Thursday 28 January 2021

Holocaust Memorial Day

My chart, from figures derived from here

Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I watched the services in German Parliament, on DW TV (the German Cable TV station we get, here in Hong Kong).

It was very moving. Addresses by Merkel, by the President of Germany, violin performances, and to finish two speeches, one by Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust Survivor and head of a Jewish organisation, and the final one by Marina Weiband, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor.

Two dominant themes, ongoing since the end of the War: "Never Forget" and "Never Again".

The "Never Forget" part is what's going on in the Remembrance Day, and the fact that in Germany, it's remembered in the heart of the nation's democracy: the Bundestag. The "Never Again" part is more, as they say, "problematic". There's rising anti-semitism in Germany. This is widely known. As it is in the rest of Europe, especially France and Britain. 

Charlotte Knobloch said it came mostly from the "far-right" but also from "radical Islamic and extreme left" sources. She's right about that although violent anti-semitism, in Germany as in France and the UK, is predominantly Islamic -- 70% and above in each, according to police and NGO sources. 

The commentary after the Remembrance Service, on DW, with their various talking heads, was all about the need to fight the rise in far-right anti-semitism. Not even a passing reference, à la Knobloch, to Islamic and left-wing anti-semitism. 

One of the ways they end up with so much of anti-semitism being on the Right, is that they classify a lot of Islamic anti-semitism as being Right wing anti-Semitism. And it's true, if someone is a Hamas supporter, it's not much of a leap, as Hamas is pretty Hitler-focussed. They hate Jews as much - or more -- as he did, and they've adopted his very own salute. But the reason they hate jews, and want to kill them, is to do with their doctrinal beliefs, the fact that their prophet hated jews, than with any right wing ideology they happen to share with Adolf. (This is made clear in the Covenant of Hamas -- not just to obliterate Israel, but to kill all Jews in the world, wherever).

Coincidentally, I'm reading "Buried by the Times -- The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper", by Laurel Leff. 

The Times did this in a couple of ways:

1.  They buried stories about the slaughter of Jews in Europe -- well attested at the time, and what we now know as The Holocaust -- inside the paper. Not once from 1939 to 1944 did a story about Jewish genocide reach the front page or be the subject of an editorial. (P292).

2. Even when they ran stories about the atrocities, they usually failed to mention that it was Jews who were the majority, sometimes the only, victims. It was instead "500,000 persons” (p221), or “persecuted minorities” (p263), or “Hitler’s 16,000,000 homeless victims” (p264) or “civilians of many nationalities” (p294), or “pitiful specimens” (p296), or “persons …interned for political or ‘criminal offences’” (p301). [my emphasis].

The same is happening today. Germany, broadly defined as its government and media, is talking about anti-semitism, but without talking about its main cause -- Islamism. 

I don't know that if the New York Times had been more forward in talking about the Shoah, it would have reduced the slaughter. It was Hitler, after all, pretty focussed. 

But today, in Germany? Surely you can't stop the problem -- one which you've said can be "Never Again" -- if you don't focus on its main cause.  

One reference on the cause of anti-Semitism in Germany. Note that the AfD, often blamed in the media for growing anti-Semitism, has committed to funds and activities to fight anti-semitism in Germany.

Friday 22 January 2021

The tech supremacy: Silicon Valley can no longer conceal its power -- Niall Ferguson

 ‘To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,’ George Orwell famously observed. He was talking not about everyday life but about politics, where it is ‘quite easy for the part to be greater than the whole or for two objects to be in the same place simultaneously’. The examples he gave in his 1946 essay included the paradox that ‘for years before the war, nearly all enlightened people were in favour of standing up to Germany: the majority of them were also against having enough armaments to make such a stand effective’.

Last week provided a near-perfect analogy. For years before the 2020 election, nearly all American conservatives were in favour of standing up to big tech: the majority of them were also against changing the laws and regulations enough to make such a stand effective. The difference is that, unlike the German threat, which was geographically remote, the threat from Silicon Valley was literally in front of our noses, day and night: on our mobile phones, our tablets and our laptops.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Buying a birthday present for a 3 year-old grandson...

