Showing posts from December, 2018

“I prayed and I ran”...

... said man caught up in the Indonesian tsunami.
Which of those two actions worked out best for him, do you think?
Running and praying, fine
Running without praying, fine.
Praying without running, not fine.

Talking about 40 years ago...

... I wanted to get a photo of the Australian Embassy in Peking — as it was then in 1978.
I wasn't sure I had one myself, so I hie me to Mr Google and Lo!
The very first photo to pop up was the one above. Perfect! The man standing there is then Australian ambassador to China, Dr Steve FitzGerald. He was our first Ambassador to China appointed by Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1972 when Australia shifted our recognition from Taiwan to the Mainland. From Taipei to Peking. 
And that circled window? That's my office which I took over from predecessor Sam Gerovich in 1978. From my China arrival in 1976, I'd been given two years of full-time Chinese language training, courtesy of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. That is to say, courtesy of the Australian taxpayer. I hope I gave them value for money. I was a Third Secretary in the embassy for four years.  To the right of my office, in the pic above: office of the ambassador's secretary and the Ambassado…

“Xi’s China is ignoring the US’ role in its rise to glory” (Part Deux)

ADDED: to my post immediately before this.   To highlight Chi Wang's point summarised in this last paragraph below.  And recalling that a mate of mine living in Beijing says that a Chinese meme is: "two people who have helped the reform of China: Deng Xiaoping and Donald Trump".  Of course that also goes against the theme of Chi Wang's article, that China is forgetting Deng.  Still, as Oscar Wilde said "do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I'm large. I contain contradictions".  China did not rise on its own. It relied on the fair access to global markets that it now denies other countries. While I disagree that the US' import tariffs were the right course of action in addressing China's behaviour, the underlying concerns about China's unfair trade practices are legitimate and needed to be addressed. As the trade war between the US and China continues, it is more important than ever to recognise that economic prosperity does…

“Xi’s China is ignoring the US’ role in its rise to glory” | SCMP

I've posted before the insights of Chi Wang, president of the US-China Policy Foundation. He strikes me as a thoughtful and fair-minded commentator.  In the article below (print version headline: "A new narrative") he makes a point I've made before: that China —  its regime, led by bully-boy Xi Jinping (XJP)  — is busy deliberately forgetting Deng Xiaoping, the famously diminutive chain-smoking architect of modern China.  This is particularly awful and almost unforgivable, at the 40-year anniversary of Deng's Open Door policy. I was there in Beijing when Deng announced the Open Door Policy in 1978 — as the "reform and opening" policy. 改革开放 (gaige kaifang). It was that policy and others that quickly followed, the "four modernisations", the "Special Economic Zones", Deng's practical advice "it doesn't matter if a cat is white or black as long as it catches mice", that turned China into the land of wealth and opportun…

The Handmaiden’s Tale is Sharia redux

But, you know, “hijab is women’s rights”

Saudi man on death row because he is atheist

But, you know, "atheists don't have morals".

Hate crimes in NY: Jews targeted in 2018 more than all other groups combined


Biggest source of air pollution in Hong Kong? It’s shipping, not cars, or mainland China

This I did not know.  That shipping is the greatest source of air pollution in Hong Kong.  I would have thought the culprits were China factories (notoriously dirty)  or cars (just as in the headline above).  The good news: straight after Hong Kong forced ships to use low sulphur fuels, air pollutants dropped 30%. So tightening up those restrictions will also have marked effects. Details in the article.  Said article being a great reference piece.

Irony meter

And remember it’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon! It ain’t bigoted.…

Bettina Ardnt defends men on Radio 2GB with Chris Kenny

Bettina ("Tina") was a First Wave feminist.  We were together at the Australian National University in Canberra in the early seventies, though we've only touched base again recently.
She's good, and honest and on the money...

