2009年2月28日

New at Reason: Cathy Young on the Future of Newspapers

Respect?

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New at Reason: Cathy Young on the Future of Newspapers

As media giants totter, battered by the Internet and the economic crisis, saving the newspapers has become a hot topic. But as Contributing Editor Cathy Young writes, newspapers will only survive if they work harder to earn and maintain respect.

Read all about it here.




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胡紅玉掌積金局

Finally, they fit a Feminist-marxist there. 

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胡紅玉掌積金局

財政司司長曾俊華今天(2月27日)宣布,前平等機會委員會主席胡紅玉獲委任為為強制性公積金計劃管理局主席,任期兩年,3月17日起生效。


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Facebook: Stop Acting Like a Nation-State

On the contrary, it can be applied to understand politics in real life.  

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Facebook: Stop Acting Like a Nation-State


The executives at Facebook may be under a grand delusion: they seem to think that Facebook is a nation. And they're attempting to build it a government.



This is, of course, a tremendously stupid idea.



Sure, Facebook has had PR trainwrecks before, and all were exercises in hubris; first there was the Beacon debacle, then its parochial ban on breastfeeding photos, and most recently, the new terms of service that tried to claim ownership over users' data. 



That last catastrophe generated more antipathy from users than perhaps any one before it. But Facebook's high-minded reaction will surely dwarf any of its past gaffes--and unlike those earlier ones, this one has the potential to truly damage usership. Facebook calls it "a new approach to site governance" that gives users "an unprecedented role in determining the future policies." What it really is: a deeply flawed 21st century political experiment. Prepare to sit back and watch it burn.



Here's the milieu: Facebook announced this week that it would craft Principles of Service and a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities meant to protect its users from abuse of their data. The social network also went one step further: It announced that it will hold "virtual Town Hall meetings" where users will get to comment on the Principles and the Statement of Rights. After the comments are digested by Facebook policymakers, they'll take the finalized documents and put them to a public vote. All users (as of 2/25/09) are eligible to vote, and quorum will be set at 30% of users.



Here's where things get weird. Facebook has stipulated that this voting process will become a matter of course any time Facebook wants to change its service terms. "[A]ll future policy changes would be eligible for a vote by users, provided the level of intensity of user interest would justify it," the company's press release says.



Weirder still: Facebook wants to establish a provisional government. Check out this paragraph tucked into the end of that same press release:



Facebook also announced its intention to establish a user council to participate more closely in the development and discussion of policies and practices. As a start, the company indicated that it would invite the authors of the most insightful and constructive comments on the draft documents to serve as founding members of the group. [Emphasis mine.]



Not coincidentally, all of these initiatives are couched in the language of colonial nation-building. In a blog post on February 17, CEO Mark Zuckerberg observed, "More than 175 million people use Facebook. If it were a country, it
would be the sixth most populated country in the world." He went on to call Facebook's new terms a "governing
document" for how the service is used, and in a press conference, made reference to "openness and tran...



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2009年2月27日

周一嶽:政府不排除考慮全面禁煙 

Is he serious about it?

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周一嶽:政府不排除考慮全面禁煙 

食物及衞生局局長周一嶽表示,政府曾經考慮全面禁煙。

周一嶽在本台節目中表示,香港並非以煙草作為主要經濟收入的地方,所以有條件執行,但他表示,香港崇尚自由,過去數年都以教育等措施希望減少市民吸煙情況,但政府不排除將來考慮香港全面禁煙。

周一嶽又說,雖然香港煙民數字有減少,但吸煙青少年由05年的每日9支增至11支,10歲以下兒童吸煙人數達10300人,較以往多兩成。他表示,經濟誘因是青少年戒煙的方法。期望加煙稅能減少青少年的煙民數字。


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Obama's Straw Men

It isn't news, is it?

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Obama's Straw Men

Why does he routinely ascribe to opponents views they don't espouse?





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Top 10 Financial Crises

Interesting list by an entertainment correspondence. 

I don't know how he came up with the ranking. It is not very reasonable. 

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Top 10 Financial Crises

Here is yet another click-whoring festival, this time spread over 3 pages (it would have been 10 on CNN/Money's pages).


Top 10 Financial Crises


10. The Panic of 1907: The fourth so-called "panic" in 34 years.

9. The Mexican Peso Crisis 1994 aka "The December Mistake" Punta !

8. Argentine economic crisis - 1999 If you have no money, is it a good idea to print more?

7. German hyperinflation - 1918-24 If you have to print a 1,000-billion Mark note, you probably have too much inflation.

6. Souk Al-Manakh - 1982 Try not to use post dated to buy stocks

5. Black Monday - 1987 Can we call a 23% drop in a single day a black swan?

4. Russian financial crisis - 1998 devaluation of the ruble and cancellation of debt is never good for a local stock market.

3. East Asian financial crisis - 1997 aka the Asian Contagion

2. Black Tuesday - 1929 — Really? One day, and not the entire Great Depression?

1. 1973 Oil Crisis — Big energy increases cause recessions


>


Source:

Top 10: Financial Crises

Ross Bonander

Entertainment Correspondent [WTF?!?]

