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?