“Germany’s Far Right Rebrands: Friendlier Face, Same Doctrine” | NYT

The headline to this New York Times article is misleading. It's specifically not the "same doctrine", as the article itself makes clear:
Liberals are furious when far-right extremists are normalized. But it is one of the wrinkles of the new right that their lifestyles are familiar and modern — and so are some of their ideas: They bemoan rising inequality and a consumerism bereft of moral meaning. In fact, the only way they are of "the Right" is that they object to the islamisation of Germany. And if you know anything about Islam, if you observe the societies and economies of the 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference — uniformly woeful on both counts — you too would be concerned. It's particularly galling to those that are worried that all this is a choice. It's a choice that was made by well meaning people on the Left. But well meaning or not, it's not working. More, it's dangerous. As even Mad Mutti Merkel has herself acknowl…

Wall Street Journal 2018 highlights

Looking back on 2018 Dear Peter:

This season offers a time of reflection on the past 12 months and preparation for the year to come. It was another hectic year of change in which events flew by at a pace that was alternately stimulating and exhausting. The U.S. economy had one of its strongest years in decades, but the stock market lost ground and grew volatile. Trade disputes crystallized around U.S. concerns about China. Worries about technology, privacy and the disruption of industry grew more pronounced, even as Amazon conducted a public search for its new headquarters. Politics continued to roil and divide Americans, from the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings to midterm elections that saw a change in control of the U.S. House.

The Wall Street Journal remains committed to fully reporting not just the news but the broader currents that are shaping the future. In this special edition of my daily newsletter, The 10-Point, we recap some of …

It’s *Xi’an* NOT *Xian*. The apostrophe is important

LETTER TO SCMP: Please!  I've written many times to your editor about this.  The apostrophe is as important here as with *its* or *it's*.  It's pretty simple really. If it's two characters 西安 it has an apostrophe (Xi'an). If it's one character 县 it has no apostrophe (Xian). Please, SCMP, *get it right* !! You are the premier English language newspaper with China focus. Surely it's time you got this simple thing correct.  I'm begging you....  Make it a Christmas present to one of your most loyal readers... 
Merry Christmas to you and all Post staff!
Peter Forsythe [OIC Apostrophe Police] Discovery Bay Xian tops global list of cities with biggest home price rise

There was a young man from Cork


“Trump’s year of chaos manifests in bad policies and worse politics” | SCMP

The Nobel Prize organisation is leftist. How could be otherwise? It's Scandinavian. Their bias shows in their Peace and Literature prizes. And often in the Economics prize as well.  Below is Nobel economics laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz who joins on the hard Left his fellow columnist and fellow laureate Paul Krugman of the New York Times. Both these esteemed laureates are deep sufferers of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
But even for the hard Left, Stiglitz's article below is remarkably sloppy. It's polemics, and poor polemics at that.
I'm reading it right now in print, and I'll take it para-by-para from the online version, linked below. (Or click here if you want to have it sit side-by-side with my comments). 
Para 1: "rammed through" a tax cut. Another way of saying this is "Congress passed a tax cut". Why the emotive "rammed"?
Para 2: "Business and financial leaders' unbridled greed...".  Sigh… "unbridled greed". Re…

More Saudi duplicity -- this time Islamic apologia

A friend sent me the above clip.  I think it was supposed to convince me that Islam really is "compassionate and tolerant" religion.  That it really is a "religion of peace".  But, as Santa Claus would say around this time of year: "Ho, Ho, Ho".  No, no, no, you're not going to convince me that easy!
The clip is of the Saudi Foreign Minister Al Jubeir handling a question which suggests that ISIS draws its inspiration from Islam.  No, no, no, ISIS is not Islam, rebuts Al Jubeir.
He proceeds to unload a shovel-load of apologia.  It's the sort of stuff that sounds superficially reasonable and persuasive. Problem is, it's pretty much all garbage. It's the sort of garbage that fools the willingly ignorant, those who deeply wish to believe that Islam is a "Religion of Peace". But it's garbage nonetheless.
I'll take Al Jubeir's case one-by-one. (Suggestion: watch the clip first.  It's only about 12 minutes).
1. ISIS is n…

