Will Twitter’s 500 Millionth User be a Chinese gov spam bot? Thanks to Ai Weiwei @aiww @AWWNeverSorry

Wednesday, 22 February, 2012

According to some projection, Twitter will have its 500 millionth user today (Wed Feb 22, 2012 at about 3pm EST). I seriously wonder if  that “user” will be a Chinese political spam bot?

You see, I sometimes tweet about the Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei @aiww or talk about the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry  @AWWNeverSorry. In the last 4 days alone, there were 15 brand new Chinese gov spam bots spamming me! The Chinese government wants to give the impression that lots of different people support its views.

Based on my experiences, the Chinese government and its agents have created many many Twitter spam bots, each only send out only about 120 or so personal @ message tweets to different people at the same time and then simply discard these accounts and left them unused! Try tweeting about Ai Weiwei @aiww  and be spammed by the famous Chinese government spam bot yourself!

So thanks to brave opposition voices from people like Ai Weiwei, will the Chinese government and other spam bots creators be creating Twitter’s Six Millionth or even One Billionth user?

Note: I am not sure if these bots are fully automated or partially run by hired Chinese, also known as the 50 Cent Army/Party (in simplified Chinese: 五毛党; traditional Chinese: 五毛黨).

Also, I want to be clear that Weiwei is NOT the only target of these spam bots, I got spammed by them because I tweeted about Weiwei. Other people got spammed for tweeting about other people the Chinese government happen to disagree with.

Here are six of the 15 Chinese gov spam bot accounts (all different) that spammed me in the last 4 days! Click pix to zoom it. The first image is the collection of many of the spam messages on one page.

Chinese gov spam bot - against Ai Weiwei @aiww - pix 07

Chinese gov spam bot - against Ai Weiwei @aiww - pix 01Chinese gov spam bot - against Ai Weiwei @aiww - pix 02 Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gets 21,000+ microloans totalling 5.9m yuan so far to pay his 15m yuan tax bill

Monday, 7 November, 2011

For the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, it is not about the money, it is a chance to let the Chinese public to voice their support of him and disapproval of Chinese government unjust accusation/judgement. Read along to find out what these two donations signify:

512 yuan, about $80

89.64 yuan, or about $14

Washington Post, “Ai Weiwei fans raise funds to pay his massive tax bill

“In a strong affront to the Chinese government’s attempt to censor artists and internet users, fans of the artist Ai Weiwei have raised more than $830,000 in three days through social media to help the artist fight a $2.4 million tax bill from the state.”

BBC English, “Ai Weiwei China tax bill paid by supporters” (with English interview)

“By Monday, there had been donations totalling more than 5m yuan ($790,000; £490,000) to pay off the $2.4m in taxes and fines the authorities say he owes.

Many people believe he was served the bill because of his outspoken criticism of the government rather than because he had evaded taxes. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese toddler Yueyue (悦悦) run over twice dies

Friday, 21 October, 2011

To me, the sad story of Yueyue’s accident and her death exposes some of the serious and tragic underlining problems in China.

Chinese toddler run over twice dies – World – CBC News
Chinese toddler dies after hit-and-run ordeal | World news | The Guardian
China’s ‘Little Yueyue’ Dies Amid Soul-Searching – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Here is an Oct 19th article about Chen Xianmei, the “scrap peddler” lady that rescued Yueyue

Chinese toddler’s rescuer denies fame-seeking – World – CBC News


Dalai Lama with horns – Inaugural Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture – Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu hang out on Google+

Saturday, 8 October, 2011

Dalai Lama with horns - pix 1 - 達賴惡魔 (达赖恶魔) 有相及錄影為証

Dalai Lama with horns - pix 3 - 達賴惡魔 (达赖恶魔) 有相及錄影為証

Dalai Lama - pix 4

Dalai Lama - pix 5

Inaugural Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture – Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu hang out on Google+

The actual talk starts at about 25:30. What a great experience in watching +Dalai Lama and+Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu : The world greatest, best, and most insightful comic duo LIVE early this morning (2:30am MST). :)

~41:41 Desmond: Do you have an army?

Dalai: Yes, I have army. Not weapon. But wisdom and compassion. [...]

~42:03 Desomond: I was asking this question only to find out, why does the Chinese government fear you?

~42:26 Dalai: Quite simple. Quite simple. Some Chinese officials describe me as a demon. So naturally some fear. … When I first heard that Chinese official comments. I feel laughing. So I immediately went yes, I have horns. 

P.S. Some time ago I saw a document about how after years of unsuccessfully trying to get rid of Ku Klux Klan, the ridiculous group of Klan men in white sheet over their heads was ridiculed and laughed out of existence. Yes, by making them the butt of jokes. I like that theory.

