七月 2011

Monthly Archive

吳宣倫博士十年前後

Posted by on 31 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

今晚去了吳宣倫博士的講座,重點不是內容和爛GET。我去,是為得著一分從聖經中尋求真理的力量。吳博士快七十,論輩分是張五常那個年代。那時美國大學看的是學問,不看頭銜,頭銜是後來給無學問的人用的,就如AAA評級一樣,不過我還歡喜稱呼他做吳博士。記得當年決志後生命沒有改變,是後來吳博士在夏威夷中信講道,他那打爛沙盤問到篤的精神叫我明白福音的內容,叫我之後自己讀聖經,叫我明白信仰自由的真義。到今日我對聖經有自己的領受,不認同他的地方不少,但尋求真理的方向卻是一樣的,只是七十歲的他比我還起勁,慚愧。

神主民治

Posted by on 31 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

神主民治(theo-democracy)的基礎是凡信徒都能直接與神溝通(soul competency),都是神的代表(priesthood),人人平等,不論學歷,身家,種族,年紀,職業,性別,諸如此類。原則上,教會內任何決定都應該以全體會友一人一票方式決定,但據我所知沒有一間有規模的浸信會辦得到。

神主民治在實踐上往往變質成為「民主集中制」(Democratic centralism) 或本人認為的「神權民主專政」,即是由教會內部分信徒(如牧師長老執事等)為神的旨意而專政,雖然會友大會理論上可以推翻任何代表會議(如執事會和會務會議)的決定,但實際上只要不放在議程上,任何決定都可以繞過會友大會,而更不幸的是會友大會被有意識地打做成橡皮圖章。

近年愈理解中國共產黨的政治環境愈覺得與浸信會相似:黨報即月報,共青團即中學團契,共藝社即大專團契,幹部即事工領袖,國務院差不多是受薪同工,政治局常委會即執事會,黨總書記可視為主任牧師,黨級元老與德高望重的老會友相似,全國代表大會等同會友大會,中共全國代表大會理論上可以駁回政治局常委會的決定,正如會友大會可推翻會務會議的決定一樣。

今日任何對中共政制的批評,大致適用在浸信會身上,這令我相當不安。似乎神主民治這個概念在華人信徒當中,根本沒有被仔細探討過,以至不能在華人教會中受重視。在網上也發現被誤用的情況,例如有浸信會神學院的教師寫道「為神主民治,上帝親自揀選族長及摩西等做為領袖,在上帝的引導下行使統治權…」句子中的神主民治肯定不是浸信會特色中的神主民治,神主民治只適用在教會不用於國家是其一,舊約時代耶穌基督還未得著榮耀,人未能直接面對神何來神主民治呢?那依然是神權政治,不是神主民治。

Democracy – a fortress besieged

Posted by on 22 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

Ten people in a room, there will be ten interpretations for democracy. I think democracy is a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out.

I hear more and more Hong Kong people asking for democracy. The focal point is the election of the HK Chief Executive. By Basic Law, the Hong Kong Chief Executive is elected by a 800-member election committee. This is an open secret that the majority of the election committee members are influenced by the Communist Party of China. From HK people’s perspective, their Chief Executive is indifferent to be appointed by the Chinese government. When the Chief Executive’s first priority is to impress his source of power instead of his serving objects, this gap is generally accused as the root course of the deteriorating administrative performance of the HK government. Democracy, implemented by general election, is believed to be the silver bullet of social problems, e.g. rocket-high property price and income inequality.

Is democracy the formula to resolve social problems? Can democracy guarantee prosperity of a nation? We have a negative example: Greece. European Union membership “was a big opportunity for development, and we wasted it,” explained Dimitris Bourantas, a professor of management at Athens University. “We also did not take advantage of the markets of the [formerly] socialist countries around Greece. And we also did not take advantage of the growth of the global economy. We lost them all because the political system was focused on growing public administration — not on [fostering] entrepreneurship, competition or industrial strategy or competitive advantages. We created a state with big inefficiencies, corruption and a very large bureaucracy. We were the last Soviet country in Europe.” (1)

Sir Winston Churchill has a famous quote: Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Some people use this quote to worship democracy, but the wisdom of this quote should be the word sin.

I believe if someone can fix the people, the world can be fixed. (2) In a sinful world, the rise of democracy is individuals can be protected from hurting each other. The fall of democracy is in practice, we don’t know how to protect people without voting right. The US officials are working hard to fix the selfish decisions from their predecessors. But the prospect is dim because the inertia of democracy is passing burdens and troubles to next generation and other nations. This is the nature of mankind.

