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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hong Kong's Disappearing Side

 New sky scrapers seem always on the rise in Hong Kong. They really dwarfed the old building, don't they?

As hot as the current property market is, and as the traditional Chinese value of having one's own place, we can only imagine that these old buildings one day will disappear, and replaced by more sky scrapers and shopping malls. Who knows when? Maybe 100 years? Or less?
 It's hard to hang on to the old buildings. They seem quite frail, and many of them are lack of maintenance. But it is also hard to accept that Hong Kong will have nothing but sky scrapers.
Colorful market on the street. Where to shop for groceries? A one place for all, e.g. supermarket, or many places for some, e.g. street markets? Tough decision indeed!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I had journeyed for many days to reach to a tourist trap - Bashang 坝上. It is a very beautiful place. No wonder it is such a tourist trap, like Angkor in Cambodia.

I started with plane ride to Beijing 北京, then a train ride to Siheyong 四合永, then a bus ride to Weichang 围场, then a bus ride to Jixie Linchang 机械林场, then hire a car to Hongshan Junmachang 红山军马场, which is my final destination. All of these ride took three days.

Bashang 坝上 is part of a beautiful grass land. The only setback is that the whole place only caters tourists. It is still worth the trip.

I took a different route retreating from this beautiful trap. a Bus ride to Siheyong 四合永, then a bus ride to Chengde 承德, then a train ride to Beijing 北京, then another train ride to Shanghai 上海, then flight back home.

Then like all the tourists, I show people what great pictures I have now!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Extreme Weather Condition and Moral Masochism

The recent natural phenomenon, hurricane Sandy and typhoon Bopha, both are tied to extreme weather events, which are related to climate changes and global warming. In the recent Doha climate meeting, Philippine climate commissioner, Naderev M. Sano, was choked in tears when he was appealing for actions due to the devastating effect typhoon Bopha has inflicted upon Philippine. The conclusion is that human beings are guilty. The proposed cure is to cut down the emission of heat trapping gases and to cut down the usage of fossil fuels.

Human beings have been guilty for devastating natural phenomenon for a long time. From very early in human history, in various places, human activities were blamed for causing flood, drought, volcano eruptions, and so on. This belief is a mythological one. For example, in biblical terms, the devastating flood was God’s wrath at decadent human behaviors. And the terrifying formation of Crater Lake in Oregon’s was expressed in local Indian’s myth and it had a single cause which is human. At those times, humans and gods co-existed. Gods created the world and humans were the center of the world. Human activities are checked by gods and justice for any wrong doings was directly appealed to gods. .

Different from those gods-fearing eras, in modern human’s mind, gods no longer have all-powerful positions, or even died. In the absence of all-powerful gods, there is no place for humans to appeal for justice directly. But the residue from the past mythical roots lingers. Fueled by modern technological developments, humans are more than ever convinced as being the center of the world. Justice for any wrong-doings is directly appealed to ourselves. Therefore, human activities are continued to be blamed as evil causes to devastating natural phenomenon. We continue to be always ready to take on the guilt and, in this case, glorify ourselves through moral masochism.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Foul of Practicality

Chinese people are practical. It is so over-praised for millenniums. What a pity! Countless great inventions have been buried under this tombstone: NON-PRACTICAL.

Chinese invented compass, but abandoned ocean-liners. Chinese invented gun powder, but did not make bombs. Nobody could come to the future and went back to predict the power of these inventions. So for some practical reason, we did not pursue.

These two are perhaps well-known and over-cited casualties. You probably did not know that long-distance flying machine was invented in China as well. Pity!

Around 700BC, Mo Di (墨翟) and Gong Shu Ban (公输班), both of them Shandong origin, were two great inventors of all times. If both of them had been two geeks, that would have been better. But unfortunately, Mo Di was also a politician. He believed that inventions should better people's lives, should not be for the purpose of wars, neither just a plaything. The worse of all was that he was also a great speaker, perhaps an orator in the Greek sense.

One day, Gong Shu Ban showed Mo Di one of his inventions. It was a bird made of bamboo and once the mechanism inside the bird was set into motion, it could fly for three days non-stop. What a great invention as that! Who could dream of such kind of thing today? Not battery driven, no gas, and so on? The energy crisis would have been solved long ago.

Now you would guess why such kind of invention did not flourish at all. Mo Di, with his flawless eloquence and his passion for bettering the people, said something like this: What a useless thing you have made! Why don't you make more useful things like the wheel-barrow to better people's life? Gong Shu Ban was overcome by shame and stuffed his wonderful invention into a trunk and never cast it another eye.

Mo Di and his doctrine perished after 200BC. But long before that, that bamboo bird perished too, together with who knows what great inventions!


p.s. Mo Di was a great inventor, a great thinker and a great mathematician in Chinese history. I only hope he was not so practical sometimes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Language is a very time-consciousness thing.

I often hear people say something like this: "Once I got stuck with a word which I don't understand, I lost myself completely." In other words, it is like that if you miss a tempo, you miss everything.

This temporality of language is inevitable. We can only utter one word after another, and we can only read one word after another. And it is the primal condition of any possibility of learning a language. Unless we can disregard language completely, we have to deal with it across time.

When we are listening, we need to use our imagination, to punctual the flow of language to a certain rhythm, to retain the past sound with a meaning attached to it, to expect the future sound which we can comprehend, and to focus on the current sound which we understand. It's a very complex issue indeed. Yet, when it's your turn to speak, you are continuously facing this temporality. You need to have a certain rhythm, to project your voice across time and make people understand.

Chinese is no different from other language in this aspect.

Internet offers a huge collection of various resource of Chinese materials. My website also offers some. Explore all the materials to sharpen your time-consciousness!