China's Political Rashomon Replayed
Bo Xilai's court hearings if televised can probably beat the ratings of any soap opera anytime. I imagine the whole thing will be less staged if not televised, something like Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, a 1954 film. China's history is like a string of Rashomon-like sagas which have been more melodramatic than Kurosawa's movie bearing in mind the ones they are purging now, had purged their fathers in the past and may be purging them in the future, or their sons for that matter. Never mind the law , China is brushing it under the carpet with phrases like 'crossing the base line of civility', whose civility they're referring to, I haven't figure out yet...
A Spectacular Debacle
“Not a twitch or whimper! My goodness, this is the moment when the detective would squint and a light would go on in the back of his mind.” Adam said scrutinizing the Chinese woman on the witness stand. La crème de la crème, at the top of the world, she had been branded only a year ago. Her short hair had been better coiffed on the array of photos inset in the reportage and her radiant smile had dwindled. Yet in no way did she reveal any discomfort let alone remorse or shock.
“This footage of her could have been taken at Starbucks where they are playing a prank on her and accusing her for stealing small change from the donation box .” Karl agreed without looking up. The quill in his hand had been hovering over the parchment for a few minutes already. The two men were in their jammies watching the last news report in the virtual drawing room of The Post.
“Totally staged this is. “ Adam agreed for once. “Remember our skit a few months ago? The story was huge. First , her hubby, Bo Xilai’s right hand man tried to defected to the American Consulate, then Bo Xilai got fired and after that the rumor of Gu Kailai having something to do with the murder with Neil Heywood. Allegedly, he was a good family friend of Bo who taught them how to spend their money in style in exchange for a perk here and there.“
“Perk?” Karl asked.
“Heywood would keep Bo updated to what are the best wines, the best cigars, or the best way to spend a weekend in exchange for the recommendation here, the odd tip there. I’ve been reading in the gossip columns ” Adam said, his eyes fixated at the handsome woman on the screen, who admittedly looked a grade or two above the average criminal usually standing on that spot.
“The Communist Party has fallen in the river of capitalism and got caught in this demeaning current of hedonism. How can they possibly admit that? It’s inconceivable.” Karl sighed, “There is no mention of all that, is there? It’s compartmentalized to just her, Heywood, and Guagua, her son.”
“I reckon they settled. Instead of corruption and criminal dealings at the highest level of the Party, this court case is showing the world a mother in despair driven to a corner to save her son from the crazy mind of a devilish foreign business man.“ Adam scuffed, “A little predictable, aren’t they?”
“Either way, Gu Kailai is a heroine, the mother who would do anything to save her son or the wife who takes everything on her shoulder to save her hubby from less upstanding felonies and save face for the Communist Party as a whole.” Karl nodded.
“Not bad. In China, women really are holding up half the sky,” Adam was now laughing aloud. “Even if it’s just a staged one.”
“Now if you excuse me, I have to go find my grave and turn around in it... ” Karl said and left the room.
Where e-Karl and e-Adam's Story...
Too Many Dogs
“They have to stop the pattern before it gets embedded in the DNA of those bankers.” Said the man with a grey beard wrapped around his skull.
“Huh?” said Adam , who had been sleeping on the sofa in the virtual drawing room of The Post, “What is happening?”
It is 2021, an ordinary day in the virtual drawing room of the Post were it not for the rough night before.
“It is daylight robbery institutionalized by an oblivious state, either that or it’s turning a blind eye, and—“ Karl rants.
“Not so loud, my head aches.” Adam growls as he rubs the sleep out of his eyes, “Why robbery?”
Karl put his quill down, “Because they’re motive is making money above all, my dear, ” Throwing both his hands up to punctuate his words in the air like a conductor he continues, “Their job is to find a way to put more money in their pockets.”
“It’s preposterous what you are saying. The central bank, and the government are regulating the smaller banks. They are controlling the interest and to keep the inflation rate down. You may say they are not smart enough, but otherwise—“
“They just label what they do with complicated financial terms to smoke screen what they do. ” Karl says, “Take China for instance, Do you know how Zhu Rongji resolved their banking crisis in 2005 ?”
“By pumping in 650 million dollars into it, compared with 700 billion in the case of the US in 2008.” Adam says and sits upright.
