Sunday, December 21, 2008

 

Some things are to horrible to Contemplate

Warning the link above is NOT for the easily grossed out.


Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Bogger who hopes he never has anything like this happen to him

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

 

O Come O Come Emanuel

O Come O Come Emanuel is one of the oldest Christmas carols still commonly sung and possibly dates from as early as the 12th century though most hymnologist put it in the 15th century. I like this carol but I’m not sure that it is a Christmas song at all. There are several reasons for this.

First the tune is an actual medieval funeral hymn which doesn’t seem to be a good choice of music for a Christmas carol.

Second, the Church at this time believed what is known as “Covenant Theology.” One of the tenants of this type of theology is the belief that all of the promises made to the nation of Israel were transferred to the Church after the resurrection of Jesus. That is why you see the constant references to Israel in this hymn. In the minds of the people who originally sung this hymn they were the New Israel. The Christians at this time considered the words Israel and Church to be nearly synonyms

Third, these were people who had lived through the Black Death. They were being overruns on the East by the Turks. The Moors were invading from the West. Areas that had been predominantly Christian for 100’s of years were being converted to Islam at the point of a sword. The writers of this hymn believed that they lived in dark days.

When you look at the theology and history of the age when this hymn was written its meaning changes. This hymn isn’t about the Advent but the Second Coming. This is the voice of people who live in fear of disease, and invasion. This is a hymn for people who are afraid they are going to be asked to die for their faith. This is a song for people who believe that God will protect them even in times of trials. This is a song about finding hope in hopeless times.

Maybe that makes a good Christmas carol after all.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. Refrain

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave. Refrain

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death's dark shadows put to flight. Refrain

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery. Refrain

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times once gave the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

O come, thou Root of Jesse's tree,
an ensign of thy people be;
before thee rulers silent fall;
all peoples on thy mercy call. Refrain

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace. Refrain

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear. Refrain

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who sings Christmas carols

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Oh The Monkies Have No Tails in Zam Boanga

I wrote the post in the link last year and several people wrote me and said how it moved them. I thought I'd repost it this year.

I'll have a new Christmas post up in a couple of days

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Now they tell me!

One of the most frustrating areas of my job is weeding. That is the term that librarians use for removing old books from the shelves. There are many reasons for doing this. Sometimes the books are just worn out and are being replaced. Sometimes the library has more copies of a work than it needs. Sometime the content is dated. Sometimes the focus of the library has changed. But mostly books are pulled, as much as librarians hate to admit it simply because nobody reads them. This last reason is really problematic and bothersome. Librarians actually spend a lot of time reading reviews, looking at curriculum and deciding what to buy. They then promote the new purchases, look at lesson plans and try to let teachers know what is available. All to no avail. So, this potentially really useful book sits on the shelf for 10 years until the person who has their job after them sees the book and says, "That's dated" and throws it away.

That's when the problem starts. As soon as I publish a list of withdrawn items I get teachers and administrators at my desk saying "What, you're gonna throw that out! That's to useful to discard!"

Then why didn't they read it before I got ready to throw it out?


Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who knows that 95% of everything in a library is simply helping to make the other 5% that is read look important but doesn't like it

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

 

Smile, you're on surveillance camera

Scary stuff even if you aren't paranoid.

One of the assignments I have students in middle school do is to put their name in quotation marks into a Google search. It is interesting to see how much stuff is available about you unless you are very, very careful.

What is scary is the ability not just governments but banks and even just voyeurs are getting track our lives. Things like debit cards for mass transit systems and cell phone records automated toll plazas all create records. I've been told, though I don't know first hand since I don't drive that in places like Singapore if a crime is committed and an automobile is used then the first thing the police do is check these records to see if any cars matching a description were in the area. You are suspect simply because you drive a white Accord. Governments are bad enough but, I wonder how many other people have the ability to access this information?

The smart ID card in Hong Kong is certainly easy to use but man is it somewhat scary too just because of the amount of information it contains. Yet if you intentionally disable that information then it is a crime.

