Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Don't Learn From History



Don’t learn from history — it’s full of lies. Some say that’s to be expected, as history is written by the victors. But why must victors lie? Do they not realise that falsifying history will certainly backfire?

Chinese obsession with history stems not only from academic interests or a peculiar fascination with dead people, but a firm belief in the benefits of experience. The post of Official Historian,  already established in the Xia Dynasty nearly four thousand years ago, continued in various forms until the end of Qing Dynasty in the beginning of the 20th century. Official Historians were officially extremely independent, therefore a high risk job. They followed the Emperors around, making notes which the Sons of Heaven were not allowed to read by ancestral decree and tradition (that changed after Tang Dynasty). A Historian’s record could impact the Emperor’s Posthumous Titles — marking His Majesty as a jerk or fool for posterity. Expectedly, some overzealous Historians got their heads removed. These murderous episodes were duly recorded by his successors.

Historians in ancient time were unimaginably stubborn. The renowned Sima Qian of Han Dynasty endured castration to finish The Records of the Grand Historian, an epic achievement still widely studied today, more than two millennia later. To minimise bias and decapitation, official history was usually compiled from archives and records long after a change of dynasty. By then, as China’s struggles were mostly internal, the boundary between victors and losers had been obscured by time. Recent history — itself an oxymoron — is unreliable anywhere, like autobiographies of politicians.

歷史的謊話



不少近代史其實大話連篇。以史為鑒這句話好像有點過時。西方人解釋說這是由於歷史是 「勝利者」 寫的,難免偏頗。為何勝利已經在握的人,反而作假呢?難道他們不知道假歷史對自己後代的不良影響嗎?

中國人看重歷史的程度,舉世無雙。史官這高難度的高危工作,遠在夏朝已經設立(太史令),一直以不同稱號保留至清末,足有四千年歷史。古代史官的權力很大,他們每天記錄皇帝的言行,而唐朝之前的皇帝按慣例是不許看史官的筆記本的。由於史官的記錄會影響皇上在青史上留個什麼名,天子自然有些緊張。間中脾氣失控,龍顏一怒之下將食古不化的史官腦袋搬家,偶爾也有發生。不過這類殺人案件一般都會被後來的史官記下來的。

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Graffiti 塗鴉



I don’t know anything about graffiti, but the good ones make me stop to admire, as if in a gallery. Some are amazing not only due to its artistic merits, but the fact that the artists don’t expect reward or recognition for their masterpieces. Even Banksy’s identity remains a mystery. A good piece of graffiti often makes me curious. What does the artist do for a living? Is this person gravity proof? Does he or she plan and practise on the living room wall first, before on-site execution? How many nights does it take to do something this size?

我對塗鴉沒有研究,但一幅好的塗鴉,往往會令我駐足欣賞,如同身在畫廊。好的塗鴉除了藝術價值,還有創作者的心態。哪麼辛苦完成的作品,沒有揚名求利的動機,也算一種清高吧。連舉世知名的 Banksy 的身份,到現在還是個謎。 有水準的塗鴉,會令我好奇。如此藝術高人,冒著地心吸力之險,月黑風高爬外牆噴漆為啥呢?哪麼大的壁畫,他之前有沒有在家裡大廳牆壁預習一次呢?一共要搞幾個晚上才完成呢?



Of course, a lot of street doodling is garbage. Simpleminded atrocities such as gang slogans, misspelled political messages or fatuous declaration of love may seem worthless. But they somehow accentuate the despair and social failure which have given birth to their brand of vandalism.

當然,佳作始終是少數。更多的是粗口錯白字,童黨標語,到此一游,或豬彪愛阿嬌之類的垃圾。但這些低檔次塗鴉,在破舊橫街和貧民窟,卻頗添氣氛,也是社會某方面失敗的見證


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Thinking Inside The Box



Calling ourselves Homo Sapiens — literally wise man — has to be either missed irony, or hyperbolic self-flattery. Even dummies know that the average human is far from wise. Quite the contrary, whenever life is good, most of our species take petulant pride in not thinking. Behind dainty expressions of ostentatious innocence and unworldliness is an unmentionable awareness that being really stupid without consequence is a modern privilege, a rich-folk thing, a secretly adored social status. Sure, during our negligibly short existence, the odd thinking specimens might have had delivered us from collective troubles, or led us to more favourable grounds for survival. But mass ignorance has since been reinforced, making such rare fortuitous events ever less likely in the future.

