Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just another spotty day (spotted this, spotted that)...

Houdini jailed
for throwing
things at taxi

Now that would have made a head-turning headline!

And it would have been technically "accurate" since the story in today's ST (30 Nov) was about this man named Houdini who took things into his own hands (literally) when he got into an angry exchange of words with a cabby. But using that name would be journalistically inappropriate, since he was not the famous Houdini, who is dead anyway. So, ST used a pedestrian headline, correctly so, of course:

Still on throwing things, this National Environment Agency ad below is not about to use the softly-softly reverse psychology "thank you for not littering" approach. No sir, cringe, you wicked litterbug or she'll squash you!...

Then, when I got to my bus-stop, this poster there milked my curiosity:

Aiyoh, have they run out of cows? Or, in the case of what's offered by this logo below, I wonder how these "nuts" taste like:

And the fruit juice ad below, like the one earlier about "45% raisins in raisin buns", stumped me:

I mean, if I'm buying a carton of fruit juice, I'd expect it to be 100% fruit juice. It may have other ingredients but surely it's a no-brainer that the juice portion has to be 100% fruit juice?

But there are very good ads that effectively play on words. Here are two bottle shop names that seem to have the same idea. The first is local, and the second is Australian:

Here's cheers to their creativity!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

International Men's Day? No hard feelings but we just want you to know...

It seems that 10 days ago (19 Nov) the world celebrated International Men's Day.

To mark this auspicious day for "menhood", the Society of Men's Health (Singapore) and drug giant Bayer wants us men to know that...

One in 10 men in Singapore are unhappy with their sex life, with men between the ages of 45 and 49 being the unhappiest of the lot (TODAY, 29 Nov, page T8).

The two organisations had done a survey on the sexual health of 410 local men aged 45 to 64 years old (hmmm, one of the survey designers must have been a Beatles fan; see YouTube song at the end of this posting).

Like me, you must be wondering why all those virile men up till the age of 44 were not surveyed. But, anyway, the study found that one in 10 men surveyed do not have a sexual life at all (again, it's unclear what "sexual life" means; it's also not clear if this one-in-10 person is also the unhappy one above. Would this then mean that once a man gets over that hump -- oops! wrong word --  ie once he's past 49, he's back to being happy with his sex life until he hits 64?).

"The findings are hardly surprising since the same survey also found that more than half of the men in this group (which group? 45 to 59? 45 to 64?) have some degree of erectile dysfunction," the TODAY report said.

One doctor, a consultant urologist, offered this explanation: "Compared to their 30s, men in this group (45 to 49) will see a marked contrast in their erectile performance and libido." [Hence the adage: Make hay while the sun shines.]

Another doctor, a professor, opined: "These men are beginning to feel the pangs of ageing, and hence fear losing the magic of their yesteryears."


Come on, I am sure many men aged 45 to 49 will disagree with the findings, everything else being equal, ie health, fitness, etc.

I wonder what results a similar survey for women will uncover? There is an International Women's Day, but the next one's not until 8 March 2012. Anyway, if men feel they have got a raw deal sex-life wise, as they get older, they can blame Adam for the lousy choice he made when he had the first call, according to this joke:

God appears to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and says he has a gift for each of them. He says: "The first gift is the ability to pee standing up."

Even before Eve had the chance to say anything, Adam blurts out: "Yes, yes, I want that!"

God says, "Okay, as you wish, Adam. Eve, you can have the other gift: multiple orgasms."


Okay, what about 64? There's the wonderful Beatles song, "When I'm Sixty Four":

Monday, November 28, 2011

Don't kay kiang and mess with perfectly good English idioms, hor.

There is an expression in the Hokkien dialect to describe someone or something he or she has done as being smart-alecky (or too clever by half), the result being ultimately an embarrassing failure. That Hokkien term is "kay kiang".

And there is a perfectly good English idiom, "poster child" which, in alternative usage, may be modified to become "poster boy" or "poster girl", to suit the subject's gender. The contemporary meaning of this idiom is "someone who is a typical or quintessential example of something, or who represents a particular cause or ideal".