“Yes, but I’m talking about their solution to the fundamental issue of greed whether you call it corruption, fraud or unfair trading , or new designed financial products with little perks and lots of small text or whatever. “ Karl says selfrighteously, “Firstly, they identified that the problem was the top management and although Deng Xiao Peng in his era already stipulated that the ‘Party’ maintains the right to hire and fire the executives who manage them even though they are not party owned but state owned and these executives are monitored by another party committee who have nothing to do with the first committee.”
“You mean they have watchdogs to monitor watchdogs to make sure that the dogs eat other dogs , and if they find out anything wrong with you at all, the watchdog will swallow the dogs whole leaving no evidence at all? You think that resolves it?” Adam sneezes and takes out a handkerchief, “Did someone slip me that stuff I read about in Esquire, that rooky stuff that makes you go to sleep?”
“What you mean, a roofy? The date drug?” Karl chuckles, “Who were you on a date with?”
“Seriously, I have never had such a bad hangover before!” Adam moans and sits up, “And then I heard someone say something about starting work. That was you, wasn’t it?“
“Well, let’s say it could have been me, if you can proof it,” Karl laughs, “Anyway, these committees are so unofficial there are no records or anything, but this huge government that is ‘above it all’ in many ways seems to have gotten it right, if you look at how well China is doing.”
“That’s because they and the companies ‘under the wings’ of the state have monopolies in many ways and so much advantage that it’s hard to compete with them.” Adam squints his eyes, “The issue is that the ‘party’ doesn’t need you , but you need them for removing the red tape. Which mainland company dares to compete with the ‘Party’ of China, or any overseas corporation for that matter?”
“We all know what happened to Google in china. So? ” Adam shrugs while looking disgusted, “There is such a thing as reputation and honor I believe, what people can’t do anything about now, doesn’t mean they won’t do anything about it ever! A Roofie , huh?”
“I’m only kidding, man, “ Karl throws his head back and stares at the ceiling, “lighten up, will you? So what I’m saying is that it took the Communist Party 60 years to find out what their job is and how to do it.” Karl says, “The next step would be how to distribute it such that everyone can enjoy part of the big pie they baked...”
“You mean leaving crumbs for those willing to bend over and bow.” Adam shook his head, “Do you realize you are proving me right regarding what I said about human nature no matter if you argue left or right?”
“Is it’s a fine balance between regulating or not, and how to do so?”
“Not at all. It’s a fine balance between two opposite conditions of the heart.” Adam stomped the left side of his chest and has a cough attack. After he recovers he says, we need a change of mindset, one that will balance the inborn greed in men with the inborn compassion in men by rewarding compassion more than greed. “
“Say what?” Karl asks.
“Dogs are like people, they are our best friends if you remember, so this is like training a dog... By reward and punishment.”
To read more see ‘Presage’ ...
A Skit on Time
Karl throws back his head to empty the scotch in one fast motion, and grabs the bottle to refill the crystal goblets looking anything but cheerful. “But my goodness, I’m glad we insisted on having these printed. Those e-book are like water molecules in a water reservoir, a few ‘zeros and ones’ in a binary ocean, or should I say, a twig in the layer of organic compost covering the roots of a rainforest in this virtual bookstore they so appropriately call Amazon. ”
“I find it delightful,” Adam shushed, “It’s great that it gives everyone a chance to publish their books. We just have to work harder to hack away the clutter and create a clearing so that the sun can shine on it.”
“It’s been too easy that’s what it is,“ Karl moaned, “There are certain things I want to brood on and go over with a magnifying glass many times over. I think the festo should be between 350 pages and 3500 pages, not 35 pages”
“Life is short,” Adam shrugs, “Your first festo was 28 pages, wasn’t it?”
“Strictly speaking, we are immortals,” Karl frowns, “which makes it more depressing, because we have to spend eternity in the apocalyptic world that lurks at the horizon and is blowing this way at the speed of light. Now that I have time on my hand, I can afford to regurgitate every word and make sure it’s evenly baked on all sides.”
“The way I look at it, as long as the gist is there the smaller details matter less.” Adam sighs and sips at his glass of sherry, “You may have an eternity, but the world’s fossil fuel is going to run out in 2057, humanity’s time is running out.”
“Don’t be silly, we have waited nearly two hundred years, what difference does it make?” Karl grunts and empties his third scotch and grabs the bottle once again.
”With all due respect, may I correct you? Presumably humans have walked the earth for 50,000 years already.” Adam says without noticing that Karl is topping his glass of sherry with scotch, and takes another sip, “From now to 2057, it’s still 26 years. If we assume the time of human species on earth equals the 24 hours of a single day and expires at midnight, it would be now be 62.2 seconds before mid-night.”
