Archive for November, 2005

Several Problems with Hong Kong employment

So today i walk in and apply for a job.

The form is basically the same form you get for an icecrem shop or a movie theater or something like that. It’s one of those little forms you get from time to time that you fill out for a not terribly important job that basically restates all the info you already sent in your resume and will be further asked for in the interview. Frankie Wong asks me when I can start. The job works like this: you start out working less than 10 hours a week. Your pay is 100 HKD per hour. The hours improve as your performance improves and your pay will be docked if students leave. I can think of few job situations less appealing or more barbaric than this deal. First let’s look at the economics of this. Does this system ensure that the teacher will work hard for their pay? Sure, it does. You’ll have to “innovate” or pander to the class to keep yourself employed. Is that bad thing? No, I mean you should do your best in any job, but here’s the problem: does this provide any incentives for the boss to work hard to bring more clients your way? No, not really. Does it ensure that the business is taking some of the risk in the venture? No. It essentially means the business in question can continue to operate regardless of which way you act. It also fails to have a system of checks and balances, when and if pay is docked it’s not noted, hence Mr. Wong can just take money if he needs it from an already high overheard he extracts per student. It weeds out the “bad” teachers I suppose, but does it? Here are the other problems. The job assumes that money is the main motivation for teaching, anyone who has taught knows that the relation you form is far more important than money. Having fun with your students is part of the deal and productive teachers usually produce new lesson plans not to ensure their economic safety, but simply to make better lessons for a good class. Secondly, it defers responsibility for attracting new students on the teacher, which isn’t our job. It’s basically similar to the major label contracts that float around: you take the risk. You will need to advertise etc for your product and work to attract new students etc. The business just provides an office space and sponsorship of a visa. 10 hours a week at 100 HKD per hour is about 120 USD per week, meaning you take the loss on moving to Hong Kong instead of the business taking the loss as they do in Korea and Japan while your boss tries to attact new clients. It also fails to note one simple reality: teaching isn’t that hard. Students generally stay regardless of the teacher. While a truly bad teacher will drive students away, a truly good one will also drive other students away. No one is perfect and few people have the broad appeal to keep everyone happy at once.  The job also fails to notice that teaching especially english crosses boundaries, while the situation might suck in Hong Kong it’s better elsewhere. In Japan or Korea I can get more money, paid apartment, and possibly transporation for less effort and with more security. What the Hong Kong job attracts then is panic, it attracts people who aren’t going to their best, but merely will do their best to keep their job. It also fails to note that people are more than machines, they need some type of environment and commitment on the part of the employer, this relationship cuts the empathatic bonds of the usual employee boss relationship, you could do everything the business provides with just a few adds in the paper, but oh yeah now you need sponsorship for your visa, so you’re stuck. Here we see people who are effectively brutalizing foriegn employees because the law happens to force enterprising individuals to go through them. This isn’t economics, it’s robber barron capitalism. You may as well be living in the company store, and go north a little and that’s exactly what you’ll find.

November 23, 2005 at 1:07 pm Leave a comment

Korea’s closed network

one last thing about Korea now that I’m not there. In Korea sites like and games like special force and kart rider require a CCID to get on them. The CCID is your Korean national id number. Even if you’re a “forienger” working in Korea and have a CCID on your alien registration card you can’t get on these sites unless you fax the company and ask for a specific ID for yourself. Hence, even China or Iran’s internet policies seem rather liberal compared to Korea’s. Of course the CCID is part of Korea’s attempt to protect the pirvacy of it’s citizens in the wake of the dog shit girl fiasco (at least I think it is, but if I recall correctly I remember Kart Rider being closed well before that), but it’s still funny that the country’s system requites an extra step for non-koreans. Do heritage visa CCIDs work with their internet? If so, it’s easier to find a Korean somewhere and ask for their number than to fax a server to be able to logon. It’s not son much that I’m saying this is closed, but it’s rather typical of the way Korea feels, if your foriegn everything requires an extra step be on the same footing as the natives who drive by you everyday.


