Monday, June 30, 2008

Michael Turner, RIP

Aw, man ... another bites the dust.  This has been a sad year indeed.

I loved Witchblade.  And he was a phenomenal artist.  Never even knew the bloke was ill as he always came across as such a positive, nice guy.  Bloody hell, this just tears me up inside ...

RIP, mate.

From Aspen Comic's Vince Hernandez -

Hello all,

Unfortunately it's with great sadness that I must inform everyone that Michael Turner tragically passed away last night, June 27th at approximately 10:42 pm in Santa Monica, Ca. Turner had been dealing with recent health complications arisen in the past few weeks. More details concerning Turner's passing, and services, will be given shortly.

Anyone wishing to send their condolences to Michael Turner's family is encouraged to send to:

Aspen MLT, Inc.
C/O Michael Turner
5855 Green Valley Circle, Suite 111
Culver City, CA, 90230

Aspen also encourages anyone wishing to make a charitable donation to please send to Michael Turner's requested charities:

The American Cancer Society


The Make-A-Wish Foundation

Turner was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma (a bone-based cancer that attacks the cartilage) in March of 2000, which ultimately cost him his right hip, a portion of his pelvis and several pounds of bone. Turner was very open about his cancer, making convention appearances throughout the entire time, and never giving in to the illness.

Mike got his major break in comics at Top Cow, where he made his name as the artist on Witchblade with a look that was reminiscent of studio founder Marc Silvestri, but was all his own. His work was highly in demand throughout his career, and he was a frequent cover artist for a diverse number of series over the years. Turner’s style influenced many artists in the new millennium, probably more than Turner himself ever realized.

Turner’s creator-owned Fathom debuted in 1998, and in 2002, he left Top Cow to found his own Aspen MLT, Inc. where he saw Fathom resurface, along with other projects such as Soulfire and Ekos. Turner had done a significant portion of work at DC early in the decade, providing covers for Identity Crisis and Flash, as well as for the “Godfall” arc in the Superman titles (which he co-wrote), and the interior art for “Supergirl from Krypton” in Superman/Batman, where he and writer Jeph Loeb re-introduced Supergirl into the modern DC Universe. More recently, he had been providing variant covers for Marvel titles, such as next month’s Uncanny X-Men #500. At his most recent convention appearances, both Turner, and later Aspen representatives spoke of how the artist was eager to complete his obligations to other companies, so he could finally get back to work on his own projects at Aspen.

Despite his illness, Turner was one of the most upbeat people at conventions and in the industry. He always radiated a sense of humility and gratitude to his fans, and always had time for a quick chat or a smile. In an industry that can and has beat the happiness out of many creators, Mike was resistant to it, and was ever happy to work and talk to his fans, and even talk to the press. From the first moment you met him, you were his friend, and he treated you like he'd known you all his life.

Since his initial diagnosis in 2000, Turner had several ups and downs, but, surely thanks in part to his positive attitude, he was seen as the guy who was going to beat it, and be drawing for years to come - he just had to kick this thing first. Mike was 37.

Solange S'Orange

There are days I really feel good about my self.  Not today as I am sick as a dog.  If the dog had asthma, bronchitis and the voice of Rod Stewart. 

Well, until I saw this photo of Solange Knowles.

And suddenly I felt marginally better.

Who the hell let her out of the house looking like that?  Beyonce, did you do that?  Why you be hating like that?  Tina, you designed that dress, didn't you?  How many times must I tell you to get some Barbie dolls and stop inflicting your daughters with your fashion mishaps?

The girl is 22 and she looks like a 32-year-old, failed showgirl from Vegas.  Or a Miss Clueless beauty pageant.

Come on!  It's even worse as her elder sister actually looks classy and fresh next to her while she looks like a hot, tranny mess.

That orange rosette explosion of putridness should be ejected into space.  Except alien invasion will definitely happen light years from now when they mistake that for a hostile attack.

For the love of all that's holy, someone give that girl a makeover!

Social Viagra Treads Stepford Footprint

What next?  A pill for the terminally stupid to give them some semblance of cognitive thought?  I bet that would sell like hot cakes.

Will this lead to a Stepford planet now?  I can just see the ads for this.  

Are you a social moron?  Try Social Viagra to keep you up and perky night, noon and morn!

Be shy no more!  With Oxytocin, you can score!

Wanna be James Bond instead of James Scorned?  Use Oxytocin - they'd be shaken & stirred!

I think I just made myself ill ...

Shyness drug could boost confidence

Last updated: 7:36 PM BST 22/06/2008

A drug that combats shyness and social awkwardness, dubbed "social Viagra", could be developed after scientists investigated a hormone released by new mothers.

