Friday, April 28, 2006

Neil Young: Living with War

To listen to Neil Young's new album
(streaming): Living with War
1) After The Garden
2) Living With War
3) The Restless Consumer
4) Shock And Awe
5) Families
6) Flags of Freedom
7) Let's Impeach The President
8} Lookin' For A Leader
9) Roger And Out
10)America The Beautiful

Hong Kong: 1946-47

Hedda Morrison: photographer
Wonderful. Just wonderful.
Thanks, Nick G!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Made in Macau

A better tomorrow?
China's Peasants Gamble on the Future, by Ullrich Fichtner spiegel
Great read. Thanks, Gavin!

Hong Kong: containers

Apparently, yesterday (26 April 2006), was the fiftieth anniversary of the sailing of the first container ship: Wikipedia

Who'd have thought that an unglamourous, boring box would have been one of the key factors in the growth, development and prosperity of Hong Kong from the late-1960s onwards? (Click image to enlarge).

Somebody wrote a book about it:
The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger -- video interview with Marc Levinson (Quicktime/Windows Media)
Plus. . . Ocean shipping is the biggest real-time datastreaming network in the world, by Stewart Taggart:
Today, enough shipping containers exist on the planet to build an 8-foot-high wall around the equator -- twice. Wired
And another eerie fact:
There are more shipping containers loaded and unloaded off the coasts and rivers of China, than travel to or from all other territories put together. It is in China that more than three-quarters of this activity takes place. The majority of China'’s shipping by implication appears to be 'domestic'’. The rest of the world put together only handles a third of what China handles. Thus at least half of all container shipping in the world appears to serve China's domestic market, be from ship to ship, or consist of part-finished goods being transported along the coast or down-river.

To make big that which is small, click on image.


But, oh, is there any way to work the Boxer rebellion into this post? Suggestions appreciated. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Let there be (flourescent) light

Why you can't reproduce a Dan Flavin at your local DIY store: Dan Flavin: A Retrospective - Hayward Gallery, London Social Affairs Unit

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bob Dylan:Theme Time Radio Hour

Want to listen to the first Bob Dylan radio show? To listen, click here (username: press1 password: xmr0ck5!). Bob Dylan: "It's time for Theme Time Radio Hour. Dreams, schemes and themes."

Thank you

Mister B required a Marine Police launch medi-vac in the early, dark, small hours of Friday. Already attached to a drip-feed, what thenceforth unfolded were 30 hours mostly spent wacked out in ward C5 (colo-rectal), Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong island.

(I thought I was done with that place.)

This time? Suspected appendicitis.

That was until they finally got around to do an ultrasound. Then, it wasn't appendicitis.

Eventual diagnosis? Tentatively. . . colitis.

The doctor doing the ward round on Saturday morning finally agreed to a discharge. I walked out of QMH on Saturday lunchtime.

Glad to be out of there, glad to be free of the catheter stuck in my hand and the attendant drip-feed. Glad that it wasn't anything that required surgery, chemotherapy, or any other sort of medical treatment. Glad to be back in the sunshine. Glad to turn my back on the the reality of the treachery and on-going disintegration of the body; the in-your-face reality of flesh, organs, bones, blood and other body fluids.

I think it was in the very useful Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (by Sogyal Rinpoche) that I read and then thought about how some Tibetan monks used to meditiate next to dead bodies. Although I am neither a Tibetan, nor a monk, some days I deal better with that stuff. Other days, I don't.

Lately, I could have done without the hassle. I am tired of that kind of drama. I would like my life to have other kinds of dramas. I know, I know: don't pray for stuff, you may get more than expected or wanted.

Anyway, I am very grateful that the medical staff, Marine Police, ambulance people, hospital workers and all the other people were there to care for me. I am a very fortunate person. Thank you.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Kathmandu, Nepal (16 April 2006). Photo source:
Road Blog Ahead
This website is so good, it's banned in Nepal:
International Nepal Solidarity Network

For local (and not so local) friends

The other day, an item in the South China Morning Post (no link, paid) reported how many fewer foreign nationals now live in Hong Kong. The report also carried some neat tables showing the numbers for the past five years.

SCMP gave its source as Hong Kong Immigration Department. I have since spent ages trying to track down the numbers and those nifty tables at the Immigration website. No find, not yet.

