Monday, December 19, 2005
I think that most of the people in Hong Kong are glad they are gone. This conference cost the city 250 million Hong Kong Dollars in overtime, preparations and logistics not to mention lost sales and the trouble and danger to residents.
Sunday was a fairly quiet day as over 900 of the protesters were arrested on Saturday night and many others were injured and others were, I think scared off by the police response to their terrorism the night before. That was scary stuff. You'll see the "ATV" logo on the corner. They are my source for this.
Here is a link to some video It works for me I hope it works those not on my servers. This is right as the tear gas was launched.
At 7:10 PM after all protest were supposed to have been over by 3: the police announced that if the protesters did not disband they would place everyone under arrest. Locals were warned to leave as there were lots of idiots watching. I guess they thought it was going to be a typical non-violent HK protest. At about 7:30 they began firing tear gas and charged with batons. They loaded protesters into buses and took them to a special holding facility.
Of course there were the obligatory defenders who claimed "Brutality" because the HK police did not put up with the "I'm limp and you're going to have to drag me" nonsense. They simply slapped the baboons until they got up and walked.
Sunday was much more peaceful but about 1 in 15 of the protesters were either in jail or wounded so a lot of the trouble makers were gone.
interestingly enough, ATV interviewed several of the Korean farmers. They make over USD $50,000 a year. They claimed to work 365 days a year. (Begging the question then how were they here?) They also interviewed some muckity muck from Zimbabwe. He want instant access to all markets. I'd laugh at this evil fool if it were not so sad. Zimbabwe used to be a developed nation with a trade surplus until Robert Mugabe started murdering people. The poor are doing worse under a native dicrtator than they ever did under colonial powers.
I would have done a better job of reporting this if I hadn't had a cold.
Until Next Time
The Glad they are Gone Blogger
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I have some pictures that I will post soon.
The problem was made worse by silly HK locals who came to watch.
Friday, December 16, 2005
There was also some guy, I think he's Canadian, running around in chicken suit saying the WTO is worse than Bird flu.
You know, I think I liked these guys better when they were just violent thugs.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
There are writers such as David Marshall who write about the hidden hand of God in Chinese culture. His books are often insightful on many levels but the fact remains, if you didn’t grow up here, culture wise, China is a different planet from the Western world. But, one area where the cultures overlap is chestnuts. This traditional Christmas or winter snack is probably more popular in China than it is in North America. In China and also in Hong Kong and Taiwan you often find old men with a push cart fitted with a barrel of burning coal roasting chestnuts and selling them to any hungry passers by on chilly nights. I don’t really like chestnuts. There is something about the texture that feels wrong in my mouth. However, I always appreciate these street chestnut vendors.
Other hawkers selling cheap watches, clothing or tourist trinkets are more trouble than they are worth but the roasting chestnuts simply smell good. I guess it is like the roommate I used to have who loved the smell of coffee but didn’t drink it. The smell of roasting chestnuts provides a rich homey and wholesome smell in many Chinese cities that are in dire need of such smells.
Once you get beyond chestnuts Christmas in Hong Kong kind of defines the words: “Crass, Materialistic, Shallow, and Meaningless.” The lights of the buildings are a hodgepodge of Christmas New-Year and Chinese New Year. It doesn’t seem that it matters much what holiday is being celebrated as long as someone spends money on it.
And then, just when I’m not looking for it this billboard pops up in front of my bus.
(A picture will be inserted when I get my camera working again)
There are also double deck buses with a manger scene painted on the side and the words “Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas” sponsored by a shopping center in Mong Kok.
The last two years I’ve seen a choir singing carols in Chinese in front of the public library near where I live. I think they are from a Chinese language church but I really don't know who they are or why they choose that spot.
There is a manger scene and a church in the public square Christmas decorations in front of the Legislative Council building.
Maybe I’ve been too quick to judge Christmas in Hong Kong. Or, maybe David Marshall is onto something.
Until Next Time
The Its Beginning to look a Lot Like Christmas Blogger
I think the police were taken a bit by surprise yesterday because the day before they'd managed so well. I bet the Koreans try to escalate today and the police respond better. I really feel for the police. They are working 12 hour shifts and have to be ready all the time. The baboons can go and sleep and protest when they want. I would assume that by now they'd be tired. I would be.
I should also say that most of these people haven't been that violent. However, they have not condemned those that have either. The time or two that I've walked through Victoria Park this week I've not felt threatened and contrary to my fears they don't appear to have trashed the park, at least not yet. This is a real eclectic group and they seem to be protesting both sides of this issue.
Others appear to be simply what I would call political tourist. I think they show up at these things and protest for the fun of it. It probably doesn't matter what the issue is. It is enough that they feel morally superior for having protested.
One positive thing the protesters did yesterday was to protest at the EU and Japanese embassy's. At least they are not blaming the US for everything. If they really wanted to get smart they'd protest the New China News Agency which is the mainland's voice here and publisher of the propaganda rag "The China Daily." China has not only high trade tariffs but dumps products at below cost in third world nations to destroy local production and dominate the market. China also manipulates its currency so that it has a competitive advantage abroad. You want to protest unfair trade? Protest China.
Sorry no pictures today. The batteries on the camera were dead
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
The first picture is Victoria Park. While not as large Hyde Park or Central Park it is a real jewel. There is a 700 meter jogging trail, 4 playgrounds, a roller rink and incredibly beautiful landscaping. The protesters have pretty much taken it over. The tents you see are the booths the protesters setup for their "Cultural Fair." They are not normally there.
This is a picture of Hennesey Road taken from a 116 bus. You can see the leading edge of the protest coming up from the side street that was the designated as the protest route. The protesters didn't like this arrangement because they thought it didn't give them enough exposure. It also keeps them penned in between building that do not have any alleys. That makes it harder for them to riot because they can't get around the police. What is really interesting is the lack of traffic on Hennessey Road. These baboons have been a major source of economic distress to local merchants.
This is a picture of Sugar Street. If you look carefully you can see 20 to 25 police officers on this street. There are only about 20,000 protesters which is a small amount considering that Hong Kong had a protest last week that had nearly 300,000 locals. With 9000 police on duty the protesters are only able to gain a little better than 2 to 1 advantage and the Hong Kong police are pretty well trained and are required to be in good physical condition. Also, as mentioned above the routing keeps the protesters in a narrow front so that they cannot get around the police. BTW there were less than 100 police needed for the local protest with 300,000 people.
This is the 12 story Sogo Department store in Causeway Bay. It is kind of a Japanese version of Neiman Marcus and I've never seen them pull the rolling doors down while they were open before. They were searching everyone going into the store. They were also especially vigilant for shoplifting as these protesters have a have a history shop theft.
This is a crosswalk where I have to cross the street. If you look on the right you can see a police officer in dark blue kevlar jacket with his back to me. That is the front of the police cordon. The locals are just walking or in some cases jeering. This is not a very popular group.
This is the glass front of a large hotel. The man in distance is a plain clothed police officer who asked to see my ID.
They were measured, profesional and did their job well in a difficult situation. Good job!
I left work early yesterday to make sure I could get home. I ended up walking past the front of the protest and took some pictures.
I'll have more, and not very nice things to say about yesterday this afternoon. But the pictures are posted above.
Until Next Time
The Photo-journalist Blogger
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
There is a group of statues in Victoria park that were brought to Hong Kong by a Dutch artist.
They depict starving people in Africa. In sort of a shocking way, they are really quite good. He seems to be a nice guy and his English is actually quite good. (Please note I'm not reflexively critical of these people) He brought these statues from Denmark as part of the Anti-WTO protest.
There were two things that did bother m about this exhibit however.
He had problems setting the statues up because he didn't have insurance for them as he was required to have and should have known he needed. It seems to me that one should, when one is visiting a country be aware of the laws of that country and try to obey them. I cannot for the life of me see how it is unreasonable for the Hong Kong government to require him to have insurance for the statues. If he was going to bring them here he should have brought them here legally rather than having them delivered and then arguing.
If he is so concerned about about the starving in Africa why did he make artwork about it? Why doesn't he take the money invested in creating and shipping his statuary and donate it to a charity like World Vision and ask that it go to famine relief and anti-poverty programs in Africa? It would appear to me that for the cost of the statues and shipping he could have probably helped many.
