Wednesday 31 August 2022

Deng Xiaoping’s Camphor-wood tree, Xiamen, 24 June 2014

Camphor-wood tree in Xiamen park with inscription
(Random photo thrown up daily by Google)
A lovely park. This was my 2014 trip to Xiamen just to look around for a weekend. As one used to, pre Covid. Just hop on a plane or bullet train and you’re there. 

The inscription says

“Comrade Deng Xiaoping planted this Camphor-wood tree on 10 February 1984”

I imagine the diminutive Deng back then, in 1984, just shy of his 80th birthday, clutching a silver-plated spade, earnestly tossing a few spadefuls of dirt on the camphor sapling, perhaps then as bedraggled as this tree seems now, thirty years later. For he was never a fussy dresser, Deng, and neither, now, is this tree, naked, as those around are well-clothed in leaves. They can live to 1,000 years, these camphors, but will this one? If it sickens and dies, will they surreptitiously replace it, in the dead of night, with another of the same size? They could do that, in China. But it depends on what they think of Deng at the time. For now, he’s fine, though nowhere near as venerated as that wily and murderous reprobate Mao. And the tree? Who knows and I’ll likely never.

BTW : Camphor-wood tree, aka Camphor tree, aka Camphor Laurel, Cinnamomum camphora.

Talking of camphor-wood, below is a carved camphor-wood chest that my parents bought in Tokyo in 1948. Last I saw it, it was filled with hand-brushed Japanese Kanji characters on flash cards, teaching aids for my father who had been an interpreter on Japanese for the Australian Army intelligence fighting Japanese troops on the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea. 

By 1946 he was posted to the Australian embassy, Tokyo, where he met our mother who was with the New Zealand legation to the War Crimes Tribunal. The cards were to help him improve his already interpreter-level Japanese. Alas, they are now lost.

Massive youth unemployment in China

Click above to enlarge. Online version here
Youth unemployment 20%. Coz Covid. Specifically, coz Zero Covid policy. Pre-Covid was minimal. ADDED: Zero Covid takes big toll on youth mental health.

Today authorities have once again completely locked down Shenzhen, which is our next door neighbour right across the border. Restaurants, subways, schools, factories, markets, all closed. Coz of some sub variants of  Omicron. Believing that doing anything other than draconian measures is to ‘lie flat”, a big no-no, and criticising the west for “lying flat”. Not acknowledging that the incoming tide can’t be stopped. And crushing the hopes of youth.

Qian Lan, a recent grad:

“My three years in college was shadowed by Covid. And Covid destroyed my job” *

The above is a frank report that would not be allowed on the mainland. Where I’m reading elsewhere that anything to do with environmentalism and climate policy is banned.  

* TBF, there are many in the west and elsewhere in Asia who could say the same thing. Though I did see some figures recently that youth unemployment was higher in China than elsewhere. 

ADDED: This is a real horror story. Step by step. What happens when you go to Covid-obsessed China. Read it and weep. Or read it and be thankful you don’t have to go to China! and you live somewhere sane!

Tuesday 30 August 2022

“Why feel ‘glad’ over mediocre Covid outcome?” | My letter published


Click to enlarge and clarify

Whistling in the wind?  My letter published, here and above.

Our Chief Exec. John Lee, has been trying to balance opening the border with China and opening the international border. The former can’t be done now. We have to admit that. Back in 2021 we had many months of zero Covid cases and still Beijing, or the local Guangdong authorities, wouldn’t open. So let’s do what we can. Open to the rest of the world.

Elsewhere in the paper today David Dodwell points out the self-harm we’ve inflicted.  Figures are truly startling: half a million passengers in the first five months of this year vs 32 million in the same period of 2019. 2022 barely 1.5% of 2019, which was  normal then. That’s just not sustainable for a so-called international city. Our previous motto “Asia’s World City” is just a joke now. 

The Chongqing Trinity

Top to bottom: forest fires; power cuts; PCR testing
This was a few days ago in Chongqing, central Sichuan province, central China, a city of over 30 million. Temps in the mid 40s. Waters in the Yangtze are at the lowest levels in a century. Hence the power cuts. 

Says Manya Koetse:

Chongqing is dealing with a lot: the wildfires are burning, the power cuts are leaving parts of the city in the dark, meanwhile the Covid tests are ongoing. (Image on Weibo, it says: mountain fire - power restrictions - nucleic acid)

Monday 29 August 2022

“ How Hong Kong can roll back Covid-19 restrictions to save the economy”

Click above for the article 
Mike Rowse speaks sense:
In the 11th century, the story goes, King Canute of England, Denmark and Norway took his courtiers to the beach to show them the tide could not be stopped from coming in. The lesson is that the inevitable will happen and the best any leader can do is manage the consequences.

