Thursday, September 30, 2010

領洗入學

天主教近期壞消息不絕,皆因規條太多。多個世紀以來宗教歷史令人搖頭,主要是政教不分,神權當道,宗教就是統治者,權力使人腐化。雖然宗教的政治勢力因為近數世紀的民主運動而稍為減退,但其影響力仍存在於官僚管理架構。下面報導的情形存在已久,只因有投訴和經互聯網曝光和廣泛討論而受關注。

整件事情可以用管理角度來看。撇開宗教教義的考慮,事件起因是一個官僚式的教育制度,不是教育學生而是管理教育資源問題。小學學位是一個複雜問題,除了供求因素之外,家長愛護子女的心理衍生出選擇的重要。一方面有名校不能應付大量家長要求送子女入學,另一方面有小學因不能收足學生而倒閉。為了應付過量需求,管理的方法一是增加供應,二就是設立規條來壓縮需求。教育局在此有重大貢獻,為學校設立官僚機制挑選學生。小學入學並無學歷成績標準,所以挑選機制只有環境心理因素,如居住地點、世襲關係和宗教信仰。

人類的偉大在於我們應付問題的能力,適應力和想像力。家長的慾望和規條有衝突時就會用種種辦法繞過。我們不時聽到新聞有關學校或校長收受利益、家長借用他人地址或索性真或假的遷居;當然亦有真或假的信教。由這個例子看來,一切官僚行政手段都只是扭曲市場而並非針對問題。正如禁煙措施使吸煙者想盡辦法去找可吸煙的地方;膠袋稅使人想盡辦法取得免費膠袋。如果領洗可以入學,宗教在精神以外就有了額外用途。

另外一個看法是信仰問題。宗教要普渡眾生,惠澤全人類,幾千年來傳道都是使命:不斷教化,不擇手段,威迫利誘,只是要人入教。但現在大好機會在前,家長再加小孩要入教,不論任何出發點,結果是可能被救贖,怎麼會被人非議呢?潛在台辭是有人利用傳教斂財,但有人信了教又有人可讀名校,算是雙方都有收獲。我一向都不明白宗教信仰分數怎樣算。如何向學校證明信仰呢?基督教伊斯蘭教佛教是否有信徒會員制,有身份證明是教徒?天主教的制度是最繁複嚴謹的,領洗班要讀一段時間,又要有堂區神父認可才可入教,有點像入大學或入社團。回想數百年前,不入教是要被判死刑的。人類是萬物之靈,思維意識凌駕於其他生物。我們可以欣賞笑話和小說而知道它們是虛構的,入教亦不一定等於信教。不過一個無知的小學生被放進宗教學習環境,就是信教的好材料。家長是什麼動機就不重要了。

**********
約克被指收錢安排領洗
2010年09月30日
【本報訊】令家長趨之若鶩的九龍塘約克英文小學暨幼稚園,被指「聘請」神父到該校任教,協助學生領洗取得宗教分入讀天主教小學,每名家長連學生索 價逾 5,000元。自稱約克學生家長的網民周一在討論區留言,指校方上周舉行簡介會,為 K1學生及家長提供成人慕道班及兒童主日學課程,聘請了一名「駐香港教會的菲律賓籍神父」任教,為期一年半,有一定出席率和考試及格即可領洗;又指校長表 示要支付神父「薪金」及向教會奉獻,所以參加的家長和學生需付共五千多元費用,事件引發網上激烈討論。校方未有回應曾否舉辦簡介會提及課程,只表 示現時成人課程收費 1,890元,「扣去導師講授費用及行政開支後,餘款用於教會奉獻」,又否認課程可確保領洗的說法,指完成課程後「家長可自行到所屬教區進行評核,由教區 神父決定家長是否合格和適合接受領洗,因此校方不能參與或影響家長的領洗決定及安排」。