Granted, I don't know anything about this guy's personal life. But, I bet he doesn't give a huge percentage of his income to charity. Instead he wants others to help those he is concerned about. I think he should spend less time trying to raise my awareness of the problem and more time trying to help those he is concerned about through direct action. Let me use Jane Goodall as an example. Suppose she'd made statues about chimps rather than living with them? Would she have raised awareness of the life and biology and behavior of chimps? Yes, but she accomplished more by moving to Africa and working with chimps.
Maybe this guy should give up his art and take up social work.
It is interesting that this guy is protesting for the relaxation of trade barriers and the Koreans and Japanese are protesting to keep them up. Yet both of these groups happily march, chant and riot together? Why? I would think that they would be fighting each other. There are only two possible reasons that I can think of that cause such disparate groups to work together when they want apparently different ends.
The first is that they are unaware of each others position. That seems somewhat unlikely considering that they broadcast their position with the help of bullhorns.
The second and I believe the correct answer, is that the protest against trade is a smokescreen. I believe that the real reason that international socialist groups protest the WTO is not trade practices but rather because they want to start the (In their minds) inevitable revolution of the proletariat to overthrow the oppressive Capitalist. If so, the issue wouldn't matter so long as the end is achieved.
It also apparently doesn't matter how many people get hurt along the way; how many lies they have to tell; how many must starve or how much misery they have to propagate or maintain.
There was a protest organizer on TV last night being interviewed by a Chinese language television station. He basically said that the protesters here want to be peaceful and not cause any trouble. However, he said if they are denied access to areas they want to protest in or continued to be harassed by the police that might change. I live right across the street from where these protest are being staged. I've not seen any harassment. I have seen the Hong Kong Police requiring the protesters to obey more or less the same laws that the people of Hong Kong have to obey when protesting something. Indeed, from my point of view, Hong Kong has bent over backwards, or possibly just bent over for these people. Having seen the Hong Kong police in action for several years I'd say they tend to be way to soft soap in dealing with rowdies. This guy is simply full of it.
All I can say to this guy is go a head; make your veiled threats. You are a guest here and should obey our laws. Civilized people (As the people of Hong Kong have proven themselves to be) don't give into threats and they don't engage in behavior like yours. Just last week there was a protest against the government in Hong Kong that drew nearly 300,000 people not your paltry 20 to 30 thousand. The whole thing was done peacefully and respectfully. If you can't refrain from making threats then maybe the 9000 police deployed against you need to be a little more proactive. I hope if you want to get down and dirty the Hong Kong police bust your head and ship your butt back to wherever you came from with a black-eye contusions all about your ears.
Until Next Time Fai Mao
Monday, December 12, 2005
I missed an opportunity to confirm my status as a prophet on Friday.
I was going to say that I expected some of the protesters to show up on TV complaining the hotel wouldn't let them stay. However, since I didn't claim before hand I won't claim it now.
That happened. A group of Koreans were on TV complaining that the hotel didn't honor their reservations. Having worked in a hotel for many years I know what actually happened.
They reserved the room without a credit card and then showed up wanting to pay cash without a deposit. Can you say "Skip"
Or, possibly they showed up and tried to put 15 people in a room
Or, possibly the protesters name appeared on a list of people that have damaged rooms or skipped in the past.
Or, possibly they cheesed off the desk clerk and (s)he was simply being belligerent because (s)he know that they could sell the rooms anyway. (If you don't think this happens you've never worked in a hotel.)
Hotels will refuse to sell a room for all of these reasons
Hotels don't just refuse reservations without cause. However, if you give them cause they will never let you back.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Over the bumps we go
Talking all the way
Bells on Cell Phones Ring
Making spirits bright
Oh, what fun it is to sing a Cell Phone Song Tonight
Cell phones ring, cell phones ring
People answer "Wai?"
Oh what fun it is to ride in a buss tonight
Until Next time
The I'm Somewhat Cynical About Christmas in Hong Kong Blogger
I need to be careful what I say because one of the people I work with knows one of these four and I don’t want to cause unnecessary conflict at work.
I feel these people are at best not helping and at worst causing the warfare to last longer. If I were them, I wouldn’t go here is why:
They never seem to help both sides. Maybe I’ve just not seen it but that is the way it looks. If they really wanted to promote peace then it seems to me that they would reach out to both sides not reach out to one and vilify the other. That is not promoting peace but taking sides.
To paraphrase the former US Secretary of State Colin Powell “The US is not an empire. When we have gone to war in foreign countries the US has only taken the amount of land needed to bury their dead.” I think he forgot about the Mexican war but in this case the point is valid. This is not a war about oil or building an empire. If it were about oil, as I’ve said before the US would have invaded Canada. If the insurgents/resistance/terrorist/what-ever-you-call-them stop fighting the US will leave as soon as a government can be installed. Thus helping the opposite side in Iraq prolongs the war and the suffering of the Iraqi people.
If the issues above do not deter people from conducting “Peace missions” into Iraq then good on them. However, please do not try to play both ends of the stick. If you get taken hostage then endure your incarceration as a trial for your faith and instruct your family and friends before you leave that they are not to go to the media and plead for your release. If you are placed in front of a video camera simply announce that you are in Iraq to feed the hungry or heal the wounded in the name of Christ and would be happy to die for your faith as a witness to your captors.
Until Next Time
The Peaceful Non-Peace Activist
Or, I might get to work and not be able to get home. Then I'd have to sleep in my library and have lots of time.
Alternately, the protesters might have a good time peacefully playing bean bag toss with the Hong Kong police and everything will be just fine. Fat chance, but we'll see.
Until Next Time
The Unsure About Next Week Blogger
The complete web site is:
until Next Time
The Self Promoting Blogger
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Grrrrrrrr, I have to get political again.
I must also offer apologies in advance for my language in this post. These people just make me so mad that I could chew rock and spit sand.
We had some WTO protester wanna-be come by the school yesterday and try to pass out fliers to the students.
They passed out these double-sided fliers but all I can say is: "What a bunch of liars."
The first thing I noticed about this flier is how many of the groups have the word "People", "People's," or "Struggle" in their name which are often code words for Communist. I find no small amount of irony in the fact that communist come to China (Hong Kong is part of China) to complain that China isn't communist enough.
I also find it interesting that communist would drop these off at a Christian school. After all aren't we a tool of the state to keep the masses oppressed? Not to mention the persecution visited upon Christians in communist countries everywhere. Having a lot of "Gall" does not even begin to describe them at this point.
However, let us talk specifics here. One of the major purposes of the WTO is to allow access to markets in developed countries by UNDEVELOPED counties. The protesters are against that and are, in fact, trying to maintain the privileged position of certain groups within a group of DEVELOPED countries. S. Korea is a highly developed, industrial country with a high standard of living and a strong economy. Yet, rather an allow agricultural products into their nation from underdeveloped nations they offer huge government subsidies to farmers and raise prohibitive tariff walls. This keeps the poor in underdeveloped countries poor and gives the S. Korean farmers a free ride.
Thus, Thailand or Cambodia or Vietnam cannot sell rice, apples or meat products to S. Korea which has very high import duties and restrictions. According to the news here these same farmers in S. Korea are upset because the government is now going to allow a whopping 8% of the rice consumed in S. Korea to be imported rice. Lots of people, myself included, have lots of bad things to say about Micro-soft. However, whatever else may be true it isn't true that they used government trade barriers to build their 98% monopoly in software sales and they certainly aren't dumping their products on the market at a low cost. In this regard, Micro-soft is more honest than the policies supported by the Anti-WTO protesters.
Given that the protesters claim to support one thing (A more just society) and actually support the opposite through the use of lies, half-truth and not revealing who they are I can only say that they appear to me to be EVIL. You cannot achieve a good end through evil means without the end becoming evil.
I also have to ask; "Why would these people come here to recruit students for their protest?" When I look at the groups promoting this I do not really see much that our students would have in common with them. I can come up with only two answers. One, they want to make their protest appear more local which would hide or augment their international socialist (Actually fascist) agenda. While dishonest this is probably their motive. They probably want to make people think that everybody supports them except George W. Bush and the Pope.