Karl stares at Adam who takes another sip of the concoction he swirls around in the near full glass, “The more I think about it, the less sense you make.” Karl says, “Anyway, they will wait for the great Karl.“
“Karl Marx Wannabe.” Adam leers through his glass confused by the multiple Karls, who have shrunken to the size of peanuts, “You may think you’re real. You may feel like you’re the real deal, but we are nothing but regenerated fractions of knowledge, memories and electrons streaming back and forth the stratosphere, my man. “
“You must be too tired, having worked so hard for three years.“ Karl says, why propping a few cushions against the armrest of the Victorian sofa, “Why don’t you drink up, and lie down for a bit.”
Adam drinks up and shakes his head, but seems to lack the orientation to stay upright , “I must ask Sam HIC… how he programmed us to become intoxicated HIC… “ He leans back and sinks into the cushions, “If that’s a physio.. HIC… logical state we.. HIC… as simulations cannot ex.. HIC… perience.” Adam has passed out before he could close his mouth.
”Finally!” Karl sighs, takes off his jacket and rolls up his sleeve, ”Let’s get to work.”
A Skit on Lagarde
“I disagree, the bankers are screwing up once again, it’s almost like they are doing it deliberately like they have a stake in this collective failure” Karl says, “These bail-outs are convenient and big money for them you know. In lack of any real direction to give people, don’t you think this silver-fox should just shut up about it?”
Adam frowns, “Hell no, I don’t think so. I’m all for compassion, but her job is to clear up the mess; she can’t do that by tiptoeing around anybody who acts hurt, can she?”
“Well, for somebody whose positions imply that she probably never experienced any suffering full-stop- she has put both her feet in her mouth, ankle deep, once again.” Karl rolled his fiery eyes, and looks at Adam suspiciously. “Why are you defending this Lagarde woman?”
Adam blushed and says, “I’m not. I just said I like her wig.”
“Short from shutting up, you shouldn’t take any sides;” Karl looks worried, “Sam is already getting enough omments.
We don’t want this whirlwind of indignation to blow thousands of hate-mails our way. What ends up on his plate, will be served on ours.”
“Lord almighty, don’t be silly now, my dear boy. We are cloned to be objective observers, to give our honest opinions no matter what will be served on whose plates, but trust me, nothing will be served on ours.” Adam says confidently, “Your Manifesto of Compassion couldn’t have been better timed.”
“You really think so?” Karl asks, “Don’t you know that optimism is the first mistake of the intellect?”
“Why are you so nervous?” Adam turns his entire body to face Karl, “This is so unlike you. Where did your oomph go, your
“Do you know what it’s like to carry the guilt of a gaffe like the one I made last time? My god, what a gaffe that
was.” Karl confesses,“The trauma of my last manifesto is lingering in my mind and I just can’t face another one...“
“Oh poor boy, don’t you worry now,” Adam closes the mirror and put his pale thin hand on Karl’s gigantic knee, “We fixed it and you are now going to prove that both you and I both had a point rather than being totally right.”
“Pardon me for being so long-winded and going over it again, but the notion of Compassion has been explored, for better or for worse.” Karl looks tortured as he pulls away slightly and crosses his legs, “Gandhi, Martin L.King, Ayn, and Milton all had their say about compassion and the world is divided by an abyss as far apart as heaven and hell. The most passionate
advocates of compassion must have been Gandhi and Martin and famous as they were, you know how miserably Gandhi was towards the end of his life which he considered as a failure and how disillusioned King was about their ‘non-violent’
stance, don’t you? And they were both assassinated.”
Adam takes his monocle off, “We’re virtual immortals, young man. Bullets won't hurts us. ” He declares, “And please note that compassion’s most passionate advocate is I, Adam Smith, who wrote ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments.”
“Bottom line is that people are not as kind or good as most of us imagine us to be, I’m sorry to say.” Karl shakes his said, and peered over his bifocals, “I wish it wasn’t true, but most of us can be nasty sons of bitches, who will exploit everything around them for their own gain. That’s how I failed last time and I’m not too comfortable about this notion of‘Compassionism’ you
are talking about.”
