Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Electorial College


Have you ever wondered why the US has an electoral college?

Here is one reason.

Just for reference - Guam (Where I live) is a small island in the middle of the Pacific with a total of 212 Square miles so the 255 approximate square miles that make up four of the five counties of NYC that Mrs Clinton won are only about 35 to 45 square miles larger than Guam though the population here is only about 170,000 and NYC has a population of millions.


There are 3,141 counties in the United States.

Mr. Trump won 3,084 of them; Clinton won 57.

There are 62 counties in New York State and Mr Trump won 46 of them; Clinton won 16. We will look only at 4 of the 5 heavily populated counties in and around NYC. This was one of the states she did better and represents about 28% of the counties she won.

Ignoring the voter fraud which which is always committed by democrats and assume that every vote was honest with no votes by dead people, illegal aliens and that nobody voted more than once and accept the claim that Mrs Clinton won the popular vote by just over 1.5 million votes. She received well over 2 million more votes than Mr Trump in just the 5 counties that make up NYC. (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Richmond & Queens. Clinton won only 4 of these counties; Trump won Richmond.) Therefore, these 4 counties alone more than accounted for Mrs Clinton's edge in the popular vote in the nation at large.

These 5 counties occupy about 319 square miles, if you subtract Richmond which Mr Trump won you get about 255 square miles. This is a tiny area, not much larger than Guam, when you consider that the United States covers almost 3.8 million square miles.

When you have a country of almost 4 million square miles it would be manifestly unjust to even suggest that the vote of those who inhabit a mere 255 square miles should dictate the outcome of a national election and its effect on the rest of the country. I think that NYC actually needs the rest of country far more than the rest of the country needs NYC.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Trumpgiving

I have read several of these the past few days and they are all wrong. (At least in my opinion) This one is giving advice to conservatives talking to leftist family members and is a little more sane but is still wrong and the ones dealing with the leftist college student going home to Trump supporting family are just a bit to histrionic. So in an attempt to set the record straight let me make a few suggestions for the special snowflake, SJW going home for Trumpgiving.

1. Be gracious. Many of the articles like this I've read start off with a person saying something like; "How can I sit there in a room when I know that they voted for such and evil man? Why are my family such bigots? I'm ashamed of them. I just wish I didn't have to go!" Two things. One you are proving you are not as multicultural as you think you are. If all cultures are equal and should be celebrated then you should accept your relatives point of view and enjoy the meal. Just don't talk about politics. If someone ask simply say "I don't want to talk about it today." Two, the family members probably feel the same way about your politics as you do theirs. They still invited you. Ipso facto they are exhibiting more tolerance to your views than you are to theirs since they want you there and are you are wishing you didn't have to go. So buck up buttercup! Graciousness goes along way.

2. Remember Godwin's Law: "The first person to call the other a NAZI or racist loses the argument. Really, your family, unless they are way, way, way out there harbor no ill feeling for people with different skin pigmentation. They probably want everyone to do well and wouldn't mind them living next door so long as they keep the lawn mowed and don't throw parties more than once a year or so. Trying to make arcane and ultimately, nonsensical (At least to them) arguments about "White Privilege" or "Structural Racism" are both inflammatory and insulting to people that actually remember the bad old days of Jim Crow and lynchings. To have a 2nd year college student (Or even a grad student) tell them that they need to feel guilty for being Caucasian or middle class is simply insulting. Bite your tongue or better yet read some real history and admit how far the US has come in race relations.

3. Learn a little humility. Realize that you may be wrong about some things. You don't have all the answers any more than your family does.

4. Be Honest with Yourself. Realize that Mrs Clinton was a horribly flawed candidate in many ways. Admit you see her short comings. She was a candidate that has been hounded by at least 15 scandal since the 1970's. These were not simply creations of some vast right wing conspiracy. If you are honest you will realize that you supported Mrs Clinton IN SPITE of her flaws which are easily as great as Mr Trump's because of the platform she espoused. You should give your family the same right a flawed candidate because of the platform.

5. Understand that the democrats have nobody to blame for Mr Trump than themselves. My figures may be slightly off as some states have just gotten their final vote tally but basically Mr Trump received about 750,000 fewer votes on average than either John McCain or Mitt Romney. Mrs Clinton received about 8 million fewer votes than Mr. Obama did on average. If democrats had turned out then Mrs Clinton would have won. This gets back to flawed candidate mentioned above. There were a large number of people that didn't vote for either person.

