• 发表时间:


    Nostalgia usually means a fond memory of good old times. The word is constructed from two Greek words, homecoming and pain. So it means a memory of old pain. Why old pain turns into our fond memory? 

    We will look at how the lyrics of a song about Spanish Civil War evolved over time. The following are two lyrics of Jarama Valley, a song about Spanish Civil War in 1930s. They were written by members of the British Battalion, who fought on the Republicans’ side, the losing side. The first was the early and painful one. The second is the later and nostalgic one.

    • There’s a valley in Spain called Jarama,
      That's a place that we all know so well,
      for 'tis there that we wasted our manhood,
      And most of our old age as well.

      From this valley they tell us we're leaving
      But don't hasten to bid us adieu
      For e'en though we make our departure
      We'll be back in an hour or two

      Oh, we're proud of our British Battalion,
      And the marathon record it's made,
      Please do us this one little favour
      And take this last word to Brigade:

      "You will never be happy with strangers,
      They would not understand you as we,
      So remember the Jarama Valley
      And the old men who wait patiently".

      Life in the battlefield is certainly painful. But overtime, painful experience morphed into a fond memory. Here is the later version.

      There’s a Valley in Spain called Jarama,
      It’s a place that we all know so well,
      It is there that we gave of our manhood,
      And so many of our brave comrades fell.

      We are proud of the British Battalion,
      And the stand for Madrid that they made,
      For they fought like true sons of the soil.
      As part of the Fifteenth Brigade.

      With the rest of the international column,
      In the stand for the freedom of Spain
      We swore in the valley of Jarama
      That fascism never will reign.

      Now we’ve left that dark valley of sorrow
      And its memories of regret,
      So before we continue this reunion
      Let us stand to our glorious dead.

    When the dust of war settled, our concrete memory is war also faded. Instead, we take great pride that we put our lives at risk and fought bravely. We didn’t shirk from the responsibility in the name of freedom. The bonds we formed during the war time probably are the strongest. The war time experience, horrible it might be, is the high point in most people’s generally mundane life.

    If we have a harsh youth, don’t despair. We will have a great nostalgia.

  • 发表时间:

    How good were Charles Pearson’s predictions?

    In 1893, Charles Pearson published a book that shocked the Western world. It predicted the decline of white race and the rise of colored people, especially Chinese. How precise were his predictions?

    In the introduction of his book, he made three specific predictions.

    Two centuries hence it may be matter of serious concern to the world if Russia has been displaced by China on the Amoor, if France has not been able to colonise North Africa, or if England is not holding India. (P. 14)

    More than a century has passed since he made the above predictions. For the third prediction, England has lost India long ago. Nowadays, people from India subcontinent are largely holding England. For the second prediction, France has not been able to colonize North Africa. North Africa has been able to colonize France. Only the first prediction has not been realized. Why China has done so poorly in the last several decades?

    Charles Pearson made great observations about the future. The following are some quotes from his book.

    National life and character: A forecast 

    Charles Pearson

    It will be observed that the most conspicuous instances of strikingly false prophecies are taken from the utterances of statesmen of the highest rank ; while those predictions that have been verified belong as often as not to publicists, or to statesmen, like De Tocqueville, whose philosophy to some extent disqualified them for active politics. The reason, however, is probably not to be sought in any special fitness of abstract politicians for making forecasts of the future but in the fact that statesmen are constantly tempted to make predictions of immediate interest, whereas the power of divination among men seems rather to concern itself with general laws. (P. 7)

    Two centuries hence it may be matter of serious concern to the world if Russia has been displaced by China on the Amoor, if France has not been able to colonise North Africa, or if England is not holding India. (P. 14)

    Comment: Of the three predictions, two have been fulfilled, far ahead of time. The third one, however, is not fulfilled. This is a measure how well people in different places are doing. 

    the English theory of government : to circumscribe the action of the State as much as possible ; to free commerce and production from all legal restrictions ; and to leave every man to shift for himself, with the faintest possible regard for those who fell by the way. (P. 18)

    The State employees are an important element of the population ; the State builds railways, founds and maintains schools, tries to regulate the wages and hours of labour, protects native industry, settles the population on the land, and is beginning to organise systems of State insurance. (P. 18)

    If towns are to predominate over the country ; if the State is largely to supplant the churches in the direction of life, and parents in the bringing up of the family ; if the new conditions of intellectual work are unfavourable to originality ; if, in a word, the man seems to dwindle as the union of men grows in strength and importance, the result cannot be without interest for those who are on the brink of this future. (p. 26)

    What is assumed also is that the gradual decay of faith, the diminished importance of family life, and the loss of original power, as genius is deprived of its noblest fields, will be serious offsets to the material development of life ; (p. 28)

    There is another way in which we are the blind instruments of fate for multiplying the races that are now our subjects, and will one day be our rivals. We carry the sanitary science and the engineering skill of Europe into the East. (P 88)

    The Englishman is changing faith in private enterprise to faith in State organization. The change is likely to affect the character of the race for vigorous originality. We see the beginning of decadence in the decline of speculative thought, We find a decay of mechanical invention, and even more, that a less hearty welcome is given to it.  With impaired faith in himself, the Englishman will trust more and more to the State, and to State Socialism, which

    is likely to be accompanied with a change to the stationary order, population and wealth ceasing to increase. (p. 91)

  • 发表时间:

    Where is the exit?

