Sunday, December 31, 2006

Connexions? We have connections (bis)

Hmm . . . On second thoughts, the slow connection speeds may be because of that Saddam snuff movie. Who knows how many people on a little island in the South China Sea and Hong Kong are watching it?

Mister B? He's giving the death Pron a miss, thank you very much.

Instead, he'll take the word of that little boy in Heart of Darkness: "Mistah Kurtz -- he dead."

And re-test broadband speed, tomorrow: 1 January 2007.

(This post is further to this previous post.)

News Year's Eve? New Year's Day? Anyday!

(click on photo to enlarge)
Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendour of action,
The glory of power --

For yesterday is but a dream,
and tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.
Sanskrit proverb
Dear reader, whoever you are, wherever you are . . . Thanks!

Connexions? We have connections

Connexions? Noun, chiefly British.
Hey-ho: dictionary/thesaurus

Whatever. Looks like Ye Olde Internet web access on a liitle island in the South China Sea is back to "Access all Areas".

However, Mister Bijou is accustomed to DSL broadband at high speeds (averaging 2133kbps on a 3 Mbit/s connection) thanks to his finely-tuned machine. PCCW Netvigator is currently delivering speeds at a trifle over a (dial-up) 56kbps.

Mustn't grumble, et cetera.

For broadband speed tests, google.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Van Morrison: Sweet Thing

For the weekend, a guilty pleasure.

Last one of the year. What's it to be? Sweet Thing, from the album Astral Weeks. Van Morrison. Nice video, too.

The vid will, however, take an inordinate amount of time to load for those experiencing post-earthquake telecom disorder: youtube

Xinhua's in-house style guide?

Most every mainstream media organization -- be it print, radio, TV, Internet -- has its own in-house style guide.

As the UK's Guardian newspaper explains:
Such guides provide a degree of uniformity in how things are spelt, written and reported.
Guardian online: A-Z style guide

Elsewhere, ESWN has translated into English what purports to be an in-house guide for mainland China's Xinhua. ESWN prefaces the translation as follows:
Warning: The following is a translation of what is purported to be an Xinhua news agency internal list of banned terms for its editorial departments, domestic and international bureaus. There is no guarantee that this is authentic. If this was fabricated, then the person must have studied Xinhua very, very carefully in order to deduce these rules and regulations. Minimallly, the author is an insider.
The phrase "banned terms" is ESWN's translation, presumably, of the original Chinese. Is the guide genuine? Whatever it is, the "Xinhua news agency internal list of banned terms" proves to be an interesting, mostly pleasantly surprising, and revealing read: ESWN

Mister Bijou can also recommend: The Economist (magazine's) Style Guide, which is based on its own in-house manual: amazon

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein, a CIA-asset from 1959 to 1991, was hung "by the neck until dead" somewhere in Baghdad at just before 6am this morning.

President of Iraq from 16 July 1979, Saddam was a brutal, murderous dictator until he was quickly deposed following the US-led invasion of Iraq that began 9 April 2003.

Fortunately for some, Saddam went to his grave carrying with him many secrets. Most especially, details of the workings of what had been a positive and supportive relationship with a string of US governments over a forty-year period. Saddam was America's man in the region. He was one of the many dictators about whom US government officials could say: "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of bitch".

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983.

That is, until Saddam became more of a liability than an asset.

For an overview of Saddam Hussein's relationship with the US . . . Thanks for the Memories (sung by Bing Crosby): bushwack

For those who care, Mister Bijou is against capital punishment. So it goes.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Hong Kong: The connection has timed out

After Tuesday's undersea earthquake off southern Taiwan, IDD phone services were very quickly re-established. Email, too. But for Internet users in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and a little island in the South China Sea, accessing web sites hosted on Ye Olde Internet outside of one's respective home base has usually achieved the following:
The connection has timed out
Locally, PCCW and Hutchison Global Communications, the two largest telecom companies herabouts, have focused firstly on their business dedicated-line users. No surprise there. But even for residential users, things are marginally better today than they were yesterday: one percent is now five percent successful connections.

Six of the seven undersea data cables that serve Hong Kong are kaput. Four mainland China undersea cables are also kaput. It takes till Tuesday for the cable ships from Singapore and somewhere else to reach the damage zone, before they can even begin the task of repairing one cable and then another.

Even with IDD running and email tickety-boo, Mister Bijou wonders how this communication breakdown will impact on the just-in-time manufacturing output of the Pearl River Delta. Hey! Perhaps they'll eventually have to shut up shop and we will be graced with a New Year that debuts smog-free.

Anyway, all of the above is mindful that Tuesday's Taiwan earthquake occurred on the second anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami. That whatever inconvenience there is hereabouts, is nothing compared to what the people caught up in that 2004 tsunami suffered.

Eye | Land | View

(click on photo to enlarge)
Commerce and conversation on the waterfront

Next time Mister Bijou is in the vicinity, he will use fill-in flash to lighten things up a tad. Live and learn . . . Anyway, those wicker trays with mounds of mysterious dried stuff, yes, they sit on inverted plastic stools. Neat idea, eh?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Eye | Land | View

(click on photo to enlarge)
blue laundry

Hong Kong: Earthquake . . . update on the impact on Hong Kong telecomunications

The following is an update by the (Hong Kong Government) Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) as at 11am today (December 28) on the impact on external telecommunication services due to the earthquake near Taiwan on December 26:

Of note:
Latest Service Status:
Operators have implemented contingency plans and arrange re-routing of the traffic via all other cables which are still in service. At present, voice call services including IDD calls and roaming calls to most of the countries/territories except for Taiwan have nearly resumed normal. However, Internet access to overseas web sites is still congested.

Repairing Status:
Two submarine cable maintenance ships from Singapore and the Philippines are on the way to the scene. Three more ships will depart today.

In general, it requires about five to seven days to repair the cables. However, due to the earthquake, the seabed may have been damaged and there may be further earthquakes that will affect the maintenance work.

Ends/Thursday, December 28, 2006
Issued at HKT 12:39
According to RTHK, Hong Kong is served by seven undersea cables, six have been knocked out.

Update. Oh, the latest OFTA report confirms six out seven . . .

Hong Kong: Earthquake. . . Netvigator?

Statement about the impact on telecommunications of the Taiwan earthquake already from (among others) Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) and Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank (HSBC).

Here is the statement on the front page Hong Kong's largest Internet service provider, PCCW's Netvigator:

[This Space Intentionally Left Blank]

Yeah, Mister Bijou previously mentioned it in a previous post: "Nothing whatsover, however, on the front page of Hong Kong biggest ISP Netvigator, except the usual service promotions. No surprise there, though."

But Mister B thought it deserved its own dedicated post.

Oh, and Wikipedia is inaccessible. Time to go to bed.

Update. Please read Comments.
Thank you.

