20100331

Gandhi on religion and prayer


Two excellent quotes, one about religion and the other about prayer, from Gandhi's autobiography:

"... The Sermon on the Mount ... went straight to my heart. I compared it with the Gita. The verses, 'But I say unto ye, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man take away thy coat let him have thy cload too,' delighted me beyond measure and put me in mind of Shamal Bhatt's 'For a bowl of water, give a goodly meal' etc. My young mind tried to unify the teachings of the Gita, The Light of Asia and The Sermon on the Mount. That renunciation was the highest form of religion appealed to me greatly."

"Supplication, worship, prayer are no superstitution; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal. Such worship or prayer is no flight of eloquence; it is no lip-homage. It springs from the heart. If, therefore, we achieve that purity of the heart when it is 'emptied of all but love', if we keep all the chords in proper tune, they 'trembling pass in music out of sight'. Prayer needs no speech. It is in itself independent of any sensuous effort. I have not the slightest doubt that prayer is an unfailing means of cleansing the heart of passions. But it must be combined with the utmost humility."

Haiku


rattle, shake, rattle
fortune stick falls to the ground
what does eighteen mean?

20100329

The magical powder

I remember how I saved a kitten from the brink of death when I was a small child.

One day, the kitten of one of my next door neighbours made the lethal mistake of entering the apartment of another neighbour by squeezing through the grillwork. The kitten was brutally attacked by the awaiting dog. When I raced to see what happened upon hearing the noise, I saw that the poor kitten was in a very bad shape. No one gave it a chance, but my inner voice told me that I mustn't let a life go just like that. I examined the lifeless heap and saw that the worst injury was the hole in the throat. If only something can be done about that wound the kitten might have a chance, the idea kept churning in my head. And then I remembered the powder that my mother had used to heal my cuts and bruises. That might just do the trick. I rushed home for the powder and applied it to the hole. After a while I was overjoyed to see that some signs of life had returned to the kitten that everyone had given up for dead.

Eventually, the kitten survived. The slow healing went on for a couple of months, but it was to grow into a perfectly healthy cat. It had the annoying habit of excreting everywhere in the flat, probably because it had not been properly toilet-trained, but that was another story.

20100328

Dzud

This is a new word I learned today. A rather sad word.

According to Wikipedia, a dzud is "a Mongolian term for an extremely snowy winter in which livestock are unable to find fodder through the snow cover, and large numbers of animals die due to starvation and the cold".

In a recent dzud in Mongolia where temperatures dropped to as low as -50C, millions of animals died. The first picture below shows some dead sheep. The second shows a dog that never made it to the nomadic ger homes that were only a few steps away. The third picture shows a memorial monument for a horse, put up by its Mongolian owners.

This might well have been another "worst in a hundred years" dzud.



20100327

"The worst in n hundred years!"


Ever noticed how these days when natural disasters like the severe drought in southwest China recently happen, they are branded by the authorities as "the worst in XXX decades" or "the worst in XXX hundred years"? Obviously, just as it is no coincidence that disasters caused by extreme weathers are growing in numbers, it is also no coincidence that these disasters are growing in magnitude. The alteration of landscapes, exploiation of natural resources and depletion of vegetation have greatly increased the natural hazards and weakened the protection capacity.

Ironically, China, with its Communist mentality of changing the course of human destiny, has so much faith in campaigning that the solutions they resort to are to dig deeper and deeper for underground water (and they will keep doing so even though in many areas they have gone over one hundred metres without success) or inducing artificial rain.

They even have Weather Modification Offices in different provinces and, as the following banner shows, take much pride in them.

20100326

Free ride of death

This is no ordinary truck. It is a mobile gas chamber. For Japan's abandoned dogs.

In Japan nearly 90% of the unwanted animals are destroyed, far more than any other countries (the figure for Hong Kong, as mentioned yesterday, is about 75%). However, as no one wants an extermination centre in their neighbourhood, Tokashima Prefecture came up with the solution of loading unwanted dogs into chambers in a truck and pumping gas into the chambre on the way to the crematorium.

Another sad story of irresponsible owners sending innocent animals to a free ride of death.

20100325

Needless deaths

"I have thus far captured and neutered 12 cats," a friend said to me proudly.

I not only shared the happiness but also a bit of the pride. It was I who introduced the Cat Colony Care Programme (CCCP) to her and I am glad that the result has been so encouraging.