6. Educate your self a bit. There have been a lot of fake stories about Mr Trump carried in news sources. Look at what he actually says NOT what has been reported he said. Often times it is quite different. He isn't quite the monster the Clinton favoring media makes him out to be. This sort of gets back to #3 but is more insidious in that you need to realize that the media was lying to you. For example; the violence at Trumps rally was almost always instigated by protesters not his supporters. We KNOW because of the Wikileaks data dumps that many of the protesters were paid by the Clinton campaign. A man was fired over this. Trump's supporters are not violent. They have generally been the victims of violence.

7. Practice what you preach. This is a biggie. I get really upset with people that make all sorts of false claims about what I am or believe based upon some form of political or sociological theory that has NO BASIS in the actual events or activities in my life. Let me give you an example that, honestly I don't like to talk about. My wife and I support 15 children through various charities that feed, cloth, house and provide education for underprivileged children from all over the world; none of them, incidentally Caucasian. If everyone who voted for Hillary Clinton did 1/2 that there there would be no starvation in the world. In fact if everyone that voted for Hillary Clinton supported just one child faithfully and steadfastly for years then no child would ever die of starvation. It is easy to go to a protest. It is easy to ride your fake moral high horse and say how much you care or how you've set aside your privilege. It is easy to spew blanket condemnations about those evil "conservatives" It is easy to agitate for governments to do more (Especially when you don't pay any taxes yourself) It is easy to ignore the fact that on average conservatives donate more of their income as both a percentage and total amount than people on the political left. It is easy to say the rich don't pay enough. If you want me to take your Social Justice Ware buffoonery seriously then put down the protest sign and start donating to charities. Put your money where your biog fat mouth is. When you, who are so concerned match the 25% of our income that my wife and I give to charities rather than the (Statistically speaking less than 2% given by leftist ideologues) then we'll have a conversation my bigotry, racism or whatever. Until that time if you are at my table then keep your politics to yourself. And, just to let you know, we've been doing this since we were first married and made $1000.00 a month or less.

8. Relax a bit. Remember that the government is a huge bureaucratic machine. It takes years and years to really change anything and nothing that is done or undone cannot be corrected at a later date.


Dear conservative reader, I'm sorry about Thanksgiving 2013. I got carried away. The Obama administration and seemingly every liberal website were putting out…
washingtonexaminer.com

Deck The Walls - A Christmas carol for the Tropics

This Years Tropical Christmas Carol

Deck the Walls
Deck the walls with fronds of palm trees,
Fa,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la

At the beach, we get our jollies,
Fa,la la la la la la la la

Don we now our swim apparel,
Fa la la la la la la la, la,la!

Fill the plastic beverage cooler,
Fa, la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la!

See the blazing grill before us,
Fa la la la la la la la la, la!

Strike the match and light the charcoal,
Fa la la la la la la la, la, la!

Follow me in snorkeling pleasure,
Fa la la la la la la la la la la!

While I tell tales of pirate’s treasure,
Fa la la la la la la la la la la!

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la la la la la la la!

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la la la la la la la!

Sing we joyous all together!
Fa la la la la la la la la la la la!

Enjoy the tropical wind and weather,
Fa la la la la la la la la la la!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The disturbing number of apparent pedophiles surrounding Hillary Clinton

I know that some of my friends & readers don't like me talking about this but they are actually the ones that need to read it. This is a bunch of really weird stuff. It could all be a series of unconnected coincidences but I don't know how to even begin to figure those odds. At some point those that call themselves progressives need to really look at the people their leaders hang out with and ask themselves if they are comfortable with the friends of those they support?

What isn't proven in this blog, at least not in this post, is that John Podesta and Hillary Clinton are actual pedophiles but I think this shows pretty conclusively that they are associated with people who appear to be pedophiles.

Imagine if Jeff Sessions were linked to these people. The media wouldn't have to dig up a quote from 30 years ago to slander him with.

Imagine if Donald Trump, who is reputed to have a taste for junk food, just bought a pizza at one of these places? He'd be crucified.

This is either a great example of citizen journalism doing what the main stream media won't or people who've bought too aluminum foil that they made into hats. I'll let you decide which.

Pizza Gate

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ubuntu and my rebellion against MicroSoft

