Friday, May 30, 2008

【慾望城市】电影 / "Sex and the City" the movie

Okay guys, I know most of you will think "Sex and the City - the movie" is just an unbearably long version of the chick flick on TV. I mean how many men can stand 148 minutes of Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte talking about their shoes, relationships with men (older and younger boyfriends, "married" husbands and those in circulation), careers, shoes (did I say that already?), biological clock, fertility anxiety, miscarriages, marriages, divorces, and of course sex.

I mean, before the girls can toast with their Cosmos cocktail and reminisce about the ups and downs of their thirty-something lives, most men will have already switched to Spike TV watching the "Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)" in which Iceman Chuck Liddell will be heard dishing out trash talk to bad guy Rampage Jackson (Wow!! What a name!).

I suppose if manhood is measured by how much blood and sweat are spilled by two guys bashing each other out inside the Octagon cage, then womanhood can be measured by how much laughter and tears are shared among friends wearing expensive clothes and high-heels. So, I don't think most men will be offended if the girls decide to say "No boys allowed" and have a night out by themselves to one of the 77 local locations that will premier the movie tonight. After all, the boys can always watch UFC with their buddies and cheer for Iceman in between bouts of beer.

Cosmos, anyone?

攝影图片Photo Credit:
* "Sex and the City" Fashion Gallery
* "The Iceman Cometh" from Spike TV

安德烈•波伽利之 Andrea Bocelli Singing Romanza at the Tuscany Concert

Enjoy !!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

【告别时刻】 安德烈·波伽利之 和 莎拉·布莱特曼 合唱 (義大利文版) / "Con te partirò" "Time to Say Goodbye" by Sara Brightman & Andrea Bocelli (in Italian)

I was not able to download from YouTube the video clip recorded in Tuscany. Instead, the one posted was presented in Italian at another location.

義大利歌詞 / Lyrics in Italian (source:

Quando sono sola
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole,
si lo so che non c'e luce
in una stanza quando manca il sole,
se non ci sei tu con me, con me.
Su le finestre
mostra a tutti il mio cuore
che hai accesso,
chiudi dentro me
la luce che
hai incontrato per strada.

Time to say goodbye.
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te,
adesso si li vivro.
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono piu,
it's time to say goodbye.

Quando sei lontana
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole,
e io si lo so
che sei con me, con me,
tu mia luna tu sei qui con me,
mio sole tu sei qui con me,
con me, con me, con me.

Time to say goodbye.
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te,
adesso si li vivro.
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono piu.

con te io li rivivro.
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono piu,
con te io li rivivro.
Con te partiro

Io con te

Time To Say Goodbye

【告别时刻】/ Con te partirò / Time to Say Goodbye

Updated news: (1) As of May 29 2008, you may also hear the audio clip from 新鮮人's blog at (2) Please see my more recent blog article posted after the video clip.

Original article:

【告别时刻】 安德烈·波伽利之 和 莎拉·布莱特曼 在義大利《托斯坎尼之夜》合唱
"Time to Say Goodbye" by Sara Brightman & Andrea Bocelli in Tuscany Italy

歌詞 / Lyrics (source:

Quando sono sola
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole,
si lo so che non c'e luce
in una stanza quando manca il sole,
se non ci sei tu con me, con me.
Su le finestre
mostra a tutti il mio cuore
che hai accesso,
chiudi dentro me
la luce che
hai incontrato per strada.

Time to say goodbye.
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te,
adesso si li vivro.
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono piu,
it's time to say goodbye.

Quando sei lontana
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole,
e io si lo so
che sei con me, con me,
tu mia luna tu sei qui con me,
mio sole tu sei qui con me,
con me, con me, con me.

Time to say goodbye.
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te,
adesso si li vivro.
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono piu.

con te io li rivivro.
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono piu,
con te io li rivivro.
Con te partiro

Io con te.