It is sad that there are so many stray cats and dogs out there, many of which were abandoned by mindless owners who did not think carefully before buying the pets. When they soon decided or realised that they could make a long-term commitment they just offloaded them to the street. One can imagine how tough or miserable such a homeless life is for the poor animals.

The more fortunate ones find themselves under the care of CCCP participants like my friend, who take care of the cat colonies in their neighbourhood by feeding them and neutering them in order to keep the population under control.

How about the less fortunate ones? Other than having to brave the natural elements and fend for themselves, they also risk being captured by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), especially if a complaint is made by some citizens about them. Three out of four cats and dogs captured by the AFCD are put to death. Figures of last year show that 74% of the about 17,000 cats and dogs handled by the AFCD were put down. The AFCD will give the captured animals four days to see whether any owners will come and claim them. After that they will select those healthy and friendly ones and send them to animal welfare organisations to arrange for adoption. The number of such fortunate animals is, however, negligible. The figure last year was a meagre 762.

One question that is worth asking is: Of the about 12,500 lives that were lost needlessly last year, how many were brought about by the whims of irresponsible owners?

Animal lovers like my friend find themselves having to mop up after these people. "There are still so many cats up the hill that I haven't captured," my friend added with remorse after telling me about the 12 cats she helped. She was not complacent at all.

"You've already done the best you can," I assured her. "At the end of the day, you need to accept that you cannot help them all."

20100324

Haiku


cats sprawling on couch
sleeping, or feigning sleeping
only i must work

20100323

Haiku

I'm a speck of dust
from a desert from afar
coming in a storm

20100322

Couldn't join the world's longest toilet queue

Too bad I learned about today being World Water Day too late.

This is what the day is about, according to its official website:

"The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

"The United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March of each year as the World Day for Water by adopting a resolution.This world day for water was to be observed starting in 1993, in conformity with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development contained in chapter 18 (Fresh Water Resources) of Agenda 21.

"States were invited to devote the Day to implement the UN recommendations and set up concrete activities as deemed appropriate in the national context."

Too bad I learned about "The World's Longest Toilet Queue" campaign too late.

According to its official website, the campaign, which is to take place between 20 and 22 March, is "a mass mobilisation event and Guinness World Record attempt bringing together thousands of campaigners from across the world to demand real change at [a meeting next month in which politicians from across the globe will gather in Washington DC. to discuss what they need to do to fulfil some of the most basic rights of the world’s citizens – access to a safe toilet and clean water]."

Too bad there is no queue in Hong Kong to raise people's awareness and for them to take place.

20100321

Fantasies are real

Yesterday, I talked about the creative process of "Haiku Herman". He said that he writes haiku before sleeping and wakes up with the poem of the day before. "In my sub-conscious lots of things are working."

Today, in the newspaper, I read about my favourite film director Tim Burton talking about his creative process, which is remarkably similar to what Mr Van Rompuy said.

"I always had this horrible reaction of people going 'This is fantasy and that's reality.' It's like, wait a minute! A lot of us use our fantasy and dream life to actually work out problems in our real life. It goes in psychology, it goes into a lot of things. They're not exclusive. Those fantasies are quite real."

So do not take our fantasies, dreams and sub-conscious lightly. They carry powerful symbolic meanings that inform our 'real' life. In a sense, as Tim Burton suggests, our fantasy and dream life and our real life are not exclusive.

20100320

Haiku Herman


Mr Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, is such a lover of haiku that he has earned himself the nickname of Haiku Herman.

I suppose his original haiku, in Dutch, follows the 17-syllable (5-7-5 in three lines) rule. The translated works do not. Understandably.

Apart from his haiku, there are a few things about Mr Van Rompuy that interest me:

His creative process: "I write haiku in the evening, just before sleeping, and I wake up with the poem of the day before," Mr Van Rompuy says. "In my sub-conscious lots of things are working."

Reason for his love of haiku: Mr Van Rompuy has written that haiku represent for him the "unattainable ideal of simplicity" and "an aversion to the sophisticated and over-competitive world". "It's a very sober form of poetry and because I am some kind of sober-minded personality, I like it. It fits with my personality," he says.

His personality: This is what a BBC article wrote about Mr Van Rompuy: "A devout Catholic, he goes on regular retreats at Affligem Abbey. He didn't campaign for the job of EU president, and until the Belgian king talked him into becoming PM, he appeared to be drifting towards a comfortable retirement dominated by books, religion, country walks and family life."

