HK's cyber dream

I guess the pictures below tell a lot about HK's cyber dream.

(Give way) Information "Crescent" - what a name! Tells a lot about how cyber the developer is.

无精良品! (Click picture to enlarge - can be read as "no-fine-good-stuff", or more maliciously, as "no-sperm-good-stuff", I have absolutely no idea how to make sense of this in Chinese. [Post-edit - I think it means no MSG]) - from a low end restaurant next to the cinema, where many guests ask for receipt (apparently for reimbursement -- not the high rolling business travellers, I guess -- but there aren't a lot of choice, as other restaurants are overpriced and look cold from outside)

The empty mall (1) - there are 4-5 stalls in the food court, but the Chinese stall closes at 630pm, and the pizza stall closes at 730pm. Have you known about anywhere else in HK that have such business hours? -- the lady at the cashier lament, "the business hasn't been that well...."

The empty mall (2) -- check out this "crowd" at the Cyber Mall

People were saying that HK's "cyberport" is a real estate development. I now want to put it in more specific terms, "purely residential development". i.e. no business, no cyber, not even some decent shops or restaurants, or hotel, or cyber-business.

The "mall" failed simply because there is no business in the area, and there are no shops to attract the external crowd to shop and eat there (like Taikoo Shing or PP). Many restaurants were closed, and without the flow of customers, the shops are all losing money. The fact that McDonald's in HK are the most profitable yet among the cheapest is purely a result of extremely high volume. Cyberport seems to think that there is no need for shop as everybody does "e-commerce".

To be sure, the developer would not care, as it has made enough money from selling the apartments!

As for the "business hotel" - Le Meridien - well, it caters for tourist groups, not business travellers. They have closed the executive floor and the lounge, so that guests who normally would be entitled to free drinks/snack are asked to go to the restaurants for "free breakfast and free drinks". They probably forget that the real reason for business travellers to go for the lounge is for the exclusivity, and the much higher waiter to guest ratio. They are usually reimbursed for their breakfast and drinks.

So much for HK's cyber dream. Welcome to Cyberport, a surreal experience in HK.


Application of Sun Zi (ii): Lee Tenghui's brilliant coup

Those who had played 2-dimensional strategy games versus a computer will know, the computer player A.I. is often badly programmed, such that you can trick it into following you to a dead end, trap it, and take its territory. (the software had not improved since Pacman and Load Runner, you can still do these tricks with Civilization, and Sangokushi)

Lee Tenghui is perhaps such a great game player, for he has successfully tricked his competitor, the DPP and Chen Shui-bian, into such a corner, and has now emerged to take DPP's vast territory, from the empty space the DPP has already given up -- the light green. (See 1, 2, 3, HT ESWN)

Despite all the controversy about his character or political foxiness, you have to admit that he is good, indeed very good.

When Lee was forced out of KMT, the Green camp has already been taken by CSB and his DPP. Lee has to settle for a niche of "deep green" called TSU. For years he has been trying to re-take his territory, the central light green area which supports status quo (instead of aggressive independence), but in vain, because that area was already taken.

As CSB and DPP under SK Yu (a puppet of CSB) are trying to defend their position amid various scandals by moving toward fundamentalism, Leng Tenghui started a race to fundamentalism with them, accusing them of not being aggressive enough. Now that DPP has fallen into his trap, Lee suddenly emerged on the other end of the map and shut the door behind him.

People accused Lee of flip-flopping. I tend to believe Lee has planned for this for a very long time. Expect TSU taking the middle ground and emerge to replace DPP as the leader in the green camp, and expect this new TSU to be more or less a replicate of the KMT under Lee era, sans the light Blue members -- in fact, Wang Jingpin might jump ship soon. 2008 may belong to Ma Yingjiou as the Green will be split, but soon afterward TSU will dominate the Green camp and DPP marginalized. TSU and DPP will switch chairs. By 2010 perhaps Lee may be able to defeat KMT!

The only question that remains is, why does CSB, who used to be such a smart politician, behaves like a player on badly programmed A.I. algorithm?

Application of Sun Zi (i): China's anti-satellite test, and the non-issue of space trash

The Economist disappointed me greatly in its recent analysis of China's anti-satellite missile test recently.

