Supreme Sports Personality Championships: Tiger Woods v Roger Federer

December 10, 2009

Roger Federer is simply the best. He has the best Grand Slam persona. He is a Supreme Sports Personality Champion. He is the perfect role model to inspire others in how to behave decently. This view is qualified by contrasting Roger Federer with Tiger Woods.

These two supremely talented sportsmen and champions have been in society’s collective consciousness for a decade or more and have left impressions on many of us in general (not just on avid golf or tennis fans). From time to time, we have all looked in from the outside at these two great sportsmen of our time, who are both considered the greatest of their generation, and the greatest of all time (true in the case of Federer; in-waiting for Woods). I wish to blog a little about these impressions formed in society’s collective consciousness (some different, some similar) and explain why Federer is so much greater and supreme than Woods.

Talent In Their Chosen Sport
Both Federer and Woods excel in their respective sports. Federer has a record 22 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances, and has won 15 Grand Slam titles. Woods has 14 Major titles. The manner of their domination is what’s interesting.

Federer has always played to his ability and let the results speak for themselves. Jimmy Connors has been quoted: “In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist … or you’re Roger Federer.” Federer does not look down on or disrespect his peers. He does not engage in any noticeable gamesmanship. In fact, he is the most likeable and popular player on tour.
In contrast, Woods dominated his peers only in the early years of his career. Between 1999 and 2002, there was simply no one near fitter, more talented or plain better than Woods. Gradually, as his peers improved and caught up to Woods’ high standards, Woods has had to modify the way he “dominates”. There is no longer a “level playing field” because Woods demands certain “conditions” from his peers, and also from his spectators. Woods is simply treated (and demands to be treated) differently than other golfers. Woods is also not the most popular amongst his peers.
Federer 1, Woods 0

Personality In Their Chosen Sport
Federer has an early childhood history of being rebellious and of smashing up his racquets on court. Fortunately, he learned to control his temper and rage and has gone on to become the greatest tennis player of all time, as well as the nicest champion of all time. He is the most likeable and popular player on tour.
Woods has a history of swearing and of gamesmanship. He growls and snarls and ignores everyone (some might say he is just “being focused”; others might say he is being arrogant and disrespectful). His attitude when he makes a bad shot or when he loses a tournament is not good for kids to see. Woods can be short with people, and condescending. He is not the most popular amongst his peers.
Federer 2, Woods 0

Personality Outside Their Chosen Sport
Woods’ “transgressions” has revealed that he is not the “clean Mr Nice Guy” that his management company would like to have everyone believe. Signs of his “dark side” surfaced during his mid-20s, when Woods hung out with The Brothers (consisting of basketball players Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley American footballer Ahmad Rashad, and baseball player Alex Rodriguez). In 2001, they travelled to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas where Jordan gambled, placing up to $5,000 on a single card. Woods exhibited his rebellious side by bleaching his hair blond. Woods eventually married in 2004 (which is a similar age to when Federer married) but revelations have since appeared that show Tiger has been promiscuous before and after he was married.

Federer is simply a nice guy; an all round top bloke. However compared with Woods, Federer is still relatively young (he is 28 and recently married) so there is a danger that he may find himself in a situation with a mistress. In terms of age in years, Federer is about 5 years younger than Woods. However, the way Federer conducts himself, both on and off the court, demonstrates that he is a mature responsible professional and suggests that he has a good head on his shoulders and has a fantastic support group. Let’s hope Federer does not succumb to any “transgressions” in his future life.
Federer 3, Woods 0

In HKSARblog‘s humble opinion, Roger Federer is the true Supreme Sports Personality Champion.

[Read Comments Here]

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Bus Feet

November 8, 2009

Are more people putting their feet on bus seats? Here are two recent examples:

What’s interesting is that local Chinese are often (sometimes wrongly) criticized for being inconsiderate; but these two examples perhaps show that some non-Chinese can also be thoughtless, uncouth and selfish. However, I offer no statistics so I may be mistaken.

