電影 A-Z

November 1, 2010

I looked up a “randomish” list of movies from A-Z, in no particular order, that I have watched and enjoyed over the years. There are drama, comedy, action, and even documentaries that you may have never heard of (I have interviewed some of the doc filmmakers).

I think part of the fun of watching films is to explore films that you may not normally check out. You can click on the links to find more info about them. [HT Mad Dog]

American Beauty (1999), Avatar (2009)

Bridges of Madison County (1995), Blue (1993), Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006), Being Caribou (2004)

Cinema Paradiso (1989), Comrades: Almost a Love Story (甜蜜蜜) (1996), The Corporation(2003), Casablanca(1942), Crash (1996), Crash (2004), Campaign (選舉) (2007)

The Decline of the American Empire (1986), District 9 (2009), Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

English Patient (1996), The End of the Affair (1999), Eastern Promises (2007)

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)

Groundhog Day (1993), Grizzly Man (2005), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts (2007)

Hoop Dreams (1994), Heat (1995), A History of Violence (2005)

In the Mood For Love (2000), Iron Man (2008)

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (2006), Jumper (2008)

Kill Bill Vol. 1Vol. 2 (2003 & 2004), Kings of Pastry (2009)

Lost in Translation (2003), Les Invasions Barbares (2003), Leave Them Laughing (2010), Last Train Home (2009)

Manufactured Landscapes (2006), Match Point (2005), Moon (2009), The Matrix (1999)

Nikita (1990)

Ocean’s Eleven (2001), One Big Hapa Family (2010), Orgasm Inc. (2009), Objectified (2009)

Pride & Prejudice (2005), Patton (1970), Paper Moon (1973)

The Queen (2006)

Red (1994), Roger & Me (1989)

Strictly Ballroom (1992), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Spanglish (2004), Super Size Me (2004), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Standard Operating Procedure (2008)

The Truman Show (1998), Thank You for Smoking (2005), Tiger Spirit (2008)

United 93 (2006), Unforgiven (1992)

V for Vendetta (2006)

White (1993), When Harry Met Sally (1989), WALL-E (2008), The Way We Are (天水圍的日與夜) (2008), War Hospital (2005)

X-Men (2000)

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)

國產 – 世界最快超級電腦

October 28, 2010

China has used Intel and Nvidia technologies to build the world’s fastest supercomputer Tianhe-1A, at the National University of Defence Technology in Tianjin.

– Defense university builds China’s fastest supercomputer, Xinhuanet

“The title has gone to China’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer that is capable of carrying out more than 2.5 thousand trillion calculations a second.

To reach such high speeds the machine draws on more than 7,000 graphics processors and 14,000 Intel chips.

[…] Tianhe-1A is unusual in that it unites thousands of Intel processors with thousands of graphics cards made by Nvidia.

The chips inside graphics cards are typically made up of small arithmetical units that can carry out simple sums very quickly. By contrast, Intel chips are typically used to carry out more complicated mathematical operations.

The machine houses its processors in more than 100 fridge-sized cabinets and together these weigh more than 155 tonnes.”

– China claims supercomputer crown, BBC News

– China builds world’s fastest supercomputer, UK Telegraph

– Is China a supercomputer threat? (Q&A), CNet

Why We Gave Liu Xiaobo a Nobel

October 26, 2010

For the record from New York Times. Article written by Thorbjorn Jagland is the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. [HT Wallace]

Why We Gave Liu Xiaobo a Nobel – By THORBJORN JAGLAND – Oslo – October 22, 2010

THE Chinese authorities’ condemnation of the Nobel committee’s selection of Liu Xiaobo, the jailed political activist, as the winner of the 2010 Peace Prize inadvertently illustrates why human rights are worth defending.

The authorities assert that no one has the right to interfere in China’s internal affairs. But they are wrong: international human rights law and standards are above the nation-state, and the world community has a duty to ensure they are respected.

The modern state system evolved from the idea of national sovereignty established by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. At the time, sovereignty was assumed to be embodied in an autocratic ruler.

But ideas about sovereignty have changed over time. The American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen replaced the control of the autocrat with the sovereignty of the people as the source of national power and legitimacy.

The idea of sovereignty changed again during the last century, as the world moved from nationalism to internationalism. The United Nations, founded in the wake of two disastrous world wars, committed member states to resolve disputes by peaceful means and defined the fundamental rights of all people in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The nation-state, the declaration said, would no longer have ultimate, unlimited power.

Today, universal human rights provide a check on arbitrary majorities around the world, whether they are democracies or not. A majority in a parliament cannot decide to harm the rights of a minority, nor vote for laws that undermine human rights. And even though China is not a constitutional democracy, it is a member of the United Nations, and it has amended its Constitution to comply with the Declaration of Human Rights.

However, Mr. Liu’s imprisonment is clear proof that China’s criminal law is not in line with its Constitution. He was convicted of “spreading rumors or slander or any other means to subvert the state power or overthrow the socialist system.” But in a world community based on universal human rights, it is not a government’s task to stamp out opinions and rumors. Governments are obliged to ensure the right to free expression — even if the speaker advocates a different social system.

These are rights that the Nobel committee has long upheld by honoring those who struggle to protect them with the Peace Prize, including Andrei Sakharov for his struggle against human rights abuses in the Soviet Union, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his fight for civil rights in the United States.

Not surprisingly, the Chinese government has harshly criticized the award, claiming that the Nobel committee unlawfully interfered with its internal affairs and humiliated it in the eyes of the international public. On the contrary, China should be proud that it has become powerful enough to be the subject of debate and criticism.