... when I'm in Hong Kong and he's in Brighton, England. (or, as recently, in Wales. Before latest lockdowns!  So all perfectly legal.... I assume...)

Stridin’ out in Wales
(cropped from the original below)
First I go to my default, which is Amazon. A quick word about my relationship with Amazon. It goes back to 1994, when I found it on my Mosaic browser (remember them?). I was blown away. Books on the internet! Wow! 
I told  friends about "this amazing bookshop, where you can buy books over the internet!" I don't think we even had the words “buying online". 

I ordered some books. Two days later they arrived. As promised. And I thought, wow, what neat and simple idea! What genius! Why I hadn't thought of it? And how did the nerd Jeff Bezos come up with this killer idea? 

Still, I was an early adopter. I used Amazon to buy heaps of books and now to buy just about everything. In the 26 years since it opened, Amazon, for me, has done nothing but deliver, on time and on budget. I have never had a bad experience with Amazon. Not a single one.

During the pandemic, they've been delivering more than ever... And, again, not just for me. For the world. 

We bought Amazon stock some years back. It's also delivered. [I know, I do know, about employee dissatisfaction and a lot of bad stuff about the company; not to mention the most recent exercises of brute, in-Cloud, power). 

So, to Amazon. And of course all the toys and games for 3 y-o are what you'd expect, pretty much in the Fire engine and police-car category.

Then... bling! I thought, why not buy something from an enviro company?  A fair trade company. An ethical company. An eco-friendly company. I wanted one in the UK, googled and found which has a lot of funky, fun stuff. I ordered a bunch -- a gourd piggy-bank from Peru, an embroidered dog from Nepal, handpuppets from India, for grand-son -- as well as a coupla extra for his mum. Went to Check-out, only to find they don't deliver anywhere outside the US. The drop down menu gives no clue of this, as they it has every country in the world. I I don't get why, when they could just as easily ship o/s as in the US, by courier if not mail. But that was it. 

Try again, focus again on the UK, and get to, which I confirm is a UK site, but, oh my goodness, the offerings are soooooo booooring.  Bamboo toothbrushes or "ethical bathroom sets"!? Be still, my beating heart! Other sites were not much better. 

So, kind of reluctantly, but with a sense of having tried to do the right thing, with some relief, back to dependable Amazon, which delivers anywhere. Even England. Thanks Jeff!

The original that I cropped for above phote

It’s bad, but is it “genocide”?

Mike Pompeo, 24 hours before leaving office, says China is committing “ongoing” genocide against Uygurs in Xinjiang. Is it, though?


The United Nations Genocide Convention, which was established in 1948, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such" including the killing of its members, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately imposing living conditions that seek to "bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part", preventing births, or forcibly transferring children out of the group to another group. Victims have to be deliberately, not randomly, targeted because of their real or perceived membership of one of the four groups outlined in the above definition. [Link]

One thing to say is this: I don’t know what’s going on in Xinjiang. And neither do you, the reader. A,d neither does the writer at the Guardian, or the New York Times, or the BBC. None of us knows what’s going on. The boy people who do are those living there, those that have escaped from there and Chinese (ie Han) officials in charge of the province. The rest of us are onlookers and have to muster the best we can in limited info. 

On that, on the sat-photos, on the testimony of refugees, it seems pretty certain that there’s severe repression going on in Xinjiang. That native Uygurs, especially the majority Muslims, are being targeted for systemic repression. A “justification” is because the Han Chinese want to squash terrorism. There’s the East Turkmenistan Liberation Front, claiming Xinjiang. It’s not a fantasy and it’s genuinely dangerous. China is not the only nation to use some pretty severe methods to subdue Islamic terrorism. 

But still. Is it “genocide”? The “-cide” bit of “genocide” is critical here. It means “killing of”. As in “homicide”, “suicide”, “regicide” and “fratricide”. In all cases it means the killing of. Not the mistreatment of or the repression of. The killing of.

