Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dior makes attempt to redefine pants

This is soooooooooooooooo funny. Tell me where would your wallet go in these? How do you unzip at the urinal?

Can anybody imagine men actually buying these? Not even rappers would wear these things. Holy Cow, this make the things they wear in Sci-Fi movies look normal.

It is obvious that men's fashions need some new less Gay blood. That isn't Gay bashing it is just the truth. Gay men, think like women. Women might find this stuff cool men won't If Dior puts these out they'll go broke. They'll be laughed out of business. Men don't change their clothes like women because something is the new "In" thing. They buy clothing that fits, is appropriate for their job and doesn't take an hour to get into.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger with straight legged and pleated front trousers

On Becoming a Middle-Aged Egghead

I've been re-reading the C.S. Forester Hornblower novels. I bought all of them for my library and the middle school boys have just jumped all over them. I read them in junior high school when I was about 11 or 12 and hadn't picked them up since. What great novels. It is kind of funny because I had forgotten about them until I saw Pat Sejak mentioned them on a rerun of Wheel of Fortune.

I realized about 1/2 way through Hornblower and the Atropos that I've effectively stopped reading fiction. Every since starting the PhD I've basically been reading non-fiction, Philosophy in fact. Now that the terminal degree has been reached and I didn't die you'd think I could get a life! While it could probably be successfully argued that lots of Philosophy is actually fiction that is another post. What is scary is that I've come to enjoy reading philosophy so much that I will choose it when given a choice for pleasure reading. As a librarian this bothers me because I find fiction to be so useful in making us well-rounded people.

It seems to me that there are huge differences in the way we process fiction and non-fiction

One of those differences is what happens after you put the book down. I can read a novel to put my self to sleep. I cannot read Heidegger before I got bed. Not because it gives me nightmares but, because after reading Being and Time I need to be quiet and think about it. I need to turn the ideas over in my head and grind them up and make them fit my life.

I've been reading Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles by John Earman and have really enjoyed it. I've been thinking about the influence of Hume upon Dewey and thinking about the way that Hume has influenced education. I've also been re-reading Karl Popper and plowing through Alvin Plantinga's little book God, Freedom and Evil which is not long but dense. I can't read it at a 15-minute setting but have to be prepared to really take notes and chart out his logic.

What this means is that my vocation and avocation have merged and I'm not sure that is a good thing. I feel like such a geek! Everybody else on the bus reads John Grisham or Japanese comic books

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Reluctant Philosopher

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Snicker - China's War Against Starbucks

I don't normally like journalist. This guy might be an exception. I don't normally like Starbucks either

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who drinks Coffee when he goes to Beijing

Monday, January 29, 2007

Egghead Handringing

I am tempted to go to the conference linked above. I don't know why, I would probably just get angry. Their main topic seems to be whether or not English should be replaced as the language of academia. They seem to think that English is a form of cultural imperialism.

Some questions.

Which language wouldn't be? If 80% of the research were printed in French would that be French cultural imperialism? Until 1911 China was an actual Empire, albeit a rather piss poor one, does that exclude them from being the official language of research? How about Spanish? Get real Spain ran one of the most oppressive empires in modern times. Russian? Anyone who doesn't think that the USSR was an imperial power is simply deluded. So how is any other language better?

Let us not even get into the question of ASCI. Computer languages are based upon a stilted and geeky form English. Are we going to rewrite the binary code because otherwise, even if one types in Chinese they are still using English at the programming level?

In order to be imperialistic, cultural or military it would seem to me that there must be a person or group that is building an empire. That is not the case with English. Yes, the use of English is, in many ways the result of the British Empire. But, the British, not even the snobby ex-colonials you still meet in Hong Kong who purposely misspell words to make it easier for their nasal accent to pronounce look at it as a form of imperialism. Well, maybe those guys but nobody else.

The real issue here is that most research is in English because most research is done in English speaking countries by people who speak English as their fist language. Why should I have to write in Kermit simply because some French librarian thinks it a shame that Kermit librarians don't publish enough? I thought that the goal of publishing research was to disseminate the information to as wide an audience as possible. If so, wouldn't it make sense to publish the article in a language that the most people can read?

Also, and not incidentally, English happens to be a very good language to publish research in because it has fewer controls upon the introduction of new words than say French or Spanish which makes it not only adaptable but considerably less ethnocentric. As much as the BBC-ophiles may wish; there is no academy of usage that controls English grammar and spelling. English is spelt or spelled differently in different countries and locations. Usage and pronunciation changes from place to place as well.

