Saturday, December 29, 2007
The daughter and the boyfriend returned to the UK so the really-smart, looks twenty-five younger than she is wife and I have the flat to ourselves again.
However, to celibrate this my wife made me two appointments yesterday. I went to the dentist in the morning and to get my prostate medicine renewed in the afternooon. I cannot imagine a worse day than a dentist in the morning and a prostate exame in the afternoon.
Until next time
The blogger who is finishing up his holidays
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The really smart, pretty, looks twenty-five years younger than she is wife and I have been looking for a new church for the past couple of months for a variety of reasons. For a city with a fairly large number of prominent churches this has been harder than you might think. Part of that process took us to the Christmas pageant presented by "The Vine" in the HKCEC theatre 2.
This was one church that we can scratch off our list.
I can sum up the rest of this post in three words when I say that this Christmas pageant was: offensive, sacrilegious, and blasphemous.
I walked out after about 15 minutes but the wife, our daughter and her non-Christian boyfriend stayed for the whole performance in part because my wife and daughter didn't want to climb over the seats in the last row like I did to get out.
I can honestly say that they had a very good video presentation of the church announcements. I cannot recommend anything else about their service. If this was indicative of the theology that is commonly believed in their church I really wonder about that congregation's salvation.
They had disco dancing angels, God played by an overweight woman, idiotic angels. They made fun of the way God chose Mary and Joseph. They made fun not of Christians as fallen beings but of the invisible church eternal, the nature of God and displayed a shocking lack knowledge of basic Christian doctrine. Those were just the things I saw in 15 minutes or so. My wife told me that they basically disparaged and denigrated the entire Christmas story and that after I left it got worse. I went out side the theatre and sat on a couch not knowing whether to be angry or sad over a church that would do something like this.
Blasphemy is the sin of demeaning the nature of God. This program did that at almost every opportunity tonight. That is a horrible thing to say but I can find no other words.
The non-Christian boyfriend told me that his Anglican relatives would have walked out as well. Then he made another comment that I found profound. He said: "This looked like a spoof of the Christmas story that anti-Christians would have staged to make fun of Christians." Wow! How is that for a comment from an unbeliever. He was on the other hand almost amused by the event which in this case, isn't good.
We brought him to this service as an evangelistic opportunity. I'd hoped that he would see the wonder and awe inherent in the Christmas story. What he saw was poor almost beyond belief.
Great job guys! you're doing the devil's work better than he could himself.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who is still trying to celebrate Christmas.
Monday, December 10, 2007
This year I have been thinking about how the holiday season has changed for me over time. Family traditions are a nebulous thing in my household. I guess that the nearest thing to a Christmas tradition we had was the concept of a Christmas trip. Whether that was going back to see my parents when we were in Austin or later family trips the Bahamas, Guam or Thailand, we've taken trips at Christmas several times. We also used to host graduate students from the mainland when we had a larger apartment. This was a really nice way to spend a holiday.
The really smart, very pretty, looks twenty-five years younger than she is, hard working and gracious wife and I will also spend several hours with a bowl of popcorn watching corny old Christmas movies. I can't stand "It's a Wonderful Life" but most of them I really enjoy. The Polar Express from a couple of years ago has moved up to the top of my personal list of Christmas movies but you are free to have your own.
I also try to read through the Christmas story in the book of Luke several times in December.
When I was a child my parents would drive us kids around to see the lights on people's houses. There was a competition in the town at that time and neighborhoods would compete for some sort of prize or trophy for best decorated neighborhood as well as individuals. This was a very simple thing for my parents to do. Just load the kids in the back of the 65 Chevy after dark and head off to where the lights were. Yet it was one of my favorite things and one of my most cherished memories. Sometimes we'd see lights that said "Happy Hanuka" and I found it pleasant to know that Jewish people could celebrate the holidays too. It made me aware of the fact that there were were people who believed different things and that is a good lesson for any child to learn. One year, a rather well known atheist in our town decorated his house for Christmas with the words "Bah-Humbug" and images of Scrooge and Tiny Tim on crutches. He didn't think that Christmas should be a holiday at all. He won the prize for the best lights display that year which may not have been his intention. I thought it was hilarious and laughed really hard when I read that he'd won in the paper. Something else that may not have been his intention was that because I didn't understand the meaning of his display, I read "A Christmas Carrol" by Charles Dickens. I have wondered at times if that man ever read the ending of that book? I can't say those lights changed my life but seeing them did improve my life.
In a similar vein my wife, who deserves the superlatives listed above, and I try to ride the Star Ferry across the harbor at this time of year to see the lights on the buildings. It is something that I always look forward to. I thought of that this week and I thought of those lights that said "Bah-Humbug" on that house so long ago. I thought of the strings of memory that tie us to what we were and shape us in unpredictable ways years later.
The existentialist in me has been wondering about these kinds of things lately. I don't know why, sometimes I just can't help myself. I asked myself, "When do silly things become a tradition and when do those traditions take on an importance beyond the actual deed?" When did driving around looking at Christmas lights on people's houses become more than entertainment for me and become a cherished memory? When did seeing the lights on Hong Kong buildings go from being something that happened almost accidentally into something intentional? When does the trivial, the small and the ordinary become special? When and how do we raise those special thing to an almost religious status? I don't know if I can answer those questions. If I could I don't think I would want to. I'm not going to try. Sometimes knowing the answer ruins everything. Sometimes I just have to sit back and marvel at how wonderful it is to be able to develop family traditions at all.
It occurs to me that family traditions like this are a very odd thing. They are personal yet occur in a group. The best ones also seem to just happen. They aren't forced or intentional but become intentional through the pleasure they give us. I can see this in one of the Christmas movies I watch which isn't really a Christmas movie at all as far as I know. It's Donovan's Reef, staring John Wayne, Lee Marvin and (I think) Maureen O'Hara. It is set on a Pacific Island just after World War II. It is a fairly typical romantic comedy of the 1950's, a "B" movie all the way but a fun one. It does have a Christmas scene, and that makes it a Christmas movie to me, that I laughed at as a child, thought was culturally insensitive as a university student and find profound today in a way that I don't think the people who made the movie ever intended.