“People have been coaxed to be heartless in the name of Capitalism, even Christine,” Adam sighs, “And she mentioned me by name on her facebook page, but if any of them understood me, they would have tried to be more compassionate, but it’s fine, Karl. We’ll set it right with your new manifesto.“
“What makes you think they will listen this time?” Karl broods while burying his huge head in his large hands.
Adam shrugs, “Who else would stick out their necks apart from us two old fools or even talk to them nicely? I shouldn’t think that is, because only the two of us are this way inclined, do you?”
More about the Manifesto..
“Hang on,” Karl yells while taking his pocket watch out of his vest pocket, “Sam modified my old watch into this excellent device, which he calls ‘gadget’... Just hang in there.”
After Karl’s thick fingers prodded the device for a few seconds, Adam’s moaning image suddenly faded into nothingness. A minute pass as Karl continued working his pocket watch while cursing under his breath before Adam’s old self zapped back into the room with a yelp, this time looking more normal with his bulging fish eyes, and eagle-beak nose back in place.
“Good lord, what happened to me?” Adam’s hands fluttered over his powdered face, feverishly inspecting it inch by inch, “I feel so flustered.”
“I emailed you from a different server this time, my friend, one with a more stable connection.” Karl explains, “You just traveled through outer-space to a satellite and then, back to earth twice over. That explains why you feel a little unraveled. You look remarkably well after such a trip although your skull was very handsome too.”
“That is excellent, well done my friend, and thank you.”Adam bowed, “But do me a favor and spare me your flattery, it really doesn’t suit you or me. Besides, didn’t we already finished your new ‘manifesto’ or is there something else you want from me?”
“We did, and it’s ready to go, but we have to keep the momentum going for the Launch on June 8, you know.” Karl says, “There still are a few issues we need to fine-tune if we have a little more time.”
“Time is not a issue for us immortals, my friend,” Adam cooed, “But what year is it now, such trip must have taken quite some time?”
“It’s still 2018, it only took a minute or two to upload and download.”
“So it’s still Thursday afternoon 3.50 pm, 2018? And where are we?”
Karl whispered, “I figured if you want to see the media at work , the best place to visit is Fox New’s Studio, simply because of its notoriety, but I thought it better to wait until that beat about US President Frank’s endorsement of the Same Sex Marriage Act is over, and now, it’s been a week and the beat is on the aftermath of Greece’s financial ruin and the political victory of their new Grass Root Party.”
A pool of light suddenly shines on the odd couple as cameras swivel around to focus on their frozen faces looking ghostly in the limelight.
”And here we have a couple of Same Sex activists to join us,” the tall anchorman jumps out of nowhere and hones in, “Would you like to share a few words with us about your sentiment towards this historical miles stone, sir, and will you be tying the knot soon?“
“Enchanted, my dear friend,” Adam coos while fixing his wig,“The name is Smith, Adam Smith...”
“Nein, nein, nein, nein, mein Herr.” Karl interrupts Adam while waving his hands and shaking his head, “This is a huge misunderstanding. We’re here for the beat on Greece ...”
"A mandarin would say that ‘Those able to balance on the tempest, may lose it in a storm, while those who survive the storm may not balance on the tempest." Adam, an elderly gentleman in a blue striped sleeping shirt mumbles to himself while lounging on the antediluvian sofa in the virtual drawing room of 'The Post'. The year is 2018. Karl zaps onto the scene fully dressed in corduroy vest and velvet jacket roaring, "Are you still watching TV?”
“Henry is on in this documentary on ‘The New World Order’.It’sa sequel to his ‘On China’. It’s in honor of his 95th birthday.” Adam grunts, “He is talking about leadership and Bo Xi Lai.”
“The princeling, who ousted corrupt cadres and high positioned party member by the truck full and got demoted when his right hand man tried to defect to the West and nearly started another 6-4 until they found out his wife’s family own hundreds of millionswithout embezzling anything?“ Karl asked, “Is there anything you don’t watch?”
“Yeah well, that’s what the party likes you to believe...” Adam snatches back, “ you have to admit this TV-invention is handy, but don’t forget what we are here for. We are now part of the ‘Media’ now that Sam revived us to report for ‘The Post’. "
“I don’t belong to anybody, man, am nobody’sslave... My forte is to say exactly what I think, whenever I like regardless.” Karl scowls, “I’m seriously pissed they messed up our theories and on top of that these idiots are blaming us for it. They turned my communism in the world’s worst oligarchy for goodness sake and now I need to start all over again.So Sam can stuff it... “
“Not Sam’s fault you know.” Adam yawns stretching his pale arms above his head and put his bonylegs on the table. “He’s letting you have a say about it.”
