‘Too much to lose,’ like your parents

Saturday 6 July 2013, 10.27am HKT

pearl jam

“[The band became involved] in Newsweek. This is your parents’ magazine, the magazine at your doctor’s. I’m not going to read Newsweek. They’re not going to tell the truth because they’ve too much to lose.

— soundbite from the rockumentary “Pearl Jam Twenty” (2011)

(image via Billboard.com)



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2013. (B13226)

Social sins to avoid for fun and profit (2/2)

Monday 3 September 2012, 12.30am HKT


CONTINUING our fact-filled, fun-loving overview of social absurdistanisms committed by turd-breathed aficionados of the bubble-living life:—



GAFFE: Asking for leads all the time, especially in public view and at the outset.

WHY: Go see an agency! Some of you are so naff that, the moment you become friends with us, you almost immediately ask for job or other leads. You’re desperate. You’re overwhelmed with the prospect of not being able to pay the rent or feed yourself or have a place to get laid. We know — we’re in the same boat too! This gaffe isn’t limited only to jobs.

MESSAGE:This is a business relationship and you’re no good to me if my knowing you doesn’t lead to a job, house, etc.” We could say the same thing about you though. Get my drift?

RED FLAGS: 60% online, 40% real life:—

  1. 5 minutes after friending, Whore-Bore sends a message about a jobhunt
  2. 2 hours later, Whore-Bore sends another message to move in with you
  3. 3 days later, Whore-Boar asks for a personal loan “to fly to this place for a job interview”
  4. “I’m pretty sure you know someone who’s hiring, etc”
  5. “What do you mean you don’t know, have nothing, etc?!”
  6. “You mean to tell me I went through this for that?!”
  7. “I know you can do it for me
  8. “Where can I find a job that pays well with a light workload?”
  9. “I don’t want to do this unless I get payment or it’s not worth my while
  10. a jobhunt specification sheet that rivals NASA’s for astronauts

I’m not joking — these are f@cking real.

FIX YOURSELF: Offer some no-strings-attached advice or help first. Over time, you’ll land a job. Or a place to private enough to do your own handjobs in.

Read the dedicated on this behaviour



GAFFE: Using other people’s space, time, etc, to market yourself.

WHY: Don’t market yourself on anybody’s space, time, website, etc. Don’t even appear to be doing that. You’re taking liberties. You’re taking people for a ride. You step on people’s toes. You insult people’s intelligence and good grace. You’re taking yourself out of the loop faster than a hairy transvestite whore in a latex corset going down on an undercover cop on his day off.

MESSAGE: “I’m a freeloader.” “Social networking is for me to share your space as my marketing billboard.” “You’re fair game, buddy.” Runtery, in a word.

RED FLAGS: 40% online, 60% real life:—

  1. accept Darth AnalVader‘s friend request and within 2 seconds he writes self-promo crap on your Facebook wall: “My name is Adam Henry and I am a space invader to help people to invade Uranus” (geddit? Ur-anus?)
  2. Darf Analraider butts in your conversation (especially without apologising): “I can help you with that”
  3. instead of a 5-second pitch in a lift, Barf Analspacer won’t let go of your arm (or balls) and give a 10-minute lecture in the lift
  4. “I am the best available resource you have before you”
  5. Larf Analsayer puts in links in blog comments about other services or your own
  6. “soloing techniques”
  7. ‘knocking’ marketing techniques

FIX YOURSELF: Find a way to get invited to do your thing on their space, time or whatever first. If you are writing for somebody, then it’s okay to do a short bio in the footnote. Otherwise, don’t muscle in on other people’s action. Naff extraordinaire.



GAFFE: Constantly talking about benefits vs. drawbacks, especially in monetary terms.

WHY: If there’s one thing more offensive than listening to a Wall Street guy talk, it is to hear a non-Wall Street person talk like a bloody walking balance sheet about non-monetary things. We can do cost-benefit analysis on you too, you know.

MESSAGE: “I use people.” You’re cunning. You’re calculating. You’re greedy. You’re riding people just for the money. You see nothing besides the lowest common denominator (which I dubbed “the lowest common daemonator“). Srsly, that’s just offensive. In a word, jealousy.

