Great posts - and critical thinking in HK

I have not updated my reading list for a while. The mainly reason is that I have been too busy these days, no time to read, no time to put the link even if I had read.

However, if you note the upper right corner of my blog, you could still see that I have updated the readling list from time to time.

Today, there were 2 great posts (both in Chinese) that I would like to recommend. I had wanted to write about these 2 issues for quite some time, and am glad that I do not have to now. There are some critical writers in HK.

1) The ugly fact under the Education Institute Controversy
2) Is Christine Luk stupid, or ?

The first post by Yellow Cow is perhaps THE best analysis I have read in HK media recently, published on Apple Daily today. It revealed the ugly dirty secret of the Professional Teachers' Association in Hong Kong, led by democrat Chueng Man Kong, and addressed almost all the problems of the education system in HK just in about 1000 words. It is simply a brilliant summary of all you need to know about HK. (But beware of this yellow cow, most of the other time he acts like a Bush mouth piece / WSJ Op-ed propaganda machine)

The second link about some ridiculous propaganda from a HK think tank, headed by democrat Christine Luk. Ms Luk is a British trained lawyer, and also a veteran commodity trader who traded commodity perhaps before the famed Apple Daily Petroleum Analyst Pakman was born. :). She is definitely not stupid. So why did she made such an obvious mistake? What is her motive?

So much noise, and I thought no one would speak out in HK. I am glad that the people in HK are not all blind and have cirtical minds.

Lastly, talking about local media, on Tuesday's column (June 26 - I have the pdf format but do not know how to convert into jpg or post here - please advise) Lam Hang-chi of HK Economic Journal wrote about the (pseduo)-"coincidence" that many great economists are trained in some other disciplines, mostly in maths or physics. I do have one theory, viz, undergraduate economic textbooks are simple dull and boring. It is hard for such course to attract the brightest minds. I sat in a few undergraduate economic classes at one of the very top Ivy League college taught by star professors, I wanted to sleep. I tried to read Economic textbooks, I never really gone pass the demand/supply curve chapters.

Lam made a small factual error though. He said the only couple that both won Nobel prize is Mr and Mrs Myrdal, in Economic and Peace. Not true. Mr and Mrs Curie shared the Physics Prize in 1903. In fact the Curie family collect 4 medals together. Lam also forgot the now famous John Nash, who is not only not trained as an economist, but never been a real economist.

Now really lastly, The is a quote for the critical minds, including to the 2 writers in the posts above, who dare to speak out against the mediocre minds. By our dear friend Albert,

1) There are quite a number of thing I do not agree with these writers/bloggers. For example, the plastic bag tax controversy. But I admire the fact that they are rational and can think and shout despite the mediocre noise over the atmosphere in HK
2) I am glad that Apple Daily is courageous enough to publish these 2 great essays on the same day, both are critical of Jimmy Lai's political allies, the democrats. Kudos to Mr Lai, or more precisely, the AD editor. I have to say, AD has recovered from the Liu Kinming fiasco and regained credibility and my respect. I am sure it will be much more effective media to achieve whatever Mr Lai wants to achieve, by being rational, fair, factual, and balanced.
3) To illustrate why it is important to read critically, read this timely link via ESWN.


Juxtaposition: We are all _______

Here is the juxtaposition

A) Kill Us, Too: We Are Also Americans
B) Kill Us, Too: We Are Also Al Qaeda (Get a salon site pass and click on this link again)

Except that,
1) it took millions of Americans - the great men who wrote the constitution, Abraham Lincoln, millions who died in the two world wars to liberate the world - more than 200 years to win the good will of Mr. Aslam Abdullah to say (A), voluntarily.
2) it took just a few cone-heads from Washington to -- to force the 27.6M Iraqi, and potentially much more in the neighboring countries to say (B), involuntarily, but they were given no other option

Can't find our enemy? create some so that we have a war to fight. This is the dreamland for arms dealers.

How was Sun Zi taught in West Point? Go figure.

"Take Advantage Of Employment Discrimination"

China Law Blog has a very interesting post: Take Advantage Of "China's Rampant Employment Discrimination"

Well, I would say, "Take Advantage Of Employment Discrimination", anywhere in this world that there is discrimination. Though I also agree with CLB that it is indeed rampant in China -- just look at the unisex restaurants and unisex factory floors (even though one could argue that there is cost reduction due to easy management for unisex factory, i doubt if the benefit outweighs the cost).

