Posts from January, 2012
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January 29th, 2012

每过一段时间,总会发现自己的草稿箱里充满了各种各样未完成的稿子,但是想来又都是写不下去的了,于是倒不如发出来看个热闹,权当凑个趣。

劣鄙的公正,谈个人复仇的法律正义性 (2012-01-22)

在中国,我们常常被教育,“冤冤相报何时了”,“冤家易解不易结”,“一笑泯恩仇”。但在武侠小说中,也常常有“杀父之仇,不共戴天”的说法。复仇,尤其是在此谈论的以杀死造成自己亲近之人死亡的凶手为目的的复仇,虽然有层出不穷的格言(以牙还牙,以眼还眼。An eye for an eye etc.),并不是古已有之的。

恰恰相反,在远古时期,很少有复仇的经验,更通常的形式,是所谓的血钱(blood money)。以新几内亚岛民为例,在新几内亚,若两个敌对族群发生冲突,并造成一方死亡,其并不要求杀死凶手,而是寻求一定的经济赔偿。例如在六十年代,由于澳大利亚政府的介入,族群之前通过经济赔偿(通常是几头猪或者一些土豆)达成了谅解。而在卢旺达大屠杀之后所进行的本地Gacaca法庭对参与屠杀的犯人审判结果也通常是经济补偿或者社区活动。这些并不代表远古社会相较于现代社会更加宽容,相反,除开游牧社会外,大部分的远古农业社会都是相当残忍的。比如,新几内亚岛民女性在丈夫死后,会剁掉一个手指以示哀悼;这样从她被剁掉几个手指就可以看出她嫁过几任丈夫。而且,这些社会也并不是没有死刑的,只不过,通常死刑的目的不是复仇,而是消除隐患。因此,受到死刑处罚的主要是精神病(疯癫)和巫师。

现代以来,大多数国家已经废除了死刑。对于追求复仇为目的的受害者而言,却缺少了手段。废除死刑的支持者常用的一个论点是,由于法律程序总是存在缺陷,死刑导致不正确的裁决无法得到修正。换言之,强制机构对于公民没有处以极刑的权力是因为强制机构并非完全公正的。然而,每一次有证据确凿的连环杀手被捕落网的时候,就又会掀起一轮恢复死刑的舆论声浪。

正义,尤其是现代定义下的正义,往往不是单一的。我们通常认为对于个人罪犯,正义的有效行使在于使犯人服刑,现代而言,通常是监禁。然而,那只是一部分。从审判开始,正义就逐步得到了贯彻。其包括,对罪行的承认,一定的经济处罚,对于受害者的悼念,对于恶劣罪行的牢记,对于相似罪行的防止,以及对于罪犯的报复。诚然,让罪犯改过自新,重新融入社会是监狱功能的有机组成,惩戒和报复也是其的一部分,但常常这一部分的功能没有得到足够的重视。这也是有其原因的,强制机构实行报复的正义性总是让人生疑。因为这样的机构拥有远远大于自然人的能力,通过他实施报复实在有滥用的忧虑。

相对而言,个人的复仇是受到宽容的。在1925年Operation Nemesis的成员杀死了奥斯曼帝国的三位领袖,目的是为之前奥斯曼帝国的阿米尼亚大屠杀进行报复。然而,法院的裁决确实判其成员无罪。理由在于对于大屠杀,领导人负有个人责任,其所进行的复仇虽然是劣鄙的,却不乏正义性。在美国的庭审中,对于个人复仇的正义性认识也体现在了之中。

个人复仇其正义性从何而来?为什么说正义,却是劣鄙的?怎样才能让正义得到贯彻而不失原则?个人复仇的正义性在于,受害者有所有的权力要求罪犯作出补偿。

What is FIFO, The Design Principle (2012-01-02)

FIFO is: http://fifo.me/

I've just pushed a new version out that you can log in with your Facebook credential now. Unlike the previous version, it saves your list to server-side. FIFO is intended to be your deadly simple TODO list that works. Thus, first and foremost, it should be simple. In FIFO's design, the operations you can actually perform on the TODO list is limited. There are only four: 1). add a task, 2). modify an ongoing task, 3). mark a task as completed and 4). move current task to the end of the queue.

The magic dew of FIFO is that it ticks. A task is ongoing not only because it is highlighted with the big, yellow "R" button, but also because the time elapses. A task in FIFO has been assigned an estimate completion time. Once the task is ongoing (highlighted), its timer starts. If you spend more than a INTERVAL (default to 1 hour) time, you will be automatically moved to the next task. The idea is derived from deadline scheduler in Operating System, its original design philosophy is to make sure that every task at least can make some progress. FIFO borrowed the same idea to make sure one can make some progress on every task in the list.

It certainly complicated FIFO's UI, but also brought some simplifications. For one, you cannot uncheck a completed task. If you've completed a task, and want to finish up some last minute thing, the alternative is to click on that completed task which will copy the item into input box and from there, you can re-enter the task.