“What crap is that!? We’re thinkers, not reporters, we mold the world through our vision, not because we know what is actually happening, but we know what should be happening...“ Karl pauses and studies Adam through squinted eyes, “ I’ve been working hard here on my new festo, but you would do well taking your own advice and switch off that damn TV and help me out here.”
“Manifesto? Like the one that mad Norwegian gunman wrote?” Adam shakes his head, “My best man, we’ve been created to give ideologically colored yet politically unmotivated analysis on current affairs, and now you want to start another revolution?Besides, you forgetwe’re holograms who cannot walk out on the street or into the battleground. How do you purport to do any of this without watching TV?"
Karl shakes his head and hiss scornfully, “And depend on the mis-formation that the Media feeds us?” He moved his face closer to Adam’s and whispers in a
conspiratory voice,” Don’t you know we can disappear in the system , scavenge through the network, hack into accounts. Remember we’re nothing more and nothing less than constellations of loose electrons that can go wherever currents go...”
“Really? We can do that?” Adam turns his head abruptly his eyes bulging so far out they nearly fell out of their sockets.“You reckon you can take me where I want to goin the year 2012, I like to understand what the heck that was with the defection and princeling issue. I need to understand themindset of this millennium, you know. It’s all psychology, you know, like Keynes said.”
“Of course it is, but I can tell you right now what the ‘human psyche’ is about in one sentence: It’s either greed and power, or power and greed. The only difference between the farce that capitalism and communism have become these days is the sequence these two things occur..”
“Well, it’s not that simple, but if you take me on a little tour, I’ll help you, we’ll knock out our combined ‘festo’ in one month tops, you and I... On the condition there’s no shooting and no revolution though. Deal?” Adam stretches out his hand.
“Deal!” Karl grabs it trying to pull him up but their hands lapse and glide through each other reminding them they are indeed only pixels hanging in the air, “Oh crap! Get dressed, you old slug. We don’t want to look like crazy idiots in sleep shirts and nutty wigs...”
"No respect, no benefit of the doubt, no manners, no chivalry, nothing..."
It's 2018. In the Virtual drawing room of ‘The Post’ two pixillated gentlemen sit on a sofa. The one to the far right - the one who just spoke - is Adam , a stately gentleman with a huge powdered nose looking agitated and gazing at the hologram of the lady politician on the media wall who is directing a mouthfull of abuses and rebukes to the Chief Executive of our beloved city in front a dozen microphones"Typical of a public position in Hong Kong or anywhere: no gratitude... I feel sorry for Tsang, he's a good bloke... " He grunts.
The gentleman on the far left is Karl, a coarsely built old man with a unruly beard wrapped around this skull wearing longjohns smeared with ink blots who replies listlessly: "Politics mostly involves media games to manipulate public perception.. You should know that by now..."
It's 2018. The newly installed media wall is injecting gruesome fractions of the world into the virtual drawing room of 'The Post' - a space otherwise frozen and preserved from an Era long past.Two pixillated gentlemen 'sit' on a shapely antique settee covered in a French silk moiré.
The one to the far left holding the remote control, is Karl, a coarsely built old man wearing long johns. He is stroking his pepper and salt beard that wraps all the way around his large lumpish head like a long gray scarf in a 'Kelly'-style albeit without sex appeal.
"Blimme," He says. Pointing the remote at different screens, he summons the spectacles from the screen into the room. Masked guerrilla fighters are interviewed in one corner, while in another, a politician lifts his arms in
victory under the cheer of a crowd going wild, and in others yet, civilians are looting shops and occupying financial precincts the world over. "A hard pill to swallow, what the miracle of technology is presenting us with... Now the world can see what I saw, what always has been... "
"Calm down, my friend. We're past that mortal stage ourselves. We have all the time in the world." Adam says while picking up the remote to switch Bloomberg to 3D mode, "Let's brood on this one for a while..."
Karl lifts his head and says calmly, " I think you have are bluffing, I think you have nothing... "
"To be honest, if you have read both my books, all the solutions are there. It's just that some people had an interest in highlighting the aspects beneficial to them..Let's set this misnomer right once and for all" Adam says with a smile, and picks up Karl's feathered quill to write...