There are, however, a couple points to add
  • CLB said, 'Another discrimination in China is against "villagers" without a degree from one of China's top two or three universities. Another opportunity.' -- I do not quite agree. First, we see the same brand premium in US (Ivy Leage and Stanford) and UK (Oxbridge) and the average quality from the premium brands are indeed higher. Second, it is true that there are 'arbitrage' opportunity from the "villager" graduates, but this is not without costs, i.e., more time to select the right candidate due to lower average success rate. But I do agree with CLB, if you spot one, grab him! (Digression: the beauty of the Chinese language is that there was no gender in the 3rd person - "彼or 他", until the turn of last century during May-4 movement when "它/她" were created, plus the ridiculous 牛也 (the god belongs to the gender of cow!). Anyway, we used to enjoy the absence of stupid political correctness in terms of "him/her" or "s/he" or "chairperson". If you understand 禅(Zen in Japanese) or heard about the story of 3 monks bumped into a nude girl, you would understand what I mean.)
  • Yes, there is arbitrage if one does not discriminate, because the cost of recruitment is lower (one finds the right candidate quicker, statistically). However, if one is going to pay the same amount for others, one is not exploiting the arbitrage fully. To exploit the arbitrage fully one would only have to pay a small premium over the market rate, which is usually still lower than what the "true" value of the candidate is. This does solve one major problem, i.e., the case when some are unemployed due to discrimination
  • I know what I said above in politically incorrect, but that is the reality of this world. However, without facing the reality one cannot really address the problem. We need to recognize that, even if one would still partially discriminate these candidates, the important thing is that we realize the TRUE value of these people. Once this is realized, one would expect more employers will join the arbitrage competition, and gradually bid up the price. The point of inflexion is when the underpivileged receives more than one job offer. To make this happen we need more employers who are willing to just pay a very small premium (or even no premium) over the current (under-rated) market price. Until, eventually or asymptotically, when there is no more arbitrage opportunity. Then the CLB mission will be accomplished.
  • Therefore, even for those employer who are still paying a discount to the discriminated (but just the smallest premium over the market rate), we should encourage them and encourage more employers to follow suit. Because that is the first step toward the ultimate goal, and one must go through such first step in the long process of transition.
  • The fundamentalist would criticize those who pay a small (but not enough) premium for not doing enough. I need to warn them, they are effectively hurting the discriminated they claim to protect.

Again, this applies not just to China. It applies to any other country, developed or developing. It is actually the theme of one of my old post -- China vs India. And again, the situation in China, albeit may not be the worst in this world (there are many countries that are worse), is not an excuse. It is for China's own good if this problem gets solved, even if it is partially. The larger the extent this partial solution is, the more competitive China as a nation will become.


Reading: Hong Kong's 5* academic mess

探 針 : 「 沒 有 我 們 , 那 有 今 天 ? 」


香 港 回 歸 以 前 , 英 國 首 相 戴 卓 爾 夫 人 否 認 背 棄 香 港 人 , 她 並 為 英 國 帝 國 主 義 辯 護 道 : 「 我 們 把 文 明 帶 給 全 世 界 ! 」 回 歸 日 告 別 演 說 中 查 理 斯 王 子 說 : 「 香 港 的 歷 史 是 我 們 的 一 部 份 , 反 之 亦 然 。 」 末 代 港 督 彭 定 康 形 容 香 港 是 「 具 有 英 國 特 色 的 、 偉 大 的 中 國 人 成 功 的 故 事 」 ( 好 幾 個 「 的 」 ) 。 回 歸 後 , 香 港 的 痛 苦 指 數 隨 老 董 陡 升 , 直 到 北 京 回 頭 用 彭 定 康 的 門 徒 氣 溫 才 回 暖 。