Two things against that: One, the UN Genocide Convention definition is rather more broad than simply “killing” of a whole people. So, China sterilising Uighur women would come under it. Thoug, again, China did this widely during the One Child Policy era, against their own people, the Han, and no one considered that genocide (indeed, ironically, there were exceptions to the One Child Policy. For ethnic minorities, including Uygurs, who were able to have as many children as they wished).

Two: the word itself — “genocide” — is weaponised, just as is “racism”. It’s a very effective spear. Mist look show many people are now talking about it, vs saying that there’s “repression” or Labour camps in Xinjiang.  That one word has power in itself. Of course it’s a power that may wane with overuse, just as that’s happened with “racism”.

End of the day, I’d much rather we were careful and accurate in our use of words as powerful and emotional as “genocide”. What’s going in in Xinjiang is surely pretty bad. I’m just not convinced it’s “genocide”. 

ADDED: the very fact that Beijing won’t allow investigations into Xinjiang says a lot. 

Also: I’ve been posting against the treatment of Uygurs for a couple of years: click the Uygur Label to see.  So it’s not like I’m an apologist for Beijing. Not on this issue, anyway…

Rise of the Coronavirus Cranks – Quillette

I am no lockdown junkie. I'd like to get that straight before I explain why the most extreme variant of lockdown scepticism is rebarbative and destructive. I will never forgive the government for dragging out the first lockdown for 14 weeks, pointlessly exhausting the public's patience and sowing the seeds of the non-compliance we see today. I think the second lockdown was an unnecessary overreaction to a surge in cases in the north-west that was being dealt with by local restrictions. I think the 10pm curfew was counter-productive and the tier system was clumsy and unfair.

I always thought "circuit breakers" caused unnecessary hardship and had no chance of nipping the problem in the bud, as their advocates claimed. It was criminal to not reopen the schools in June and I'm not entirely convinced they should be closed now. I scorn the likes of Piers Morgan and "Independent" SAGE who would have had us in lockdown all year if they'd had a chance. No amount of comparing Sweden to its immediate neighbourswill persuade me that the Swedes didn't have a better 2020 than most Europeans. Contrary to folk wisdom, you can put a price on life and it can't be denied that most of the people who die of COVID have had a good innings.

Good summary of the views in lockdown. I've been a bit of a sceptic myself from early in, but not a "lockdown crank". Admitted a few weeks ago I'd got the trend wrong — expecting that it might be the same as SARS. So, no, I don't think the virus is a hoax and I don't doubt that lockdowns have some effect. It's that there seems to be no correlation between strictness of lockdown and rate of infections. Less stringent lockdowns, more smartly targeted, can have the same or nearly so, effects, without strangling economies. 

Thursday 14 January 2021

Meanwhile on the water: the Vendée Globe:


Click the screen-shot to go to the race tracker
As the world goes crazy, the competitors in the Vendée Globe, single-handed, non-stop, unassisted race around the world, get on with it, now the leaders racing up the east coast of South America. Incredibly, having already sailed over 20,000 nautical miles, more than half way around the world, the top five six are within a hundred miles of each other!

Race lead has just changed three times in the last few days. 

To see the race tracker go here.

Moral Equivalence: Islam is the best...

From here, inspired by this picture:

And, as always, remember that the cartoon is not bigoted....

Remember: It’s perfectly safe to like this cartoon — it’s not bigoted! The likes of Chicago prof Jerry Coyne writes the foreword to a collection of the strips. Click on the “Jesus & Mo” label below to see my selection over the years, or go straight to the source. The writer of the strip has only ever been known as “Author”, a wise precaution given the anti-cartoon murders in France and Austria.

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Manufactured Amnesia: “The World Turned Upside Down” by Yang Jisheng

A “struggle session” against rival factions, Beijing, 1965
I’ve seen amnesia created, with my own eyes. No one in China under age 40 knows what happened In Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989. No one over forty who was in Beijing will choose to remember it. No one of any age outside of Beijing will even know about it.  Pretty much the same with the Gang of Four, who I actually studied, in Chinese, back in 1976, just after they’d been arrested. Nowadays nothing, because to remember them, even as the villains they were, raises uncomfortable questions account the complicity of the communist party. 

