December 15, 2010

Short Walk Signal Results in Death on the Crosswalk

Interesting optimization problem. Utilitarianism at its highest.

Translation: 男子在斑马线处被撞身亡 协管员称绿灯时间太短 from

Yesterday morning at the intersection of East Jiangbin Avenue and Kuaian Street in Fuzhou (福州), a SUV ran over a pedestrian while he was still traversing the crosswalk. The man died instantly. One traffic warden told the reporter that the zebra crossing spans 8 traffic lanes and requires 65 humans steps to cross. The green walk signal, however, only lasts about 13 seconds, enough for 30 steps.

Right now, all that remains to show an accident had occurred was a leather shoe and blood stains on the opposite sidewalk. "The collision happened on this crosswalk, but the man's body landed on the crosswalk on the opposite side." Weng Yibo believes that the man came from Kuaian Street and was crossing Jiangbin Avenue before the SUV hit him.

The police have not been able to identify the deceased person due to lack of personal identification documents.

Jiang Bin Avenue has 8 traffic lanes. Six are fast lanes, and the other two spares.

"The pedestrian signal is too short, only allowing people to cross half of the road." According to one traffic warden, adults walking under normal speed need 65 steps to go from one side of the road to the other. But due to limited time, they must take 30 steps and then jog the rest of the way to the median divider, where they wait for the next walk signal.

Chief Chen of Mawei District's police patrol team said that they have already gone through several rounds of discussion concerning the walk signal. Vehicle traffic volume exceeds pedestrian traffic volume, and a longer signal can lead to traffic jams on Jiangbin Avenue.

The case is still being processed.

2010-12-12 14:54:59 Beijing Cellphone User

The main reason is that you can't tax pedestrians. So of course pedestrians get little time.

2010-12-12 15:27:27 Beijing 大虎

In other countries, cars are required to stop for pedestrians on the crosswalk.

2010-12-12 14:52:24 Suzhou, Jiangsu Cellphone User

I suspect that SUV driver was intentional. The collision happened at high velocity, not when he was accelerating from a stop. I don't think he slowed down at all!

2010-12-12 14:34:38 Hebei Cellphone User

I recall similar experiences. Bicyclist and pedestrians have no rights anymore....

2010-12-12 16:23:42 Suzhou, Jiangsu Cellphone User

Yea, all you think about is traffic jams, never people who must walk. A man has to die to catch your attention.

2010-12-12 18:09:53 Shanghai squll2001

For the sake of common people's safety, China should convert zebra crossings to bridges.

December 08, 2010

CCTV Exposes Shanda's Porn Novel Business

Translation: 盛大文学靠黄色小说牟利 遭央视曝光 from

Yesterday, CCTV's consumer news show Consumer Advocate gave full coverage on Shanda Literature's (盛大文学) porn novel business, pointing to several literature websites under the Shanda brand as sources of internet porn. It revealed the deeply negative influence Shanda Literature has on morality and online culture. It further called upon Chinese internet regulatory departments to exert more control over internet publishing and to purify the online environment. Shanda began as a highly lucrative game operator for the Korean MMORPG game The Legend of Mir 2 and occupied news headlines when its CEO Chen Tianqiao (陈天桥) became the richest man in China mainland. CCTV's accusations, which were broadcast amidst the government's nation-wide special mission to halt dissemination of pornography via web and mobile channels, placed Shanda once again in the spotlight.

According to CCTV, the reporter found extensive pornographic, vulgar contents in novels published by Shanda Literature. Murder Under the Incest (, Top Laughing, Bottom Screaming1, Let's Roll, Wifey (, Vixen Lover of a Fickle CEO (, Professional Escort, She Comes from the Brothel (, Having a Baby with His Homosexual Royal Highness (, and She Beds Three or Four Men ( book titles in these Shanda websites are unsightly, and the writings are filled with more explicit sexual descriptions. To attract viewers, authors create sensational chapter titles such as "Caution: Concentrated Sexual Content," "Purely Flesh," "Two Men Giving Birth," "Conditioning," "Time Travel," "Girl Becomes Boy," "Multiple Party Relationships," "Sadism Masochism," and "Milk Production."

