Friday, 4 December 2020

Arresting Press bosses is something authoritarian governments do

Jimmy Lai, boss of Apple Daily
at the Lai Chi Kok Detention Centre
Some people are happy Jimmy Lai, founder of the Apple Daily, is in detention. He “deserves” it because he’s in America’s pay, or too much of a rabble rouser. And for sure he’s a bit of a jerk. I’ve never really liked him. But you don’t arrest people because you don’t like them. Or because they rabble rouse. Or because they criticise you.

It’s never good to arrest and deny bail to members of the media. The last to do so before Hong Kong was Ukraine. And done here under the new National Security Law foisted on us because of the wanton destruction, the crazy calls for independence by the “freedom fighters” last year. Before their antics we had full unfettered freedom of the press and Jimmy Lai for all his jerk-dom, would never have been marching to jail. 

Another “not good thing” for Hong Kong. Shame on the government, shame on Beijing. 

By the way, I used to visit a mate in the same detention centre once a week for several months. Visiting is very strictly controlled. You can only speak to the detainee through a bulletproof glass screen using a phone hand set. Kind of maximum security. This guy told me “everyone in here is innocent. I’m the only guilty one”.

Winter bougainvillea

It’s 16C, crisp and clear. All good, ‘crept we got lockdowns again, cutting back in eateries and pubs. The latest outbreaks were mainly in these dancing clubs which are basically places elderly ladies pay for young male company and other services. Still doesn’t approach the level of pneumonia deaths which are nearly 10,000 a year, against the current 109 fo Covid. 

Here in DB all fine and calm…

Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib & Betty McCollum Participate in Conference with Terror Funders, Antisemites | Clarion Project

The line up of the American Muslims for Palestine conference reads like a Who's Who for the Muslim Brotherhood

Rahida Tlaib retweeted "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free" which is none too subtle call for Israel to be wiped off the map. She's a sitting US Congresswoman. And that is not US policy. I guess she might say Retweeting does. It imply endorsement. Right.

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Top medics blast No10 for 'brainwashing PR campaign' to scare people into lockdown,

It's amazing, the shift of goalposts. First to "flatten the curve". When that was done, then to "stop the second wave". When that was done, then "to prevent overwhelming the hospitals". Turns out that, in the UK, they are running LESS full than the same time last year. Aha! say the lockdown lovers, that's because the lockdown had its effect.  But the dates don't mesh. The latest curve in the UK was coming down before the measures were introduced. You can do a double-check against countries that have had no lockdown — Sweden and Switzerland. Also States in the US that have locked down vs those that haven't. The patterns of infections are all the same, lockdowns regardless. And in all places death rates are below the peak in March-April.
Doctors are slamming Boris & Co for scaring people into lockdown (or, now, "Tiers") via hospital occupancy rates that are bogus. And, by the way, that's without counting the Nightingale Hospitals, built specifically for Covid, which are lying empty and two of the seven closed down.
What's going on?? I don't t get it.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

The new normal: lock and release. Rinse and repeat. Forever

Key points:

• Civil servants to work from home starting on Wednesday

• More venues such as game centres, theme parks, karaoke lounges and mahjong parlours to be closed for at least two weeks

• Only two people at a time allowed to gather in public or sit at a restaurant table

• Fixed penalty for violating social-distancing rules to be sharply increased

• Hotline to be set up for reporting offenders

• Two hotels to be designated solely for quarantine use

• Five more community testing centres to open this week, bringing total to 14

Sent from my iPad

WTF?? Covid ignorance

 I just heard Michael Gove, a UK Cabinet Minister, talking to a talk-show host and saying that they “had no alternative” to what they’re doing in the UK, the lockdown and all: now morphed into “Tiers", which are lockdown in drag.... 

The host said “of course you have choices”. And he said, well what? And the host said, well, Sweden is doing OK and hasn’t had lockdowns like us. To which Gove said: “no, Sweden has increasing deaths”. 

