Generation 40s – 四十世代

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虎豹鬼門關怪象

信報財經新聞
回眸英倫
2016-03-19

毛羨寧

到新加坡出差期間,有一天周日自由活動,台灣和馬來西亞來的同事便約我一起到恭錫路(Keong Saik Road)吃午飯。可能因為鄰近唐人街(牛車水),許多餐廳趁農曆年結束前最後一天繼續慶祝,原本想去的The Library酒吧打烊,吃澳洲菜的Luxe Sydney沒位子,最後去了漢堡餐廳Three Buns。這條街道曾是六十年代著名紅燈區,現在時髦的精品酒店和餐館林立。於是等上全天候早餐的時候,我拿照相機拍恭錫路典型的南洋排屋式建築,走到交叉口的「尼路」(Neil Road),就有一幢摩天豪宅建在傳統古蹟旁邊。我想,新加坡表面國際化,但集結起來的多個種族,加上殖民地色彩更複雜,是文化大熔爐,還是潛在衝突,我仍觸摸不透。

所以,我跟好朋友淑萍說,此行要了解新加坡伊斯蘭教、佛教和印度教的多信仰關係,另外想拍出色彩鮮明、新舊交錯的照片。「Haw Par Villa?」她問。其實我小時候住在香港虎豹別墅附近,可是裏面放滿了牛鬼蛇神的塑像,父母都不帶我去。新加坡虎豹別墅也有小斜坡延伸至大門,門口有主人胡文虎、文豹兄弟倆褪了色的名字。農曆新年的紅燈籠還未拆下,不過整個大宅盡是七彩顏色,中國味道便不甚突出。

苦海無涯

離遠看見來到此一遊的目的——「十殿閻羅」洞穴。進去之前先經過一座石山,上面埋了死人頭顱的泥像,寫着「苦海無涯,回頭是岸」。地獄的十殿,由見秦廣王和楚江王開始,審判後入血污池、寒冰陣、下油鑊,在閻羅王面前被鬼卒用刀刺至穿腸破肚……最後下世能再做人的話,喝過孟婆湯,就把上世的事忘得一乾二淨,重新開始。洞穴裏潮濕陰暗,我更怕蚊叮蟲咬,可是洞穴外的花園放有一些敍述中國民間傳說的泥像,例如取材自《二十四孝圖》的《乳姑不怠》更奇怪,連手上拿着虎標驅風油老虎公仔,好像都帶着同一個詭異表情。

虎豹別墅本身並不嚇人,它有古雅的亭台樓閣,但佛祖、福祿壽和自由女神並列,到處夾雜了格格不入的東西,難怪遊人不多。我看「Haw Par Villa – A Journey Through the Years」展覽寫出胡氏家族在新加坡的其他產業,原來早上拍下的尼路89號歷史建築就是屬於胡氏的永安堂。看來我找到了一新一舊的對比,惟有這樣我行我素、用獨特景象來包裝老觀念的富翁,才是愈來愈少。

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Why women are a rare breed in Hong Kong’s burgeoning tech start-up field

South China Morning Post
News›Hong Kong›Education & Community
FOCUS
2015-07-27

Alice Woodhouse

Women are woefully under-represented in Hong Kong’s burgeoning tech start-up scene

As the Hong Kong government moves more aggressively to promote technology start-ups in a bid to diversify the city’s finance and property-focused economy, experts warn that women are at risk of being left out.

Female students made up only a third of those studying technology-related subjects, and role models were severely lacking for those women that did try to buck the trend and join the male-dominated industry, Karen Farzam, co-founder of start-up showcase W Hub, said.

Young women needed to hear “that they can actually go into the tech industry”, she said. “The tech industry has so many opportunities that if [young women] feel they are attracted, they should definitely go for it.”

Farzam founded W Hub two years ago with Karena Belin to highlight Hong Kong start-ups and job opportunities in the technology industry in the hope of seeing a more diverse workforce in the future.

Belin believes flexible hours make entrepreneurship a great choice for women who are one half of double-career couples that juggle child care with work. The structure of start-ups also suited women.