20100319

Haiku


man-eating dragon
landing after a dark flight
spits out what he ate

20100318

Happy Birthday, Happy Meal!

The news reported a simple but telling test done by a Nonna Joann, a blogger in Colorado. She purchased a McDonald's Happy Meal in March last year "as a silent witness to our fast food industry".

After leaving the Happy Meal on a shelf in her home for a year, what her husband initially worried about, that there would be terrible odour when the food decomposed and that it would attract ants and mice never happened. "My Happy Meal is one year old today and it looks pretty good. It NEVER smelled bad. The food did NOT decompose. It did NOT get moldy, at all," Nonna Joann said.

The TV news showed that there were two photos on her website, one showing the Happy Meal right after it was bought, the other showing the meal one year later. Except that the bread became crusty and has shrunk a bit, the hamburger still looked pretty good and the fries looked "yummy enough to eat". According to Nonna Joann, no flies never bothered to land on the food. She said that if ants, mice and flies are never fooled into touching the Happy Meal, children shouldn't either.

I wonder whether what Nonna Joann said and it being reported in the news have anything to do with the photos being there no more when I visited the website. Could she have been under some pressure to remove them, like the monumental McLibel case in in which Helen Steel and David Morris distributed leaflets with allegations against McDonald's, were sued by the fast food giant, and entered into the lengthiest court action in English history?

20100317

Nothing but the truth



The world is changing faster and faster, much faster than we like or we are ready for. As John MacArthur said in his book Nothing but the Truth: Upholding the Gospel in a Doubting Age, "we need to understand that many things are changing much faster than we may have realised and that man's sinfulness is more acute than ever". Technology certainly has a key role to play, not only in driving that change but also in perpetuating that "sinfulness". One thing that technology is so good at doing is to create visual illusions, so much so that it has become increasingly difficult for us to distinguish between images synthesized by the computer and real objects. Just look at some of the TV advertisements that bombard us on a daily basis. Huge amounts of money have been invested into producing mesmerising images to show us the fascinating "experience" of chewing that gum or owning that multi-million dollar luxurious flat. But how real are they?

Gandhi, in his autobiography, talked about how his pursuit of truth began at a tender age:

"...one thing took deep root in me - the conviction that morality is the basis of things, and that truth is the substance of all morality. Truth became my sole objective. It began to grow in magnitude every day..."

He might find that pursuit being rather difficult if he were to live in today's world.

20100316

Mr Roboto



This is not a new toy. It is a device that might take the jobs of teachers in tomorrow's classroom, if the following photo caption from the news is to be believed:

"Robot teachers - who never get angry or make sarcastic remarks - have been a hit with pupils during a pilot project in some South Korean schools, a government report said."

I wouldn't underestimate the power of technology and I believe that a robot today can do absolutely amazing things, but I just don't see how a robot can provide the sort of learning support and pastoral care that a human teacher does.

Would I like to be taught be a robot? No thanks.

20100315

Man's best friend eats girl's best friend


Media people should know the power of news headlines and give good thoughts into coming up with a catchy one.

In today's news is this example of a good one: "Man's best friend in doghouse for eating girl's best friend, a diamond", which is about how Soli, the dog of a jewellery shop wolfed down a diamond worth USD20,000 that a dealer brought to the shop and dropped to the floor. The nervous owners had to wait for nature to take its course before returning the diamond to the dealer.

Never has dog poop been so eagerly awaited, I'm sure.

20100314

Be reconciled

I was still a bit rattled on my way to church this morning. I was burdened by the feeling of shame that came from two dreams in which I did something untoward. Even though those were just what happened in dreams, the fact that dreams are a manifestation of our subconscious mind means that they reflect what hidden intents and desires we have.

As I carried this feeling to the church, the central theme of the readings today, that of reconciliation, conveyed a special meaning. For 'shame' is one of the things that our reconciliation with God should help banish, along with 'reproach' (Joshua 5), 'fears' (Psalm 23), 'trespasses' (2 Corinthians 5), 'dissipation' and 'sin' (Luke 15). God, our Father in Heaven, is ever so kind that he will forgive us and embrace us as the father in the parable of the prodigal son told by Jesus in the Gospel today. All it takes is for us to repent and pray for forgiveness.

As Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 5, "...on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him."

20100313

Different stories, same fate


In the last couple of days there were two pieces of news about zoo animals with very different fortunes.