That lesson applies directly to the Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong. We know the latest variants are extremely contagious and cannot be stopped from spreading in the community. We also know they are much less virulent, and vaccines provide a very high level of protection.

Given the devastating consequences of our Covid-19 policies on the economy, we urgently need a change of mindset to save our city and economy.

Every week, more international businesses trim back their Hong Kong operations or relocate. Every week, more long-standing Hong Kong residents, both local and expatriate, sadly pack up and leave.

Plenty of support for Mike in the comments. We don’t hold our breath for these logical changes. Our government was pusillanimous well before Beijing put its foot down (June 2020) and now our government, when told by Beijing to kowtow, simply asks “how low must my head go, dear leader?”

My own comment at the site:

Peter F.

Well said, Mike! Though — wishful thinking… — I’d like the relaxation even quicker.
MASKS: Has anyone noticed this? HK full indoor/outdoor mask mandate was implemented 
19 January. The peak of infections (world highest!) was 3 March, over six weeks (44 days) later! 
Given Covid incubation period is 3-7 days, that doesn't make sense. Unless … ? Unless … could it be? Unless masks don't really do much.
Fact is: Masks both (1) *work* and (2) *don't* work. They (1) work when tested in the laboratory. They (2) don't work -- or at least not so well - in real life. There are plenty of data to show this, eg. State by state comparisons and county by county comparisons of those with and without mask mandates. [in US] LINK

A world divided

The world divides into two: those who divide the world into two and those that don’t. 

I frost heard “One divides into two” in China 1976, when I was told it was a phrase of Mao Tse-tung. Yi Fen Wei Er, 一分为二.  Turns out it goes back to Hegelian dialectics, but we'll leave that lie there for now.

I was taken by the phrase thinking it showed Mao’s profundity. That was before I knew more of the old reprobate, paedophile, dictator, mass murderer. His “one divides into two” was not more profound that declaring his tribe and the rest, enemies of the people, anti-revolutionaries.

Still, it is rhe way of the world, isn’t it. As long as we’re not to Manichaean about it, too “good and baddie” too “black and whitey”. 

Over the years I’ve divided the world variously into “builders and destroyers”, or “be,ievers and infidels” or “west and east” or “anglosphere and the polyglots” or “Islam and the Judeo- Christian world”. What fun!

And now the latest iteration of “one divides into two”, courtesy Covid: the “Laptop class vs. the Working Class”. Aka the salaried vs. the self-employed. Or the Laptop Class vs. the Rest. “The Rest” being self-employed — people who have to meet a payroll— gig workers, people had to go to work (could not work from home). And the Laptop Class being: government workers, academics, journalists.

What surprised Jing and me early on was the the lack of empathy of the former for the latter. Of the Laptoppers for the Workers. People happy working from home too often demonised those that couldn’t. They didn’t understand that founding a business, running a business, then losing that business by government mandate, was something horrible. Yet Dr Anthony Fauci, king of the Laptop class doesn’t recognise it.

Talking of his announced retirement Fauci said: “no one has been irreparably harmed by the lockdown”. Whaaaa? 600,000 bankrupt companies in the US alone!  Mass poverty in SE Asia result of lockdowns. Like the pic above. All this, to Fauci, is “nothing”?

The “Fauci effect”. And “The price of lockdowns”. “How Fauci fooled America”.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Fraser Nelson on Rishi Sunak and Lockdown debates | Cindy Yu on China shills


Click above for video. It’s time stamped for convenience 

Like Fraser Nelson I also recall that Rishi Sunak, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, was reported — at the time — to be unhappy that proper risk-reward assessments hadn’t been done before implementing the most severe restriction since the war and maybe the strictest ever

Now he’s done a tell-all with Fraser Nelson in The Spectator. Critics ask why didn’t he say something at the time. Simple answer: Cabinet solidarity. You can voice opinions internally, but when a policy is decided it’s up to you to implement it. He didn’t resign at the time because he thought — probably correctly — that he was better off inside trying to bring some balance to lockdown policies, rather than outside complaining. He did leak that he had concerns. We recall that. And now he speaks out. 

Cindy Yu comments on “China hawks” vs “China shills” is spot on.

A kind of funny bit at the end about Killer Cows.

Governments don’t like giving up newly-gained powers

Winnie and the little poohs. All same-same, down to identical belts

My mate Clam (not his real name) who I meet at the coffee shop, Chinese-American, tells me, reminds me, that China instituted metal checking at all subway stations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was supposed to be just for the Olympics. Fourteen years later and they’re still using them. Much to the hassle for commuters. (And kind of reminds me of Hamas. Who won election for a four year term … sixteen years ago).

And now we have a story from Wang Xiangwei, Beijing-based rep of the South China Morning Post. Who went on a one week holiday to Hainan island, and ended up spending 23 days getting back. All because of government Covid controls via the Health Code App, (Jiànkāng mǎ 健康码). Green and you’re good to go, Yellow and Red, stay in place. Wang reminds us how the App was misused in Henan to control the movement of protesters, nothing to do with Covid. 

