Generation 40s – 四十世代

Good articles for buddies


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霍金的劍橋

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C03 | 城市智庫 | 劍河長篙 | By Alan.C |
2012-11-03

霍金這名字耳熟能詳,因身患肌肉萎縮症而導致全身癱瘓,最後仍成為世界著名天文學家,主要研究圍繞宇宙論與黑洞,被學界認為是繼愛因斯坦後最傑出的理論物理學家。十七歲入讀牛津念自然科學,一級榮譽畢業後,隨即轉往劍橋研究院學習和研究天文物理。1979年獲母校劍橋聘用為數理學院的Lucasian 教授,Trinity College的牛頓於1663 年亦曾出任此職位。2006年獲皇家學會頒授Copley Medal,與Christ College的達爾文和美國的愛因斯坦齊名。

每日三省吾身

霍金在劍橋歸屬Gonville & Caius College,現為學院院士,學院位處Senate House 和Trinity College之間的劍橋中心位置。起初由Norfolk牧師Edmund Gonville 建於1348年,1557年由John Caius擴建完工。John Caius是愛德華六世的御醫,當時全英最權威兼富貴的醫生,在原來的Gonville Hall旁邊加建全新的學院建築群── Caius 大院,其風格開闊明亮,帶有濃厚文藝復興的開放精神。

John Caius 為學院設計三道大門,分別為Humilitatis( 謙恭門)、Virtutis(道德門)和Sapientiae (榮譽門)。所有Gonville & Caius 的新學生在開學第一天先由謙恭門進入學院,在學期間每天經過道德門三省吾身,學道德而有所成後,於畢業之時由榮譽門穿過到達Senate House 畢業禮堂領取畢業證書。榮譽門只有兩種情況打開,一是頒授學位的畢業典禮,二是當有院士去世之時。學院裏的維多利亞時代的椽樑之下,有一條狹窄的肖像廊,其中一幅大金框裏正是霍金。霍金說:我的目標明確簡單,我只想知道宇宙從何而來。為何會有宇宙?它怎樣開始?它將會如何結束?結束之後又會如何?

Alan.C


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霧裏的天鵝堡

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C03 | 城市智庫 | 劍河長篙 | By Alan.C |
2012-10-27

準備離開柏林的早上,享用過地道的早餐,回到房間收拾行裝,然後在床上打開紙製德國全境地圖。刻意不用GPS導航,執起紅筆在紙上畫上南下的行走路線,目的地標定在六百哩外的慕尼黑,目標到達時間趕在晚飯之前。走在沒有時速限制的聯邦高速Autobahn上,心算應該不用三個小時,還有充裕的時間先到柏林北面市郊、那曾於書中讀過的著名二戰納粹德國種族清洗滅絕營Vernichtungslager (意即Extermination Camps,跟集中營Concentration Camps 和勞動營Labour Camps 本質不同)Sachsenhausen 一遊。然後經紐倫堡到達慕尼黑。

翌日清晨從慕尼黑出發再南下經95 號公路朝德國奧地利邊境小鎮Fussen 進發,沿途打開頂篷享受巡航的快感,觀賞德國田野景色。途中一度迷路,在擋風玻璃的前方突然出現地標指示寫着:歡迎來到奧地利,幸好其後發現原來穿越奧地利真屬較快捷的途徑,終於體會到歐盟國界的自由開放。意料之外的是,當天的Fussen正舉行一項不知名的慶典,村民成群結隊地穿上地道服裝,奏起民族音樂,圍繞小鎮巡遊多周表演。

吊橋驚心動魄

百里迢迢到來名不見經傳的Fussen 鄉鎮,是因為在其東南方,穿過天鵝湖Schwansee,在鄉間阡陌之中,幾乎與世隔絕的寂寞山巒裏,有一如夢似幻的堡壘,名為Schloss Neuschwanstein,漢譯新天鵝堡,是美國迪士尼的城堡標誌的取材靈感。建於十九世紀的南Bavaria,國王Ludwig Wilhelm的行宮之一,彩色的大理石凌空往上,風格源自中世紀的神聖羅馬帝國的騎士城堡,意圖建構幻想中日耳曼的天鵝騎士傳說世界、白雪公主的宮殿。車只能停在山下,有遊人必須步行上山,林蔭小道,有點竹海長廊的風貌,用上半個小時,沿途必須經過一條位於山澗中的驚心動魄的長長吊橋——Marienbrucke,是拍照的絕好地方。

在城堡的高塔處回望山下,晨霧忽然翻飛,一絲一縷的纏繞着城堡每一個角落,飄飄渺渺,庭院草叢花瓣間都留有一點點霧的味道。流水聲帶有韻律節奏,山間泉水川流不息,面前的阿爾比斯山,腳下的德國大地,鬱鬱葱葱,此處的鳥雀好像翅膀特別輕盈,成群圍繞啊城堡騰飛。迷迷糊糊,遊人不由得幻想飛翔,一時人物有一時風景,天鵝堡依山傍水,幾經百年風雨歷程,仍歷久不衰。順帶一提,Neuschwanstein鄉鎮有用雪山的水出產的獨特本地啤酒,味道甘甜,有一點霧的味道,而最近發現原來銅鑼灣利園的Inn Side Out竟然有進口,遂成為以後Happy Hour首選之地。