滬 商 治 港   絕 非 偶 然
這 豈 不 活 生 生 印 證 了 薩 伊 德 在 《 文 化 與 帝 國 》 模 仿 殖 民 者 口 說 的 話 : 「 你 們 有 今 天 , 全 靠 我 們 ; 沒 有 我 們 , 你 們 就 得 回 到 蠻 荒 狀 態 ! 」
英 國 帝 國 主 義 把 它 要 的 不 要 的 人 , 要 的 不 要 的 制 度 , 統 統 送 做 堆 , 給 了 香 港 照 單 全 收 。 沒 有 「 英 國 特 色 」 沖 刷 封 建 的 毛 式 「 中 國 特 色 」 , 今 天 的 香 港 會 不 會 像 二 十 年 前 的 海 南 島 那 樣 「 先 進 」 ?
記 得 回 歸 前 一 兩 年 , 洪 清 田 兄 做 東 請 一 桌 好 飯 , 一 圈 人 輪 流 猜 誰 會 出 線 當 第 一 任 特 首 。 我 脫 口 預 測 , 是 個 「 滬 商 治 港 」 的 局 面 。 不 是 我 懂 得 掐 指 一 算 , 而 是 想 到 港 英 工 心 計 , 有 套 路 , 讓 港 人 那 麼 服 帖 , 而 中 國 人 信 奉 「 拿 來 主 義 」 , 任 錢 其 琛 、 魯 平 、 張 浚 生 嘴 巴 再 硬 , 祖 國 實 在 沒 有 理 由 不 繼 承 港 英 的 深 刻 遺 產 。 當 時 我 腦 中 的 影 子 是 港 大 和 中 大 : 港 大 這 個 殖 民 官 搖 籃 的 校 長 寶 座 , 長 期 由 英 國 人 包 辦 , 直 到 晚 期 南 洋 華 裔 才 有 機 會 過 癮 ; 中 大 前 幾 任 校 長 多 與 上 海 有 淵 源 , 又 有 香 港 和 倫 敦 的 育 背 景 。 如 此 巧 合 , 絕 非 偶 然 。 因 此 我 猜 首 任 特 首 是 「 滬 」 和 「 商 」 的 組 合 。

華 裔 學 者   紛 紛 回 流
香 港 各 大 學 一 方 面 從 全 世 界 公 開 招 聘 師 資 , 另 一 方 面 又 處 處 有 「 把 文 明 帶 給 世 界 」 的 遺 跡 。 以 前 有 句 名 言 : 「 在 倫 敦 一 事 無 成 , 到 香 港 碰 碰 運 氣 」 。 從 倫 敦 到 香 港 , 石 頭 就 點 成 了 金 。 英 語 世 界 美 加 澳 印 各 路 人 馬 ( 也 就 是 比 香 港 更 早 獲 得 「 解 放 」 的 英 國 殖 民 地 ) , 來 香 港 搵 食 者 , 絡 繹 不 絕 於 途 。 跟 華 裔 學 者 紛 紛 從 美 英 回 流 。 這 就 構 造 了 香 港 各 大 學 的 風 景 線 。
朋 友 自 海 外 歸 來 , 踏 進 自 稱 「 五 星 級 」 的 系 。 那 個 系 成 員 從 五 湖 四 海 漂 來 , 開 起 會 來 只 聽 到 英 語 「 呱 呱 叫 」 , 英 文 是 否 出 色 比 較 難 說 。 這 些 人 有 話 爭 講 , 有 事 拼 命 躲 , 從 無 新 意 , 更 乏 建 樹 。 但 他 們 關 起 門 來 , 互 拍 肩 膀 讚 好 , 聽 久 了 很 難 不 把 自 己 當 一 回 事 。 直 到 有 一 天 外 人 闖 進 「 桃 花 源 」 , 定 神 一 看 , 原 來 是 一 群 母 雞 帶 小 雞 的 大 院 : 徒 子 徒 孫 , 幾 代 同 堂 , 老 爸 退 而 不 休 , 再 由 子 女 接 棒 , 肥 水 不 落 外 人 田 , 近 親 繁 殖 達 於 極 致 ; 更 有 的 找 隔 壁 同 事 當 導 師 , 毋 須 修 課 , 胡 亂 寫 一 篇 甚 麼 東 西 , 居 然 鍍 金 成 為 「 博 士 」 。 學 問 大 躍 進 了 , 卻 老 不 發 表 學 術 論 文 。 朋 友 說 , 這 座 「 桃 花 源 」 風 景 好 , 何 止 「 五 星 級 」 , 評 它 「 八 星 級 」 絕 不 為 過 。 不 知 有 漢 , 遑 論 魏 晉 , 別 處 的 確 沒 有 見 過 。

