Monday 31 January 2022
|Today’s SCMP front page|
|Madagascar Periwinkle, Club Siena and International School. Tiger Head Mtn.|
Wide angle looking West, Alto-cumulus clouds, ~5:30 pm
|The multi-faith chapel. Sideways Pano|
|East to Central, 0.5 wide angle. My nice ladies’ bike|
|East to Central, 8x zoom. Tall one: ICC Building, 108 storeys|
|Similar sky, 4 January 2022, looking West to Tiger Head|
Sunday 30 January 2022
|Cathay pilots leaving in droves|
Saturday 29 January 2022
The biggest reality show in the solar system: James Webb has arrived at L2!... and here’s what’s next
|Click above for vid. |
|Welcome to your |
Penny’s Bay Hong Kong
Why would anyone self-test when the punishment for positive is 21 days in the horrid Penny’s Bay for you and all those you were in close contact with? Why?
Thanks to SCMP here’s the text of Alex Lo’s piece:
Friday 28 January 2022
I guess because we’re entering our third year and I thought it would be over in one. I’d never imagined we’d still be under lockdown by now. I thought we’d be over it in 2020, in time for our Alaska trip.
I wasn’t so optimistic for nothing. We’d been through the SARS epidemic in 2003, as owners of a customer-facing business, going though the social distancing, hand sanitisers, masking, etc. We survived those testing times, but they were over in six months.
The new virus is also a SARS virus — SARS CoV-2 — so it wasn’t silly to think, or hope, or expect, or predict, or imagine, or pray, that it would be over in six months too. Which is why I kept a spreadsheet of cases: I’d done that for 2003 SARS and had predicted the last case in Hong Kong almost to the day.
Sadly, that wasn’t to be with SARS CoV-2.
Many other things I got wrong about this pandemic. I thought other countries would take the cue from China and take quick action. That didn’t happen. All countries, especially western, were slow to act.
I thought vaccines would be a lot longer coming. Based, by the way, on Bill Gates’ predictions. So it was great they came so quickly.
Then I assumed that everyone would welcome the vaccines and rush to get jabbed. For some yes, but for many no, to this day.
I thought when politicians said we must “follow the science” they would … well, follow the science. Yet they staunchly ignored key facts — the science — about this virus, and do so this day: mainly (1) that there is a steep age curve — it affects old people far more than young. And (2) that the vast majority severely affected have comorbidities. Failure to acknowledge these two key facts has warped public health measures around the world. And does so to this day.
I never imagined how tribal it would all become. Early on it was “we’re all in this together” but that spirit quickly evaporated. People quickly got back to calling each other names, but worse than ever, including “you have blood on your hands” if one had a different opinion. (I got accused of this, early on). I should have known; I’ve written often about how “One divides into two”, a kind of rule of life. (一分为二, Yi Fen Wei Er. A Hegelian dialectic much beloved by Mao).
I didn’t expect the world would adopt such very different approaches. Which is another reason for my current obsession. That here in Hong Kong we’re adopting a very different approach — Zero Covid — to the rest of the west. As it goes on, I’m now just recording, for posterity as it were. Not making any predictions. Except the ones that are safe to make because some countries (South Africa) have the experience before others (us here in Hong Kong). And Hong Kong, in headline news today, acts like it knows nothing of Omicron experience elsewhere. Like we’re in an information bubble, as well as various vaccine bubbles.
I never imagined our government would be so stupid as to give away $HK5,000 to every resident, withiout demanding they take the vaccine to qualify. That’s right! our government handed out $US 800 to every man,woman, and child in Hong Kong, gratis. Cash. Not a single syringe attached.... ADDED: The government is making the same mistake in 2022, with a no-strings-attached $HK10,000 giveaway. Go figure…)
Another thing: just as there are waves with the pandemic so there are waves in countries’ performance. Some have been heroes then zeros then heroes again. Germany was an early hero; became a zero and is now somewhere in between. We here in HK were early heroes, now just weirdos. China have been between heroes to less than zeros to weirdo to wicked, all in waves. Ditto UK, US. And Australia went from early heroes to deep authoritarian to somewhere rational now, with some state-based “zero-ism” verging in a kind of lunacy. Waves within waves. It’ll be fertile territory for study of mass … what? … psychosis?… well, mass something, no doubt the subject of many a future PhD thesis.