* YouTube:
* Wikipedia "... Con te partirò è una canzone scritta da Francesco Sartori e da Lucio Quarantotto. È stata cantata da Andrea Bocelli al Festival di Sanremo 1995, e poi inclusa nel suo album. ..."
* Wikipedia

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

第十個馬拉松賽跑 - 48小時後 (受傷之分析) / My 10th Running Marathon - 48 Hours Later (Diagnosis of injury)

San Wen Ji's comment regarding my running injury had piqued my interest (in a positive sense) to find out more. So, I went to the YMCA/YWCA gym the day after the running marathon and tried to determine exactly which part of my "bod" was injured. I did my stretching exercises, went thru a circuit of weight-training machines, eliminated joints and muscles that did not hurt, and narrowed down the possibilities to the following three causes:
* Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band Syndrome or ITBS)
* Hip flexor strain
* Execessive pronation

Given that the over-pronation of my left foot has been compensated with my stability running shoes, and that my gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles are in good shape, I concluded that the IT Band is the main contributor of my running injury. This was supported by the tightness of my left IT Band when I was doing my stretching exercises (see photograph posted). I am also glad to report that 48 hours after the run, my discomfort has mostly subsided.

(攝影图片 Photo Credit:



Extract from Brooks' "Hip Pain" article

***** Self diagnosis is not for everyone. When in doubt, please seek professional advice *****

* Pain along the lateral (outside) of the hip
* Pain when ascending stairs and/or getting up from a seated position
* Pain associated with standing for long periods or for sitting for extended periods
* May have trouble sleeping
* May have limited range of motion of the hip

* Iliotibial Band Syndrome: An inflammation where the band rubs across the distal (lower portion) lateral femur. Pain is felt along the outer side of the hip and also possibly the knee.
* Trochanteric Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa along the outside of the hip. Mechanical imbalance in the lower extremity due to poor foot mechanics.
* Piriformis Syndrome: A spasm or tightness of the piriformis muscle in the buttocks that can irritate the sciatic nerve or impinge the sciatic nerve. May be caused by poor mechanics of the foot and lower extremity.
* Hamstring Strain: A muscle imbalance or overload of the hamstring muscle which strains the muscle. Pain is located either in the buttocks or in the "belly" of the muscle in the back of the thigh. May feel tear or pop in severe cases
* Hip Flexor Strain: Overload or overuse of the muscle in front of thigh and hip such as climbing stairs, marching or uphill running. There may be a limp and shortened stride. Mechanical imbalance in lower extremity.
* Excessive Pronation: Pronation (a flattening of the arch) is a normal movement of the foot that helps the body to absorb shock and to adapt to different ground surfaces. In analyzing ones gait, first contact is on the heel and outside of the foot; followed by a shift of body weight continuing forward, toward the arch and toes. If the foot is weak or tired and/or the footwear is not supportive, then the arch can flatten more than normal, which is excessive pronation. If the pronation becomes excessive, there is increased rotation of the leg, knee, thigh and hip, causing added stresses to the joint. Flattening of the arch too much (excessive pronation) places pressure on the arch, and on up the chain including the ankle, knee and hip.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

第十個馬拉松賽跑 - 12小時後 / My 10th Running Marathon - 12 Hours Later

I am pooped !!!

After the running marathon, I went back home, took a shower, headed to bed, and was comatose for the next five hours. The good news is that the pains incurred are all recoverable. I will be stiff for the next day or so but after that I will be as good as new. I will tell you more abt the race and will respond to some of your previous comments on other blog articles.

Meanwhile, I have to catch some snooZZZZZZe !!!

Photo 攝影相片: While resting in the recovery area, I took this picture of the Canadian Army participants who had just finished their half-marathon (21.1 km) with their full gears on (army boots, fatigues, and 20 kg backpacks). They are in good shape !!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

第十個馬拉松賽跑前夕 / My 10th Running Marathon Coming Up, or NOT



Friday, May 23, 2008

加拿大男人重振雄風 / Canadian Men Doing their Manly things

加拿大联合通讯社(Canadian Press加联社)最近向一千個男仕查詢,問及他們的飲食和健康狀况,以下是報告擇錄:

1. 在日常飲食方面,男仕們都開始向女界看齊,76%說他們減吃肥膩、脂肪高的食物,67%会增加攝取纖維質含量,63%限制鹽份,57%很留意很飲食納入的卡路里(calories熱量單位〕。似乎,加拿大男仕是知道有節制的飲食習慣,对身形和身体都很有幫助。
2. 為了保持健康身裁,很多女性都喜欢做瑜伽運動,減少食肉和多吃疏果等素菜。但是,96%的加拿大男人仍是会繼續吃肉類,他們不介意多吃些有机食物(organic foods),但是不会完全轉變為素食者(vegetarians)。98%男人对瑜伽沒有興趣,他們可能覺得那是「女人」運動。
3. 報告說愈來愈多男人購買「重振雄風」的鼓舞性葯物(Chinese pun intended = :-),由其是五十歲以上的男人,14%說是常使用這令他們感到自傲的化學品。但那些年青男仕呢?他們血氣方剛,不需要葯物,但大約53%的少男(25歲以下),是会經常使用科隆香水(cologne)和剃鬍花露水(after shave)來顯示自己。


筆者按: 但女性在男性偶像(如图示)和巧克力(chocolate)之間的快擇,又会是怎樣呢?

(Reference: Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press 18/05/2008 4:55:00 pm Toronto)

(攝影图片Photo Credit: )

Thursday, May 22, 2008

刘芳 - 可在 Rhapsody 処試聽音樂 / Liu Fang - Play List Posted from Rhapsody

Liu Fang: "1. The Great Wave Washes The Beach - Liu Fang
2. Flying Snow Decorating The Green - Liu Fang
3. Melody From A Bamboo House - Liu Fang
4. The Love Of The River - Liu Fang
5. The Dance Of The Yi People - Liu Fang
6. Spring Rain - Liu Fang
7. The Romance Of The Red River Valley - Liu Fang
8. The Moon Is High - Liu Fang
9. The Flower Festival - Liu Fang"

Clarification re Last Blog Article

Please note I don't smoke, nor do I have a Blackberry. So, don't worry. Your comments abt the character(s) in the last blog article will not offend me.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

【穿開襠褲的小孩】/ Toddler with the Bottomless Pants






(也請閱讀: Xiao Zhu Lai le 的【生命】和心空海嶽The Inner Space 的【漫步人生路】)

++++++++ UPDATED 20141026 ++++++++

References: The following is found since I last wrote my article in 2008
* Kaidangku or Open-crotch pants: Wikipedia
* 開襠褲: Wikipedia

華裔音樂家刘芳的琵琶和古筝演奏 (首篇) / Chinese Traditional Musical Instruments - Pipa and Guzheng by Liu Fang


Reference: The posted video and the following info are from YouTube

This is a dramatic piece from the Chinese traditional pipa repertoire called "The Ambush From All Sides"(十面埋伏) performed by Liu Fang (劉芳)during a solo recital in the Pierre-Mercurre Hall of the Centre Pierre-Peladeau in Montreal on March 27, 2002. It was recorded by Mr. Zhou Fan of Montreal Multi-cultural TV, Chinese channel.

With its highly virtuoso programmatic effects and tremendous power, this piece is regarded as the most representative of the "martial repertoire" of classical pipa solo. It describes the glorious victory of Liu Bang over Xiang Yu in 202 BC. It follows the same theme as "The King doffs his Armor", however, from a totally different view point. There is no information about the composer, but some researches indicate that this piece might be dated back as early as the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-917AD).

刘芳 - 中國琵琶和古筝演奏家 (簡介) / Liu Fang - Soloist of Pipa and Quzheng (Bio)

Source of information:

