Thursday, November 25, 2010

Safety First

I never used to take too seriously Aussie jokes about Kiwis being, so to say, a few sheep short of a flock, but seeing New Zealand's apparent failure to grasp the concept of emergency rescue, I'm beginning to wonder if there may be something to them after all.

In the recent mine disaster there, rescuers were kept waiting on standby for severasl days on the basis that the mine was still full of dangerous gases. Finally a second explosion extinguished any lingering hopes that the trapped miners might still be alive.

Going by this policy, presumably New Zealand does not allow its firefighters to rush into burning buildings to save fire victims until the fire has gone out, or its lifeboatmen to set out to sea to save those aboard a sinking ship until the storm that causes the sinking has died down?

Better not send any doctors to Haiti, either - they might catch cholera.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It was Christmas time at the synagogue

In case you haven't already picked up on it from every music blog around, Paul Simon has released a free MP3 download of a new Christmas song as a foretaste of his coming album. Iit's all over the Web, but if you pick it up here you can read the lyrics as well.

But what, I wondered, is Simon, a Jew, doing writing about Christmas? Well, it turns out he's part of a long tradition. About half the most popular Christmas songs - including perhaps the all-time favourite, White Christmas - are by Jewish songwriters. You can read the stories of some of them here - including how Irving Berlin, composer of White Christmas, did not himself enjoy the holiday after one of his children died on that day. And there are plenty more songs not in the list, including Elvis Presley's Santa Claus Is Back in Town, written by the brilliant Jewish duo Leiber and Stoller.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dental care - or should that be caries?

Suddenly it's Christmas
Right after Halloween
--Loudon Wainwright III

In Watson's Star House branch in Tsimshatsui today, two sections of shelves labelled "Oral Care" were stacked full with ... chocolate bars. Must be some new dental treatment I'm not familiar with.

Or perhaps there just wasn't rrom for them in the "Snacks" section, which was filled with obviously inedible plush teddy bears in Santa Claus caps. I guess you'd need the chocolate to get the furry taste out of your mouth.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Next door across town

Another ATV news boo-boo - tonight they described Chelsea Football Club's victory over "cross-town rivals" Fulham. Not cross-town rivals - that would be Spurs, Arsenal or West Ham. Look at the map and you'll see that Chelsea and Fulham are practically next=door neighbours.

Tainted Government

China's government has become much more adept at public relations over the past two decades, but once in a while they do something so stupid you have to wonder where their brains have gone. Such a misstep is the jailing of consumer protection activist Zhao Lianhai, who fought for compensation for victims of the so-called tainted milk scandal. What the hell were they thinking of? The clear message this sends to the world is that China puts the protection of baby-killers ahead of justice for their victims. That's really going to boost consumer confidence in the safety of Chinese products, isn't it? Idiots!

And while we're on the subject, can we get the vocabulary right? "Tainted" suggests accidental contamination, as in the Perrier case a few years ago. The correct word for deliberately introducing impurities into a product is adulteration.

As for what goes on in the mind of an industrialist who deliberately adulterates their product with a substance they know will be harmful - possibly deadly - to consumers, I have no idea. It's common enough to put profits before people, but at the cost of their lives? It's ironic that many of the worst excesses of capitalism now seem to occur in the world's largest "socialist" country.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Has anyone else noticed that every time a mobile phone rings in a TVB drama series, the ring tone is always the same? Can the TVB props department really only afford one phone?