Guest blog: Carla Wu — Such is life

Guest blog: Carla Wu -- Such is life
YUEYANG, HUNAN — My friend, Carla Wu {吴双), wrote this last week in her Qzone. I’ve taken the liberty of translating it (with a lot of help from Google Translate!) and reposting it here. You can see the original here. ———- Such is life. We not only cannot change the past, we cannot predict the future. Up to now, I still cannot believe, but it is already the case, and suddenly it is so. No accidents, no remorse, no discomfort, no resistance. I have it accepted all with calm, and even faint excitement. Photos of my hospitalization have been published before, and just-after-surgery photos have also, but here are a few pictures from the end of it. This one (left) should be just after recovering from chemotherapy. It had not yet finished off my hair. (Hard to keep one’s hair rooted in one’s head. This feeling is actually not a very good memory, not just one, but another one, and another one — looking at my fallen hair, I found that it was like in a horror film.) On this day, the sun was very good, I feel okay and on my own went down the corridor. Who could know? ...

The new Wheat-dogg’s World 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Same old stuff in a bright, new package! While rebuilding the site this afternoon was a pain in the butt, considering all the other things on my To-Do list, the result is quite pleasing, if I do say so myself. The most noticeable change is the new theme, called Montezuma, created by the same shop that made the last theme, Atahualpa. I’ve moved from a three-column format to a two-column design, but may return to three-columns in the future. A few plugins have changed. The weather plugin I had before was eight years old, and I’ve switched to a new one developed by Weather Underground. For social networking, I’ve switched to the AddThis plugin, which offers the usual social media, as well two of the most popular social networks in China, Sina Weibo and Qzone. WPTouch should be offering a mobile-ready site to mobile users, as before. Wordbooker, which links my Facebook status and the blog, may or may not be working. The webserver seems to be blocking some curl_exec functions. Given the situation I was left in this week, with a demolished site and no decent backups, I’ve added a new plugin, UpDraft, which will automatically ...

Back in business again

JISHOU, HUNAN — I took about 10 days off from blogging, focusing on school work and planning for a short junket to Guangzhou on the 15th to 17th. When I got around to blogging about the trip, I discovered my site was G-O-N-E. Vanished. Desaparecido. Nearly all the files in my public_html directory were missing. I was hacked big time! Not only that, my webhosts backup server had also had problems, so they had no backups of the files. On the bright side, the databases were untouched, so rebuilding the site is not a big deal. Just a nuisance. Thanks so fucking much, Mr Hacker Dude. It’s not like I have anything else to do this afternoon. So, depending on when you visit this site, it may look different than before. I am considering changing to another theme, but for right now it’s the same look as before. I need to re-enable the plugins I had running, and take care of a few other cosmetic items first. Other than that, I’m fine. How’s your day going?

Jishou U students perform ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in Tujia setting, nab runner-up prize

JISHOU, HUNAN — Chinese universities have had a Shakespeare competition for the last nine years. This year, Jishou University was first runner-up. Students from the Zhangjiajie campus adapted scenes from Romeo and Juliet to a Tujia minority setting, complete with a Tujia-style wooden home, costumes and songs. Check it out! [You will see some advertisements first. Sorry about that.] The Tujia are one of China’s ethnic minorities, and have lived in this part of China for thousands of years. Setting Shakespeare’s blank verse to traditional Tujia songs works surprisingly well. If the embedded video doesn’t play, try this direct link.

Guest blog — Carla Wu: Is everything all right?

Guest blog -- Carla Wu: Is everything all right?
YUEYANG, HUNAN — Carla Wu (吴双 Wu Shuang) is a former student of mine, graduating in 2011. In August she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, had surgery to remove a tumor on her femur, and has had two rounds of chemotherapy so far. Today I am publishing a poem she put in her Qzone. We hope you like it. Is everything all right? It’s already been more than two months. As for today, in a word, it’s nice to be alive. I went home, so, that’s ok. I can sleep and be lazy every day, so, that’s ok. I eat a meal, have a drink, or on a nice day, can sit quietly in the sunshine in the courtyard, so, that’s ok. I have a lot of time to think about things every day, so, that’s ok. I can read and write every day, so, that’s ok. If I am bored, I can watch TV, so, that’s ok. On sunny afternoons, I can go out for a walk, so that’s also good. Sometimes, a lot of childhood friends come over to play cards, or to chat with me, so, that’s ok. At night I can see the limitless night sky, so, ...