In the absence of which, a summary: Brits? Way down, from 17,780 in 2004 to 13,490. Canadians? Down. Australians? Same story. Americans? Slight drop in numbers. Others? Ditto. But what about Filipinos? The largest group of foreign nationals in Hong Kong? Down, down. Why? Filipino domestic helpers are being 'let go'. Why? To be replaced by those more easily exploitable: women from the farthest reaches of the Indonesian archipelago. Indonesians are way, way up.

Domestic helpers aside, none of the numbers include those who have gained 'permanent residence'. For all I know, the overall numbers may be up. Or down. Or the same. Moreover, it is not clear if or how the countless Hong Kong-born-but acquired-a-foreign-passport figure in the Immigration Department's number crunching.

Interpretation of statistics is a treacherous business.

Some people believe everyone is moving to Shanghai or Dubai. Good. That means fewer bellowing gweilos vomiting all over the place.

Oh, and next time someone asks you how many people live on a little island in the South China Sea. . . you'll be able to tell them: Hong Kong Census and Statistics (scroll down)

For everyone.

George W Bush II? The worst (American) president? In history? Ever? Historian and American, Sean Wilentz weighs up the evidence: rolling stone

For my American friends: Oreo cookies

Ben, ex-Ben & Jerry, explains the US federal budget using Oreo cookies: true majority

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hong Kong: theatre du pif

Harold's Pinter's
Ashes to Ashes

Presented and
performed by
theatre du pif

When? 27-29 April 2006
Time? 8pm
Where? Fringe Club

Tickets at Fringe Club box office or Hong Kong Ticketing
Otherwise, HK Ticketing phone bookings (10am-8pm) 31 288 288 [10:53pm update. Saturday night? Sold out!]

Hong Kong: The Front Door/The Back Door

Hong Kong: adapting to the architecture of density. Photos by Michael Wolf

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hong Kong: eat your greens?

A hundred and thirty-odd years ago, Karl Marx commented somewhere in Das Kapital that "man has been abusing food ever since he started selling it."

True, Karl, so true. Just look at today's frontpage story in all the local papers, which report the Greenpeace Hong Kong investigation and findings that Parknshop (百佳) and Wellcome (惠康), the biggest supermarket chains in the territory, are selling some types of vegetables containing illegal pesticide and excessive pesticide residue.

The supermarkets, of course, don't grow all those pesticide-laden vegetables, they buy them from farmers across the border in China. Farmers who, to be charitable, don't know what they are doing. Or, less charitably, couldn't care less as long as the crops grow, and they can sell their produce to the wholesalers as well as to the buyers from the two supermarket chains. Such are the demands of a poorly and/or unregulated market-driven system. Greenpeace report

As a public service to readers, here are pre-emptive measures to minimise pesticide poisoning due to consumption of vegetables:
* Remove the outer leaves
* Wash well in clean water for several times
* Immerse vegetables in water for one hour and then rinse
* Cook thoroughly before consumption
Courtesy of a Hong Kong Government press release

Bon Appétit!

Monday, April 17, 2006


Thank you.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Saturday night with Sam, and friends

Mister B doesn't get out much at all these days, but last night was the moment to jump on the ferry and go to town. Why? To see Mike Harley, Jonathan Douglas, Jacky Andrews and David Booth in their Fringe Club performance of Samuel Beckett's play Endgame. Theatre review? Loved it.

You want more? The cast were first rate. OK, I know three quarters of the cast, but they were all very good and as an ensemble the casting was inspired. The play? Never seen it before, but it turned out to have pace, great lines, and lots of very funny moments. Most enjoyable. One of the best shows I have seen in a long time. I am so glad I went.

Plus, there was the unexpected bonus of a bunch of people in the audience I know but don't see often enough; people who were pleased to see me and I pleased to see them. Thus, having enjoyed the show so much, it was only natural for us all (plus two of the cast) to continue with a few drinks afterwards upstairs at the Fringe Club's astro-turfed, open-air, roof-top bar. It was, as Wallace (and Gromit) would say, "a grand night out".

Please excuse the rash of postings about Samuel Beckett. This is the last one for the foreseeable future. Promise.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Samuel Beckett

You scored 9 out of a possible 10

VLADIMIR: That passed the time.
ESTRAGON: It would have passed in any case.
VLADIMIR: Yes, but not so rapidly.
(Waiting for Godot)

Well done: you clearly know your Beckett, well enough to know how meaningless such achievements are.

