Archive for March, 2008

CNN and anti-cnn.com

March 30, 2008
Recently, the riot in Tibet has been widely reported. Most of the western media criticize Chinese government for using military power to crack down the peaceful demonstration of the monks. On the internet, a group of Chinese set up a website of anti-cnn.com, where they displayed pictures, videos, and anecdotal descriptions of the "truth" of the Tibetan riot, and accused CNN and other media as faking materials to support their biased views.

This is understandable, both the attitudes of western media and those Chinese living abroad. However, it may not be cautious to support either side of views without further consideration.

One of the biggest problems the Chinese communist administration has is the lack of free speech. Western media are not allowed to visit Lhasa and interview from various sides. In the Chinese media, the same voice repeats that the riot is caused by a few gangsters supported by Dalai Lama. Without giving the possibility to others to investigate the truth, and with its long history of faking the news report, the "truth" spoken from the Xinhua agency, the central medium of China, seems dubious and weak.

And everyone is biased. It is not a good idea to accuse others as "biased", because that may be the accuser’s own bias. CNN is biased of course, Der Spiegal is biased of course, and the ones who set up anti-cnn.com are biased of course. The problem of CNN, if what the anti-cnn.com says is true, is that CNN used faked pictures and videos, or edited them to change their meanings.

Anti-cnn.com may be right in this issue, that the riot in Tibet was caused by Tibetan monks and was supported by Dalai Lama. I tend to second their opinion, as I have read about Chinese history and the Buddhism in Tibet. I think the Chinese government did not want to have such a riot before the Olympics in Beijing, while some Tibetan people caught this chance to ask for independence which was obviously unacceptable for the government. Just like the boxer’s riot happened in China more than one century ago, these kind of conflicts are almost inevitable. Tibet has been a part of China for centuries, but it has de facto independence all the time until the army of Republic of China came into that area.  Most Tibetan people are deeply religious, almost illiterate, and live in poverty. From 1980s, other Chinese people, mainly of Han ethnic group, flooded into Tibet. The economy of Tibet boomed, yet due to their skills, education, tradition, beliefs and attitudes, most Tibetan people have got disproportional share of the wealth, though I am sure they have benefited from their tourism business, and from the minority policy from the government (something like affirmation action). People like these tend to see their sufferings, and produce hatred toward the dominating group. When time comes, they go to the street. It is just like the 1992 Rodney King riot, and the boxer’s riot in China.

But that is not the point. The point is, everyone is biased, and only with free speech that the biases of different people or media can be neutralized. They don’t realize this.The communist party in China does not know the rule of the game in the western society. They want people to believe what say is the truth. The results, as can seen in western media, is the opposite.

I don’t know what will be the next. I understand that people may have various political requests, including request for independence.But I really don’t want anything like the riot. Freedom of speech may be a more urgent issue in China, and may help more people, including Tibetan. The criticism of Chinese communist party on the Tibet issue will continue, unless more and more independent voices can be heard and finally the truth emerges.

Everything said has been said before

March 21, 2008

This is something sad to hear, yet much sadder to confirm its validity, again and again.

And again and again, I have told myself, that I am just a normal guy, as normal as most other people, quick or dead. Above 6 billion people in the earth at this moment, and, even 100 generations ago there lived great thinkers. I am sure every absurd ideas may have been said by at least one person, though some may be recorded and some not, some may have been tested and some not. Those original research papers, actually, may not be original, but replication, revision, update, or even copy of other people’s ideas. Only a few times we are really thrilled by the scientific discoveries and astounding new ideas.

So sometimes it may be the concrete work that counts. It’s good to have a great idea, but just like what Hillary said about Obama, it is action that really counts. So, publish your ideas, talk to the peers and the public, propagate your ideas, and make some changes. This is the way to secure the credit of the idea.

Like there was a time that I thought I had so many great ideas about stuttering. Now I see it in some rookie guy in our lab. When you first step into this field, and with your life-long experience and passion, you think you are already an expert and you have the destined duty to solve this problem– and it took me years to become a little bit humble on this point.

Now I have to learn how to tolerate others’ ignorant arrogance. Um, what a jackass I used to be… I just need to look at the new guy. And here is one of the ideas that I thought was great.

Have you ever visited the Three Gorges in the Yangtze River? Now there is a huge dam and everything has been changed, even when I visited it 10+ years ago, some permanent changes were already made. The government bombed the big rocks in the middle of the river in the 20th century. Before that, the big rocks in the river changed the torrent: it rushed and whirled and made the passage dangerous for every passing boat.