Interestingly, the Chinese government is not the only one to criticize the Nobel committee. Some people have said that giving the prize to Mr. Liu may actually worsen conditions for human-rights advocates in China.

But this argument is illogical: it leads to the conclusion that we best promote human rights by keeping quiet. If we keep quiet about China, who will be the next country to claim its right to silence and non-interference? This approach would put us on a path toward undermining the Universal Declaration and the basic tenets of human rights. We must not and cannot keep quiet. No country has a right to ignore its international obligations.

China has every reason to be proud of what it has achieved in the last 20 years. We want to see that progress continue, and that is why we awarded the Peace Prize to Mr. Liu. If China is to advance in harmony with other countries and become a key partner in upholding the values of the world community, it must first grant freedom of expression to all its citizens.

It is a tragedy that a man is being imprisoned for 11 years merely because he expressed his opinion. If we are to move toward the fraternity of nations of which Alfred Nobel spoke, then universal human rights must be our touchstone.

Thorbjorn Jagland is the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

「兩週一聚」第四十八期 : 教我如何說再見

October 15, 2010

從前不喜歡 The Beatles 在 “Hello Goodbye” 中怪怪攪笑的服裝造型,但人長大了一點之後,又覺得這造型有他的味道,現在連 Austin Powers 也會欣賞。

今日「兩週一聚」話要說再見,我其實想作反,想繼續玩,唔想放低「兩週一聚」,想賴死唔走。但回想我心愛的 Heroes,因為賴死唔走,最後被宣佈取消。同樣心愛的 Desperate Housewives 亦因為劇本水準在第二季之後大跌,而令我不忍再看她年華不再花樣。所以我都係唔好賴死唔走啦。


「兩週一聚」,”Hello Goodbye“。

Hello Goodbye

You say yes, I say no
You say stop and I say go, go, go
Oh, no
You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello, hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye
I say hello
Hello, hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye
I say hello

I say high, you say low
You say why, and I say I don’t know
Oh, no
You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello, hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye
I say hello
Hello, hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye
I say hello

Why, why, why, why, why, why
Do you say good bye
Goodbye, bye, bye, bye, bye

Oh, no
You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello, hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye
I say hello
Hello, hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye
I say hello
hello, hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye I say hello

Hela, heba helloa
Hela, heba helloa

蘋論 – 願諾貝爾和平獎推動中國民主轉型

October 8, 2010

For the record.

蘋論:願諾貝爾和平獎推動中國民主轉型 – (李怡) – 2010年10月09日

劉霞說謝謝諾獎評委,謝謝哈維爾、達賴喇嘛及許多海內外人士的支持,但其實她更應感謝中共當局,倘若中共不是給劉曉波判 11年重刑,倘若中共沒有對挪威諾獎評委施壓,劉曉波未必可以獲獎。
曾長期擔任倫敦《金融時報》駐蘇聯記者的 David Satter年前寫了一篇講蘇聯解體經驗的文章,文章提到,許多西方人都認為蘇聯異見人士不重要,因為他們數量微小,勢單力薄,缺乏政治力量以至民眾的支持,只代表他們自己。 Satter認為這看法是錯的,因為這些人雖然數量少,但他們代表了普世道德,只要他們留在蘇聯境內,即使在監牢中,他們就是這個國家生命的一部份,他們的榜樣會影響許多不敢自己來捍衞普世價值的人。當那個政權開始削弱時,人數不多的異見人士在廚房裏討論的話題,就成為百萬大眾的主導觀點。其結果是,蘇聯的崩潰便不可停止了。
中國今天正是面臨 Satter所說的兩種狀況。異見人士在內地獲支持的人數雖不多,但受惠於互聯網,使他們代表的普世價值,獲得較多網民支持,他們的人權觀念,必可成為廣大民眾的主導觀點。另一方面,中國儘管仍維持着一黨專政的政治局面,但市場經濟發展已把原有的社會主義道德冲垮了,全國的唯一信仰就是金錢,此外就沒有別的信仰了。經濟不代表社會價值,沒有道德和價值系統來約束行為的社會,無數的商業行為都以損人利己為目的,社會主義市場經濟等同政治特權市場經濟,各地當政者以過度暴力損害民眾利益的方式求經濟發展,社會的不公正成為普遍現象。在這種情況下,受壓迫者的群體事件越來越多,民眾報復心理造成社會的動亂和暴力事件頻頻發生。中國確實處在社會危機中。
在這樣的時刻,劉曉波和 303位發起人起草的《零八憲章》,根據現行中國憲法,根據中國已經簽署的兩個國際人權公約,提出了中國政府有義務和責任履行本國憲法、法律和國際公約,兌現它對人民和國際社會的承諾。

這可以說是最溫和、最合法的改革主張了。溫和到引起流亡海外的部份異見人士的抗拒,他們指摘《零八憲章》沒有提出結束一黨專政,指摘劉曉波不該承認中國憲法有「尊重和保障人權」元素,並認為「人權是中國法治的根本原則之一」。然而,正因為《零八憲章》的溫和、非暴力,以及提倡在現有體制內改革,使中國既得利益者無法找到任何理由予以反對,更得到眾多中共老黨員、老幹部支持,對既得利益的當權者造成更大壓力,當權者於是蠻幹,把從來不涉任何暴力的劉曉波,以莫須有的罪名判刑 11年。

Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), Winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2010

October 8, 2010

Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), Winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2010

I had dared not to dream of this morning’s announcement but it is finally true.

Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) has been announced as the winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2010 “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.

The quest for Chinese democracy is truly a long struggle (山長水遠的鬥爭). Because of Mr. Liu‘s ill health for being locked in Chinese prison for so many years, it is important for citizens and governments of the world to demand Mr. Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) to be released from prison now.

Chinese Dissident Wins Nobel Peace Prize, Associated Press

Nobel-Winner Xiaobo ‘Stuck to His Guns’ on China’s Political Reform“, PBS News Hour

Fighting for freedom in China, Al Jazeera English

News from around the world:

– Chinese dissident wins Nobel Peace Prize – Recipient denounced as ‘a criminal’ by China, CBC News with video

– “Liu Xiaobo Nobel win prompts Chinese fury – Chinese authorities say awarding peace prize to ‘criminal’ will hurt relations with Norway“, Guardian UK (with video report and phone interview from China)

– “Liu Xiaobo receives the 2010 Nobel peace prize“, Guardian UK posted a series of beautiful photos

– Wife of Chinese dissident ‘swept over’ by Nobel prize win, Toronto Star

– Here is an earlier article/interview “Chinese dissident tipped for Nobel Peace Prize“, published three days ago on Oct 5th, showing a bit of Canadian involvement and inspiration that is worth quoting here (emphasis added),

“But recently, Liu Xia revealed, she has taken some strength from words by Canadian author Margaret Atwood.

Writing to friends in Hong Kong last month to thank them for supporting her husband, Liu Xia cited words from a speech that Atwood delivered in April on receiving an award from PEN America, an organization that works to defend free expression.

Atwood spoke of how silence and secrecy allow the worst horrors to breed,” she said, “and how sooner or later the hidden stories in a society have to come out.

Atwood then went on to say, ‘The messengers in such cases are seldom welcome — yet they are necessary and must be protected.’

“Of course,” said Liu Xia, “my husband is one of those messengers.”

And yet his winning a Nobel Peace Prize is one message the Chinese government doesn’t want to hear.

In fact, last summer the Chinese government sent an envoy to Norway to directly threaten the Nobel Committee if it dared to give the award to a Chinese dissident.

– Nobel Peace Prize awarded to China dissident Liu Xiaobo, BBC with video

– “China blanks Nobel Peace prize searches“, CNN

– China’s Silent Peace Prize, Wall Street Journal. Here is an excerpt with emphasis added,

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Friday it awarded the peace prize to imprisoned Chinese pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo for his fight for human rights in China, but there is no mention of it in Chinese media. Access to news segments broadcast on CNN and BBC International, normally available, have been blocked by government censors, aiming to thwart widespread knowledge of the prize.

China’s Web censors have deleted chatter from Liu’s colleagues, as well as China’s intellectuals and elite, that began to spread on China’s blogs and message boards only minutes after the news broke. On Sina, personal comments that referred to Liu as LXB or Liu Liu, avoiding his full name, disappeared an hour after having been posted. Remarks that said, “He won,” are no longer visible.”

– China calls Nobel decision ‘blasphemy’; West praises it, CNN

– “Nobel Peace Prize for Dissident Liu Has China Warning Norway on Relations“, Bloomberg


September 15, 2010

This mess between 香港 and 菲律賓 is getting worst and worst. Sadly, there is no winner in this mess. For the record.

蘋論:香港人會接受菲律賓調查報告嗎? – (李怡) – 2010年09月15日

8月 26日,曾特首去信菲總統,表示相信菲當局會以獨立、全面及專業態度進行調查,並從香港市民的角度出發,提出調查報告應交代的若干重點,包括事件經過,當局與槍手談判過程,為何菲政府未能答應槍手要求,警方行動詳情及背後考慮,和死傷者成因等。
我們不是不相信菲律賓當局,但 8月 23日菲警方的行動又怎能使人相信?事發次日,菲總統府發言人說總統沒有接聽曾特首的電話,是因為總統與內政部官員開會,故而錯過。上周菲總統在記者會上則表示「胡錦濤也不會接聽菲省長的電話」,意思是他不接電話是因曾特首只是一個省長。我們該相信前說法還是後說法。
菲總統和參議員嫌曾特首官小,香港也有幾隻蒼蠅嗡嗡叫,說曾特首做法不符外交禮節。但在 8月 31日,俄羅斯總統梅德韋傑夫卻會見了到訪的曾蔭權,晤談 2小時,俄總統就人質慘劇向曾特首表示慰問。


Coverage of Koran Case Stirs Questions on Media Role

September 10, 2010

For the record.


Coverage of Koran Case Stirs Questions on Media Role – New York Times

Published: September 9, 2010

A renegade pastor and his tiny flock set fire to a Koran on a street corner, and made sure to capture it on film. And they were ignored.

That stunt took place in 2008, involving members of the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kan., an almost universally condemned group of fundamentalists who also protest at military funerals.

But plans for a similar stunt by another fringe pastor, Terry Jones, have garnered worldwide news media attention this summer, attention that peaked Thursday when he announced he was canceling — and later, that he had only “suspended” — what he had dubbed International Burn a Koran Day. It had been scheduled for Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Unlike the Koran-burning by Westboro Baptist, Mr. Jones’s planned event in Gainesville, Fla., coincided with the controversy over the proposed building of a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan near ground zero and a simmering summerlong debate about the freedoms of speech and religion.

Mr. Jones was able to put himself at the center of those issues by using the news lull of summer and the demands of a 24-hour news cycle to promote his anti-Islam cause. He said he consented to more than 150 interview requests in July and August, each time expressing his extremist views about Islam and Sharia law.