The Symbol with Power - Storytelling of a Kadaitcha Man (2011-12-08)

Introduction

When Timmy Payungka Tjapangati (ca.1940 - 2000) was a child, there was a severe drought in western Australia. His family traveled long distance from his birth place, west of lake Mackay. At South of Warburton, he met his further wife and father-in-law. In 1958, he and his extended family including his father-in-law Uta Uta Tjangala moved to Hasst Bluff, and later moved to Papunya settlement. Uta Uta Tjangala is a very knowledgeable man in rituals and stories. As a expressive dancer as he is, of many things, he is the foremost ritual authority.

Timmy Payungka Tjapangati inherited much of his knowledge of lands and rituals from his early traveling experience and his father-in-law. Geoff Bardon have suspected that Timmy was in fact a Kadaitcha man in his group. In indigenous group, Kadaitcha man was a secret position who would conduct persecution or curse. They are guardians of traditions and rituals. Therefore, a Kadaitcha man is always knowledgeable with their rituals and land stories. In 1970, school teacher Geoff Bardon had the idea to let indigenous people to decorate school doors with their original artistic style. Among the first participants, Payungka started his painting career from then.

Early Paintings

The early paintings of Payungka contained much of ritual practices and sacred symbols. At that time, western desert art haven't started its departure from its origin as ritual performing elements into contemporary art. The art is a way for him to express his root culture as well as carry practical meaning. The Sandhill country west of Wilkinkarra, Lake Mackay (1972) by all means, is a painting of landscape. It shows the geography of a sacred site near Lake Mackay. The light color represents spinifex while the dark colored areas depict the sandhill. The arrangement of dots that overlay the painting is not arbitrary. Man as knowledgeable as Payungka knew how to vividly reproduce the effect of ancestral force on paper. The semi-invisible horizontal lines that all over the dot fields shows the vibration of the ancestral power in that site. The Tingarri Story is different. If Sandhill represents a departure from the traditional west desert painting, The Tingarri Story is a faithful replication. It is a well-known dreaming story among west desert aboriginal group.

My Country (Homeland) (1972)

Sandhill country west of Wilkinkarra, Lake Mackay (1972)

The Tingarri Story (1975)

Later Paintings

During 1970s and 1980s, Payungka produced large number of paintings that revolve around rituals, dreaming stories and lands. As he produced more paintings, the techniques get improved. Kangaroo and Shield is a much larger painting. The story is convoluted too. As much as we know, it is a sacred story about Kangaroo (in the top of the painting) and the shield man (on the tracking path). It also depicts several sacred sites around lake Mackay. However, there is a turning point in 1990s that Payungka dispensed all the sacred meanings in his paintings. Rather, his later paintings are more artistically plausible. In Untitled, it is very clear that all these symbols though seems traditional, but won't have a one-to-one mapping to any sacred sites.

In the middle 1990s, some of his sacred designs were used without permission in a commercial carpet manufacture, which promoted him to paint without sacred designs but still have the same artistic themes.

Kangaroo and Shield People Dreaming at Lake Mackay (1980)

Untitled (1998)

Go Back to the Root

The parallel similarities can be found between Payungka's painting and Uta Uta Tjangala's are striking. However, it won't surprise us once we learned that Uta Uta is the father-in-law of Payungka. In The Old Man's Drawing, Uta Uta told a story of ancestral being referred as the Old Man.

The Old Man's Drawing

Storytelling of a Kadaitcha Man

One should look no further than The Old Man's Drawing to find the storytellings from a Kadaitcha man. The essential part of a story that Kadaitcha man interested in is the punishment. which is exactly what made the story of the Old Man's Drawing interesting. [insert the story].

Timmy Payungka Tjapangati's dreaming stories is not all about punishment if any of them is.

身体啊 (2011-10-19)

最近身体真是有点不好了,连续两天都感觉非常累,又没做太多事。果然是太胖的缘故。

On Core Competency (2011-10-14)

As naive as I am, or as biased as an engineer, I still think that the core competency in reforming any current physical activities lies in between engineering efforts and design. The core competency of an online banking is the engineering of optimizing

'"Good enough" is a high bar' (2011-07-14)

Most of the time, people won't claim that they want to make a "just good enough" product. They pursue something great, disruptive and in all its merit, a game changer. It is hard, it is rare, it shapes the future and at the bottom, it makes a shit load of money. Except one thing: many of them failed.

(Why) do things one doesn't like (2011-06-29)

It is famous to say, if you don't like it, don't do it. Such ignorant attitude is wrong because human brain fundamentally cannot the

The Value of Networking (2011-05-22)

You must knew one or two of these people. They are childhood best friends of some well-known names. They know people in high positions. They are some kind of legendary in the early 21st century. They are networking people.