The Communist Party of China paid a tremendous cost on misunderstood human nature. She learned and is actively looking for a better form of government. The constitution of the Communist Party of China is amended by the National Congress of the CPC every five years. This cannot be applauded by the western world living with the rule of law, but she has my best wish.

God bless China. God bless America.

Reference:
(1) Can Greeks Become Germans? by By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN Published: July 19, 2011
(2) Jesus Christ is the savior. Amen.

劉婷婷給愛情帶走了

Posted by on 15 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

我不能投入美國拍的真人騷,但一看江蘇衛視的非誠勿擾立即中電。本來不抱任何期望,但看了劉婷婷給韓國男帶走那刻,真的激動起來。還是黄菡說得好,劉婷婷是給愛情帶走才對。這個例子對還吊吊揈的男生有指導作用。

不贊成整容,但樣衰始終係無人問津的主因。要成功,第一件事要整靚自己,你樣衰因為你人衰,同上帝和父母無關。記著,相由心生。

第二要知情識趣。失敗男的共同點係自我介紹時講太多「我」。well,自我介紹唔講我講天氣乎?其實聰明的講自已做過甚麼就夠,要用心取材,要留空間給女生幻想,讓她們勾畫想像中的「你」。有些男生連對方個樣都未睇清楚就講自己最討厭甚麼,比曾班子更不懂按步就班。現代女性沒有甚麼未見過,暴露狂只能自暴其短。記著,智慧比樣貌更重。

第三要放低。要放低,就要有放低的本錢,而放低的,也要有質量,含金量是其一,但也要講氣質,講品質。韓國男最後一幕講了句動人話:我花光所有的勇氣只為見到你。這句話動人之處因為不是空話,是燈蛾撲火,但愛情只有all or nothing。記著,resilience,真愛等著你。

兄弟們,你知你為何還吊吊揈嗎?因為你樣衰?唔知情識趣?還是根本沒有愛的膽量呢?劉婷婷韓國男,祝你們幸福。

China VS US

Posted by on 15 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

Debt ceiling is close. Unemployment rate is high. Trade deficit is huge. I think this is the consequence of the US borrow too much from China to buy too many Made in China products. Hawaii is in the great spot that we can export our hospitality to Chinese.

Hawaii public schools tolerate teachers on drug

Posted by on 14 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

I am outraged. I know Hawaii’s public education is bad but now I think it’s broken. A drug-free learning environment should be fundamental. Zero tolerance on impaired teachers should be granted. But the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) against it. The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (ACLU) claim it as an unwarranted invasion of privacy and unconstitutional. Board of Education refused to fund the random drug test cost. Here are the deal between the state and the union on addicted teachers:

  • Teachers who admit to being impaired before an observation test won’t face a suspension, but will be required to submit to testing for up to a year.
  • A positive test for a first offense carries a punishment of five days’ suspension for alcohol impairment and 15 days for drugs. A second positive test results in a 15-day suspension for alcohol and a 30-day suspension for drugs. A third positive test requires a voluntary resignation.
  • The procedures also say teachers who admit to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs prior to an impairment test will not be disciplined, but will be subject to random testing for up to one year and must participate in a substance abuse rehab program.

Teachers’ drug tests limited

Another Journey

Posted by on 11 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

A good writer must be a good reader but a good reader is not necessary a good writer. Anyhow, read more is a must to improve my writing skill. How to start that is the question. I had a list derived form Perry Lam’s English Playmate (英文玩家): Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, George Orwell, Winston Churchill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, and William Shakespeare. Unfortunately, my English is not good enough to read them yet. I even have difficulty to read Economist. Well… All I need are great minds who document their thoughts in simple English. Let’s start from Peter Drucker. On the side, it’s time to flip my NIV Bible too.

In English

Posted by on 10 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

After 5 years of practice, my Chinese writing skill is finally acceptable. The conclusion of his journey is that the weakness of Chinese is also its beauty. I used to have a burning desire to apply English writing skills to Chinese but the fact is that language is impossible to separate from its culture. When I see the unfathomable Chinese culture, Chinese is simply self-sufficient.