Scientists in the US found that oxytocin, a natural hormone that assists childbirth and helps mothers bond with newborn babies, helps reduce anxiety and calm phobias.

There are also signs it may help people with autism.

Teams in the US, Europe and Asia are now racing to commercialise a drug based on the hormone, which can be produced synthetically.

Paul Zak, a professor of neuroscience at California's Claremont Graduate University, who has tested the hormone on hundreds of patients, said: "Tests have shown that oxytocin reduces anxiety levels in users. It is a hormone that facilitates social contact between people. What's more, it is a very safe product that does not have any side effects and is not addictive."

The research has been backed up by studies in other countries.

Researchers at Zurich University in Switzerland were able to ease symptoms of extreme shyness in 120 patients by giving them oxytocin hormone treatment half an hour before they encountered an awkward situation.

A spray of the hormone has also been successfully trialled at the University of New South Wales.

Millions of people in the UK suffer from shyness, and one-in-10 people say it seriously affects their daily life. Some resort to drink or illegal drugs to help overcome their awkwardness.

As well as being released by mothers after childbirth, the hormone is believed to make people more generous. Research shows that the higher the natural level of oxytocin people have in their brain, the more likely they are to give money to charity and act kindly towards strangers. It has also been shown to increase the level of monogamy in rodents.

There is speculation that oxytocin might be able to help new mothers who have trouble bonding with their babies or orphans whose mental scars from neglect make it hard for them to love adoptive parents.

It could have other commercial benefits. For instance, it could be sprayed in restaurants to put diners at ease, or be used as an alternative to tear gas to calm rioters.

Story from Telegraph News:

The Devil Wears Prada, The Pope Wears Down PETA

I did not even know this but apparently the current pope has been labelled as the "Prada Pope".  Our man was even included by Esquire in its best-dressed men's list!  Really???  I wonder if it is going to become a habit - bada ching!  Sorry.

And I thought he was German.  "Burda Pope" might be more appropriate, ja?  

Dude, you're a fashionista and I didn't even know it!  Maybe being Catholic can be hip instead of a target for bad quips.

But perhaps my ignorance was bliss as it turns out all to be total hogwash.  

And all because ye ole Pope Benedict XVI wore red loafers.  And ermine.  I guess the devil may wear Prada but the Pope does not do communion with PETA.

Vatican paper says pope does not wear Prada

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The devil may wear Prada — but the pope does not. According to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the bright red loafers that Pope Benedict XVI wears are not designed by the Milanese fashion house, as has long been rumored.

"Obviously the attribution was false," the Vatican newspaper said in its Thursday's editions.

"Such rumors are inconsistent with the simple and somber man who, on the day of his election to the papacy, showed to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and to the whole world the sleeves of a modest black sweater," it said.

Still, Benedict's fashion sense has often drawn media attention.

Three years ago around Christmas, he showed up for his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square wearing a fur-trimmed stocking cap that could have passed for a Santa Claus hat. The hat, as it turned out, is a "camauro," which dates back to the Middle Ages and figures in many papal portraits.

On a separate occasion, Benedict sported a sumptuous red velvet cape trimmed in ermine — another piece of traditional papal attire that had long been abandoned.

L'Osservatore Romano said the pope's interest in clothes has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with liturgy — what symbolism traditional garments can bring to the Christian liturgy.

"The pope, therefore, does not wear Prada, but Christ," L'Osservatore said.


Yohji Bear

There is hope for all hobos.  This man is apparently a model.  Not just a model.  A haute couture runway show model for Yohji Yamamoto's latest Paris menswear collection.


Milk of Dignity

Feminists everywhere are probably going to lynch me for saying this but ... what bollocks.

OK, of course, breast feeding is a wonderful thing.  Between mother and child.  But it should not be inflicted on the unsuspecting and uncomfortable.  Sure it is a natural thing.  So is pissing.  But if a bloke unzipped, took out his willy and started pissing in public view, he would get bloody arrested, wouldn't he?

So this is totally double standards, is it not?

Loads of women breast feed in public.  I've seen them.  They drape this cloth over their shoulder and their feeding spawns to hide their boobies from pervy or horrified eyes.  It's really considerate and discreetly classy.

But to demand your right to breast feed in public as a constitutional, human amendment right is a bit much.  It's like asking for extra pay to take leave to nurse your sick child while your single colleagues have to cover your duties with no compensation.  It's a trite bit unfair and what about the rights of the singletons?  Or the blokes having to hold their wee in while in search of the loo?

It's not as if the breast feeding mums can't go to the loo to breast feed too.  