But for some strange reason, TODAY, in its page one lead story (28 Nov, "Change, from the bottom up: PM"), decided to label MP Denise Phua a "poster woman":

First elected to Parliament in 2006, Ms Denise Phua has, on some occasions, spoken out against Government policies, including criticising the "many helping hands" approach in social services.

Ms Phua, 52, yesterday became the unlikely poster woman for the "new PAP" -- she was singled out by party secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong at the ruling party's annual convention as personifying what a transformed [PAP] needs to become.


Nope, being "kay kiang" and trying to put a different spin to an accepted idiom by tweaking it into "poster woman" just does not work, good usage-wise. Does TODAY feel that a 52-year-old woman cannot be a "poster girl"? Would a story about, say, a senior citizen who still leads a very active life and who is someone we want to hold up as exemplary be called a "poster Ah Pek or poster Ah Um"?

Incidentally, the original meaning of a poster child is a more poignant one (see the hyperlink above). But that usage is less common now.

Also, look out for the PAP's increasing use of the word "advocacy" as its latest buzz word, as it transforms itself. The Young PAP members who -- at the weekend at Speaker's Corner -- spoke out in support of polytechnic students being allowed to pay concessionary public transport fares were said to be engaged in "public advocacy".

And, in PM Lee's speech yesterday, he said: "[Ms Phua] has passionate views, she pushes for them and we give weight to her views and I think we have shifted some of our policies, not all of them, in response to her advocacy because we believe what she says makes sense."


Okay, it's humour time. I'm adding this joke to my "Pearly Gates" collection:

A modern-day cowboy appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

"Have you ever done anything of particular merit?" St. Peter inquired of him.

"Well, I can think of one thing," the cowboy offered. "I came upon a gang of mean-looking bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen. So, I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed
biker and smacked him in his face, kicked his motorbike over, ripped out his nose-ring, and threw it on the ground. I then yelled, 'Now, back off!! Or I'll kick the shit out of all of you!' "

St. Peter was impressed by this man's unswerving chivalry. "When did this happen?"

"Just a couple of minutes ago...".

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quirky signboards...

I had previously posted pictures/comments about quirky signboards, such as "Kampong Chicken Eating House". This one below upset (rightly so) a number of people, and it had to be taken down. The name of the bar in question? Aushwitz.

As reported in the Straits Times (19 Nov), the bar in Circular Road removed its signboard on 18 Nov after some people said they were offended by the similarity of its name -- Aushwitz -- to Auschwitz, the name associated with the infamous World War II German concentration camp in which more than a million people were killed.
The bar had opened last month (October). There has been no follow-up story about its new name. The ST report said the bar's name had in fact been registered as "Auschwitz" ie as in the actual name, but its Singaporean bar manager said he had intended to name the bar Aushwitz, and not as registered.

He said he picked “Aushwitz” from a list of pub names he found off the Internet. He said he did not immediately associate the name with Auschwitz, but he also said he knew that that was the name of a concentration camp. He then said: “I chose it because it was unique."

The ST report noted that a logo of the German beer brand Beck’s next to the bar’s name on the signboard made the association between the German camp and the bar’s name more glaring. Here's the abbreviated ST report on its breaking news page:

Anyway, I'm glad that's one quirky signboard name that has been consigned to the dustbin of history. Here's another signboard -- seen at Jurong Point -- which is merely quirky but not remotely controversial:

Next, you'll see this signboard in a number of the malls here:

But I wonder... what if by coincidence, a Hang Ten shop comes up next to this familiar shop already in the Orchard Road shopping belt:

The last sign put up here is not a signboard but an ad on a shopping mall's wall. There are not many words in it but it does seem quite a mouthful!...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What a week, when eyes go dry and tummy feels bloated!

I found I had zero retention of tears, earlier in the week. Natural tears, necessary to lubricate my eyes, kept draining away; hence my extremely uncomfortable dry eyes. The eye doc said so. The range should be 10-15 (forgot to ask what!) for normal peeps.

So the eye doc suggested that he insert a pair of tear duct plugs (the fanciful name is "punctal plugs"), one into each tear duct (puncta) to block the duct.

