Monday, 8 December 2014

The Second Enlightenment - Debunking Democracy


More people seem to be waking up to the fact that
populist democracy controlled by money is a political dead-end. 

However, just as otherwise enlightened individuals such as Galileo and Newton dared not deny God, modern-day democracy skeptics are hesitant to challenge its sanctity. Without God, one’s doomed. Without democracy, life’s unthinkable. That’s the mantra. Don’t question.

Capitalistic liberal democracy (let’s call it Democracy with a big dee) bears many resemblances to its religious predecessor. God and Democracy are similarly upheld by faith rather than reason, analysis, or benchmarked assessment. Democracy, a virtual replacement of God in most of ex-Christendom, is equally absolute and elusive, impossible to define. Politics in the USA, France, Italy, Greece, Japan, India, Switzerland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc. differ in form, substance, and spirit. Even buddies like the US and UK have markedly different political structures. But as long as they hoist the Democracy banner, all is fine. Like God, Democracy’s good by tautology. Details are unimportant. 

二次啓蒙運動:破除民主迷信


越來越多人開始醒覺到肆意式西方民主,
搭個資本主義,對老百姓來說是末路一條。
連當初宣佈歷史終結的主教級民主學者福山教授,也改變了看法,對民主的現狀和前景表示擔憂。只有民主嘍囉們仍然懵然不知,繼續歇斯底里地高喊口號。奇怪的是,就算較為清楚民主弊病的人,也甚少直接指出西方民主是問題核心,好像民主是上帝,批評要懂分寸,適可而止。從前的科學天才如伽里略和牛頓者,也不敢漏半句懷疑上帝的話。不信上帝,天誅地滅。沒有民主,民不聊生。這是聖經,是真理,是咒語。要一心不二地念熟,不要多想多問。

西方話語下的民主世界,與宗教相似之處甚多。要知道,所謂西方社會,大體上是基督教世界的延續。歐洲經過近兩千年的神權統治,脫離了上帝只不過是很近期的事,社會里仍然潛伏著某程度的宗教迷信,並不出奇。

Sunday, 2 November 2014

How Beijing Can Reoccupy Hong Kong



To most people, it has been painfully obvious from the onset that the ostensible objectives of Occupy Central don’t stand any chance. After more than a month of chaos, it’s perhaps time for Beijing to make a move, and use the opportunity to start Hong Kong’s reunification, belatedly, 17 years after its official return. 

中央出手可以扭轉港局


經過個多月的佔中混亂,可能是中央和特區政府考慮收拾殘局,為香港的長遠前途作打算的時候了。我認為這是國家把香港納入一國軌跡的黃金時機。雖然遲了十七年,總比繼續失控好。

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Between Lives




Ding! Seventeenth Floor,” the elevator announces in its cloying robotic voice, after having skipped all the inauspicious numbers in Chinese and Western superstitions. 
“Excuse me,” I force through the sombre crowd, most of them absorbed in their phones, unwilling to move, oblivious to my impatient elbows.
Every time I step into the lobby of the female geriatric ward, I feel instantly depressed by the morbidity in the air. Come to think of it, 17th is actually 14th, after adjusting for the missing 4th, 13th and 14th floors. They can fool numerology but not structural reality, or the embedded curse.
I nod to the duty nurse in passing, again. She’s starting to look curious. I’ve been coming in and going out every ten minutes today. I head straight to Room 1704. For some reason, they have not deleted inauspicious room numbers as well. For the past four days, the room’s been fully occupied by the same six patients. Four of them, including Ah Mah, are semi-comatose, similarly hooked up to waste collection bags and monitors.
The other two are conscious. One has an oxygen mask which she puts on and takes off incessantly. The other mumbles to herself a lot, mostly belligerent monologues. Ironically, both don’t seem to have visitors.
A collective whiff greets me at the door: drugs, urine, faeces, the raw stench of old age and sickness, sanitised death. The late afternoon sun has cast beautiful golden shadows between their beds. 
Ah Mah’s immobile form, covered by a blanket, breathing noisily, mouth slightly open, eyes closed, sunken, is becoming familiar and surreal after four days. Is her condition steady? Greyish flakes of dried saliva have formed around her mouth. I wet some tissues with the drinking bottle and wipe carefully, hoping her desiccated lips will soak it up. I glance at my watch, but immediately feel guilty for noting that only two minutes have passed — eight more to go.

生死之間





「叮!十七樓!」 電梯用機械人扮溫馨的聲線,以英粵語宣佈它的虛假位置,梯門隨即打開。

「對不起!」 乘客都在低頭看電話,對我焦急的手肘反應緩慢。



 

17樓的高齡女病房,有種濃濃的消極氣氛。看來17減去避過了的 4,13,14 等中英忌諱後,仍然是十四樓。「偷號法」 騙得過迷信的人,騙不過建築物的硬現實。
 

當值護士從櫃台後用奇異的眼光望了我一眼,但我沒有心情解釋我每隔十分鐘出入一趟的原因。
 

阿媽的房間是1704。院方把兆頭不佳的層數殺掉,卻把有4字的房號保留,做法有些不一。過去四天來,1704 住滿了六個病人。其中四個,包括阿媽在內,都局部昏迷。他們同樣被接駁到類似的儀器,吊瓶,和糞便袋。
 