RED FLAGS: 50% online, 50% real life, 101% trouble:—

  1. advantages vs. disadvantages, especially about things that have no such clear-cut boundaries (e.g. divorce, adoptions, having kids)
  2. advantages of own interests vs. disadvantages of the interests of others
  3. rationalising own choices vs. knocking the choices of others
  4. continually mentioning the prices of this or that
  5. “I derive benefits from living at home” (oh god!)
  6. continually comparing if one thing (say, one person’s language) is better or worse than another
  7. continually comparing the relative ages of people getting into certain jobs
  8. continually comparing the relative hierarchies of jobs
  9. continually comparing the relative benefits and security of job positions
  10. all of the above before even getting close to entering those sectors

FIX YOURSELF: Compare how well you will have done without comparing and how badly you are doing now with it. Stop comparing things. Whenever we see you compare intangibles, our first reaction is you’re also comparing us — very, very judgmental. Is this what you want us to do to you? Compare the alternatives.

REMARKS: You’re just green with jealousy about everything. Why else would you keep up this comparing? You compare because you don’t have the balls. If you have any, they’re probably shrunken and dried up anyway. So you do the next best thing available: shrivelled-up miscomparisons.

Making comparisons gives you no advantage because your comparisons are mostly circular and lead to nowhere. There’s no advantage to your economic, monetary or employment well-being because you’re not even ‘there’ yet.

The disadvantages to you are enormous:—

  1. you lose us
  2. you lose out
  3. no feedback for you about whether your comparisons are ringing true or not
  4. we secretly told your incestuous parents that you’re treating them like a meal ticket



GAFFE: You ask questions all the time but won’t allow others to ask you back.

WHY: It’s not limited to asking for advice. It’s just asking questions all the time. What’s worse is the Askhole puts the query nearly always in the same format. This unlovely trait goes hand in hand with being stiff. The only mental agility shown by the Askhole is in coming up with endless permutations of the same stupid questions.

MESSAGE: “You’re nothing more than a walking dictionary, thesaurus, reference book, etc, to me. I use you at my convenience and whim.” Then your mewling quim of a face needs to be bashed in.

RED FLAGS: All the goddamn time everywhere and anywhere:—

  1. no initiative to contact you
  2. not 2 minutes into a conversation, you’re asked for advice
  3. not 2 messages in, you’re facing some kind of query
  4. the query is nearly always in the same format for the last 4 years
  5. “I need some advice” — but you’re never told what the advice is for
  6. the queries are always in the 35- to 50-word range, hardly ever longer
  7. your responses to the Askhole are always nearly the length of a treatise
  8. the moment you put a question to the Askhole, he clams up completely
  9. give a constructive answer, it’s ignored completely or not read it at all
  10. give a offhand answer, the Askhole complains “you don’t give a shit”
  11. you get the nagging feeling the Askhole is farming you for midterm essay answers
  12. the Askhole pretends his language skills aren’t up to par with your answer, so that forces you to explain and re-explain things

FIX YOURSELF: It’s a stretch, but try telling the Askhole to just stop the faggotry and behave like a normal person for at least 5 minutes a day. That might just make it possible for others to hire the Askhole as an overnight janitor in a cow-dung recycling plant.

REMARK: I can’t honestly see a fix for runts like them, mainly because it’s so much in their dirty inborn (and inbred) character to play mindgames.

PROTIP: Immediate Action: use the Enron comeback on these people:—

by Jeffrey Skilling, CEO and COO, Enron Corporation, ca. 1999–2000






© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12273)

Images: “Call me a slut” via Firstcovers.com | “You can’t sit with us” via The Goldin Chyld | Balance Sheet via Small Business Finance Tips | Askhole via Vintage Metal Art | “Enron: ask why, asshole” via Psychobabblepress.

Social sins to avoid for fun and profit (1/2)

Saturday 1 September 2012, 12.30am HKT

RULES of social intercourse change constantly, not just for social networking sites but in real life too. Whatever the rules, they rest on one longstanding property.

