Archive for January, 2008

Pattern of Action Movie Sequencials

January 31, 2008

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Martin Luther King, Jr. – A Plagiarist?

January 27, 2008
Surprised to find this wikipedia article. I did not check the sources, but it seemed quite believable. My impression is that definitely MLK plagiarized in his doctoral dissertation, but the charge against his speech in "I have a dream" seems not reasonable.

What I don’t understand is why Boston University decided not to revoke MLK’s doctorate. I guess it was because MLK is loved and admired by so many Americans, black and white, and was awarded Nobel peace award at age 35. These are reasonable considerations, but not sound. I am sure anyone else, being not that famous and influential, could not keep the doctorate degree, because plagiarism is the worst sin in academic world and every criminal should be severely punished. In academia, there is no black or white, old or young, man or woman. There is only the passion for truth.

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Memory of Spring Festival (part 1)

January 27, 2008
It is confirmed by the authoritative Xinhua News Agency that Leng Jing, a female student from Anhui Normal University, was killed after falling off an overcrowded railway platform in Wuhu, Anhui province.

More than a hundred million Chinese are traveling back home. The Lunar New Year  starts from Feb 6, and they are eager to come home before that day, to meet with their family, relatives, and friends, and have a good time. They are packed in all railway stations and all train compartments and all buses, and a lot of them cannot board the vehicle. Even, tragedies like Leng Jing happen every year at this time.

15 years ago, I came to Beijing and started college. Beijing was 800 miles away from home and the city was dry and untidy, but I enjoyed college life a lot. First time away from home and having fun with friends from everywhere. But soon the winter came, the school closed, and everyone was preparing to go back home.

There was a ticket booth around the street corner. During those years I was so proud of it because other kids had to ride their bicycles in the freezing wind for probably half hour to get there, while we just walked over, chatting with fellow kids. But I was scared at first look — at 7:00 am, there were already long lines and it seemed the lines did not move at all. I talked with some classmates who needed to travel along the same route, and we agreed to get in the line before midnight and turn shift.

So that night, we went out. Two persons a group. We dressed ourselves like soldiers with green trench coat and Russian hat and everything else we could put on our body. At 12:00 pm, we were not alone already. But we were happy to be able to chat with other guys. I could not remember if some of us went back and got poker cards for us to play, but time elapsed quite fast. And soon lines were made up. In early morning, it was freezing. Young and excited, we did not feel much about it. Some of us were worrying about the tickets. Always there were rumors that the tickets to some places were sold out. But that was not a problem to me, since a lot of train lines pass by my home town, and I did not care much for the date.

After a whole night’s waiting, I was glad to get the ticket. At half price. That means, as a student, I saved $5 for a single trip. A big save at those years.

The real problems first appeared in Beijing railway station. It was really not easy to get through the ticket checking point, not to say to get aboard. There was just too many people. Poor and rich, old and young, they all looked desperate. I guessed some of them had stuck there for days. I did not know what was the feeling being stuck in the railway station until years later when I had to stay a whole night there– luckily that was in the summer and I did not need to get any warmth. It was literally a war to go along the way and get into the train compartment, and when I sat down, I could not but surprise by my own bravery! I made it!

To be continued…

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Chances of your child’s stuttering

January 27, 2008
Even before I came to USA, I read something online that one SLP talked about the percentage of your child develops stuttering if you stutter. The percentage was quite specific but I never knew if it has any evidence.

Tonight I happen to read a paper of Andrews et al (1983) in which they reviewed research data up to July 1982. And they said, according to the pooled data from 725 families covered by Andrews and Harris (1964) and Kidd (1980), the best estimates of the probability of your child acquire stuttering if you stutter are:

You are a man, your baby girl will have 9% of chance to stutter, 22% for your boy;
You are a woman, your daughter will have 17% of chance, and your son, 36%.

I don’t know if there is any similar research. I kind of have a memory that someone is looking into the family history of stuttering and trying to produce a map of stuttering transmission within generations, which I believe, will help to build a genetic model of stuttering.

