|Click for video|
He shows why there’s some hope that the Omicron variety of Covid might be good news for us: hugely contagious, but not too lethal => Herd immunity. Cross fingers.
|Click for video|
He shows why there’s some hope that the Omicron variety of Covid might be good news for us: hugely contagious, but not too lethal => Herd immunity. Cross fingers.
|“The Promenade”, Siena Park, Discovery Bay, Hong Kong |
Catching the rare unmasked promenaders
|Yi Pak mini-beach, Siena Park|
|Multi-faith Chapel, North Plaza|
|Maya from Pokhara, takes Happy-Hour orders|
|Promenading home. Blue is Discovery College|
Louis Loong is contesting the functional constituency seat (a kind of “rotten borough” system”) for the real estate and construction sector in our Legislative Council elections on 19 December. He kicks off by serving one to Beijing’s media, so it’ll be fun to see how that goes. [ADDED: the headline has been changed from this morning saying the Beijing media is “wrong” to saying they “misunderstood”]
Reminds me that I’ve voted in every HK election since I got Permanent Residency. But I won’t be in this December’s Legco ones. Rather too much laden with “patriotic candidates” for my taste.
In previous elections there were genuine choices. They were fought fairly and squarely. I thought. In one election for District Councillors I was drafted in as campaign chairman for Laurence Leung going up against our local Islands councillor of the staunchly anti-government Civic Party. It was fought tough and someone’s dirty — I was called “Hitler” for goodness sake, for having fought, as Chairman of our City Owners’ Committee, to keep our popular Hire Car service, which the Civic Party member had fought to outlaw based on her feuds with the owners of the service. All politics is local, as they say. Certainly they elicit heated passions. That we won the Hire Car issue didn’t endear me to the Cicic party member and her acolytes. In the end we lost that election. To that same Civic Party member. But tough and dirty as it was I never thought it unfair or illegitimate. The voting process here in Hong Kong seems to me fair, open and transparent. And continues to be. Sure it’s limited suffrage. But what there is, is not nothing and is dome fairly.
But still, I’m not voting Sunday week. They’re advertising it on radio as the ‘enhanced voting system”. Which is is, if by “enhanced” you mean “limited”.
A Speckled Dove flies through from behind my left shoulder like a rocket propelled grenade right by six feet off the ground over the bulbuls and pulls a high-g steep climb over the travellers palms.
Half the bulbuls take off in fright and perch in the Poinciana (aka Flame Tree, aka 凤凰树). The other half are still on the lawn. I’d been observing them pretty closely since before the Dove fly-by. The ground-stayers had looked up, gone “meh” and kept foraging.
So here we had birds making judgement calls. Assessing risk. Putting lie to the calumny “bird brain”. These are individuals! But still acting in tribes. Like Party people.
The flight-to-the-tree mob are the liberals, the media, the “better-safe-than-sorry” crowd. Democrats, if you must. The lawn-stayers, the risk-assessors, are the Rest.
You need your people to be cautious or your people won’t survive. You also need your people to be adventurous and laugh in the face of risk or your people won’t thrive.
|Click to enlarge and clarify|
Jerry takes issue with the progressive-left idea that indigenous “ways of knowing” are synonymous with “science”. They are only that if the are indeed science. But in the discussions he quotes, from Maori culture in NZ, they are stories, they are myths. They are not one whit of science.
To call these stories, these “ways of knowing” science, to call creation myths “astronomy”, is literally the same as claiming that “that pretty cloud looks like a rabbit”, is meteorology. (And I mean “literally” literally).
It’s not only wrong, it’s demeaning and condescending to indigenous peoples. Well-meaning (perhaps) but wrong and harmful in the longer term.
We do the same in Australia, when claim that aboriginal stories of a “Great Emu in the sky” near the Southern Cross or that “The Kangaroo and Crocodiles form the Milky Way” makes up “cultural astronomy”. Well then, why not rebrand astrology as “numerological astronomy” then?
To be clear: I’m all in favour of leaning about Aboriginal culture, its history, its music, its stories, its famous “Dreaming”. I’m in favour of the Great Renaming of places and events in Australia by their indigenous names. I’d have loved to learn about Australian Indigenous history and culture at school. We were taught nothing of it; that’s a shame and a scandal.