In a word, sociability.

In two words, sociability wins.

In three words, sociability wins friends.

In four, sociability gets jobs now.

Go on, sabotage your money-earning, career-advancing capabilities.

So you’re in it for the moolah — yes, we can relate to that too. But no moolah for you if you’re unsociable. We spend our time and buck for the maximum bang. True fact, that.

Common social gaffes online and in real life to avoid, boys and girls:—



GAFFE:— Invisibility.

WHY:— Are you deliberately stupid or were you born this dumb? To remain invisible in social intercourse or networking is the greatest sin of all.

MESSAGE:— “I’m defensive and unsociable.” It’s nothing to do with privacy, no matter which way you explain it away. On a social-networking site, you’re saying you couldn’t make up your mind. Worse, you’re telling the world you’re just another nosey parker, prying into the affairs of others. That’s just not appealing to most people, man. Srsly.

RED FLAGS (online):— Not in any particular order:—

  • no email address anywhere on the personal homepage
  • no profile picture
  • won’t put up one measly photo of a blank wall once in a while
  • practically no updates ever since you’ve ‘friended’ them a couple of years ago
  • practically all interactive functions disabled (i.e. everything set to ‘private’)
  • online presence nearly always set to ‘invisible’
  • the fusspot is regularly online despite the above
  • almost every communication is through private messages
  • dozens or even hundreds of friends but only a handful of mutual friends with you

RED FLAGS (real life):— Not in any particular order:—

  • refusal to dress up or even just to wear anything appropriate for the occasion
  • arguments with others on inconsequential matters
  • not keeping things ‘light’
  • “soloing techniques”
  • listening in total silence (so there’s absolutely no visual or auditory feedback if you’re actually talking to a wall)

Listening to someone in total silence is stark raving reality to any of you who’ve had some dealing with Far Easterners, who don’t seem to realise they have this highly unlovely habit. They can excuse themselves, but it’s plain passive-aggressiveness any which way we look at it.

FIX YOURSELF:— It’s no big deal to just write a few words or put up a photo. It makes the whole process a little more human and warm. If someone’s going to discriminate against you because of what you say or show, you probably wouldn’t want to be with them anyway. Likewise, if you’re the type who thinks others will discriminate, they wouldn’t want to be with you, period. Lurk, and you’re just confirming to others what they suspect already — another nosey parker.

FACT:— Facebook monitors accounts with high privacy settings for contraband trading (drugs, etc), human trafficking, terrorism, paedophilia and other criminal activities. You don’t honestly think a website that can handle 600 million users and all their crap doesn’t have the capability to do that, do you?



GAFFE:— Being stiff.

WHY:— This far too frequently goes hand in hand with invisibility. It automatically puts you in the category of an irrelephant: like someone turning up for a casual weekend ‘do’ in businesswear. Some people are naturally stiffer than others — we get that, truly. We want to protect our privacy (who doesn’t?) and don’t want all and sundry t0 hang out and spread over a wide area like it’s a plane crash. But no one wants to see your minimum info shut off or hear you rehash the same line after line parrot-fashion either.

MESSAGE:— Stiffness = unresourcefulness. Can you imagine a stiff person who’s resourceful? We live in changing times where change happens a million times a second. Can you dovetail to that? Stiffness really shows a person has a lethargic outlook to life in that the person can’t be bothered to keep up with things, preferring others to accede to his own preferences. Enough said.

RED FLAGS:— 100% online, 100% real life:—

  1. not changing the subject and not changing your mind (fanaticism, inflexibility)
  2. correcting other people’s grammar, even in social or casual settings (unadaptability)
  3. turning up in businesswear for casual functions, and vice versa (lack of judgment)
  4. using your own field’s lingo regardless of audience (inconsideration)
  5. “soloing techniques” (stupidity)
  6. “let’s define this” (haughtiness, subjectivity, refusal to accept alternatives)
  7. not showing anything “until I get better at it first” (and that day might never come)
  8. agreeing with someone and then disagreeing on the same thing with the next person (inability to learn from experience)
  9. tendency to look for ‘correct’ answers (turgidity, timidness, lacking foresight)

FIX YOURSELF:— A few well-chosen morsels of information about your interests make it easier for other likeminded persons to appreciate you — such as prospective employers. If you’re looking for a job or trying to advance your career, being stiff kills your career dead in its tracks. The world is full of young people who didn’t grow up regarding being stiff as a virtue. True fact.