Hong Kong: Earthquake . . .HSBC online banking services

HSBC Online Services:
Customers may experience problems in accessing online services

Following the recent earthquake near Taiwan yesterday evening (December 26), submarine cables that serve phone and other telecommunications needs such as the Internet for residential and corporate customers in Hong Kong have experienced significant disruptions. Under this situation, customers may encounter difficulty in accessing Business Internet Banking, HSBCnet and eReceivable Finance services. Our own efforts and efforts of our third-party suppliers will continue until all services are fully restored.

If you encounter delays in using online services and have urgent or critical transactions today, please submit your instructions through alternative means. Should you require any assistance, please call our service hotline on 2748-8222.
I suppose a little island in the South China Sea's three ATMs belonging to HSBC are working, aren't they? That's something to discover after the sun comes up.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hong Kong: Earthquake . . . OFTA statement

(Hong Kong's) OFTA Statement on Telecommunications Services Affected by Submarine Cable Damages Caused by Earthquakes near Taiwan:
In response to public and media enquiries about external telecommunications services after the earthquakes near Taiwan last night, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) confirmed today (December 27, Wednesday) that external telecommunications services in Hong Kong, including Internet access to overseas websites, IDD calls and roaming calls had been affected by the earthquakes.

"Due to a series of earthquakes south-southeast of Gaoxiong, Taiwan at around 1226 UTC on 26 December 2006, a number of submarine cables passing over the earthquake region were damaged. According to the reports submitted to OFTA by operators, telecommunications users have been facing severe congestion in a number of external services," said an OFTA spokesperson.

Because of the extent of the damages, the congestion is expected to continue for a few days. The operators are now taking emergency measures to maximize the throughput of the existing facilities and using alternative routings to pass the traffic through other directions.

"Operators of the submarine cables have also arranged urgent repairs of the damaged cables. It is expected that some of the submarine cables will take at least five days to repair. OFTA has been liaising closely with all external telecommunications service operators and monitoring the progress," added the spokesperson.

She also advised the general public to minimize non-essential Internet access to overseas websites and not to repeat making non-urgent overseas calls immediately after failures on the call attempts.

Office of the Telecommunications Authority
27 December 2006
Nothing whatsover, however, on the front page of Hong Kong biggest ISP Netvigator, except the usual service promotions. No surprise there, though.

Hong Kong: Earthquake -- on-line is mostly off-line

Websites hosted in Hong Kong are working, as is to be expected. Those include Hong Kong Government, Hong Kong Observatory and Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). Also up and running is "do no evil" google.

And -- as you can see -- yours truly, Mister Bijou, whose blog is hosted by google on one of its (who-knows-where?) server farms.

But google is currently not much good for anything, except to look at. It is unscientific, I know, but Mister Bijou research shows that ninety-nine percent of all links are currently inaccessible via google search and google news.

Direct links? You want some examples? Well, the BBC website is very, very slow. The Guardian front page comes up, eventually. But click on anything on the Guardian's front page and nothing returns. New York Times? Forget it!

Is anyone out there in the outside world able to access Hong Kong websites? For instance, Hong Kong Observatory.

Ah, well, the international bankers, stock traders, accountants, manufacturers, money makers and other wallahs based in Hong Kong are now severely disabled and screaming to high heaven. Which means it should not take too long for data transmissions and normal service "to be resumed as soon as possible" . . . money talks.

Hong Kong: Earthquake affects on-line life

That earthquake off the southeastern coast of Taiwan last night damaged the at least six transnational (or more) sea-bed internet pipes to North America.

Since much of the data traffic to and from a little island in the South China Sea is routed via Hong Kong and North America -- yes, even traffic to UK and Europe -- accessing much of the on-line world is very slow or and most is plain inaccessible.

Email seems to be OK. But life on-line is currently severely curtailed. See you later!

Hong Kong: Earthquake

Radio Television Hong Kong reports:
A pair of powerful earthquakes off the coast of Taiwan sparked warnings of a destructive tsunami possibly hitting the Philippines yesterday evening, but the expected waves did not materialise. The Hong Kong Observatory said the first quake, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, occurred at 8:28 pm., and that its epicentre was over the Luzon Strait, about 97 kilometres south-southeast of Gaoxiong. A second quake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale was recorded about nine minutes after the first. The quakes were felt by many people in southern China and Hong Kong. Several listeners called RTHK to say they had felt a tremor at around 8:37, and the effect was also noticed by at least two RTHK staff members in Broadcasting House.
Broadcasting House? That's Kowloonside, a world away. Ha! The shock waves must have finally dissipated there. For Mister Bijou on a little island in the South China Sea at around 8:37 pm, the earth neither shuddered, shimmied nor shook, earthquakes or other tremblers nothwithstanding.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Eye | Land | View

(click on photo to enlarge)
On a little island in the South China Sea, for good or ill, there are small but significant Roman Catholic and various Evangelical congregations.

Christmas Eve? Several separate groups of carol singers, one after the other, doing mostly the same songs in Cantonese and English, in the square for ten or fifteen minutes before moving on elsewhere. Later, at the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, the Catholic church is packed to overflowing with Filipino domestic helpers.

The Evangelicals, on the other hand, draw their support from within the local population and like to parade around the island. Christmas Day evening, they did a major procession along the waterfront: a fairy-light train featuring Father Christmas.

Mister Bijou's Christmas? Some wonderful presents followed by a great Christmas lunch on the roof at Mike, Wai-fong and Charlie's. As usual, there were a dozen or us and the sun shone. Brill!

Hong Kong: I Ching, Book of Changes

Whoops, a day late.

Hexagram 30, 離 Li / The Clinging, Fire -> Hexagram 7, 師 Shih / The Army
Source: afpc

Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown R.I.P.


For Mister Bijou, there were two James Browns: one who did the funk stuff such as Night Train, Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, Say it Loud -- I'm Black and I'm Proud, I Got You (I Feel Good). The other JB did ballads, mostly in the early 1960s late 1950s. Emotion tuggers such as Please, Please, Please, Try Me, It's a Man's Man's Man's World (1966).

JB's funk stuff laid the templates for much that followed and has since been sampled to death. But (apart from the above-mentioned standouts) much of his music had a sameyness, one song sounded much like another on record to Mister B's ear. Though live, live, James Brown was just sensational. And mighty good too pounding out of a real good club sound system.

But the ballads, oh, the ballads. Mister B long ago saw a film of JB at the Apollo, his rendition of Please, Please, Please was, how to say, once seen, never forgotten.

Anyway, here is JB One and Two, accompanied by British soulsinger Joss Stone. The clip is brill:

JB, thanks.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Eye | Land | View

(click on photo to enlarge)
Late afternoon, sitting out on the public ferry pier. The old lady in the foreground is the one who caught my eye. It was only after Mister Bijou got home he saw the woman in the background. Who is she? No idea.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

New York Times officially censored

Yesterday, 22 December 2006, the New York Times ran an op-ed. Nothing unusual there, the NYT runs at least one op-ed in each edition.

