Monday, July 7, 2008


I had McDonald's for dinner tonight.

Sounds bad right? Especially in Hong Kong but not really. I enjoyed it. Yes, I didn't feel good about making more plastic trash but it was good. Food was good. I had a salad with 4 pieces of Chicken McNuggets and a paper cup of water. McDonald's is the best place to get an affordable and reasonably priced salad and American burger (Big n Tasty).

I haven't ate Chicken McNuggets for a long time because it doesn't feel me up anymore and it's a bit costly on the dollar per pound of food. But I opted for it this time around with the salad. The Chicken McNuggets looked smaller than I remember them. Is it because of inflation or the bargain price of McNuggets at HK$8 for 4 pieces (about US$1)? Anyway, the old taste and the sweet n sour sauce was still there and it brought be back to primary 1 when my mom used to take me to the local McDonald's for lunch every now and then after school.

McNugget was the only thing I ate in additional to french fries for a very long time, 3 years. I doesn't sound too long of a period now but when you were a kid, 3 years was a very long time. Unlike now, when you were a kid, every year was a big deal.

You might not realize it, but compare to a lot of little eateries, noodle shops and 'tea restaurants' in Hong Kong, Mc Donald's is a pretty good place to eat at. I am not talking about the taste, I am talking about the environment. Mc Donald's here might be small but they guarantee a clean, brightly lit environment with satisfaction customer service with trained staff who basically get all you want and say 'thank you' when you leave. It's a more relaxing eating environment than a lot of other tiny eateries with hot noodle soups flying around here and there, tea spilling all over the place and Ah Jei and Ah Sok yelling out orders allow.

As I was leaving, a little girl was smiling at her mother who was carrying a tray with two sundaes, a chocolate and a strawberry sundaes. The little girl, who was around 5-7 had a perfectly happy and satisfying look on her face, clapping her hands at her mother.

I put the Marie magazine back in to the magazine stand (I was reading about the new Tony Leung movie with Lam Chiling directed by John Woo).

"Thank you."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I was thinking of my friend who just graduated from medical school from Scotland, and I was like, whoa, it was only like a few days ago that he told me that he was going to become a doctor. He went to university a year before me and that was actually over 6 years ago. He just started shadowing, or what American medical school would call, "residency," today.

When I think of medical school, I think of the 5-7 years of study and residency after undergraduate education. That's up to 11 years of school to become a medical doctor. That's frightening to me. Same with pharmacy, dentistry and some other graduate schools. Of course, the American system is more time consuming and rigorous, but still, over 6 years just went by.

But I think it was a very fulfilling time for him. God blessed him and it seemed that many things went well for him in the past 6 years or so. He finished his degrees, found a girlfriend and will soon marry her in less than a month (I think they dated a for a year and went on honeymoon already) and he kept his spiritual life intact, serving God at church.

I wonder if ever I would be as blessed. Have everything go so well as if the pieces were finally coming together. I am still finding my pieces, trying to put something together. If six years could do that, then it was definitely worth it.

He is considered to be young marrying in this day and age at 25. Another friend of mine is marrying on the same month, and he's 2 years my junior. 23 I guess. Very young. What was I doing when I was 23? I just graduated and was wondering what to do with my life and I ended up here after 2 years.

You can't really make comparison, I could not do what they are doing. But I am somewhat envy about them, at the least, finding that special someone to live their whole live with for the rest of their earthling days. That's pretty incredible to me. That's something to worth celebrating about.

Or you can be this Russian man who call himself Jesus

Monday, June 23, 2008

Benefits of being Socialable

"Social participation and integration have profound effects on health and well being of people during their lifetimes," said Berkman. "We know from previous studies that people with many social ties have lower mortality rates. We now have mounting evidence that strong social networks can help to prevent declines in memory. As our society ages and has more and more older people, it will be important to promote their engagement in social and community life to maintain their well being."

From Medical News Today

Benefits of being Socialable

"Social participation and integration have profound effects on health and well being of people during their lifetimes," said Berkman. "We know from previous studies that people with many social ties have lower mortality rates. We now have mounting evidence that strong social networks can help to prevent declines in memory. As our society ages and has more and more older people, it will be important to promote their engagement in social and community life to maintain their well being."

From Medical News Today

Benefits of being Socialable

"Social participation and integration have profound effects on health and well being of people during their lifetimes," said Berkman. "We know from previous studies that people with many social ties have lower mortality rates. We now have mounting evidence that strong social networks can help to prevent declines in memory. As our society ages and has more and more older people, it will be important to promote their engagement in social and community life to maintain their well being."

From Medical News Today

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Peace like a River

Burnside Writers Collective

On Sunday children worship, I taught a new song, an English one at that, to the only kid we had in attendance. The song was Peace like a River, a song that I sang in school when I was a little kid, several years older than the kid I was teaching it to.

It was a fun song when sang with the different actions. I sang the song once and then we sang together. Afterward I suggested we make up actions for "peace" and "river". I remember the actions I did when I was a kid, but I wanted the child to participate and have the opportunity to make up her own action. It would make it more interesting for her.

She liked it and I went ahead and taught the other verses with "joy like the fountain" and "love like the ocean", and we even did the finale with "I've got peace, joy, love like a river, fountain, ocean...". Man, this song is a classic, it is still able to work up children in the digital age. We had a lot of fun doing the actions and singing it. We all enjoyed it.

The night before, I was looking up the lyrics (just to be safe, I know the lyrics by heart. Prove that things learned as a kid are the ones most memorable), and I was wondering why this is Sunday school song. It has no Jesus, God, Lord or cross in it. And for a second I wondered, "Peaceful like a river? Are rivers peaceful? The images of I have of rivers aren't that peaceful, but the City Gate River in Shatin is pretty peaceful."

Today, I went into this blog and the writer asked the same question I had but went further and thought about it. Here's what he wrote:

"I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river
In my soul.

Is that really what we have?...

What is peace really? Is it the absence of war or bullets? Is it the absence of depression or poverty? Some, like that particular minister, would argue it is the assurance we feel over our lives. But if Christ came to give us peace in that sense, why does it seem our world is on fire? Why do we fear for our lives, health, finances and security?

I like that the writer used the word river to describe the peace we have in Christ. I mean, what’s peaceful about rivers? This isn’t a creek trickling through the ravine in our backyard. Imagine rafting through the Colorado as it cuts through the Grand Canyon or remember the Mississippi and all the lives that she’s claimed. These are unpredictable waters that can destroy homes with floods and take lives with their undercurrents; there is nothing peaceful about them.

So why would the writer use such an ironic metaphor? I think this hymn I sang so blissfully in Sunday school is communicating a far more profound truth than we would first notice. Maybe the writer understood that this life and this walk with Christ would be filled with painful, unpredictable and sometimes crushing experiences and maybe it is in this truth that they wrote those words.

I do not think that Jesus came to give us peace in the world’s terms. I don’t think He came so that we could hope in the things of this world, whether it means security, financial stability, or health. No, instead I think Jesus came to give us something totally different; an inward peace - a hope in a promise of restoration. And that is something to sing about."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ashley, Joshua and David

Back in my first year of high school, there was an incident involving three boys from my class. They were Ashley, Joshua and David H. Ashley and David H (the H because there was another David, David Smith) had been my classmate since year 3. Ashley was a different kind of boy as I recalled from many years ago. He was somewhat arrogant, slightly rebellious but was very charming at the same time. He was good-natured but also had a naughty side to him. He was a troublemaker, but because of his charm, he received less severe punishments for his crimes. He had a prominent forehand, blue eyes and blonde hair that curled slightly at the end. He was also very athletic and one of the oldest boys in class, always finishing around the top 3 spots in sporting events in his age group. However, what really set Ashley apart from most boys was that he comfortably played with girls during recess and lunch, when he wasn’t playing with the boys.