The host didn’t push back, I guess because they didn’t have the stats. The stats are that Sweden’s death rates are sharply declining after a wave -- a similar wave, we note, to those in places like the UK that have had stringent lockdowns  -- and are now averaging 6 deaths per day. That’s for a 10 million population, so multiply by six to get the UK and you’ve got 36, compared with the 460 per day in the UK, where they are bait to pass even more draconian measures. 

Why I say “WTF?” is that this is the TOP politicians in charge of MAJOR decisions of life and livelyhood in the UK and he’s so misinformed. There ARE other choices, choices other than the destruction of young lives and livelihoods.

ADDED: Debenhams in the UK is closing 124 stores in the UK, throwing 12,000 out of work. Born 1778, died 2020. How many more? The High Street is dead. And people like Gove — who I’ve admired — are there’s “no choice”.  There is. Boris is just too gutless to do it. And so more will be lit of work. More dreams and bodies dead. 

News Flash: Kevin Escoffier Rescued by fellow Vendée Globe competitor Jean Le Cam

Yes we Cam! racing again (white boat middle top)

Wow, what a story. Jean Le Cam rescues fellow competitor Escoffier whose boat PRB was sinking. In 2009 it was the boat PRB who rescued Le Cam from his overturned boat, also off the Cape of Good Hope. Wonderful news! ADDED: Escoffier and Le Cam describe the rescue, aboard Yes we Cam!

As always the Vendée is exciting and dramatic. Saving a life at sea, in the huge seas of the Southern Ocean, just a day after Alex Thomson, the favourite, had to retire with a broken rudder: Shattered Dreams. And a video message from Alex.

Le Cam is already a monster hero. A mythical figure. Oldest in the fleet, at 61, racing an older non-foiling boat, yet lying third at the time of this rescue. What this dramatic rescue will do to his glistening reputation! From the Vendée site:

At 0118hrs UTC the PRB Team was informed that their Vendée Globe race skipper Kevin Escoffier (PRB) has been rescued by fellow Vendée Globe competitor Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!).

Escoffier had to abandon his IMOCA 60 PRB following damage yesterday afternoon around 1346hrs UTC and took to his liferaft some 840 nautical miles SW of Cape Town.

The rescue mission was coordinated from Les Sables d’Olonne by Vendée Globe Race Direction in collaboration with CROSS Griz Nez and MRCC South Africa. The President of PRB, Jean-Jacques Laurent was at the Race HQ with race director Jacques Caraës and the race direction team assisting through the entire process.  

Read on…

Monday, 30 November 2020

Alex Thomson out of Vendée Globe

Flying machine. Brought to ground by fishing kit

Three weeks into the race and just after having completed a mammoth five day repair job, being back in the race — only four days ago exulting “the Boss is back!” — his boat, Hugo Boss, hits some discarded fishing equipment and loses his starboard rudder...

Vendée Globe Tracker : Alex’s sad news aside, the race is fascinating. 31 boats remain in the race and the leader is about to pass the Cape of Good Hope — four days behind the record Alex set in 2016. Surely he’ll be back in 2024. He’s a fantastically popular sailor, even in arch rivals France.

Article from Vendée website:

Charlie Dalin, the Vendée Globe race leader, should pass the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope on Monday, the first of the mythical 24,296 nautical miles solo round the world’s three Great Capes. That his elapsed time since the race started in Les Sables d’Olonne will be around 22 days might be of some tiny consolation to British skipper Alex Thomson who is heading to Cape Town.

His Vendée Globe may be over because of a broken rudder sustained on Friday evening but the blistering pace of 17 days  22hrs 58 seconds that Thomson leading the 2016-17 race remains intact, and is likely to remain so for at least another four years.