余下兩位較清醒的老太,其中一個不停把面上的氧氣罩拉掉,戴上,再拉掉,再戴上。另一位四天來都不見有訪客,清醒的時候,經常憤怒地自言自語,像在跟自己吵嘴。
 

一進房門,一種醫院獨有的醫藥氣味,混上六位老人家糞便尿袋釋放的隱約味道,撲面而上。這經過消毒的老,病,死,苦,很令人嘔心。
 

黃昏的陽光,透過窗花,在地上撒了幾道金黃影子。
 

阿媽還是幾天來的老樣子:插滿了塑料喉,微微張口,大聲呼吸。她眼皮下陷,好像眼珠被人挖走了。唇邊白白黃黃的,粘滿風乾了的口水皮。我用紙巾濕水替她拭擦,希望枯竭的口唇能夠吸收一點水份。我伸手時順便看看腕表,立即感到內疚:還未坐下,心裡已經急不急待計時。
 

兩分多鐘過去了;還剩下差不多八分鐘。


 

「她很好呀!同五分鐘前無變,仍然好好呀!阿媽你怕不怕煩呀!」 我很不耐煩地告訴她。
 

我上星期探望阿媽後,正準備離去,她又第 N 次問我蘇珊的近況。我那天心情很差,工作上有些難題,蘇珊其實也身體不適,而阿媽則比平時囉嗦十倍。可能她的腦袋已經開始有問題跡象,但我當時沒有想到這點。
 

她坐在輪椅,眼睛濕潤,背後站著我自她兩年前中風後請來照顧的菲傭。阿媽對著我騎騎傻笑,好像覺得我發脾氣很滑稽,令我更加火光。
 

「拜!我下星期再來。」 邊說,一隻腳已經踏出大門,隨即大嘆一聲 「哎!」
 

那是我跟阿媽說的最後一句話。
 

翌日下午,現在是四天前的事了,她又再中風。傭人把她送院。我趕到的時候,她已經是現在這個樣子了。
 

內疚這東西最討厭,避無可避,絕不饒人。
 

回想當天她不停地問我蘇珊的近況,無非過度關切。假如她不是我母親,我可能會覺得感動,也許滑稽,反正一笑置之。但她是我媽媽。面對她這副模樣,我的心情十分複雜:憐惜,難過,厭惡,憤怒,麻木,各有幾分。久病床前無孝子,是很令人心碎的現實。
 

反正現在不是自責的時候。我唯一的希望,是我對她說的最後一句話比較溫馨而已。
 

醫生較早時「警告」了我,要有「充分心理準備」。但醫生對人體的瞭解,遠不及修車的明白機件運作,經常 「靠估」。可能阿媽昏迷幾天便會甦醒。我今後無論如何也不會再對她說任何難聽的話了。。。
 

五分鐘過去了。
 

顯示屏上的螢光綠數字間歇跳動著,表示阿媽仍然在提供輸入訊號,仍然有生命。我不用儀器也知道阿媽仍然活著,因為她頑強的肺,還在噝噝作響。

 

「你阿媽是小販,大聲是應該!」 當我投訴她說話聲音太大的時候,她把嗓子提高了五級抗議:「不靠我這把聲,你們哪來資格返學讀英文,將來發達買車買樓?」
 

「輕聲一點吧!我們上學不止學英語哦。還有,學英語並不一定會發達。」 我鄭重糾正阿媽。
 

「挑!你個死仔懂個屁!香港地只要講英文,打領帶,穿西裝,偷呃拐騙也受尊重。像我這樣?捱不死招白眼,捱死了惹人笑。快!快去讀英文!」 我阿媽教仔只有一招:「讀英文!」 我們若有不同意見,迎頭就是一巴掌。她每次打我或哥哥,之後都會淚如雨下,大喊大叫,怨命苦,生仔無心肝。
我自小喜歡數學,最討厭中英文。幸好有阿媽的鐵腕逼迫,語文才勉強過關,對我今天營運自己的小型顧問公司極為重要。當年我被港大電機工程錄取,阿媽聽到消息後突然蹲下來抱面啜泣,哭了足足五分鐘,嚇得我不知所措,唯有靜靜在她身旁蹲下,等她哭完。記憶中,那是阿媽唯壹次像個女人地哭泣。
哥哥 阿 John 很多年沒有跟我們聯繫了。小時候,他極少跟阿媽頂嘴,永遠默不作聲。我看他很早已經在盤算脫身方法了。據我所知,他現在芝加哥生活,講英文,打領帶,穿西裝,替高盛 「揸鍋鏟」 做炒賣,發了達。阿媽是說對了。
 

阿爸是泥工,在建築工地意外死的。我當時只有兩歲,沒有印象,都是後來零零星星聽阿媽說起的。反正人死不能復生,具體細節並不重要。阿媽只知道他 「工作時不小心,由高處墮下,幸好沒有傷及其他人」。當年在香港因工傷死亡,雇主會在事發現場大撒冥鈔,打發亡魂過路,然後把死者的名字由發薪水的糧單刪除。幸好我們住山邊寮屋,房租不成問題。
 

阿爸不小心死後,阿媽賣菜變了我們一家三口維生的唯一依靠。她每天清晨四點不夠便起床去西環拿瓜菜,用擔挑抬上半山區叫賣。她挑著兩大籃子瓜菜走遍整條羅便臣道和干德道,邊走邊喊:「好靚新鮮瓜菜阿餵!」,可謂 「叫通街」。光顧的師奶傭人都叫她 「菜婆」。她們一般不講價,但臨走時會多抓幾根蔥補償。孩子們有時跟著她走,怪聲怪氣地模仿她喊:「好靚新鮮瓜菜阿喂!」 學校假期,我和哥哥會被逼跟他叫賣。我老覺得很尷尬,不想直接望人,但低頭看見的,是阿媽那雙比象腿還要粗糙的腳,更加難受。哥哥更不用說了。我估計他對我們當年的出身不止討厭和羞恥,而是仇恨。
 