David was the total opposite. David was nice and friendly, yet also shy. He had dreamy green eyes inherited from his mother, with flowing black hair. He had a gentle, soft and long face with pink cheeks. He often wore a concerned and worrying look on his face which would instantly light up with interest when he engaged with others. He was tall yet also a little chubby, but not fat. He had flat foot and was clumsier than other boys in sport. He usually hung with Ashley like a shadow. If Ashley was the main attraction, then David was the sideshow.

Joshua, better known as Josh joined my class only in year 7 so I did not really know too much about him at the time of the incident except that he was an asshole and a cheat in games. I found that out myself during the few times when I played soccer, basketball and handball with him. At a time of innocent, when most of us were still too proud and had not yet grasped the dirty tactics in games, he was already knocking us out and polluting our games with swinging elbows , false calls, cheating antics and other forms of bad sportsmanship. He was a thin, lengthy boy with blond hair and blue eyes. He did not look strong but his bones certainly caused much pain for his playmates. And he had some strong fingers for pulling shirt and pushing. I remembered that quality of his very clearly. Like Ashley, he was also one of the oldest boys in class.

It was on a Wednesday, and Wednesday meant sport in the afternoon. For the past several months we had been playing soccer on a field about a fifteen minutes walk from school. Since we were in high school, we were old enough to walk ourselves there. We would change into our PE clothes after lunch and walk in groups of 3 or more to the soccer field. We walked pass the neighborhood of quiet houses, under the railway bridge, passed the shops and news agency with the lottery poster and ball, t he bakery and the sandwich shop.

As usual, I walked with Kostas and Chris, and red, Ben. We called him Red because of his reddish orange hair.

We were about to turn from the sleepy residential street to where the shops were when we hurt a scream. It was a haunting sound.

We saw a plump lady about forty lying on the floor and David was trying to help her up. Up further on the street, was a man running with a purse. Two blonde boys in light blue uniform were running after him, and they disappeared into the corner.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

post-modern world

When I look at the world I am living in, I see a world where principles, laws, values and definitions are being reinterpreted. Actually, the more suitable wording would be 'a collapse' of principles.

We live in a world where principles, what's right and wrong, are being blurred. Simple principles of yesterday are being turned into complicated debate. What used to be black or white are now smeared in gray.

Post-modernism means that there is no absolute truth. It takes apart the logic thinking of modernism and holds that truth is only relevant to the eyes of the beholder. Whatever you think is your truth is true and no one can take that away from you. For example, person A sees a door and he views it and calls it 'birdman', then it must be accepted by others that person A consider that door 'birdman' even if it doesn't make sense (according to what we considered 'logic'). People can have their own logical system as long as it make sense to an individual or a group.

If a group of people consider hurting other people as a sport, and not cruelty, then the rest of the community must accept that even if they think otherwise.

Post-modernism doesn't make to much sense, but that's what happening right now.

To me, post-modernism is a losing philosophy. It disregard logic and anything system of thoughts that human beings have developed over the centuries, and basically gives up on the pursuit of truth and morality.

What used to be absolute are now being questioned. Just several weeks ago, the supreme court of California in US made the decision that granted the right to marriage to homosexuals. The Californian supreme court made the controversial arguing that 'marriage' is a fundamental right grained by the US Constitution. However, around 60% of Californians disagree with the decision and it was only a few years ago when a ballot was casted by Californians to rule that the definition of marriage is only between a 'man and a woman'. Here is the definition of 'marriage' according to the Oxford dictionary:


noun 1 the formal union of a man and a woman, by which they become husband and wife. 2 a combination of two or more elements.

This is just one case of many.

NY Times Report

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Large-scale relief efforts are needed immediately. Hunger and infections quickly follow a disaster. Sichuan is better off, with the Chinese authorities making public the damage and announcing relief activities. China's mature attitude in initiating prompt emergency operations under the premier's leadership and its willingness to accept support from the international community is unprecedented. But Burma is in real trouble. The world community's warning that if no relief efforts are taken immediately then even the survivors may lose their lives is absolutely not an exaggeration.

Nonetheless, the Burmese junta is reluctant to accept international support and is severely restricting the entry of relief workers, taking only goods and cash. In the wake of the disaster the Burmese government asked three organizations -- World Vision, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and UNICEF -- for aid. World Vision, proclaiming the Burmese disaster as category three, the top level, called up relief cadres from around the world, including me, to head to Burma on a top priority basis, with a target of relieving 500,000 people. Of the 30-odd relief personnel waiting for entry visas, only two have received them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Consumers 'have right to be told' of content (SCMP) 05月 15日 星期四 00:03AM

Consumers have the right to be adequately and fully informed on food content, the Consumer Council has said.

Under a proposed food-labelling law, pre-packaged food will be required to carry labels detailing the contents' total energy and seven core nutrients, including trans-fats. The original proposal exempted items with sales of less than 30,000 units a year unless they made nutritional claims, such as "low-fat" or "zero trans-fat".

However, despite pleas from the watchdog, the government on Monday told lawmakers that it would extend the food-labelling exemption to all products with sales fewer than 30,000 units per year, even if they make nutritional claims. But these products will have to carry stickers warning consumers they may not comply with Hong Kong law.

The council said the best option would be to require all products to carry nutrition labels and it hoped "the proposed legislation can be put into implementation as soon as possible".

"The objective of the proposed legislation is to increase information transparency of pre-packaged products," a spokesman said.

Medical groups have expressed disappointment with the government's move.

Tse Hung-hing, co-chairman of the Hong Kong Medical Association's Taskforce on Nutrition Labelling, said putting stickers on products that make nutritional claims would mislead consumers. "Why not just cover up the claims instead? It's just deceptive ... the claims are used to attract consumers."

Terry Ting Ho-yan, head of the Practising Dietitians Association and Hong Kong Nutrition Association, criticised the government for ignoring the health of the public.

"[We] will not know the content of the food we are eating," he said.

The government on Monday admitted that the proposal to exempt all low-sales-volume food was "a compromise, but not the best option" after mounting pressure from some businessmen and consumers.

Under a proposed food-labelling law, pre-packaged food will be required to carry labels detailing the contents' total energy and seven core nutrients, including trans-fats. The original proposal exempted items with sales of less than 30,000 units a year unless they made nutritional claims, such as "low-fat" or "zero trans-fat".

However, despite pleas from the watchdog, the government on Monday told lawmakers that it would extend the food-labelling exemption to all products with sales fewer than 30,000 units per year, even if they make nutritional claims. But these products will have to carry stickers warning consumers they may not comply with Hong Kong law.

The council said the best option would be to require all products to carry nutrition labels and it hoped "the proposed legislation can be put into implementation as soon as possible".

"The objective of the proposed legislation is to increase information transparency of pre-packaged products," a spokesman said.

Medical groups have expressed disappointment with the government's move.

Tse Hung-hing, co-chairman of the Hong Kong Medical Association's Taskforce on Nutrition Labelling, said putting stickers on products that make nutritional claims would mislead consumers. "Why not just cover up the claims instead? It's just deceptive ... the claims are used to attract consumers."

Terry Ting Ho-yan, head of the Practising Dietitians Association and Hong Kong Nutrition Association, criticised the government for ignoring the health of the public.

"[We] will not know the content of the food we are eating," he said.

The government on Monday admitted that the proposal to exempt all low-sales-volume food was "a compromise, but not the best option" after mounting pressure from some businessmen and consumers.