Central Moon


Central Hong Kong from Siena, Discovery Bay. Last night.
108-storey International Commercial Centre in middle

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Blue … Dog


Blue: Morning Glory. Pots hand made with old T-shirts and fast-dry concrete 

Dog: Basil, coming to grips with Shuai Mei painting

With its ‘wolf warrior’ bullying tactics, China failed to learn from US path to global leadership

This article by Gregory Mitrovich strikes me as being pretty much spot on the money. Bottom line: it's very critical of China and its bullying tactics, with Xi Jinping and the Belt and Road (BAR) mentioned specifically.  As I've been critical too, especially of the bully-in-chief, the guy that sets the tone, the Godfather, Xi Jinping. (Btw, this is our local paper, keeping on keeping on, with robust criticisms of the mainland).
The comments are running almost all against Mitrovich: The US is the true great bully, kills and maims innocent civilians; it set up the post-war order for its own benefit.
There’s the usual gaggle of the “fifty-cent army” among the commenters. The Beijing sock-puppets, though you're not allowed to say so or your comment is blocked. You can tell them though, from their poor English — on an English-speaking site. There are others who are just anti-American in the good ol' Chomskyian sense and so have to support a US rival, even if it's an evil regime like Xi's.
Some facts can't be gainsaid. The post-war order, largely US inspired, has given us a fairer and richer world; US soft power for the last 70+ years has been a powerful magnet for the whole world; as a result, the feet vote by running to the United States, not away, and certainly not to China. 
If we look at China’s rapid rise in the last forty years, the remarkable increase in incomes and standards of living, consider this: that it didn’t happen because of the policies of Xi Jinping and like minded authoritarians. It happened precisely to the extent that China loosened its grip, precisely to the extent that it let people get on with doing their own thing, precisely to the extent that it allowed market forces to work their magic, even today the SOEs, China’s State Owned Elephants, are monstrously inefficient and still gobble up vast quantities of state mandated funds. So talk of the magic of socialism or even “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is way off the mark.
China state interference in its economy makes a sick joke of its slamming Australia wine with nearly  220% import duties on the claim it gets export subsidies*. I used to work in that industry and I know it’s nonsense. Talk about pots and kettles and glass houses. But they’ll get away with it. Probably. Because they’re bullies and they’re a large bully to boot, the lethal combination. 

*ADDED: That story — the one about China blocking Aussie wine — is infested with the “Fifty-cent” brigades in the comments section.  How do I know? 
1. Because there were 176 comments when I went there. SCMP is not like the New York Times or Washington Post which get thousands of comments. The Post does well if it gets a dozen. 176 is almost unheard of. Especially for a post tucked away in the Business section, which took me a while to find. It suggests - to me, at least — that the swarms were directed there. As they have been whenever there’s been an Australia-China story. Bash Australia, Comrades!
2. Their bad English, in an English-speaking paper. Their grammar and tone don’t fit in.
3. They follow a set of talking points — Australia is a “small potato” (xiao tudou), it’s the US’ lapdog, who cares about Australia, they’re a bunch of racists anyway, block all Australian goods, don’t visit or study in Australia. They have a big thing two against the Five Eyes. First Australia, then the rest, Comrades!
Meantime, I just spoke to an old mate who’s lived in China for 35+ years. He tells me that there’s been a boom in wealthy Chinese shifting money to Australia. Amounts have doubled in recent months. So no matter the vitriol from Beijing and the efforts of the vile Fifty Cent-ers, folks on the ground are still wanting out even to as horrid a place as Oz.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Frances Adamson: Aussie’s Wolf Diplomat

The senior diplomat’s [Frances Adamson] candid remarks come as relations between Canberra and Beijing remain at their lowest ebb in decades amid heated disputes spanning trade, alleged espionage, Huawei Technologies Co., Hong Kong, and the South China Sea. [Link…]

Frances is head (Secretary) of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where I worked for eleven years all up, between 1976 and 1995, serving in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. And for sure Australia-China relations are the worst in all that time. Most of the time they have been more than cordial.

To resolve this very serious breakdown will need each side to step back from one of their demands and this discussion ought to be going in behind closed doors. In my reading of it, Beijing needs to make the first step as it was the one which staged a hissy fit in response to criticisms from Canberra that were well within the normal diplomatic ambit, within, that is to say, the norms of international relations. Not for Beijing, though. Oh no. Beijing cancelled Australian exports, and did in breach of WTO rules and conventions  — their bans on our exports are “informal guidance”, says Beijing. Right. (China was brought into the WTO by Bill Clinton with assurances it would engage China more fully in the international community. It did not — membership of WTO led to China’s domination of world trade and quasi-theft [technology transfer demands] of intellectual property).