I am in day three or four since switching from Windows to Linux after the Microsoft update fried the hard drive in my aging computer. I’ve now used the Ubuntu 16.04 operating system enough to have some non-knee jerk reactions that I thought I’d pass on.
The good
1. Stability: The Ubuntu version 16.04 that I am using seems to be stable and boots up just fine. It seems to boot a lot faster than Window.
2. Cost: You can download Ubuntu for free but the download site does a only slightly pushy job of asking for a $25.00 donation. Since Windows 10 is about ten times that much that’s fine.
3. Complete system: The download came with Firefox and Libra Office (Open Office) that includes a word processor, a spreadsheet and various other programs so you have information processing ability right off the bat. I’ve actually used Open Office for many years, in fact I typed the PhD dissertation on Open Office and it is my favorite word processor. Microsoft Excel is a better spread sheet but if you are just typing Open Office does everything you need. I can confidently say that there is almost nothing MS Office can do that Open Office can’t. Open Office will open Microsoft documents without any problem so there is really no reason to to use MS Office in a home environment. Open Office formatting and options like footnotes and line spacing are done a little differently but not so much so that you’ll have a hard time figuring it out. Given that Windows 10 here on Guam is $269.00 and Micro-Soft Office is another $250.00 or so this is a pretty big deal. Running Ubuntu with Open Office will save enough money to almost pay for the cost of a new computer if you don’t need a new monitor or fancy gaming machine.
4. Easy to install: I downloaded Ubuntu on my laptop and transferred it to a CD and it installed itself without a hitch. Just make sure you get the proper version for the machine you are installing too. The only issue was that I clicked the wrong option. I wanted to install the dual boot option so I could use a Windows XP or Windows 7 to run some games. Instead I got straight Linux. But, like I said that’s my fault. The option was there I just selected the wrong one. If I want I can probably go back and reinstall with the proper option or create a virtual Windows machine.
5. You don’t need antivirus software. There is anti virus available for it but it really isn’t needed
6. I’ve had no problems with connecting to the Internet, video settings or sound. I can watch ML Baseball games, and TV shows on Amazon Prime and Netflix as well as You Tube video with no problem.
7. My portable HD and Thumb Drives work as expected with no problems
How Does Ubuntu look and work?
1. The basic screen is a purple to orange fade. It is neither more or less attractive than the Windows blue background but it definitely has a different visual ambiance. When you look at the screen you know right away this is not a machine running windows. Other than that there are a few differences that you need to be aware of.
2.There is no “Start” button” at the bottom left. There is one but it is a tiny round wheel looking thing in the top right corner. You can turn the machine on and off there and click on various functions.
3. There is no “System Tray” at the bottom right. Instead some of those features are placed just to the left of the start button at the top right.
4. In Microsoft systems you have “close” “diminish” and “full screen” buttons at the Top right. Ubuntu places these at the top left but they are sometimes hidden by text until you mouse over them This was sort of frustrating because it took a while to figure out how to close programs.
5. There is a stack of icons along the left edge of the screen that functions like the start menu at the bottom of a a Windows system. Due to the propitiatory nature of computer operating systems these often have different names than the equivalent Windows operation but they are pretty easy to figure out This stack is a lot easier to manage than the buttons at the bottom of a Windows system and you can easily add or remove buttons
The Problematic
1. Compatibility: Because it dominates the market there are just a bunch more programs available for Windows machines. If all you want to do is type, cruise the Internet and watch video then Ubuntu does just great. But like all Linux systems it fails miserably if you want or need to install a program that was not written for it and that does not exist in a Linux format. There is a Linux program called “WINE” that helps with this some but it mainly works on productivity programs. It hasn’t worked on any of my old games. The only real answer to this problem is to have either a dual boot system so that you can use either a LINUX or Windows system or run a virtual Windows station inside LINUX. To me these solutions kind of defeat the purpose of having a non Windows machine. However, if you don’t need a proprietary windows program the issue doesn’t come up. I, being a rather dedicated gamer have been unable to play any of my games on the main computer and have to use the aging laptop instead. I can access Steam from Ubuntu but because my account is setup as a Microsoft PC account I can’t install any of the games I’ve purchased through Steam.
2. Installing programs. In both MicroSoft and Apple products if you want to install a program you insert the CD or click “Install” after it downloads. That is sometimes the case in LINUX but you often find yourself having to type long strings of command lines that are case and space sensitive. This can be really frustrating and is something I haven’t had to do since the days of the Commodore 64. If you are not comfortable typing something like: sudo apt-get VmX-Positive-Video-Control:ppa essential-build-Kernal.01.06.008* -y then maybe Ubuntu is not for you. An example of what I mean is using Netflix. Netflix won’t work on Firefox using Ubuntu because it requires the MicoSoft “Silverlight” plug in which is not compatible with FireFox in LINUX. In order to make it work you have to download a LINUX equivalent called “Pipelight” and spend 20 minutes carefully typing out command lines to solve the problem. In this case there is a simpler work around – use the Google Chrome browser. (I discovered this after fiddling around trying to get Pipelight to work.)
3. File structure: If you are used to working with Windows then you are used to the various named drives on your computer. LINUX has no “C:” drive or any other named drive. A lot of LINUX devotees seem to think this is a good thing but I do not. Having discrete, named drives or partitions on a hard drive is a true aid in organizing data. If you store data on CD’s or thumb drives make good and sure you have those disc and drives named because it makes them easier to see when you need to access information from them or to save to them.
Conclusion
There is a secular proverb; You get what you pay for. Ubuntu is not as easy to use and runs far fewer programs than Windows or Apple machines. It is also exponentially cheaper, in fact sine you can down load it for free it is infinity cheaper. If all you are doing is email, typing and reading or watching things on the Internet Ubuntu is a great choice. If you want to play a MMORP game like World of War Craft or Uncharted Waters Online you may be in trouble. (If you want to keep your kids from playing those games then you should already be using Ubuntu.) It isn’t a perfect system but it is very usable.
A good way to try Ubuntu would be to load it onto an old computer that you don't use much. Because it takes up less memory than Windows 10 it will work just fine on an older machine. This would let you play around with the system in a real electronic environment without making a huge commitment. Ubuntu has an option boot off a CD which also might be useful but I find that using the program loaded on a an actual HD is a better way to evaluate it. I can see using this system for a low cost homework computer in a child's room because they'd have a difficult time loading programs that parents might not want their kids accessing.
I still haven't decided if I will continue to use it but I'm glad I tried it.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Linux using Blogger