I remember a girlfriend who called me up in tears years ago.  It was early morning and I was in the office when a weeping woman wailed over the phone.  It was her 30th birthday and she was going through some emotional depression at reaching that hallmark without anything to show for it.  So she hied herself off to the nearest McDonalds to drown her sorrows in a McMuffin and dishwater coffee when a woman and her baby sat at the opposite table.

And proceeded to open her blouse, take out her boobie and breast feed in full view of my girlfriend.

Who promptly burst into tears and called me in the office in hysterics.

I was in hysterics myself at the thought of a woman baring her boobies with such impunity in public.

I never forgot that incident and have developed a deep phobia of going to McDonalds in the morning for breakfast in case of boobies flashing.

So the Italian mums protest that showgirls reveal their boobies so why can't they?  My dears, people pay money to see showgirls.  I reckon some people might pay you to put yours away.  And usually the telecast of gratuitous boob flashing are during the hours when kids are safely in bed.

And boobies are not a sexual thing?  Well, loads of blokes' willies are not sexual things too and more of laughable things but you'd get them arrested in a shot if they flashed those at you, wouldn't you?

Come on, be fair here ... and where's your dignity?

Thus, I am against the mass demonstration of rabid boob flashing by breast feeding mums with overdeveloped sense of entitlement.  OK, they should be allowed to breast feed if they cover up with the cloth tent act or go to the loo but no nekkid boob should be shown.  Hey, there might be young, impressionable kids besides your own around.  They could be scarred for life!

So ... Yes, you are entitled to breast feed where and when you wish.  And yes, we are entitled to call the cops on you for indecent exposure.

06/25/2008 03:26 PM


Italian Mothers Hold Mass Public Nursing

Whether it's dealing with the squeamish people or oglers, women often feel uncomfortable about breast-feeding in public. This week, a group of 100 women in Rome held a nurse-in to protest what they see as Italy's unfair stigmatization of women who nurse on the street.

Protesting social attitudes that stigmatize breast-feeding in public in Italy, more than 100 mothers gathered in Rome on Tuesday for a public mass-nursing aimed at bringing attention to the matter.

"People still give a start when they see a woman breast-feeding," Grazia Passeri, president of Salvamamme (Save Mothers), told the Italian news agency ANSA, "but they have to learn that a breast is not just a sexy object." Passeri's organization promotes mothers' rights and is currently running a campaign with the slogan, "I'll Nurse Where I Feel Like It."

Pointing out the irony that Italian television is full of lightly or un-clad women, Passeri added: "It's ridiculous that showgirls can show their (breasts) but mothers can't."

One of the participants in Tuesday's mass-nursing, told ANSA that, when she breast-feeds in public: "They give me evil looks, but I do it anyway."

Although the World Health Organization has labeled breast-feeding "the ideal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development," many societies still feel squeamish about seeing women breast-feed in public.

In England, for example, breast-feeding in public can still be punished under public order laws and laws of public decency. That will soon be changing, though, as the government hopes to push through new laws by the end of the year.

"We intend to make clear in the equality bill that it's not acceptable for women who are breast-feeding their babies to be shooed out of restaurants, public galleries and other public places," Harriet Harman, the leader of the House of Commons, told MPs last Thursday, according to the Guardian.

A similar nurse-in was held in November 2006, when women gathered to nurse in public at 31 airports throughout the United States to protest after a flight attendant kicked a passenger off a plane for breast-feeding her daughter.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Brazilian Waxing Unlyrical

This is bloody cruel, I say. It's not enough that women typically suffer from extreme anxiety over the state of their bodies when they have to put on their bathers ... they had to start attacking a leggy 5ft 11 Victoria Secret model for being fat.

Karolina Kurkova was recently attacked by the Brazilian press for having "back fat, love handles and cellulite on her butt". They were apparently "horrified" when the 24-year-old strutted the runway at a recent Cia Maritima show looking "uncharacteristically chubby".

Yo. Get a grip. If that is chubby I would hate to hear what they call Britney Spears.

OK, so Kurkova is not looking as fit and toned as she used to, which is rather unfortunate for someone at her age. But by no means is she chubby.

And don't forget the camera piles on weight on most women. I look like a chubby chipmunk on film when I weigh almost the same as one. Which is why I try to avoid cameras.

I reckon Kurkova has just been laying off the exercise the last couple of months and forgot to spray before going out on the runway. 

Still, as one of the highest paid models in the industry who allegedly earns $5 million annually with her famous body, she does have a responsibility to keep it in top shape during a swimwear runway show.

From a business point of view, it is not her weight that is the problem. But when the media and public get hung up on her alleged weight and no one remembers the swimwear line, it is clear than that she has failed in her job.