“A start-up typically is low hierarchy, big team players and that’s normally an environment where women feel more comfortable and thrive,” she said.

A barrier preventing Hong Kong women from taking up careers in technology may be the low representation of women in university science courses.

Last year, women made up 33 per cent of the local first-year undergraduate intake for science, technology and engineering and maths (STEM) degrees, down from 34 per cent in 2013, Education Bureau statistics show.

“We stress that the students’ choice of subjects should be on the merit of their aptitudes and aspirations, and gender is not a factor for consideration,” the bureau said of promoting science in secondary schools, adding that participation in science at secondary level showed no disparity between genders.

Farzam and Michelle Sun – the founder of children’s programming school First Code Academy – created Women Who Code 18 months ago to form a community for female coders, as the majority of web developers are male.

Women Who Code events now welcome a mix of about 20 women and men each month as Farzam hopes to encourage male start-up founders to see there are women with relevant skills in Hong Kong.

“It’s better for the whole ecosystem to have diversity and we can learn a lot from it,” Farzam said.

Sun’s years of working in a bank with major technology clients piqued her curiosity about the sector. Initially, she felt intimidated by the high percentage of men in coding classes. But she overcame her hesitation to enter the male-dominated field by enrolling in a women-only bootcamp at the Hackbright Academy in San Francisco.

After working at two start-ups in the US, Sun returned to Hong Kong to launch First Code Academy in 2013. The school was designed as a coding academy for girls, but expanded to include boys at the request of parents.

First Code Academy now has 2,000 students aged six to 18 learning how to write their own Flappy Bird game clones or design and create apps tailored to their interests.

Sun said the male-female split in the academy’s classes was even until the early teen years when the number of girls began to dip.

“That’s why we feel so strongly about starting kids earlier,” Sun said, speaking from one of the academy’s bright Wan Chai classrooms.

“Primary school years are a great time to get a taste of something. Not everyone will like it but at least they can make a more informed decision.”

The Women’s Foundation, which will later this year launch a study into why girls in Hong Kong are not choosing STEM subjects, shares Sun’s stance on instilling an interest in science and technology early on.

“Encouragement and support to study STEM needs to begin early both in school and at home,” said Lisa Moore, research and advocacy manager for the foundation. “Girls who show an early interest in the field often lose interest because of pervasive but underrecognised biases in the learning environment.”

The foundation runs a series of mentorship and workshop programmes to promote technology among girls, with volunteers from big corporations such as Goldman Sachs.

“It’s a good thing for more girls to get into the tech industry, because right now I would say it’s still very, very much male-dominated and we appreciate the variety of people joining. It’s a huge struggle,” said Victoria Li, 26, a recent graduate of educational start-up General Assembly’s 12-week web development course.

Li followed a similar path to Sun, moving from banking to coding. She quit her London job with a plan to become her own boss and soon realised learning how to code would allow her to put her own ideas into practice.

Even with greater encouragement to pick STEM subjects, Noel Ho Ka-miu, external vice-chairwoman of the Computer Science Association Engineering Society at the University of Hong Kong, warned that the practical nature of the city’s youth and the low status of science careers in Hong Kong society would remain a large hurdle. “In general, in Hong Kong, our first choice is business, then to be a doctor or a lawyer and then the very last is studying science,” Ho said.

She said the majority of her female classmates were put off by the perceived loneliness of programming jobs and planned to go into the business side of technology firms in marketing or other more people-oriented areas.

Ho’s fellow chairman, Ron Tam Hoi-kit, agreed that societal pressure often deterred youngsters from science careers as job opportunities were limited.

Tam added the public perception of information technology-related careers put many young people, especially women, off computer science.

“In Hong Kong, if a teenager is interested in IT, they will be marked as a geek,” he said. “This won’t be solved by the government pushing a lot of funding to technology but by building a better image of technology and IT guys.”

Tam is far from a lone male voice wanting to see more female representation in technology and start-ups.

First Code’s Sun said many of her male colleagues were also eager to see more female faces in technology, explaining that one of her male tech start-up friends in New York was excited to finally welcome a woman to his medium-sized team.

