Friday, July 31, 2009

I had a dream ...

I had a dream last night, no ... I had many dreams last night ... so many that my head continued to spin when I got up this morning. As far as I can remember, all my dreams involved me doing various kinds of exercises like running, swimming and chasing after (and by) a dog or something along those lines. Maybe it is a sign that I should start doing more exercises ... maybe ... let me seriously think about it first over the weekend ...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Q & A (aka Slumdog Millionaire)

I have yet to watch the movie but I really enjoyed the book. It was a surprisingly easy read novel and I literally cannot put it down. It has sparked my interest in learning more about India in general, particularly its culture. I would recommend anyone to read it before watching the movie if you have not done so. Even if you have watched the movie, read it still because I am pretty sure there are slight differences between the two. Time to buy the DVD and watch it !!!

Book Cover obtained from:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Question of Fairness?

Another interesting passage on the topic of fairness. Put your think cap on and start thinking !!

Chapter 10: The Veil of Ignorance

The twenty civilians selected to go and live on the Mars colony were set an unusual task. On the red planet there would be a number of goods, including accommodation, food, drink and luxury items. They had to decide, before they went out, on what basis those goods would be distributed. But crucially, they did not know what the most important task would be on the colony. All the work could be manual, or none of it. It might require great intelligence, it might be better suited to those less in need of mental stimulation.

The first suggestion made was that everything should be shared equally; from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs. But then someone raised an objection. If there was lots of work to be done and someone refused to do their share, wouldn't it be unfair to reward them with an equal slice of the cake? Surely there needed to be an incentive to contribute?

The objection was accepted, but that just seems to lead to more problems. Fairness did not appear to mean the same as giving everyone the same. But what then did it mean?

Source: Chapter 3 of A Theory of Justice by John Rawls (Harvard University Press, 1971)

The Pig that Wants to be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher by Julian Baggini (2005, PLUME). Picture from: Barnes & Nobles

Don't blame me !

Another interesting passage / chapter from the book titled The Pig that Wants to be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher. This one is a special tribute to all my friends in the legal field. Not directly applicable but it certainly made me laugh and at the same time think of its validity in a day-to-day context.

Chapter 34 - Don't blame me

'Mary, Mungo and Midge. You stand accused of a grievous crime. What do you have to say for yourselves?'

'Yes, I did it,' said Mary. 'But it wasn't my fault. I consulted an expert and she told me that was what I ought to do. So don't me me, blame her.'

'I too did it,' said Mungo. 'But it wasn't my fault. I consulted my therapist and she told me that was what I ought to do. SO don't blame me, blame her.'

'I won't deny I did it,' said Midge. 'But it wasn't my fault. I consulted an astrologer and he told me that since Neptune was in Aries, that's what I should have done. So don't blame me, blame him.'

The judge sighed and issues his verdict. 'Since this case is without precedent, I have had to discuss it with my senior colleagues. And I'm afraid to say that your arguments did not persuade them. I sentence you all to the maximum term. But, please remember that I consulted my peers and they told me to deliver this sentence. So don't blame me, blame them.'

Source: Existentialism and Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre (Methuen, 1948)

The Pig that Wants to be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher by Julian Baggini (2005, PLUME). Picture from: Barnes & Nobles

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fair Inequality?

I would like to share an interesting piece I read recently from a booked titled The Pig that Wants to be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher. I wonder how often one would encounter similar situation; my bet is very often.

Chapter 87: Fair Inequality

John and Margaret went shopping to buy Christmas presents for their three sons: Matthew, aged fourteen, Mark, who is twelve, and Luke, ten. The loving parents always tried to treat their children equally. This year, they ha budgeted to spend $100 on each of them.

For once it looked as if their shopping would be trouble free, for they soon found what they were looking for; handheld PlayBoy game consuls at $100 each. Just as they were about to take the three to the checkout, John noticed a special offer. If you bought two of the new, top of the range PlayBoyPlusMax consuls at $150 each, you would get an original PlayBoy free. They could spend the same amount of money and get superior goods.

'We can't do that,' said Margaret. 'That would be unfair, since one of the boys would be getting less than the others.'

'But Margaret,' said John, excited at the thought of borrowing his sons' new toys, 'how can it be unfair? This way none of them get a worse gift than the would have done, and two of them do better. But if we don't take the offer, two of the kids are worse off than they would otherwise be.'

'I want them to be equal,' replied Margaret.

'Even if it means making them worse off?'

Source: A Theory of Justice by John Rawls (Harvard University Press, 1971)

The Pig that Wants to be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher by Julian Baggini (2005, PLUME). Picture from: Barnes & Noble

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Art of Bullshit

Do you like to bullshit? Why do we bullshit? How do we distinguish a lie from a bullshit? The book I just finished reading a book titled On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt attempts to answer the above questions in a philological approach. The following introduction and excerpts are some I found to be rather interesting.

One of the most salient feature of our culture is is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in it ... we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves ...

What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers nor beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its nonrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to.

On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press, 2005.) Picture obtained from: Princeton University Press

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Now Surrender to Hong Kong Public Transportation!

Either I am in a bad luck streak or I am not meant to take public transportation in Hong Kong. The series of MTR incidents and not this? Why? I tell you why right now. During lunch hour, I took the tram from Sheung Wan to Admiralty, a mere 5 mins trip only. I was lucky enough (or in lack of it as you will see) that I got the very first row seat right in front of the huge window. The blowing wind, or "heat waves" I like to call it, is making me sweat so badly, but that was not the worst part of it.

A grumpy old man sitting next to me opened a plastic bag and grabbed a plum out. (the fruit plum) He seemed hungry because he quickly finished one and grabbed another one when the tram was still within the Central area. As soon as he started eating away his second plum, I peeked at the plum because the "label" was still on the skin of the plum. And it was at that moment I realized the plum must be very very juicy and sweet! ... How would I know? Simple, it was because of the plum juice got squirted onto my face and abit onto my lips !!! It was THAT juicy !