Stand Out Face

October 29, 2009

The inimitable Ulaca has an interesting post about Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington. Something about her looks being like “someone who’s looking at themselves in the back of a spoon“.

What’s wrong with telling things like they are? When I first saw Ms Adlington winning at the Beijing Olympics last year, my first thought was that her face looked pretty alien and therefore reminded me of a Star Trek alien called Odo.

I thought she had the appearance of a “face behind a latex mask”.

[Rebecca Adlington with OBE and Star Trek: Deep Space 9 security chief Odo with Quark]

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Suzanne Vega and Luka Revisited and Redefined

October 18, 2009

A recent comment on this blog made me rethink and reconsider Suzanne Vega’s 1987 hit song Luka. The comment, by the inexhaustible blogger Spike, brought to light what many of us already know: how the same song can mean different things to different people in different situations and in different times.

To Spike (and to some of my friends who I recently polled), the song Luka is about a girl, who is abused.

To me, I’ve always known that Luka is a boy’s name (because of a childhood friend) and therefore, coupled with the fact that the 1987 music video clearly had a boy in it, the very suggestion that Suzanne Vega’s song was about a girl never occurred to me … until Spike’s comment 22 years down the road. I always had it in my mind that Vega’s song Luka is about an abused boy.

The evidence strongly supports the song Luka to be about a boy (i.e. Luka is officially a boy’s name, and Vega’s 1987 music video implied it was about a boy). Also, here are some alleged facts about the song.
However, I can now understand why other people may regard Luka to be a girl’s name; especially since they hear Suzanne Vega singing the song apparently in the first person.

On revisiting the lyrics, a strong case can be made that this song may also be about “wife beating or abuse of women”.
First, it is sung in the first person (a female voice).
Second, it is an altogether familiar scenario for abused wives, or domestic violence in general.

Perhaps if the song’s title were to be changed to an unambiguous female name, it could be re-released to raise awareness about “wife beating or abuse of women” with the proceeds going to relevant charities or support groups? I wonder if Suzanne Vega would ever consider that? Perhaps previously she has? Just a thought.

How about Laura / Lisa / Linda / Lucy?
(Sorry for the apparent insensitivity or political incorrectness, but which name sounds more like a female who you may have heard of who might be abused? I know it all depends on individual experiences, but certain names have certain meanings or invoke specific memories to different people. Plus, this HKSAR blog does have a particular “interest” with names.)

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It Don’t Matter If You’re Black or White

<div><object width=”480″ height=”332″><param name=”movie” value=”″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”480″ height=”332″ allowfullscreen=”true” allowscriptaccess=”always”></object><br /><b><a href=””>Suzanne Vega – Luka</a></b><br /><i>Uploaded by <a href=”″>hushhush112</a&gt;. – <a href=””>Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.</a></i></div>

Here are the lyrics to Luka:

My name is Luka
I live on the second floor
I live upstairs from you
Yes I think you’ve seen me before

If you hear something late at night
Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight
Just don’t ask me what it was
Just don’t ask me what it was
Just don’t ask me what it was

I think it’s because I’m clumsy
I try not to talk too loud
Maybe it’s because I’m crazy
I try not to act too proud

They only hit until you cry
And after that you don’t ask why
You just don’t argue anymore
You just don’t argue anymore
You just don’t argue anymore

Yes I think I’m okay
I walked into the door again
Well, if you ask that’s what I’ll say
And it’s not your business anyway
I guess I’d like to be alone
With nothing broken, nothing thrown

Just don’t ask me how I am
Just don’t ask me how I am
Just don’t ask me how I am

Learning Common Sense?

September 27, 2009

In the SCMP’s letters page, there was an interesting premise: “Hospital staff need to learn common sense”. This is rather like closing the stable door once the horse has bolted … only the door is probably so ridden with huge gaping holes that it is little wonder the horse escaped in the first place!!