李 金 銓
城 市 大 學 教授


Superboys in Taiwan -- Super Avenue of Stars

Sorry, too busy to blog. But I would recommend this post by Sidekick.
溏心風暴的星光大道 (ESWN translation in English)
Related: How Pfizer's Viagra sales skyrocketed in HK

Supergirl finally got a sequel. It is called "Super Avenue of Stars", a similar singing contest in Taiwan, produced by Huang Zongwei, the producer of the celebrated Mengguo.

The key element that deviates from Supergirl is that in SAS there is a challenger session, where the challenger can pick one of the finalists and replace him. The germ in SAS is that there is a really good challenger, who is arguably as good as or even better than the best incumbent. He chose to fight the toughest battle, by choosing to challenge the incumbent leader and sing the song the incumbent has sang, winning 2 round before lost in a controversial final round of challenge, and -- you got it right, CRIED! That was a touching scene. The common theme for the Supergirls and Superboys is that they all like to cry.

Because of this show, an old song became a new hit in Taiwan.

The preliminary round of challenge

Mengguo is quick to spoof

There is more in Taiwan than corrupted politicians, political bickering, or dumb money diplomacy. It is still a beautiful island.


This is causality

There is a legend among Oxford students, where degrees and honours are determined by a final examination of 6-8 3-hour exams in the final year summer.

In science subjects there are typically 8-12 questions and the students will try to finish as many as possible. But complete answer of about 3 questions would probably give you an "alpha" grade as each question carries a full score of 25 and this score will be squared (3x625=1875, vs 10 questions of 10 scores each scoring 10x100=1000). Therefore, the "top first" would score as many as 5000 in a paper (for a rare "alpha plus" score) while to get alpha you only need to score 2000.

In humanity subject, the paper quite often is a single essay on a very concisely phrased question/issue. To illustrate the paper and the how the scores are determined we have this legend

  • Question: "What is risk?" (I do not know what the subject is, probably philosophy or literature, or economic!. It is just an un-verifiable legend anyway)
  • A student went in, answered with three words, left the examination hall and got an alpha
  • His full essay for the 3 hour exam? "This is risk."


In HK it is unlikely that this will happen, as we know. There is no trust/mutual-respect in our education system for this. The student would not dare the risk and the professor will assume the student is unruly. But I think Mr Lam Kay would score an alpha in this

To spray salt on his wounded feet, I would also like to add these

  • When Tung's father passed away and left OOIL (Oriental Overseas), it went bankrupt
  • When Tung left OOIL, OOIL stock price shot to the sky between the period of 1997-2004

This "Folk-Guy" had some track record but nobody I knew agreed with me when I talked about that 10 years ago. sigh...


No winter in HK in half a century?

The HK Observatory must have missed the controversy it stirred last year. As it is making noise again. The new story? -- No winter in HK in half a century.

Yeah, right, global warming, skyscraper trapping heat and that. I just do not believe these linear projections. People also said, China's GDP/cap grows at 10% p.a., at this rate it will surpass that of US in 20 year ( (50000/7000) at 10% p.a.-- PPP) or 33 years (log(50000/2000)/log(1.1) at nominal).

A few issues to consider

  • There's got to be some negative feedback (i.e. self correcting) factor in any system, especially so as HK is not a close system by itself. It has only 1050km2 of land where the so-called "skyscraper trapping effect" is only applicable to some 20% of the area.
  • As for the global trend in "warming", let's also remember that it is far from conclusive (see the other side of the argument). Furthermore, it may not be just global. It may be pan-solar-system. e.g., The temperature in Mars has risen by a comparable amount during the same period.
  • I also do not understand why the skyscraper can trap the heat but not the coolness as Mr Lam claimed

Maybe Mr Lam is trying to be funny. He said, "We would really start losing the very distinct seasonal march throughout the year".