A little gratitude wouldn’t go astray

Australia's ABC just had a program reporting on the allegedly slow granting of citizenship to migrants.
One young fellow, from Afghanistan, was impatient but understanding. He wanted to get his citizenship so he could travel overseas -- on his new Aussie passport -- to learn more about his specialty in radiotherapy.
But another, head of something like the Migrants Council of Australia, was simply impatient and rude. He wondered if the delay was due to "racism, or something to do with religion".
I gotta say it: what a cheek.
His name is Mohammad which makes him from one of the world's 56 Islamic countries. Not that one would want to emigrate to any of them but if you did, dream on. It's not possible in any one.
Yet here is Mohammad moaning. Because it's taken over a year. A year!
Here in Hong Kong I have my Permanent Residence. Equivalent to Citizenship.
It took seven years. And proof that I had done something for Hong Kong.
My feeling was and remains one of …

Japan, immediately post-war

Chatting with my mother....
Mutti 1: Early Days (15'48") Mutti 2: War Years (25'56") Mutti 3: Tokyo Early Days (19'14") Mutti 4: Tokyo a Little Later (20'29") Mutti 5: Tokyo Wedding (18'03")

Kevin drops by for a chat

... Back in September. Took a while to publish, because.
This is it, Kevin 1
No idea how long to publish Kevin 2, because Libsyn, the host, has curious rules about how much and when I can post.

“When Americans fear China, what are they really afraid of?” | SCMP

Even here in Hong Kong we have this discussion about China. Whenever I criticise China, I'm accused of hating China. I do not, I say, hate China. I hate Xi Jinping, its president and what he's doing to China's opening up — that is to say, closing it down. Our own son is half Chinese, I say. I travel a lot to China, chat with "the broad masses of the Chinese people" and get along with them just fine... all the while uncomfortably feeling like I'm reprising that old Python classic "I like Chinese". But still, I hope my point is not just made, but taken.  Point being: my beef is with the current government, not its people.  Deng Xiaoping, great. Jiang Zemin, good. Even that funny old stick Hu Jintao, fine. But Xi is different and dangerous.  He's cracking down with censorship and jailing any dissidents. He's talking about a new Cultural Revolution. He's extending the long arms of his security goons to kidnappings of China-critical writers …

European Court of Human Rights Blasphemy Laws: Where a Word out of Place Can Cost Your Life

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that criticism of Muhammad constitutes incitement to hatred -- meaning that in Europe, criticizing Muhammad is no longer protected free speech.What the court has actually done, however, is rule out the possibility of any debate in which a range of various experts and members of the public could take part. Now, it seems, the only views that will be respected in the public forum are those of devout Muslims.Underage marriages are considered by some countries child abuse or statutory rape, but are acceptable under shari'a law; they also take place in Muslim communities in Western countries such as the UK. This alone is a major reason why platforms must be found to debate the issue instead of sweeping it, as something offensive, under the carpet. Ignoring it is offensive.Moreover, as some Muslims are often offended by even small matters regarding their faith, such as a toy teddy bear named Mohammad or a prisoner on death row declared innocent --…

Global Migration Pact: The U.N.’s Attempt to Erode Sovereignty

Not only the US, but Australia too was right to be wary of this bit of camel-nose-in-the-tent.
I wrote about it the other day. It's not so hidden agenda is to criminalise the criticism of any form of immigration.
Fie on the UN for yet another bit of anti-westernism....
Jonathan Tobin in the National Review:

Explaining Macron

Macron the socialist -- not a centrist, but a socialist, as argued below -- having about as much success with socialism in France as it's had elsewhere.  Which is to say, very little: the lack of success of socialism around the world is in exact proportion to the extent of its implementation.  With Macron, the implementation has been more subtle, to the extent that people think he's centrist, and so the disasters haven't --yet -- been as great as for socialism in Cuba or Venezuela. (China doesn't count any more -- its successes in the last four decades have been in direct proportion to the extent that Beijing has abandoned socialism).

From a National Reviewpal — quite real but who we shall call here Mr. A. Nonymous, who knows his French stuff très très bien — comes this unsolicited j’accuse of the French President. I have lightly de-incendiaried the email text, which I share below because I find it expliquebeaucoup.