FACT:— Lots of recruitment companies surf Facebook, LinkedIn and other social-networking sites for interesting candidates to handle various types of projects that would be a good fit for their clients. They cold-call candidates to suss them out. If you’re stiff, you’re ignored and left behind.

If you’re still young but stiff, you cause people to stay clear of you because they think you have some sort of mental problem. Which you do, honestly speaking.

“Anti-stiff: strengthens the muscles. Works on the social muscles.

REMARK:— “Stiff gets you stiffed.” Nobody’s asking you to hang loose like a rockstar. But you just can’t risk being compared to Frankenstein or a zombie either (and still lose out to them on the human-warmth scale). If you can’t (or won’t) meet us half way, you’re not the type we’re interested in.



GAFFE:— Driving in circles and mucking about.

WHY:— We get one life and one life is all we get. Get to the point! Don’t muck about in what you do or say. The professionals see you’re being unprofessional, and the unprofessionals think you’re taking the piss (making fun of them).

MESSAGE:— “You’re all here for my entertainment.” That’s what you’re ultimately saying. Muddling through (to improvise, basically) isn’t the same as mucking about. It’s even more entertaining for us to see YOU being left behind.

RED FLAGS:— 40% online, 60% in real life:—

  1. sending goofy stuff to others (online and in real life) especially in business settings
  2. ‘poking’ people on Facebook, etc (“go poke yourself somewhere else”)
  3. re-explaining things back to people who explained it to you first
  4. latching on to the other person’s words and reusing them back
  5. ignoring advice (“counsel is to be taken, not congratulated”)
  6. “soloing techniques”
  7. using swollen language regardless of situation
  8. “speaking the truth is bad because it’s blunt(O rly? You think so, do you?)
  9. you talk about things that everybody is concerned about but in a way as if nobody else does (“But privacy is a concern!”: yeah, right)

It’s one thing not to take advice after balancing it with other advice you’ve got, but ignoring advice is quite another.

FIX YOURSELF:— Get to the point. Stick to directness and everydayness.



GAFFE:— Not letting your online networks cross over into the real world.

WHY:— It’s amazing the numbers of individuals who rack up literally hundreds of online friends and then leaving them there to freeze and die. Out of your 3,875 Facebook friends, you’ve only met a grand total of three — and they’re from your schooldays who you’ve not seen for 15 years.

MESSAGE:— “I’m too good for you.” “You don’t measure up.” Enough said.

RED FLAGS:— 50% online, 50% in real life, 100% counterproductive:—

  1. Iceman never calls
  2. Iceman never return calls
  3. Iceman leaves events midway because “it’s late,” “past your bedtime,” “work tomorrow,” etc
  4. Iceman always break off the conversation midway
  5. Iceman makes us wait for stupid responses for more than 2 minutes
  6. Iceman gives one-line responses when we’ve given 20
  7. Iceman keeps making excuses for everything
  8. Iceman shows little or no interest in anyone’s interests
  9. Iceman maintain his own interests are cheaper, stronger, faster, better, etc, than anyone else’s

FIX YOURSELF:— Quid pro quo. Help others and they’ll help you. Set up real-life get-togethers with your online friends or contacts. Bond with them (even if it’s pretence). Ring them up. Comment online on their interests. Congratulate them. You are in a relationship with these people — realise that, for pete’s sakes! Get involved.

PROTIP:— It depends on what each friend is like, but I ring them up whenever I’m in the neighbourhood, especially when I’ve not been in their area for some time. “Just ringing to say I’m in your area and to see how things are going with you.”

