Thursday, May 05, 2011

Don't Mess with an Angry Librarian [Re-post]

*Newscorp is selling e-books that literally self-destruct. Stand with the librarians who are fighting back.
<http://www.change. org/petitions/ tell-harpercolli ns-limited- checkouts- on-ebooks- is-wrong- for-libraries? utm_source= action_alert& utm_medium= email&alert_ id=TTXQNOfuGs_ OOGkxAGDei>

<http://www.change. org/petitions/ tell-harpercolli ns-limited- checkouts- on-ebooks- is-wrong- for-libraries? utm_source= action_alert& utm_medium= email&alert_ id=TTXQNOfuGs_ OOGkxAGDei>

[Sign the Petition]<http://www.change. org/petitions/ tell-harpercolli ns-limited- checkouts- on-ebooks- is-wrong- for-libraries? utm_source= action_alert& utm_medium= email&alert_ id=TTXQNOfuGs_ OOGkxAGDei>


Dear Readers of the World,

By day, Andy Woodworth is a mild-mannered librarian. By night, he's still a librarian, just less mild-mannered.

Andy is *kind of famous* in the librarian community, mostly for getting *the Old Spice guy* to do a video about how great libraries are, and unsuccessfully campaigning to get Ben & Jerry's to create a flavor called the *"Gooey Decimal System."* (If you don't get the pun, just ask someone ten years older.)

Oh, and now *he's using to help lead the charge in a fight against NewsCorp<http://www.change. org/petitions/ tell-harpercolli ns-limited- checkouts- on-ebooks- is-wrong- for-libraries? utm_source= action_alert& utm_medium= email&alert_ id=TTXQNOfuGs_ OOGkxAGDei>*, one of the world's most powerful companies.

See,* more and more libraries are beginning to buy e-books, like those read on a Kindle or similar device.* They're programmed to be like normal books -- lent out to one reader at a time, returned, and downloaded by another reader. It's simple, and especially great for working parents or the disabled who have a hard time making it to a library.

But publishing giant *HarperCollins *(owned by NewsCorp) is trying to force libraries to only buy e-books that* literally self-destruct after the 26th reader** *in an attempt to maximize profits.* *

* *Having to repeatedly buy the same book* *will be a *financial and logistical disaster* for libraries, one that could force a few to close their doors.

Even worse, there are signs that other publishing companies may soon follow the lead of HarperCollins, which could devastate libraries all around the world.

Some *amazing librarians have launched a full boycott *of HarperCollins until the decision is reversed, but they urgently need widespread support to force NewsCorp to back down.

*Andy's petition demanding an end to self-destructing e-books has a goal of 100,000 signatures -- click here to add your name now:*

http://www.change. org/petitions/ tell-harpercolli ns-limited- checkouts- on-ebooks- is-wrong- for-libraries<http://www.change. org/petitions/ tell-harpercolli ns-limited- checkouts- on-ebooks- is-wrong- for-libraries? utm_source= action_alert& utm_medium= email&alert_ id=TTXQNOfuGs_ OOGkxAGDei>

Andy declares on his blog that "The world needs more badass librarians." It's true, though right now the world also needs more readers who will stand alongside them.

Thanks for doing your part,

Patrick and the team

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Yayyyyyyyy! Power to the People!!!!!!!!

Mubarak gone!!

Egyptian military says: "We have no legitimacy but the legitimacy of the people."

This just in: Switzerland just announced that it has frozen all assets of the Mubarak's family that are located within its borders. (Other countries like Britain and France where Mubarak also owns assets -- YOU SHOULD FOLLOW SUIT!)

I'm so so happy that Idealism has triumphed over Cynicism :D

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Spending time looking up June 4th images online is not to be recommended...

... because it would make one really depressed.

(Anyway am going to sort out those images later in updating my post about the similarities of the Tahrir and Tiananmen Square protests... Like the Egyptians, we had SO much hope and solidarity, it's almost painful to look back on that time now. I really hope that, in the final analysis, the comparison between the two protests does NOT stand up at all.)

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

"We want to choose our President because we want to take this country into the future." [Updated with Photos, Links and Quotations]

"This is not just a Facebook revolution, not even an Internet revolution... This is not about the Internet, this is about the needs and demands of the Egyptian people."

(The slogan on her t-shirt reads: "I love my country. It's the government I'm afraid of.")

"Egyptian anti-government protesters sleep in front of an army tank to prevent it from moving during the night." February, 2011.
Text credit: The Guardian
Image credit: Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images (via Guardian here)

Chinese protester stood in front of a column of tanks outside the Tiananmen Square. June, 1989.
Image credit: Unknown (via Seechuen, see my previous blog-post re: June 4th memory here)

"Anti-government protestors hold candles as they walk in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. Protesters appear to have settled in for a long standoff, turning Tahrir Square into a makeshift village with tens of thousands coming every day, with some sleeping in tents made of blankets and plastic sheeting."
Text and Photo Credits: Emilio Morenatti/AP (via Andew Sullivan's The Daily Dish at the Atlantic).