大地無情人有情 我們都是汶川人

溫家寶昨日在曲山鎮賑災現場接受香港記者訪問時說:「山可以移動,但動搖不了廣大人民抗震救災的決心;水可以阻斷,但阻斷不了香港和內地的同胞之情。」這 幾句如詩一般的說話,其實超越了感謝香港同胞的支援和幫助,它實際上說出了全體中國人(包括僑居海外的中國人)對這次大災難的心底話。

香港濟災 應擴及重建

在香港,立法會 通過特區政府 撥款3.5億元賑災,其中3億元給國務院抗震救災指揮總部,另外5000萬元給本港志願團體申請作救災之用。本港商界和富豪中人,日來都紛紛捐出款項;許多界別已經在籌集捐款,香港大學 學 生會也發起穿覑黑色衣服悼念死難者和籌款,本港演藝界本月17日星期六晚上會舉行《眾志成城抗震救災》活動,藉此募捐,濟助災胞,因此未來一段日子,本港 社會各階層會掀起籌款賑災熱潮。以香港社會相對富裕,物資賑災肯定不成問題,但是香港賑災的能量,應該不僅於此,我們認為香港還應該把目光投向災後重建, 特區政府和民間力量結合,較長遠地協助災區同胞。

I was on the KCR today on the way to work and everybody was either reading their newspaper or watching the LCD TV on the news about the earthquake at Sichuan. There were some horrifying photographs in the newspaper and stories of heroic acts. One woman who was sitting on the bench was wet with tears in her eyes, holding a tissue with her hand.

The whole city is moved by the tragedy at Sichuan.

Monday, May 12, 2008


one summer in hong kong, i got a summer job as a valet at a hotel for almost two months.

i was in hong kong for one of those summer when i was in high school and usually my summer in hong kong were somewhat boring and nothing more than visiting relatives and shopping. it got so boring at times that we complained the movies were coming onto theaters fast enough, but that summer my family was eating with a family friend and somehow the topic of me being bored and wanting to find something to do popped up and this auntie, who worked for this company knew of an opening at a hotel. that sounded cool at the time and so i said i was interested. she called me later and told me what the job was. the pay wasn't big but it sounded like a lot back then when i was in high school and had not earned a cent yet. and it was in Hong Kong dollar so it sounded like a lot. it was something boring but i was a bit adventurous and was curious about working a job and earning morning. and i figured that i had nothing to lose, and that it is better to be paid doing a boring job than being bore without being paid.

it just happened that a worker at the hotel got some emergency, i found later it was an accident and they needed to find someone quick to fill the spot temporarily. it felt like a job for me. my job was simple enough and i actually had to go into an interview too and i dressed myself up, even bought new shirt for the interview in which a manager and another person interviewed me. it was really nothing, only for formality. my auntie told me to be polite and respectful and i did.

my job was to stay in the men's room for like 9 hours from morning till just before dinner time. it was a really laid back job. come to think of it, the pay wasn't good, but i figured that i was basically getting paid to do very little and i basically get to spend all that i earned because i had no responsibility. i was aiming to by a MD player. It was the popular thing back then before iPod.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sometimes I ponder at the question: What are we living for?

Days are just going by and we are working, working and working and then wonder what to work on during the weekend. Well, I think my life is somewhat retarded. Is like just finding time to occupy my life.

Author Ray Bradbury's Commencement Speech at Caltech

Author Ray Bradbury's Commencement Speech to the Caltech Class of 2000

The Great Years Ahead

("Rocket Man," choral introduction by the Caltech a cappella group, Ecphonema...)

(Applause) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is fantastic. I never made it to college-I didn't have enough money-and I decided I was going to be a writer anyway. And the reason I was going to go to college was all those girls. So it's a good thing I didn't go.

Before I start, how many of you here today read me in high school? How many? You're all my bastard children, aren't you? (Applause) Thank you, thank you for that.

Apropos of nothing whatsoever, I'd like to tell you a very brief thing about my childhood. I arrived in Los Angeles when I was 13 years old. And I was enamored of Hollywood. I wanted to meet famous people. So, we were a very poor family. So we came out-my dad was looking for work in the Great Depression. And I put on my roller skates-I didn't have money to take the streetcar. So I put on my roller skates, and I roller skated out to Hollywood looking for famous people. And, by God, I found one! Out in front of Paramount Studios-standing as if he were waiting for me-was W. C. Fields, himself. I couldn't believe that, you know. And I roller skated up to him, and I said, "Mr. Fields, could I have your autograph?" And he signed and gave it back to me and says,"There you are, you little son of a bitch!" And here I am!

So, I've come a long way. I hope I have another 20 years to go. That gives you 20 years to get from here to Mars. That's the important thing. I've got to give you a few rules of hygiene here-very important for the next several days. You can do some of them tonight. First of all, from today on, none of you are ever going to have to watch local television news again, right? Don't look at it ever. Because it tells you how bad you are. It's full of rapes, murders, funerals, AIDS, all the good things, huh? So you're not to look at that.

Now, right after graduation today, make a list of the people who don't believe in you. And you have a few, don't you? I had plenty of people who told me not to do what I was going to do. You make a list this afternoon, of the people who don't believe in you, and you call them tonight, and tell them to go to hell!

And then you gather around you the people who do believe in you - your parents and a few friends, if you're lucky. We don't have many friends in this world; but the few that do believe in you - and then you move on into the future. I try to do that.

I had a thing happen to me when I was 9 years old, which is a great lesson. That was in 1929-the start of the Great Depression. And a single comic strip in the newspaper sent me into the future. The first comic strip of Buck Rogers. In October 1929 I looked at that one comic strip, with its view of the future, and I thought, "That's where I belong." I started to collect Buck Rogers comic strips. And everybody in the fifth grade made fun of me. I continued to collect them for about a month, and then I listened to the critics. And I tore up my comic strips. That's the worst thing I ever did. Two or three day later, I broke down. I was crying, and I said to myself, "Why am I crying? Whose funeral am I going to? Who died?" And the answer was, "Me." I'd torn up the future.

And then I sat down with myself, and I was crying, and I said, "What can I do to correct this?" And I said, "Well, hell, go back and collect Buck Rogers comic strips!"

For the next four or five years, move into the future. And don't listen to anymore damn fools after this. And that's what I did. I started collecting Buck Rogers again.

And I began to write when I was 12 years old, about going to the moon, about going to Mars, about moving out into the universe. Thank God, I made that decision. Against all the people who said don't do that, because science fiction in those days didn't exist. We had maybe two or three books a year. You had to wait for six months, or eight months, for a new book to come out. So I made my decision-I began to write. And made my life whole after that. So those are the basic things you have to do.

I envy your youngness today. I envy your youngness. If I had to go back, and do everything over, I'd do it again. With everything that's been wrong with my life; with everything that's been good; with all the mistakes, all the problems. When I got married, all my wife's friends said, "Don't marry him. He's going nowhere." But I said to her, "I'm going to the moon, and I'm going to Mars. Do you want to come along?" And she said, "Yes." She said yes. She took a vow of poverty, and married me. On the day of our wedding, we had $8 in the bank. And I put $5 in an envelope, and handed it to the minister. And he said, "What's this?" I said, "That's your pay for the ceremony today." He said, "You're a writer, aren't you?" And I said, "Yes." And he said, "You're going to need this." And he gave it to me. And I took it back. So a couple of years later when I had some money, I sent him a decent check. But we all start just about the same. Most of you are not as poor, at your beginning, as I was. But I was indeed poor.

But I got to writing all these short stories of mine, without knowing what I was doing. The important thing in life is to follow your passion-no matter what it is-for whatever mysterious reasons.

I wrote a whole series of stories about Mars, without knowing what the hell I was doing. And when I was 29 years old, my wife got pregnant. We had $40 in the bank. My friend, Norman Corwin, the great radio writer, told me, "You've got to go to New York City and let the people see you and know that you exist."