So, a manufactured national amnesia. Including the big one, the Great Leap Forward, instigated by Mao Tse-tung, which killed fifty million. Forgotten. Even as we, outside, might recall that that’s ten times the number of Jews Hitler killed. 

Xi Jinping is no fan of the Cultural Revolution. His father Xi Zhongxun, was purged by Mao and Jinping exiled to the countryside as a teenager. But he styles himself after Mao, nonetheless, as dictators emulate dictators. It’s the thing. And Xi, son, keeps on ramming those uncomfortable historical happenings down the Great Memory Hole of China.

Brave historians like Yang Jisheng, keep up the struggle to remember. The Atlantic’s latest edition has a book review of some of these, “China’s Rebel Historians”.

The article has links to photos of Tiananmen Square, then and now. Each year it’s been remembered here in Hong Kong. But I wonder if it will be so this year. Or will it be classified as subversion under the new NSL, and banned? I fear the latter. And the process of forgetting the past will go in here as well, part of the sinicisation of Hong Kong. 


In china, history long occupied a quasi-religious status. During imperial times, dating back thousands of years and enduring until the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911, historians’ dedication to recording the truth was viewed as a check against wrongdoing by the emperor. Rulers, though forbidden from interfering, of course tried.

So have their successors. Among the most intent on harnessing history for political gain are the current leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. They routinely scrub Chinese-language scholarly books, journals, and textbooks of anything that might undermine their own legitimacy—including anything that tarnishes Mao Zedong, the founding father of the party. The effort, no small task, has not gone unchallenged. A web of amateur historians has been collecting documents and eyewitness testimony from the seven decades that have elapsed since the establishment of modern China in 1949. Guo Jian, an English professor at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater who has translated some of their findings, describes the tenacious researchers as “the inheritors of China’s great legacy,” dedicated to “preserving memory against repression and amnesia.’’. [Read on…]

Tuesday 12 January 2021

Birthday cake at Moofish

‘Mass arrests point to Hong Kong’s quickening transition to a second-tier Chinese city’

I've read Peter Kammerer for many years. He's a decent journalist, honest and not afraid to admit mistakes, in print, as he's done several times.
I'm afraid he's right in the article here.
Forty years ago, when I worked in the Australian Office of National Assessments, we wrote an assessment of Hong Kong subsequent to Maggie Thatcher's deal on HK with Deng Xiaoping. We thought that Chinese officials might well screw up Hong Kong, but more by miscalculation than intent.
That seems to be what's going on. They may genuinely believe that the National Security Law is good for Hong Kong. It is, in suppressing violence; but there's too much collateral damage. Arresting pan-Dems for example.
I've always said that what would do it for me is outright censorship of things like this blog, Facebook (even though I don't use it), Twitter (even though I don't use it, the panoply of media to keep in touch with the world, I'd that's gone then so am I.
Kammerer ends up ends up with the same concern.
> "The death knell will be sounded if any attempt is made to shut out or censor internet giants like Google, Facebook and YouTube"

On a slightly more positive note, to counter Kammerer's point about companies leaving Hong Kong, there's the fact that many foreign companies are in China itself. And there's a natural floor to real estate prices in Hong Kong: that is prices in China mainland, which in main cities are. Ow similar to Hong Kong.
Still… looking on with concern…

Sent from my iPad

Chilly Hong Kong


Basil gets my old shirt
… for us, at least, it’s pretty chilly. 7 degrees this morning, again. 

Getting Covid wrong

From my spreadsheet kept since the outset
I’ve got lots of things wrong about Covid. A year ago we thought it would be something like SARS in 2002, which we’d also experienced. Wrong. Then it might have been over when the curve flattened, above. Wrong again. And now a new strain. I’m making no more assumptions. I don’t know where it’s headed. Wouldn’t even be surprised if the vaccines don’t turn out quite the Covid killers were all hoping for.

China aside,  OST countries, handling the virus in their own ways, are making mistakes too.

Monday 11 January 2021

“Valley of Tears”

A great new series on HBO — The Valley of Tears. An Israeli-made story of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, told from the perspective of three families and their sons and daughters at the front.

