Author Archives: yetianlinguist


Last week I spent three mesmerizing days in Gothenburg. There is something particularly charming about the nordic light on a long summer day. Compared to the fiery sunshine in Southern Europe in summer, the nordic sunshine is more atmospheric, more gentle.
The Southern European summer sun is like a passionate lover: when they are present, they are your whole world and you can’t see beyond them. The nordic summer sun is like a tender friend: they accompany you to see the world, they are by your side.
The gentle atmosphere, the buzzing conversations with a few friends and a solo trip to the Gothenburg Museum of Art triggered me to do this little game: as I was wandering around the gallery, I collected painting titles and then try to piece them together into a poem. The result is the following. 😛
(All underlined bits are titles of paintings or sculpture, though I did cheat a bit and used on film title :P.  Most paintings are from Gothenburg Museum of Art.)

Two ways to stop worrying

If you want the instant remedy, scroll down until you see bullet point 1. Otherwise I am going to ramble a bit first.

pharmacy for life

So I am writing self-help articles. Never thought that would happen. When we feel we are held back by bad habits or problems, in this era of instant everything, we want an instant cure. We ask Google “how to do x”, e.g. “how to be more confident”, “how to stop procrastination”, “how to eat a cookie” or “how to be more efficient”, and Google hands us lists of “tips”, “tricks” and “ways”. It’s like walking into the Pharmacy for Life, where there are shelves of pills for each life disease. Usually the packets of pills come in numbers of 7, 8, 10, 15, or even 25: “7 ways to be more productive”, “25 tricks you didn’t know that boost confidence”. Some claim to be “scientifically proven” (so the rest are just homeopathy and Chinese herbs?). The smallest packet I saw contains 3 pills, like the following ones on productivity. The first self-help alchemist says there are ONLY 4 ways to be more productive, while the other tells you their 4 ways are the ones that REALLY work. Hmmm who should I believe? Continue reading

Rethinking creativity

    This article was jointly written by Tim Nieradzik and myself. When we met at the computational linguistics conference EACL 2017, we talked about the staggering speed in the development of Artificial Intelligence [1] along with people’s fears. If one types “Is AI going to make us jobless?” into Google, this is a glimpse of answers you would get:
  • AI “could leave half of world unemployed” The Guardian 
  • AI will create “useless class” of human, predicts bestselling historian. The Guardian 
  • AI and robots threaten to unleash mass unemployment, scientists warn. Financial Times
  • The rise of artificial intelligence risks making us all redundant The Independent
  • A world without work The Atlantic 

Picture from “Who Will Own the Robots?” – MIT Technology Review

What’s in an age?

A few days ago, crouching lazily on the sofa after lunch, I watched a Ted talk by Joshua Prager, titled “Wisdom from great writers on every year of life”. He assembled 100 literary passages into a book called “100 years”, one for each year of life. His talk reminded me of a quote from the film “Lucy” which I recently watched: “Time is the only true unit of measure. Without time, we don’t exist”. Suddenly, age and time came into my awareness and attention. It reminded me that I am turning 32 in less than two weeks! I thought, what Joshua assembled was beautiful. I get to read about every age from the eyes of one (insightful) individual. But in reality, how homogeneously do humans experience age?  Is there really something that can characterize being 32? Something that is experienced by 32 year olds (plus or minus, say, 3 years), which is not experienced by 22 year olds or 42 year olds?

So I got up from my couch Continue reading

A copy of you

I wrote a little poem, hope you like it ;P

A copy of you

I want a copy of you
             on my local drive.
The CD spun and the screen said:
“You are about to install
                     a copy of me.”
“Is your directory
                     Heart: \ I-miss-you\?”
–  Yes, Next.
“Do you want to see an icon
                    always in your eyes?”
– No, I will search for you
                    when I think of you.
“Have you read the Terms & Conditions
                     that I don’t belong to you?”
– That’s not what I want,
                     but I read and understood.
“Installation complete. Thank you sweetheart.”
I clicked on you and there you were,
                     smiling at me.
I smiled back and asked:
                    “Will you ever want
                      a copy of me?”