It’s well worth a read. He concludes with a thought that’s long worried me. 

From the Chinese government’s perspective, the health code system has worked wonders in controlling both the spread of the virus and the population. It’s hard to imagine the authorities voluntarily giving up such powers, even once the pandemic is over.

When, oh when, will we get rid of our own restrictions? Our masks? Or social distancing and vaccine mandates? Maybe never. Because there is always something else that masking, or distancing, or quarantine is protecting us against. And now we have our very own QR codes, controlling where we can go. And we learn that our Dear Leader Xi Jinping wants the world to adopt the Health Code App! He, the leader of the dismal bunch of wax works above. 同心同德, Tóngxīn tóng dé: Of One Mind! (And *one* belt…).

Heaven help us…

Mangalica pig

The world’s only woolly pig
Is it cruel to suggest that this reminds us of our elderly lab, Basil?

Who eats little yet remains large, as if he produces his own energy…

Saturday 27 August 2022

Here we go again | Snooker | Blind Side

Here we go again: tougher Covid curbs (coz it’s an ongoing “Crisis”):

Hong Kong is now sui generis. There’s a nice phrase. We are “unique”. But not in a good way. And not 100% true, for there’s our dear motherland, even stricter on the whole Covid thing. But China aside, Hong Kong is the only place in the world still with the restrictions we have and about to get tougher; see above. Our Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau announces himself “glad that we are different from other countries”. Why? We haven’t done particularly better despite all the restrictions. For example, from the comments:

[Since] Feb 2021, HK has had 1258 deaths per million, whilst the UK and Singapore have had 846 and 263 respectively, and are both fully open for business and travel. The US is the only developed country which had a death per million higher rate than Hong Kong.  [I’ve checked the figures and they’re correct)

Yet Lo smears the west: "Lo also made clear the government would not adopt Western-style Covid-19 policies or “lie flat”, a term meaning doing the bare minimum to get by.” The west is not “lying flat”. It’s just that it’s getting on with getting on. And it’s not just the west doing that. It’s every other country in Asia (China aside, o/c).

Snooker in Hong Kong:

There’s another story in today’s SCMP on the back page about the Snooker Masters tournament planned here in Hong Kong in October. But it will be the  so-called “closed loop” system — players will have to be bussed between the snooker hall and their hotel. Not allowed outside. The audience limited. Still, I’m considering going. All the greats are there: World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Aussie Neil Robertson, John Higgins plus our local Wonder Woman, a women’s world champ, Ng On Yee. Tickets starting at just $15. It’s an interesting format, with Ng in the mix. There’s a chart of the set up at the link above. 

If I sound like I know something about snooker, it’s because I do. I followed the recent World Championship series with “Rocket” Ronnie’s wonderful win. Snooker is very watchable. Relaxing and exciting at the same time. Great TV. I watch it a lot. Good escape from current events. 

“Bludging on the Blind Side”:

Talking of sports, I’m listening [11:00 - 13:00 AEST] to Roy and H.G. on their “Bludging on the Blind Side” weekly on Australia’s ABC 666. All sports, but focus on rugby league (the “blind side” is a give away). Their greeting is “Happy rugby league”. They’re long-time comedians — sui generis! — famous for their commentary at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Go on, google it. Especially their commentary of gymnastics and weightlifting. Laugh-out-loud 😆. “Bludging” is replayed as a podcast (beware tho, it’s very aussie-centric)

Fighting Bushfires China-style

Friday 26 August 2022

Seeing double

Identical twins marry identical twins and have near-twin cousins. Story here. Just noticed: the doors are bookmatched too.

Thursday 25 August 2022

Resisting temptation. “The Goblin Market” Rossetti

Japan restarts nuclear. Yay!


Swimming cancelled, more events in peril and other madness


Health authorities have not ruled out tightening social-distancing rules after daily coronavirus infections passed the 7,000 mark in Hong Kong for the first time since a rebound in cases in June, although government advisers suggest further restrictions are not required for now.

The cancellation on Wednesday of a weekend race and a possible similar fate for the annual cross-harbour swim amid Covid-19 caps on turnout also sparked concern over the status of major sporting events scheduled to be held in the city.

Have a look at the comments at the site of “coronavirus cancellation”. 100% derisory.

Media Bias Chart

Click to enlarge and clarify. From here.

The Media Bias Chart is by Vanessa Otero, founder of Ad Fontes Media. It’s for the US only. 

It’s pretty interesting. I don’t find it all bad, though of course you can always quibble, or argue vehemently, that this or that media outlet is in the wrong spot. But overall, as a heterodox middle of the roader, a liberal conservative, or conservative liberal, it strikes me as not too bad.