The first one was about the birth of a baby elephant which was thought and 'confirmed' to have died in the womb during the six-day labour. The male calf was trapped in a position from which a live birth was thought to be impossible and ultrasound appeared to confirm the diagnosis. The complete absence of any vital signs during all the checks and examinations made this survival story a 'miracle'. The baby elephant has taken its first steps.

The second news story is more depressing. Eleven Siberian tigers have died at a zoo in Liaoning, China over the past three months. There are discrepancies about how they died. While a manager at the zoo said the tigers simply died of various diseases, a local wildlife protection official said that malnutrition was one cause. Whatever the reason, the case raises questions about how zoo animals are treated in China.

While the two news items convey contrasting sentiments, what lies behind them is the sad fact that majestic wild animals like elephants and tigers are reduced to a life in captivity. Only about 50, or one percent, of the 5,000 tigers in China are left in the wild. The loss of their natural habitat and human poaching have driven many wild animals to the verge of extinction and a captive life may well be the only way to preserve them. But it is sad to see these regal animals which not so long ago still roamed and ruled the land now being forced to live an undignified life in cages where movement is restricted and disease is rampant. It may not be long before we can only have wild animals in zoos but not in the wild anymore.

20100311

Haiku


lots and lots of leaves
alive and green, dead and brown
i am a leaf too

20100310

Noise pollution at its worst

While having a haircut this evening, I overheard the conversation at the next cubicle. I was not evasdropping. The female stylist and the male customer spoke so loudly that it was impossible not to hear what they said. And they didn't care at all too. For half an hour, they just babbled in a way that they must have thought were funny, cute, clever and fashionable. The conversation was so contrived, flippant, pretentious, shallow and devoid of meaning that I could hardly believe that it was between two cognisant human beings. I was completely disgusted at having to be forced to listen to a load of rubbish like that.

I was thinking that the only other place in which such a silly and mindless conversation could take place was between the PR at a nightclub and the client.

20100309

Was there really a choice?

It is natural to clench your teeth or even your fists when you learn about such preposterous cases of animal abuse as chopping off the paws of kittens and then leaving them to perish. And justifiably so too. No man in his right mind would contemplate such a thing, not to say to do it, and he deserves to be condemned.

However, while not trying to give the coward any excuse (and there really isn't any), I do wish to make the point that it may be worth asking what sort of childhood experience could have turned the person into what he or she is now. I simply cannot accept the argument that he (might even be a she) is what he is because he is born with such an evil character. I believe that what makes us what we are is a combination of nature and nurture. We do have our inborn character traits, but we are also very much moulded into our present selves by powerful social influences. So just as child abusers invariably have a childhood history of having been abused by their parents, animal abusers also almost certainly have had traumatic experiences that transformed them into the 'monsters' they are now.

I believe that in some extremely depressing cases the pain or torture in the childhood was so severe that it didn't even leave the sufferer with the choice of how he (again it might be a she) would face it or what kind of person he would like to become in the future. Without a glimmer of hope, radically twisting their outlook of life was the only way to save himself from completely falling apart. Such cases are truly tragic.

But I also believe that in other less extreme cases it is still possible for the victims to choose whether to let the abuse go on through them or dare to try to break the spell. That courage to pick up the pieces is what makes the difference between a healed life and a dark life. As Ernest Hemingway said, "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places."

20100308

Life is not blue for Blue Blue





Prompted by the most recent cold-blooded animal abuse case in which a stray cat was tortured by having its front paw cut off, over fifty animal lovers and activists staged a rally last Saturday in the district where several similar cases have happened in the last three years, to protest against the inability of the police to crack down on such cases.

One of the demonstrators was the owner of a cat that survived such a torture two and a half years ago. Blue Blue was only one month old when her rear paws were chopped off. When I saw the misery in the blue eyes of the kitten in a photo taken after the tragedy happened, I just cried. I couldn't understand how someone could do a thing like that to such an innocent and helpless young life. Looking at that photo, I felt utterly guilty for us humans to have brought so much suffering to animals.

Thanks to the kind volunteer who adopted her, Blue Blue has survived and grown to be a beautiful young feline. She will be handicapped for life of course. According to her owner, she is annoyed to see other cats jumping around. She would also bite when someone tries to touch her feet - a telltale sign of what a traumatic experience the torture must have been for her. She may not be as mobile as other cats for the rest of her life, but at least she will be under the loving care of her owner. It is hoped that kindness like that will go some way towards redeeming the sins of the humankind.