Jing and I visited old friends living in Tel Aviv, and went up to the Golan Heights. You see very quickly how Israel cannot give them back to Syria, no matter the rights and wrongs of their current occupation. Syria has been a perennnial enemy. If they owned the Angolan Heights they would use them to fire down on the Sea of Galilee and the heart of Israel. It would not be long for the Palestinian cause to become reality — “Palestine free from the River to the Sea”. 

Jing at the Golan Heights, 2015

These are tanks on the Golan Heights, right by the border with Syria, actual ones used in the Yom Kippur war. They were used in “The Valley of Tears” series, as-is, just with new engines. And there was an actual battle of the Valley of Tears.

I had thought that our friends living in Israel had mentioned the series to us a lomg while ago, bit it was only released in November 2020.

Critics of Israel will hammer the series no doubt: one sided and demonised the Syrians. To which, sure; let’s see the same done by Egyptians or Syrians. Meantime, “Valley of Tears “ Is gripping drama, beautifully done.. More about the effect of war on individuals than the grand political picture. A fine series.

Sunday 10 January 2021

A love-hate story… still. Jason Wordie on the perennial perplexity

Click to enlarge and read
When I first went to China in the seventies, to study Chinese, students who had lived there for a while already, told me that I would come to love China and to hate it. 

They were right. That’s how I ended up relating to China. Loving so much of its history, arts and culture, loving so many of its people, some very closely… and hating so much of it, its capricious apparatchiks, its indifference to basic rights, and the whole dreary panoply we read about daily to this day.

Fun to read a well-written short piece by Jason Wordie about how this has ever been so. Above.

[Ive done a photo of the page because I can’t find a link at the site]

Saturday 9 January 2021

Me Self Reliance


Watching Shawn James of “My Self Reliance” interviewed at his cabin in Ontario, this Fall. It gets to minus 40C and here am I shivering at 7 degrees this morning (minus 2.5C at Tai Mo Shan).

(I’m wearing socks and long pants, so it must be cold.…

Friday 8 January 2021

‘A brief history of luck'

And why some things get invented and some don't. 
My own example: the wheel was invented 5,500 years ago; it took us 5,480 years to figure out we could put them on suitcases. 
Or some crimes get discovered and some don't.  The Yorkshire Ripper, for eg:
New ideas are especially fragile because they usually take hold in one, often fairly random person who spots something tangential that nobody else thinks important.
DC Andy Laptew, the first person to put Peter Sutcliffe in the frame as the Yorkshire Ripper, was another case in point. His suspicions started with a chance observation. He and his partner always told the same ice–breaking joke when interviewing a couple: 'Now's the chance to get rid of your husband.' His visit to Sutcliffe was the first time no one laughed or reacted. He then noticed Sutcliffe had a gap in his teeth matching dental evidence from the crimes.

Thursday 7 January 2021

What does the US have to gain from new cold war with China?


Jing in the Opinion pages of today’s South China Morning Post.


Instead of starting another cold war or falling into a Thucydides Trap,
the US – and China – should rise above
the kind of great power rivalry that has led to bloodshed
in the past and address the perilous state of global affairs
There is a consensus that Washington has woken up to the Chinese threat, and that a new cold war is inevitable – if, in fact, it has not yet begun.
Regardless of the different paths that the United States and China have taken, John Mearsheimer projected that China’s journey to modernisation would mimic America’s march to hegemony. In his theory of offensive realism, the international system is anarchic and states are driven to seek world domination. Graham Allison has also warned of a
Thucydides Trap, in which the great power rivalry inevitably ends in bloodshed.

* Jing Lee is a Hong Kong-based investment banker and lawyer. She has held senior management positions with various global financial groups, and has over 30 years’ experience of financial-market-related matters in the Asia-Pacific region.

Watching Wood

Click to go to video. 2+ hours. No commentary 

These days I prefer to watch wood being turned into stuff. (Rather than politics stuffing stuff).

Like the one above, by a young Swedish man, Erik Grinkvist. He built his own log cabin, by hand, using only hand tools. Carefully choosing only older spruce trees, planting saplings to replace those he took, using only hand saws and axes and hatchets and adzes and augurs and chisels and log gouges and spokeshaves… hauling logs by hand… well, look at the video. It’s moving, what this determined young man does. And relaxing, too.

