December 2009 - Posts
One of my friends scoffed when I said I was visiting "Communist China", and this photo is a good illustration of why the reaction is appropriate.
I'm not sure what's more impressive, really - the number of malls you'll find, or the scale of these shopping centres! Hong Kong is far more sophisticated in terms of how its shopping centres look and feel, but the mainland Chinese are definitely learning "how it's done."
The only thing missing here, really, are the crowds. No doubt because I arrived in the middle of working hours for most people - and this mall is relatively pricier than the street-front markets and the discount mall next door.
You'll notice, however, that Christmas-bunting tinsel is draped along the handrails. The commercialization of Christmas is bemoaned back in the West, but it's simply The Thing to do in China. In many stores and restaurants the staff (must?) wear Santa hats or other costumes. I wasn't surprised by this in Hong Kong, where the British influence left Christianity's mark in place - but the acceptance of the "Santa" aspect of Christmas in China is rather mind-blowing.
You'll be hard pressed to find proper Nativity scenes or other actual references to Jesus or any other religious aspects of Christmas in China, unless you're actually recording video: because the photos won't capture all the Christmas Carols being played over the PA systems.
Some of the Carols are the standard bland JIngle Bells tunes without any spiritual meaning, but you could also hear Silent Night and O Come O Come Emmanuel - which made me smile at the "subtle yet blatant" missionary work being inadvertently, likely being done a randomly selected CD.
Since it's Christmas season - and I'd like you to sort of hear what I heard - here's a randomly selected rendition O Come O Come Emmanuel.
Is triggered by Junior Deputy Accountant, who seemed to enjoy my Bernanke photo - awesome.
I've just returned from a three week adventure in Hong Kong, including trips to mainland China and Macau, which explains why I've been so quiet lately.
As usual, I took tons of photos which tell the stories better than I could in most cases - I mean, how else can you explain Crispy Whitebait to someone?
Perhaps I should've actually bought it but I didn't really feel like eating chips that day.
I did write a bit of a micro-journal documenting my
observations since I didn't feel like dragging my laptop along with me
when I crossed the border.
fast transformation into some
sort of capitalist-ish economy under a one-party state is obvious to anyone who sees the construction of high speed rail lines and
the rapid development of formerly sleepy towns into bustling cities -
I'll share more of that soon. Looking at this through the eyes of a CA
which means I'll have some vaguely "on-topic" observations.
Until then, in case you're wondering, Whitebait is a fish, not a distraction to a bombing run.
As I mentioned earlier, I was slow in checking results this year as I'm far from home - but Ontario candidates can find the ICAO's UFE 2009 results on this page.
[Edit - summary of all Canadian UFE 2009 results is up here.]
Congratulations to all those who passed. The ICAO has stopped disclosing the pass rates since I suppose they don't like the statistic viewed in isolation - but I never minded whether Ontario had a higher or lower rate. It's a tougher program to pass on your first shot because you get to write the exam much faster than in most other provinces - the CASB process may prepare you for a longer period of time, but if you're like me, you just want to go and write as soon as you're done the CKE and SOA.
You can read details regarding the ICAO's logic on this page and you'll see that 15% more people passed than last year in Ontario. If you're really clever you can probably deduce the actual pass rate. My company did fairly well yet again, and I suspect the increase in the pass rate may owe to at least two factors for everyone overall:
- The new 2-day SOA exam no doubt helped prepare people!
- Perhaps there were more writers overall?
If I was engaging in some full-on journalism I'd contact them to find out but I'm on vacation and giving people an easier way to find the results and congratulating my friends who passed - have fun celebrating - you should be out living it up right now. Or nursing post-pre-party excesses.
Edit: I hope the ICAO isn't going to change the links to their website yet again - above links updated as of Dec 23, 2009.
This week the 2009 UFE results come out and I'll try and follow along - as long as you are in touch with CA students, there'll be people you care about who are waiting for CA exam results at the end of November, or beginning of December.
I'll no doubt be slow in conveying my congratulations though, as I'll be on vacation starting tomorrow, far away from here. This may give me time to catch up on my writing here, maybe not. We'll see how relaxing the trans-Oceanic flight will be.
And when you find out you passed, go celebrate, in whatever way you choose.
There are stories of adventures in CA volunteerism and other fun topics coming.
In the meantime, some Statistical Adventure news: spam filters must be getting increasingly effective - traffic has fallen to what must be an all-time low - and 332 in October wasn't bad either.