Note to self: Hit gym before wearing bikini when in Brazil.

Small Balls, Big Faux Pas

And people wonder why I am nervous about speaking Chinese or Korean.

Most of my language skills are self-taught. Learnt laboriously through a bizarre combination of comics, kungfu movies, books, dictionaries and friends.

As such, it means my pronunciation is highly dubious and my comprehension severely suspect.

Thus, I try not to massacre the languages unless forced to. I've seen and heard too many horror stories of people committing major faux pas with the best intentions.

Like the recent one I heard.

I was speaking with a young Chinese lady who is living in Korea. Her Korean is probably worse than mine which made her recounting of this story doubly funny.

When we were introduced, the hostess mistakenly introduced her to me as Korean so I immediately greeted her in Korean and did the formal introduction of my name. To which she started and, thinking I was Korean, she hesitantly returned the greeting in even more mangled Korean than mine.

When we realised we were both not Korean (no! really?!!), it was with much relieved laughter and embarrassment. Then I tried to speak Chinese, which sent us both into another level of hilarity.

Finally, out of pity, she asked that I speak in English. I was pathetically grateful.

We started chatting about the Korean culture and language and she told me the story of how her American boss bollocked up his first big presentation to a large local client.

According to her, he went into the boardroom and greeted them by something she verbalised as "chanmaneul". I have never heard this before and the closest I can think of is "cheukamaneul" which is, probably, totally the wrong spelling but essentially means "wait a minute" or "wait".

However, she informed me that it was a major boo boo by her boss as it means "You have small balls". Or so she was told by her Korean colleagues. 

It did not help that the clients were all Koreans. And males.

Although I have not, as yet, insulted anyone's private parts unintentionally in a foreign language, I have had my share of language faux pas.

Like when I asked "whose flying brother's boat and ship" was about when someone was talking about an email in Chinese. And accidentally frightened someone to death when I told him "I love" ("sarang") him because he was interesting when I meant to refer to "people" ("sarahm") as interesting, in Korean. And I inadvertently called someone a biatch when I meant to say she was crazy in Thai. Not that that made much of a difference, really, as she incidentally happened to be both.

It makes me highly nervous using my uncertain language skills but I reckon if you do not practise it, you will lose it.

So till I tell someone, unintentionally, his balls are small, I shall continue to blunder my way through.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hat Prick

This is beyond sick and asinine.  It's like when you catch your husband in bed with another woman and he asks for clemency citing the fact that he used a condom out of concern about your well-being.

Except this is a hundred times worse.

And not only did this imbecile think wearing a condom made the rape right, he made his own daughter a prostitute by giving her about USD2 each violation.

The man, if you can call him that, should be castrated.  While wearing a condom.  Maybe that will mitigate the ball-less wonder of the sick bastard.

Rapist dad: I used condoms


PUTRAJAYA: He used a condom every time he raped his daughter. For that precaution, the rapist said he should get a lighter sentence.

This mitigation riled Court of Appeal judges Tengku Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud, Datuk Sulong Matjeraie, Datuk Ahmad Maarop and those in the court gallery.

His counsel S.I. Rajah mitigated that the sentence imposed on the accused was excessive. 

"Justice should be tempered with mercy. 

"The accused used a condom every time he committed the offence," the lawyer said.

"You mean it is okay to rape using a condom?" asked Tengku Baharudin.

Rajah had no reply.

roti canai seller, now 49, appealed against sentence because he was a first offender and was remorseful for his action.

Four years ago, the Sessions Court in Petaling Jaya sentenced the accused to a total of 36 years in jail and 20 strokes of the rotan on four counts of rape.

Sulong, who delivered the court ruling, said the appellate court found no reason to disturb the sentence of the Sessions Court. 

He said the sentence was appropriate to send a strong message that such an act should not be condoned and to protect society.

According to the facts of the case, the 
roti canai seller raped the girl between May 2003 and August 2004. 

The offences took place at their home at night when the mother had gone to work.

The victim was then between 11 and 12 years old.

Deputy public prosecutor Aslina Joned told the court that the accused, a father of five, had betrayed the trust of his daughter.

Aslina said the father would give the victim RM5 as a reward every time he raped her.

A class teacher noticed her to be in a state of depression and the girl told her what had happened.

Police arrested the man on Aug 12, 2004, and he pleaded guilty to the charges in the Sessions Court a week later.

On the first three counts, the then Sessions Court judge Nurmala Salim sentenced him to 18 years' jail and five strokes of the rotan for each offence. The sentences to run concurrently.

He was sentenced to a further 18 years' jail and five strokes of the rotan for the fourth count.