Where that knowledge is science, where it adds to our joint human knowledge of science and of the world, then this First Nations “way of knowledge” is indeed science. But calling the dark spot below the Southern Cross “The Emu in the Sky” doesn’t cut it. Telling us that the Southern Cross itself is a dead coolabah tree and the eyes of a cockatoo, or that the Milky Way is kangaroos and crocodiles cavorting, while interesting and fun, is not Science. Sorry, but it’s not.
ADDED: Colin Wright, evolutionary biologist: “There is no such thing as 'indigenous science' or ‘indigenous knowledge'. There is just science and knowledge”. [Here]
Richard Dawkins weighs in: “Creationism is still bollocks, even if it’s ‘indigenous ways of knowing’ bollocks. Doubtless of great anthropological and aesthetic interest, but not science and not true.” [Here]
To which a simple answer is, for us, “fine”. We’ve got our comfy place, can sit outside in this wonderful fall weather, 20-odd degrees, <50% humidity, clear skies (no, really!), wonderful hiking weather in the nearby hills, hills I ignored in my first twenty years here, young man, unattached, working… playing. Biking. Swimming. Enjoy our Gardens and Flowers.
Not everyone is so lucky. Average apartment sizes here are small to tiny. Developers are building “nano-flats”, 150-200 sq ft. (15-20 sq metres). That’s like, a square four paces per side. People living in tiny flats, what do they do in a pandemic? Answer: they come out to us here in Discovery Bay: picnic, bike ride, eat out, hike trails, passeggiata the promenade. Stay at the hotel. We feel blessed in our little eyre, while we know there are family businesses ruined and lives upended by sackings and lockdowns.
We have a Zero Covid policy (ZCP) And we also have zero Covid. At least domestically. The only cases we have are a handful each day caught incoming at the border. So we still have strict quarantine. The strictest in the world, with 21 days to be spent, alone, in a hotel room, 16 tests taken over that time. Yet, there are no hotel rooms available until April.
Everyone wears masks, despite the virtually zero chance of catching Covid, given all ths. The old guy in the pic above is not wearing one. And neither am I as I type this. For we have the bizarre situation where people outside in a fresh northeast breeze, with zero chance of catching the virus, are masked and they take off the mask when they enter the coffee shop. Because, well, science….
(I’ve characterised our ZCP as being inward-looking — the Greater Bay Area (GBA) policy — as opposed to an outward-looking policy — the Global Financial Centre (GFC) policy — which was our default until 2020. Now, on this, we are, if not exactly ruled, at least strongly guided by Beijing).
We don’t have any family coming for Christmas, nor do we plan any travel, because of above-mentioned quarantine issues. I’ve spoken to people who’ve done it, and they say it’s not worth it, unless you really have to for work or some emergency. John did it, but wouldn’t again, and he had the advantage of family here delivering goodies every couple of days.
Christmas Day will be lunch out. That’s what we’ve done for some years and it’s always fine. More than fine. Very fun. Food good, people friendly, weather crisp. Yesterday I booked for us at the Italian place in the Plaza, il Bel Paese. The fine restaurant has an attached deli, where I get our truffle salami and parmigiano from one of their dozen Parmesan wheels.
That’s it for now. Wishing everyone who gets around to reading this is getting along ok. For which, Thoughts of Dog always help:
What caught my eye was that there’s been 2,700 new “eateries” (when was that word invented?) opened in Hong Kong in the last year. Seven new “eateries” a day. That’s after F&B was hammered early in the pandemic. Now you’ve gotta book. Sometimes months in advance. Because no one’s leaving Hong Kong. Because you have to hotel quarantine for three weeks, by yourself when you come back. But you can’t get a hotel room, currently also booked out months in advance. So people in HK are staycationing and eating out.
I was a student in 1976 at the Peking Languages Institute, in a class of students from Iceland, Canada, Nigeria, Oz, New Zealand. If any one of us had a name that sounded odd or funny or rude in Chinese, we changed it. Simple. End of story.
This is a bit of a non-story, TBF. I reckon the company, Fok Hing Gin are happy with the publicity. Brill. “Fok the haters”, they’ve tweeted. Though saying “haters” to people who are just having a laugh, tipsy at the bar, is a bit rich, I reckon.
ADDED: the characters are 福興氈 Fú xìng zhān in Mandarin. Fok Hing Gan in Cantonese. Literally “Happy, prosperous, carpet (or felt)”. By the way, I lived and worked on Fu Xing Road in Shanghai in 1989-90. There were some who joked about it even then. Joke which quickly paled. It’s a major street in the old French Comcesssion of Shanghai.