    We went shopping at IKEA.  We already got what we need. We want to
    proceed to the exit. But where is the exit? Usually, we follow the
    signs posted by IKEA. In that way, we have to go through all the
    shopping areas before we reach the exit. But we get impatient.

    Instead, we tried to look at an unmarked opening. There we go! We find
    the exit immediately. IKEA is a small place. Wherever we are, we are
    close to the exit. But the store try to make us pass by every shopping
    area before releasing us. They want to prolong our stay as much as

    The same is true in other places. Canada has very generous welfare
    systems. It discourages crimes. But Canadian legal systems are always
    very busy, always behind schedule. Why? Let’s look at Robert Pickton
    murder case. The case was crystal clear from the very beginning.
    However, the legal system didn’t exit the case until it spent over six
    hundred million dollar taxpayers’ money. A single murder case enriched
    so many lawyers and make the careers of so many judges. With easy
    money like this, no wonder it is so difficult for ordinary people to
    get legal assistance.

    So is the education system. A primary education used to be enough for
    most professions. After all, a primary education is primary. Right
    now, secondary and tertiary education are mandatory for many
    professions. To qualify for teaching at a university, one has to go
    through master program, PhD program, and often postdoc programs. Many
    university teachers don’t exit the education programs themselves until
    well into the forties, when their best years are already behind them.

    We all have problems we wish to resolve. For each problem, there are people who know more than us. We enlist these experts for help. However, the expert don't just resolve our problem and kick us out of their office. They want to prolong their service, as long as possible. Statistics shows that four out of five drug addicts start with a physician's prescription, from which many never exit. 

  • 发表时间:

    Poems about old ages

    As I get older and older, I receive more and more poems about old ages. It seems all these good poems about old age are written by young people. Let’s look at one popular poem by Yeats. 

    When you are old

    When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
    And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
    And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

    How many loved your moments of glad grace,
    And loved your beauty with love false or true,
    But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

    And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

    It was published in 1893, when Yeats was 28 years old. It must have been written when he was even younger. Would Yeats really feel the way described in the poem when the lady actually became old? Unlikely. He can say anything when he is young. There is no obligation to the long term future. That is why he can say such a beautiful thing. Today old men and women copy his words, as if old people talk to each other. No, it wasn’t. It was a young man’s imagination.

    Recently, I read Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas. 

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    It was written by another young man about his father and other dying men. Old men wish they could rage, rage like young men. But they have to worry about stroke, heart attack and other fatal consequences from rage. They have to be happy and calm. Rage is a privilege reserved for the young.

    It is great to be young. Even great poems about the old age are written by the young. However, nobody stays young forever.

  • 发表时间:

    Your fear is smarter than you

    Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver is popular for hiking. It is also popular for cliff jumping.

    Lynn Creek flows along Lynn Canyon. It cuts and creates Lynn Canyon. Lynn Creek is mostly very shallow. Occasionally, a huge boulder dams the flow, creating a tiny deep pool, deep enough for some daredevils to jump into the tiny pool from the cliff.

    If you are skilled enough, lucky enough, you’ll get a lot of satisfaction from cliff jumping. But if you are a little bit off the target, your tender flesh will smash onto the hard rock, or be cushioned only by a thin layer of water. You could die or get hurt badly. 

    On those popular cliff jumping spots, there are signs on the number of people died or injured cliff jumping over the years. There is also a sign that reads: Your fear is smarter than you! 

    Your fear is smarter than you! How true it is. Unfortunately, fear is mostly portrayed in negative ways in modern society. Freedom from fear is one of the four basic freedoms articulated by Roosevelt. How freedom from fear affects our society?

    Right now students in primary and secondary schools are free from the fear of failing the grade. To achieve this, all the hard sciences, especially mathematics, become very soft. A student can’t fail a math class because nothing is taught in a math class. 

    Without the guidance from fear, the only motivation the society can muster is happiness. The easiest way to attain happiness is to use drugs and to play video games. In the past, the fear of long term consequences deter people from using drugs. With freedom from fear, little can be done to deter people from drug using, and video playing.

    Fear is one of the strongest emotions and one of the basic instincts of human beings. It is evolved for good reasons. When social policies are designed to short circuit a basic instinct, soon the society will become extinct.

