Friday, September 22, 2006

Charles the Hammer Pounds Heads

One of my favorite columnist strikes again.
And yes, the use of the historical nickname is intentional

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Wishes He could Write as Well

Human Rights in China

I don't quite know how to react to the article above.

I am not normally a huge fan of Amnesty International but I think they are correct in this instance. I am also glad to see they are paying attention to China.

Now, if you'd start seeing headlines about the pollution in China I'd begin to think that there is hope for the profession of news reporting. I find it incredible that anyone who has been to China and then been to the US or Europe can claim with a straight face that China isn't the worst polluter on Earth. It isn't close.

China has a long way to go before it is a truly modern and free country. However, it is heading in the right direction. I just wish it would get there sooner.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Wishes China Would Clean Up It's Act In More Ways Than One

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Unshelved for today

I have an Internet subscription to this comic.
Today is a fitting one for Hong Kong

You can see more of these and get your own subscription to Unshelved at the Unshelved Website

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Doesn't LIke Cell Phones

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Say What?

It would not be unfair to label me as an "Anti-Catholic" However, I've got to admire this current Pope. It takes guts to stand up and say that Islam is a violent and backward religion. Not because it isn't but because the Muslims will then kill you for saying it.

The term oxymoron is one that applies to Muslims conceptions about them selves. They think they are peaceful but they are not. They think they are enlightened but they are not. They think that Mohammed was a prophet but he was not. They think the Quran is holy when it is not. They think they are going to Heaven but they are not.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Non-Muslim Blogger

Friday, September 15, 2006

50 Ways to irritate anybody

38 &39 are particularly appropriate for Hong Kong

However, I don't think this list goes nearly far enough. However, it is a start.

51. People who yell into their cell phone.

52. Old men who drink beer on the bus

53. Teenagers who make out or in some case apear to be making love in the MTR or on the bus.

54. University undergraduates who think they understand more of the world than any adult except perhaps that special professor.

55. Karaoke machine in high rise dwellings

56. Grocery stores putting regular priced items over signs for sale merchandise

57. Parents who let their children run around restaurants

58. Young people who dress, walk and behave in an obviously threatening manner who then get upset when you don't trust them.

59. Any photograph of Nina Wong

60. Taxi drivers who take you from Kowloon City to Causeway bay via Tai Po and Lo Wu.

Feel free to ad your own

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The List making Blogger

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I must be stranger than I thought.

I was in Wellcome last night and just got totally lost in thought while buying grapefruit that was on sale. (For those not in Hong Kong, Wellcome is a grocery store chain that misspelled the word Welcome on purpose so they could trademark it) I don't know why I remembered this incident last night, it isn't that I haven't purchased grapefruit many times before.

When I was a about 11 or 12, I helped some of my cousins build an air powered cannon that we used to shoot moldy grapefruit across a pasture.

My grandfather had a air-compressor that ran off a 30 horsepower motor that he bought from a factory that closed down. This was a compressor that was designed to power 10 or 20 air-tools at one time. It had just a huge tank that was about 10 feet tall by 5 feet in diameter and could store air at just enormous pressure. It had a brass multi-connection point air line that ran down one wall of the barn and you could hook up a 3/4 inch rubber line to the brass line. Among other things it could drive an air powered table saw with a 15 inch blade. (Isn't it interesting what kids used to play with when I was young?)

Well, we found a 4 foot length of 5 or 6 inch iron sewer pipe that was new. Mike who was the oldest and knew something about welding, welded the end cap shut. We then drilled a hole in the back of the pipe and placed an air-hose fitting through the hole which was secured on both sides by a washer and nut. It was then a simple matter to charge up the compressor tank to a ridiculous level of pressure and connect up the cannon to the hose. Because there were cut-off switches on the brass feeder line we had a ready made trigger.

We'd place a wad of old news-paper in the barrel and a grapefruit on top of the paper then another wad of paper to hold the grapefruit tight. Two of us would hold the cannon up at an angle, one would count to three and the fourth kid would quickly open the cutoff valve.

Pow! A moldy grapefruit would fly 200 to 300 yards out into the pasture. We had a 20 lb bag of old grapefruit that we were supposed to feed to pigs but this was way more fun. The best part was that Mike kept turning the compressor higher to get more distance. This meant that some times, if it were a particularly moldy grapefruit it wouldn't fly at all but disintegrate when the air hit it and we'd all get doused in moldy grapefruit juice.