七十年代初,賣街小販的市場空間逐漸被超市壓縮,直至消失。阿媽於是到茶餐廳後巷蹲在地上洗碗,「工餘時間」撿些鐵罐廢紙幫補。可能由於她長年用一邊肩膊幹活,造成了年老時的不對稱駝背。
 

幾十年了,我還可以在腦海裡清晰聽到阿媽叫喊 「好靚新鮮瓜菜阿餵!」 的洪亮聲音。
 

她的象腿,自中風坐輪椅後,脹了起碼一半,完全失去比例。
 我輕輕把毛毯下隆隆突起的雙腳撫摸了兩下,才起身離去。已經足足十二分鐘了。

 

醫院的電梯系統有自己的邏輯,十七樓與三樓之間不直通,要到大堂轉乘。
 

三樓的值班護士正在專心搞文書,沒有理會我。我轉左直往303號私家病房。這裡的醫藥費用,甚至一根棉花棒和衛生紙,都比17樓的貴幾倍。教會開的私家醫院就是這個規矩,入院前要用信用卡擔保的。我考累過把阿媽也搬到私家房,但老人家住院多久說不准。假如長住的話,負擔會成問題。
 


蘇珊四腳趴趴在床上深呼吸。
 

「怎麼樣?」
 

「還可以。阿媽呢?」
 

「還是一樣。醫生 —」 護士和張醫生匆匆進來,打斷了我的話。他們跟我點頭後,張醫生便問蘇珊:「可以嗎?」
 

「還可以。陣痛較厲害。但生仔痛很正常吧?」
 

「你的子宮頸放大較慢,我看不如準備一下硬膜外麻醉,必要時可以剖腹產。」
 

蘇珊抬頭說道:「才不過兩個小時。。。」
 

「差不多三個鐘頭啦!」 護士插口改正。
 

蘇珊沒有回應,繼續低頭深呼吸。
 

「我們並非催促你,只不過不想 BB 受壓而已,」 張醫生很淡定地解釋。
 

「我明白,張醫生。但我仍然想努力。」
 

「當然當然。」 張醫生的語氣有些不耐煩。
 

「躺下來再看看吧!」 護士邊說邊戴手套。
 

「嗯,大概4公分。」 她脫下手套,專業地拍拍蘇珊,然後說道:「繼續努力吧,乖乖!我轉頭再來。」
 

張醫生和護士再跟我點了點頭,便匆匆過房。這家醫院的生意很好,病人較多。
 

「你真的不想準備麻醉?醫生說的不無道理,以防萬一嘛。」
 

「他催我生,只不過想收工回家吃晚飯。」
 

「你什麼時候變得這麼疑心啦,」 我笑著說。不過假如我是醫生,也會希望準時下班。「拖那麼長,對BB OK 嗎?」
 

「老公,兩個鐘頭,子宮頸已經放大了差不多一半,很正常哦。」 她頓了頓,呼吸幾下,才繼續說:「我們討論自然分娩討論了六個月,現在臨床變卦?」
 

「沒有!只不過恐怕BB受壓。你決定吧!」 我的口氣有些像張醫生。
 

「這是我們的決定。」
 

自然分娩的確是我們一早的選擇。但我當時沒有想到阿媽會同時入院,而且情況嚴重。蘇珊雖然身體很好,但說到底也36歲了,還是第一胎。雖然當今職業女強人三十多歲首次產子很普遍,但她們絕大部分都選擇剖腹產,不但減低痛苦和風險,還連孩子的時辰八字也一併預設,重大工作會議也可以預早安排。況且我今天才體會到,自然分娩可能是為年輕很多的女人設計的。假如蘇珊遇到什麼不測。。。而阿媽又。。。滿腦子的負面思想把我弄得心寒,下意識也來一口深呼吸,才回答道:「對!是我們的決定。」
 

「你整天沒吃飯了!快去吃點東西,別餓壞了。」
 

「我不餓。」 我其實口不對胃。
 

「快去吧!我這裡暫時不需要你!你不是很喜歡街尾那麵檔的嗎?」
 

「等會兒吧。。。」


 

快九點了。我叫的雲吞麵還未到,手提電話便響了:「趙先生嗎?是醫院打來的。你能趕快過來嗎?」
 

「可以!」 我說罷立即掛上,連忙付錢。我就在醫院附近,走路不用五分鐘。
 

跑往醫院的時候,才想起剛才忘記問來電是哪個部門。護士的聲音很慎重鎮定,估計是17樓居多。到了大堂,我決定先上三樓看過究竟。蘇珊不在房間。我連忙跑到當值櫃台,喘著氣問:「姑娘,我老婆不在房間!」
 

「303嗎?不用緊張,剛進了產房。」
 

「在哪?」
 

「直走右手最後一間。寫著2號產房的。」
 

我走了兩步,才轉頭問道:「姑娘,是你剛才打電話給我嗎?」
 

「我?沒有哦!」
 

我連忙剎步,轉身跑向電梯。電梯未到,我又改變注意,奔向產房。反正人已經在三樓,還是先跟老婆打個招呼;更急也不差那幾分鐘。

 