AskMen.com

http://www.askmen.com/top_10/top_10_150/166_top_10_list.html





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2009年2月26日

彭博:圓明園兩個獸首銅像由佳士得高層投得

Yawn~~~~

The super rich can always remit their $ outside mainland and bid.

Oh. Not to mention the fact that the market for artifacts on mainland is hindered by the prevalence of fake goods.

Money laundering goes overseas. Anyway it will happen.   

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彭博:圓明園兩個獸首銅像由佳士得高層投得

在巴黎拍賣的北京圓明園鼠首及兔首
銅像,各以1400萬歐元售出,合計約值
港幣2億7千多萬元。兩個銅像由同一個
電話買家匿名投得。彭博通訊社報道,
買家是負責拍賣會的佳士得高層。

中國律師團說,關注事態發展,等事件
明朗後,再採取法律行動。國家文物局
譴責佳士得不理中方反對,一意弧行
拍賣被劫走的中國文物,要負責一切的
後果,包括影響佳士得在中國的發展。


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(BN) Obama in Canada Encounters World's Best Financial System Without Bad Banks

Silly. Hong Kong is even better. 

Bloomberg News, sent from my iPhone.

Obama in Canada Finds World's Best Financial System

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- David Denison, who oversees investments for Canada's pensions, says his country's banks are the best in the world right now and Barack Obama, like so many money managers from Beijing to Paris, can't disagree.

Before President Obama made Ottawa his first visit to a foreign capital earlier this month, he couldn't resist telling the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.: "In the midst of the enormous economic crisis, I think Canada has shown itself to be a pretty good manager of the financial system and the economy in ways that we haven't always been."

The comment was something of an understatement, as no country among the so-called industrialized nations is showing as much confidence in its bankers as Canada. Not one government penny has been given to any of the 21 banks from British Columbia to Quebec since credit worldwide seized up in August 2007. Since then, American taxpayers have provided $300 billion to bail out more than 450 companies, led by Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., two of the three largest banks measured by assets.

Obama isn't the only important person "looking at Canada" in a belated attempt to figure out how to fix a broken financial model, Denison said.

"Solid funding and conservative consumer lending criteria are key features" of Canadian banks, said John Haynes, senior U.S. equity strategist at Rensburg Sheppards Plc in London, which oversees the equivalent of $17 billion. "This has meant that they have had their hands caught in the cookie jar to a much more limited extent than their American and European counterparts."

Brazil, China

Money managers from Brazil, China, France, Ireland and Australia scheduled visits to Denison's Toronto office in the past two weeks to learn how Canada and its banks and pension funds are weathering the financial crisis. The visitors include the AustralianSuper Fund and the French National Reserve Fund, which together have assets of $53 billion, he said.

"They have assembled a high-quality team," said Ian Silk, chief executive officer of AustralianSuper, who visited Denison in May along with three other executives from the Melbourne-based fund and remains in contact with the Canadian money manager.

Canada's higher capital requirements and loan limits that European banks exceeded by 50 percent helped Canadian lenders avoid most of the writedowns and losses crippling competitors worldwide, even as the nation's economy slipped into a recession and the jobless rate jumped to a four-year high.

Few Failures

Just two Canadian regional banks have failed since 1923. The only government support has been a pledge to buy as much as C$125 billion in mortgages, allowing the banks to increase lending to companies and consumers.

"The Canadian banking system is a very good story," said Denison, chief executive officer of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which manages C$108.9 billion ($86 billion) for retired Canadians. "People are looking at Canada" to determine how to fix their broken financial models, he said.

Canadian banks are more constrained than their international peers in the amount of loans they can extend. The nation's lenders are required to set aside a minimum 7 percent for Tier 1 capital, compared with 6 percent for U.S. commercial banks. At the end of October, Canada's eight publicly traded banks were above the minimum, at 9.6 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Canada's banking regulator says institutions can lend as much as 20 times their capital base. According to Bank of Canada data released in December, European bank non-risk weighted assets were more than 30 times capital, while that ratio for U.K. banks and U.S. investment banks was above 25.

European Writedowns

Europe's largest financial companies have reported $321 billion in writedowns and credit-related losses since the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market in 2007 spread to other continents. The market turmoil has forced European lenders to raise $370 billion in fresh capital and sparked government-led bailouts in countries including the U.K., Germany and Switzerland, according to Bloomberg data.

European deficits have ballooned as governments committed more than 1.2 trillion euros ($1.5 trillion) to save their banking systems from collapse.

"When the crisis started emerging on those fronts, Canada was less affected," said Matthew Strauss, a senior currency strategist in Toronto at RBC Capital Markets, a unit of the country's biggest bank. "Canada has always had a fairly conservative banking sector."

Dividend Cuts

While Bank of America and Citigroup cut their dividends to 1 cent a share from as high as 64 cents, the payouts at Canada's five biggest banks haven't been reduced since the Great Depression. Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada is now the third- biggest bank in North America by market value, almost three times the size of Citigroup, while Toronto-Dominion Bank ranks fifth. Royal Bank is almost three times bigger than European lenders Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Deutsche Bank AG.

The Canadian banks, which begin reporting first-quarter results today, probably will say profit declined an average of 12 percent, the biggest drop in almost seven years, according to Scotia Capital analyst Kevin Choquette. By contrast, Bank of America reported its first quarterly loss since 1991 last month, and Citigroup posted a fifth straight loss.