Which is why we need to be very wary of Beijing wanting to set the agenda. Can we trust they can overcome their mercantilist impulses? No we cannot. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”.

[The “Wolf Diplomat” term is a reference to China’s Wolf Warrior Diplomats]

SCMP - Beijing moves towards ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’ over Hong Kong

More in the "not-good-news" category.  Given that an independent judiciary is one of the KSPs of Hong Kong to the international community, especially business, and as a bulwark for we locals. A free and independent judiciary. But … 
The common law tradition is being slowly rolled back as the legal system will be converging with that of the mainland in the coming years. Foreign governments and legal specialists, as well as local opposition, may huff and puff, but the reforms are inevitable and irresistible. [Link…]
Whatever the reforms over the last forty years in the Chinese legal system, they have signally failed tomachieve independence and neutrality. Finding without fear or favour. Doesn't exist on the mainland. Coming soon to Hong Kong: not good. Though I don't expect to be caught up in it personally, as I'm not expecting to come before the courses.  Still, one never knows. 

It's so sad to sit and watch Beijing's depredations. And Carrie Lam, our C-E, in collusion with it. Yesterday her annual policy address was two and a half hours long. Only authoritarians speak so long. 



From Grindjee, Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland. From International Landscape photos of the year. I skied on the Matterhorn’s glacier in 1974.

Kewl (?!): China’s stealth bomber

Gives intercontinental strike capacity 

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

A moon goddess is not a moon rock

The Moon Goddess Chang ‘e. Ming dynasty
China launched their rocket to the moon yesterday from the Hainan Island launch site. It’s off to the moon to collect moon rocks to bring back so we can learn more about what it’s made of, and thus what our earth is made of -- given our understanding that the moon was created out of a collision between the early earth and a Mars-sized planet we call Theia. 

I decided earlier this year I’d pop down to Hainan for a launch, as it’s just down the road from us — we’ve even sailed there on our Xena —  but of course… Covid-19.

The rocket is called the “Chang’e” (嫦娥) Pronounced like “chunk” without the “k” and then “err” as in mistake. Chaarng Err.... Close enough. (Not “Changi” as in the Singapore airport).

It’s named after the Chinese goddess of the moon. That’s her above. Wiki tells us:

Chang e... is the Chinese goddess of the MoonShe is the subject of several legends in Chinese mythology, most of which incorporate several of the following elements: Houyi the archer, a benevolent or malevolent emperor, an elixir of life, and the Moon. She is married to the archer Houyi. In modern times, Chang'e has been the namesake of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program.

Now here’s the thing. No-one confuses these Chinese legends and myths with the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. Yet that is what Australia’s CSIRO is doing, when it stretches the meaning of “astronomy" to include Aboriginal myths and fables about the night sky. That’s patronising and dishonest. The new name of the Parkes telescope, which was the first in the world to beam news of the moon landing to earth, is now Murriyang. 

In the Wiradjuri Dreaming, Biyaami (Baiame) is a prominent creator spirit and is represented in the sky by the stars which also portray the Orion constellation. Murriyang represents the 'Skyworld' where Biyaami lives. [Link...]

I don’t mind at all -- in fact I fully support -- moves in Oz to name things after indigenous antecedents. Many names in Oz already have indigenous names, and many have changed, with broad public support -- like Ayers rock now commonly known as Uluru. Great. And I love what the CSIRO is doing with the Reconciliation Action Plan, to work with and respect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. And Murriyang is a fine, euphonious name, a pleasing name. And I do like to learn what it means as an aboriginal story, a “Dreamtime” story. 