Note Fox News -- which the Left loves to hate-- is situated up there, skewing Right, but still in the business of “Mostly analysis or mix of fact and reporting and analysis”, which is much fairer than the usual contumely. 

I would not include AP and Reuters in the “Fact Reporting”, without noting -- as the chart can’t TBF -- that they show bias not from what they do report as “fact”, but what they choose not to report. Eg: the Hunter Biden Laptop story, where the choice not to report is itself bias. 

Still, a useful chart.

Wednesday 24 August 2022

The increasing creep of creepy-speak

It’s  what I’ve called “commie-speak” here for a while now.

I know, I know, I should find a more elegant, a politer term, but really, that’s what it is. Dreary, dull sludge occasionally leavened by hysteria. And it’s spreading among Hong Kong apparatchiks.

I studied this stuff In Beijing, way back in 1976, at the fag-end of the Cultural Revolution. Our reading lists included — the original Chinese — essays by Mao Tse-tung and the People’s Daily editorials. It’s like today’s Google predictive text. You know as soon as it starts, how the rest is going to go. Mao launches with “Comrades! We face daunting challenges…” and you know he’ll go on to demonise “hostile forces” — often “foreign” — against whom we must “fight with heart and mind”, while looking out for “an extremely tiny anti-revolutionary group” who are trying “thwart the will of the people”, and so on, and so drearily on. 

The article is by Robin Hibberd: “Poor communication over Taiwan, press freedom and 2019 protests costing Hong Kong government public trust”

My comment there:

Peter F.
Well said Robin Hibberd"!  
I've been a student of "commie-speak" since my student days in Peking (as it was then) in 1976. Apart from being woolly and predictable, it is oh so dreary and booooring! Very sad to hear It taking hold here. Gloom.
In moderation queue

I ought to paste in some “commie-speak” I’ve been collecting:

Solemn representations” Beijing Foreign Ministry office in HK (Re Taiwan)

“Strong disapproval and firm opposition” Ibid

“In disregard of China’s …advance warning, your office [consulate] repeated the wrong deeds of last year”. Ibid

The acts “grossly trample on the principle of international law and … non-interference in others’ internal affairs.” Ibid

The government must wholeheartedly devote itself to creating conditions for state leaders to come” Carrie Lam, 8 June 2022

“If others … use the city to smear our nation, Hong Kong officials must be bold in struggling against them.” Carrie Lam, 12 June 2022

Zhao Lijian, 20/7/22 SCMP Re Taiwan “If the US stubbornly sticks to this, [Pelosi visit] China will definitely take resolute and forceful measures….The US must be fully responsible for all the consequences…”. Beijing: “it’s an evil scheme”.

“Abyss of disaster” CGTN Tweet 3/8/22

“Playing with fire”. Repeatedly, re Pelosi trip to Taiwan. 3/8/22

“Heinous” and “confounding morality” and “Chinese people are very dissatisfied”: China Mission to EU re G7 statement that “no justification in aggressive military activity” in wake Pelosi Taiwan visit. 5/8/22

Rolex China Sea Race 16 April 2014

Photo by
Our lovely X-yacht, Xena, racing out of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, at the start of the biennial race to Subic Bay in the Philippines, about 600 nautical miles away. 

(The arbitrary photo thrown up today by Google)

Tuesday 23 August 2022

“Fight for size equality” should be canned

Superstar Lizzo, “embraces her body” we are told.
She’d be better eating less. This is not the result of “big bones” 
I’m probably going obsessive on this issue, “plus-sized”, one might say, having posted yesterday. Now, a Letter to the Post. Mainly coz I think we ought not be going along with this thing of *celebrating* being overweight, when we know — the science and modern medicine tells us — it’s bad for individuals and bad for society — bad for health and hugely costly for society. Just look at how much higher Covid fatalities were in the US., because America has such high rates of obesity. We, our society, must be tackling it as an issue, not going along with it — celebrating it — for the sake of “diversity and inclusion”. 

I must own and stress that I’m myself overweight and struggle to control it. So I know how difficult it is. But I don’t think I should be “celebrated”, reframed, euphemistically, as being “plus-sized”.

So, letter to South China Morning Post:

We know we’re going off the rails when we “celebrate” activities that are plainly and scientifically harmful to society, and do so in the name of diversity and inclusion.