China space agency unveils shanzhai lunar rover

JISHOU, HUNAN — Rather than be new and creative for its upcoming lunar rover mission, China’s space exploration engineers have copied NASA’s Mars landers, rather like Chinese manufacturers’ notorious habit of selling counterfeit brand-name goods — called shanzhai 山寨. First, let’s see the Mars Exploration Rover and its smaller older brother, Sojourner. And now the Chinese lunar rover, due to be launched in December. See any similarities? So did China’s scientists, who worked hard to propose new designs for the state space agency. Instead, the agency went with NASA 2.1. From the South China Morning Post: It was the first time that the secretive space agency – run by the military – had invited civilian scientists to participate in a major exploration programme. Many top universities set up special teams of their best researchers, who proposed creative rover designs. Wen’s own team, for instance, offered a design with only four wheels but with a greater ability to manoeuvre over rough terrain. Civilian scientists were disappointed when authorities decided on a design they felt drew heavily on the American design. Zhu Jihong, a professor of robotics who entered the competition on behalf of Tsinghua University, said the outcome had dampened Chinese ...

Only once has it happened to me

    I’m one of those early adopters of Gmail — no digits after my name. Last week, I got a polite email from a property maintenance company regarding some apartment units in Florida that they believed I owned. They were sending me an estimate of repairs needed by some of the units. Needless to say, I don’t any property in Florida, and the sender apologized for the confusion when I pointed out the error. But, now I know how much it costs to fix up apartment units in Florida.

Five of my great students 1

Five of my great students
JISHOU, HUNAN — Teaching is a people profession, a concept that many of today’s corporate-minded “reformers” of education ignore. Students and teachers are more than just cogs in a machine. Ideally, they should be partners in a joint venture, to learn. For me, my students are among the greatest delights — and strengths — of my job. Allow me to introduce a few more of my Chinese students. During National Holiday, I visited two of former students, who were among the first I taught in China. I met them when they were seniors, and only taught them one term. Chris and Sophia now live in Tianjin, near Beijing, and work at Nankai University. Chris and Sophia were classmates and got married soon after graduation. Now, they have a two-year-old girl, and comfortable jobs. Chris was the first Jishou University student I met here. He, Sophia and their classmate, Ava, all worked as interns in the Foreign Affairs Office. They were my right-hand man and women for the first several weeks of my time here, before I got my feet on the ground and found other students to help me out. Chris’ special area of expertise was as a tech guy. ...

In Texas, former Playboy models can’t be teachers

JISHOU, HUNAN — Before she became a Spanish teacher in Dallas, Cristy Nicole Deweese posed nude for Playboy. After some parents complained, she lost her job. They were supposedly afraid Deweese’s students were thinking more about seeing their teacher nude than about learning Spanish from her. From The Daily Mail, which just loves juicy stories like this one: One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Dallas Morning News, that although her Playboy past should not prevent Miss Deweese from being a teacher, it did affect the way she is viewed by some students. ‘Are her male 16- and 17-year-old students looking at her without picturing her nude?’ Another added. ‘And for the female students, is this someone they can respect as an educator, someone that they can look up to?’ The Dallas school district would not comment on Miss Deweese’s pictures, saying that it was a ‘personnel matter’. She was not employed by the school district at the time the pictures were taken. To answer those parents’ questions, yes, her male students were probably imagining her nude — even before they saw the Playboy photos. They’re teenage boys; she’s young and pretty. Duh. Yes, the female students can ...

Civics 101 — emergency edition

My host had a major malfunction a few days ago, so I am reposting this to be sure my latest edits are in it. How laws are made President or congressman proposes a bill. The bill is debated in congress. It may be amended. It is put to a vote. If it wins a majority vote in the House and the Senate, it is sent to the President for his or her signature. If the president signs the bill, it becomes law. If the president vetoes it, Congress can try again or drop it altogether. The basis of American democracy is majority rule. If a majority of Congress and the President approve a bill, it becomes the law of the land. Laws can be changed, amended or revoked by future Congresses. The process is the same as above. This system has worked very well for the last two centuries (except for that one little glitch in the 1860s). How laws are not made A minority of Congressmen demands a law be revoked, amended, or created, as the case may be. They obstruct necessary legislation until their demands are met. The nation grinds to a halt. Note that this behavior is ...

(Almost) every SF spaceship in one giant image

JISHOU, HUNAN — Here’s a project every science fiction fan should appreciate. An artist has created a digital poster depicting hundreds of space ships from TV, movies and games — to scale! The creator of this mammoth project is DeviantARTist Dirk Loechel, who did a lot of research to scale the ships as accurately as possible. Since these are all fictional spacecraft, here are some real-life craft to give you an idea of the size of these things. The International Space Station is about 109 m wide, about 13 m shorter than the USS Defiant from the Star Trek universe. (Find the Defiant-class near the right edge of the poster, about halfway down.) Star Trek’s USS Enterprise is about three times longer, roughly the size of the US Navy supercarrier, the USS Nimitz. The Saturn V rocket used to launch the Apollo spacecraft in the 1960s and ’70s is about as tall as the ISS is wide. As an aside, the Enterprise is pretty puny compared to an Imperial Destroyer of the Star Wars universe.

Housekeeping is a relativistic quantity

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