Sunday, 31 January 2010

0371 HKSAR Name of the Day

Popeye Fung Siu-ning, veteran news anchor, Asia Television, Hong Kong (joined 1992, laid off February 2009)

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Will 2010 See a Change of Power in Men’s Tennis?

The 2010 Australian Open men’s singles final today between Roger Federer and Andy Murray promises to be an interesting match up. The outcome will be insightful for how the psychology between these two wonderful players plays out for the remainder of the season. Federer is 28 years old and has won 15 grand slam titles but his star may be waning. Murray is 22 years of age, has yet to win a grand slam but his star is definitely rising.

In head-to-head encounters, Murray holds a 6-4 advantage over Federer. In particular, during the 2009 season Murray probably had the best head-to-head record against Federer than any other tour player. And the 2009 version of Murray (a young buck full of bravado but lacking in fitness) certainly promoted that statistic in the first half of the 2009 season, together with some negative comments about Federer. And those comments definitely got Federer’s goat.*

What a difference a year makes. This year, it is obvious Murray has gained physical power, stamina and better overall fitness during the off season. For example, as part of his fitness regime he did interval runs of 10 x 400 meters. Each 400m run is completed within 76 seconds, with a rest period of 76 seconds, before starting the next run.

[Andy Murray trained hard during the close season; something a certain Andre Agassi did towards the twilight of his career. This approach certainly paid dividends for Agassi. Will Murray also benefit? Pic courtesy AP.]

The media are saying that Federer is piling the pressure on Murray and apparently this is something new. HKSARblog doesn’t think so. This is because Federer made similar comments about Murray this time last year when he also questioned Murray chances.

Although still a fantastic player, Federer perhaps knows that he has reached his “plateau” and that Murray now has the game and fitness to beat him. Compared with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martín del Potro (who are similar ages with Murray and who also have the game and fitness to beat Federer), the main difference is that Murray has still not won a grand slam. And Federer has used this to his psychological advantage, referring to Britain’s 74-year wait for a male grand slam singles champion as a “150,000 year drought”!

Until Murray wins a grand slam, this psychological edge will remain between them. This is why it will be interesting to see whether Murray wins this time or not, and then what the outcome of this means to Federer’s psychological treatment of Murray will be.

It should be noted that Federer has always been respectful towards Murray and other opponents. Federer said this about Murray in March 2009:
"He's a great player and great players are tough to play against," he said. "He's young, so you still have to figure him out a little bit. He's changing his game as time goes by. Every time you play him, he plays a bit different.

"Whereas for me, it's different. He knows what to expect. That's the advantage of a youngster. There are disadvantages in that they're a bit more inconsistent but he's been very consistent, at a young age, which is impressive to see."

HKSARblog doesn’t usually make predictions. However, for the Aussie Open men’s final, HKSARblog will say that Murray will just edge out Federer and perhaps a power shift will ripple through the men’s game. If Federer does win, then Murray will have to endure “Britain's 150,00 year drought” a little while longer!

Note: This photo of Andy Murray (after a wonderful rally with Marin Cilic that saw Murray at the net race back to the baseline and deliver a passing shot) “looks” so much better when played with this sound clip. Murray did not bother doing a 'Hotdog', as Federer is strangely inclined to do in similar circumstances.

[Andy Murray reacts after winning a point against Marin Cilic during his 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 semi-final victory. Photo: Reuters.]

* HKSARblog understands Federer also has a cow. Called Daisy, allegedly.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

0370 HKSAR Name of the Day

Vica Chong Chuen-yee (Mr), restaurant owner and karting enthusiast, Diamond Coast International Kart Circuit, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

Grundy on Grindy

HKSARblog had to do a double take when reading a letter in the SCMP about Native English Teachers or NETs. At first glance, it appeared the letter writer was responding to his own letter. In actual fact, it is a Tom Grundy responding to a letter from a Tom Grindy.

Grundy makes a good point in support of the “special allowance” provided by the Education Bureau to NETs, although there is no evidence that there will be a “mass exodus” should this allowance be reduced.

Teachers' pay is reasonable
Jan 29, 2010

I refer to the letter by Tom Grindy ("Allowance for which home?", January 27). Mr Grindy appears unaware that native English-speaking teachers are on the same salary scale as our local colleagues.

The additional Education Bureau "special allowance" compensates for the extra costs - financial and otherwise - that the vast majority of expatriate educators face. Meanwhile, local teachers benefit from job security and pension plans.