創意與中庸



人類自稱「智人」,真的有點兒自誇,因為連傻瓜也知道,一般人的智慧很有限。而我們智慧不高,並非完全由於天分所限,很多人根本不喜歡也看不起思考。經濟環境許可的時候,無知是顯示家底的手段之一;一無所知,笨手笨腳,波鞋帶不會綁,荷包蛋不會煎,是富貴人家孩子的身分象徵,比穿名牌更體面。當然,在人類短短的歷史裡,曾經出現過異常聰明人士把我們集體帶出困境,或帶來思想突破。但這些真智人是極少數,毫不典型,當時也不一定得到大眾的認同。所以叫人類「好彩人」,可能比「智人」更貼切。但人類在地球史裡只不過是幾秒鐘前出現的物種而已,幸運能持續多久,有待觀察。

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The New Face of Old Guangzhou 廣州的舊城新貌



The Chan tablets behind the kirin are long gone at the Chan Academy 
陳氏家祠麒麟身後的牌位早已不見了

Like most tourists, I prefer historical sites or “exotic” destinations when travelling, wishing to see something “different”. Since I regarded Guangzhou familiar from frequent visits during the early 1990s, I had not thought of exploring it as a tourist. Thanks to a friend who organised a weekend trip recently, I was surprised by how much the old city has changed. It not only looked different as expected, but also felt very different. Much of the old was thankfully still there, calmly giving way to the new. In such a dramatic and abrupt social transformation, anxiety is expected. But from the places we visited and the people we talked to, I sensed mostly optimism and vibrancy rather than misgivings.


There's a wonderful French restaurant hiding on the 4th floor. No Elevator. 
四樓有家超正法式素食館

正如很多遊客一樣,我一般來說會挑選比較新鮮的旅遊目的地,希望增廣見聞。由於在90年代初經常會去廣州,所以自以為對這個兩千年古城有些認識,便沒有想過去羊城當遊客。幸好上星期有朋友安排廣州兩晚三日美食游,才有機會見證一別二十年的廣州在軟件硬件上的巨大改進。當然,一個古老城市有很多遺產,也有不少包袱,與從頭規劃建設的地方各有利弊,不能相比。但在種種條件限制下,廣州能夠大致和諧地繁榮過渡到21世紀,肯定是多方面努力和忍讓的成果。看似簡單,得來不易。

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

WW3 - A Horrifying New Year Vision



2016 was a black swan year to many. Fortunately, “realism” (interchangeably aka “cynicism” in our brave new world) helped me to anticipate Brexit (http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2015/10/her-majesty-and-commies.html) and Trump (http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2016/03/trump-for-president.html), thereby sparing me a couple of unpleasant surprises.

Amidst happy wishes, 2017 begins noisily with more frantic beating of the war drum by — well, who else? Though nothing new, the rhythm has become desperate and erratic. Facing its own “regime change” phantasmagorically claimed to have been orchestrated by Russia, the pitifully vulnerable Empire seems even more irascible and capricious than usual, no longer bothering to dress up its contempt for fairness and rationality.


There are plenty of talks about a military showdown between the US and China, as if it were a much awaited new war-game app. Some analysts sound like desperate salesmen from the military industrial complex (MIC). Others, emboldened by the pivotal positions which they would soon hold, sound outright deranged. Happy New Year!


Nearly all of these propositions envisage a military conflict with China through a predominantly Western lens. This bias is understandable, since most wars in the past century had been choreographed by Western powers, according to their military traditions and objectives. But in a conflict with China, it would be prudent to include a little “common sense” with Chinese characteristics, in order to make the horrifying picture more complete.

First of all, why would there be a war? And what for? 


中美大戰:一個恐怖的新年臆想

 


2016年誕下幾只黑天鵝後,已隨時光溜走。幸而我思想逆行,一早對英國脫歐 (英女皇與共產黨 http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2015/10/blog-post.html) 和特朗普當選 (我也來撐特朗普
http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2016/03/blog-post.html) 的可能性做了心理準備,省卻了一份驚奇。但2017年的開始,並不顯得平靜。美國的戰鼓越擂越響,連聽慣了的人也覺心寒。而帝國的戰爭機器,似乎失了方向,姿態更急躁野蠻。

有關「中美決戰」 的文章和「智庫」報告突然多了起來。有些報告看似軍工業銷售部的建議書。有些狂言瘋語,更來自即將身負要職的帝國重臣。John Pilger 的紀錄片 The Coming War On China 「即將到來的對華戰爭」,是罕有的客觀警世之作(https://movie.douban.com/subject/26929113/)。不過大部分的分析,不論立場,都以西方軍事傳統來看這場潛在的災難性衝突,而忽略了中國人對戰爭的看法。

第一個基本問題是:中美無端端為何打仗呢?