THE BROKER

Brokers, some of you may not be familiar with the name any more used to be a common scene in stock market before 1980s. Their work was to match buy price to sell price and made the deal happen. However, there came the electronic broker system, and nowadays, most transactions are made with E-broker system rather than human brokers.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK SITE

Some old-fashion people would claim that Facebook made us loners. But believe or not, it is a great tool (let's put a side the proprietary nature of it) to efficiently maintain your friendship. Virtual social networks would never fade, they will only evolve simply because they are useful.

NEW KIND OF INCUBATOR

When you consider Y-Combinator, the phenomenal startup incubator in Silicon Valley, it becomes obvious how the future is. It is a standardized procedure for application, it uses the standardized term sheet and most of all, it is scalable. Heck, it double the total number of funded startups every 6 months.

THE PUNCHLINE

Y-Combinator is many things, but for one, it is an experiment to eliminate the networking cost.

The Spirit of Entrepreneurship (2011-04-21)

After the last post, my mind cannot recover from thinking about common traits of entrepreneurs I liked. Let me clarify this: there is no common traits among entrepreneurs, thus, my analysis is flawed from beginning.

You and us, we are different - why machine intelligence is inevitable (2011-02-23)

The "imbalance of power" hypothesis is interesting not only because its biological implication, also have the

Application-Driven Development in CCV (2011-02-08)

In the set off post of ccv, I listed one property of it to be "modern", which means rather than provides a truck-load of obsolete algorithms, ccv intended to provide best-of-its-kind algorithm among wide range of applications. Last September, I even went further and claimed that the first 4 applications for ccv would be: 1). object matching; 2). object detection; 3). text detection; 4). 3d reconstruction. These statements set the tone for ccv development known now as application-driven.

There are a lot of evidence in ccv code base to provide the actual usage of this method. ccv_sample_down was implemented when I was implementing BBF object detection, which requires the image pyramid. However, ccv_sample_up was not implemented until SIFT implementation needs to up-sampling the image in order to get better result. Until today, a very common feature for image processing, know as rescale is not fully implemented yet. ccv_resample function still lacks of scale-up option, because in all these applications I've implemented, there is no need for that.

With the application-driven development methods, some rarely noticed characteristics of computer vision library surfaced. For example,

The disruptive Technology (2011-01-19)

Most people take technology as an inevitable achievement of intelligent beings. Thus, a lot people would like to regard technology as a continuous improvement force to our daily life. For any technological sufficient race, the technology part should not be considered as an add-on for social structure. Rather, technology as a disruptive power

Darwin and Wallance (2010-11-08)

Darwin reached his initial enlightenment on Natural Selection quite early in his year. But he anticipated criticisms, mass of them. The idea of Natural Selection and inner-group struggling was so novel, he believed no one would hold the same idea. Besides, the two questions: the origin of life and the origin of man left unanswered. Darwin was not in hurry. He was experimenting in his yard, collecting evidences and talking to breeders. He aimed at perfection, a theory that answers all. And Charles Darwin had resources. He was an English gentleman and even before his returning from the Beagle, he became a well-known naturalist already. He shared the idea with few friends, but never rushed to publication, the evolution needs time, and so did he.

Wallace, on the other hand, was very excited on his own discovery of natural selection. Born in a middle-class family and spent most of his life time overseas, Wallace was an eager mind that struggles to be recognized by the scientific community. He was also a reader of Darwin's Journal of Researches, but much out of Darwin's surprise, he came to the natural selection idea by his own. The pressure was on Darwin's side.

In some sense, the scientific community is very cruelty. The 2nd discoverer came with little glory. Charles Darwin knew that, but as an English gentleman, he did help Wallace while he could. But for Darwin, the pressure was obvious, he needed to publish now with all the evidences he had. He had read the old evolutionist publications, the Vestiges and Lamarck's theory. He knew the problem with them: the lack of evidence. It was his life work to collect the evidences, and he didn't have the problem. But he need to carefully organize them, to nail it down. So, Darwin avoided the harder problems: the origin of life and the origin of man. He wanted to nail down the answer that he most confident with, the origin of species.

So he started the writing in 1858, with a humble beginning of breeding. If breeding was possible, so was the variations. If human selection can create new species, so was natural selection. It was quick. Darwin had these ideas floating around for years. After all, it was his lifetime work. Darwin got all kinds of help from scientific community, partly because he was renowned naturalist himself, partly because the theory itself was very interesting. He also got a grateful letter from Wallace which was a real relief for him. After two month of proof-reading and corrections, the first edition of the Origin of Species was published. It is a 509 pages book, not too big to be totally unreadable. Actually, it was a popular reading, and the science inside was obvious. Charles Darwin only needed to sit and harvest all the criticisms he anticipated for years.

From today's point of view, the 19 centuries scientific community was very interesting one. There were few interesting things going on in the case of the Origin of Species. The community was, surprisingly, quite open, I dare to say, even more open than current one. Wallace, even as hardworking as he was, could send his manuscript to a renowned naturalist by his own, it was fascinating. A scientific book could become a popular reading, that was unimaginable in today's world. Even as well-known as Steven Hawkins, the book of the Grand Design is still tagged with popular science. The problem of a very open scientific community was lack of professionalism. With all my respect to Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, the Origin of Species deserved the criticism of lacking proof. The book lacks of footprint, and the experiments were not repeatable or lack of details on setup. Darwin made philosophical arguments more than scientific ones. The scientific publication criteria clearly changed after a century.