Two, they may also be looking for sacrificial lambs. I attended my share of left wing protest rallies in college. (Primarily because there was generally something to eat and girls in halter tops - yeah what can I say except I've grown up since then) I know from being there that it was a common tactic to try and see that if anyone got hurt it was a local. Locals get more sympathy than out of town protesters in the local media. We'd look for local volunteers who would be willing to let the local police bash them for the publicity. It is amazing what a couple of beers or 3 minutes smoking some Mary-Jane will do for your reluctance to volunteer for this kind of thing. What if these guys didn't do the volunteer thing? What if they want our students for cannon fodder? What if they can't convince them with alcohol or drugs? Why not lie about it? After all these are Christians who are supporting the corrupt dictatorship of the proletariat, so let them take an unwitting beating for the cause.
Does that sound harsh?
Well, then why did they tell some very explicit lies to recruit the students? They told our students that the HK government had concluded a "secret deal" to sell the water supply to a private company. This deal would raise the cost of tap water in Hong Kong by two or three-thousand percent. Well, if this deal is so secret how do they know about it? I'm sorry this is just Bull Shit. But, even if it was true, why would the price of tap water rise by 2000 percent? What happened when telephone monopolies were broken up? The price when down and quality went up that's what. This is just an attempt to create hysteria and round up a few uninformed teenagers to attend their rally.
Besides, if they are not concerned about rice farmers in Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam then why are they concerned about the tap water in Hong Kong? Liars, evil, disgusting liars is all they are.
Some of the other groups deal with immigration and women.
These people want nations to basically open their borders and let any starving, illiterate and untrained barbarian crowd into more prosperous areas. This would only make everyone poor and result in wealthy nations becoming impoverished. While the wealthy nations do indeed bear some responsibility for the poor in other areas it is not true that every person with enough to eat has enough to eat because they stole food from the poor. While there is much that could be done to alleviate hunger allowing the starving to move from rural China, Malaysia or France to Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai would probably only make them worse off than they were before. People advocating a completely open international immigration policy are, at best mis-guided.
Women and children are exploited in many nations around the world. There is no question about it. You will not get an argument otherwise from me about it. However, the issues I see these people promoting have little to do with making the lives of women and children better.
I am going to be blunt. It is my experience that Asia has huge problems with, prostitution, child prostitution, forced labor and pornography and generally speaking in many countries the abuse of women and children is wide spread. Where ever you see such things happening they are the result of one of three things: Immoral Tourist, Socialism, and Islam. It isn't Christian missionaries (The occasional Catholic Priest excepted) who abuse women and children. It isn't even the big multinational corporations like Nike.
Immoral tourist are the life blood of the sex trade in Asia. It is maintained and is supported in large part by Asian men and by liberal (socialist for those of you in Europe) tourists who go to places like Bangkok to party with the little girls. Because of endemic governmental corruption, the abusive attitudes of local officials or low value placed upon the lives of females in Islamic societies and the poverty caused by the socialist governments, there is a large supply of women and children who must be prostitutes or starve. Who do you see in the seedy whore houses in Asia? Korean, Japanese, Germans and British tourist, that's who. Probably those rich Korean farmers again. After all, if they can fly to protest all these WTO conferences they could surely take time off for a fling in Phukett.
These are the people who would consider anyone sexist who supports sex as a component of marriage and views non-marital sex as a sin. But you know what, it isn't the Christians living in a monogamous relationship that fuel the sex industry in Asia. There simply are not enough fallen Baptist ministers to keep the pedophilia market up and running.
But the groups here want to talk about "Reproductive rights" aka abortion. They want to pass out condoms to prevent AIDS. The people they want to help need more than that.
I want to hang a few "Johns" by their penis as an example to others who think that supporting the sex industry, through their desire to have sex with a child, is appropriate. If they think I'm not civilized then so be it. If They think that is not a "Christian" response then I guess I'm a terrible sinner. But I don't screw little boys for money and in the relativistic society they want it makes me better than they are. So there!
The groups protesting the WTO do not support rights for either women of children. They are simply EVIL. They claim to support the defense of the poor and stand for social justice. They don't They simply hide their selfishness behind political sounding platitudes.
Oh, how could I forget. They don't like the US. I defy anyone to look at the US trade deficit and tell me that it is hard to sell imported goods in the US. You can't do it. Does that make the US blameless in everything? No, of course not but it does mean that when it comes to free trade the US is better than most. But, then again, these people are not interested trade that provides jobs and keeps people in third world countries from starving.
It looks to me that the real reason these people do not like the US is that it isn't a wonderful socialist paradise with no social problems like France.
Growl. Spit. Bang my hand on the table. Why is it that these people are always given such a free ride? I wish these baboons would just go home. (Apologies to real baboons who are generally nicer, smell better and more honest than the Anti-WTO protesters)
It gets worse.
On last nights' local news the police chief of Hong Kong said that police are ready for anything. They've been issued rubber bullets, bean bags and if worst comes to worst, they have tear gas.
Great, non-lethal bullets and bean bags. I think Hong Kong is going to have a hard week next week.
Until Next Time
The reluctant Anti-AntiWTO blogger
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
That can be seen at:
This Year I thought I'd try again
Walking in a Hong Kong Wonderland
Tram bells ring are you listening?
In the street lights are blinking
Its crowded tonight
What a frenetic sight
Walking in a Hong Kong wonderland
Gone away is bluebird
We killed them all because of flu birds
We'd rather not cough
As we walk the along
Walking in a Hong Kong wonderland
In the crosswalk we can see an old man
pushing a cart full of paper brown
He'll say: Can you help me
We'll say: No, Man
But you'll be there by sundown
Later on we'll conspire,
As we push our stock price higher
As we live and we die
In our flats in the sky
Walking in a Hong Kong wonderland
When we get old
In Canada or Australia
We'll frolic and play
Though far far a way
Walking in a Hong Kong wonderland
Until next Time
The Christmas caroling blogger
Monday, December 05, 2005
They are cheaper than Filipinos and amazingly speak Cantonese thus, many people are hiring them rather than the more traditional Filipino maids. You can tell the difference rather easily. The Indonesian maids are Muslims and wear scarves over their head and part of their face and the Filipino maids, being primarily Catholic don't.
I am not big on domestic servants anyway but but given the choice I'd take the Filipino every time. I could deal with food here and talk about the Chinese love of pork and the Halal restrictions against it. However, I'm thinking more subtly and perhaps even more bigoted. One of the main jobs of these maids is to care for children. I wouldn't want my kids raised by a Muslim. I find it to be a completely intolerant and narrow-minded religion. I can not imagine a worse influence on children than Islam. It is a bigoted, racist and intolerant religion. It is spread and maintained almost solely by fear, force and intimidation and free societies would do well to shun it. I find the concept of being intolerant of what I consider to be intolerance to be a fascinating one.
That said; I cannot help but have sympathy for these young women. They come from a repressive, oppressive and backwards culture and I am happy for any of them that manage to escape it. I wish more would. They all seem so sad. I pray for each of the maids I see on the street that they would discard the veil of self-righteousness that they cling to and find true freedom and true love and true submission in Christ.
I causally know a guy who managed to date one of these Indonesian maids for a short period of time. He said that a lot of these maids would like to abandon Islam but are afraid that their family back in Indonesia will be punished or that they will be ostracized or even hunted down and killed by their families. If they begin to fall away from Islamic ideas then one of the other maids will surely gossip about them and the word will reach their village. They cannot escape even if they want to, unless they turn their back on their families and friends forever. I wonder what my reaction would be if I were in such a situation?
He described their culture here in Hong Kong as a pot of crabs. I'm not a big shell fish eater so I don't know but evidently if you go crabbing you place the crabs you've caught in a bucket or pot. As you catch more the crabs pile up on top of each other and the top crabs are closer to the rim of the pot. Eventually the crabs on top try to escape because they can reach the rim of the pot. However, before they climb out the other crabs catch their legs and pull them back in. Thus, none of the crabs escape their fate because those to far down from the rim won't let those higher up climb out.
What a picture of Islam.
Until Next Time
The Blogger without a domestic Servant
nearly 300,000 people out of a population 8 million were there.
They broke no windows.
They didn't riot
They didn't rampage through any shopping areas.
They didn't beat anybody up
They didn't assault the police.
There were, as far as I know, no arrest.