The cost of those two tiny rice grain-sized silicon implants? $400 ($200 per eye) for a two-minute job (one minute per eye)!

Moral of this story for young people: If you have steady hands and like to poke people in the eye, go become an eye surgeon! It pays. And at least your shoes won't give you away, as in this -- yet another -- "doctor joke" just told to me today:

Q: In a surgical theatre where everyone is all suited up, how do you tell the difference between the surgeon, the urologist and the anaesthetist?

A: The surgeon has blood on his shoes, the urologist urine, and the anaesthetist coffee.


I also found myself with a bout of feeling bloated. Here's what one website suggested in dealing with this problem (as usual, caveat emptor always on medical tips):

Bloating for beginners First, the basics. Bloating is something that affects most people at some point in their life. "Bloating is a very common problem and is reported in up to 30% of the population in some studies," says Dr Sally Parry, a consultant gastroenterologist. "Subjectively, it's the sensation that is often associated with abdominal distension - the visible increase in abdominal girth. Not everyone who complains of bloating will also have objective abdominal distension. Bloating is commonly associated with people suffering from symptoms of a functional gut disorder of which irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the commonest. IBS is more common in younger women so by default bloating is more likely to be described in this population group."

Food for thought While beans have traditionally been thought of as a cause of bloating, people are often surprised by the wide range of other foods that can have the same effect. "Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower - are some examples of food items that can cause bloating," reveals S. Radi Shamsi MD, a Los Angeles-based gastroenterologist. "Beans are the obvious common answer. Dairy intolerance or a genetic enzyme deficiency can also be a leading cause for a great many individuals. Any dairy product can cause a more gradual onset of these symptoms, along with diarrhoea or constipation."

Chew on this If you're the type of person who crams down a sarnie before rushing out the door, it might be worth changing your eating habits. "Another factor that can lead to bloating is if the body isn't producing enough (or doesn't have enough time to produce) stomach acid or digestive enzymes," points out Angela Walker, a nutritional therapist at Fabulous Nutrition. "Take time to eat, and chew thoroughly - I recommend counting at least 25 chews for the first three mouthfuls of each meal. Chewing properly allows the signals to go to the stomach and pancreas to start secreting digestive juices. Additionally, try having a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of tepid water before each meal - this can help to stimulate the digestive juices."

Bloating and booze It's not just beer that can lead to that bloated feeling - the high sugar content means that most types of alcoholic drink can have the same effect, points out Angela Walker. "Alcohol is a concentrated source of sugar which can be a bloating trigger for some individuals. Sugar also helps to feed the 'unfriendly' bacteria, so this isn't ideal for optimal gut health."

Watch your water intake While water is essential when it comes to keeping our bodies functioning effectively, drinking too much can make it harder for our digestive juices to do their job. "A little water with meals can help digestive juices, but drinking too much can dilute these digestive juices, inhibiting optimal digestion," warns Angela Walker. "So a small glass of water, sipped slowly during a meal, may help. Opt for still rather than sparkling water if bloating is a problem." 

Say yes to yoghurt A recent study conducted by researchers at the University Hospital of South Manchester suggested that probiotic yoghurt drinks can help to reduce bloating by speeding up gastrointestinal transit. "A course of probiotics has been shown to be beneficial in some studies and is definitely worth trialling," agrees Dr Sally Parry. "Similarly, Natural bio yogurt can help. Some people also benefit from golden linseed supplements."

Dough dilemma To complicate matters, the manufacturing processes used to make many of the foods known to cause bloating have also changed. "There are new wheat strains, while farmers are also adding sulphur and nitrogen to wheat toward the end of its growth to boost yields," explains Amanda Griggs, director of health and nutrition at London's Balance clinic. "The resulting flour contains double the wheat protein parts (omega gliadins) which can trigger inflammatory reactions in the gut.

Go easy on the gum If you're prone to bloating, it's all too easy to think that the problem can be cured by cutting down on your food intake, but doing this can have the opposite effect - and don't use diet drinks or chewing gum to stave off hunger pangs, either. "Don't go for long periods without eating," warns Amanda Griggs. "Be sure to eat regular meals. Avoid diet drinks and sugar free gums containing sorbitol - this substance can't be absorbed by the body and will cause gas in the colon."