NETs have a unique and highly valued role in Hong Kong schools and the wage and benefits they receive are not only fair but necessary in order to attract and retain teachers from abroad. Furthermore, the bureau has a surplus and recently handed some of its budget back to the government. Were the allowance scaled down, the NET scheme would likely collapse under a mass exodus.

Tom Grundy, Jordan

Friday, 29 January 2010

0369 HKSAR Name of the Day

Samson Chiu Yuk-hung, head of marine enforcement, Customs and Excise Department, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare; Self-important; Son-suffix?

Baseball Caps Off To China’s Tennis Twosome

What a brilliant run from the Chinese tennis twosome Zheng Jie and Li Na, who are the first Chinese women to reach the semi-finals of a grand slam tournament. Unfortunately, hopes for a Chinese player to reach the final of the Australian Open ended when Zheng Jie was thrashed 6-1 6-0 by Justine Henin, and Li Na was beaten 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-1) by Serena Williams. Justine Henin and Serena Williams are now into the Australian Open final.

[Li Na’s non-male-like arms.]

Of the four women who visited Hong Kong earlier this month and who then went on to the Australian Open, Zheng Jie fared the best. It is difficult to say, either way, whether playing in Hong Kong’s annual exhibition tennis event is good or poor preparation for a grand slam. Nevertheless, HKSARblog admits to enjoying whatever tennis is available.

Note: The official pictures of Zheng Jie and Li Na on the WTA Tour website show two different approaches to the players’ self-promotion.

[Zheng Jie from the WTA Tour website. Clearly massively "made up" and unfortunately reminds HKSARblog of a Stand Out Face. Too "plasticky".]

[Li Na from the WTA Tour website. Her bio pic has more of a natural and girl-next-door look.]

Anyway, congratulations to both Zheng Jie and Li Na for their significant achievements at the 2010 Australian Open.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

0368 HKSAR Name of the Day

Almustafa Lee Lap-hong, chief executive of the Association of Elderly Rights, Hong Kong (see additional comments at 0324 HKSAR Name of the Day)

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

0367 HKSAR Name of the Day

Mason Hung Chung-hing, a senior manager for product development, Hong Kong Tourism Board and Tourism Commission, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare; Son-suffix?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

0366 HKSAR Name of the Day

Junius Ho Kwan-yao, Law Society Council vice chairman, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

This makes it one full year of listing Novel Names in Hong Kong. HKSARblog is concerned that this may have become a 'boring' blog feature (e.g. see comment here). Should this Novel Name feature be discontinued?

Monday, 25 January 2010

0365 HKSAR Name of the Day

Eileena Chui Mo Ching, doctor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation; Insertion

I Stand Corrected … Possibly

At Melbourne Park, three professional tennis players who were recently in Hong Kong are on the cusp of heading in to the second week of the Australian Open. American Venus Williams (seeded sixth), Dane Caroline Wozniacki (seeded fourth), and Chinese Zheng Jie (unseeded).

When Russian Maria Sharapova (seeded 14) lost in the first round last Monday, questions were immediately raised about the usefulness of exhibition matches (like Hong Kong’s annual tennis spectaculars held in Victoria Park) for professionals preparing for Grand Slam tournaments like the Australian Open. It appears a thorough analysis of the statistics is needed, which is why HKSARblog admits to being wrong (and irrational) in being too quick to condemn Sharapova and other active tour players who came to Hong Kong before heading down to the Australian Open. Despite this, the call remains for transparency in appearance fees, especially for those “old classics” Stefan Edberg, Michael Chang and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Latest: Zheng Jie has become the first Chinese player to reach the final eight at Melbourne Park with a 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 victory over Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko.

Also, Justine Henin battles through to Australian Open quarter-finals:

[Justine Henin, playing in the Australian Open for the first time since 2008 after coming out of retirement, shows she still has her game … plus a powerful male-like right arm! Pic from BBC Sport.]

Sunday, 24 January 2010

0364 HKSAR Name of the Day

Wimmie Cheung Wan May, solicitor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation; Substitution

Chinese Students Compelled to Cheat in International Marathon

Over 30 high-school students, who are clearly under pressure to enter China’s elite universities, apparently decided to cheat in an international marathon. The motive was to gain extra credits for China’s highly competitive college entrance examinations, so the students needed to run the marathon in under 2 hours and 34 minutes. Considering the world record is 2 hours, 3 minutes and 59 seconds, the high-school students were basically putting themselves forward as professional athletes capable of running marathons in “international class” times.