I’m referring to “Sports Illustrated model, influencers on being plus-size in fashion” (Lifestyle, 22 August)in which “body positivity” activists ask us to be totally accepting of overweight people (the “plus-sized”). Further, they insist we cheer and encourage them in their weightyness.
I am myself a “person of girth”. That is to say, overweight. But I’m in no doubt that it’s not good for me amd struggle to keep it under control. 
Being overweight is bad for the bones; bad for heart; bad for the liver, indeed bad for pretty much every organ in our bodies. It heightens risk of diabetes. We know too that it greatly increases risk of dying from Covid. Yet whereas Covid could have been a spur to tackle what has rightly been called an “obesity epidemic” in the west, especially America, no action was taken out of fear of offending “body positive” activists. 
We need to be clear: there is no mystery about why Lizzo, why Jordan Underwood, why Giancarlo Russo are overweight. It didn’t happen of a sudden. It’s simply down to them eating more calories than they burn. Let’s be polite to them, sure. But celebrate them? Urge them to “go still further”? That’s crazy.
I understand and applaud the Post's desire to publish a wide variety of opinion. But this was a puff piece, not at all helpful to the bodily health of our society.
We must win this Battle of the Bulge. The original Battle of the Bulge was not good for Hitler. This one won’t be good for us unless we resist this false and dangerous narratives about fat being “wonderful”. It’s not and it’s fake news.

Peter Forsythe
Discovery Bay 
9308 0799

PS: If you Google “Jordan Underwood” you find two. One the “plus-sized” one, the other a famous model and very slim. The first because she eats too much; the second because she doesn’t.

Monday 22 August 2022

“Sports Illustrated model, influencers on being plus-size in fashion – the world is less fat-phobic now (thanks, Lizzo) but there is still far to go”

There are two Jordan Underwood's. The one on the left is pushing
the "body-positive" line in Sports Illustrated. The one on the right, is not.
The difference: Purple Jordan eats a lot; Bikini Jordan doesn’t.
The article about “plus-sized models in Sports Illustrated carried in today’s South China Morning Post, is insane.
Harming the health of us all because of the delicate sensitivities of the few. Or the not-so-few, if we consider the epidemic of fat in the west.
As a child of the sixties, I'm invited to look at photos of the crowds at Woodstock. They're all thin! That was me then too. Skinny lad. Now I’m a bona fide Person of Girth, or, per Jordan, I’m “plus-sized". So I know the struggle of staying healthy weight. But I don't kid myself that it's healthy. 
That's what's happening in the article. We're being asked to accept the delusion that "fat is fine". Oops, did I say "fat"? I mean "plus sized”; it’s fine, it’s healthy, it's diverse! So says Lizzo. So says Jordan, the purple one.
She's wrong. As is Lizzie. As is Giancarlo Russo, three of them hyped in the article.
Headline above: "There is still far to go". Actually, only if we turn around. Because we’ve already gone far enough down this road: of denying that being fat is bad for you. Going on about "plus-size" and making it glamorous is just part of our ongoing slow slide down population-level suicide. We've already gone too far. 
The reason the purple Jordan Underwood is obese, the reason Lizzo is obese, is simple: they began eating too much, and when they put on weight they kept going. It’s no mystery. And it doesn’t take you by surprise, like being hit upside with a block of wood. No, it’s clear: eat more than you need and you put on weight. Keep doing that and you get obese. That’s it. Why should we feel sorry for them. Worse, why should we *celebrate* it?? Via some kind of “body positive” movement?
We must not let these lunatics win the battle of the Bulge. It wasn't good for Hitler and it's not good for us.
My comment at the site:

Peter F.
Being overweight or obese is bad for health. Bad for bones, bad for heart, bad for circulation. It's an enabler of diseases like diabetes, strokes and Covid.There is no secret why one becomes obese: it's eating too much for too long. Why encourage that?? We can be polite to overweight people, certainly. But we should not "celebrate". That's crazy and bad for society. Bad for our health system too. It's statistical fact that the obese died at greater rate than those of normal size.  
Yet woke nonsense like that of Gianluca Russo stopped that healthy message getting out.

“We exist. What can that fact teach us about the Universe?” | The Big Think

The earth, a billion years from now, Andromeda approaching 
For thousands of years, humans have pondered the meaning of our existence. From philosophers who debated whether their minds could be trusted to provide accurate interpretations of our reality to physicists who’ve attempted to interpret the weirder aspects of quantum physics and relativity, we’ve learned that some aspects of our Universe appear to be objectively true for everyone, while others are dependent on the actions and properties of the observer.

I don’t get all of it. By any means. So it’s mind stretching.

Sunday 21 August 2022

The total eclipse Hong Kong, 22 July 2009

Me, waiting for the eclipse, Discovery Bay, Hong Kong,
22nd July 2009
Tiger Head Mt 老虎头 Lau Fu Tao, in background
The eclipse was just a few moments after this photo. Taken by my American mate Kevin Dowd.

One of the photos randomly thrown up by Google.

Saturday 20 August 2022

Sam Harris jumps the shark, says the quiet part out loud

I’ve been a fan of Sam Harris — one of America’s most prominent public intellectuals— for many years, and have most of his books. He was one of the few brave enough to talk frankly about the violence inherent in Islamic doctrine. 