However. this op-ed was 'redacted', that's to say parts of it were blacked out by the CIA's Publication Review Board.

This was after the "White House intervened in the normal prepublication review process and demanded substantial deletions."

Op-ed contributors Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann explain why in What We Wanted to Tell You About Iran: NYT

That link also leads to the redacted version, and citations of what is missing.

Raw Story has pieced together what it thinks is missing and why it is so awkward for the current occupant of the White House: Raw Story

Thanks for the heads up, ESWN

Eye | Land | View

(click to photo to enlarge)
On the waterfront.

Reading matters

Within the Context of No Context, by George W. S. Trow: New Yorker Magazine

Christmas: the ritual orgy of consumption

Front page of today's scmp (no link; pay-per-view) reports that Hong Kong retailers are racking up their best Christmas sales for a decade.

That, according to scmp, is cause for good cheer.

Absent from scmp is the following: "You know Christmas marketing is a scam, benefiting manufacturers, stores, and huge corporations, while driving individuals into debt. You know this annual consumer frenzy wreaks havoc on the environment, filling landfills with useless packaging and discarded gifts."

Yes, it's a tad late in the day, but: "No to compulsory consumption. Boycott Christmas!" Christmas Resistance Movement

(Mince pies and Phil Spector's Christmas album excepted)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Phil Spector: White Christmas

From me to you, a track from A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. Please, forget all those other Christmas albums, this one is it. Well, it is in the world according to Mister Bijou.

Phil Spector's 'wall of sound' supports the vocal chords of the sublime Darlene Love:

. . . who sings Irving Berlin's original 1940 lyrics:
The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I've never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it's December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops glisten,
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright.
And may all your Christmases be white.
OK, they reversed the order . . . but Darlene sings it word for word, almost. Enjoy!

Hong Kong: sunshine and warmth

Ooh-eee! Yes!

(click on table to enlarge)
Source: Hong Kong Observatory
(R.H. range refers to relative humidity)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reading matters

Shopping and philosophy, post-modernism is the new black: Economist

Hong Kong: Winter Solstice

Tomorrow, 22 December 2006, most companies in Hong Kong will close in the early afternoon by way of marking this year's Winter Solstice.

Chinese winter solstice: Wikipedia

What with it being the last Friday before Christmas, Hong Kong's shopping districts and malls will be even more choc-a-bloc than usual with people waving their credit cards.

A Christmas Carol? Ba-humbug! Even so, Mister Bijou will try his best to be of good cheer as he sits it out on a little island in the South China Sea. And come Monday there's turkey, roast potatoes and all the trimmings chez Mike, Wai-fong and Charlie's. In a word: bliss.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hong Kong: Legislative Council Question Time

Some of the questions (and answers) from the LegCo meeting of Wednesday, 20 December 2006:

LCQ2 : Comparison of air quality between Hong Kong and other cities
LCQ5: Spotting of wild pigs
LCQ11: Sauna rooms of clubhouses

Seasonal bonus:Traffic arrangements for Christmas on Hong Kong Island (with photos)

Excerpt: Lan Kwai Fong
As a large number of people are expected, those wishing to enter Lan Kwai Fong may have to wait an undetermined time to gain access. Those with restaurant bookings are advised to arrive at their venues early. Once the queuing system is implemented, people wishing to enter the area will be required to join the queue.

Parents are advised not to bring small children into the area. The special pedestrian precinct will be implemented in a section of D'Aguilar Street between Wyndham Street and Wellington Street, Lan Kwai Fong and Wo On Lane between 7 pm on December 23, 25, 26 and 4am on the following day. For December 24, the pedestrian precinct will be implemented between 5 pm and 6 am on the following day.
Those traffic arrangements and restrictions arose out events in Lan Kwai Fong in the first few minutes of the New Year on I January 1993. Finally tally: 21 dead. Fortunately, there has been no similar event since. (Fingers crossed.) Lan Kwai Fong: Wikipedia

Best music of 2006?

Wisdom of the crowds? For the list of list: large hearted boy.

In 2006, Mister Bijou bought very little. Let's see, time to re-acquaint with tales of a dark past: The Velvet Underground and Nico.

Bob Dylan's Modern Times. Although nowhere near as strong as Time Out of Mind, it's getting more plays than "Love and Theft".

Zoe Keating, one cello x 16: natoma.

Don't remember how I discovered Keating, although it was late in the year. Mister B is a sucker for the cello -- it's a long story -- and Keating plays acoustic cello, the sounds of which she may loop or repeat. Oh, she also knocks on the cello's body, brushes it with her bow, and taps on the bridge. If you like the cello, you might want to explore her website (which includes a couple of videos of her performing, especially recommended the video of Legions): zoekeating

Update. Legions is also on youtube.

For those who have any interest whatsoever, Mister Bijou may cough up some cash in 2007 for some of the music mentioned in artforum.

And some of the electronic stuff and other stuff featured in the Year's Recap at NYC's Other Music

Eye | Land | Digital

(click on photo to enlarge)
Having procrastinated for far too long, Mister Bijou finally went out and bought a digital camera. Yes, finally! Don't ask why it took so long.

On a little island in the South China Sea, this is the view across the street from Mister Bijou's bijou residence: Park n'Shop supermarket on the ground floor; a Chinese tarpaulin; Chinese restaurant on the floor above; modern chromium and glass building in the background; several people; a dog; a major pile of cardboard boxes awaiting recycling; some bikes; half a tree.

The yellow awning in the foreground belongs to a women's and children's fashion cum cooked-food store below Mister B's. Further out, the glass and chrome building stretches for a block and was completed three years ago. The building has been empty ever since -- something to do with the property developer not applying to whichever government department for a rezoning of land-use permit prior to construction. Hence, permit denied. Ha-ha!

The photo? There is some flare-up in the supermarket's left-hand panel . . . time to read the damn manual.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hong Kong: I Ching, Book of Changes

Hexagram 24, 復 Fu / Return (The Turning Point) -> Hexagram 6, 訟 Sung / Conflict
Source: afpc

Note: hexagram 24 refers muchly to the (冬至) winter solstice! Timely, eh? Eerie, too. This year, that solstice occurs on a little island in the South China Sea on 22 December 2006 -- four days hence.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's OK in the cold, if you are warm

Season's (indoor) fashion: shorts off, jeans on. Sweat shirt on top of the T-shirt. Beanie hat on head. Why, so? Winter has finally arrived. Or is it merely the first taste of winter?

For sure, the last couple of days have been rainy and cold, but that is changing as an intense northeast monsoon brings further cold . . . but dry. Which is all to the good . . . for Mister Bijou says, "better cold and dry, than cold and wet".

Oh, look . . . according to Hong Kong Observatory, humidity on a little island in the South China Sea has plummeted over the past 24 hours from 90 percent to 11 percent :

(click on graph to enlarge)

Time to dig out the lip salve!

Georges Bizet: Carmen (Act I)

For the weekend, a guilty pleasure.