Let us see if the G7 Protesters can do so well.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Nobody got the joke!
The kids here in this school have never seen Star Trek. The current series "Enterprise" Isn't carried here and neither are re-runs of TOS, DS9, Voyager or TNG. (If you don't know what those abbreviations are then you've not watched much Star Trek. ) They've also never seen the movies.
I must really be getting old.
Or, I need to buy a bunch of Star Trek novels and do a library display on TV shows that have become popular fiction!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Previous Post in this series
1. Educational Philosophy
2. Before We Begin
Philosophic Idealism; Jacob's Ladder
I'm not really satisfied with this post yet and it will be edited as time goes by.
It needs to be understood that when we speak of Philosophic Idealism we are speaking of a very broad collection of thinkers. They encompass Theist, atheist, Agnostic, Monist, Dualist and Existentialist from many cultures and time periods.
In order to be a Philosophical Idealist you must only believe one thing. That what is true descends from the general to the specific and is not built up from the specific to the general. Idealist ground reality in something thought to be higher, nobler, more rational or in some way more real than what we immediately experience.
At least in a metaphorical sense, most Idealist believe that truth is spelled with a capital "T" and comes from Heaven, that it is discovered or revealed not invented. Just as Jacob saw a ladder stretching to Heaven and heard God making promises to him from the top of the ladder; Idealist believe that by following their philosophic ladder they can see, find or discover a higher truth. If you think that this sounds strange to you then you probably should not consider yourself an Idealist. (Though you might be surprised if you really thought about it.)
Perhaps the most well known of the Philosophic Idealist is one of the earliest; Plato. While there were philosophers in Asia that wrote about similar ideas at the same time as Plato, or even earlier, nobody put it all together like he did. Plato is one of the most important people of all time. You really cannot over estimate his influence on civilization. To paraphrase Alfred North Whitehead, you have Plato and everyone else is a footnote (1).
So what is it that makes Plato so important? The answer is, at least as far as we are concerned, the theory of forms. Perhaps the clearest illustration of what Plato means is through the well known cave allegory that is found in book 7 of the Republic. The picture of prisoners in a cave naming shadows and believing them to be real things because they have never seen anything else is a powerful one. We can imagine the predicament they are in and understand their misconception. We can also see how it would enlighten them if they were able to turn around and see the actual thing that cast the shadows.
Plato is saying that what we see is often times a distorted picture or shadow of reality. We should look for the true "Form" rather than simply name shadows.
When we make an argument from natural law, or a universal principle we are thinking and reasoning like Plato. We should look for the truth behind the everyday occurrence. This does not necessarily imply an appeal to any kind of deity (Though others did and have used Plato to make such an appeal as Plato himself did.)
Besides the Theory of Forms, Plato has exerted tremendous influence upon education through his use of what has become known as the "Socratic Method." Socrates was Plato's mentor and is the main character in much of Plato's work. Socrates was a teacher who stood in the market and discussed issues of philosophy with his pupils. He developed an inductive, question and answer pedagogy that has continued to influence education to this day. Jesus used this method when dealing with both His disciples and opponents and I believe you can see its influence in the works John Dewey and Maria Montesori as well as the psychology of Henry James and in classrooms in many places today.
The Socratic method uses a series of leading questions to enable students to discover a truth or idea that the teacher is trying to convey.
Here is an example of Platonic thought using a Soratic method as it might appear in a classroom.
Teacher: Do you know what gravity is?
Student: Yes, I do
Teacher: Tell me, what do you know about it?
Student: Gravity is a force in the Universe. It is the law of attraction that holds things together.
Teacher: Is it everywhere?
Student: Yes, it is everywhere.
Teacher: And does it affect all things?
Student: Yes, it affects all things
Teacher: So you would call gravity a universal or absolute law of the universe?
Student: Yes, I suppose you could say that.
Teacher: So there is at least one law that applies to everyone in the universe. Are there others you can name?
Student: Yes, there are several, the speed of light, entropy, perhaps chemical bonds and the way that elements are organized to name some. There may be more.
Teacher: If there are universal physical laws that govern the universe might there not also be some universal laws that govern our behavior?
At this point the true object of the lesson has become obvious. The student is going to have to either show that moral laws are in some fundamental way unlike physical laws or to find out how a universal moral or behavioral law would work. There doesn't have to even be a cut and dried answer.
This is a powerful teaching tool. These type of arguments and this pedagogy can really help students to clarify issues and come to grips with difficult issues. But, it is first and foremost a type of philosophy.
Next: Philosophic Realism or the Aristotelian tower of Babel
The Chief of police was also on TV saying that if the protesters get violent the HK police would bang a few heads. Yeah, right, I'll believe it when I see it.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Monday, November 14, 2005
Teachers, even in international schools have to keep their certifications up to date. So, I went to hear some consultant talk about ESL even though I'm not an ESL teacher and never plan to be.
Amazingly enough, I enjoyed the speaker for the most part. She was funny reasonable and only a bit strange. The problem was lunch. There were teachers there from all over Asia. One I ran into was a Canadian teaching at a school in Japan. Her first question to me was "Did you leave the US to get away from George Bush?" Before I could answer she dropped off into the most vile anti-American diatribe I've heard in months. I hate to say this but I've met lots of Canadians like this. Usually when I was on vacation in Florida. I always thought it was palm tree envy.
Actually, I left the US, in part though not completely to get away from Bill Clinton but I didn't say that. I simply said "I came to Hong Kong in 1997 way before Mr. Bush was elected; my wife is Chinese and this is home." It is a good evasive answer especially since it is true. It is also a good way to change the subject and get out of a potentially explosive argument. I've never been able to argue effectively with ideolouges from any political stripe because they aren't interested logic or truth. Ideolouges they are interested in their ideology and how it makes them feel.
I call what this woman did the "I'm normal like everybody else" complex. We all want to think that everybody thinks like we do. She assumed that because she was an American-hating-George-Bush-hating-Canadian, that I must be an American-hating-George-Bush-hating-Texan.
I think that many non-socialist do what I did. We pass the question off and move on. I think this gives the more left leaning people the idea that there are more of them then is actually the case. I can't say if the opposit happens but maybe it does. I attribute this to the admonition to be polite that many people are taught as children. You know the Thumper Rabbit principle; "If you can't say something nice then don't say any thing at all."
I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I do it because I don't like to be vilified and then blamed for being a villain. I can't speak for other people.
Unlike her, I realize that my politics are waaaaaaaay out there. I don't expect everyone to agree with me. That's why I try to keep political opinions to myself
Until Next Time
The Closet Anarchist Blogger
I like it because it basically can't be ruined.
Christmas is no longer a religious holiday but an excuse to spoil children. New Year's eve is simply an excuse, as if any was needed to get drunk. July 4th doesn't play well outside the US. San Jacinto day is only a big holiday in Texas. Memorial day is not celebrated in Hong Kong and they don't even want to learn about Labor Day here!
However, I find that many of my Chinese friends find Thanksgiving to be a wonderful holiday. They enjoy, what for them are exotic foods and the history of the holiday is a good introduction to American history. One year we had a group of mainlanders eat Thanksgiving with us. While they found some of the foods not to their taste others they really liked. But what was really great was that they came away from that table with a new and I think better and more true vision of America.
It is hard, I guess unless you are a turkey or a ham to not like Thanksgiving.
It is also I think, hard to grumble about people being genuinely thankful for having enough food and and adequate housing. If ever there was a good reason to start a holiday then Thanksgiving is it. Europeans don't seem to understand the holiday but the Australians I've met do. I don't know why this is.
I find it interesting that even the commercial aspects of Thanksgiving are still somewhat wholesome. Watching the Cowboys play on Thanksgiving day with our brothers and fathers and wives and mothers is a good thing. Indeed, the only day that I am a fan of American football is on Thanksgiving day. Washing the dishes together. Baking the pies and setting a table for Thanksgiving are moments that many remember as their fondest moments of childhood. The Thanksgiving day parades. The sandwiches. The casseroles! The three weeks of post Thanksgiving weight loss which is ruined by Christmas parties! It simply doen't get any better than Thanksgiving.
In my family Chinese vegetables such as Bok-Choi have replaced broccoli and taro once replaced sweet potatoes but we celebrate Thanksgiving every year.