By the middle of this week, the planned Koran burning was the lead story on some network newscasts, and topic No. 1 on cable news — an extraordinary amount of attention for a marginal figure with a very small following. On Thursday, President Obama condemned Mr. Jones’s plan, and his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said that there were “more people at his press conferences than listen to his sermons,” in a bit of media criticism.

Mr. Jones’s plan, announced in July, slowly gained attention in August, particularly overseas. It became a top story in the United States this week after protests against Mr. Jones in Afghanistan and after the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, warned that the Koran burning could endanger troops.

“Before there were riots and heads of states talking about him, it could have been a couple of paragraphs in a story about Sept. 11 commemorations,” Kathleen Carroll, the executive editor of The Associated Press, said Thursday. “It’s beyond that now.”

In some ways, this week’s events were the culmination of a year’s worth of hateful statements and stunts by Mr. Jones and the few dozen members of his church.

Read the rest of this entry »

蓋茨父子上網補習 – 2010年9月9日 – 林行止

September 8, 2010

An interesting and insightful article for the record. (added additional links not in the original document)

蓋茨父子上網補習 – 2010年9月9日 – 林行止


Obit-mag.com近有題為〈無所事事已死〉(〈The Death of Idle Time〉)的短文,指出在IT時代,人們已「冇時得閒」(沒有閒暇的時間),即使傳統上超市排隊付款時「三姑六婆」閒聊的場景亦消失於無形,因為人們會利用每一分鐘在手機上與親友交換「情報」、收發短訊。至於年輕一代則會埋頭埋腦玩其「電子遊戲」,根本毋須與人溝通便「自得其樂」,自然因此沒有空閒時間。


心理學家何路威(Ned Hallowell)今年初進行一項「民調」,結果顯示不少人在進行淋浴時才有時間「空想」(但他們多半會趁機一展歌喉);IT產品似乎未佔據淋浴的空間—令人沉醉在IT產品無法入侵的空間,惟此空間「失守」,指日可待。


電腦使用率最高的南韓,上「電腦遊戲機癮」的比例亦最高,為了青少年不致終日「打機」不讀書不工作不聽人話不與人言,南韓政府成立「網絡懲教營」(Internet Reform Camps),對患上online compulsive disorder 症者進行返回傳統正常生活的教育!


萬維網(World Wide Web)的出現雖然大約只有二十年時間,但「識字分子」已養成不可一日無此物的習慣,無論是與親友同事聯繫或閱讀、投資以至購物、消閒,都可假網上進行;即使極少上網的筆者亦不得不在網上查找資料。

電子書令人「蠢化」(見七月二十一日本欄),一切靠互聯網則會令人不易集中精神、不會沉潛思索且可能被不負責任的言論誤導;昨天陳頌紅說「網上評論不可相信」,雖然文題加上問號,但內文說「網站廣結集體智慧的原意已被扭曲,變成少數人(熱中表達意見者)的表演舞台」,似把那個問號刪掉。一句話,網上資訊不僅太多太龐雜,且不必認真看待,而且還有電郵及種種隨時干擾的訊息,令人很難心無旁騖專注於某個問題上或從網上評論求得真知灼見,結果是理解、領會及受啟發的深度,遠遠不及閱讀印刷品,這是「專注分散」(division of attention)的必然後果。換句話說,「網迷」可能是通天曉,什麼都涉獵,成為「知道分子」,知識非常廣泛卻成不了「專家」。心理學家格林非爾(P. Greenfield)女士曾在加大洛杉磯分校做了一項實驗,一半學生獲准使用電腦(互聯網),另一半只能作筆記,在稍後的測驗中,前者的成績遜於後者。格林非爾指出「眼觀網絡」的結果,大大提高「視覺空間的才智」(visual-spatial intelligence),這對處理瞬息萬變的訊號如駕駛飛機及做外科手術有幫助,但無助提高「深層認知力」(higher-order cognitive processes),結果令人變得「頭腦簡單」(shallower)!

八月二十七日倫敦《每日電訊報》在〈互聯網如何令我們蠢鈍〉(〈How the Internet is making us stupid〉)中引述德國學者的調查,顯示瀏覽網頁的人,「每頁的時間不會超過十秒鐘」,意味上網者求快而不會全神貫注;即使是做學問的學者,倫敦大學書院的研究指出他們會在不同的學術論著中「跳讀」,結果「收成」不太理想。

與萬維網結緣近二十年後,神經病學家指出「人腦已有重大改變」(massively remodeled),被互聯網「疲勞轟炸」後,人類的智能已走下坡。互聯網最大的害處是徹底地分散了上網者的專注力,令人下意識地無法集中精神…… facebook 及 twitter 的普及,令問題進一步惡化。


八月份《Wired》月刊有文題為〈萬維網已死 互聯網萬歲〉(〈The Web is Dead, Long Live Internet〉),顯而易見,要旨在下半題。萬維網使用者對着電腦,整天在不同網站搜尋,如今情況已變,愈來愈多「工具」如iPhones和谷歌的Android的發明、普及,令上網者能隨時隨意不限時地上網,而上網者的資訊來源已不限網站而是「同輩」(peer to peer)及有大量「非法(沒有版權)內容」的Bittorent或影視網如YouTube、hulu及netflix等等。換句話說,萬維網未死,只是已正進化中!

上網雖然會「愚化」網民,然而網絡的發展,尤其是網上教育的前景一片璀璨,八月二十四日的CNN.money.com〈蓋茨喜歡的教師〉(〈Bill Gates’ Favorite Teacher〉)一文,寫的便是一名巴基斯坦裔美籍前對沖基金經理從在網上教授其姪女的功課,獨力發展出一個已有一千六百三十種「講義」(tutorial)的「補習網站」(Khan Academy),每天上網(主要來自美國、加拿大、英國、澳洲及印度)瀏覽人次達七萬餘次;蓋茨和他十一歲的兒子便是常客。此網站網主並無收費意向,但已有不少人如上網問功課者的家長自動作零星捐款,網站的功用傳開後已有若干大額(十萬美元)捐款,而受蓋茨在Aspen Ideas Festival上「公開表揚」後,捐款續至且「蓋茨基金會」正考慮捐助……。



September 4, 2010

第四十六期「兩周一聚」題目,我原本定了是”菲律賓 香港”這一題目,但看見逸之很快便舉手”不報名” (sorry 逸之),又看見「兩周一聚」網友想寫相關文章的,已經有幾位寫了(例如逸之已經寫了兩篇),其他沒有寫的,可能因為太傷心等等而不想寫。



之前我出錯了的題目,for the record:



讀完 8月29日 李瀅銓(馬尼拉事件倖存者):還死傷者公道, 不向弱者抽刃 (original: 明報 (via Yahoo)) 之後,更加令我想寫一篇文章談一談自己的感受。


Li Lu (李录/李錄), Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett

July 30, 2010

A very interesting article about Li Lu (李录/李錄) and Berkshire Hathaway/Warren Buffett because of who is quoted (Munger) and where it is published (WSJ). I don’t know Li Lu‘s investment style/insights at all, with BYD one and only major successful investment deal (with BRK has a hand in spotlighting), I don’t have enough information to decide how much of the BRK portfolio should Mr. Li be responsible for? I also want to hear more about the “team approach” idea. Fund managers responsible for regions or business areas?

Here is the WSJ article for the record (with emphasis added). (also see this 2009 entry)

From Tiananmen Square to Possible Buffett Successor

Twenty-one years ago, Li Lu was a student leader of the Tiananmen Square protests. Now a hedge-fund manager, he is in line to become a successor to Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Mr. Li, 44 years old, has emerged as a leading candidate to run a chunk of Berkshire’s $100 billion portfolio, stemming from a close friendship with Charlie Munger, Berkshire’s 86-year-old vice chairman. In an interview, Mr. Munger revealed that Mr. Li was likely to become one of the top Berkshire investment officials. “In my mind, it’s a foregone conclusion,” Mr. Munger said.

The job of filling Mr. Buffett’s shoes is among the most high-profile succession stories in modern corporate history. Mr. Buffett, who will turn 80 in a month, says he has no current plans to step down and will likely split his job after he leaves the company into separate CEO and investing functions. Mr. Li’s emergence as a contender to oversee Berkshire investments is the first time a name has been identified to fill the investment part of Mr. Buffett’s legendary role.

The development illustrates that Berkshire is moving toward putting in place—possibly sooner than investors anticipated—certain aspects of its succession plan.

The Chinese-American investor already has made money for Berkshire: He introduced Mr. Munger to BYD Co., a Chinese battery and auto maker, and Berkshire invested. Since 2008, Berkshire’s BYD stake has surged more than six-fold, generating profit of about $1.2 billion, Mr. Buffett says. Mr. Li’s hedge funds have garnered an annualized compound return of 26.4% since 1998, compared to 2.25% for the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index during the same period.

Mr. Li’s ascent on Wall Street has been no less dramatic. He spent his childhood shuttling between foster families after his mother and father were sent to labor camps during the Cultural Revolution. After the Tiananmen Square protest, he escaped to France and came to the U.S. Investors in his hedge fund have included a group of senior U.S. business executives and the musician Sting, who calls Mr. Li “hardworking and clever.”

Mr. Li’s investing strategy represents a significant shift for Mr. Buffett: Mr. Li invests chiefly in high-technology companies in Asia. Mr. Buffett typically has ignored investments in industries he says he doesn’t understand.

Mr. Buffett says Berkshire’s top investing job could be filled by two or more managers who would be on equal footing and divide up responsibility for managing Berkshire’s $100 billion portfolio. David Sokol, chairman of Berkshire unit MidAmerican Energy Holdings, is considered top contender for CEO. Mr. Sokol, 53, joined MidAmerican in 1991 and is known for his tireless work ethic.

In an interview, Mr. Buffett declines to comment directly on succession plans. But he doesn’t rule out bringing in an investment manager such as Mr. Li while still at Berkshire’s helm.

“I like the idea of bringing on other investment managers while I’m still here,” Mr. Buffett says. He says he doesn’t preclude making a move this year, though he adds that there is no “goal” to bring on an additional manager that quickly either. Mr. Buffett says he envisions a team approach in which the Berkshire investment officials would be “paid as a group” from one pot, he says. “I don’t want them to compete.”

Mr. Li fits the bill in some important ways, Mr. Buffett says. “You want someone” who “can think about problems that haven’t yet existed before,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »

色彩聯想 (colour association) – 兩週一聚 第四十三期

July 30, 2010

Taking colour association (色彩聯想) as a topic, the first thing come to my mind are the “brands” that tried/try to “own” a colour. Here are some examples.

Green by Greenpeace or environmental causes.

Pink by breast cancer foundations.

Blue (Big Blue) by IBM.

Orange by a revolution and a mobile operator.

Yellow by a politician and her revolution. And even I have been using the exact same yellow in my website, something I haven’t talked about much.