Question: How many high-school students in this day and age can actually train and run this fast in marathons while simultaneously having the time to study copiously?

Answer: None, it would seem. They all cheated by either 1) hiring imposters to run for them; 2) hiring elite runners to carry their time-recording microchips so that one runner would register two or more finishes simultaneously; or 3) jumping in vehicles for parts of the marathon.

Note: the first option is a commonly used tactic for almost anything in China (especially for taking examinations). There is of course a fourth option, which is to fake one’s qualifications by buying counterfeit certificates (but the use of counterfeit medals and completion certificates from the marathon does not appear to have been used … at least not yet). Using counterfeits is probably outdated.

The Xiamen International Marathon in China was held on 2 January, but Chinese newspaper Jiefang Daily reported the cheating on 21 January. The marathon, one of the biggest in the world, attracted 48,000 participants this year. It is one of 24 IAAF Gold Label Road Races, along with prestigious events such as the London, New York and Tokyo marathons.

Clearly, these high-school students who cheated are not the brightest of students and don’t deserve to enter prestigious universities. Unfortunately, many will eventually enter such universities. Furthermore, HKSARblog cannot help but think just how many students already in China’s elite universities hire imposters to take their examinations for them.

Marathon cheats caught hitching lifts, hiring imposters (Reuters)

Saturday, 23 January 2010

0363 HKSAR Name of the Day

Tsaris Law Hon Man, surveyor (since 1988), Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

Friday, 22 January 2010

0362 HKSAR Name of the Day

Winkey Fung Chun Lai, accountant, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

Paper Offerings Reveal Chinese Bigotry

The SCMP had an interesting article on Jan 17, 2010 titled “Up In Smoke” about Hong Kong’s last paper masters. In the article a paper master, Ha Chung-kin, said:
"Wherever there're* Chinese, there'll be god worshipping. And wherever there is god worshipping, there will be paper offerings."

The Chinese belief and tradition of burning paper offerings reveals how narrow-minded and irrational the practice is.

[Photo from SCMP]

Just take a look at this photo of what appears to be a South Asian security guard. He’s to be burnt, along with a Chinese servant girl I think.

If the last paper masters are consciously upgrading cars, houses and other modern belongings, then would it be too much for them to upgrade the servants too?

[Paper offerings include cars, houses and servants. Photo from SCMP]

The Chinese belief and tradition of burning offerings also reveals how hypocritical the practice is because proxies, in the form of paper offerings, enable the living to keep and use the material wealth that would otherwise have been wastefully buried or burnt as a mark of respect to ancestors many many generations ago. How practical the Chinese!

*Great sub-editing, as usual … not. A common occurrence also mentioned by Private Beach.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

0361 HKSAR Name of the Day

Anica Chu Pui Han, doctor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Real News Would Have Been “Man Nets Kylie Minogue”

Instead, The Daily Telegraph runs the story: “Man catches carp the weight of Kylie Minogue”. Bit of a damp squib really.

The Chinese angle in this is that had this occurred in Hong Kong or China (instead of France), restaurant owners would have instantly snapped up the huge carp and made a mint ... irrespective of any Kylie Minoque associations.

[At 94 lbs (42.7 kg), the world record line-caught mirror carp weighed the same as Kylie Minogue. Photo: BNPS]

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

0360 HKSAR Name of the Day

Henson Chu, doctor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation; Son-suffix; Substitution

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

0359 HKSAR Name of the Day

Feliciana Cheung Siu Wai, solicitor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Do Tennis Players Choose Hong Kong for Australian Open Preparation?

Yet again, questions must be asked why some top tennis players choose to come to Hong Kong at the start of the tennis season. The oft-used claim that it is to do with preparing themselves for the Australian Open is starting to wear thin. Especially since Maria Sharapova has just lost in the first round of the 2010 Australian Open.

[Maria Sharapova lost 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-4 to fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko in the first round of the Australian Open. Pic BBC Sport.]

Just how much do tennis players earn for making an appearance in Hong Kong? Or is it the shopping that draws in the female tennis players?

Note: Sharapova won the Australian Open in 2008, but was she in Hong Kong that year? Serena Williams won the Australian Open in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, but was she in Hong Kong those same years? Is there a link?