Friday, 16 December 2016

Faces of Iceland 冰岛面貌



Photogenic Iceland has been exhaustedly covered. Every visitor to Iceland has taken a picture similar to this. Perhaps I'll focus more on the faces of its fascinating people instead? 
冰岛的美,举世闻名,已经被太多摄影大师全面覆盖了。但去年六月花了钱和了时间游冰岛,不展示几张相片又心有不甘。让我多放一点注意力在蛮有个性的冰岛人民吧。

I visited Iceland during the European cup, when their amateurish team beat some of the best footballers in Europe to enter semi-final. I too would have found that surprising had I not met its people forged by the ferocity of their enchanting landscape. In spite of the harsh climate, Icelanders remain defiantly warm at heart.
我在冰岛的时候,刚巧是欧洲杯高潮。人丁单薄的冰岛,不过几十万人。国家足球队由教练到前锋,守门到后备,都是业余分子,竟然败了足球王国英国,跻身四强,世人大跌眼镜。但到过了冰岛,接触过它强悍中带温淳,冷傲中洋溢着热情的人民后,
大大减少了我对这赛果的意外感。



A "dottir" contemplating the future of her country. Iceland was the only country who got rid of the crooked banksters after the financial tsunami, and recovered miraculously well -- so well that the mainstream media have to keep it a secret. Icelanders seem to have a mind of their own in each and every way. They still don't use family "surnames". For example, a hypothetical Eric, son of Gunnar, will be called Eric Gunnarson. His sister Grdrun will be Grdrun Gunnardottir (daughter of Gunnar)

一个冰岛女孩在考量国家前途。冰岛是唯一在金融风暴后把“银行流氓”收监的西方国家,结果复原得很快,所以被银行家控制的“自由传媒”都不作报道。冰岛人很多方面都我行我素,到现在仍然没有改变独特的姓氏传统。举个例:一个叫 Gunnar Sorenson 的儿子 Eric 会姓 Gunnarson (意为 Gunnar 的儿子),不是Sorenson。而他的妹妹 Grdrun 的名字是 Grdrun Gunnardottir (Gunnar 的女儿),与爸爸,妈妈和哥哥都不一定同姓。

Monday, 7 November 2016

Dreams of Utopia


Dreams of Utopia


as anthologised in...

SCMP Book Review


Cupid Wong is the epitome of success in his own opinion. He’s handsome and athletic; his law practice is lucrative, and his wife an anorexic beauty a good inch and a half taller than himself, making up for his vertical shortfall. He’s even a living miracle in his congregation. With the exception of his dysfunctional sex life, the voids in his life have been filled with jubilant denial, or delegated to God. This ultra-private mortification finally ended when Mei appeared. Unexpectedly, their obsessively erotic affair ignited his political passion, leading him down a path of revolution.

(Warning: Adult content. Children might find it unsuitable in any case.)



夢遺烏托邦


夢遺烏托邦


金雲傑律師除了高度稍遜,算得上是個現代都市的成功典範。他有錢有臉,老婆漂亮威風,比自己高出了整整一英吋半。但有型無實的生活,令他心靈空虛。不過他左閃右避,拒絕面對,總算保住了幸福快樂的形象。可惜性生活上的缺憾很難躲避,而床上的屈辱是難言之隱,無從申說。直到夢嬌的出現,一切才改變過來。想不到這段夢幻式的香艷愛情,竟然引爆了金雲傑的革命激情。

(敬告:內含成人片段,反正兒童讀這故事會打盹兼發惡夢)


Monday, 31 October 2016

Ordinary Americans' Options


Ordinary Americans brought up to believe in “justice, freedom, democracy” have been watching their elected governments blatantly erode and betray each and every one of these noble principles. Sadly, there seems very little they can do besides voting. But by now, even the intellectually challenged and CNN intoxicated should realise that the ballot box is just an eeny-meeny-miny-moe democracy chimera designed to fool them, and to subvert others.

Facing two surreally abominable candidates this year, some angry and helpless Americans talk about “revolution”. I hope they are only venting frustrations, for an armed insurrection against one of the most violent and powerful military regimes in human history is suicidal.

A peaceful and passive revolution, however, is possible.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Money Can Reunite Hong Kong




If I were to run for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, I’ll win by a landslide margin, and gain unanimous support from the reflexively antagonistic legislators. Politicos from the left, right, centre, however confused or deranged, will rally behind me because nearly all registered voters will. Upon taking office, my one and only campaign promise will sail through Legco in the first month, after snipping a few red-tapes just for show, and seeking legal advice as a matter of formality. My plan is so simple even Legco members with sub-secondary education (and there are quite a few of them now) can understand immediately, and eagerly embrace. Finally, I will secure the blessing of Beijing. Don’t believe me? Read on for the beautifully simple details.