In the movie the people of the island produce a Christmas pageant in a ruinous church with a leaky roof. The major part of the pageant is the adoration of the wise men who in the movie are represented by the King of Polynesia, the Emperor of China and the King of the United States of America. Besides the cheap laugh of seeing Lee Marvin dressed as the Statue of Liberty there is something going on in this scene that has parallels in my family. I see a group of people of mixed culture and race adapting and blending traditions from somewhere else into something that is meaningful to them. It is new but contains elements of things from somewhere else. I think of the foods my family eats on Christmas and how different those are from what we had when I was a child. It is different in every particular and yet exactly the same.
It is the same because it is the same love and joy, the same fellowship, it doesn't matter what we eat. It is, or so it seems to me, the Dickensonian Spirit of Christmas Present making merry with all who will make merry with him. It is the wonder of the Christ child, helpless in a manger. It is all things good, all things desirable and all things wonderful. It is no surprise to me that the best hymns, from a musical and theological standpoint, are often Christmas carols.
This blog averages about three hits a day. I can watch the number but don't have any idea who is behind the numbers. But, whoever you are, "Merry Christmas from me and mine to you and yours. May the love of the Christ child be yours this year and for many to come"
I may not be able to post much for the next couple of weeks.
Until Next Time
The Holiday Making Blogger
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Lets see we had a choice between:
1. A Running Dog of the British (Anson Chan)
2. A Running Dog of the PRC (Regina Ip)
3. A Welfare Queen activist with an IQ in the low 80's who probably graduated 1st in her class from HKU with a degree in Social Basket Weaving (Ho Loy)
4. A union leader who despite being Chinese bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Jimmy Hoffa. I'm actually surprised he didn't do better in this election. I guess the local union thugs haven't figured out how to buy votes like they do in France the UK and the US
5. Cecelia Ling (she seemed like a fairly bright and competent person except for her generic Hong Kong secretary style helmet cut hair)
6. Some old guy with a mustache who was I think a former district councilor but who looked like the manager of a Karaoke Bar behind Nathan Road
7. Another guy who did some sort of Tai Chi for some reason or another.
8. Does anybody really know who the eighth person in this election was? The skinny guy. I saw him on TV. He had no organization, no volunteers and evidently no clue.
Those ancient Greeks who thought up the idea of participatory government must be spinning in their graves. They assumed that the cream of society would rise to the top and thus good leadership would win out. I guess they never lived here
Anson Chan may have been the cream of Hong Kong society one upon a time but that cream soured years ago. What is really sad is that she was demonstratively the best candidate in many ways.
On a stranger note, the Franklin Graham evangelistic meeting ended yesterday. 120,000 in the Stadium and easily over 100,000 more on the infield of the Happy Valley race track. I guess if you didn't like the sermon you could place a bet. Maybe the Jockey club should have taken odds on the number of professions of faith.
They also had full venues at Yuen Long and in Macao. Not counting Macao there were probably over 250,000 attending this thing if you counted all the venues. I think it says something about the number Christians in Hong Kong or possibly the amount of spiritual hunger here.
What is strange is that TVB didn't report about this on the new last night. I don't know about ATV. However, I'm just a little curious, isn't 250,000 people attending an event a newsworthy topic?
I mean if 250,000 street sweepers decided to strike and march from Chai Wan to Chatter Garden on a Sunday afternoon to demand that the government give them bigger brooms wouldn't it make the news? It would seem that the TV stations here might have been able to run a short story on it. Maybe they though all those people were going to vote.
I guess that is why I am not a journalist. I'm not able to discern what is a big story from what is important.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who can't vote in Hong Kong
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I have had no contact with UT Austin since I graduated.
Yet I have, 11 years after the last time I set foot on their campus started to receive the "Texas Exes Newsletter." I know other alumni of other institutions that have experienced the same phenomenon. You can never get away. They always find you. It is actually kind of scary. It makes me think that the UT fight song which is sung at football games is more than a simple song.
It seems to me that that if the United States really wanted to find Osama bin Ladin
Until Next Time
Monday, November 26, 2007
I'll probably post a more light hearted carol in a couple of days.
O Little Town of
Shui Wai Tin
O little town of
, Tin Shui Wai
How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep unemployed sleep
The silent stars drive by;
Yet the dark Mercedes hideth
The everlasting bureaucrat;
Whose hopes and fears for retirement years
Are fading as you die.
For children born of immigrants,
And gathered in one place
While parents work the siblings keep
their watch of indifferent love.
O buildings packed together
Proclaim the builder's greed.
In flats so small a barbie doll.
Would find them cramped and leave.
How silently, how silently
The wordless grief is given!
The hopeless lives of migrant wives
Their fate fixed for all time.
No ear may hear them falling;
‘till on the ground they lie,
Where hopeless grief collides with concrete
And all we can do is cry.
Where children bound hand and foot,
Pray simply be spared;
Their misery cries out to me,
Can we not do better by thee?
Where charity stands watching,
And LEGCO holds wide the door,
The dark night screams, the body breaks,
and the coroner comes once more.
O lonely child of Tin Shui Wai,
Descend not to the pavement, we pray;
Cast not out thy self but stay within;
Find some hope in life today!
There is be more for you than you see
More than the Donald Tsang could ever say;
For though it is true that he has ignored you
You don't deserve to die.
Until Next Time
The Christmas Caroling Blogger
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
20: But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
23: Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Matthew 1:18-25My really smart, looks 25 years younger than she is, hard working, successful, and loving wife did something that I should have expected this weekend but caught me by surprise anyway.