Beckett Quiz: Guardian

A history of the car bomb

Car bombers have included American-Italian anarchists, proto-fascist Zionists, French colonials, Mafiosos, the Provisional IRA, ETA, Israel's Mossad, the CIA, US Special Forces, the mujahedin, Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, Hezbollah, Peru's Shining Path, al-Qaida and jihadists among others.

By Mike Davis, The poor man's air force (part 1): Asia Times Online Return to sender (part 2): TomDispach

Friday, April 14, 2006

Raise the Titanic?

Photos courtesy of Dr Martin Williams.
Thanks, Martin! (Click on images to enlarge.)

Further to previous post, M's boat: RIP.

Update! Update!

On Wednesday, a large barge (with an onboard, industrial-strength crane) hauled M's sunken, concrete boat off the harbour bed.

Once the crane had lowered the crippled craft onto the barge, the ensemble made its stately way to some official shipyard in Aberdeen. According to an impeccable source, there have been dark mutterings about the sinking "being investigated for criminal damage". Thanks, Nick G!

To be continued. . .

Easter + Tin Hau

Today is Good Friday, a public holiday. This morning, I couldn't be fussed to go down to either of the big supermarkets on the waterfront to buy a pack of Hot Cross Buns, instead I went across the square to the bakery and bought a bunnish "raisin stick" to have with my fresh coffee. As I usually do.

Wednesday past, the temperature during the day was 28C. Since when, a cold front has rushed down from the north and the temperature plummeted to 16C. It's really quite pleasant.

As well as being Easter and a public holiday, the people from Sai Wan (down the southwest corner of a little island in the South China Sea) are celebrating the Tin Hau festival. Unlike other Tin Hau celebrations taking place next week elsewhere in the region, the timing of the local Sai Wan festival is strictly in accordance with the appearance of the full moon (lunar phases).

Other than that, during daylight hours there is much beatings of drums and blowing of horns as various teams of lion dancers make their slow progress through the holiday crowds.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

For health obsessives, hypochondriacs and nattering nabobs of negativism: Hong Kong Government Department of Health Travel Health Service

Hong Kong: Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve re-opens

Further to this post of 28 March 2006, Hong Kong Government announced late yesterday that Mai Po Nature Reserve re-opens, as of today:
"As there has not been any new case of birds infected with H5[N1] virus for the past 21 days, which is the World Organisation for Animal Health's standard of an avian influenza infection-free place, the Government has decided to re-open the Mai Po Nature Reserve to the public," a Government spokesman said.
This is good news. Cock-a-doodle-doo.

But what's with that World Organisation for Animal Health? A quick google unearths: OIE

Mai Po Nature Reserve: WWF Hong Kong

An Overgrown Path: Michel Petrucciani

Yet another great post from Overgrown Path. This one is about Michel Petrucciani.

Overgrown Path's post includes a link to a 38-minute documentary about the short but magnificent life of Petrucciani (28 December 1962 - 6 January 1999), one of the world's greatest jazz pianists.

For what it's worth, I think to watch it is, to say the least, thirty eight minutes well spent. Thanks, Overgrown Path!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

One Good Move

These days, one of Mister B's regular ports of call is One Good Move: I thought these things might be clues.
Why? Good links and access to video excerpts.

Regulars include highlights from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. (More from Jon Stewart's Daily Shows are also available at Comedy Central.)

Oh, yes, One Good Move is also currently carrying a clip from the British series Yes, Prime Minister! Worth a look.

But if you watch nothing else at One Good Move, please watch Bush answering(?) a question at John Hopkins International Studies School. That man is the leader of the most powerful and militarized country in the world.

Prefer to see the John Hopkins' Q&A in Quicktime format? It's short, and also at Crooks and Liars

All that and more at: One Good Move

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wall and Bulldozer

Kleenex workers, by Barbara Ehrenreich: The Progressive
Thanks, Gavin!

Wall and bulldozer, by John Berger:
The End of History, which is the Corporate global slogan, is not a prophecy, but an order to wipe out the past and what it has bequeathed everywhere. The market requires every consumer and employee to be massively alone in the present.
Open Democracy

Monday, April 10, 2006

Hong Kong: Holidays! 2007! It's official!