From the 1984 film version, a goodly part of Act I from Bizet's Carmen, featuring Julia Migenes:

English and French lyrics: aria database

Some more in a musical mode:
Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's West Side Story: America
Jonh Kander and Fred Ebb's Chicago: Cell Block Tango

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hong Kong: Legislative Council Question Time

Some of the questions (and answers) from the LegCo meeting of Wednesday, 13 December 2006:

LCQ2: Cheung Sha Beach
LCQ4: Trimming of trees
LCQ13: Air quality within HK waters
LCQ17: Abandoned new-born babies

Hong Kong: YouTube pulls clip of star losing her pants

scmp, via UCLA's Asia Institute: AsiaMedia

SCMP: more trouble at mill (bis)

Most excellent report by journalist Justin Mitchell, Top Editor Forced to Resign at South China Morning Post: asiasentinel

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

SCMP: more trouble at mill

On 27th October 2006, prominently displayed on both the front page of South China Morning Post and the same page of its daily supplement Business Post was the following:
We wish to state unequivocally and categorically that the photographs we published on the front page of the main section and on the front page of the business section of the South China Morning Post yesterday, October 26, 2006, purporting to be of Charles Schmitt were not in fact photographs of Charles Schmitt. They were of Mr Rainer W. Rommel. Mr Rommel has nothing to do with Charles Schmitt's conviction, sentence or crime.
The photographs were published as a result of an error by the SCMP.
We wish to apologise wholeheartedly and unreservedly to Mr Rommel for the distress and concern that this will undoubtedly have caused him.
Mark Clifford
Editor-in-Chief, South China Morning Post Publishers Limited
On a little island in the South China Sea, the collective response was, "heads will roll".

Roll, they have. Chinese-language Apple Daily reports not only has the errant photojournalist gone but SCMP Business Editor Stuart Jackson has now been forced to fall on his sword and quit for "personal reasons". For an English rendering of the Apple story: EastSouthWestNorth.

We know errors occur, mistakes are made. But one of the first laws of journalism is: may sure you spell their name right. In the photo-editing department that surely must be: make certain you get the picture right.

Still, as English dramatist and poet Alexander Pope reminds us, "To err is human". Pope then goes further, "to forgive divine". Perhaps the unfairly impugned Mr Rainer W Rommel, has never read Pope. Is that why the SCMP's Business Editor has lost his job? Has Mr Rommel, whoever he is, been so distressed he has hired expensive lawyers to seek a financial salve from the SCMP to ease away his pain?

Charles Schmitt: Ex-NYSE Manager Jailed for Hong Kong Hedge-Fund Fraud: bloomberg
One of the punters whio got suckered [update: see Comments, below) by Schmitt: expat@large

Rainer W Rommel? He doesn't exist, according to google. Not yet, anyway. He will, after this post is posted. Oh, wait a second . . . at the archive of media apologies and clarifications,
More fun with photos (October 30, 2006): reget the error

Thanks to corporate crime watcher and indefatigable guardian of publishing standards for archiving the SCMP apology, Nick G!

For newer/previous posts, please click on scmp in Labels.

Monday, December 11, 2006

hong kong copy news: edition 13

This week: Civic Party's Alan Leong, pregnant mainlanders, midwifery (which Mister Bijou was taught is spoken as "midwhiffery"), logistics park.

It's weekly, local, satirical, and in an adorable animation format: hong kong copy news.

Reading matters

The art of melancholy: Times Literary Supplement

The TLS first paragraph mentions, inevitably, The Anatomy of Melancholy, by Robert Burton.

Written and published in the mid-17th century, The Anatomy is, despite its subject, a delightfully funny book . . . a "promiscuous leviathan" of a book that treats of everything under the sun.

If you have ever read and enjoyed Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman and Gustave Flaubert's Bouvard and Pecuchet, then The Anatomy is a book for you. Paperback edition published by New York Review of Books includes an introduction by William Gass. To order online, locally, Mister Bijou can recommend paddyfield

Hong Kong: I Ching, Book of Changes

Hexagram 57, 巽 Sun / The Gentle (The Penetrating, Wind) -> Hexagram 9, 小 畜 Hsiao Ch'u / The Taming Power of the Small
Source: afpc

Pinochet is dead. The hands of Victor Jara

Chile's General Pinochet is dead. No word on Thatcher though.

Still, Pinochet's death is no cause for rejoicing, but regret. Why? Pinochet escaped trial and imprisonment for his brutal military overthrow of a democratically elected government. Pinochet had the blood of thousands on his hands -- the blood of those he caused to be tortured, disappeared, murdered -- during and after that military coup.

Among those Pinochet had rounded up was folk singer Victor Jara:
On the morning of September 12, Jara was taken, along with thousands others, as a prisoner to the Chile Stadium (renamed the Estadio Víctor Jara in September 2003). Many of those detained were tortured and killed there by the military forces.

Jara was repeatedly beaten and tortured, the bones in his hands were broken as were the bones of his ribs.

Fellow political prisoners have testified that his captors mockingly suggested that he play guitar for them as he lay on the ground. Defiantly, he sang part of a song supporting the Popular Unity coalition.

After further beatings, he was machine-gunned on September 15 and his body was dumped on a road on the outskirts of Santiago, and then taken to a city morgue.

Jara's wife, Joan, was allowed to come and retrieve his body from the morgue (and was able to confirm the physical abuse he had endured). After holding a funeral for her husband, Joan Jara fled the country in secret.

Before his death, Victor Jara wrote a poem about the conditions of the prisoners in the stadium, the poem was written on a paper that was hidden inside a shoe of a friend. The poem was never named, but is commonly known as Estadio Chile.

Source: Wikipedia

Compañeros, Venceremos!

UPDATE. Victor Jara, Ojitos verdes: youtube

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Laurie Anderson: Smoke Rings

For the weekend, a guilty pleasure.

And these:
Eddy Grant: Electric Avenue
Siouxsie and the Banshees: Hong Kong Garden
Pet Shop Boys: West End Girls
Dire Straits: Money for Nothing

Have a great weekend.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hong Kong: Chinachem, Nina Wang, 129 Repulse Bay Road

Philip Bowring probes the mysteries of the lily-like building which has remained empty since it was completed almost four years ago, Hong Kong's most expensive residential tower building -- 129 Repulse Bay Road: asiasentinel

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hong Kong: black hats versus Civic Party?

Post of Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Adminstrative Region is up for grabs in the summer of 2007. The current CE is (Sir) Donald "Bow Tie" Tsang. He is almost certainly going to go forward for re-election.

But not unopposed. Hong Kong's Civic Party, which is growing in strength as the Democratic Party fades away, is putting forth its own candidate, Alan Leong.

The civic spirit, the HK spirit: Civic Party

This is a good thing. Even if Leong has no chance of winning, Hong Kong deserves better than an un-challenged Beijing shoo-in.