CSCL2011

Posted by on 08 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

經驗告訴我香港的正規教育為考試(最終為搵錢),而考試重視標準答案,結果正規教育所教授(teach)的不能幫助學生學習(learn),但十五年前當我接上互聯網,困局打破了。今年CSCL2011在港大舉行,能夠建立一個平台讓政府官員,學者,及前線工作者彼此交流,這個會議不簡單,依陳維安所言,協作學習(collaborative learning)概念能在香港某些學校中試推,總算有交代。相比之下,夏威夷的公校比世界慢了廿年,但問題出在那裡,我還未搞清楚。



Video streaming by Ustream



Video streaming by Ustream

reference:
International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning
The International Society of the Learning Science

中產失業世界無寧日

Posted by on 07 七月 2011 | Tagged as: 浩氣

克魯明觀察力強,沒有學院派脫離現實的惡習,又有學院派的客觀分析,若我只在乎美國人而不將中國同胞放在心上,我是他的忠實粉絲。學位不能保證中產生活已經擺在眼前,若美國要強大下去,基礎是國內有足夠的中產職位推動經濟,但科技進步和全球化,美國中產成了輸家,美國獨大的時代完矣。但更大的問題是中產閒著,將為美國向外發動非常規戰帶來龐大誘因,例如受過高等教育的中產可以在本土研發和操控無人戰機炸毀外國設施,或者利用黑客工具破壞別國系統,不說重建,單是防衛性的應急方案和後備系統已經是百億生意,既可創造職位,也可製造出口,最重要是美國中產在這方面有壟斷性優勢,無論是空襲利比亞,南海戰雲,還是谷歌被駭,種種事件串在一起都對美國中產有利,也是美國保持世界一哥地位的基本戰略。但除了這損人利己之法,可有它途?有兩個方法,宏觀方法是美元大幅貶值,微觀方法是取消最低工資和種種防礙生意人製造職位的法例,但從客觀政治形勢看,美國走損人利己之途的機會最大。

Degrees and Dollars
By PAUL KRUGMAN

It is a truth universally acknowledged that education is the key to economic success. Everyone knows that the jobs of the future will require ever higher levels of skill. That’s why, in an appearance Friday with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Obama declared that “If we want more good news on the jobs front then we’ve got to make more investments in education.”

But what everyone knows is wrong.

The day after the Obama-Bush event, The Times published an article about the growing use of software to perform legal research. Computers, it turns out, can quickly analyze millions of documents, cheaply performing a task that used to require armies of lawyers and paralegals. In this case, then, technological progress is actually reducing the demand for highly educated workers.

And legal research isn’t an isolated example. As the article points out, software has also been replacing engineers in such tasks as chip design. More broadly, the idea that modern technology eliminates only menial jobs, that well-educated workers are clear winners, may dominate popular discussion, but it’s actually decades out of date.

The fact is that since 1990 or so the U.S. job market has been characterized not by a general rise in the demand for skill, but by “hollowing out”: both high-wage and low-wage employment have grown rapidly, but medium-wage jobs — the kinds of jobs we count on to support a strong middle class — have lagged behind. And the hole in the middle has been getting wider: many of the high-wage occupations that grew rapidly in the 1990s have seen much slower growth recently, even as growth in low-wage employment has accelerated.

Why is this happening? The belief that education is becoming ever more important rests on the plausible-sounding notion that advances in technology increase job opportunities for those who work with information — loosely speaking, that computers help those who work with their minds, while hurting those who work with their hands.

Some years ago, however, the economists David Autor, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane argued that this was the wrong way to think about it. Computers, they pointed out, excel at routine tasks, “cognitive and manual tasks that can be accomplished by following explicit rules.” Therefore, any routine task — a category that includes many white-collar, nonmanual jobs — is in the firing line. Conversely, jobs that can’t be carried out by following explicit rules — a category that includes many kinds of manual labor, from truck drivers to janitors — will tend to grow even in the face of technological progress.

And here’s the thing: Most of the manual labor still being done in our economy seems to be of the kind that’s hard to automate. Notably, with production workers in manufacturing down to about 6 percent of U.S. employment, there aren’t many assembly-line jobs left to lose. Meanwhile, quite a lot of white-collar work currently carried out by well-educated, relatively well-paid workers may soon be computerized. Roombas are cute, but robot janitors are a long way off; computerized legal research and computer-aided medical diagnosis are already here.

And then there’s globalization. Once, only manufacturing workers needed to worry about competition from overseas, but the combination of computers and telecommunications has made it possible to provide many services at long range. And research by my Princeton colleagues Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger suggests that high-wage jobs performed by highly educated workers are, if anything, more “offshorable” than jobs done by low-paid, less-educated workers. If they’re right, growing international trade in services will further hollow out the U.S. job market.

So what does all this say about policy?

Yes, we need to fix American education. In particular, the inequalities Americans face at the starting line — bright children from poor families are less likely to finish college than much less able children of the affluent — aren’t just an outrage; they represent a huge waste of the nation’s human potential.

But there are things education can’t do. In particular, the notion that putting more kids through college can restore the middle-class society we used to have is wishful thinking. It’s no longer true that having a college degree guarantees that you’ll get a good job, and it’s becoming less true with each passing decade.