Londoners troll New York Times with deluge of 'petty crimes' | The Guardian


“Why Anti-Zionism Is Malign” | NYT

Michelle Goldberg wrote a piece in the New York Times the other day (linked below) claiming the usual anti-Jewish thing: anti-Zionism ain't anti-semitism. Yeah right. And the fact that she's Jewish cuts no ice. Many an American Jew is anti-Israel to the tune of anti-semitism. Well meaning and all that they may be.   To the extent that the BDS movement seeks to deny Israel's right to exist — and it does, overtly or not  — it's by definition anti-Semitic.  So here's the rebuttal to Goldberg, from David Harris.  It's familiar. But needs repeating. And repeating.  Good on the Times for running this rebuttal. Though it doesn't appear in the print edition as far as I can see.  Re "Anti-Zionism Isn't the Same as Anti-Semitism," by Michelle Goldberg (column,, Dec. 7):  If anti-Zionism isn't a form of anti-Semitism, what is? To deny the Jewish people, of all the peoples on earth, the right to self-determination surely is discriminatory, a…

"Racial Preferences Aren’t Only an American Problem" | WSJ

[My comments, prompted by the article linked below].
Legalised racism is permitted in places as widely apart as the United States and Malaysia. In the US it's called Affirmative Action. In Malaysia it's called the Bumiputra policy. In both cases the aim is specifically racial, that is to say, racist: to provide benefits to one or more race over others. In the States it's mainly for Black and Hispanic minorities being treated preferentially over the White majority and the Asian minority.  In Malaysia it's to benefit the Malay majority over the Chinese minority.
Since it seems to be ok by everyone to have specifically race-based policies, I presume it's ok also to make some race-based observations. (It would probably be better to talk of "ethnically based" instead of "race", since there are some views that race is purely a social construct, but I'm using common parlance here).
My observations are mainly about the Chinese. The article linked b…

“Britain must now pay the price for the tantrum it called ‘referendum’ “

Good morning David [Dodwell, of SCMP], Re your second marker, you say: Second marker: that the Brexit conflict is a symptom of a nation fundamentally divided. London versus the rest of the country; Scotland and Northern Ireland against the English; the young against the old; the rural versus the urban; the privileged and supine metropolitan elite versus a marginalised middle class. Today, these divides remain as absolute as ever. Two years of ferocious, incestuous debate seems to have left these divisions as deeply entrenched as ever. [here] I agree with all this.  But it strikes me that the attitude of defeated Remainers and much of the media has been to brand all Brexiteers as "deplorables". Public intellectuals have been vicious in their denunciations of Leavers: “racist", "xenophobic", "ignorant" and so on. said
"It has become quite commonplace to associate support for Brexit with low levels of education and intellect and …

“George H.W. Bush: making another genocidal American great again” | SCMP

LETTER TO SCMP: The chief news editor of the South China Morning Post, Yonden Lhatoo, says "I'm fine with forgoing my sense of decency and humanity over this one." ("George H.W. Bush: making another genocidal American great again", Dec 9) I wonder: is there any time it's right to forego one's sense of decency and humanity? Especially when it's based on so many specious allegations.  Example: Lhatoo quotes Freud as justification for his savaging of the dead.  But Freud, the "father of psychoanalysis" says Lhatoo, is a now a thoroughly discredited figure. We speak well of the dead because it makes us feel better and more noble. That's my psychoanalysis. Lhatoo saying otherwise, on the basis of spurious Freudianism, is just "grinchery".  Lhatoo claims that Bush 41 "encouraged" Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait in 1990. Not true. The US ambassador to Iraq at the time, April Glaspie, passed on confusing messages to Saddam about…

Eels stuck in Hawaiian monk seals' noses baffle scientists - The Washington Post

Naughty, naughty boy! "Make better choices"!
Read and have a good laugh.... A relaxed-looking juvenile Hawaiian monk seal lounges near a sandy white beach on some green foliage. Its eyes are half-closed, and it has a serene expression on its face. But the seal's calm demeanor is surprising.Why? Well, there's a long, black-and-white eel dangling from its right nostril."It's just so shocking," Claire Simeone, a veterinarian and monk seal expert based in Hawaii, told The Washington Post on Thursday. "It's an animal that has another animal stuck up its nose."