This just looks like another attempt by guilty whites to debase themselves and to prove to themselves that they aren't Americans. (As if the Americans would have them) Indeed, the whole exercise smacks of the snobby anti-Americanism that European elites so love to engage in.

If any of them read this they will wail and moan and bitch and groan about how I am forcing my language upon the down trodden and oppressed masses. My response is simple, I actually care for the down trodden. I want them to become free and prosperous. The fastest way for that to happen is if their plight can be made known to me without relying upon a government interpretors' lies about their condition. I cannot see how having research printed in obscure languages helps very many people? More than that, because I cannot read about what is going on I cannot become concerned. Having a greater diversity of languages would simply mean more oppression and because it would be easier for left-wing dictators like Robert Mugabe to hide what they are doing. It would mean that I have to rely upon what other people, translators say.

This conference is simply about academic Anti-Americanism. I'd be willing to bet real money there will also be a large salting of antisemitism there as well because European antisemitism and anti-Americanism seem to hold hands quite often but that is another post. Limiting the role the US has in the world might be a good thing. But limiting English simply because it is spoken in the US is a bad idea.

Don't get me wrong, I can be and have been and will continue to be as critical of the US as the next person; probably more so in many cases. The difference is that I try to limit my criticism to substantive things. I also realize as evidently Europeans don't that criticism is a two-edged sword. If they wish to call me vulgar; I can call them snobs. If they want to complain about US military policy; I can complain about their cowardice. They can call me materialistic and I can call them envious. What they call "The Ugly American" is sometimes simply reciprocity.

I may go to this conference for the lunch. I may not.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The The Europhobic Blogger

Monday, January 22, 2007

This Holocaust Will Be Different

A chilling Essay

Until Next Time
Fai Mao

In Praise of a Violent Sport

I watched the movie Cinderella Man this weekend.

I was able to do this because my wife was ill and asleep and that gave me control of the TV. I don't think I could be considered a fan of boxing. I don't like what it has become and a large part of that is, I think a result of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. Don't get me wrong, both were great boxers. But, both were greater showmen. Ali took what was a primitive and decidedly brutal sport and turned into prime time, suitable for children entertainment with his cheesy limericks and talk of "scientific boxing." Tyson, by conforming to the worst stereotypes of what a boxer is did incredible damage to the sport.

Boxing is a primitive, brutal and violent sport. It is supposed to be. It is also, or at least used to be, the purest of all sports. I don't mean that the referees were more honest or the boxers all paragons who would never cheat. I mean that it was a sport that relied upon the skill, determination and training of the participants. The equipment was simple. The object was obvious. The danger was plain; as was the chance of debilitating injury. Boxing is two men in a confined space trying to beat each other senseless while spectators cheer

All of that means that Boxers are possessed of a type of courage that is markedly different and superior to the type of dedication needed by almost any other sport. Boxers require a type of courage more like that possessed of a soldier than a footballer.

Boxers are a breed apart.

I've met several boxers and far from being goons they were all gentlemen. (Though admittedly, I've never met Mike Tyson and he might prove the last statement false) They understood the problem of using violence as a tool of personal advancement. They understood the value of a civil society. They knew why it is against the rules to strike a "low blow" or to throw "sucker punch" even metaphorically in business. They understood that it is sometimes necessary to be able to take a punch. It is football coaches who preach "Murder the other team" not boxers.

Men may admire a Renaldo, Lance Armstrong or Nolan Ryan. They may wish that they had the money of David Beckham. But, they stand in awe of Lennox Lewis, Larry Holmes, Joe Lewis and any of the myriad of other Boxing legends. They may want Alex Rodriguez's money but they want to live next door to George Foreman! If Horse Racing is the "Sport of Kings" then boxing is the "Sport of the Common Men."

Boxing is, or at least ought to be violent and brutal with a minimal set of rules that prevents one man from killing the other faster than the match can be called. In a strange way, that is part of what it makes it a civilized sport. Boxing harnesses our violent nature and controls it by putting limits upon what acceptable, even in sport. Boxing raises our baser instincts to the level of sport and thereby brings them under control. It reminds us of our frailty and shows us the devastation our warlike nature can cause. In doing so it changes what would otherwise be a simple brawl into something higher; something noble and good.

We often see how that which is good has been twisted into something evil. Boxing is, or ought to be a sport which takes something evil and makes it a virtue. When you see a boxing match you shouldn't see a fight you should see courage, dedication and valor.

