Archive for April, 2013

The Mystery of Stupidity

April 29th, 2013 2 comments

STUPIDITY, a formidable globalised trend, is gaining momentum. Living in Hong Kong, I can feel its pressure wave on my face each morning I wake up. This 21st century bliss seems a Darwinian mystery at first. 

Idiot genes don’t serve any obvious evolutionary purpose, yet are present in prodigious abundance. How did that happen, I wonder? Perhaps people supported imbeciles because they’re cute, or pathetic enough for charity? After all, plenty of garbage DNA, such as those that make pooches, are bred for their adorably lack of intelligence. 

Unfortunately, both conjectures don’t stand up to observation.  Read more…

Suzhou Pingtan (苏州评弹): 姑苏十二娘

April 28th, 2013 1 comment

A civilization of 1.3 billion and having a continuous history of thousands of years can only mean one thing: it’s language and culture should have both amazing breath and depth. One of my hobbies is to rediscover this richness that’s accorded me through my heritage. I want people around me to relish in what Chinese culture has to offer. Recently, I discovered Suzhou Pingtan (苏州评弹), an interesting oral artform accompanied usually by musical instruments or props to tell a story. Its roots are Suzhou and Jiangsu (江苏) in the 1600’s. The performance below is done by a large group, a modern rendition I suppose, though I think two or three performers are the norm. I lament my Chinese language is poor, because the prose and the stories are often delivered in amazing eloquence (Chinese language can be extremely compact while character combinations provide context enabling further reduction in number of characters needed).

“滴答” (Dida) – Song of Li Jiang Old Town

April 27th, 2013 3 comments

For those of us haven’t had chance to visit Li Jiang (丽江) in Yunan (云南) Province, well, here is a nicely made tribute to it called “滴答” (Dida).

A Conversation with Boi Boi Huong on the Great Leap Forward

April 22nd, 2013 6 comments

Recently I had a chance to speak with Boi Boi Huong (mp3, audio play link below). Her family emigrated to Holland from Vietnam when she was young. While in college, she took a stronger interest in China, and in fact completing her thesis on the Great Leap Forward. The timing of her work was interesting, because this had been just couple of years following 1989. Western academia and press at that time were especially hostile to China and China’s political system. The Great Leap Forward has always being used in the Western press and academia to vilify Mao Zedong and his policies, especially with the millions of deaths coinciding that period. Once Huong found out a bit about the circumstances of that period, she was able to quickly figure out the dominant narratives in the West were flawed. (Make sure to also read Ray‘s excellent post, “Another Look at the Great Leap Forward” and Allen‘s robust analysis of the death numbers, “Did Millions Die in the Great Leap Forward: A Quick Note on the Underlying Statistics.”)

As many Hidden Harmonies readers who are of Chinese descent likely could identify, having everything related to ‘China’, be it culture, history, people, ideas, companies, government, or whatever constantly cast in negative light really represses a bit of who we are. We may be citizens of whichever country we live in, but we should be allowed to feel proud about our heritage just like everyone else. To the Chinese, Mao was a symbol of modern China. Under his leadership, ordinary Chinese were finally freed from imperialism, invasions, and centuries of miserable life. Mao is more than the mere mistakes he has committed. Nor is he any of that exaggerated sins pinned against him in the West.

Click on the play button or right-click on the link to save the podcast for local listening: link. Please bear in mind English is not Huong’s primary language.


April 20th, 2013 11 comments

Latest number from China Daily’s coverage shows death toll has risen to 200+ for the Yan’an (雅安) earthquake which occurred yesterday.  The epicenter is not too far from the 5.12 quake that hit Sichuan back in 2008.  Rescue operations is paramount during the first 72-hour window following the quake.  China has already mobilized 8,000 troops with more on standby.  This was a 7.0 magnitude quake, and though comparatively weaker than the 8.1 few years ago but still massive.  For the 1.5 million people affected in Sichuan, and especially in Yan’an (雅安), we stand by you. 雅安我们和你在一起!

Remembering Lu Lingzi (吕令子)

April 18th, 2013 3 comments
Lu Lingzi (吕令子) was among those killed at the Boston Marathon bombing.

Lu Lingzi (吕令子) was among those killed at the Boston Marathon bombing.

Our condolences to the victims and families of the Boston Marathon bombing. Among the three deaths is Lu Lingzi (吕令子), a Chinese national, who is studying at the Boston University in applied mathematics. Following is a translated letter from her parents (source: BU) to Bostonian’s, encouraging them to move forward as a way to remember Lu.

We are grieving and at a loss for words to describe the pain and sadness we are experiencing following the sudden passing of our dear daughter, Lingzi. She was the joy of our lives. She was a bright and wonderful child. We were thrilled to watch her grow into an intelligent and beautiful young woman. She was a positive role model for many others.
Read more…

Hollywood has underwent self-censorship training, so should Feng Xiaogang

April 18th, 2013 38 comments

Western narrative likes to pit Chinese against China’s government censorship.  In accepting the director of the year award, Feng Xiaogang (冯小刚) publicly lamented the difficulties he faced in complying with Chinese censors.  What Feng and the 10,000-some people who retweeted him on weibo (sizable, but not that big a deal given the 500 million+ users) need to realize is that Hollywood will never make blockbusters about innocent Iraqi’s or Afghani’s and other innocent civilians killed in America’s drone strikes.  Hollywood will never do a lot of things.  All Feng needs to do is to ask his Hollywood friends to make a list, then he will understand perhaps what he has to put up with is not all that bad.  Don’t get me wrong.  All societies practice censorship.  The simple truth is really just that some societies simply have thick skin like the fattest pig and feel no embarrassment wagging fingers at others.