Definitely this is an interesting topic, but probably not beneficial to stuttering people. Will any fluent people seriously consider it before starting a serous relationship with a PWS? I bet some will, especially those living in the country where I come from. This might be a reason to increase the social discrimination toward stuttering, impede the difficulties of PWS to have romantic relationships.

But for the specific number. There is no reason to believe in them as it is better to get the general idea that stuttering mom will have more chance to have stuttering child, and more probably to have a stuttering boy rather than a stuttering girl. I have not looked into the original studies, but 725 families for this kind of study may not be enough; Bloodstein (1995) reviewed so many research of stuttering prevalence and the percentage varied greatly, not mentioning all the definition, measurement, and sampling procedures remain problematic.

Such study would be easy to do in China or India, as long as the help from local government is promised. Anyway, it will not be a problem to find large enough population and human labors are much, much cheaper.

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On The Starbucks Experience

January 26, 2008
When I was a college kid, I was fascinated by the success stories of the business giants: Apple, Mary Kay, Panasonic, Sony, Microsoft, etc. I read every book I could found about their "secrets", trying to get a clue and make myself a legend. But I could not. Finally I realized that entrepreneurship is not in my blood and my life career is in academia.

Still, I have that unanswered question: Why some business succeed and some fail?

Maybe that was why I grabbed the book The Starbucks Experience. When I glanced at the over, I was caught by its familiar green color and mermaid logo, and its subtitle as "5 principles for turning ordinary into extraordinary". Looks like an easy reading — only 5 things, not 30 laws listed in the Gordon Livingston’s book — so why not resume my old passion?

It turned out boring to read the "national bestseller". I could not find any strong suggestions as to why there were 5 principles — why not more or fewer? why these 5 things? All the author — Dr. Joseph Michelli (I cannot find out where he got his Ph.D.) — tried to say is nothing but why these things are so important to help Starbucks becomes a legend, which equals to say, the success of Bill Gates is because of his personality and innovation. Nothing about the time, the investment, the purely luck, the social trend, and thousands and thousands of those who failed.

To me, suddenly I feel like I understood these "secrets" — first you succeed in small scale, then you educate your employees, then you educate your customers, finally you make it a legend. That is the time course. When you publish a book and sell your "secret", great, you are making yourself a legend! These "secrets" books are more like brainwashing devices to your employees and customers. There may not be any real secret besides some of your nature (IQ, EQ, hard-working, etc.) and a lot of good luck — It is just that simple.

You cannot replicate Starbucks using these 5 principles. These things are pure propagandas.

For the fun and as a mark of having browsed that book, I list the 5 principles here.

  • Principle 1: Make It Your Own
  • Principle 2: Everything Matters
  • Principle 3: Surprise and Delight
  • Principle 4: Embrace Resistance
  • Principle 5: Leave Your Mark

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Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart

January 22, 2008

I found the book last night in local B&N. At first glance, the title just shocked me with its cold and sad truth-telling. The book has a long full title which reads Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now, and since it is placed within the category of self-improving, I assumed it is as the other self-improving books I have ever read – nothing but cheap BS. Anyway, I opened it, just for a quick view of the 30 laws.

And I was electrified to read this one:
There is nothing more pointless, or common, than doing the same things and expecting different results.

And this changed all my view about this book.

It is not my intent do discuss about this "law" in detail. Everyone can understand it, but only when you realize your fault, when you already feel like old too soon and smart too late, you begin to feel the power in this law. We are not that smart, even if we think we are smart, and it is not being smart enough that we do the same thing again and again and hope to get better results.

This is different than perseverance. Perseverance is, like Edison did numerous experiments to find the right material for the incandescent light bulb, to achieve the goal without repeating the same failure.