Other wood stuff I like looking at: making fine furniture from scrap wood, like old pallets, making guitars (I’ve made three and a mandolin), wood splitters, turning logs into lumber, building wooden houses and barns.

I got led to a tour of Richard Proenneke’s log cabin in Alaska. He was a famous naturalist…unknown to me until my wood-wind tour. This is a good one.

53 Arrested for ‘Subversion’

Today’s front page

It looks scary, and it is. Brings to my mind the “first they came for the …” poem. Sure, I don’t care much for  OST of those arrested, but you don’t arrest people because you don’t like them. Or because they had the gall to hold primaries for democratic elections…

What led to these arrests? Does Carrie Lam, our supposed Chief Executive, care nothing for Hong Kong? It seems not. Hong Kong is sitting on a powder keg (spot-on letter)

I’ve not been a big fan of Michael Chugani over the years, feeling he’s a bit of a catastrophist, but he’s spot-on that it’s a gloomy start to the year for us here in Hong Kong 

Wednesday 6 January 2021

Hong Kong national security law: former opposition lawmakers, activists arrested in mass raid were plotting ‘overthrow’ of government, security minister says

Beijing: hammering and scything Hong Kong
Oh dear… this really is in the category of "not-at-all-good-for-Hong-Kong".
A hammer blow. Brought down by Beijing.
Not at all good for our Freedoms.
And the comments are running hot. 

Xena wins division in 2020 Around the Island Race, 2020


200 boats at the start
More photos and results here. 

Xena, the boat we bought new in 2008, raced and cruised for ten years, before selling her in August 2018, to Mark Nie and his wife Zhang Hoahan, has now won her division in the last couple of regattas she's entered. 

[This is not in the category of "breaking news"...]

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Central Park, Hong Kong


Click to enlarge. Dome at left: the International School 
Terracotta roof is Siena Club. Right: Amalfi apartments
Yes, Central Park … Hong Kong, and just to add to the cultural appropriation, it’s in Siena, a suburb of our Discovery Bay, where we live and back onto said Central Park. 

This photo is taken in my daily bicycle ride, from the promenade, where we see people, kids, dogs, doing what Italians do — una passegiata. A bit of an amble. Though many are exercising, not ambling. Shadow boxing. Footballing. Tai chi-ing. Aerobic weightlifting. 

Football in the park

Picnic on the beach. Sam Pak Wan (三白湾).”Third White Sand”

What do you call this? “Aerobic weightlifting”?

How are we doing, here in Hong Kong?


Private beaches like this one, next to us, are open
Public beaches are closed

So, how are we doing? Short answer is: “fine”.

Covid-wise, today government announced social curbs likely to stay at  least until Chinese New Year. Some of these restrictions make sense, maybe. Some don’t: like playgrounds, tennis courts, football fields, public beaches, all closed, while the virus is an indoor-caught disease. So says the science, we are supposed to be following. It is not an outdoor virus. Gyms are still closed, which is angst for many. Restaurants have to be take away only after six pm, but ones I’ve spoken to recently say they’re doing okay. Others point to inconsistency.

Politics-wise: the question is all about China and its increased interference in Hong Kong. Which is certainly happening. To no surprise to many of us. And I’ve posted a lot about it. That said, it’s not like the fear-mongers say. It’s not tanks in the streets; it’s not Beijing’s boot on our necks. Podcasters in the west — ones I admire — often speak straight-out nonsense about Hong Kong. They paint grim pictures I don’t recognise. 

We still have our Seven Freedoms. Thanks to the National Security Law (NSL), you can for “Indeoemdemce for Hong Kong” or for the downfall of the communist party. I’ve always thought calling for indeoemdemce was futile and dangerous, and so it’s proved to be. Like it or not, Hong Kong is a part of China and that’s that. It’s accepted by every member of the United Nations. The communist party, especially Xi Jinping, I have no time for. And I’ve said so for years — just click in the labels below for proof. Bit calling for its downfall is a freedom I can do without, even if many may not. And so decry our lack of democracy. 