現居加拿大蒙特利爾市(Montreal)的劉芳1974年生于云南昆明,六歲開始學習琵琶,師從琵琶演奏家、作曲家曾慶蓉女士。九歲時首次公演,并開始在各种青少年琵琶比賽中不斷獲獎,同時也多次參加同各种文藝團体合作的演出活動,被喻為 "在鮮花和掌聲中長大"。1985年,英國女王伊麗莎白訪問中國時,十一歲的劉芳曾為女王陛下演奏琵琶。劉芳多次獲得云南省少年樂器比賽一等獎,并于1988年獲全國青少年民族器樂比賽二等獎(琵琶組一等獎)。一年后考入上海音樂學院民樂系,學習琵琶和古箏。1993年自上海音樂學院畢業后回到昆明,在市歌舞團擔任獨奏演員。1996年移居加拿大以來,劉芳每年定期在歐洲國家巡回演出,活躍于歐美的音樂舞台上,并參加各种藝術節,每年舉行近百場音樂會,包括個人獨奏及与其他音樂家和樂隊合作,得到了專家和听眾极高的贊譽。
在為數眾多、遍及南、北美和歐洲的獨奏音樂會、協奏音樂會及音樂節演出中,劉芳曾經首演了加拿大著名作曲家穆雷 夏法爾(R. Murray Schafer)和梅麗莎 蕙(Melissa Hui)創作的新作品。最近她剛剛在夏法爾所作音樂劇《鳳凰宮》(The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix)的世界首演中亮相,其間的琵琶獨奏和古箏獨奏精彩紛呈。她還与來自印度,日本,敘利亞,越南的傳統音樂大師進行合作。1999年,她与布拉格莫拉維亞交響管弦樂團(Moravia Symphony Orechestra)合作演奏了兩部琵琶与管弦樂隊協奏曲。最近,她同蒙特利爾的新現代樂團(Nouvelle Ensemble Moderne)及SMCQ、魁北克的艾爾肯弦樂四重奏(Alcan String Quartet),意大利威尼斯保羅 克利四重奏(Quartetto Paul Klee di Venezia)進行了合作演出。劉芳還在大量的國家和國際廣播錄音及電視節目中現身,為電影配樂,并錄制了五張CD。不久她將在法國青年音樂節(Jeunesses Musicales de France)(2003年11月)以及加拿大東岸首演(Atlantic Debut)(2004年2月)活動中進行巡回獨奏演出。

劉芳的多場音樂會被加拿大和法國國家廣播電台錄音并在全國播放。她被法文周刊<時報>(L'Actualite,2001)譽為 "琵琶皇后" 和 "最偉大的琵琶演奏家之一"。蒙城法語日報(La Presse,2002)認為 "劉芳無疑是琵琶藝術在歐美最偉大的使者"。劉芳的藝術成就得到了加拿大國家藝術委員會(Canada Council for the Arts)的高度贊賞和大力支持。在最近几年內,劉芳兩次獲得加拿大國家藝術委員會頒發的藝術家個人成就獎,并多次得到各种贊助。2001年6月5日,劉芳榮獲加拿大國家藝術委員會頒發的 "青年藝術家千禧獎"(Future Generations Millennium Prize)。評審委員會認為: "劉芳作為年輕而富有天才的中國傳統音樂演繹者,她在琵琶和古箏方面的高超造詣為她樹立了國際聲譽。她期望將自己有關東方傳統的知識和實踐与西方古典音樂、現代音樂、即興創作相結合,創造嶄新的音樂形式,聯結不同的文化,發掘新的听眾。"

琵琶協奏曲 - 琵琶與樂隊 - 音樂網上試聽

華裔音樂家刘芳的琵琶和古筝演奏 (完) / Chinese Traditional Musical Instruments - Pipa and Guzheng by Liu Fang (F

Information from YouTube 廣陵散Guangling San

This is a famous ancient guqin tune 廣陵散 "Guangling San" transcribed by Wang Changyuan (王昌元) for guzheng 古筝 solo.
Liu Fang performed this piece during the concert at City Theater of Paris on May 8, 2006. The original guqin solo was composed by the renowned scholar and guqin master, Ji Kang, one of the "seven gentlemen in the bamboo forest" in the Wei period (3rd century).

about the music:

The original guqin solo was composed by the renowned scholar and guqin master, Ji Kang, one of the "seven gentlemen in the bamboo forest" in the Wei period (3rd century). It is said to recount a story in the epoch of the Warring States (around 3rd century B.C.) about Nie Zheng assassinating the King of the Han Kingdom to avenge the murder of his father. The entire piece is filled with overpowering momentum; the style is unique, expressing deep feelings with intense fight scenes. According to history, the composer, Ji Kang, who refused to serve the tyrant emperor Sima, was persecuted and finally killed by the order of the Emperor. Ji Kang performed this tune for his friends and faithful students on the site just before he was executed.

