Posts by Victor Chou

  • OnPoint: Relationship Status: It's complicated,

    Seamus, I definitely wasn't suggesting the different perspectives can be reduced to some sort of racial divide, but by the same token "different educational background" can be equally problematic. I recall back in secondary school in social studies learning about the NZ Land Wars, the underlying message for me was basically "whoever wins the war calls the shots" (this was years before I first heard that famous Mao saying). As others have pointed out, 100 years on the issue has got a lot more complicated. I would imagine that's probably going to be the kind of long-term strategic outcome regarding the Tibet issue desired by those in power (and cares to plan that far ahead).

    But back to replying your reponse, a different educational background is not a guarantee of being able to give appropriate consideration - this is politics we're dealing with, not engineering, as a Bush administration staff was quoted saying, they are in the "reality-making business". That here in NZ the matter of minority interests and dissent is treated more favourably in general is only considered good policy because those policies have so far yielded pretty good results (those policies certainly do dictate how the outcomes are to be evaluated), however at the end of the day there is no hard "you fail because you tried to change the laws of physics" 100% guaranteed slap-in-the-face reality check (sure, the Iraq debacle can make for a good counterexample) that gives us a benchmark for "appropriate consideration". International public opinion? Academics serving as "conscience of society"? Personally I might as well just switch my TV to Fox News, that Bill O'Reilly fellow sure sounds like he knows what he's talking about, plus I really like the sound of a no-spin zone...

    My long-winded diatribe aside, I'm actually not a relativist who sees the world as nothing but murky shades of grey, just that I'm really cynical of anyone talking about freedom, democracy, rule of law and such high-falutin' ideals given how much such ideals have been monopolised by certain groups.

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Relationship Status: It's complicated,

    On a lighter note:

    I know someone who showed up to that rally simply for the sing-along to classic patriotic songs experience.

    Slightly more serious:

    Borrowing a page from Obama's "bitter small town" analysis - these international students might as well be just channeling their dissatisfaction from the mismatch between the level of service/treatment befitting customers on a tens of thousands of dollars education tourism experience and reality of sometimes being treated as unwelcome aliens.

    No less troubling than the increasing global displays of Chinese nationalism is the rise nationalism everywhere, New Zealand included, and the way this has meshed effortlessly with the idealised/propaganda-ised "Western values" meme as if everybody wants to be like Stallone in Rocky IV defeating the evil communists single-handedly. Playing the part of a forward-looking, multicultural liberal society urging other countries to do better as opposed to be merely engaging in some sort of "we're better than you" grandstanding would be credible were it not for the existance at the same time of an entire cultural industry of retro that romanticise the past.

    Someone mentioned that being an "whitey" means he/she can interpret Chinese history not from just a purely Chinese perspective, but leaving aside the question of what exactly is a "purely Chinese perspective" there is the question of is perspective X any more nuanced/balanced/objective than any other? My understanding of such an enlightened "Citizen of the World" is an almost completely apolitical person whose circle of empathy falls off rather sharply beyond one's family and friends, the kind of person who would attend such a rally only to sell some t-shirts. Incidentally I've been told by many people, whitey included that that's a rather stereotypical Chinese attitude, so the rally-going Chinese are in fact not real Chinese at all. Who then, can a "real Chinese" like me blame for such recent displays of non-Chineseness by Chinese people over the world? Who else but the communists, now if only Rocky is still around to help out...

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Back! (And on the Crusading Herald),

    The Japanese have good reason to be afraid of them terrorists - their minister of justice is just 2 degrees of Kevin Bacon away from the Bali bombers:

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: No end of mileage,

    Plus, the lad might get laid driving one of those. More likely than a '90 Corolla with imitation chrome hubcaps...

    That raised section between the seats for the drive shaft and the gear stick on top of it makes things rather difficult...

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: No end of mileage,

    At fifteen you are not considered prepared or responsible enough to make decisions about your own body. You can't have sex. You can't smoke. You can't drink. But, inexplicably, you're allowed to make decisions behind the wheel that are, no hyperbole, life or death. That's arse-backwards, if you ask me. If you want to introduce a kid to responsibility you don't start with the ones where fuckups cause death for themselves and others...

    But whereas sex/smoking/drinking are mainly just consumerist recreational activities (well smoking/drinking at least) the ability to drive has far greater economic consequences, ass-backwards yes, but economically-sound ass-backwardness.

    Of course this assertion opens up the flood-gate to the whole "must everything be reduced to economics" mess, for that I apologise.

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: No end of mileage,

    Then again, I think my wildest period behind the wheel was around 25, because I had 10 years experience by then, a gruntier car, and I figured I could handle it. I became impatient on the motorway if stuck below 140, and only started to get scared around the 170 mark.