The race between Darwin and Wallace was certainly an interesting one. But from the reading, it wasn't as deadly, cruelty as I imagined. It seems that the classes and the social status played a big role here. Even Wallace got every detail independently, it quite unlikely that he would collect enough evidences in time to proceed. As long as Darwin was willing to give him credit, Wallace seems quite happy as a defender to Darwin's theory. That was, to some extend, less Dramatically as a dead race to scientific discovery. As gentleman as Darwin was, it was unlikely that without Darwin, the 19 centuries won't discover the law of evolution. However, the coincidence shouldn't down play Darwin's contribution. As far as Wallace had got, it was an interesting theory, just as interesting as Lamarck's or in Vestiges. Darwin set out differently. He didn't want to get well-known because of a proposal of interesting theory, he was quite famous already. He wanted to establish the theory, a theory that needs no Creator. Thus, the ambitious goal put him into the role as the discoverer of Natural Selection.

On Betting the Big will Fail (2010-09-24)

I have the little hobbit of predicting the future, based on patterns. The recent fail of Cuil to Google and upcoming challengers of CollegeOnly and Diaspora to Facebook give me a chance to predict the pattern of small startup up against big player in market. Patent in its traditional meaning, is a government-protected monopoly. However, because it is a granted property right that covers wide range of transactions, questionable practices such as patent suppression are invented ever since. By actively applying for patents and passively asking for royalty fee, it now becomes a standalone business mode, companies like Intellectual Ventures and Digitude Innovations are actively seeking legal means to profit from the large patent pools they gathered through acquisitions and bankruptcy liquidations. These business practices failed to address the very principle of patent law, which is to reward patent inventors in order to better promote technology advancement. On the other hand, in today’s world, a competitive market shows It interesting because whether Cuil or CollegeOnly or Diaspora had chose a way to directly compete with these who already took a big share of market already. To me, these startups were founded on the idea that big players were too big to pursuit a small division of the market where can give these a niche.

Introducing LimPQ Service, Concepts and Ideas (2010-09-13)

limpq.com is my newest venture to help developers get rid of all the madness in implementing a web-based photo management application. The web interface is only my vision of how a web photo management app should look like. The whole idea behind limPQ is about providing simple and robust photo management system that can be easily customized and embedded. With limPQ, developer can create a photo management app in minutes by pure javascript API or RESTful API.

LimPQ photo management is a portfolio based system. A portfolio is the exclusive owner of any limPQ objects, includes photos, collections  etc. Each portfolio has full privilege over the objects it owns. In current implementation, without an identified portfolio authorization, all the objects are publicly read-only. The privacy is only guaranteed by obscure UUID. A registered user can create several portfolios, the number depends on their plan setting.

Another important concept in limPQ is the floor. Floor is a generic property in all limPQ objects. One limPQ object can only have one positive integer number to identify its floor. Floor mechanism provides an easy way to implement privilege management level. In the future, we intend to embed access control within floor.

Collection, as the name suggests, is a container of references to photos. A collection can have as many photos as you want, and one photo can belong to several collections. If only collection reflects the relationship between photos, to implement one yourself is trivial. But collection here is powered by NDQI. A collection contains three parts: a query string, a list of included photos, a list of excluded photos. With the help of NDQI, collection can reflect the changes in the portfolio. A new uploaded photo can be automatically assigned to collections (Not real-time in current implementation). In that sense, it is dynamic.

The Third Thing (2010-08-24)

I am a tech person, which means that I spend a lot time on technology stuffs: neat ideas, implementations and visions. When diving into the details of implementation, a thing scared me. That, by obsessing small details, I am losing the sight to the bigger picture. Once a year, I usually spent one week or more, to sit back and think, think really hard about, how, and what the future will be. Even being naively optimistic, I still believe that future is unpredictable. Paradigm shift comes and goes, and that breaks everything. Also, even from utilizationism point of view, the think is more about contrive fantastic words to sell ideas. It is, in selfish way, to fulfill the needs of visionaries throughout the history of civilization.

When the history comes to a turn point, very few had a clear picture of how big it is. However, stripping out the context, all modern innovations are magic out of void.

The Fallacy of Military Occupation (2010-04-28)

The march to Baghdad in April, 2003 symbolized a triumph of the United States military force. However, the premature occupation policies of Iraq caused more chaos and uncertainty. Conventional wisdom suggests that the longer the military occupation is the more chaos it will create. Contrarily, “The Surge”, Bush’s new way forward which essentially meant to send more troops to Iraq harvested many positive effects in the past three years. To many politicians, it seems now that sending more military force can solve the problem. However, the successes in Iraq only proved that enforcing more police power and regulations can improve local security situation. It cannot justify the necessity to send more troops under similar situation in the future.

