WSDC 2013 – End of Round 5 Standings

Team Standings following Round 5. I am crossing my fingers that these are not incorrect as was the case last time around.
As usual, note that a number of teams have had a ‘bye’ so far, and all of Nigeria’s opponents will still need to have that forfeited debate recalculated. This makes the break particularly hard to predict this year, although it is now safe to say that Singapore, Australia and New Zealand are almost certain to break at this point.

With Singapore set to face New Zealand in Round 8, this means that it is mathematically impossible for more than 2 teams to break on 8 wins, the lowest number since 2007 when Ireland were the only team to break on 8 wins. Even then, the tournament was significantly smaller in size. Since then, 3 teams have broken on 8 wins every year except for 2010 where 5 teams managed this feat.

The current top 13 teams are highly likely candidates to break. Amongst them 10 are almost certain to break; the other 3 being more contingent. Given the upcoming pairing and draw, I think it is safe to say that at least 1 team to break on 8, 4 on 7 and 3 on 6 bar any major upsets. It is unlikely that only teams on 6 wins will break, but if any 5 win spots are free, they will be limited to less than 5 teams. Full break analysis after R6.

1. Singapore (5 wins, 14 ballots)
2. Australia (5 wins, 13 ballots)
2. New Zealand (5 wins, 13 ballots)
4. Swaziland (4 wins, 13 ballots)
5. England (4 wins, 12 ballots)
5. Mexico (4 wins, 12 ballots)
5. South Africa (4 wins, 12 ballots)
8. Hong Kong (4 wins, 11 ballots)
8. Ireland (4 wins, 11 ballots)
10. Greece (4 wins, 10 ballots)
10. Netherlands (4 wins, 10 ballots)
10. Slovenia (4 wins, 10 ballots)

Top Posts of the Year 2012

Another year, and a rather busy year, and the world hasn’t ended. So time permitting, PaulLau.com can continue. I haven’t quite managed to post once a day, but somehow I think reality is going to put a damper on that idea either way. There were as many views in 2012 as there have been since this blog started in October 2009. We also had the best day so far with nearly 2,000 views January Here’s a look back at the top posts of 2012.

1. WUDC 2012 Tab and [RESULTS]
Once the prize of WSDC related posts, it seems that WUDC has managed to claim the first position this year. A lot of interest in this post, particularly at the end of 2012 with WUDC 2013 Berlin happening at the same time.

2. WUDC 2012 [MOTIONS]
I’ve stopped posting event details, but I still think motions are incredibly useful both for recording purposes and for other people to use as a reference.

3. WSDC 2012 Team Tab by Speaks [RESULTS]
WSDC sneaking back into the picture here. An interesting post given the unconventional nature of the way of sorting teams. Some interesting ingishts could nevertheless be gleaned though.

4. WUDC 2012 Grand Final Video
A very strong Grand Final performance by all the teams involved. Well recomended!

5. WSDC 2012 Top 10 Speakers
6. WSDC 2012 [MOTIONS]
7. WSDC 2012 Round-up [RESULTS]
8. WSDC 2012 Final Team Rankings
9. WSDC 2012 Grand Final [RESULTS]
10. Exams

The unfortunate reality of guns in America

For those who have been reading my blog for a while, they’ll recognise many posts like this. Ones where I liberally and happily refer readers to China.org.

Harvey Dzodin

For starters, I am in favor of a comprehensive ban on guns, which is what the majority of sane countries have. Though this would be ideal if it could be implemented in America, I am at my wits end to see how it might actually become a reality. My unfortuante conclusion is that it is unlikely at best, and impossible at worst. The specific context of the USA just makes it very difficult to achieve this ends.

Harvey Dzodin, “a senior adviser to Tsinghua University and former director and vice-president of ABC Television in New York” hits the nail on the head with his short but very accurate analysis titled ‘Little hope for gun control in US‘. Not the most heart warming title, but very realistic. Just goes to show, sometimes Chinese commentaries can be just as good if not better than American ones.

Even if President Barack Obama, defying history and against overwhelming political odds, succeeds in fulfilling the wishes of the advocates of gun control, which, among other things, would require getting Congress to re-institute the assault weapons ban, imposing a prohibition on magazines holding more than 10 rounds, closing the gaping loophole that allows 40 percent of all gun sales to be free from registration or background checks to eliminate criminals or the mentally ill, and optimizing the abysmal information-sharing systems among various jurisdictions. And even if in this era of budgetary restraint, he can get Congress to expend hundreds of millions of dollars on mental health, gun safety education and the rest. The reality is little would change. Simply because of the prevalence of guns in the US, the attitudes of most gun-rights proponents, and the terror of single-issue politics.

The US is being buried under firearms. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2009 there were 310 million guns registered in private hands in the US: 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles and 86 million shotguns. While “only” 40 percent of Americans own guns, this is just about one for each man, woman and child in the US, twice the figure in 1968, the year Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. Although some paranoids worry that the government will confiscate some or all guns, this is as unlikely to happen. So these guns will continue to wreak havoc for decades to come. Don’t even think about a voluntary buy-back program such as Australia tried. Assuming that each surrendered weapon was bought back for $100 on average, recovering just 10 percent would cost $3.1 billion.

Visit http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2012-12/25/content_27507560.htm for the full article.

