Wednesday, October 4, 2017

mid-autumn festival & misc.

haven't posted for a while. the terrible news i reported in the last post still feels very raw. and it has been a month full of depressing news.

when i was a grad student at Oxford, there was a certain professor who famously misbehaved on all sorts of levels. thankfully, he's eventually ousted by the university, amid rather unusual circumstances. but the lesson i've learned then was that tenure is a system that makes me feel rather ambivalent. most of the times, it is a much appreciated privilege that i myself now enjoy. we have to give academics the freedom say what they wish to say, w/o repercussions such as losing their jobs. but every now and then, when certain colleagues abuse this system, it makes me feel sad and angry. especially when that's done against junior people e.g. grad students.

at these times, i find myself engaging in the pathological behavior of paying more attention to how messed up the world at large is in general. this somehow helps to normalize things. as we say in just 7 syllables in Cantonese: under Heavens, all crows are equally dark.

my thoughts are with the victims of the completely avoidable tragedy that just happened in Las Vegas

whenever i think of the last US presidential election, i feel that undeserved tenure is a relatively small imperfection of the world.

on a more positive note, it has been a good month in Hong Kong. i get to see my friends and my folks a lot. tonite is Mid-Autumn Festival aka the Moon Festival, where families gather and celebrate. it's never exactly clear to me what we are celebrating for. there are some fun folk legends about a beautiful woman who took some drugs and flew to the moon and stuff. but one story i liked was that when the Chinese was once ruled by the Mongols, they started a riot / revolution by hiding a secret message in the Moon Cakes, to synchronize their attacks on the same date.

my people are ever the practical and 'results-oriented'. despite our common love of seafood and tolerance for hot and humid summers, Hong Kongers aren't quite the same as the Catalans. as such, i have long assumed that Pro-Independence is a position not taken by many. but actually, today i learned that according to a certain politician and lawyer (who himself is Pro-Beijing), there are over a million people in Hong Kong who are pro-independence. let's say, what an enlightening news. over a million!

those who know me will know that there's a lot i wish to say but don't feel i should say it all here. let me say that in general, i recommend people to never apply to work in labs before talking to those who have worked with the prospective PI. or at least ask about the PI's colleagues what the PI is like. in general i'm very happy to chat about such things. as to politics, as i've warned you i will talk about this here from time to time, but not too much.

but it doesn't mean these are irrelevant to the main theme of the blog: my book will ultimately be about standing up to things too. it's about starting a (small, scientific) revolution together. to do so we need to clean up our acts first, to generate enough trust, as ammunition. we don't start a revolution with an idea. we do so with a coalition, with people, who aren't feeling that they are being exploited in the process.

i promise my next post will be more coherent.


  1. I think it's pretty coherent (except the beautiful woman who took some drugs and flew to the moon ;)). I read the things above as all having the same idea of that we should realize that it's not just that we have a certain system that we should think that that's the only way, or that it's the best way. Especially when being in academia it creates some responsibility towards society....(and start a small revolution together).

    1. thanks, Martijn. i'll see you in NY in a couple of weeks~