It appears to me that there are really only three absolutely basic rights. 1) The right to follow my conscience, which would include the free speech, freedom of religion and privacy. 2) The right to my property, which includes such things as deciding where to live, what to eat and wear. 3) The right to liberty which would include such things as choosing my own career and living where I want.

Obviously none of these are an absolute right. But it just seems that each is becoming more circumscribed and restricted all the time. Today is no different than the past in that regard because in all times and all nations there are those who wish to impose tyranny for the good of "the people" regardless of how many people have to die to obtain that good. It is just that now it is easier for them to do it.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who sometimes thinks he should wear sabots and could be related to Ned Ludd

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

 

Rudolph's on the Red-Line Train Dear

Sung to the tune or Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer

Rudolph’s on the Red-Line train dear, you can reach him on his cell phone.
None of the other riders mind if he receives a call.
They'd never let his talking, bother them in the least.
Mostly they’re just chatting or listening to MP3’s

Then on one crowded afternoon a SenSan couldn’t hear.
When he began to shout into his phone
Rudolph got mad and punched him out.
Now all the MTR riders always back away in fear.
They never shout on cell phones if they see that Rudolph’s near.


Notes;
1.The MTR is the Hong Kong subway system
2. SenSan is Chinese for "Mister" "Man"or "Husband"

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger with a twisted sense of Christmas

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Monday, December 08, 2008

 

To eat or not to eat

I have a friend whose wife is a vegetarian. I like her a lot, she is a really sweet person. She is one of the most unoffensive vegetarians I've ever met. But I still wonder about vegetarians and I must admit that she is one of the few I've met who don't fall into two basic groups; Hindus and weirdo's.

I can almost understand why Hindu theology espouses vegetarianism. Almost not quite. I understand the concept of doing good works and not harming anything. I have read the Vedas and the Upanishads and the Sutras and have at least a cursory understanding of the development of Eastern Pantheism.

The rub for me is that the Wheel of Karma is mechanical. You are getting paid in this life for the sins of your previous life. How do I know that it isn't fated for that pig to become a Chinese New Year's dinner? Maybe that is what he was born for and is fulfilling his Karma in doing so. If that is the case am I not being cruel to not eat him? Because if I don't then he will just have to pay for those past sins, and any that he commits as a pig in the next life and because he will live longer he will probably have a greater Karmic load. What if the best way for him to shed Karma is make me happy by eating him? Sacrificing himself for the good or at least happiness of others is surely a high and noble thing to do. What if by not eating him I am actually injuring him more than if I'd eaten him. Then I'd not be doing good but harm.

Far be it from me to keep any being from being able pay back their Karma, pass the mustard please.

When I look at the social inequity in Hindu society that is perpetuated through the caste system I cannot help but think the Hindus might shed more Karma by abstaining from assigning people positions in society at birth and eating meat. Still despite the issues I have with Hinduism I can understand why they eat what they eat. There is a certain internal logic to it and if you buy into the system; I suppose it makes sense.

The problem is that not all vegetarians are Hindus or its off shoots Buddhism, Jainism and so forth. Most are like my friend's wife only pushier. She became a vegetarian because when she was 13 she went to a BBQ and got sick eating chicken. You see surprising numbers of stories similar to this one. What I find strange is that I have never heard anyone swear off vegetables because they got sick at a salad bar. I wonder why that is? Especially since many more people that get sick from eating things like salad which isn't cooked than they do from eating meat items. Maybe it happens, maybe there are people I don't notice that only eat meat and no starch, fruit or vegetables but there are not many. Sort of moral Adkins dieters; but the only ones I can think of are arctic tribes that live on seals and whale blubber. Other than them I haven't heard of anyone who is exclusively a meat eater.

What would happen if a 13-year-old says “Mom, I got sick on those green beans last night and now I'm only eating cornbread and meat”? I bet the parents would not allow it. Yet evidently little kids are allowed to do just the opposite and swear off animal protein. Even if they don't eat a wide enough variety of vegetables to be healthy.