Alan.C


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ESF is part of what makes Hong Kong a success

South China Morning Post
Comment
2012-11-14

Kelly Yang

Kelly Yang says the ESF is a vital part of the Hong Kong success story, as its subsidised education helps create a diverse population

One of the cardinal rules of education is “if something’s working, leave it alone”. Last year, ESF’s South Island School students attained one of the highest International Baccalaureate (IB) results in Hong Kong – an average 36.2 points versus the worldwide average of 31.9. Just to give you an idea, only two international schools “outscored” South Island – Chinese International School with a 38-point average and United World College with a 37-point average. Fees at both are far more expensive than at ESF schools.

I’ve taught local students and those from elite international schools in Hong Kong for more than seven years. I know the English Schools Foundation system works, and it does so because it’s cheaper.

If you take the average student and the best student from ESF schools and compare them with their international school counterparts, the former are just as strong, if not stronger. This is particularly true in secondary school. This past year, seven ESF students achieved a perfect 45 points in the IB.

I’ve asked myself many times why the ESF works. In theory, it shouldn’t get comparable results to international schools; it has bigger class sizes and a higher student turnover, and I think ESF parents have fewer financial resources to give their children. It works because it’s subsidised: by being cheaper than international schools, there’s greater diversity in the student body. Unlike international schools, it’s not just full of the children of bankers and lawyers.

It’s this diversity that drives the students. They are motivated to do well because they know there’s no safety net, no trust fund, to fall back on. When I tell an international school student they need to work harder or they’ll fall behind, they yawn. When I tell an ESF student the same thing, they sit up.

The ESF should remain as it is – subsidised, in English and offering an excellent international curriculum – because it helps drive the city’s success. Hong Kong is what America was 100 years ago; a place that welcomes talented immigrants. Yes, the ESF’s HK$273-million-a-year subsidy seems hefty, but it’s the price of having a diverse, international population, one that doesn’t just help launch IPOs but also helps write our newspapers and teach our students. It is this eclectic mix that helps make Hong Kong Asia’s world city.

The question remains, if the expats without lavish expat packages want to move to Hong Kong, why don’t they put their children in local schools? The answer is simple: the vast majority of local schools operate in Chinese. Not only do they teach Mandarin, but most courses are also taught in Cantonese – that’s just too hard for most non-Chinese-speaking families. It can be done, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Education is stressful enough in Hong Kong without throwing two foreign languages into the mix.

Yes, the local system needs revamping, for a variety of reasons, not least because Hong Kong’s standard of English is among the lowest in Asia. But major overhauls to the local system will take decades. In the meantime, leave the ESF alone.

Kelly Yang is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, an after-school programme for children in Hong Kong. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Law School.


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投資學位恐成泡影

Hong Kong Economic Journal
B05 | 中國投資 | 神州財富論 | By 郭澄 |
2012-10-27

隨着高等教育的普及,不論是內地還是香港,擁有大學或以上學位的人數正不斷增加。但在學費高速增長的同時,投資學位的回報卻正在下降。調查發現,內地碩士畢業生的就業率,居然比起本科生及專科畢業生還低。低學歷民工成為搶手貨,各地頻見民工荒。到底是學位價值出現問題,還是中國經濟結構的問題?

學歷愈高就業愈低

近年來,在內地大學擴招的影響下,大學生已變得不再稀罕,所以為了突出自己,並找到更好的工作機會,不少人爭相入讀碩士課程。而高等學院為了賺錢,亦樂於增收碩士生。結果,碩士課程「水分」愈來愈多,其價值亦開始受到質疑。

今年,全國高校的碩士招生名額達到58.4 萬名,數字是十年前的一倍以上。數據顯示,多間知名大學所招收的碩士生,居然已超過大學本科生。武漢大學今年招收7704 名碩士生,比本科學生的招生計劃多54 名;去年中山大學的碩士畢業生人數亦比本科生多3000 多人;清華大學的本科生與碩士生的比例,更達到0.61比1。

碩士人數大增,一來招生質素下降,二來學院的教學質素亦受到影響。一名教授往往要帶數十名碩士生,跟美國一名教授帶5 至6 人的水平有明顯差距。有學生投訴,一年也看不到導師幾次。

除了大學的資源受到挑戰,市場是否有足夠的就業機會,亦出現疑問。江蘇省一份人才市場統計顯示,2011 年高校畢業生中,碩士生就業率為86.62%、大學本科生為90.3%、專科生則為94.1%。學歷愈高,就業情況愈不理想,確實十分諷刺。

廣東省教育廳的統計,亦同樣顯示學歷愈高,就業率愈低的問題。按學歷層次統計,研究生初次就業率為90.09% 、本科生為93.95%、專科生為95.65%。相信問題除了與學生的心態及質素有關之外,經濟結構及對勞工的需求,亦起着重要影響。

