Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For Queen and Country

Proving that Gordon Brown is as much in love with superficial gestures as his predecessor, the latest daft idea to come out of Britain's New Labour image factory is for teenagers to swear an oath of allegiance to Queen and country. While citizens of more conformist nations such as the USA may enjoy such exercises, I have always regarded it as one of the great benefits of being British that one is free to decide one's own allegiances, including total opposition to the monarchy if one so wishes.

If the British government really wants Britons to be proud of their country, they could start by taking their collective head out of George W. Bush's backside and standing up for traditional British decency against the Bush regime's illegal wars and use of torture and kidnapping.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Don't forget to tune in for tomorrow's exciting episode...

Whenever there is a firework show in Hong Kong, which seems to be about three times a year these days, both local Chinese channels carry it live. No complaints about that - not everyone can get out to see it in person - but why the hell do they need to have several halfwit local presenters sitting there adding an inane unnecessary commentary? Especially as the show is already coordinated with a selection of music which makes a perfectly acceptable soundtrack by itself.

What is there to say about a firework show anyway? Oh look, there'a red one! Now a green one! Now a big bunch of sparkly whirly things! Just shut up and give our ears a rest!

I've had a go at ATV's professionaliusm recently, so it's TVB's turn today. On one of their innumerable Chinese period costume drama series last week, one episode ended with a man picking up a rock and standing over another man lying asleep, evidently with the intention of dropping the rock on him to crush his skull. Cut to credits...

Now the cliffhanger ending is a staple device of drama, from the old cowboy Saturday movie serials to Doctor Who. The idea obviously is to get the audience intrigued enough that they will tune in next time to see what happens to the character left facing imminent doom.

Well, that's the idea everywhere except Hong Kong. So what do TVB do next? Immediately follow up with a trailer for the following episode. An opportunity to ratchet up the drama level further? Well, no - they show the would-be killer changing his mind, dropping the rock on the ground and walking away. So, no need to watch that episode then. Idiots!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Post-Primary Plurality

I caught a brief excerpt on TV yesterday of Hillary Clinton speaking after her apparent comeback in the latest Democratic party primaries (though closer examination of the statistics shows that she has very little chance of beating Barack Obama to the party momination). In it, she said, "...at the end of the day we're going to be the nominee."

I'm puzzled by her use of the plural here. Is that a royal we, I wonder, from one who sometimes appears to see herself as the anointed future Queen of America? Or a "Bill and I" we? Or a "me and my team" we?

The Huffington Post points to a survey showing that either Clinton or Obama could beat John McBush (I call McCain that because he wants to perpetuate many of Bush's mistakes, especially the tragic and illegal war in Iraq), but by winning a different set of states. However, they don't examine the scenario of a joint Obama/Clinton ticket, which cannot be ruled out. After all, as this BBC headline from 27 February - "Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton attack each other's campaign tactics in their latest debate" - suggests, their differences are more over style (and conflicting egos) than policies.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hello My Bai Ling

Another South China Morning Post headline:
Actress Bai Ling fined for disturbing peace
12:15pm Actress Bai Ling, arrested last month on suspicion of shoplifting at Los Angeles International Airport, was fined US$200 (HK$1,557) on Wednesday after pleading guilty to disturbing the peace.

AP has the story here.

I am puzzled by the media's regular use of the word "actress" to describe Bai Ling. Has anyone ever actually seen her act in anything, except a provocative manner designed to draw attention to herself?

Monday, March 03, 2008

What took you so long?

That's the only possible response to this news in today's South China Morning Post:
"Timely rethink on urban renewal strategy
The Urban Renewal Authority is considering giving residents a say in the fate of their old neighbourhoods, rather than dictating a redevelopment plan to them."

One can only hope they apply this to existing projects, not just to future ones, before every last remnant of this city's soul is eradicated.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

All the world's a stage...

After a decade of so-called "reality television", it seems it's no longer possible to tell where the real world ends and showbiz begins. Excite.com has this story listed under "Entertainment News".

Incidentally, how sweet of sleazeball Matt Drudge to expose Prince Harry's presence in Afghanistan, thereby making him a Taliban target. What a nice guy.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Joined Up Government, or does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?

Two recent stories from the South China Morning Post website:

  • 23 February - "Hotel sites likely to be on offer in next land-sale list
    The former home for juveniles in Kowloon Tong and new hotel sites in North Point and Hung Hom were expected to be available on the upcoming land-sale list, government and property industry sources said."
  • 1 March - "Hotel development given priority on land sales list
    Hotel sites will be offered at lower trigger prices than commercial sites in the government's new land application list as a means of encouraging hotel development, the government said yesterday."

Perhaps I'm missing something, but if Hong Kong is so short of hotel rooms, how come we keep seeing perfectly serviceable existing hotels redeveloped for other purposes? Does it make any sense that the system allows the Furama, Hyatt Regency, Ritz Carlton etc. to be decommissioned when there is apparently such a hotel shortage that the government has to give incentives to encourage the building of more? Or am I being too logical?