Nurmala ordered this sentence to run consecutively.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Algae Fuelled

I saw this article about the Japanese research into another alternative fuel resource.  It's fairly interesting and promising at first sight.  Then you think how this would affect the ecosystem.

If the main resource comes from the sea which makes up a majority of the earth's surface, how would that ultimately affect not just the terrestrial landscape but also the atmosphere?  I can picture the seas drying up, our marine life deteriorating at an alarming rate and even greater stratospheric ozone depletion.

So, the Japanese will look into creating industrialised algae fields.  From the article, we would be talking about serious geographic coverage in order to fuel the world's supply.  So what?  We are going to be one giant algae plantation?  Again, this has serious implications for our ecosystem.

And from the human race's checkered track record, it is highly likely that the natural ocean beds will be ultimately stripped naked to harvest the algae, regardless of the legal and industrialised algae plants.

Maybe high-rise hydroponics algae manufacturing plants?  Something that will not impact our already beleaguered ecosystem?  Surely Mother Nature has had more than her share of nips, tucks and "enhancements" that we should leave her alone before more parts of her falls off like Michael Jackson's nose?

Still, it would be good that we have alternative sources of fuel but when would this end?  We rape and totally destroy one resource after another to fuel our never-ending greed?  Is that what being human is about?

Ah, I think I should go give my brain a rest and have some seaweed soup ...

June 14, 2008

Japanese scientists create diesel-producing algae

Under the gleam of blinding lamps, engulfed by banks of angrily frothing flasks, Makoto Watanabe is plotting a slimy, lurid-green revolution. He has spent his life in search of a species of algae that efficiently “sweats” crude oil, and has finally found it.

Now, exploiting the previously unrecognised power of pondlife, Professor Watanabe dreams of transforming Japan from a voracious energy importer into an oil-exporting nation to rival any member of Opec.

The professor has given himself a decade to effect this seemingly implausible conversion: Japan’s export-led economics have always been shaped by their near 100 per cent dependence on foreign energy. In the present world economic climate, those economics are looking especially fragile.

“I believe I can change Japan within five years,” the Professor told The Times from his laboratory in Tsukuba University. “A couple of years after that, we start changing the world.”

The algae, he believes, will spearhead enormous changes to the way that energy is produced and to the explosive geopolitics that have developed around the global thirst for fossil fuels. They could also overturn the current debate on corn and sugar-based biofuels. It is madness, he says, for humanity to pursue sources of energy that compete with its own stomachs when there is a far purer source that does not sitting in a test tube in his laboratory.

Professor Watanabe’s vision arises from the extraordinary properties of the Botryococcus braunii algae: give the microscopic green strands enough light – and plenty of carbon dioxide – and they excrete oil. The tiny globules of oil that form on the surface of the algae can be easily harvested and then refined using the same “cracking” technologies with which the oil industry now converts crude into everything from jet fuel to plastics.

The Japanese Government has supplied him with hefty grants to work on ways of industrialising the algae cultures. The professor admits that there is much work to be done to bring the financial and environmental costs of creating algae oilfields down to reasonable levels: to meet Japan’s current oil needs would require an algae-filled paddyfield the size of Yorkshire.

But – in laboratory conditions at least – the powers of Botryococcus braunii are astonishing. A field of corn, when converted into biofuel ethanol, may produce about 0.2 tonnes of oil equivalent per hectare. Rapeseed may generate around 1.2 tonnes. Micro algae can theoretically produce between 50 and 140 tonnes using the same plot of land.

The discovery of Botryococcus braunii and its precious excretions has taken years. The oil-producing properties of Botryococcus algae have been known for decades, but the volume and quality varies between species.

There remain, however, substantial obstacles before cars and aircraft are all running on algae. Although field tests have proved that there is little technical difficulty in breeding or harvesting the algae, the sums do not add up. A prospective algae-breeding oil concern would either have to invest billions of dollars in expensive breeder tanks – at a cost of around three times what the oil would sell for on the international market over the lifetime of the tanks – or find an enormous expanse of well-irrigated land in a country where labour can be bought very cheaply. It is for this reason that Professor Watanabe believes the world’s first algae farms will be constructed in countries such as Indonesia or Vietnam.

You've Been Served

This was apparently served to a woman in a noodle stall in Singapore.

High Rising G-String of Death

It's finally happened. G-strings can maim.

No, not because they will floss in unmentionable places and cause further expansions of certain body cavities as accused by some naysayers.

But because they can blind you.

Victoria's Secret is out. They are actually terrorists from the underbelly of society. A Los Angeles victim, (yes, a woman) is suing the bottoms peddlers of injuring her eye with their G-string.