I went to New York with all my short stories. I went on the Greyhound bus-four days and four nights to New York City. No air conditioning, no toilets. We've had many improvements in the last few years. But traveling to New York on the Greyhound bus and then arriving at the YMCA, where I stayed for $5 a week. With a stack of manuscripts in my lap, hoping to conquer the editorial field. I met with all these editors. They rejected me. On my last night in New York-defeated by my encounters-I had dinner with the editor of Doubleday, who said to me, "What about all those Martian stories you've been writing? If you tied them together and made a tapestry of them, wouldn't they make a book called, The Martian Chronicles?" And I said, "Oh, my God!" He said, "Why?" I said, "I read a book on Winesburg, Ohio, when I was 24-years-old, and I thought to myself, "Oh, God, if I could just write a book with characters like this, but put it on the planet Mars, wouldn't that be fun!"

I made an outline-I forgot all about it. And the next four or five years, I wrote this book. Not knowing what I was doing. And here he was suggesting to me that maybe I had a novel. I had written a novel without knowing it. He says, "Bring me an outline tomorrow, and if it's any good, I'll give you a check for $700." So I stayed up all night, in the YMCA; wrote the outline; took it to him the next day, and he said, "This is it! This is The Martian Chronicles. Here's $700." He says, "Now do you have any other stories that we might get people to thinking would make a novel?" And I said, "Well, I've got a story about a man with tattoos all over his body, and when he perspires at night, the tattoos come to life and tell their stories." He said, "Here's another $700." And he bought The Illustrated Man that day. So I went home with $1500! I was rich - rich! To my place in Venice, California, where my pregnant wife was waiting for me. And our rent was $30 a month. You could have a baby for $100-El Cheapo, huh? And so the money I got from Doubleday paid for the baby, and for our rent for the next year and a half.

So, you see, we all start with somewhat similar beginnings. But I had this passion-this dedication to be something-to do something with my writing. I'm very proud to flip back to my blue and white annual, when I graduated from L.A. High School in summer, 1938, when I was 17 years old. They asked me how I was going to predict my future. And underneath my picture, I had them put, "Headed for Literary Distinction." How in the hell did I know that? How in the hell did I know that-because I was nowhere, I was nowhere at all. And the last night at school, I went up on top of the school-it was sunset, and I was playing a part in a play-and I cried. Because I knew it was going to be years before anything happened to me. But I had to make it happen. I had to make it happen. I had to believe in my passion. So, that's the way it finally turned out.

Now, I wrote a short story recently, about a young man I met when I was 30 years old. And he was 21. He was a genius. He wrote fantastic short stories. The sort of thing I didn't write when I was 21. I was in my late 20's before I began to write really well. And this boy was so talented. I took his short stories; I sent them out to the magazines. I sold them all immediately. And he had a bright future. He had it made already. He was already a genius. But he went in the Navy. He went away, and I didn't see him for 20 or 30 years. And about 15 years ago, an old man came up to me at a book signing. And he said to me, "Do you know who I am?" I said, "No." I didn't recognize him. He told me who he was. That was that young boy of 21-who was a genius. And I said, "You son of a bitch! What have you done with your life? What have you done with your life?"

He stopped. He didn't listen to the God-given genetics in his blood. He didn't follow his dream. And here he was now-an old man-with nothing! With nothing . . . I said, "You get the hell out of here this afternoon. And you go write another short story. And get your career started again."

He left that encounter with me-blasted by my fury. And he went home and wrote a short story, and sent it to me. And I sold it.

So, what I'm saying to you is this-20 years from now, I'll be 100. But I'm still going to be alive, and I'm going to meet a lot of you. And I hope I'm not going to say to you, "You son of a bitch, what have you done with your life?"

Whatever it is-whatever it is, do it! Sure there are going to be mistakes. Everything's not going to be perfect. I've written thousands of words that no one will ever see. I had to write them in order to get rid of them. But then I 've written a lot of other stuff too. So the good stuff stays, and the old stuff goes.

I've had various encounters-I want to mention one thing here-you may have seen it a couple of nights ago. They had a program-that the universe was going to end in two billion years. Did that make you-did you stay up all night worrying about that? I couldn't believe it. I said, my God, what you're worried about is tomorrow afternoon, and next week, and next year. And I'm here to tell you, it's going to be great for you. Leave the TV alone, don't get on the Internet too much because there's a lot of crap there-it's mainly male, macho crap. We men like to play with toys. You get yourself a good typewriter, go to the library-live there. Live in the library. See, I didn't go to school, but I went to the library. And I've stayed there for the last 50 years or so. When I was in my 40's, I had no money for an office. I was wandering around UCLA one day, 35 years ago, and I heard typing down below-in the basement of the library. And I went down to see what was going on. I found there was a typing room down there. And for 10 cents for a half an hour, I could rent a typewriter. I said, "My God. This is great! I don't have an office. I'll move in here with a bunch of students. And I'll write!" So, I got a bag full of dimes, and in the next nine days-I spent $9.80-and I wrote Fahrenheit 451.

So I wrote a dime novel, didn't I? And the book has been around-I didn't know it was going to be around-I didn't know any of these things would happen. And I wrote additions to it. I did another 25,000 words a few years later for a new edition of Fahrenheit 451. And a young editor came to me. He was looking for material; he didn't have much money. He was going to start a new magazine. This is in the autumn of 1953. He says, "Will you sell me something inexpensively?" And I said, "Yes, I have Fahrenheit 451 here. I'd like to sell it to a magazine." He said, "I have $400. Can I buy it from you?" I said, "Yes, you can." So he paid me $400, and Fahrenheit 451 appeared in the first, second, and third issues of Playboy. (I want a little applause, now, come on . . ..) You young men should appreciate the fact that I helped start that magazine.

Anyway, along the way, I worked for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. They were putting on a planetarium show, with astronomy, of course. But, they were boring the hell out of people. They took me in to see the show, and within 10 minutes, everybody was asleep. You could hear snoring all over the planetarium. And they took me back to the office, and the head of the Smithsonian said to me, "What are we doing wrong?" I said, " My God, do you know what you're doing in there? You're teaching with this planetarium, instead of preaching." A planetarium is a synagogue, a church, a basilica. It's a place to celebrate the universe, and the incredible fact of our being alive in this world. I said, "Get out of the way with your scientific technology, and let me do a thing called the Great Shout of the Universe. The universe coming alive for all these mysterious reasons."

So they hired me to write a new program for the planetarium. I did 32 pages on the incredible miracle of life on Earth, and the whole history of astronomy going back 2,000 years, and then 500 years into the future. I turned in the 32 pages, and they sent me 28 pages of criticism. I called them on the phone. I said, "What's the problem?" They said, "Well, this scientific thing is wrong-that scientific thing is wrong." I said, "You don't understand, I'm the guy who invented an atmosphere on Mars. And Caltech invites me back all the time." I said, "You mustn't teach, you must preach. And if you do a good job of preaching, people will go out and buy the book, or go to the library and borrow it, and learn all these wonderful things that you want them to learn. But in the meantime, let me shout."

I said, "What's the one thing that bothers you the most about my script?" They said, "Well, you've got a thing in there about the Big Bang occurring 10 billion years ago." I said, "When did it occur?" They said, "12 billion years ago." I said, "Prove it." Well, that ruined it right there. The marriage was over. So after another two weeks of arguing with these people, I said, "You want to go back to boring people. I don't want to bore people. I want to excite them!" Because it's wonderful to have one life, to be on this world-to have a chance to do the things that we want to do. I said, "How much do you owe me right now?" And they said, "$15,000." I said, "Give me $7,000 and let me go, because this is a bad marriage!" They gave me $7,000. I quit the project. I came out to Los Angeles. I put it in the Air and Space Museum down at Exposition Park. It's still playing there-The Great Shout of the Universe: The Creation of Mankind in the World.