20100307

What can this frog teach us?


What can human couples possibly learn from some frogs in Peru?

Just one little thing. How to remain utterly faithful.

The secret, according to biologist Dr Jason Brown, who has for years been studying the sex life of the frog, known as the mimic poison frog, is that the small size of the pools of water in which they lay their tadpoles prevents the frogs straying.

It works like this. After mating, the female frog lays her eggs. The male frog then takes each tadpole to a tiny pool of water which gathers in leaves high up in the branches of trees. When the tadpoles become hungry, the male calls the female to come and lay a non-fertile egg in each pool for the tadpole to eat. In sum, since the tadpoles cannot survive without the care of both parents, mimic poison frogs have been forced to stick together.

Contrast the life of the mimic poison frog with their close relative, the variable poison frog. Unlike the former species, researchers show the latter species to be promiscuous, and the reason why it is less faithful is that it lays its eggs in pools of water which are on average five times larger, and thus have more nutrients, than those used by the mimic poison frogs. That means the couples do not have to play such a big part in raising their tadpoles, allowing them to sneak off and cheat on their partners.

I wonder how similar this is to the human situation. Are some human couples with accommodation five times larger than others more likely to be promiscuous? Are those who have to spend virtually all their time and effort taking care of the family and raising children forced to stick together?

There is one little catch though. Even this frog species that Dr Brown dubbed as "a truly monogamous amphibian" is not completely faithful. The DNA test Dr Brown conducted showed that of 12 families of mimic poison frogs, only 11 couples remained continually faithfully. In the twelfth family, a male frog mated with two females.

Cheeky Cheeky!

20100306

"Exclusively used by professional tennis players"

A sporting goods shop promoted three tennis racquets with the line: "Exclusively used by professional tennis players". To me this line can be translated as "Not for the mortal", meaning that the racquet is guaranteed not to be suitable for all but the few elite players who have the skills and the power to harness it. That's why for years I have been using tweener racquets which give me the shot-making options that racquets for more advanced players cannot. Unfortunately, the promise (or illusion more like) of playing like one's favourite pro has so much appeal that players, especially the novice ones, often take the bait, only to find later that the racquet does not improve their game but actually ruins it.

And don't forget that, for commercial or other obvious reasons, some racquets that professional tennis players play with are not the same as the model in the market but just paint-job versions. Two classic examples are the racquets of Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker. For Lendl, the Adidas GTX Pro Graphite that he played with in the 80s was a paint-job Kneissl White Star Pro, in the same way that his Mizuno in the 90s was a paint-job Kneissl/Adidas. For Boris Becker, the situation was even more complicated. According to the website www.80s-tennis.com:

"Becker`s personal Boris Becker Winner racquets were customised versions made with 50% graphite, whereas the serial production model as sold on the market contained merely 30% graphite. The Boris Becker Super with 50% graphite, introduced in 1986, was nothing else than a paintjob of the customised Becker Winner that Boris had played right from the beginning. But now also the public could buy a Puma Becker racquet with 50% graphite."

"In March 1990 he got contracted with Taiwanese company Estusa (until 1995)... However, Becker continued playing the Boris Becker Super, with the Estusa logo sprayed onto the strings, because he was not satisfied with the first version of the Estusa Boris Becker B ProVantech PB. It was not before 1991 that Becker finally turned to the Estusa racquet. But Becker`s longtime stringer Uli K├╝hnel in an interview stated that Becker in fact played the Estusa racquet for only about four months..."

Do you still think that you are buying racquets that are "exclusively used by professional tennis players"?



20100305

What's wrong with "me"?

"And as that old saying goes, it's not that I think less of myself, but that I think of myself less... And that feels like heaven to me." -Plan B, by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott's association of thinking of oneself less with a feeling of heaven is a very wise idea. What many religions help followers achieve is a stage where they are able to detach from their selves and reach a blissful state. That is probably what heaven feels like. On the other hand, self-absorption is a source of suffering, one is enslaved by the endless desires and needs of the self.

John Robbin's book Healthy at 100 quoted a very revealing study where the researcher counted the use of the words I, me and mine in the recorded conversations of nearly six hundred men and compared this with the frequency of heart disease. The result shows that the more a man habitually talks about himself, the greater the chance that he will have a heart attack. The message of this beautifully simple but ingenious study cannot be clearer. Self-absorption brings suffering, which manifests itself as health problems.

