Wednesday, December 20, 2006

 

Someone else's Turn

Steven James, who I don't know has written another HK Christmas Carol.

Pretty funny

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Christmas Caroling Blogger

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Walk About

The lovely, really smart, looks 20-years younger than she is, wife and I made our normal all-day walk about in Shenzhen this past Saturday. I enjoy these outings for many reasons but not the least of them is seeing how China has changed over the past dozen years or so.

China has lots going for it these days. However, I am not as rosy about China's future as many people are. Here is why:
  1. China has 1/6 th of the world's population but 1/2 of all the smokers live in China. When I am in China it sometimes it seems like my wife and I are the only people on the street not smoking. Since the population of China is fairly young I wonder what the effect upon the health care system and labor supply will be in 25 years when all of the 30 somethings are 50 somethings with lung cancer?
  2. The One-Child policy means that China has a rapidly aging population. Indeed, China's population will start to fall in the near future. While this good in many respects it means that the cost of labor in China is going to rise dramatically and soon. It also means that the stuff that is manufactured in China is going to become much more expensive. China will no longer be the ubiquitous source for cheap shoes or toys. What will that do to the economy of China?
  3. China has huge, modern looking cities that are fed by aging peasants who own tiny farms that are plowed with oxen. Most of the younger generation have moved to the cities for better paying jobs. China needs to allow the creation of large, efficient farms that use modern technology. It also needs to encourage at some of the next generation to stay on those modern farms. A nation cannot truly call it self a super power if it relies upon illiterate 70 year olds to grow its food. Who is going to feed all those factory workers as the farmers, many of whom are already elderly die?
  4. I could not be normally called an environmentalist. However, China has huge environmental problems which if not addressed are going to kill the nation. There are thousands probably tens of thousands of kilometers of rivers that are horribly polluted. Worse than anything anywhere in Western Europe or North America. China is literally polluting its drinking water to the point that not only can the water not drunk but KILLS crops that are watered with it. While less obvious than the foul air this is a horrific problem that China must address soon to avoid literally dying of thirst. What is China going to do about its water supply?
  5. China needs to deal with the endemic corruption that is part and parcel of the lower levels of government. That probably means that the party needs to allow people to openly criticize the party. In short, China needs to live up to the rights it constitutionally guarantees to its citizens and allow free speech. How can government corruption be fought if it is against the law to complain about the government?
  6. Indeed, the government in China needs to enforce its constitution at many levels. If it did many of the problems in China would become much more solvable. When will the government of China prosecute county and provincial officials who oppress religious and political groups which have a constitutional right to exist in China?
  7. China needs to harness the patriotism of its population in positive ways. True patriots want the best for their country and do not simply parrot the party line. It is time for the people of China to stand up and demand that their government change. When will the Chinese people learn that they must stand up for a better China?
Locals in Hong Kong probably know all of these things. It may even be patently obvious to everybody but me. But, it is what I have been thinking about this week

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Observes China

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Friday, December 15, 2006

 

Fancy squirrel stew or roast fox? TV chef gets meals from tarmac to table

Back when I was a kid we always used to laugh at the poor, reclusive old woman who would clean and eat road kill.

We called her crazy.

I guess if she'd lived in the UK she could have been a TV star.

It looks like crazy red-necks have come up in the world

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who will continue to get his meat from the store

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Just Leave Christmas Alone

This is an old column by Charles the Hammer.

It is also one of his best ever.

Merry Christmas
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Celebrates Christmas

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

 

The day we killed John Lemon (er, I meant Lennon)

I am so tired of the deification process that pseudo-intellectual, aging hippie losers with brains that are fried from drug use keep trying to start for this guy.

"Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world..."


He couldn't imagine this. If he could have imagined it and it bothered him he would have given away his wealth to help the poor. He didn't, he just sang about it. I read somewhere that Lennon was worth just over 40 million at the time of his death. How much good would 20 million or so have do to alleviate the problems he was singing about?

Here is my new verse for this song

Imagine 20 million
I wonder if I can
No need for them to suffer
I've got more than I can spend
Imagine all the people
Sharing what I have!


Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Not a John Lennon Fan Blogger

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

 

Not From My Baby You Won't!

An official in the UK is seriously suggesting that the country take samples of everyone's DNA when they are born and of immigrants and store those records in a database. I cannot believe that anyone in their right mind would allow a government to do this. George Orwell would be proud of this guy!