She put up and decorated a Christmas tree. Seeing as it is almost Thanksgiving and some of the buildings in Central already have their gaudy light displays that change from Christmas to Julian New Year to Chinese New Year up I shouldn’t have been surprised by this but I was. I realized on Saturday that this was the first time I can remember that I was not really looking forward to the holiday season. This has been a tough year for us and the end of the year is going to be even tougher.The school I work for moves to a new building in a month and I’m somewhat stressed about packing and moving. But more than that, my wife and I have made plans this year for our careers that God has set aside three times. We’ve canceled airline tickets that were non-refundable, lost a couple of friends over our changed plans and generally been in a state of uncertainty about where to live and what to do. The wife decided not to take a job in
And then I thought of Mary. I find it odd that we don’t know more of her family in the Bible. Imagine your reaction if your daughter came in and said “Dad, I’ve just talked to an angel and he said I’m going to become pregnant with the Messiah even though I’m a virgin.” Try explaining that to your neighbors! I bet Mary’s parents were not looking forward to that first Christmas. I doubt that Joseph was in much of a festive mood either. It would appear to me that there would be a lot in such a narrative that would be of spiritual value. All we can know is that it was probably a stressful time for everyone concerned. Yet, out of this very difficult situation came the greatest of blessings.
Anyway, while thinking of Mary and her family and Joseph and his concerns this weekend I realized anew that I simply need to be thankful for what has gone on in my life this year. I was reminded how easy it is to focus on what is wrong and the things I don’t like and to miss the blessings falling from the sky all around me.
So as we enter another holiday season may the Blessing of the Christ be manifest in you. May the joy of heaven fill your heart and the beauty of the Son of God become a light to your eyes.
Let us look forward to a new year
Until Next Time
The Blogger looking forward to the holidays
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Email from Gambian Princess
Well, my father died earlier seven months ago and left I behind. He was a king, which our town citizens titled him over eighteen years before his death. I was a princess to him and I am the only child and the only person who can take care of his wealth now because my mother died fourteen years ago during the birth of my only brother Jallow who equally died after few hours he was delivered.
My father left the sum of USD,($7.8 M) (SEVEN MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND US DOLLARS,)in a finance company. This money was annually paid into my late fathers account from Shell petroleum development company (spdc) and chevron oil company operating in our locality for the compensation of youth and community development in our jurisdiction.I don‘t know how and what I will do to invest this money somewhere in abroad, so that my father‘s kindred will not take over what belongs to my father and our family, which they were planning to do without my consent because I am a female as stated by our culture in the town.
I am ready to pay 20% of the total amount to you if you help me in this transaction and i have maped out 5% for any expencies that you may encounter during the transfer process,and another 10% interest of Annual Income to you for handling this transaction for me which you will strongly have absolute control over.
If you can handle this project sincerely and also willing to assist me in transfering this fund to your bank account in your countryI want you to know much about me so that we can achieve this together.I will send my photographs and phone number as soon as i hear from you.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who has a really smart, looks 20 years younger than she is wife.
Do accept my sincere apologies if my mail does not meet your personal ethics. I introduce myself as Mr Woods a staff in the accounts management Section of the Bank here in London.
One of our accounts, with holding balance of £15,000,000 (Fifteen Million Pounds Sterling) has been dormant and last operated four years ago. From my investigations and confirmation, the owner of the said account,is a foreigner by name John Shumejda died on the 4th of January 2002 in a plane crash in Birmingham;
for details on the crash you can view this CNN website
Since then nobody has done anything as regards the claiming of this money as he has no family Member who is aware of the existence of either the account nor the Funds. Information from the National Immigration also states that he was single on entry the country.
I have confidentially discussed this issue with one of the top official in the bank and we have agreed to find a reliable foreign partner to deal with. We thus propose to do business with you, standing in as the next of kin of the deceased and have the funds released to you after due processes have been followed.
We wish to start the first transfer with $5,000.000.00 (Five Million) and upon successful transaction without any disappointment from your side; we shall re-apply for the transfer of the remaining balance to your account.
This is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential. I am sure and have confidence of your ability and reliability to prosecute a transaction of this great magnitude. At the conclussion of the transfer 60% of the fund will be for me, I will give you 30% of the total transfer sum, 5% for charity both in london and in your country while the remaining 5% will be set aside to settle expenses both parties might incure during the transfer process.
This transaction is totally free of risk and troubles as the fund is legitimate and does not originate from drug, money laundry, terrorism or any other Illegal act.
On your interest, let me hear from you.
Each one of these was the EXACT same letter but with a different email and bank name.
I guess that Nigerian Princess was able to immigrate
Until Next Time
The Blogger who doesn't have any long lost relatives from Nigeria
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
As I was reading it I couldn't help but think of what St. Paul wrote in Romans about the purpose of the law is to reveal our sinfulness (Romans 3:20) and why we can never have laws exact enough to achieve righteousness. The best we can do is self righteousness and in my experience, no other term more completely describes radical Islam than the term self-righteous.
Until Next Time
The Blogger whose will will never wear a veil
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Until Next Time
The Blogger who would use a can of WD-40 and a lug wrench for this job
Monday, November 12, 2007
If that is the case, I wouldn't want to be a Chinese sailor on a submarine in a real war.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who Wonders if the Chinese Could really be that stupid.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The program at the Chinese medicine clinic really seemed to help get the ball rolling. I lost nearly 7KG in a month with that. I now am losing about 1/2 a KG a week which is good enough. I'd like to be in the 65-70KG range by the spring. We'll see
Until Next Time
The Blogger who isn't as Fai as he used to be.
Monday, November 05, 2007
The people in mid-levels are more concerned about the noise the plane doing the photography will make than the water quality in the harbor
That is just sad
Until Next Time
The Comic Book Hero Blogger
Friday, November 02, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Until Next Time
The Blogger Who has always thought that monkeys were rude.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Until Next Time
The Blogger who is becoming Bearish about the Chinese economy.
Monday, October 22, 2007
More than that, and worse than not seeing the needs of people around us. Our personal bubbles also keep us from seeing the good in others and the beauty of everyday events that make life worth living for those around us. We can spend the whole day hurrying from place to place seeing nothing but our feet and our cell phone. What a terrible thing.