張醫生和護士都穿上了圍裙和橡皮靴,像市場賣魚的。見到我匆匆進來,只輕輕點頭。
 

「珊,怎麼樣?」
 

「突然說來便來!見到你,好多啦。」 她眯起雙眼,放寬了忍痛的表情,對我展示勇敢的微笑。
 

她伸出一隻手來,我便在床邊坐下,用雙手把它穩穩握著。
 

我問護士:「你剛才有打電話給我嗎?」
 

她在面罩後笑著回答:「除非有特殊情況,我們不打電話給准爸爸的。怕發生交通意外嘛。」
 

我轉過頭來問張醫生:「你看大概要多久?」
 

「問你老婆囉!」 他一手拿著探棒走向床尾,輕鬆地回答。

「你不要緊張,安靜地在這裡支持老婆吧!」
——————

電梯只有我一個乘客。到了17樓,門開了一半我便擠了出去。
夜班護士一見到我,便問道:「趙先生嗎?」
 

「是你打電話給我嗎?」
 

「我同事打的。」 她說完,鄭重地站起身,繞過櫃台,站在我跟前:「很抱歉,我們打完電話不久,婆婆便安詳地走了。醫生十分鐘前才離開。」
 

我點點頭,腦里一片空白。完全不意外的消息,也可以令人迷惘,不知如何反應。
 

「婆婆在九點左右突然高聲叫喊,聽上去好像是 ‘新鮮哦!’ 。我們以為她醒過來,急忙跑到她房間,但她的心跳已經開始急速下降。我們一邊搶救一邊叫醫生,然後打電話給你。」我嗓子很緊,開不了腔,唯有繼續點頭。
 

「你就算十分鐘來到,也可能太遲了。婆婆去得很快,很安樂。」 護士安慰道。
 

我其實五分鐘便可以趕到,但拖遲了四十分鐘。
 

「謝謝你,姑娘。」 一開口說話,眼淚便不受控地猛流。我轉過頭深深吸了幾口氣,才問道:「我可以看看她嗎?」
 

「當然可以。婆婆還在她的床位。」
 

我很勉強地以笑容道謝,然後往阿媽的房間走去。

 

阿媽看起來跟下午時差不多,微微張口,嘴角粘滿口水皮。為她打了幾十年氣的強肺,終於靜止了下來。幾天來與她日夜相伴的顯示屏已被關掉,推在一旁。床位的圍簾都拉上了,同房都沒有聲音。在暗淡的燈光下,就只有我們兩個。從小到大,不就只有我們兩個嗎?直到我也離棄了她。。。我覺得很冷,手心冰涼。
 

她的身體好像縮了兩個碼。毛毯下突起的象腳看來比下午大,更不成比例。我輕輕捏了一下這雙帶著媽媽走完一生的大腳。這雙鞋也不穿,赤著跑盡苦難的大腳,把兩個兒子撫養成才,成為自以為了不起,比媽媽高級得多,會說英語會賺錢的專業人才。
 

幾天前,我覺得阿媽急切抱孫的樣子很落後可笑。現在我願意付出任何代價,贖回一小時的光陰。抱孫她是沒緣分了,但我希望她能夠親耳聽到期待已久的好消息。她一生人聽過的好消息實在太少太少了。
 

我在床邊跪下來,輕輕對她的耳邊說道:「阿媽,你的男孫出生啦,你現在是嬤嬤啦。他很肥壯,足足八磅多!一出來便大喊,醫生說他的肺特強,像你哦!」
——————
譚炳昌 2014年10月

2017年8月稍作修改


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

民主國際標準


佔中支持者,很多都忘記了佔中的聲明目標,是爭取符合國際標準的自由和民主。自由嘛,還好辦。香港是全球最自由的城市之一,這是大佬們說過的,沒有自吹自擂。既然現行的自由度較大,向著國際標準下調的空間也便較多,應該辦得到。

但這批未來的社會棟梁和導師們教我們特首要由公民提名,然後一人一票直選,否則就是假民主!假選舉!支持者都拍手叫好!

Int'l Standard in Freedom and Democracy


Occupy Central protesters demand freedom and Democracy (In case you haven’t noticed, I habitually capitalise Democracy due to it’s sacred status) according to “international standard”. I believe the freedom bit should be easily achievable. Hong Kong has been one of the freest cities in the world in many respects: economic, personal movement, expression etc. etc.; a downward adjustment to meet international standard shouldn’t be too challenging. 

The protestors and their mentors also tell us that candidates for the Chief Executive should be nominated by the public, and voted on directly without any form of screening whatsoever. Otherwise, it’d be a sham! Now, this could be more problematic according to “international standard”. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Authoritarianism with Chinese Characteristics


Hong Kong’s Umbrella Freedom Fighters can’t possibly be fighting for “freedom” in one of the most indulgent communities on earth; it’d be like fish keep asking for more salt in the ocean. If succeeded, it’d turn them into anchovies. 

A popular reason cited by supporters is that China’s an authoritarian state, therefore to be loathed unconditionally. Anyone who reads mainstream newspapers would know that much. If this fear is indeed the real cause, I’d like to take this opportunity to examine China’s authoritarianism by reviewing some known facts:

1. In 1949, when the Communist Party took over, average life expectancy in China was about thirty-five, illiteracy was 80%, and GDP was lower than Qing Dynasty’s. After a century of pillage and plunder by colonial powers, the country was struggling to recover from near-fatal wounds inflicted by opium, corruption, barbaric invasions and civil wars. Sixty-five years on, it’s the world’s second largest economy. In the past thirty years, the miraculous transformation (GDP growth, productivity, urbanisation of population etc.) of this continent-sized country is comparable to (relatively tiny) Britain’s evolution after the industrial revolution, which took about 200 years. Martin Jacques’ book contains a lot of hard data for comparison, in plain English http://www.martinjacques.com/books/when-china-rules-the-world/. However, economic development isn’t everything. It shouldn’t be.