And again: China has serious human rights issues: treatment of Uygurs, censorship, jailing critics, and the rest of the dreary litany that flies with being a Leninist dictatorship. Bit we here have, still, our Seven Freedoms, namely: 

  1. Freedom of Conscience
  2. Freedom of Assembly
  3. Freedom of Movement
  4. Freedom of Press
  5. Freedom of Expression
  6. Freedom of Religion
  7. Freedom of Capital

And freedom is something. It’s a lot, actually. 

ADDED: TBF, none above has improved, most are sideways at best. Freedom of Assembly is impacted by Covid measures, used, unsurprisingly, to stop incipient demos that might turn violent. Other countries have done the same — France using Covid restrictions to dampen gilet jaunes demos. Freedom of the Press remains but is chilled, no doubt, especially the combative Chinese language press. SCMP, Asia’s best English language paper, remains robust, but one wonders why its ultimate owner, Jack Ma, has not been seen in public for two months…

Monday 4 January 2021

Covid treatments -- Heather and Bret Weinstein on Ivermectin

Dark Horse #61. Click screenshot to go to video
I’m just bookmarking this for now. Bret and Heather in their Dark Horse podcast. My interest starting at 1:03:00. 
About an existing drug — ivermectin— that could help prevent or reduce Covid-19.
There’s more to it. Including AP fact-checking claims that this is “False”.
I want to get to this a bit later when I’ve returned from the seaside here in Hong Kong. 

ADDED (5 January):  turns out it’s very interesting! 
First, a link at the show notes at the above podcast, Dark Horse, by two folks I highly respect, Heather and Bret Weinstein. Takes me to an article on use of preexisting generics for treatment of Covid: “In far-flung places Covid is being treated early and well”.
Reading that article critically, I thought I’d better go to the fact-checking site which says it’s all nonsense. Here is the AP fact-checker, “No evidence ivermectin is a miracle drug against Covid-19”. The money shot:
CLAIM: The antiparasitic drug ivermectin “has a miraculous effectiveness that obliterates” the transmission of COVID-19 and will prevent people from getting sick.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There’s no evidence ivermectin has been proven a safe or effective treatment against COVID-19.

THE FACTS: During a Senate hearing Tuesday, a group of doctors touted alternative COVID-19 treatments, including ivermectin and the anti-malaria medication hydroxychloroquine. Medical experts have cautioned against using either of those drugs to treat COVID-19. Studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine has no benefit against the coronavirus and can have serious side effects. No evidence has been shown to prove that ivermectin works against COVID-19. [my emphasis]
In turn, that led me to watch the actual evidence given to the Senate committee by said group of doctors, in this case represented by Dr Pierre Kory. 
Dr Kory is clearly impassioned, but he does not “tout” ivermectin. He specifically and clearly says that the group of doctors he represents — the FLCCC — wants the US department of Health to review the extensive data they have collected -- including repeatable, controlled tests done around the world, collected in meta-studies -- and to come to their own judgment as to its efficacy. Clearly these doctors believe the data are persuasive and hope the government will too.
They provide links to the data, all of which is open and transparent. 
So what are we to make of this? On the one hand a group of doctors with nearly 2,000 peer-reviewed articles and 100 man-years of clinical experience to their name. Or the AP fact checkers? Who are the AP fact-checkers, then? Answer: one Beatrice Dupuy. Ms Dupuy has 1,000-odd followers on Twitter. Before  heading up the AP’s fact-checking team on the internationally critical issue of what we know about Covid and its treatments, an area where expert epidemiologists and virologists labour to enlighten us, young Beatrice was a journalist at Young Vogue. 
Now, I don’t t know about you, but when I go looking for information on Covid treatments I’m going to go for the young fashion reporter over a professional group of intensive care doctors, any day....
ADDED (4 June 2021): Given the huge MSM fail on the lab-leak theory and Facebook's embarrassing climb down from its censorship of it, they can't afford to cancel this news on Ivermectin any more. And there's a new Bret talk with Dr Pierre Kory, on 2 June, here, on YouTube (which used to ban talk of it).