Up until the last year or so Hong Kong billed itself as the "City of Life" Then the government adopted the "Asia's World City" slogan. I'm glad they changed the slogan. I'd always found Hong Kong to be something of a city of darkness. Oh sure, everywhere you go here the streets are filled with neon-tubes advertising everything from air conditioners to Zen meditation schools. But because we are so used to living in our own bubble we end up ignoring the quiet desperation of the person next to us and cannot see the beauty in the lives of others or the world around us. If you've never lived here it is probably difficult to understand how someone can be lonely in a crowd but you are never more alone than when surrounded by 25000 strangers. Hong Kong can be an incredibly lonely place because nobody notices you and nobody cares. Despite the neon, if you really look into people's eyes you often times see a great and terrible darkness, a deep and frightening loneliness. I believe that we often avoid eye contact because we are afraid that others will see in us what we see in them.
This morning, in a moment, without trying I saw the couple in front of me with a new vision.
There is a certain, somewhat nebulous goodness that can sometimes be seen in the way people who care for each other interact with each other. I saw it in them. The gentle touch, the familiar shoulder to rest your head on and the warm hand on the back of your neck; simple acts that have a significance far beyond the obvious pleasure derived. Good things at a deep emotional level, what Martin Heidegger would have called a "Primeval" level. This is a uniquely human thing for it is in loving and caring for each other that we know that we are human. It isn't necessarily a sexual thing because you sometimes see it between people who are just friends and parents and children. It is a loving thing. This morning I saw a tired couple, caring for each other; familiar enough with each other that they didn't care who saw or knew that they were together. There they were, arm in arm, nearly asleep, comfortable in each others embrace. They were relaxed and unconcerned, in a casual display of their love and affection for each other. Beneath the exhaustion, the sweat, the beer and cigarettes were two people, made in the image of God, who cared for each other despite each others flaws and imperfections.
For those with eyes to see it could be seen that they loved each other and it was good.
It was a good thing I saw. I'm glad I saw it.
Until Next Time
The Blogger whose morning devotions don't always come from a book
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
And here in Hong Kong we're hoping for universal suffrage in 2012?
Maybe 3012, if we're lucky.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who isn't Optimistic
My walk through the park in the morning on the way to work is alway a pleasure but the past week or so have just been over and beyond pleasant.
We have to have a short period of weather like this here every year or God couldn't make people live here and not call it punishment
If you are planning a visit here. Then now is the time of year to come.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who is enjoying the cooler weather.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I've actually come to like Newsline since Michael Chugani took over the job as host from the reflexively pro Beijing, anti-American, old Chinese guy who never smiled and who always looked as though he just sat on a vertical corncob. Michael Ghungani appears to be a very competent interviewer. He is pleasant without asking to many softball questions. But last night I was disappointed.
It appeared that THBT knew the questions in advance and had his replies written out. You could see him turning pages as he read his answers to the questions. As is usual THBT was able to use enough slimy words to avoid some direct answers and spent the rest of the time in a state of active self promotion.
I did almost agree with one thing that THBT said however, what is the good of preserving old building and the cultural heritage of Hong Kong if people don't use those buildings. He used the example of the Western market which was saved and renovated and to which nobody much goes as an example. Now, he didn't talk about the huge tunnel vents for the MTR that block the best views of the building or the other problems in the area that might prevent people from going there. But it is still sort of a valid point.
He also had another point that was a lie but contains just enough truth to make it look like a fair thought. When he talks about universal suffrage in Hong Kong he is fond of pointing out that he thinks that the real issue is good government and that universal suffrage does not necessary equate to good government. Assuming that you are talking about the governments that have Manila or Mexico City as their capital he might be right. But, since Hong Kong does not resemble either of those places is it a fair comparison to say that good government and no universal suffrage is better than a corrupt government with universal suffrage? Are we really so stupid that we cannot be trusted to elect our own mayor?
Tell us again Donald how asking for Universal Suffrage could cause us to set off a Cultural Revolution in Hong Kong like the one that happened in the PRC in the 1960's. Are you saying that if we persist in petitioning the government to honor the rights we are guaranteed under the Basic Law then the government will be forced to suppress dissident expression by force and send the leaders to re-education camps in the Gobi Dessert? Make no mistake. Suppressing dissident views was was the purpose of the Cultural Revolution.
Lastly, Michael Chugani asked THBT about the Anson Chan versus Regina Ip cat fight for the vacant Legco seat. I found the question rather than the answer interesting because Michael ask THBT to comment on the fact that it had been reported that some people didn't see a great deal of difference between the two. I wonder if Michael had read my post on that race? Probably not but I can always hope.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who still watches TV
Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I'm not going to point to all the flaws. If you want to see a good summary of the problems in THBT's policy address then click HERE and scroll down to todays entry. Instead. I'm going to pretend that I am THBT and present in a concise outline form what my policy agenda would be if they made me CE of Hong Kong. I haven't really worried about the nuances of the Basic Law since evidently the government doesn't either. Also, since the government doesn't seem to try to hide their fascist tendencies, I won't hide mine.
Obviously, some of these would be easier to do than others.
1. Streamline the Mass-transit system
Why? it would facilitate the flow of people and goods and help to relieve air pollution by having fewer vehicles idling in traffic jams.
Step 1. Revoke the monopolies on the three cross harbor tunnels and put them under control of the highways department. Set all the fees to a standard level that will allow the tunnels to be maintained safely. This would allow motorist to choose the tunnel they need based on where they are going rather than by the cost of the tunnel
Step 2 Hire a Pedestrian/Bicycle coordinator who can design and implement a series of pedestrianized streets and create better bicycle access in Hong Kong. This would help the poor and encourage less use of automobiles.
Step 3 Only allow commercial deliveries of merchandise to businesses between the hours of 1:00AM and 6:00 AM. This would keep delivery vans and stock trucks from blocking lanes during the day.
Step 4. Take control of the three buss companies and turn them into a single, non-profit organization. Then rationalize the routing to eliminate overlap. Remove the duplicated administrative structure and lower fares accordingly.
Step 5. All new automobiles must run exclusively on LPG. Make land available for several more LPG filling stations to meet the newly created demand. Then place a tax on gasoline and diesel that gets progressively higher year by year. Start with 1% after five years and the 2% the next and so on.