中國特色的極權主義


香港的雨傘革命家們並非真的在追求民主自由。香港是世上少有的自由社會,程度近乎放縱。在這裡搞革命爭取自由,實在太玄,難以信服。當我問他們革命成功後,有了自由民主,打算如何改變社會時,答案都有些離題:中國是極權國家,定要反對! 哦,原來這才是真正原因。

習慣了西方 自由傳媒” 招牌菜的人,都知道中國是 極權國家,令人心寒。我希望多些瞭解,於是決定反潮流,實事求是探索一番:

1. 當新中國在1949年成立之際,中國的人均壽命不過35歲,文盲率高達80%GDP 比清朝時期還低。經過一個多世紀的鴉片荼毒,貪污腐敗,列強侵掠和內戰,中國當時處於垂死邊緣。做夢也想不到,65年後會翻身成為全球第二經濟大國。毛澤東的超英趕美,現在看來一點也不虛幻。過去30年的成績,相等小英帝國工業革命後200年的演變,是人類歷史上的奇跡。英國作家 Martin Jacques 蒐集了大量數據,作出客觀比較,可供參考: http://www.martinjacques.com/books/when-china-rules-the-world/. 但經濟發展雖然重要,社會發展還須以人為本。

Monday, 29 September 2014

My take on Occupy Central


It’s human nature to react emotionally rather than rationally whenever there’s some kind of mass disorder. The Occupy Central movement, misplaced in Admiralty, is of course no exception.

A friend has a valid point: Most if not all student movements have underlying reasons that we should not simply shrug off. So, what’s Occupy Central about, and what could be the extreme outcomes?

Underlying Frustrations

Hong Kong craves the reset button for a few reasons. Education (both at school AND home) is a key one. Having popularised the university degree in the 1990s, everyone feels entitled to a better job. Ironically, quantity has achieved the opposite. We now have many graduates aspiring to be managers, but stuck with making telephone sales calls. Today’s mainland China has many more poor kids. But they have dreams and hopes to soon become nouveau riches. Most of them are (relatively relatively) happy and self-driven. On the other hand, Hong Kong’s social permeability has dropped significantly. Poor kids feel stuck. Middle class ones growing up without having learnt to tie shoe laces feel their enormous sense of entitlement denied. They’re unhappy. 

佔中如何收科?


當很多人被佔中騎劫了情緒之際,我想嘗試分析佔中之目的為何?而最佳和最壞的後果會是甚麼。

背後原因

佔中運動背後的外來因素量暫且不提,一群市民洶湧上街必定也有其內在原因。我認為(學校和家庭)教育可能是其中一個。港英撤走前把大學教育普及化,人人有學位,皆大歡喜。誰知學士太多,變成了社會問題。戴了四方帽,高不成低不就,造成了一代人的納悶。五六十年代的香港,像今天的大陸,肚子不餓,但不過份富裕的人,做人特別起勁。但今天的香港,不愁衣食,以為拿著文憑可以做經理,結果要電話推銷,心理不平衡可以想像。

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Superstition in Science

「繁體版鏈接:科學迷信」

Two erudite correspondents have been engaged in a thought provoking e-mail debate over the merits of science. They both have taught science subjects at university level. One thinks science the most elegant approach to universal wisdom. The other regards it yet another grand human illusion.

I actually agree with both and, paradoxically, don’t think they have much disagreement in their passionately divergent viewpoints. Perhaps they’ve set aside a huge swathe of worldly commonality to expostulate over a philosophical posture? Academics and intellectuals love to do that you know.

There are ample examples how applied science and technology have improved the lives of many over the past century. Science could have been indisputably beneficial, had we not overused and misused it (once again!), rendering it destructive — self-destructive — to humans.

科學迷信



兩位筆友,最近經電郵激烈辯論科學迷信這議題。一位認為科學是探索宇宙最高智慧的優雅手段。另一位認為科學無非人類又一偉大幻覺,與最終現實拉不上關係。兩位都是僑居海外的教授級學者,都曾經在大學教理工科。我覺得他們兩位的論點精辟, 而且分歧不大,只不過抓住了一兩個原則上的分叉,爭論一番而已。老九們,不論香臭,都有這份嗜好!

科學技術本身,當然可以載舟,可以覆舟。“實用科技”於過往一兩個世紀,的確曾經造福不少。但不知收手,直至好事變壞,是人類慣性。我們現在面對科技發達帶來的負面後果,事實上十分嚴峻,而且越來越難收科。

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Beautiful North (3) - Finland Special Lights 美丽北国(3)-芬兰之光

Long time no see Finland. I saw light everywhere, gleaming, glinting, blazing, more dramatic than before, enchanting as usual. And thank you for the rainbow. . .

久违了的芬兰,无论树林,湖泊,天边,都透露着银影金辉,魔幻色彩。一道彩虹横贯长空,美丽得不真实,令人无法不相信神话。。。


Did I say "Let there be light"?  
是我说“要有光”的吗?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Currency War for Idiots


Why is it a big deal for the 0.001% to maintain the Dollar’s reserve status and petrol prerogative? And why should we commoners even care? 