The World Economic Forum in October ranked Canada's financial system the soundest in the world.

The Canadian banks haven't been in this position of global strength since between the two World Wars, said Charles Goodhart, a professor of finance at the London School of Economics, and a former Bank of England policy maker.

'Very Diversified'

"They're very diversified, didn't get heavily involved in the international investment banking industry and they've benefited from good central banking," Goodhart said.

Countries need more "boring" financial systems like Canada's, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Feb. 14 in Rome, where he was attending a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

The federal government in October set up a C$218 billion program to guarantee bank debt to help Canadian lenders compete in international markets with government-backed U.S. banks. None of the country's lenders has tapped the credit.

"The Canadian government has a lot of firepower these days, not just because this has been such a well-managed economy, but frankly, because the Canadian government has not been bailing out the Canadian banks," Toronto-Dominion Chief Financial Officer Colleen Johnston told investors Jan. 28 in New York.

TD Profit Falls

Toronto-Dominion reported today that fiscal first-quarter profit fell 27 percent to C$712 million, or 82 cents a share, because of higher loan-loss provisions. Results topped analysts' estimates.

Toronto-Dominion and Royal Bank are among just seven banks in the world with the top credit rating of Aaa from Moody's Investors Service.

Canadian regulators resisted pushes from some bank executives to loosen lending restrictions when the economy was booming, says David Dodge, 65, who stepped down as Bank of Canada governor a year ago.

"The banks at the top of the cycle thought we were being too tight-assed," Dodge said in a telephone interview.

Even the strength of Canada's banks hasn't kept the economy from being dragged down by the global crisis. The world's eighth- biggest economy will shrink by 1.2 percent this year, in part due to falling exports of oil and other commodities, according to Bank of Canada projections. Employers cut a record 129,000 jobs in January.

'Major Problems'

"We have major problems," said Stephen Jarislowsky, the 83- year-old chairman and founder of Montreal-based money manager Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd., which manages about $31.8 billion. "Our commodity boom is over for a long time."

Canada recorded its first monthly trade deficit in more than three decades in December, as exports plunged 9.7 percent. The country ships more than three-quarters of its goods to the U.S.

"We have some unique advantages, but we are being profoundly affected by the global crisis," Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said in a Feb. 14 interview from Rome.

Canada's housing market has also held up better than in the U.S., where prices declined a record 19 percent in December from a year earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index. Resale home prices dropped 9.9 percent in Canada during the same period, the Canadian Real Estate Association said. Last year, Finance Minister Flaherty scrapped 40-year mortgages when they started to gain popularity among homebuyers seeking to reduce their monthly mortgage payments.

Lending to Homebuyers

Canadian banks are less willing to lend to homebuyers with low credit scores: Subprime loans account for just 5 percent of the total. That compares with 20 percent in the U.S., where independent mortgage brokers and lenders competed with commercial banks to win business by attracting high-risk borrowers.

Another restraining factor is that Canadians, unlike their U.S. neighbors, can't take mortgage interest as a tax deduction, removing an "inherent bias" to take on too much debt, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in September.

Canada was the only Group of Seven nation to balance its budget for 11 consecutive years, before a stimulus package aimed at sparking growth pushed the country to a deficit for the fiscal year ending March 31, according to a government forecast.

The relative strength of the financial system may help Canada recover from the recession faster, Carney said. The Bank of Canada is forecasting growth of 3.8 percent for 2010, in anticipation of rising commodity and oil prices. Canada's oil sands in Alberta contain more reserves than any region outside Saudi Arabia.

"Once this uncertainty is removed, and it will be removed ultimately," Carney said in an interview, "these strengths will kick in and that will have a bigger impact in our opinion in terms of the recovery in Canada."

To contact the reporters on this story: Theophilos Argitis in Ottawa at targitis@bloomberg.net Sean B. Pasternak in Toronto at spasternak@bloomberg.net .

Find out more about Bloomberg for iPhone: http://bbiphone.bloomberg.com/iphone


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水警截獲總值逾400萬走私電腦硬碟零件

How much do they tax?

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水警截獲總值逾400萬走私電腦硬碟零件

水警破獲一宗走私案,搜出一批走私電腦硬碟和零件,約值400多萬元。


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Tea Parties, Rage and Optimism

This analysis applies to Hong Kong as well. 

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Tea Parties, Rage and Optimism



A fellow named Rick Moran on The Next Right is troubled that the energy behind the Santelli Tea Party rant and movement is generated by rage. He opines that while rage may be politically useful in a transient populist way – it may even win an election or two – it can't provide a solid foundation for a rebirth of limited government. Moran suggests that a more promising motif is optimism. (A colleague of mine has more regard for the power of rage to light a fire, but acknowledges that it's hope which ultimately provides the fuel.)


 


What's interesting is the contrast between optimism and the policy mix that's being served up by our political class these days. Their policies are founded on a profoundly dismal and pessimistic view of the prospects and capabilities of America and Americans. The underlying assumptions are that Americans are victims who need to be "taken care of," that business and entrepreneurs are threats from which the people must be protected, that "American exceptionalism" is an outdated and possibly dangerous myth, and that in general that America is going down.