Boxing is an allegory of sorts. It is an allegory of a single man overcoming adversity and pain. Of facing down your worst fear (If don't you don't think your worst fear is not being beaten senseless you haven't thought about your worst fear) and if not succeeding then at least surviving. Boxing dignifies our struggle to succeed in the face of fear.

Attempts to sanitize boxing turn it into the wrestling. Such attempts are evil.

I think that the political process in Hong Kong would be benefited if Donald Tsang was a boxing fan or better yet had boxed in high school or college. Boxers know that the worst thing you can do is not face your fears. A boxer would be able to see how inflating floor space in flats is dishonest. A boxer would know why the labor laws here are the moral equivalent of a kidney punch. A Boxer would know lots of things that the Hong Kong professional paper pushers seemed to have never learned

A boxer must face the possibility that he will lose in order to win. Indeed, even in winning a boxer gets hurt. Donald Tsang is, or so it appears to me, afraid to face the possibility of losing. He'd rather straddle the ropes on the ring or better yet be outside the ring than fight either the central government or the opposition in Hong Kong. He thinks by being non-aggressive he can schmooze his agenda through. He is wrong. He needs to fight or he is going to be knocked out in the first round.

I may not agree with anything Sir Bow Tie wants for Hong Kong. But, if he'd actually fight for his beliefs I'd at least respect him. It is time for him to not "Take the gloves off" but to put the gloves on.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who may actually be a Boxing fan after all

Friday, January 19, 2007

Putting on Weight

Like many people I put on a little weight over the holidays. This is a particular problem for me because in Hong Kong the holidays are not over until after Chinese New Year. So, I have National Day, Lantern Festival, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year and Ching Ming. Not to mention Buddha's Birthday. That means that for ex-pats with Chinese spouses living here your holiday season is 6 months long. So, in Hong Kong we start with Moon cake, progress to turkey and then eggnog and then finish off with champagne and beer. Not exactly a low calorie 6 months.

I don't under stand how so many of the Chinese are so skinny! Pencil-necks, skinny-minies, milquetoast are way over represented on Hong Kong streets. If you see a girl with boobs you can bet that she either was born somewhere else or is wearing a padded bra. The teenage boys often times look very effeminate because they have no muscles, but perfectly mussed ugly hair cuts that look like something right out of "America's Next Top Model."

They even let their Filipino maid carry their school bag for them. How girly is that?

That said I wish was that skinny sometimes rather the moderately tall slightly overweight Westerner that I am. Gaining weight is a pain in so many ways but mostly because if you don't plan on staying fat you don't want to buy new clothes. So, you continue squeezing into those old trousers and praying that you won't split a seam, bust a button or have to breathe for the rest of the day. Just before Christmas I was down to two pairs of blue jeans and one pair of shorts that I could wear comfortably. My employer was, at that point kind enough to inform me that wearing those to work on any day but Fridays was a violation of the employee dress code and I needed to look more professional.

Well, the last couple of weeks the lovely, gracious, smart, makes more money than me, loving and caring wife and I were in Shenzhen and I purchased several pairs of new trousers with a larger waist. I actually had to look for a shop that carried a 38 to 39 inch waist. Most stores stopped at 34. Because I don't plan of being this big very long I bought cheap pants. They were only $39 yuan each. These not only fit better but they appeal to my innate sense of cheapskatedness. They even look nice and I have worn them to actual complements every since.

While I don't pay a lot of attention to trousers I won't wear cheap shirts. I don't know what it is but there is just something about a cheap shirt, even a t-shirt. They never fit right. They are uncomfortable. They either wrinkle up like an old man's face and have to be ironed with a steamroller or are made of recycled plastic bags and are thus both hot and clammy which seems strange in print but is true on your back. I prefer silk dress shirts. Good, high quality permanent press cotton shirts with about 30% rayon are also OK but, a silk dress shirt is simply the bees-knees of comfort. The only real problem with a silk shirt is that you need suspenders because your trousers slide down the shirt even with a belt. But the need for suspenders is far offset by the way that the silk feels on your back and shoulders.

There are, generally speaking, two types of things in the world. Things you care about and things you don't.

For me, trousers fall into the "I don't care " category. If they fit, are not a strange color and don't smell funny I'm OK with them. While shirts can fall into this category if you are talking about t-shirts or the old sweatshirt you've had since high school silk shirts are another story. I didn't buy a shirt in Shenzhen because I couldn't find any silk ones. Silk is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than cotton and a silk rayon blend can be nearly as low maintenance as a cotton permanent press shirt. Silk shirts make me feel good.