As Sun put it: “Who wants to work with 15 dudes?”


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退而不休最累事

信報財經新聞
忽然文化
2016-03-19

占飛

上周,前曼聯領隊費格遜(Ferguson)在一個私人午宴上公開表示,他看好李斯特城奪得今屆英超聯賽冠軍錦標,還揚言李斯特城可以不用打最後3場賽事已奪標。私人午宴,沒有記者在場,他毋須口是心非,亦毋須打「心理戰」(mind game),是以外界都相信這是他的肺腑之言。

事後,費格遜的預測被英國足球傳媒廣泛報道。李斯特城奪標賠率大跌。去年8月,李斯特城是1賠5000的大冷門。現今,香港馬會的賠率是1賠1.5。不過,李斯特城也不是沒有危機的,畢竟它百多年來從未贏過一級聯賽冠軍,陣中大多數球員從未試過爭標。

近鄉情怯

李斯特城對紐卡素一仗,球員已有點患得患失。素以好好先生見稱的領隊雲尼亞里(Claudio Ranieri),半場休息時竟在更衣室大發雷霆,可見「近鄉情更怯」,愈接近奪標,壓力便愈大。

李斯特城有機會創出奇蹟,純因今屆英超「四強」均霸氣盡失。世上沒有不瓦解的帝國;球壇也沒有屹立不倒的霸主。歐洲大球會行「雙軌制」,將足球主任和領隊權責分開。領隊隨時炒魷,可年年更換,足球主任則長駐球會,保證球會傳統延續下去,以及球隊的「哲學」香火不息。

英國球會大多行「單軌制」,領隊集大權於一身。他一旦離隊或退休,球隊極可能一切要從零開始。現時英超球會中,史雲斯(Swansea)表面上行「單軌制」,實質行「雙軌制」,球會主席掌控球隊的「哲學」、戰術、球員轉會等,故雖然更換了3任領隊,球會未嘗絲毫動盪不安!

二戰後,曼聯經歷過一番風雨和大震盪,可惜球會高層沒有吸取歷史教訓。1945年,畢士比爵士(Sir Matt Busby)出任領隊,帶來曼聯第一個黃金時代。可惜在1958年,球隊乘飛機赴慕尼黑比賽途中遇上空難,主力球員幾全數罹難。

畢士比只好重建球隊,1968年終首奪歐冠盃,攀上巔峰。1969年1月,59歲的畢士比在當了24年領隊後決定退休,並選定了接班人。可惜,畢士比仍戀棧董事局,有權決定收購和賣掉那些球員,而且閒來還和陣中老將打高爾夫球。

試問球員怎會聽從新人指揮?短短6年間,曼聯由歐洲冠軍,倒退至1974年降落乙組。雖然迅即回升甲組,但霸主地位已被利物浦取代了。往後二十多年,曼聯一直浮沉在聯賽中游,直至英超成立,費格遜執掌帥印為止。

事後檢討,曼聯沒有好好的為接班安排妥當。畢士比退而不休,一而再地損繼任領隊的權威,是最大的敗筆。費格遜退休,曼聯重蹈覆轍,人去政息,雖依然財雄,卻喪掉費格遜時代的足球「哲學」和傳統,雖要等待另一個出色領隊出現,才能鳳凰火中重生!反之,於1970年代崛起的利物浦,領隊新基利(Bill Shankly)1974年退休後,球會狠下心腸,嚴禁他踏足訓練球場觀操,亦不許他過問球會事宜,新基利鬱鬱而終。

締造神話

利物浦的領隊接班人因而可大權在握,建立了「球靴房」制度,領隊由派士利(Bob Paisley)到費根(Joe Fagan)再到杜格利殊(Kenny Dalglish),稱霸英國乃至歐洲十多年。若非在1985年發生「希素球場慘劇」,引致杜格利殊辭職,利物浦的霸業未必從此夭折!

