10 things this week

Sunday 7 October 2012, 12.50pm HKT

THINGS haven’t been smooth sailing lately for me, so I’ll just summarise and leave things at that.


I’ve managed only eight posts last month, way down from my average batting record of 20 a month. The below were some of the distractions for me for this state of affairs.


Money is tight.

This toilet bowl of a city I’m living in called Hong Kong has stopped making money.

Financial printers like me depend on printing IPOs (initial public offerings, a.k.a. public stock flotations, a.k.a. initial public outrage) for the bulk of their income.

Notwithstanding media reports and official government announcements to the contrary, the worldwide financial situation is worsening by the week, and no light at the end of the tunnel in sight.

A London-based jeweller pulled the plug on its US$1 billion Hong Kong IPO in May because of the eurozone crisis and China’s economic slowdown. Had it gone through, it would have been Asia’s biggest flotation for the year. It was the fourth major IPO to be aborted this year here.

Right now, I understand a mainland Chinese dairy company with a longwinded name is planning a Hong Kong IPO this year. I understand the dairy company is hoping to raise US$800 million to US$1,000 million (i.e. US$1 billion) from the IPO. If true and the deal sees the light of day, financial printers in this deal-starved market will be in a mad scramble to win the printing contract.

The dismal IPO market this year has been the lowest for Hong Kong since 2003. That year Hong Kong led the world in IPOs. For most of this year, printers have been begging Oliver Twist-style for any kind of print jobs. Things are highly likely to stay rough because banks themselves have been cutting costs to the bone as those IPOs that made it through have seen their values dropped by 80%.


Three days of high court hearings. This is the long-running lawsuit my building’s Incorporated Owners (that’s Hong Kong-speak for ‘owners and residents association’) got faultlessly sucked into with the government and a third party. Ergo, the flat owners got faultlessly sucked into pooling the legal costs.

Courtroom-side fee is HK$6,000 (US$770 or £480) an hour × 3 hours a day × 3 days of hearings per lawyer. (Hong Kong has a ‘split’ legal profession: barristers are trial/courtroom lawyers and solicitors non-trial/non-courtroom lawyers.) Repeat the rate for the solicitor.

And that’s just the cost for court time. Repeat the rate for non-courtroom work such as legal preparation, research and ‘discovery’ during the lead time to court hearings. You work out the costs.


Shut your gob … I don’t want to talk about it, but it’s something related to my kitchen.


Ratta (you’ll remember her if you’ve been following this blog for more than six months) lost her job with Ferrari (“for those with more cash and a love to crash”) in February.

Since then, she’s been bouncing from job to job. Her cash is pretty tight too.

Fortunately, she became a nursery or kindergarten schoolmistress two months ago.

Unfortunately, her employer (the owner/headmistress) turned out to be right royal bitch of a psychopath (no kidding!). I’ll update about her in another post another time.

You just wouldn’t believe the things that go on in schools here.


Big fight with Johnny, my neighbour’s son.

Let’s say the fracas had been a One-Way Saturday Night Square-Up On A Monday.

(A British ‘square-up’ is a ‘square-off’ to our American cousins.)

Let’s say:—

  • I was in charge of Johnny on behalf of his mum
  • he became Mr Invisible all day and all night long
  • he lied through his teeth about his whereabouts
  • his lies were lame-arsed and I ‘tipped over’

Let’s not actually indicate:—

  • how I scared the living daylights out of him
  • in the street
  • in full view of the general public
  • with certain body parts of his
  • ‘voluntarily impacting’
  • against certain body parts of mine
  • whilst I explained why it’s bloody dangerous for him to become Mr Invisible
  • somewhere in the city
  • when he’s only 18 years old
  • and a skinny, scrawny, chronic asthmatic to boot

No, honestly, it’s nowhere violent as that. Hand on my heart, if I lie, hope to die. (Err, best forget that quickly.)

Truth is, Johnny’s a bit of an oaf (a blockhead).

And that’s the problem. ‘Bad’ kids usually can take care of themselves. Oafs can’t. True fact.

Just these two years in our district, two people went missing (or ‘gone missing,’ if you’re an American). Both were expat women in their mid-30s. Nothing’s been heard of them. No word from the police either.

If fully grown expats can disappear in a tiny town like Hong Kong, be sure you’re putting your own life in your own hands when you’re an oaf.

Lesson learnt (for now, at least).



Had to be “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons in the Life of Robert S. McNamara,” a 2004 Oscar-winning American documentary film.