No, no ... they did not flash her. Or rather a metallic piece from the G-string caused her life to flash before her eyes momentarily. Apparently, a decorative metal bit from the Victoria's Secret "low-rise v-string" propelled itself off the garment and went for her eye.

This vicious attack on Macrida Patterson, 52, happened last May.

The "Sexy Little Thing" (no, not Ms Patterson ... I think) touted by Victoria Secret as "Easy. Breezy. It's the natural choice", lived up to its breezy claim by flying in the face of the wearer. The victim filed a product liability lawsuit against the knickers knock-outs, which did not claim any monetary damages but insisted that a "design problem" in the thong caused damage to her cornea.

This, in turn, caused Ms Patterson to miss a few days of work, which will now be affecting her for "the rest of her life". 

I think the last may be a bit of a thin line of contention.

Strangely, Patterson refused Victoria's Secret's lawyers' requests to examine the alleged faulty garment. I am sure they meant to examine it while she was not in them, which makes her skew-eyed coyness a bit suspect.

Perhaps Patterson should look on the bright side of things. She wanted no visible panty lines. Well, no vision may be the solution. Perhaps VS was trying out a new strategy ...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Korean Engrish

Buying T-shirts in Asia can be rather entertaining. You see a nice one that is well-constructed and tailored (read: makes you look hot) and then you read the words in the front. Or back, sometimes.

Walk feild. See drims. Happy together.

Here we go loop de joop.

Cat happy. Miuow.

Say what? Er, pass ...

I suppose it's similar to seeing some white dude with a huge tattoo on his arm. It's a Chinese character and you can tell he thinks it's bitchin'. Except the words says Happy. If it was read in reverse image. It's the wrong way round, mate.

So it was with some amusement that I received an email of the new promotional poster of a rather famous singer (sic) in Korea, with the unfortunate name of Li Hyori, who has launched her latest album.

It is even more ironic as the warbler has a rather risque image (well, for Koreans anyway) and everyone who can speak English in Korea is sniggering at it.

I rid poster. Laugh small big. Now and just now.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Surmount on the Mounds

This woman, aka Maxi Mounds, just entered the Guinness World Records. No guesses what for. 

Her measurements are 36MMM and weigh 9 kg on each side. The rest of her details are mounted on her comp card.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Congratulations ... Or Not

I was rather amused to see a retraction in one of the papers today.

It said -

My apologies to Amber Aikens, delightful wife of Chelsea restaurateur Tom, whom I said yesterday was pregnant. In fact, she tells me she is not. 

Crikey. I hope the editor, sub-editor and reporter managed to get their Manolos out from their mouths safely.

Growing up, I was taught to give up my seat to old people, very young kids and women with a bun in the oven. Being a good little girl, I did that on a regular basis. Until the day I gave up my seat to a lady on the bus and got yelled at. Apparently she wasn't preggers. She was just kind of chubby and terribly hormonal.

Well, that taught me. After that I would eye women suspiciously. Unless they were severely and blindingly preggers, I was not going to risk a bollocking by trying to be kind.

Then there was the time I was at a dinner party and met a couple I had not seen in ages. She was much bigger than before and wore a big, billowy gown that could pass for a Cirque du Soleil tent. 

So I congratulated her in total delight on being preggers. And wanted to die a thousand deaths when she frostily informed me she was not preggers. Yes, we are still friends although I had to grovel big time.

But I got my own comeuppance.

I was in a taxi in Singapore after spending the day shopping and doing the ladies who lunch thing. I remember I was wearing a red salwar kameez. The taxi driver was extremely friendly and when I reached my hotel, he very solicitously asked me to be careful and to watch my steps as I got out.

I was a bit puzzled but thought, what a nice guy!

And then he congratulated me on my pregnancy.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ring Around A Domestic

There's a lovely young couple, of whom I am rather fond, who will be getting married soon.  They spend a lot of their time playing games together. Not that kind of games, you bunch of pervs. Proper board games. Carom (*picture of carom match from, backgammon, scrabble ...

Anyway, they are always together and their good humoured bickering during games are quite entertaining and often divides us into two distinct camps. When I am there, the wife-to-be and I will form the "I pity you weaker sex" brigade, sending the husband-to-be wailing for male reinforcements. When the blokes huddle in unity, they try to lord it over us only to retreat sheepishly when the wife-to-be threatens to tell his mum. He's deathly afraid of his mum.
So, I had the chance to catch up with them this week and heard them arguing semi-seriously for the first time since I have known them.

The cause? 