Sitting uncomfortably? We all know how important posture is when it comes to avoiding back pain, but it's also crucial when it comes to our digestive system. "The reason bloating takes place is the reduced level of production of necessary enzymes needed for digestion and the fact that when we're in a hurry, we don't make time for proper meal," says Amanda Griggs. "We eat under anxiety at our desks. You'll be surprised how sitting hunched over our desk will create gas, through suppressing the spine which in turn supports all of our bodily functions."  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mind over matter? Or a matter of minds and behinds?

Someone has put up on YouTube the Channel News Asia programme "Guardian of Our Skies" -- a tribute to the Republic of Singapore Air Force ((RSAF). Here it is:


From the skies to some down-to-earth humour. This one was sent to me by two friends separately on the same day (note: a proctologist is usually known as a colorectal surgeon here in Singapore):

The Psychiatrist & the Proctologist

Two best friends graduated from medical school at the same time. They decided that, despite their different specialties, they would open a practice together and share the office space and staff.

Dr. Smith, the psychiatrist, and Dr. Jones, the proctologist, did not want to put up the usual boring sign above their shared office. So they came up with this one:

"Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones: Hysterias and Posteriors".

Well, the town council members had no funny bones inside them and they insisted that the two medical specialists change the sign. So, the docs changed it to read:

"Schizoids and Haemorrhoids".

This was also not acceptable, so they again changed the sign to:

"Catatonics and High Colonics".

No go. Next, they tried:

"Manic Depressives and Anal Retentives".

That of course got the thumbs down. Then came:

"Minds and Behinds".

Nope. Another attempt resulted in"

"Lost Souls and Butt Holes".

Unacceptable again!

"Analysis and Anal Cysts".

Not a chance.

"Nuts and Butts".

No way.

"Freaks and Cheeks".

Still no good.

"Loons and Moons".

Forget it. Almost at their wits' end, the docs finally came up with:

"Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones -- Specialising in Odds and Ends".
Everyone from the town council loved it.


So, if a gynaecologist and an undertaker got married, would they offer a "cradle to grave" service?

Okay, last item has also to do with doctors. It's either a very clever play on words or the creation of a bored doctor who has plenty of time or who has run out of patients (or, in the words of someone I know, someone "who is swatting at mosquitoes"):

If one doctor doctors another doctor does the doctor who doctors the doctor doctor the doctor the way the doctor he is doctoring doctors? Or does the doctor doctor the way the doctor who doctors doctors?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I hear the bell go Ding, Dong, she says...

I wrote yesterday about how the gahmen's culture cops went on a silly "anti-decadence" drive in the 1960s and 1970s. Well, there are still culture cops today, but self-appointed citizens on the prowl...

Remember that brouhaha over the Abercrombie & Fitch ad in the Orchard Road shopping district, featuring a shirtless male model in a low-slung pair of jeans?

I had posted my two cents worth, concluding that it was all much ado about nothing, there were more titillating lingerie (and I should add, bust enhancement) ads in the media, and on shop fronts and bus stop posters, etc, and that all that hot air generated was merely giving A&F a lot of exposure and publicity.

Well, MP Baey Yam Keng recently said as much -- and he was excoriated by some obviously ultra-conservative people -- the equivalent of Bible Belt ultras in the US? -- for his decadent views. One couple even said he was unfit to be an MP!

Here's what reported:

Some Singaporeans are voicing their discomfort with MP Baey Yam Keng's "more liberal" views. An email complaint was even sent to ministers, MPs and civil servants accusing Mr Baey of promoting "moral decadence" and "unwholesome values".

The MP had recently tabled a question [in Parliament] to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.

He had asked the minister to explain the Media Development Authority's support for the suspension of the Abercrombie & Fitch ad that featured a topless man. He also wondered how the rules are applied consistently with other kinds of ads like revealing slimming ads and lingerie ads.

His question appeared to have attracted the ire of some, with one couple decrying that he is not fit to be an MP.