This year our daughter will be gone and so my wife and I have arranged to have two seamen from a visiting US navy ship come and eat with us. The group that organizes this is hoping that some of the ex-pat families here will reach out to the sailors and make them feel less homesick. In my case I think the opposite will be true. Thanksgiving day is one of the two or three times a year that I really feel like an alien in Hong Kong. It will be a good thing to have my countrymen in our humble flat and eat and talk and drink some beer and maybe watch the Cowboys via cable tv.
So, this year. Whoever you are, wherever you are from; take some time on November 24 and give thanks. You'll feel better for having done it.
Until next time
The blogger who gives thanks
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Before we Begin : Part 1
One of the buzz words in education the past 10 years or so has been the theory of "Multiple intelligences" which advocates teaching students based upon a variety of learning styles which are equated with "intelligence". I think when this fad started it claimed that there were seven types of intelligences and others have since added about 19467 types of intelligences to that number.
While there is great and demonstrated merit in a pedagogical sense to tailoring lessons to the interest, needs and culture of the learner, the theory is, I believe, philosophically and physiologically speaking, nonsense.
Thinking differently is not a different type of intelligence, it is simply using intelligence differently.
Underlying the multiple intelligence theory, it appears to me, is the assumption that people learn differently. That may be. Indeed, I would be surprised if it were not true. However, learning differently because of personality or heredity is not a form of intelligence.
I may be splitting hairs here, but the point is still a valid one. There are not a multitude of intelligence types, there are only learning styles.
I am aware this might all be viewed as semantics but I believe that the multiple intelligence theory is guilty of using terms in a fuzzy and confusing way. This is never a good thing and appears to me to be a rather larger problem in education than in other fields; though it could be that I read more in education than in other fields. However, the point here is to show that the theory of multiple intelligence has used a whole raft of philosophical terms and slightly altered the definitions of the words. In philosophy, words are tools. They have very specific meanings that are different from normal parlance. Thus, it is important to get your terms right or you generate confusion.
(Incidentally, I have just revealed a part of my educational philosophy)
Admittedly , I don't know much about learning theory but learning and intelligence are not the same thing though they may be related to each other, or be dependent upon each other.
I do, however, know something about what philosophers call epistemology or the nature of knowledge. Epistemologically speaking, there are only three ways to discover knowledge (thus learn) and two over arching paradigms to frame those three ways of obtaining knowledge. Every human has, does or will use these. There are no exceptions. If you think, and you are not an animal because research has shown that animals think in pictures not words, then you think using these structures.
That means that there are at most, only six ways (3- ways of knowing X 2-paradigms) to think about any problem. In reality, as we shall see there are only three that concern educators.
This is important to know because before one begins thinking about their educational philosophy it is good to know the form you place those thoughts into. It really does make a difference how you think about something.
While the various approaches to thinking have somewhat multivariate names, depending upon whose book you read, I will use the terms "Idealism," "Realism" and "Sophistry" to set them apart. All forms of thinking fall into these broad categories and there is seldom any overlap and what overlap there is caused by either confusion sloppy thinking. Once we understand the definition or meaning of these categories and see how we think we will be able to begin formulating an educational philosophy.
Next: Before we begin Part 2: "Idealism: Or Jacobs' Ladder"
Until next Time
The gives you just enough to get interested blogger
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I also have an MLIS with a concentration in archives and academic libraries. This is the degree that provided job skills and got me out of the grocery store and away from the front desk of a hotel. While I was training to be a preservation administrator, I have ended up as a school librarian. Such is life.
My Ph.D. is in educational Philosophy. At this point, it is an open question as to whether I am a philosopher who supports himself by being a librarian or a librarian who dabbles in philosophy.
I pursued the PhD simply because I wanted one. Indeed that is the only reason to subject yourself to the mental anguish and stress of obtaining this degree. It is conceivable that I could find a position in a School of Education, a Department of Philosophy, or a Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Not that I'm a Polimath, but my degrees are broad and I have experience and publication in these areas. However, because international schools in Asia pay rather well, all of the jobs would probably entail a cut in pay to go along with the rise in occupational status. In this area, if no other, I'm a materialistic pragmatist, I'd rather have the money.
That doesn't mean the PhD has not changed my outlook about my job or education in general. It has. My philosophical studies have altered my view of what, why and how I do my job. I have come to believe that one of the major problems with education world wide is that too many educators do not work from a consistent, coherent or self recognized educational philosophy. This not only makes their job harder, it means that their students often receive a less thorough education than they could.
This is bothersome in two ways
First, it is bothersome because despite my gruff exterior, I believe that students deserve the best education that society can afford to give them. Not just for economic advancement but because if done properly, education makes them better people. This statement is in itself a rather complex philosophical statement which could take pages and pages to unpack. I'm not going to do that here simply because I don't want to. I have other fish to fry.
Second, it is bothersome because I feel compelled, because I see the problem, to do something about it. This is probably the legacy of the parable of the "Good Samaritan" I was taught in Sunday school as a child. I have been trained since childhood that to see a problem and to not try to correct it is sin. This is also a complex issue that deals with psychology much more than philosophy. I don't know much about psychology but I'm convinced that neither do psychologist. So I'll leave this alone a well.
However, I am going to, at least on an irregular basis, start posting on the subject of educational philosophy. I need to do this because I don't see teachers or teacher librarians working through these issues. These post make become the rough notes for an academic paper.
Then again they may not. We'll see what happens.
The goal is to create a document that can be used as a foundation that teachers, administrators and school support staff, especially at Christian schools and International schools in Asia can use to gain insight into their educational philosophy. I'd like to be able to help schools develop their educational philosophy into a coherent system. I think it would improve their instruction.
We'll see how it goes
Until next time
The Educational Philosopher
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I find begging to be a fascinating profession.
Once I was waiting for an early bus to go to work. A taxi pulled up and a man got out who was dressed in a loin cloth type thing. He got a cardboard box out of the trunk and paid the driver with (No fake) coins and then threw the box down on the sidewalk and laid down on the box and began to beg. I don't make enough money to take a cab to work so I guess the guy was doing pretty well.
My experience is not an isolated one. The Chinese newspapers here often have stories about the staggering amount of money made by beggars. Some of these are sad because grown children force their elderly parents to beg. Other times young children are forced to help create sympathy in passers by.
This is unfortunate because there are, despite the opportunity and low taxes in Hong Kong quite a number of people who are destitute. I'd like to help them but don't want support fakes. Yet, I don't want my fear of supporting frauds to keep me from helping those in need. What do I do?
I don't give money to Buddhist monks or nuns because I'm not a follower of their religion.
I also don't give money to anyone who is trying to make me feel sorry for them. There are social services in Hong Kong for those with physical and mental disabilities. They have opportunities, they don't have to beg.
If a beggar wants me to give them change they need to standup and beg with the dignity God gave a beggar.
This isn't a perfect solution. But it seems to give me some guidelines for giving away a few coins.
Anyway, it works for me.
Until Next time
The wishes he could be more generous blogger
I don't know if I would be considered a big coffee drinker but I am a huge coffee fan.
There is nothing I know of, not bread, not fresh laundry, not a fireplace that smells as good as coffee. Not even bacon!
Nothing else can say: home, work, good morning, good evening, hospitality, time to get busy or time to time relax, I'm sophisticated or I'm a common man in the same way as coffee.
Coffee is the do it all beverage.
It doesn't have the kiddy appeal of soda which is good.
You can drink 3 pints of it and still legally drive home.
Coffee with a cookie for a snack.
Coffee with a sandwich as a late supper
Coffee with toast in the morning
Coffee with a rum or whiskey spike for that special conversation with a special friend.
Coffee while watching TV in my pajamas is nearly heaven on Earth.
Coffee on a cold rainy day when I need to warm up.
Coffee with chicory
Coffee with chocolate
Some would say coffee with cigarettes but I don't smoke
I take mine black with sugar
The Coffee Drinking Blogger
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
I have been a loyal KFC customer for years. I know the chicken is greasy and the side dishes are over cooked and everything has too much salt and bla bla bla. However, I am a loyal KFC customer simply because of one middle-aged lady who used to work at a KFC in McKinney, Texas in September of 1987.