There are several objections that spring to mind with a plan like this:
None of these are even remotely acceptable. Any government that would keep records of every citizen like this is evil and any nation with this type of surveillance cannot call itself a free country. Period, full-stop, end of argument. They will not accept genetically modified wheat or corn but they will allow this?

First get samples of the DNA, then control the parents, number, gender, intelligence, personality and other genetically influenced aspects of citizens lives through genetic manipulation. "Hello Cybermen!" Unfortunately there is no Dr. Who to save us!

But I guess I'm just a paranoid American who has an irrational fear of government.

Better an irrational freeman than a rational slave

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Libertine Blogger

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Monday, December 11, 2006

 

Shenzhen

The wife and I went to Shenzhen on Saturday.

I always enjoy going one of the nearby cities in the PRC proper; it is a good break from Hong Kong Kong. In Shenzhen we did a little Christmas shopping but mainly just explored. We rode the subway to an area we'd not been to before and just walked all day from about 11:30 AM until about 6:00PM with a 1 1/2 hour lunch in a hot pot restaurant.

One of the great things about China is the mangled English that you see on signs. Here are some I saw on Saturday

#1 - Sorry this is a bit fuzzy. The name on the store is "Bo Lin WHTCH" So are they selling watches or witches? Phonetically it could be either but in reality all they had were handbags.

#2- I wonder if this store named "B.S.Boy" sells counterfeit jeans, mushrooms or organic fertilizer?
#3 I find it rather strange that a Nation that is officially Atheist would have so many stores that sell Christmas decorations. I do not remember seeing stores like this in the malls at home. Well, maybe one but not a whole city block of them


Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who Shops in the PRC

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

 

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

The Hong Kong government officially abandoned its plans for a GST this week.

It is now seeking a more socially palatable tax and is considering, among other things a Capital Gains tax. These people just go from bad to worse. One of the strengths of the Hong Kong economy is that every body saves. The population as a whole saves nearly 20% of their income. A capital gains tax discourages saving and investment and amounts to a double tax on income. It would also hit the middle classes here very hard.

Hey Henry Tsang, has anyone ever told you you are aren't as smart as you think you are?

Because I believe in civic responsibly, I am going help Henry. I am going to propose taxes that would be neither repressive nor onerous and would not not have a devastating effect upon the poor that the GST or Capital gains taxes would have. Some of these are serious and some are tounge in cheek. I'll let Mr. Tsang decide which is which

1. A flat HKD$1000.00 tax on every shipping container that leaves the port of Hong Kong. This would be easy to collect and raise about 20 billion a year. Since it would only apply to goods shipped from or transshipped through Hong Kong it would be a tax that is paid by people in other countries. Since the value of a container of goods can be millions it is actually a trifling tax and the people who purchased the goods in the container could simply pass the increased cost along to the consumers in the destination country.

2. A imaginary square footage property tax on developers. This would be a tax on the difference between the advertised size of a flat and the actual interior size. Thus if a developer builds a flat that is advertised at 1200 square feet and the interior actually measures 800 square feet then the developer would have to pay a tax on 400 square feet a year for as long as the building stands. The rate for this should be some thing like $25.00 a square foot. The tax would be non-transferable so that the builders could not slide the tax into a management fee. Existing buildings would be exempt from this tax but the floor space would have to corrected when the flat was sold. This might not raise a lot of money but it would go a long, long, long way toward making the Hong Kong real estate market more honest.

3. A flat $100.00 tax on any new cell phone with a new price of over HKD $2500.00

4. Tax the contracts of Filipino and Indonesian maids. If you are rich enough to afford a maid you are rich enough to be taxed for it. How about making the tax equivalent of 1/2 the total cost of the contract. (Note, this a tax paid by the employers of the maid not by the maid)

5. Quadruple the amount of taxes on everything associated with private automobiles. License, purchase fees, petrol everything. Nobody needs a car here anyway. Clearing the roads of the arrogant, unsafe drivers who think the are a superior species would make Hong Kong a safer place and the government might not need to build that extra freeway through Central.

6. Impose a one time "Your sooooooooooo ugly" tax of about $60 billion on Nina Wong.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Tax Expert Blogger

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Confessions of a Retrogrouch

Sometimes it is good to know you aren't alone.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Retrogrouch Blogger

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

 

Burned Out

This has been a strange few months.