So if we want a society of broadly shared prosperity, education isn’t the answer — we’ll have to go about building that society directly. We need to restore the bargaining power that labor has lost over the last 30 years, so that ordinary workers as well as superstars have the power to bargain for good wages. We need to guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen.

What we can’t do is get where we need to go just by giving workers college degrees, which may be no more than tickets to jobs that don’t exist or don’t pay middle-class wages.

學位與金錢的關係-克魯明

教育是經濟成功的關鍵,這是全世界都承認的事實。所有人都知道,未來的職位將要求更高層次的技能。那就是奧巴馬上周五與前佛羅里達州州長杰布布殊(Jeb Bush)出席一個公開場合時聲稱:「如果我們想聽到就業方面的好消息,我們就需要在教育上作出更多的投資。」

但所有人知道的其實是錯的。

在奧巴馬發表這番講話的翌日,《紐約時報》刊登了一篇關於愈來愈多人使用軟件進行法律研究的文章。電腦可以迅速分析數以百萬計的文件,以廉價的方式來完成本來需要大量律師和法律助理的工作。在這個情況裏,科技發展其實降低了高學歷員工的需求。

科技淘汰低技術職位

而且,法律研究不是唯一的例子。正如上述文章指出,軟件一直在取代工程師進行晶片設計等工作。更廣泛的說,大家認為現代科技只淘汰了一些低技術職位,令高學歷員工顯然是勝利者,這種想法可能主導了公眾討論,但這其實已經過時了幾十年。

事實是,從1990年左右開始,美國就業市場一直出現的,並非技能需求不斷增加,而是不斷下降:高薪和低薪職位都大量增加,但中等薪酬的職位─那些我們需要用來支持中產階層的職位─增長一直落後,而且有蔓延的趨勢。

很多在90年代增長迅速的高薪職位最近都大幅放緩,儘管低薪職位增長再次加速。

原因何在?相信教育變得極為重要,這想法是建基於一個聽起來很不錯的概念:科技進步會增加那些工作與資訊有關的人的機會,概括地說,電腦對那些用腦力工作的人有幫助,但會損害那些靠勞力工作的人。

然而,數年前,奧托(David Autor)、利維(Frank Levy)和穆爾南(Richard Murnan)等幾位經濟學者指出,這是錯誤的想法。他們說,電腦最拿手進行常規工作,一些根據明確規定便可完成的知性手動工作。因此,任何常規工作─包括很多白領階級的非體力工作─都是在火線內。

高薪工作即將電腦化

相反,那些無法根據明確規定來完成的工作─包括很多勞力工作,例如貨車司機和清潔工─需求會在科技進步過程中不斷上升。

問題在這裏:美國大部分勞力工作仍然似乎都是那些難以自動化的。製造業工人雖然減少了6%左右,但生產線職位沒有流失很多,而另一方面,很多目前由高學歷、頗高薪的白領工人執行的工作可能很快便會電腦化。Roomba吸塵機器人很可愛,但清潔機器人面世仍是很遙遠的事,然而,法律研究電腦和電腦輔助的醫療診斷已經出現。

然後,我們有全球化。曾幾何時,需要擔心海外競爭的只有製造業工人,但電腦和電訊科技的進步令很多服務可以進行長距離供應。筆者於普林斯頓大學的同僚布林達(Alan Blinder)和克魯格(Alan Krueger)所進行的研究顯示,由高學歷員工擔任的高薪職位比由低學歷員工擔任的低薪職位更適合「離岸」。如果他們是對的話,美國就業市場將因此而變得更加空洞。

那這一切對政策來說有什麼意義?

是的,美國需要整頓教育。尤其是美國人一起步便不平等─窮家庭的聰明孩子大學畢業的機會比家庭富裕但能力較遜色的孩子低。這不但令人憤慨,而且代表美國浪費了大量的未來人才。

大學文憑非工作保證

但有一些事情是教育做不到的。尤其是,認為讓更多孩子上大學可以令中產階層回到過去的想法,實在異想天開。擁有大學文憑已經不再是找到好工作的保證,而且時間愈久,這就變得愈明顯。

因此,如果美國希望擁有一個共享繁榮的社會,答案不在教育,我們需要直接建造這樣的社會,需要修復美國工人過去30年失去的談判能力,讓一般工人與超級巨星一樣有爭取良好工資的能力。我們需要保障所有人的生活基本需要,特別是醫療方面。

只讓工人得到大學文憑是不會得到我們所需要的。而且,大學文憑可保證的,可能只是讓我們得到不存在的職位或沒有中產工資的職位。

版權所有:《紐約時報》

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