The military force is not the best police power to enforce law and order. It can only be used as a police power for a very short time. The Allies had successfully used military forces to maintain order in after-war Germany and Japan. However, in Germany and Japan case, the Allies forces handed the security tasks back to local police after a short period of occupation. However, in Iraq case, the too-soon-ended war put the strategists in Washington to a situation that the after-war plan was not fully thought out and need to be implemented. During the debaathification, most local police forces were dismissed; it took much longer to assemble an effective security force. In the meantime, the U.S. military got more involved to the local security matter. The U.S. soldiers on ground were incompetent to recognize civilian interests and protect them from terrorists. The soldiers are trained to quickly recognize the threat and took action to it. They tended to be frightened in all situations. The recent video from Wikileaks showed how the frightened soldiers killed BBC reporters under very poor judgment to the situation. It is reasonable for soldiers to kill military-like target in war, but it became an unacceptable action to civilians in rebuilding process. The soldiers are not policemen. It is expensive in term of time and cost to enforce law and order with military force.

The local resident involvement was a more effective factor in the improvement of the Iraq security situation. During the time of “the Surge”, the U.S. government settled an agreement with Sunni militias in the east to secure the border with Syria. The Iraq government force also won an important battle with Mahdi Army in that time. These events featured the establishment of the Iraq local police force. Many Iraqis felt that the U.S. occupation, besides the military existence, brought very few benefits to Iraqi in general. The civilian casualties caused by crossfire further imposed the U.S. occupation into a bad position. Even it had many positive effects to the overall security situation, sending more troops in Iraq to enforce regulations was harder to be accepted than the local police by the regular Iraqis. More than 65% Iraqis objected to the U.S. occupation which arguably, further weakened the effect of “the Surge”.

If the success of “Surge” was built upon the reinforcement of police power, for the future similar operation, we only need to send more security forces instead of raw troops. If the U.S. would like to deploy a more aggressive foreign policy, it should form a new bureau, which is much like the Homeland Security to the domestic security issues, to deal with foreign security issues. Instead of sending battle troops to “the Surge”, we can deploy people from the new bureau who are trained to deal with security issues. In such way, we may eliminate many negative effects brought by sending more soldiers to a foreign land and avoid hate against the U.S. occupation.

Someone may suggest that the new battle troops are better in dealing with terrorism, thus, the positive effect of “the Surge” was more contributed by the fact that the new troops effectively defeated terrorist's threats. Maybe local police force is not the best option to deal with terrorist's threats, but in my opinion, the U.S. cooperation with Sunnis was a larger contributor to the drop down of foreign terrorist activities. Many foreign fighters, namely those worked for AQI were believed to enter the nation through border with Syria. By cooperating with Sunni militias to secure the border with Syria, the U.S. had the chance to stop new incoming foreign fighters and defeat the terrorists in Iraq. The fact is that during the time of “the Surge”, more troops were dispatched for jobs like securing street and public gathering place, which are just like what normal police force will do.

An Unnecessary War (2010-04-14)

In 1991, after the liberation of Kuwait, the U.N. army chose not to invade Iraq and left Saddam's regime untouched. 12 years later, when it was crystal clear that the International sanction would not swing Saddam's regime, police makers in Washington started to worry what would happen if the deterring measure fails. The consequent threat of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) as a failure of deterrence urgent the United States to take action. However, the answer from President Bush's administration is a war on flimsy foundation [1]. Instead of a full military invasion, the United States could overthrow Saddam's regime by leveraging International politic & military pressure and providing actual military support to revolutionists within Iraq.

To overthrow Saddam's regime, the U.S. could have played more active role in Iraq by enforcing democracy reform. After the Persian Gulf War, Saddam would do anything to avoid a direct military confrontation with the U.S. forces. During the Persian Gulf War, Saddam didn't launch biomedical /chemical weapons against coalition forces; instead, he moved his military forces from Kuwait rather quickly. In 1991, Saddam already realized that there is no point to confront with the only superpower in the world. Just before the Ultimatum, Saddam Hussein permitted the nuclear weapon inspector's work in Iraq and reached a "limited" agreement [2]. It was a positive signal that Saddam Hussein would obey the U.S. request if it came with a face-saving way. However, the quest in the Ultimatum [3] which urgent Saddam and his family to leave Iraq within 48 hours was a too aggressive move. There is no way that Saddam would be willing to give up all his power and embarrass himself by leaving Iraq. If only the U.S. could have put effort on a more strategic way to weaken the current regime first by wisely using the politic and military pressure in polite way, it would be much easier to remove Saddam's regime from inside.