 


Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that this view has some resonance with the public, given the persistent talking-down of our economy and prospects by the mainstream media over the past eight years, much of it politically motivated by their Bush-hate.


 


Some recent sources of middle-class angst are real, too. Globalization and other "evolutionary" economic trends have unquestionably increased feelings of insecurity and a sense that things are "out of control" (never mind that it was an illusion that they were ever really "under control").*


 


On top of all that, now comes a so-called "stimulus" bill that drives home the e...



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2009年2月25日

Senator says divorce causes climate change

What isn't?

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Begin forwarded message: 

You will love this. An Australian Senator has started saying divorce is causing climate change:

 

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,25102348-952,00.html

有議員批評任志剛只關注宏觀風險

Do you know why people in HK is disinterested about legislative politics. First, it is a waste of time. Second, it is not entertaining at all. 

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有議員批評任志剛只關注宏觀風險

在立法會雷曼事件小組調查委員會上,議員梁美芬批評金管局總裁任志剛,只作宏觀金融體系風險的監察,不作微觀預警,感到憤怒。

她比喻任志剛「先知先覺」提出前方有深坑,但沒有警告小投資者,等於任由他們跌落深坑,是「冷血」。


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Gmail Goes Down, Again

I wonder when someone will claim that clouds are public goods and justify state-owned or franchised clouds.  

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Gmail Goes Down, Again

clouds2_tbi.jpgAnother major outage at Google's (GOOG) Gmail overnight, with the service going down for about four hours.


Like most Americans, we slept through it. The BBC reports:


The GMail service went offline at 0930 GMT and, Google claims, was unavailable to all for "approximately two and a half hours".


But anecdotal evidence suggests it was out of action for many users for about four hours - one of the longest downtimes ever suffered by Google.


More than 113 million people use Google mail worldwide, according to comScore.


Back in October, some gmail users were locked out of their accounts for over a day.


We believe that cloud computing will be a very big thing over the next decade. But for all the promise of the cloud, it's worth remembering that like all new, hugely complicated technologies, the cloud will fail. Salesforce (CRM) crashed. (AMZN) struggles under heavy loads. So does Microsoft (MSFT).

See Also:




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Workplace Pornography: A "Virulent Cancer"!

I'd not be surprise if this editorial writer was offended by her colleagues surfing and researching alternative topics on the net.  

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Workplace Pornography: A "Virulent Cancer"!

The Washington Times  unleashes a 750-word editorial on the scourge of Fleshbot culture.

Pornography is a major workplace problem in contemporary American society - and yet few private employers or government managers are willing to talk about it for fear of seeming prudish, or blindly trusting their employees, or being accused of infringing on individual liberties. With these attitudes, porn-at-work has grown like a virulent cancer, robbing employers of work time and wasted wages, causing litigation, and - most important - truly corrupting the minds of offenders while helping a squalid and perverted industry.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, to his credit, has the courage to tackle the issue of pornography at work head on. His action is an opportunity to begin a national conversation on the widespread social effects of Internet porn at the office. Is this the kind of America we want to live in? 

Given that we now have pretty concslusive data that Internet porn actually reduces sex crimes, I'd say yes! The concluding graphs are especially Bork-a-licious:

Some of these employees know full well that they are being monitored - and get an additional thrill for being so brazen and taking such a risk. This bespeaks the magnitude of the porn-at-work phenomenon.

With so many employees now having their own work computers, the workplace has become a center of pornographic voyeurism among some segment of American society. How to respond, beyond more porn-detecting software and greater vigilance, remains to be seen. We claim no answer. But until we discuss the challenges, America will look less and less like a shining "city upon a hill" and more like Sodom and Gomorrah - a land in which workers betray the taxpayers, cheat their employers, embarrass their colleagues, diminish their lovers, and nobody cares.

I find the "additional thrill" line implausible, or at least assumptive of facts not in evidence—unless the editorial writer is testifying.

To be fair, part of the editorial focuses on reports of government workers surfing for porn on the taxpayer dime, which is a legitimate gripe. But then, so is government employees shopping on eBay. And yes, private employers should be able to fire porn addicts without fear of an ADA suit. I've read about one highly-publicized such lawsuit, but is this really a widespread problem?

Beyond that, I fail to see the issue, here. There's plenty of filtering software employers can use to block access to porn if they wish. If an employee's ...



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圓明園的一場歷史債

好文不妨一推再推。

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圓明園的一場歷史債

法國大文豪雨果說:「有一天,兩個強盜闖進了圓明園,一個搶了東西,一個放了火……在歷史面前,這兩個強盜,一個叫英格蘭,一個叫法蘭西」--這幾天為了圓明園大水法西洋樓面前的十二生肖獸首像,一大堆愛國青年個個義憤填膺,指責法國人賣賊贓;一大班所謂法律專家,人人都話要訴諸於法律,取回國寶云云,真的想問一句,我們是否集體時空錯亂了?一百五十年前的咸豐年的事,憑甚麼法律可以取得回呢?