Even people who don't eat many vegetables eat more vegetables than vegetarians do meat. Normal humans (yes it is normal for us to eat meat) also seem to be much more tolerant of vegetarians than vice versa. I guess this is where “M” and I agree, she isn't seeking any form of moral superiority through vegetarianism. She just doesn't like meat. Most vegetarians are actually quite high-horsed about their diet and that can drive non-vegetarians up a tree. I guess they are sort of crypto-evangelical-Hindus. They'd probably be better off being the real thing. Except then they'd have to buy into all that caste-system stuff and that isn't very fun. Especially since I'm in a higher caste than they are.


Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Non-Vegetarian Blogger

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Friday, December 05, 2008

 

A bridge to far?

Last Sunday I sent a polite email to several legco members asking if the Hong Kong-Macao-Zhuhai bridge project included a railroad link. I had hoped to wait to write about this until I received a reply.

Crickets chirped, grass grew, seasons changed

Not one of them replied

I'm a lot less opposed to this bridge than some people appear to be but I cannot figure out why they would build this thing without a rail link on it. It would seem to me that bringing a rail link directly to the Kwai Fong container terminal would be a logical, long term job creating way to justify this bridge. Isn't it better to have a 1000 shipping containers arrive via train than arrive one at a time via tractor trailer? I'd think so.

It would also be a great idea to be able to run commuter trains to Zhu Hai because as we continue to become more integrated into the greater Chinese economy it might become attractive to live there and commute to work. Kind of like the stock broker that lives in New Jersey and works on Wall Street.

This is a good example of how public schools create the society. The schools here are actually simply vomitoria where students repeat what they've learned without trying to apply that knowledge. While I have at times defended that to some degree the leaders should be better than that. I would bet they simply didn't think that it might be a good idea to have more than one rail link with the rest of China. Now, since they are getting ready to start building this thing it would be embarrassing to have put the plans on hold for 6-weeks while the architects reworked the plans.

Or, it could be that they were all busy trying to not send a plane or two down to Bangkok to help evacuate local citizens.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who takes the ferry

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A Fai Mao Christmas Hymnal

Here are the lyrics of all the spoofs that I've done over the years that I can find.

Some are simply silly and other were written in response to social issues at the time.

2008
Noisy Night
(Silent Night)

Noisy night, smoggy night
All is busy all is bright.
Round yon bus stop mother and child.
Waiting patiently in the crowd
‘Till they catch a ride home, till they catch a ride home

Noisy night, smoggy night
All is busy, all is bright
Standing grumpily in the queue
Hoping to find a seat for the ride home
Hoping that it won’t rain, hoping that it won’t rain

Noisy night, smoggy night
All is busy, all is bright
Still the quiet place calls to each one
Waiting silently never proud
‘till we find our way home, ‘til we find our way home

Noisy night, smoggy night
Sitting still, sitting quiet
Knowing that Christmas is in the heart
Ignoring the neon is just the start
‘till we find our way home, ‘till we find our way home

___________

This Carroll was written because at this time in 2007 there were a number of horrific suicides in the government housing complex known as Tin Shui Wai

2007
O Little Town of Tin Shui Wai
(O Little Town of Bethlehem)

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 contractors 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 to 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 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.


2007
Cell Phone Bells
(Silver Bells)

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

Children pouting
People staring
walking mile after mile

And on ev'ry street corner you'll hear

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

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

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

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

2001
Jingle Bells - Hong Kong Style

Rushing through Mong Kok in a Kowloon Motor Buss
Over the bumps we go
Talking all the way (yak yak yak)
Bells on Cell Phones Ring
Making spirits bright
Oh, what fun it is to sing a Cell Phone Song Tonight

Oh Cell phones ring, cell phones ringPeople answer "Wai?"
Oh what fun it is to ride in a buss tonight