We still don't know-we have various TV shows that we've all seen during the last few years-about how life came upon the earth. And at a certain point, they finally say, "It just did." Well, that's not very scientific, is it? Lightning pummeled the earth, and out of the chemistry of the seas and the oceans and the lakes of the world, suddenly life came. We don't know a damn thing about it.

So in doing my script for the Smithsonian, I looked at the universe, and I said, "I've got a better theory than the Big Bang theory." Do you want to know what that is? I'll tell you what it is. The universe has been here forever. That's impossible too. Big Bang's impossible. But why not, the universe-which is so damn big, billions of light-years in any direction-that it's been here forever. So, that's a hard thing to imagine, isn't it? But we are hard to imagine.

Now a question that has often entered all of your minds-and everyone who lives in the world-at one time or another, is, "Why are we here?" We don't believe in God-we pretend not to believe in God. Well, you've got to believe in the universe, don't you? You have to believe in the universe.

Now, why are you here? I'll tell you why you're here. You've been put here because the universe exists. There's no use the universe existing, if there isn't someone there to see it. Your job is to see it. Your job is to witness. To witness; to understand; to comprehend and to celebrate! To celebrate with your lives. At the end of your life, if you don't come to that end and look back and realize that you did not celebrate, then you wasted it.

Your function is God-given. To act on your genetics, to be what you were born to be-find out what it is-and do it. The Armenians have a saying, that in the hour of your birth, God thumbprints thee with a genetic thumbprint in the middle of your forehead. But in the hour of your birth, that thumbprint vanishes back into your flesh. Your job, as young people, is to look in the mirror every day of your life, and see the shape of that genetic thumbprint. And find out just who in the hell you are. It's a big job-but a wonderful job.

So, to be witnesses, to celebrate, and to be part of this universe . . .. you're here one time, you're not coming back. And you owe, don't you? You owe back for the gift of life.

When I was 11 years old, I looked at the back of my hand one day. And I turned my hands over. And I looked at the little hairs on the back of my hand, and I said, "My, God, I'm alive! Why didn't someone tell me? Why didn't someone tell me?" You've all had that moment. Today is one of those moments. You are especially alive. So that you look at yourself, and you say, "I'm in here. I'm looking out. I'm perceiving. And I'm willing to celebrate." Wonderful thing . . . wonderful thing, indeed. And I put that in one of my books. The moment of discovery that you're inside this incredible being, and you're looking out.

Now there are several people sitting here today who will be living on Mars 20 or 30 years from now. I really envy you. I wish I could be alive the day that we land on Mars-with real people. I was out here at Jet Propulsion Lab a few years ago, when the Viking Lander landed. And I was there with Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray, and a lot of other wonderful people. And after the first pictures came back from Mars, Roy Neill at NBC interviewed me. And he said, "Mr. Bradbury, how does it feel? You've been writing about Mars for 30 years; that they have civilizations up there-peculiar people, Martians. And we're up there now, and there's nothing on Mars. There are no cities. There are no Martians. And I said to him, "Fool, fool! There are Martians on Mars-and it is us! From here on in, we will be the Martians." I'd like to believe that on some night, 50, 60 years from now, that when some of you are on Mars, that you'll carry with you-please do-a copy of The Martian Chronicles, which is totally unscientific. It's a Greek myth, it's a Roman myth, it's an Egyptian myth, it's a Norse edda. And that's why the damn thing is still around. I didn't deal with the facts. I dealt with the dream. And some night, teach your children, on Mars, to read the books under the blankets with the flashlight. And in the meantime, they're looking out at Mars, and the only Martians that are out there will be you. I envy you about that.

If the young women here today will permit me to make a little speech to the young men, because you young women already know how to be affectionate to your families. A lot of times you young men have the problems of most young men, with their families and with their fathers. Now this is a very special day today. I want you to do something when the ceremony is over. I have a cousin-a boy cousin. When I was 13 years old, he died suddenly. He got an infection, and he died. And his father was never the same. Never the same. Destroyed the family, but especially his father.

My father came to me when I was 33. I had a job of going overseas, to write the screenplay of Moby Dick, for John Huston. I don't think my father and I had ever embraced each other. I don't remember that we ever said, "I love you." He brought with him, on the day before I went overseas, a gold watch that belonged to my grandfather. And he handed it to me. And his eyes were full of tears. And I realized-and I said to myself, "My God, my God, he loves me. Why didn't I truly realize-why did I have to wait until I was 33, to realize that this man loves me with all his heart." But he just couldn't say-he just couldn't say.

Maybe some of your families are like that. Maybe you're like that. Maybe your father's like that. But think of it, when the celebration's over today. You girls already know-you young women already know what to do. But you young men have to be instructed, to your passions. So when this is over today-I know your fathers are here, most of them. I want you to run over and grab your father, and lift him up, and kiss him on both cheeks, and say, "Dad, thank you for my life. Thank you for being here. I love you." And then you're going to have one of the greatest moments of this graduation. I give you that gift of love, to pass on to your father, when this is over.

Now, one final thing. I'll end with my experience with David Frost. My enthusiasm for space travel is so immense, that when I had a chance to be on the David Frost Show - when we landed on the moon, back in July, 31, 32 years ago-I went over to be on the David Frost Show. And we landed on the moon at 8:30 at night, London time. Now, why did I want to be there? Why is space travel important to me? Because it has to do with the immortality of mankind. If we make it to the moon, if we go on to Mars, if we move on to Alpha Centauri, we have a chance of helping the human race exist on other worlds- 10,000 years from now, 100,000 years, a million years from now. Our children's children's children. I wanted to say that. Space travel has to do with the immortality of the human race. So I got over there, and David Frost said, "I am now going to introduce an American genius." I said, "That's got to be me." And he immediately introduced the next guest, Engelbert Humperdinck. Well, I was very upset. And then he said, "And the next guest after this is Sammy Davis, Jr." And so they both got up and sang their stupid songs. And I walked off the show. Smoke was coming out of my ears.

I didn't have a chance to say what I said to you-that the future belongs to us, if we work with it. And we go back to the moon-we should never have left there in the first place and go on to Mars, and go on out into the universe. So I walked off the show. And the producer came running after me. He said, "What are you doing out here?" And I said, "I'm leaving the show." I said, "That man in there is an idiot. He doesn't realize the most important moment in the history of mankind-our landing on the moon. And he's ruined this special night-this special night. Get me out of here." So they put me in a cab, and I went across London. I did a show with Walter Cronkite. And I was able to say all the things I just said to you. I stayed up all night-I cried all night. I was on four or five different TV shows, on Telstar around the world, being able to say what I've said to you.

And at 9 o'clock in the morning, I walked back across London, very happy and full of cheer, but totally exhausted. And I got out in front of my hotel, and I saw a little, tiny newspaper there. This wonderful, wonderful headline: "The astronauts walk at 6 a.m.- Bradbury walks at midnight."

Thank you very much, thank you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

港奧運火炬手名單 被轟政治分贓


Multinational corporations have also sent representatives as have major local developers Cheung Kong, Sun Hung Kai and Henderson. Tsang Hinchi (曾宪梓) also one of them and the oldest at 74.

