There has been some noise in the mass media about the 996.ICU (official website) recently. That’s good, but I think we can do better. So, spread the word!

Here are a few bits to get you started:

The name 996.ICU refers to “Work by ‘996’, sick in ICU”, an ironic saying among Chinese developers, which means that by following the “996” work schedule, you are risking yourself getting into the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).

What is 996?
A “996” work schedule refers to an unofficial work schedule (9 a.m.–9 p.m., 6 days per week) that has been gaining popularity. Serving a company that encourages the “996” work schedule usually means working for at least 60 hours per week. Visit 996 working hour system on Wikipedia for more details.

GitHub and Microsoft works support the 996.ICU initiative, as well as many other companies and teams.

Why the World Only Has Two Words For Tea

Slashdot has an interesting story of why there are only two variations of the word tea in the majority of languages:

With a few minor exceptions, there are really only two ways to say “tea” in the world. One is like the English term — te in Spanish and tee in Afrikaans are two examples. The other is some variation of cha, like chay in Hindi. Both versions come from China. How they spread around the world offers a clear picture of how globalization worked before “globalization” was a term anybody used. The words that sound like “cha” spread across land, along the Silk Road. The “tea”-like phrasings spread over water, by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe.

The term cha is “Sinitic,” meaning it is common to many varieties of Chinese. It began in China and made its way through central Asia, eventually becoming “chay” in Persian. That is no doubt due to the trade routes of the Silk Road, along which, according to a recent discovery, tea was traded over 2,000 years ago. This form spread beyond Persia, becoming chay in Urdu, shay in Arabic, and chay in Russian, among others. It even it made its way to sub-Saharan Africa, where it became chai in Swahili. The Japanese and Korean terms for tea are also based on the Chinese cha, though those languages likely adopted the word even before its westward spread into Persian. But that doesn’t account for “tea.” The te form used in coastal-Chinese languages spread to Europe via the Dutch, who became the primary traders of tea between Europe and Asia in the 17th century, as explained in the World Atlas of Language Structures. The main Dutch ports in east Asia were in Fujian and Taiwan, both places where people used the te pronunciation. The Dutch East India Company’s expansive tea importation into Europe gave us the French the, the German Tee, and the English tea.

This reminds me of this old post about how most languages, apart from English, use “ananas” as a word for pineapple.

Cheerleaders for techies in China

china cheerleaders

Here is something you don’t read every day:

Internet companies across China are embracing programming cheerleaders, pretty, talented girls that help create a fun work environment. Their job includes buying programmers breakfast, chitchatting and playing ping-pong with them.

According to the HR manager of an Internet company that hired three such cheerleaders, its programmers are mostly male and terrible at socializing, and the presence of these girls have greatly improved their job efficiency and motivation.

Time in China

Time in China follows a single standard time of UTC+08:00, which is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. China geographically spans five time zones and there were five time zones in use during the Republic of China (1912–1949). Since 1949 all of China has only had a single standard time, but UTC+06:00 is also used unofficially in Xinjiang and Tibet.