Friday, 16 December 2011

Date from Past Lives 今生有约

Date from Past Lives
Time passes, turbulent and hasty,
leaving behind, a tattered reality.
Lingering fragments: people, stories,
repeating, repeating, vicissitudes . . .
Dreams, faint and weary, 
plumes from an inner world
of bygone opportunities.
Love, brings colours:
Red, green, mauve . . . and many others.
Ardour, like water, so enlivening,
fortifies verve and vigour.
Passion, like flowers,
adds joy to spring, never mind winter.
Vivid rainbows will soon fade, 
into the same old boring shade.
The most dazzling brilliance,
is just a fleeting transience.
Vivacious water,
left stagnant and still,
breeds abhorrent foetor
Floral defiance, won’t last till winter.
Fall will come, to claim their splendour.
Resplendence shall wilt, surrender,
Drift, to its ground of burial.
Time, callous and relentless,
goes round and round, in abiding cycles.
Blissful eternity
is a straight and simple fantasy.
In the loop of perpetuity,
we have a date,
again . . . and again, 
since antiquity.
Do we have past and future lives? If so, which part of us goes on, and which part stays behind?
If they have the technology to replicate every atom in my body, and arrange them in the exact configuration of this moment, they’d end up with a cadaver. They will not be able to clone my spirit, my soul, whatever the name, because absolutely nothing is known about it. But I know it’s there, driving the unripe corpse I see in the mirror.
Scientists have observed the transformation and conservation of everything we can see or measure. Long before them, Buddha had said just that about the “universe” we perceive: no beginning, no end, neither growing, nor diminishing.
Can the life force in us, something we are totally ignorant of, something that defies gross simplification by human theories, be the only exception?
In Man’s Last Song, Song Huan and Sari discussed life and death 
“ . . . scientifically speaking, every bit of our body is reincarnated. If we had a soul, a detachable consciousness, it’d get recycled just the same, like everything else in the universe. No reason to assume we’re exceptional right?”
“No. None at all.” She agrees, and imagines the chain of biological events: People — maggots — flies — frogs with meaty legs — back to people . . .
Perhaps the people we know, the things we do to each other, are part of a universal current of events like a stream of water molecules, each having an effect on the others. Perhaps every point in time and space - including our spirits - has a history and a future, all interconnected? The concept of Karma does not seem to contradict anything science has observed so far. 
上面的一首英文诗, 没有中文版,我给它的中文题目是“今生有约”。往生的缘,今生所受,来生果报等等概念,对中国人来说并不陌生,已经有太多真正有道之人就此写诗作偈,哪里轮到我来卖弄文章?

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Beautiful North (2) - Canada 美丽北国(2)-加拿大

A secluded corner in Ontario, encountered only by fate, is enchanted with northern magic. In its charm, mundane reality loses substance. Magic can of course be a spell also. Failing to harness its power, one could be trapped by its beauty, sapped of life, never to escape.
I find the northern seasons enthralling. The spring air is filled with hope, not moisture. Summer is exuberant, indulging with light. With the first sign of autumn heralded by maples and sumacs, the aestival landscape turns brightly colourful in front of our eyes. Then day by day, leaf by leaf, the transient brilliance of the fall would be claimed by the winter snow. Vast forests are now bare, allowing us to see through, looking forward to spring, in great silence.
Even in the artificial environment of the cities, the climate up north reminds us of nature's ruthless vicissitudes. By comparison, the gentle south seems prosaic and uneventful.