I gave up paying for his content when he went kind of crazy over the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court Senate confirmation hearings.* And then Sam showed himself not living up to his brand -- which is “the truth” and “logic and rationality” -- over the Trump election in 2016 and now talking of the suppression of factual evidence in the 2020 election. 

Click above to see Sam in full flight over the suppression of the Hunter Biden Laptop story, which, to remind, was broken by the New York Post but cancelled” by Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the print and TV mainstream media. Watch and marvel. 

He says the quiet part out loud in the podcast above, which I’ve set to start where he goes truly weird. To suggest that dead children in the basement aren’t worse that Trump’s corruption? That the failure of Trump University is worse that Joe Biden taking bribes from China and Ukraine? That’s high level delusion right there, says my own priors on this. But surely one doesn’t have to be a Trump supporter to find that troubling. And to think that he’s just saying the quiet part out loud -- that the Democrats will or would stop at nothing -- not even killing children and stuffing them in the basement -- to stop Orange Man Bad?

Here is Sam:  “People say suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story was a left-wing conspiracy. Absolutely it was. But I think it was warranted”. Amazing. And “there was nothing that Biden might have done, even if he took bribes from Ukraine and China, which matched the corruption we know Trump did”. To which one’s reaction is …“huh”? 

We won’t find this reported in any of the mainstream media, in CNN, or MSNBC, or ABC, or the New York Times, or Washington Post, because they don’t want to admit to it. With words from one of America’s prime public intellectuals. Admitting to suppression of facts. And thinking it’s “warranted”. 

So you have to go elsewhere to get a take on this. And the best I’ve found is Ben Shapiro here, a friend and admirer of Harris, and Scott Adams here. (Shapiro is a self-described conservative; Adams says he’s “left of Bernie”).

The Triggernometry guys, by the way, are two London lads who would describe themselves as “of the left”, but have now become part of those folks who are finding the Left, especially the loopy far-left parts of it, somewhat crazy and baffling. Konstantin Kisin was cancelled years ago -- when he refused to sign a contract that said he couldn’t say anything in his act that might give offence -- so, gave up doing stand up and joined with Francis Foster to set up Triggernometry, which I’ve been following for years, and I’m pleased to see is doing very well and is a positive contribution to the cultural battles now going on around the western world, especially the English-speaking part of it. 

*ADDED: There were charges of sexual molestation — back in the early 80s— made against Kavanaugh, first by Christine Blasey Ford. We’d watched her senate testimony live. I bought it. Jing did not. Turns out Jing was right (isn’t she always?). Blasey Ford’s charges against Kavanaugh fell apart when neither friends nor family, nor even her therapist, would confirm them. Hell, they wouldn’t even talk about them! 

Three other women came forward with various wild and loopy charges, all of which were either recanted or debunked. One of them was represented by Michael Avenatti — he, beloved of Democrats who talked of him as a potential presidential candidate —  a lawyer now in jail for fraud. So net sum, every single charge against Kavanaugh was either recanted or proven false. And in the 40+ years since, there has been not a single charge against Kavanaugh. To the claim that no jury could have found Kavanaugh guilty on that basis, Sam simply said “it’s not a court of law” and you “could tell” just by looking at Kavanaugh that he was “innately evil”. Really, Sam?! Harris probably knew no more about Kavanaugh from his perch in America than we did from our lounge room here in Hong Kong. We watched it all live, as he did. And to us it didn’t look good for the Sam Harris brand of “the facts, ma’am, just the facts”. Feelings, rather. Bitter and twisted feelings…

ADDED (29 August): the clip of Sam on Triggernometry went hugely viral, still causing some waves in the US.

Me, Park City, Utah, November 1998 (aka “Getting it done”)

Getting it done

Recently I’ve taken to posting one of the random photos that Google decides to throw up at me each day. Above is yours truly, when we went to Park City, Utah, to talk to a Mormon guy — in the capital, Salt Lake City — about buying the franchise rights to his fast-food Wraps business for Hong Kong. 

We decided not to go ahead with that, and instead, shortly after, bought the Master Franchise rights for Wall Street Institute from the HQ of that company in Barcelona. We opened the first WSI centre in Asia in 2000, here in Hong Kong, expanded here and Japan, helped establish the business in China, Thailand amd Taiwan. We sold our HK business in 2007. It’s still going here in Hong Kong — amazingly, I think, given the 2019 riots and Covid 2020+. It was a fabulous business. But we sold at the right time, just before the 2008 global financial crisis. We’ve never had sellers’ remorse.

ADDED: We’d wrapped the Mormon wraps business, so we went off skiing in Park City, which is right nearby Salt Lake City. Park City is one of the loveliest resorts in America. Which makes it one of the loveliest in the world. Because skiing in America is first-rate. American ski resorts are great for the facilities, the lifts, the gondolas, the cable cars, the on-and-off-piste restaurants, the huge variety of resorts and runs, the vocally happy skiers, whooping it up while whooshing down. Lots of super-good skiers. Friendly, friendly people.