REMARK:— My Facebook gets roughly 10 to 15 friend requests a month, and many of those are from people I’ve actually met in real life. On Facebook, my friends there include one internationally famous dancer, one supermodel, one famous actress, one world-famous DJ, one Pulitzer-winning writer, one documentary filmmaker and one famous photographer — all of them ‘friended’ me first. And I’m not even a fan of Facebook! How’s that for snob appeal?


Coming up in Part 2 tomorrow:

You bore, you won’t score



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12273)

Images: Invisibility conversation from this blog post | Anti-Stiff via The Quack Doctor | Circular road via Awareness of the Heart | Han Solo in Carbonite via The Right Rant.

Bad influence

Thursday 30 August 2012, 12.30am HKT


People who see practically everybody or everything as a bad influence don’t realise just how much of a bad influence they themselves are to others.



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Image via Rate My Funny Pictures. (B12275)

Hurt feelings

Sunday 11 March 2012, 8.01pm HKT

5.30pm local time / 12°C (54°F) cold and rainy

ABOUT THE ONLY THING siding with my miserable life this week has been the cold, dreary, English-like weather. Otherwise this past week must have been Tread On The Naked Listener Week, and I didn’t the memo.

Just this afternoon, I got told off at a shop for unscrewing a pen. I wasn’t — I was actually tightening the thing out of the kindness of my heart.

There are two specific things that really get my temper burning white hot:—

  1. yelling into my left ear
  2. being told off by Cantonese people (rightly or wrongly)

I’m actually a particularly easy person to offend, even if I say so myself. But I’m also a person who lets things pass 99% of the time. Which is also why others say I’m a particularly hard person to anger.

Boy, but was I livid at that retailer’s remarks. It really stung. So I told him, “I wasn’t unscrewing your precious pen. I was tigtening it up for you.”

“Well, thank you for your concern,” he said.

“Are you sure about that?” I shot back. “Are you quite sure? I’ve been patronising your store for a long time on a regular basis, you know. Are you going to tell me off like that next time?”

I just kungfu-gripped my banknote so he had to tug on it.

Oh, I’m sorry, did my purchasing interrupt your business? Did my browsing interrupt your sitting on your fat arse hollering at people? Did my speaking in the middle of my sentence interrupt the start of your sentence?

Better wash your mouth, boy.

This retailer have always had a bad fothermucking attitude to customers. He behaves as if he’s got on a monopoly on running a business.

He also has an unlovely habit of dissing people based on outward appearances (Chinese English: ‘outlook’) — so you could imagine what he thought about me with my ponytailed hair, semi-homoerotic whiskers, leather biker jacket (this one without the fringes), denim trousers and tan cowboy boots.


I’ll take my business elsewhere from now on.

So much for Chinese desire to have a harmonious society.

* * *

You should know that anger in no way affects my ability to write coherently. You might take a different opinion, considering the general incoherence of all my writing anyway. *Smack*

* * *

Don’t yell into my left ear

Yelling into my left ear is definitely the way to go to get my temper burning white hot. It usually results in I.A. (‘Immediate Action,’ for those who’ve had some kind of training in skill-at-arms), which in my case is (and has been often enough) a belt around the mouth**.

My left ear, folks, and the finger that goes with it

** For our non-English cousins, ‘a belt around the mouth’ is a quick right jab to the face, just above the mouth and under the nostrils.

Down the years, I’ve unknowingly managed to condition myself (like a kind of operant conditioning) to react that way. I reckon it’s become too much of a second nature now for me to change that.

For some strange reason, I’ve never had my arse hauled by the police for belting someone in the mouth.

I suppose there has to be first time for everything, so maybe it’ll happen some time in the future for me.

(But I have once been hauled into the police station for beating the crap out of someone, who royally deserved it, but let go by the cops.)

* * *

The Cantonese: shut your gob

Another thing that gets me going is being told off by the Cantonese, who make up 90% of Hongkongers.

For those unwashed in Chinese matters, the Cantonese have long been described by other Chinese Hans as the hotheads of China. Guangdong (formerly Canton) province is the Texas of China.

(No disrespect to Texans, whom I admire greatly, especially General Robert E. Lee, who was actually a Virginian, but we’ll let that small detail go.)