EDIT: Paragraph from AFP news article “Cool Kirilenko silences Sharapova” by Martin Parry in Melbourne (Jan 19, 2010):
Sharapova, 22, was a shadow of her former self in a 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4 defeat to Maria Kirilenko. Seeded 14, she paid the price for opting to play only exhibition tournaments in Thailand and Hong Kong as a warm-up to the season's opening grand slam.


Monday, 18 January 2010

0358 HKSAR Name of the Day

Junkers Lam Siu Kay, surveyor (since 1990), Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

Sunday, 17 January 2010

0357 HKSAR Name of the Day

Cato Chi Wai Kwok, accountant, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Saturday, 16 January 2010

0356 HKSAR Name of the Day

Eudora Chow Yu De, doctor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Chinese Wedding Perceptions

Question: When is a wedding not a wedding?
Answer: When it is a traditional Chinese wedding banquet.

Nevermind the paperwork! To many Chinese, the traditional huge wedding banquet signifies that a couple is “officially” married (and that children will be on the way … but that’s another story).

The news story below is just another example of people being influenced blindly by beliefs and traditions rather by being educated about the law, society and rationality. Claiming ignorance is no defence.

"I thought without a wedding banquet, the registration alone did not mean a formal marriage," said [China's triple Olympic table tennis champion Ma Lin].

HKSARblog advocates healthy questioning of beliefs and traditions, wherever and whoever you are.

Mainland star urged to put quick end to 'unwitting' marriage (SCMP)
Reuters in Beijing

Jan 14, 2010

China's triple Olympic champion Ma Lin has been urged by his coach to bring a quick end to a five-year marriage that the world number three claims not to have known he was party to.

The clandestine marriage was first exposed in the mainland media last October when Ma was reported to have initiated divorce proceedings against little-known television actress Zhang Yi. The 29-year-old Beijing Olympic singles champion said he did not know he had been married despite undergoing a legal registration with Zhang in 2004.

"I thought without a wedding banquet, the registration alone did not mean a formal marriage," he told Chinese media.

China's head coach, Liu Guoliang, said that unless Ma brought the divorce case to an end soon, his future in table tennis would be in danger.

"I gave him a deadline," Liu told Beijing Daily. "His career will be destroyed if he cannot sort it out before our next training camp in April."

Ma, who also won team gold at the Beijing Games as well as the men's doubles title in Athens in 2004, was knocked out in the first round of the ITTF Pro Tour Finals in Macau last week.

"With a domestic problem, even the greatest athlete like Tiger Woods had no other choice but taking an 'indefinite break' from playing," Liu added. "I don't want to see Ma like that."

This is not the first time that China's conservative table tennis officials have become involved in Ma's love life. In 2004, fellow player Bai Yang was exiled from the national team for allegedly being Ma's girlfriend - a few months before Ma secretly married Zhang.

Friday, 15 January 2010

0355 HKSAR Name of the Day

Gaven Cheong Wei Kin, solicitor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Car Pool at Liverpool

"He can play in three positions - on the right, left or as a second striker - and is someone with a very positive mentality, which is what we are looking for. He knows Mascherano and Torres and he can provide a lift for some players."

Evidently, in efforts to economize, the Reds are going green by encouraging car pooling especially from their new bargain signings! It is a bonus that Argentina winger Maxi Rodriguez can play in three different positions too.

In an era where huge debt is synonymous with crippling football clubs (e.g. Portsmouth), Benitez has made an astute economic purchase … who will no doubt be used economically too. Will fans continue to be frustrated?

And wait. Liverpool have just lost to Reading in the FA Cup third-round replay. More frustrations.

[Note: point of post is the take on "he can provide a lift"]

Thursday, 14 January 2010

0354 HKSAR Name of the Day

Kempis Lam Chi Ming, surveyor (since 1994), Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

Hefty Yevgeny Kafelnikov

A huge surprise at the Hong Kong Tennis Classic 2010 was the appearance of Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who was Marat Safin’s last-minute replacement in the exhibition event.

Appearance: meaning “arrival” was not so surprising, especially considering Kafelnikov’s “hard-earned” reputation as someone who entered the most tennis tournaments than any other fellow professional purely for the financial incentive. Here’s Agassi’s comment about Kafelnikov: [He] should take his pay cheque and go and buy some perspective with it. (see SCMP article below)

Appearance: meaning “physical look” was the huge surprise (pun intended). Since retiring in 2003 at the age of 28, Kafelnikov has packed on the pounds. He’s also become quite a competent poker player and a failure at golf. Kafelnikov's biodata says he is 6'3" (190 cm) and 185 lbs (84 kg). But these are his measurements whilst he was a pro. Roger Federer is 6’1” (185cm) and 187 lbs (85 kg). Kafelnikov is likely to be over 200 lbs easily.