They have been shopping furiously to furnish their new apartment before the wedding. The wedding preparations, from the gowns to watches to china, are taking their toll.

But nothing can tear a affianced couple faster than an over-sticky band-aid ... than ... THE 

I should know. I've been engaged more times than some people have had boyfriends and my jewelry case used to boast an array of engagements rings until my embarrassment made me auction them away for charity.

I know all about cut, carat, clarity, colour and catastrophe.

First comes the pressure, on the poor bloke, to worry about what kind of ring he should get. Traditional diamond? Or something more modern and unconventional? Like a coloured stone? What if she thinks he's being cheap? What if it is the wrong colour? What if she thinks he's trying to imply she is not pure (Asian context here)? 

Oh bugger it ... off to the pub for a pint.

While there, the clueless male asks some of his mates for advice. He fails to notice that half of them are pissed. The other half never had a girlfriend before. And those who had would rather die first than get hitched.

No worries, he asks the total stranger next to him wearing a wedding ring for advice.

The bloke says, "Get a diamond. Small one. Safer."

He's mighty grateful and fails to notice the counseller is a middle-aged twat who's just been kicked out of his house for playing hide the sausage with the nanny. Which was why he was going to try to sleep on the pub floor that night.

So, our man decides on a traditional diamond engagement ring. He brings his best mate with him to a jewelry store.

Bloody hell, there are so many types of diamond rings. And diamonds! What's this brilliant rose and princess slice business? What about the ones in the picture? You know? One diamond on some silver band thingy? Yeah, that one.

What??? 20,000 pounds???? Are ye joking? No? Feck off!

He retreats home to nurse his wounds and to restrategise. He decides to check the girlfriend's preferences.

For weeks, he puts magazines strategically in her path and for once, instead of switching off her chatter when she coos over this or that, he listens.

He casually asks her which picture she thinks is good and which are shite. He takes notes. He sweats. Bloody 'ell, she has expensive taste.

Finally, he makes a decision and goes shopping again. He buys a smallish diamond solitaire with acceptable Cs ... he's not sure what they are but the blokes in the store said they were VS - very sweet. He chooses the cheapest yet reasonably respectable option which is still the amount of some small banana republic's GDP.

So it's all sweat, blood and tears as he sobs over the massive hole in his wallet. Now he had to worry over the proposal. 

This is hard. It has to be romantic. Yet unique. But it must suit her taste. She must not expect it. He had to keep it a secret. 

Bloody hell, back to the pub for a pint. And a pattern forms.

Somehow, our hero manages to pull off the proposal. Girl accepts amid happy tears and a shy pretense of surprise. She's no fool. You think she would not have wondered why he was suddenly interested in her taste in fashion and actually looking at her magazines?

Then out comes the ring.


"Wow, it's so ... dainty."

"Yes, yes, I wanted it to look good on you. Nothing too loud and flashy for a classy babe like you."

"Well, nothing will be flashing alright ... "

Uh oh ...

So they had a huge domestic over the ring. She's annoyed that he did not pay attention to her taste. She hates the traditional solitaires with fussy filigree that he bought her. He thought she liked traditional and classic designs. He'd seen that kind of ring on his mother and aunts.

The size of the diamond was also in contention. Why so small? So they could save for the wedding and honeymoon. 

Those are over in a flash but she would be wearing the ring for life, she sniffed. Why so small? 

He mutters darkly.

Nowadays, the size of the diamond on an engagement ring is equated with the size of the man's love instead of his wallet. 

For some reason, somehow, the cost of a diamond ring is taken as a matter of course. Of course the man has to fork out a diamond ring. Of course cost should not be a consideration. Of course it only matters if the girl likes it.

I am sure glad I am a girlie.

I've been the best female friend male mates have called at all times of the day and night to cry in panic over what ring to buy. I've had to accompany numerous mates on their virgin sojourn to highway robbers disguised as jewelers as they hand over their life-savings, for something that might land them on the living room couch for weeks.

Within my collection of engagement rings was a solid silver band with a minuscule diamond chip that cost all of 40 pounds. It was the first engagement ring my ex-husband gave me. Back then, he was terribly poor and it was all he could afford. 

Actually, the first engagement ring he gave me was the twist tab from a can of soda which I used to flick him on the forehead with. Needless to say, his first proposal was rather unsuccessful. (Not because of the cost of the "ring," mind you.) So were his second, third and ... but that's another story ...

I cherished that ring more than the ridiculously dearer, and vaguely tacky, diamond engagement ring he gave me later to compensate for the first offering. He never understood why I preferred wearing the "el cheapo" ring over the over-blinged doorknob disguised as a ring. 