    Also I think changes in cars aimed to satisfy the general public tends to insulate the driver from the environment and give a false sense of security. When a modern vehicle with its generous power-steering and grip* provides enough feedback to warn the driver that something is wrong, chances are it's too late (for the skill of your average driver anyway).

    *Especially since late 1990's onwards (for Japanese cars at least), based on personal experience (driving, not crashing) from a couple of years ago owning a Subaru Legacy for several months before it got stolen.

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: No end of mileage,

    Again, I'm not buying that it's all about the country kids. All I'm saying is you seem to figure their needs are irrelevant. So you call them preferences. Well, I *prefer* not to walk to the supermarket 7 kms away too. I don't *need* to. I could spend several hours carting goods to and from, sure. I'm sure people in the middle ages had to do shit like that.

    complete digression

    Of course horse-ownership in the middle ages wasn't as widespread (for some parts of Europe at least) as car-ownership nowadays, but as I recall there were various incidents then that showed how useful* widespread horse-ownership by up-to-no-good youths (especially along with bows and arrows) could be...

    * By useful, I mean from the standpoint of those ordering said horse-owners around, their views on the need/want dichotomy of early horse-riding training and whether the permission of which in relation to individual vs societal benefits certainly were subject to far less public scrutiny and debate than our analogous view nowadays.

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: No end of mileage,

    Victor, but is your assertion actually backed up? Are countries where people learn to drive earlier actually producing better drivers?

    Nope, purely subjective and anecdotal... if reliable statistics about human behaviour and be obtained and analysed in any significantly useful manner things would be so much "better".

    Throwing more anecdotal evidence in - my previous assertion of "learned to drive earlier and thus better" within the sample of personal acquiantances are significant enough that I would avoid being the passenger in quite a large proportion of the later group if the travelling involves going from one city to another - granted 10+ yrs driving experience vs 5-7 yrs is quite a bit (plus other factors such as starting age as indication of enthusiasm for driving/natural aptitude) but the late-learners I know certainly aren't gaining competence at the rate the early-learners were.

    Straw-man like conjecture: it's a rainy day, travelling on a narrow country road, around a blind corner a truck pops up from the other direction, the driver who has had the experience (likely through close calls in his/her youthful reckless driving days) will probably be more likely to panic less and respond more appropriately.

    Of course, one can always just book a flight...

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: No end of mileage,

    At the moment we set legal limits on a bunch of activities at a range of ages, with driving arguably one of the lowest. Yet it's also probably the most dangerous of the lot. What's the rationale?

    What about this line of reasoning:

    Given that the majority of roads in this country, due to financial and geographical constraint, require a much higher level of driving skill than that for a city person doing weekend shopping trip @50km/h, those skills can only be learned one way - through experience, and that experience is more easily gained by a teenager than by a person in their mid 20's.

    Of the people I know, the ones who started driving in their teens are generally better drivers not simply by virtue of having a few more years of experience but that some physical tasks are just so much harder to learn later on.

    It is just unfortunate that right now there is a mix of relative economic prosperity, easy credit, and surplus of Japanese vehicles from an era when performance was used as a major marketing point (when every manufacturer had to have some flagship twin-turbo coupe/sports car to proudly proclaim "look what we can produce"), reliable and durable enough to remain for quite a while yet.

    I'd say force everyone to learn driving in a something like a manual MX-5 - one gets to appreciate how the car provides feedback and responds to road conditions, fun but not overpowered, and reduce the number of passengers who would potentially encourage reckless behaviour by 66.67%...

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Yellow Peril: Mt Roskill Will Take Over…,

    Like I said, it's not really the white customers who directly ask people to dilute recipes or ruin menus *on the whole* (although I *can* cast some specific blame on certain dishes in certain restaurants being rendered totally inedible because of the Pakeha requests for them to be served with ever more oyster sauce dolloped on top, or other fundamentalist favourites of the actual ethnic community being represented disappearing due to complaints about the 'smell').

    Or the inexplicable preference to random stuff drenched in sweet-and-sour sauce made using industrial process.

    I for one will celebrate the day I see a stall/shop selling deep-fried stinky tofu here, or rather smell from hundreds of meters away...

    Ultimately, these are the choices of the chefs/restaurateurs themselves and reflect their compromises and expectations of what the market will respond to when it has 'ethnic' in mind (seemingly volume, coconut cream, deep fried things, mildness, and lots of salt and sugar notes).

    However that doesn't explain declining standard of dim-sim in Chinese restaurants - for example the badly made glutinous rice pastry too thick to be steamed through yet will self-destruct on contact with chopsticks. Given the hour+ wait required to get tables on weekends the only conclusion is that the people running the show are too busy raking it in to care.

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

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