_______


2002
Walking in a Hong Kong Wonderland
(Winter Wonderland)

Tram bells ring are you listening?
In the street lights are blinking
Its crowded tonight
What a frenetic sight
Walking in a Hong Kong wonderland

Gone away is bluebird
We killed them all because of flu birds
We'd rather not cough
As we walk the along
Walking in a Hong Kong wonderland

In the crosswalk we can see an old man pushing
a cart full of paper brown He'll say: Can you help meWe'll say: No, Man
But you'll be there by sundown
Later on we'll conspire,As we push our stock price higher
As we live and we die
In our flats in the sky
Walking in a Hong Kong wonderland

When we get old we'll retire
In Canada or Australia
We'll frolic and play
Though far far a way
Walking in a Hong Kong wonderland


2005
Hong Kong 12 Days
(12 days of Christmas)
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A pirated CD

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a Pirated CD

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Four cell-phones calling,
Three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Five golden Rings
Four cell-phones calling, three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD!

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Six taxis honking
Five Golden rings
Four cell-phones calling, three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD!

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Seven (Filipino) maids a shopping, six Taxis honking
Five Golden Rings
Four cell-phones calling, three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD

On the Eight Day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Eight ferries crossing, Seven (Filipino) maids a shopping, six Taxis honking
Five Golden Rings
Four cell-phones calling, three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me

Nine Tours a touring, eight ferries crossing, seven (Filipino) maids a shopping, six Taxis honking
Five Golden Rings
Four cell-phones calling, three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Ten ledge-co members, Nine tours a touring, eight ferries crossing, Seven (Filipino) maids a shopping, six Taxis honking
Five Golden Rings
Four cell-phones calling, three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me.
Eleven buses parking, ten ledge-co members, nine tours a touring, eight ferries crossing, seven (Filipino) maids a shopping, six Taxis honking
Five Golden Rings
Four cell-phones calling, three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A 12 square foot flat
Eleven buses parking. ten Ledge-co members, Nine tours a touring, eight ferries crossing, seven (Filipino) maids a shopping, six Taxis honking
Five Golden Rings
Four cell-phones calling, three cake shop vouchers, two soy sauce chickens and a pirated CD

2006
Chestnuts Roasting in an Open Barrel
Chestnuts roasting in an open barrel
Bus fumes getting up your nose
People going by looking down at their shoes
talking on their cell phones

Everybody knows it rude to push through the crowd
Yet seldom does anybody care
But from time to time you you can see and you can hear
The sound of someone spreading cheer

Everyday we walk righ past all those other folks
Looking neither left or right
But even in the crowd and noise that everywhere here

May you find a Merry Christmas and good cheer

Until Next Time
Fai Moa
The Christmas Blogger

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Noisy Night

Every Year I try to re-write at least one Christmas Carrol for Hong Kong. Last year was a really sad one this year not so much:

Noisy Night
(Silent Night)

Noisy night, smoggy night
All is busy all is bright.
Round yon bus buss stop mother and child.
Waiting patiently in the crowd
‘Till they catch a ride home, till they catch a ride home

Noisy night, smoggy night
All is busy, all is bright
Standing grumpily in the queue
Hoping to find a seat for the ride home
Hoping that it won’t rain, hoping that it won’t rain

Noisy night, smoggy night
All is busy, all is bright
Still the quiet place calls to each one
Waiting silently never proud
‘till we find our way home, ‘til we find our way home

Noisy night, smoggy night
Sitting still, open heart
Knowing that Christmas is in the heart
Ignoring the neon is just the start
‘till we find our way home, ‘till we find our way home

Links to the previous year's carrols:
http://faimao.blogspot.com/2006/12/cell-phone-bells.html
http://faimao.blogspot.com/2007/11/o-little-town-of-tin-shui-wai.html
http://faimao.blogspot.com/2005/12/jingle-bells-hong-kong-style.html

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who wishes you a very merry Christmas

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

 

A culture of Trust

It disturbs me that the same ideas about policing are used here in Hong Kong.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger is only mildly Anglophobic

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