They come from different countries, speak different languages, have different jobs, and believe in different religions. They probably don’t even know each other. By chance, they are waiting for the same bus at the same station at the same time. They will probably never meet each other again. By chance, they adopt similar postures.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
As the train doors open at the Mongkok station, a young woman who looked like she may be from
The child’s grandmother scolded the child, also with a smile on her face. She said the child was a bully, and he should not have taken the seat from the young woman. But she did nothing to stop the child from taking the seat, nor did she try to get the child to return the seat.
It reminded me of another incident on a bus the day before. A young couple took the seats behind me. Their young boy, about 2, started to scream, kicked the seat, and was making himself a nuisance. The young couple told him he should not disturb other people. But just like this grandmother, made no serious effort to stop the child.
Then I recalled another boy I know, about 10. He does not like to study, finds all kinds of excuses not to do homework, does not read, plays no sports, spends all his time on computer games, and goes to bed early in the morning. In short, your normal
And we complain that young people nowadays have no self-discipline, no respect for other people, go to bed too late, and get up too late? Do we need to look beyond ourselves for the reason?
The view at the Canteen (a fastfood restaurant) at the IFC Mall is a large part of what you pay for. However, there are three things that bother me in this view from the Canteen. The first is the smog. The other two are the two giant billboards that block part of the view of the harbour.
There really should be some law which says “Your money does not give you the right to spoil other people’ view of the harbour”, or something like that. Don’t you think?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
We have been studying the teachings of Jesus in our weekly Bible Study group at the university, and we just covered Matthew chapter 5, verses 13 – 16, in which Jesus said His disciples should be the salt of the earth and light of the world.
My wife and I went to see the movie “Amazing Grace” this afternoon and it was a great illustration of what determined Christians can do to exert positive influence in this world. The movie was about William Wilberforce, the English politician who felt God asked him to push to abolish the slave trade. He became the head of the parliamentary movement against the British slave trade. He was helped by many people, including John Newton, a former slave ship captain who repented to become a clergyman, and wrote the song “Amazing Grace”, which became a favourite of Blacks and evangelical Christians.
Looking back, it seems it should not be too difficult to persuade reasonable people that such an inhumane act as the slave trade, which resulted in so much unspeakable suffering, should not be allowed to continue. But ignorance, greed, prejudice, inertia and politics created tremendous obstacles. “The African people do not oppose the slave trade.” “Many slaves own land, living better than our own people.” Ïf we give up the slaves, our businesses will collapse and the empire cannot retain its power.” “The French is not going to stop having slaves even if we stop. So we cannot stop.” “The people demand it (abolition of the slave trade)? Are you on the side of the mob, or are you on the side of the King?” “The Americans support it? They are revolutionaries. You must be revolutionaries too. We cannot allow revolutions in this country.” …
Eventually it took many years of tremendous effort to finally persuade parliament to pass the Slave Trade Act in 1807. Today Wilberforce remains a greatly respected figure.
Friday, October 26, 2007
On last Saturday morning, at the junction of
Two of them stationed themselves at the 2 south side corners, and the other two stationed themselves at the 2 traffic islands in the middle of
At the south-east corner, I walked behind the officer stationed there and quickly snapped this picture. Just as I turned to walk away, someone tapped on my shoulder and my heart nearly jumped out of my mouth. It turned out to be one of my friends. The 3 women were still being spoken to by the police officer when I walked away. Somehow, it just seemed like much ado about very little.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
What is this?
It also features in the song “Twelve Days of Christmas”. Remember “Four calling birds, Three french hens, Two turtle doves, And a partridge in a pear tree…”?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
One farmer in Xichang (西昌) in
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The reason I was in
We showed the users various items in combinations of 3 at a time, and ask them which 2 among the 3 are most alike and which one is most different from the other two. Using this method we tried to understand the criteria/dimension (construct) that the user employs in the evaluation of the items. For example, a user may find car and train to be alike because they are machines, while horse is an animal. Another user may find horse and car to be alike in terms of carrying capacity, while train carries much more. By showing the functions provided by e-Learning systems in triples to the users, and studying their responses, we hoped to understand the “constructs” that the users use to interpret/evaluate the functions provided. Each construct represents a possible “dimension” in which a function can be evaluated.
In our experiment we found 11 such constructs, and we further consolidated such constructs into 2 major dimensions. One of which is “more focused and consolidating knowledge” vs “not stimulated, motivated, and boring, useless”. Another is “help to explain problems and through interacting” vs “have to take initiative to solve problems, not helping as there is no interaction/stimulation”.