Stuttering is just like these rocks in the river. The rocks block the water, so the water has to change, and by nature it wants to crash down the rocks. So the water runs faster, tiding toward the rocks, and changes its course. If the rocks are small, they would be easily flushed away; but if they are big, they will be like the rocks in the Three Gorge that make the passage dangerous and dynamic. It’s just like a fight toward the rocks and the water.

But when the water just flows slowly, the passage will have no problem at all, and even the very existence of the rocks will not be noticed. The course will still have some change around the rocks, but the difference is only mild and evasive. This is similar why slowed speech generally ameliorates stuttering.

And maybe another solution is to dig out a canal as a supplementary channel. It is like that most stutterers don’t have problems when sing, so many of the vehicles will not have danger to pass that canal. Sometimes I wonder why I have not seen follow-up research of Gerald McGuire’s hypothesis of 2 speech loops, the one for spontaneous speech and the other for singing. For stuttering people, it is one route got damaged, but the other remains intact. And dopamine level infects the spontaneous speech route. Pagoclone is the medicine developed under this philosophy. Though early result does not indict high practical effect of the medicine, which, in my opinion, it may because of the complicity of human hormone system, the idea of 2 speech loots is fascinating to me, and I have seen some evidence of it. One extreme case is in a BBC documentary, a Japanese lady’s left half brain is totally dead, yet still she can utter emotional sing-song sounds, fluently.

Why Blacks hate Whites?

March 18, 2008

It is something unique in north America and it is the highlight in this dem election. In recent days, because of fox news and youtube, Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s speech has been widely heard, and B. H. Obama has to give out probably one of his most important speeches about race.

To my limited experience, I don’t think Wright’s hatred toward white America is singular. Maybe it is fair to say that this kind of attitude is widely accepted by blacks in America.

It has puzzled me, and has puzzled many white people, as I can see from reading the comments to some news reports, that why, after 150 years of civil war, the blacks still hate whites because the white slaved their ancestors. And there is the affirmative action, which intends, to some people, to give the blacks some benefit in exchange for the reconciliation from the blacks.

It seems it has not produced the expecting effect.

I have tried to find a reasonable explanation of the phenomenon. Why blacks hate white? And why this time they so evidently want to see a black president? Even though B. H. Obama is only half black. See, the Japanese invaded China in 20th century, killed 30 million people, and bang, the Chinese government during Mao’s time forgave Japan! They even did not ask for any war compensation.

With my limited intelligence, I could only offer this analogy.

Two kids had a fierce fight. The big white kid beat the little black kid. The little black kid hated the big white kid ever since, and wanted to give the white kid a heavy beat to make it even. The two grew up. The big white kid became an adult and the little black kid became a big kid. The black kid still wants to make an even but he is still small in size. The white man understands it was wrong to beat the black kid years ago and wants to find peace with him, so he gives the black kid some gifts and treats him fair and well. But the black kid thinks it will be even only if he beats the white guy and he despises the peace-seeking behaviors of the white guy. The black kid thinks: It is unfair for you to beat me so hard and hope I can forget it. NO WAY! I will forgive your wrongdoing after I beat you. And with the white guy is hanging out with the Latino kid and the Asian kid, the hatred of the black kid is even much stronger.

But if in the fight, the little Japanese kid gives the big Chinese kids a severe bite, the big kid will be much easier to forgive the little kid.

Now the black people’s attitude toward white people seems understandable to me, because I had such kind of emotions. The problem is, this type of emotion, attitude, or wish, is immature and unrealistic. The big guy will never let the little kid to beat him to wash his "original sin" — that may seem a big issue for the loser, but never for the winner, of the fight. I think the good and possible way is, have peace with the big guy, take advantages of all the help the big guy can offer, and wait to grow up. There will be a time the guy grows old, and the kid becomes a man. That will be the time to "revenge".

You have the right to make mistakes

March 18, 2008

This picture of latest polls was grabbed from CNN (http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/states/pennsylvania.html).

Didn’t CNN know that these numbers should add up to 100%?

 

“Even this piece of crap gets published!”

March 17, 2008
Today is St. Patrick’s day and I received an email from Folia
Phoniatrica et Logopaedica that my paper has been accepted for
publication. "Congratulations!"– from the editor’s office.

And my reaction is — "even this piece of crap gets published!"

Yes, I don’t like this paper, even though it is my first publication, even though I am the first author. I don’t like it.