1860 年英法聯軍火燒圓明園,絕對是人類歷史上的一項集體恥辱;不過別忘了,真正對圓明園造成不可修復的結果的,卻是之後那百幾年我們如何「對待」圓明園;即使圓明園避得過英法聯軍,還有以後的無數次災劫在等待,例如 1900 年的八國聯軍入京,例如軍閥混戰那幾年,殘餘的圓明園以及其他清廷遺留下來的古蹟,都大量被搶劫一空,1922 年京畿衛戍總司令王懷慶曾派出數百名工人潛入圓明園,拆下環繞舍衛城的堅固圍牆,更拆除了「鴻慈永祜」的大牆以及巴羅克式建築的磚牆,並將這些材料用作興建自己的達園;京兆伊劉夢庚更強行運走長春園太湖石623大車、綺春園雲片石104大車。到 1924 年,東北軍閥張作霖從圓明園搬走大量漢白玉,運到遼寧去建造自己的墓地;去到日軍侵華佔領北京,去到中共建國後,毛澤東在文革期間毀滅了多少珍貴的國寶文物,就算沒有英法聯軍那一把火,今日圓明園的存活率又有幾多?自己的祖先不爭氣,搞左五千年文化都比唔上人地的蠻夷,最大的羞恥,就係作為中國人自己,可是今天卻從來沒有人談這個,這才是恥辱中的恥辱。

今日的中國人,更加是活在自己幻想--甚至妄想的神話之中,別忘了當年的大清,可是滿洲人的皇朝,而不是漢人的江山;今日大家覺得「理所當然」的民族主義,所謂的中華民族只是一件自我創造的神話,在一百五十年前,只有天朝,而沒有「中國」;只有「大清」,而沒有「中國」,如果說一百五十年的「侵略」應該譴責,那麼二百幾年前的「侵略」--清兵派軍隊入藏,又應該如何評價呢?

一些所謂民族主義教育,天天都譴責「入侵者」、「殖民地」、「帝國主義」,而事實卻是,大清帝國也是帝國,也一樣搞帝國主義,只不過人家的入侵者強力一些,可以跨海去入侵;我們的入侵者和陸地的俄羅斯帝國一樣,只愛向陸地發展,於是漢人的明帝國只有中原的一帶,經歷了異族的「帝國主義」的侵略之後,漢人就佔領了新疆、青海、西藏、蒙古、甚至今日的滿洲東三省,真的要譴責帝國主義,不知道「中國人」是否有特權,只譴責人家,卻不檢討自己呢?

1644 年清兵入關,比起西方的歷史時序來說,不算特別早呀;雖然歐陸還在打三十年戰爭,英格蘭還未「統一」蘇格蘭,但幾年後查理一世就被斬首,克倫威爾成為護國公,鋪平英國的民主議會道路;去到清兵首次派軍入西藏,已經是 1718 年的事,就當由那年開始計算清朝對西藏擁有統治權好了,到 1860 年英法聯軍的時候,還未滿一百五十年,幻想一下當年如果藏人提出,要清廷歸還藏人文物,以及離開西藏領土,還西藏獨立的時候,不知各位「中國人」,是否認為應該要尊重藏人的要求呢?在網上找一下,可以看到很多海外藏人投訴「中國」侵佔藏人文物,特別是毛澤東年代的明搶明燒,文革年代的文化大毀滅,漢人對藏人可有一句道歉?漢人可有譴責過自己是侵略者?漢人可要把各種名目侵佔的藏人文物歸還?

我們漢人之中,可有半個雨果出來譴責自己的暴行?沒有,英法聯軍一個是放火,一個搶劫,我們的大清與中共就和俄帝一樣,實行強迫佔領,佔領完,無論放火搶劫或者殺人,都是理直氣壯的一回事了,對不?

就是嘛,我們都理直氣壯認為二百幾年前侵佔的東西,不用歸還原主,認為那是「歷史」的一部份,今日我們又憑甚麼要求,法國人當年搶劫又轉手的後人,要把鼠首像與兔首像歸還原主呢?何況,人家還開到口,只要中國肯改善人權,或者讓達賴喇嘛回國,都願意免費歸還呢?

西藏是不是中國的一部份?達賴喇嘛是否西藏歷史的活遺產文物?為甚麼大水法的鼠首兔首,這些「小東西」就應該歸還,我們卻把活佛放逐而不歡迎歸國呢?至於改善人權的另一個可能性,真是說出來被人恥笑,當去到廿一世紀,作為「強國」,也是沒有民主人權自由等普世價值的「強國」嘛!

所以這種選擇性的「民族亢奮」,去到外國只可以用來欺騙不識歷史的外國人;越認識中國歷史,越認識中國國情,對於這種「亢奮」只會感到更嘔心--因為原來要成為他們「愛國」的一員,就要埋沒良知,埋沒道理,埋沒地球人的普世價值,反智到不得了。

今日叫法國人歸還圓明園文物,他日人家叫漢人歸還一大堆甚麼,可真的吃不消啊!作為「愛國者」,我寧願面對歷史現實,叫強國用錢買回兩個像吧,既然憤青說得出「餓死法國人」這一句,又常常就要買起美國,用錢買回祖宗恥辱,真的這麼難嗎?就當是保養費好了,如果這些年不是法國人代為保管,留得到今日嗎?