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

I just lost my country

A hypothetical situation.

I am driving my Mazda CX-5, listening to Bob Dylan really loud, singing along, with my eyes closed and not paying attention. My speed creeps up from the Guam limit of 35 mph to 65 mph. I don't see a school zone (because my eyes are closed) and I run over seven little kids killing six of them and crippling the seventh for life. I then fail to stop and continue on home dragging the body of one of the dead brats under my car for three or four miles. Can I now avoid prosecution for speeding, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, manslaughter and possibly murder by claiming there was no intent to break the law? If so I can thank Mr Comey the FBI director because this the excuse he just gave Hillary Clinton and set it as a precedent in US law.

Ignorance of the law has never been a defense in breaking the law. Neither has a lack of intent to break the law been a defense in avoiding prosecution. In the vast majority of reckless driving cases I would imagine the bad driver will claim "I never meant to hurt anyone!" and it is probably a true statement but they go to jail anyway. Well not anymore baby, not any more!
Hillary Clinton broke up to 14 Federal laws, multiple times. She is the most corrupt and venal politician in the history of the United States. She makes Richard Nixon look like a Saint. She makes Bernie Madoff look like a Saint. In fact she makes Donald Trump (as flawed as he is) look like a Saint.

If she is not prosecuted because the FBI could not find "Intent" then I should not be prosecuted for running down seven children in my SUV as per the hypothetical situation above provided I claim I had no intent to break the law.

Using Wittgensteinian logic we can see that my hypothetical crime and Hillary Clinton's actual crimes are exactly the same thing (Notice the FBI did not say no laws were broken but rather there was no intent.) If one is prosecuted the other should be too and if one is excused then the other should be too. This is true regardless of your political affiliation.

Either the rule of law has just been perverted though political corruption or there are two sets of laws, one for most people and another for high level politicians. Neither of these is a good thing.

If you disagree with my conclusion you are a fool or a fascist. The rule of law has just been destroyed in the US by the FBI. If you support Hillary Clinton you are supporting fascism and tyranny.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Guam too Long Test

Take this simple test to determine if you've been on Guam too long

1. What do you think is the purpose of a trip to the world's largest K-Mart on Thursday?
a. An errand to see what is on sale
b. The social highlight of the week

2. What do you think is an appropriate speed limit on a highway?
a. 55 to 75 mph
b. 35 mph but occasionally 45

3. What do you call a stray dog?
a. A stray dog
b. A boonie dog

4. What do you think  about nepotism in government?
a. It is a serious crime
b.It is something that is cured by a vaccination

5. What is a Tang-Tang?
a. A cocktail made from powdered orange juice, vodka and club soda.
b. A small, ugly tree that looks like a mimosa but can't be killed

6. What are poinsettias?
a. A decorative plant at Christmas
b. A noxious weed that grows in your yard

7. What do you think about a daily commute to work of 15 miles?
a. A short commute
b A really long way to go

8. What do you think going to the beach is?
a. A fun family outing
b. What you do when you don't have anything else to do

9. What are the things you look for when house hunting?
a. Curb appeal, floorspace, number of bathrooms and number of bedrooms
b. A concrete roof and a house that is flood, earthquake and tsunami proof

10. What are fruit trees?
a. A desirable addition to your yard
b. a nuisance that make the grass hard to mow

11. What would your reaction be if you received directions to: “go to the overpass and turn right”?
a. Ask "What overpass?"
b. Say “Oh, OK” because there is only one overpass on the island

12. How long does rush hour traffic last?
a. At least an hour probably two or three
b. 15 to 30 minutes

13. Which of these is more likely to break the windshield of your automobile?
a. An errant baseball from a pickup game being played by neighborhood boys
b. A falling coconut

14. What is your response if a checkout clerk at the grocery store says “Half a Day”?
a. You think she is commenting on her work schedule
b. You realize that the word “Hafadai” is hello in Chamorro.