遴選黑箱作業酬庸味濃 火炬手名單未能團結社會 (明報) 04月 30日 星期三 05:05AM




運動員是奧運 會 的主角,但是現代奧運甚至其他體育活動,需要投入龐大人力物力,需要縝密的組織,需要廣泛的社會支持等,才有可能成功主辦和推動發展;而奧運火炬作為奧運 會的重要象徵,在每一個地方傳送時,都是頭等大事,備受當地各階層人士關注,因此火炬手隊伍並非運動員獨家專利,完全可以理解,問題只是火炬手隊伍透過什 麼程序產生,使之能夠確切體現整體社會的多元實質。

據知這次遴選火炬手,有所謂「火炬手遴選委員會」之設,但是委員會成員是哪些人,完全諱莫如深,只知道「來自體育、教育、藝術、傳播、馬術公司及賽馬會 等界別人士」,至於如何組成?怎樣運作?外界完全不知道。委員會經過「秘密運作」之後,昨日公布了120名的火炬手名單,但是運動員為何只佔53個名額(包括港協、贊助商、北京 奧組委三方提名)?為何沒有公開提名?港協暨奧委會會長霍震霆 並無交代,只說「火炬手名單不止有體育界代表,亦來自不同界別,可以說是社會的縮影」。


首先是名單中的各界社會人士,其中可列為地區人士的(包括區議員和社團成員),盡皆親政府的建制派人士,一泷泛民主派 中人,一個也沒有。在政治光譜中,存在有各式取態不同的人,火炬手隊伍完全排拒泛民,充分說明「親疏有別」,社會的縮影起碼少了這一塊,無助於構建和諧社會。

其次是名單中有富豪或富豪第二代,他們對社會的貢獻,有目共 睹,不能抹煞,但是放在社會的縮影來檢驗,火炬手既然有富豪,也應該有弱勢社群人士。香港社會不乏勵志的動人事舻,例如一度爭取安樂死的斌仔(鄧紹斌), 在社會人士關懷下,現在積極面對人生,火炬手如果有斌仔入選,不但是對他努力的肯定,對於香港整體社會也是很大的鼓舞。現在火炬手名單未見弱勢社群,忽視 了弱勢社群的存在,如何可以說此乃社會的縮影?



至於成為火炬手的運動員,是多是少,見仁見智,但是過去運動員 為香港拼搏所取得的成就,他們大量付出,實質回報卻可憐地微薄,參與傳送奧運火炬,是對他們的最大補償,也是藉此表揚他們的最好機會,從這個角度看,應該 讓更多曾經為香港爭光的運動員成為火炬手,作為社會對他們的回報。以此而言,運動員佔火炬手的比例,能夠愈高當然愈好。

例如香港體育學院的網頁,有「金牌運動員點將錄」專頁,表揚曾 經為香港爭光的運動員,向他們致敬,並藉此策勵後起之秀。這個網頁列出了43名香港金牌運動員,除了1998年奪得亞運保齡球金牌的許長國已經因病逝世以 外,名單上還有42人,今次有幸成為火炬手的只有6人,其他36人之中,包括1986年為香港奪得首面亞運金牌的車菊紅、1996和1998年先後揚威傷 殘人士奧運會和世界輪椅劍擊賽的張偉良,當日他們兩人的成就,全港市民與有榮焉,現在都無緣傳送火炬,對他們而言,毋寧是個人的遺憾,而對香港社會而言, 對他們或許是一份虧欠。

奧運火炬手名單最令人詬病之處,是整個過程完全無透明度,外界 無從知道火炬手是怎樣挑選出來的,這種黑箱作業運作,必然誘發私相授受之思。事實上,名單在有話語權人物操控下,出現向有權有勢的人傾斜的痕舻,甚為明 顯。奧運本來是一個很好地讓社會緊密團結的機會,但是火炬手名單卻與此背道而馳,不但未能達到團結社會的目標,更不幸地起覑進一步撕裂社會的效果,確實令 人十分遺憾。


The list of torchbearers in Hong Kong for the Beijing Olympic Games is a very obvious and apparent show of who's in charge and are favoured in Hong Kong (by the HK gov't and Beijing): the wealthy, businessmen, pro-Beijing politicians and etc...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It is not the first time racist or insensitive comment has been made to the Chinese. I remember back in high school, I would find racist or stereotyping comments in some of the biggest magazines and publications like the Time magazine. I even wrote a letter of complaint to Time. American media is sensitive, respectful and careful in talking about race only when it is referring to African American, Latin American and the likes. Asian, especially Chinese, are stereotyped,

For some strange unknown reason, it seems that China has become America’s #1 public enemy. And why is that? Because it is a communist-capitalist country? Because it is not a democratic country? (Saudi Arabia) Because the US has a huge trade deficit with China? (The US has lopsided trade deficit with almost every major economy like Japan and the EU) Because China has weapon of mass destruction (WMD) and threaten our national security? China’s human rights record? If you look at it, each of these explanation is ridiculous. The last one can be the most legitimate reason, but I cannot help but look at US’ own history of human right record and some of US’ friends who have horrific human rights record to which US has turn a blind eye to. The US media is definitely bias, one publication quoted that “China execute the most people per year.” On first thought, most would think, “Gosh, China is killing so many people.” But then, I thought a little about it and it’s not really such a surprise, China is the largest nation on earth in term of population. It has over one-fifth of the world’s population. It is very reasonable and logical that it “should” have the highest number of people executed by law. I believe that US would probably be in the top 10 with 5% of the world’s population and be at the top of all developed democratic countries. And if we were talking about death caused, US would also be at the top of the list with the numerous military operations during the Cold War (for example, like sponsoring Saddam Hussein and Osama Ben Ladin, Vietnam War, Afghanistan and Iraq. China was never a threat; it never tried to attack the US. China has only been a sizable economic player for 2 decades or so after almost 200 years of turmoil much to the credit of foreign invasion by European powers, US and Japan. Is the US media making China public enemy #1 because US needs a scapegoat for its economic troubles? Can we really blame the subprime mortgage crisis on the Chinese (the Chinese government, Hong Kong Chinese, Taiwanese Chinese, Chinese-Americans, Chinese-Australians, South African Chinese and etc…)? Can we really blame China for being a poorer country with large labour resource and a much lower standard of living that can have people live on US$2 a day so that Americans can buy cheap stuff from? Can we blame China for the American auto industry’s inability to compete with foreign automakers like Toyota? Can we blame China for US government subsidies for the timber industry and the likes that encourage trade deficit? Can we really blame China or the undervalued RMB for our economic troubles? The Japanese Yen is undervalued too (for almost a decade) and I don’t hear anybody complaining about it. Why is that?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Yuan Shikai, the Loser with a capital L.

If you had the power and the choice to change the lives of over 800 million people for the better or the worst, what would you do?

Hopefully you would do try to make the best choice to improve the lives of the 800 million people.

But what did this loser, Yuan Shikai do? He failed to see the opportunity of becoming that great man that billion of Chinese for generations would admire and praise. He selfishly chose to become the emperor of China.

He could have become a hero for billion of Chinese by uniting China with Sun Yatsen and his supporters. With his military and political powers and influence, he had the right stuff to build a Chinese republic. He was the only one who could bring stability to China in a time of chaos. But he failed to see the greater picture, the greater good, the manifest that could happen. He only saw himself in golden robe as an emperor in a world that no longer believed in absolute monarchy. He could have become the George Washington of China, but instead, he died a broken man who spent his whole life living a nightmare to become an emperor of a distant China that grew passed him.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Time is so hard to comprehend. 

I was trying to remember what i was like as a 5 year old, and then I realized that 20 years have passed since. The thought overwhelmed me.  


Published: August 15, 1995

Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama of Japan today did what no other Japanese leader has dared to do: he extended his "heartfelt apology" for atrocities his country committed in World War II.

"In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology," Mr. Murayama said.

His speech is sure to provoke strident debate throughout the nation, for his words were clearer than those of any other Japanese official trying to address Japan's role in the war. And yet his striking words may not necessarily appease the anger and hatred that permeates this region over the war.

From China to South Korea to the Philippines, in countries where the Japanese practiced torture, killings and gruesome experiments, victims and their relatives have recently been bringing their suffering to the fore. As a result, Asian countries have repeatedly plied Japan with hints, and sometimes even with outright demands, for apologies.

For Mr. Murayama, the speech fulfills a personal mission to apologize for Japanese aggression during the war, one that he and his Socialist Party have fought for fiercely throughout the years. In a nationally televised speech from his modest residence, Mr. Murayama spoke solemnly, almost determinedly.