To answer the second question first, a currency war could end in physical ones, with missiles crisscrossing above head, and our children ruined in the battlefield without knowing why. Even if it doesn’t escalate into major military conflicts, having some idea about the rise and fall of currencies may help to reduce personal losses.

为何要打货币战争?


石油貨幣究竟有何大不了呢?為什麼美元繼續當國際貨幣對美國的主人來說是生死存亡的大事呢?為什麼會有貨幣戰爭呢?而這些金融博弈,與我們普通老百姓又有啥關係呢?

先答最後一個問題:貨幣戰爭隨時會變成具體戰爭,當然與老百姓有切身關係。就算最後沒有出動飛彈大炮,對貨幣博弈有幾分瞭解,不至於身在戰場而懵然不知,亦可能減少個人在戰亂中的損失。

打貨幣戰的原因和常規戰其實一樣,主要都是搶掠或保衛天然和人力資源。

古時打仗爭奪土地,因為土地可以耕種牧畜,控制水源,是天然資源,經濟基礎。勝方把敗方子民抓來當奴隸,免費勞工有助促進生產力。懂得大規模搶掠屠殺的,變了征服者或殖民帝國霸權。小規模作業的則被統稱流寇海盜,其實性質一樣。

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Ulpotha — An Enchanting Retreat 斯里兰卡迷人的瑜伽静修村



Ulpotha has been named the “Best Yoga Retreat in Sri Lanka” for good reasons. It’s a truly unforgettable experience for anyone seeking a retreat from urban life, rather than a resort to indulge in alternative excesses and over-packaged pampering. I don’t have much to add to Ulpotha’s beautiful website (http://www.ulpotha.com). Magical Ulpotha leaves little room for exaggeration or false advertising.

However, I do think there are at least ten reasons why one shouldn’t go anywhere near Ulpotha. Before my analysis, first a few supplementary photos:

斯里兰卡的 Ulpotha 瑜伽静修村被称全国之冠,是名符其实。对真心希望暂时摆脱烦嚣,尝试返璞归真的都市人来说,是难得的乐土。Ulpotha 的网站(http://www.ulpotha.com)上的漂亮相片,丝毫没有夸张,我也就不重复了。

Ulpotha 的魅力虽然一点不假,我却认为由于种种原因,很多人应该敬而远之。在我分析 Ulpotha 的敝处之前,先看几张补充图片:

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

井底看六四

轉眼又到「六四」。這年頭的香港,光陰依然似箭,不過是電影里的火箭:看上去很快,卻去不了地方,只在原地噴火,隆隆發聲。散場後坐著不走的話,電影還會重播,內容一模一樣。我在09年6月5號寫的一篇遊戲文章,看來在可見將來也不會過時。那麼我也每年六三重貼一次,算是贈慶吧!
 六四是個很值得慶祝的日子。試想二十年前沒有鄧小平的果斷,適當時候平息風波,今天的中國會是甚麼樣子?香港又會是甚麼樣子呢?很多國家都會慶祝重光日勝利日,原因是那歷史性的一天防止了大家淪為亡國奴。從這角度看,六四的性質與重光勝利日相似,應該列為法定假期。要遊行的可以早點開始,多燒兩條蠟燭,讓賣蠟燭的人多賺兩塊錢。   

Friday, 30 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (5) Final Episode: Iran! Iran! 伊朗印象(5)终结篇: 伊朗!伊朗!


Isfahan Square
伊斯法罕的广场 
Two weeks in Iran showed me the extent to which a country can be savagely demonised by the corporate free press. I was surprised by the contrast between what I saw, and what’s commonly portrayed in TV and newspapers. I hope my pictures have said at least a few words.

两个星期的南伊之游,让我领会到西方“自由传媒”的妖魔化力量,原来比想像中更巨大狠毒。像伊朗这类被围困孤立了的国家,一般人都没有亲身证明的机会。在受害人没有反驳能力的情况下,强大的国际喉舌更肆无忌惮,随意抹黑。

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (4) — Heroes 伊朗印象(4)- 英雄篇



Persia’s Achaemenid Empire once kinda stretched from Turkey in the west to Pakistan in the East. Its founder Cyrus the Great (circa 600 to 530 BCE), and legendary capital Persepolis (eventually razed by Alexander the Pyromaniac) may evoke a glorious past, but are no match for Hafez and Saadi in capturing the soul and passion of Iran. Few other people revere their poets like Iranians do. The mausoleum of Hafez is still packed with admirers after more than 600 years. They seek solace from his philosophical love poems, even use them as soothsayings to calm the mind and heart. Saadi Shirazi who lived a century before Hafez is similarly remembered. 

大约两千五百年前,波斯的阿契美尼德王朝疆域辽阔,西包土耳其,东含巴基斯坦。王朝的缔造者居鲁士大帝,和被希腊纵火狂阿历山大烧毁的著名古都 Persepolis,虽然标志着古波斯帝国的文明和强大,但对伊朗人来说,魅力还不及哈菲兹萨迪。看来没有一个民族比伊朗人更爱慕伟大的诗人。六百多年来,伊朗人到哈菲兹的陵园凭吊,冥想,找寻灵性,修补创伤,络绎不绝。他充满哲理的情诗,甚至被用来占卦。

The ruins of Persepolis, capital of the largest empire 2500 years ago
2500年前世上最强大繁荣的古都 Persepolis

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (3) — Mosques and Morgues 伊朗印象(3)- 上帝与波斯



Visitor Contemplating a 1500-year-old Fire behind glass
in Zoroastrian Temple in Yadz
在 Yadz 拜火庙的火盘,供人隔着玻璃观赏参拜。

盘内的火已经维持了1500年以上。



Religion and the Middle East are inseparable. Iran is no exception, though the average Iranians are not nearly as devout as they appear to outsiders. Started out as monotheistic Parsees (Zoroastrians) in the 6th Century, ancient Persians worshipped a God named Ahura Mazda (unrelated to the Japanese car) with an unremitting fire maintained by a keeper. A few centuries later, it was replaced by Islam, brought in by Arabic conquerors. It has since dominated the spiritual side of Iran, especially after the Islamic Revolution 35 years ago. Zoroastrian has survived as a minor religion, and some fire temples are still in use. 