I am particularly (over-)sensitive to bollocking at me by the Cantonese — but not to the point of carrying out I.A. (above). This one kicks in my own other I.A. of yelling back into their left ears in high-velocity Cantonese foul language in high decibels.

Just like how the Japanese and Mandrin-speakers see it, Cantonese is an ugly, grunting language that’s actually Khmer-Thai in origin. It’s also the only Chinese I know as mother tongue.

(By the way, I don’t have a drop of Cantonese blood in me, so you could infer the possible reasons for my Cantonese sensitivity. Yeah, I know — a non-Cantonese whose native tongue is Cantonese. Having said that, I am definitely not anti-Cantonese people, and I’ll friggin’ smack anyone who even remotely suggests that I am.)

“How would you like to pick up your teeth
from the floor with broken fingers?”

(heard in the late 1970s or early 1980s)

* * *

Oh, yes, there ARE good bits

On a much, much happier note, the distemper of this past week have more than made up for by these two events:—

You're not supposed to look at this

1. A casual chitchat encounter with Canadian-Chinese Dionne at the local stationery store, who was really, really, really cute and nice. Gee-whiz, the cleavage was amazingballs. I have her contact details. Tee-hee-hee.

2. Last night, those two Mandarin-speaking 北菇 buck gwu (‘northern mushrooms,’ i.e. mainland Chinese chicks) in the lift (AmE: elevator) both of whom had legs and skirts that went ‘up to there’ and bodices ‘down to there’ as they made their way back to the mainland. It was 15°C (59°F) last night and was I ever srsly hot under the collar.

The buck gwu, I don’t want to tell you how ‘friendly’ they were. Honestly I don’t. And they’re not even ‘working girls.’

Who says I don’t like Chinese cuisine? Whoarr!

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Told off via NewsBiscuit | Left ear by the author | Mainland Chinese chicks via Wicked Fire.

The Agony Broccoli writes (4/4)

Monday 16 January 2012, 9.00am HKT


If we want to change the world — or even just the bedlinen — look at the man in the mirror first, observe accidentally with care, and then prepare deliberately accidentally for reality.

* * *

On cultural identity anywhere you sit

Re: Chinese culture, I’m trying to do my bit to promote a British Born Chinese [BBC] culture. But I think the Facebook generation just really aren’t interested, rebelling against an upbringing of Chinese patriarchy — they just want to enjoy themselves. Practical Chinese nature and all that, it does my head in when I try and talk to people about creating a BBC cultural identity, just seems pointless after a while.

I hear you and you have my sympathy.

I’m basically considered a ‘broccoli’ here — British-raised/overseas Chinese — although factually I’ve been raised everywhere else in equal time. Know me for five minutes and you’ll probably notice I’m simultaneously as Eastern and as Western as any person could possibly get. And that’s a problem, as I shall explain.

Facebook has a couple of BBC groups, but they’re mostly dormant or are spam magnets for penis-enlargement scams or botox peddling.

Here in Hong Kong, there are some ‘party gatherings’ for general networking or drinking organised by or aimed at ABCs, BBCs and whatever-Cs. However, they’re mostly populated by financial suit types who concentrate more on the networking bit and try to inveigle you into buying some financial product that frankly between you and me borders on being a fancier form of botox or penis-enlargement scam.

Our position

The problem with Hong Kong (and with China also) for a ‘foreigny’ Chinese person is that the expat and local communities are as different as chalk and cheese. They don’t connect with each other much — there IS a genuine language barrier here as well as a mental one — and the Clockenflap festival was a noticeable exception to the rule.

In China, the expat community there is (or can be) overly Chinese-centric, and that gets annoying over time. Indeed, I find the more highly educated expats there are the most annoying, mainly because they try just a little too hard to be Chinese. But maybe that’s just because of my bias.

In reverse, the expats in Hong Kong are overly pro-Western (though not anti-Chinese or Chinese-averse), and that too gets annoying over time. Adding to the annoyance are the local Hong Kong Chinese themselves, who virtually avoid knowing anything about the West as well as about China. You can easily see this apathy by looking at the generally dismal standard of Chinese and English among Hongkongers.