Sunday 3 January 2021

Crackdowns in Gaydu


Merch at The Hunk, Chengdu, China’s gay capital
There’s a crackdown on the gay scene in China. Courtesy Xi Jinping (aka “Winnie”). He who deemed Beijing’s innovative building scene“abnormal architecture”. He of the suppression, repression and depression in the last ten years.  Now having a go at China’s gay scene — historical, lively, raunchy... till now. Because China — that is Beijing, that is, Winnie — fears organised civil groups, usually markers of any healthy society. 

As I read the article, I recalled a night at a Taipei bar, back around 1994, with a gay colleague. An Aussie, then representing Australian business interests in Taiwan. He’d just come over from some years in Shanghai. He told me that he felt more at home as a gay guy in Shanghai where homosexuality was nominally illegal, than he had back in Australia where it was nominally legal. He’s been “poofter bashed” in Oz; never had any problems in China. He noted the long history of gay tolerance in China’s art and literature. 

Not so much now. Thanks to Winnie: 
President Xi Jinping has overseen a drive against anything considered antithetical to Communist Party values – leaving little room for gay pride. Beijing also frowns on large civil society mobilisations of any kind.

It’s Saturday night at the HUNK club in Chengdu and men in gold Lycra shorts and black boots dance on stage. They wear kimonos, in an apparent tactical compromise, with new morality codes creeping into China’s “gay capital”.

But across town, young women still lounge on leather sofas drinking beer at a lesbian club, while a nearby bar is hosting an LGBTQ board game night.

Far from the administrative glare of Beijing, the cosmopolitan southwestern city, dubbed “Gaydu” by Chinese millennials, has long cherished its reputation as a safe haven for a community that faces stigma and widespread harassment elsewhere in the country.

But activists now say the city’s permissive streak is under threat, as the central Communist leadership puts the squeeze on the few bastions of LGBT community across the country. Chengdu’s resilient LGBTQ community is not ready to be forced into the closet, however.…

…  The recipe for survival, Matthew says, is “making small progress” rather than big political and social statements that rattle China’s hypersensitive authorities. [PF: should have been the strategy of HK protesters…] …

… President Xi Jinping has overseen a drive against anything considered antithetical to Communist Party values – leaving little room for gay pride. Beijing also frowns on large civil society mobilisations of any kind. … 
… China’s rainbow community remains in the dark compared with many freer Asian countries. Gay bars refused on-the-record interviews and most interviewees declined to be identified.…
…”These past few years, mainstream ideology became more aggressive and the LGBT community has been more marginalised,” said Tang Yinghong, a professor who teaches sexual psychology.

Saturday 2 January 2021


Stars galore… and one voracious Black Hole: Beijing 
China has sullied every international deal it's joined. No matter the United Nations, the WTO, the WHO, WFP, in each and every one it has corrupted their norms and their accepted practices. Beijing joins clubs and then demands they change their rules to accommodate them. And if they don’t, they flout them anyway.

Expecting China to respect the rules laid out in this latest deal with the EU is a “triumph” of vain hope over bitter experience.  A snip from the online article, where the “50-cent army” is out in force. Banging on about “win-win”. Right. A win for Beijing and a win for China. China continues full access to the EU, which gains highly restrictive “access” to China’s market. And Europe expects China to abide by international labour laws…

... the EU deal requires Beijing to ratify four International Labour Organization conventions, which would entail abolishing forced labour. By March 2021, China is expected to accede to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This will be a tall order. More

Friday 1 January 2021

New Year Resolutions

Sara Seager talks to Lex. Click screenshot to go to video

Mine: listen -- carefully, intently, non-multi-tasking -- to more Lex Fridman podcasts. They’re with such a wide range of people, left, right, centre, independent thinkers, long form, sometimes long-long form, over three hours. They’re the opportunity, today that we never had before, to listen to top thinkers in the world, in their own words, in virtual real time, and all for free!

I particularly like his talks with people about life outside the earth, the likelihood of intelligent life in the universe, like that with Sara Seager, above.