[Fat Kafelnikov. Pic courtesy Tennis Classic 2010 website.]

Net returns for tournament, sponsor or not (SCMP)
John Carney
Jan 10, 2010

After a tournament, US tennis player Andre Agassi once said that Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov should take his pay cheque and go and buy some perspective with it.

It's hard to know if Kafelnikov's attitude towards life has changed thanks to his advice, but the Russian was back in the cash yesterday in the Hong Kong Tennis Classic at Victoria Park. The problem was nobody knew exactly how much he received.

Kafelnikov, Maria Sharapova of Russia, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, Sweden's Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang and Venus Williams of the US were the star attractions.

But as has been the case over the years, their appearance money was not made public. They do not play for prize money.

The tournament lost its title sponsor this year after JB Group, which came on board in 2008, pulled out of the event. It left the organisers, Hong Kong Tennis Patrons' Association, looking for a backer.

Having found it hard to find sponsors with sufficient funding because of the recession, they applied to the government's HK$100 million Mega Events Fund. Organisers refused to say how much they had received, but it is understood that they asked for HK$5.5 million.

It also did no harm to the funding bid that the Hong Kong Tennis Patrons' Association has such notable members within its ranks. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen is its patron-in-chief, while gaming tycoon, Stanley Ho Hung-sun is a vice- patron-in-chief.

Tournament co-director Brian Catton, however, dismissed the idea.

"I don't think that the likes of Mr Tang or Mr Ho would have any influence in this instance," he said.

"They would remain totally removed and impartial. With an issue like this everything is throughly scrutinised and everyone has to go through very strict criteria to get the funding."

One sponsor whose cash till was still ringing was Stella Artois. Sales of the beer were up by 20 per cent compared with last year.

"What has happened is that we've been selling more jugs of beer than pints and it has made a big difference," Stella Artois' marketing manager, Kitty Cheung Wing-yan, said.

Regardless of the bad weather, the tournament played out over the week to a near capacity audience of 3,700 people each night.

But tennis fan Michael Yip Yau-kar, was annoyed at Russian star Marat Safin's non-appearance.

"It's very disappointing as I'm sure organisers knew well before this that he wasn't playing and could have done a lot better job of letting the fans know sooner," Yip said.

But this aside, with another full house for the last day's play yesterday and the next-door tennis village also well attended, local fans were only too happy to be seen splashing their cash in style whatever the players were being paid.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

0353 HKSAR Name of the Day

Wiky Kit Wan Kwan, accountant, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

0352 HKSAR Name of the Day

Faustin Chow Sing Wah, doctor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation; Deletion; Insertion

Monday, 11 January 2010

0351 HKSAR Name of the Day

Vena Cheng Wei Yan, solicitor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Sunday, 10 January 2010

0350 HKSAR Name of the Day

Elina See Mei Hung, accountant, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare

Saturday, 9 January 2010

0349 HKSAR Name of the Day

Anida Chong Sui Fan, doctor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation; Substitution

The Pot Calling the Kettle Cute

SCMP senior writer Alex Lo has some interesting columns, especially when he clumsily attempts to insert some science and reason. His latest commentary about “the cult of cuteness in Japan” is a hilarious albeit unintentional example of “the pot calling the kettle black”.

In his article (see below), Lo uses animal behaviourist Konrad Lorenz’s definition of “cuteness” (i.e. physical features of babies) to be:
"A relatively large head, predominance of the brain capsule, large and low-lying eyes, bulging cheeks region, short and thick extremities, a springy elastic consistency, and clumsy movements".

Has Alex Lo looked in the mirror lately?
Can someone confirm whether Lo also has “short and thick extremities, a springy elastic consistency, and clumsy movements”? LOL. His hair appears to be clumsily styled though!

The biological explanation for why human babies and young animals look cute is because: “Their immature features trigger responses such as tenderness, affection and nurturing”. That’s probably a good reason why Alex Lo has his photo next to his column. And that is also probably why HKSARblog is commenting non-aggressively on Alex Lo!

Furthermore, in all these musings of "cuteness", I have forgotten what the point of Lo's article is.

