王菲 in 音乐周刊

Tuesday, 21st October, 2014

Faye Wong was recently in the Chinese pop music magazine 音乐周刊 (yīnyuè zhōukān, Music Weekly). Here are the front page and the page about Faye (screenshotted from my iPad):



book details

Social Network Analysis (3rd ed.)
John Scott
2013 (1st ed. 1991)


Sociology, Marxism and Fascism

Lukacs 1962, in the section on German sociology, presented the sociology of Weber and Simmel as having been developed explicitly as a bulwark against Marxist explanations of society [todo: get quote]. Weber and Simmel were (convincingly, imho) portrayed as lightweight confabulators (especially Simmel).

So here I am reading a sociology textbook — not because I want to criticise sociology, but because I want to learn about social network analysis (sna). It is a very strange peak into a foreign discipline.

Weber and especially Simmel are referred to occasionally and with approval. Simmel is resented as more-or-less the father of sna (e.g., pp. 14, 23).

The antagonism with Marxism (in early sociology at least) is confirmed, with this antagonism continuing in early work in the US. e.g. p. 20:

… the biologist Lawrence Henderson … actively promoted the work of Pareto. Henderson held that this was the only appropriate basis for a truly scientific sociology and that it was, furthermore the only viable political bulwark against revolutionary Marxism.

… Pareto was also the great exponent of elite theory, and Mayo saw that a managerial elite that recognised this influence of group relations on ecomonic motivation could most successfully control worker behaviour.

I can’t remember if Lukacs covered Pareto, but Pareto would have fit nicely into Lukacs’ scheme. Pareto’s link with Italian fascism seems rather closer than, but of the same kind as, that between Simmel and German fascism.

Graph theory, computers

This is a sociology text, written for people without a mathematical or computing background. For example, graphs are described as consisting of points and lines. Graph theory we are told “was first formulated” in 1936 (p. 16). Spreadsheets are recommended as “basic data storage” (p. 52). Unrelated really, but I can’t help relating it, Russian Matryoshka dolls are described as “Russian Babooshka dolls” (p. 107).

Let’s just say these all marked the text as being from a different culture to the texts with which I’m more familiar.

Another more positive marker was that I found only one typo in the whole book (p. 122).


With those two sets of observations out of the way, the book is a very readable, well-written overview of the field. An early chapter gives a history of sna in sociology, and later chapters give overviews of various approaches and techniques. The author does not seem to favour any particular approach.

My overall impression is that the application of graph theory to the study of social networks is fairly ad hoc and that the best way to learn about it is to collect some data and Have A Go.

further reading

As well as various technical leads, the references below looked attractive:


Freeman, L. C. (2004) The development of Social Network Analysis: a study in the sociology of science, Empirical Press.

A bit meta-meta maybe, but the history chapter was v interesting. In particular, a group based around Manchester (e.g. John Barnes) focusing on conflict and change.

Scott, J. & Carrington, P. (eds) (2011) The Sage handbook of Social Network Analysis, Sage.

The author blowing his own trumpet perhaps, but this does look like a solid practical overview of the field.

[none of these seem to be available apart from behind paywalls. tsk]

Brent, E. E. (1985) Relational database structures and concept formation in the social sciences, Computers and the Social Sciences, 1.

Carroll, W. K. & Fenneman, M. (2002) Is there a transnational business community?, International Sociology, 17.

Smith, R. M. (1979) Kin and neighbours in a thirteenth century Suffolk community, Journal of Family History, 4.

book details

The Destruction of Reason
Georg Lukács
1962 (tr. 1980)


This was a gruelling, depressing read. I am full of respect for Lukács for sifting through so much complete drivel (Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Spengler, Heidegger, and so on). I’d never read any of these people before and I had naively assumed they were proper philosophers (as they are presented in the mainstream media).

Lukács traces the history and the development of irrationalist philosophy from the French revolution right through to Hitler, with an epilogue on the post-war US, with its increasing shoddiness and cynicism and anti-humanism.

I couldn’t help notice similarities with contemporary developments: the denigration of democracy; the celebration of irrational political action (like the infantile Occupy movement); of apostasy (like the whistleblowers); the almost medieval approach to morality; temper-loss and name-calling in place of debate; …


Because of its nature as a critique and a warning, this book doesn’t open up so many new horizons as the Hegel book did. However there were three clear avenues:

  • Two heroes mentioned stand out: Rosa Luxemburg (obviously not new to me) and Georges Politzer (completely new to me).
  • “German Classical Humanism” (p530): Herder and Humboldt. These two popped up repeatedly while I was reading for my PhD (on Vygotsky and Ilyenkov) all those years ago (the early 90s).
  • I need to do something to correct my patchy knowledge of 19th century history, esp. the years 1848 and 1870.