Shanda Literature mostly showcases paid-to-read content. Take Qidian as an example. Since the customers read 5 billion characters per day, and the website charges 2 cents RMB for every 1000 characters in these "VIP" novels, Qidian can make more than 10,000 yuan daily. Shanda has other plans to generate revenue, including translating MMORPG games into novels and vice versa, i. e. producing novel-related games, published materials, or videos. Shanda Literature has become the source for pornographic, violent, and vulgar internet novels, creating a giant money-making chain.

Shanda reaps huge profits by packaging porn books and selling them as "internet literature." Shanda has captured 90% of the online publishing business through various the past few years. According to Shanda's financial statements, 3Q revenue from its online game segment declined by about 14%, while its publishing business grew 136% with revenue reaching 300 million yuan. Literature is becoming the new support for Shanda's continued growth.

Why is a prestigious company like Shanda willing to sell porn novels and damage its reputation in the process of doing so?

Analyst Yang Qun who monitors the internet industry explained: "This is closely tied to the performance decline of Shanda's core gaming segment." Based on Shanda's November 30 earnings release for its third quarter, net profit from both Shanda Interactive and Shanda Games decreased. Operating profit dropped to 155 million yuan, and net profit was 99.3 million yuan. Compare to the previous month, net profit declined 41%. Year-on-year decline was 77%. Shanda Games reported a total revenue of 10.96 billion yuan, which signified a 14% year-over-year decline. It drew in 289 million yuan in net profit, representing a drop of 21% compared to the same time last year or a drop of 3.8% compared to the previous month.

Currently, Shanda's internet business can be divided into 3 segments: Shanda Games, Shanda Online, and others. The weakening of the gaming segment, which comprises Shanda's traditional core business, is directly reflected in Shanda's performance. Moreover, Shanda Online also experienced a 10% year-over-year slide in revenue, and its current assets fell 48.98%. Nevertheless, Shanda still have about 5.368 billion yuan in cash and cash equivalents.

This year, Netease surpassed Shanda to become the number two largest online game operator. In contrast, Shanda has not released any new products for some time. This void, combined with a overall gaming industry downturn, has caused Shanda to fall farther behind Netease.

In one of its latest investment reports, Goldman Sachs gave Shanda Games a "Neutral" rating and lowered stock target price 10.5% to only 6 USD. Morgan Stanley advised caution in buying the stock, as Shanda's new businesses have not fully developed. RBS outright downgraded Shanda Interactive from "Hold" to "Sell" and lowered the price target from 39 to 34 USD. Even Auriga USA, who had always been bullish on Shanda, lowered the target price by 10 USD, citing the "surprising" drop in profits as reason.

1 Gay porn terminology

While Shanda undeniably publishes dubious contents, I think CCTV aired its criticisms more because internet publishing in China is barely regulated (relatively speaking). Unlike traditional publishing, where a manuscript must go through numerous checkpoints before it is printed and sold to customers, anybody with a computer and internet connection can publish on-line. Such "books" are only reviewed by unprofessional editors after the fact, if they are reviewed at all. Also, I believe these marginalized stories are implicitly encouraged because they attract readership.

To comprehend the effect of the title of this news article, imagine an hypothetical headline: "Google/Yahoo/Blizzard Dives into Porn-Making as Its Core Businesses Decline"

December 05, 2010

Good heavens, the Mormon church finally stopped hassling me

Every Chinese who comes to the U.S. or Canada soon or later encounters missionaries who try to convert him/her. Some Chinese receive baptism. Others view churches as a place to network (or where they can receive freebies). Still, there are some who never convert, and a subset write about their experiences. Here is one of the blog articles recounting such experiences.

Translation: 天呢, 终于摆脱了摩门教的纠缠 by 美国进步中国女青年 on Wenxuecity

On a beautiful summer day in 2010 (Saturday), I held a yard sale by my house, trying to get rid of the numerous stuff I had accumulated.

After noon, the number of interested buyers dropped to almost zero. As I was resting in the cradle1, two young, handsome, and cheerful white American men approached. I quickly stood up to say hi. One young man introduced himself as Edward, and the other Joshua. Both belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have heard about Mormons before but never met any believers. Out of curiosity, I chatted with them and thus stupidly torched myself, because when they perceived my interest, they became really enthusiastic.

They asked if I believed in God. I answered no. (My husband has been trying to convert me for the last 10 years with pitifully little success).