A cute angle
Alex Lo
Jan 07, 2010

It is a universal phenomenon that sex sells. But, in Japan, even sex has to take a back seat when it comes to advertising in commercial media and popular culture in general. Few actresses and models appeal unless they are cute. The cult of cuteness reins over the land to such an extent that one cannot talk sensibly about contemporary Japanese culture without considering the question of what it means to be cute. The problem has been haunting me since my recent holiday in the land of the rising sun. One reason is that more than any other country, even America, Japan has a predominant influence on Hong Kong's pop culture. We are, after all, highly derivative. What, then, is cuteness?

All my life, I have only come across three discussions of cuteness that actually make sense. In his book Guerrilla Metaphysics, contemporary philosopher Graham Harman takes a brief excursion from more serious metaphysical issues to consider the nature of cuteness. He writes: "Cute objects are either lovely, or else they are delightfully absorbed in some technique that we ourselves take for granted. That is to say, certain actions are performed by certain worldly agents with a regularity and ease devoid of any hesitation. Horses gallop, donkeys eat, humans write letters, and native speakers of a language use it fluently.

"The labours of such agents become `cute' when they are slightly underequipped for their task: a newborn horse trying to prance on its skinny, awkward legs; a sweet little donkey trying to eat a big pile of hay with its sweet little mouth and tongue; a child handing us a thank-you note with imperfect grammar; a foreigner misusing our language in slightly incorrect but delightfully vivid fashion. In each of these cases, the cute agent is one that makes use of implements of which it is not fully in command."

Underequipment among juvenile beings captures what I think is the Western notion of cuteness, exemplified by the kind of cute animals you find on postcards and calendars. But it doesn't quite do it for the Japanese variety of Hello Kitty, My Melody and GothLoli, or Gothic Lolita.

Let's now consider the theories of the biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Konrad Lorenz. Though they were not considering cuteness per se, they serve as an indispensable guide. Lorenz famously argued that the physical features of human babies work as "behavioural cues" for adults. Their immature features trigger responses such as disarming tenderness, affection and nurturing. There may well be other responses such as annoyance and cruelty, but Lorenz was talking about most people, not the odd psychopath who gets a kick out of harming babies.

These features, wrote Lorenz, include: "A relatively large head, predominance of the brain capsule, large and low-lying eyes, bulging cheeks region, short and thick extremities, a springy elastic consistency, and clumsy movements," - the last a la Harman. Such juvenile features are also exhibited by the young of many animals, triggering similarly protective responses. That's why we find animals cute. Gould and Konrad called this "a biologically inappropriate response".

Cartoonists, east and west, instinctively understand and capitalise on it with their animated characters. As a result, we have practically cartoonised the entire animal kingdom. In one of his most delightful essays, Gould considered the evolving features of the world's most famous cartoon character - Mickey Mouse. From the time he debuted in the 1928 Steamboat Willie, his features went through a progressive reverse and became increasingly juvenile. This was matched by his growing popularity, which eventually conquered the world.

Not all cartoon characters are clumsy; Pokemon, for example, has superpowers. But they all exhibit physically infantile or juvenile features, otherwise, they haven't a chance to become popular. This theory also offers clues as to why it is fashionable to act cute in Japan, and why large segments of its fashion industry cater to making women cute and sexy. Combining sex and cuteness in cartoons is (almost) a taboo in the west, but it's as natural as sin in Japan. But this is a topic for another column.

Alex Lo is a senior writer at the Post.

Friday, 8 January 2010

0348 HKSAR Name of the Day

Gaily Cheng Ngai Ying, solicitor, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation; Insertion

Maria Sharapova Head and Shoulders Above Zheng Jie

‘Nuff said!

[Score: 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2. Pic courtesy of BBC]

Note 1: I guess South Park South Korean Dr Park is pleased about the fact that 6’ 2” Maria Sharapova stands “a head taller” than 5' 4 1/2'' Zheng Jie. He has recently opened 36 joint-ventue growth clinics in China, so this BBC photo should be fortuitously useful for his highly-suspect* business scheme!

* Non-evidence-based growth treatments

Note 2: It is simply incredible that 6’ 2” (1.88m) Maria Sharapova weighs only 130lbs (59kg), whereas 5' 4 1/2'' (1.64m) Zheng Jie weighs a similar 126 lbs (57 kg).

Caroline Wozniacki at 5’10” (1.77m) weighs 128 lbs (58 kg).

Venus Williams is 6' 1'' (1.85 m) and weighs 160 lbs. (72.5 kg).