15. What is a “Gwa-ee-ick”?
a. You have no idea
b. A gecko

How to score the test
If you answered “A” to 12 or more of these you are a normal person

If you answered “A” to 7 or 8 of these you have probably lived on Guam but are still a normal person.

If you answered "A" to 5 or 6 of these you have been on Guam a long time

If you answered “A” to 3 or less of these you you need to stay on Guam because people in other places will laugh at you and call you a freak

If you answered “B” to all 15 questions you are probably really angry with me at this time

Until Next Time
Fai Mao

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Horror of Christmas (A sermon preached to myself)



This is the season for endless warm and fuzzy Hallmark channel movies about Christmas. You know the ones that star Dean Cain, Richard Thomas or even occasionally Tom Arnold. My wife really likes these type things and so I sit there and watch. Occasionally these movies surprise me; and we’ve seen a few that are pretty good but mostly I watch them because my wife wants to and so I do my best to enjoy them. Occasionally we run across one that is interesting such as “The Christmas Box” but generally I enjoy them because Kim does and I enjoy sitting with her. Most of these movies can be subdivided into two broad groups. There are the slightly more risqué remakes of “A Miracle of 34th Street” and the often bizarrely reimaging of the Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Christmas Carol."

The ones that really bother me are the Miracle of 34th Street remakes. These often try to deify Santa Clause for adults and just drive me nuts. I am not talking about movies like “The Santa Clause” 1,2 or 3 with Tim Allen that are obvious slapstick comedies but the sort of “Sleepless in Seattle meets Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” kind of thing. The plot is always the same; an incognito Santa gets stuck in Miami, Omaha or Seattle and loses his magic only to regain it just in time with the help of a hot divorcee with two kids. There is always an evil boss who wants the hot divorcee to work on Christmas day for free. Often there is a miserly landlord or grumpy parent involved somehow. The movie has to include a hopeless choice of either paying the rent or not having money for the new X-box 36000-b49 video game system with a 60 inch flat screen that her two somewhat rebellious but actually very loving, non-materialist despite their Christmas toy list children really want for Christmas. Most of the time there is an unrecognized boyfriend who is a sympathetic lawyer/doctor/auto mechanic/Plumber that lives next door or works with the hot divorcee but can’t tell her of his love because of some silly reason that is only there to move the plot, what little plot there is, forward. Occasionally the potential boyfriend is Santa himself who is town wife hunting though why a woman would want to marry an overweight old man who never shaves, always wears the same clothes and only works a couple of days a year is beyond me.  After about 15 minutes of watching one of these is it any wonder I am dreaming of reruns of Magnum P.I., the Rockford Files or Mission Impossible?

Other than the Santa’s miracle movies a lot of the others are remakes of the Charles Dickens novel, “A Christmas Carol” Often I find these to be at least entertaining from a literary point of view because I can sort of snicker at the lack of creativity, and marvel at the lengths to which the famous story can be stretched at the same time. After watching one of these the other night did something strange, I picked up a copy “A Christmas Carol” and reread it. I read it as a child and due to the many movie adaptations I know the story well but I had never read it as an adult. I do not think that I understood the story as a child because; before I read the book I had seen the movie. I knew how it ended.  It is important, I think when reading a story the first time to not know the ending. So, when I read the story as a child, after seeing the movie with George C. Scott as Scrooge, I missed the point. “A Christmas Carol” is a horror story. We view it as a happy tale because we know the ending but imagine the emotions, the reaction of the original readers in Victorian England.  The book is frightening. This is both figuratively and literally a dark tale. The whole of the story until the very end is set at night. Scrooge lived in darkness because as he himself put it “darkness is cheap”. He kept his offices barely lit and barely warm and he lived in a dark, cold house. I missed the obvious metaphor as a child. Scrooge’s physical environment mimicked his spiritual condition. He liked it dark. It allowed him to not look at himself.

The movies seem to always focus on the ghost that came after Marley but to me Marley is the scary one because is the only one that that was human. He is also the one that Scrooge argues with. Notice that Scrooge, at first refuses believe in the supernatural. He tells Marley “You may be a bit of undigested beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than the grave about you.” This is Scrooge the scientist, the materialist, the modern man speaking. Denying the existence of an afterlife is the first defense of sinners. It is only when the ghost of Marley “raised a frightful cry” that Scrooge fell to his knees in belief by saying; “Mercy! Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?” There is a useful lesson here that is hard to learn. Often times those who live in willful sin are beyond the reason of kind words and gentle reprimands. In fact, they may be beyond the reach mortal help. Marley was only just able to do it from beyond the grave. We are all, all of us, to some degree Scrooge. We live in denial of our sin. We want to be in the dark where we don’t have to look at it.  We need to confront our sin and need of salvation before it is too late for us to emotionally do so.