They asked about my beliefs and ambitions. I told them that I have no beliefs. Being born in China, all I knew at the beginning was Chairman Mao. God? Who is that? Besides I am old, so it is hard for me to suddenly welcome a God into my life. What I want from this life? Pot roast used to be the extent of my aspirations because I was frequently hungry as a young child. Now that hunger isn't an issue anymore, I just wish my houses could double in value. Yes, I am of those who are hopeless.

Amazed to find such a philistine as me, The fires of these young men's work zeal burned even higher. Edward said, It's okay, God has sent me to bring you salvation. I felt highly amused. Someone who isn't old enough to know anything is trying to save me!

They showed no signs of leaving. I mentioned that it was getting late, and I must clean up. Without needing another word, they started putting everything back in place. Since it was a hot day, I couldn't very well ask them to leave right after they helped me. I invited them to come inside. The polite young men drank some water and left. Before going, however, they asked for my phone number, promising to come back next week when I wasn't so tired. I pondered, here are 2 people who lent me a hand. Sure, I don't mind giving them my number and my email. That same evening, an email from Edward arrived. He expressed the pleasure of meeting me and wrote I was a good person. He hoped to have a chance of saving me. The letter ended with proverbs from the Bible. I replied out of politeness. Then Edward began emailing me once in the morning and again in the evening. I stopped responding. On Thursday, he called to say they would like to drop by. I thought that was totally not necessary--I mean, hadn't we just seen each other? But he expressed strong desire to see me again, so I had to agree. When he came, he was clearly in an elated mood, probably thinking he was doing God's great work and he wasn't far from victory. (Knowing this passion came from not being paid, I am very impressed). Edward came with Bible in hand and stayed for more than an hour, explaining the Bible the whole time. I basically spaced out and didn't hear a word. Finally, he stood up to go. He inquired about my thoughts, to which I replied I didn't have any. I said the Bible was written in ancient English, and I barely understood modern English. I told a lie just to get them to stop coming, but they already have a plan for the likes of me. Edward told me it was okay, that there are people in his church who speak Chinese.

The weekend after, 2 boys who looked like they could be members of the F4 visited my house. One was Malaysian Chinese. The other had Chinese-English ancestry. My, were they extremely good-looking. This made me revise my estimation of the ability of the Church that was able to recruit so many good-looking people. They arrived speaking awkward Chinese. I mentioned that I was busy. They indicated a willingness to wait. So, while I did chores, one taught my daughter piano, and the other taught my son how to draw. Two hours later, my guilty conscience finally drove me downstairs to sit through another Bible session.

This marked the beginning of a deluge of emails, phone calls, inquiries, and weekend visits. Eventually, I had to say I was going on weekend vacations, but that was no use because they had time on weekdays too. I couldn't do it during the day. They said they can come at night. I was occupied in the evenings. They said they can visit during the day. They were so polite and so nice that I didn't know how to refuse.

Finally, they invited me to their Church. I replied that my car broke down. They said, no problem, we will pick you up. Backed to a hard spot, I couldn't help but go. And were they enthusiastic when they saw me. Everyone came up to say hi. "We are so glad to have you here." I didn't dare to stay too long. But before I could go, one person stopped me--the Bishop would like to see me. I thought to myself, heavens, this affair just escalated. I went to see the Bishop, who was also a mature, attractive man. He asked how I felt. I answered, okay, everybody was nice. The Bishop asked if I had a desire to join their Church. I answered, no. He wanted to know why. I finally said: "I dislike polygamy when it is one husband possessing many wives. I would consider Mormonism when I get to have a few more husbands." The Bishop immediately ordered me to leave. And I never heard from them after that.

1 She might mean a hammock.


sanchahe wrote on 2010-11-12 13:09:51
Mormons are very devout, and they conduct missionary work out of faith. If you are not interested, then you must make it very clear when you decline. A lot of people think they are badgering, but really it is because Chinese and Americans express themselves differently. Anything less than a point-blank "no" will convince Mormons that we are receptive and prompts more visits from them. We can choose not to believe, but I think it appears shallow and frivolous to talk sarcastically about these devout believers and a religion that we don't understand.

bighousee wrote 2010-11-11 20:57:46
All these Christian churches recruit good-looking men and women for missionary work. I have met several groups already, and one person in the group always turns out to be a pretty girl. This is their marketing strategy.

忘记你忘记我 wrote on2010-11-09 14:14:40
Hehe, the very last reply is awesome.

Mormonism has now become a name only. The church forbids divorce, but a lot of Mormons I have met are divorced. The church also prohibits pre-marital sex. How many really follow that?

jun100 wrote on 2010-11-09 16:28:03
This is what you get for liking beautiful boys too much and taking advantage of them, even letting them teach your children. Everybody who dared knocked on our door were scared away by Confucius. Next time, tell them: Saint Confucius ordered us to stay away from ghosts and gods. The saint didn't have the courage to say there are no spirits, only that he was already mired by the responsibilities of this world, which left him no energy to contemplate the spiritual. If the great Confucius could not manage both at the same time, what can we do?...I have never met an missionary who managed an repartee to this...One wife and several husbands? You are too crude...But anyways, keep on writing and making us laugh

mikecwu wrote on 2010-11-10 13:28:52
I have been to many churches, include Mormon ones. In the end, they are all Christians with minor differences. I have learned a lot about western history and culture. The experiences expanded my horizon. I have witnessed the great things Christianity does for the psychology of its believers, and I greatly benefit from it.

The most important Western holiday, Christmas, is a religious holiday, whereas the most important Chinese holiday, Chinese New Year, has nothing to do with religion.

Religion is a component of Western culture--people's lives revolve around their religious beliefs. Our religion is our Chinese culture--we live for a splendid culture.

新晴 wrote on 2010-11-11 15:33:12
Mormons send two men out on these trips. Jehovah's Witnesses send out two women. I forget which sects send one man and one women. I have also met Mormons previously. They asked me what are my goals in life. I said, I never thought about this question. They asked what I believe in. I didn't mention Communism, but I did say I am a believer of physicalism. I wanted to know if they know about physicalism. They replied no. So I made up some stuff, which caused them to look at each other silently. They soon left and never came back. They probably think I couldn't be saved.

December 01, 2010

Reason Why Chinese Customers Aren't Receiving Their Packages

Some Chinese internet users are trying to find out why their packages take forever to appear (e.g. question posed on November 26th: Is shipping very slow these days? One of my packages got stuck in some random place for several days)

In response, Taobao, an Ebay-like company based in China, made the following announcement in its forum:

All Taobao members,

Hello. We would like to thank everyone for his/her long time support. Ever since the middle of October, we have been experiencing unprecedented trade volumes. This put enormous pressure on Chinese package delivery companies. Even after increasing the number of their employees, transportation vehicles, and making employees work overtime, the companies still cannot clear up the severe backlog of goods that need to be shipped. Furthermore, diesel rationing throughout China is compounding the problem. In the south, some 2000 citizen-owned gasoline stations have shut down due to lack of fuel supply, creating difficulties for the companies.

Because they couldn't obtain any diesel fuel, delivery trucks stopped running. Many packages that should have been on the road now sit in giant piles on the sorting facility floor. We ask that Taobao members to please be understanding, as Taobao is also actively managing the resources to ensure your goods are safely delivered. Thank you again for your support!

Comments (just picking a few because there are too many):

紫泪1 2010-11-05 11:18
I hope the buyers can be understanding too.

taoqi24 2010-11-05 11:19
Why aren't there any replies in this post? Yes, the shipping services have noticeably slowed. First Yunnan, later Sichuan, Guizhou, and Gansu. I sell food. This outage is driving quite a few customers mad, so I have to log on daily to explain to them the situation. I hope Taobao can put up an official explanation and help deal with the negating/neutral ratings I received because of this.
A month later

剑行天下1981 28 minutes ago
No wonder my customers still haven't gotten their winter coats. They have been telling me that if the clothes don't come soon, they might freeze to death. Please hurry up!

善为本22488 10 minutes ago
Why is my first Taobao experience turning out to be such a drag? The scarf I ordered has been on the road for half a month now. God! Why am I so unlucky!

kancizhang 1 minute ago
Such things are quite normal in China!

可可乐乐le just now
Your excuse sucks big time! Shame on you! I just called China Postal Office. They told me the seller chose the cheapest shipping method, and that's why my stuff haven't arrived after 7 days. Normal express shipments are never this slow, because the customers can demand a refund for bad service. So please answer me, if the problem were really fuel shortage, then everybody would be eligible for pay back. That would make the postal office bankrupt, their personnel not only working without pay but having to give money away. Tell me, what idiots conduct business like this? No gasoline? As a state-owned enterprise, can't China Postal Office use its privileges to get some gas?
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