Expect dirty tricks. What American president Ronald Reagan and George Bush the Elder's political consultant, aggressive strategist, mentor of Karl Rove, and master of the black arts Lee Atwater (the Darth Vader of the Republican Party) called, somewhat inelegantly, "ratfucking".

For instance, the Civic Party last week claimed its computer system had been hacked. Certainly, some supposedly internal Civic Party stuff is now circulating on Chinese-language Hong Kong blogs and forums.

EastSouthWestNorth reports that:
The Doctor Report blog entry of December 4, 2006 contains the itemization of media "promotion" fees:

Apple Daily: HK$ 50,000 (discounted)
Ming Pao: HK% 80,000 (discounted)
South China Morning Post: HK$ 189,379 (to be confirmed)
Hong Kong Economic Times: (awaiting reply)
By way of comment, EastSouthWestNorth adds:
Here is what I don't understand -- what exactly is a "promotion" fee paid to a newspaper? I do not believe that there are any advertisements for Alan Leong at this time. Does this mean that the newpapers are getting paid for editorial content favorable to Alan Leong? That would have meant the end of journalism as I understand it . . .
Well, this could be an example of "ratfucking". In this instance, the wholesale creation, or doctoring, or spinning, of documents. By unknown black hats.

Or, none of the above.

So, yeah, anyhow, taking the bait, what is a media "promotion" fee? Anyone know?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hong Kong: Myiasis

Today's yery first question at Hong Kong's LegCo meeting concerned myiasis (see previous post). It's about time. Regular readers of Hong Kong Government press releases know myiasis has already become something of a persistent topic. There have been 14 reported cases this year.

Only yesterday, the Government's information department reported:
The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health is investigating a case of human myiasis involving a 45-year-old man who was found to have maggots in a wound.
The man was an in-patient of Princess Margaret Hospital and the maggots were found inside a wound in his scrotum on November 27. He is now in stable condition. Investigations revealed that he had no recent travel history.
Ooh-errh, mega gross, n'est-ce pas?

Furthermore, assiduous press-release readers will have noticed this case of myiasis was something of a first. Previous reports concerned maggot infestations found in the male and female body orifices of seriously geriatric patients warehoused in so-called nursing homes. This latest case was one of infestation of a scrotal wound belonging to a 45-year-old male who is laid up in a major Kowloon public hospital.

One must hope he gets better. For the rest of us, Mister Bijou suggests we all keep all our orifices and any wounds scrupulously clean . . . stay away from Princess Margaret, and should we live long enough to become ga-ga in a 'nursing home', pray we are not there overly neglected.

On the other hand, maggot therapy aka Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT), larval therapy, larva therapy, or larvae therapy: Wikipedia

Hong Kong: Legislative Council Question Time

Some of the questions (and answers) from the LegCo meeting of Wednesday, 6 December 2006:

LCQ1: Myiasis
LCQ2: Smuggling of dangerous goods by train
LCQ4: Mainland women giving births in Hong Kong
LCQ11: Lantau Logistics Park
LCQ16: Clansmen associations

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hong Kong: weather Pr0n

We thought so . . . Hong Kong Observatory confirms.

According to HKO, November 2006 was unseasonably warm, with an all-time high monthly mean temperature of 23.3C.

And rainfall? That was above normal too: 184% above normal. Most of that fell on one day -- 21 November -- with more than 100 millimetres of rain in some parts.

What else? Minimum temperature only fell below 20C for the first time on 28 November (18.7C).

Temperature is currently (9:45pm), let me see, 20C.

T-shirt and shorts for some die hards, even as the rest have already switched to coats, knee-high leather boots, hats and scarves.

Padilla: cruel and inhuman

If you have ever been surrounded by people who are aggressive, then found yourself arrested, handcuffed, and marched into detention, you'll know how it is to be and feel so powerless and vulnerable.

But then also to be kept in solitary isolation . . . and frequently deprived of the ability to see or to hear? That has to qualify as cruel and inhuman treatment:

“Today is May 21,” a naval official declared to a camera videotaping the event. “Right now we’re ready to do a root canal treatment on Jose Padilla, our enemy combatant.”
Several guards in camouflage and riot gear approached cell No. 103. They unlocked a rectangular panel at the bottom of the door and Mr. Padilla’s bare feet slid through, eerily disembodied. As one guard held down a foot with his black boot, the others shackled Mr. Padilla’s legs. Next, his hands emerged through another hole to be manacled.
Wordlessly, the guards, pushing into the cell, chained Mr. Padilla’s cuffed hands to a metal belt. Briefly, his expressionless eyes met the camera before he lowered his head submissively in expectation of what came next: noise-blocking headphones over his ears and blacked-out goggles over his eyes. Then the guards, whose faces were hidden behind plastic visors, marched their masked, clanking prisoner down the hall to his root canal.

How to demolish a human being: NYT

What to do? One place to start is support Amnesty International (please click on AI logo on right-hand side). Thank you.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hong Kong: I Ching, Book of Changes

Hexagram 22, 賁 Pi / Grace -> Hexagram 24, 復 Fu / Return (The Turning Point)
Source: afpc

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mylène Farmer: Pas le Temps de Vivre

For the weekend, a guilty pleasure.

French Canadian-born, Mylène Farmer is France's biggest selling recording artist. Since the late-1980s, she has produced one awesome album after another. Her songs deal mostly with sex, death, religion, and love. Her videos are very carefully crafted, extraordinary affairs, which French TV has occasionally refused to air.

Farmer composed Pas Le Temps de Vivre (Not Having the Time to Live), following the death of her brother. A beautiful song of loss and love, Farmer's performance in this live show is tearful, halting, painfully heartfelt, and yet powerfully celebratory in its quiet tenderness:

Beautiful, yes? Oh, the French lyrics are here (scroll down): paroles

That clip, however, gives hardly a hint of the grand theatricality of a Mylène Farmer show. So please watch this clip. It's the opening of her show at Bercy, Paris, in January 2006: youtube

Awesome, Mylène Farmer.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hong Kong: scene at a barely married life

The pay-off for tit-for-tat aka equivalent retaliation, Hong Kong-style. . . What happened when the husband called in an interior decorator, and the wife thereafter hired an interior decorator of her own: EastSouthWestNorth

Monday, November 27, 2006

Malay apple

Mister Bijou's favourite fruit and veg shop on a little island in the South China Sea has Malay apples back on sale.

Ten Hong Kong dollars a pound, that will buy you three or four.

In Cantonese, I think Malay apples are called lian wu (洋蒲桃)?

Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, Malay apples are also known further afield in the English-speaking world as wax-apples, java apples, water apples, jambu airs, wax jambu, and bell fruit. In French, they are known as jamalac.

Whatever the name, the fruit doesn't taste much like an apple (nor a pear) but has a crunchier texture and is generally much sweeter than either of those two fruits.

Nice . . . Shopping hint: the reddest ones are said to be the sweetest.

hong kong copy news: edition 11

It's weekly, local, satirical, and in an adorable animation format: hong kong copy news.

