Monday, 6 December 2021

Omicron: latest data “looking good” | Dr John Campbell

 

Click for video
I’ve only just come across Dr John Campbell, not sure why I’d missed him. He does a daily update in Covid, straightforward, calm, informative. 

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.

Passeggiata on the Promenade


“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

“Not me, boss” — Beijing media wrong to blame tycoons for housing woes says Louis Loong

Well tycoons responsible for at least some of Hong Kong’s housing woes, and many folks would say “most”. Given that they do hoard land. And build “nano flats”. But, yes, so is the government, which has so far failed to repeal the “indigenous housing policy” to give just one egregious example. 

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”.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Bird politics

I’m sitting here with Jing mid afternoon when the local Bulbuls come to feast on our lawn. Every day when the sun dips down over Tiger Head mountain

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.

Because what we need is a non-entity haranguing us…

 

Click to enlarge and clarify 
ADDED. And kind of related: is the other shoe dropping? Todays South China Morning Post front page. Foreboding music in minor key swells:
You don’t really want to hear from senior people in charge of Hong Kong’s future about “disrespecting the Communist Party”. Or “respecting the Chinese constitution” (which is routinely ignored on the mainland). Or “further strengthening the National Security Law”. Or stuff about “integrating with the mainland”. Or to see our senior officials seamlessly slide to their knees (Paul Chan, Finance Secretary) to “support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party”. Trembling and obeying.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Chapel, waters, Tiger Head Mt ( 虎头山), sun triplet. 4:45 pm

 

 Multi-faith chapel, North Plaza Discovery Bay, Hong Kong 

“Ways of knowing”: New Zealand pushes to have “indigenous knowledge” (mythology) taught on parity with modern science in science class


I would never have posted something about this issue if it was from a conservative site, because it would be dismissed as “right-wing talking points”. But this is from Jerry Coyne, a professor of evolutionary science at Chicago U, strong Democrat, and host of the very-left-of-centre website “Why Evolution is True”. I met Jerry some years ago when he gave a talk at the Foreign Corespondents Club here in Hong Kong and got a signed copy of his “Faith vs Fact”. He is not a horrid rube of the right. 

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]

Friday, 3 December 2021

Get Back and Let it Be: Peter Jackson Reveals How He Convinced Beatles Paul and Ringo To Let Him Make 'Get Back'

 

Peter Jackson reveals how Paul blanched with worry that the footage from the vault (1969-70) would show the Beatles in a bad light, bickering and nasty to each other. That’s because of the bad experience of their “Let it Be” film and album and that they were in the process of breaking up. In fact they were rather lovely at the time. They got along. I agree. Amid the cigarette smoke and the occasional fall outs.

It’s great achievement. This movie by Jackson. Really great. And they, the Beatles were truly great. Paul was really the driving force. John laid back. Ringo does his job. George tries to please Paul. Yoko sits ams does nothing. In the end they, the Beatles, pleased us all. 

You see the chaos of creativity.

It’s on Disney Plus and worth the price of admission just for this. 

Birds in a Noir garden

 


Sitting at the coffee shop and wondering …

Sitting at the coffee shop and wondering …about this and that, including an oft-asked “how you doin?’”

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:

And the Dog Squad

‘A look on the bite side’ | SCMP

A

What is it with subeditors and puns? 

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. 

And swimming in the sea…

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Fok Hing storm in a gin cup

It’s over the top to complain, as some ol’ lady did in England, about a Chinese word sounding “rude”in English.  But to get upset if people find your language’s word funny in their own language (Germany’s “fahrt” per eg)? Get over it. 

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.

‘Why I believe in Hong Kong’s talent for survival and success’ | Robin Hibberd (in print: “I still believe in Hong Kong”)


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
Related: Hong Kong brain drain

‘It Wasn't A Hoax. It Was Media Overkill.’ | Andrew Sullivan

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…]

This is Andrew Sullivan, who I’d describe as a radical centrist. Heterodox critic of both sides. (*)
People like Claire Lehman are asking if it’s the case that the Left went crazy after the 2016 election and the Right went crazy after election 2020. It sure seems some Republican pollies are going weird-crazy. It would help if more Democratic pollies would admit their own weird-crazy conspiracy theories. As someone said, more or less: the party in power is smug and arrogant; the party out of power is crazy.