I’ll summarise the situation of the alphabet soupsters for you:

  • If you’re an ABC (American-born Chinese), you’re in with the expat/American crowd until the going gets rough — then you’re jettisoned.
  • If you’re a BBC of a more English/British disposition, you’re 70-30 in the Brit and local camps.
  • If you’re a BBC who’s more Chinese in mentality, you’re just another Chinaman who happened to have been born abroad, and therefore 100% lumped with (and bulliable by) the localese.
  • If you’re a Eurochinese (i.e. born/raised on Continental Europe), you don’t count because you’re just another Euronal from a different planet and speak with a funny but adorable accent. So you belong to your own national camp 100%.
  • Interestingly, if you’re a CBC (Canadian-born Chinese), you’re mostly considered a local, even if you don’t even speak the local lingo.

But if you’re a multilocation-raised broccoli who speaks perfect, unaccented Cantonese and knows how to live the local life as much as the expat one, then you’re outta luck here. You’re completely stuck in between the expat, ABC, BBC and local camps — not very enjoyable. (Like me right now.)

The multilateral response to broccolis

* * *

On trust and a united front

Re: The BBC Chinese culture/Chinese apathy thing, I think it happens every ten years. Chinese are so damn unorganised when it comes to politics [and] looking out/supporting each other. Anyway, there’s lots of issues here in the UK but I won’t go on about it.

Actually, that’s a stark-naked realistic description of the situation in Hong Kong and China!

Some China-watchers who actually live inside China have long said that the almost genetically driven distrust/mistrust of the Chinese mind makes for that inscrutable character of John Chinaman described so well by Westerners in the olden days.

On a collective level, that leads to weak social cohesion (‘unorganised’ as you put it so well) — which also leads to disorganised society.

But that’s irrelevant philosophical sociology mush. Daily life intrudes, and there comes many moments in daily life when we just have to put some trust in somebody in order to get those humdrum activities of daily life moving along (like groceries). You, me and most people appreciate this fact of life, and move on.

The problem with us Chinese — mind, not so much the Hong Kong and overseas Chinese as it’s more in the case with Chinese mainlanders — is that even primitive levels of trust have now disappeared from their society. The fast and radical economic and social changes in China after it had reintegrated with the rest of the world 30 years ago just ended up creating a dog-eat-dog world over there.

I’ve heard numerous horror and bitchin’ stories from people who have lived in China. There, they say you can’t get simple things like groceries done without also constantly watching against being shafted. Imagine having to operate on shaft-alert mode day in and day out. Even the mainlanders are sick and tired of this. Imagine, if the food market can’t provide this rudimentary level of trust or support, what can we expect in more complex situations?

Maybe a united front isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, sometimes

* * *

Inadvertently observe carefully

I find it amazing that us foreign-educated Chinese are the sharpest observers of Chinese culture and identity [and] weaknesses, and yet we get the most maligned because of the opposition between East and West. If our opinions were listened to, Chinese culture would probably be a better place.

You’re a pretty sharp observer yourself.

Amaze no more. The reason is simple: there is something else to compare with and against.

Your remark is worth its weight in gold. Most of us (human beings) already think that — just that we don’t say it as you’ve said it.

In fact, I totally agree with you about if foreign-educated Chinese were listened to, even if abjectly. But practically everyone remembers this too:

For every vision, there is an equal and opposite ‘revision.’
(Corollary to Murphy’s Law)

Which is why most ‘foreign-educats’ no longer bother to say anything — waste of breath.

The Chinese mind sometimes works against its own best interest, so said Stephen Hall (a.k.a. Sin Tak-fun) who was a local business figure and social luminary in the 1920s to 1980s.