I
have spent so much time on it. It is a questionnaire survey, simple and
straightforward, and it was my master’s thesis equivalent. But it took
me 2 years to get the thesis finished: I made up the questionnaire,
revised it 20 times, collected some pilot data, totally changed the
questionnaire, revised another 20 times, collected some data, and
revised the thesis equivalent for 40 times, page by page, line by line.
And it took me another year to revise the paper another 40 times and
submitted to this journal and that and finally got it published.

Totally
inefficient, totally unimaginable from my perspective years ago. Had I
known it would be so hard to publish the first paper, I would not come
to USA and pursue the degree.

Now I feel much better, because,
first, my writing in English has been greatly improved, and second, I
have got to know how to get a paper published. It’s not a myth. It’s
not hard to get some ideas, it will not be hard to write, and
methodologically I have been much improved. And I see not all published
papers are good. Some are just junks.

Like mine. The first paper
is a piece of crap, definitely; even I was hesitant to add the ToM
stuff. Use Theory of Mind to explain a questionnaire survey may not be
wrong, but probably it is an over-shoot. But the point is, there has
been many times that when I read a paper, I asked myself, "How could
this piece of crap get published?" Now I see why.

It’s either a by-product in the training process, or it’s really a piece of crap.

Rebecca Saxe @ mit

March 15, 2008
Stumbleupon picked up a video clip from Ape Genius for me. It is about Bonobos and theory of mind, in which, as always, a few experts talk about their studies and discoveries. Among them is Rebecca Saxe, an assistant professor from MIT.
 

I have read a few of her papers before, but I did not expect her to be so young and pretty, and with a funny but lovely British accent. Gosh, she is only 28! From her CV, I got to know that she entered collage at 1997 (the year I graduate from college), and got a Ph.D. from MIT in 2003, then she taught in Harvard for 3 years, and then came back to MIT and had her own Saxe lab.

Well, well, this is a common path for many scholars: you go to a top-tier collage, go to a top graduate school, find your first job in a first-tier school, and probably transfer to another school for more funding and higher rank. And of course, you work and publish. And because you are in an elite school, you get more fund, more graduate students, more capable colleagues, and sure you will outperform many contemporaries.

I just don’t know if they ever wonder this is the life they want.

Or I am a little bit jealousy. I wish that I could avoid wasting time in activities not related to academic, such as my previous years in industry and commercial; I wish that English could be my first language or at least I did not have problems to speak English; I wish that I applied for a graduate school better than the current one, and many years earlier; and this and that. Anyway, it’s just a little sad to see people younger than me have acquired big success while I am still lagging on the way.

I guess that is why the time I saw the book titled Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, I became somewhat sentimental.

But at some point of life, you have to admit that you are just another normal person, and things like this happens to every normal person, that everyone should be surpassed by younger ones. It is damn true.

Bill Bryson: In A Sunburned Country, democratic debates, and tornado warning

March 5, 2008

Fourth Bill Bryson book ever finished, word by word. Bryson has an interesting sense of humor, which I think may not be totally American, or British. It seems more like a combination. When he talks about those world’s top lethal animals ever found in Australia, and driving 1,000 miles from Darwin to Alice Spring without ever seeing almost nobody, he holds the attitude that, as I image, and as he describes for a lot of times, just like when he sits in the only pub of the tiny town after a long journey in the sun, sipping beer with relaxation and joy, but with few, even none, of the other customers showing interest to talk to him, he has to talk to himself, or sometimes the waitress from Canberra, on topics probably only he thinks interesting. He has the curiosity of a kid, so he digs into every detail of trivial things he thinks funny; he has the gentlemanship from Britain, so he always looks at other people and the world from some distance and in a polite way; and he is, like a typical American, talking all the time, enjoying his humor more than others.

But this is the good way to write.

So in his books about traveling in American small towns and Australian sunburned deserts, although many things may be boring, tedious, monotonous, and boring… he makes them amusing to him, and amusing to me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hillary wins Ohio and Rhode Island, leading ahead with margin in Texas right now; Obama wins Vermont.

Obama’s momentum is gone; he will never become a US president; he will become a big joke. The presidency may go to GOP again.

As long as US is a redneck country, GOP will be the dominating party.

And anyone who takes advantage of cult-like something, is not behaving like a gentleman or a lady.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With the tornado warning, the television signal transmission was affected. For times, the screen froze. I was glad it was when Obama was delivering a speech.