P.P.S. I spy Google+ Engineer +Loren Groves at about 24:38 Thanks Loren for all the great work. Few more photos in this Flickr Set.

Dalai Lama - pix 7


3 Tips to use Google Translate wisely

Sunday, 4 September, 2011

I’ve translated three TV entertainment series, 72 episodes, about 130,000 words form English to Chinese (both spoken and written). Google Translate has ben useful in my work but using it blindly can be outright dangerous. I will share with you 12 tips of how to use Google Translate wiser.

1) Sanity checks

If you don’t know the language you are translating into (e.g. Chinese), you should use it with extreme cautious. Don’t let Google Translate make you look like a fool. At a minimum, use Google Translate to perform a sanity check on itself.

What is a “sanity check“? Well, if you want to translate English to Chinese (or any language you don’t know), at least use Google Translate to translate the text right back to you.

Real sample English text from CBC News, Sept 4, 2011 report “Tropical storm Lee sparks fresh flood warnings“,

“U.S. forecasters are warning a lumbering tropical storm Lee could bring floods and tornadoes to more south and central-eastern states as it moves northward Sunday after saturating the Gulf coastline.”

Translation from Google Translate to Chinese,

“美國預報員警告的伐木熱帶風暴可能帶來的洪水和李龍捲風更南部和中東部國家,因為它向北移動星期日飽和後海灣海岸線。”

Sanity check is using Google Translate to translate the above Chinese to English. You see I added emphasis for the potentially problematic areas.

“The U.S. forecasters warned the storm could bring tropical logging floods and tornadoes Lee in more southern and eastern countries, as it moved north after the Gulf coast on Sunday saturated.”

Observation: The Chinese translation is actually quite confusing, much more confusing that the sanity check is showing.

Here is a “work around” that is not a guarantee “solution” but better than nothing. Use short sentences. Change your English words so that the sanity check won’t give you garbage.

2) Pronunciation

I love Google Translate‘s Chinese pronunciation. It just sound great. I wonder how good is Google Translate‘s pronunciations in other languages? Please add comments to this post if you speak other languages fluently and can judge Google Translate‘s pronunciations as a native speakers of those languages.

3) Google Translate is NOT your magic bullet

To me, the purpose of language is to communicate so I try my best to avoid miscommunication. I started writing this post because I’ve noticed some Chinese Google+ users using Chinese in their comments to English posts.

I think those commenters may be assuming their non-Chinese readers can simply use Google Translate to help understand the meaning of their words. Take the following Sept 1st, 2011 comment in this post for example,

“睡不着,還能hangout,也算失之東隅 吧?”

Here is the English translation using Google Translate,

“Can not sleep, can hangout, also considered is neglected, right?”

People may be able to guess what the author means. But the words “also considered is neglected” are annoying because you can’t be sure exactly what the commenter really meant. You see, what the Chinese commenter means is roughly,

“Can’t sleep but I can still hangout, not bad right?”

The commenter used the words “失之東隅” which is a Chinese proverb. I don’t think I will use Chinese proverb if I were the commenter. You see, isn’t it the point of leaving a comment so that other people, including author of the post, can understand what you try to say?

4) Closing comments

To me, I see clear and clean communication as the reason for languages. I use and love Google Translate as a tool. But it is a tool, at its current capability as of Sep 2011, it is a still a very young, immature, and not that reliable tool. It cannot be trusted blindly.

One final sanity check example to remind us why Google Translate can’t and shouldn’t be trusted blindly using the first sentence of this article.

“I’ve translated three TV series, 72 episodes, about 130,000 words form English to Chinese (both spoken and written).”

Translation from Google Translate to Chinese,

“我翻譯的三個電視系列,72集,約 13萬字英文的形式向中國(包括口頭和書面)。”

Google Translate - pix 01

Translation from Google Translate back to English,

“I translated three television series, 72 sets, about 13 million words in English in the form of the Chinese (including verbal and written).”

Google Translate - pix 02

Do you notice one glaring problem? How did 130,000 words become 13 million words? The stupid thing is that “13萬” is actually 130,00, totally correct! But turning “13萬” into “13 million” is just total rubbish!


Central, Hong Kong Pretty Girls – courtesy of HK newspaper Apple B.B. Daily (a lesson about freedom of press)

Friday, 5 August, 2011

*** Hong Kong Pretty Girls ***

Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girl - pix 13

I am a keen observer of pretty girls in HK and around the world. Unfortunately today, against my better judgement, I will argue the Hong Kong newspaper Apple B.B. Daily should voluntarily stop taking photos of some of these pretty girls (中環我至靚) in Central, Hong Kong. Yes, some of these photos taking and publishing has to be stopped!  Especially many of the photos that I love the most. Isn’t this paradoxical?