We finally over loaded the rubber air hose that connected the cannon to the brass feeder tube and it blew up with a bang that caused more than one of us to wet our pants.

Kids can't have fun like that anymore

After an unknown period of memories I suddenly remembered that I was in Wellcome. I looked up and only saw one or two odd looks. Sometime memories are worth it.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
Who Sometimes Wishes He Could Be 12 Again

Monday, September 11, 2006

In the Air

My wife is flying from London to HK today.

What a day to fly.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao

Monday, September 04, 2006

The GST Once Again

The proposed GST is still in the news here. It looks to me as though the government is going to implement some form of this even if it has to do it over the dead bodies of most of citizenry of Hong Kong.

I have spent considerable time wondering "Why the big push for this when there are other options available?" I'd put it down to the normal pig headed stubbornness that I often see here. When Hong Konger's get an idea about something they often seem to be unable to let it go. I think it has something to do with the vomitoria style of education here. They are used to memorizing one answer for any problem and then vomiting it back to the teacher when demanded. I think that form of education, especially when taken to the extreme that Hong Kong government schools take it, results in people who know lots of facts but cannot creatively solve problems. However, in this case, I'm not so sure about that anymore.

I think I may have to give Henry Tang some credit. He seems to have actually risen all the way up to the level of low cunning. I have speculated before that the real reason for this tax is not to simply "Broaden the tax base" but to broaden the government. I think, I have some indirect proof of that. Here is a link to an article from the investment firm of Price,Waterhouse and Cooper.

It has some rather unusual statistics about Hong Kong.

Apparently, one of the goals of the Hong Kong Government is to bring the cost of government down to below 20% of the GDP by 2008. What the article does not tell me is how far above 20% the percentage of the GDP the government take currently is. That 20% figure seemed high to me so being a librarian after all, I looked it up. My intuition was, both wrong and right.

If you look at over all percentage of government expenditures as a portion of GDP you find that the nations on the table spend from about 35% to nearly 60% of the GDP on government. So on the surface, Hong Kong would look to be at the low end of the scale. However, you have to throw out the nations with highly socialistic economies like the Sandinavian countries because their economic structure is very different from Hong Kong.

If you look at the more market oriented nations you'll find that they normally spend about 1/3 to about 1/2 of the GDP on government. However, all of the other nations listed have to also spend money on things that Hong Kong doesn't. For example, when I was an undergraduate, the number 17% was often cited as the amount of the US budget devoted to defense. Well, if you take the 35% or so of GDP the US spends on government and subtract 17% you end up with 18%. If Hong Kong, a market economy is spending over 20% of its GDP on government then as a percentage it is spending somewhere between 2% and 11% more of it's GDP on government without funding an army or navy or a foreign service that mans embassies and consulates. That is assuming that the government currently spends no more than 29% of the GDP on government which is what the article implies to me.

So, what does this have to do with Henry Tang rising above his education?

It appears to me that Henry sees that the government cannot meet its goal of reducing the percentage of the GDP used by government to less than 20%. Especially since most of the HK baboons (My term for the Hong Kong Civil Service) were trained Europe they would look not at the US but at Europe with slower growth, higher taxes and less freedom as their model rather than the traditionally lower tax, higher growth and more personal freedom model that the people here are used to.

In short, I don't think Henry Tang believes the government can reduce its cost to less than 20% of the GDP because countries like France, and the UK and Germany are, after subtracting their military and diplomatic budgets, higher than that, but can't say so because of the political problems it would cost. He wants to keep his job.

He is trying to find a way to increase the governments revenue to, at least in part, cover the bloated salaries that government officials are paid because he knows very well that those salaries are one of the first things that the local population will call for cutting rather than raising taxes.

A GST is a good way to do that because it is a hidden tax. People pay it a little at a time. They get used to it after a while. So why should Henry cut his salary or forgo hiring 50 more cronies at the ministerial level? Why not raise taxes?

Or, it could be that Henry is thinking like a European socialist. He may believe that the road to freedom is to tax the population into prosperity.

Or maybe He thinks his astronomical salary of over USD $45,000.00 per month is justified because he is so much more competant than the average Zhou.

Or maybe, it is just low cuning

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Libertine Blogger

Friday, September 01, 2006

My wife would kill me

That must be some bike.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Would Rather Sleep with His Wife