"During a certain period in the not too distant past," he said, "Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations."

"Allow me also to express my feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, of that history," Mr. Murayama added. "Our task is to convey to the younger generations the horrors of war, so that we never repeat the errors in our history."

Mr. Murayama gave his speech shortly before attending a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. It is the separation of the apology from the official ceremony that raised the question of whether he was diminishing the power and impact of his apology.

Some Japanese say that the ceremony was meant only to be a commemoration for the Japanese, a rather ritualistic occasion in which Emperor Akihito extended his sympathies to the Japanese victims of the war. By separating the speech from the ceremony, these people say, Mr. Murayama gave his words much more of the force of the state.

It was Emperor Akihito's father, Emperor Hirohito, who ultimately surrended on Aug. 15, 1945, nine days after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, killing nearly 140,000 people. Three days later, a second bomb, dropped on Nagasaki, killed 70,000, and many Americans argue that the two bombs finally persuaded the Japanese to surrender.

Because Japan has long considered itself a victim of the war, not an aggressor, it has been extremely reluctant to offer any sort of apology. Earlier this year, Japan's Parliament refused to approve a resolution that expressed true remorse.

After weeks of debate and a series of curt exchanges among members of the various coalitions in Japan, Parliament finally passed a weaker version of an apology. The resolution used the term "hansei," meaning reflection or remorse, but not apology.

The resolution appeared to be more a triumph of carefully crafted ambiguity rather than a sincere apology, but its passage in June averted a political crisis. The debate has focused on whether Japan should acknowledge having committed "acts of aggression" and "colonialism," and whether it should offer an "apology."

While the Parliament did not pass a resolution with such terms, Mr. Murayama's words today removed any of that previous ambiguity. Thus, those Japanese who feel penitent can claim a sort of victory in that a Prime Minister has finally admitted that Japan feels remorse for invading and colonizing its neighbors.

Those who fiercely oppose any sort of apology will have to take solace in the fact that it was Prime Minister Murayama, not Japan's Parliament, who extended the apology. Even though Mr. Murayama was speaking in his full capacity as a Japanese leader, they may argue that the words actually reflect his own personal view, and not those of an entire nation.

In what may be interpreted as a strong rebuke to Mr. Murayama for his remarks, half of the Cabinet members today made a pilgrimage of sorts to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead, including the military leaders of World War II. It is a place where Japanese soldiers who died in battle are worshiped as gods and has become a focal point of Japanese nationalism.

Mr. Murayama, of course, did not visit the shrine. All the Cabinet members who went were members of Japan's strongest party, the Liberal Democratic Party.

In recent days, Mr. Murayama was said to have been studying the powerful apology offered by Richard von Weizsacker, the President of West Germany, in 1985. In a moving speech of atonement for the horrors committed by West Germany, Mr. Weizsacker said: "All of us, whether guilty or not, whether old or young, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it."

Mr. Weizsacker referred specifically to the Holocaust, the burning of synagogues, the "plundering, the stigmatization with the Star of David, the deprivation of the rights, the ceaseless violation of human dignity."

The speech by Mr. Murayama today was much less evocative. He made no mention of any of the specific horrors that Japan committed, acts that ravaged China, like the Nanjing massacre when perhaps as many as 300,000 people were killed. Nor did he mention the labor camps, the so-called comfort women who were forced to have sex with the Japanese troops, or the horrific experiments conducted on Chinese people.

All of these acts fall under the "aggression" that Mr. Murayama said caused damage and suffering.

In his speech, Mr. Murayama also emphasized that Japan was a victim in the war, suggesting that while the country apologized for its own acts of aggression, it also suffered enormously from atomic bombing. He did not name the United States, but the hint was clear.

He quickly skirted the topic of the bomb and went on to note Japan's strong advocacy of the elimination of nuclear weapons.

"As the same time, as the only country to have experienced the devastation of atomic bombing," Mr. Murayama said, "Japan, with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons, must actively strive to further global disarmament in areas such as the strengthening of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. It is my conviction that in this way alone can Japan atone for its past and lay to rest the spirits of those who perished."

In a gesture meant to avoid offending the United States, Mr. Murayama expressed gratitude to America for the "indispensable support and assistance" given to Japan in its effort to rebuild the country after the war.

In a question and answer session after his remarks, Mr. Murayama explicitly denied any responsibility of Emperor Hirohito for the war, saying: "It is well known that the Emperor prayed for peace in the world, and made his utmost efforts to avoid the war, and it was the Emperor who decisively judged to end the war."

At the today's ceremony, Emperor Akihito said, "As I reflect upon history, I strongly hope that the scourge of war will never be repeated." He added, "I, along with all the nation's people, hereby express my deep mourning over those who died."

There was some uncertainty as to whether he was referring not only to the Japanese who died in the war but also to other Asians, and even Americans, who died. It seems highly likely that he was referring only to the Japanese. But if he meant to be ambiguous, then his remarks would be highly significant in that they suggested a feeling of remorse for those who died at the hands of the Japanese.

Officials at both the Imperial Household Agency and the Foreign Ministry said they were not exactly sure what the Emperor meant. However, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said the Emperor was referring only to Japanese.

 Japanese Apology for War Is Welcomed and Criticized

Published: August 16, 1995

Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama was praised and pilloried today by people at home and abroad for offering Japan's first frank apology for the damage and suffering inflicted by his country during World War II.

People throughout Asia welcomed Mr. Murayama's apology, although reaction from certain countries like South Korea and China was cautious. Even many Japanese said they felt a strong expression of regret was long overdue.

"It was a war of invasion, and I believe an apology was right," said Kenichi Kobayashi, 58, a business manager, as he sat on a bench near the Imperial Palace. "We have done bad things to the Asian people. I think we should have apologized earlier."

For the first time since the end of the war, a Japanese Prime Minister today expressed his "heartfelt apology" and admitted that Japan had, "through its colonial rule and invasion, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations."

At various times Japanese leaders have expressed remorse or regret for their country's actions in the war. But until today, the 50th anniversary of the Japanese surrender, no national leader had offered an outright apology. The word used by Mr. Murayama today, owabi, is unambiguously translated as apology.

Australia warmly welcomed the remarks, but other countries, from China to Singapore to Malaysia, were more subdued in their reactions, and not all issued official responses. South Korea's Foreign Ministry said, "We will observe Japan's attitude in the future."

A degree of ambivalence surfaced quickly even within Mr. Murayama's own Cabinet, which unanimously approved his apology this morning.

No sooner had Mr. Murayama concluded his remarks than minister after minister made a pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine, a place that honors the Japanese dead and worships as gods the Japanese soldiers who died in battle, including military war criminals.

Such conflicting sentiments and tensions over Japan's acts of aggression pervade Japanese society, and they spilled over on this anniversary. For a small minority, there is skepticism over how much pain Japan inflicted, and an assertion that war always brings suffering.

"I don't think we need to apologize at all, because we have no evidence that those things occurred," said a 55-year-old Japanese banker who would give his name only as A. Naka yama. "I believe politicians are apologizing without making solid investigation and without seeking the truth."

Mr. Nakayama's view is not so rare. Just last week, the new Education Minister, Yoshinobu Shimamura, told reporters that he questioned whether repeated apologies were useful and suggested that Japan had not necessarily been the aggressor in the war.

Then, when his remarks led to protests at home and in other Asian countries, he apologized and retracted them.

Indiscretions like Mr. Shimamura's have occurred many times over the years, and partly for this reason, some Japanese say they fear that Mr. Murayama's apology may not necessarily hold for long. Mr. Murayama's power and popularity have weakened in recent months, and if he leaves his post, a more conservative prime minister might take his place.