Let’s spell it out: the Chinese mind often suspends common sense and rationality when it comes to looking at its own. I don’t have to look too far for proof:

  • blindspot mode automatically kicks in (automatically predictably so) whenever the discussion contains any seemingly negative-sounding remarks about us Chinese
  • mainlanders automatically launch into a diatribe about how ‘The West’ had conspired to dismantle wealthy, resourceful and resource-rich China through opium, invasion, pillage, the Japanese, the Nationalists, the Soviet Union (!) and (now) containment (true enough and therefore unanswerable)
  • Hongkongers automatically prattle away that the West made lots of money off us Chinese, and if it wasn’t for our Chinese willingness to suffer the shafting in transactions with the West, the West wouldn’t be where it is now
  • mainlanders automatically refer to our glorious 4,000- or 5,000-year-old Chinese civilisation and need no stinkin’ West to lecture us on civil society
  • Hongkongers automatically point out how familiar we are about Western ‘bad habits and bad thinking’ on the grounds that we have been ruled by a Western power for 156 years

We need only one comparison to put the whole thing into perspective.

Japanese TV have regular ‘cultural perspective’ shows that invite foreigners (living in Japan or not) to spell out various forms of Japanese asshattery, stupidness and serious shite. The shows are noteworthy for their no-holds-barred, free-for-all attitude to listening foreigners’ complaints. The issues covered are serious; the presentation designed to be lighthearted.

A lot of people say such a TV show just wouldn’t fly in the USA. It sure as hell would cause instant flying riots from the Chinese, if my own experience of Chinese people is anything to go by.

It’s easy to spot the ‘fail’ — but did you ‘observe’ not doing this in the first place?

* * *

Idealistic vs. practical idealism

I have the idea that you were an idealist at some point in something and that you decided to just enjoy your life instead of trying to change things? It’s probably best that way and just to get on with things instead of trying to change the world. Idealists are never listened to, only businessmen.

Riding my chopper motorbike in my fringed leather jacket is a helluva better idealism in practical terms. Fixing the bike’s carburettors and changing the oil are much more satisfying than changing the world whose population of psychopaths has already gone beyond the point of no return.

Trumps any idealism

Idealism ain’t no free ride, I’m telling you, man. Idealism comes with a heavy pricetag. Only businesspeople with high moolah and low morals can afford it.

But idealism is bad business, and bad for business — which is why businesspeople don’t want anything to do with idealism. Can we blame them?

I suppose you are right about me being an idealist about something (?) at some time. I mean, we were all idealists to some degree in our younger days.

And then we become older and cynical when it’s our turn to pay the bills, look after the unabortable babies, hold down our imaginatively titled jobs, or beg like serfs for a job from potential employers who wear that insolent sardonic smile on their faces and behave with imperious disdain at our need for a job.

And then spend every bleeding night dealing with the ‘drama’ of those odd strangers with funny noses and shifty eyes living inside our homes we call ‘husband,’ ‘wife,’ ‘son,’ ‘daughter’ or even ‘grandchildren.’

Yes, I too tell people (just like Kevin Flynn did in “TRON: Legacy”) that,

“You’d be amazed just how productive it can be to do just nothing.”

Changing the world is just SEP:

* * *

On being mentally prepared for realities

Anyway, I’ll have to take the English teaching option a bit more seriously, and decide from there, once I’ve got other work out the way, and improve my Cantonese in the meantime. Not too keen on having to impress the snobby culture, but it is what it is, I suppose.

That’s the spirit.

People just don’t realise the value of those great British skills of ‘muddling through’ and ‘keep calm and carry on.’


* * *


Which is more important to you — your ‘world’ or your ‘country’?

How do you decide which?

What is the meaning of YOUR life? WHY do you exist?

* * *


“The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything
is calculated by an enormous supercomputer over a period of
7.5 million years to be 42. Unfortunately no one knows what the question is.”

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979)


© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Alphabet soup via c4c ♦ Old Hong Kong flag via Wikipedia ♦ ABC via 4you4free ♦ ‘Know the Blindspots’ via Workzone Safety ♦ Chinese beach swimmers via c4c ♦ Fail stairs via c4c ♦ Motorbiker on chopper via Hotel Brenner ♦ Somebody Else’s Problem via Cutcaster ♦ ‘Reality is what you can get away with’ via Talent Imitates, Genius Steals.

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