Archive for April, 2009

On the “reactionary” baihuawen movement

That’s the gist of the title of this article criticizing Hu Shi’s advocacy of the baihuawen movement earlier last century. It says that far from reforming literature, in which it failed and was doomed to fail unbeknownst to the advocates, the movement unleashed a quiet revolution that overturned the classes in society. The elites lost their wenyan which separated them from the foolish masses and thus must allow the foolish masses, who are anybody who can read but perhaps not think, to participate and have their opinions be counted as equals.

This opening sets up this opinion later in the piece:

In a healthy, sensible society, the intellectual elite should absolutely be the society’s sole ruling class.

(Read the article)

red-blue cross problem

Here is a problem described to me by fakalin. Given n red points and n blue points, no three of which are collinear, prove that there exists a pairing of red and blue points such that the line segments connecting each pair do not intersect.

(Read the article)


Rhapsody on Chinese Themes

The seemingly celebratory language is farcical. It is in fact a most depressing and suffocating piece.

Terribly orchestrated in this draft, but the instrumentation outline is there.

Middle Chinese and Old Chinese recitations

There have long been Middle Chinese and Old Chinese reconstructions on paper, but since the Chinese script is not phonetic (although syllabic to a degree), it has been difficult to ascertain pronunciations. If one takes Classical Latin as an example — that is a reconstruction of fairly normal and believable speech of about 2000 years ago if read aloud, yet there is nothing approaching that for Middle Chinese (about >1000 years ago) much less for Old Chinese (>2000 years ago). Recently though, a couple of funny videos cropped up on Youtube showing people making overly academic attempts at reading classical texts using reconstructed archaic pronunications.
(Read the article)

wire matching problem

Here’s an interesting and, shall I say, practical problem brought up at group meeting today: If you have say, n identical looking wires strung across a long distance between point A and point B, and your job is to label all wires with just an ohm-meter (to measure continuity, i.e. short circuit or open circuit), how many trips between A and B does it take?

Indeed, the only way to use an ohm-meter for this purpose is by tying wires together. Clearly the number of trips shouldn’t be larger than \(\log n\) or so, simply by tying various halves of the set of wires at one end and going to the other end to measure. But there are other kinds of coding that do better.
(Read the article)