在工資水平不斷上漲的情況下,中國作為世界工廠的地位不斷受到挑戰。不少企業開始把廠房搬到其他工資水平較低的東南亞國家。紡織企業互益(3344)早把工廠搬至柬埔寨,只因當地工資水平只及內地的三分之一,則各類福利方面的要求較低,產品出口到歐盟更享有免關稅優惠。

內衣生產商黛麗斯(333),亦因為同樣原因,逐漸把工廠移至泰國及柬埔寨。

內地經濟轉型緩慢

預計未來,企業遷走的個案將增加,內地經濟確有轉型的必要。近年,內地官方已積極推動有關轉型計劃,希望由勞動力密集的加工業,轉為較高付加值的高新科技行業。若成功轉型的話,社會對低學歷、低技術的勞工需求自然下降。所以,目前內地在高校層面的擴招,其實一定程度上也是為了未來的經濟轉型作準備。

只不過,目前內地經濟轉型的速度仍偏慢,國內中小型加工企業,既無能力遷走,亦無法轉型。所以,市場對低學歷勞工的需求,仍然十分殷切。相反,自去年美國奧巴馬政府提出要吸引企業回流設廠後,一些美資的高增值企業,亦開始離開中國;加上近期中日關係轉差,日本企業亦有撤離中國的計劃。所以,中國高附加值產業的發展仍未如理想。

人力資源和社會保障部此前公布的第三季全國就業數據顯示,十大主要城市,求過於供的職位主要是學歷要求較低的推銷展銷人員、機械冷加工人員、餐廳服務員、廚工及清潔人員。而求過於供最嚴重的,營業人員、收銀員、財會人員、秘書、打字員等,甚至包括電腦工程技術人員。

大學已為經濟轉型做好準備,但經濟轉型仍未能配合。碩士生希望從事服務業或一些高附加值的行業,卻由於市場未成熟,工作機會仍然不足。所以,心理上放不下的碩士畢業生,更加難以找到理想工作,就業率自然比大學生及大專生為低。

產業升級不能單靠政府,還要看看企業是否有心,及有能力實行轉型,相信未來一段時間,市場轉型步伐仍然緩慢,碩士生就業問題,一時之間仍難以解決。學生或惟有逐漸調整心理,接受較低要求的工作。

郭澄


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Time pan-democrats draw line in the sand with radicals

South China Morning Post
Comment
2012-11-12

Alice Wu

Alice Wu says US voters’ rejection of ‘tea party’ politics should give our pan-democrats some ideas of what to do about the radicals

The best tweet on the US elections goes to Bill Maher, hands down. His “Tea Party has now cost the Republicans 5 senate seats. My next donation is going to them” is a funny and pointed observation about a group of people who are disturbingly absolute in their small-mindedness, and their hatred for authority.

It also sounds vaguely familiar.

For years now, our political scene has been hijacked by a tea party of our own – political stuntmen who have made anger and hatred the basis of their politicking. They got lots of air time, found like-minded enthusiasts in all things vengeful, bitter and angry, and gained political and electoral traction. In their fervour, they lit political fires wherever they went – burning allies and foes alike – forcing all to recognise them as a force to be reckoned with.

And so politicians began falling into the trap of aligning with them for political gains, which, as experience tells us, may not be gains after all. As the Democratic and Civic parties found out at the recent elections, what might have seemed like a sensible and mutually beneficial alliance turned out to be a bad political bet.

Alliances with radical ideologues tend to turn bad because ideologues, by definition, aren’t into achieving the greatest good for the greatest cause. They are about pushing their agendas and stuffing it down everyone’s throats. In America, the tea party not only made Mitt Romney lean so far to the right that he wasn’t able to get back to the centre sufficiently on election day, it also cost the Republicans the control of the Senate. If the five seats and yet another presidency lost can’t wake up the ultraconservatives of the Grand Old Party, nothing can.

And this is what Hong Kong’s pan-democrats need to think about, too. They have suffered loss after loss – most severe in the district council elections, given that they are first-past-the-post seats – since the radicals of the League of Social Democrats and People Power came into their politics. And, yet, it wasn’t until the Legislative Council election that it became clear that the radicals were their foes, not friends.

They really need to distance themselves from them in all ways, inside and outside the Legislative Council. Wipe clean any past collaboration, like the en masse resignation, and start fighting them. This wake-up call needs to start with never repeating the mistake of Frederick Fung Kin-kee’s previous attempt to bring the radicals back to the pan-democrats’ table, through the so-called “lunch-box meetings”.

There is no political future for this city’s pan-democrats if lines are not drawn. They will continue to suffer from the vitriol the radicals throw at them.

Legco seats are returned via the proportional representation voting system, safeguarding minority rights and interests, so there will always be radicals in our politics. But Hong Kong’s polarised politics can no longer remain this way. To keep this city’s politics from imploding, the full political spectrum between the two extremes needs to start showing all its colours.

Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA