Doctors make mistakes on maths tests because they are exhausted?
I was amused by this story in the Economist: Long live Cantopop - about the University of British Columbia (UBC) offering a course in Cantonese.
I have been listening again to Naked Cantonese (RTHK Podcast), in which Cecilie Gamst Berg tries to teach us to speak like Hong Kong people. One of the many tricks played on foreigners is to pretend that it’s correct to say “Neih” (you) and “Ngoh” (me) rather than “Leih” and “[ng]oh”. Cecilie rightly teaches the latter as current usage (however ‘wrong’ it may be).
Yet the Economist persists with this nonsense in its story:
Newcomers to Vancouver’s Chinatown are richer and speak Mandarin. A sign advertising luxury apartments welcomes potential buyers (in Roman letters) with ni hao, the putonghua greeting, rather than the Cantonese nei hou. A decade ago, dignitaries at Chinese-new-year festivities gave speeches in Cantonese; today they speak Mandarin.
Then we learn that the university has been paid to do this:
The university has rejected four offers from the Confucius Institute, a cultural body financed by China’s government, to expand its teaching of Mandarin. “When a university can reject money, it’s a subtle form of pushback to an overbearing culture,” says Mr King. Instead, in 2013 UBC accepted C$2m ($1.5m) from a pair of philanthropists in Hong Kong to offer Cantonese.
There’s not too much wrong with Hong Kong International Airport. Apart from the North Satellite Concourse, that is.
It was opened more than 5 years ago (for smaller plans such as the A320 / A321), and yet the only way to get there (or back) is by taking a shuttle bus across the apron….
…which is also used by large planes.
As the planes take priority, the buses often get delayed on the tarmac. And it doesn’t take much for the whole system to grind to a halt. Recently I had a lengthy wait for a bus to arrive, and then, once it departed, it moved just a few hundred metres - and we had to wait for another 7-8 minutes before it could continue the short journey to the North Satellite Concourse. Total delay – around 20 minutes, and too much time spent standing on a crowded bus.
The best solution from the smart people at HKIA is advice to passengers to allow extra time to get there. Thanks a lot.
Needless to say, it doesn’t have a lounge (there is a Starbucks if you want to pay for food and drink, which I don’t - thanks all the same).
Is this really an improvement on buses that go directly to planes parked a little further away (which they also still do)?
The SCMP reports that Page One in Causeway Bay has closed (Bookshop at end of last chapter in Times Square), though it seems possible that it may re-open if space can be found. So not really the end of the last chapter, then.
The one in TST moved recently and became a “concept store”. At first sight it appears to have become a magazine store with a few books, but hidden away upstairs is a reasonable size bookstore.
The concept, of course, is high-priced books, but the SCMP seems not to have picked up on that:
[T]he closure of its Causeway Bay branch signaled wider difficulty for English-language bookshops, publisher Jimmy Pang Chi-ming said.
"Hong Kong people read few books. They read fewer English books, and even fewer hard-cover collectables," he said.
Well, maybe they do read books but don’t want to pay excessive prices. English books are typically marked up by 25% in Hong Kong. Strangely the same books are available in Bangkok without that mark-up, or in India for significantly less.
Or you can buy from Amazon or Book Depository.
Thank a lot, Cable TV, I really wanted to see the latest ISIS beheading video. It’s not available on other media outlets (who have this strange idea that showing these videos only gives ISIS more publicity), and no need to search for it on the old Interweb thingy.
Just exactly what I wanted to watch on my journey home from work on the MTR.
It’s bad enough receiving unsolicited sales calls on my mobile (though I find that either ignoring them until they hang up, or saying “Hello, who’s calling?” usually work quite well), but I get seriously annoyed when my bank keeps calling to sell me stuff.
Yes, “my bank”. I have had an account (and a credit card) with them for quite a few years, and, after all that time, one might think that they know something about me.
But no - as well as trying to sell me services that they ought to know that I don’t need, they can’t even address me correctly. OK, yes, it is one of my names, but it’s not the correct one.
I told them to stop calling me, and they warned me that I might miss out on a new product or service. Well, yes, that’s the idea. If I need something, I believe I am probably capable of asking them for assistance.
Mike Rowse seems to be a rare dose of common sense on the opinion pages of the SCMP, and today his subject is the craziness that descends on the city when there’s a bit of rain and some strong winds:
Joy at time off thanks to weather is misguided - and just where was the weather anyway?
After reviewing recent events, I have concluded I may be going slightly crazy. That is not as bad as it sounds, because I am not alone.
