Is the internet making us stupid? More than 450 people turned up to a debate on this topic organised by Intelligence Squared Asia, a non-profit organisation which says it aims to promote 'creative thought and challenging dialogue in the region'. Speaking for the motion was Thomas Crampton, from Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, together with Jeremy O'Grady, editor-in chief of The Week, a UK-based weekly news magazine. Against the motion were Jimmy Wales, an American internet entrepreneur best known as the founder of Wikipedia, and Kaiser Kuo, director of international relations for Baidu, China's leading search engine, though probably better known as a writer and co-founder of China's first and most successful heavy metal band Tang Dynasty. This line-up pulled out Hong Kong's beautiful people and a fair smattering of the jacket and jeans set. The audience was polled for their views before the debate, with 108 in favour of the motion, 190 against and 50 undecided. After more than two hours of decidedly un-stupid debate the result was almost a tie, with a big swing in favour of the motion, to 177, while those against fell to a still winning 180, with five undecided. For a further discussion of this issue, look on the internet. We rest our case. Mining muddle Ronald Arculli's remarks to Bloomberg suggesting that the proposed merger between the Australian and Singaporean stock exchanges will make it more difficult for Hong Kong to attract mining companies is wide of the mark, according to some brokers. One of the big problems said one industry commentator 'is the lack of understanding of the business by the stock exchange', he said in response to the comments from Arculli, who is the exchange's chairman. Although the Singapore and Australian exchanges together are able to amass a greater market cap of resource companies than Hong Kong, this is not of itself an incentive to list on the Singapore exchange as some seem to think. Hong Kong is attractive to mining companies because they can get access to capital to enable them to expand their operations which is not available to them in Australia. They can get access because there is often a China connection which investors can relate to. Frequently, this is because the Australian mining concern will have a mine in Australia, or Africa, or Mongolia and will have agreements with Chinese companies that have off-take agreements or build the infrastructure or do both. This is not threatened by the proposed merger of the exchanges. Indeed, one of the organisers of BGF Equities High Conviction Emerging Resources Conference, which is taking place in Hong Kong today, said that none of the Australian companies making presentations with a view to listing in Hong Kong were thinking of changing their plans because of the proposed merger. More rubbish We see that all the stories and comment on Hong Kong's record-breaking propensity for producing refuse have attracted the attention of a company that claims it has the answer to 'reducing or eliminating both solid pollutants in landfills and foul odours'. Philip Stubbings, a director of EM Biotechnology International, has leapt on this bandwagon with some alacrity and has written to Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah about his company's odour killing technology. It's Japanese and it's called Effective Microorganisms. Stubbings has very generously offered this technology to the government at 'neutral' cost to his firm and urges a trial so as to deal with the problem quickly. You have to wonder if he knows what he is asking. There are procedures to be followed, tenders to be let, and the stench will go on until it is the next government's turn not to deal with it. New Hobbitland Things are ugly in Middle Earth. In a bid to keep its fledgling film industry from losing The Hobbit and casting a pall over New Zealand as an ideal place to make blockbuster movies with skilled labour (think of it as a celluloid Pearl River Delta with sheep), the government is changing employment laws to keep the NZ$670 million (HK$3.87 billion) production in New Zealand. Warner Bros pushed for the law change after clashing with the country's main trade union group. The government has agreed to pay Warner extra rebates of as much as US$7.5 million per picture, subject to their success, to improve New Zealand's competitiveness as a film location. The government will also contribute US$10 million towards marketing costs of the films. It wants the two-film Hobbit to add to the kudos from the Lord of the Rings. It just goes to show how far New Zealand has come. It's no longer just a purveyor of lamb chops and cheddar cheese to the world. The Hobbit is estimated to bring billions of dollars to the New Zealand economy over time. It also shows that rumours of the imminent death of the big Hollywood studios may be exaggerated. Any studio that can get a country (even New Zealand) to change its laws overnight obviously still has a bit of muscle.