Archive for the 'anything' Category

The sad state of our education system

I just read a post on Life­hacker, it’s called What’s the Most Impor­tant Class You’ve Ever Taken?. There is one guy that made a very long reply. I can judge from his leg­i­ble writ­ing that he’s telling a truth, and in that case, a sad truth of the cur­rent state of our edu­ca­tion system.

By far, the most enlight­en­ing class I ever took was an Eng­lish class (which I sub­se­quently left after the first day). While it didn’t teach me much about the sub­ject, it opened my eyes to the extreme polit­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal bias in many of our col­leges today. A bias that rewards those who agree with the doc­trine pro­fessed by instruc­tors, and pun­ishes any thoughts that con­tra­dict their beliefs. This isn’t as big an issue in many schools, and it cer­tainly varies between teach­ers, sub­jects of study, depart­ments and the makeup of the stu­dents in a class, but it my case, the hypocrisy of these “enlightened” teach­ers was on full dis­play that day, and taught me to ques­tion not just the state­ments people make, but their motives for making them.

The class began as most do, with the dis­tri­b­u­tion and read­ing of a syl­labus, a brief intro­duc­tory of the instruc­tor and stu­dents, and then pro­ceeded to the professor’s overview of the class’ objective.

“This will be like no class you’ve ever taken” she began. “Here, we won’t just learn about Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture, but also learn how to apply it to real sit­u­a­tions, with an empha­sis on women’s suf­frage and black rights”.

I double checked my sched­ule, to be sure I was in the cor­rect room. Yes, room 206 at 10:00am in the Eng­lish build­ing, I was in the right place. And the title of the class in my sched­ule con­firmed what she was now scrib­bling on the chalk board “Thirteenth Cen­tury Eng­lish Literature”.

So I raised my hand. “What does Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture in the 1200’s have to do with women and black rights?” A fair ques­tion I thought, but appar­ently, I was wrong. She mut­tered some round-​about answer that dodged the ques­tion while star­ing scorn­fully at me.

I asked again, hoping I could clar­ify the ques­tion. “Weren’t the major Eng­lish writ­ers of the time men? Mostly monks I thought, with such high illit­er­acy among the non-clergy.” She hes­i­tated in her response, so I wen’t on. “…and since the period pre­dates the North­ern Euro­pean col­o­niza­tion of Africa, how many Eng­lish writ­ers had ever seen a black man?”

“Well,” she answered, “we’re look­ing at the link between what they wrote and racism and misog­yny today”.

“So the writ­ings were influ­en­tial to the suf­frage and civil rights movements?”

She quipped back “I don’t think you can under­stand what we’re teach­ing here, your a white man, so you don’t have the per­spec­tive needed to see the link between these topics.”

“Couldn’t it equally be the case that I haven’t read any 13th cen­tury Eng­lish writ­ings, and that’s why I don’t understand?” The annoy­ance was becom­ing obvi­ous in my voice.

She stormed out of the room, in a hissy fit, saying she couldn’t teach a bunch of igno­rant rednecks.

So, one bad teacher I thought. I’ve had plenty of good instruc­tors in the past, she was just a fluke. I wen’t to the bursar’s office and tried to get my money back for the class. I had little inter­est in the sub­ject anyway, and was only taking the class because it offered dual credit towards my degree.

I was told that, in spite of this class start­ing late in the term, it was in fact past the drop-​add period and I would need a letter from my depart­ment head to get a refund. I made an appoint­ment to see him. When I arrived at his office, four of my teach­ers were there to have a talk with me. If he was to sign off on my refund paper­work, the policy was that I needed coun­sel­ing first from the staff . They pro­ceeded to tell me how shocked they were at my behav­ior, how dis­ap­pointed they were in me. The terms racist and sexist came up more than once. I reminded them that my girl­friend was half black, so as a woman and a minor­ity, she could attest to the fact that I wasn’t some bigot. I was merely ques­tion­ing the link between the course pre­sented in the course out­line I saw when I enrolled, and the very dif­fer­ent sub­ject matter I was pre­sented in the class, not to crit­i­cize it, but just to under­stand why such a dis­crep­ancy existed between what was adver­tised and what the school was really giving me. My refund was refused. They strongly urged me to change major, as this teacher I had offended was the head of the depart­ment who over­saw all the human­i­ties classes that qual­i­fied for the com­puter sci­ence degree I was pur­su­ing. I would need to go through her to graduate.