每人派五十萬,填補香港裂痕



假如我競選香港特首,很有信心會以壓倒性票數勝出。而且上任後,一眾議員,不論左右前後,真假民主,都會放下口號,面向民意,萬眾一心地支持我實現競選承諾。我的競選策略簡單易明,絕無取巧,連幾乎中學未畢業的本土革命議員也一聽便心明大義,心急的甚至會上街遊行,強烈要求我提早接班。更妙的是北京的策略專家們亦會暗自贊許。

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Waking to "Anti-Americanism"


American foreign adventures provide prodigiously fertile ground for anyone in a critical mood. But whenever I feel the urge to condemn America (again), I try to make sure its based on facts and reasons. Does that make me “anti-American”? If the alternative is voluntary blindness and submission to the biggest threat the world faces, then so be it.

I prefer to mind my own business. I’ve also long resigned to the fact that human follies are inevitable. No government is perfect. We are not perfect. That’s life. A nation’s problems are for their people to deal with. That’s why I rarely shoot my mouth off criticising other countries, including US subsidiaries, except responding to direct attacks. But I see it as necessary, even morally obligatory, to be vigilant and critical of the USA.

First of all, the US Empire openly and furtively interferes with everyone else’s business through propaganda, subversion, and bombing. It also likes to tell us how to behave, while doing the opposite. Everyone therefore has the right to point fingers at it, since reciprocating in deed is not an option. Censuring the US is more than just reprisal though, it’s also self-defence. If relentless pressures built up from within and without America, the Empire may change one day? It’s a slim hope, I know, but better than surrender or panic frozen inaction, while the prospect of a globally obliterating World War III looms pointlessly.

The list of American enormities seems endless. I’ll randomly mention a tiny fraction of well documented and undisputed cases for illustration. America’s frightful domestic human rights violations are not our problems as long as they are kept within the much awaited wall Donald Trump promises to build.

Does America threaten the rest of the world? Let’s look at the data.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

面對事實等於“反美”?




可能有人認為我很 「反美」,但我對美帝國的看法是基於大量不具爭議的事實,而非偏見或意識形態。其實我年輕時很崇拜美國。好萊塢電影看多了,甚至以為牛仔是英雄,印第安人是野蠻的「紅番」。懂得睜眼看世界之後,看法才逐漸180度轉變。

我是中國人,一般不喜歡理人家閒事。我也很現實,知道烏托邦是忽悠傻瓜的白日夢。人類社會有進有退,有好有壞,有苦有樂,從來不十全十美,永遠也不會十全十美。所以除了美國,我甚少對其他國家諸多批評。連對一眾馬仔附庸國我也盡量保留口德。做馬仔很多事身不由己,大家體諒體諒。不過對美國,我覺得從自保和道義立場,大家都有需要,甚至責任,去嚴厲監察和批評。有足夠內外壓力的話,暴力帝國可能會有朝一日稍微收斂,甚至改過自身?就算是我做夢吧,但另外的選擇是任由宰割,或同歸於盡的核子戰爭。
美帝國的國際惡行多不勝數,只能隨便舉證。至於它國內侵犯人權的行為,與國際社會無直接關係的,在這裡就不作評論了。唯望唐納德順利當選,履行諾言,蓋道高牆把美國圍住,讓世界稍享片刻安寧便好了。

美國對世界和平真的有威脅?這方面個人意見不能做准。讓我們看看歷史和現狀吧。

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Me? Commenting on badminton? 吓!我也來評羽毛球?


Lin Dan (left) and Lee Zhong Wei

I normally only watch sports on TV when there’s no escape. But the Olympic badminton final last night was a great match, and unexpectedly emotional for a game involving two guys taking turns whacking a bunch of feathers. Both China's Chen Long and Denmark's Axelsen broke down sobbing (hey, not just tears in the eye!) after defeating retiring icons Lee Zhong Wei and Lin Dan respectively to snatch gold and bronze. It was a moment.

家裡沒有電視,也一向不留意體壇的我,昨天偶然在酒樓看了奧運羽毛球決賽。太精彩了!諶龍和丹麥的 Axelsen 分別擊敗雄霸羽毛球壇十多年的李宗偉和林丹後,都激動得伏在地上哭不成聲。以為看兩個大男人追著一撮羽毛拍打,誰知幾乎看出眼淚。

Friday, 29 July 2016

Laos (4) - Abstract Vientiane 老撾(4)- 包羅萬象



Vientiane has become a familiar name in the past few days because of the 49th ASEAN foreign ministers meeting. Lao’s capital Vientiane, aka Viangchan, aka Wiangchan, means City of Sandalwood in Lao to some, City of the Moon to others. The community is believed to have been established in the 11th or 12th century. Since then, it had been ruled by one lord after another, with a brief spell of unsustainable independence in the 18th century which the Siamese promptly squashed. During WW2, Vientiane surrendered to the Japanese without much of a fight; Laos was a French colony at the time.