O Canada! 枫叶之国

Light image 光影
Twilight 薄暮彩霞

Where people recharge the land 户外茅厕:回馈大地
Human Cottage 人间小筑
Mist Salutation 雾之礼

Dog 狗
Cat 猫

Garden Salad 自种自足
Summer Fair 夏季游乐场

Thursday, 3 November 2011

What Next for Guo Du

On Saturday, I’ll post the final episode of Man’s Last Song. I’ve been posting a section of the novel every week or so since last October. In twelve months, I have only missed one deadline by a few hours (according to Hong Kong time.) Starting next week, Song, Rhea, Ma, Huan, John, Melody, would no longer be part of my routine. The feeling is reminiscent of watching Daughter No. One packing her suitcase, getting ready to leave home to start university. Another milestone: YES! and sigh . . . 
So, what next? 
I have started the next novel. I see Man’s Last Song as a reflective mosaic of our paradoxical civilisation that has become increasingly incompatible with human nature, and threatening to the only life-supporting environment we know. The next novel is a tale of ironies: One protagonist discovers life through personal calamities. Another gets lost in a quagmire of unexpected success. They live right here in our contemporary world — a likely place for either to happen. Finishing the bilingual versions would keep me occupied for a year or two, hopefully no more.
I intend to be busy with other tasks too. Up until now, I have not seriously sought publishing. I dithered uncharacteristically, worrying about compromising the indulgence which I have been enjoying in my writing so far. Having been a business operator in my past life, I also expect publishing to be more like a business than literary creation. I would need to package, promote, capture, just like in the old days. There is also a degree of cowardice in my hesitance; I do not feel like facing rejections, something that I know is inevitable even to established writers.
Thanks to the encouragement of my amazing friends, I have decided to grow out of these what ifs at long last. I will start planning to get Man’s Last Song published. Whatever the outcome or format, not trying would be a waste in many regards.
When I first started writing, I also had a wish that one day I might be able to help promote bilingual writing after I have learned enough through practice. Have I learned enough?
What about the Guo Du blog? 
Last August, before someone suggested the idea to me, I hardly knew what a blog was. Having participated in Blog-sphere for the past year, I now know a bit more about this fascinating universe of information and disinformation, entertainment, propaganda, and idea (great and dumb ones) exchange. 
Unexpectedly, I have made many virtual friends who have given me substantial support. The surge in visits during the first hours of a new post never fails to surprise and energise me. I have no idea who these readers are, just as I am sure they have no idea how much their dependable support means to me. In rainy days when I could not summon up the energy to get another post ready, I would think of them, take a deep breath, and turn the computer on. To them, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks. Thank you thank you. Bow bow. I know I’ll miss you.
Perhaps I should keep the blog going with the occasional opinion? I do not want to have to comment on something for the sake of posting regularly. It is also my wish to detach from, rather than getting closer to, pointless disputes. Furthermore, my views change as the world changes, and I do not believe in such a thing as the absolute truth in human affairs. But we live in the Propaganda Age, and are all potential victims of humongous official lies. If I could occasionally help to cast doubt on a 100% lie with a shimmer of partial truth, I might do my karma some good while keeping the blog going, and waiting for the new novel to acquire life. Why not? Oh well, don’t think I would be able to help it anyway.









回想去年八月,友人第一次提議我在博客刊登「笙歌」的時候,我連博客是什麼也不大瞭解。事隔一年,我對這個充滿了真假資訊,娛樂,宣傳,八卦,和交流參差意見的平台,總算有了基本認識。最意想不到的,是在虛擬世界中認識了一批給了我很多實在支持的朋友。每次我上載一章「笙歌」之後,幾個鐘頭內的訪客便會驟然上升,給予我一種難以形容的力量。我雖然不知道這批讀者是誰,但很想在「終曲」之前,利用這個機會向你們衷心道謝。孤零零一個人維持這樣長篇的連載刊登,難免會有氣餒的時候。每當心裡面陰霾密布的日子,我便會想起你們,然後來個深呼吸,又再繼續努力。「笙歌」得到你們這批知音人的無聲鼓勵,實在令我十分感動。 謝謝。再謝謝。兩鞠躬。我將會非常懷念你們。


不過話雖如此,我們生活在「誰的聲音大,收視率高,誰的謊話變真理」 的二十一世紀,大家隨時都有可能淪為龐大的現代化宣傳勢力的受害人。假如我能夠間中將腦袋里模糊閃爍,疑是疑非的「半事實」提供大家參考;又假如這樣能夠稍為引起幾個人對國際級高純度謊話的警惕,也算得上是半件好事,善哉善哉,何樂而不為呢?反正我也心知肚明,儘管心裡渴望遠離塵囂,不問世事,無奈腦袋不爭氣,整天像鬼上身一樣,念頭不絕,幻覺無窮。



Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Why use credit cards? 干嘛要用信用卡?