Robin Hibberd: Hong Kong received the world’s third largest share of foreign direct investment last year, according to trade body Unctad. And in the Economic Freedom of the World 2021 annual report, Hong Kong was once again ranked as the world’s freest economy.…
… Our city has been beaten down lately, but I’m confident that Hong Kong still has what it takes to thrive. It remains one of the best places in the world to do business and is still populated by industrious risk-takers who bring global perspective and world-class skills to their lives and work.
As long as Hong Kong continues to welcome talented people and offer them a uniquely attractive environment to pursue success, Hong Kong and its people will also succeed. You can still count me in.
My comment at the site:
Agree, Robin. Well argued.
Me, forty+ years in HK, founded, ran and sold businesses here, and not about to leave anytime soon.
Just wish/hope the government can go a little lighter on the arrest of 2019/PanDem activists. And focus on reducing our GINI index. Especially focus on housing.
ADDED: So, I’m at the Plaza chatting to a storekeeper. A friend of hers drops by, turns out she’s Sam, an Aussie student, ex Adelaide, newly-graduated, both parents divorced, living with new partners, one North, one South Discovery Bay. She’s schlepping in between the two right now and talking of what she’s going to do in life. Says me: “Hong Kong is a very good place to do business”. And realise I mean it. It is, still. As long as your aim isn’t to overthrow the tyrannical regime to the north, you’ll be fine and your business welcomed. We’re not the third-largest recipient of foreign direct investment for nothing.
|Discovery Bay Plaza from doctors office. We’re sitting under those|
lime-green brollies. Paving is Portuguese cobblestones
I’ll try not to take David Frum’s new piece on the Russia-Trump connection too personally, especially now that I’ve spent the week off-Twitter, chilling in the English countryside where I grew up, and generally unwinding with my family. And this isn’t a full-on Weekly Dish, because of Thanksgiving.
But a few thoughts. I agree with almost everything David writes — which he does with his usual concision and pellucidity. There is no question that Trump had countless conflicts of interest in Russia, with his Moscow hotel plans high among them, and had been money laundering for Russian oligarchs for years. No question that he was absolutely willing to accept Russia’s — or any country’s — illicit support, and no doubt he actually asked for it. I saw him do it, on national television, in the campaign. We all did. [More…]
|Tak Pak Wan 大白湾 Beach, Discovery Bay Hong Kong|
Me, swimming. Hong Kong Central in the distance
In the case of Joe, it’s put down to “inflation, Covid and crime”.
In the case of inflation, perhaps we’d be in a similar situation if Trump were still president. Though surely to goodness it helps not one whit that the BidenAdmin is pumping trillions into an already overheated market. That’s Eco 101.
Covid is covid. What’s to say? Vaccine mandates are unpopular for sure.
Crime? Well, wow, in progressive states all over the US, crime rates are up. Vids of shoplifting are just breathtaking / shocking: in San Francisco they’re looting shops right in front of security guards. Who are told that they are not to touch them, on pain of dismissal. This has been going on for some time now, but somehow the connection between policy (defund and demonise police) and outcome (more crime) is never made. There are no dots joined up. Weird. [ADDED: another eg]
Crime is a major issue across the country — and it is hurting Democrats badly. Last year, as progressives shouted “defund the police,” a cowed Democratic convention failed even to mention the riots breaking out in city after city. Total silence. The “bail reform” they pushed is directly responsible for putting violent offenders back on the streets and behind the wheel in Waukesha.
Now, disappointed voters are responding. They are defeating proposals to defund or reimagine the police in even the most liberal cities, including Minneapolis, the epicenter of the defund movement. The recent spate of smash-and-grab robberies in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Chicago have ratcheted up public outrage even further, much of it directed at “Justice Democrat” prosecutors who refuse to prosecute “property crimes.” Criminal gangs have taken notice and taken advantage. [More]
I thought there would be even more zoomorphic artwork in Chinese, thinking of the character like 🐎 馬 ma, for example, but it’s not such a big thing after all. Given, I guess, that the character itself is a picture. Below is some early Chinese pictography, done on oracle bones, dating to pre-CE. I do find these attractive, the precursor to one of my favourite Chinese scripts, the Lesser Seal.
|From Beyond calligraphy. Read Top>bottom, R>L|
Dorsey tweeted Sunday night that he loves Twitter. It’s fair today to wonder if he loves where it’s headed. “Will Twitter become an ocean of suck?”