上星期的東盟與中國外長會議,把萬象這名字報道得熱了起來。從前遼國的首都叫永珍,別名文單或雍田。遼國改名老撾後,永珍才易名萬象。萬象這名字無論中英法文都有好幾個版本,就算在老撾原文也有不同解讀:一說是「檀香城」,另一說是「月城」。萬象大概建於十一到十二世紀左右,一千年來被很多不同的大佬管治過。十八世紀時還曾經獨立,威風了幾十年才被暹羅征服。隨後老撾淪為法國殖民地,二戰時法國對日本沒有招架能力,皇軍不費吹灰之力便佔領了這座首都城市。





Sunday, 17 July 2016

Laos (3) - Beautiful Laos 老撾(3)- 美麗的老撾








I'm still wondering if the two figures I saw at the magnificent Phapeng Falls are real or not
我到今天還懷疑 Phapeng 瀑布石頭上的人,是真是假

We entered Laos by bus at Boten(磨丁). The immigration officer asked politely for RMB20 “service fees” to fill my entry form. It wasn’t necessary but I paid anyways. Most of my travel mates were at another line, and not asked to pay anything. Jobbery — if it isn’t too serious an accusation for a minor transgression — like everything else in life, should be viewed with a sense of proportion. Poor folks wanting to make a few bucks is understandable human nature. Monstrous greed from rich people, in the name of “economic freedom”, is grotesque and pathological. To simple-mindedly measure them with the same yardstick would be unfair, unintelligent, and possibly hypocritical. Anyways, we visited villages and temples, markets and waterfalls, from Boten to Luan Prabang to Pakse. The natural scenery was stunning.

Beautiful sunrise at 4000 Islands 四千岛日出

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Laos (2) - The Bombed People 老挝(2)- 被疯狂轰炸的人民




Digging for the truth  發掘真相

Nothing much happened in the ensuing centuries; just the usual merging and splitting, rebellions and suppressions. From 1893 to 1945, Laos was a French colony. After WW2, it declared independence but the French promptly returned. Independence? Not so easy mon ami. Finally, in 1954, France receded from Indochina. But guess what, the Americans were starting to pivot everywhere, including Laos. Irritated by the prospect of peace and unity in the Laos People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), a constitutional monarchy, the USA supported a pro-American faction to overthrow the coalition government, a subversive tactic which would become commonplace in the decades to come.

跟著的幾百年,老撾人民過著樸實單純的生活。政治上則離不開分分合合,侵略抵御等陳年老調。在十九世末,殖民地霸權興起。當時亞洲科技落後,當然難逃一劫。由1893 到 1945年,老撾成了法國殖民地。二戰後,據說「二等民族」可以「自治」,老撾不懂霸主們說一套做一套的慣技,誤以為真,宣佈獨立,隨即被法國禁止。到1954年,殖民地時代疲態畢露,法國撤出印支。誰料一雞死一雞鳴,大美「民主」帝國隨即補上,在乳牙未出的老撾人民民主共和國支持親美力量,推翻聯合政府。「顏色革命」這玩意,當年名義上雖未上色,卻已經開始猖獗,到處蠱惑人心,破壞和平,禍害人間。

What?   吓?

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Laos (1) 老撾 (1)








I know it’s downright silly to attempt summarising a country’s history in a hundred words; but let’s do anyways. It’s the internet age you see. Laos shares a rich diversity of ethnicity with neighbouring China, comprising dozens of ethnic groups. From the 6th to 13th century, the region was settled by mostly Chinese and Kmur. Hinayana Buddhism was introduced in the 14th Century, and quickly gained prominence through compassionate talks rather than bloody crusades. Mountain tribes are roughly demarcated by altitude into high, middle and low clusters, though low altitude mountain tribes are technically not so mountainous aren’t they?  Here we go: nine centuries recapped in a hundred words.

用三兩百字去概論一個國家的歷史,是荒誕行為。但在互聯網活動,非要這樣。否則沒有朋友,沒有讀者,哪來順手 「贊」 呢?老撾的人口成分跟毗鄰的雲南相似,比較豐富,由幾十個部族組成。於六到十三世紀期間,游移到老撾定居的民族主要來自中國山區和高棉地帶。小乘佛教自十四世紀傳入,很快被接受,從沒有搞過十字軍式的屠殺來釋放靈魂。導遊說山地民族一般按聚居的高度分為低,中,高,三類。不過把在低地生活的人划成 「山地人」,似乎有些矛盾。反正九百年的一段日子,就這樣被我三言兩語歸納啦!