Step 6. Integrate the MTR and KCR in such a way that you can change from one to the other without having to go through turnstiles.
2. Change the currency peg from the US Dollar to the RMB.
Why? It just makes sense. We are part of China not part of the US
Peg the HKD at 1 to 1 with the RMB that way Hong Kong could benefit from China's maintenance of an artificially low exchange rate.
Alternately, abolish the HKD and use Chinese money.
3. Housing and Lands
3A Truth in Housing Policy
Why? Because only Hong Kong does the actual vs usable thing and it makes us look like low level cheats to everybody else in the world.
All kidding aside the inflated flat sizes add a burden to everybody here. This is simply a dishonest practice. Developers need to set their price based upon amenities and value not by subtly inflating the areas to increase their profit margin.
3B Zoning and Planning Reviews before building
Why? Because developers have been building buildings that are too tall, and to close to the street for the area they are in or the road they are on and this reduces our quality of life.
Have you ever tried to go to mid-levels at rush hour? Bonham road is two lanes and at places has nearly no sidewalk but lots twist and turns that are so sharp that buses have to wait on each other. Yet the road cannot be widened because it is lined with 40 story tall builds that are right on the street.
3C Declare any building that was built before in 1970 heritage site that should be renovated and preserved.
Why? Two reasons. First the largest element in hong Kong land fills is construction trash. Renovating rather than demolishing buildings would reduce this. Second, preserving and enhancing the ambiance of neighborhoods would make Hong Kong a more attractive place to live. Also, Owners would also have no incentive to delay maintenance while they hope to make a pile off redevelopment
It would also be necessary to have illegal structures removed from older buildings and force owners to make needed repairs. If the government really wanted to get mean it could also publish a mandatory list of tasteful, and attractive color schemes none of which are appropriately Fung Shui but that wouldn't hurt your eyes that builds would have to be painted.
4. Business, Finance and Taxation
4A Adopt an comprehensive anti-collusion law
Why? Let us start with the fact that would force grocery stores and petrol stations to compete rather than set prices through collusion. This would lower prices and benefit consumers, especially the poor
4B Place flat HKD $1000.00 tax on every 6 meter (1/2 Length) container that is shipped or transshipped through Hong Kong
Why? Because it is a low enough tax that the companies overseas would not mind paying it and it would raise 20 billion a year in taxes that NOBODY in Hong Kong would pay. Who needs a GST when foreigners will pay it for you?
5 Law and Order
5A Mandatory Sentences with no judicial Discretion
Why? Because last week one man got two years in prison for killing a cat and another man got basically community service for running over an elderly couple. In order to be effective justice has to be seen as fitting the crime and impartial that is often not the case in Hong Kong
5B Institute Public beatings for Graffiti
Why? because most of the time this is done by young thugs and they couldn't care less about going to jail and their rich parents will pay the fine for them. However, whack them 5 or 6 times with a rattan whip and they'll think twice before doing it again. Graffiti is getting to be a bigger problem here. Let';s stop it before it gets worse.
5C Try Li Kai Shing for a Capital Crime and then hang him from a gibbet in Central
Why? Why not? If anyone deserve to be hung it is a Hong Kong Tycoon. Make up a crime to try him for if necessary.
6 Stop reclaiming the harbor
7. Abolish Functional Constituencies
8. Petition Beijing to form an all volunteer locally recruited PLA regiment that would garrison Hong Kong rather than the garrison we have now.
Why? Two reasons. First because Hong Kong is part of China and should contribute to its defense. Second a local regiment would be less likely to obey orders to brutally put down peacefull anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong. This would make China a better place to live.
9. Universal Suffrage in 2012. No if's no ands or buts allowed.
Combine City U, Open U and Baptist U into a single University. Combine Poly U and UST into a single entity and streamline the administration structure to eliminate duplication. Fold the HKIEd into CUHK and make HKU a private university like Shu-Yan
Why? Because Hong Kong would benefit from having Two good state Universities and two good private universities rather than 8 or nine institutions.
11. Labor Laws
11A There should be only one rate of pay for domestic helpers. It is simply an exercise in racism to pay Indonesian helpers less because the standard of living in Indonesia is less.
11B. The salary and benefits of domestic helpers should be the minium wage in Hong Kong for a full time job.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who should be a political consultant
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Well be that as it may; here are the ten reasons in rank order why I don't think Hong Kongers should vote for either of them.
1. Neither one believes in a democratic Hong Kong
Regina Yip was in favor of Article 23 While most sins are forgivable, this one isn't in a political sense. No one, not one person in Hong Kong except hard core DAB members should vote for the Broom Head simply because of her involvement in supporting this issue.
Anson Chan was a high ranking Civil Servant for decades under the British government and never to my knowledge was very vocal about anything but advancing her career. Can you really say you are pro democracy when you willingly worked for a government that was determined to not allow it?
We need leaders in Hong Kong who long for a government of the people and by the people not of the party and for the Motherland.
2. They are both Running Dogs
Old Anson was almost the private lap dog for the British Imperial government for many years. I'm not sure a lap dog isn't a lower animal in this case than a running dog. Regina seems to want to be Hu Jintau's personal poodle in Hong Kong. Both of them are tied to powers outside Hong Kong that would like to either regain or establish an inordinate amount of influence over Hong Kong.
We do not need officials in Hong Kong who are excessively tied to either Beijing or London
3. Neither one knows the difference between an "Administrator" and a "Bureaucrat"
I'm sorry, but Anson Chan's assertion, taken as a compliment by Regina that both of them have many years of administrative experience is a horrific example of the wrong mentality exhibited by officials here. Governments don't administrate anything. Most of the time the best that a government can do is to mismanage anything. More to the point I think that most locals here feel that the Hong Kong government is what we'd have called in Texas, a "good - ol'- boy club." It may not be, but it certainly looks to me as though the main purpose of a Hong Kong 's bureaucrat's existence is to simply ensure that their extremely highly paid, cushy, more benefits than Bruce Wayne on a good day job remains their job.