[Claire on Quillette]

(*) Whoops! In the “Keep up, Boomer” category: I thought “Radical Centrist” was good. I only heard about it recently and it sounded like a good place/person to be. But maybe not. Maybe it’s a Bad Thing. Same with “heterodox” apparently. Something I’d thought good may be Bad. Sigh…

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Our beach, looking like an optimistic Rothko. My December swim in the sea

 

Tak Pak Wan 大白湾 Beach, Discovery Bay Hong Kong
Me, swimming. Hong Kong Central in the distance

An optimistic Rothko, “Untitled, 1955” (I say “optimistic” vs his darker burgundy work). I love Rothko. I’m not the only one: “Untitled 1955” below sold for $US 55 million…

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Bauhinia and bike

 

Hong Kong Flower. Bauhinia and the Boomer's Bike
Madagascar Periwinkle. Catharanthus Roseus
Discovery Bay, Hong Kong looking west to Tiger Head mountains

Biden in free fall

Isn’t this interesting? Of the steepest falls in approval ratings right after an election, all the worst are Democratic presidents. I wonder why that is? Buyer remorse?

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]

/Snip:

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]

Cool calligraphy: Zoomorphic!

 

An example of Arabic Zoomorphic calligraphy. The name says it all. I didn’t know that it was a thing in Arabic writing. I can see why, with the more free-form and less pictographic script than Chinese characters, it would become a thing, and if you google it you can find all sorts of animals scribed in Arabic. They’re fun.

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

@Jack “loves Twitter “. But does the new CEO love free speech?

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….

Monday, 29 November 2021

Being Bjornborgian… a realistic take on climate change

Bjorn Lomborg, head of the think tank Copenhagen Consensus, talks to the Triggernometry lads, Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster.

TL;DR: Climate change is real and man-made; we need “renewable” policies to tackle it. That’s to say ones that survive elections. Extreme policies touted by climate alarmists will not survive elections in democratic countries. And are thus self-defeating.

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. 

Sunday, 28 November 2021

‘To protect one retired leader, China’s bungling censors turned the Peng Shuai mess into a major incident…’

Wang Xiangwei’s take is similar to mine a few days back: clumsy, botched self-defeating efforts at top-down censorship of Peng Shuai’s claims that she was forced into sex with Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

But that end-of-day they don’t care so much about the international reactions as they do about making sure no one in China gets the idea they can get away with criticising senior leaders. Especially given forthcoming “elections” of new members to the supreme Politburo Standing Committee. I put “election” in quotes because the outcome will already have been decided and elections are just needed for the formality.

But there’s a bright spot, or two, here.

First that Peng is out and about, seemingly unharmed, at least physically. And that’s the result of international pressure. Pressure worked, this time, because Beijing is worried about possible boycott of the Winter Olympics opening in February. 

Second is simply the fact that an article like this has appeared in our very own South China Morning Post. 

The article is written by Wang Xiangwei, a former editor-in-chief of the paper now resident in Beijing. After the crack down here in Hong Kong last year and the promulgation of a swingeing National Security Law, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. So far, cross fingers, it hasn’t and pieces strongly critical of Chinese malfeasance continue. That’s good. And good on the Post !

Saturday, 27 November 2021

I just witnessed murder most fowl and ritual live disembowelling …

T’was the Robin, in the shade, M’lud
… right here on our lawn. I was idly birdwatching, one of “our” Magpie Robins prancing and strutting about, when it darts full tilt six feet or more and impales a lovely yellow and black butterfly. And as I watch proceeds to eat it, as the flutterby struggles with its last breaths.

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.

Friday, 26 November 2021

Thanksgiving is awesome

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].