The mountain villages are fog locked every morning 每天早上被浓雾困锁的山区寨村

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Xishuangbanna (3) — Yourantai, a Swiss chalet in Jing Hong 悠然台 - 景洪的瑞士绿洲



Whoever has heard of a border city in Xishuangbanna called Jing Hong? Just short of half a million inhabitants, it’s neither here nor there by Chinese standard. We arrived in the early evening. After dinner, we took a brief walking tour downtown to absorb its ambiance. As in nearly every Chinese town and city, a big group was doing dance exercise in the public square. Nearby, the riverside disco was warming up their oversized loudspeakers to a different tune. Next to it was a vibrant night market selling all things edible or wearable under heaven.

After loitering at the market for half and hour, we headed for our resort hotel. The driver’s navigator predicted the drive to take only five to ten minutes. Ten minutes from here? I couldn’t help being skeptical. I prepared for mental shutdown, getting ready for an early night with my earplugs firmly inserted. I suspected the “resort” to be one of those furnished with an all-night disco and twenty-four-hour massage service.

聽過西雙版納景洪市的人應該不太多吧。一個四十多萬人口的邊疆城市,不大不小,也不怎麼中型。到達景洪時,已近黃昏。在市中心晚飯後,到熱鬧的夜 市逛了一圈。湄公河畔的幽靜,似乎已被剛流行的迪斯科音樂所淹沒。逗留了大概一個小時,司機才用導航尋找「悠然台」去。據說這度假村離開市中心只有五到十 分鐘車程。我心想,一個跟景洪夜市相距十分鐘的「度假村」,能有多棒呢?莫非又是門庭如市,二十四小時 MTV 和按摩服務的所謂「現代化」休閒勝地?我暗自把期望降到最低,拿出耳塞,準備早睡早起身體好。過了幾分鐘,巴士停在半山一個小區中央。導航系統的機械聲音宣佈我們已經到達目的地。「就這裡?」 我忍不住問了句。沒有人回答我。可能大家的心裡當時也盤旋著同樣的問題。

A few minute later, we arrived at an unimpressive neighbourhood. “Here?” I asked. Nobody answered. I guess everyone had the same question in mind. A garden gate next to a local corner store had its name in Chinese and English — Yourantai. When the owner and his manager welcomed us inside, there was a synchronised wow! Unfortunately, I’m going to ruin this element of surprise for you with this post, if you ever visit Yourantai.

小區雜貨店的隔壁有扇大鐵門,上面用中英文寫著「悠然台」。按鐘後,等了好幾分鐘台主和他的經理才開門。當我們踏進悠然台的一霎那,都異口同聲地「哇」了一聲。



Sunday, 29 May 2016

Xishuangbanna 西双版纳 (2) — Ancient Tea Mountains 古茶園


Dusk at Jing Mai Shan 景邁山暮色
Inside Jing-Mai Shan (Shan means Mountain) is one of the oldest natural tea plantations in Yunan Province with over 1800 years of history according to Bu Lang Tribe records. The Bu Lang plant tea trees at the fringe of the forest with minimal disturbance to the flora and fauna, just as their forebears had done for nearly two millennia. To ancient farmers, protecting the natural environment upon which they depend for food and survival is just common sense and self-preservation, not delusional “magnanimity” towards pitiful Mother Earth. There are no fences or spray painted logos around the tea trees. The farmers recognise which tree belongs to who. The ability to tell trees apart might seem incredible to some, but it’s actually quite easy, provided one has nominal vision and intelligence.

景邁山是雲南最古老的茶園之一。根據布朗族的記錄,大概有一千八百年的歷史。今天的布朗族茶農,仍然依照古老傳統,栽培茶樹時盡量不騷擾大自然的一草一木。古老民族都比較清楚生我養我者最終是天然環境,不是超級市場。對大地母親敬畏愛護乃生存之道。「環保」並非時尚,更不應該被顛倒為人類對唯一生存環境的「恩賜」。誰家種的茶樹,族人都互相認得,無需加圍欄或記號。
Lakeside at Jing Mai Shan 景迈山的湖畔风光









Monday, 23 May 2016

Xishuangbanna and Laos (1) - Meng Zhe Market 西双版纳与老挝(1)- 勐遮市场



These days, when travelling, I often feel a precocious sense of nostalgia. The photos that I take could become mini time-capsules much sooner than expected. Come back in a year, and the scene may have changed beyond recognition due to hyper development, mindless conflicts, a colour revolution, and/or an invasion followed by wanton looting plus cultural devastation by a disproportional military power. The jolly marketeer in my viewfinder could become a refugee within months, for reasons beyond reasoning. Friends who have been to Syria like to reminisce how suddenly and thoroughly a beautiful and friendly country can be ruined.