Our two young friends got into a terrible argument over their engagement ring. It was a pretty, little thing, albeit rather old-fashioned and slightly twee. But this came from a bloke who favours Metallica T-shirts, wears all black and heavy silver chains.

The fact that he even sat through fashion magazines to pick out a pretty little ring is an achievement and testament of his adoration of his bride-to-be.

But our girl was too hurt and humiliated. I think she forgot who they both are and what they are about in her frenzy of romantic fantasy. They are not Prince Charming and Princess Charmed. They do not have the coffers of a small nation to spend on an engagement ring. They have much bigger challenges ahead of them than a piece of carbon pressurised from too much romantic expectations.

I truly felt sorry for both of them.

He has to go back and get her another ring.

She has to get him an engagement watch in return.

That was the compromise as they almost argued themselves out of a wedding. He gets her a "better" ring. She gives him a an engagement gift as well ... a Guess watch he had been eyeing.

Sigh. Young love. 

I've booked my ticket to be there for the wedding but I am not counting on it.

Hanguel Buddha?

I'm not on a Korean bash fest but it just happened that I had the Korean papers to read and a couple of things struck me as odd.

This one has always intrigued me. I remember my history lessons that taught me that Korea and Japan originally started out from Chinese migratory developments. And so it was a bit of a shock to read in some Korean research papers, years later, that they considered themselves the original country from which the Chinese and Japanese ancestry evolved.

Of course, this was explained to me, by some more learned friends, that this was mainly from North Korean propaganda but the statement and argument has persisted throughout the decades.

So, it was with much interest I read that a report from Korea Daily, based on a research paper from Sunkyunkwan University in South Korea, alleged that Buddha was Korean.

Suddenly I had visions of one of the characters in Goodness Gracious Me tying a turban around a bust of Shakespeare and declaring the latter Indian.

The historians in Sunkyunkwan Uni claim that during 700 BC, Koreans living in the southern part of the Korean peninsular ventured across the oceans. Some reached Japan and formed the roots of some of Japan's culture. Other continued their journey such that around 650 BC, they reached the Straits of Malacca, onwards to Bangladesh and then Sakyamuni was born!

Now, the Korean historians are refuting that Sakyumuni was Aryan and an Indian prince. Their proof? His daily activities, which they claimed were very "east asian". They also correlated some of the words from the Buddhist scriptures to Korean, claiming that the former are "transforms" from Korean.

A book of this research is expected to be published at the end of the year. I would be highly curious to read this.


OK, let's take it one at a time. Of course, this is based on my limited knowledge and lack of time to do any conclusive research of my own. So top of head observations are:

Them early Koreans had a worse sense of direction than I do. They went from Korea to Japan. OK, that's not that bad a journey. Then went all the way down to the Straits of Malacca. And then circled back up to go to Bangladesh! Did they do this via land or sea because if it was by sea, that was monumentally daft. If by land, that was superlatively daft.

Also, how did they build the boats? If I remember correctly, iron and metallurgy were not developed till about 500 BC in Korea. And I think ships were not developed till after 100 BC. If they swam, I am surprised the Koreans have not won all the swimming events at every Olympics.

Second, Buddha was Aryan. He was born an Indian prince who gave it all up to find the "truth". It is in most religious scriptures from Buddhists to Sikh. His daily activities? What? That he ate little and only vegetables, fruits and milk products? So did a lot of people globally then. He slept. Koreans did that too. He ate. Wow, so did the Koreans. He went to the loo. By God, so did the Koreans! That's it! He's Korean! Ah, I see ...

And let's look at Buddhanet which states that Buddhism took root in Korea after some Chinese monk went on a conversion spree at around the second half of the AD fourth century. Buddhism was introduced during the Three Kingdom period which ran from around 57 BC to around 668.

Let's see, Buddhism started in China in the first century BC through trade with the Central Asians.

The Central Asians learnt about Buddhism from the Indians in third century BC. 

My maths suck so I cannot understand the Koreans's new maths here. 

The last supporting evidence are the words in the Buddhist scriptures deriving from Korean. Alright, from my understanding when I had to study a little of both Korean and Japanese, the origins of both came from China. Which is why I find kanji rather easy. 

However, I remember my Korean instructor telling me that Korean is not only borrowed from Chinese but a ridiculously large percentage of it is also borrowed from other languages. One of which is Sanskrit. The language in which most Buddhist scriptures are written.

Still, stranger things have happened. I bet when Galileo first announced the world was round, loads of people gasped and choked before they decided they were gonna hang him.

I would be highly interested in reading the findings but at the moment, based on the report in Korea Daily, I am finding it highly amusing.

I hope the reporter does a better job in his follow-up.