ADDED: I didn’t know or expect the “Long Covid” thing. TBF, no one did, early on. But it certainly is a thing and could go on impacting our societies for years, perhaps decades.
Thursday 27 January 2022
Hong Kong had a Covid choice, two years ago. Go with China or go with the rest of the world. If open to the world then China would be out of bounds and vice versa. It’s been vice versa but worse. By facing west (to China) we’re cut off from facing east (to the world) but still cut off from China. With maybe some hope of being allowed to be in a Bubble with China. Maybe. Sometime.
But still I understand the policy. Even if I don’t like it. If you think of the number of Hongkongers like us, that would love to travel internationally, we are way fewer than the number of Hongkongers with business and family on the mainland.
For Cathay this is just too bad. And maybe, some think, the government doesn’t care. Cathay being a “colonial holdover”.
I spoke to a Cathay pilot the other day. She’d flown to Taiwan and back in a day. Three days of testing prior to flight. Didn’t even get off the plane in Taipei. Not allowed to. Flies back to HK. Four hours of processing here in Hong Kong, with PCR tests, etc, for a process that used to take 5 minutes in those far off “normal” times. For her it is hugely stressful and getting so the game is not worth the candle.
All that said, it doesn’t mean Hong Kong has had it. More integrated with China but still with special characteristics: free trade, free capital markets, world internet access, freedom of conscience, rule of common law, all these freedoms remain. The challenge is to maintain them. By not challenging the tyrannical autocrat. Because the tyrant will react like tyrants react.
Wednesday 26 January 2022
“ If Hong Kong continues with its zero-Covid policy, it will become a shell of its former self” | Peter Kammerer
His final para sums it:
Hong Kong can continue on its present track battling a wave of disease that gets ever-higher. In the process, the city will become a shell of what it once was, with frustrated, disillusioned and mentally strained residents. Or, it can look forward to a future of being part of the wider world, able to interact, get talent, learn and prosper.
With thanks to SCMP, I post the whole article below:
Tuesday 25 January 2022
|Click to enlarge|
|Click to enlarge (highlighted para discussed below)|
“At this stage don’t fantasise about living with this virus, as the vaccines are not effective in tackling the mutated virus”.
Monday 24 January 2022
The call of the Koel is a sign of spring.
2020 it was 13 February. Super Bowl Sunday
2021 it was 1 February
And this year, yesterday, 23 January. ADDED: The last we heard Koel call was 5 July.
What’s going on? Just ever keener Koels? Or climate change? By 3 weeks in 2 years? Or is it Covid? The all-purpose excuse.
They might get a shock next week when temps are forecast to plunge
From my 2020 post:
An interview with an Israeli GP who has >2,000 patients, confirms the above. He reports a perpendicular spike in the number of cases, but most are mild to asymptomatic (some not, to be sure, and some symptoms he describes as “scary”). All children’s cases he’s had are mild to asymptomatic. Israel is one of the earliest and most vaxxed places in the world, yet cases have skyrocketed. And are now plunging, like all the others.
Even the super-cautious WHO is recommending opening borders and easing restrictions. While we in Hong Kong actually ban flights from 8 countries including Australia.
So what’s with us here in HK and the “Fifth wave raging for months”? Why can’t we have a spike and a plunge over a month? It’s because of our Zero Covid policy. It’s just constant whack-a-mole. Constant locking down, constant testing and tracing, constant social distancing, constant masking, constant quarantining, constant keeping borders shut. And we know the vaccines won’t be “the way out”, because even high vaccine rates don't stop infection spread, witness UK, Israel. So even with a vaccine rate of 90% it’s going to be the rinse repeat of all the above. If we continue with ZCP. Honestly, one despairs.
*I put “experts” in scare quotes coz they seem more in lockstep with a political agenda than the science. They appear oblivious to the experience in the rest of the world, so how “expert” does that make them?
Sunday 23 January 2022
figures quoted in the presser, something they did NOT highlight, namely age of deaths:
- 70+ yo = 72% of the deaths
- 60+ yo = 88% of the deaths
- 30- yo = 2% of the deaths.