To overthrow Saddam's regime, the U.S. should have supported local revolutionists instead of dispatching our own troops. Though the U.N. forces didn't support the uprising of Shi'a and Kurd in 1991, the two groups were still against Saddam and his regime. However, because of the short supply of food, water and medicine, they were unlikely to organize an effective revolution. With the U.S. support and continuous weakening of the current regime, a bottom-up revolution would likely have happened and a new leader would have emerged from the revolution. Actually, immediately after the military invasion, a Shi'a group of rebellions were quickly organized under the al-Sadr ("The Mahdi Army") [4]. It reveals that once Saddam's regime weakened, a grass-root revolution would have happened. A revolution within Iraq would have saved the U.S. from a lot of troubles for the reconstruction of Iraq.

The full military invasion to Iraq would terrify neighbor nations in the Middle East and the exercise of preventative war made a bad example for the rest of the world. The action showed that the U.S. as the only superpower can use military means to remove any disliked regimes in the world. Iran, which was also part of the "axis of evil" [5], would like to be prepared for the potential U.S. invasion. North Korea would act more insanely in term of military and more actively seek nuclear weapons. A major International military confrontation without prove of the U.N. Security Council will further weaken the role of the U.N.S.C. in important International issues. By bypassing the U.N.S.C., it may be quicker for the U.S. to make decisions in a unipolar world, but it is not a wise move towards a multi-polar world in the new century. It would be very difficult to debate in the future if a powerful dictator cites the U.S. action (pro-act self-defense) in 2003 as a justification for his own invasion.

The popular perspective to the Iraq problem would argue that the military invasion was our last attempt to solve the Iraq problem since all non-military attempts to disarm Iraq have failed. However, it is not true. The Iraq problem caught major attention in 2002 was largely contributed by the "axis of evil" speech. Except Iraq problem specialists and long-term advocates, few people in the U.S. paid attention to the poor Middle East country before that. If we could put more resources in strategic way, we would realize that there are more than one solution to the Iraq problem. Military intervention is the hard way with casualties of U.S. solders' lives. A soft way, which weaken and overthrow the current regime, would be less expensive in terms of human lives.

  1. An Unnecessary War, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. Foreign Policy, No. 134, pp 59 - 59.

  2. BBC News: Timeline: Iraq Weapons Inspections. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2167933.stm

  3. George W. Bush: The Ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/03/17/sprj.irq.bush.transcript/

  4. Adams Trusner: 2005 in Iraq

  5. George W. Bush: The 2002 State of Union Address. http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/print/20020129-11.html

Religious Pitfalls in Baath Movement (2010-03-29)

The Baath movement in 20th century tried to solve the Arab world problem by introducing modern western ideas and practices in order to create one united Arab nation. This cross-nation political organization of the 1920s was first founded under three principles: Unity, Liberty and Socialism. These three were the shared pursuit in early 20th century among most people in the world. Under these principles, the Baath Party is should never be considered as a religion oriented political organization. The intentional ignoring of the religious aspect in Arab people’s life helped the cross-border movement spread to wider population, but it also seeded the potential divisions and conflicts inside and outside the entity itself.

The secular aspect of Baath Party attracted people from all walk of life and essentially buried the seed for later disruption. The pan-Arab nationalism, which has been the central focus since the foundation of the Baath Party, is a secular ideology as opposition to the Ottoman's Turkish focus [1]. The direct inheritance of pan-Arab nationalism ideology as well as the secular aspect let the Baath movement could reach larger population in the Middle East. In the early days of Baath movement, they built more schools and hospitals than the Muslim Brotherhood, a religion-oriented organization, did in 20 years [2]. The Baath Party became quite popular in both Shi'ya and Sunni groups.

By putting aside the traditional Islamic religion structure, Baath Party went ahead and created their prolonged and inefficient management layer. For a fast-growing organization, instead of leveraging current establish religion structure, the process of creating new could be painful. The leadership of the original founders was questioned; the principles (social justice etc.) were argued; the leading role towards pan-Arab unity was still unclear[1]. The quick failure of the United Arab Republic (UAR) which was pushed hard by the Baath Party founders put all the disagreements up to the front. The later power division between Regional Commands and National Command was a direct result of the inability to construct efficient management structure in large organization. Notably, the founder Aflaq and Bitar never regain their power in Syria. These Regional Commands, which mostly ran by Military men, became a parallel structure. The National Command, which ideally should be the central control center, was isolated, degenerated to a symbol of Baath Party only.

The basic secular ideology of Baath Party was challenged in late 20th century. The principle of "unity" was proved to be unrealistic[3]. The failure of the UAR and Iraq's unwilling to join the UAR showed that it was problematic to emerge existing governments and evenly distribute power among the rulers. The wrongness of socialism part became evident with the disassembly of the Soviet Union. When two ("unity", "socialism") out of three principles were broken, the Baath Party felt the need to find other principles to hold their existence. Saddam Hussein, the leader of Baath Party in Iraq, started to seek a way to turn Baath Party, and himself, as the leader of Islam world. In the hope of uniting Islam world, he also passed a law to encourage inter-marriage between Shi'ya and Sunni groups. The Iran revolution in late 1970s started by, and the leadership was transferred to a religious group. It enhanced the impression that a secular ideology was not persuasive enough in Arab world. The struggle to shift the Baath Party ideology into more religion-oriented one was transparent when Saddam Hussein painted himself as the direct decent of Muhammad [1]. At that time, the lack of religion aspect for the Baath Party in its propaganda was widely accepted.