But to pretend that it’s equally valid to describe, say, Cygnus X-1, a high-mass X-ray binary system rotating around a black hole, as an Aboriginal bark canoe -- because this is Aboriginal “Astronomy”, as opposed to an Aboriginal fables? To suggest that these fables gave us (unspecified) knowledge “long before us”? There’s now a whole website on Indigenous Astronomy. All of which is of the same ilk: fables and stories, starting with the “Emu in the Sky”, presented to us as “science” and now taught at schools as “astronomy”. 

This is not only wrong, it is deeply and dishonestly condescending. It does nothing to develop true aboriginal astronomy, wherever that may be practiced. These are legends and myths, like the Chinese Moon Goddess, fun to learn about sure, but not astronomy. Astrology, if we wish. Just not the science of Astronomy.

LATER: I guess I seem somewhat cranky here. After all, what’s the problem with Reconciliation? The answer is “nothing”. Indeed, as I said, I support widespread renamings to recognise aboriginal heritage. It’s when it makes equivalence between fables and science — claims that they are the same — that I get tetchy. It’s part of the woke attack, via Critical Theory, of the whole edifice of science, especially of STEM. The notion that 2 plus 2 can equal 5, if I want it to. If I need it to. This is a trend in the Academy in the US and now more broadly about. So, that’s why my crankiness about this....

[Here’s the academic James Lindsay, author of Cynical Theories, talking about the origins and now influence of Critical Theories]

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Bougainvillea and Tea Tree

The Chinese for the Tea-tree is Huangjin LiuShu 黄金 柳树 which back-translates to “Golden Willow”, though it’s clearly not a willow. It looks more like a Tea tree, though maybe a touch spiky. *
The bougainvillea has just bloomed again, in Fall. From my observation the bougainvillea is a capricious plant given to fickle bloomings. 

* Official: it’s the Black Tea Tree, a member of Melaleuca family

ADDED: I’ve also read about the bougainvillea that you should treat it harshly if you want it to bloom well. Don’t give it water or fertiliser. It’s a masochist of a plant, apparently. Rather like in Australia, the finest merino wools, the most prized fibres come from sheep that have grazed in harsh lands, not the lush green English fields of their forbears. That makes their wool fine, low-micron.  But we’re not going to mistreat our bougainvilleas. We’re going to give them some of our wonderful compost. That may make them even more fickle. A sign of their displeasure, perhaps. 

Tumbling Compost


It took just a month for our kitchen scraps and fallen leaves to turn into this wonderful fragrant compost. In our old upright composter it took nearly a year. This one has two chambers, one for adding, one for curing. Each time you add some scraps, you give it a turn or two. Great machine!

It’s made of recycled and recyclable plastic. On Amazon it’s amongst the cheapest also the highest rated. We put the  tray underneath is to catch the liquid compost “tea” and keep our kitchen patio pristine. 

Coronavirus fatality rate does not justify strong lockdowns

  • Those who oppose lockdowns do not place the economy above the health of the elderly, but recognise that these measures cause public health problems unrelated to Covid-19

My letter Published 20 November 

I refer to your editorial “We must all soldier on together if coronavirus battle is to be won” (November 17).

Coming so soon after Remembrance Day, the headline conjures up unfortunate images of soldiers hauling themselves out of the trenches only to be mowed down by machine guns.

Monday, 23 November 2020

The Trouble(s) with ‘Sovereignty’

I thought at the outset that Trump pulling the US out of the Trans Pacific Partnership deal was an own goal. Why pull out of something that could counter the rise of China? Why leave the playing field wide open to the strikers in Beijing? 

Even Trump supporters were critical of this move. Bad move. Silly move. Dopey move. Idiotic move.

Kevin Williamson spells it out 

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Debunking the “Electric Universe Theory”

Click above to go to video
How did I miss this one? I’d never heard of the Electric Universe Theory, but it’s apparently widespread. In its strongest version it denies the existence of Gravity! The Big Bang didn’t happen. The universe is static…

Came across the EUT via David Thompson’s blog, reporting on the renaming of Australia’s iconic Parkes Telescope — made famous by transmitting the first pix from the moon in 1969. I remember! 

