Sunday, July 7, 2013

Linkedin Vietnam

I've found Linkedin's capabilities as a website for networking and jobs always a bit lackluster, but lately my own email notifications have been getting stranger and stranger from Vietnamese sources.

I decided to take to the website to investigate after posting this to Twitter last week:

Someone on Linkedin has either a serious sense of humor or has been learning strategies from my Tweets as no sooner than a day later I got invitations from these two:

What are the odds? Both managers of the Fishing Group! Very fishy...or phishy? Or just all coincidence?

Ever since the first tweet, I've wondered to what degree do these people "exist" if pictures are being used with different names and different jobs and the same picture or with the same position but different people. A little Google image searching and we find that Pham Thu Hai is either 1.) Mingyin Tan's doppelganger (see below), 2.) so hideously ugly that she had to borrow someone else's picture...for Linkedin marketing purposes. And yes, these are the only 2 options.

Chinese architect who has gone rogue by becoming...Vietnamese HR manager under witness protection program (foiled by Google)

Needless to say I'm torn between not connecting with these folks or connecting with them and endorsing them for skills they are grossly unqualified for (take that!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuoi Tre vs TurnItIn

I've been helping students with their research papers lately and one of the biggest issues (both theirs and mine) has been citation. It's a whole new concept for them, but it is further compounded by the fact that while they would like to use good Vietnamese primary sources, those sources themselves are notoriously bad at citation.

To illustrate this, I decided to take an article from local newspaper, Tuoi Tre, from their English publication website and see how it stacked up against, a plagiarism detection client.

Let's see how they did:

To start, their picture credit is faring better than most of their counterparts whose sole credit for photographers usually looks a little like this:

Oh! Now I know where to find it!

And a quick Google search reveals that indeed, Reuters does own this photo, which originally appeared here, although a credit to the photographer themselves would be a bit better (Benoit Tessier to be specific). Whether Tuoi Tre has a photo agreement with Reuters we will not worry about for now.

Now down to the article. The article itself does fine until we start getting into the final paragraphs where Tuoi Tre starts listing the dangers of shisha addiction. Here we now have 23% of the article, which is pulled directly from Quit Shisha, a website devoted to providing resources for overcoming shisha addiction.

They seem to try to rectify this in the last sentence.

The only problem is, despite the likely scientific backing for Quit Shisha's information, they are not a medical website.

So Tuoi Tre is committing several academic (and dare I say journalistic) errors here:
1. Not citing a source of information
2. Plagiarizing - taking the direct words of others without proper citation
3. Using sources that would fail analysis like CRAAP in which we evaluate primary sources (failing the Purpose category in my opinion)

If Tuoi Tre was in my class, they would get a 0 and a note to see me after class.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quotes about Vietnam #1

 On musician Pham Duy's ability to transcend the politics between overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu) and those within Vietnam:

"Meanwhile more and more expatriate Vietnamese are starting to ignore the voices of the hard right and seek exchanges and relationships with people within Vietnam. The yearly expatriate commemoration of the loss of the southern republic, originally called the “Day of National Bitterness” (Lễ Quốc Hận) is now being referred to in a less emotionally charged way as the “Day of National Upheaval” (Lễ Quốc Biến). The changes now occurring on the two sides, are all of a small, random, individual nature, like the shifting of grains of sand on a beach or the falling of leaves in autumn, but there can be little doubt as to the eventual outcome. And when the two sides finally make their peace with each other, Phạm Duy, who foresaw the outcome throughout his life, will be waiting for them." - Pham Duy and Vietnamese History by Eric Henry

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vina-This, Vina-That

If you need a company name in Vietnam, the safest bet is to use the ubiquitous "Vina" label. Vina, from the pronunciation of the single letters of V and N in Vietnamese is found everywhere.

Here's a yearbook-style coverage of some of the best:

Most likely to be misinterpreted: Vinashin
Is it a prosthetic company? Soccer guard supplies? Ah no, it's the biggest and most-floundering SHipbuilding INdustry company.

Most ominous: Vinacontrol
Is it a wing of the Minsitry of Public Security and an arm of the propoganda branch? Nope, they just inspect machinery and equipment

Most likely to form rockin' hair band: Vinametal

Most Vietnamese: VinaNguyen
It's hard to get more Vietnamese than that.

Most likely to be confused for cuisine style: Vinatex
Soon to be usurped by my company Vinatexmex.

Most nearly redundant: Vinawine
If only they had gone with Vinavino.

Even better is that you can tell where products are from based on their name: Halida, Habaco (Hanoi), Sabaco (Saigon), Cholimex (Cho Lon), Agifish (An Giang), Huda (Hue-Danish technology beer) and so on.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top Reason You Shouldn't Cycle in Saigon

When I first moved to Vietnam I kept up with a habit I had begun in America of traveling by bicycle. It was certainly easy in Long Xuyên: ample flat roads, easily maneuverable traffic and nowhere I had to go that was more than 1km away. Me and my bike, Willard Scott, had a good run until I sent him to the great "gửi xe" in the sky and got my motorbike.