Anyway, I would believe Deng Xiaoping if Deng and Lam contradicts. Deng told us HK will not change for half a century. @_@

Sensation and Rationality in Chinese culture (and writing) - 中國文章的理性與感性

In an essay called "中國文化的理性與感性", HK blogger Lamkay wrote about the blurred line of rationality and sensation (not sure what the best word one should use to translate the word "感性", perhaps sensationality or sensuality :) ) in Chinese culture, in a care-free/"sensational" writing style which was quite "sensual" at first look. This naturally triggered a debate, as his essay itself is not, strictly speaking, written in a way that rational at all.

While I disagree with Lam Kay in quite a few issues (e.g. the non-issue (IMHO) of Queen's Pier, and the "sensual" style of writing). I think he brought out his subject (or what I thought was his subject) brilliantly in that essay and I was among the very few who jumped into his defense in this series of discussion. During the discussion I was asked to quote some examples of "Chinese culture" that sidestepped rationality because they focused too much on "sensuality". I didn't have something handy at the moment. But now there is one - Davesgonechina's cittique on Lung Ying Tai's Cambridge speech.

I hope Dave's comments on Lung Yingtai's speech could illustrate why I have been so frustrated at our education in Chinese (esp. writing) classes, and at many essays that I read in Chinese media (including those from some "prominent" self-claimed "westernized" columnist at Apple Daily today). I have a lot to agree with Lung, and I have great respect for her. I would also agree with a lot of her general conclusions, but before one reads into her logic flow and indulges into her "文采", one should probably read what Dave has to say.

Lam Kay call it the 'problem' of our culture. I would try be more precise and call it a problem in our writing style (文章, instead of 文化). My grudge is purely on such essays that try to discuss about more "serious" topics. (I totally enjoy the movie critiques from the scribbler (寫手) in Apple Daily, for example. I think he is great in writing about culture and esp. movies). Because, loose logic in such essays often lead to loose logic in one's daily life, and hence also a lot of decision making processes. To some historians this has indeed been a major hindrance in the progress of China for the past two centuries.

Maybe it is an over-generalized statement to equate 中國文章 and 中國文化. But 中國文章 is a facet of 中國文化, and how one writes directly correlates with how one thinks. I do not think one should discredit the generalized "Chinese culture", or even Chinese "writing style". I am only agaist one single element within our (generalized) "culture", or more precisely, style of writing/debate.

related link:
Lung's original in Chinese, English translation by ESWN. I think I can see and understand where Lung comes from, and agree broadly that PRC should make life easier for Taiwanese people if it wants to win them over (as the govt did to HK). I have to agree with Dave's critique on her slopiness.

Map: Avenue Joffre and the old Shanghai

Davesgonechina at Mutant Palm posted a link to a set of historic maps from the map collection "hundred years of humiliation". The topic of humiliation is a complicated one. It could drive one to work hard on the one hand (to reclaim the old glory) but it could also lead to a sense of insecurity and in turn a whole series of mishaps amidst the urge to catch up (as China has gone through during that 140 years, i.e. 1940-1980). The most tragic example being that of Great Leap Forward. In short, it is no different from the case where some gambler who lost a small fortune in either the casino or the stock market and wanted to reclaim the lost land with highly leveraged (and hence risky, and often irrational) bets. No surprise he ended up lost a bigger fortune.

A good training against irrationality is to learn to play the game of bridge, where decision making should purely be based on statistics and consistency, as Deng Xiaoping has learned and also practiced. The rule is the same as what you have learned in your high school probability class, that each event is independent of the previous one and hence each decision should be make independently and rationally, no matter what has happened before this very moment.

This is also why Deng has left the words of Taoguangyanghui to his sucessors. TGYH is indeed the most rational choice for China for the next 50 years, or perhaps, forever. It does not really mean hiding low. What it really means is that, when you manage yourself well, good things will come; and all you have to (and should only) bother is to manage your own country well.

So much digression, what I want to talk about is actually on geography. I had been to the city of Shanghai like a 100 times, and have heard about the French Concession in various books, movies and TV dramas (the Bund 上海灘 being the most famous one). I know Huaihai Road = Avenue Joffre and that but I didn't know where the exact boundary the concession was. My rule of thumb is those roads planted with London Plane (法国梧桐) are inside the old French Quarter.