Ah, but it seems there are currently technical probs which they say will get sorted by Tuesday.

Wait till Tuesday? A triffling obstacle for those who won't wait . . . Dancing queen Mimi Monica Wong, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong API, Sudan IV red dye eggs, Hong Kong Tramways. All waiting to be watched at: hk copy news

Hong Kong: I Ching, Book of Changes

Hexagram 20, 觀 Kuan / Contemplation (View) -> Hexagram 4, 蒙 Mêng / Youthful Folly
Source: afpc

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Spinal Tap: Well, it's one louder, isn't it?

For the weekend, a guilty pleasure.

Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel, some of his premium guitars, and the custom-built Marshall amp:

Friday, November 24, 2006

Mister Bijou: service announcement

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

The Saturday posting "guilty pleasure" for definite.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hong Kong: Number of days with thunderstorm since 1947

In Mister Bijou's neighbourhood on a little island in the South China Sea at just after 3:pm yesterday, the electric power went down for about 25 minutes.

Sheets of heavy rain swept through the village streets, the trees swayed, the sky grew dark, the street-lights turned themselves on. People as well as feral cats and domesticated dogs scattered to shelter from the storm.

It was what Hong Kong Observatory is wont to call a squally thunderstorm.

For, oh, did it rain yesterday:

Such unseasonal weather. Rare, too. For how rare, please consult: Number of days with thunderstorm since 1947

Hong Kong: Legislative Council Question Time

Some of the questions (and answers) from the LegCo meeting of Wednesday, 22 November 2006:

LCQ14: Baby-sitting and breast-feeding facilities
LCQ16: Trees planted in country parks
LCQ17: Escalators leading to MTR stations' entrances/exits
LCQ19: Youth Ambassador Against Internet Piracy Scheme

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hong Kong: Weather report

Lunchtime on a little island in the South China Sea, the rain started. Followed by a thunderstorm from the southwest, which is advancing eastwards. The above shows cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.

Thunderstorm in November? Yes, indeedy. Hong Kong Observatory predicts heavy rains tomorrow, and temperatures to fall to 20 degrees or below in the next few days. HKO: Lightning Location

Hong Kong: New animation-powered satirical blog -- hong kong copy news

It's new, weekly, local, satirical, and in an adorable animation format: hong kong copy news.

The latest issue focuses on Milton Friedman, Buddhists, South China Morning Post humour failure and Canto-popstar Eason Chan's father.

C**t as in Celt: hong kong copy news

Monday, November 20, 2006

Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries Presents:

Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries Presents (Flash required; 18 min 30 sec): The Art of Sleep

Hong Kong: Clash of civilisations (also spelt, civilizations) at SCMP?

Mark Clifford, South China Morning Post newspaper editor-in-chief, make that 'change agent', versus the rest?

A mainstream media take on the latest sackings affair at the SCMP: International Herald Tribune Thanks, Gavin!

As of today, it is to be noted there has been no, to my knowledge, coverage in either of Hong Kong's English-language newspapers, neither in SCMP nor in (Hong Kong's) Standard.

First report of the latest SCMP sackings appeared in the Chinese-language press (Apple Daily, Ming Pao) and was thence reported by bilingual blogger EastSouthWestNorth.

Mister B, um, shuffling of feet, whereupon picked up the baton: senior editors sacked. According to logs, bloomberg, guardian, dow jones, singtao are among the news media which are known to have stopped by Mister B. Hi, everyone.

Anyway, for background on editorial hoo-ha at SCMP, please see previous posts by Mister B (+ accompanying comments in Comments): Stand Off and Sackings no joke and SCMP senior editors sacked

For newer/previous posts, please click on scmp in Labels.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Centennial celebration

Today is the 100th anniversary of a little island in the South China Sea's Vegetable Grower's Association.

Enter stage left: Association lion dancers and accompanying musicians banging and hooting and clattering through the streets from early this morning till just after 10pm.

Enter stage right: Lion dancers from the dozen or so different local kai fongs (neighbourhood committees) also banging and hooting and clattering through the streets from early this morning till just after 10pm.

Result? Lots of colour, movement, and several people midway through a phone chat asking me, "what's that noise in the background?"

That's not noise, it's just a lion dance passing by. And it looked like they were having a good time. No matter that there are no longer any commercial vegetable growers hereabouts. Nor, for that matter, pig breeders (there's an association for them, too).

Why let progress get in the way of tradition? The City of London still has its Worshipful Company of Candlemakers, of Cordwainers, and other long-gone trades, so a place like a little island in the South China Sea is just as entitled to retain and celebrate its own past associations (in the widest sense).

No doubt the lion dancers, musicians, associates, girl friends and whatnot ("we're with the group") are all now in several restaurants where they are heartily eating and drinking, all the better knowing that someone other -- one or more local worthy or unworthy -- is footing the bill.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Maurice Ravel: Jeux d'eau

For the weekend, a guilty pleasure.

Clip of Argentinian-born Martha Argerich playing Maurice Ravel's Jeux d'eau:

Discovery hereabouts of the piano compositions of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) was a delightful accident. . . the telling of which is for another time.

Meantime, Ravel's piano works Menuet antique, Jeux d'eau, Miroirs, and Gaspard de la Nuit all have a wonderful, liquid shimmering sound, whilst his Le Tombeau de Couperin and Pavane pour une enfante défunte are, as their titles suggest, beautiful sad.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hong Kong: I Ching, Book of Changes

Hexagram 57, 巽 Sun / The Gentle (The Penetrating, Wind) -> Hexagram 36, 明 夷 Ming I / Darkening of the Light Source: afpc

Hong Kong: Music for Asthmatics and for Others Who May Be Air Impaired

Aphex Twins, Ventolin: youtube

Too harsh? OK, try samba-smooth Diariamente, by Brazilian singer Marisa Monte: youtube


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hong Kong: vehicle number plate code decoded?

Over at Simon World, Simon asks the question: For those in Hong Kong, why are government official plates all "AM"? Does it stand for anything?

What a good question. Curiosity aroused, Mister B decided to ferret around. . . um, googling led to Wikipedia and Hong Kong car numbers (Special Prefixes).

Bingo! AM = Administration.

Having posted that info at Simon World Comment, Mister B thought the moment also opportune to post a photo here of one of the several one-man operated (there are no women operators, yet) Mad Max-type fire tenders which serve the population of a little island in the South China Sea:

Yes, the Mad Max machines are all registration F.