曾任天主教學校校長的蔡楷俊表示,過去亦曾「揭發」不合法領洗紙,呼籲教會學校收到有問題領洗紙時向教區查詢,若發現是偽造文書,應報警處理。本 身是天主教徒的執業大律師陸偉雄表示,若有機構或組織收費安排學生報讀慕道班,且對外保證可獲領洗機會,能正式成為天主教徒,若事後「貨不對 辦」,即觸犯欺詐及使用虛假文書罪行,一經定罪,各罪最高可判監 14年。陸偉雄指出,在本港範圍內,只有獲天主教香港教區認可的神父,及指定教堂方可替教徒領洗及頒發領洗證明書。若涉事機構不獲本港教區認可,但向外宣 稱領洗過程及頒發的領洗紙是獲本港認授,亦同屬欺詐罪,更涉嫌觸犯使用虛假文書罪行。若家長在知情下仍以未獲認可的領洗證明書替子女報讀小學,有 機會觸犯使用虛假文書罪行。陸強調,涉事機構是否觸犯欺詐罪,關鍵在於課程目的,若課程表明「有助領洗」,而非「保證領洗」,則不涉欺詐成份, 「等如入學面試班,幫你準備面試,而唔係保證你面試成功」。他不排除有機構或組織刻意「含糊其詞」,沒指明領洗的認受範圍,則毋須負上法律責任。

5分宗教分,到底有何重要?教育界人士指,根據小一自行分配學位計分準則,每名適齡兒童均有「底分」10分,兄姊在同一學校就讀的「世襲生」可加 20分,總分 30分,穩操入學券;其餘學童若父母或兄姊是校友,可加 10分,但 20總分不足以令他們得到學位,要突圍而出, 5分宗教分成為關鍵。現任多家學校校監的蔡楷俊表示, 5分宗教分對非世襲生來說有決定性影響,「有啲學校本身要留好多位畀嗰啲世襲生,如果無嗰啲,淨係靠家長係校友根本冇機會,如果加埋嗰 5分(與該校的辦學團體有相同宗教信仰),機會就大好多」。

本港數年前曾經一度興起「旅遊領洗團」,家長送子女到菲律賓或其他領洗制度較寬鬆的天主教國家「極速」領洗,甚至「派」菲傭回鄉,着她們「順道」 帶子女領洗;當年有本港神父得悉情況,曾向菲律賓教區通報。此外,也有父母在子女出生後不久即參加兩年制的慕道課程,以趕及自己可以在子女 3歲前領洗,「帶挈」子女一併領洗。
**********

Thursday, September 9, 2010

街頭藝術

我細細個就在街頭看表演,上環有、廟街有,之後又有不少藝術表演在公眾地方進行,填海空地,跑馬地草坪,連時代廣場公眾用地都有。但現時旺角行人區不可以,舊大丸門口都不可以。下面這個舊大丸門口案例就影響深遠,以後行人區會有合法魔術雜技表演、打band、唱粵曲、戲劇、寫書畫、book club,行人區於是只有觀眾,沒有行人,隔鄰商店更沒有顧客。

這是一個公共行政問題。以往做法由官僚程序主導,有官府批准就什麼都可以,沒有批准就打遊擊,未有干涉就做,有人趕就收工或轉移陣地,趕不走就檢控,罰款少少了事。這是一個微妙的平衡,大家各得其所,公眾地方有些少免費藝術表演的自由,行人秩序亦得以維持,各人的自由並不衝突。現今有案例,自由就失衡。所有藝術表演可以在合理權限下自由在公共空間進行,有基本法這頂帽子保護,政府不能干涉這種自由,雖然它會侵佔他人的自由。

行人區有可能變成無政府狀態,政府如何應對呢?其中一個可能性是上訴尋求法庭詮釋何為合理權限,或是要求立法會以法例說明合理權限,最後一著是為基本法第34條要求人大釋法,列明自由有限度。希望不用去到最後一步。

**********
街頭藝人涉阻街獲判無罪
(星島)2010年9月9日 星期四 10:57

街頭藝人蘇春就本年4月在銅鑼灣行人專用區表演雜技時遭票控阻街,法庭經審訊後,裁定他罪名不成立。裁判官判刑時表示,被告蘇春就在街頭表演,導致行人聚集,對街道確實是造成阻礙,但阻礙有限,而且《基本法》第34條定明港人有進行其他文化活動的自由,被告的表演正是屬於這類活動,在合理權限下進行表演,所以裁定他罪名不成立。

控罪指,50歲的被告蘇春就於今年4月6日傍晚約6時,在銅鑼灣紀利佐治街對開的行人專用區,表演拋保齡球樽、玩中國搖搖及向小朋友派發長形氣球,引來約 80人圍觀而造成阻街。警員接到投訴後到場,曾先後兩度勸喻答辯人離開,惟對方未幾又折返表演,於是決定票控他。
**********

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hawking's bomb

I think you may be aware of the recent discussion on the up-coming new book of Stephen Hawking.  Notwithstanding the argument whether there is a god or not, which is already going on for many centuries, his new book already dropped a bomb even before it is made public.  The report below from CNN told a good story of the pre-publish argument.  People are making judgment even before the book is read.