華裔音樂家刘芳的琵琶和古筝演奏 (續) / Chinese Traditional Musical Instruments - Pipa and Guzheng by Liu Fang (C

Reference: YouTube 霸王卸甲 King Chu dropped off his armor

It's very emotional and powerful playing - a pipa solo style par excellence, by the internationally acclaimed pipa virtuoso Liu Fang -

The title of this classical master piece
is "King Chu doffs his armour" (Ba Wang Xie Jia), from traditional repertoire for pipa solo. It describes a tragic event around 202 BC (see for more information and a video of higher resolution.

The pipa has only four strings, and is referred to as Chinese lute or guitar, though the playing techniques are quite different.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

天災: 中國四川大地震之後需回首分析 / Natural Disaster: Post-mortem analysis needed after the 2008 Earthquake in Sichuan Province, China


Thursday, May 15, 2008

患難見真情 / A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed


1. 由於中國对這天災報導是採取開放和不管制政策,所以這边媒体能夠即時轉播和登出图文,令加拿大巿民知道和明白災情。
2. 很多人(包括我在內)看到那些父母痛苦悲哀的面孔,怎会不能心酸,如我上一篇說,不論地理政治的分別,正常的人總是有同情心的啊!!
3. 在網上間中会有一兩個極端的說:『既然中國自耀是富有的強囯,我們就不要給她任何幫助。』最差的一個竟然冷冷地說:『中國人口密度高,地震死一萬人,就等於我們小鎮車禍死一人,相对來說,有什么大件事?』但這些偏激的言論一經登出,立刻就被加拿大自己國人口誅筆伐,認為這種反应是冷血無良,不代表楓葉囯公民的價值覌,而這小撮極端份子就不佩自稱為加拿大人。
4. 媒体都希望中囯軍丶警丶市民能夠掘出被埋的生還者,和安撫失去家庭成員的災民。加拿大總理和外交部亦表示会儘力幫忙中囯救災。


(攝影图片: Seismometer 地震儀

Responses to your comments with thanks !!!

新鮮人, Ruth, Keith, Xiao Zhu, and C.M.:

I have responded to all your comments to my May 2008 articles. I really appreciate your visits and input !!!

Thx !!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

家庭倫理: 以強凌弱 / Bullying in the family

Often, we think bullying happens only in schoolyards and do not recognize that the perpetrators could be family members, be they parents, siblings, spouses, sons/daughters, etc. The traditional Chinese way of dealing with family conflicts is: "Oh, they are your family after all. They love you. Make amends. Blood is thicker than water." I would submit that if this works, fine. If nothing happens, perhaps a new approach is needed. Here are some thoughts:

Bullying is very much a power play. The new theory to stop being bullied is to let the person know clearly what are negotiable and what are not. Make the person know where you draw the line, beyond which you WILL NOT be pushed around and give in. In another word, a bully will keep pushing if there is no line drawn, and no clear understanding of the possible consequences (not to say you should make threats but one must be firm by expressing where one stands in a consistent and calm manner).

Generally speaking, we can end an "outside" relationship more easily and permanently than the one with our family members. However, there are no rules (other than those bounded by tradition) to say that a relationship cannot be adjusted when it is causing more harm than good. We do not live in a Walt Disney World in which "Everyone lives happily thereafter!!". Not all relationships have to be ideally "close". There are bonds between atoms. But when two atoms are too close, a heated nuclear reaction may occur. It is therefore up to the individuals concerned to find the optimal and healthy/tolerable distance. The objective is to stop the bullying so that no further harm will be incurred.

Bullying is not an easy subject to deal with, especially when it happens between family members. Emotions and expectations often blind our eyes and bind our hands to the extent that victims of bullying do not see a way out. Sometimes, it is better to walk away from a relationship and let things cool for a while. It will also give people time to heal and redefine the nature of a (sustainable) relationship. As they say: "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it is yours. If it doesn't, it never was."

It is your decision to make.