My wife and I were returning home through McKinney after visiting my parents and stopped at a KFC because we had a coupon. Our daughter was only a few months old and had been born slightly premature and thus very kolicy and hadn't stopped screaming and wailing and crying at the top of her lungs for more than 15 minutes the whole time. I have had much more patience with people who bring small children in to restaurants every since but that is not the point here.
There was an employee at this KFC, a middle-ages lady who came out from behind the counter, and asked if she could hold our daughter while we ate. She held our baby and rocked her and got her quiet. She showed her off to all the employees there (Our daughter has always been cute as a bug) and generally let us have the first meal we'd had in months without a screaming child in a high chair at the table with us.
What a blessing.
I've never forgotten it.
I have appreciated it more than that lady will ever know.
I've been a loyal KFC customer every since.
Until next time.
The Chicken Eating Blogger
Monday, October 24, 2005
However, every Fall we get 8 to 10 weeks of beautiful weather that almost makes up for the rest of the year. The wind picks up and blows the pollution out to sea, the temperature drops 4 or 5 degrees Celsius and the summer rainy season comes to an end and the humidity falls to a manageable level. It will be simply beautiful from now until about Christmas. It is in the contract, we must get this or God couldn't make anybody live here and not call it punishment.
My evening runs are simply incredible at this time of year. Because it is just a little cooler and dryer I feel like I could run forever or least 1/2 way to forever.
Something that is really a nice to know is that the Fall is low season when traveling here but it is the nicest time of year.
If you've never been to Hong Kong catch a plane! The weather is great.
The Weather Watching Blogger
Friday, October 21, 2005
There are actually different levels of Retro riders from those who will only ride 1975 or older Rene Hearse customs to those like me who simply think much of the new equipment to be more trouble than it is worth. Some of it in fact is, I believe, as I shall explain later, merely expensive marketing.
I also have moral problem with some of the new parts. Not that they are inherently immoral or anything but the riders' motivation for using them is. The object of a race is to determine who is the faster rider, not who has the fastest bicycle. If someone beats me because they have a bike that is 20% more efficient but did not beat my time at least 20% I think I have a legitimate question as to whether they actually beat me.
However, I am not writing an excuse for my lack of speed. And, notice I am not doubting the benefits of some aero-dynamic parts assuming you can reach a high enough speed to gain the advantages they provide. I am going to challenge some things however quite vigorously.
One of the recent "Innovations" in cycling concerns the bottom bracket and "Crank" or "Chainset" for those of you from the UK. To be fair, crank design has been evolving for a long time. In the '60's and early '70's most moderately good cycles used what was known as a "cottered" crank. These used a cotter pin though the arm to secure the crank to the spindle. These were replaced by a "Cotterless" or "One-piece " crank that was lighter and held on by a combination of friction on the tapered spindle taper and a bolt through the end of the spindle. However, until recently the rational for the change in design was always improving the design. Cotterless cranks are better than cottered. They are much lighter, easier to remove and install less expensive to produce and more reliable than the old cottered cranks.
The newest version of cranks is an improvement in design in some ways however, they are not marketed in this way. They are held on simply by the bolt because rather than a tapered spindle. This means the crank can be removed without any special tools and that might or might not be an advantage.
A definite disadvantage is that it is now much easier for a company to have a proprietary design on the spindle splines that forces you to purchase their brand of Bottom Bracket and makes you have to replace the crank when (if) they stop producing that design.
There are other pro's and con's to this new arrangement but the real selling point has been that because the new bottom bracket have hollow, oversized spindle which is supposed to impart a stiffer, more efficient pedal stroke you transmit more power to the rear wheel. Thus, the new parts make you faster!
I've ridden both of these and it simply isn't true. Furthermore, unlike aero-bars and some of fancy pants spoking patterns on expensive new wheels I've seen absolutely NO evidence that these new bottom brackets make anyone faster or that the extra stiffness translates into extra power, or at least enough extra power to be meaningful.
Take two bicycles that are EXACTLY alike except for the Crank and bottom bracket. Disguise the cranks so that the difference in Bottom Bracket cannot be seen and have a group of cyclist ride both bicycles. Have them guess which bottom bracket was the "new splined extra stiff" model and which was the old taper type.
The riders would not choose the new model more than could be accounted for by blind chance.
The new cranks, introduced by the hated Shimano, would be found to be simply expensive marketing ploys to induce bikers to part with their father's money for a more expensive piece of bike candy that doesn't work any better than the old design.
Shimano has basically taken cyclist for a ride
Come on prove me wrong. Bet you can't
The Retro-Grouch Blogger
Thursday, October 13, 2005
As ranted about in previous post these people upset me not because I completely disagree with them, at least in theory but rather because they make it impossible to disagree with them even in part, without them throwing rocks at you. Thus, they make me have to adopt a position on issues that is more extreme than I would normally take just so that I am justified in throwing things back at them.
I also find them, as I have stated in previous post, to be somewhat duplicous and deceptive.
This weekend they gave me another reason to hate them.
Some big mucky-muck from the G7 was in Hong Kong this weekend. There, predictably enough were the protesters, many of them ignorant, **** ***ed baboon HKU students. (My wife is a professor at HKU so I have close contact with them and they make the most indolent, spoiled, self absorbed Ivy leaguers look like normal people) They had their signs and banners and stupid, sophomoric chants decrying the evils of capitalism and the glories of closed markets.
The sign that bothered me this past weekend was the somewhat universal anti-war sign "No Blood for Oil"
God, this kind of tripe bothers me. It bothers me for two reasons; but, not for the normal right winger type reasons. It bothers me because I would have liked to oppose this war for what I thought were very sound reasons but ended up supporting it because the anti-war movement seems to be entirely made up of certified 100% pure idiots, cowards and brain-dead dope smokers.
First, why I did not support going into Iraq.
1) I don't think "preemptive strikes" are a good ideas. Unlike the left which seems to think they are OK when Bill Clinton bombs aspirin factories or the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, I don't support preemptive strikes from any political wing. You wait until you are attacked or at least obviously threatened. The US invasion of Afghanistan was justified and correct as a reply to the 9-11 attacks because Osama Bin Laden was known to be in the country. Unlike the left, I believe that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Al Qaida. However, the US should have waited to be attacked by weapons that were identifiably Iraqi in origin. Again, unlike the left I believe that such an attack would have occurred and it would have killed more people than 9-11. However that is price you pay for not becoming as bad as your enemies.
2) If you are going to invade one dictator because he/she/they are a threat or are so terribly oppressive then it appears to me that you must invade all of them. This becomes problematic in more ways than I wish to go into. If you can't see the problem then you probably couldn't understand the explanation.
3. Even though it wasn't, the invasion of Iraq looks like imperialism. Sometimes perception is stronger than reality.
Another issue inserts itself at this point that I think is worth mentioning.
I was against going into Iraq. However, now that the US has invaded they have a responsibility to stay until it is finished. Paradox? No it isn't. If your nation invades another nation, overthrows the government, destroys the infrastructure and generally does the kinds of things that military invasions do; then your nation OWES that nation something. At the very least you OWE them a better government than the one you overthrew! You probably also OWE them massive amounts of aid for years to come. That is one of the hallmarks of a righteous or just war. You are not invading them to simply make your nation a bigger place with access to more or cheaper resources.
The anti-war movement appears to me to be totally racist and euro-centric. I believe this because it is obvious that they don't give a nickel for the well being for the people of Iraq who have darker skin and eat different foods than the upper-middle class protesters who fly from city to city. They not only didn't want the war they want immediate withdrawal which would leave anarchy and the people there would have probably been better off under Saddam Hussein! The United States now OWES it to the people of Iraq a government and aid to make sure that the conditions, real or imagined that caused this war never occur again.
But here are these progressive wishing a terrible fate on 20 + million or so people for the sole reason of defeating a domestic political opponent in a future election. They, in effect, have just denied the people in Iraq the same level of political freedom they enjoy. That is a terrible crime that rises the level of a war crime. possibly genocide!
I'm sorry, even if you opposed the war you must support finishing it and giving the Iraqi people a better nation as a result. You've got to hope they become another Germany or Japan. Anything else makes you an evil ideologue worse than George Bush, worse than Saddam.