And here are the 30 laws provided by Dr. Gordon Livingston in his book.
1. If the map doesn’t agree with the ground, the map is wrong.
2. We are what we do.
3. It is difficult to remove by logic an idea not placed there by logic in the first place.
4. The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas.
5. Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least.
6. Feelings follow behavior.
7. Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.
8. The perfect is the enemy of the good.
9. Life’s two most important questions are "Why?" and "Why not?" The trick is knowing which one to ask.
10. Our greatest strengths are our greatest weakness.
11. The most secure prisons are those we construct for ourselves.
12. The problems of the elderly are frequently serious but seldom interesting.
13. Happiness is the ultimate risk.
14. True love is the apple of Eden.
15. Only bad things happen quickly.
16. Not all who wander are lost.
17. Unrequited love is painful but not romantic.
18. There is nothing more pointless, or common, than doing the same things and expecting different results.
19. We flee from the truth in vain.
20. It’s a poor idea to lie to oneself.
21. We are all prone to the myth of the perfect stranger.
22. Love is never lost, nor even in death.
23. Nobody likes to be told what to do.
24. The major advantage of illness is that it provides relief form responsibility.
25. We are afraid of the wrong things.
26. Parents have a limited ability to shape children’s behavior, except for the worse.
27. The only real paradises are those we have lost.
28. Of all the forms of courage, the ability to laugh is the most profoundly therapeutic.
29. Mental health requires freedom of choice.
30. Forgiveness is a form of letting to, but they are not the same thing.

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A Handbook on Stuttering – Much Improved!

January 20, 2008

In his foreword to this 6th edition, Dr. Bloodstein claimed that, after the publication of the 5th edition in 1995, he did not have intention to make any revision. Obviously, things change and it’s our happy time to see this new version. Actually, nothing much has changed – except that, it includes some brain imaging research results (which strengthens the nature part of the etiology of stuttering), and more important to me, much of the writing has improved!!!

I say, this is the benefit of having a co-author like Dr. Ratner, who surpasses Dr. Bloodstein in writing. The 5th edition of that book is like a sleeping pill: The moment you pick it up, you begin to yawn; and just after 2 pages, maybe 3 pages, the eyelids cannot keep open. That’s why it takes years, maybe even longer time, to finish the 500-page book.

Dr. Bloodstein is not Dr. Van Riper, who wrote and published novels using pseudonym. Dr. Bloodstein is good at gleaning every seed, examine them in detail, and produce a full-page report on every seed. This is, as I said once, a demonstration of desperation. It is because we know nothing in depth of stuttering, that researchers like Dr. Bloodstein use a "brutal-force" method to make a detailed description and, hopefully, some reader may find some connection and give credit to his diligent effort. BTW, who can forget Dr. Bloodstein and his great work after taking so much pain to read his writing?

I am really glad that in this new edition, the writing is more smooth, even the 2-column pages seem easier to read, and, it is only $65.53 from Amazon, and I get it from the library for free.

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

January 20, 2008
How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot
The world forgetting, by the world forgot
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each Pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d …

These lines are from the poem by Alexander Pope, about the tragic love between Eloisa (Heloise) and Abelard – a girl fell in love with her teacher and secretly married, the teacher was castrated and entered a monastery, and their letters are still touching the hearts of many.

The 3rd line above was borrowed as the title for the 2004 romance movie I just watched, which starts Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Kirsten Dunst. This movie is one of the best romance movies I have ever heard of.

What is love? What is its nature? And which love is the greatest? In Chinese literature, I have read some great love poems. In one of them, the wife claims that her love will stop only when the heaven meets with the earth, the snow comes down in the summer, and the Yangtz river goes dry. It is clearly seen that this kind of love is unconditioned, and no impediment can stop it.

But how about the memory loss? I have learned something about dementia, which is most often seen as when the patients gradually or suddenly lose the memory and sadly, become unable to recognize the persons they love. If you have lost the memory of your loved ones, can you still love your lover? There is possibility that some people may still remain to feel familiar with and close to their lovers, yet still sadly, with the progress of the disease, these people are doomed to lose all cognition and don’t have any sense of love or hatred. Only a handful of dementia people, generally with traumatic brain injury, can recover from this gradual loss of the memory of love.

Some may wonder, since we are in a time of dramatic science and technology advancement, it is foreseeable that one day, we the human beings may be able to manipulate our memory, as already depicted in films like paycheck and this romance film. Yes, this film talks about the nature of memory and love, and, as I proclaims, the love that even memory manipulation cannot change is the greatest love.