宗教在中东有历史性的中心地位,伊朗当然不例外。不过对一般的伊朗人来说,宗教无疑是历史文化和生活的一部分,但信仰并不狂热。波斯人在六世纪创立了拜火教,教义极为简单合理,不外正念,正言,正行。拜火教中文译名有些误导。教徒拜的不是火,而是与日本汽车同名的真神“万事达” 。崇拜祂的工具是薪火不断的“火盘”。伊斯兰教由阿拉伯侵略者大概一千年前带入波斯,自此成为主流,但仍然有部分人信奉拜火教。

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (2) — Persian Bazaars 伊朗印象(2)- 波斯市集

Tehran Bazaar 德黑兰市集 


Whenever I visit a strange place, I like to see its markets. They tell me a lot about the locals’ lives, habits, social order, living standard, and behaviour towards each other. For example, supermarkets are efficient, impersonal, and cold, while advertising “organic” produce. I wonder who invented them. 

Persian Bazaars are colourful, personal, and busy, but clean and quiet comparing with their Far East counterparts. Iranians do bargain, but not at the expense of sanity and composure. They don’t scream and exchange curses ritualistically before finalising a deal. The bazaars open early in the morning, then take a long nap after lunch before resuming in the late afternoon. Normally, there’s a seemingly incongruous tomb of an imam and/or a religious school in the midst of fragrant herbs and sticky candies, probably to remind people of their spiritual needs while depraving the bodies with yummy food and colourful fabrics.

我每到一个陌生地方,都喜欢到市集逛逛。市场是当地民生的缩影;人民的所爱,生活水平,物价指数,大概的治安情况,和相处态度,都会在市场反应出来。假如你有留心中国市场文化从70年代到今天的转变,便不难看到整国国家过去几十年的演变。再看看高效冷漠的“超市”,打着招牌大卖“有机食品”,便不难推想谁是现代超市的“发明者”。

市集是每个伊朗城镇的心脏;虽然十分繁荣热闹,却比我们的街市干净宁静。伊朗人也讨价还价,但不过份,亦不会大吵大闹,互相诅咒一番才忿忿然成交。波斯市集一早开市,午后小睡,到四五点才苏醒过来。市集当中通常有个宗教领袖的墓,祈祷的地方或伊斯兰学校,提醒着人们买香料煲鸡汤的时候不要忘记了照顾灵魂。

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (1) - SMILING FACES from Bush's AXIS of EVIL 伊朗印象(1)- 布希 “邪恶轴心” 的善良嘴脸


When newspaper-reading friends first learnt of my plan to join a few retirees for a trip to Iran, their common reaction was: “Iran? You be careful huh.” As departure approached, I became slightly nervous about adventuring into Bush's “Axis of Evil”, braving a “yellow travel alert” dutifully echoed by the Hong Kong Government. I even considered buying insurance for the first time. However, anxiety was no match for my curiosity about the only other ancient civilisation which still thinks reasonably independently.

前阵子有几位退休朋友自己组团游伊朗,我立即报名参加。除了中国,当今世上还能基本上思想独立的文明古国就只有伊朗,非要看看不可。 但很多经常看报纸的朋友们知道之后,都面带忧色地警告我小心。“踏足美国的邪恶轴心非同小可,惟望三思而行。” 可惜退缩已经太迟,最后只有鼓起勇气,与家人拥抱道别之后,战战兢兢地登上飞机。

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Justice of Sin



Slightly edited version of "The Sins of Sin",
Originally anthologised by Hong Kong Writers Circle 

Sin went through the morning’s news clippings for the fifth time, sucking desperately at a fibre of lunchtime chicken lodged between molars, making loud slippery tzits! He stuffed his half-finished lunchbox into the paper basket without closing the lid, then searched fruitlessly for a toothpick. 
His secretary Flora was returning from lunch, shuffling past his open door to take position behind her desk for another two hundred and ten minutes before she was free to go. Though only a few metres from her, he summoned her with the intercom as a matter of principle: “Flora. Do you have a toothpick?”
“No Mr. Sin,” she replied in an intimidated voice that some suspected was a result of having worked for Sin all these years.
“Can you first look?”
“I know I don’t Mr. Sin but I can look anyway if you wish.”
“Forget it. Just come in.”
She entered, goggling him in silence, not wondering what he might want. She had given up on that long ago. 
“Can you make a copy?” He eyed the news clippings on his desk, picking his teeth with a straightened paper clip. His “media contact” Winnie Poon had asked a few questions outside the courtroom yesterday, mentioning his new title, just as he had skillfully hinted. Her question on cross-border corruption had been a surprise, but he had handled it well. He was extremely pleased with the result: “No Territorial Boundary  in the Battle against Corruption”, said Senior Assistant Director. Fantastic, he thought. Visionary, bold, and righteous. It would attract many “likes” if he could share it on Facebook. 