What better way to start the week? Statutory holidays for 2007? The list was gazetted on 7 April 2006 by Hong Kong Government: days of our lives

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Video of giant centipede eating a mouse

We have centipedes on a little a island in the South China Sea, but none I have seen have ever been longer than six or seven inches. Even so, they pack a really, really, nasty, venomous and very painful bite. (I know of what I speak.) Turns out, however, there are even larger centipedes!

According to Wikipedia, scolopendra gigantea, more commonly known among creepy-crawly cognoscenti as the ‘Peruvian giant yellow leg centipede’ or 'Amazonian giant centipede’, can grow as long as ten inches. Shock horror!

As those common names indicate, that particular centipede is native to lands far from here. Long may it stay that way.

Which all brings me to this: a video of one of those giant centipedes, grabbing, paralysing and then dining on a (white) mouse. Not for the squeamish, those of a nervous disposition, etc. Nature, red in tooth and claw. . . Youtube: snack attack

Iran? Keep an eye on the B-2s in Gloucestershire

Fairly (long and) chilling article in the latest The New Yorker magazine by Seymour Hersh about the planning and internal debate -- which includes whether or not to use nuclear bunker-busting bombs -- against multi-various targets in Iran.

Sy Hersh has a long and good track record in these matters -- he has excellent contacts in the Pentagon and US State Department. Some of those contacts are clearly horrified with the policy-thrust and plans already cooked up by the gung-ho chickenhawks in the White House. Sy Hersh, The New Yorker: The Iran Plans

Mentioned several times in the Hersh article are the possibiities of massive air attacks against numerous Iranian installations of one kind or another.

One of the types of miltary aircraft that would be used in such attacks is the B-2 Spirit, that's the stealth bomber.
Home base for the B-2s is Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. But the B-2s also operate out of Guam (Pacific); the British -- but on long-lease to the US military -- island of Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean); and (what's more English than the Cotswolds?) USAF/RAF Fairford, (Gloucestershire, England).

For the time being, it is possible to get close enough to Fairford military airbase to take photos. If/when there is a security clamp-down on and around those Cotwolds' lanes: watch out for the flares lighting up the land of Iran. The photo above is of a B-2 at USAF/RAF Fairford and was taken in March 2006. Photo source: (unofficial) RAF Fairford

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Judas Iscariot: With God on Our Side

Judas, who?
Judas Iscariot, that's who.

He whose name has long been synonymous with betrayal and selling out for thirty pieces of silver.

I see he is back in the news: Guardian
Re-evaluation, what-ho!

But, my sweet, my pretty one, has no one ever listened to the last-but-one verse of the 1963 Bob Dylan song With God on Our Side? Forthwith, exhibit one:
In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

Echoes: Nixon/Bush II

"Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce."” Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852)
Marx, however, as becomes clear soon enough, was talking of how persons "conjure up the spirits of the past to their service. . . " (Perhaps I am doing that here, too?)
Nonetheless, Mister B was reminded of those Eighteenth Brumaire opening lines while reading today's Scranton Times-Tribune (see link, below).
But. . . Scranton, you exclaim. Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA? The Times-Tribune?
Yes, indeedy. And praise be! Praise be the flow of news, information, education, diversion, prOn (for those who like that kind of stuff), and other earnest (or not so earnest) endeavours available by way of a standing order to the bank, a contract for a broadband connection, assorted cables, hardware and software. All lightly leavened with a little time and some curiousity. But, onwards!
Until Thursday, the only element missing was a rogue president who follows the Nixonian logic that states, "“If the president does it, it can't be illegal."”
Mr. Nixon's Achilles' heel was a man named Liddy.
Mr. Bush'’s is named Libby.
Chris Kelly, columnist: Scranton Times-Tribune

Weird, huh?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Chevy Tahoe

General Motors are is running a competition to 'make your own ' commercial for the gas-guzzling Chevy Tahoe SUV.