Those Aboriginal Telescopes.:

The particulars of that “astronomical knowledge,” also referred to as “ancient wisdom,” and its bearing on modern radio astronomy, are, alas, not shared in the press release. We are, however, told that the “telescope naming project,” which involved CSIRO staff, Wiradjuri Elders, the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and various other bodies, required “over two years” of work. Readers intrigued by the promise of astronomy being enhanced with, and perhaps superseded by, ancient aboriginal wisdom can partake of this cosmic bong trip.

Silver grass on Sunset Peak


Sunset Peak on our island of Lantau, Hong Kong, where nestles our very own Discovery Bay. More pix here

I have walked these very fields in the times of silver grass and remembered the Gladiator, Russel Crowe, returning from battles, walking away from us, in wheat fields, his hands outstretched caressing the kernels.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

SCMP - China-Australia relations: PM Scott Morrison tells business sector no compromise for ‘what we stand for’

I'm no fan of our PM Scott Morrison (ScMo), but he's spot on, in saying Australia cannot apologise for its values
China has said it bears "no responsibility" for the poor state of Australia-China relations. Got that? No responsibility; none, nada, zip. That's not a position we can begin to deal with.
And just recently the oleaginous Zhao Lijian (I'm sorry for the  ad hominem but he is oleaginous), spokesman and pack leader of the "wolf warriors" presented a list of "14 grievances" to Australian media. That's post-Opium-War-100 years-humiliation-driven grievances. [By the way, I'm fully on board with China's grievances over the horrors of opium inflicted on them by Victorian England, and of British failure to fully acknowledge its damages].
Many of the "grievances” enumerated by the oleaginous Zhao, are legitimate comments and criticisms by Australia of foreign policy issues, better handled at the United Nations if they even need taking out of the normal bilateral hurly-burly.
I'd expected that the comments at the site would be staunchly anti-Australia and anti-ScoMo, but they're not. Perhaps it's just that the WuMao ("fifty cent army") haven't got there yet.
I'm still to find out if China's anti-Australia trade restrictions are legal under WTO rules. I suspect not. Many are said to be "informal", which suggests — to me at least — that they are not; otherwise why not announce them as WTO compliant?
In China, for importers, an "informal" suggestion by Beijing that you stop buying Aussie wine and meat and coal, is pretty much an offer you can't refuse.
Here in Hong Kong, yesterday at the Wellcome Supermarket, I saw they no longer had an Aussie wine section. This is truly troubling for Hong Kong. Are Wellcome bosses being presented with an offer — an "informal" suggestion —they can't refuse? If so, that a real worry, an erosion of a key freedom, that of Free Port. 
I mean, they can rein in the unruly pan-Dems all they want. But mess with my wine supply?!

Friday, 20 November 2020

Turquoise visitor — a Verditer Flycatcher


Conclusion: young male Verditer Flycatcher. Eumyias thalassina 

Came in through our open dining room door this morning. Maybe a Blue Rock-Thrush, though perhaps a little too small for that. 

LATER (22 November): from Robert Ferguson of Wild Creatures Hong Kong:

Hiya,  what a lovely bird. 

Im pretty sure that is a verditer flycatcher…. One of my fave immigrants to photograph at this time of year….tho quite early.. [Robert’s photos]  [Wikipedia]

ADDED: Mystery Bird 

My comment: I’d be inclined to go from Robert’s modest “pretty sure” to my presumptuous “certain”, based on Robert’s pix and Wiki description — the copper-sulphate blue colour, dark patches and grey vents, which you can see clearly in my pic above. Also: according to the Mystery Bird link above, the only bird one might confuse the Verditer Flycatcher with is the Black-naped Blue Flycatcher, and she’s he’s clearly not that.

At the link to Robert’s photos he says they appear in the early months of the year, so this one is “quite early”. Given that this flycatcher moves in winter, does moving early suggest the the weather is warmer or cooler than usual? I’d have thought the logic suggests cooler, as that’s a signal to move, but it sure hasn’t felt cooler than usual. I’m sitting in the patio in 27C, sunny and about to go to the pool for its last day before closing for our “winter”. 