Finally the common functions provided by e-Learning systems such as WebCT are evaluated by placing them in a Cartesian coordinate system formed by these two dimensions. According to our study, the best function is the bulletin board/discussion forum. The scale of this project is too small to draw much conclusions from. But it does demonstrate one way to study systematically the “usability” of e-Learning systems, and in fact, information systems in general.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
This is the real WaterGate in
Near the Pan Gate, this man was making beautiful calligraphy on the ground, in water. Appreciate the poise, the control, the stamina. It is an uniquely Chinese art form. Within minutes, the water dried, and he overwrote on it. The art is both ephemeral and eternal.
The ponds were teaming with golden carp. They look well-fed. Yet they could not resist fighting for the scraps, with their big mouths wide open. We humans find them amusing. Yet we hunger in the same manner after fame, fortune and other fancies. I wonder if God finds us similarly amusing.
Friday, October 19, 2007
On Sunday evening, after finishing all my classes, I went out to have dinner. I was watching the man “pull” a lump of dough into fine noodles, when the two men in the next shop came over to check me out. It turned out they were concerned that I might have come from the municipal government, to check up on their shops. When they found out I was just a visitor trying to take some pictures, they smiled and said “please keep taking pictures”, while they walked back across the street.
When I went in to order a bowl of the noodles, this man took over. He separated a fist-sized lump from the big lump, kneaded it for a couple of minutes, and started pulling, waving, and pounding it into a bunch of fine noodles. While he was still pulling it, he suddenly walked out the door, and dumped the noodles into the big pot.
You cannot get noodles any fresher than that! And it costs only five Reminbi. OK, there could have been more beef in the soup, and the soup probably had a bit too much MSG, but the noodles were really delicious. And just the show itself was worth more than the five Reminbi, which is equal to about five
I bet as
By the way, their faces, clothes, and conversion give me the impression that they are Chinese Muslims.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I was walking due west on a busy street 鼓樓西大街 in
I did get across the street to take this picture, in which one of the women is visible on the left. Such salons are common in many cities nowadays, including prominent cities such as Xian 西安, and small cities such as YangXin 陽新 in
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Rectangular courtyard houses are one of the many things
Monday, October 15, 2007
A bunch of students were playing basketball near the school entrance on a busy street 鼓樓西大街 in Beijing, just north of 后海. The ball popped loose and bounced into the street. The whole bunch of boys and girls rushed out but could only watch as a passing car hit the ball, sending it across the street.
On the opposite sidewalk, a young man caught it and tossed it back across the street. I pulled out my camera just in time as a plump boy caught it and ran triumphantly back into the school.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The shops at 琉璃廠 were mostly closed already, even though it was only about 7 pm. At the end of the street there was a small but bustling market, so I kept walking, in the direction of 前門.
I made a turn and suddenly the hutong was almost deserted. Three young women were walking ahead, their laughter washing back to me, a man was riding the bicycle, I knew I was very close to 前門, and a woman near the market had confirmed to me the hutong leads to 前門, so I kept going.
Another turn, and I came face to face with the bright lights of 前門. The distance was just a few hundred meters, and the time difference was about 10 minutes, but I seemed to have passed through three different worlds. The hutongs is an amazing world indeed.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Did you ever wonder what happened to 東交民巷, the street famous for the foreign embassies in the late Tsing Dynasty and the early Republic? It is still there in
It is now a quite street with lots of government departments. Some of the buildings are still there, including 北京市公安局、最高人民法院、最高人民检察院, … When I tried to take a picture of the old French Embassy, which looks governmental now but seemingly without a label, the guard waved me away, politely.
Some of the old buildings are still there. The old Citibank (花旗銀行) is now the Police Museum. The old French Post office is now a rea staurant. The old Saint Michael’s Church (圣米厄尔天主教堂) is, well, still the Saint Michael’s Church – although it is locked up. I did try to take a better picture from a hole in the gate. But there was a police van opposite so I gave it up.
Like many other places in
Friday, October 12, 2007
An hour later, near 大柵欄, and close to 前門, an old man was playing even more haunting erhu (二胡) to an oblivious passing throng. I didn’t know whether it was the difference in the setting, or the instrument, or the crowd, or whatever, nobody stopped to listen, and nobody gave him any money. I could not stand to watch.