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November 19, 2005 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

flock a month or so later

rocks. makes it easy to blog and keep track of shit.

updates come easily, it’s fairly stable etc.

when u get the hang of it it’s definitely better than firefox, but still not enough to warrant all the hype and I’m waiting on better design it still feels like a browser and I want something that notices and includes my web surfing habits better. still as an upgrade to what i.e. or netscape provide, it’s pretty amazing. I might add my new apartment was wi-fi everywhere so updating from the pond. it’s kinda funny to get all the technological dood-dads of laptops together, when you do continous computing seems more like a reality. now if my cell phone could only work most of the time…


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November 19, 2005 at 1:26 pm Leave a comment

The Wayward Cloud aka Tian bian yi duo yun

Finished Tsai Ming-Liang’s The Wayward Cloud

thanks to a south korean porn shop I found it in.

Well worth seeing, probably my favorite Ming-Liang so far. It’s essentially another parable about relationships, but it’s also a rather good film about the strangeness of desire or something like that. I can’t quite put my finger on where it’s all going, but regardless it feels like love and ends with it too. More later when I can actually resolve what I think about this movie. Ming-Liang is definitely the best metaphorical film maker in Asia, even when dabbling in porn it seems more like a discussion of sex than a basking in blatant porn… and the water melon sex scenes are cool

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November 19, 2005 at 1:06 pm Leave a comment

quick update Grey Lodge films, Byrne’s “irony”, HK economics

still in hong kong. looks like job might be good.

things found as of late:

Grey Lodge Occult Review

includes torrents for Maya Deren, Titicut Follies, and others.

via Samantha Culp


is it realy irony? David Byrne has a long history
with the “ironic” view of the times. If this is paradise
then give me a lawn mower etc, but bought grown backwards
again the other day and on track 4 he urges, “Young artists and writers, please head the call, what’s good for business is good for us all…” Here’s the problem with taking this ironically, we live in a strange Doormouseian world in which major companies proclaim their environmental commitments (and make good on them)
In national elections
in songs raised on high
with stirring emotions
and tears fill our eyes
in democratic fever for national defense
i am a mountain
i am a mountain
like birds upon a fence

for as it is in nature so it is in life
the weak among us parish
the weak among us parish
the strong alone survive

vioces like thunder
decissions like steel
The past and the future they belong to us all
from efery mountin the water and the land
the world that we’ve created
by working hand in hand

Obviously Byrne isn’t aiming his gun at google exactly, but the point being industry might be worth singing about if you spend to much time reading The Economist or even Marginal Revolution. Art is a free market and what are companies but poetry of a sort?

Hong Kong The Far Eastern Economic Review has a piece on Hong Kong’s attempts to compete with Shanghai. His conclusion: Hong Kong is making the mistake of putting to much into the government for economic growth and not enough into the “human capital” of it’s citizens. He also advocates better immigration law. While his conclusions seem hasty having beaten tracks around Asia these days I’m inclined to agree. Regardless of what happens with Japan’s economy, that isn’t going to keep Sony from being bankrupt. There’s more to the economy than just laws and respecting the citizens and giving them the opporunity to create things seems to help. Israel’s army gives it’s soldiers the opportunity to educate themselves and work on projects with in the army. The result, if such programs correlate with reality, more people making stuff… i.e. the Israeli boom.

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November 19, 2005 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Hong Kong initial impressions

A. Hong Kong is the most liberal town in Asia. It’s obviously where things “happen” as the saying goes.

B. Japan and Korea need to grow up and join the world. Protectionists economies and immigration policies might be better for the locals (and some of those policies are in HK too), but ultimately you’re better off just trying to be better than coke than banning it and making your own version ala Lotte.

C. It’s a friendly town. The anxiety and contast mis-understanding of Corea aren’t as available here, neither do people seem terribly concerned choking or perserving (your choice) their culture. Yong-San seems like a bricolage of repeting motifs compared to the meager 3 stories of the golden computer building and it’s motherboards and it’s laptops etc.

D. People always accuse HK of being more “western” than Asia. This is just an excuse to distance themselves from actually having to deal with the world. Even the “third world” has jets these days, just let them come. I ate thai food from a thailand woman who spoke cantonese who’s daughter was learning english who called over a chinese man to speak english with me. Give me a break, HK is more Asian than China could ever muster, it’s just full of all of Asia instead of the selected race hiding behind the government today.

November 14, 2005 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

hong kong first impressions

basically what japan is to americans hong kong is to the british, but HK exists as the central point of asia, it’s the world’s fastest immigration service, the night after going around town i am looking out some huge window, using free wi-fi, and overlooking some old chinese temple which is flocked with blossoming trees.there’s approximiately 18,000 things to do in a city more compressed than Seoul. I have to go get a plug for my laptop.


November 13, 2005 at 10:51 am Leave a comment

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