Now, the "No Blood for Oil"
The blood for oil folks took someone who would have been opposed to the war and made him a proponent of it. There are only really two reason for going to war. These can be summarized in the two words Ideology and Resources. Most wars are a combination of both. Wars about resources are easier to justify. This war is about ideology with almost no resources component and is therefore hard to explain. It is also harder to maintain a war effort on ideological principles. This should be the real lesson of Vietnam.
This war was not for oil and such simplistic slogans obscure the real problems with this war.
Think about it a minute. If the war was for oil then gasoline prices would not be over USD $2.00 a gallon in the US because all that Iraqi oil would be shipped to the US for free and turned into gasoline.
Besides if the United states was going to invade a country for its oil it wouldn't invade Iraq which is a long way and difficult to hold. If the US was going to invade a country for its oil the US would have invaded Canada because it has almost as much oil as Iraq, a smaller population and a smaller less able military. Contrary to the Canadians opinion of themselves the US would probably have received less international opposition because Canada is nation almost totally without influence. It would be easier to hold, easier to subdue and a significant percentage of the population would probably welcome the overthrow of the socialist government. Plus, the people who support the government of Canada are all Politically Correct wimps and the country is filled with Mennonites and other assorted pacifist who would whine but not fight back. Canada also has strict gun control laws so the population couldn't form the militias that appear to be everywhere in Iraq. Logistically it would have been easier and probably less bloody as deals could have possibly been worked out with at least some of the native tribes for independence in return for drilling rights not to mention cheaper since the cost of supplying an army in the Middle East is immense. The oil would be closer to home and thus transportation and maintaining supply lines issues would be easier.
This war is not for oil. It is for ideology. You can see that because Iraq was a bad choice for invasion otherwise. The problem with an ideological war is that you cannot be pragmatic about it. There can be no brokered peace. There can only be complete, unconditional surrender. That takes longer and is harder to achieve.
World War II for example was clearly about both ideology and resources. The Japanese were seeking to overrun the Pacific and China to obtain oil, timber, iron and other resources for the heavenly empire. Germany invaded the USSR to gain "luft" or living space for Aryans.
But, now that the US is in the war, it must be finished and won
All of this is beside the point
If fighting a war to maintain a supply of natural resources is not a good grounds for war then what is? Especially when those resources are controlled by governments that are hostile and expansionist. So why not a war for oil? I'd rather fight for oil than fight for a Post Modern interpretation of politics.
The G7 has no control over the US war effort. As such the sign was a worthless exercise in political grandstanding. If you are going to protest then your protest should be appropriate for the official involved. The G7 has at most very little say in the course of US military policy.
The reluctant political pundit
Sunday, October 09, 2005
In 20+ years of competitive riding this was the first time I've ever broken a chain.
I was upset because I had trained hard and the teammate who swam had set a personal record and beat everybody else out of the water by (no fake) 10 minutes. I was slamming up the first hill of the bicycle portion at pace that surprised me. My chain snapped at the top of the first hill about 10 minutes into the 40 kilometer ride.
One of the rules of triathlon, as far as I can tell is that you are responsible for your own equipment. There is not a mechanic in a van to do emergency repairs. I was not carrying a chain tool. So, my goose was cooked and my team could not finish.
I was really upset. I picked my bicycle up and threw it across the road. I looked very hard for a dog to kick and, not finding one available, began yelling at a photographer and demanding that he stop taking pictures of me.
After about three minutes of venting I walked across the road, picked up my bike and coasted back down the hill to the start area and was forced to abandon the race.
There are several reasons why the chain would snap like that.
It could be that I have simply become strong enough to break it with the force of my pedal strokes. (Fat chance)
It could be that the chain was defective
It could be that the chain was installed improperly
Though it was probably my bike's immune system rejecting the new chain. I ride an Italian bicycle (Battaglin) that has Italian Components (Campagnolo) I had just installed a Shimano (Japanese) chain.
Yeah, that's it, blame it on the bike!
Breaking a chain could have been a a good thing. There was a horrific accident on the course caused by an inexperienced rider getting a plastic bag caught in his wheel while riding as fast as he could down a hill. This guy caused a huge problem and several people were injured one quite seriously and several very high dollar bicycles were destroyed.
I am not a good hill climber. I am a good descender. It comes with age. You learn how to ride. You learn how to handle your bike and you learn to stay within your limits. I set my bike up to descend well and be moderately fast on the flats. I grind up the hills. If I'd been in this race I would have possibly been one of the riders coming down the hill at 70 -100 kph. It might have been me in the hospital with a broken neck.
Maybe I've had a narrow escape.
I still wish I'd finished the race. I might have won.
Until next time
The Frustrated Triathlete
Friday, October 07, 2005
Our daughter just left for university in the UK a month ago. I expected to miss our daughter intensely; I haven't.
I worry about her. I hope she is doing ok. I helped her get her baggage together and purchase the things she needed before she left. I want her to be safe.
I am apprehensive about the University she is at. Indeed, I opposed her going to this university for a variety of valid reasons. However, the scholarship she received trumped fatherly concerns.
I expected to be overwrought with concern for her safety.
I haven't been.
In fact, my wife and I have really been enjoying our time since Sunyi left.
We go for walks in the evening. We can watch movies that we like without having to worry if she will find them boring. We have more storage space (A premium thing in Hong Kong) because we now have an extra bedroom that can be used as a small storage closet.
It is easier to eat dinner because we do not have to design meals that a 17 year-old on a perpetual diet will still eat. We get fewer strange files downloading onto our computer. Our telephone is not constantly busy.
This weekend is a holiday in Hong Kong and Kim and I have plans to go out to eat with a friend on Saturday and to participate in a team triathlon on Sunday where I will be a cyclist and she a runner. Those would be things that were harder to do with a child in the house.
None of this is meant as implying anything negative about our daughter. She is a well adjusted, normal young adult. It is just that teenagers, high-school students in particular tend to want to lead very different lives than their parents. As kids go our daughter was a joy to raise and gave us few problems. It is just that it is easier to find concensus with two people rather than three.
My wife got pregnant 6 weeks after we were married. So, in a very real way this is the first time since shortly after we were married that we haven't had to plan our life's around expecting or raising a child.
What a wonderful feeling it is to be an empty-nester!
I still miss our daughter but I am also enjoying being an empty-nester.
It is a good thing.
I don't feel guilty at all.
Until Next Time
The Empty Nest Blogger
I really hate to write about politics. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. Politics is divisive. It has become petty and it is the realm of narrow minded bigots from both ends of the political spectrum. I hate having people box me in and be forced to take a position that I am uncomfortable with simply because I am more uncomfortable with theirs.
However, I am concerned about the effect that these people are going to have on my home. I find it really scary to think that these people are coming here with the intent to disrupt the normal life in my home. Let them work through the political process in their own country. If they feel that the process is irreparably broken in their own country then go home and start a revolution there and leave me alone.
What is really sad is that there are a couple of HK Legco members who will probably be out there with these clowns. But then I've wondered about the sanity of Long Hair Leung for quite a while.
I am bothered by these protesters because of the way that I perceive they misrepresent themselves. While the stated goal of helping the poor and oppressed is one that resonates with many people the actual people who are protesting often don't meet the test of being poor and oppressed.
One of the groups who have been in previous protest, and will probably be there again when they are here, will be Korean apple growers that receive huge government subsidies and benefit from high protective tariffs. Those subsidies and tariffs enable the apple growers to live in the lap of middle-class luxury while prohibiting apples from South America, China and the US Pacific North West from being sold in Korea. This puts people out of work in those countries and makes the normal apple eaters in South Korea have to pay more for apples and in taxes.
Abolishing the trade tariffs would benefit many people and only harm a privileged few. It also appears to me that protesters want to complain about the inequity in the US and Europe but I've never seen them complain about the the treatment of women or prisoners of conscience in middle-Eastern or socialist countries.
I still say if these people cause trouble or do not obey Hong Kong laws requiring protest marches to register and have liability insurance they should be given a ticket out of town
If they start a riot, break a window or try to use force or intimidation then the PLA garrison should be called on to help quell those activities.
One rioter one bullet - bury the bodies under the reclamation project being done in Wan Chai without identifying them.
God, I hate to say that. These people have repeatedly tempted me to hate them and I'm afraid that I've taken up their temptation.