"Tens of thousands stage a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park to mark the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square." June 4th, 2009.
Text Credit: NY Daily News
Photo Credit: Cheung/AP (via NYDailyNews "Demonstrators honor memory of Tiananmen Square in Hong Kong")

"Protesters Are Awesome: Look at This Beautiful Photo of Christians Protecting Praying Muslims in Egypt"
Text credit: Cord Jefferson at (via Justbesplendid)
Photo credit: Nevine Zaki/Anonymous (via Cord Jefferson at

Further Reading:


Willsin: 埃及

Timothy Garton-Ash: "Not 1989. Not 1789. But Egyptians can learn from other revolutions" (Published: Wednesday 9 February 2011 21.00 GMT)

One leathery old victim of this revolution, at whose death we should rejoice, is the fallacy of cultural determinism – and specifically the notion that Arabs and/or Muslims are not really up for freedom, dignity and human rights. Their "culture", so we were assured by Samuel Huntington and others, programmed them otherwise. Tell that to the people dancing on Tahrir Square. [...]

While we are talking determinisms, let's dispense with another one. In tags like "Facebook revolution", "Twitter revolution" and "Al-Jazeera revolution", we meet again the ghost of technological determinism. Talking to friends in Cairo, I am left in no doubt that these media did play a major role in organising and multiplying the popular protests that began on 25 January. [...] these old and new technologies of communication matter enormously – but they did not prevent popular protest movements being crushed in Belarus and Iran, they do not determine the outcome, and the medium is not the message.

(Bravo to Timothy Garton-Ash for advocating that we should scotch the dangerous notion of cultural determinism on its head -- an excuse all too often used by CCP apologists for disregarding human rights for Chinese people, as well as by that silly colonialist commentator Tao Kit, with his stupid "cultural DNA" theory. Anyway, funny how Garton-Ash happened to reiterate [vanity or more correctly delusions of grandeur alert] *my* line [/vanity or more correctly delusions of grandeur alert] in my comment response to LCL previously on Sunday 6 February, 5:25 PM GMT, on this very post!)

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Interpreting Hidden Meanings... and Chinese New Year Greetings...

Just saw this via Mad Dog's shared items, seems like a fun one to try :) (I've translated the entire passage, and had thrown in a couple of stage directions even!)










My translation of the above is as follows:

There was once a foreigner who spent ten long years studying Chinese, and at the end of his painstaking scholarship he went to China to take a language test. The test question was given as follows:

Please translate the word "meaning" as it appears in various places in the below passage:

When Mr. Joe Bloggs handed one of the local party leaders a laisee (Cantonese transliteration, also known as "huangbao", literal meaning: "red pocket". A red paper packet containing a small amount of money that is given out to wish others good health and prosperity, usually at a time of festivity, such as the Chinese New Year), the conversation that took place between them was full of unspoken meanings:

Leader: What do you mean by this? [looking at the bulging laisee being handed to him]

Joe: Oh I don't mean anything by it at all, just a small gesture really.

Leader: Well in that case you really shouldn't have.

Joe: Oh please it's only really small.

Leader: You're really an interesting fellow.

Joe: Actually I really don't mean anything by it.

Leader: Well then if you *really* wouldn't mind...

Joe: Oh no I wouldn't at all, and I rather hope that you wouldn't mind either... [smiling as the leader accepted his proffered laisee]

[And scene]

The foreigner was left in tears after reading the above passage, and went back home after handing in a blank page to the Chinese examiner.

The End.

Translated by Snowdrops, 2011. All rights reserved.

Further reading:

新中國政治不是一般人能吃透的。簡單一句話包含的意思可以是完全的正反兩面,語意學在這裏施展不開來。這必須要有點能耐才能把片言隻語背後的深層意義剖 釋,SARS和禽流感爆發之後,中共一些部門發出指引,對於呈報類似疫症有幾條大原則,包括要上報及時、不得隱瞞,末了是「不得亂報」。放在這套文字框架 下的語意,誰都以為既是要求及時上報又不許隱瞞,不得亂報只是附例,是敬告而不是警告。過了一年,細心的人覺得疫症忽然都像少了下來,但每次爆發卻都已是 鋪天蓋地死禽無數,這才想到「不得亂報」這四字是話中有話,實是拐個彎把「不得報」這三個字隱在千把字的通告裏。新中國的人民都是語意專家,只一瞄便知道 黨中央國務院的文件精神在哪,倒是我們特區上下沒有人能看得懂。
From here

2. The Oxford University Press very recently put up a whole list of English terms derived from Chinese words in celebration of the Chinese New Year. It's really brilliant! Like I never knew that "chin-chin" -- the phrase we'd say here when clinking glasses (whether wine- or pint-) together -- is actually from the Cantonese phrase "請請". How great is that eh?

Link here: Hopping into the Year of the Rabbit

Which is also cue for me to say: 祝大家兔年好運!身體健康!萬事勝意!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Simon Shen: A Letter for Henry Tang -- Lend Me Your Ears, What Went Wrong? [Translated Blog-post - Further polished, amended and updated with links]

沈旭暉:給唐英年的信--Lend Me Your Ears, What Went Wrong? (Original article in Chinese can be found here)(Please refer to the linked blogposts under "Further Reading" for conversations I had had with fellow bloggers regarding the quality of writing in Shen's essay; links are also provided for a couple of other articles that critiqued Henry Tang's speech as well as Shen's essay itself).

Simon Shen: A Letter for Henry Tang -- Lend Me Your Ears, What Went Wrong?