Truth in advertising:

More at youtube: Chevy Tahoe
Make your own:

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hong Kong: Ching Ming, the aftermath

Photo source: Hong Kong Government Flying Service -- Photo Gallery

Yesterday was Ching Ming Festival Day. See previous post, which included:
(Someone, somehow, always seems to manage to set a hillside on fire; perhaps the festival should be renamed Burn Hillside Festival?)
BHF? Dude, make that a robust WTF. . . For, yes, as today's South China Morning Post reports, there were 31 reported hillside fires -- three quarters of them in the New Territories.
No mention of a little island in the South China Sea -- but the fire on hillside at Hung Shing Ye, Lamma Island was, according to SCMP, among the worst. Oh, last year there were 55 hill fires on Ching Ming Festival Day. Make of that what you will.

Mahzer Mahmood

On Tuesday, 4 April 2006, George Galloway MP was served with a UK High Court order restraining Galloway from "publishing or disclosing to any person any photograph
of Mr Mahmood".

That High Court order
does not extend to
these shores:
High Court (pdf)

Mahmood, often referred to as the 'fake sheik', is the undercover reporter who works for the Rupert Murdoch-owned, British Sunday tabloid News of the World.

For more on
and his sting

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Figure 5 in Gold

Charles Demuth, The Figure 5 in Gold (1928)

Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg (3 June 1926-5 April 1997) Wiki
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!
Howl (For Carl Solomon)

Robert Kissel's brother found stabbed to death

First there was the Hong Kong 'milkshake murder', now there is another violent death in the family.
Andrew Kissel, Brother of Murdered Banker, Found Stabbed, Dead in US: Bloomberg
Prefer a tabloid report? New York Daily News

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hong Kong: ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil owns 60% of the three local power stations that generate most of Hong Kong's electricity.

An Open Letter to New Exxon/Mobil CEO, Rex Tillerson: Ralph Nader

Hong Kong Sevens

For those who care, this weekend is also the one for the Hong Kong Sevens. Now in its 30th year, the Hong Kong Sevens is the biggest rugby sevens tournament in the world. (Pause, briefly, to swell up with civic pride.)

I guess you have to be there: "The server at is taking too long to respond. The site could be temporarily unavailable or too busy. Try again in a few moments."

Server down. . . has someone dropped the ball? You may have better luck: hksevens

Ching Ming festival: 清明節

Sunday on a little island in the South China Sea is even busier than usual. Why? Ching Ming Festival, which literally translates as Pure Brightness Festival (清明節).
Commonly known in English as Grave Sweeping Day, this is one of those times to go to the cemetery and sweep and tidy up the grave. That done, it is customary to offer flowers, food (usually roast suckling pig) and drink to one's ancestors. Plus, light a bunch of incense sticks and burn some imitation paper money.
(Someone, somehow, always seems to manage to set a hillside on fire; perhaps the festival should be renamed Burn Hillside Festival?)
But what happens, you ask, to all that food and drink after the ancestor spirits have blessed it? The family has a picnic at the gravesite. Given that the festival is a way to re-connect with one's deceased ancestors, it would be, all things considered, unseemly and uncharitable to have the picnic anywhere else.
Actually, Ching Ming Festival Day is 5 April, a public holiday hereabouts. But since this is a weekend a lot of people have come over to beat the crowds. . . so a little island in the South China Sea is clogged up with the living come pay homage to the dead.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Time running out for bun scrambling competition entrants

According to this press release, submission of entries closes on 4 April for those wishing to take part in the "bun scrambling competition" on 5-6 May, 2006 at Pak Tai Temple Playground soccer pitch, Cheung Chau.
Jointly organised by the Hong Kong Cheung Chau Bun Festival Committee and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the "2006 Bun Carnival" will be staged from 22 April to 6 May 2006 at the soccer pitch of Pak Tai Temple Playground, Cheung Chau.
The event is presented in association with the Cheung Chau Wai Chiu County Association Limited, the Cheung Chau Rural Committee, the Islands District Office of the Home Affairs Department and the Hong Kong Mountaineering Union, and sponsored by the Islands District Council and 3D-GOLD Jewellery.
Three-d gold? Is this the Bun Festival goes bling? Stay tuned. Amateur scramblers should take heed, however:
Selected applicants must complete the safety training sessions provided by the Hong Kong Mountaineering Union on April 22 and 23 on bun tower climbing and accident prevention.
Hong Kong Mountaineering Union? What's the betting they'll be handing out an engraved certificate for those who have successfully completed the 'bun tower climbing and accident prevention course'? Stage One -- the "bun scrambler" enrolment form: Leisure and Cultural Services