Of course, sometimes the colour instead of the ideas behind the colour can become a loaded-baggage like someone being branded “green“, which is why Kevin Roberts has suggested changing from Green to True Blue.

For other writers’ articles, see 2weeks 1gathering.

P.S. Some years ago, possibly after a random chat with my dad, I started to think about colours in reference to the Pantone colour matching system. In hindsight, I think that was a very “business-oriented” and scientific way of thinking about colour.

The Men Who Ended Goldman’s War

July 20, 2010

For the record.

The Men Who Ended Goldman’s War – By LOUISE STORY – July 16, 2010 New York Times

LAST Wednesday at around 3 p.m., the Securities and Exchange Commission and Goldman Sachs settled an epic, seismic battle — one waged over whether the storied investment bank defrauded investors in a transaction that regulators said Goldman had built to self-destruct.

The final terms of the settlement were hashed out over the telephone. On one end, Gregory K. Palm, Goldman’s general counsel, agreed to the exact language his bank would use in statements about the settlement. As one of the longest-serving executives of the bank and a Goldman shareholder, Mr. Palm also had his own reputation and his personal fortune on the line.

On the other end, the S.E.C.’s director of enforcement, Robert Khuzami, was joined by his old friend and deputy, Lorin Reisner. Mr. Khuzami, a former in-house counsel at Deutsche Bank, was well-versed in the inner workings of Wall Street deal-making.

In the end, Goldman decided to steer clear of a protracted and damaging trial by paying a $550 million penalty, which the S.E.C. went out of its way to describe as the largest ever against a Wall Street firm. Goldman acknowledged that its marketing materials for the deal in question, known as Abacus, were lacking, and it agreed to greater disclosure around such transactions in the future — a concession that affects the entire financial community and could eat into some of the lush profits firms earn on complex deals engineered in the shadows.

For all of the lawyers on the phone, a court trial would have been a career-capping event. The case centered on Abacus, Read the rest of this entry »

世界杯之吻 – Spanish Goalie Iker Casillas & reporter girlfriend Sara Carbonero’s World Cup Kiss

July 12, 2010

After the controversy behind Spain’s lost to Switzerland in its opening match and the question “How did you muck that up?” by her girl friend Sara Carbonero, it is nice to see a lovely and emotional ending “Spanish Goalie Celebrates World Cup Win in Romantic Fashion“.

Here is a video of Iker Casillas kissing Sara Carbonero (with subtitle). Check it out before it is removed.

Royal Love – Swedish Crown Princess Victoria & Prince Daniel

June 20, 2010

Swedish Crown Princess Victoria & Prince Daniel - Sweden's royal wedding by you.

This is an absolutely loving speech of Love between Swedish Crown Princess Victoria & Prince Daniel on their beautiful day. May the couple love each other for the rest of their lives as much as they do today!

Check out more photos here and I want to comment on three things.

1. The Speech

2. Altargate

3. Restrictions imposed by Swedish state broadcaster SVT (Sveriges Television)

1. The Speech

I love the speech and it is very touching. Like people in Sweden (as reported by stockholmnews.com) I was moved to tears. :) The story of thirty letters was so loving. The crown princess was so caring and loving to write the letters. And it took someone like Prince Daniel to appreciate the gesture and to re-tell the story.

2. Altargate

Have a read of “Royal altar walk stirs controversy“. My view is this controversy is not completely baseless but at the end of the day, the wedding day is Victoria and Daniel’s day, it is up to them to do what they feel like most. The fact that the Act of Succession is gender-neutral in Sweden is a lot more significant than whether her father walked with her or Victoria and Daniel walked into the church together.

3. Restrictions imposed by Swedish state broadcaster SVT (Sveriges Television)

Have a read of VOA’s “News Organizations Refuse to Cover Sweden’s Royal Wedding“. I wish Associated Press (AP), the French News Agency (AFP) and Reuters had covered the wedding but I also understand their frustration completely. I think the Swedish state broadcaster SVT has done its country a disservice and had made an unacceptable mistake of historical proportion. I hope there will be some internal serious rethinking of their policies. Here is an excerpt from the VOA article,

The Associated Press (AP), the French News Agency (AFP) and Reuters declined to cover the lavish ceremony in Stockholm because of restrictions imposed by Swedish state broadcaster SVT (Sveriges Television).

In a joint statement, the news organizations said a royal wedding is an event of historical importance and should not fall under restrictions normally applied to sports and entertainment events. [K: I totally agree]

The news organizations said SVT had barred them from immediately sending video of the wedding and had imposed a 48-hour limit on its redistribution.

[HT Eva & Michelle for the video]

上海世博 之 集體露底

June 5, 2010

上海世博 – “整個世博園就是一個中國館,整次世博就是一次中國現形記,一次中國形象大屠殺的集體露底,大規模暴露與國際嚴重脫軌的人文風景湧出地毯底。”

集體露底 – (畢明) – 2010年06月06日

第一次耳聞目睹父母把自己的小孩當作人質開路,用綁匪的語氣威嚇他人,還是在上海世博,人性奧妙展。「這個是嬰兒!」,由於那最後的”eR”字(國語嘛)勁發丹田,才引起我等在法國館排千年隊的側目和注意,一名貌似甘小文筆下神情格局如女版八両金的悍婦,用一架載有一個起碼五歲小孩的嬰兒車「航」着工作人員,身後有一眾形神如老夫子漫畫中那些死飛仔拆白黨的黨羽,在迫令外籍館員讓她們從快速通道進館,這種要出動談判專家的對峙無時無刻不在世博遍地開拖百家爭鳴。世博三寶:輪椅、老人、 BB車,全力體現及示範中國最被詬病的舞弊造假走捷徑濫用文明,這才是最貨真價實活生生赤裸裸的中華文化。