Dear Henry(唐老)﹕

Dear Henry (Old Tang):


Thanks again for kindly attending the Roundtable anniversary event of last week. Some say that the reason you chose that particular occasion to air some deeply-held views, was either because we are too moderate and you wanted to get us onside, or because we are too rebellious and you were keen to show us who's boss. Either way, that is a non-issue. Some also say that you were simply rehearsing your policy speech as the next-in-line governor of Hong Kong. That is even more of a non-issue. Aren't you already the de facto mayor of our city? On the other hand, the way in which you represented the dominant post-50s' generational view of today's youngsters in your speech, that really is an issue.



There are many among the senior generation who genuinely inspire and command respect, but whenever the topic of today's youth is broached, their views often generate mistrust and disgust instead. Why is that? Apart from what I previously discussed regarding the "post-50s super-stable societal structure", I think the key to this question relates to what could be described as the "post-50s super-stable identity structure", whereby one relies solely on the sentiments of yesteryears to evaluate the current events of today, which inevitably leads to methodological limitations for understanding issues due to differences in referential era. Whilst what you touched upon in your speech were all positive concepts, the first problem is that the mainstream post-50s generation have the exact opposite takes on the same underlying concepts vis-a-vis the post-80s generation; the second problem is that both generations have little inkling regarding the nature of this enormous gulf in understanding between them; and the third problem is that one simply cannot govern Hong Kong without taking into account this huge gulf in consensus.

This is what is alarming.


After the dissemination of the "Tang Five Points", many young people of my acquaintance are rather sceptical of your views, whilst a few would agree that your hollow-sounding platitudes do contain some grains of truth. Yet even those among the latter group would prefer that you behave a bit more like Chrissie Chau in having the urge to comb through your thinking in a bit more depth. Based on these feedbacks, and as the host of last week's event, I very naively believe that I have the obligation to help you bridge this gulf in understanding, and explain how the same five points you had proposed are bound to generate the exact opposite reading to which you intended:

一、 甚麼責任、自由、權利組成公民社會﹖
在 不少新一代眼中﹐lend me your ears﹐「責任」還有以公民力量彌補現制度局限、「自由」著重消極自由(不受外力干預的自由)、「權利」包括此刻並不完全享有的普世價值﹐才能造就一個 真正成熟的公民社會。按這定義﹐沒承擔責任、沒尊重他人自由和權利的卻是一些五十後。

1. What kinds of responsibilities, freedoms and rights are comprised within a society of citizens?

You declared that "a genuinely mature society that values citizenship, would place emphasis on rights at well as ensuring people are aware of their own obligations in discharging their societal duties", and that "no rights are absolute, one must also respect the freedoms and the rights of others". Nobody would at all argue with the wording in the above lines. The only thing is, these words mean quite different things to different people.

Plenty from the post-50s generation see abiding by rules and adhering to the status quo as one's "societal duty", whilst "freedom" refers only to "positive liberty" (freedom to act as defined by the philosopher Isaiah Berlin), and that which is sanctioned by the current laws of the land as the only "rights". They then use this schema to judge today's youths as having "triple faulted" in coming up short on these key measures. But using these benchmarks, one could also say that the North Korean society is rather respectful of the rule of law.

From the point of view of many among the new generation, Mr. Lend-me-your-ears, "societal duties" include the empowerment of civil society to counter-balance the repressive limits of current laws and regulations; "freedoms" include "negative liberty", the freedom from coercion; and "rights" include those universal human rights that are currently not fully realised within our society. These are the ingredients of a genuinely mature society that values and respects citizenship. And according to these benchmarks, those who shirk their real societal responsibilities, who disregard and disrespect the most the rights and freedoms of others, are actually those from the post-50s generation.

二、 怎樣定義多元與反多元﹖
你 說「這個世界是豐富多元的,我們應該有包容的胸襟,尊重他人的想法和意見,而不是對持相反意見的人動輒口誅筆伐」。每字都正面﹐但句子是不平衡的﹕「多 元」是客觀、形而上的﹐泛指不同觀點、生活方式的並存﹐是恆常的﹔「動輒口誅筆伐」、「謙恭」是主觀、形而下的﹐每個時代都不同﹐說句術語﹐被建構的。
青年發表不同意見正是支持多元﹐若因形而下的「口誅筆伐」而被標籤、邊緣化﹐難免深信五十後在偷換概念﹐進行反多元的思想壟斷。若有心確立多元﹐lend me your ears﹐無論對方的口筆如何﹐都應有包容胸襟。

2. How to define pluralism and anti-pluralism?

You said, "This is a rich, pluralistic world, we should all strive to be tolerant and inclusive and respectful of others' thinking and opinions, rather than engage in verbal mudslinging at the slightest provocation to those who hold opposing views." Every single word in the above sentence is positive, but unfortunately, the sentence itself is unbalanced: whilst "pluralism" is an objective concept, an abstract ideal that refers generally to the enduring coexistence of different viewpoints and different lifestyles within a social body; but words like "verbal mudslinging" and "respectful" are subjective and empirical, differing from era to era -- to put it in more technical terms, their meanings are socially constructed.