It pays to take heed of what the researcher advises: "Listen with regard when others talk. Give your time and energy to others; let others have their way; do things for reasons other than furthering your own needs."

20100304

What have they done to deserve this?


In my blog on 23 February, I wrote about how trusting street cats may become easy prey for animal-hating cowards. A news article yesterday reported a harrowing case where a one-year-old kitten was found wandering in the street with its left front paw cut off. The poor thing may have been another victim with too much trust to humans. The fact that the kitten was, as the article said, very hostile to strangers and wanted to bite the nurse cannot be taken to mean that this was a mean cat. How friendly would you be if someone cut off your left hand and then dumped you to the street to rot?

Today, a feature article described animal abuse of a different nature. "Where in the world is the elephant worst treated? The honest and straight answer is Kerala," said Paul Zacharia, one of India's best-known writers. He was referring to the plight of the state's 700 captive elephants, the largest "domesticated" elephant population in India.

According to the article, the elephants are mainly rented out for parades and processions during festivals, for political campaigns and for promoting goods in trade fairs. Here is how the article described the hardship the elephants have to put up with:

"The animals have to endure long and noisy parades where fire crackers are set off, they must stand close to flames, travel long distances in ramshackle open vehicles and walk on tarred roads in the scorching sun for hours. They also have to endure drunk, often brutal mahouts."

Mr Zacharia said that not a day passes without the news of an elephant meeting its death in an accident or getting grievously injured or killing the mahout in sheer desperation or running amok because it simply has had enough.

Killing the mahout? Running amok? You can imagine what sort of fate would await the poor elephant when such a thing happens. The elephant will certainly be regarded as having gone mad and will be killed or brutally tortured in retaliation. And hardly anyone in the angry mob will stop and think about what has driven the elephant to behave like that in the first place.

20100303

Unpleasant surprises


"Life is full of surprises. A Nobel Prize winner, Kao is also an Alzheimer's patient."

This is what Gwen Kao Wong May-wan, the wife of the Nobel winner Charles Kao Kuen said during the naming ceremony of the Charles K. Kao Auditorium a couple of days ago.

Wong added that she hoped the award will provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease and it will generate support services for patients with cognitive loss and the training of their caretakers.

It is tragic that the Charles Kao who attended the ceremony is a completely different person from the scientist who won himself a Nobel Prize, due to Alzheimer's disease, which has robbed him of his memory and judgement. It is equally tragic that so many people, Kao's wife included, just focus on taking care of Alzheimer patients and seem to overlook the importance and possibility of preventing the disease. As John Robbins says in his book Healthy at 100: "Our inability to cure or effectively treat Alzheimer's makes prevention all the more important".

The big question is: Can the disease be effectively prevented? According to scientific and medical studies, the answer is a resounding 'Yes'. And the solutions are incredibly simple: Do exercise; eat well ('well' meaning a whole-foods, plant-based diet high in antioxidants). Unfortunately, far too many people, whether they are or are not aware of the full range of benefits of exercise and a healthy diet, do not take the advice. It appears that remaining dormant and eating junk or unhealthy food are a lifestyle that people are always going to prefer, even though sooner or later it brings about suffering that is completely unnecessary.

That sort of suffering is probably the surprises Kao's wife was referring to. Sadly, they are not pleasant ones.

20100301

Golden opportunity


The news on TV today showed footage of angry Chinese citizens protesting when Toyota's president Akio Toyoda made an apology in Beijing.

The national media were comparatively more restrained. Both the China Daily website and Xinhuanet reported the incident with this one identical line under the photo of the Mr Toyoda:

"Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda apologized to Chinese consumers for recalls in a press conference held in Beijing Monday."

This reflects a typical political strategy of the country. Publicly, the government does not want to provoke Japan by making a high profile coverage. Behind the scene, it orchestrates or at least allows the civilian protest. Let's face it, the Chinese must be jumping for joy in seeing the recent problem of the Japanese motor giant when it has always been Chinese-made automobiles getting appalling safety test reports in authoritative auto magazines in the West. The message is loud and clear. It isn't just Chinese products which are faulty or defective.

It may be just a photo and a few words, but how the image of the belittled Japanese bowing to Chinese consumers must have bloated the ego of the conceited nation.