But, like Scrooge who answered to his dead partners name and kept his name on the door we are also Marley. Year by year we forge our spiritual chains. Link by link our chain grows longer binding us to an eternal Hell both on Earth and after death so we like Marley can say; “I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” The horrible thing about Marley’s statement is that he isn’t being punished by God. He took up his punishment of his own free will. He didn’t get what he deserved, he got what he wanted. God didn’t condemn Marley, not at all. Marley got what he wanted and that adds a deeper meaning to the old proverb; “Be careful what you wish for.”

As I thought about these things I was struck by the fact that in many ways the story of the first Christmas is a horror story as well. We know the story well and thus know the ending but none of the original cast of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, magi or King Herod did. Think about them a minute, from their perspective and from the culture they lived in.

Think about Mary who became pregnant without being married. This was a capital offense in Judea even if the punishment was not often carried out. At the very least she could have been relegated to the life of a prostitute or possibly a servant in wealthy family’s house. This was a scary moment for her. Imagine living in that culture and telling your parents you were visited by an angel who informed you that you were going to become pregnant by God; would you believe your daughter if she told you a tale like that? How scary was this for her parents?

Think of Joseph and the indignity, the gossip, the snide comments, perhaps the lost business he must have endured. We are then slightly misled by the King James translation because at this time there was no such thing as a hotel, or inn. When Joseph took his heavily pregnant wife to Bethlehem for the census he would have stayed with relatives because that is what people did at that time. He and Mary were refused the hospitality to stay in the house, possibly because they knew he had moved up his wedding date because Mary was pregnant. Joseph and Mary were rejected by his family. How horrible! Joseph was a good man who compassionately married his fiancée even though she was carrying a baby that was not his and was ostracized by his extended family.  I guess that Scrooge had some relatives in the linage of David who would have said; “Are there no prisons or work houses they can go to?”

Think of the shepherds in the fields. Here it is not so much the translations of the New Testament that fails us connotatively as it is the depiction of angels by Baroque and Renaissance artist who emasculate them by turning them into fluffy little cupid’s. When we read “They were sore afraid!” a better colloquial translation would be; “They were so scared they peed their pants.” They were so scared that the angel had to comfort them and tell them they were not about to be punished or killed. Their reaction was the same Scrooge’s when Marley’s ghost began to wail and rattle his chains.  

Think of the magi. Imagine traveling all that way with those gifts at that time. What a frightening, horrific trip that would have been. Bandits roamed the trade routes. Getting lost was always possible in a time with poor maps and long distances between towns. The trip to see Jesus was a scary, perilous one.

Think even of Herod. How frightening must the magi’s message have been to him? He was so frightened he had all the children below a certain age killed in a particular town to prevent a challenge to his throne.

Think of the families of the children Herod killed. What a gruesome tale.
Think of the way Joseph and Mary had to flee with the baby Jesus to Egypt. How hard would it have been for Jews from rural Palestine to live in urban Alexandria?

Through all of this Joseph and Mary were not forgotten by God. Just as Scrooge is confronted by his nephew in the first pages of the Charles Dickens story we see the hand of God throughout the Christmas story protecting and shielding, aiding and strengthening.
We see the compassion of Joseph who listened to the angel in his dream and married Mary. In doing so he preserved her reputation and gave her standing in the society. He may also, as said above have saved her life. Joseph for his part received assurance from God that he was doing the right thing.

Perhaps to help her parents and family deal with the situation Mary left Nazareth and went to stay at her much older cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant with the child that would become John the Baptist. The NIV describes what happened when Mary entered Elizabeth’s’ house this way in the Gospel of Luke 1:39-43; “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Can you imagine the encouragement that must have been for Mary?

At every step in the horrific events leading to that first Christmas God provided hope, salvation and refuge. It may not have been what any of the people involved thought would happen but God was not going to let his plan be derailed by an overly moralistic society, unsympathetic relatives, cowardly shepherds or a psychotic king;  though all of this horror was born the hope of world, the Prince of Peace.

Think about the previous year. What have you gone through? You have a choice. You can like Scooge and Marley choose to live in the dark and cold so as to close out the unpleasantness or you can let God reveal the Prince of Peace in your life.       

Monday, June 09, 2014

How not to do something; or education should not involve misleading students

This image has been a prominent post on several Chinese social media sites for the last several days. I don't actually know if this really happened or not. What is disconcerting is that the education establishment in Hong Kong is screwy enough that something like this is believable.