Notes on “Hegel’s Naturalism”

Tuesday, 6th May, 2014

book details

Hegel’s Naturalism: mind, nature, and the final ends of life
Terry Pinkard
Oxford University Press


This is a really exciting book. I read it through once and read it again straight away. It introduced me to Hegel, and opened up my idea of what Hegel’s philosophy might be about. I can see him placed with other philosophers I like (Aristotle, Spinoza, Marx).

Below are some highlights, and then some ideas for further reading.

An appendix of typos is at the end.

Read the rest of this entry »


Monday, 14th April, 2014

This job notice was posted to the erlang mailing list recently (here). As I’m interested in erlang and interested in Chinese, I thought I’d have a go at translating it.

** original

本公司天朗时代科技有限公司,面向文化产业,提供数字多媒体内容从生产到发布、到运营的全流程整体解决方案和服务系统。公司现诚邀对Functional Programming有极大热诚并对Erlang开发有丰富经验的人士加盟,有意者请联系:0755-83597260 苏小姐



  1. 参与核心网络服务产品的开发,负责产品模块的软件设计开发
  2. 参与公司核心技术系统的架构设计
  3. 使用erlang进行分布式计算系统开发


  1. 精通erlang语言,熟悉OTP设计模式,有项目开发经验;或有Functional Programming开发经验
  2. 熟悉HTTP、TCP/IP网络协议
  3. 熟悉缓存技术以及分布式开发部署
  4. 熟悉RDBMS,分布式数据库及Nosql技术,对Mysql、Postgresql等有实际开发经验
  5. 熟悉各种数据结构和算法
  6. 熟悉数据结构与算法的复杂度分析
  7. 拥有较强的数学基础
  8. 熟悉Linux的常用命令操作以及应用系统部署、运行维护
  9. 具有大数据量高负载产品/系统的设计或核心开发的经验
  10. 热爱软件开发工作,熟悉软件开发流程,有良好的技术文档习惯,具有规范化,标准化的代码编写习惯
  11. 大学本科及其以上学历
  12. 良好的英文阅读水平,能轻松阅读各种英语技术文档

** gloss

The company Titan Times Technology Co., Ltd. works in the cultural industry. They provide digital multimedia content from production to release, including the operation of the complete process from planning to maintaining the system. The company sincerely invites persons with (high) enthusiasm for FP combined with (plentiful) experience in Erlang to join their team. Those interested please contact: 0755-83597260, mprtimes@mpreader.com, Miss Su.

Senior Erlang Development Engineer

Job Description

  1. Participate in core network/internet service product development, having responsibility for software module design and development.
  2. Participate in the company’s core technology systems architecture design.
  3. Use Erlang to conduct distributed computing systems development.

Position Requirements

  1. Proficiency with Erlang, familiarity with OTP design patterns, experience with product development; or at least experience in FP development.
  2. Familiarity with HTTP, TCP/IP network protocols.
  3. Familiarity with caching techniques and distributed deployment.
  4. Familiarity with RDBMS, distributed databases and NoSQL technology, practical development experience with MySQL and Postgresql.
  5. Familiarity with all kinds of data structures and algorithms.
  6. Familiarity with data structure and algorithm complexity analysis.
  7. A strong foundation in mathematics.
  8. Familiarity with common linux commands, and system deployment, operation and security.
  9. Experience with “big data” high load product/system design or kernel development.
  10. Love of software development work, familiarity with the software development process, good habits of technical documentation, and following recognised coding standards.
  11. Undergraduate degree as well as school records.
  12. Good English reading level, can easily read all kinds of technical documentation in English.

** vocab highlights

产业 chǎn yè estate, concern, sector
内容 nèi róng content
分布式 fēn bù shì distributed
协议 xiéyì protocol
各种 gèzhòng every kind of …
多媒体 duō méi tǐ multimedia (lit. all/many medium body)
岗位 gǎng wèi post, station
工程 gōng chéng engineering
工程师 gōng chéng shī engineer
开发 kāi fā develop/ment
描述 miáo shù describe/description
数字 shù zì digital
数学 shùxué mathematics
数据库 shùjùkù database
数据结构 shùjùjiégòu data structure
有意 yǒu yì “have a mind to …” / intention
有限公司 yǒu xiàn gōng sī limited company
xiàn currently (adv)
科技 kē jì technology — (cf 科学技术 / kē xué jì shù / science and technology)
算法 suànfǎ algorithm — (cf 方法 / fāngfǎ / method)
zhě “-er” (see notes)
职位 zhí wèi position, post
联系 lián xì contact (verb/noun)
要求 yāo qiú require/requirement
设计模式 shè jì mó shì design patterns
软件 ruǎn jiàn software
jiào comparatively — (cf 比较 bǐjiào comparatively)
部署 bùshǔ deploy
面向 miàn xiàng facing, involved in
高级 gāo jí high rank

*** some conjunctions

及其 jí qí and
bìng and
huò or

** notes

*** 本 běn

本公司 …
běn gōng sī …

I know 本 běn as a measure word for books. Here it looks like it might be a measure word for companies too.