I found such a map from that book (post #12). I also then found this webpage on all the concessions in other Chinese cities in the 1920s. Here are some of the keys for the Shanghai map above


Taiwan's friends - updated

I blogged about the collection of micro-pals Taiwan had a couple years ago.
I also made some prediction, which basically stated that the size (GDP/pop) of these states will fall while the total number may not, as the larger the economy of the states are, the larger the incentive to take the mainland over Taiwan (less easy to be bought).

I was in general right. As Chad and now Costa Rica switched sides, while a tiny St Lucia came on board. Going forward, I maintain that same trend will continue, i.e. the next to go is likely to be one of Burkina Faso, Malawi, Guatemala, Dominican Republic or Paraguay. While a nano-state might come aboard between now and the 2008 Olympic.

I am sure the diplomats in both sides of the Strait understand this. But there is not much they could do to change such trend. (i.e., either for PRC to keep a nano-state or ROC to keep a larger one)

p.s. editgrid tool via erica.


China's river system, and the Painted Veil

I watched a beautiful movie in the plane 2 months ago, the Painted Veil. Great lead actor and actress, splendid cinematography and that. I love the movie.

There is only one small problem that has bothered me. The village is filmed in the Guilin area, chosen for its picturesque Karst landscape (Guilin to Karst is like Sedona to the Monument Valley, i.e. avec water and greenery), while one important thread is that the cholera infected village is easier reached from the Chinese city where the Fanes lived by water. Shanghai and Guilin belong to 2 different water system and so there is no way one can take a boat from Shanghai to reach Guilin - as shown in the map below. (but actually it is feasible -- thanks to the First Emperor Qin -- see note below)

Shanghai belongs to the Yangtze River System, while Guilin belongs to the Pearl River System. Today the estuaries of these 2 systems form the most vibrant economic zones in China, the Yangtze Delta and the Pearl Delta.

The two systems are separated by watersheds, indicated by the black lines on the map. The 7 major rvier systems in China are
  • Yangtze, Pearl and Yellow River, as shown by the major watersheds in the map below
  • Amur/Heilongjiang/Songhua River in Northeast, this is as large as the big three but can also be classified as international river system now (especially when Russia got the estuary of Heilongjiang/Amur when it took outer Manchuria)
  • Liao River in Liaoning, and Hai River in Beijing/Tianjin area -- these are smaller, and Hai River is almost dried up these days
  • Huai river, not clearly shown in this map -- should locate between Shanggai and Shandong (between Yellow and yangtze)

Other than the 7 systems, there are

  • Smaller river systems such as Min Jiang in Fujian, etc.
  • Inland Rivers, mostly in Xinjiang, with Yili River the largest (also an international river)
  • other (international) river systems include Yaluzanbu (Yar-klungs gtsang-po / Bramaputra), Nu Jiang (Salween), Lancang Jiang (Mekong)
Coincidentally, if the film-makers were to follow the settings of the original book, the city Walter lives would be HK, not Shanghai. One would then be able to sail from HK upstream to Li Jiang in Guilin (via Guangzhou/Pearl River, Wuzhou/Xi Jiang/Guijiang and finally reach Li Jiang (LJ in the map).

1) Another tidbit is that the Chinese government back then would not have employed a British micro-biologist. But the Colony of HK would
2) There is actually a canal, Ling Qu, built by Qin Shihuangdi, connecting the Pearl and Yangtze systems. But it is unlikely that one would take a boat from Shanghai to Guilin via Ling Qu.

Postscripts in the BT case in HK

I blogged about the BT case in HK some 18 months ago.
Today a link to this great essay below was sent through to me -- strange link via the commentary of a totally unrelated blogpost (couldn't find it in either author's orginal blog), but a very nice surprise that it is written by one of the smartest artists in HK, and yes, there are smart artists in HK.