Lets look at some of the photos of the pretty girls in Central, Hong Kong as reported by Apple B. B. Daily. And see if you notice a very important pattern.

Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girl - pix 01Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girl - pix 02

Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girl - pix 03Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girls - pix 04

Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girls - pix 05Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girls - pix 06

??? Have you noticed a pattern yet? Lets look at some more pictures.

Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girls - pix 07Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girls - pix 08

Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girls - pix 09Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girls - pix 10

Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girls - pix 11Apple Daily HK Central - Pretty Girls - pix 12

If you read Chinese, you can see the full Flickr set which I also posted the original Apple Daily text that goes with the photos for added context.

*** Observations ***

As you may have noticed already, the pretty girls in only 3, yes three, out of the above 13 photos actually post for the photos! And as you can read from the Flickr set, only those 3 photos have people’s names attached.

As you see, the other photos are of people talking on the phones or walking on the street simply going about their businesses. I have no indication that these people actually has or has not given Apple B.B. Daily permission to publish their photos on a column dedicated to photos of pretty girls in Central, Hong Kong!

Is this ethical behaviour? How will you react if this is your newspaper? Or if this is practiced in your city/country?

And if you live in Hong Kong, what do you think about this?

*** The Freedom of Press Paradox ***

While I don’t know the specific Hong Kong law but I suspect what the photographers of Apple B.B. Daily have done here are safely within the boundary of Hong Kong law. And I bet a Canadian dollar that a Canadian newspaper can legally take and publish photos of pretty girls standing on a public street too (although I can’t be sure).

The brave men and women of Apple B.B. Daily are truly the pioneers of newspapers and poor-tastes. At the end of day, no one can blame them for their total pursuit of making money through sex and smut at the same time as speaking truth to the powerful Chinese Beijing and HK governments.

Yes, seriously, Apple B. B. Daily do fight for democracy at the same time as they insert B. B. (bouncy breasts) of ladies in bikinis into completely serious news article!

*** Concluding Thoughts ***

Hong Kong is a really vibrant and strange market for newspapers, for both paid and recently free newspapers. Apple B. B. Daily bossman Mr. Jimmy Lai is one of the most intriguing and interesting entrepreneurs in Asia unfortunately the way he runs his newspapers (or allowed his newspapers to be run) just make me sick.


English and Chinese Interview with Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人)

Monday, 1 August, 2011

with Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人) in Calgary - pix 05

In English (英文)

The Alliance‘s Lee Cheuk-yan and Mak-hoi-wah visted Calgary yesterday (July 31, 2011) and I had a chance to interview Mr. Lee Cheuk-yan. The following are clips of my video interviews with him.

中文 (In Chinese)

支聯會李卓人、麥海華昨天(2011,七月三十一日)訪問卡城,我有機會訪問李卓人先生。以下是訪問的短片。

My English video interview with Lee Cheuk-yan

My Chinese video interview Part 1 and Part 2.

Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人) in Calgary - pix 01

Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人) and Mak-hoi-wah (麥海華) in Calgary - pix 02

Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人) and Mak-hoi-wah (麥海華) in Calgary - pix 03

Interview with Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人) in Calgary - pix 06

Mr. Lee‘s bio in Chinese.

李卓人

“李卓人,現任香港立法會議員(新界西選區),亦是香港職工會聯盟秘書長及香港市民支援愛國民主運動聯合會主席。自1978年畢業於香港大學土木工程系後,開始投身工人運動,參與勞工組織的工作。首份工作為觀塘工業健康中心幹事,組織工人關注職業健康及安全問題。兩年後,轉往香港基督教工業委員會工作,負責組織工傷者及家屬,成立香港工業傷亡權益會。其後,李卓人開始組織獨立工會,創立成衣業職工總會並擔任總幹事。1990年成衣業職工總會與其他獨立工會共同創立香港職工會聯盟,成立時共有25個屬會。李卓人轉擔任職工盟總幹事,推動獨立工會運動,走在爭取勞工權益及民主的最前線。

作為工運人士,李卓人在80年代初開始參與香港民主運動,並在1989年與其他民間團體一起成立香港市民支援愛國民主運動聯合會,被選常委,至2003年開始擔任副主席,並在創會主席司徒華先生離世後接任主席。

1995年,李卓人代表香港職工會聯盟參加立法局選舉並當選。除1998年臨時立法會一年外,李卓人一直透過新界西直選當選立法會議員至今。“


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