Undaunted, Mr Baey wrote on his Facebook page that he believes he was presenting the views of "segments of our society" when he said that he did not find the shirtless jean-wearing torso particularly indecent compared to other ads in Singapore.


Here's the link to the story:

In my posting yesterday about people with long hair being "served last" in bygone years that should be best forgotten, I had missed out on the "Kitaro incident". But MP Baey recalled it, in the story above:

[Mr Baey] noted, "Many years ago, the [renowned Japanese] musician Kitaro was banned from entering Singapore because of his long hair, but we would be a global laughing stock if we insist on applying the same standard today!"


So, now we know that there are prudish people out there with over-imaginative minds. I wonder if they would freak out on seeing this road warning sign, and label it "morally decadent"?...

Still on "cheeky road signs" but on the (clean as a whistle) humorous side, this arrow sign and pedestrian crossing button are a common sight here:

But some cheeky person (or persons) had decided that Singlish "instructions" made more sense, as reported by

The LTA was, of course, not pleased. But no one has been fingered yet (caught with his/her finger on the button?).


Finally, just to put it on the record here, SBS Transit has responded to the ST Forum writer who had encountered a bus driver who only spoke one language: "ding dong"! The company, in its letter today (24 Nov), apologised unreservedly to her and said it is making the effort to ensure its drivers speak basic English at least.

[Just don't teach them the Tsai Chin song with the title "The Ding Dong Song", hor. But if I have now whetted anyone's curiosity, here's the song on YouTube:]

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Those were the days... we said yeah, yeah, yeah; they said no, no, no!

I'm not done with dragons yet. There's still Puff.

Growing up as teens and then young adults in the late 60s and early 70s, many of us became pop music fans because of the rich tapestry of the pop music scene, from folk and soul to rock and rock 'n roll, from the Mersey beat to the Motown sound.

The advent of the cassette tape meant we could bypass the expensive vinyl records and stash up on cheap cassettes. We could even walk into a record shop, select the vinyl albums we wanted but could not afford, and the shop would put the songs onto the cassettes for a fraction of the album's price.

Copyright? Huh, what's that? Those were the days.

But a number of pop musicians came to be associated with drugs. It was the hippy anti-Vietnam War protests era, and certain songs and the long hair sported by many of the male singers came to labelled -- here in Singapore -- as "yellow culture" derived from the "morally decadent West".

And so we woke up one morning (okay, it was probably over a period of time) to find out that certain favourite songs were now banned! I can recall only two. One was "Puff the Magic Dragon", a whimsical and folksy musical sketch of the friendship between a boy and a magically transformed toy dragon. It was first made popular in the mid-1960s by Peter, Paul and Mary. Before I explain why this song of childlike innocence was banned, here are the lyrics:

Puff the Magic Dragon
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail.
Noble kings and princes would bow whenever they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flag when puff roared out his name. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.


Here, on YouTube, is the original Peter, Paul and Mary 1966 concert version:


So why was the song banned here? It was claimed that it was about "puffing the magic drag-in" ie smoking pot. Sheesh!

The other song I remembered that was banned was the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Again, why? Because within the song, the culture cops intoned, was reference to the hallucinogen LSD.! [The BBC, it seemed, also banned it!]

Here are the facts (but note Paul McCartney's take) about this 1967 musically exquisite song penned by John Lennon for the album "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band":


Finally, young people today will likely find it ridiculous but there was a time, in the 1970s, when males with long hair were served last at government counters:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Brief History of Dragons.

First, there are dragons that are not dragons, such as...

This one above is "Doc", a komodo dragon at Honolulu Zoo. Komodo dragons are the world's largest lizards, growing to a length of 10 feet (about three metres) and are found in the wild on certain Indonesian islands including one named Komodo. To learn more about this dragon that is not a dragon, see Honolulu Zoo's website:

There are of course dragon flies:

They are related to butterflies, and -- get this! -- they first appeared in the Devonian period about 380 million years ago. Here's a link:

And there are dragon flies you want to have nothing to do with:

This one above is the Cessna A37 Dragonfly, used by the Americans during the Vietnam War. Thankfully, they are mostly extinct by now.