- None of the under 30 had zero comorbidity.
And now we have it. This is not good.
Ta Kung Pao is now owned by the Liaison Office in Hong Kong, innocent-sounding name for the reps of China Communist Party. So it’s the voice of Beijing. No choice on the way we handle Covid. It’s Beijing’s. A skewering on One Country Two Systems.
I used to read and translate articles in the Ta Kung Pao back in the 70s, as part of Chinese language study. It was not then openly owned by Beijing but known to “reflect” China’s views and worth reading for that reason alone.
Saturday 22 January 2022
Got around to discussing tests. All had RAT kits at home. All said “don’t use them!”. IOW, we have educated middle class folks, all saying “don’t test”.
If the result of a positive test were that you stayed at home for five days, people would test. If the result of a positive test is your whole apartment block locked down and you sent to Penny’s Bay Quarantine facility, well, who’s going to test?
And: Omicron peaked in all places it started >4 week ago. Australia is a strange case with eastern states over the hump, but WA still locked down. What happens when they open the borders?
All in the vid, with links given.
Friday 21 January 2022
$US2 Billion ($A3 Billion) is quite a bit to invest, isn’t it? I mean, anywhere, right?
Thursday 20 January 2022
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor recently asked, ‘Don’t we all want to see over 90 per cent of people getting vaccinated, which would help resume normal life, and create better conditions for reopening borders in the future.’
The bit circled: if you test positive, you and all your classmates and the teacher, or you and all your work colleagues, or you and all the other residents in your apartment block, all of you. will be sent off to quarantine in the Penny’s Bay facility. And it ain’t nice. So you gotta ask yourself what’s the incentive to self-test? I’ve got RAT kits, have tested once, negative. But I’m not going to again, unless forced to. Why would I? Why would anyone? If you’re triple-vaxxxed, Omicron is a minor threat to you and you are not a threat to others. (Testing would be done more readily if you were told to isolate at home if positive, instead of being immediately quarantined at Penny’s Bay).
I note the “Delta threat” in the headline. Whereas in other places Omicron is displacing Delta. Here it’s not being displaced coz Zero Covid policy. Meanwhile in other places, like US, UK, Omicron has spikd and case numbers are plunging. The figures at Our World in Data show hospitalisation and death rates at 10-20% what they were in the first Alpha and Delta waves. Australia is apparently stretched, bed-wise, but it’s a policy issue, mass testing, with positive RATs made to stay at home. Whereas the policy might be that the asymptomatic positives could be helping out in Covid wards.
Bottom headline, above: Cathay Pacific are being pummelled again. Made the scapegoat of the government’s ruinous policies. Pilots I speak to here in HK say they feel like the government is trying to shut it down. Even though 20% or so is owned by China Southern airways. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just collateral damage. Whatever, they’re currently losing billions a month. How long can that go on for? Our favourite-est airline, may sink, courtesy toughest quarantine in the world.
Wednesday 19 January 2022
From tuition ban to Evergrande collapse, is China tripping over its chase for ‘common prosperity’? | SCMP
I’ve covered this a few times because it’s more than an anti-vax tennis champ being kicked out of Australia. It’s a story of deception, hubris, politics, schadenfreude.
One deception is of all the stories out there that Djokovic tried to enter Australia on false grounds, either without a visa, or that he lied in his visa application. Neither is true. And is in any case irrelevant to the ultimate reason the government gave for deporting him.
Djokovic had a visa issued by the Australian government after he was granted an exemption from vaccine -- by two Australian Medical Boards, as prescribed in the laws of our country -- because he had had Covid within the prescribed time, and so had natural immunity.
And the alleged lie, disputed by Djokovic, is in any case irrelevant. Indeed the Australian government acknowledged this in its deportation statement. It conceded that Djokovic both (1) “poses no threat to the Australian community” and (2) That he “has a valid visa issued by the Australian government”. So, in sum and to repeat: valid visa and no threat. But heaps of tweets and stories out there ignore or deny this. They are deceptive.