Players’ biodata can also be referenced at the official Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour website.

Tennis Classics in Hong Kong

Victoria Park is currently hosting the Hong Kong Tennis Classic 2010 with an interesting mix of tour and ex-tour players split into 4 geographically-based teams.

In addition to the currently active tennis pros, I am looking forward to watching some of the real “classics” play out there, especially swede Stefan Edberg who IMHO has always been a consummate professional.

I just hope Michael Chang will keep his typically predictable and trite devout Christian views to himself but I don’t think that old “classic” will change either.

[Pics from the tournament website]

Related Posts

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Supreme Sports Personality Championships: Tiger Woods v Roger Federer

Andre Agassi Says Don’t Judge Tiger Woods

Broom Boom Becker Sympathizes With Tiger

Zheng Jie … She’s Got Big … Dijen

Thursday, 7 January 2010

0347 HKSAR Name of the Day

Evenlyn Kwok Kim Sang, Quantity surveyor (since 1997), Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation; Insertion

Carson Yeung Consolidates Ownership of Publishing Company

Birmingham City FC owner Carson Yeung is now the majority shareholder of SMI Publishing Group, the firm that owns Sing Pao, a well-known Hong Kong Chinese-language newspaper.

Note, unsurprisingly the Sing Pao website already promotes the BluesTV online channel.

[Carson Yeung, the Blues’ No 1 “Keeper” said:
"It’s took a long time to buy the club, but finally I got it".

Carson Yeung to get majority ownership of SMI Publishing (SCMP; subscription required)
Toh Han Shih
Jan 05, 2010

Qin Hui, a mainland businessman and nightclub owner, is transferring 26.73 per cent of the shares of the firm that owns Sing Pao, a local Chinese newspaper, to Carson Yeung Ka-sing, apparently giving the owner of Birmingham City Football Club majority control of the publication.

In an announcement today, Qin does not explicitly say why the transfer is being made. However, in April 2008, Yeung lent HK$60 million to SMI Publishing Group, for which Qin pledged to Yeung a 26.37 per cent stake in SMI, which can be forfeited if the company fails to meet performance targets.

In his announcement, Qin said he gave up his claims to an unspecified HK$100 million debt owed to him, would transfer his 26.73 per cent stake in SMI Publishing to Yeung, and "let Yeung have more room to run and expand the business of Sing Pao".

Before the transfer, Qin owned 63.34 per cent of the GEM-listed company that owns Sing Pao, while Yeung owned the rest, according to the stock exchange website.

In a statement in the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) today, Qin says, "it is regrettable if this newspaper [Sing Pao] has to cease publication due to dissension among shareholders", referring to himself and Yeung, the company's only two shareholders.

On September 9, the board of SMI Publishing removed Qin's younger brother, Qin Hong, Wang Fei and Jiang Jinsheng as directors "with immediate effect", because "they were not performing their duties and affecting the harmonious working relationship of the board", according to an SMI announcement.

Qin Hui took over Sing Pao in 2004. Qin Hong was appointed chairman and executive director of SMI Publishing in 2006.

In November last year, SMI Publishing was served a winding-up petition by Kenny Leung Chi-man over HK$1.69 million which the firm owed Leung. The petition will be heard in the High Court on January 20.

"Of course, our newspaper will not close down," said Rosetti Yip, who was appointed chief executive of the firm on September 28 last year.

Yeung acquired a stake in SMI Publishing in 2008 and took over Birmingham City, an English Premier League football club, for HK$731 million in October last year.

SMI Publishing has consistently lost money since 2005.

The company is applying for a resumption of the trading of its shares, which has been suspended since April 28, 2005.

On August 15, 2008, the company admitted late payment of wages to employees.

According to mainland and Western media reports, Qin testified in a mainland court that he offered almost 18.68 million yuan (HK$21.22 million) in bribes to Li Peiying, a former chairman of Beijing Capital International Airport (SEHK: 0694), during Li's trial for bribery and embezzlement.

Li was found guilty and executed in August last year.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

0346 HKSAR Name of the Day

Anckes Yau Keung Hung, accountant, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

Safe Sex and Superstars Do Not Add Up

Celebrities who have extramarital affairs confound their blundering ways by apparently not bothering to practice safe sex. What indignation in this day and age.

Tiger Woods was promiscuous and allegedly did not use condoms. Boris Becker did not practice safe sex either, and look at the consequences of his “five seconds that will haunt [him] for the rest of [his] life”.