(Applicability: This article applies to bullying situations involving adults. Where unlawful, abusive activities are suspected or when minors are implicated, the readers should seek advice from professional counselors and/or legal authorities immediately.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

天災: 中國四川大地震/ Natural Disaster: Earthquake struck Sichuan Province, China

It was heart wrenching watching the Chinese parents moaning for their dead and missing children, victims of the earthquake that struck Sichuan Province, China. The front-page of our local newspaper shows a woman trapped under a collapsed building, pleading for help. Despite geo-political differences, when people in other parts of the world face calamity, we all react and feel for the victims. After all, we are only human.






當地官員表示,汶川縣映秀鎮、臥龍特別行政區、三江鄉、漩口鎮等地約6萬人自地震發生以來與外界無任何聯繫。地震造成四川、甘肅、陜西、重慶、雲南、山西、貴州、湖北8省市,倒塌房屋50餘萬間 。

Monday, May 12, 2008

Comments acknowledged

新鮮人, Ruth, Keith and Xiao Zhu: Thank you for your comments which I just read !!! I will respond to them after getting a good night sleep zzzzzz !!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

加拿大母親節2008年5月11日/ Mother's Day in Canada May 11, 2008

中西合璧,慶祝加拿大母親節 !!!

Photograph: "I Love Mom" + A Colorful Flower Arrangement (orchids)

攝影圖片: 『我愛母親』和 五彩的插花藝術 (蘭花)

迴文詩 / Palindrome Writing

維基百科: 『... 回文,亦稱迴文、回環,是正讀反讀都能讀通的句子 ... 運用得當,可以表現兩種事物或現象相互依靠或排斥的關係。』

上数天在【Xiao Zhu Lai Le】処留了一首廻文詩,是回应她寫的【感悟】一篇文章,詩中部份語句是取材自她的原稿丶和評語,再加上我個人的想像力,無中生有,舞文弄墨,很快地完成了以下一正一負的迴文詩。

(一) 感悟

俠女懷寬心, 笑言無恨怨,

前簷滴寒露, 過雨助花紅。

黃蓮知心苦, 苦情訢知心,

鎖眉愁滴淚, 泣低感悟澄。

(二) 悟感

心寬懷女俠, 怨恨無言笑,

露寒滴簷前, 紅花助雨過。

心知訢情苦, 苦心知蓮黃,

淚滴愁眉鎖, 澄悟感低泣。



以下是「小豬」的原稿和評語: (請往此閱讀: )


























Saturday, May 10, 2008

歸化國籍公民 / Hyphenated Citizens

Microsoft Office Word / Online Bilingual Dictionary: Hyphenated.- (美國〕(公民)歸化的;關於歸化的美國公民的〔因歸化的美國公民常被稱為 German-Americans, Irish-Americans 等,原國籍與“美籍”之間用連字型大小連接,用時含有貶意〕。

The issue of "hyphenated citizens" became a topic of discussion in the political arena in 2005 when Ms. Hazel Blears, a senior minister in the Home Office of then Tony Blair’s government, proposed that the United Kingdom should officially identify those citizens whose ancestry is not British even though they might have been born and raised in the UK. The knee-jerk reaction was a response to the deadly subway and bus attacks by home-grown terrorists who are UK citizens but are apparently not "British" (Reference 1).

The proposal essentially would have attached official ethnic labels to UK's visible minorities, thereby creating a sub-class of citizens who are apparently not "laine pur" (pure blood) in the eyes of Ms. Blears. The controversial proposal also brings back unpleasant memories of:

(a) The colonial policy of the pre-1997 Hong Kong Government that considered Chinese holders of British passports second-class citizens; and,

(b) The use of the Star of David by the Nazis on Jews and their properties during World War II.

I think a government policy is on a slippery slope when there is an official requirement to attach ethnic labels to the identification documents of a sector of the society

I respect the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and am supportive of Canada's diversity policy (Reference 2). At the same time, I also believe that inclusiveness is very important to bring about social cohesion in the post-911 world (Reference 3) and would submit that any official ethnic labeling of a society's members may do more harm than good to the country in general and the targeted communities in particular. And, for the record, my Canadian passport does not show a hyphenated nationality.