[Stable Door, courtesy The Free Dictionary]

The premise is wishing thinking. Once people reach adulthood, their brains’ wiring is pretty much fixed on certain pathways of cognition and “reasoning”. It is extremely difficult to unlearn this and to learn some “common sense” if it has not already been instilled. This is why it is extremely difficult to teach old dogs new tricks. Besides, what is “common sense” to one person may not be so “obvious” to another.

Teaching people at a young age (i.e. at school) critical thinking skills is the best solution. The next best solution is for employers (in this case, the Hospital Authority and/or the HKSAR Government) to test job applicants and assess all current employees on their reasoning skills. This will at least help to filter out those who are just plain stupid or lazy to think and act appropriately in real time. Unfortunately, this will never happen.

Reference (SCMP; subscription required)

Hospital staff need to learn common sense
Sep 26, 2009

I was puzzled by the comments of the Hospital Authority chief on another blunder by Caritas Medical Centre staff regarding the treatment of a seven-year-old boy with an eye injury (“Hospitals chief defends Caritas staff member”, September 21).

Shane Solomon said that “what the clerk was doing was to implement the policy”.

One would have expected that further to the blunder in December of last year (when a man collapsed with a heart attack outside Caritas Medical Centre and later died), instead of reviewing policies and procedures and probably implementing new ones, the authority would have tried to promote the concept of common sense with its staff.

What kind of place are we living in when it is fine to simply “implement the policy” for HK$700 without caring for a seven-year-old boy?

Any patient has the right to expect Hospital Authority staff, of whatever the rank, from receptionist to neurosurgeon, to be equipped with some common sense and a conviction that they are paid by the public to help and care for the public.

At the very least, if they feel that they are not in a position to bend the rules for a good cause, they should call a supervisor who hopefully will be able to make a correct decision.

Raphael Blot, Sai Kung

Blue Goose a Sitting Duck

September 25, 2009

Back in August, the Darkside blog mentioned the fierce opposition by the local (i.e. implied-to-be-Chinese) community to the opening of the Blue Goose pub in Mid-Levels. Apparently over 2,000 signatures were collected, as the fear of drunk Gweilos wandering the streets seemingly and effortlessly appeared in their media-driven stereotypical thoughts. Pub equals Gweilos equals drunk Gweilos equals community meltdown. It should be noted that drunk Gweipos are included in the stereotype of drunk foreigners.

So before it could take flight or even wet its webbed feet, the Blue Goose was a Sitting Duck just waiting to be made extinct. It was simply a duck out of water. Just like the Dodo, just waiting to be shot.

The Demise of the Blue Goose Pub

However, the Cooked Goose will soon emerge (a Phoenix?) from the not-quite-fiery-ashes-but-sodden-scaffolding as a new Pacific Coffee outlet. Will it become a Lame Duck or Golden Goose? Only time will tell.

Dare I ask fellow bloggers to come up with more ‘fowl’ bird puns??

How about a backlash?
What would happen if over 2,000 signatures were collected from Gweilos to oppose the opening of a coffee shop? Perhaps a good reason against the opening of a coffee shop is, say, for fear of too many crazy, hyper and caffeine-buzzed locals wandering the streets and becoming public nuisances? Now wouldn’t that be something!?

Birmingham FC Chief Displays Lucid Rationality

September 2, 2009

Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung’s planned but prolonged takeover of club Birmingham City FC has further fueled Hong Kong’s already huge interest and following in the English Premier League and in the England national football team.

[Birmingham City colours]

Therefore, I couldn’t help notice a news story about the president of the Croatian Football Federation Vlatko Markovic fabricating a fantastic theory that Birmingham City were deliberately taking out Croatian national team players. Two Croatian players (Luka Modric of Tottenham Hotspurs and Eduardo da Silva of Arsenal) have recently been injured while playing for their club teams, and those matches coincidently involved Birmingham City. Injuries are “part and parcel” of the game, but Markovic is crying foul and appears to be up to mischief. Either that, or he’s just plain silly to claim: “I can only ask whether someone did it deliberately on the eve of the game with England. I can only ask myself whether it is a coincidence or not.

