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NullVoid » 2008 » May NullVoid » 2008 » May

Archive for May, 2008

Some Interesting Trends

Saturday, May 31st, 2008 -- By ET

Which segment are you in?

Looks like we should go to the creative class that represent less than 1/3 work force, but gets 1/2 the total money.


Pic-A-Day: Library Day and Night

Saturday, May 31st, 2008 -- By ET

Interestingly, I don’t need to stand there to take one picture per hour to create this.


Pic-A-Day: Wicked House

Friday, May 30th, 2008 -- By ET

The house itself is an elegant one, the way I took this picture gives it a sense of creepiness.


Pic-A-Day: B/W Church

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 -- By ET

Black and White Picture.  As usual, click on the picture to see the larger version.


Pic-A-Day: Horseman at Pont Neuf

Saturday, May 24th, 2008 -- By ET

Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris. Ironically, the French “Pont Neuf” means “New Bridge”.


Disengaged Students

Friday, May 23rd, 2008 -- By ET

Quote from the “Organization and Markets” blog by a group of professors:

| Peter Klein |

To my colleagues who teach: how do you handle disengaged students? Paul Trout describes them thusly:

They do not read the assigned books, they avoid participating in class discussions, they expect high grades for mediocre work, they ask for fewer assignments, they resent attendance requirements, they complain about course workloads, they do not like “tough” or demanding professors, they do not adequately prepare for class and tests, they are impatient with deliberative analysis, they regard intellectual pursuits as boring, they resent the intrusion of course requirements on their time, they are apathetic or defeatist in the face of challenge, and they are largely indifferent to anything resembling an intellectual life.

I have known a few in my time. The pointer is from George Leef, who also provides this excerpt from Generation X Goes to College:

[B]y and large, students view themselves primarily as consumers who intend to study just a handful of hours a week for all their classes, and who expect, at a minimum, solid Bs for their efforts. . . . In short, they view themselves as consumers who pay their teachers to provide “knowledge,” regardless of how superficial that knowledge might be. After all, how hard should a consumer have to work to buy something?

I have to say there are students like these in my class. I would call myself a fully engaged professor: I spend huge amount of time preparing for each class and use every bit of my effort to deliver what I believe to be important to the students. There are still students who skip the classes (some even for the whole semester), and some would complain about any change I bring into the class.

Here is one example: In one class for group presentation, a student came to me and told me he had not seen any of his team members throughout the semester and he had to work on the project on his own. They did not answer his emails and did not even tell him if they would come to the presentation.  While he was presenting, the missing team members came one by one during the class. They did contribute in applauding.

Another example: One day, it was time for group presentation. There were 5 groups in that session. After the first presentation, I learned that there would be a fire-drill in about an hour.  At least one group will be affected by the fire drill.  To avoid the negative impact on the last team, I decided to hold an auction among the 4 remaining teams.  The plan was that I start from awarding 1 extra grade point and seek any group who would take the offer and move to the next week’s session.  If there was no one to take the offer, I’ll raise the offer to 2, then 3,… points, until one group takes the offer. The plan immediately got objected by the first team who just finished presenting. “It’s so unfair!” as they say.  They did not consider how unfair it was for the last team who would have to take the extra effort to prepare again.

Some professors actually make the situation worse by baby-sitting the students.  For example, I know professors who hire professional TAs to “page down” his slides in class. The TA is quite busy in doing things like playing the videos, dimming the lights, etc.  The professor would be busy creating flash cards with cartoon stamps on them to award the students who answer the questions.  To avoid cheating, they also sign each card when they hand out the cards. When a student skip the class, they would ask the TAs to teach the students in special sessions, and when the students skip the exams, they would allow a make-up exam for them.  When the students miss the make-up exam, I know someone who asked TAs to offered make-up make-up exams. Part of the reason is that TAs here are like public goods (air, water), so they tend to overuse them. In return, the students believe they are consumers and instead of learning knowledge, they are enjoying the service provided by the university.
There are of course very engaged students. Some students really deliver excellent presentations and are amazingly thoughtful in answering my questions in classes.  They are the reasons for me to do my best in teaching.  Fortunately, there are many of them.

Pic-A-Day: Untitled

Friday, May 23rd, 2008 -- By ET

 Our mother nature produces such beautiful scenes, yet at the same time can be so cruel as testified by the Chinese Earth Quake and Myanmar Storm.




Don’t Cry, Donate

Monday, May 19th, 2008 -- By ET

The more I learn about the earthquake, the more I feel sad.

This tragedy happened on the second day of the mother’s day. In today’s TV program, there was a female police officer who lost her mother and her 2-yr old daughter at the same time. She won’t have another mother’s day to celebrate with her mother, and her daughter won’t celebrate it with her any more. She worked from the minute of earthquake till she fainted while helping others.

There was a doctor who traveled from Guangzhou to Sichuan with his family. Eight of his family members were buried, and he decided to stay in Sichuan to help people in need.

Three high school students came to the program. They came to share the terrible experience and share how they survived. A girl jumped from the window on the 3rd floor, and after that, the whole building collapsed. She had no information about her parents when she went on the program. Then her parents saw her on TV. I’m so happy for them.

Another girl accepted the interview after the fund raising program. She does not know anything about the status quo of her parents. Her village got wiped out. No one came out yet after the earthquake, and rescue team could not reach the village yet. She did not cry on the program, she was amazingly calm and explained what happened very well. Li Yixue, you have my sincerest wishes! Stand strong!


1. Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org

2. Mercy Corps: http://www.mercycorps.org

China’s Earthquake

Friday, May 16th, 2008 -- By ET

How can I not write something about it?


These days I’ve been watching TV from quite a number of stations for the coverage. Each time someone gets saved, I truly feel the joy, for the ones saved, and for their family/relatives/friends.

It is horrible even to imagine that the death toll jumped quickly to 20,000. According to some estimates, the final number will be at least 50,000. Indeed, an area of 100,000 square km (a little more than 10^12 square feet) is considered to be severely damaged, that’s one percent of the area of China.

Some villages in Sichuan got totally wiped out, a single village can have more than 1,000 death. Some schools have several hundred students burried alive. I don’t believe God, as no one would allow this to happen if he still claims to be a savior. I do hope there is God, as these innocent people will rest in peace in heaven.


Just now, someone was saved after spending 100 hours under ground. Despite my joy, I feel terrible about those who are still down there, hoping to be saved. Time is their biggest enemy now. In this country with a 1.3 billion population, at this moment, there is just no way to use the collective effort to save those people.

I’ve been thinking about how to help these days. Jade and I will donate money to the Red Cross, but other than that, there is really nothing I can help. You feel the frustration and hopelessness at this moment when your enemy is time.

Gandhi said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” However, in this case, I don’t know where to start.

I remember sitting in front of the TV during Katrina, worrying about the lives in the dome. At the wrath of the nature, lives are so vulnerable. I remember feeling the same frustration when I saw the horrible pictures on TV. This time, I feel happy when Japan, Korea, Russia sent their team of experts to help with the rescue. It really does not matter how many people they can send over or how much money they can raise for this event, what matters is that they can witness and share this tragic moment with the Chinese.


I’d like to upload this picture from Katrina. That’s what I want to say to the earth quake.

Pic-A-Day: Door Nob

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 -- By ET


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