Is the UK totally screwed up or what?

June 13, 2019

I’m a Brit. I haven’t lived in the UK for a while, but it’s where I grew up and I can’t deny that it’s what shaped me.

But I am seriously worried about the choosing of the next Prime Minister. It seems that the UK will end up with (yet another) narcissistic, blow hard old-Etonian twat, when there is at least one person running against him who has real world experience of real people across a range of cultures. And he’s even smoked opium in Iran. How good is that? Surely much better than snorting coke in Knightsbridge? I’ve read his book, and it’s clear that he is far more in touch with the world than Boris.

I can’t believe that the UK population as a whole would chose Boris Johnson over Rory Stewart, but, sadly, it seems all too clear that the Conservative Party will.

If you haven’t read Mr Stewart’s book then I strongly recommend that you do so.

If Hong Kong wasn’t so messed up I’d be looking to naturalise and renounce my UK passport!

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The BBC has a “gender and identity correspondent” #facepalm

May 30, 2019

I discovered today via this article on the Beeb that they have a “gender and identity correspondent”. Now I’m a late middle-aged guy of fairly liberal views and to me this just seems all wrong. I’m firmly of the view that we are all individuals (oldies may interject a scene from The Life of Brian here) and that if you make a fuss about these things then you make them worse, not better.

A good friend of mine in Hong Kong is “transgender” to use the current term, and I and everyone else around is happy to treat her on the the terms that she wishes to be treated. But nobody makes a fuss about it. She is who she is.

I run a Scrabble group here and we have had a member turn up with a serious 5 o’clock shadow but in a dress and makeup. No problem at all – we’re here to play Scrabble!

People are people. Take each one as they come. “Gender and identity” is only an issue if you make it one; if we are all just people then life becomes much easier!


Shirley Yam – we’ve missed you!

March 24, 2019

For many years Shirley Yam wrote for the SCMP on business matters, often exposing things that the powers that be would prefer to be unexposed.

Then she was fired when the things she exposed got rather too close to our new masters in Beijing. The article in question was censored from the SCMP by mainland authorities.

Thankfully she is back with a new home at the Hong Kong Free Press. As a sponsor of HKFP I look forward to seeing much more of her analysis in the coming months. It’s important that this stuff be exposed.


Scarey stuff from Pompeo

March 22, 2019

I read on the Beeb that Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State (and hence a man of no small influence) is quoted thus:

‘He also praised US efforts to “make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains”.’

Well hang on a minute. By my definition, a democracy extends equal voting rights to all its citizens; it can’t be a “Jewish state” and a democracy. It is blatantly obvious that Israel is an apartheid state, not a democracy, and it made that explicit last year when it instituted its Basic Law.

Mr Pompeo went on to say that he is “confident that the Lord is at work here” in agreeing that it was possible that “President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace”.

Most worrying of all he held a media conference call “only inviting “faith-based” members of the media to join.”

So let’s be clear here… “faith-based” means people who are happy to suspend rational thought in favour of things for which there is absolutely no scientfic evidence on a regular repeated basis. It is extremely scary to me that people such as this are in positions of power.

When I first immigrated to Hong Kong 20 years ago I was of the view that “western democracy” was clearly the preferable political system. Now, with stuff like this from the US, and the whole Brexit debacle, I’m really not so sure!


Are there any engineers in The House?

October 5, 2011

The BBC reports that

The Italian government’s credit rating has been slashed by Moody’s from Aa2 to A2 with a negative outlook.

The ratings agency blamed a “material increase in long-term funding risks for the euro area”, due to lost confidence in eurozone government debts.

To anyone with any sort of engineering background this is as clear example as it is possible to have of a positive feedback loop leading to hunting oscillation. And the answer in this case is equally clear – break the loop and then, if it is certain that controlled feedback has some value, remake it with some appropriate hysteresis in place.

Breaking the loop means simply shutting down the ratings agencies – any useful purpose they may once have served is now vastly outweighed by the damage they are doing through providing this feedback mechanism. I would suggest also simply banning short selling for a period – this too is clearly a major contributor to hunting oscillation. Once the markets have reached a more stable state, and after a period of careful thought, then some elements of positive feedback could be reintroduced, with appropriate regulatory controls.

Sadly, with governments staffed by lawyers and under the sway of the gambling bankers I fear this is unlikely to happen. It’s a great shame that there aren’t sufficient people of a rational scientific or engineering background in government.


Racism in the SCMP

October 12, 2010

I was surprised, and not a little saddened, to read the racist views of Alvin Sallay in the SCMP on Sunday when writing about the Hong Kong ladies cricket team:

Godiva is one of nine Chinese girls in the 15-strong women’s squad. The rest are non-Chinese, but all are united in the fact that they qualify for the games by being born in Hong Kong and holding SAR passports.

This is a quite outrageous sentiment. People who are born in Hong Kong and are citizens of China holding Hong Kong passports must be “Chinese”. What else could they be?

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Government by Fear (again)

March 3, 2010

With thanks to Bruce Schneier for highlighting it in his blog, I must recommend this essay by Tom Engelhardt for getting to the essence of the US Government’s “management by fear” approach to terrorism. Sadly, many other governments seem to follow their lead.