話說回頭,法國人是如何對待被毀文物的呢?當年兩次大戰,法國受到德國入侵不少地方滅頂,結果法國人是一磚一木,一手一腳把被破壞的地方照舊貌重建;反過來,咦?人人說愛國的中國人,為何到今天為止都不進行完整的重建圓明園工程呢?大水法只是西方人來中國建造的「清代潮物」,何況只餘下了獸頭而缺乏人身,完整重建遠比起買幾個獸頭直接得多呀?為何不重建,而要任人漁肉?難道我們的愛中國,只停留在嘴巴上嗎?


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2009年2月24日

The Case for Natural Money

Interesting read. 

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The Case for Natural Money


[An MP3 audio file of this article, read by Floy Lilley, is available for download.]




Studying Jörg Guido Hülsmann's latest book, The Ethics of Money Production, is a vastly enriching experience. After building his case for natural money on the inviolability of an individual's right to his own property, he then shows us how the state has spent the last 400 years usurping this right for the benefit of a privileged few through its protection of fractional-reserve banking.


It is the state's insatiable appetite for revenue, he argues, that is the motivation behind the various monetary schemes it imposes on us, which on an international level begins with the classical gold standard and runs through today's paper-money agreements. Although he doesn't discuss the current economic crisis directly, his observations provide a much-needed correction to government's "do something" approach.


In this essay, I will touch on some of Hülsmann's more salient points, beginning with the origin of money.


Natural Money versus "Forced Money"


We know that in a barter economy the division of labor is primitive because trade is limited by the double coincidence of wants. A carpenter who needs shoes finds a shoemaker who needs a chair, and they enter into a mutually acceptable trade. But trade is also limited by the makeup of the goods themselves — how will the carpenter acquire a small amount of flour with the chair he has built?


Over time, market participants devised better ways to trade. Certain consumer goods were found to be highly marketable and possessed physical characteristics conducive to trade, such as homogeneity, divisibility, and portability, and came to be acquired not for consumption but to serve as media of exchange. Such goods are called money; more than that, they are natural monies because they originated through the voluntary cooperation of acting persons.


The production of natural money is ethical because it involves no violations of property rights and is the corollary of a completely free society in which private property is inviolable. The economy of such a society, Hülsmann tells us, may then be called a "free market," which would likely harbor a variety of natural monies. With this understanding, the claim that the culprit of the current crisis is the free market puts its proponents in the awkward position of having to show causality from something that doesn't exist.


Natural monies come and go; they exist because they satisfy human needs bett...



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Josephus and the Origin of the State

Nations are basically language unions. Again, much to learn from the antiquity. 

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Josephus and the Origin of the State

In rebellion against God, that is. Article by Norman Horn.


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AIG Countdown to Annihilation

Lawyers and law makers, pick you weapons. 

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AIG Countdown to Annihilation

Assuming rumors of AIG's Q4 results are correct -- $60-billion in losses -- we will have on our hands the largest loss in U.S. corporate history. That is, of course, impressive, but it is the downbound trajectory that has me thinking more. The insurance- company-for-the-uninsurable's losses are mounting rapidly, with a doubling period of a little less than a quarter. Assuming that rate holds constant over the next few quarters, here is what we have to look forward to:

aig-counter

The black hole known as AIG will be eating up a trillion dollars a quarter a year from now, and then all of U.S. GDP in the fourth quarter of 2010 (denoted by an "*"). It will then move on to absorb all of global GDP a quarter later (denoted by "**").

The good news: It puts an outer bound on our current problems. If we haven't settled the current crisis by December 2010 then AIG will simply absorb the world and that will be that.

I'm mostly kidding. I think.

[Update] Tyler at Zero Hedge points out this great AIG cartoon over at CR, so I have added it here as well.





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覆蕭若元

難得有賭徒兄的留言
賭徒 提到...

為何你今日所寫的社評同你過往所信的信念是這麼南轅北轍?有人畀左錢你做政府的鎗手嗎?當日你的自由市場理念及大市場小政府去了那裡?你竟然相信政府運用金錢的能力會好過市民?


1. 那個分身家的主張,除非是非常緊貼事時的朋友,怕沒有幾個人會留意得到。不才的那篇蕪文,更想不到有人自行對號入座

2. 不才論政,打從第一天起,便本著「不依賴政府」這個原則去思考。派錢方案,核心還是依賴政府的情緒,不是嗎?

3. 蕭若元拋出了一個稻草人︰「……要那些人解釋一下,為何錢從政府手上到人民手上會變成浪費……」

不才這篇
蕪文,或許寫得不夠分明,不過,重點只有三個︰
(a) 跟政府分身家,表面人人有份,其實對納稅人最不公平。日後,要是政府又再攤大手板,也只會由納稅人去負擔,最終就是一群不事生產的人無端端得到了一筆衰退金多寶。
(b) 一次過的派錢,對市民的消費額影響不大。學術一點,就是Permanent Income Hypothesis
(c) 真正要推動
的是小政府,節省百分之五的經常開支,已經可以省下一百億。天下間最後一個大講,就是政府資源應用效率已經達到了百分百的。節省百分之五,絕對可以在不影響政府正常運作的大前提之下達到。

試問從以上的三點,如何得出那莫名其妙的「
錢從政府手上到人民手上會變成浪費」猜想?