I've spent 5 years in Vietnam with the trusty steed here:

Philosophy of 2005 was Beard + Bike = Babe Magnet

However, I recently decided to go back to the old habit of cycling. There are plenty of reasons I took the plunge: a slower pace, a healthier lifestyle, savings in gas (though not to save the environment, don't you dare accuse me of that).

That said there are certain pitfalls I had forgotten about when it comes to the subtle art of cycling. There's of course the new position in the traffic food chain, barely scraping the bottom above cyclos, old women on chalys and people whose motorbikes have run out of gas (guess who wishes they had pedals now!)

 Fact: Chalys have technical equipment only old woman know how to operate.

There's also the "Michael Bluth" factor in which I arrive sweaty to work and drip all over the overhead transparencies.

But the absolute number 1, tip top, crème de la crème reason you shouldn't cycle in Saigon? You must communicate in traffic with this:

This was a GREAT IDEA...until the guy next door invented the horn

Let's say a guy just cuts you off, totally throws off your steady flow and sprays the nearest pothole's watery contents into your face. You want to let him know this aggression will not stand, you want to demonstrate that you too are on this road and don't have to put up with it! You reach for that essential communication tool (Previously on the motorbike this would have been a solid tenor, bzzzzzzzz, it's no foghorn warning but at least it's not an "awuuuuuugah!" or some other novelty horn). That would show him! That would get the message across! So I reach for the bell and....

"Bbbinngg bbbinng!"

And now I'm sure the guy is thinking "what was that? Did I just cut off a coven of pixies? Have I angered a Disney princess Tinkerbell collectible?"

Disney's definition of "princess" is a bit broad

All the while I curse my decision to even bother with the bell. I should have just shouted something obscene instead of unleashing what would be akin to me putting on a pink leotard and dancing around his motorbike sassily yelling "that's not fair! that's not fair!"

It's no better should I want to inform someone at an intersection that the light has turned green. The "Bbrirrring" that I wanted to say "Hey fella let's get a move on" instead screams "Heeeeey! Unicorn riding on a pink cloud coming through." At first the image doesn't sound so bad except imagine the unicorn not as this:

 Out of the way strumpet! I've got prancing to do, gnomes to see.

but more like this:

SPARKLE! (I really tried to remove the sparkle)

Nobody moves for that unicorn.

And situations like that guarantee that nobody is going to hear my bell ever again at least until I install this bad boy on it:

Thunder Horn!

So until then watch out for me on the streets of Saigon. Here's what to look for:

The hidden charm

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ordering Noodles

My struggles for Vietnamese language are in the 6th year now. I get by in the language. It certainly didn't start out that way.

Sometimes it's nice to ponder those terrible moments where everything went wrong. Some of those memories have been coming to mind lately and I'll be recounting them in the next few posts:

Afternoon noodles
There's a place near the stadium in Huế that serves cơm tấm (rice with pork) in true southern style, something I was missing having spent a year in the heart of the Mekong Delta prior to leading a group of short-term volunteers for a summer in the ancient capitol.

I invited the volunteers to join me for lunch there and as we sat down one of them noted that one of their students had brought them here for noodles one afternoon. I had never seen anyone eating noodles there but who was I to argue.  Having a leg-up on the language I took responsibility for the orders that day.  The volunteer who had noodles previously wanted to know if she could get them again.

"Ok," I spoke with false authority (I still got really nervous speaking Vietnamese in front of others at this point), "we'll have 4 dishes of rice, 5 iced teas and do you have noodles?"

"We've just got ____ ____ noodles."

"Oh..." I stalled, not knowing what those noodles were but assuming the volunteer wouldn't mind, I mean how many noodle types could they have? "Ok, a bowl of those noodles then."

A smile broadened into a full, bellowing laugh as the order taker turned around, addressing seemingly all the patrons of the place and shouted, "this guy wants ___ ____ noodles!"

Something had gone terribly wrong.

"I think they don't have the noodles. Is rice ok?" I asked the volunteer eager to disappear underneath the already squat plastic table.  I'd have to dig a whole in the cement to get under there properly.

After a few minutes of pondering and rewinding the conversation in my head I had figured it out.  Of course, there was the problem! The Huế accent (I was only 2 weeks in to hearing it) and my own nervousness had flubbed it all. I completely understood what he had said on the second review. I imagined how it must have sounded from the order taker's perspective and I couldn't help cracking a smile too.

The conversation rewound itself again and I put on my UN council approved headphones for a second listen with the translator.

The order taker approached the foreigner expecting his order

"Give 4 plates of rice, 5 iced teas, do you have noodles?"

"We only have noodles buổi chiều."

"Ok...noodles buổi chiều. Give me one bowl of noodles buổi chiều."

And so for the foreigner who wanted noodles buổi chiều received an announcement on his behalf instead, "this foreigner over here wants a bowl of afternoon (buổi chiều) noodles!"

Noodles are only available after 4pm. Of course that was worth laughing about.