Saturday, September 29, 2007

No Surrender no Retreat

I think it was Thomas Jefferson that said "The tree of Liberty is watered with the blood of patriots."

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who mumbles platitudes

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oregon family's name deemed offensive — on their license plates

God help them if their name was Lipschitz.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who also has an uncommon last name

Monday, September 24, 2007

Green Red and Orange

The article above is from the New York Times which is getting to be a less and less reliable source for news. However, this looks to be spot on from what I have seen about China. I'll not go so far as to say that air quality, or lack of it will be the downfall of the CCP but it wouldn't bother me if it was.

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
Fai Mao
The Blogger calls it the the "Ewww Yuck, Slimes!"

Friday, September 21, 2007

Stock up

Last night the really smart, looks twenty years younger than she is, works hard and well dressed Chinese spouse and I went to a dinner sponsored by Credit Suisse for folks that have an account with that august financial institution.

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
Fai Mao
The Blogger who isn't an Investment analyst

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wimp alert!

How do you say Phfffffffft! in Chinese?

What a wimp!

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Cat who likes dogs

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Curious and Curiouser

The speculative link in this article to North Korea and by inference the PRC is a little scary.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Non-proliferating blogger

Sports that the PRC would like added to the Olympics

OK I admit it. This is too easy; but I'm in a vile mood today and governments are easier to pick on than individuals.

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
Fai Mao
The Blogger who really does like china more than he lets on.

Going for the Gold in Air Pollution

This was just an interesting article to me. I would be willing to bet that the PRC officials are lying through their teeth. They'll close the factories. They'll probably pump a billion gallons of water into the deserts North West of Beijing to keep the dust storms out.

I wonder how many dissidents they will imprison, torture or kill during the Olympics?

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who is distrustful of the central government

Monday, September 17, 2007

Chinese man dies in an Internet Cafe

So the government in China wants to turn the Internet into a platform to promote the Communist Party and prevent this kind of thing eh? What they might then get is a nation where everybody dies of boredom.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who doesn't play online games

Woman Fights of Giant Python

The Pro-Democracy camp could use this woman. She's used to dealing with snakes

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who is scared of snakes

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

To Stand and Sometimes to Fall

The SCMP has a headline today about how Anson (Got her fangs on) Chan is "Standing for democracy" in the up coming bi-election to replace the late and un-mourned Ma Lik. This evidently gives Regina Ip who is going to run for the DAB an opponent that she will have trouble beating.

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
Fai Mao
The Blogger who remembers where he was and what he was doing on 9-11-2001

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bending the rules

I am now recovered from my cataract surgery sufficiently well to see my computer. Actually I can now see nearly everything. I have some far sightedness but for the first time in my life I have true color vision, true 3D vision, and proper perspective and distance. Wow! All I can say is that the women are prettier, the children cuter, the dogs and cats are fluffier and the men uglier than they've ever been before. The only frustrating thing is having to learn how to look over the reading glasses but I will get used to that in time.

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
Fai Mao
The Blogger who doesn't belong to a Union