Perfection is the enemy of action. AKA, The Greenies screw it again

Ever since I understood it, I liked it: the aphorism: "perfection is the enemy of action".  Also "perfection is the enemy of the good".
I've lived by it in some ways: I built a boat a few years ago.  She was far from perfect, but I finished her in about six months, she sailed well, and I sold her.  If I'd tried to be perfect, I'd never have finished her.  Many other folks were building the same boat at the same time, and all took longer than I did, many years longer.  They've got nicer boats, no doubt.  But I built, sold and moved on.
Here's the blog of the build.
What of Greenies?  What's the reference?
Well, I remember some years ago, when natural gas started to become a thing, like in Australia which has vast quantities.
I remember being surprised when the Greens came out against natural gas.  Half the CO2 emissions!
No, they said.  We must have perfection.  And perfection is Renewables. And the enemy of the good.
Result: The United Stat…

Roll Back China’s Soft-Power Campaign - The Wall Street Journal.

"Star­tlingly, Chi­na's ef­fort de­pends on the co­op­er­a­tion of many "nom­i­nally in­de­pendent ac­tors" within the U.S. For ex­am­ple, news out­lets aligned with Bei­jing have cor­nered al­most the en­tire me­dia mar­ket aimed at Chinese-Amer­i­cans, es­tablish­ing new print, ra­dio, tele­vi­sion and on­line pub­li­ca­tions in both Chi­nese and Eng­lish.
"The in­flu­ence is also pro­nounced at Amer­ican uni­ver­si­ties. Con­fucius In­sti­tutes are funded by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and may not en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties that con­tra­vene Chinese law. Other research cen­ters backed by Bei­jing use their re­sources and reach to at­tack the aca­d­e­mic free­dom of pro­fes­sors. Uni­ver­si­ties be­come sub­ject to pres­sure and even re­tal­i­a­tion when they pub­lish re­search or host events that of­fend the po­lit­i­cal sen­si­bil­i­ties of Chi­na's gov­ern­ment and Commu­nist Party. China also in­creas­ingly of­fers fund­ing to Amer­i­can think tanks will…

Outrageous Predictions 2019

A bit of fun.  2019. Saxo have done this for some years, so you can Google their previous years' results to see how they did. The main thing is that this is a corrective to all the predictions we get. Daily, we have pundits telling us "this" or "that" will happen.  But their records are very poor. Noone, just noone, knows what's going to happen.  Occasionally they might get something right, but that's just like the famous stopped clock, correct twice a day.  Just strap in and enjoy the ride. That's me these days. I merely watch history. Happening in front of me.  I try to find things to laugh about.   Because laughter is good for you.

Say something nasty about immigration? Off to jail with thee!

So on the same day that there's a historic Brexit vote in the British Commons, December 11, there's an equally -- maybe even more -- consequential vote happening in Marakeesh. This vote will be a UN attempt to criminalise any criticism of migration. Get that. Criticism of migration! Bear in mind that if you're for immigration, or against it, or -- as most people -- somewhere in between, believing that controlled immigration is the thing, there are studies showing that immigration harms the working class and studies showing that immigration causes no harm at all and only good. In other words: it's a topic of debate and discussion. But not if the UN has its way. No doubt pushed by the biggest block in the UN: the Organisation of Islamic Congress.
If the United Nations has its way, if the OIC has its way, it will no longer be even legal to voice your concerns about immigration.
At least my own country, Australia, has said it won't sign the document.  On'yer ScoMo…

“A European Goes to Trump’s Washington” | Ivan Krastev | NYT

A reader comments on the article below:
Interesting article with a different take. T is going to be a transformational president (already is) and as I have mentioned many times before, he is setting the world agenda. I think the Europeans will have to ‘go to the dentist’ as mentioned in the last paragraph, but I think they increasingly will be willing to do that. They will eventually see the Chinese dictator for what he is, when they fully realize that  ‘1984’ is being implemented in China. Further, Europe is on the ropes economically. Look at the pathetic growth rates, which until very recently China was propping up. No longer. The Europeans will need to pull up their own socks and I agree with Bannon that the European elections next year will be the first ever consequential ones. Stand by for a ‘tack’./Snip
VIENNA — For a European, visiting the United States these days is a bit like going to the dentist: Your mouth is agape, you smell trouble, and you leave with a lingering bad taste…

Winnie the Pooh: cuddly Xi Jingping isn’t a cuddly at all. He’s a communist crocodile