Until Next Time
The Reluctant Reactionary
Thursday, October 06, 2005
I must admit I'm expecting the worst for this conference. The HK police appear rather too wimpy to confront this kind violent protest. It has been my experience here that the police tend to try to follow the Chinese maxim of "Make big problems small problems and ignore small problems" They negociate, they cajole and the try to defuse a situation. That won't work.
I have some some sympathy for the issues these people raise but I have no sympathy for them. They are out of line, over the top and beyond the pale.
I hope they don't cause any trouble. But, if they do cause trouble, I hope the government calls out the PLA Garrison for help.
One rioter one bullet.
The Right Wing Reactionary Blogger
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I could look it up but I don't think I'd be satisfied with the definition. I don't know where my home is anymore.
This summer I had the strange experience of going to visit my family home and being intensely homesick for for Hong Kong at the same time. Makes me wonder where I am really from. Actually I was glad to see people I hadn't seen in nearly a decade but missed the cramped flat and steamy weather in Hong Kong. I almost wept through parts of Alabama. It is, contrary to what Hollywood movies portray, a beautiful place. I found my self longing to move back to a small house on some land.
But, I was excited to land at Chek-Lap Kok and ride the bus home to Causeway Bay. My wife and I are planning to travel this Christmas. It seems that our only family tradition is impermanence.
I feel like a hydroponic plant. I have no roots
Until Next Time
The Homeless Blogger
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
There are many items that I feel should never have been invented. Cell phones generally top this list but there are others. Most of these, strangely enough, tend to be kitchen gadgets. Maybe the world has become so Ronco'd that everybody needs more than a knife, unless it is a "Ginsu" to "slice, dice and make Julian Fries." Or maybe I'm just not very up-to-date.
Once you get beyond cell phones; electric carving knives and electric can-openers along with food processors and expresso machines top the list of bad technology. Goofy peeler's and sandwich-makers, Popcorn-makers, microwave egg cookers and bread-machines are also some of my least favorite things. These items take more time to setup, cleanup and put-up, cut with, chop, brew or knead bread than doing the same thing without them.
Sometimes, as in the case of the electric carving knife they appear to be outright dangerous and in the case of the electric can-opener are simply an exercise in laziness. Not to mention that many times they remove not only the tedium but the fun parts of the activity they supposedly relieve us of. Other times they simply seem to add work rather than save labor in which case I ask: "What's the point?"
I am, it seems normally more vocal in speaking out about the bad technology than I am fond of praising the good. I don't know why that is but it is so. Maybe I just expect things to work.
I do, however, also have a list of items that actually have made life easier or better. Oddly enough, most of my favorite technology items are also kitchen related. I guess I am just obsessed with food. Many of the items on this list are quite old inventions such paper, ballpoint pens and canned food. However, the microwave oven, the electric light and mechanical processes like lathing and grinding by other than animal power are also included as are the washing machine and the clothes dryer.
I also have some items like computers and televisions that I am ambivalent about. Sometime I like them and sometimes I don't.
My list of favorite technology recently changed. I used to put the microwave oven as my favorite thing. I am, when I want to be an excellent cook. Much better than my wife but I am also somewhat lazy. Thus, the microwave has been a favorite of mine for it's quick and easy heating and reheating for years. But, the microwave has fallen to number two. Number one is a new item and one that I must admit I'd over looked for too long. The refrigerator.
When you look at what refrigeration has done to change the world it is a simply amazing invention. How many deaths have been prevented by refrigeration? Probably millions. Think of the cases of food poisoning that haven't happened because food was kept too cold for germs to grow in! Is there anything more refreshing than a cold drink on a hot day? Related to this would be airconditioning and that is another favorite thing.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online the origin of refrigeration can be traced to a cat named Carl von Linde who invented a feasible way of liquefying gases. The compression and expansion of gases is the heart and soul of a refrigeration system. What an absolutely wonder invention.
I think I'll stroll over to my family frig' and open cold one in honor of Carl von Linde.
Until next time
The Airconditioned and refrigerated Blogger
Monday, September 26, 2005
It did take me nearly 40 minutes longer to get to work today but there was no evacuation, there was no panic. Kids here actually pray for typhoons here like kids in Minnesota pray for snow days. It is just a chance to stay home and watch TV.
Perhaps the government of NO could learn a lesson. Don't build below sea level. Build building that can withstand the winds and then get on with your life.
Until Next Time
The Hoping for a Typhoon Blogger
Friday, September 23, 2005
One of the weirdest things however are the t-shirts. You quite often see people, especially women wearing things that are really meant to be bought as gag gifts at adult book stores and never worn. I've seen women wearing t-shirts that say things like "I'm a juicy bimbo." "Just do me; Please, just do me," "Super Rich & Super Bitch," "My panties your pleasure" and my all time favorite "Sex instructor-first lesson is free." This doesn't count the ubiquitous "Bitch, Bitch, Bitch"
This situation isn't helped by a clothing chain called "The French Connection of the United Kingdom" which trades under the acronym "FCUK" They sell shirts with the words "FCUK YOU" as advertisement.
Why would anybody buy clothing from a store with a name like that? Perhaps I'm just too up tight but I can't see that it is funny and if that is fashion then I'll stay with my plain green singlet and running shoes and sweatband.
You also see lots of funny but more innocent bloopers and misspellings on shirts. Unlike the obscene examples above, these can be quite funny and are generally worth a read. My wife has a mouse t-shirt with the words "Ingenuous Mouse" embroidered over Mickey's head. I can't help but think it was supposed to say "Ingenious Mouse."
Others simply make no sense at all. "The red and the green make a hard palette of colorful odor in my Tuesday stomach" is one that an office worker I know wears quite often. Clueless does not even begin to describe my reaction to this. It looks like random words that a MS Word program could not find a spelling mistake in.
All of this is a result of language. Most of the people wearing these shirts don't have a clue what they say. However, this theory breaks down when you see tourist wearing shirts. Tourists don't normally wear the obscene shirts but they often wear really provocative political shirts. Don't get me wrong there is a place for these shirts at conventions or party rallies. But, I do wonder about the wisdom of wearing them in public in Asia.
I saw a girl this morning in an Anti-George Bush t-shirt. I'm not going to go into what was on the shirt or even whether I agree with the shirt or not. The issue is that wearing that shirt in Asia is a bad move in several ways.
Foremost of these is that anti-Americanism is not limited to party outside of the US. Bashing George Bush and bashing John Kerry is the same thing here much of the time. The Chinese make think President Bush is a cowboy or warmonger but they also think that Bill Clinton was an idiot and buffoon. There is no love for either of them. Thus the anti-Americanism is not decreased by spouting or wearing anti-Bush stuff. That means that wearing Anti-Bush shirts, or Anti-Kerry shirts simply increase hostility generally rather than focusing it on a particular target.
Do Americans, or Europeans or whomever think that people in China, or Indonesia or Bali truly understand the problems and issues faced in the US? Do people really think that people in Asia even care? Isn't it somewhat presumptuous to think they are not more concerned about what goes on in their own country?
Worse, by increasing the amount of Anti-Americanism in Asia these tourist are making themselves as well as me, targets. I don't like people making me a target along with themselves. These shirts make you a target.
I believe that a lot of the Anti-Americanismm in the third world is also is simply political hyperbole. It is easier for politicians in struggling countries to blame their countries problems on someone else than to take the possibly dangerous steps needed to correct those problems.
In reality, the vast majority of people in the world have almost no clue as to the problems and issues being dealt wih in American politics. They are Anti-American because they have conditioned to be so by leaders with an agenda. This is not to say that the US is blameless, it isn't but very often the extent of blame the US receives for the plight of the starving in the third world is much less thant the blame that should be apportioned to the local leaders who live in luxury while their people starve.
Likewise, most tourist have almost no conception of what life is like in a different place.
In any case, for whatever reason, there is a lot of anti-Americanism in the world today. Do you really want to remind people in a country you are vacationing in that they don't like you?
At best I think people wearing these look silly and at worst they look petulant, mean and narrow minded. I've seen exceptions but this is a general rule. I don't wear political shirts. I wish others would follow my example
I could write more but this is probably enough.
Until next time I am
The non-political logoed Blogger