“Never answer the question asked of you. Answer the question you wish it had been asked instead.” — Robert McNamara (1916-2009)

The 11 lessons:—

  1. “Empathize with your enemy”
  2. “Rationality will not save us”
  3. “There’s something beyond one’s self”
  4. “Maximize efficiency”
  5. “Proportionality should be a guideline in war”
  6. “Get the data”
  7. “Belief and seeing are both often wrong”
  8. “Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning”
  9. “In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil” (but minimize it)
  10. “Never say never”
  11. “You can’t change human nature”

Average age of GIs in Vietnam: 19 (not 22).

Those who don’t know who McNamara was, ask your grandparents.



Gennie, Mongolia’s first female rapper

Mongolian Bling on Al Jazeera (English) about rappers and hip-hop people there. If you think white supremacists are scary, wait till you see non-racist Mongolian supremacists.

Average age of Mongol rappers: 30.


Two chicks girls ladies. Jacinta (a blonde from Sydney) and Bella (a Filipina who lived her entire life in Peking/Beijing). Nice chat with them at the IKEA Bistro on Thursday.

Not either of them: just a placeholder girl to whet your appetite

Sorry, no pictures available (because I was distracted). I know, I know, “no pictures, it didn’t happen.” I’ll do better next time.


Bizarre dream the other day (it was day, not night).

I think I met myself and was being interviewed by a news crew about it. I was asked to describe the other ‘me’:—

“This man is easygoing, a bit of an oddball, with a sense of humour that puts friends in stitches but doesn’t seem like such a person to outsiders. Paralleling this is a vicious streak in him, which sometimes makes him take umbrage over the smallest matters.”

What?! I’ve nothing vicious or umbragey in me!

Oh, well done … now I have myself making defamatory statements about myself in my dreams to subconscious news services for broadcasting to my subconscious audience.

*Headdesk* I need to get a hamster (see why below).


As a ‘next-level’ kind of guy, I’m going to have to take this blog to the next level. Just a bit, not too much. I don’t want to scare you lot off, but mainly I don’t want to scare myself.

I’m going to have to start posting ‘interesting’ pictures more.

Those ‘interesting’ pictures might be ‘inappropriate’:—

  • possibly inelegant
  • probably off-colour
  • likely to contain nudity (or, even worse, fully clothed)
  • gore is possible (but only in a non-gorish way)
  • politically correct
  • or whatever takes my whim

Can’t help it — the images are piling up badly.

I need to rant more. Bottling things up inside is not good for health (yours and mine).

Need to tone down my ranting/bitching drafts first. Need to ungrammaticalise them too so that they would appear more ‘authentic.’

Would like to get a pet hamster again in order to have some semblance of sanity. But I just can’t live with the fact that hamsters live only 20 to 24 months and can’t be cloned in the home kitchen.

Longtime readers will note that I have a long history of either over-delivering or not delivering on my promises.

It is true: my mileage varies.

* * *


I don’t understand why it can’t be stretched



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12341)

Images: Silver moneybag charm by thenakedlistener | Hong Kong High Court via HK Pinoy TV | Rat doll via furry.org.au | Star Wars dogfight wallpaper by A.L. Meerow and Nick Kurochkin via arts-wallpapers.com | Kennedy and McNamara via Movie Mail | Gennie, Mongolia’s first female rapper via Film Ink | Placeholder girl via c4c | Dreaming artwork from http://4.bp.blogspot.com via Our American Generation | Level-Up Letterpress by artnoose via Flickr | “Can be cut to the desired length” by thenakedlistener.


This staggeringly unbelievable, angry, tl;dr year-end review is also coming to an end

I could nearly hear and feel your sighs of relief. And I don’t blame you.

(Sighs of relief and sounds of bladders loosening heard in the background.)

* * *


My friends and ex-college mates (from my third run at university) have finally graduated. Good on them!

About 90% of them decided to become teachers. Not so good on them, I have to say.

Never mind. They must be better men (and women) than I could ever be, mainly because teaching is the one single profession that can drive me to drink within a space of three days.

(It nearly did, when I did that three-week-long school attachment.)

I work in financial printing and printbroking, and that’s a hard-scrabble, highly pressurised line of work. I’ve been in publishing before that, and that’s pressurised and low-paid as well. I’ve never ever had problems with both those lines.

But teaching … it ain’t worth the suffering (mine and the kids’).



About the only three good things to come out of 2011 have been (in equal order):—

(aPopcorn the Housecat (not my own, but a relative’s) is one year old, fat and lazy, a wuss, overeating, overdrinking and oversleeping. Love him to bits. Reminds me of Mum, especially in his passive-aggressive posturing.

(b) The three or four regular commenters on this blog (you know who you are!), all of whom made the whole crappy exercise worth the crap.

(c) Getting The Versatile Blogger Award, which happened to be the only award I ever won in my life.


Not quite as bad as blogging a blood oath,
but the booze nearly became a permanent fixture


But the best thing is, you’ve read this whole post from beginning to end. And that, I’m very pleased to say, makes the whole thing much, much more beyond ‘worthwhile.’

Thank you, thank you.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Image via c4c.

What’s it been? Broadsides (5/5)

Wednesday 7 March 2012, 3.00am HKT


(Updated 07 Mar 2012 to fix broken links)

If following some certain blogs has turned out to be a source of consternation for some of you, then tuning them out and unsubscribing clearly makes you a better man (or woman) than I am.

Here are my broadly aimed indiscriminate broadsides for 2011.

NOTE: ‘You’ is being used throughout below in plural form (i.e. ‘you yourselves’).

* * *


To the linguistics blogs

You’re a goddamn disgrace to the language (any),
and to language lovers too. 

Truth be told (and to behold), the attitude and standard of writing on many linguistic sites or blogs leave woefully to be desired. (Or do we say ‘room for improvement’ nowadays?) Of all people, it falls on linguistics people to make elementary technical mistakes, such as:—

  1. overlong paragraphs (i.e. more than 200 words a paragraph)
  2. using non-technical words with meanings that don’t conform to widely accepted meanings
  3. mixing metaphors
  4. incorrect levels of active vs. passive language
  5. inability or unwillingness to restate matters in everyday language or context after stating the matters in technical form

Point 5 is death knell to those who pitch their sing-song about making technical matters more accessible and eclectic to others.

Playing dirty little tricks

What’s so unpleasant for me (and also for quite a lot of people I know) isn’t the blog content itself. It’s the piss-pauvre way their bloggers and commenters treat and argue with other commenters (especially the new ones).

  • They have a ‘tone’ in their writing.
  • They have this offensive, surly kind of sardonism at those whom they consider to be ‘uitlanders’ (outsiders) seemingly based solely on their received academic wisdom.

Their sardonistic antics would have been funny and more entertaining if there had been humour somewhere in there. Instead of humour, there was overweening intellectual pride.

I don’t know whether to describe you as malicious in the sense of malice, or malicious in the legal sense of reckless, especially when you play dirty little tricks on your new readers and new commenters (as discussed in Part 4 before).

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then many of these linguistics blogs have a noticeable tendency to do this to their readers:—

(via c4c)


To the China-related blogs

See Ye Olde Hong Kong flag below.

Even the Chinese find themselves inscrutable and hard to explain — and here you are trying your hardest to be like the Chinese, when you’re anything but. And it shows.

You know the minutiae and mechanismata of life in mainland China more than the rest of us. That much is clear. Equally clear is that, your five to 10 years of living there, an expert does not make of you (broadly speaking).

Nasty and unspeakable

Many of the deeper, more fluid nuances of Chineseness, of being Chinese — of the seemingly atavistic ‘practices’ of the Chinese in general (and of the mainlanders in particular) — actually still escapes you. And it shows.

And for some bizarre reason, why is it that you — English yakkers the lot of you — end up writing English with a pronounced Chinglish bent?

Have you forgotten your own tongue?

Did you do something nasty and unspeakable with your tongue somehere?

Most of you are (or were) in China as foreign-language or English teachers of one shade or another, living (or having lived) there with all the mod cons (relatively speaking) of an expat life there. Let’s make no mistake about that, shall we?

Chalk and cheese

If expat and local life in Hong Kong (a place with a high degree of Westernisation among the Chinese part of the population) are as different as chalk and cheese, then it behoves you to realise that yours over there is even more different.

In my own experience of China-watchers and China-livers (and it IS pretty extensive an experience), you are only touching the surface surfactant (the thing that lowers the surface tension).

Not very good in self-control

Credit where credit’s due, there are a handful of smashingly good China-watching blogs, particularly one whose host is extremely adept at playing ‘softball’ (figuratively speaking). And there are some really good and easygoing commenters who do know what’s what and what’s not in China and about the Chinese.

However, the large morass of this ‘chinesed’ community of bloggers and commenters are:—

(a) mostly pugnacious crybabies,
(b) spreading their need to make a ‘statement’ a bit too thick sometimes,
(c) not noticeably gifted on the context-spotting department, and
(d) prattling on about some trivial WTF behaviour of the people in their locale.

Some people are not very good in self-control and don’t realise when they overdoing their bit of trying-ever-so-hard to stand out from the competition.

China isn’t a pretty place, and most Chinese (on home turf as well as overseas) are insightful enough that they themselves are either bitches or bastards — you knew full well when you got there, so quit complaining.

Ye olde Hong Kong flag

Were YOU here when THIS was here?
If not, then you know bollocks about China or Chinese people.


To the Chinese-related linguistics blogs

Are you a true, real-life licensed professional?
Or are you just another ‘professional’?

You should be so lucky that you are enjoying your success in the blogosphere. I am happy for you in that respect (and that respect only). Otherwise, you come across roundly as self-righteous and more than a little biased in your views.

I have never ever in my life for the longest time met anybody so swelled up in their (or, prescriptively grammatically, his or her?) ‘discipline’ (i.e. field of study).

Understanding ‘professional’


Please don’t project yourselves as ‘professionals’ because, otherwise, you’ll need to reassess your understanding of the word ‘professional.’

As a non-practising professional myself (lawyer), I reckon I have a better-than-expected understanding on this score. *Snorg*

Just because you can speak and/or read and write Chinese (plus a dozen or so other languages, whether or not deeply or fluently), please don’t diss the rest of us for being ignorant. We’re not unaware you’re dissing us.

  • You have a ‘tone’ in your writing, and that’s upsetting to say the least.
  • You come across as argumentative, which is consistent with self-centredness.
  • You mostly have an avoidance personality disorder in the way you generally regard other people’s comments.

‘When you put in the hours’

The really grostesque aspect of these Chinese-related lingo blogs is that they have a high  number of commenters who adhere (obey?) the line that Chinese is not difficult, often occurring in the same breath with the words “when you put in the hours” — all suitably laced with all manners of arcana linguistica just to prevent others from putting in a slightly different viewpoint.

  • Just because you’ve learnt Chinese and maybe because you like to learn Chinese, what makes you so goddamn sure it isn’t hard for the rest of us?
  • Just because your linguistics background says you’re right, what makes you so goddamn sure that the rest of us is not right?

Actually,organic chemistry and biology (both I got trained in before law) aren’t difficult when you put in the hours. Neither is law when you put in the (massive) hours. But we don’t hear you saying dimethylphosphatase-assisted redox reactions or promissory estoppel or liens or constructive superannuation not difficult, do we? Derp.

Even mathematics frequently gets things wrong.
What makes yours so infallible?
(via c4c)


Try actually asking an actual Chinaman about his or her actual history of learning the actual Chinese language on an actual day actually face to face. To say nothing also about actually learning your actual Chinese history actually better with regards to the actual politically inspired (vs. formalised linguistic) evolution of the Chinese language. Actually.

  • The truth is, many, many Chinese themselves consider Chinese to be quite hard, even with the hours put in.

These Sino-lingo blogs are the equivalent of the space virus in “The Andromeda Strain” for those old enough to remember that 1969 film.



From right to left: Kangxi Dictionary forms, M...

Did you have to start learning this at kindergarten age?
If not, then you have no idea how hard it is to learn it.
Because the hours put in, likewise take away hours from childhood.

“You make me wish I had more middle fingers.”


Be thankful, be gracious, that I have not named names. In the Year of the Destructive Dragon, I may change my mind. As a lawyer myself, albeit non-practising, I can shut you down with little or no cost to me if I get riled enough to do that.


‘White knuckles’

Believe it or not, one Sino-lingo blogger managed to get me into such a rage in a certain thread that I was clenching fists that went white at the knuckles. Still.

Read the sidebar that cries out for anger managment here.

I’ve had only four other ‘white-knuckle’ incidents before (not counting this one). Three of them ended in litigation in my favour, and one (shall we say) led to considerable distress for the other person.

I’m not naturally a vicious person, but I did go to law school, which is where they teach people how to be vicious. So there.

The timebar for litigation is six years.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.

Give me grief like that, and I hand you reprisals.

See you in court, pal, because you didn’t realise you made defamatory statements about me. I have the full-page screencaps as evidence.



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Former Hong Kong colonial flag (public domain) via Wikipedia ♦ World map graphic and Chinese characters chart powered by Zemanta/WordPress ♦ Other images as indicated.

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