但那些展館是無辜無罪的,撇下場內外的國家級不文明行為,不少國家的展覽館從設計到心思其實謙謙大度地陳列也慶祝着人類的高度文明。我一早就看上我愛的丹麥館,這國家從不自負浮誇,純白的展館盡顯該國設計優尚之風,簡約雅潔,一片好心的徒步及騎單車遊館兩種選擇兩款經驗無法實行,人太多又爭路單車免問,館中迴旋而上沿路牆上一排排層架十室九空空如也,只餘架上孤清憔悴的溫馨提示請遊館者自律,一家人一次只拿一件展品或書籍觀看好了。大家可能順手拿了回家吧。零人在意牆上的文字和海報,我卻忘不了。「說快樂:快樂是何時何地愛你所做,做你所愛。丹麥有 500萬人, 500萬個不同的故事,關於甚麼令丹麥人快樂的故事。」 Happy Danes。 500萬人 500萬個不同故事,強調、容許、鼓勵、尊重,每一個人的每一點獨特性;中國十三億人一個故事,貧窮、暴發、河蟹,最好人人一個故事一把聲音一黨獨大,易於管理。英國政治家 Tony Benn說”an educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern”。有一定教育水平、健康、自信的民族,中國的教育革命叫希望工程。馬丁路德金有夢想,中國要的是希望,希望有一天中國人人衣食足,希望有一天中國人人知快樂,不是眼中只有金。好彩,和李家誠鬥快樂自在很有信心我會羸,可以隻揪。

還有瑞典館。好一個立體大型燈箱海報大廳,提供雙面現實,從左面看是一個樣,從右面看是另一張臉。同一片天同一片海, Before& After,之前之後,昨非今是。一個個畫面一片片歷史一幅幅現實,展示 20年前的瑞典城市景觀 30年前的瑞典海港面貌,彼時污染猖獗市容猙獰,此時山明水秀人傑地靈。原來工業化城市現代化發展硬道理的惡魔也曾肆虐瑞典,好在精神文明底厚質優價值觀健康,國家國民花幾十年戮力把遺害修正過來,還地球它的清秀,執拾出一個更美好的環境還下一代撥亂反正。瑞典是這樣走過來的,彷彿在鼓勵:中國也可以。但瑞典館的這部分心意無人問津莫說領會,大家極速掠過快速拍照到此一遊執輸走投交甚麼流?嘥氣。

修養文明文化其實是修養品味。想起 Susan Sontag:”…taste governs every free, as opposed to rote(死記硬背的)- human response. Nothing is more decisive. There is taste in people, visual taste, taste in emotion- and there is taste in acts, taste in morality. Intelligence as well is really a kind of taste: taste in ideas”。藝術、情感、道德、創意……的品味,沒有品味自然沒有創意只有山寨有排都未崛起。(世博遊蹤之二)

訪問”歸途列車”導演 范立欣, 2010 HKIFF – Interview with Lixin Fan, director of “Last Train Home”

March 24, 2010

Last week I reviewed the wonderfully made documentary “Last Train Home” and highly recommended it. To celebrate the film’s screening at the prestigious Hong Kong International Film Festival on March 26th & 29th, the following is my email interview with the film director Lixin Fan. My questions are in bold, his answers follow.

(note: 導演范立欣將出席3月29日之放映與觀眾會面。)

1) From what I could tell, the film was filmed, at least, in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Was I right? How many trips did you make to China and how many hours of raw footage did you end up shooting? What equipment did you use to shoot the film?

We’ve done seven filming in China ranging from a few months to a few weeks in the course of three years. We have roughly 300 hr of raw footage shot over three different cameras – DVCPRO 50, and then small handheld HD cameras Panasonic HVX-200 and Sony EX-1

2) How did you come to select the Zhang family to feature? Did you know them before? Were you worry, at any point, that they might pull out from the documentary project? Tell me more please.

I traveled to city of Guangzhou for my research where I visited many factories. I strolled around these factory neighborhoods and talked to the workers I met. I didn’t know the Zhangs before. When I first met the them, they were cautious about discussing their family lives, but I revisited them many times in the following weeks and we became friends. I wanted to film with them because I think their story of migrating for nearly two decades. Their story represents the lives of millions and also touches upon many complicated social issues that China is experiencing.

3) The scene where the parents fought with Qin was very hard to watch but ultimately very important to tell the story. Can you tell me what you were thinking at the time? Was it tough for you and the sound person to keep shooting?

The moment the father hit the daughter, I as in another room, my cameraman was shooting. I heard the shouting and came to the scene, and went into the frame to calm everyone down. A that point, I asked myself, shall I put down the camera or shall I capture this emotional moment to give the film a stronger narrative to reach a larger audience and eventually create changes? In such a conflict of ethics versus professionalism, everyone is challenged to make a sensible decision. I chose the greater good, but very importantly, not at the cost of creating harms. The Chinese believe that the world in which we live is not a world of black and white. As the Taoism’s yin and yang philosophy explains: every action creates a counteraction as a natural and unavoidable movement. Also, as the Taoijitu diagram shows, there is black in white, and also white in black.

4) Have all the family members in the film seen the film yet? If you have, what were their reactions? In particular, what was Qin’s reaction? If not, do you plan to show it to them?

