Friday, October 27, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What is your Point of View?

There is a small café in Mongkok, which I mentioned before, whose owner seems to prefer NewsWeek as a regular source of global news. While waiting for a friend, I was flipping through the current issue at the café, and there I found an inspiring article right next to the letters to the editors. The article title was bright red in colour and typeset in a certain Serif font, like this:

My Point of View

The article was presumably written by a Taiwanese woman about her grandson Jason. The American kid had been studying in London. He did not want to work as a doctor like his father did, and have come to Taiwan to "see the world". At first the young man was not welcomed in the neighbourhood because he dressed like a degenerate. However, when later a fire broke out, he was the first to run into the scene and saved a girl with his first-aid skills.

Why, you may ask, is such an article appearing beside the "letters" section? It was not until the last paragraph when I noticed an equally bright red box in the bottom. The box had a triangular indentation on one side, like the one you can see below:

The article is in fact one of an advertisement series placed by HSBC, "the world's local bank".

This advertisement is interesting in a number of ways.

Position, layout

"Advertising" was printed legibly on the top right corner: The placement clearly indicated its nature but it was styled in such a way that the reader simply would not look at the grey letters. The article was written just like any other article appearing in a news magazine. It was only in the last paragraph, when fire insurance was mentioned, that one realizes it was about the evil cornerstone of modern empires, the finance industry.


While no references were made directly to the bank, the "globally local" concept was blended carefully throughout the article. The relationship between traditional Chinese families and American born Chinese educated in Britain is a perfect example of reconciliation of different cultures.

Insurance agents like to sell by fear. They like to tell you how easy it is to get Cancer; how tragic it can be if you are critically ill and unable to support your family; how helpless you will be when you are old without huge personal savings. This article did not scare you. It only suggested such possiblities indirectly. It is so real yet so distant. Afterall it is only a side character in a fictional story from a neighbouring country.

It also converted liabilities into dreams. How nice it will be if I could have a home so I can show my friends my personal collection! HSBC financed my home and made my dream come true. No mentioning of interest rates and repayment periods. It just worked. This was the placement in the previous week's issue.

It is no wonder why HSBC is one of the worlds top banks, and JWT one of the world's top advertising agencies.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"The Human Rights Act is a vital part of the fight against terrorism"

As reported by BBC, Lord Phillips, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales gave a lecture titled "Terrorism and Human Rights" at the University of Hertfordshire recently. He believes that human rights is a crucial weapon in fighting terrorism because it "is the ideology in which we believe." The same lecture was also given in Singapore a few months ago and the transcript is available online. To quote what he said:

"Terrorism is not readily defined, and whether activities amount to terrorism can depend upon your point of view. One man’s terrorist can be another man’s freedom fighter."

(Quoting Lord Hoffmann, another senior judge, regarding Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001) "Terrorist violence, serious as it is, does not threaten our institutions of government or our existence as a civil community. The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve"

(Quoting the European Commisioner for Human Rights, regarding Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005) "Substituting 'obligation' for 'penalty' and 'controlled person' for 'suspect' only thinly disguises the fact that control orders are intended to substitute the ordinary criminal justice system with a parallel system run by the executive."

"Respect for human rights must, I suggest, be a key weapon in the ideological battle. [...] The Human Rights Act is not merely their safeguard, it is a vital part of the foundation of our fight against terrorism."

Lord Phillips also believes in punishment other than imprisonment. To prove his point he even went so far to pose as a drunk driver and participated in the Community Payback project for one full day and his feelings with the press later.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Crushing Futility

"Sadness is just another word for not enough coffee"

Monday, October 16, 2006

"That's like saying you don't want to kiss your lover's lips because everyone has lips."

I love the analogy.

Apple's Jobs doesn't see threats to iPod: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Computer Inc. doesn't expect the iPod media player to be hurt by Microsoft Corp.'s Zune, Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a magazine interview.

Microsoft has touted Zune, a portable media player due to be launched in the United States in time for the holiday shopping season, as a potential threat to the dominant iPod because of its ability to share music wirelessly.

"It takes forever," Jobs told Newsweek in an interview posted on the magazine's Web site on Sunday. "By the time you've gone through all that, the girl's got up and left."

Jobs was equally unconcerned about the prospect of the iPod losing its cool factor as it becomes increasingly ubiquitous.

"That's like saying you don't want to kiss your lover's lips because everyone has lips. It doesn't make any sense," said Jobs.

Thursday, October 12, 2006




Monday, October 09, 2006

"Deeply unethical"

"Deeply unethical" was Al Gore's comment about American involvement in the accumulation of greenhouse gases.

An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary movie in which the former Vice President of the United States talked about his environmental protection efforts as a politician in the last 20 years. He talked about the causes of global warming (greenhouse gases), its effects on world weather, the reluctance of governmental support on its prevention (such as the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol) and a lot more.

In this movie he said many, many times that global warming is "a moral issue" not political. In this very same movie, however, we can see that it can be as political as you want it to be. Indirectly he criticized the Bush administration for her over-emphasis on "War on Terror" and neglect on the environment. He claimed that the reluctance to adopt environmental friendly policies were supported by oil company lobby groups. It almost looks like it is part of a smearing campaign against the Republican government. There are more problems to this. One of which disturbs me a lot is "Carbon Neutrality" ...

Mr. Information Superhighway said you can reduce your Carbon Dioxide emission to zero. It is impossible unless you do not use any petroleum products. Carbon offset only make you feel better but does not mean you emit no net CO2 gas throughout your life. No amount of tree planting can compensate for the fact that crude oil has been pumped out from beneath the ground. Biofuel will eventually force us into using genetically altered crops, but it is at least a good start for a change.

There are more problems to this movies as Googling can show you, but it is nonetheless a good sign. It means that mainstream American politicians are aware of the environmental impact their country is bringing to this world and believe environmental-friendliness can attract voters. This movie may have been made for political motives, but it also gave the issue an attention it deserved. It is important to note that sustainable development can, and should go hand in hand with profit. Afterall we cannot expect anyone to invest in a company because it makes them feel good. Al Gore's investment company, Generation Investment Management, started investing client money last year based on sustainability research. I hope we will see more of it.

More links:
The moral flaws of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth: "admirable in intent", but ...
Key to "An Inconvenient Truth": Hey, Al Gore is a director on the board of Apple Computer!
絕望真相「影」真絕望: sordinmui's review of the movie

Impressions on An Inconvenient Truth: 7/10

Also watched recently ...
詭絲: 6/10
男たちの大和 (on DVD): 4/10

UPDATE: On USATODAY there is an article revealing how green Al Gore's lifestyle is. Apparently he did not go green energy when it is available, and turned a blind eye on his river-polluting mining concessions. That begs the fat doctor question.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Day against DRM

The third day of October is declared the Day against DRM.

What is DRM? Digital Restrictions Management, they say.
Why is DRM bad? It is a disaster for innovation, free speech, fair use, and competition. Worse still, recent DRM has invaded users' privacy and created severe security vulnerabilities in computers.