Reference 1: Weinreb, Arthur. Associate Editor, Canada Free Press. "Ethnic labeling - a step backwards" August 11, 2005

Reference 2: Government of Canada/PCH. "Canadian Multiculturalism Act 1985"

Reference 3: United Nations. "UNESCO's Urban Development Program / Inclusiveness, Social cohesion and Local Democracy"

Friday, May 09, 2008

对C.M.【論民主中國的先決條件】之回应 / My Comments to C.M.s "Pre-conditions for China's Democratization"

The following are the comments I provided to fellow blogger C.M., author of "Inhuman Resources", concerning his series on 【論民主中國的先決條件】. For those who are interested in the topic, I would strongly encourage you to pay a visit to C.M.'s site (click on the highlighted words below).

While I do not necessarily agree with all of C.M.'s argurements and positions, I do find it encouraging that the topic is being discussed in the first place and that we are able to agree to disagree in a most civilized manner.


My comments posted on C.M.'s 【論民主中國的先決條件之 (6)】

I spent the last hour reviewing your articles, from 【車仔話】 dated March 25th, to 【論民主中國的先決條件 (6)】 dated April 20th. Here are my comments:

1. You have chosen "mobility" as your "entry point" to assess the feasibility and readiness of implementing "democracy" in China. Moreover, you intend to demonstrate that "mobility" is the pre-condition for such implementation. Unfortunately, you had deliberately left out the definition of "democracy" that is after all the subject of the discussion. (Reference: Your April 11th comments at the end of 【論民主中國的先決條件 (4)】: "... 我覺得“民主”這兩字,對於眾人的分歧實在不少,所以寧願留白,讓人各取所需。") In response to VC's question "... 你打算定義甚麼是民主嗎?", you provided the following: "... 小弟一直在這裡寫的“民主”,採用了一個比較狹隘的定義,大致是:是否“人民”選出(例如通過投票直選)。" But then in subsequent articles, you seemed to have broadened the definition of democracy beyond 「民主制度」(which is a process/model/system) to 「人民作主」(which is a principle). As reader, I find it difficult to follow a discussion with a moving target.

2. I actually don't understand why you have chosen "mobility" as the entry point to your discussion. As I read on, I am not sure whether you have convinced me that mobility is a pre-condition. It reminds me of my mother telling me to play basketball so I would grow tall; as opposed to the fact that tall people are chosen to play professional basketball. For me, there seems to be a difference of opinions on cause and effect. I would think that the opening up of China's economy is the main cause or driver of people's social, economic and geographical mobility. As VC pointed out: "... 印度證明了你的先決條件並不必要! .."

3. I would agree the use of India as a model is a good one because as developing countries China and India have many things in common. I also applaud you effort to point out that there are huge social-cultural differences that renders a direct application of the India democracy to China impractical. But that's as far as I would go. I do not believe that one can therefore jump to the conclusion and declare "... 在我有生之年,印度,絕不能取得經濟強國的稱號 ...". I would also submit that Nepal is only of passing interest and that there is little applicable resemblance to present-day China.

4. The articles seem to imply that there is only one kind of western democracy. Nothing can be further from the truth !!! There are many forms and models of democracy around the world. (Reference: Associated with each democracy model are specific features and characteristics. Only by examining the models and considering the ones that might be suitable can you then speculate on the pre-conditions; the necessary but not sufficient conditions; and the winning conditions; etc.

5. There are no rules that say a country cannot customize its own forms of governance out of the existing models. There is also nothing that stipulates a timeframe or ideal pace for democratization, if at all some might add. While some countries believe democracy is an end that justifies all means to achieve it, others consider it only as a mean to an end. I would suggest that each country should do its own need assessment; SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis; cost-benefit analysis; as well as risk assessment and risk management; etc before jumping head first into making hasty changes (unless time is of the essence).

6. Finally, there are indeed many factors that are unique to China and they should be taken into consideration as factors for or against making any changes. They should all be listed as opposed to dealing with them on a piece-meal basis. Thank you for your essay and I look forward to reading more !!!