金 手 指 : 篤 爆 政 府 如 何 殺 死 創 意 工 業

政 府 想 修 例 將 上 下 載 侵 權 檔 案 列 為 刑 事 罪 行 , 網 民 激 動 又 憤 怒 , 大 呼 BT 無 罪 。 這 個 反 應 是 必 然 的 , 向 來 吃 慣 的 免 費 午 餐 要 暫 停 供 應 , 怎 能 不 激 動 ? 但 事 實 並 非 表 面 看 來 般 簡 單 。
有 些 網 民 怨 聲 載 道 是 因 為 他 們 拿 金 牛 想 買 午 餐 , 但 飯 堂 沒 有 午 餐 賣 , 只 有 免 費 午 餐 派 , 於 是 他 們 才 跟 隨 群 眾 食 免 費 午 餐 , 食 得 和 味 , 還 可 收 回 金 牛 。 現 在 免 費 午 餐 暫 停 供 應 , 他 們 自 知 手 握 金 牛 高 人 一 等 , 奈 何 沒 有 任 何 優 勢 , 因 為 根 本 無 人 賣 午 餐 。
網 民 用 點 對 點 下 載 檔 案 通 常 有 兩 種 情 況 : 一 、 明 顯 因 為 貪 檔 案 免 費 , 不 想 「 執 輸 」 ; 二 、 為 了 方 便 , 例 如 不 想 沖 涼 換 衫 吹 頭 落 街 找 CD 舖 買 CD , 回 到 家 中 還 要 將 CD import 到 iTunes 成 為 電 腦 檔 案 ( 轉 換 過 程 還 可 能 遇 到 甚 麼 security coding , 要 搞 上 半 天 ) , 在 電 腦 播 放 音 樂 , 倒 不 如 安 坐 家 中 下 載 侵 權 檔 案 罷 了 ; 又 例 如 心 血 來 潮 想 聽 首 懷 舊 金 曲 或 看 齣 非 主 流 日 本 動 畫 , 明 知 走 遍 全 港 影 視 店 找 都 未 必 找 到 , 那 倒 不 如 安 坐 家 中 , 下 載 侵 權 檔 案 。
貪 免 費 的 網 民 , 就 好 似 昔 日 問 你 借 所 有 DVD 、 VCD 或 CD 光 碟 的 朋 友 , dub 完 碟 第 二 日 還 給 你 , 現 在 的 互 聯 網 令 這 一 借 一 還 快 過 閃 電 , 但 大 家 都 知 道 , 這 些 損 友 避 無 可 避 , 他 們 總 有 辦 法 不 費 分 毫 拿 到 想 要 的 東 西 。 而 貪 方 便 的 網 民 , 即 使 拿 金 牛 , 也 未 能 在 網 上 經 合 法 途 徑 付 費 下 載 所 要 檔 案 。 除 了 用 BT , 根 本 別 無 他 選 。

肯 試 聽 就 有 衝 動 買
BT 被 廣 泛 使 用 透 視 了 網 民 對 音 樂 、 電 影 的 需 求 及 需 求 模 式 的 改 變 。 他 們 渴 望 從 一 個 包 羅 萬 有 的 檔 案 庫 內 快 捷 、 方 便 地 下 載 數 碼 化 作 品 。 但 現 時 的 版 權 持 有 人 根 本 無 意 提 供 網 上 收 費 下 載 去 滿 足 顧 客 的 需 要 , 只 是 強 迫 人 代 入 古 老 的 賣 唱 片 手 法 。 我 Erica 可 以 肯 定 講 句 , 即 使 政 府 立 例 管 制 下 載 侵 權 檔 案 , 唱 片 市 道 並 不 會 因 此 轉 好 , 因 為 漠 視 顧 客 需 要 的 公 司 是 不 會 賺 錢 的 。
針 對 唱 片 業 而 言 , 要 知 道 傳 統 CD 的 缺 點 , 是 將 10 首 歌 錄 成 一 隻 CD 的 綑 綁 式 銷 售 , 顧 客 可 能 只 聽 過 其 中 兩 首 , 所 以 買 CD 存 在 很 大 風 險 , 往 往 令 顧 客 卻 步 。 但 苦 無 途 徑 逐 首 歌 買 , 所 以 用 BT 下 載 當 是 試 聽 。 有 人 聽 完 會 買 CD 以 示 支 持 ; 亦 有 人 聽 完 會 全 碟 delete , 免 得 位 。 聽 眾 想 試 聽 代 表 他 們 有 購 買 的 衝 動 , 衝 動 是 短 暫 且 脆 弱 的 , 聽 眾 走 到 CD 舖 那 股 衝 動 已 所 餘 無 幾 , 再 被 大 半 隻 CD 的 非 主 打 歌 打 擊 , 更 覺 沮 喪 。 沒 抓 緊 顧 客 購 買 的 衝 動 , 是 誰 之 過 ?
在 CD 動 輒 賣 幾 十 萬 張 的 90 年 代 初 , 每 個 學 生 青 年 都 帶 discman , 後 來 MD 興 起 , 聽 眾 用 CD 錄 成 MD 。 現 在 , discman 和 MD 機 連 街 邊 收 賣 佬 都 當 是 古 董 , 人 人 用 MP3 或 iPod , 方 便 將 歌 曲 分 類 , 自 訂 playlist , CD 難 賣 , 理 所 當 然 。