曼聯尚未開始重建。車路士13年換12個領隊,摩連奴(Mourinho)擺脫不了「三年魔咒」,何來傳統及球隊「哲學」?曼城每進3步,次年就會退兩步。這3間球會有的是錢,可高價收購球員,卻欠缺穩定的制度和球隊的「哲學」。阿仙奴領隊雲加(Wenger)作繭自縛,來季恐怕要從頭來過。「四強」日暮,李斯特城遂乘勢而興,為英超和英國足球締造另一個「諾定咸式神話」!

假如費格遜預測成真,今屆英超頭4名是李斯特城、熱刺、阿仙奴和韋斯咸,此4隊下屆參戰歐冠盃,能否全數打入16強,頗成疑問。歐洲足協會不會因而將英超的名額由4隊減至3隊呢?

東施效顰

周二深夜,看歐冠盃曼城對基輔戴拿模,比賽乏善可陳。令人唏噓的是,曾光輝一時的基輔戴拿模,與後費格遜時代的曼聯同病相憐,將軍一去,大樹飄零,仍未走出前任領隊盧賓諾夫斯基(Valeriy Lobanovskyi)的陰影!

盧賓諾夫斯基是少數入選足球名人榜(Hall of Fame)的東歐領隊之一。東歐一直想在政治、經濟、文化等各個方面追上西歐。二戰後,蘇聯和東歐陣營以「舉國體制」發展足球,務求跟西歐爭一日長短。

可惜,縱使球員質素不輸於西歐,球隊戰術始終落後一皮,直至盧賓諾夫斯基出任基輔戴拿模及蘇聯國家隊領隊,方可跟西歐分庭抗禮!可惜,成績最好也只是在1988年蘇聯國家隊打入歐國盃決賽,以2-0不敵三劍俠的荷蘭,屈居亞軍,但這已是東歐足球最高的成就了!

有此成就,盧賓諾夫斯基居功至偉。他由1973至2002年逝世為止,兩度掛冠離去又復返,擔任基輔戴拿模的領隊,總共為時20載。在1984至1990年期間,他還兼任蘇聯國家隊領隊。

自動波打法

他的戰術可稱為「集體主義」,很符合當時蘇聯陣營的意識形態:他任教的球隊恍如一部機器,球員就是螺絲釘,各司其職,平時不斷反覆操練,直至球員不假思索已知道如何走位傳球──球圈術語謂之「自動波」──全場體力化的緊迫對方球員,兩翼快速行軍等,已成為蘇聯國家隊和基輔戴拿模的「預設」(default)打法,至今如是。

現時流行的中場體力化緊迫和反緊迫的戰術,可說師承盧賓諾夫斯基。憑這個打法,基輔戴拿模在他領軍的20年裏,贏得12屆聯賽冠軍,9屆杯賽冠軍,並且兩奪歐洲盃賽冠軍盃(Cup-Winners’ Cup)。此輝煌成績,並無其他東歐球隊可望其項背!可惜,他辭世至今14年,幾任接班人沿用一貫戰術,徒然東施效顰;創新戰術,卻畫虎不成,以致基輔戴拿模已給薩克達比下去了!


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Hong Kong’s giant trees can be deadly, but we keep forgetting it

South China Morning Post
News›Hong Kong›Health & Environment
2015-07-24

Yonden Lhatoo

Yonden Lhatoo can hardly believe that seven years after a well publicised deadly accident, shoddy management is still to blame for this menace and no one seems to care

At lunchtime on Monday, a 14-metre-tall tree came crashing down outside the main building of the former government headquarters in Central, hitting a woman who ended up in hospital with multiple injuries.

An expert suggested root decay brought down the tree, which was the government’s responsibility. It might also have become top-heavy, perched on a slope with thin soil loosened by rainy weather – a recipe for disaster.

Then on Wednesday morning, another giant tree, 21 metres tall, collapsed on Bonham Road in Sai Ying Pun, a major Mid-Levels thoroughfare, hitting a goods vehicle and injuring a newspaper vendor and a woman passing by. This time the Highways Department was responsible for the maintenance of the tree, which was apparently recommended for felling more than a year ago.

Investigations are under way, and by the time the facts are ascertained, I can pretty much guarantee there will be very little to no media interest, given the short pubic attention span in such matters. After all, no one was killed, right?