Or, perhaps it is here as “established” and is part of the full characterisation of the company 天朗时代 (tiān lǎng shí dài / Titan Times)

*** 位 wei

位 wei means “place” and it can act as a polite measure word for people. “Job description” (岗位要求 / zhí wèi miáo shù) and “position requirements” (岗位要求 / gǎng wèi yāo qiú) each use slightly different terms based on 位:

职位 zhí wèi position, post (职 zhí duty)
岗位 gǎng wèi post, station (岗 gǎng position – as in sentry post on a hillock)

*** 者 zhě

者 zhě is an agentive suffix, like “-er” in English. e.g.:

工作 gōng zuò work
工作者 gōngzuò zhě worker

It seems to be much more productive than the English equivalent however. The notice has 有意者 (yǒu yì zhě), where 有意 can be translated as a verb like “have a mind to”, “be inclined to”, or an adverb like “deliberately”. I have translated 有意者 as “those interested”.

*** 对X有Y duì X yǒu Y

This pattern accurs a couple of times:

对Functional Programming有极大热诚
duì Functional Programming yǒu jí dà rè chéng
for Functional Programing have great enthusiasm

duì Erlang kāi fā yǒu fēng fù jīng yàn
for Erlang have plentiful experience

对 can be used to topicalise object phrases (eg below) and that seems to be what is happening here.

tā duì wǒ shuō “…”
she said to me, “…” (lit. she to me say, “…”)

择善 — zé shàn — choose the good

Thursday, 20th March, 2014

A weibo from 杨澜 (Yang Lan):


** gloss

The post is in the form of a 五絕 (wŭjué), a five-character line 绝句 (juéjù). Actually, it seems to be a popular title for blog posts on the interwebs, but I haven’t been able to find an author. A commonly known homily perhaps.



zé shàn rén ér jiāo,
zé shàn shū ér dú,
zé shàn yán ér tīng,
zé shàn xíng ér cóng.


Choose good people and make friends,
Choose good books and read,
Choose good speech and listen,
Choose good conduct and follow.

Web service translations:


Choose the good people and pay,
Choose the good books and reading,
Choose the good words, and listen,
Choose the good from the line.


Optional good Samaritan,
Choose the good book and read,
Good listening,
Optional good deeds.

Life’s greatest mistake

Wednesday, 19th March, 2014

杨澜 (yáng lán / Yang Lan) is a Chinese media proprietor, journalist, and talk show hostess. She hosts an interesting interview programme called Yang Lan One-on-One (杨澜访谈录 yáng lán fǎng tán lù), and she has a couple of microblogs on Sina Weibo (1, 2). Plenty of realia for the dilettante language learner.

The microblog linked to her TV programme often has themed posts — e.g., quotations translated from English, excerpts from recently published books. One theme is called #杨访晚安句子# (yáng fǎng wǎn ‘ān jù zi / Yang’s goodnight sentence). These posts have a mildly uplifting or challenging homily, with a “goodnight” (晚安 / wǎn ‘ān) sign-off.

Here’s one from 18th March 2014:



** gloss

zh: 每一次轻易的放弃,
py: měi yī cì qīng yì de fàng qì,
en: every time easily give up,
zh: 都是人生的一处败笔。
py: dōu shì rén shēng de yī chù bài bǐ.
en: this is life’s one mistake.

A full idiomatic translation might be something like, “to give up easily every time is the greatest mistake in life”.

Some web service translators:

  • google: Each easily give up, life is a big mistake
  • bing: Give up easily every time, is the life of places

** style notes

Chinese and English are so different that anything beyond a literal translation, which would not be very idiomatic English, must be regarded as an interpretation, or a paraphrase, or a version.

** vocabulary

轻易 qīng yì (adv) easily, lightly
放弃 fàng qì (v) abandon, give up
人生 rén shēng (n) life
chù (m) place, event, location
败笔 bài bǐ (n) false stroke, mistake

** grammar notes

  1. 都 (dōu) is used to emphasise the second phrase.
  2. 处 (chù) is a measure word for places or locations, e.g.,

    fā xiàn liǎng chù cuò wù
    find two mistakes


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