The post-50s generation subjectively labels today's youths as engaging in "verbal mudslinging" to somehow demonstrate that they are being objectively anti-pluralist. But it is pointless to use that which is subjective as evidence to prove that which is objective, just like how the subjective verbal mudslinging that occurred during the May Fourth Movement was somehow nonsensically used to show it had generated an "objective" intellectual pluralism. And while the older generation may not condone foul language, on certain internet forums such rhetorical whiplash is skilfully employed as the grammar that allowed for the vibrant exchange of ideas and knowledge, and "Letting a Hundred Expletives Bloom" actually helps generate a fruitful proliferation of viewpoints from across all sections of society.

The fact that the youths of today are declaiming different ideas and viewpoints is precisely what helps to promote societal pluralism. If their voices are being marginalised and stereotyped instead with a subjective label of "verbal mudslinging" by the post-50s generation, then one cannot blame the youngsters for criticising the post-50s for engaging in an anti-pluralistic monopolising of thought by way of a conceptual bait-and-switch. If you are indeed serious about embracing pluralism, Mr. Lend-me-your-ears, you should strive to be inclusive and tolerant of those whom you deem as engaging in verbal combat, however rhetorically violent those speech-acts may indeed be.

三、 妥協、民主、社會進步之間有何關係﹖
你 說「以各退半步去尋求最終大家能夠共同進一步的結果」不錯﹐只是「妥協是民主的產物」並非共識。據Lijphart概括﹐共識性民主為荷比盧瑞士等採用﹐ 英式議會民主為反妥協模型。也許你不是說民主﹐只是談哲學﹕盧梭的社會契約論主張「每人都放弃天然自由而获取契约自由」﹐倒算妥協。
新 一代多認為修正的社會契約應有分工﹐由個別群組負責不妥協來彰顯理念。伯夷叔齊採薇而食是毋須妥協的﹐戴高樂被勸拘捕「搞事」的哲人薩特時說「'On n'arrete pas un Voltaire」。若社會不接受﹐不妥協也無影響力﹔接受了﹐價值觀則會改變﹐正如沒有保育人士的不妥協﹐政府不會修改基建指引加入保育評核。Lend me your ears﹐這就是進步。

3. Compromise, Democracy, Societal Progress -- What are their links?

What you said about "Each backing down half a step to ensure that both can move forward a whole step together" is not bad, though your other statement that "compromise is the product of democracy" isn't the common consensus view. According to Lijphart's summary, consensus style democracy are prevalent in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, but the British parliamentary democracy is actually predicated upon an anti-compromise model. Or perhaps you weren't really talking about democratic systems per se but general political philosophies, like what Rousseau proposed regarding the social contract, in which case what you said actually made some sense.

Quite a number of the post-50s believe that this societal contract requires everyone to compromise, otherwise society would not progress. But if everyone just compromises within a society that already has a severe power imbalance, so that everything is stacked in favour of the establishment, then society would not actually move forward either. If one took Rousseau's ideas to the extreme, it could lead to the kind of mob rule as had been witnessed during the French Revolution. [Translator's note: hmm, not sure if this historical example really is the result of taking ideas of social contract to the extreme?]

The new generation believes in an amended social contract the obligations of which should be split among different societal groupings, whose disagreements with each other are a way of sharpening their individual ideological ballasts. When Pa Yi and Su Chai chose to forage in the wild during the Chou dynasty, they didn't need to compromise their political views; when Charles de Gaulle was urged to arrest the "trouble-making" philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, he said, "On n'arrete pas un Voltaire" ("One doesn't arrest a Voltaire"). If society does not accept one's ideological standpoint, there is no need to compromise as the individual poses no threat to the social order anyway. On the other hand, if society does accept one's views, then its values will have changed accordingly to accommodate. Without the uncompromising stance of the conservationists, for instance, the government wouldn't have amended its guidelines on infrastructural development to include an audit rating for conservation. My dear Mr. Lend-me-your-ears, this is called progress.

四、 怎樣論證複雜問題簡單化﹖
科 學論證應以雞蛋一方的無罪假定為起點﹐以研究作準。假如某君關心五個議題、五個都找到官商勾結的數據﹐lend me your ears﹐只能算「言簡意賅」。何況不同商人、部門有不同口碑﹐盲目逢商必反不會這樣。在青年眼中﹐以一個標籤否定一個論點﹐也是「懶於理性思考的借 口」。

4. How to prove one is oversimplifying a complex matter?

Your reminder that youngsters should not "oversimplify complex matters", that they should pursue independent thinking, is something that everyone can agree with, but how is your negative perception of today's youths actually shown to be valid?

Those who are part of the status quo often lament that they don't get any credit from today's youths, whose attitude they typify thus: "Anything to do with the government and the corporate world would result in a knee-jerk accusation of corruption and transmission of interests among the politicians and business leaders involved".

But this is not entirely logical. The above is simply a wrongful assertion by those already occupying a dominant position on the high wall.

Scientific proofs work instead by assuming the null hypothesis in favour of the meek and fragile, on the side of the egg, and requiring research evidence as the sole arbiter of truth. If someone is interested in five different topics and uncovered evidence demonstrating collusion among politicians and business leaders in all five cases, then my dear Mr. Lend-me-your-ears, those aren't knee-jerk accusations but rather succinct and valid commentary. The fact is that different business leaders and different government departments do have differing levels of ethical repute among the general population, which would not have been the case at all if indeed we were simply being anti-business on principle. From the point of view of the young generation, refuting a valid argument simply on the basis of a simplistic label is just another example of what you yourself referred to as "an excuse for lazy irrational thinking".