Sounds cynical, I know, but look what happened last August when a heavily pregnant woman waiting for a bus was killed by a falling tree on Robinson Road in Mid-Levels.

In this case, again, a specialist said the 10-metre-tall tree was ill suited to be balancing on a confined slope with thin soil, and its trunk was rotten and brittle as a biscuit. Responsibility fell on the residential estate in which the tree was planted, but it also highlighted the lack of regulations to ensure private owners look after trees on their property.

In November last year, the Audit Commission warned that there were tens of thousands of unmanaged roadside trees, and underscored the need for legislation to bring private owners in line.

The same old questions are raised about tree safety every time an accident happens, just as they were when a university student was killed in Stanley in 2008 in the first high-profile case that grabbed everyone’s attention. The answers are still as vague as ever, and even today you have the usual buck-passing when it comes to accepting responsibility.

That’s despite the setting up of the Tree Management Office in 2010 with a mandate to play a one-stop, coordinating role in looking after all those trees – more than 1.6 million by some estimates – spread around the concrete jungle that is Hong Kong.

A recent scientific study suggested that people live longer in urban neighbourhoods if they have trees around them, but in our city, it seems to work the other way round.

There was no public outrage over the death of the pregnant woman last year. The only indignation or concern I came across was in media reports, and that, too, disappeared when the next big story came along.

In contrast, you should have seen the public backlash just a week after the woman died when a stray dog wandered onto the tracks on the East Rail Line and was killed by a train. There were angry protests for days at MTR stations, with people threatening to jump onto the tracks, while tens of thousands signed online petitions condemning the railway operator for its “heartless” attitude.

I wish the good citizens of Hong Kong would display similar enthusiasm to seek redress when it comes to the reckless endangerment of fellow human beings due to mismanaged plant growth. You can’t just write off a preventable tragedy as a freak accident, or an act of God, or fate.

Perhaps if a rotten tree were to flatten a stray dog one day, enough public outrage would be generated to force the government to tackle the root of the problem.


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跟你講一段不浪漫的愛情故事

信報財經新聞
六角都市
2016-03-05

曾經以為最美好的愛情,就是夏天裏和穿裙子的姑娘坐在海邊喝凍飲;下雨了也不跑,躲在榕樹下等彩虹出現。但畢竟我不是志明,世間也沒那麼多春嬌。在機場和酒店穿梭的生涯裏,能邂逅什麼好的愛情?旁邊的人好心肯借個火,就足夠感激涕零了。

春夢無痕

這個情人節,獨自看了部離奇的限制級動畫片《安諾瑪麗莎》。主角的布偶世界是灰色的。他途中遇到的每個人都長着同樣的面孔,都用同樣的聲線講話。這時他不經意間遇到她。她的聲音像天使,她的臉是世間唯一那張與眾不同的面孔。於是兩人春風一度。但次日醒來,她一開口,卻也變成和其他所有人同樣的聲線。

也許一切都是轉瞬即逝的夢吧,我們都不過是芸芸眾生中的一個。

Roy@6角都市

婚禮司儀

Jan最近跟我說,她有一位前男友結婚,請她去飲,還希望她能幫手做婚禮司儀。

「所有人都覺得做公關一上台就可以開口說話這也難怪,但是他竟然也請我做司儀,我看起來有那麼看得開嗎?」Jan慣常戲劇化。

Jan說她不明白為什麼男人總覺得她對感情不在乎,無論她實際上有沒有在乎過。我想,女人很少能對一段關係毫不在乎吧,無論是長的短的好的爛的,至少也是特別的。

「你別跟我說那個前男友是Roy呀?」我在等他們萬轉千迴之後仍走在一起的。

Jan很快把一個不自然的表情隱沒去。「不是他,不過前男友,都一樣啦。」

後來呢?「當然是答應去做婚禮司儀了。不然,他真的以為我還有什麼看不開呢?再者,去看看他老婆是什麼人也值得了。」

怎能怪男人都覺得她對感情不在乎,是她要以這個姿態示人的。有朝一日Roy結婚請她做司儀也是活該。

Marie@6角都市

金屋藏嬌

女朋友新居入夥,邀我們去暖屋派對。明知是她要炫耀豪宅,還是忍不住好奇心去捧場。女友的老公是殿堂級的藝術大師,所以在我想像中,她家的布置應該是充滿了美術館般的優雅氣質。沒想到進門之後,滿目都是金碧輝煌,讓我以為自己走進了特朗普的家。