We constantly look for things that make us feel good. Not all of those things are clothing or food. Hong Kong recently passed an absolutely draconian smoking ban which is, essentially a feel good law.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a smoker. But to ban smoking in all restaurants, public parks and all buildings that are not your personal home is bit extreme. They justified this by trotting out all these arguments about second hand smoke. Fine, great, it may be a problem in a perfect world where the air-pollution rating isn't 95 a day every day or where your eyes don't water from the smog or where you don't develop that little cough from breathing the air.

The fact that the government here will pass an anti-smoking law that is this drastic but takes absolutely NO action regarding the ubiquitous air-pollution here is almost comical! Or would be if it were not so sad.

Which is the greater problem, second hand smoke in a Wan Chai bar or (Assuming you buy the theory) Global warming? Which will gave more children respiratory problems in Hong Kong Second hand smoke in a Karaoke palace or air pollution?

Which problem did the HK government address? Smoking.

Why? Because being a bully to smokers doesn't require them to upset their masters in Beijing or make hard economic decisions which a land developer or factory owner might criticize. They gain brownie points with organic food crowd but don't lose a lot of political capital with anybody else, even smokers because smokers know that smoking isn't good for them.

Unlike my penchant for silk shirts this is a dangerous thing for government to do. Laws should not simply make us feel good. Hong Kong is facing a huge problem with air pollution that is basically not being dealt with in a meaningful way.

What about some work place laws?

How about legislation limiting the number hours that employees can work like every other developed country has? Indeed, forbidding employers from forcing people to work 75 hours a week would go a long way towards alleviating the need for a minimum wage. (The logic here is that if a workers suddenly gets the same salary for 30 hours less a week they have received a huge raise.) Not that I'm necesarrily against a minimum wage.

The Hong Kong government needs to get past the touchy-feely warm and fuzzy and deal with real issues. That means they need to take on the endemic corruption that plagues us here in the form of cartels and cabals that control the economy. We need fair competition and anti-monopoly laws.

We need them now. Instead, we got a smoking ban.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Silk-Shirted Blogger

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Butt of the Joke

The government in Hong Kong likes to move their bureaucrats around for some reason. Just about the time one lemon begins to understand their job and to do it with some modicum of proficiency, they get transfered to another post in another department of the government. I guess this is supposed to ensure that each official has a broad knowledge of the government. In reality it means that each department is constantly run by someone who is learning their job and makes lots of mistakes

In keeping with this policy; the ever incompetent Fanny Law is being transfered. My ever charming and lovely wife has to go to a dinner in Dame Fanny's honor tonight at a Jockey Club restaurant, somewhere in Happy Valley. Fanny was formerly a high level paper pusher in the Education and Manpower bureau, but will henceforth be a high level paper pusher in the Independent Commission Against Corruption (The Hong Kong FBI). I think that Fanny has a bachelors degree in English literature or some such from HKU. However, the only way she could be connected to an expertise in law enforcement is through a transliteration of her last name.

I have only two things to say to this:
  1. Thank God this pompous woman (Yes, I have met her) will no longer have a say in Hong Kong's educational policy!
  2. If she is as good at fighting crime as she was at furthering education the local criminals will also be glad she is no longer in education and fighting crime instead.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The non-Bureaucratic Blogger

A Kinder and Gentler Immigration Policy

The Hong Kong government announced yesterday that immigration officials will now try to "kindly and gently persuade" pregnant women from the mainland to please not have their babies here in Hong Kong.

I guess it would just never occur to an official in Hong Kong to simply say "If you are obviously pregnant we won't let you in; so don't try"

In related news there are a growing number of teenagers from Hong Kong who are going across the border to Shenzhen because drugs like Ecstasy are cheaper there and the dance clubs will let a 12 year-old in. How stupid is that? China is the land of fake products What makes these brats think that the dope they buy in China is actually dope? How do they know the pills aren't just generic Tylenol dipped in food coloring or something worse?

It's not just the drugs but the legal system in China. Holy Cow! If I were going to do something illegal China would be one of the last places I'd want to do it in. Once again the government here is mouthing all the politically correct platitudes about children needing love and direction and education to prevent this. These kids ought to see a Chinese prison. How about a tour of a Chinese re-education through labor camp as part of the Social Studies curriculum in the local schools?

But, maybe it is good that some of these pampered, rude, self-absorbed truants should spend a couple of years in a Chinese prison. At least they'd not clog up the MTR wearing their ugly fashions and weird haircuts.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who works with teenagers but doesn't necessarily like them

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Brief Guide to US Newspapers

Somebody sent me this. I don't know where it came from originally.

