Since starting work, being a consummate consumer of news has been increasingly difficult. At the same time as my interests (or perceived supposed interests) expanded to include things I ought to know for work, the amount of time I have to read and consume news has shrunk as work has taken up the time or at least the mental space. I have learned to be more selective in what I read and choose, fewer spontaneous pieces, more focus on things I feel are most important. My sources have become shorter and shorter, being easier to finish in the sport bursts of time that I feel I have.
But more often than not, I am simply succumbing to the pithy, bite-sized, sound-bite based culture that our news and media has increasingly been reduced to. So it was fantastically refreshing (in this holiday of the last few days) to be able to engage in some serious long-form journalism – Hiking around the hills of Hong Kong listening to an almost 3-hour long podcast about the Oprah Winfrey show (Making Oprah by WBEZ); watching a 2-hour long film about spending a year in space (A Year in Space by TIME); a ton of long-form articles that I wouldn’t have had time to read in my normal routine.
So despite my succumbing to the ever-shortening attention span that we grant to the news, I guess this is a timely and helpful reminder that we should always find the time for some proper long-form news.
IMAGE: Taken from Mount Butler as I was reminded of a friend who said that their favorite thing about Hong Kong was how close nature was to the city and vice-versa. Fact proven when it is possible to do a 3-hour casual hike from door-to-door on the fly.
This post number two following the earlier one titled ‘Privilege‘, hence the pun in the title, on something that has been bothering me for a long while. This isn’t aimed at anyone or any group, mostly just a personal reflection/struggle.
Still struggle to put this all into words, but thankfully The Broad Experience has nicely encapsulated it in this podcast.
The Broad Experience – Episode 94: https://www.acast.com/thebroadexperience/episode94-classandcareer.
A not 100% accurate transcript: www.thebroadexperience.com/transcripts/2016/10/27/episode-94-class-and-career, though I think the differences sometimes add an element to the message.
CONTEXT: From 9-13 August, I went on a Project Mingde Voluntary Teaching Summer Camp in Dabao Village, Guangxi, China. The following was the reflections I wrote for the trip specifically, but also happened to be something I had thought about more generally in the last few months, so I felt it had heightened meaning, even if it doesn’t necessarily capture the breadth of my thoughts on this.
Hiding safely in our air-conditioned multi-storied concrete edifices, it is easy not to realise how truly privileged we are to live and grow-up in Hong Kong. It certainly was not at the forefront of our minds as the 20 of us made the trip to Dabao Village some 600 km away.
Gathering at the border crossing at a mean 8am, we made our day-long journey to Danzhou Ancient Town. The quaint and beautiful old island surrounded by a yellow silt-filled river began as a bit of a shock – what with the unfamiliar food, unstable internet connection, and undesired company of various small critters. But it soon came to represent a comforting respite from the even more foreign environment a half-days travel away. Along the way into Dabao our bus (perhaps inevitably) broke down, live animals and vegetables were sold in street stalls literally within reach from the car’s windows, and our walk into the village was pre-emptively cooled by heavy rainfall as the bus climbed upwards (though the sky had thankfully dried up by the time our walk started).
I have cycled through many stages of news reading. It started off being the daily pleasures of the 6.30 news on TVB. As I grew older, that was too regular a schedule to keep, and I was a thankful subscriber of the SCMP at school, religiously picking up my copy daily and reading it on the bus. Once I got my own laptop, I was all over the podcasts I could find on iTunes, downloading enough to fill bus-rides and more. That was also of course when I started reading more news online. This last year, HKU thankfully had a steady stream of free newspapers (WSJ, SCMP, FT) which led me to my current obsession with the print edition.
I do of course get much of my news through the TV and online, but despite many strange looks, I still have a great affinity for the print edition where it’s possible. And Jack Shafer’s writing perfectly captures much of why I feel this way. The irony that he is writing online, and that I found the article through online mediums is not lost, but the point remains well made.
Sometimes, just once in a while, something triggers your mind to be reminded of a morsel of history that had long been lost.
Today [14 June 2016], I rushed out of the house later than planned, in an attempt to attend a talk by Rose Webb titled ‘Implementation of the Competition Ordinance in Hong Kong’. Probably not the most fascinating talk you could have hoped for, but one that I was kinda interested in, and figured that I should try to attend seeing as I’d now left the house. Unfortunately, I arrived 10 minutes late and the talk had started (though give the size of the LMC it’s entirely possible to slip in without too many people noticing). Anyways, as the title of the talk might suggest, it was about the Competition Ordinance (Cap 619) in Hong Kong. I will not bore you with the contents of the talk, but at one point it was mentioned that some of the drafting was intended to protect SME’s from being attacked by big corporations.
Jump back to 19 April 2008, and there I was on stage in St Joseph’s College’s hall, saying these exact words “This law would harm SMEs, Small and Medium Enterprise”. (I have the text of my speech, and I assume I was accurate in regurgitating it at the time.) That debate was on the motion that ‘The government should set up a fair competition law in Hong Kong.’ I went on to say “First SMEs will be harmed in cases where large companies launch repeated complaints against SMEs”.
Being reminded of this little episode made me think about how many seemingly irrelevant, unimportant endeavors in childhood can still be relevant in ways we don’t expect. Sure the debate was unimportant, but if that memory has stuck with me since, then who knows what else about that debate has? What I do know that I opted to study Competition Law and Policy at undergraduate, and here I am sitting in a talk about competition law in Hong Kong. Perhaps life is rounder than we thought.
This is still one of my favourite recent photos.
And it seems a particularly apt reflection of this present moment given the onset of what hopefully are my last set of written exams for the forseeable future, the weather, my mood and a timely reminder of it being just a little under a year since Oxford FHS exams.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one more traveled by,
And that may make all the difference.
Adapted from ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost
Photo: Yume-no-ohashi Bridge, Tokyo, Japan, March 2016