Singing in Chinese

My last post about Mandarin was related to tones. Tones convey important meaning but they are a hindrance when you want to sing, since songs have their own tones. The Chinese solution: ignore the tones.

A popular Chinese song, 月亮代表我的心 (The Moon Represents My Heart), demonstrates this. This song, originally performed by Teresa Teng, demonstrates it in action. Here is the same song, performed by Leslie Cheung. It's interesting to note that Mr. Cheung is speaking in Cantonese to the audience before singing the song in Mandarin. His pronounciation of the words is slightly different than Ms. Teng's but that's not really suprising.

The other interesting thing about singing in Chinese is that some of the words are mis-pronounced, at least in this song. The word is normally pronounced 'de' but both singers pronounce it 'di'. That sounds odd to me but since I don't listen to Chinese music I can't say if it's commonplace or not.

For more information about 月亮代表我的心, check out this link.

Surgeons and skullduggery

I previously posted about Dr. Yazdanfar, whose patient died on the operating table but believes the decline in her business is due to her competitors spreading damned lies about her. Well, her competitors have now marshaled their professional organizations to investigate her use of a private investigator to expose their villainy. They claim that a doctor should be able to speak freely with his or her patient, and not have to be wary of a "trap".

As far as I'm concerned, the doctor-patient privilege exists to protect patients. So a doctor shouldn't be able to say just anything to a patient without fear of a "trap". The Toronto Star article even quotes Weinberg, a Toronto-area plastic surgeon and member of the three organizations that have complained about Yazdanfar to the College of Physicians, as saying
"A physician has to be able to speak honestly to their patients. As a patient, wouldn't you want to go to your doctor and ask for an honest opinion even if it isn't to the benefit of a company, institution or another doctor?"
The thing is, a doctor IS protected when he speaks his honest opinion, even if it isn't to someone else's benefit. There are many justifications for slander; in many jurisdictions one simple defense is "truth", that is, what you are saying is true. In some places you can't reveal the truth if doing so does no good but only does harm, but a doctor advising a patient on issues pertaining to safety can certainly not be accused of gratuitous harm.

I support any efforts by doctors to uphold a code of ethics, but let's be sure your ethics are actually ethical and not just protectionist.


The Toronto Star recently ran a series of articles about commuting, with part 6 discussing commuting in the GTA. The article discusses one man's commute, 75 km long, which this man keeps to 45 mins by leaving for work at 4:15 AM.

Now, traffic is bad in the city, but what the heck? 4:15 AM?

Ok, so the man lives in Oshawa... but he works in Mississauga! He's driving across the black hole of Toronto, which is the worst-case scenario for commuting. The solution, finding a job closer to home or a home closer to his job, doesn't seem to be worthwhile to this man, so instead he starts working at 5 AM and never sees his kids.

My sympathy meter is at zero.

Another commuter is quoted as spending half her pay on the costs of the car. Are people's choices really so limited, that they can't afford to move or find work elsewhere? Is there no better solution?

I find it interesting when people make choices and then complain about the consequences of their actions. "I have to drive for hours and hours to get to work." Yeah, that's because you live in the boonies and work downtown. "But houses are expensive downtown!" Sure, you can get bigger houses for the same price if you live somewhere else, but didn't it occur to you that you were making a trade-off? I live in a condo because it's cheaper than a house, not because I don't want a 5 bedroom mansion with a three-car garage. The price I paid for my condo could buy a very large house in other cities, but then I'd have to drive a long way to get to work. That's how the world works.

In the Star's other articles about traffic chaos, they mentioned cities like Jerusalem, where commuting is a nightmare because of security restrictions. Those people have something to complain about. In Toronto, or nearby, if you're driving more than one hour each way, and this bothers you, there are solutions to your problem. But there's always a trade-off.

Cause and Effect

Some people should take courses in logic and formal thinking before making claims. But maybe that's overkill, since these people probably wouldn't apply what they've learned, and instead would continue with their knee-jerk reactions.

Like Dr. Behnaz Yazdanfar, a Toronto-area medical doctor who isn't licensed to perform surgery in any hospital but performs cosmetic surgery out of her private clinic. Recently she was in the news because one of her patients died. Yet she is suing plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Rice for slander, claiming his comments to patients is ruining her business.

Now slander is a problem, one of the few cases where I support limits on free-speech. But you have to wonder why Dr. Yazdanfar is seeing so many patient cancellations. Is it because her competition is telling (new) patients that she's not qualified (she isn't), or because they are telling the patients that certain breast-implant makers won't sell implants to unlicensed practitioners (true)? Or maybe her patients are cancelling because they read in the paper how her patient died? I dunno... seems like a complex issue that requires a lawsuit to straighten out.

Rampant Consumerism

Many people hearken back to the days of yore, whenst tis claimed that our lives weren't as filled with such a burning passion for the acquiring of stuff. But verily our forefathers (and foremothers) were the true gluttons at the holiday times, giving gifts that these days would cost more than most people's yearly salary.

Yes, the "12 Days of Christmas", a song describing the typical excesses of the day, recounts a tale of gift-giving that totals over $78,000. I'm glad we live in more sensible times, when you can give someone a gift card, which is almost as good as cash except it expires and can't be used everywhere, or a lottery ticket, which is essentially worth one fourteen-millionth of $10,000,000.