Here’s my question on the Washington Post claim that American Native tribes “still regret” helping the Pilgrims 400 years ago: what is the counterfactual
Either that the Native tribes didn’t help the Pilgrims or that the Pilgrims didn’t come in the first place?
Do we, do they, does WaPo, imagine that, had the Pilgrims not come, these tribes would today be living in their pre-lapsarian paradise? Which paradise, by the way, is pretty much a fantasy — Native American tribes were warriors and conquerors. 
Or, that had they come but the Native tribes had refused to help them, the Pilgrims would have perished, unable to give Thanks? And the tribes still be living, 400 years later, in that fantasy land? That no one else, just not Pilgrims, would have come to settle in these vast and beautiful lands? (美国, Mei Guo, “Beautiful Land” = the Chinese for “America”). 
Can we seriously imagine any of these cases as a credible counterfactual? 

It seems rather a stretch. But is never discussed in polite society woke circles. (We used to say “in polite society”, but there’s little politeness in woke-dom; and none among the most hysterical critics of the American origin story, 1619 and all that).

Thursday, 25 November 2021

5 things Americans get wrong about Europe

Note that this guy, the article author Paul Skallan, is a major plagiariser, as proven here
Substack took Skallan’s post down, but it’s been made free by the complainant Antonio Garcia Martine. Some sort of deal I guess. 

So, OK to read it and it’s interesting!

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?

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

What on earth?? What is Kamala (and Joe for that matter) on about re EV. It’s TESLA, stupid

 

Click above to see Kamala roasted.
going to build…” ??! 

Truly weird. Like Biden’s weird claim the other day that GM had created the electric car market in America. When of course it’s Tesla. So Mom Mocks Joe

Did they really forget >> ??

Bloomer (by Boomer)

 

OK, Zoomer?

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

My take on Peng Shuai disappearance

First up I thought “here they go again”. The Chinese apparatchiks, clumsy, obvious and crude, find an offensive post on China’s social media — a rambling jilted-lover letter, from tennis star Peng Shuai to her ex-lover, ex Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli — and they don’t just take it down, they “disappear” its author. Peng was out of sight for three weeks until yesterday. 

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.

Great Barrington Declaration: update letter from the authors

 Dear Friends,

 

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

 

Twitter: @gbdeclaration@collateralglbl

@DrJBhattacharya@SunetraGupta@MartinKulldorff

Facebook: GreatBarringtonDeclaration

LinkedIn: Jay BhattacharyaMartin 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! 

“One Divides into Two” redux

Zuby: a British rapper and heterodox thinker.
Click above to go to tweet thread
Some non-binaries of mine: 
  • I’m fully pro-vaccine; I’m against vaccine mandates. [ADDED: doesn’t make me “anti-vaxxer”]
  • I wear a mask when mandated; the science shows they are of limited use
  • I have accepted lockdowns; though lockdowns are of limited effect
  • I believe in the coronavirus; but Zero Covid policy is not the best way to stop it.
  • White Supremacy is horrid; Kyle Rittenhouse is not a white supremacist. 
  • "Black lives matter” (lower case); Black Lives Matter (upper case) doesn’t help improve their lives
  • Social justice is important; woke-ism makes it worse.
Another thing. Which is in the “things I don’t get” category. The MSM, which is almost all on the Left (in the 2016 election, 93% of print media who endorsed chose Hillary Clinton), often calls for Fox News -- the only MSM outlet on the Right -- to be shut down. That’s despite the fact that they denounce countries where there is only one source of media, places like China or Russia. 
But what then? What if they succeeded, got rid of Fox and there were only voices on the Left? They would probably coalesce between more Left and less Left, and the ones to the right of the Left would likely drift further right, and the ones to the Left further left. 
Because "One Divides into Two”, a favourite saying of Mao Tse-tung and which I first heard in 1976. 一分为二,Yi Fen Wei Er. Which we ought resist, despite its pull. Most things are not binary. And thus resist moves to limit the range of views. 

Monday, 22 November 2021

Shock: Blue states don’t live up to their liberal ideals, especially on housing for the poor

 

Click above to go to the video
I would never have posted something about this from a conservative site because it’s been known for yonks and is routinely dismissed as “right wing talking points”. 