I went back to Guangzhong at end of last year to show the film in Guangzhong Documentary Film Festival. The couple still works in that city. My crew member and I visited the Zhang couple again and wanted to show them the film (Qin is working in another province and I didn’t meet her.) The Zhangs couple is quite happy to see us coming back to visit, but they preferred to watch the film by themselves. I respected their choice and gave them a DVD of the film. After watching the film, the father told me it made him sad to watch three years of their life on the screen; and the mother told me till this day she still couldn’t understand why Qin hates them so much.

5) I understand your film will be premiering in Hong Kong International Film Festival and you will be attending the March 29th screening (which is sold out).
If my memory serves me, HKIFF will be your film’s Asia premiere, how do you feel about your film screening in Hong Kong,China?

I think it is a great honor to have Last Train Home to be premiered in the prestigious HKIFF. As a special part of China, freedom and democracy are more generously allowed than in mainland. HK is a city known as the financial power house for Asia therefor. It’s an important link in the global trade chain. I’m curious to see how would the HK audience find the film in their own context.

6) Do you keep in touch with the Zhang family? In particular, Qin? The film certainly ended on a note that the audiences are worried about Qin. And knowing how slippery that the slope she was standing, I am worried about her. Do you have an update on Qin?

Yes, I still keep a close relationship with the Zhang family. I often call the couple to ask about the updates in life and at work. The couple went back to the New Year this time. The mother told me that Yang (the boy) got a number one in his class this year. Monther spent eight month at home caring the boy and fields. The father told me business in their factory is picking up since the economic is bettered from last year. So, once again, both the mother and father are about to leave home for work after the New Year.

The mother also told me Qin called to say happy new year but she didn’t came back home. Apparently she found work in a hotel at a small city in Hubei province. She’s 20 years of age this year, and I think she is definitely claiming her independence from her parents now.

7) I may have other followup questions, but I will start with the above questions for now. Thanks a lot for answering my questions.

If I may add one small thing in the end, I’m working on my next film which is on environmental issues in China. China is currently building a Wind Farm on Gobi desert and aim to complete the project in the next 10 years. The wind energy produced by the Wind Farm is going to be exceed that of Three Gorges Dam, and therefore, named “Three Gorges on Land.” Besides documenting China’s effort to focus on and implement green energies, I want to explore the balance between industrial development and nature sustainability through the philosophy of Taoism; for example, how much control human should place on nature; how far we can go in developing our society as the expense of exploiting the environment, etc

Google.cn & Google.com.hk (蘋論:好馬.聰明馬.草泥馬)

March 23, 2010

今天讀蘋論的這一句,看後想對Microsoft說聲”草泥馬“。(After reading the following sentence in the March 24, 2010 Apple Daily editorial, I want to say “草泥馬 “Grass Mud Horse”” to Microsoft.)

“此外,北京高官透露,中國已私下和微軟達成共識,只要微軟的搜索引擎 Bing遵守中國法律,中國將會扶持 Bing取代谷歌在中國的地位。”

For the record,

蘋論:好馬.聰明馬.草泥馬 – 李怡 – 2010年03月24日

今年一月捲起的谷歌完美風暴,終於在昨天凌晨有了一個不少人料到的結果:谷歌宣佈將中國網站鏈接轉入香港 Google.com.hk的伺服器,而研發與業務仍繼續留在中國大陸。原因是谷歌和另外二十餘家美國公司在中國受到複雜的網路攻擊,加上去年以來中國進一步限制網路言論自由,使谷歌得出結論:我們不能繼續在 Google.cn搜索結果上進行自我審查。


今年 3月 2日,全國政協發言人趙啟正,在記者會上被問到谷歌事件,他在回答中說:「中國民間有句諺語,『好馬不吃回頭草』,這句話有毛病,如果有好的草為甚麼放棄?好馬要吃好草,所以回頭的馬是聰明馬。」


中國國務院新聞辦即時對谷歌的聲明作反應,指外國公司在中國經營必須遵守中國法律,谷歌公司違背進入中國市場時作出的書面承諾,停止對搜索服務過濾,並就黑客攻擊影射和指摘中國,這是完全錯誤的。但國新辦和隨後的外交部發言人的談話,均沒有講到要在行動上制裁谷歌公司。此外,北京高官透露,中國已私下和微軟達成共識,只要微軟的搜索引擎 Bing遵守中國法律,中國將會扶持 Bing取代谷歌在中國的地位。


谷歌在進入中國市場時,確實承諾要遵守中國法律。然而,中國憲法也保證人民有言論自由,而中國法律中也沒有哪一條說禁止在媒體出現諸如「六四天安門」、「藏獨」這些詞語,因此,谷歌拒絕作自我審查並沒有違背中國法律。此外,儘管許多跨國企業都以「符合地主國的國際責任與承諾」為名,遷就中國對國內人權的約束,但聯合國廣被引用的《全球盟約》卻表明,企業應在影響範圍內支持和尊重國際公認的對人權的保護,同時不應成為人權侵害的「共謀」( complicity)。因此,谷歌拒絕自我審查,正是為了貫徹公司的「不作惡」的企業行為準則。


不吃回頭草的好馬,會贏得中國網民的尊重。昨天已有人將鮮花和朱古力放在谷歌在北京的總部外了。日後上 Google.com.hk的內地網民估計不會減少。當然,中國的網路管制可能會給谷歌搜尋器製造困難,但谷歌也會不停地設計出破解的方法,更何況,大陸網民正通過破網軟件的翻牆術,繼續使用谷歌中文搜索呢。