"When Alderson endorsed Gingrich first with the idea of moving on to endorse Romney, he was essentially making a 'Place' bet, and his bet would have paid up if either of them wins... " mumbled Adam, a stately gentleman with a huge powdered nose in a gold threat waistcoat that he wears over white wooly leggings.It's 2018. Seated on the edge of the Sofa in the virtual drawing room of 'The Post', Adam is hovering over the coffee table, the top of which appears to be a touch screen showing the media's report of the 2018 election campaigns.
"What in hell are you on about?" says Karl, a coarsely built old man still wearing long underwear underneath a Russian military coat which has seen better days. He too is hovered over the coffee table , writing something on a parchment with a feathered pen.
Skit On Elections
The scene switches to the studio, where Andy says, “Thank you, Ellen,With us we have Mr Lee’s i-sistant, Henry.” Turning to the hologram, he asks, “Henry, what does Mr Lee have to say about the suggestive video released last night?”
“These footage have been examined by independent experts turned out to be computer generated and altered, which makes all this one big hoax… I assure you that Mr. Lee’s vision is unblemished and the pace at which his mission is being carried out is neither hindered nor stoppable.”
Two gentlemen are pixilated on a sofa, watching . The one to the far right is Adam , a stately gentleman with a huge powdered nose in a delicate house coat that he wears over a striped sleep shirt and silk slippers with turned up toes. Stroking a cat on his lap, he says, “This guy managed to hijack all air-time again, masterful. The media loves it too.”
“Why are we watching this ?” says Karl, Said Karl, a coarsely built old man wearing long underwear underneath a Russian military coat which has seen better days. He is combing his pepper and salt beard with a wooden comb, “Like you said, it’s all show.”
Adam : “For once, I agree with you, my dear friend, but it’s interesting to see how the power game is played. “
Karl : “How is it interesting if both these guys are part of the 1% and Status Quo will persists… These campaigns cost millions and millions of dollars just to highlight the imperfections of the opposition when we all know that we are all cracked vessels…”
Adam : “Power corrupts and elections are like insecticides , it makes sure we get rid of bad apples.”
Karl : “But where are their manifestos for god sake? What action will they take in these dire strait times, when the Status Quo is just not good enough?” He puts the comb aside, “Who cares who he does where and when , whether those footage are real or not? Millions of faithful men out there, I wouldn’t vote for, but which ever bastard can crack this nut, and resolve the economical problems, I will carry him on my hands all the way to the Govenor’s house, the parliament, the congress or wherever he needs to be to do his job. “
Adam: “I tend to think that the creativity and opportunity come from the people than the government … You know I don’t believe in centralized power , don’t you? “
Karl : "You seem to have a point. White cow with the black spots or and the black cow with the white spots, what does it matter, but some how we still hope that the chosen one can resolve the problems." He lifted his foot on the sofa and started cutting his toenails, "You know what catastrophes and upheavals my followers caused do to keep power, don't you ?
Adam: "Oh you're talking about the Mao guy, the poet who burned all poems... Glad you recognize it... This continuous revolution of the grass root, all the killing and purging... Equally disastrous... Now power is changed periodically...Democracy or not..."
Karl : “Well my man, I’m glad we finally agree on something. ”
Adam gets up, picks up the cat and says, “My mistake. Oh well, I’m turning in. You’re not sleeping yet?
Karl : “You gave me an idea or two.. so I’m going to stay up and jot down a thing or two.”
Adam : “Not planning to write another one of those scary manifestos, are you?”
Karl : “I just might… Someone has to do it…”
“You’re as crazy as they come.... God help us.” Adam bent down to the remote control on the coffee table to press a button and vanishes...
Karl : "Not so bad yourself... "
It’s 2018 – In the Virtual drawing room of ‘The Post’ two pixillated gentlemen sit on a sofa. The one to the far right is Adam , a stately gentleman with a huge powdered nose looking absentminded. He adjusts his finely embroidered coat that he wears over tweedy leggings and peers through the pince-nez on his nose…
Adam: "2012 was the year of the dragon - supposedly the year of upheavals."
"How so ?" Said Karl, a coarsely built old man wearing a black velor jacket which has seen better days. He is stroking his pepper and salt beard that wraps all the way around his large lumpish head like a long gray scarf, while the other hand is playing with a heavy pocket watch resting on his potbelly.
Adam: "Both the US and China changed leadership in the same year."
Karl throws his arms up in the air: "Change? My arse! Both you and I know this so-called-'change' is a joke, right?"