Isn’t it bizarre? It’s bad enough cheating on your partner, and it’s unbelievably worse when there’s the double risk of contracting STDs immediately and contracting a baby nine months down the road. It just adds to the fact that they are real idiots who don’t bother thinking about the consequences, never mind to themselves but to their partners.

HKSARblog thought the message in this day and age was pretty clear about safe sex. Apparently not. Is it time to repeat and reinforce the message of safe sex? How many people are properly taught to use condoms? Perhaps the question should be: how many people are responsible enough to actually have sex?

The media are also to blame because they do not reinforce the message of practicing safe sex. Caught up in the media circus of their own making, and amidst all the allegations and sensationalism of celebrities having illicit affairs, it seems no one in the media stops to consider the actual act of sex, or method of copulation. This fact is conveniently ignored. There should be a sensational, sexy, scandalous story there, but the media do not appear eager to raise awareness of this issue. Why is this? HKSARblog thinks it would be reasonable for the media and other organizations to condemn people for not practicing safe sex. That should be the real story.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

0345 HKSAR Name of the Day

Tany Kwan Wing-hong (Mr), technician, Department Of Land Surveying & Geo-Informatics, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation; Substitution

Sponsor Sought to Support Breast Massage Hair Growth Trial

The 68-year-old quack who treated a 28-year-old woman suffering from hair loss by massaging her breasts and stimulating her “lotus” has been jailed for nine months.

Chan Tung-choi, a practitioner of natural therapy, protested he was innocent. What is interesting is that his "patient", a 28-year-old online journalist, chose to justify her compliance with the therapy sessions by “rationalizing” and claiming that “her hair had grown slightly since starting therapy”.

HKSARblog believes the only way Chan can prove his innocence “beyond reasonable doubt” is to find a benefactor or company willing to sponsor double-blinded trials. Does anyone know anybody willing to sponsor such trials?

[Solidarity Brother!! Pic courtesy of The Standard]

From The Standard
`Sex therapy' doc jailed for hell of hair-loss patient (Dec 31, 2009)

Monday, 4 January 2010

0344 HKSAR Name of the Day

Patcy Pui Sze Yeung, postgraduate student, Department of Psychology, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation; Substitution

Sunday, 3 January 2010

0343 HKSAR Name of the Day

Queenie Yeung Sum Yee (Miss), student, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare; Somewhat common in Hong Kong

Missing Photos and Missing Stories in SCMP

I agree that the quality of journalism from SCMP has deteriorated. And it’s always informative to observe that others, including Ulaca, keep a watchful eye on this. But I can’t help wonder whether anyone or any “body” really cares. And whether anything can be done about the quality of journalism. Is there a watchdog that can “name and shame”, for instance?

What is apparent is that all these mistakes and bloopers allow bloggers to comment on the sad state of journalism, especially here in Hong Kong. For instance, one SCMP headline on 2 Jan 2010 read:
2010's first birth goes to mainland couple again

So, how many “first births in 2010” were there?

And then there’s the increasingly-frequent “corrections & clarifications” pieces, such as:
Jan 02, 2010
The photograph that appeared yesterday was of bodybuilder Chan Yan-to arriving at Eastern Court to face a bribery charge and not Hong Kong and China Bodybuilding and Fitness Association chairman Chan Siu-man, as stated in the accompanying caption. Chan Siu-man also appeared in the same case, on bribery and fraud charges.

But in fact, there apparently wasn’t a photograph of a person arriving at Eastern Court in the New Year’s Day edition of SCMP. Even more alarming was the fact that there wasn’t even a story about this court case in that edition (it’s definitely not in the online edition). However, there was a story on 29 Dec 2009 headlined: Champion bodybuilder accused of bribing way to Doha, with a photograph of the said bodybuilder. And here’s the “freakish” photo to prove it:

[Hong Kong bodybuilder Chan Yan-to (I think!); pic courtesy SCMP]

Sadly, it seems the public have no choice but to accept that the quality of journalism (be it print, TV, radio or online) will continue to deteriorate for the simple reason that no body or organization with enough clout cares.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

0342 HKSAR Name of the Day

Polis Wong WH, assistant scientific officer, Department of Electronic Engineering, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation

Friday, 1 January 2010

0341 HKSAR Name of the Day

Heltan Ngan Yuen-wan (Dr), associate professor, Department Of Chinese & Bilingual Studies, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Creation