It blindly followed the unsubstantiated claim that the debris of blowing up a low orbit satellite will endanger the space for ages, by claiming,
  • "What irony if China, which takes pride in its own recent manned space flights, were to find its ambitions to put a man on the moon and eventually to build a space station set back someday by the still ricocheting rubble from its own irresponsible action".
I am willing to bet half of my wealth against this Economist editor that it won't happen.

The simple fact is, not only the threat is tiny - consider breaking a television and throw scatter it across the Pacific Ocean, what is the chance of a swimmer finding a piece of the TV - it is also against the Newton's law of physics that any high schooler who has done physics would understand.

Let me explain this with a few facts here
  1. Unpowered object surrounding the earth can only stay on the orbit when the potential (gravitational) energy (determined by altitude) equals the kinetic energy (determined by speed). Therefore, there is only one solution for altitude, the geosynchronous altitude
  2. Therefore, any debris from blowing up a satellite will end up in 3 places: a) spiral down to earth and vaporize when it enters the atmosphere (low energy debris); b) spiral out to outer space and leave the earth's gravitational field for good (high energy debris); c) ends up at the synbronous orbit (just the right energy)
  3. The % of debris that ends up in the geosynchronous orbit is extremely small. An analogy would be to thrown a handful of sand and count the numbers of sand that falls exactly on a very thin line 10 meters away
This is the basic physics that the Economist editor could have tried to understand, or ask a high school teacher, before writing that article. (I still have great respect for the Economist as we are all human, who makes mistakes)


The Newsweek has provided very good background information of this test. But it made the same wrong claim about debris as the Economist. Furthermore, it made two seriously flawed arguments.
  • 1) It claimed that China's test will provide the space-hawks in US with an excuse for an arms race in space. Well, the simple fact is, for all these years, they have been racing against themselves, and it is not China's responsibility or China's business to change the mind of the US. The people in the US should be responsible for the behaviors of US hawks.
  • So far the US people have been complacent on Bush's belligerent behaviors toward the rest of the world, and Bush got re-elected in 2004. Al Qaeda's claim that American people are collectively responsible for what its government does does have a point. This is like saying that if the Chinese people "behaves" then the Chinese government will give them democracy.
  • Therefore, any argument that whatever China does would affect the minds or impacts of the US hawks are purely bullshits.

  • 2) The second mistake in Newsweek's conclusion is that,
  • "Some pundits have argued that the test was meant merely to pressure the United States into finally agreeing to a treaty to limit space weapons. But this argument doesn't hold water. For one thing, by obliterating one of its old orbiting weather sensors, China also managed to destroy an informal two-decade-old moratorium on such tests. This would be a strange way to promote arms control, as would recent Chinese moves to develop lasers that could disable American satellites."
  • I entirely disagree.
  1. Firstly, this is a very valid way to begin a negotiation to limit space weapon. As so far nothing else suceeded, there could be nothing worse.
  2. Secondly, if we look at this from the purely strategic point of view (i.e. disregarding political ideology and the like). The only victim in an arms race in space is US, as no one else has any real strategic in the space that can become target of such an arms race! So from China's perspective it is a great move, even though it might not have been intended as such (more likely a result of uncontrolled vneture from local/divisional commanders, as speculated by Newsweek and others).
  3. Thirdly, this signifies a new application of games theory to achieve peace as first theorized by Nobel Laureate Schelling's theory. In the old context of the game theory one talks about mutual destruction. Today the balance of power has been disrupted, as the WPMD (weapon of precise mass destruction) the US is applying to Iraq and Yugoslavia runs in parallel with Hiroshima in 1945. By demonstrating that it is very cheap and easy to disable such WPMD, China has shown the world a way to control this kind of crazy warfare. When winning a war is much less easy, everybody will be more careful before waging a war. The world will be a safer place as a result.
All said, a brilliant demonstration of Sun Zi. Achieving the strategic objective, or alleviating the star war threat, by not waging a war -- in fact, by not even technically conducted a weapon test! Technically this is no different from using dynamite to dismantle an old building.

In the next few days, when I find time, I will write about another brilliant demonstration Sun Zi, by one of the smartest politician on the other side of the strait yesrterday. You probably guess it correctly who I am going to talk about.