  • 发表时间:



    时间的概念也是这样。地质年代的命名往往源于一个小地方,如 Devonian,  就源于英国的一个县 Devon。当小小的英国的社会影响力极大地扩展,源于英国一个小地方的研究也自然成了国际标准。



  • 发表时间:

    Be a tourist in our own city 

    We spend a lot of time and money in other cities. Others spend a lot of time and money in our city. If others are willing to spend so much in our city, probably it is worthwhile for us to spend some time, and a little bit money, to explore our own city.

    We spent some time in downtown. When we walk around, we find Vancouver is a lot smaller than we thought. We went from Chinatown to Yaletown. If we take SkyTrain, which is what we usually do, we would have to take Expo Line first and then switch to Canada Line. Yaletown seems far away from Chinatown. But when we walk, it only takes us several minutes to reach there. When we start to walk, the whole Vancouver downtown is a very small place.

    When we drive into downtown, Vancouver has horrible traffic. Now we take SkyTrain to downtown and then we walk around. Many downtown roads don’t have traffic lights. They have stop signs. These roads are practically impossible to drive through. As a result, most traffic jam into major roads. This makes driving terrible in downtown. At the same time, most smaller streets are very quiet. Walking on these streets is very pleasant. Residents on these streets can live a quiet and relaxed life. Vancouver is a hell to drivers. It is also a heaven for its residents and whoever walking around.

    It occurs to me that there are some parallels with research. Research fields are divided into science and social science. Within science and social science, each is subdivided into many areas, mathematics, physics, chemistry and so on. People in one area feel that other areas are very different, very distant. This is because we take the sort of SkyTrain in our research. SkyTrain is self contained, without interaction with other kinds of traffic. It is the key to its swiftness. Similarly, the key to high output in research is to confine ourselves in a narrow area, without interacting with other kinds of research. But it makes our vision very narrow. 

    If we relax a little bit and browse other areas of research in leisure, we will find different research fields are actually very close to each other. The whole world follows the same physical laws. The whole biological and economic systems follow the same economical principle that only systems with positive returns can survive over long term. We will find that many problems we are struggling to look for answers have already been resolved for a long time, by researchers in other fields.

    But don’t expect other researchers welcome your new discoveries. When there are one thousand research fields, there are five top experts in each field, enjoying all the perks of  being experts. Now someone from nowhere shows you the answers that the experts in your field have been seeking for decades or centuries. How those experts would feel? Every expert in every field will feel the same insecurity. Instinctively, they will unite together to repulse any invasion from outsiders.

  • 发表时间:



    楚的另一个写法是上面林, 下面 之 。  之 相当于英语里的 to, 德语里的 zu (比较汉语 足, 楚的下半部)。   楚 尚鸟和熊。 楚是鸟的意思,如雏鸟的 雏。 所以有美的意思, 如 楚楚动人。   楚 跟芬兰人同为黄帝之后, 芬兰人说鸟是 lintu , 比较 林 + 之, 原来就是 楚。

    lin + xi(zi, chi, tu,)这类的词很多, 如神药  灵芝,  灵感 '灵犀“, 领土,  凌迟(英语 lynch), 地名  林芝,  linz 希特勒出生地, Lindsey.  

    楚在日语,韩语,越南语,粤语里的发音 是 so,  cho, co, 都代表了古代的不同发音。 cho 衍生为 雀。 同时,这个发音是男性生殖器的意思。汉语词’翘楚‘,是人杰的意思, 这里 翘cho =楚.

    楚 的 造字者 应该是发  足 的 音, 所以 上有 林   下有  足。古人应该有两派,  林是一派,  足  是一派。  芬兰合二为一, 为 lintu. 中国人合二为一, 为 楚。      

     汉字‘梦“里的”夕 “  既表音, 又表意, 即晚上发生的事。 古人认为梦是神迹。


    楚王姓  mi,  mi 跟mang 是相等的关系, 所以有   迷茫,也有 迷蒙; 迷 跟 茫, 迷 跟 蒙 的意思是一样的。还有梦寐一词, 梦=寐 mi.  

    所以, 梦 跟 楚 有关。  

    不过,估计’梦‘ 古时很可能是多音字, 既读’夕‘ , 又读’瞢 '。 如”曦“, 和”曚“, 意思是一样的。这两个音,在世界范围内都会搭配, 如 Simon, 中国姓‘西门’, 萨满, semen. 

    梦溪笔谈, 是文人爱用古语, 因为梦=溪, 梦溪就是梦的意思。梦溪笔谈, 意味着有灵感, 有想象力。


    云梦古代有四万平方公里大, 如同海洋。 楚王在此祭拜天地。 楚的祖先 称  季连, 接近汉字”  云“ 的古音。韩语保留了这个古音, 说云是 guleum。  接近 英语 gloom, cloud.   

    熊在日语里是kuma, 云是kumo.  云的古汉语发音,相当于楚人祖先名的发音。 这说明在古代东方神话里,熊是云。


    熊和鸟是一家,鸟在先,熊在后,这在英语里面也有体现。看hear这个词,过去式是heard; 再比较bear, 和bird, 原来鸟是过去,熊是现在。