Reminder: for some of you readers of this blog, I sent you a copy of Robert’s booklet Wild Creatures Hong Kong.

LATER STILL: The turquoise colour is not because of pigment but 

…result from small changes in feather structure that alters their light reflective properties. These fundamental modifications cause violet and blue light to be selectively reflected from the feather surface….  Schemochromes

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Watch the Vendee Globe around the world Yacht race


Look at these flying machines. Click above to go to the video.
Or see Alex Thomson interview here

Around-the-world, Single-handed, Unassisted, Non-stop. The “Everest of Yachting”.

Great to watch the Tracker. They’re just ten days into it, with about 70 days to go, for the fastest. 

Alex Thompson is in the lead. His fifth Vendee... and they’re only every four years. What magnificent men and women in their flying machines. 33 of them, a record entry.

See it live here
ADDED: Alex’s on-board videos here

“Hong Kong pan-democrats who quit Legco showed neither foresight nor courage”

This letter is along the lines of what I've said for ages: that the key strategic error of the Pan-Dems in Hong Kong was to rebuff the 2014 moves towards universal suffrage. It was a classic case of rejecting the good in favour of the perfect.
That's not hindsight. We thought that at the time: 60% of something was better than 0% of everything.
So what? That's past. "We are where we are". Of course.
But could some awareness maybe inform them now? Support our remaining freedoms. Support the Free Port. Look to 2047 and beyond. Stop bickering. Stop grandstanding.

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

“We must all soldier on together if coronavirus battle is to be won”


I refer to your editorial “We must all soldier on together if coronavirus battle is to be won”, 17 November.

Coming so soon after Remembrance Day, the headline conjures unfortunate images of soldiers hauling themselves out of the trenches only to be mown down by reaping machine guns. 

The virus, thank goodness, is not that that deadly. We now know from a Stanford University peer-reviewed analysis  of 61 studies worldwide, that the median Covid infection fatality rate is 0.27%. To be sure, that’s two to three times higher than the influenza IFR, but still means that on average 99.7% of people with Covid recover from it. 

Your Editorial criticises the  "…many who put business and dining above public health". This is a false dichotomy. Those of us who oppose strong lockdowns do not put money above grandma's health. Instead we recognise that the lockdowns themselves cause public health problems unrelated to Covid. There's ample evidence of this worldwide — increased mental health problems, suicides up, more heart attacks and cancer deaths… most tragically, countries unable to “furlough” those thrown out of work by lockdowns face famine. These are also “public health” issues, quite aside from the lives ruined by crushed businesses. Even the WHO recognises this

For Hong Kong, unless we plan to keep our airport permanently closed, we have to learn to live with some level of the virus in our community and to handle it. Balance is the key. Not "zero virus" absolutism. (About as realistic as our “zero road deaths” policy).

A final note: the number of Covid deaths in Hong Kong this year (108) is 1.28% of the deaths from pneumonia (8,437) in 2018. That is, pneumonia is 78 times as deadly as Covid, and the number killed by it every year has been steadily rising (4.6% pa. or 387 deaths per year). Pneumonia is a similar disease to Covid, also most deadly to the elderly with comorbidities (like me). Yet we do not shutter our economy and close the airport for pneumonia. We do not, in short, feel the need to “soldier on together” in mute submission. 

Pf, etc...

SCMP - To stay in Hong Kong or go? Beijing’s latest ruling reignites the dilemma

My comment at the site:

My own decision to stay or go is based on freedoms. Can I freely get access to whatever information I want? Whether from China (Baidu, WeChat, etc) or international (Google, YouTube, Blogger, Netflix, newspapers, etc), and all international films. And I have freedom of speech -- that my blogs are not censored. That I can travel freely. And have freedom of capital movement. That freedom of religion is maintained (tho I'm atheist). These are important freedoms, which we continue to enjoy. If they were eroded, that would be a red line, for me.

I don't like Beijing overreach -- who does? -- but (so far) has not affected these freedoms.

In this respect I say SCMP is doing a pretty good job keeping free speech alive, in difficult times.