Hong Kong: Stand off at the South China Morning Post

Updated and detailed report by Justin Mitchell:
Asia Sentinel

Image: UK Press Gazette

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

SCMP and other four-letter lexical formations

SCMP and the power of c**t? Next time, how about c***? As in:
caba cabs caca cade cadi cads cafe caff cage cagy caid cain cake caky calf calk call calm calo calp calx came camp cams cane cang cann cans cant cany capa cape caph capi capo caps carb card care cark carl carn carp carr cars cart casa case cash cask cast cate cats cauf cauk caul caum caup cave cavy cawk caws cays ceas ceca cede cedi cees ceil cell cels celt cens cent cepe ceps cere cero cert cess cete chad chai chal cham chao chap char chas chat chaw chay chef cher chew chez chia chic chid chik chin chip chis chit chiv chiz choc chon chop chou chow chub chug chum chut ciao cide cids ciel cigs cill cine cion cire cirl cist cite cito cits city cive clad clag clam clan clap clat claw clay clef cleg clem clew clip clod clog clon clop clot clou clow cloy club clue coal coat coax cobb cobs coca coch cock coco coda code cods coed coff coft cogs coho coif coil coin coir coit coke coky cola cold cole coll cols colt coly coma comb come comp coms cond cone conf coni conk conn cons cony coof cook cool coom coon coop coos coot cope cops copy cord core corf cork corm corn cors cory cose cosh coss cost cosy cote coth cots cott coup cour cove cowl cowp cows cowy coxa coxy coys coze cozy crab crag cram cran crap craw cred cree crew crib crim cris crit croc crop crow crud crue crus crux cube cubs cuds cued cues cuff cuif cuit cuke cull culm cult cunt cups curb curd cure curf curl curn curr curs curt cush cusk cusp cuss cute cuts cwms cyan cyma cyme cyst cyte czar
Source: Ozzie Scrabble

Plus, coot. Don't forget coot. For two earlier reports (plus must-read Comments) about SCMP and its internecine war of words: Mister B: sackings no joke and Mister B: senior editors sacked

UPDATE: UK's online Press Gazette: "What apparently upset Clifford was the use of the word c*** under the SMP masthead (with asterisks included, I should point out) and some mildy derogatory references to the newspaper's deputy editor, a Chinese woman by the name of Fanny Fung."
(Image: Press Gazette)

UPDATE: Elsewhere, British TV person Sir David Frost now has a show on the new English-language output at Al Jazeera TV. That show is, however, unlikely to be as interesting as the one on London Weekend TV which Frost hosted in 1970.

Self-proclaimed Yippie Jerry Rubin, Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, and musician David Crosby offered Frost some dope. The smarmy Frost turned them down but the show turned chaotic anyway, and someone uttered the C-word -- a first for Britsh telly, apparently.

This historic moment is revealed at youtube

Via Guardian's arts blog.

Economist: Go west, old man

Jetlag can be fatal if you are flying east -- and you are an elderly mouse: Economist

Hong Kong: Legislative Council Question Time

Some of the questions (and answers) from the LegCo meeting of Wednesday, 15 November 2006:

LCQ1: Global warming and climate change
LCQ6: Work of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
LCQ10: Rooftop greening projects for buildings
LCQ16: Mainland women giving births in Hong Kong
LCQ19: Fixtures on external walls of buildings
LCQ20: Sea burials

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hong Kong: 19 November, Leonid meteor shower

Planet Earth passes through the 10-micron flakes of debris shed by the Tempel-Tuttle comet this weekend. Calculated peak time for meteor shows is 4:45am (GMT) on 19 November 2006.

Like the recently cancelled Mariah Carey Hong Kong concert,the Leonids meteor shower show will be a sight unseen by the starstruck of a little island in the South China Sea. Why? Too bright, daylight. For more details of why that will be so as well as an explanatory globe: Armagh Observatory

For a great report about the 2001 Leonid meteor shower, the astronauts in the International Space Station: Nasa

Even if it were night time, the chances of seeing the meteor shower locally would have been slim: (a) the atmosphere is too "hazy" and (b) there is too much ground-based light pollution.

If you are somewhere where you can and do see an abundance of shooting stars, don't forget to make a wish (or three) and may yr wish(es) come true. Just be, as they say, careful what you wish for.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hong Kong: SCMP sackings? No joking please, we’re journalists

A most excellent piece about the latest sackings at South China Morning Post:
In an unprecedented action, an estimated 80-plus newsroom staffers – male, female, Chinese and western alike – have signed what amounts to a no-confidence vote in Mark Clifford, the editor-in-chief of Hong Kong’s largest English language newspaper, after he fired two senior editors for their small roles in a mock front page farewell gift for another editor whom Clifford had fired.

The incident, which began as a traditional office ritual for a departing employee, has uncovered a sharp divide in the newsroom of one of Asia’s oldest newspapers, essentially pitting a new chief editor against many of the paper’s long-time employees.

Please read the whole thing by Justin Mitchell at Asia Sentinel. Via every day HK

UPDATE: Subs sacked over leaving page: MediaGuardian

That Guardian report requires cookies as well as Registration Required. However, you can read the Guardian report in Comments (below) as well as an unlocatable (no URL found so far) report by Ken Sweet at Bloomberg. Thanks for both, Anonymous and Anonymous!

For newer/previous posts, click on scmp in Labels.

Danwei TV: A Hong Kong Story with Roland Soong

Ah, yet another youtube find.

So just where in Hong Kong is that retaining wall which features in Eileen Chang's (张爱铃) novella Love in a Fallen City (顷城之恋)?

Hint: it is almost certainly not in Repulse Bay but somewhere in Central and known to many not for the Chang connection but as a Lan Kwai Fong wall which is, well, unmissable:

For more on Eileen Chang: Wikipedia and here.

Roland Soong is, of course, the power behind blog extraordinaire EastSouthWestNorth.

Hong Kong director Ann Hui's 1984 film adaptation Love in a Fallen City (with English-language subtitles), starring Cora Miao and Chow Yun-fat is well worth a look-see.

Just published. . . Love in a Fallen City, by Eileen Chang; translated by Karen S. Kingsbury: New York Review of Books

Hong Kong: Star Ferry

Hong Kong Standard carries a Gavin Coates' cartoon every weekday on the front page of its online edition. Here's today's:

This one accompanies a report on the closure this weekend of the Hong Kong-side Star Ferry terminal at Edinburgh Place and opening of a new terminal at Central Ferry Piers Nos. 7 & 8.

Leslie Kwoh's report has some interesting back history as well as suggestions from some locals: Standard

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Reading matters

How author Ian Fleming anticipated the now common, worldwide obsession with brands. By Brian Cathcart: New Statesman

Or, to rework the famous phrase "je pense, donc je suis" of le philosophe Mister René Descartes (1596-1650):
James Bond (007): I possess aspirational brands, therefore I am
Disclosure: whilst in his mid-teens Mister B developed a taste for scrambled eggs (on toast) with smoked bacon, after having read From Russia with Love. Or was it Dr No? It is so long ago.

Scrambled eggs? Still eat them. Such is the power of the printed word on an impressionable mind.

Lest we forget: Remembrance Sunday

This Sunday morning, there is an official ceremony at Hong Kong's Cenotaph, Statue Square, Central. The ceremony includes two minutes' of silence starting at 11am.