五、 甚麼環境會觸發政治暴力、如何比較案例﹖
你 說美國槍擊案令你反思香港青年的激進。我曾對此研究﹐略知各地暴力或恐怖主義多由五元素互動造成﹕(1)有鼓勵暴力的組織(如蓋達)或容易被暴力濫用的法 例(如美國若干修正案)﹔(2)有激進意識形態(如白人至上主義)﹔(3)組織帶來資源或令武器氾濫(如美國槍支協會)﹔(4)激進組織有慈善支部吸引普 羅支持者、或有NGO支援激進行動者(如哈瑪斯孤兒院、美國為極端思潮辯護的ACLU)﹔(5)擁有主流媒體(如真主黨燈塔電視臺)。香港一無所有。
在 互聯網世代﹐上述「方法」還有致命訊息盲點。我們在電視報章也許看不見菜園村﹐但lend me your ears﹐這在網絡是常識﹔香港槍擊論沒有佐證﹐社運青年被摔傷的影片卻有極多網民check it out。有前輩通過麥長青獲TVB最佳男配角論證獅子山下精神長存﹐對青年﹐這只反映電視台北望和沒落﹔有前輩說林峰得巨獎證明電視台實力﹐在網上﹐這常 被視作又一不公義。

5. What kind of environment would instigate political violence, and how do we compare different examples?

You mentioned that the recent incident in the United States, where people at a political rally were gunned down, caused you to reflect on the rebelliousness of today's youths in Hong Kong. I actually researched the topic a while ago, and can tell you that political violence or terrorism witnessed around the world could roughly be summarised as being caused by the interaction of the following five factors: (1) the existence of organisations that promote violence (e.g. Al Queda) and/or the existence of legislation that could easily be usurped as an instrument for violence (e.g. a certain American constitutional amendment); (2) the existence of extremist ideology (e.g. white supremacy); (3) organisations that provide resources for the proliferation of weapons (e.g. the American National Rifle Association); (4) the existence of extremist groups with a philanthropic wing who could garner popular support, or the existence of NGOs that support extremists (e.g. orphanages run by Hamas, the ACLU in America who protects the ideology of extremists [Translator's note: not sure if I entirely agree that ACLU exists solely to reinforce extremist ideology to be honest]); (5) the ownership of mainstream media organisations (e.g. Al Manar [Translator's Note: After further digging I am finally positive that Shen was referring to Al Manar]). None of these factors are actually present in Hong Kong.

Generalising from the isolated example of the Tucson shooting in America to our own post-80s generation in Hong Kong, reacting with fearful screams at televised pictures of citizens' protests against the high-speed rail, making knee-jerk, alarmist and unsubstantiated comparisons and lacking any systemic analysis in your commentary regarding society's ills, all these run counter to the ethical conduct of comparative politics, even if you are actually being sincere in your admonitions of the young. Like we wouldn't casually associate any patriotic protests with the events of '67, nor would we ask you to be careful with your drinking just because somebody else had killed his mother when he got drunk on red wine.

In the age of the Internet, this kind of "logics" has several additional irredeemable informational blind-spots. Perhaps we might not be able to read about the wanton destruction of Choi Yuen Chuen from the mainstream media, but Lend-me-your-ears, this is already a case commonly acknowledged in the online world. While your theory regarding a Hong Kong shooting incident similar to the one that occurred in the States has yet to find any actual empirical support, there are plenty of online footage that records how a young Hong Kong political activist was injured when he was gratuitously thrown to the ground during peaceful protest, with plenty of netizens checking it out. A senior commentator once opined how a television soap star winning the best supporting actor award from TVB is proof positive that the Lion Rock spirit survives in Hong Kong -- this however only demonstrates to today's youngsters that the broadcaster concerned has merely become increasingly Mainland-oriented to the detriment of the Hong Kong viewers, signalling the station's decline. Another senior media commentator mentioned how the fact that another television soap star winning a top music award is testament to the strength of the same broadcaster -- online this entertainment news is simply greeted with derision and viewed as another instance of gross injustice.

不同世代的觀念差異不易調和﹐但回應結構性問題的青年本身不可能是「問題」﹐把這當成問題 的方法論才是問題﹐遺憾地﹐不少資深建制青年工作者卻如是觀。你笑說別稱「唐老」﹐據說因看過我以「呂老」尊稱呂大樂的文章﹐說起來﹐上述確和與呂老的方 法討論大同小異。老吾老以及人之老﹐出發點是善意的﹐一如你的坦白。

Different generations' views and attitudes are not easy to blend together, but the youths who respond to the systemic problems within our society today could not possibly be labelled as the "problem" themselves. The trouble lies precisely with those who treat this as a "problem", but that is unfortunately the view held by many experienced youth workers. You jokingly suggested that I shouldn't refer to you as "Old Tang", apparently because you have seen how I humbly addressed Dr. Lui Tai Lok as "Old Lui" in responding to his article. Now that you mentioned it, the above viewpoints do actually exhibit much similarity with those propounded by Old Lui. As the saying goes, respect to our own elders as well as those of others, my intention is entirely benign, just like your honesty.