What's Next !!!!! I am taking the Ferry from Central to TST this evening, let's see if anything will happen ... sigh ...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Please stand back from the doors ... doo doo doo doo doo

Another MTR story to tell, a depressing story I may add. First, the setting of the story: rush hour, evening hours, Hong Kong station to Kowloon station direction, train fully packed awaiting for departure. As soon as the alert (ie: doo doo doo doo doo) went off, a lady 1000000000 miles away with a huge bag over her shoulder got herself in a "get-set-go" position and sprinted towards the sliding doors, right into where I was standing. Fine! I let her squeeze in as much as possible while the doors were closing. O how great, her huge bag was caught between the two sliding doors.

The sliding doors stopped and remained in the semi-closed / semi-opened position for about 5 - 7 seconds without a single jolt before they resumed operations. It was at this moment when they doors closed that the "100m female sprinter" standing beisde me mumbled the following: "Oooh, are the sliding doors broken?" Gees lady, hellooooooo ... guess who broke them in the first place !?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Better luck next time!

I heard the following conversations between a janitor and a gentleman in the bathroom while taking a leak in a mall this afternoon. (translated on a best effort basis)

Janitor: "Mark Six lottery is so hard to win. FxxK it, so difficult. And the line up is always long whenever I go buy the tickets. FxxK"

Man: "Yes indeed. Maybe try horse racing."

tor: "If my supervisor knows I go buy Mark Six during work hours, I will be fired for sure. Only if I win, then I can just quit and don't care about that son of a b_tch supervisor. FxxK. But my number picks just can't win. Why is that! "

I don't know about you, but I thought the point of lottery is not to be won that easily. Mark Six logo from: HKJC Lotteries Limited

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Where is your Eco-Friendly Bag?

On you way home, you pass by the supermarket, suddenly feel like buying some oranges and a carton of milk. However, you forgot to bring your eco-friendly reusable bag to carry the items and it would cost you HKD 0.50 for each plastic bag ... so what would you do ? Please select one of the following scenarios that best suit you:
  • (i) head back home, find your eco-friendly reusable bag and head back down to the supermarket for the two items you want.
  • (ii) head to the fruits section and milk section, pay the HKD 0.50 per plastic bag surcharge and head home.
My pick would be (ii) without a doubt. Don't get me wrong, I am a big supporter of a greener lifestyle; however, most guys just don't bother to bring or to remember to bring this bag when going out every time. Of course I speak for myself only but I believe I am not far off on this assumption. Ladies have their purses but not all guys would carry a bag or briefcase. Even if they do, the last thing you would find is a spare reusable bag for the purpose of spontaneous grocery shopping. That's just the nature of guys, sometimes cannot be bothered with carrying unnecessary items.

The significance of HKD 0.50 per plastic bag is relative; one may find it too insignificant to be bothered, others may find it unacceptable because it used to be free to grab. The point I am trying to make is that HKD 0.50 per plastic bag is not significant enough in absolute terms to make an impact or detriment to a large percentage of Hong Kong's population, especially to the male population. I personally doubt the effectiveness of this city-wide campaign in the long run but only time will time ... and I do hope I am wrong ...

Picture from:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Beyond Pissed !

I am usually a very tolerant person, overly so according to some. For some odd reasons, maybe due to the heat, the lack of sleep or plain old mood swing, I was pissed by what happened during my MTR ride during evening rush hour tonight. It was something a lady did or the lack of that pissed me. Although the act (or lack of it) was not directed at me, I was pissed.

During the evening rush hour at the Admiralty station, the moment when I enter the train (or more accurately, being pushed into the train), there was this middle-aged lady leaning against the pole with her ever so large and thick back! It was rush hour lady, where am I going to put my hands when you have your back all over the pole? Should I hold your arm or neck instead? I stared right into her eyes along with a few others standing around the pole, but of course the lady did not twitch a single bit because she closed her eyes soon after our stares.

Seriously, I consider such an act worst than not giving seats to elders or pregnant women. The world selfish is an understatement in this case, it is beyond that. The incident of Mr. Pole Humper a month ago was just plain weird and sad, this lady is beyond that ... I am just speechless ...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Call for Love 爱情呼叫转移

The first time I saw this movie was on TV but I only watched the second half of it. Being a curious person, I cannot stand not knowing what happened in the first half of the movie. Therefore, I began my quest in search for this movie. The quest lasted 2 whole months but it was worth it.

The movie talks about a 30 something years old man who filed for divorce because he was bored with the 7 years marriage and has somewhat lost his belief in love. By chance, he obtained a "magical" remote that allows him to have 12 different love encounters with 12 beautiful girls of different age, background and social status. Obviously, each of the 12 girls have a different personalities and their own expectation / requirements for their second half. I believe that the intention of the directors or the plot of the movie is to use the 12 love encounters to depict / illustrate how the rapid economic development and social advancement in China over the past few decades have changed (or remained unchanged) the Chinese's mentalities towards love and marriage, especially in female's perspective. Sometimes men have no clue what they really want as well. By way of examples, the following are some topics covered among the 12 love encounters:
  • (1) So you are divorced without kids? That's alright, you are fertile right?
  • (2) How many flats do you own? with mortgage?
  • (3) I don't care, I just want some exciting and memorable love !!
This movie is by no means an Oscar material but it is an entertaining movie that one might find familiar because of the parallels they can draw from their own experiences. Many of the female actresses are rising stars in China as well. I think they came out with Call for Love 2 recently with an even larger cast, let me start my quest once again !

Picture from: Wikipedia