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
-- The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner, Randall Jarrell

Yes, it is Remembrance Sunday -- the nearest Sunday to Remembrance Day/Armistice Day (11 November).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hong Kong: SCMP senior editors sacked

According to today's Hong Kong Chinese-language newspapers Apple Daily and Ming Pao, two senior editors at the English-language South China Morning Post were summarily sacked on Friday, 10 November 2006.

For more details, EastSouthWestNorth

UPDATE: Oh, and you'd be well advised to read the Comments (below) for some other inside information as well as the Mark Clifford (SCMP editor-in-chief) email to staff. Thanks, Anonymous!

UPDATE: Further stuff about SCMP kerfuffle is here at Mister B: sackings no joke and also here Mister B: scmp and other four-letter words as well as Mister B: Stand off at SCMP and the very latest, Mister B: Clash

For much newer (2007) posts, please click on scmp in Labels. Thank you.

Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart

For the weekend, a guilty pleasure.

Joy Division:

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hong Kong: Star Ferry

Just a reminder that the Star Ferry sails from its current Edinburgh Place, Hongkong-side terminal for the last time on Saturday night, 11 November 2006.

Traffic, transport and crowd control arrangements for the evening of 11 November: Hong Kong Info press release

What happens from 12 November?

Central Ferry Pier Nos. 7 and 8 (but see also this previous post by Mister Bijou).

Elsewhere, website of the Star Ferry Company Limited The Wikipedia page is very good, too: Star Ferry

Hong Kong: she works hard for the money

In Hong Kong, there is no legal minimum wage for workers -- except for the extremely low one set for foreign domestic helpers (of which there are well over 275,000 -- almost all females, almost all from Indonesia and the Philippines) .

A statutory and legal minimum wage? It's not as if there is no demand for one, there is. Hong Kong's Confederation of Trade Untions has long lobbied for one as have various Christian NGOs, to name but two. All to no avail. Never fear, Hong Kong Governnment studies the problem: Legislative Council Question 4.

In mid-October, Hong Kong's Cheif Executive, (Sir) Donald Tsang encourages the cleaning and security sectors to implement a voluntary minimum wage. Voluntary? Yeah, right. That'll go down well.

So, in the absence of a statutory minimum wage, local women -- mostly poorly educated, unskilled for the labour market, married with children -- continue to find themselves victim of a lamentable state of affairs: earning as little as about HK$10 an hour.

Recently, Next Magazine reported on the lives of a number of such women. It's a good but sobering read. Roland Soong translated the article into English and you can find it on his blog, here: EastSouthWestNorth

Thursday, November 09, 2006

WHO? The Politics of Health

Never mind that Mexico's minister of health, Doctor Julio Frenk (see Wikipedia), is much more experienced and far better qualified.

The politics of health dictate Hong Kong's former director of health Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, "our Hong Kong girl" emerge the sole nominee for the post of director general of the World Health Organisation.

The nomination was the result of much jockeying by various major powers.

While Doctor Chan as director of health for Hong Kong dealt succesfully in 1997 with the first bird flu outbreak hereabouts, it was during the SARS epidemic (2003) that she made a series of fatal errors. Fatal for others, that is.

Still, having reacted too slowly to that SARS outbreak, maybe the good doctor has learned the value of fast communication. Let's hope so.

Nevermind. It's only politicians making a power play with people's health.

Learn from Comrade Lei Feng!

Lei Feng was a cheerfully selfless 22-year-old PLA soldier who in 1961 was accidently crushed to death by a telegraph pole. Or not. Nobody is really sure.

However, in 1962, the Great Helmsman, Mao Tse-tung, called on the entire Chinese nation to Learn from Comrade Lei Feng.

As a result Lei Feng became a synonym for "serve others," "volunteering," "whole-hearted dedication," "selfless generosity".

Since there is no point in letting a Unique Selling Point fade away, someone in China is now selling a condom called Learn from Comrade Lei Feng.

For more about Lei Feng and the condom (by Justin Mitchell): Asia Sentinel via EastSouthWestNorth

Poetry corner: Rumsfeld + Rumsfeldiana

So farewell, Rummy. (A pastiche.)
The General
'Good-morning; good-morning!' the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,
And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
'He's a cheery old card,' grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack. .
But he did for them both by his plan of attack
-- Siegfried Sassoon

The Secretary of Defense
“Good to see ya son,” Rummy said with a grin,
When he bade us farewell in a hanger in Maine.
Now the grunts he waved off are crippled or dead,
And we blame the president for being so lame.
“He’s OK, served his time,” called out Jose to John,
As they schlepped into Fallujah with rifles and bombs. . .
But he got it wrong - and the boys are now gone.
-- Anon
Thanks, Gavin!

There's more! The poetry oF Donald Rumsfeld in His Own Words:

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
-- Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
For other examples of the Zen-like poetry of the Don: slate and slate

Update! Mp3 of Rum's Unknowns known and unknown, put to music by someone called E R Flynn: The Lights are Dim via WFMU's Beware of the Blog

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Exile on Main Street

IMHO, the Stones' best album, ever.

That, and Let It Bleed.

OK, Exile was a double album.

Exile outakes: Mp3s.

Don't know how long those tracks will be up:

aquarium drunk

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

USA: hacking democracy

They have them there elections in the US today. For many outsiders, the US voting system appears a ramshackle, third-world affair.

Unlike other countries where the voting system is uniform across a nation, in the US each state is responsible for deciding the method of voting as well as organising and running elections, be they state or federal.

Since there are fifty states, throughout the US there are a variety of voting methods: hand counted paper ballots; mechanical lever machines; punchcards; optical scan systems; and the leave-no-paper-trail electronic voting machines.

The latter are wide open for manipulation for those with nefarious intent.

Scary stuff. . . an HBO Special -- Hacking Democracy (72 min): googlevideo

Monday, November 06, 2006

Old friends: Saddam Hussein, the CIA, and Donald Rumsfeld

The news is in: Saddam Hussein sentenced to death. Ah, but this is the second time Saddam has been sentenced to death!

The first time was in 1959. That was after a plot to kill Iraq's then prime minister, General Abd al-Karim Qasim.

The assassination was authorised by the, um, CIA.

However, the operation was bungled, and Qassim survived. With the assistance of CIA and Egyptian operatives, Saddam fled to Beirut, where he participated in a CIA training course, then was sent to Cairo. There he studied law and helped the CIA compile a list of Iraqi communists and radicals.

In 1963, Qassim was overthrown by the Ba'ath party, and Saddam returned to Iraq to head the Ba'ath party's intelligence service.

Saddam's intelligence service, using the CIA-compiled list, soon went about arresting and interrogating suspected communists -- many, however, were simply and summarily gunned down. The mass killings, presided over by Saddam, took place at Qasr al-Nehayat, literally, the Palace of the End.

The rest is history.

Shaking Hands: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983.

Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984
National Security Archive
Electronic Briefing Book No. 82
(Edited by Joyce Battle)