Above link: Matt Taibbi on Jack Dorsey's resignation as Twitter CEO.
Me, I never tweet. Because I fear getting caught up in Twitter battles. But I do have an account, for access. I follow a few hundred people. Which I enjoy. I try to have a mix of left and right. I reckon my Twitter feed gives a pretty good taste of the zeitgeist. Worldwide even. At least for the world that speaks English on Twitter, which is to say: Anglophone Plus. The “Plus” is for the many non-native speakers who use English on as the lingua franca as in science journals.
I’m worried that Parag Agrawal, the new CEO, will be even less a champ of free speech than Dorsey.Who wasn’t great but tried. Remembering that Twitter’s mission statement was “the free speech platform for the free speech party”. And Agrawal seems to have played that down. In past tweets….
Even if you’re a follower of Extinction Rebellion or similar, this talk has a lot to chew on.
I’ve long been impressed by Lomborg’s analysis. Pity is, on the extremes of climate alarmism, his views will be dismissed as “climate denial” or worse. He’s not. He stresses innovation, a view that is mocked by the alarmist factions; but should not be. The UN climate panel reports have all said the same: climate change Is real, man made but not cause for alarm or despair. They do not support the alarmist narrative, but do support the importance of innovation to address climate change. The UN reports also, by the way, support nuclear, as, of course, so does Lomborg, especially Gen IV nuclear which requires… innovation! Which will reduce costs and time-to-market.
RE: @06:15: Lomborg’s point on the drop in people killed by climate-related catastrophes (typhoons, floods, droughts), which were 500,000 a century ago and just 7,000 in 2021a drop of 99%), we have seen it right here in Hong Kong. We used to have hundreds, sometimes thousands, killed by each typhoon (“hurricane” in the west), where’s since I’ve been here, forty years, there have been zero killed. That’s because we adapted and got better at protections. And we have those protections because we’re rich. Contrast poor Haiti, where the last typhoon killed over a thousand people.
|T’was the Robin, in the shade, M’lud|
Which brings to mind that horrid as Homo sapiens can be, we tend not to eat our prey while it’s still struggling.
Mostly. I’m reminded of a “Live Fish” (活鱼, huo yu) dish served up to us in northeast China fifty years ago. A fine fish on a platter, still moving. We eat the flesh chopsticked off, down to the head and backbone, still wriggling. One of the Aussie guests, scientists on an exchange program, was rather taken aback and asked “but isn’t this cruel?” his host replied “yes, it is!” laughing…. Then told us how it’s done. The fish, usually carp, is quickly gutted while still alive, the head wrapped in a wet towel to keep it from cooking, dipped in boiling oil for a few seconds and popped in a plate for our schmeck.
Our Magpie Robin is just doing her stuff, to live. Not knowingly cruel. That’s life. And death.
|Sure, the founders were pirates, but even that’s a bit funny|
Thanksgiving Day is here, and as is the fashion, it’s taking a beating. “What is Thanksgiving to Indigenous People? ‘A Day of Mourning,’” writes the onetime daily Bible of American mass culture, USA Today. The Washington Post fused a clickhole headline format with white guilt to create, “This tribe helped the Pilgrims survive for their first Thanksgiving. They still regret it 400 years later.” Even the pundits who didn’t rummage in the past in search of reasons for Americans to flog themselves this week found some in the future, a la the Post’s climate-change take on Turkey Day menus:“What’s on the Thanksgiving table in a hotter, drier world?” [Read Matt Taibbi’s take].
Especially pour moi. 8+ years in Europe, 3+ in the US, and 40+ in Asia. I mean, if there are such misunderstandings between those of the same culture what hope is there for China-US comprehension?
|Click above to see Kamala roasted.|
And I thought these goons are again doing Xi’s bidding and again going full Streisand Effect. Something the outside world would never have noticed now becomes a major world story because of their bumblings. Job, guys!
Then I thought: the idea is to keep the local population ignorant of the post. They don’t care about the international. Beijing bully-boys don’t want their own population to call out senior leaders and get away with it. As for the west, well Beijing simply doesn’t care. (Though now there’s the fear of boycott of the Winter Olympics, which maybe led to her recent “release”, reported in WhatsOnWeibo)
So I rang a couple of contacts in China, well plugged into locals, and they confirmed: there is NO news about this in China. Nothing. These contacts get their own news from set-top boxes with cable to the likes of CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, DW, but most locals don’t have that. Locals watch the ubiquitous local soaps and quizz shows. I tried out my theory on them and they agree — Beijing has to keep the lid on people in China. If that means pissing off the rest of the world, so be it.