Joel Barish (Jim Carry) and Clementine Kluczynski (Kate Winsley) have lived together for 2 years. Suddenly Clem feels boring of her life and comes to a company to erase all her memory about Joel. Surprised, Joel discovered what and how, and sadly, he comes to the same company to undergo the same procedure. However, while unconscious and trunks and trunks of memory being removed, Joel keeps thinking of their past: how they get to know each other, how they spend time together, having fun and having fight, and every detail of their life together. Definitely they have problems, and definitely he still loves her so much. And definitely she still loves him so much. Even they cannot remember of their past, they meet, as planned, in Valentine’s Day, in Montauk, NY, where they previously met, and this time they fall in love again. Lately they get to know their memory removing, and still, they decide to stay together (actually it is not explicitly said in the film; the two just agree to give each another try but I prefer to see them live happily together afterwards).

What a touching story! Even memory erase cannot stop the two from loving each other.

Yet, there is a question: Why Clem wants to remove her memory, just days before Valentine’s Day, and the reason being only boring? Is is because Clem impulsively pursuits happiness and when it seems away from everyday life, it’s time to dump the old lover and finds a new one? Well, human nature allows us to have stronger interest to new faces, and only think about the near future, and, most of all, "it takes so much time to stay together with a person only to find out you don’t know her/him at all."

It is so hard to know and love a person.

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January 18, 2008
I have read quite a few books about stuttering treatment history, all of them written by contemporary figures, such as Van Riper and Wingate. I had never suspected that more than a hundred years ago, in London, physicians had heard of "Kchi-Ko", which was the name given by "Mongolian inhabitants of China" to stuttering, as indicated in Dr. Coleman’s paper in The Lancet, June 8, 1895, previously delivered as a post-graduate lecture at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond-street, on May 16, 1895.

So, what is the advancement in our knowledge of stuttering after more than 100 years’ research and treatment practice?

The epidemiology is much improved. We now know that males are 3-4 times more than females to have stuttering, and people who stutter are not different in body anatomy, emotion, intelligence, health, and trait characters.

We have achieved some advance in the etiology of stuttering. We know it is more likely heretic, and children who stutter tend to have brain development abnormality. Imitation, though once believed to be a large part of the causes, has been discarded. Larynx was thought as central to this disorder, not now.

An interesting point is about the two words: stuttering and stammering. Dr. Coleman said stammering refers to lisping – the first time I have ever heard of this meaning of the word. Other people have suggested that stuttering refers to silent blocks while stammering refers to repetition, and most others think the two words are replaceable.

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50 Weeks to Go!

January 16, 2008

Just watched the keynote speech of Steve Jobs on 2008 MacWorld. He presented 4 notable new products: Time Capsule which is to support Time Space app in Leopard, iPhone’s new interface, iTune Movie Rental along with the revolutionized Apple TV, and world’s thinnest notebook MacBook Air.

Some of the highlighting points:

After 200 days since introduction, 4 million iPhones have been sold. The market share, even in the first quarter, reached as high as 19.5 percent, the number two.

iTunes has sold 4 billion songs and 7 million movies.

MacBook Air weighs only 3 pounds, 0.16 to 0.76 inch high, but does not compromise in power. It has an Intel Core Duo at 1.6 GHz, 2 GB memory, 80 GB HDD (or 64 GB SDD), full-size keyboard with backlit, 13.3 inch screen, 5-hour battery power, and multitouch gesture as previously seen in iPhone. It does not have a optical disc, because Jobs thinks nowadays you don’t need it – You watch movies from iTunes, you sync songs to iPod, and you have Remote Disc feature to use the optical disc from other Mac or PC.

The price:
Time capsule: 500 GB, $299; 1 TB, $499.
iPhone, free upgrade; iPod Touch, $20 to upgrade the software.
iTunes movie rental, $3 for library title and $4 for new release. Add $1 to upgrade to HD quality. Also, $2 for TV episode,
Apple TV price is cut to $229.
MacBook Air is from $1799.

What a technology feast!

And as Steve said, the first 2 weeks of 2008 have gone, and we have 50 weeks more to go!

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