Why use credit cards?
I like to use cash. Why use a credit card unless it’s to keep track of claimable business expenses, do internet shopping, or spend money that I don’t have at a criminally high interest rate?
They try to make me worry about losing cash. Sure, that might happen once or twice in an entire lifetime. But credit cards could also be lost, resulting in more hassle and greater potential losses if I fail to notice and report in time. The total value of credit card frauds due to lost cards is US$50 billion per year.
Are credit cards more convenient? Not if you live in the city with an ATM on every block. I also find it reassuring to have a couple of weeks’ worth of petty cash in my pocket: My money, in my pocket, for the time being. It feels good.
Most importantly, when using credit cards for no reason other than the persuasive power of advertisements, I know I’d be penalising the average small business operator (who must trim every penny to remain competitive), and benefit banks who have done ZILCH in the transaction except sitting there, waiting to take a cut from someone else’s labour. 
They try to bribe me with bonus points. But bonus for what? Look at all that junk. Do I really need them? Am I going to spend like an idiot in order to move some of these unneeded items from the warehouse to my home? 
Last of all, frequent use of credit cards puts me on everyone’s junk mail list, and leaves a trail of my whereabouts. And what if my ass caught fire in the next financial kaboom? With all the plastic in my wallet, it might just give off toxic fumes.
袋现金怕丢?信用卡也有丢的时候呀!正常人一生总会丢一两次荷包吧,如果丢的是现金,丢了便丢了。假如是信用卡,又来不及报案,可能会引致相等于信贷限额的损失。每年由于失卡所导致的损失是 五百亿 美元哦。

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

小说 “笙歌” 第七章 之(3)“情为何物(下)”

第七章  之(3)「情為何物(下)」








Sunday, 2 October 2011

Bush has surpassed Galileo in Western Science?

In the middle of the 18th century, Carl Linnaeus coined the term Homo Sapiens. By giving ourselves this name, we declared that the most outstanding characteristic about our species is the ability and propensity to think. At the time, having emerged from a long dark history of superstition and religious suppression, Europe was doing a lot of thinking, and had produced many momentous figures. Their critical and adventurous faculties were leading the world into a dramatically different age.
From Copernicus to Galileo, then Newton to Einstein, numerous talented thinking monkeys had used their brains to help us better understand the physical environment and ourselves. This way of thinking may not be perfect. But it was extremely useful and generally valid in everyday life, and remains very much so, just as Newtonian science. Observation, curiosity, a tenacious experimental spirit, critical and uncompromising analyses had contributed to the overwhelming success of modern science since Galileo, the effect of which we still enjoy and suffer today.
Galileo risked being barbecued alive for suggesting the earth goes around the sun because objective evidence said so. He was lucky; he only spent his last years under house arrest. But the spirit of Galileo illuminated an intellectual dimension that the Holy Fathers could no longer keep in the dark. 
911 had finally put a stop to that tradition, officially and publicly. Bush might therefore claim to have surpassed Galileo as the most significant figure in modern science. The Nobel committee, having awarded Obama a Peace Prize, might as well give Bush one in Physics.
A very well informed world of Homo sapiens which witnessed the free fall of three towers, defying known scientific understandings, continues to believe in the official story. Except a brave group of 1500 or so American scientists and engineers, most people are willing to see the sun orbiting the Earth because Washington says so. Some in the scientific community even attempt mumble jumble rationalisations to justify the obviously impossible. Well, many of the brightest men did the same in Galileo’s days, but they had the excuse of not yet having called themselves Homo sapiens.
The scientific (or unscientific) queries surrounding 911 are plain and basic. I will not repeat the numerous objective and irrefutable arguments already presented by others. Those who are interested can do their own research. is by far the best starting point. 
I wish to put forward a few common sense questions for those who don’t wish to be bothered by scientific principles:
1. The first two towers collapsed by free fall, ostensibly due to explosions caused by the airplanes, with remarkable symmetry, leaving the neighbours fortuitously intact. Can the collapse be simulated in an experiment? This is a significant discovery for engineering because future demolition can be made MUCH cheaper (hey, just a couple tanks of airplane fuel splashed all over the place and wham!) if we can understand and master this phenomena. 
Is it being studied in any of the civil engineering labs around the world? Why are we ignoring this opportunity of a lifetime to come up with a new cheap way of controlled demolition that no longer requires painstaking “controlling”?
2. Perhaps it was a freak accident, although TWO freak accidents happening at the same time could itself rewrite statistics and probability. Never mind. 
But there was a third building! Building 7 (the 3rd tower that also collapsed by free fall, something that 85% of Americans are no longer aware of because the media are quiet about it in the spirit of Orwellian Minitrue) was not hit by a plane. It caught fire, somehow, and fainted. It collapsed in the same fashion, by free fall.
The Holy See — sorry, correction, Washington — said it collapsed due to office fire. Well, no towering inferno has ever fallen like this in our entire history. Is anyone in the universities curious enough to analyse this unprecedented structural behaviour with significant implications? 
3. Finally, forget Newtonian science. It might have died. Forget Einstein. We are now in the Age of Bushian science. What about social regulations, something that Bush would have nothing against? 
Three landmark grade skyscrapers in New York collapsed in an apparently impossible manner ten years ago. Some said it was due to a peculiar structural design fault. Has the building code been revised since? Were the designers sued in litigious America? What about other buildings designed and built on similar principles? If they caught fire like WTC Building 7 — a definitely possibility — will they collapse likewise? Has anything been done to safeguard or reinforce these structures to prevent recurrence? You’re talking about possibly saving lives — American lives!
So far, no other building elsewhere in the world has collapsed in a free fall fashion due to “office fire” — the official reason. Does that mean American design and engineering should not be responsibly exported until they have a better idea (expressed in accordance with the fact-seeking conventions of Western science) why Building 7 collapsed?
Western science is much more than a set of theorems and principles. It’s a way of objective thinking that refuses to compromise. This intellectual approach had emerged from a long struggle against the deadly drip of the Church, but can it survive the sophisticated strangling of the modern Church and its powerful propaganda machine? If not, isn’t Bush the latest defining figure in Western science, possibly surpassing Galileo, Newton, and Einstein in a reverse sense?