England play Croatia in a key World Cup qualifying match on Wednesday 09/09/09.

Despite the cheekiness of all this, the Birmingham chairman David Gold was unperturbed and instead of reciprocating like-with-like with an appeal to emotion and to ignorance, simply said: “To say such things is little short of incredible. For a man of such stature and position in the game to come out with such rubbish is pathetic. His remarks border on paranoia and I struggle not to take it personally when they two incidents he talks about involve my club. To lay such stuff at Birmingham’s door is appalling. It’s emotive and doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny.

Gold was also culturally sensitive too: “We should make light of it – maybe the problem is the statement has been completely lost in translation, maybe he meant to say something different.

Such cogent rational comments are rare these days and stand out like a beacon relative to the usual soundbites and quotes that come through the media.

Chinese Cherry Picking

August 21, 2009

The following sentence sounds pretty lucky: “Eight [people] work at the “888” noodle shop in the basement of the Cameron Centre in Cameron Road” … until you realize these “lucky eight” were victims who succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Do people (i.e. numerologists, Chinese astrologists, Fung Shui practitioners, and those who believe in such Hocus Pocus) take notice of the “lucky” number eight in such negative situations? Clearly not. It is human nature that people only pay attention to “lucky” numbers that confirm their biases and will usually ignore any incidents that reject their predetermined view.

Related Post Chinese Fiddlesticks!

Reference (SCMP; subscription required)

10 ill after inhaling gas at noodle shop
Clifford Lo
Aug 13, 2009

Ten people at a Japanese-style noodle shop in Tsim Sha Tsui ended up in hospital yesterday when the ventilation system broke, raising carbon monoxide levels to 20 times the standard level.

Eight of the victims work at the “888” noodle shop in the basement of the Cameron Centre in Cameron Road. There was also one customer – a three-year-old boy – and a man who works in a ground-floor shop.

Last night a 27-year-old man was in serious condition in Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the others had been discharged.

Six fire engines, eight ambulances and a mobile casualty treatment centre were dispatched after the restaurant workers complained of inhaling gas and feeling unwell just before 2pm. Most said they felt dizzy or were having difficulty breathing. They were connected to oxygen masks after being carried into ambulances.

Police cordoned off a section of Cameron Road while firemen wearing breathing apparatus and carrying gas detectors were tracing the source of the gas. Shops at ground level were ordered to close until about 6pm.

Workers from the Drainage Services Department were called in to open the covers of nearby manholes to carry out checks. The Fire Services Department said there was a high concentration of carbon monoxide in the restaurant and an initial investigation showed it had been caused by a faulty ventilation system.

Lo Kam-wing, Tsim Sha Tsui fire station commander, said the level of carbon monoxide at one time was 20 times higher than the standard level.

“Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas. Inhaling the gas makes it difficult to breathe and you feel dizzy,” he said.

A fire officer said the gas level was raised because there was no fresh air being pumped into the restaurant.

Choi Kin, former president of the Medical Association, said the percentage of carbon monoxide in fresh air was low and it would not have a fatal effect even if the level was 20 times higher than normal. However, inhaling large amounts could cause suffocation and brain damage.

Do you recognize that there is a difference between those two numbers?

August 18, 2009

The following YouTube soundclip is a great example of irrationality (and ignorance, and stupidity, and whatever else …) at work! Enjoy.


Caller: Do you recognize that there is a difference between one dollar and one cent?
Manager: Definitely

Caller: Do you recognize that there is a difference between half a dollar and half a cent?
Manager: Definitely

Caller: Then do you recognize that there is a difference between 0.002 dollars and 0.002 cents?
Manager: No

Caller: Honestly!
Manager: Well, it’s obviously a difference of opinion.