配 合 顧 客 進 化 改 革
在 創 意 工 業 界 未 使 盡 渾 身 解 數 提 供 收 費 點 對 點 上 下 載 銷 售 平 台 之 前 , 政 府 不 應 輕 舉 妄 動 胡 亂 改 例 , 假 設 了 所 有 網 民 都 是 貪 免 費 的 侵 權 罪 人 。 要 知 道 唱 片 業 界 忽 略 了 一 大 群 貪 方 便 的 潛 在 顧 客 , 未 有 因 顧 客 的 進 化 行 為 而 改 革 , 藉 互 聯 網 發 展 新 的 銷 售 渠 道 , 等 於 斷 自 己 米 路 , 這 並 不 是 政 府 的 責 任 。 網 民 有 demand , 業 界 無 配 合 網 民 的 supply , 所 以 才 孕 育 了 不 正 常 的 supply 。
iTunes Music Store 每 首 歌 賣 99 仙 美 金 , 一 年 賣 10 億 首 歌 。 已 經 有 成 功 例 子 擺 在 眼 前 , 香 港 竟 然 無 人 跟 風 , 業 界 食 古 不 化 , 令 無 辜 的 網 絡 供 應 商 在 修 例 之 後 廣 受 牽 連 , 要 記 錄 網 民 24 小 時 的 網 上 活 動 , 政 府 還 要 犯 險 , 不 顧 網 民 私 隱 去 緝 兇 。 條 例 實 質 是 懲 罰 了 ISP , 犧 牲 了 網 民 的 私 隱 , 保 護 了 版 權 , 但 不 見 得 能 提 高 版 權 持 有 人 的 報 酬 。
假 如 有 一 個 包 羅 萬 有 的 收 費 檔 案 庫 , 讓 網 民 合 法 、 快 捷 、 方 便 地 下 載 數 碼 化 的 作 品 , 將 創 意 工 業 發 揚 光 大 , 作 品 多 了 人 欣 賞 , 版 權 持 有 人 荷 包 多 了 錢 , 皆 大 歡 喜 , 但 未 必 是 拯 救 創 意 工 業 街 根 本 問 題 的 靈 丹 妙 藥 。 不 肯 創 新 改 革 的 創 意 工 業 有 這 種 自 相 矛 盾 的 現 象 , 是 因 為 政 府 有 意 保 護 , 令 業 界 放 慢 改 革 的 步 伐 。 請 政 府 不 要 干 預 , 強 迫 他 們 面 對 現 實 , 才 能 自 救 。


An option for China's PR campaign

I discussed about the cost of China's cautiousness towards political reform before. Now Jimmy Lai of Apple Daily suggested a baby step for the leadership in Beijing to test the water, by trying HK.

update: Editorial from HK Economic Journal
信報 林行止專欄 林行止 2007-06-05
拋棄政治包袱 主動平反六四  






台灣「二二八事件」距今已六十年,可是,當年目擊這場慘劇的美國駐台北副領事(一九四五─四七)葛超智(George H. Kerr, 1911-1992)上呈國務院的報告,最近─五月十七日才在「井底蛙」網站(www.froginawell.net)公開。葛超智在一九六五年出版《台灣被出賣》(Formosa Betrayed,相信台灣必有譯本),揭露國民黨主導的「二二八大屠殺」,他因此主張台灣獨立,這當然不見容於國民黨,該書甫出版國民黨不僅整批搜購,而且購下其版權,此書因此絕市場,直至一九九二年才由台灣出版公司(Taiwan Publishing Co)出第二版;該書五百餘頁,現在可在網上(www.romanization.com)免費下載。