冼蛇的公义




英文版本原名 "The Sins of Sin",
收录於 Hong Kong Writers Circle 



冼福音把吃剩大半的叉烧油鸡饭盒,盖也懒掩便塞进了身旁的废纸箩,眼睛未离开过办公桌上的新闻剪稿。他今早已经把剪稿欣赏过四五遍,但仍意犹未尽。他传媒界的“关系” Winnie 潘诗菲昨天在法院门外的突发问题,他当时毫无准备,只好凭急智对应。哈!想不到效果甚佳,连他的新职衔也上了标题:“高级助理刑事检控专员冼福音资深大律师认为打击贪腐不应有国界之分!” 说得好!假如放上Facebook,肯定会招引一大堆 “赞”。他一边看剪报,一边猛力吮吸一条卡在牙缝的鸡肉,剔嘁有声,可恨效果不大。刚巧他的秘书午饭回来,脚下无声地溜过他的房门,回到座位等放工。她还有两百一十分钟才可重获一天的自由。

虽然只有三四米之隔,但他一般还是用通话机来传召秘书的;对他来说这是个原则问题。“Flora,你有牙签吗?”

“冼蛇,没有。” Flora 微弱的声音,不但充分表露了信心崩溃,还隐约带了一种重拾无期的绝望感。有人怀疑这是她多年来与冼福音共事的副作用。

“你先找找看才下定论成不成?”

“我知道我没有牙签,但你要的话,也可以尽管再找。”

“算啦算啦!你进来一下。”

Flora 花了好几分钟才拖着脚跟游移到冼福音之前,一言不发地等候发落。
“影一份,” 他用鼻尖指了指桌上的剪稿,一边用拉直了的纸夹剔牙。
Flora 拿起剪报,刚准备转身时,他突然改变了主意:“三份吧。” 心想:多印两份没坏。

冼蛇的公義







英文版本原名 "The Sins of Sin",
收錄於 Hong Kong Writers Circle 


冼福音把吃剩大半的叉燒油雞飯盒,蓋也懶掩便塞進了身旁的廢紙籮,眼睛未離開過辦公桌上的新聞剪稿。他今早已經把剪稿欣賞過四五遍,但仍意猶未盡。他傳媒界的“關係” Winnie 潘詩菲昨天在法院門外的突發問題,他當時毫無準備,只好憑急智對應。哈!想不到效果甚佳,連他的新職銜也上了標題:“高級助理刑事檢控專員冼福音資深大律師認為打擊貪腐不應有國界之分!” 說得好!假如放上Facebook,肯定會招引一大堆 “贊”。他一邊看剪報,一邊猛力吮吸一條卡在牙縫的雞肉,剔嘁有聲,可恨效果不大。剛巧他的秘書午飯回來,腳下無聲地溜過他的房門,回到座位等放工。她還有兩百一十分鐘才可重獲一天的自由。
雖然只有三四米之隔,但他一般還是用通話機來傳召秘書的;對他來說這是個原則問題。“Flora,你有牙簽嗎?”
“冼蛇,沒有。” Flora 微弱的聲音,不但充分表露了信心崩潰,還隱約帶了一種重拾無期的絕望感。有人懷疑這是她多年來與冼福音共事的副作用。
“你先找找看才下定論成不成?”
“我知道我沒有牙簽,但你要的話,也可以儘管再找。”
“算啦算啦!你進來一下。”
Flora 花了好幾分鐘才拖著腳跟游移到冼福音之前,一言不發地等候發落。
“影一份,” 他用鼻尖指了指桌上的剪稿,一邊用拉直了的萬字夾剔牙。
Flora 拿起剪報,剛準備轉身時,他突然改變了主意:“三份吧。” 心想:多印兩份“無蝕底”。

Friday, 11 April 2014

Questioning Democracy Goes Mainstream?



What’s going on? Criticising the occult of Democracy has suddenly gone mainstream?

Just within the past few weeks, I’ve read, with utter disbelief, first in The Economist, then The Washington Post, warnings that Democracy could collapse unless reformed. Even Professor Francis Fukuyama, writer of “The End of History and the Last Man” who declared liberal democracy to be the ultimate political model of mankind, has joined rank. It’s like witnessing the Vatican expressing doubt over the Genesis.

I’ve listed the links of these incredible but excellent essays below, plus a couple of my old blasphemous pieces which questioned the viability of Democracy, especially when coupled with extreme capitalism and mass petulance. Hey, these “eccentric and cynical” views are now kinda mainstream! I still find it difficult to take in, and wonder what the catch is. . .

西方主流传媒也批民主?



世界真的变得越来越快,快得有点儿不真实。几个星期前,我根本不能想像 “民主” 这神性不可侵犯的大迷信,会被西方主流传媒认真批判。

这几周内,首先是超保守的英国 “经济学人”,然后是 “华盛顿邮报”,轮流对西方肆意式民主的前途作出前所未有的认真检讨和批判,甚至坦然承认若不改革,整个制度可能会面临崩溃。现在甚至连曾经预测西方民主将会成为人类 “终极制度” 的福山教授,也改变了看法,承认民主发展下去是个大死结。

究竟搞什么鬼?事有蹊跷?想不通。不过趁机挑了两篇我曾经斗胆写过的反民主游戏文章,与这几篇高档传媒的论文并列,高攀一下,过瘾一下。