The other deception is the Australian government. They gave him a visa. Then kicked him out. Basis bogus reasoning, the hubris of “the law is the law” until “the law isn’t the law, coz we don’t like it”. Basis deceit, basic hubris and basic schadenfreude from those who want Djoko to suffer just as much as the rest of Australians have done, by blaming him, and not the government that led them to that suffering. Shame on ScoMo. Shame on the media who praise this authoritarian and deceptive ploy. Shame.
Greenwald is a left-wing human rights lawyer who broke the Edward Snowden papers. His voice takes a bit of getting used to. Over time I’ve come to appreciate his integrity. He hews to the truth as closest he can get to it. His intro to the vid above:
Note that the Australian government, in deporting Djokovic, did not contend that he posed a threat to the public health due to a risk of transmitting COVID. The opposite is true: the government acknowledged that he qualified for a legal exemption from the vaccine requirement to enter the country given that he just contracted COVID as reflected by a December 16 positive test, followed by a negative test on December 22, and therefore has high levels of natural immunity. That is why he received a legal visa to enter Australia despite being unvaccinated. The proffered justification from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who cancelled his visa and ordered him deported, was that Djokovic’s statements in April, 2020 implied that he was skeptical of vaccines, and the presence of someone in Australia who is viewed as an “icon” of personal choice would foster social disruption and “excite” anti-vaccine sentiments.
In other words, the principle just embraced by the Australian government and upheld by its judicial system (whose hands were largely tied due to the virtually absolute power vested in the government) is that anyone who has ever expressed any skepticism over vaccines in general, or the COVID vaccine in particular, can and should be denied entrance to the country and be prevented from pursuing their livelihood — even though the government admits they pose no threat to the public health by transmitting the virus to others. Immigration lawyers and civil liberties activists in the country are warning of the grave dangers posed to everyone from this precedent
Tuesday 18 January 2022
Paul C.W. Chan dumps on Novak, Boris and Carrie. I’m on side with criticism of Boris and the HK pollies. Blatant hypocrisy. But the Djokovic case is misrepresented.
Phil C.W. Chan: The Australian government conceded Djokovic was "no risk" to the Austrlaian population and that he had a "valid visa" issued by itself, the government. They specifically conceded that. The reason they gave for deporting him was they didn't like one mildly questioning tweet from April 2020, pre-vaccines and said he had "an open mind". He is no anti-vax activist.
Australian immigration lawyers and Human Rights activists have voiced serious concern about the "chilling effect" of a government deporting people whose views hey may not like. I'm triple Vaxxxed, Australian, but appalled and ashamed of our government's capricious politically-driven actions. And shame on you, Chan, for egregiously misrepresenting that issue. (On Boris, btw, I agree…). 5m ago • Edited
Monday 17 January 2022
Shellenberger's "San Fran-sicko" is on my table, ready to be read.
They’re looking forward to coming back to Hong Kong. Where they can be told what to do.
Meantime in Hong Kong, will vaccinating 5-yo be a “path out of the pandemic”: No it won’t. Because we’ve heard that numerous times before and the goal posts have been shifted again and again. Not to mention: why vaccinate 5 yo?
ADDED: Comments at the site are splitting 50/50 pro and con. The most popular at time of writing (17/1) is:
Sunday 16 January 2022
Has the Left finally woken up to the devastating costs of implementing lockdowns? In its first edition of 2022, the Observer carried a surprisingly balanced interview with Professor Mark Woolhouse, a member of Sage whose new book — The Year the World Went Mad — argues that long lockdowns promoted more harm than good and failed to protect the vulnerable. Its favourable reception appears to herald a new direction in the critique of Covid measures and policies on the Left; for the first time, the question of what really represented the collective good in the Covid debate has been put on the table by a mainstream left-liberal publication. More… [Web Archive]
Saturday 15 January 2022
As Chinese youth have become more pro their government and policies, so the West views of China have become more negative. Yet the Chinese youth believe the opposite: that the West has a positive view of China. Not so.
Both trends — Chinese yoof despising the West and the West hating on China — are pretty dangerous. Not just for the future, but, like, now. Xi Jinping’s government has fanned the anti-west feelings and is now incentivised to play to it, a nasty vicious circle. While what Trump started four years ago, seems to be working for Biden, Blinken & co.