近年來,當我旅遊拍照的時候,往往有幾分過早出現的「懷舊感」。在這無常萬變,災難頻頻的世界,不少眼前景象隨時短期內面目全非。有些改變是由於高速發展所致。但不少遽變都源於無理性的衝突,顏色革命,甚至從天而降的侵略者以不對稱的科技暴力毀滅,屠殺,改朝換代,搶掠資源和文化清洗。照相機前滿臉笑容的小販,說不定幾個月後家破人亡,淪為難民。到過敘利亞旅遊的朋友,都有類似的慨嘆。

Back in January this year (2016), I visited Xishuangbanna and Laos with a few travel-mates. Fortunately, these regions seem more likely to prosper rather than be ruined in the foreseeable future, though one should never underestimate the destructive power of Dark Forces.

我一月份途經西雙版納到老撾兜了一圈。看來這地區面對高速發展的機遇和挑戰,大大高於戰禍。但破壞和平的惡勢力無孔不入,不能掉以輕心。

Thursday, 28 April 2016

What About True Democracy? 講到真普選


Duh... So? What has it got to do with True Democracy?
要講服一個聰明人挺困難。但要說服一個蠢人簡直不可能!

I’m a traditionalist. I think revolutionaries should have a nominal understanding of what they fight for. I have therefore enclosed two articles (excerpts and links at the end) for the information of Hong Kong’s Democracy Revolutionaries. There are plenty more information about their Cause, but I shouldn't overload.

The first article explains the super complicated phenomenon of “super delegates” or “unbound delegates” in the US. If you can’t fully understand the mechanism, don’t feel bad. Not even ordinary party fans (US political parties have mostly fans, not members) do. It’s designed to obfuscate. Suffice to say that each super delegate is equivalent to thousands of ordinary party members in terms of voting power — a condensed form of selective democracy I suppose. 

The second article is a Harvard study which shows American election to be the most unfair among Western Democracies. If and when Hong Kong Revolutionaries have successfully discovered “True Democracy” between happy hours and weekend protests, they should export it to their sponsors to repay their generous support.

Since many Freedom Fighters a la Hong Kong are functional illiterates in English and modern Chinese, I’ve prepared a short summary in traditional script for their benefit.

在香港喊破喉嚨爭取「真普選」的民主鬥士們,懂英語的幾位可以自己閱讀以下鏈接的兩篇文章 :第一篇有關「超級委託人」。第二篇是哈佛的專家調查報告:有系統地比較所有西方民主國家的選舉工程後,專家們認為美國選舉的公平性倒數第一。這類資料很多,港式「革命家」應該負荷不了。但能夠咬緊牙關略讀一兩篇,稍微認識民主偶像大美超級金主共和國的「真普選」實況,對他們的革命事業會有幫助。假如有朝一日他們在香港成功爭取到「真普選」的話,說不定可以輸出回灌通通沒有實現「真普選」的英美贊助國,也算投桃報李。

為了照顧英語有限,看不懂原文的港式革命家,我特別用繁體中文粗略歸納了一下,以供參考。

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Tuning into Man's Last Song


I’ve never managed to give a talk according to script. 
But this is a reasonably close approximation of my presentation at 
the University of Hong Kong Main Library on 31 March 2016. 

I discussed the problems of our world today (oh dear) and 
how simulated hindsight had led me to writing Man’s Last Song 


First I’d like to thank the HKU Library for the invitation and excellent organisation. When giving a talk on campus, one never knows who’s in the audience. There could be a specialist present on everything I pretend to know something about. It’s therefore safe to declare my ignorance from the onset. 

I don’t read newspapers, and haven’t had a TV since 1982. These days, I rely mostly on books for attitude reinforcement, and the internet for a selective glimpse of current affairs, avoiding distortions and misdirections by the mainstream media as much as possible. That’s why I won’t protest when someone tells me I don’t know what’s going on. I know they’re right. Just that they often don’t know they also don’t know what’s going on. 

According to my non-mainstream impression, the world has become dangerously disoriented for quite some time now. Nearly everyone, regardless of race, cultural background, nationality, religious affiliation, intelligence, degree of sanity and political persuasion seems to agree on one thing: There’s something wrong with the way things are headed. They just can’t agree on what, why, and how to rectify. Incumbent “universal values” seem to promote perpetual procrastination over major and pressing issues of enormous consequences, and endless debates over petty and abstract ones. Even without any knowledge in anthropology, I suspect that wasn’t how Homo sapiens climbed to the top of the food chain.

Anyways, it’s impossible to list all the problems. Just that some of them will eventually affect the planet, or, more precisely, the suitability of this planet for human habitation at current population level and rate of consumption. 