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.

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Last day of the outdoor pool

Club Siena Discovery Bay Hong Kong 
Closing for winter tomorrow. Open again 1 April  

We’re picnicking 

‘More than 800 diners, staff warned or fined in police joint operation against illegal Hong Kong barbecue sites’ | SCMP

Why? Why the need now to shut down this bit of freedom right now, 18 years after they started? 

Priorities…

More than 800 Hong Kong diners were warned or fined on Friday night after police raided two unlicensed barbecue sites in Mei Foo, arresting 17 owners and staff.

The move followed recent efforts by authorities to put up giant banners outside housing estates in the district, warning residents they could be prosecuted if they patronised the unauthorised venues at Kau Wah Keng. [Read on…]

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Gorgeous day in Hong Kong; sailing on the cards

Our patio Siena One. I read the morning papers here and am thankful
24C. Low moisture. Clear skies. Gentle zephyrs from the east.

Sailing to the Po Toi and Lamma on the agends.

Pool stays open until tomorrow. We’ll go for a valedictory swim. 

Tonight is my every-Saturday-night-meal that I cook, with 7:00 pm as the strict starting time. I enjoy doing it and it seems the recipients do too. For the few times I’ve gone into “grumpy old man” mode and threatened not to serve up any more Saturday meals I’m pleaded with to continue. TBF, we all enjoy the process and the routine. Every week I have to come up with a new main dish. This week it’s a French take on seafood pie: Seafood gratin Dieppe style (a Rick Steyn inspiration). Simple and yum. Served with caramelised apples, which Rick assures us is “not too Normandy”. We’ll see.

The seafood is prawns, scallops, salmon and cod. All harvested responsibly, of course! The gratin is Emmental and Panko. Result: crunch. Maybe I’ll add a touch of the Parmesan I just bought from Il Bel Paese.

Fine Days in Hong Kong. 

Mates return from Po Toi. Ask us to join. We agree

Friday, 19 November 2021

‘Expat exodus is bad for China, bad for the US and bad for the world’ | SCMP

When I arrived in Beijing in 1976 there were a few hundreds of we foreigners, almost all students and diplomats. Forty years later there were hundreds of thousands. Ditto Shanghai. My first time there in 1976 there were so few everyone knew each other.

For decades foreigners arrived in floods. decades. Now they are leaving. That’s sad. As the article says good for neither China nor the world. Some of this China has brought on itself. Some cause Covid. (Of course. Everything bad these days is “cause Covid”).

/Snip:

At a time when China’s role on the world stage is growing, it is also becoming more isolated and less international. The number of foreigners working in China’s two most important cities has declined sharply in the past decade.

In Shanghai, China’s international and commercial centre, the number of expatriates fell more than 20 per cent in the past decade from more than 208,000 to around 163,000.

The numbers are even more extreme in Beijing. The number of foreigners has fallen by more than 40 per cent since 2010, to about 63,000. By comparison, Luxembourg has around 630,000 total residents, almost half of whom are foreign workers. [More…]

Thursday, 18 November 2021

My disappointment in Francis Collins: this time on Covid issues

Click screenshot above to go to the video
I first heard about the famous scientist Francis Collins in 2006 when he published “The Language of Godwhich had the enticing (to me) subtitle of: a scientist presents evidence for belief”. 

I’m an atheist. Have been since the age of nine. I remember thinking, wow! Here’s a bona fide "famous scientist" and he says he has evidence for belief. Evidence. Not just faith. 

So I bought me a copy. It’s now sitting in my “Disappointing Books” section of my library, together with "The Koran”, Edward Said’s “Orientalism” and  “Watching Paint Dry II: The Second Coat”.
Not only did he not present compelling evidence. He produced no evidence at all for a God. From a famous scientist.... I remain an atheist.

And here is Collins again, above, talking to Lex Fridman, who I love and respect. But Lex dropped a real dud. Collins is again evidence-free, or simply wrong, about heaps of what he says on Covid. 