Without looking at the corrected, second  image below can you answer this question in 20 seconds or less?




I understand the need for standards in education. I understand the desire of parents and schools for their children to receive a quality education. I also have, evidently unlike a lot of the principals or troglocrats in the EMB some training in pedagogy. The problem is that this is a logical reasoning and spacial location question where the picture is upside down. It isn't a counting problem but one which requires thinking skills beyond the level of most 5 year-olds.

When you turn the question over it makes sense as a question about counting


If you want to see if a 5 year-old child can count to 100 you don't ask question with the data upside down and backwards. It doesn't matter how much time they have to answer the question unless you are teaching children to read numbers that are backwards and upside down. This question was inappropriate because if you look at the research on brain development you'd know that children do not develop the ability to think abstractly until about age 11 - 13 so this question would be almost impossible for a 5 year-old to answer.  The area of the brain that thinks abstractly is not functioning yet in a child that young.  

I worked in Hong Kong schools for many years and was constantly frustrated with people setting test questions that looked like this.  They want to make sure that they get children that are intellectually gifted, or they think this sort of stuff shows how academically rigorous the curriculum is in that school. What it really shows is that they don't know what they are doing. The issue should be does the child have the basic skills needed for the grade level not can the test setter trick the children with with tricky questions beyond the child's' ability to comprehend.
 
Worse the question itself is dishonest.  To simply ask "What parking spot # is the car parked in?" implies that the information viewed is essentially correct and misleads students into not looking for problems in the presentation.  If this had appeared as a logical reasoning question in a test for an older child it might serve some value, assuming the question was rephrased to something like;  "There is a problem with the picture below. In order to identify the space the automobile is parked in you must first identify that problem. What is the problem and what is the number of the space the car is parked in?" For questions like this to have any meaning the person setting the test needs to inform the test taker that there is a problem with the question and that figuring out that problem is part of the answer.


Notice, I haven't even complained about the poor grammar in the question. It should have the word "number" spelled out and not use the "#" symbol. But that is a minor issue compared to the other things wrong with this question.

If this was really a question  on an entrance exam for a 1st grade place in a HK school then the person who set that test is little better than a pedophile because they are not testing the ability to count but simply torturing little kids for the fun of it. 

I hope that this is actually some sort of joke that didn't really happen.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The blogger with some training in pedagogy  


Monday, June 02, 2014

Leaving Hong Kong

It is funny how things work out sometimes. 

In January of 2012 I took what I thought would be a single contract with the University of Guam. I had been in Hong Kong since 1997 and it was home and I planned to return there. The contract with the UOG was an opportunity for me to more from secondary to tertiary education and I had hoped to be able to return to Hong Kong in three years with a job in one of the universities located in the Pearl of the Orient. I have lived in Hong Kong for almost 1/3 of my life, and it is and probably always will be my home town.

When I left for Guam I sort of put this blog on hold as I viewed my time here as a temporary interlude, a three year working vacation. I was also somewhat tired of the blog. It seemed that despite my best efforts most of the post had been revolving around local Hong Kong politics and I didn't like that. Politics tends to make me angry and I don't really like myself when I am angry. So I needed a break


But things change. The US changed its tax laws so that it is more difficult for US citizens to live over seas. I did well in the job here. I also realized I am old enough to slow down. So here I am three years later about to sign a second contract.  The really pretty-looks 35 years younger than she is-super intelligent- funny- caring-Chinese wife and I just purchased a nearly 1600 square foot house near the UOG. It needs renovation and like most of the typhoon & Earthquake resistant architecture here looks like a machine-gun bunker on the outside with the concrete walls and flat concrete roof. I don't know that we will be here 20 years but I think we will be here a while


Guam is an interesting place. It is sort of like the US 40 years ago only poorer and more Catholic. Sort of like South Texas or Southern California but with less crime. The tourist side of the island pretty and green but the area around the university is rather run-down and dilapidated. Guam is small, about the size of Hong Kong Island but far flatter so lots more useable land and with only 140,000 or so people far less crowed. With only the crudest mass transit you have to have an automobile here. Guam is, compared to many places in the US rather expensive. For instance, we could have gotten a similar house to the one we bought here in Houston for maybe 1/3 as much. Alternately this house would have several orders of magnitude more in Hong Kong

Guam is not a place we probably would have chosen to live for a variety of reasons but here we are.  It is too far away from both my family in West Texas and our daughters' family in the UK. Most things are expensive here. Hong Kong has a much greater variety of foods at far lower prices, especially fruits and vegetables available than Guam every could.