可惜﹐這份坦白建基於對世代認知鴻溝的漠視﹐無論主觀 意願如何﹐都有以五十後定義單向批判八十後的客觀效果﹐或曰「機已屈」﹐引起的反響無助世代溝通﹐反加深了誤會和對立﹐這不應是你樂見的。按華人傳統﹐評 論主禮發言並不合禮﹔對一些八十後﹐本文會被批評為太溫和﹔但若「平等位置」真的存在﹐我衷心希望你與公眾分享反思﹐這才符合你定義的跨代溝通﹐畢竟世界是你們的﹐也是我們的﹐但歸根究底是你們的。古代說lend me your ears﹐今人說listen up guys﹐都是發自肺腑的﹐thank you。


Sadly, this honesty of yours is predicated upon a profound ignorance regarding the enormous gulf in understanding between the different generations. Whatever your subjective intention, your speech has the objective effect of unilaterally criticising the post-80s generation using a fixed and fixing post-50s lens -- in other words, you have already gamed the system to your generation's advantage. The waves of negative response generated by your speech are not only unhelpful towards inter-generational dialogue, but actually serve to further deepen the misunderstanding and opposition across the generational divide. This shouldn't be what you would be happy to see. Whilst it is against traditional Chinese etiquette to criticise the speech by one's guest of honour, for some post-80s readers, my article here would actually be seen as being too kind to an undeserving target. If however there could indeed be a semblance of parity of esteem among all participants, I sincerely wish that you would partake in the above reflections together with the general public, for this should be what is really meant by inter-generational dialogue as you yourself have identified. After all the world is all yours, as well as ours, but at the end of the day it is still yours. There's an old saying, "lend me your ears", whereas nowadays people would say "listen up guys", both expressions are sincere and heart-felt. Thank you for listening.


Translated by Snowdrops, 2011. All rights reserved. (Translation polished at 11:38; "Russell" amended as "Rousseau" at 14:38 - was thinking of Bertrand rather than Jean-Jacques - a most embarrassing slip!)(Translation amended again with slight modifications at 23:23 on 28 January further to kind suggestions by Sidney Sweet - see comments)(Translation further amended at 6:42am on 2 February, 2011 to polish off certain clunky sentences and corrected "straw man" as "bait-and-switch").

Further reading:

向沈旭暉進一言: 辭達而已矣

形而上 / 形而下






陳雲:反對壟斷 對抗複製(節錄自《九評地產黨》)

香港的問題,絕不是「五十後」鬥「八十後」的問題。大量「五十後」的人,都是被社會遺棄的窮困階級,很多老人家流落街頭拾荒謀生,只有絕少數人成為中環大 亨。香港面對的不是世代抗爭,不是老人不願退位而年輕人不能上位的問題,而是共同的時代問題,是機會重新開放、經濟轉型和社會價值觀改變的問題。「八十 後」提出的議程,是跨世代和跨階級的香港人的共同利益。踏入二十一世紀,2000年之後的幾年,八十後提出的保育香港運動,保衛天星碼頭皇后碼頭、保衛灣 仔喜帖街的街坊生活、反對時代廣場圈禁公共土地、反對興建高鐵浪費公帑破壞人文地理、保衛菜園村及鄉郊農民生計,都是代表香港整體人民、特別是代表被剝削 的弱勢社群去抗爭的,絕不是為了自己的世代利益。


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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Some Last Images of 2010, a Translation of Su Shi Poetry, a Warming Vatful of Chinese Chicken Broth.. and Finally, a Mid-Life Stock-take...

At the height of the snowstorms last month.

Things don't look so dreary actually when the sun came out.

Kids played during the first thaw.

As can be seen from the shallow footprints above, this first snowfall in early December really wasn't that bad. In some parts of the country, the snow managed to recede significantly to give a wonderful feeling of springtime in winter...

Little did we know of course that a much bigger snowstorm was to arrive within a fortnight to enable us to have the proverbial White Christmas as well as a White New Year. We sure hit the jackpot this winter!

Anyway, this was taken when the kids in the neighbourhood still had the mood to make a snowman (albeit a headless one).

And yup, much of my gardening efforts earlier in the year turned out to be for nought because of the snowstorms... as sadly there are only so many plants I could save by putting them indoors.

I mean, if the first snow didn't kill them, the above second severe snow almost certainly did. ( I say "almost", as I don't want to rule out the tenacity of any living things -- I find, in my experience, even very sick ones could be gradually nursed back, given the right support and encouragement.)

Of the ones I managed to save indoors, none had done so well thus far than my lovely Camellia , bought as a small plant without any buds since early summer, which finally managed to flower in the depths of winter.

For a long time, I thought it was not going to flower at all (the buds had appeared for a full six months before flowering). I mean, right up until early December, the plant pretty much just looked like this (and yes, those were egg-shells on top of the soil. I also used coffee grounds for their acidity, as Camellia hates alkaline soil. So glad these folk gardening tips worked out well):

And I had to wait a good several months just to get the bud to turn white and open up a tiny bit:

I am so happy that my little plant stays true to its name as "the Rose of Winter".

The whiteness of its blossoms has an ethereal beauty that is similar in purity, though very different in tone, to the heavy snow lying just outside the glass-panes that separate this lively plant from the cold, harsh elements outside.