Finding green in a concreate jungle

Hong Kong is hardly known for its green landscape. The blue (or now brown) harbour, the reflective surfaces of massive office towers, even the red lights of continuous traffic, green is hardly a colour that can easily be associated with Hong Kong. Unless the green is associated with gunk and other waste products that our waters are teeming with.

Thankfully, large swaths of Hong Kong is in fact government protected country park. But venturing out far is often a hassle and drags us away from our office filled lives too much. So why not go out and discover the trees and green landscapes that dot the city’s more built-up parts?

The Government’s produced a number of regional maps just for that purpose, identifying green landscapes and some old trees for your enjoyment in-between the report and the presentation. Check it out!


The Uncommon Common App

When most people are first introduced to the Common App, they are told quite forcefully that this means the same application is going to be submitted to all universities, hence the name ‘common’ app. That, it turns out is not quite the case.

There are a number of possible reasons people use this. The most vehemently opposed reason is simply because people want to submit different things to different colleges for whatever reason. If anything, I find that it is quite reasonable to want to submit different essays. And even to have different activities. The simple fact is that you might want to emphasize and highlight different things in your application to different universities. Certainly, it doesn’t really help your workload given the mountain of things the Common App already requires, but it is a legitimate choice.

On the less objectionable end of the scale is perhaps the situation faced by people who submit applications early. Since your early application is then locked, it is equally logical that you may have new thoughts and ideas come the deadline for your other colleges.

Regardless of the reason, the possibility to do so is readily available. If anything, it is provided by Common App themselves. You simply create ‘alternate versions’ of your application, select different colleges for the respective versions and submit as you usually would. Of course, one must be careful that the right version is submitted to the right college and to keep track of all the various versions. But that’s no reason not to do it if you have the need and have the ability to manage yourself.

Tectonic shifts in Chinese society

Dr. Wei Hongxia

China.org.cn, the “authorized government portal site to China” “published under the auspices of the State Council Information Office and the China International Publishing Group (CIPG) in Beijing” is not known for being very fair in its reports. Indeed, I have followed its opinion pieces with the very intention of getting a radically different perspective. However, every once in a while, there comes an opinion piece with some very good observations that are able to stand up to scrutiny.

Here’s Dr. Wei Hongxia, “visiting scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace”, discussing three very relevant changes in China that could well shape how the next 10 years play out under new leadership: Chinese political culture, Chinese civil society and Chinese foreign policy.

Observers have noted that the scale and the scope of the coming changes are likely to be widest in China’s three most important leadership bodies: The Party, the government and the military. It’s believed that the coming changes will see roughly two-thirds of the existing membership replaced by newcomers. These newcomers will largely account for many of the leading positions in China’s political, economic and ideological administrations, and provincial, foreign policy, public security and military operations after the upcoming 18th Party Congress and the 12th National People’s Congress in the Spring of 2013. In general, this new generation of leaders is more diverse in their educational, professional and economic backgrounds. Most are better educated than their predecessors and some even have diplomas from foreign institutions. Some of them have been chosen through competition, some through recommendations and some have gradually risen through the ranks. They are also more cosmopolitan in their worldviews and policy choices than their predecessors. Their backgrounds are more complex, representing different interest groups within China.

A history of National Education in Hong Kong

I’ve been rather reluctant to comment on the National Education furor in Hong Kong that anyone with even half and eye on the news will have noticed. (It has been well noted that even foreign and international news organizations have covered this issue.) This is because (1) as a general rule, I prefer not to make hasty comments in the heat of any particular issue and (2) because I frankly have not had the time nor interest to truly inform myself of this issue to the level that I feel is required for any comment to be made.

An aspect of this is the need for context which is so often easily lost in the heat of the moment. So before we all blow our heads off on this issue, let’s consider the events that have led up to this point, a neat little summary from the SCMP.

Disney’s Manufactured Stars

Interesting feature from Times Magazine (admittedly from a long time ago) showing how Disney has sucessfully managed to create some of the worlds biggest stars.

Mendler is following a path to fame the channel has mapped over the past three years as it has launched serial stars into orbit: the supernova Miley Cyrus in 2006, Selena Gomez in 2007, the Jonas Brothers in 2008 and Demi Lovato this year.

Each of these youngsters was given a TV show — the so-called zitcom — followed usually by a recording contract with Disney-owned Hollywood Records, songs in heavy rotation on Radio Disney and on Disney-movie sound tracks, a concert tour with Disney-owned Buena Vista Concerts and tie-in merchandise throughout the Disney stores. Miley & Co. are like modern Mouseketeers, but instead of M-I-C-K-E-Y, they spell C-A-S-H.

Read the full article at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1931732,00.html

The 97%

HK Magazine isn’t usually of the sort of material that one wants to share on a serious blog. But they usually have some very nice features, and this week’s feature on Hong Kong’s Glass Recycling System is one of those well thought out and well researched articles that is worth spreading. Let’s do something about the 97% of glass that isn’t recycled, go check out the full article at http://hk.asia-city.com/city-living/article/hong-kongs-glass-recycling-system.

To share our concern about Hong Kong’s underdeveloped glass recycling infrastructure, as well as to fulfill our social responsibility as a media organization, HK Magazine has created a digital petition with the goal of urging the Environmental Protection Department to set up a glass recycling bin on SoHo’s Bridges Street. If you want to show your support, simply visit http://www.hk-magazine.com/glass-recycling and complete the form. The petition will last for 10 weeks from Aug 29, and the number of signatures we have collected will be revealed at the end of that period.