“笙歌” 的世界


這是我2016331日在香港大學圖書館的演講的中文譯本
細節跟現場所述雖然有分別,但希望基本上能反映當晚很有意思的探討和交流答問



首先我要感謝港大圖書館的邀請和安排。我知道在大學校園演說要特別小心。座上臥虎藏龍,所有我平時裝懂的課題,都可能有專家在場。為保險計,我想首先來個自白。

1982年到今天,我家裡都沒有電視。最近十多年我更戒絕了報紙。今天我對世情的模糊印象,主要來自書本和篩選過的互聯網消息,盡量避免了主流傳媒的誤導和污染。所以每當有人指穿我不知所謂,我例不反駁。因為我心知是事實,只不過他們不知自己也是一無所知的迷道中人而已。

根據我的非主流印象,今天的世界一塌糊塗,程度史無前例。這不是由於我個人悲觀,或神經衰弱。全球人士不論背景,唯一的共識是世界不對版了。至於如何走樣,則看法很多,無法一致,更莫論應對方法了。當今流行的 「普世價值」,最顯著的效果似乎是瑣碎事爭辯不休,大談原則;與人類未來有關鍵性影響的巨大事情,則猶疑不決,一拖再拖。我雖然不懂人類學,但夠膽打賭:我們的祖先當初肯定不是光靠嘴巴當上了動物霸主的。

當今人類面對的問題多不勝數,繼續惡化的話,其中不少會影響地球繼續負荷現時的人口水平和資源需求的能力,可以說事關重大。

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A Little Soho Story 蘇豪區的小故事



Ah! Soho! Sounds so Chinese. But the name originated in London, probably as hunting grounds for Henry Number Eight and friends. Nobody’s sure. Gradually, the area was taken over by brothels and bars and restaurants, pleasure establishments favoured by privileged gentlemen after shooting foxes. Since the 1980s, prostitutes have been replaced by high margin shops and posh restaurants. Foxes had been long gone. 

蘇豪這個名字很有中國味道,出處卻在倫敦。據說蘇豪區原來是亨利八號和哥們的狩獵場。貴族獵狐完畢,都要輕鬆一下。於是妓院,酒吧和食肆慢慢蓬勃起來。自八十年代後,貨真價實的妓女雖然佔地不多,也難逃被貨真價不實的高級商鋪取代。不知為何,蘇豪這名字甚受歡迎。紐約抄了之後,香港又抄。美國人抄襲肯定有一番道理,說 Soho 代表 South of Houston 街。於是香港連這命名之術也照抄,話 Soho 代表 「荷里活道之南」 -South of Hollywood 才真。其實 Soho 位置在歌賦街以北,叫做 No Go (North of Gough Street)會較有創意。不過香港的強項是抄襲,和取笑大陸人抄襲,不是創新。 

The name Soho attracts copycats for some reason. It’s been recycled in New York and Hong Kong at least. Soho, after due American justification, means South of Houston Street in NYC. Hong Kong  feels the need to copy semanticity as well, and claims it stands for South of Hollywood Road. But Soho Hong Kong is also north of Gough Street. Why not call it NoGo instead? Too original I suppose. I personally prefer the vagueness of Soho London; truly seminal things tend to be shrouded by time, elusive to definition.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Trump for President



The US election is a reality show which many outsiders follow as if their own. But non-Americans of the Brave New World should remember there’s no point agonising over the theatric competition. Entertainment is just entertainment. Don’t risk hypertension over it. Moreover, pardon my perennial repetition: Whoever wins makes no difference. That said, I still have an impertinent preference for Donald I over Clinton II, and I’m not even being sarcastic.

Many non-Americans irrationally cringe at the prospect of a President Trump. Well, I confess I wouldn’t want a friend like him. My contact list is full. But the arguments against him, from an outsider’s perspective, are mostly invalid or irrelevant.

我也來撐唐納德(特朗普)



美國大選就像一場連載真人秀。很多外人越看越投入,連自己不是美國人也忘記了。看到唐納德這個混蛋越戰越勇,血壓跟著上升。這個壞傢伙也可以當總統!氣死人了!見到他那髮型,真不開胃!我奉勸大家且不要動氣。第一,這是美國大選,不關咱們屁事。第二,民主選舉不過娛樂事業,誰當選最後都一樣。看了哪麼多場表演還看不出來,不會是腦筋出了毛病吧?

不錯,唐納德擺明是個混蛋。但哪個美國政客不是呢?布希一世不是?布希二世不是?克林頓一世不是?和平獎得主,無人飛機殺人王,當年以「改革」為競選口號的奧巴馬不是?難道好戰婆娘克林頓二世不是?唐納德不同之處,是他一舉一動都擺明是個徹頭徹尾的大混蛋。在美國政壇,很久沒有見過這樣言行一致的人物了。老實說我也被感動了。