The guy trying to sell us the franchise was lovely, very friendly, as are most people in Salt Lake City. As are most Mormons. He stopped at a strip mall during our drive around town to hop out and buy me a copy of The Book of Mormon. He was shocked I hadn’t read it. He feared for my eternal soul. I asked him, as we drove by freshly snow-clad fields, if he could tell me a bit about Mormonism. Could he, what! At the end of his extended exegesis, I wondered that gown men, apparently otherwise perfectly sane and sensible, could believe such arrant nonsense.

I read a bit of The Book of Mormon that night. I found it a wonderful soporific.

“Mishandling of Covid ‘endemic’ is distressing” | Hong Kong SCMP Letter

I don’t know this letter writer George Forral, but we’re much of a muchness with our take on where we are here in Hong Kong on our “coronavirus crisis”, as the Post insists on calling it. He’s 75, I’m rising 73. He’s been here for 50 years, me 47. We both call for ditching our restrictions, like the rest of the region, our sister Singapore top amongst them. 
It time to learn to “live with the virus” as much of the developed world is already doing. Unless we do Hong Kong will be unable to reclaim its past glory as one of the safest, most pleasant, most efficient and successful cities in the world and will continue to lose talented people through emigration.

AN ASIDE: Some may say this is yet another whinging foreigner, just one more gweilo complainer, and who cares? Who cares about the South China Morning Post an English-language newspaper? The answer is: I know from personal experience that the Hong Kong government reads this very paper every day, including its Letters page. That’s because it’s readership is not just foreigners or even mainly foreigners. It’s readership is majority Chinese. Who happen to read English well, cosmopolitans who are “opinion leaders”. The government has often reflected concerns expressed in the Post’s pages. 

The specific problem now with our Covid policy is that the government is trying to satisfy two very different constituencies: the Business community, including the foreign, who want opening up, and its masters in Beijing who continue with even more draconian Zero Covid policies on the mainland, and who expect us to follow them more closely. It’s a serious contradiction. In Chinese a 矛盾, máo dùn, a “sword and shield”: which one prevails? The attacking sword or the defending shield?

Friday 19 August 2022

Celebrating Nuclear Power

Ain’t she pretty? Daya Bay Nuclear Plant, just NE of Hong Kong
Just back from the coffee shop, chatting with my mate, who I’ll call “Clam”, a Chinese-American guy with houses in San Francisco and here in Discovery Bay. We got talking about nuclear energy and were quickly in violent agreement that it’s the best, safest and quickest way to get to “Zero Carbon” electricity goals.

I’d got us onto the subject, as I’m reading Bill Gates’ latest book “How to Prevent the Next Pandemic”, and I said that apart from being a major health and vaccines guy, via his Gates Foundation, Gates was also funding Terrapower, the pilot new-tech nuclear via a demonstration site in Wyoming. Gates is an autodidact, like Elon Musk, who has learned about nuclear power, to a high level, by reading. Clam knew all about it, and tells me that his own “first degree” is in nuclear engineering! Gates didn’t need the degree. Nuclear engineers and scientists say he can talk on any aspect of it.

Clam’s first comment -- thinking perhaps that he had to convince me -- that nuclear is the safest energy out there -- I readily agreed. It’s also the greenest: see below. 

Fukushima was ancient technology, and even then no-one was killed by the explosions of 2011. That could not -- literally could not -- happen to the new tech. 

We also chatted about Small Modular Reactors that are coming on stream. Clam says the latest ones are mobile! A couple in a city like HK, could do us, for all the electricity we need. Rather more quickly than what’s going on now -- the government paying us to put PV solar panels on our roof (which are paying us money at a rate of 25% ROI).

Clam was envious that I’d been able to visit the Daya Bay nuclear station close to us, just over the border of NE Hong Kong and which supplies us with 30% of our power. I was with the Hong Kong Classic Car Club, we were doing a rally around Guangdong, back around 2015, and ended up at Daya Bay, where China Light and Power (HK) owns 25% equity and CLP chairman, Lord Kadoorie, is patron of the Classic Car Club, and showed us around his facility. Great stuff. First question was about safety and they had a guy explaining what happens to this modern facility if the power shuts off (as it had with Fukushima, coz of the tsunami). Satisfied us all, that the tech is such that if power fails, the rods drop into the core and turn off the plant, the opposite of what happened in Fukushima, where it heated up, overheated and blew up.

We both blamed the green movement of the 1960s and 1970s and especially Greenpeace, for the scare tactics on nuclear. Which continue to this day. Such that we get the idiocy of Germany closing all its nuclear stations-- all operating perfectly well, and super-clean -- the day after Fukushima, with Germany now running out of electricity and having to re-open coal mines and coal-fired power stations. At least they’ve put the closure of the last three nuclear plants on hold, as Russia squeezes their gas supply. All of this was easily predictable, was predicted; it’s not hind-sight. Blind Freddy saw it; Angela Merkel and the German Greens didn’t.