Example: at the beginning Collins says “... with SARS it was 14 years before we figured out it was the civet cat” -- and so, by implication, we shouldnt expect to have discovered the natural, animal, source of the virus in “just two years”.

But thats wrong. I recall early on that we suspected and had some strong evidence that the Palm-civet cat was a reservoir for the SARS virus. I was here in Hong Kong at the time, running a business, having to take measures against the virus, so was very tuned in to what was going on. I remember being told, early on, that the civet cat was the likely source. Thatnot the case with Covid.

What Collins done here is repeat something at a Wikipedia entry that says it took 14 years to find the source. But that was only to fine-tune what we already knew. From Chinese studies and from studies right here in Hong Kong [All in US Journals] we knew that the sources had been identified as early as May 2003, just three months after China notified it to the WHO.

The reason this is important is that China is wanting to keep on with the theory that the origin is natural (zoonotic) and not a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. So far, after testing over 80,000 animals in Southern China not a one has been found to be a reservoir of anything like the SARS-coV-2. Why not? Well “remember that it took 14 years to find the source of the 2003-04 SARS” is one answer. Give it time. If, OTOH, the source of SARS had been found in just months, then why have we found nothing on the new one, giving us Covid, in two years??

Here are clear references to the fact that the SARS origin was traced early on, in just months, back in 2003:
In late May 2003, studies from samples of wild animals sold as food in the local market in Guangdong, China, found a strain of SARS coronavirus could be isolated from masked palm civets (Paguma sp.), but the animals did not always show clinical signs. The preliminary conclusion was the SARS virus crossed the xenographic barrier from palm civet to humans, and more than 10,000 masked palm civets were killed in Guangdong Province. The virus was also later found in raccoon dogs (Nyctereuteus sp.),[20] ferret badgers (Melogale spp.), and domestic cats. In 2005, two studies identified a number of SARS-like coronaviruses in Chinese bats.[21][22] Although the bat SARS virus did not replicate in cell culture, in 2008, American researchers[23] altered the genetic structure of bat SARS virus with the human receptor binding domain both in the bat virus and in the mice which demonstrated how zoonosis might occur in evolution.[24] Phylogenetic analysis of these viruses indicated a high probability that SARS coronavirus originated in bats and spread to humans either directly or through animals held in Chinese markets. The bats did not show any visible signs of disease, but are the likely natural reservoirs of SARS-like coronaviruses. In 2004, scientists from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the University of Hong Kong and the Guangzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention established a genetic link between the SARS coronavirus appearing in civets and humans, confirming claims that the virus had jumped across species. [Source]

I’ve no dog in this fight. I just want us to find out where this horrid virus originated. It matters. Because (A) If it’s Lab Leak then the protocols for experiments need to be tightened. And (B) If it’s natural, then we need to shut down places that are potential sources of future pandemics. 

I’ve just bought Viral, a book by Alina Chan a Canadian molecular biologist specializing in gene therapy and cell engineering at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; and Matt Ridley a writer of numerous science books. It tells the story.

TL;DR: there’s smoke galore around the Lab Leak theory. There’s only clear skies -- no smoke at all -- around the Zoonotic origin theory. Here’s an hour’s podcast on Viral, Chan and Ridley talking with Demitri Kofinas
ADDED: @39’ Chan says “It’s problematic that the WIV investigated itself; that people with the most to lose if it were shown that it was a Lab Leak, are the ones doing the investigation”. People like Peter Daszak of the Eco-Health Alliance through which US funding for gain-of-function research was channelled, was the lead investigator. So that when he asked WIV “was there a lab leak”, and WIV answered “No”, he said “Ok, our job is done”. For the world this seemed (seems?) to have been enough. Though the WHO seems to have developed some spine and be asking for more investigations. 

ADDED: Alexandros Marinos gives Lex a huge serve in this Thread for more infelicities, errors and duplicity by our “famous scientist”. I begin to think that Collins is in the positions he’s been in because he’s a good bureaucrat, not for his science.