The other theory may suggest that the inner struggle between different national ruling powers was the main contributor to the fail of the Baath movement. However, they failed to explain why the later Europe Union (EU) is successfully united even more nations. The culture similarity between Arab nations is much higher than the between EU nations, and in the Ottoman Empire period, they were physically united. The struggle of ruling powers is only one of many solvable barriers on the road to a united nation if only they can work under a unified religion framework.

The Baath movement had and exercised serial aggressive moves in the belief of creating one united Arab nation, but it failed. On the other hand, the Islam, a non-aggressive religion penetrated and thrived in the same area for hundreds of years. In the way to a united Arab nation, the doctrine from Koran can never, ever be forgotten.

[1] The Baath Party: Rise and Metamorphosis, John F. Devlin, The American History Review Vol. 96, No. 5

[2] The Baath Movement, Adam Trusner, Iraq War Course, Spring 2010

[3] Pan-Arab Nationalism: The Ideological Dream as Compelling Force, Burry Rubin, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 26, No. 3/4

[4] The Iran Revolution, Adam Trusner, Iraq War Course, Spring 2010

Review Vector Boosting with Bag of Words (2010-01-28)

While reviewing vector boosting, the idea is tempting. It is a way to vectorize a region super fast and has learning ability inside. Sounds familiar? Modern dense descriptors do exactly like that but without the learning ability. More than that, if we can learning a vector from a given region, why not just learn the bag of words model directly? When you consider the user case of vector boosting (for different pose of faces), the output vector are generally sparse and so the bag of words model. What a great fit.

There are several constraints that made the training a vector boosting model for interesting point detector/descriptor never be touched before. 1). Training a large vector is something prohibitive in time. A small usable codebook has tens of thousands classes, and today's typical vector boosting technique only works on handful classes. 2). Semi/non-supervised boosting learning is needed. Ideally, we don't want to rely on external detector to prepare the training data. If so, the trained system may be just sub-optimal than the external detector and thus useless. 3). Vector boosting requires orthogonal vector projection, for 10,000 classes, that means 10,000-d vector.

A new approach to the Internet (2010-01-14)

The hard part of censoring the Internet is that, every connected device is equally treated: it can connect to other devices AND it can accept connections from other devices. The connectivity nature of the Internet causes many troubles when one tried to block the information. Let's imaging a world where every legal protocols is either censored or blocked, it is still possible to sneak out encrypted information through legal channel (forge request etc.). The dilemma is you cannot block every IP address outside one region. If do so,

Why China is not the Future (of Business) (2010-01-13)

Google is pulling out its China operation. Some posts are saying that it will damage Google's long-term growth. However, the implication here is that China is the future of business, and by quitting Chinese market, you are losing the future.

未来十年 (2010-01-12)

中期的未来预测从来是件吃力不讨好的事情,准确的很少,而且容易受到不可预知的事件影响(比如对于航天业的发展严重受到苏联解体的影响),而且,中期预测和短期预测不同,个体无法根据中期预测进行战术性地调整,也使得这一预测实用性大打折扣。比如前年做的4年期预测,现在看来,至少有这么几点是错误的:1. 现在看来,要在两年内将CPU主频从3GHz提高到5~6GHz是不可能的了;2. 存储没有以家庭化为单位,而是以中心存储为单位,天平已经倾斜过去了;3. Nokia比想象得死得快得多,Android和iPhone现在看来发展得快得多;4. 没有人购买家用存储设备,也没有人生产这样的设备,因为存储无可辩驳地向中心存储转移了;5. Roomba没有遇到拐点,相反,这一市场发展愈发平稳。

然而,中期预测提供了对于人类未来的美好愿景,因此,这样的预测即使不讨好,也值得斗胆一做的。按照惯例,在进行接下去的技术愿景预测时,应该首先进行一些社会结构的保守预测。然而,就十年的时间跨度而言,这些保守预测显得不合时宜。因此,在接下去的预测中,将会涵盖主要的社会变革和科技变革。

在接下去的十年中,私有的航天公司将会是航天计划的主导力量。由于私有企业的参与,我们将会迎来下一个航天黄金时代的开端。太空作业的规模将会是现在的几倍,几十倍。也就是说,我们将有能力将大型的设备运上太空(分批次运输,轨道上组装)。由于生命探测技术的进步,人们将会在外太空发现单细胞生命,但是发现多细胞、复杂的、有智力的生命仍然遥遥无期。

在能源方面,电池容量的提升仍然很漫长,超级电容也只在备份电源方面找到了用处。但是,曾经受制于运输昂贵,造价不菲因而得不到发展的燃料电池迎来了春天。得益于核电和多种新能源发电的普及,电价已经廉价到电解氢变得经济可行了。因此,我们有了能续航1个多月的多媒体手持设备和一周加一次燃料的电动汽车。虽然航天业的价格已经降到了100万美元一吨左右,在航空方面仍然没有什么进步,甚至大客机仍然在使用石油。私人航空器听起来是个梦幻。