(Please note C.M.'s responses to my comments are also posted on his site

Thursday, May 08, 2008

奥运火炬登顶世界之巅珠峰 / Olympic Torch Summits Everest May 8 2008

As an ex rock and ice climber, I am pleased to learn that the Olympic Torch team safely reached the roof of the world on Thursday. Summiting Mount Everest is no small feat even on a good day. Climbers have to be technically competent and in top shape in order to survive the oxygen-thin dead zone above 8000 metres and to complete the descent as well. In addition to weather, other factors such as acclimatization, body-mass depletion, logistics, equipment etc, are all part of the Russian roulette game of high altitude climbing. There are few "sports" that claim the life of one out of every ten players who willingly tie their lives onto the sharp end of the rope, so to speak.

So, why does anyone in his/her right mind would want to put him/herself in such risky situations? Why do people climb mountains? Is it a philosophical directive - as Mallory's famous response said "Because it is there!", or is it because climbers have rocks in their heads (pun intended) ??!!

For me (I have never climbed Everest and will never do in this life time), the call of nature is always there. There is something to be said about responding to a primal urge to merge and be part of nature, even if it means death (not that I am looking for it). This natural instinct (along with raising children and/or pets and turning your garden back into a forest), coupled with the challenges of pushing one's technical, physical and mental limits to survive in adverse conditions, provide the imperative to train for and to participate in such a dangerous sport.

Without making it sounds like I am advocating for the devil, I would like to point out the fine difference between the increasingly popular ultimate adventures (as seen in reality TV) and the sport of rock/ice climbing in mountains. In the former, participants are usually asked to carry out certain activities in an urban or a wilderness journey but they always have some levels of external monitoring and support, including evacuation and rescues. However, in mountaineering (with the exception of high profile expeditions such as the Olympic torch up Everest), you are pretty well on your own. Having accepted the "subjective danger" of participating in a risky sport, you will now be at the mercy of "objective dangers" which might include avalanche, slides, blizzards, hand-holds coming loose, falling rocks, and other uncontrollable risks. You survival depends very much on your assessment and management of these risks, including the decision to turn back. Even with the advance of communication technologies, such as satellite phone (regular wireless devices do not work deep in the mountain), it will still take time for rescuers to mobilize, locate, reach, and extract mountaineering victims from remote locations. For example, one of my colleagues fell while climbing Mount Temple and it took his partner almost two days to climb out to get help. By the time rescuers arrived, he had already died of exposure.

So, it is from the perspective of an ex-climber that I feel happy about the success of the Olympic torch team and the feat of achieving the goal of reaching the summit without any loss of life.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

東西文化思想衝突 / Cultural Differences


1. 很多時我說話就缺乏香港人的「婉轉」,我以為是開門見山,打開天窗說亮話,但对方則可能會感到我是拙拙迫人,不留面子,不留餘地。

2. 我注重談論事情的內容丶和消息資料的凖确性,每事都要經過「客覌」分析,之後才作一個主覌的結論。但似乎香港的個人獨立思想是很受群众思想影響,「意見」經過大众肯定後就可以變成不可否認丶鐵一般的「事實」,或甚至是無可推翻的「基本原則」。或許那就是個人主义(individualism)和集体主义(collectivism)的分別罷。

3. 楓葉國式的幽默丶戲弄丶取笑,很多時会被誤解為不尊敬或「兒戲」。但我也佷明白,這問題在北美社会之內也會因宗教丶階層丶教育及其它不同背景因素(social stratification)而發生。

4. 詢問他人意見之時,我很難分辨究竟对方是真的沒有意見,還是禮貌上的沒有意見。我問一句簡單的:『今晚出亍吃晚歺,還是在家煑食?』答曰:『是旦喇,乜都無所謂。』這是一個沒有答覆的答覆,令發問者感到無所適從。

5. 在歺館埋單結数之時,对方会說:『等我請啦!!!』那究竟是誠意的慷慨,還是禮貌上的回答?我又要不要回一句『唔好,我請啦!!!』演出循例式推推讓讓的活劇?

我不是針对或批評香港的親戚朋友,因為各地風土習俗不同,實在很難判斷是好是壞丶誰是誰非。客覌來說,以上的感想,由其是1和2,很可能只是我個人品性丶和心理作祟,無中生有!! 但3,4和5就真是屢見不鮮,在我來說,總是有點文化思想不能融合之感。


(Updated 2008-12-18)

Link to Michelle's article: "文化差異/ Différence culturelle"
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