The above was the first to flower in mid-December, and has since declined, but there are luckily four more still to come into full bloom, some of these are captured below (though strictly speaking these are 2011 pictures):

It's such a wonderful reward to see something come so beautifully into fruition...

It is complete serendipity that, just as my white camellias are flowering, I came across the below poem by Su Shi, and although he was referring to Pear blossoms rather than Camellias (中譯:茶花), how wonderful that he was also contemplating the pale white blossoms against a backdrop of snow. I like his imageries so much that I want to set his poem down here and attempt another one of my literary translations (see here for my previous flower-themed translation of Chinese poetry):

"東欄梨花" --- 蘇軾





"Pear Blossoms by the East Fence" --- Su Shi

Pale pear blossoms, white amid dark green willows;

While leaves from willows fly, over town, blossoms gently a-float.

A column of snow droops dolefully from the far east railing,

How much of Life could one discern with the pure clarity of crystal?

(Alternative last line: How many times could one behold the annual passing of Ching Ming?)

Translated by Snowdrops. 2011. All rights reserved.
(Final satisfied version published 04:06 on 14 January, 2011)
(Added alternative last line at 02:20 on 14 January, 2011)
(Translation note 1: "清明" could be referring to the ancestral tomb-clearing festival in Spring -- the Ching Ming festival -- rather than as meaning "crystal clear"; I only took the literal meaning of the phrase in formulating my translation above. For a translation that incorporated the meaning of the Ching Ming festival, please refer to Alice Poon's work here and here.)
(Translation note 2: I'm really happy to be able to utilise some onomatopoeic assonances / alliterations in the manner of Gerald Manley Hopkins as part of my translation above, as in "pale pear blossoms", "while leaves from willows fly", and "droops dolefully". I'm sure this could be improved much further but am happy with what I was able to attempt so far.)
(Translation note 3: After a bit of deliberation, I've added an alternative last line that does take into account the translation of "清明" as Ching Ming festival as opposed to the literal meaning of the words themselves.)

From the Wikipedia entry on Camellia japonica (which is the genus that my pot plant belongs to), I am very glad to learn that there has been a beautiful English poem that is dedicated to the White Camelia japonica:


Thou beauteous child of purity and grace,

What element could yield so fair a birth?

Defilement bore me - my abiding place

Was mid the foul clods of polluted earth.

But light looked on me from a holier sphere,

To draw me heavenward - then I rose and shone;

And can I vainly to thine eye appear,

Thou dust-born gazer? make the type thine own.

From thy dark dwelling look thou forth, and see

The purer beams that brings a lovelier change for thee.

Okay... enough of poetic musings on ice and snow and purity :) How about a vatful of delicious Chinese chicken broth that is sure to warm the cockles of your heart as well as fill your stomach?

This is my first ever attempt to make Chinese broth. In fact, I invented the recipe when I found myself craving Chinese soup in the middle of the snowstorm last month (last year technically also). Will put up the recipe in the next while, as I have to say it tastes absolutely gorgeous and, more importantly, even authentic (even though it was a complete invention by a newbie / amateur Chinese cook such as myself!)

* * * * *

Finally, a little note to sum up my past decades... 人踏中年,與其來個中年危機,倒不如做一個小小總結,積極的面對人生。

Late 70's. -- Toddler. 襁褓幼稚時期。也有片段回憶,都是開心的。

80's -- Growing up. 成長;價值觀成立及鞏固。最快樂的童年;自信心爆棚。然而,好景不常:八九六四;父母離異。

90's -- Emigration. 移民;激烈轉變。自信變自卑;外向變內向。可是,也遇上好好的本地朋友和老師,慢慢地學會欣賞這裡的人和環境。考上理想大學;真正重拾信心。九七回歸,難忘的暑期工。完成四年愉快充實的大學生涯。拿獎學金,出國進修,初次真正獨立生活,亦正式明白「夏蟲不可以語冰」這七個字的意思。

00's -- "Lost decade". 困惑之年。事業選擇不如理想,被某些同事抵制(初時以為是單純的背景問題,後來了解到其實自己的不圓滑也是致命傷)。當一些自己尊敬的上司與同僚也走了,自己也選擇重回學園,並幸運的覓得一教席。然而沒想到學府內同樣爾虞我詐,理想曾一度破滅。自在外回來再次與家人同住後,與家人關係尤其日益惡劣,終於頂唔順,搬出去自成一家(雖然現在是名副其實的負資產苦業主,但我還是認為自己能擁有自己的天地是非常幸運的,加上不打算賣樓,亦暫支持得住,還不心存感激嗎?)。可惜還未在待人處事上學乖,也遇上不少小人,工作縱有熱誠,但也常遇滑鐵盧。可是也僥倖遇上幾位真誠支持鼓勵後輩的模範前輩(雖然其中一位已在兩個月前輕輕的走了...),和很多讓我受益不淺的的學生,在研究途中,也遇到很多善良的,美自內心的,深具啟發性的人。當身心疲憊得像一個破機器般勉強地運作,他們是我堅持下去的理由。

Last 3 months -- 十年了,破機器終於有機會給停下來稍為修補。我也真的幸運,當機器壞了,身邊竟還有親人好友,他們竟然還未完全被蒸發掉,儘管我是非常沒有給予他們應得的時間和關心,真是奇蹟!而我也未因那些困惑之年而放棄自己,也是奇蹟!