然而,这十年并不是太平盛世。各个主要国家将在一个第三方卷入一场资源和话语权争夺的战争。这将是一场克制的,精确打击,低伤亡的战争,但是会导致一些国家的政权更迭。虽然号称低伤亡,但由于各种高科技的运用,这却是有史以来最血腥,报道也最全面的战争。

谈创业团队 (2009-11-28)

最近有朋友跟我说要在互联网创业了。身边想做,已经开始做的朋友不少了,大家总是纠结在这几个问题,团队多大合适,怎么配置,股份怎么分配。

关于股份如何分配,我只能说,合理分配。因为这说到底是团队成员互相博弈的过程,外人是说不上话的,但是关于团队组成,我觉得还是有谈一谈的内容的。

首先,要肯定的是什么样的创业团队都是可能成功的。但是正如作为理性的人我们从不买彩票一样,我也只是挑选

Memory Efficiency is Important for Tree Structure (2009-10-29)

When implementing general tree structure, people sometimes just forgets how important the memory efficiency is. At least, I was. The first mistake that made I aware of this issue is in the implementing radix tree (prefix tries). Radix tree is a tree structure with more than 2 children (26 children / 16 children is the common pattern). That's where the common knowledge is challenged. When implementing binary tree, we always allocate two pointers (left node/right node). If we follow the common knowledge and allocate 26/16 pointers, it becomes a huge waste. When a tree structure needs to hold millions of objects (which is common these days) in memory, a constant waste of 4*16 bytes is large.

Most time we think the tree structure is more memory efficient than hash table.

为何我不看好创新工场 (2009-10-09)

觉得要抽空写点关于李开复博士新创业项目的一些话。

题目说得很直白了,我不看好李博士的这个新项目。

Dr. Who or How I Learned to Stop Using Random Data and Love the Real World (2009-09-17)

The first pain with random data starts with the implementation of spill tree data structure.

Patterns of Business Success (2009-09-07)

Starting from my middle school, I was facinated by the puzzle of business success: people from all walks of life can be huge success in business perspective. Can I find any pattern of how these people succeed? There are books like Built to Last / Good to Great want to figure out pretty much the same thing.

From time to time, I realize that luck plays a big role in business success. However, that doesn't necessary mean there is only randomness is the pattern of business success.

Target has been Vectorized and Quantized (2009-08-24)

A common method to do computer experiment is to vectorize something and then quantize them in order to get a good, discrete representation of the essence. The one convenient thing about multimedia is that all the digital form of media is naturally a vector and sort of quantized. That's to say, to extract a better representation of media, we only have to apply different linear/non-linear transformations.

Vectorized data has many advantages. It easy to calculate, manipulate and visualize. Because of these advantages, vectorizing document to do comparisons/search etc. Quantization also served us well those days. After quantization, it is almost straightforward to apply semi-naive Bayes / histogram etc.

There are several missing parts that worth to mention. We generally believe that human eyes have the function to vectorize what it perceives. But what level of vectorization have we gain is a bit little vague. Our current digital imaging technology forms a vector representation of image based on per-pixel intensity. Though there are similarities in low-level (eye function), human can more efficiently break image into higher/more compact representation. Let's assume it is still a vector representation, it should be weighted, dimension-reduced vector. An observation of human skimming skill suggests that human mayhave the ability to automatically verctorize document by skimming.

Some Misconceptions in Haar-like Feature Detection (2009-08-02)

Adaboost training is simple. HAAR-like feature is simple. And the method for fast-detection was discovered in the beginning of 21st century. What's the big deal here? Well, because for a long time, I basically have some mis-concepts regarding the wide used fast-detection techniques.

The adaboost classifier is a linear classifier. However, a linear classifier is not neccessarily bad classifier especially for these in high-dimensional space. HAAR-like features lays in a very rich space. It is rebundant,

新资本家 (2009-06-16)

关于资本家的盈利模式,自由派经济学家和马克思是有重大分歧的。马克思认为价值是物品的固有属性,不会随着外部而变化。

进化的理性作用 (2009-05-31)

理性主义者常常宣称,进化已经产生了智能,因此完全可以不依赖于自然选择的进化而经由理性的逻辑推理进行设计,找出最适应的方法。这一想法的狂妄之处在于忽视了理性的逻辑推理不是独立于进化而存在的,他本身是由进化所产生,因此不会是永久可靠,也自然不会是“找出最适应”的最优办法了。同时,定义最优的约束条件本身就是困难的,这也使得由理性推导来获得最适应族群是更加困难的。

但是,这样的论断并没有否定理性决定最适应的可能性。

Everyone wants to be Steve Jobs (2009-04-02)

As Steve Jobs introduced the idea that design is the center of product, suddenly, everyone comes up with a great excuse.