If you made a comment in the last 12 hours or so – specifically, after 10:50 pm 4/16/13 and before 2:00 pm 4/17/2013, Pacific Time…

April 17th, 2013 No comments

If a made a comment in the last 12 hours or so – more specifically after 10:50 pm 4/16/13 and before 2:00 pm 4/17/2013, Pacific Time, your comment may have been deleted. Posts are not effected.

I was doing some tweaking with the system and made a rookie mistake, so the most recent comments (before our next back up kicks in) were lost accidentally.  I am very sorry about this and promise this will not happen again.

On a related note, I have been on a hiatus of sorts.  I just want to affirm that I am not leaving, but need some time off to catch up on several projects I have ongoing.  Also having a new born and a 2 year old at home have a way of sucking away my free time…

In any case, I will be back to writing and commenting soon.


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What The History of Online Communities Taught Me About “Freedom Of Speech”

April 15th, 2013 5 comments

Around 1997, I stumbled upon and joined an online forum, now somewhat infamously known as “”.  This was in the early days of online communities.  My initial fascination with FreeRepublic (I was a “Freeper”, but I never called myself that), and my subsequent departure from it, marked my first of life long lesson in the self-contradiction that is “Freedom of Speech,” along with other lessons drawn from other online communities.


Read more…

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Botanical Espionage, The Western History of IP Violations

April 14th, 2013 9 comments

About 400 years ago, tea was first introduced to the British, but China was the ONLY nation with monopoly on tea production and methods.

The British did 2 things to end China’s monopoly, (1) sold Opium to offset China’s tea profits, and (2) stole China’s IP on tea via “botanical espionage.”

That history of botanical espionage, continued later in America, where tobacco plants, oranges, cotton, were stolen from the Europeans to end British monopoly.

But now, modern day corporations are similarly scouring through Africa and Latin America, stealing secrets of local people, and leveling forests to find new plants for medicines.

Read more…

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Comparing Lincoln to Mao

April 8th, 2013 28 comments

If you were ask to give a short narrative for those two very important historical figure, what words were to come into your mind?

Abraham Lincoln was consistently voted by US scholars as the greatest US president. He was even immortalized in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. However, don’t the ill informed Americans know he is the greatest mass murderer in US history? During his term of presidency, the US fought the most destructive and bloodiest war ever, WWII caused less destruction than the US Civil War. 3% of US population died in combat, starvation or even mistreatment in prisoner of war camps. Lincoln exercised his authority to suspend habeas corpus, arresting and temporarily detaining thousands of suspected secessionists without trial. Read more…

Categories: Analysis, history Tags: ,

Elgin Street and the Old Summer Palace

April 4th, 2013 21 comments


Sipping sangria in a tapas bar at Hong Kong’s Soho District, looking out the window, one could spend hours watching cosmopolitan humans spewing out one of the world’s longest elevator systems. Next to it, a street sign reads “Elgin Street.” Hardly anybody knows who Elgin was, or what he had done to deserve a street named after him. If not because of a recent deliberation with a quaint academic about Hong Kong’s early colonial days, I would not have bothered to research about him either. By reading up on the history which embroiled the life of this forgotten character, however, I’ve discovered the justice in history. Read more…

Life in flames: The story behind Tibetan self-immolation (Xinhua News)

April 3rd, 2013 7 comments

(It’s worth noting that Gady Epstein of The Economist calls this video, “remarkable propaganda document.” If you think about it, that’s a wholesale rejection of the Chinese point of view. This is politics. But, then, don’t forget that The Economist and other Western media self-proclaim to be “free.” According to their definition, Western journalism is supposed to be about presenting differing perspectives. That’s rubbish. As regular readers of Hidden Harmonies know, Western media is every bit about propaganda as much as anything else.)

Chinese media criticism of Apple aims to rectify U.S. protectionism against Huawei

April 1st, 2013 37 comments

Apple’s Tim Cook formally apologized to Chinese customers today in response to media criticisms within China for unfair warranty and customer service related issues. China’s Consumer Association have also demanded Apple making a formal apology. While U.S. media in unison came to Apple’s defense before today’s apology, making light of Chinese consumer grievances, I think there is a bigger issue at stake. As I examined how ridiculous the U.S. media and some U.S. politicians are against Huawei back in August 2012, it’s a matter of time the Chinese government retaliates:

Huawei might need the Chinese media’s help in doing some defamation against Cisco before that American protectionism truly drops. It’s hard to imagine any other way. Huawei’s Chen Lifan is asking for ideas!

Instead of Cisco, Apple is an ideal target. For one, its user base is much larger than Cisco’s. Samsung’s phones with Android are better in my personal opinion, so iPhones are not indispensable. Apple’s customer service is probably above average in China relative to all the other companies. Certainly, there are legitimate grievances, but I wouldn’t consider them egregious. Also, remember, the Chinese media criticisms were targeting a basket of foreign firms. China is merely playing catch-up in this protectionism game others have been playing these last few years. In this kind of ugliness, everyone should remember who started first.