bullshit. The baseline trait for any heroine is that she must be pretty. By pretty I don't mean you and me pretty, but rather, stardom pretty. Authors like to use the particular phrase "清秀佳人" (good-looking lady), because it emphasizes both a pleasing countenance and a pleasant temperament. It also implies that the main character is not a bimbo, but has big breasts as well as a large brain. Or as the current fashion trend dictates, tiny breasts but a lot of brain matter, because camisoles and big chests do not go well together.

At this point the reader might ask, "why not just say she is beautiful?" The answer is: don't be such a stickler to details. What you need to learn is this type of highly advanced writing technique. What you don't want to do is madden the readers, who in the end are all ordinary, "not very pretty but very unique". So by using the same description for the female protagonist, we remove potential feelings of jealousy that readers might have towards the characters, as well as any obstacles that might be present when the readers try to identify themselves with the heroines. From the point of view of the writers, this is an classic move, because it greatly enhances the readers' vicarious experiences and hence enjoyment of the stories.

A second necessary trait for the female protagonist is that she must be spirited and lively, but she cannot be fat or muscular. The number I set down for weight is 50kg. If the heroine exceeds it, she is considered a pitiful fat girl, even if her body is well proportioned. Girls who weigh more than 50kg cannot survive in China. They can, however, immigrate to the U.S., where they will be considered petite and sweet. Their dresses there will all be size 0 or generally tiny, and everybody will praise their physiques...great for boosting one's self-esteem. So if you truly love a >50kg girl, send her to U.S. That's a paradise.

The third trait is the ability to endure both mental and/or physical abuses. We describe the two kinds separately.

First, mental abuse. When attending parties in the mansions of rich aristocratic ladies, the heroine will undoubtedly receive malicious and cold words. The right way to act in these situations is to be cool and uncaring, retaliating only when the verbal abuses go overboard. The retaliation must be swift and so well constructed that it cannot be rebutted in any way. I emphasize: the key difference between a female protagonist and a female antagonist is her caution, her ability to keep cool, because a good heroine knows how gossipy and maligning servants can be behind her backs.

Second, physical abuse. We are not talking about the basic "heroine getting beat up by female antagonist", but something much deeper. For example: in the Dream, when #4 is giving the girl a strangle hold on her wrist, the correct way to respond is to softly say "Please, let go. You are hurting me." This is one typical way to tide over the storyline. Another great one is the male protagonist "gripping my jaw", so that "I am forced to look up to his dark pupils." And due to all these "physical attacks," the heroin usually has many bruises, with neck, wrist, fingers, jaw, and other exposed areas wearing most of the damages. By the way, the girl must have a dainty wrist, because a dainty wrist excites powerful feelings in males.

In this aspect, Xi Juan did far better than most modern writers, despite of the fact she is one of the earliest players in the romance novel scene. Her characters always have hickies over their entire bodies, and the stock exclamation goes like this: "How can I walk out of this door tomorrow? It is so embarrassing". The tone here is also crucial, resignation warring with satisfaction. To prevent such embarrassment, Xi Juan later invented a clear, fragrant ointment as special treatment for hickies. Note: Tiger Balm is not okay in romance novels, because it stinks!

Fourth, although heroines possess admirable wisdom, their cerebellum should be extremely underdeveloped, even atrophied, so that they have a lamentable sense of balance. This is to ensure that in YY novels, the heroine becomes involved in all sorts of accidents--falling into a pond, stepping on other people's toes--thereby giving the males more than enough opportunities to save and hold her (remember, these accidents serve as preludes to sexier episodes). Beware, however, that the first time the woman is being held, the man must pause out of surprise (怔了一怔), and the woman will struggle to escape the embrace (挣扎着起来). When she turns her head to look at the man behind her, she will see him looking at her with great interest (充满了兴趣的凝视着我) . At this point, all experienced romance novel readers will realize that the heroine have captivated yet another male creature.

Finally, the most important trait of all: the heroine must be an innocent, also known as virgin. Why? Jia Baoyu summarized very well in the famous Dream of the Red Chamber, girls are pearls prior to marriage and fish eyes after. My understanding of this greatly deepened after reading Dream of Going Back to the Qing Dynasty. Before that girl married #13, I read very carefully. Once they married, I started skimming. The moral is, my dear students, if you want to maintain a high readership number, delay weddings till the very end! Dream of Going Back to the Qing Dynasty has provided us with an example of what not to do. Don't repeat it!

Last word of caution. Sex scenes must not be vulgar or graphic, because we are after all female literary intellectuals. What we can write about is "roughness" (not "rudeness"), "perspiration", and "pain". Take care to emphasize this masculine strength, because it contrasts nicely with the feminine willowy gentleness.

2. Male Protagonists
Usually these novels will have male character #1, male character #2, and male character #3. Whereas we can never say the heroine is beautiful, male characters have to be as handsome as humanly possible. In addition, male character #1 and male character #2 must be the opposite of each other. Here are some combination for thought: if one is playful, the other must be mature; if one is young, the other must be experienced; if one is full of enthusiasm, the other must be glacial; if one is direct, the other must be roundabout; when one "has my wrist in a viselike grip" in full view of everyone, the other must have "my wrist in a viselike grip" while no one is looking; when one claims loud and clear "I must have you", the other will say in a low husky voice "I want whatever he wants", and the list goes on. (The truth is, translating this ultra-long list is too exhausting= =||).

Faced with so many excellent catches, the heroine will sincerely agonize over the choice she must make, instead of gloating like the rest of us shallow creatures.

When I was reading the Dream of Going Back to the Qing Dynasty, I did not care so much for the status of the male main characters, who are sons of an emperor, nor did I did feel overjoyed at "being loved by such an important man". But, then, I started associating the characters with grandsons of Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong. Wah, I thought, Chiang Kai-shek's grandson is so handsome (interested persons can google his photos). Mao's grandson...ha...ha...ha...you know the weather is so nice today.

Imagine, my dear students, that there are at least 4 men like Chiang's grandson who are smitten with you and promised to cherish you. Readers with less self-control will probably drift to the sky. The substitution/association effect is that powerful.

Now back to the male main character. Because his lover is accident-prone, he must be very sturdy, as not to suffer any deformation when he gets squashed by, sat on, stepped on by the heroine, or when trying to rescue her. He must have dark arresting eyes, so that he may gaze meltingly at her for prolonged periods of time. Although he loves her to the exclusion of all else, he must have personal ambitions or be accomplished professionally, and his life before she came along should be full of hardships and difficulties, in order to draw out her motherly instincts. He should maintain the same level of enthusiasm throughout their lives together, because it is not right for the heroine to be bored to death just because they married. He also has to be strong; this is the only way to make so many "marks" on her body and to "lie atop of her like some mountain" (一座无形的山一样压下来). Mostly importantly, the male main character must acquire disease or injury at least once in the book, only to be faithfully nursed back to health by the heroine. All of these are indispensable elements of a YY novels, and students should definitely commit all to heart if they don't want to waste their tuition.


The main content ends here. Next will be a short quiz (plus solutions).

Popular Article on How to Write a Successful Chinese Romance Novel, Part 2
Veggie Discourse - Blogged