Published 2 October 2011 on Guo Du Blog


在18世纪中叶, 瑞典人 Carl Lennaeus 第一次用“智人”来统称人类,大家都觉得很恰当顺耳,便一直沿用下来。我们自称“智人”,当时来说也不是完全没有道理。欧洲经过了长期的宗教愚昧,当时已经从漫长的黑暗年代中苏醒过来。一代接一代的伟大思想家和科学家,正为西方的学术传统开花,改变欧洲,改变世界。
婆娑世界的“智人”,目睹 911三座高楼垂直倒塌,完全违反自然定律,竟然可以继续相信华盛顿的官方解释。除了美国有一千五百多个科学家和工程师仍然拒绝改变科学来迁就官方胡言之外,大部分人可以面不改容地相信太阳围着地球公转。人家白宫都这样说,还会假?不少有识之士,还放弃了几百年的西方学术传统,胡说八道的乱扯一通,找很多完全站不住脚的谬论来支持官方言论。这也难怪。伽利略的年代,绝大部分的知识分子,也是千方百计的证明地球是宇宙中心。不过他们当时还没有自称 “智人” 哦!
911 技术上的大量疑点,已经有很多人用浅易明白的科学文字分析得很清楚;我便不浪费时间再在这里重复了。有兴趣的人,可以上网浏览。 我觉得比较全面,是埋手的好地方。
我倒想讲讲几个与科学没有直接关系的 911 现象:
1。 既然两座现代摩天大楼差不多同一时间,以同一个模样垂直倒塌,丝毫没有倾斜,骚扰邻居,效果可以说十分意外,但比较令人满意。既然无意中发现这个现象,我们可否在现代化实验室里再加以了解和分析呢?因为掌握了这个技术,将来拆卸巨大建筑物的时候,可以大派用场。只不过两箱飞机油,漏出来随便燃烧,便可以干手净脚地拆掉两大栋房子。这种技术,掌握了可以立即上市发财。
2。 可能大厦的倒塌,还有其它万中无一的偶然巧合所造成。但两栋一起碰上这万中无一的巧合,也可以说是机会率统计学上一件可圈可点的大怪事。算啦,见怪不怪。
罗马教廷 — 不对不对,是华盛顿白宫 — 解释说“第七楼”是由于惹了火上身,所以也塌了。呃,一栋现代楼房由于火灾而垂直倒塌,是人类懂得建造多层房屋以来的第一次。美国是先进国家,科学发达,难道没有一家工学研究院对这个史无前例的现象存有半点的学术好奇,决心研究研究?
3。 好!不再那么土了。二十一世纪了,不要再罗嗦牛顿定律啦。忘记爱因斯坦吧。让我们从不科学的人文角度看看911所带出的社会问题吧。
纽约的三座摩登大楼,同一天烧不了几个小时便意想不到地倒了。据说是设计上的问题。美国的结构设计,完来有这么大的一个“漏洞”, 事后有没有彻底反省,以防止事故重演呢?美国人最爱诉讼,有没有追究设计责任呢?全美国还有不少其它建筑物的设计,与世贸类似。看到了第七栋火烧几小时便倒塌的惨剧之后,有没有作出相应的检讨和加固手段呢?十年了,纽约的建筑条例有没有作出改善和修订呢?美国式的结构设计,是否仍然可以安全负责地输出到世界上其它的国家呢?

Bush has surpassed Galileo in Western Science?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

小说 “笙歌” 第七章 之(2)“情為何物(上)”

第七章  之(2)“情為何物(上)”




Sunday, 11 September 2011

小说 “笙歌” 第六章 之(8)“瘟神”

第六章  之(8)

萬戶蕭疏鬼唱歌 。。。

對不起 。媽媽。




Monday, 5 September 2011

What’s Wrong with Hong Kong?