I started this school year with a bang because I was coordinating a big project to give us inventory control of textbooks. That meant that I started tired. It was a lot of work. I generally try to push big jobs to either the beginning or the end of the year because I feel that it gives me more time to deal with students and the normal everyday grunt work of running my library. However, the textbook inventory program was a bear. It really took a lot out of me. Almost immediately after that I had to coordinate our Fall Fair. Then the main book order arrived and had to be processed. I am the faculty representative for the standing committee that deals with accreditation issues. I just finished being a chaperon to a group of middle school students on a week long field trip of camping and hiking.

It gets worse after the Christmas break. The school is moving to a new campus next year so I have to start managing and implementing the moving process not to mention doing the technical assistance for staging and construction for school concerts, plays and other performances. I hit the ground running in August and haven’t slowed down.

I realized somewhere about mid-October that I do not want to do this anymore. I am tired. I am tired of working from 7:00 AM until 4:30 PM or later, not including many Saturdays and eating lunch at my desk.

I am tired of dealing with children, who have had so many extra English, Math, Advanced Math, Really Advanced Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Violin, Piano, Russian, Japanese, Sanskrit and SAT preparation course or tutors that they don’t know how to play and be real children. I am tired of dealing with children raised by Filipino maids who are psychotic because they only see their parents once a month and have never been the recipient of any form of loving discipline other than bribes. I am tired of dealing with kids that are given more money for their allowance every week than Bruce Wayne could make in a month.

I am tired of the air-pollution. I am tired of having to listen to old-men yell into their cell-phones on the bus. I am tired of people farting in the MTR. I am tired of people who claim to be so busy yet walk so slowly on the street. I am tired of the vacuous TV. I am tired of the crowds. I am tired of the abysmal customer service. I am tired living in a cramped flat with no closets. I am tired of the noise. I am tired of smelling the polluted harbor. I am tired of having to carry an MP3 player so that I can tune out the surrounding environment. I am tired of having to pay a fee to listen to baseball via the Internet. I am tired of feeling like I have to be rude to walk down the street. I am tired of my upstairs neighbor’s karaoke machine.

I am tired of the paternalistic, do nothing, mealy mouthed government bureaucrats who are more interested in keeping their over paid jobs than providing good government. I am tired of bow-ties, crew-cuts, long hair and the broom head. I'm tired of Anson Chan and Nina Wong. I am tired of having to carry an ID card with my life history and finger prints recorded on it.

I am tired of walking by dried seafood stores.

I am tired of having Pakistani tailors wanting to make me a suit.

It would not bother me if I never see another mini-bus.

I’ve been in Hong Kong for 10 years and I am tired of it. I am beginning to wonder if it isn’t time to cash in and go somewhere else.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Thinks Mineral Wells is Looking Better All the Time

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

 

Cell-Phone Bells

It is that time of year again.
Christmas is weird in Hong Kong. Over the years I have wondered what would Christmas Carols have been like if their writers had been from Hong Kong? Sir David Bowring, who was governor of Hong Kong wrote a Christmas Carol but it isn't very good and nobody ever sings it. So I'm left with rewriting the carols of others with a Hong Kong flavor.

You can see my previous efforts by clicking the links below.

Walking in a Hong Kong Wonderland

Hong Kong 12 Days

Hong Kong Jingle Bells

This Year I have chosen the Carol "Silver Bells" as my Hong Kong Carol

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.
Dressed in DKNY style
In the bus
There's a few
old men standing

Children pouting
People staring
walking mile after mile
And on ev'ry street corner you'll hear

Cell-phone bells, cell-phone bells
It's still work time in the city
Ring-a-ling, don't you hate them to sing?
Soon it will be dim-sum time

Strings of street lights
Even stop lights
Blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush
home with their cell-phones

Hear the snacks crunch
See the tourist bunch
"Is this the way to Mong Kok?"
And above all this bustle
You'll hear

Cell-phone bells, Cell-phone bells
It's still work time in the city
Ring-a-ling, don't you hate it when they sing?
Soon it will be dim-sum time

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Christmas Caroling Blogger

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Monday, December 04, 2006

 

Amen!

I cannot agree more

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Doesn't Trust Reporters

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