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Friday, January 07, 2011

有些東西。。。 (Updated with full text of Charter 08 in Chinese)


有些東西,說不清,愈說愈糟 --

有些東西,理還亂,滋擾視聽 --

有些東西,極無謂,雞毛蒜皮 --

有些東西,明白了,不會介意 --

有些東西,錯過了,需懂放下 --

有些東西,放開了,可以忘記 --


有些東西,要執着,好好 --

By Snowdrops (中譯: 雪花蓮) 2011. All rights reserved.

This is a Chinese companion piece to my earlier poem, "Some things..."

Further Reading (excerpted from 2010年那些失踪的新聞未完待續……):




兩個月前的河北保定, 河大校園裡,一聲刺耳的剎車聲過後,燭光點點,冷風淒淒,如花生命驟然離去。 我爸是李剛,這是肇事者現場遺下的只言片語;官二代和平民女,這是二者的階層身份,社會情緒排山倒海,一邊是出離憤怒的萬眾聚焦,一邊是戛然而止的事態進展。


你還記得舟曲縣城的廢墟嗎? 8月7日,暗夜裡,暴雨中,噩夢般的泥石流巨龍... 這是“覆舟曲”的滅頂之災,也是生態失衡後驚心動魄的慘重代價。

你還記得王家嶺的礦難嗎? 3月28日,黑沉沉的大地深處,115名幸運者死裡逃生,38名遇難者長埋地下。 沒有人知道遇難者的姓名,也無從探究事故的真實原因。 瘡痍大地無語靜默,唯有血煤依舊在燃燒,地火照舊在運行。

你還記得富士康高樓頂上,那些徘徊著的孤魂嗎? 1月23日,19歲的富士康員工馬向前,從富士康華南培訓處的宿舍裡縱身一躍,就像打開了一個魔咒。 ... 馬向前之後,我們至今不能準確地知道這些後來不幸者的名字,也不知道那一跳之後究竟還有多少隱情。

你還記得那些可疑疫苗下的受害孩子嗎? 3月的山西,病床上百餘名孩子的哭聲,攪動了中國。 2010年度的疫苗孩子,和2008年的大頭娃娃、2009年的結石寶寶一樣,成為成人世界里永遠洗刷不掉的恥辱標籤。


是什麼在讓這些新聞成為2010年的失踪者? 是什麼讓探求和接近真相的過程總是戛然而止?

是誰在加速我們的遺忘? 又是誰在干預我們的記憶?

我們看到了公權力的驕橫不法。 我們追溯的信息鏈條,總是在最密集的環節,齊刷刷地斷掉。 我們關注的公眾事件,總是在最緊要的時刻,進入時間停滯的黑洞。



我們忍不住會想起那個著名的寓言。 想起那個在沙灘上來回奔走,將退潮後陷在沙坑水窪裡的小魚,一條條奮力送回大海裡的小男孩。 你救不過來啊,你能救多少條小魚呢? 是啊,這條算,這條也算,還有這條……






Source: 南都周刊 (2010-12-31 12:26:30). Article contains original news reportage links to the events mentioned above which have not yet been harmonised away by CCP officialdom as of 8 January, 2011.


Further reading:

Full text of Charter 08 in Chinese (thanks to Sinan for sharing):




今年是中國立憲百年,《世界人權宣言》公布60周年,“民主牆”誕生30周年,中國政府簽署《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》10周年。在經曆了長期的人權災難和艱難曲折的抗争曆程之後,覺醒的中國公民日漸清楚地認識到,自由、平等、人權是人類共同的普世價值;民主、共和、憲政是現代政治的基本制度架構。抽離了這些普世價值和基本政制架構的“現代化”,是剝奪人的權利、腐蝕人性、摧毀人的尊嚴的災難過程。21世紀的中國将走向何方,是繼續這種威權統治下的“ 現代化”,還是認同普世價值、融入主流文明、建立民主政體?這是一個不容回避的抉擇。












有國內朋友說沒看過這東西,即管放到這裡看看能放多久。朋友們能看到就盡量看吧! [↩]

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some Late August Colours...

Can't believe the students are back tomorrow, and another academic year begins. Here's to the final summer of the first decade of the not-so-new millenium. Whilst I didn't get to go away this summer, but I did appreciate the sun, oh-so-very-much. It had been one of the nicest Irish summers in living memory (perhaps as belated compensation for the dreadful winter and so-called spring we had). I'm glad I stayed, even if I had not had much choice in the matter, for this summer has already marked one of my many firsts when it comes to letting my creativity blossom, like in the colourful photos above (thank you Nikon Coolpix for being a handy point-and-shoot until such time as I could pick up your heftier cousin again, or I wouldn't have been able to capture that pretty butterfly otherwise). And as autumn comes, I would be even gladder to have completed one of my important milestones in my life thus far... :)

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Where are you from?

Que sera sera...

Feed my pet!

Currently getting stuck in...

Have just finished...

Me, Anime...

A bunch of snowdrops by any other name...

S is for Sweet
N is for Natural
O is for Open-hearted
W is for Worldly
D is for Dedicated
R is for Romantic
O is for Original
P is for Perfectionist
S is for Special
What Does Your Name Mean?