“She doesn’t like me” I said, “but isn’t it a bit petty to assume she’d pres­sure a teacher to fail me on those grounds, even if my grades are passing”. That seemed to be what they were imply­ing, but they acted offended that I under­stood what their impli­ca­tions were. I was then told that I may not be a “good fit for this school”.

I had paid up all of my other classes, so I con­tin­ued through the semes­ter. At this time, I car­ried a 3.9 GPA, which dropped a whole point by the end of the semes­ter. I’m con­fi­dent my grades were pass­ing, but papers and lab projects I handed in were graded as incom­plete, as though the teach­ers had never received them. Only one teacher stood by me and acted fairly. One of Eight teach­ers had any integrity.

I changed schools, step­ping back to a com­mu­nity col­lege (with a 2.9GPA for a spring trans­fer, that was the only option avail­able to me). The com­mu­nity col­lege was more fair, but I began to notice cer­tain sim­i­lar­i­ties. The math instruc­tor who likes to review polit­i­cal polls, and then segway into his beliefs on the fal­lac­ies of the elec­toral col­lege and it’s injus­tice. 40 minute rants to solve one equa­tion. The robot­ics and man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nolo­gies teacher who advo­cates the won­ders of automa­tion, but insists they must not be used to dis­place union labor, in spite of the effi­ciency or cost. As for Eng­lish teach­ers, I have yet to meet one with an ounce of sanity or a shred of integrity, they must be out there, but they aren’t teach­ing in a school near me. The stu­dents who suc­ceed in col­lege are the ones who keep their heads down and write what the instruc­tor wants to hear, saving crit­i­cism for when they’re off campus. Even a number of the pro­fes­sors who seem to have con­trary opin­ions to what most of the staff believes are care­ful not to make waves, and will seldom speak frankly to a stu­dent who may repeat it in front of another teacher.

That class changed my out­look on many things. I have great respect for those who can tol­er­ate 6 years of col­lege. After all that, they’ll tol­er­ate pretty much any­thing, which often includes lower wages. Let’s face facts, if I’m hiring two people, one with 6 years of col­lege, and one with 6 years work expe­ri­ence but no col­lege, my expe­ri­ence tells me to value the latter. I’ll bet my money on the man who spent the better part of a decade in the real world, than the trained, pro­fes­sional Yes-​Man who knows how to tell me what I want to hear while secretly har­bor­ing the ideals imprinted on him by deranged, intel­lec­tu­ally stag­nate hippie douche bags. That may not be the case with all grad­u­ates, but it’s the right call most of the time and I make no apolo­gies for my belief.

My his­tory pro­fes­sor said it in jest, but I have wit­nessed how true his state­ment is: “Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach in college.”

avoid all Hyatt hotels now!

If you care about eth­i­cal values and stuffs, or you follow my blog, please heed my two pieces of advice:

  1. Avoid doing busi­ness with any Hyatt prop­erty forever
  2. Spread the words and tell all of your friends not to do busi­ness with Hyatt forever


In short, Hyatt laid off 100 house­keep­ers last year. Well, laying off employ­ees is actu­ally very normal though unfor­tu­nate. The thing is, Hyatt deceived the former employ­ees to train some new, out­sourced house­keep­ers before giving them the exe­cu­tion all of a sudden. It was not a typ­i­cal down­siz­ing, it was a replace­ment to out­sourced cheap labor and the com­pany fully exploited those grass-​root house­keep­ers. What a shame.

Read the full news article

Hyatt is a shame

And I regret so much to have eaten out at some Hyatt before. Well, no more.

Some more reading

Lessons From Hyatt: Simple Ways to Damage Your Brand – Our Edi­tors – Har­vard Busi­ness Review

House­keep­ers lose Hyatt jobs to out­sourc­ing – The Boston Globe

the kiZZ notes — new title, new direction

I’ve been in and out of this blog of more than a couple of years now, and it’s been a piti­ful half a year ago since I wrote my last post. Ini­tially when I first started this blog, I was writ­ing about random stuffs (it was called kiZZ kiZZ’s daily ram­bling back then). Then I wanted to look smart and started to focus on writ­ing philo­soph­i­cal stuffs like why you shouldn’t get upset with people, but ideas quickly ran out and posts stopped coming out. Then I started writ­ing about random things again but with­out a clear direc­tion, the moti­va­tion just wasn’t there after the excite­ment of open­ing a blog worn off. After migrat­ing tech­ni­cal posts over to my other blog Code for Concin­nity, my main blog here quickly became stagnant.

Recently Bill Gates opened his new per­sonal Web site the Gates Notes, where he writes about what he’s learn­ing lately. That sud­denly reminded of my true pas­sion of all time – learn­ing. That’s right, I love learn­ing things of all kinds: tech­ni­cal, philo­soph­i­cal fluff talks or any­thing, it’s just always fun. That is going to be the new direc­tion of my blog – I’ll write about what I’m learn­ing lately and my new wicked ideas, so all of you out there can get a sip of my greatness. 🙂

Kudos to Bill for the nice idea and inspi­ra­tion. You prob­a­bly deserve to be so rich after all, bas­tard. 😛

how to help the poor and protect yourself from street scams

We’ve all seen it. The poor guy stand­ing at the entrance of a shop­ping mall, seeminly lost and in need of help. He approaches and says that he needs money to stay for just one night, and that his friends will be coming tomor­row and then all will be good. Would you help him? This is a very nice gen­tle­man that seems very sin­cere and if in case he is really speak­ing the truth, turn­ing him down would just make one poor soul’s day very hard.

Today I was approached by that dude. Long story short, I gave him some money, then I went for dinner. On my way back after my dinner, I saw him stand­ing at the exact same spot talk­ing to another stranger. Oh well. I’ve learned another lesson.

That got me think­ing, though. Would there be a way for me to dis­tin­guish the real help­less poeple from this lowly par­a­sites? On the long way back home I’ve come up with a couple of strategies:

Get deposit

You know when you stay at a hotel they need to col­lect deposit from you upon check in? That’s to pro­tect the hotel from you run­ning away with­out check­ing out. Sur­pris­ingly, I think this would be a really effec­tive strat­egy to mess up the scammers’ rou­tines. You can give him money, but only on the con­di­tion that he gives some­thing of sim­i­lar value back to you.

You know, if his friends really are coming to rescue him tomor­row, then he would have no prob­lem for you to keep his own purse. Get his pass­port, ID card, any­thing that would make the scammer’s day really difficult.

Of course, if anyone is asking for just an emer­gency help, then you shouldn’t be giving out money that’s wor­thing more than a pass­port. That way, if he takes away your money, he’s going to get him­self more trou­ble by losing his ID card/passport.

Do it for him, don’t give him money

But what if he says he’s been robbed or his purse has been stolen? If he really doesn’t have any­thing val­u­albe, and you really feel like help­ing others, then just help him with­out giving him money.

He needs to go some­where else to meet his friends? Grab a taxi, pre-​pay the taxi driver and send him out. He needs to eat? Buy him the cheap­est bread from around and give him that. He needs to make a phone call? Grab sev­eral coins and actu­ally dial the number for him in a phone booth.

When all else fails, look for the cops

If all else doens’t work, and you still want to help this buddy. Do not take out your wallet! The moment you take it out, you’ve lost. He might snatch it from you. His friend might snatch it from behind. Heck, a mob of people may pop out of nowhere. When they don’t know where you put your wallet, you’re still safe. But when you take it out exposed before this sus­pi­cious guy that cannot give you any deposit and is asking for a bizarre favor that you cannot do for him on the spot, you’ve just basi­cally expressed your inten­tion to give him freebies.

If he’s really in need of help, call the local police. The cops would be more than will­ing to help him. This one works par­tic­u­larly well because if the guy sees you talk­ing to police and are still look­ing rel­a­tively calm, he might really be that urban leg­endary help­less poor man on the street.

Trust is not a protection

You see, all of the above “strategies” do not center around iden­ti­fy­ing the guy. Rather, I would find ways to pro­tect myself in the case he frauds. That par­tic­u­lar scam­mer that got my money was pretty well-​prepared. You know, I tried to be cau­tious by asking all the par­tic­u­lar details: “What is your job?” “Where are you from?” “What exactly will you do next?” He answered all of those with vivid details. Then again, per­haps what I asked was a little bit too shal­low. He might have been asked the same ques­tions a hun­dred times in a day.

The point is, if your oppo­nent is a pro­fes­sional con artist, then chances are he will out-​speak you and be able to con­vince you. Heck, that’s what they do for a living!

have we run out of new invention ideas? …not!

Recently I had a con­ver­sa­tion with my uncle. We talked briefly about get­ting a job vs. being an entrepreneur.

My con­clu­sion was that get­ting a job is prob­a­bly suit­able for the “stable” people who won’t want too many fluc­tu­a­tions and just want to get by, while being an entre­pre­neur is not for the faint-​hearted but will def­i­nitely bring greater rewards if you are not too dumb.

His con­clu­sion was that get­ting a job is the way to go for except the really bril­liant people, and his reason was we have run out of ideas in today’s world and it is too dif­fi­cult to com­pete with estab­lished giant com­pa­nies if we don’t invent new ideas.

So really, is that the case?

On the sur­face, his con­clu­sion seemed to have a lot of truth to it. I remem­ber my dad telling me the same thing when I was a child, and I couldn’t come up with a clever new inven­tion idea to chal­lenge his stance. Even today, I can’t come up with some cool ideas on the spot. So it would be normal for most people to reach that we have run out of new ideas to start a new, suc­cess­ful business.

I don’t think so

But then, I really put some think­ing into that, and I could see that there are in fact end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties still wait­ing for us to dis­cover. How did I know? I asked myself this simple ques­tion, “Does every­thing in the world that we live in simply just works?” Obvi­ously, any­body will tell you how some­thing, many things, don’t work quite right in their lives. As opposed to having to come up with con­struc­tive ideas, just blam­ing what’s not work­ing (or put another way, incon­ve­niences of life) is a lot easier. I can come up with a few on the spot here:

  • I still spend a sig­nif­i­cant amount (maybe 5 – 15%) of my life on transportation.
  • I recently permed my hair curly, and I am con­stantly wor­ry­ing that I might do some­thing wrong that will make it straight.
  • If I want to eat some food I enjoy, I’m con­stantly count­ing the calories.
  • Urban coun­tries dump tons of food every day. Third world coun­tries dump tons of corpses every day.
  • I have to man­u­ally clean my ass with toilet paper every time after I defecate.

OK the last one might sound like a cheap joke but it’s a pretty legit­i­mate issue, when we look at the fact that flush toilet is con­sid­ered one of the inven­tions with most impacts by many scientists.

See, there are count­less small things that are still scream­ing for improve­ments in our daily lives. It’s just that we don’t notice them. Many people think that it would take a rocket scen­tist to make some ground break­ing inven­tion, which is totally not true. For exam­ple, I recently came across this bril­liant new device:

Approx­i­mately 3,000 wood­work­ers get their finger cut by a saw like that every year. This new inven­tion, which con­sists of no next-​generation sci­en­tific dis­cov­er­ies, is saving 3,000 woodworkers’ fin­gers every year.

The point I want to illus­trate here, is that there are still end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties here in the world, and we are not des­tined to be stuck in a cubi­cle day in and day out. All it takes is the ambi­tion and the cre­ativ­ity, and we all can do much more mean­ing­ful work than sit­ting in a cubicle.

So until the day when we have all the gad­gets in Dorae­mon, you don’t have to get a job because you can start your own!

Versailles – really awesome symphonic metal band

I stum­bled upon this really amaz­ing visual kei sym­phonic metal band called Versailles.

Really amaz­ing per­form­ers and songwriters.

One very amaz­ing visual kei char­ac­ter is the gui­tarist Hizaki:

You’ll know what I mean if you do a little research on Hizaki to see what it’s really about 🙂

the best way to eradicate your personal life – get a daytime job!

A day­time job is incred­i­bly effi­cient at killing off your per­sonal life, if you have too much of it. Take a look at the pre­vi­ous state­ment drawn out in a chart:

“Memory Insufficient. IME will not work”

Today I stum­bled across this error while doing a Win­dows XP rein­stall. This occurs when I switch to the Boshi­amy IME. That wasn’t par­tic­u­larly prob­lem­atic because I was still able to actu­ally use the IME to type words, but I had to man­u­ally click on the OK button to the error mes­sage every time I switch input lan­guage. To my sur­prise a Google revealed 0 related pages for this error mes­sage. After some fum­bling around, I solved the problem.

All I had to do was to do a

sudo intl.cpl

And add my IME there with ele­vated priv­i­leges. The sudo pack­age I used was sudowin.

Edit: It turns out that I didn’t have to add the IME with ele­vated priv­i­leges, but rather, I must start the IME in an appli­ca­tion with ele­vated priv­i­leges once. After that it will be OK for good.

academic business management is teh suck

I am con­stantly amazed by how such a bogus sub­ject can make its way to ter­tiary edu­ca­tion. Having stud­ied in this area for about a year now, I keep fail­ing to under­stand why study­ing a sub­ject like this should be worth a bach­e­lor degree’s time and resources, because it shouldn’t. Aca­d­e­mic busi­ness man­age­ment believes that it can breed a new gen­er­a­tion of people who can be “effi­cient man­agers” instead of “effi­cient work­ers”. Wow, sounds cool. Every­body loves to be order­ing instead of being ordered. Unfor­tu­nately as it turns out, they use it as an excuse not to teach you any­thing par­tic­u­larly useful in gen­eral, because order­ing people around is actu­ally a no brainer. While bio­chemists learn about the won­der­ful cre­ations of mother Earth, engi­neers learn about how stuff works in our civ­i­liza­tion, the busi­ness guys learn how to influ­ence other people to buy into their own ideas.

Tech­ni­cal details are for those tech­ni­cally inclined, what a polite and polit­i­cally cor­rect way to address who these busi­ness guys gen­er­ally think of as nerds. What the fuck, now they are the ones who don’t know shits and they think they can order these edu­cated people around, just because they happen to be wear­ing shiny suits or whatnot.

The busi­ness suck­ers are worms. They con­sume and aggra­vate our soci­ety with self­ish intents; the school never teaches you how to con­tribute back to the soci­ety when you’ve gotten rich.

Why do Hong Kong people, or devel­oped coun­tries in gen­eral, work more hours? Because these suck­ers keep trying to “push the limits”, they see how people much bull­shit people can put up with. If I’m paying $10,000 a month and people are still coming to the recruits, let’s try $9,000 until we’ve got just one/two guy that can put up with that bull­shit. If the work­ers seem to not mind work­ing over­time, why not have all of them work over­time? Shit, they think it’s all a board game.

Aca­d­e­mic busi­ness people never pro­duce any­thing like the sci­ence people do. I was watch­ing the TV news when I was riding on a train some days ago. It was about uni­ver­sity coop­er­at­ing with some com­pa­nies to invent a new kind of med­i­cine, help­ing the human species evolve. You’d see this kind of news every so often, yet I bet you’ve seen the slight­est trace of some­thing like this hap­pen­ing in the aca­d­e­mic busi­ness field, which does zero to help the human evo­lu­tion process.

one of the best programmers

I just read Teach Your­self Pro­gram­ming in Ten Years by Peter Norvig, the direc­tor of research at Google. The para­graph quoted below was pretty gross:

One of the best pro­gram­mers I ever hired had only a High School degree; he’s pro­duced a lot of great soft­ware, has his own news group, and made enough in stock options to buy his own nightclub.