Take this matter of the typhoon that passed by this week. As soon as the news spread that the No8 storm signal was likely to go up on Monday evening, people in the office started smiling at one another as if some kind of secret pleasure was imminent. We might all get the following day off without the need to deduct it from our holiday balance.
What was strange was that the feeling was shared even by those who really like going to work. You can understand why people who dislike their jobs, or pupils who are facing a test, might welcome an unscheduled day off. But why were those who enjoy what they do getting excited, too? It must be the idea of "getting something for nothing" that is so captivating.
So, stay in bed until late then? Well, no, the first priority is to find out what signal is still up the next morning so as to establish whether it is necessary to take the children to school. That actually means waking up earlier than usual, and by the time the Observatory has confirmed the No8 is likely to stay up till mid-morning and school is cancelled, there is no point in going back to bed as I am wide awake.
Next comes a check of the work diary. The most urgent items won't wait and can be done only in the office. Off to the office anyway …
Dress casually because meetings will be cancelled and no one else will be there? That won't work because the signal is going to come down mid-morning and then everyone else will drag themselves back in. So shave and dress as usual. The roads are clear; travelling in is easier than usual. Bit of rain and wind, but nothing exceptional; in an urban environment, there does not seem much difference between No3 and No8.
Will there be newspapers? God bless them, yes! The free sheet has been delivered to our block, and the 7-Eleven for once has the Post available. A Frenchman is outside trying to get a taxi, but they all want HK$150 for a HK$30 trip.
Cannot bear the idea of the pirates getting away with this, so give him a lift despite his nationality.
What about coffee? Yes, Starbucks is open and God bless them too, a cappuccino can be had for the usual price.
And slowly it comes to me: everything is working normally except those bits of the community that have been told by the government not to. Normality seems to have been turned on its head - unless it's me? Whoever could have designed such a system? I'll soon find out.
When they put me away in the padded cell, I'll just look in the room next door.
Mike Rowse is managing director of Stanton Chase International and an adjunct professor at Chinese University. email@example.com
I sometimes get WhatsApp message that have been sent to hundreds of different Hong Kong phone numbers. It appears that these are sent so that when they get a response they know that the phone number is active. Cue even more annoying junk sales calls.
I did a Google search but I can’t find any information about this.
So does anyone know whether the sender already has the confirmation (that the number is active) when the message is shown as delivered? Does it matter whether you exit the group (which definitely sends a confirmation message)?
Why doesn’t WhatsApp allow me to simply ignore the group? Or is there a way to do this that I can’t figure out?
Google Play now offer e-books in Hong Kong (from Tech in Asia). That’s the good news.
The bad news is that I can’t find a way to get it to display books in English only, so it’s a frustrating experience. As ever, not all titles are available, and whereas Amazon has a reasonable idea what I might want to buy, Google doesn’t:
Meanwhile, Amazon is still charging their US$2 penalty for non-US customers. Rumour has it that they drop it when Apple is competing with them in a territory. But not Google, apparently.
Buy an iPhone, iPad, or iPod in Hong Kong and you will pay no more than the US price - so they are cheaper here because Hong Kong has no sales tax. But try to buy a Nexus 7 and you will pay 20% more, because they are all “parallel imports”.
English books are usually around 25% more than the US price (they usually convert at HK$10 = U$1). Hence the popularity of sites such as Book Depository or Fishpond (though the latter is very confusing, as they have their own made up list prices). Or you can buy your books in Thailand (reasonable prices) or India (very reasonable prices).
There’s also the nonsense of Amazon charging an extra US$2.00 for sending (some) Kindle titles to customers in countries where they don’t operate. Yes, that’s a charge for sending files over the Internet.
Alternative medicines are typically 100% more in Hong Kong. For example, Blackmores Echinacea Forte is sold in Watsons in Hong Kong for around HK$150 whereas in Thailand it is around 600 baht. The catch is that in Hong Kong the pack only contains 30, whereas in Thailand you get 60. So the unit cost is double.
I found another product in Mannings, and went online to check the UK price. Again, it was almost exactly half the Hong Kong price. So I tried to order it online from the manufacturers. They don’t allow you to order from Hong Kong, but instead they direct you to the retailers here who stock their products.
Fortunately there are other companies (such as ChemistDirect) that will ship the same products to Hong Kong, and in many cases the discounts offset the delivery charge, so you are paying the UK retail price with “free” delivery.
Which is about half the price you would pay in Hong Kong.