Caller: It’s NOT opinion!

It Don’t Matter If You’re Black or White

July 2, 2009

I was prepared to overlook the distaste, poor reasoning, and trite humour from the Hong Kong Standard’s columnist (below) but I could not ignore the blundering attempt at grouping south Asians with Black African-Americans.

In case anyone missed it, just read the first paragraph of the article (below):
Distaste (e.g. “open a white guy’s body and find a black guy inside”)
Poor reasoning (ditto)
Trite humour (ditto)

I don’t know anyone (except for this columnist) who has referenced Michael Jackson as a “brown” man. South Asians, or people with a trace of South Asian blood, sometimes regard themselves as brown, but to say Wacko Jacko is brown? How silly.

Here’s what Michael Jackson said in his Black or White song:
See, it’s not about races
Just places
Where your blood
Comes from
Is where your space is
I’ve seen the bright
Get duller
I’m not going to spend
My life being a color

But, if
You’re thinkin about my baby
It don’t matter if you’re black or white

I said if
You’re thinkin of
Being my baby
It don’t matter if you’re black or white

I said if
You’re thinkin of
Being my brother
It don’t matter if you’re black or white

Reference: The Standard

Michael Jackson: moonwalker who strayed from his brothers

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The autopsy of Michael Jackson will produce shock results for sure. Forensic pathologists will open a white guy’s body and find a black guy inside.

One wonders which Michael Jackson will be immortalized in statues. The nice young man with the Afro? Or His Royal Weirdness with the wig-like flowing locks and detachable nose? Which nose will sculptors recreate? The one that collapsed, the one made out of ear cartilage, or a random one from the biscuit tin under his bed?

Commentators keep talking about Jackson’s contribution to race relations, but, with all due respect (ie, none) they are talking garbage.

When the Jackson Five made their breakthrough in the 1970s, many people (including me) celebrated. For the first time, people with brown skin, black hair and big noses were entertainment superstars so big that there was a shockingly bad cartoon series made about them. In the 1970s, this was the ultimate sign of success. If brown people could appear in execrable cartoons, we could do anything. I realized that I no longer had to content myself with aspiring to be a waiter in a small cafe where no one goes. I could be a MAITRE D’ in a small cafe where no one goes. At last, something to aim for.

In gratitude, I bought several copies of Off the Wall, Michael’s first big hit album. Later, I got a job in a cafe in Hampstead, London. The manager assigned me to permanent washing-up duty. This was even more menial than waiter. “Brown people are capable of greatness,” I complained, giving him a cassette of Off the Wall. “Have you heard this?”

The manager, whose heart and brain were twin lumps of coal, replied: “Jacko ain’t brown anymore. Check it out.” During my lunch break, I bought a copy of Melody Maker. It was true. Jackson had dyed his skin white. I was so shocked I threw my sandwich into the waste disposal and kept the wrapper. How could Jackson, supposedly blazing a trail for brown people, abandon us? But the following day, Jackson told his fans that he’d contracted a weird skin disease which had turned him white. I believed him.

Then some time later, the manager showed me a picture of Jackson with white skin, Kirk Douglas’ chin, an upturned Caucasian nose, and long, flowing hair like Elizabeth Taylor. For a day or so, I postulated the existence of a rare disease which whitened your skin, did cosmetic surgery on your nose, gave you a Kirk Douglas chin, and made your hair long and wavy. Hero- worshippers like me put years of practice into fooling ourselves. But this time, I failed.

Jackson had left his brothers. Not just Jermaine and gang, but his brothers all over the world. This once- brown boy devoted the rest of his life to reshaping himself in various ways with teams of surgeons. He probably tried having eight legs or two heads. But the easiest thing to fix – his skin tone – stayed lily white. He let us down. If he hadn’t, I could have made it. I could have been a waiter.

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