A Brief Guide to American Newspapers

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the
country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country
but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like
their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the
country -- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave
Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the
country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's
running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat
on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the
country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country
but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there
is a country . . or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that
they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are
handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be
illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that they
are not Republicans.

11. The National Inquirer is read by people trapped in line at the
grocery store.

Walking on History

A soldiers Perspective on the war in Iraq.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who failed his military physical

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Leavin' on a jet plane

Every time a cow feels a little relief a polar bear falls through the ice. So the best way to fight global warming is to eat beef!

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Cow Eating Blogger

Crackpots NOT Visionaries

Above is a link to a book about how the pyramids in Egypt were actually some form of weapon of mass destruction that the ancient Egyptians used to defend their kingdom from the Hittites and space aliens. I find it interesting how people with crack-pot ideas can so easily impersonate true academics. Indeed, some crack-pots have actual academic credentials which just goes to show that education is no proof against insanity.

I just have a few questions for these pyramid alternate history guys.

  1. If the ancient Egyptians were so advanced? How come they were invaded and conquered by a bunch of guys with clubs and spears known as the Hyksos?
  2. If the pyramids were a source of electricity derived from a harmonic resonance of the Earth's natural magnetic field why don't they build a model that does the same thing today and put China Light and Power out of business?
  3. Have they ever been to Tralflamadore?
  4. Did they ever serve in the Army of Mars with my friend Stony Stevenson?
  5. Would they like to buy a special magic crystal from me that will give them eternal youth and health for only USD $1,000,000?

But just when I am tempted to think that all this stuff about Space aliens living among us complete BS I see a picture Nina Wong.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Non-Egyptology Expert Blogger

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Joke of the month

Joke of the month: The difference between inlaws and outlaws is that outlaws are actually wanted

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Unfunny Blogger

The Return of the Non-Native

I've been away for awhile.

The daughter came home for a visit from her university in the UK. So, the lovely wife and I had a good week long visit with her. I got two video games for Christmas and have been busy trying to conquer Medieval Europe and exploring the world of Gothic 3. My wife was also sick at home during my Christmas break with a cold and I've had to devote some time to her out of spousal sympathy. That didn't leave a lot of time for blog posting.

I was going to post on Sunday but went on a hike with a bunch of 20-somethings and came back so stiff and sore I couldn't see straight.

So, between holiday revelry and 70 plus hours of gaming and nursing my wife back to health from a cold. I've just not found time to post. I'm actually working on a post about the Medieval Total War 2 game but that isn't ready yet.

It is sort of a shame I've been so busy or otherwise occupied, because there has been a lot to think about and write about.

  • Christmas in Hong Kong
  • Ethiopia and Somalia
  • Poisonous eggs from China
  • Israel threatening Iran because Iran threatened Israel
  • Pig farmers in South China dying of an untreatable pneumonia.
  • The broken elevators in my building
But, perhaps the weirdest thing in the last three weeks to my mind was a court case. I have, over the years engaged in a lot of table pounding over the idiocy often on display in the Hong Kong courts but there was recently a case that took the biscuit. Especially since it didn't involve Nina Wong or Long Hair Leung.

There were two bank employees sent to jail here for swapping new bank notes for ones in their pocket.

They were not stealing because they were simply replacing one new bill for another NEW bill that they'd withdrawn from their account at the same bank. They were not embezzling, they were not even doing this under the table. They were were swapping normal bills for bills with "lucky serial numbers" which many of the locals would pay more than the face value of the bill to have.

How was this a crime? The bank was not out any money. They were not defrauding the government or their employer in any way. These lucky bills evidently find their way into coin shop all over Hong Kong anyway.

My few regular readers will know that I am somewhat dismissive of the superstition that is practiced by even many of the well educated in Hong Kong. While I don't condone Fung Shui I don't persecute those who practice it. Evidently Standard Chartered Bank does! How is swapping one $100.00 bill for another a crime? Does the bank keep track of the serial numbers? Even so, how was this a crime?

Maybe I'm just dumb but I cannot see how what they were doing was a crime UNLESS the banks or government themselves take those lucky bills and auction them off or maybe give them as salary bonuses to high government officials for their weekly trip to Macao. Since nothing in the TV news or paper indicated that they do; I fail to see a crime. How is this activity different from janitors who sort through trash for paper, glass, aluminum, steel and plastic to recycle? Does Price Waterhouse Cooper demand that the Janitors reimburse them for the profits made by the cleaning staff from their waste paper baskets and lunch room garbage bins? It just looks like smart employees finding a way to supplement their income to me.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Doesn't Have a Lucky $100.00 Bill