Nevertheless, some Japanese were encouraged by what Emperor Akihito said today in a ritual that marked the anniversary with a gigantic swell of flowers to honor the war dead.

"I renew my deep sorrow for the people who lost precious lives in the last great war and their survivors," the Emperor said. "I strongly hope that the scourge of war will never be repeated, and I, along with all the people in this nation, hereby express my deep mourning for those who died and suffered in the battlefield."

Emperor Akihito neglected to specify whether he was referring only to Japanese or to others as well. The Emperor's ambiguity allowed nationalists to argue that his remarks were intended to refer only to Japanese. But it also left room for others to suggest that Akihito was broadening his expression of remorse to other Asians.

In China, perhaps the country harmed the most by Japan's wartime aggression, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry welcomed the apology, the official New China News Agency reported from Beijing.

"We believe that the Japanese Government's attitude of expressing remorse over Japan's past colonial rule and invasion, and its apology to the peoples of Asian countries, is postitive," the spokesman's statement said.

"At the same time," it continued, "we cannot but point out that some people in Japanese society, including political circles, are still unable to adopt a correct attitude toward the history of that period."

Earlier in the day, at a Chinese ceremony commemorating the end of the war, President Jiang Zemin encouraged Japanese leaders to accept responsibility for past wrongs.

"History should not be forgotten nor distorted," the press agency reported, paraphrasing Mr. Jiang. "Any speech or act intended to cover up the crimes of the fascists will seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and those of other countries."

Still, if the expressions of regret and apology made today were meant to appease the frustration and anger at Japan among other countries throughout the region, Mr. Mura yama made clear that he had no intention of backing his words up with compensation. That issue was resolved long ago when Japan normalized relations with other countries after the war, he told reporters.

The Government recently supported the establishment of a new fund to help compensate the foreigners who were forced to have sex with Japanese troops as "comfort women" during the war. The issue has raised emotions among many women in Asia, including Japan.

"They were taken away forcibly, without any idea of what was going on," said Mie Kawamura, 61, on her way to a train station this evening. "I was only a grade school student at the time. But as I read more and more newspaper articles, I find that terrible things happened to them and feel sorry for them." 

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Psychology of Music

Music Psychology

The MTR now plays nice, relaxing music at the stations to try to calm and make people less anxious. I think it helps. It certainly makes me feel more at ease, especially at the SKW station just before my back sweating walk to the office.

Park N Shop, one of the two largest supermarket chain in Hong Kong, on the other hand, play movie credit music. I do not know what the original intention to play the music, but it makes me a bit sad, like something good is ending (sales?). I know that in US, the supermarkets put in music to encourage consumption but I am not quite sure with Park N Shop's movie ending music. Is it suppose to rush people into finishing their shopping faster?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Expat learning Cantonese

I was on the MTR on my way back home from work and an expat sat next to me. then he took out from his suitcase a Cantonese oral exercise book. i asked ask him in cantonese, "nan umm nan" (is it difficult?) He gave me a blank look telling me that he didn't understand a word. I repeated my question in English and we carried on little conversation. I found out that he is only on lesson two and has very limited Cantonese. Yes, he found Cantonese to be hard, especially with the different tones. I shared with him some frustration stories my friend had with learning Cantonese and finding conversational partner. He told me that his greatest enemy is fear of speaking in Cantonese. He told me that it's very difficult for him to understand when people talk to him in Cantonese.

from my experience, not too many expat are interested in learning Cantonese (which I think is a pretty difficult language to learn). But he seems to be a serious learner, or he wouldn't be studying on the MTR. He told me that there are only 4 students in his Cantonese class, so i guess it isn't a popular endeavor for expat. However, i do know of a group of Korean housewives who go to CUHK for Cantonese lesson.

For expat, Mandarin would probably be an easier and more practically language to learn. I wonder why they picked Cantonese instead. But I think it's cool that they are learning Cantonese.

Monday, March 31, 2008

after Guangxi

After the trip to Guangxi with my friends, I have a
new appreciation for China and Chinese.

A lot of people complain about the chaotic traffic
condition. Yes, it is problematic, yet I don't think
people should be too critical of it. China is still a
country in development. Not everybody in China can
afford a standardize vehicle. That's why we see
anything from manpowered cart, tricycle, refitted
motorcycle, cattle, cars and truck sharing the same
road. As for the narrow and potholes-filled roads in
the countryside, aside from the corruption problems,
we have to consider that China (especially rural
China) is at a rather early development stage. We
can't really expect LA sized 6 lanes freeway for
rural China. Visitors kind of have to accept the
current condition of China. Vans and cars has to
overtake another slower vehicle on narrow one lane
freeway, which is considered very dangerous, because
those drivers just can't follow a cattle cart for
the whole trip.

I believe crossing the road is as dangerous in China
as in Hong Kong where there's no traffic light.
Chinese drivers actually slow down or change lane for
pedestrians whereas most Hong Kong drivers do not. In
Guangxi, I find the drivers there to be much more
polite than their Hong Kong counterpart. Hong Kong
drivers would occasionally give a mouthful of
profanity and excessive honking to careless
pedestrian. Just think about many people got run over
by buses, taxi and minibuses in Hong Kong recently.
Hong Kong drivers have a low regard to human values
and our legal system accommodate that thinking.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Another Day on the MTR

I was in a subway train and it was as crowded as usual, and I felt a force pushing my backpack. I tried turning my head around wondering and I decided to ignore it but then it came again a few times. Somebody was just being really annoying. Then there was just a push. So I asked who’s pushing. The guy reading the paper next to me said my backpack was in his way. I said oh, sorry and after I collected myself, I told him, “Mr., I think that instead of pushing, it would be better for you to tell me that my backpack is in your way, then I could’ve put it on the ground. It’s just not polite to push.” I said it really nicely, no in anger, enough though I felt that I was being disrespected. I didn’t use “wei,” I tried to not get a reaction but just to get my point across, that he shouldn’t be push. He looked pissed. His eyes were of hatred. He told me to stop talking and that I was bumping myself into the train first. I was freaking amazed at this guy. This is the MTR. We are being sandwiched everyday; people rush into the train every single day especially during peak hours. There were times when I couldn’t even move my arms. Several people probably bumped him as they were rushing into the train and it just happened that I was one of them and with my backpack facing him. He shouldn’t be venting at my backpack. I told him that he shouldn’t be complaining, at least you had space to read your newspaper. He came back and said something about a magazine, so I figured that he was trying to correct me that he wasn’t reading a newspaper but a magazine. He said something something and then kid (referring to me). “What did you say?” I asked but he disappearing into the other side of the subway car. It was probably good that I didn’t understand him. I was a bit surprise that he understood everything I said.

He should know about condition at MTR. He was several years older in his 30s and obviously takes the subway from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. I have only been doing this for 4 months and I never complained and push other people about being bumped, pushed or with someone’s bag pushing against me. I actually preferred to be pressed against handbag, duffle bag, and backpack then against somebody. There were times when I felt I was being violated. The worst is when you can feel someone’s private being pressed against your butt or thigh or anywhere. It just doesn’t feel good. But you don’t push them; you know that they don’t enjoy it (unless they are super perverted in the most wicked way, humm, actually, that explains why many women prefer bus over the subway). I was second in line and I was being pushed. I remember turning around wondering who was pushing so hard, and this small woman was behind me. There’s no anger. Someone behind her was probably pushing her as well. I actually like being pushed into the train because it just isn’t me. The rush/push into the subway car means that someone behind me really and desperately wanted to get on the subway, and the good thing is, it made sure that whoever in front is going to get in, and today, it was me who was near the front. The draw back is that you get sandwiched, but I know that everybody behind me was being sandwiched too, so, it’s not a big deal. There is little if any personal space at all. I think people in the subway car at peak hours get more body contact then they get with their dates.