We need fewer officials who want to grow our government by greasing the bureaucratic skids
4. Neither seem to have clear understanding of economics
At best they see a social problem and throw money at it to make themselves feel better. I've not heard either of them speak about how the mortgage defaults in the US will affect Hong Kong, problems with the dollar peg and currency rate. Taxation issues; or anything that deals with the dollars and cents of governance.
We need leaders who have and who can communicate a clear and coherent monetary policy.
5. Both come from wealthy, pampered backgrounds and have never really known what it is like to live as a normal person in Hong Kong
This one is pretty self explanatory. Not that being wealthy is a sin in and of itself. But some wealthy people do a better job connecting with normal people. Warren Buffett, for example, sent his kids to public school and lives in a house that is worth about USD $150,000. He drives a low-end luxury car. Neither Miss Broom or Mrs Fangs On have ever lived anywhere except in the lap of luxury. Even the time Regina spent at Standford in a small apartment would be a luxuriously high life to many university students.
We need leaders who understand what the average person who lives here experiences.
6. Neither, to my knowledge has ever had a job except in government
This is kind of the same thing as number 6 except that how can we expect either one of these two to have clue about what the working conditions are like in Hong Kong when they've never done anything that would give them a clue? Oh sure, they hobnob with the odd billionaire tycoon now and again or other (un)Civil Servants but that doesn't give them a great deal of insight into work-a-day Hong Kong.
We need leaders who know how to work not, to borrow Anson's misappropriated term, "administrate."
7. Arrogance and Condescension
Both of these two ladies just drip with a holier-than-thou attitude. God, it makes my skin crawl! I just want to hit the mute button anytime either of them speaks on TV. Perhaps it is because I grew up in the US which is a lot less class conscious society than either the UK or the PRC but the attitude of "I'm the great and glorious one so far above you plebs." makes me nauseous. I'll say this about them. They've given me a whole new level of understanding of the causes of the French Revolution.
We need leaders who do not talk down to us. The Noble's Obligation is a French thing and shouldn't be a Hong K0ng thing.
8. Both view this election as stepping stone to the CE office in 2012.
I'm not sure that this necessarily a bad thing but excessive political ambition will mean that either of them will be more concerned about the next step in their career path than the job at hand. More than that, it appears to me that both of these women view the CE's (Mayor's or Governor's) office as their entitlement, something they deserve because of who they are. They've lost sight of the function of of elected officials. They believe they are Royals.
We need leaders today not in 2012 and we need elected leaders not Queens or Kings
9. Neither one has shown the ability to think creatively.
There is certainly a place in government, as in all professions for the clerk who follows the rules and grinds it out. But leaders should have a vision, a guiding star or a moral compass that they use to set their political direction and guide their approach to policy. Both these ladies appear to simply be opportunist.
Hong Kong needs leaders who lead through inspiration and because of their ideas, not a bureaucratic compromise artist.
10. The Hair.
Anson looks like she buys shoe polish to color her hair from the same place Jang Zhamin did and Regina really used to deserves the nickname "Broom head" given to her during the article 23 protest marches. Since her return from Stanford she's gotten even worse and her current hair cut makes her look more like wet-mop-head. Perhaps this is trite but appearances matter. Is it too much to ask of either of them to go to the Beauty shop and buy clothing that is neither for a twenty-something Wan Chai shop girl or a frump?
We need leaders who don't look like clowns on TV.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who'd like to run against these two frauds
Friday, October 05, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
This is an incredibly tragic story made more so because the monks, assuming that they were true to their faith and pacifist would not have resisted.
Perhaps, and I really hesitate to say this but perhaps it is time for the western simpletons to stop protesting from a safe distance in front of the Myanmar embassy's around the world and start purchasing weapons that can be smuggled into Burma so that the people of Burma can take their nation back.
Otherwise the blood of the Burmese patriots will have watered not the tree of liberty but the strangling vine of tyranny.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who sometimes talks a good fight.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
What is good is that stories are finally beginning to appear in the Western press about the incredible level of pollution in China and the rest of Asia.
Until Next Time
The Blogger calls it the the "Ewww Yuck, Slimes!"
Friday, September 21, 2007
My wife enjoyed the dinner and financial information. I enjoyed the beer.
More than that I can't say. I did learn or actually relearn some things about investing in Hong Kong. The stockbrokers and banks here use the right terminology but have different definitions for those terms. For example: if a brokerage agent in Hong Kong tells you " This is a good medium term investment" they mean it is a good investment for about 6 months. Short term investments are normally on things you stay invested in for less than 60 days. A long term investment means out to about 1 year to 18 months. In other words, they do not believe in long term investing and gear all of their advice to get-rich-quick thinking.
The hotshots they had giving opinions had some advice to buy stocks in various areas but were basically saying "Buy China, make 100% in 12 hours" I found this to be rather odd advice. Not that Chinese stocks are not profitable right now but; I cannot believe that any responsible brokerage house would issue an almost unqualified "Buy" to Chinese stocks.
You can look up the sources for what I'm going to use yourself, and you can believe me or not but here is why I would exercise caution in buying Chinese stocks
1. The Chinese stock market is a speculative market. Even the Chinese admit this. Speculative markets, especially those with lots of investors who have never lost anything are dangerous markets.
2. The Chinese stock market has too many people using unsecured capital to buy stocks. Many small investors in China have taken out multiple mortgages on their flats to buy stocks. If the markets fall those investors will owe several times the value their entire worth. There is no real way of knowing how many people this will affect but the murky banking laws in China make fraudulent loans a real problem.
3. The Chinese stock market has not fully realized the level of anger and concern by US and European consumers over the poor quality of Chinese made goods. Yes, some of this is unfounded and some of it is essentially racist or jingoistic but that doesn't matter because if a significant portion of Western consumers simply say "Nope, if it is from China I don't trust it and will do without it" then the Chinese economy is in trouble and the reasons for them doing it don't matter. By essentially blowing off the concerns of overseas consumers of Chinese goods the PRC is exacerbating the problem. I believe that one or two more big scandals, real or imagined involving goods made in China would result in a spontaneous mass boycott of Chinese goods.
I also found it interesting last night that they didn't mention defense contractors like General Dynamics. I would think, given the war in Iraq and the one coming between the US and Iran that investing in companies that make bullets, bombs and military airplanes might be a profitable move. And, please, don't give me any moral posturing about not wanting to invest in death. Especially if you investing in Chinese sweat shops, factories and coal mines.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who isn't an Investment analyst
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Here are my top 10 choices for sports that the PRC really excels at and that should be in the Beijing Olympic but aren't.
1. The Green Card Relay race: Normally played by those who attend university in the USA.
2. Square Tanking: Seeing how many Protesters a single tank can crush in a minute
3. The Great Firewall of China: Finding Internet Sites that disparage the PRC government and blocking them.
4. Wokathon: Turning non food items into gourmet foods
5. Violation Derby: Seeing how many building codes can be violated simultaneously in the same building.
6. Death Race: Driving on a Chinese Freeway
7. Litter Skitter: Seeing who can identify the greatest number of different types of empty bottles that people have thrown on the sidewalk
8. The Newlywed Games: Like the Green Card Relay only normally played by divorced Chinese women with older, preferably wealthy Western men
9. Translation Spelling Bee: Finding misspelled words on t-shirts
10. Pick Pocket Obstacle Course: Trying to walk through a Shanghai tourist area with your wallet in your back pocket.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who really does like china more than he lets on.
I wonder how many dissidents they will imprison, torture or kill during the Olympics?
Until Next Time
The Blogger who is distrustful of the central government
Monday, September 17, 2007
Until Next Time
The Blogger who doesn't play online games
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Somehow I don't think old Anson is really standing for anything except her own aggrandizement. But I still would prefer her to the Broom head.
Honestly, I don't think very many people in Hong Kong really understand the sacrifices and burden that it takes to be free. It appears to me that often part of the price of freedom is having people who are not free hate you for being what they are are not and trying to kill you so they don't look so bad.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who remembers where he was and what he was doing on 9-11-2001
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I have been following with some interest the strike by the construction workers here. So far the strike is limited to the guys who place the rebar but they are determined and I wish that the rest of the construction workers would join them . I think it would be great if every construction project (except the new school building for the school I work for) in Hong Kong would come to a grinding halt. The construction companies here are just as corrupt as corrupt can be. They amass huge profits and then basically buy the government to keep land prices higher than they otherwise would be.
This corruption extends to the subcontractors in a funny way that I find particularly galling. The scam works like this. Enormous Construction Company "A" decides to build a building and then calls a subcontractor to clear the land. That subcontractor then calls another subcontractor who calls another subcontractor who then hires someone who hires guys with a bulldozer to clear the land. This process of having 5, 6 or more intermediate subcontractors who do nothing but siphon cash prevents builders from paying the actual workers more. I don't know but I've been told that most of these nebulous subcontracts are brothers-in-law, cousins and friends of the guy above. In other words nepotism. You cannot tell me that Hutchison-Whampoa or Hong Kong Land can't hire someone to call the various workers' associations to hire grunts with specific skills? This would, or so it appears to me, allow the companies to raise wages, increase profit margins and lower cost at the same time. But, that would mean telling the shiftless brother-in-law to get a real job which would violate the Chinese ethic of always doing anything, no matter how dishonest to aid your family And of course maintaining the 7 levels of subcontractors who do nothing except hire another sub-contractor is of great importance to the various subcontractors in the construction food chain.
I am really conflicted about this in one way. I think that most unions in the US and Europe often times do more harm than good. I avoided the union label when I could when I lived in the US. I'd even take it to the point of buying a Toyota or Mitsubishi car, not because they were necessarily better cars but because they were built without the use UAW workers even though they were still built in the US. But, this is different because the companies are just so dishonest.
It really bothered me when I saw the low level US union thug, gangster types marching with HK construction workers last week. Hong Kong doesn't need the local chapters of the WTF&TGIF or whatever other acronym the modern North American and European unions go by. But the workers here do need protection from dishonest employers. I guess the question raised in the old Robert Heinlein book is really valid in this instance. "Would you rather have a government of criminals who are honest about what they are or would you rather have a government that is dishonest about what it is?" I'm not so sure that in Hong Kong we couldn't use Al Capone.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who doesn't belong to a Union
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
It is a shame that there isn't some type of surgery for the political cataracts that the Human Bow Tie has. Indeed it is a shame that the PRC officials and the DAB all seem to suffer from this disease.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who really has been wandering around in a fog
Monday, August 27, 2007
Only being a rude angry Gweilow in my heart I simply said "That's silly" and because I'd not yet paid for the meal; I turned sharply on my swollen ankle and left through the same doorway I'd come in through three minutes before. I'll let them figure out how to sell the special order sandwich.
What McDonald's is doing should appeal to neither me or the left wing environmental goofs; and that is assuming that they aren't all vegans. The straw is the most expensive or second most expensive part of a fast food drink. Indeed, the cheapest part is normally the drink itself. Drinks are huge money spinners for restaurants because the profit margin is so high. Micky D's is simply not giving you the most expensive portion of the drink, which saves them money, and covering their poor customer service with the banner of saving the environment. That is irresponsible and wrong.
I walked a little farther down the road and got plate of curry at a Fairwood (Local Hong Kong chain) where I received a nice long straw with my Coke Zero.
Until Next Time
The Accidental Environmentalist
Friday, August 24, 2007
Until Next Time
The Throw in Prison and Throw-away-the Key Blogger
I wonder if the PRC's North Korean Friends slipped something this guys sandwich?
Until Next Time
The Blogger whose favorite sandwich is made at home
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
While informative and funny something that I find disturbing about these list is that they are too Amero-centric. Holy Cow! if they'd looked at the SCMP what would they have found? The China Daily? The Singapore Straights Time? Both ATV and TVB obviously slant certain news stories in various directions but I doubt either would admit to such.
I agree with the author of these list when he points out that the Internet did NOT make journalist less reliable but actually exposed some of them as liars. Matt Drudge didn't somehow make Bill Clinton ask Monica Lewinski for oral sex and the existence of EastWestSouthNorth didn't cause the movie reviews in Chengdu to be censored. Both these blogs (I'm not sure either of these is a blog. They might more usefully be defined as news aggregation services) simply expose what is already there. I'd have a lot more faith in the mass media if they'd do a better job of policing their own and admit they've had problems with trying to push an agenda. Every field has bad apples.
It kind of makes me uneasy when I read about media moguls and prominent journalist arguing for the censorship of the Internet , and make no mistake, that is exactly what Marvin Kalb was advocating in 1998 in the printed quote at the beginning of these articles. How can they advocate a "Free Press " and a controlled public Internet? I guess it is the old "Free speech for me but not for thee" syndrome.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who doesn't really trust Newspapers
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Last Friday the HK observatory raised the number 8 typhoon warning for the first time in two years. What a joke. They closed the city down for a mild thunderstorm. However what makes that giggle worthy is that it was an obvious overreaction to their lack of competence over the past two years.
Last year we had an actual honest to God typhoon come through here and they never raised more than a red rain storm warning despite the airport being being closed for a typhoon for several hours. The excuse given on TV was that because the winds never reached typhoon strength over the observatory they didn't feel a higher signal was warranted (that must have been the only place they didn't) was lame even for HK. Several months before that we had another strong storm come through that caused mudslides in the New Territories which killed a couple of people. We didn't get either a Black Cloud (Severe Thunderstorm) or a typhoon 8 signal (Hurricane) raised for that storm either. In both cases the observatory took a lot of well deserved criticism and honestly someone, or several someones should have lost their jobs though this being the HK government nobody did. Now that they are taking so much flak for overreacting to a breezy thunderstorm we probably won't get another typhoon 8 signal hoisted until the wind blows the HSBC building over.
But, not everything was bad new last week. Ma Lik died young of cancer. Oh boy I'll drink to that. Now he can ask Den Xiao Ping how many people really died at Tianamen Square in 1989. Too bad he can't then make a statement of apology in the SCMP.
Lastly I went to the doctor today. God I hate the HK health care system. Lets not even talk about having an 11:00 AM appointment and getting my number called at 12:50 PM. The government doctors here exhibit all the compassion and empathy of a French waiter. Actually the waiters are friendlier. I want to complain about the treatment.
I've been walking around on a swollen, painful ankle for nearly two years. I have to wear high topped shoes and a compression bandage everyday and I take anti-inflammatory medication for it as well. All that while I have been shuffled from one government specialist to another for a definitive diagnosis. Today they told me it was ligament and tendon damage but that they didn't ever recommend surgery on this condition for people not in their twenties. In other words: Take a pain killer and limp you unlucky bastard; because its going to hurt and we don't care!" I told the doctor that was unacceptable and he basically told me to go home and not come back. He came very close to needing some plastic surgery on his nose and possibly some dental implants. If I'd known that he'd have to use the public system rather than a private plastic surgeon in Vancouver or London I'd have hit him more than the once he deserved. But, only being an angry Gweiloh in my heart I didn't punch his lights out; I just left.
I ceased to have any admiration or trust in the HK health system when my Mother-in -Law died several years ago and it hasn't done anything restore my confidence.
What makes it worse is that the private doctors here all exhibit a scary level of incompetence or sliminess that causes me to feel that I have much of a choice. Besides I pay the taxes to support the public health system here I ought to be able to use it. I get tired of being labeled a "Rich Westerner" especially since I'm not.
So, I'm kind of damned if I do and damned if I don't and neither way do I feel I've seen a real doctor.
I really find that I get better treatment and more heartfelt concern for my health from the Chinese clinic across from the Tin Hau MTR station. I wonder what they can do for a gimpy ankle? I may find out soon.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who hasn't had a very good week
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Last Monday I saw one of the thousands of flat chested, straight hipped local teenage girls walking in Causeway Bay wearing a shirt that said :"Do you like my fat butt?" Down the back. I'd hate to see what she calls scrawny.
Some time this week I also saw a reappearance of the old standby "Just do me" with an upside down Nike swoosh. At times like that I wish my Chinese was good enough to ask the girl wearing the shirt if she really meant that? I wouldn't but I know some guys who probably would "like to do her."
Today the ever lovely, hardworking, really smart and looks 20 years younger than she is Chinese wife and I were in the big Wellcome below the CMA church in North point. There were two really offensive shirts there as well. The first guy I saw in the store was wearing a shirt with a fake eye chart on the front that looked something like this:
There was also a woman in the checkout line behind us. She had a black t-shirt with a Duncan's Donuts sign on the the front but instead of saying "Duncan's Donuts" it said "Fuckin' Gonuts."
As always, when I write on this topic I'll end by saying: "Never ever, ever, wear clothing with things printed on it that you cannot read.
Until Next Time
The Blogger who wears plain T-shirts with nothing silkscreened on them
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
I was actually surprised that the government let those guys stay that long. It appears to me that the protesters, at least the ones I saw interviewed missed the point. It isn't that the government is destroying historical sites. It is that the government is destroying the British historical sites. They are or so it appears to me, trying to slowly but completely remove references to British rule here. Don't get me wrong, a lot of the British drive me nuts with their condescending, snooty attitudes but to bury the history and legacy of Hong Kong because the Chinese government is still touchy over the weakness of China in the 19th century is simply wrong. Yet, that is what is happening.
The phony "harmonious society" mantra repeated by the Human Bow-Tie should be challenged. How did this action make HK a more harmonious society?
The tycoons and construction barons will happily go along with this because of the incestuously close relationship to the powers that be but that doesn't make it right. Perhaps when the harbor is completely reclaimed and you can walk from North Point to Hung Hom they'll begin to realize what they've lost.
I wonder how long it will be before Victoria Park becomes Jiang Qing Park? Probably not for a while but we'll see.
Until Next Time
The Blogger with a degree in History