The thoroughness of Hong Kong’s ineptitude in governance is matched only by that of an idiotic emperor towards the end of a failing dynasty. It's a historical aberration. 
I rarely rely on the mainstream “international” media for information, and nearly never waste time on Hong Kong papers. Being without a TV for decades now, I’m blissfully ignorant of the stupefying local politics and media brouhaha. I do have friends who give me the occasional glimpse of the state of affairs in Hong Kong, after they’ve made it more comprehensible with their intelligent filtering.
During a luncheon gathering yesterday, I learnt of a number of recent headlines through chit chats. Predictably (or, more hypocritically, I should lament sadly) Hong Kong’s political deterioration hasn’t slowed down since I last took notice.
There has been much fuss over the security at the University of Hong Kong over the visit of Vice Premier Li Keqiang. It sounded to me the security in a concert by a Cantopop singer would have been at least as tight. But the Vice Chancellor of the University had to endure a Cultural Revolution style grilling over the security arrangement, by a bunch of students who had been groomed by so-called “politicians” rather than the rapidly disintegrating education system. The Vice Chancellor, of course, care more about keeping his job than defending principles or the nominal dignity his position demands. Well, Hong Kong is a preposterous metropolis which prides itself for having everything. But honour, vision and courage are notable exceptions to this ostentatious claim.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong Rail, after decades of running the world’s most efficient and reliable metro system, could not find a local person of whatever ethnic origin to head the corporation. Have they heard of something called a succession plan? Someone from New York has been headhunted to run the Hong Kong system which has been operating a hundred times more impressively than its NYC counterpart. Oh well, that’s not surprising, considering that the Chinese University’s website on Cantonese pronunciation is a joint venture with Yale. 
While politics in Hong Kong is surrealistically comical, many operational areas have remained excellent. The efficient airport, a mostly reasonable police force, and a top class public transportation system are some of the things Hong Kong can still be proud of. Perhaps that’s why they’ve been targeted for the next phase of decline.  
Then there’s the $6000 per eligible citizen pay-out scheme. Not many government would have this much trouble handing out cash. Tiny Macau has done the same thing annually in the past few years without any trouble. But then it’s not a fair comparison. Macau uses common sense. Hong Kong likes to seem to be more complex and sophisticated, depending on the workload of the civil service.
The thoroughness of Hong Kong’s ineptitude in governance is matched only by that of an idiotic emperor towards the end of a failing dynasty. It's a historic aberration. In any other political system - be it a rambunctious “multi-party” political show, a One-Party-Many-Factions experimental system, a fanatical theocratic state or an outright dictatorship - the leaders must possess certain quality to struggle for power and to maintain sufficient support in a real world. Hong Kong “politicians” have been fortuitously exempted from a comparable selection process. Political vision, skills, cunningness, courage and gambling instincts required of leaders and power brokers are all absent in the transition from a colonial past to self-governance.
Administrative robots expertly house-trained by the colonial master are now pitifully inadequate to run Hong Kong as an SAR. Many Hongkongers have this naive and arrogant delusion that Beijing has taken up the role of Britain, manipulating events from behind. Well, this is not the only thing that Hong Kong likes to flatter itself with. China has a long and scary list of critical issues to deal with. I’m sure the childish and inconsequential politicking in Hong Kong are very low on that list, if they are there at all. Sure, main sovereignty issues - i.e. foreign affairs and the military - must firmly remain in the hands of the Central Government. Beijing probably “influences” the financial and economic big picture the same way Wall Street controls the US Federal Government. But the rest? Only Hongkongers are joyously innocent and obtusely confident enough to imagine their self-important SAR being micro-managed by the Central Government.
China has nothing to gain in meddling with Hong Kong’s piddling bickering. In fact, when the time is right, and that would be very soon, Hong Kong would be given the kind of boisterous democracy that many have been flatulently demanding. Why not? It would have no material impact on China’s political landscape and, in the worst scenario, which would be a likely one, Hong Kong can join Taiwan to provide a negative illustration of the shortcomings of a copycat populist democracy to the rest of China - something that is very difficult to achieve through philosophical debates otherwise.
Hongkongers’ big challenge now is to identify a passable candidate who can do the job of Chief Executive when direct election comes. If none can be found after a big stretch of the imagination, then we better start looking for a way to blame Beijing for the failure, or headhunt one from New York.

James Tam 5/9/2011