4.
積極不干預的精神︰「小政府」才是我們一直以來的政策主張的目標,「大市場」只是隨之而來的結局。「大市場」不可能夠政府「推動」得來,派錢也不可能推動「大市場」,派錢是本末倒置。

5. 政治的現實就是︰一旦依賴政府成為了政治正確的訴求,撥亂反正便難上加難。分身家的民粹主張,是
政治的毒品,不可一,不可再。向民粹說不,向政治毒品說不。

6. 我預備了做「階級敵人」的心理準備。蕭公子,放馬過來吧!

IBM, The Last Company To Pull Out Of Second Life?

Welcome back to sanity. 

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IBM, The Last Company To Pull Out Of Second Life?

Is IBM (IBM) finally done with Second Life?


Could be: Ian Hughes, IBM's "Metaverse Evangelist" and point man for all things IBM and Second Life, announced today on his personal blog he's leaving IBM to start his own company.


Lots of companies experimented with Second Life marketing presences, but IBM (IBM) went full bore and embraced its tech. We've seen the company:



But we haven't heard much in the past few months, as some of the buzz fades from Second Life and IBM reportedly undergoes thousands of layoffs.


We have calls into IBM PR and Ian himself. But we can't say we'd really be surprised if IBM uses Ian's departure as pretext to quietly back away from its once full-throated backing of Linden Lab's virtual world.

See Also:



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陳冠希就網上藝人不雅照案越洋作供

沒完沒了。

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陳冠希就網上藝人不雅照案越洋作供

被指涉及網上藝人不雅照的陳冠希,在加拿大一個法庭作供。

由於他拒絕返回香港,出席涉案被告史可雋的審訊,他選擇在加拿大卑詩省最高法院越洋作供,他穿著黑色西裝出席。

陳冠希向法官表示,不雅照儲存在筆記簿型電腦內,在搬屋時發現遺失這台電腦,但他強調,並沒有向任何人透露個人密碼。


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Demand As the Most Precious Thing in World

I would say the most precious thing on earth is HOPE. With hope, people start demanding all sorts of goods, hence the machine will work again. 

But hope won't come with wishful thinking. Hope is a heritage. Some nations are particularly hopeless.  So hopeless that their nationals rather hold foreign passports. 

Hong Kong used to be a place of hope, until we all become hopeful of government assistance.  

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Demand As the Most Precious Thing in World

I ran across a comment recently where someone argued that the U.S. had the most precious thing in the economic world: demand. It's an interesting point of view, even if that "asset" is declining quickly.

Other countries must advance by gaining access to the U.S. market via exports, while their own domestic market demand remains moribund. Put differently, even a savings-happy U.S. consumer is far more profligate and more important to the world economy than consumers in most of the rest of the world combined.






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Chris Wood: Gold to $3,500, etc

Looking at the brightside, there is something we can hold onto. 

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Chris Wood: Gold to $3,500, etc

A few folks have sent this, so here you are, Chris Wood from the Japan Forum making the case for immediate U.S. bank nationalization to forestall a crisis worse than Japan's lost decade:

According to Wood, not only will gold more than triple in value by 2010 ("it's the only form of money or credit not contaminated by the credit system" - and the fact it's still money is that central banks still own a lot of it), the global paper currency system will steadily deteriorate, eastern and central Europe will face a full-scale currency collapse - putting huge pressure on western Europe - and the US will be dealing with a deflationary crisis far worse than that which derailed Japan in the 1990s. The only realistic course for the US is radical action to nationalise its most stricken banks and create one big "bad bank" to take on their toxic assets, he warned. Anything short of that will bring about more economic chaos and drag on other economies.

Monday's reports about the proposed semi-nationalisation of Citigroup, with the US government considering a plan to take as much as 40 per cent of the group, represents "continued ad hockery" that would merely worsen the malaise and prolong the life of what would effectively become a zombie bank, Wood said.

To those who warn the US financial system would collapse if such radical measures were announced, Wood says "nonsense". The real problem up to now has been inconsistency of the government's responses - letting Lehman Brothers collapse while saving others. Of course, while bank stocks would "go to zero" under such steps, full nationalisation of troubled banks and a comprehensive restructure - regardless of who and what it wipes out - would ultimately revive equity markets and avoid a "Japan situation", he added.

More here from FT Alphaville.





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歐盟領袖同意規管對沖基金

Hedge funds did not cause the financial tsunami. But they are the most convenient scapegoats. 

Combating tax heavans like HK? They are being imperialistic and socialistic at the same time. 

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歐盟領袖同意規管對沖基金

歐盟領袖在德國首都柏林開會,為4月2日在倫敦召開的20國集團峰會協調立場,各方同意,加強監控金融市場,以及包括對沖基金在內的所有金融產品。

與會領袖達成的多項共識還包括: 制訂機制加強打擊「避稅天堂」及「不合作的」金融中心;銀行應該建立自主緩衝資本以備不時之需;不採取貿易保護主義措施;將國際貨幣基金組織的資金增加一倍,協助陷入財政困境的國家等。

德國總理默克爾和法國總統薩爾科齊在會後舉行的記者會上均強調,歐盟所有成員國都希望二十國集團倫敦峰會取得成功。薩爾科齊說,這是最後的機會,希望重建金融機制。


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當押貸款上限增至十萬

Alternative financing? Interesting. 

