Monday, September 29, 2008
Want to bet that next time it's engaged in world trade negotiations, China will still claim to be a poor backward Third World country in need of trade concessions to help it catch up? Hmmm.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
You may never have heard of Palmer, but you've certainly heard his work - a jazzman at heart, he played on an astonishing array of all-time great recordings, from Fats Domino and Little Richard's pioneering early rock'n'roll in Palmer's native New Orleans, to "River Deep Mountain High" and other Phil Spector classics in Los Angeles, finding time in between to drum on everything from TV theme tunes to movie soundtracks, and even record a piece or two under his own name (The A Side blog has one). He is also said to be the man who first applied the word "funky" to music.
Palmer's autobiography, Backbeat, is a great rock read, taking the reader through a colourful life that went from tap dancing in vaudeville as a child to accompanying Frank Sinatra at the White House.
"I invented this shit"was Palmer's legendary response to a young rock band worried that he might not be able to play in their style. He sure did.
Disclaimer - I get a small commission from Amazon UK if you buy the book through the picture link here.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The younger Chen's trust in his mother is touching indeed; I would trust my own mother with my life, but if she asked me to sign some bank forms, I think I would at least display a little curiosity as to what they were all about before sticking my name on the dotted line. Apparently the Chen family's strategy is to heap as much guilt on Wu as possible. As a wheelchair-bound invalid, she could presumably look forward to more lenient treatment than the able-bodied members of the family, if convicted.
Why does all this somehow remind me of the story of the girl who murdered her parents, then asked the court for clemency on the grounds that she was an orphan?
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Mr President, the death toll in
is approaching one million! Iraq
Who cares, they're all Muslims anyway. [Not true, by the way - the nearly 2000-year-old Christian community in
has been almost entirely forced out of the country.] Iraq
Mr President, hundreds of thousands are still homeless in
! New Orleans
Who cares, they're mostly black and poor anyway.
Mr President, hundreds of people have been tortured in
. Guantanamo Bay
Who cares, they're all terrorists anyway. [Also not true.]
Mr President, thousands of middle class Americans are having their homes repossessed because they can't keep up with their mortgage payments.
Who cares, that's the system - when you invest, you take a risk. Sometimes it doesn't pay off.
Mr President, Wall Street is in trouble! The big investment banks are going bust!
Oh my God, this is terrible, these are our people! What can we do to help them?
Nothing, Mr President; we've spent all the money we had and more on your war in
and handouts to the rich already. Iraq
So finally, the mountain of bad karma piled up by the Bush regime is beginning to topple down on its beneficiaries. And so incompetent is the government, it can't even bail out its own people, the heart of the Republican elite, the very ones whose interests this administration has been all about serving from the beginning, from the consequences of their own greed, folly and mendacity. Which would be enjoyable to watch, if it wasn't that many innocent victims are going to get hurt in the process as they see their hard-earned homes, insurance policies and pensions become worthless.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
"Shape your future"say the posters; and even though we know that our future will continue to be largely shaped for us by the usual unholy alliance of Beijing politicians and local business bigwigs, it is important to send Beijing a clear message that we want to have a bigger say in our own destiny. So, get out there before 10:30 pm and vote! (unless you're planning to cast your ballot for the DAB, in which case, why not stay at home and read a good book instead? I recommend George Orwell's essays, particularly "Politics and the English Language").
Which brings me to an interesting question: why do Hong Kong politicians pay so little attention to the English-speaking voter? We all know - particularly since Florida in 2000 - that elections can be won and lost by only a few votes, and this is even more so in Hong Kong's rotten boroughs - the Functional Constituencies. Given this, you would think that an astute politician would not overlook any possible group of potential supporters, yet there are still candidates whose election publicity is entirely in Chinese, without even a pointer to an English version on their website. I heard from a friend that one famously hirsute local LegCo member even refused to answer questions put to him in English during a previous election campaign, although he speaks the language.
This time around, more candidates seem to have picked up the nessage - even the DAB - but there are still exceptions. Yet I suspect this group of voters, far from being of marginal significance, may be larger than anyone suspects. In fact, it consists of three distinct subgroups: expatriates settled here such as myself; the long-established local South Asian community, many of whom speak Cantonese but do not read or write Chinese; and possibly the largest of all, those Chinese people born in Hong Kong who grew up overseas following the great wave of emigration in the 1980s and 90s, but have since returned to their birthplace. Many of these speak Cantonese but were educated in English, and may be more comfortable reading it than Chinese.
OK, lesson over, go and vote.
Friday, September 05, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Then there's Luard on the Park, a serviced apartment block in Wanchai. The "park" referred to is Southorn Playground, but I suppose Luard on the Patch of Scruffy Tarmac Surrounded by a Few Tatty Trees doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
However, for real pretentiousness, you only have to look to the world of showbiz - a headline on the BBC news website a couple of days ago reported Jude Law calls for world ceasefire. I don't want to disparage any attempts to advance the cause of world peace, but would that be Jude Law the respected international statesman? or Jude Law the Hollywood actor who hit the scandal pages for his affair with his children's nanny?
Monday, September 01, 2008
Then there is this sign:
Only one thing wrong with this: you don't prosecute a vehicle, you prosecute the driver. Do we have anyone left in the government who knows the difference?