趁女主人起身去指點傭人準備茶點,我忍不住童言無忌問大師為什麼要堆那麼多沒用的奢侈品在屋裏:「隨便掛一幅你自己的畫不是勝過這一切浮華?」

他眯着眼睛點起煙斗說:「所謂愛情保鮮,最佳手段就是金屋藏嬌。就是要養成老婆視奢華生活如蚊子見血般的習慣。她們過慣了這樣的生活,為了保持住這種高消費,就會練就一身伺候男人的本事。犧牲什麼,也不會犧牲自己的女主人地位。」

Jan@6角都市

三個人不浪漫

我的同事Jennifer與Alfred結婚7年,是令人羨慕的一對。最近Jennifer情緒有點低落,她說可能是受藥物影響──因為她連續幾個星期天天都在喝一杯看起來很可疑的飲品。

有天我和她單獨吃午飯,她突然問我將來會不會有自己的小孩。我有想過這個問題,但不能夠以「會」或「不會」簡單概括,於是說:「這件事有點複雜。」

真的很複雜,Jennifer說。剛結婚的時候,她和Alfred都希望把精神集中在建立事業,有了好的基礎才想小孩的事,也好享受沒有小孩的甜蜜生活多幾年。現在長輩老公都在期待小孩,每天喝難喝死了的中藥,量着體溫跟着醫生的時間表做愛……

「不過沒關係。」Jennifer試圖以一個正面的結語來圓了這個話題。「我們都很愛小孩,有了小孩後我們的生活會更加甜蜜。」

還是說,大家都困乏於延續兩個人的甜蜜了,就想或者帶出第三個人來催化一下?

Andy@6角都市

新居不念舊

搬屋,大件傢俬埋晒位,我抱住個女,老婆外母執細件嘢。睇個勢,冇兩個禮拜都唧唔到個床位出嚟瞓。

「嘩,張相邊個名攝影師影架?」老婆唔知喺邊個箱摷到。嗰年同Marie,佢個朋友Jan仲有同事Andy去濟州爬漢拏山,應該係頭一段路,難得行得快過班友,仲有時間擺好個機影佢哋。

漢拏山冬天雖然一山頭都係枯草,但陽光燦爛,背景係廣闊藍天同開豁山坡。Marie行到面紅紅,咁啱望住鏡頭,好似向住我行緊過嚟。

已經係好耐以前的事。「點呀,使唔使掛起你幅大作呀?」老婆問。「等第日開影展先啦!」我答。

生過的女人手腳真係快到驚人,只係大半日,一屋嘢已經歸晒位,今晚有覺好瞓。

Simon@6角都市

我愛你

新年假期裏去看望大學的教授,見他鬱鬱寡歡。問了才知道,原來他養了12年的一隻鸚鵡死了。臨終前鸚鵡對他開口說了句人話:「我愛你。」師母去世得早,教授重情,一生未再娶。他為人老派,師母生前未對她講過我愛你。後來一個人常年對住隻鳥假裝在和師母說話,竟然被鸚鵡學會了這一句。

他說大學門口的廣場,原來是生物系的實驗基地。八十年代,不知學校從哪裏弄回兩隻鴕鳥。在曠地奔跑慣了,女鴕鳥不習慣眼前有圍牆,所以不停地跑。以為能跑出去,終於累死。男鴕鳥悲傷嘶鳴,在愛侶身旁待上三天後,竟起身飛跑,一頭撞死在圍牆上。

沒想到教授體會到的不是「及時說愛」,反而說所謂忠義仁愛這件事,動物和人的區別其實甚微。不知道動物有多殘暴,反正人類也非善類。

Joe@6角都市