WD Sailing Log

People always like to see themselves as being at the center of the world and proudly enjoy doing so. A map sold in China will put China at the center, one sold in Europe will put Europe at the center, one sold in Australia, as I was told, will put the south hemisphere on the top and Australia at the center. The fact is that the earth is, thank heaven, round. You can see it in whatever ways you like and whatever ways that satisfy the collective pride of a people, a pride that is sometimes justified and necessary.

This summer trip starts from the unabashedly dubbed capital of the new world, NYC, to the de facto capital of the old world, London, with an excursion to Edinburgh to satisfy my own longtime curiosity of Scotland bagpipe and kilt.

Five years ago, Bob Xu showed me a book called With Three Thousand USD, I traveled around the world. It was a fascinating book to read at that time, for it not only gave an account of a world totally exotic to me, but also showed the possibility of seeing the world without first being ridiculously rich. As my younger cousin recited the lesson Nothing to Sell and Nothing to Buy in New Concept English to me over Skype several weeks ago, I was quite delightful to see the connection between me and a tramp, or in fact, any backpacker and a tramp. A part of the lesson reads “His few material possession make it possible for him to move from place to place with ease. By having to sleep in the open, he gets far closer to the world of nature than most of us ever do. He may hunt, beg, or steal occasionally to keep himself alive; he may even in times of real need, do a little work; but he will never sacrifice his freedom.”

Backpacking is not about a bag, a ticket, a hostel and a destination, that’s what backpacking needs, not what it is. What backpacking really is is wherever you want to go, you go.

Migrants to China’s West Bask in Prosperity – NYTimes.com

Demographics have always been a tactical element of the campaign to pacify the region. In 1949, when the Communists declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, there were just 300,000 Han Chinese in Xinjiang. Today, the number of Han has grown to 7.5 million, just over 40 percent of the region’s population. The percentage of Uighurs has fallen to 45 percent, or about 8.3 million.

But any sense of bitterness has faded. “We were serving the motherland,” he said, waving off the adulation of a visitor. “The glory belongs to the party. I’m just one drop of water in the ocean.

via Migrants to China’s West Bask in Prosperity – NYTimes.com.

I know it can be interpreted as successful brainwashing by government propaganda, but when such words are  from a 94-years old, who fought the war, left his hometown, and have helped built an oasis out of nothing, it is more than just reiteration of what the government has instilled. The soul has been tested and the words make a resounding voice in me. The kind of dedication and submission of oneself to a higher good is something my generation can hardly understand. Everyone lives for a purpose, and for him, the party is the higher purpose. He certainly fulfilled that purpose well.

The reciprocal space of 2D hexagonal pores v0.1

With this post comes the new category RhinoDesign. Rhino is a 3d modeling tool. I have been using it for almost 2 years, and find it very very powerful and yet at the same time easy to use. With its Grasshopper plugging, which is officially called Explicit History, it can even handle vector operations like cross-product and inner products. Combined with its unusual graphical interface and its capacity to program like any other computer programming language, it creates the new design methodology called parametric design. More to read at its official website.

My first grasshopper design is about a material I am working on in my PhD program, called periodic mesoporous organosilica. Its most common structure is hexagonally packed pores, resembling a honey comb, except its pore size is around 2-10 nm. Remind you, 1 nm is one billionth of 1 meter. Since its pore size is so small, it diffracts X-ray. And its diffraction pattern can be easily visualized using the theory of reciprocal space.

This version has finished the vector construction, including the unit vectors in both real space and reciprocal space. The next step would be to completes the reciprocal lattice points by addition and subtraction of unit vectors, and construct Ewald sphere. Then coloring, rendering.

Lines inspired by Pirates of Caribbean

Not all treasures are silver and gold, mate.

– Not all evils are filthy and ugly, mate.

Wherever we want to go, we’ll go. That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails that’s what a ship needs but what a ship is…what the Black Pearl really is…is freedom.

– Backpacking is not about a bag, a flight ticket, a hostel and a destination, that’s what backpacking needs. What backpacking really is is wherever you want to go, you go. No matter what stands in between you and your way out, your will will find a way to clear it.

Take it slow, make it happen.

I always wanted to create a website of some sort. I started my first trail in 2005 for When Pigs Fly, and it was a disaster. At that time, I was overconfident about my ability, overestimated my free time, and had very little idea of how complicated it is to build a website completely from scratch. The result is a complete failure. After that, I decided to learn it as a hobby. It takes some time to get to know all the component technology, and realize one man cannot do it all. Acknowledging the limit of myself and the attitude of willingly accepting help from other programmers, i.e. using platform software, help me finally realize this dream.


A Sense of Purpose

I am reconsidering joining the battle of alternative energy. The reason why I had recently abandoned it is that too many people are doing it. And this reason is not a good one. What I am avoiding actually is competition. Though joining a mature field will not provide me with large room for growth and its competitiveness may be stifling, a field like alternative energy has a different aspect associated with it. This aspect is to serve directly urgent human needs. And it is where I will find a sense of purpose.

This sense of purpose will give another perspective on competition. For any progress and breakthrough, I should be happy about them and for whoever made them because they represent another step closer to solving a problem. And I should be happy that there are smart minds that agree with mine on what is the most important thing in the world.

PS. I love Pirates of the Caribbean. Good movies always lift you above your personal daily trifle, and give you a perspective of life which should not be buried under day to day routine, and should instead shine even in the most dreary times.

PS. A person should not only be able to see the system he is in through the perspective of an outsider, in order to judge with an independent mind, but he also has to identify what he is capabable of doing in order to make a living. Such a person will never fail himself even if the system failed him. The purpose of living is not just to survive, but to thrive.

Green Dam

When I was setting up my first website justluck.cn with 512j.com back in 2005, I had to get a license from the Ministry of Information Industry (now the Ministry of Industry and Information), even though it is just for personal use. According the agreement, the license has to be placed in a place easy to be seen. I don’t feel much trouble at that time then, except that the Ministry’s website is poorly designed that it is not very easy to navigate around.

For the past a few days, I have been keeping track of the demonstration in Iran. And the Iranian postdoc in my lab told me yesterday during lunch time that he couldn’t even contact his parents because all means of communication to the outside world are shut. I asked why so. He said that the government installed a software in every cell phone which was initally for tracking child pornograph, but is now used for tracking any communication among demonstrators. As soon as they locate one demonstrator’s home, they will go to his/her place, tortue him/her and then force him/her to log into the computer and find all his frineds on social networking website such as facebook and twitter (which are being used heavily for demonstrators to get organized) to locate more protesters. He was apparently emotionally charged when he told me about it.

And what he said deeply troubles me. Blocking pornography seems just a smoke screen for keeping the mass from getting the information. Such measures bears the appearance of righteousness and indeed create a delightful ignorance. But it may be dangerous if used in the wrong hands, and even if correctly used, it creates an over-protection that might eventually indulge the next generation. Also troublesome is its apparent hypocrisy: You say what you want to do is blocking pornography, but actually what you want to achieve is something else. This obvious manipulation insult the intelligence of those who have sound judgment.