So why stay here? Well, inertia is part of it. It is easier to stay than move and here we are. It is also a good place to transition back to a US that has changed beyond recognition since I left in the mid 1990's. I can't really go back to North Texas or Alabama. Those places have changed so much since I left that I would be an alien in the place I used to live. Better to be an alien in an unfamiliar place. Guam is also close enough to Hong Kong that friends and family there can visit without a huge expense in either money or time. It is only a 5 or 6 hour flight so week-end visits are easy enough. 

Despite all of the issues with Guam I am enjoying painting the spare bedrooms, mowing the yard and planning the renovations for the house. Having banana, mango and macadamia nut trees in the yard is nice. Being able to fish on the weekends is nice. Not having to deal with the Hong Kong air-pollution is really good.

When I was a child I once heard a man, I can't remember who, say; "Everyplace, if it is a free society  is a good place to live but maybe not good in the way you are used to." I think whoever that was that said that was probably a pretty wise person. There are lots of good things about Hong Kong. There are lots of good things about Guam too.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The blogger who used to be from Hong KOng  

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Three Stooges


The blogger Burt Prelutsky recently wrote “Every day in just about every way, the world keeps getting spookier. Not necessarily in a Stephen King/Dean Koontz kind of spooky way, but more in a Three Stooges nonsensical sort of way.[i]  Perhaps it is just that in modern places like Hong Kong we are increasingly reliant upon technology that we don’t really understand or perhaps it has always been that way and we were too young, unobservant or busy to notice. It might even be a combination of the two.

A last option, one less comfortable to think about is that it isn’t the world that is becoming nonsensical but us.

Upon reflection it seems that the world has always been pretty much what it is. Rocks and trees and birds and bees and the whole mélange[ii]  that comprise nature seem to be pretty much the same as they’ve always been, at least in the last million years or so. Maybe it is people that have changed since I was a child.  The nonsensical thing is we don’t look any different but we are different; though I am not sure we are better for the differences.

You do not have to be very old to remember people not needing to have security gates in front of their doors or alarms on their automobiles; many people can remember a time when manners were the normal mode of behavior. It wasn’t a simpler time, just less electronic. It wasn’t a more innocent time because we all, every one of us, were beset by the same temptations faced by people today. It was a time when the world made sense.  Some of this is just growing older because I think almost everyone looks back on their childhood or youth as a golden-age. But, there is more to it than that.  

Perhaps the world appears nonsensical to us because we engage in nonsense. The Three Stooges are funny precisely because they react to events in socially, psychologically and morally nonsensical ways. The eye-poke, the pie in the face the saw across the ears are only funny because as much as we might want to act at least occasionally by poking an eye or throwing a pie we don’t. Our laughter is a nervous, hand over the mouth laugh while looking to either side, hoping that nobody else knows what’s in our heart.

We have all felt the appeal of the criminal. We can all secretly agree with H.L Mencken who wrote that:"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats (iii)" 

The late Mark Heard put it less humorously  when he sang; 

"Now and then the criminal in my skin lets out a sigh
He'd like to think he's innocent
But he cannot tell a lie
Truth is like a knife
And I'm crying again (iv)"

We may not throw pies at people as retribution for insults real or imagined but we do, at least sometime really wish we could.  Worse we sometimes act on those dark thought if not completely. There is a pirate in everyman desperately looking for his pistol, cutlass and parrot.  Most of the time we seek to repress these alter-egos. We all, everyone of us want to believe we are good people but, our deeds and motives betray. Deep down we are all crying not again but continually.

This is, I believe the actual font of what we perceive as a nonsensical world. We see the good, we do not do it; sometimes even when we want to. We desperately want to be good people even if we don't believe in absolute good. What we are left with is not so much moral relativism as  moral comparisonism. We know our flaws but at least we we are better than "X" or don't do "Y" or we tell ourselves that our intentions are good and hope that is enough. At the minimum we can say "I followed the rules."

When we cheat, just a little; when we get ahead by moral sleight of hand we have shown why we need the ethics and morality we were taught as a child. It is morality, ethics and culture that allow us to see that the world makes sense.  When we deny the evil before our face we make the world a nonsensical place. Maybe, we don’t need to simplify our lives as the psychologist are so found of telling us so much as to reform our lives. Maybe we should remember words like dignity, respect, courtesy and manners. Maybe we should make a better effort to live ethically. Maybe we should examine how we treat each other.  Maybe in doing so we’d be able to make sense of it all. I doubt it would make life easier.


Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger will try not to poke you in the eyes like Moe



[i] http://www.burtprelutsky.com/2013/09/at-sea-in-leaky-rowboat.html
[ii] a mixture often of incongruous elements
iii http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/hlmencke109903.html 
(iv) http://mhlp.rru.com/crying_again.html