Here in Hong Kong, we could be carbon neutral by 2035 if we built just two more Daya Bay sized stations.  Here or just over the border. Keep on with the rooftop PV solar policy, by all means (we love it!). But it’s not going to get us reliably carbon-free without baseload power, which can only be coal, gas, or ... Nuke baby!

Clam and I fist-bumped “Yay nuclear!” Next chat: Fusion!

ADDED: Nuclear is also the Greenest, according the the United Nations:

My home brew. “Warrior Princess” Elegant Ale. 19 August 2019

The figurines are from Ushuaia, the “world’s most southerly city”, in Argentina. Bought on the way to Antarctica. Made of Rhodochrosite.

The “Warrior Princess” is a our lovely X-Yacht, Xena, racing there off the island of Ko Samui, Thailand.

I made beer as a hobby for a few years. It never worked out cheaper than buying at the local supermarket…. Hops are expensive.

Thursday 18 August 2022

Be Better, Bill

Bill Gates talks to Fareed Zaharia, New York, May 2022
Click above to go to full video
From around 25’ Bill Gates says that “we didn’t know the coronavirus fatality rate was fairly low (like the flu) and that it mainly affected the elderly”. Whaaat?!  Saying this about I’d 2020??

We knew right here in Hong Kong in early January 2020 that it mainly affected the elderly and that the overall death rate was quite low. How could Gates, with his mega billion sized Foundation not know? Either a lie or incompetence.

Earlier Gates gives cover to China on the source of the virus and in its own duplicity. He claims, without evidence, that the zoonotic source theory is “by far the most likely”. It is not. The evidence, circumstantial as it is, leans to Lab Leak theory. This is sad, from a man who has done huge amounts to help humankind. 

You’ve been so good Bill. Be better on the pandemic. Your new book is not it (review coming).

Margaret , Peter, Grand Hyatt, HK, 18 August 2014

Wednesday 17 August 2022

What about “Whataboutery”

How’s this? I was just about to write something like “in defence of whataboutery”, then find Alan Dershowitz has done the same. 

You know, “whataboutery” — for example, if you criticises the Koran for its violence, and the response is “well, what about the Bible?? Huh? It’s equally violent”. “Whataboutery”… aka tu quoque

And sure, it’s often quite right to call out “whataboutery”. Because it deflects.rather than addresses the issue at hand. The fact that the Bible has violent passages doesn’t mitigate the fact that the Koran is violent. And why don’t we address that, rather than deflecting to the Bible by “whataboutery”? 

But there are times when “whataboutery” is justified. Very often it’s calling out hypocrisy. 

And I was just about to write about this when, “how’s this?”,  I stumbled across exactly the same thought in a post by the wonderful Ann Althouse, a quote and link to an article by Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz. He of the O.J. Simpson fame — he was O.J.’s lead defence counsel. A life-long Democrat now shunned by fellow Democrats because he had the gall not to succumb to Trump Derangement Syndrome. 

My basic defence of “whataboutery” is about consistency. There should be consistency, for example, in the way the justice system treats both parties in the US. But there clearly is not. The raid on Trump’s home  in search of documents may be legally justified, as Andrew Sullivan says, but is not proportionate. Hence, “what about Hillary’s emails?” Or, as Dershowitz says:

There can’t be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans.

So the question “What about her emails?” is an appropriate one. Mocking it is no answer. Neither is the cliché “two wrongs do not make a right.” A second wrong doesn’t justify or excuse the first, but unequal treatment of two comparable wrongs should raise concerns about fairness and equality. Unequal treatment of two equal wrongs is a third wrong.

The “whataboutism” argument applies as well to the manner in which Trump loyalists such as Peter Navarro, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort were arrested. In comparable cases involving similar charges, the defendants weren’t handcuffed, shackled or subjected to restraints generally reserved for those who pose a risk of violence or flight. [The article at Wall St Journal]

Liz Cheney just lost her seat in Wyoming, for going against Trump and his claim the 2020 election was “stolen”. Media never fails to say that his claim was “unfounded”.  Then, whatabout the 2016 election? And the Russia collusion claim? That was totally unfounded, but was subject to three years of extensive investigation culminating in the Mueller Report that there was nothing in the claims of collusion. Again, unequal treatment, because while the Trump claim does appear untrue, there was certainly some tampering with votes, which ought have been investigated. 

Another Whatboutery: the Hunter Biden laptop. Enough evidence for FBI investigation, one would have thought. Surely if it had been Donald Trump Jnr’s laptop it would most certainly would have been. Whatabout that?