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當押貸款上限增至十萬

《2009年當押商條例(修訂附表)令》本周三(2月25日)生效,規定的貸款限額由50,000元提高至10萬元。


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2009年2月23日

十大優秀網站揭曉

Atext, Discuss, Uwant, Facebook, Inmedia 都無份?

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十大優秀網站揭曉

影視及娛樂事務管理處公布在「2008年優秀網站選舉」中,脫穎而出的10個網站,並推薦兩個有關健康飲食習慣,以及為讀寫障礙學生提供網上互動學習遊戲的網站。


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積金局增熱線及人手解答強積金注資查詢

未見錢,先洗錢。

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積金局增熱線及人手解答強積金注資查詢

政府向月入低於一萬元的強積金戶口注資六千元的措施,下個月起會透過受託人,陸續注資到各合資格戶口。

政府預計,初期會有市民查詢,積金局會開設新的熱線以及加派人手回答查詢。

積金局透過工會、地區人士以及區議員,向市民講述注資的安排,以便他們知道是否合資格,積金局呼籲市民,4月仍未收到注款,可以致電查詢,呼籲市民毋須擔心。


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曾德成:推動港粵劇北上演出

所謂的技術問題,是否內容審查?

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曾德成:推動港粵劇北上演出

民政事務局局長曾德成表示,香港粵劇深受廣東觀眾喜愛,香港粵劇界近年前往廣東演出的,也取得可觀的票房收益;北上演出需要解決一些技術問題,但他表示,有政府承諾推動,當可事半功倍。


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2009年2月9日

2009年2月4日

馬路如虎口

商業電台
2009年2月4日 19:00
鄭家富承認超速駕駛被扣3分向公眾致歉


民主黨的立法會議員鄭家富承認,去年八月一次拉票活動後,因為超速二十公里,被警方控以違例駕駛,要扣三分;他說,作為交通事務委員會副主席,違反交通條例,向公眾致歉;他解釋,去年十一月因為律師樓地址更改,收不到運輸署的通知,因此收不到傳票,而被法庭傳召,他會盡快處理事件及承諾以後不會再犯。

東方日報港聞 A19
2008年11月29日
政府縱容700「計時彈」通街走

全港仍有近七百名交通違例被扣滿分、卻因避收傳票而未被停牌的「爆分司機」,當中逾一百人更累積被扣滿卅分或以上,港府最近雖提出修例堵漏洞,但立法會議員批評由現在至法例實施,仍有一段「真空期」,爆分司機如「計時炸彈」通街走,建議港府應採行政措施,即時暫停爆分司機的駕駛執照。但運輸及房屋局局長鄭汝樺指,做法剝奪了司機駕駛權利,牴觸《人權法》,議員指有爆分司機扣分達卅分,批評鄭汝樺太保守。

運輸及房屋局透露,現有約六百九十人因傳票未能送達,即使交通違例被扣滿十五分或以上,仍未遭停牌,其中逾一百人更被扣滿卅分或以上,有兩張傳票或以上未能送達。

立法會交通事務委員會昨討論港府堵塞漏洞的建議,包括以寄出掛號信代替送達傳票、司機不出庭法官可發出逮捕令。議員王國興批評至修例落實前,有關司機仍在駕車,儼如計時炸彈。

爆分司機扣滿卅分或以上

鄭家富亦炮轟修例建議有灰色地帶,部分人「刻意唔收傳票,或收到但係話收唔到」。他又指,有爆分司機被扣滿卅分或以上,反映其駕駛態度好有問題,即使發出逮捕令,被捕前仍可逃之夭夭,認為港府應以行政措施,暫時吊銷有關司機的駕駛執照。(SL Note: 是否扣爆分,是問題的一部份。『刻意唔收傳票,或收到但係話收唔到』也是問題!)有議員則建議,應倣效民事送達傳票的程序,如未能尋獲收傳票者,要刊登報章作公布。

鄭汝樺回應稱,現時大部分被扣滿分的司機已經排期上庭,但承認有部分司機刻意迴避收傳票,情況「唔理想」,但修例前會有行政措施找出有關司機,如司機申請續牌時要提供住址證明,當局又可向房署及入境處取得司機地址等。

稱牴觸人權法被轟保守

她指,司機若被即時吊銷駕駛執照,其所有車牌亦會被停止,對職業司機會帶來重大影響,加上停牌是剝奪其個人駕駛權利,以行政措施暫時吊銷牌照,亦令司機無機會在法庭抗辯,牴觸《人權法》,做法不適合。但鄭家富指有關爆分司機被扣分高達卅分以上,批評鄭汝樺太保守。(SL Note: 只要可以打擊鄭家富深惡痛絕的可惡司機,牴觸《人權法》又算甚麼?)

根據港府數字,去年當局共發出四千四百多張交通違例扣滿十五分的傳票,當中九成一人被法庭停牌,當局指反映大部分司機遵從命令。今年首十個月共十五萬名司機被扣分,五成二涉及超速。

現行有規定司機更改地址後七十二小時內,要通知運輸署,而今年已有六宗違規被罰款四百至五百元的個案。