ADDDED: Cindy Yu on China’s “mistress problem”.
A few other observations:
The original post was taken down in two minutes. Two minutes! Imagine that! I’m thinking -- and my contacts agree -- that the censors must have an Alert button for every single important leader, like Zhang Gaoli, and for every single public figure like Peng Shuai.
Process is like: Alert goes off > routed to a Human > human thinks 该死! Holy shit! > immediately takes it down > tells goons > Peng disappears > the west goes ape > the goons (maybe under direct orders from “the X-factor”) talk Peng into doing what she did yesterday > give “Proof of Life” > to the head of the IOC > fixed smile on face > “I’m fine”..... Really! (She asks for “privacy”, a touch ironic given the intimacy of her post, but…oh, well…).
Forced sex? The character 要 yao in the first tone means “to force”, but in the fourth tone means “to ask. This has been rendered both ways in the translations, first as “ask” (for sex) and second as “force”. Later, Peng is clearer and uses 逼 bi, which is unambiguously to “force”. So there’s definitely that accusation against Zhang. Just some ambiguity in places.
That said, the whole of the post, this open letter, reads to me more like the outpourings of a scorned woman. A jilted lover. She’s been dumped and she’s upset. It seem clear that she was in love with him, and apparently he was smitten with her as well. He was a cad, for sure. And I don’t want to sound like I’m excusing some horrid actions by Zhang. But read the post, an anguished love letter, really, and see if you don’t feel this is recognisable as that.
Zhang’s wife is a piece of work. Name of Kang Jie, which immediately reminds me of Kang Sheng, Mao’s secret police chief. A thug of the first order. AFAIK Kang Jie is no relation, but seems as sinister. Complicit, like Ghislaine Maxwell, procuring Peng for her husband, stationing a guard at his door so he wouldn’t be disturbed while poking Peng.
The below translation is from here. I’ve checked it against the Chinese; it’s accurate, indeed felicitous. It’s below the fold, with thanks. The Chinese original is underneath it.
From the depth of our hearts, a belated thank you for signing the Great Barrington Declaration. With over 850,000 signatures, together we opened up the pandemic debate. While many governments continued with their failed lockdown and other restrictive policies, things have moved in the right direction. For example, most schools have re-opened, most countries prioritized older people for vaccination and Florida rejected restrictions in favor of focused protection without the negative consequences that lockdowners predicted.
While occasionally censored, we have not been silenced. Since authoring the Declaration in October 2020, the three of us have actively advocated for focused protection through social media, op-eds and interviews on, for example, vaccine passports and natural immunity.
We have also launched Collateral Global, a charity staffed with academics from across the world to document and disseminate information about the collateral damage of the restrictive measures so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of this pandemic and are able to inform future policy with evidence and analysis. Collateral Global is crowdfunding so that this work can be done to the highest possible standards. You are welcome to join us and help us in those efforts at www.collateralglobal.org, as well as follow us on Twitter, etc. We are also planning an initiative on scientific freedom soon.
With enormous gratitude,
Jay Bhattacharya Sunetra Gupta Martin Kulldorff
PF: a reminder, that the “Great” in the Declaration doesn’t refer to the Declaration, but to the place it was signed and published, Great Barrington in Massachusetts.
Jay Bhattacharya is a professor of Medicine at Stanford University
Sunetra Gupta is a professor of epidemiology at Oxford University
Martin Kulldorf is a professor of Medicine at Harvard
I mention their titles to make the point the these are not some random rubes. They are people who know whereof they speak. They did not advise “let it rip” as they were falsely mischaracterised; they advocated “focussed protection”, which always, to me, this random rube, did seem the logical way to proceed. And which, as they indicate above, seems to be the way countries are moving.
Perhaps the most silly thing I heard to justify lockdowns was that you couldn’t just protect the elderly because that would be “age apartheid”. So instead, lockdown the whole population!
|Zuby: a British rapper and heterodox thinker. |
Click above to go to tweet thread
|Click above to go to the video|
But this is the New York Times, a
mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, a paper clearly on the Left and long-time supporter of the Democratic Party (an OR suggests the “mouthpiece” is rather too strong..)
It’s really damning. Progressive Democrats routinely block measures that would allow more housing because “Not in my backyard”.
ADDED: In print media 93% support Democrats.