I must state on the outset that I do not agree with Stephen Hawking.  His conclusion of the explanation of spontaneous creation of something from nothing is probably derived from the Higgs-boson.  It is called the god particle because of its effect of turning energy into mass.  The theory says that after the Big Bang the universe was filled with pure energy, and the Higgs-boson particles were responsible for making something (matter) from nothing (pure energy).  As always, it just begs the question of what made the pure energy and who was behind the Big Bang.  God is much greater than we could imagine.  So don't let the human being make one for you.

A more interesting phenomenon of this saga is the unification of religions, or at least some of them, including Christians and Catholics, Rabbi and Imam.  They all worship the same god Jehovah which is the god of Abraham from the history of Israel.  Stephen Hawking must have hit the nail right on the head by proposing there is no role of god in the universe.

I envisage that a new round of argument on the book will continue for a long time.  Although some of Stephen Hawking's observations are well known, it may be interesting to read his book to see how he organized them.  It should be a good illustration of the frontier of science.

In the mean time, I am following the online readers' commentary at BBC on this topic.  Supporters of both sides vigorously wrote to BBC.  It is very easy to see the quality of the comments.  Many readers are not as thoughtful as the religious leaders.  If you want to gauge the damage of the religion delusion, the comments are very good reading material.

**********
Religious leaders hit back at Hawking
September 3, 2010 3:25 p.m. EDT London, England (CNN) --

Religious leaders in Britain on Friday hit back at claims by leading physicist Stephen Hawking that God had no role in the creation of the universe.  In his new book "The Grand Design," Britain's most famous scientist says that given the existence of gravity, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing," according to an excerpt published in The Times of London.   "Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," he wrote.  "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going."



The head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams
-  "physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing.  Belief in God is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence." 

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
-  "Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation.. The Bible simply isn't interested in how the Universe came into being." 

The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols
-  "I would totally endorse what the Chief Rabbi said so eloquently about the relationship between religion and science." 

Ibrahim Mogra, an imam and committee chairman at the Muslim Council of Britain
-  "If we look at the Universe and all that has been created, it indicates that somebody has been here to bring it into existence. That somebody is the almighty conqueror."

Denis Alexander, director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, University of Cambridge
-  "The 'god' that Stephen Hawking is trying to debunk is not the creator God of the Abrahamic faiths who really is the ultimate explanation for why there is something rather than nothing. Hawking's god is a god-of-the-gaps used to plug present gaps in our scientific knowledge.  Science provides us with a wonderful narrative as to how [existence] may happen, but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative."

Fraser Watts, an Anglican priest and Cambridge expert in the history of science
-  It's not the existence of the universe that proves the existence of God.  A creator God provides a reasonable and credible explanation of why there is a universe, and ... it is somewhat more likely that there is a God than that there is not. That view is not undermined by what Hawking has said."
**********

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Information R/Evolution

I found this interesting video below on the Internet. It is about the latest development of information management, and terms it Information R/Evolution. The video is actually a condensed version of a lecture by Michael Wesch of Kansas State University. The tempo of the video is very fast, presenting a two-hour lecture into five minutes. I may as well take notes of the gist of the lecture to help catch what it says.

As civilization develops, we handle information better. Information management evolves over thousands of years. It came across an explosion at the verge of the digital age. The evolution changed into a revolution of the fundamental way we handle information.

The traditional view: Information is a thing. It has a logical place which it can be stored - book shelf, filing system, catalog, or microfilmed. It requires expert to manage but it is still hard to find.

Digital information has no fixed material form and thus is beyond material constraints. When information reaches the Internet, it can be accessed everywhere.

Early websites handled information in the traditional way, with a top node, categories and subjects. As information grows, the hierarchy becomes very complex. There are now more than 5 trillion words, and over 5 billion links.

Information cannot be contained by categories and subjects now. It can be searched by keywords. Information is stored by tags. With more than one tag it can be found in several places. Everything is miscellaneous. The tags are ways to find information.

Together we create more information than the experts. Wikipedia is information created by the mass. The English Wikipedia has 600 million words, about 15 times the Encyclopedia Britannia.

We have now changed the basic rules of information. We no longer find information. We make it find us. Services such as Digg, RSS and many others, collect and organize information we want and present it to us as information occurs.

The responsibility to harness information is on us. Are you ready?