Of course there is the fire-breathing dragon of western mythology, such as:

Oops! This one's a friendly one. But you've seen the fierce ones in the movies. Finally, there is the Chinese Zodiac dragon. You'll be seeing more of this type, 2012 being the Year of the Dragon for the Chinese. Here's a typical fella (from Webweaver;s collection):

So, you would expect to see a "Chinese-looking" dragon on, you know, those calendars we get here in Singapore complete with horse racing dates. But, this picture (below) which I received the other day has a western one prominently displayed and a crouching Chinese dragon!

Is there a hidden meaning to this juxtaposition (ie, apropos my previous posting on the intensifying US-Chinese rivalry?) Nah, I think it's just the calendar designer's lazy way of looking up available clip art pictures.

For the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with this type of calendar -- with race dates prominently marked out, and which once adorned the homes of nearly every Chinese household in the region -- here's a peek:

Thus ends my Short History of Dragons.

Monday, November 21, 2011

China... no longer a crouching dragon!

There is an old saying (of African origin, I believe) that "whether elephants make love or make war, the grass gets trampled".

In the emerging competition for global power and influence between the United States and China, tiny countries like Singapore will want to find ways and means to avoid being such fodder.

The stakes are high in the Asia-Pacific. The US and China will sometimes make love, ie cooperate; and sometimes make war -- unlikely to be in terms of military conflict but likely to be rivalry by other means, including asking regional countries "Can I count on you on this issue?".

As I indicated yesterday, a lot of the emerging dynamic in Southeast Asia will depend on whether the US remains a "stayer" in this part of the Asia-Pacific. No one doubts China's increasing shadow over Southeast Asia.

The South China Sea issue encapsulates one dilemma facing regional countries -- how to deal with the Chinese dragon without appeasing it or causing it to breathe fire. That's easier said than done because several regional countries are themselves rival claimants.

Hence the ASEAN countries have had a dismal record of standing united on the South China Sea issue. But something unusual happened last Saturday: At the East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia, 15 of the 18 member countries -- including all the ASEAN states except Cambodia and Myanmar -- lock-stepped and put China on the defensive over its expansive claims to the disputed archipelago and its waterways.

China is unlikely to forget its diplomatic humiliation last Saturday. The New York Times reported the incident, and TODAY has published it (21 Nov, "How China's tune changed under pressure at the East Asia Summit", page 4). Here is the link:

Another must-read is an opinion piece in the New York Times by Chinese scholar Yan Xuetong, with the provocative headline "How China can defeat America". Do read it!

Here are Yan's concluding remarks from his article:

"Over the next decade, China's new leaders will be drawn from a generation that experienced the hardships of the Cultural Revolution. They are resolute and will most likely value political principles more than material benefits. These leaders must play a larger role on the world stage and offer more security protection and economic support to less powerful countries.

"This will mean competing with the United States politically, economically and technologically. Such competition may cause diplomatic tensions, but there is little danger of military clashes.

"That's because future Chinese-American competition will differ from that between the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war. Neither China nor America needs proxy wars to protect its strategic interests or to gain access to natural resources and technology.

"China's quest to enhance its world leadership status and America's effort to maintain its present position is a zero-sum game. It is the battle for people's hearts and minds that will determine who eventually prevails. And, as China's ancient philosophers predicted, the country that displays more humane authority will win."


I'm still thinking about that excellent cartoon from The New Paper on Sunday (13 Nov) in which the Marina Bay Sands complex and the Gardens by the Bay's Flower Dome were melded to look like the Loch Ness monster. I found two pics online that must have served as the artist's inspiration:


Incidentally, today marks my 365th posting!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Something serious, something light...

The recent flurry of Asia-Pacific talkfests -- from APEC to the ASEAN-centred summits -- foreshadows a possible competition for influence in this region between the United States and China. I say "possible" because much of the intensity and quality of such a competition will depend on the "staying power" of the US.

Given the likelihood of a closely fought US presidential election in 2012, that it is possible the Republicans will come into power, and that nearly all in the current slate of GOP presidential wannabes are not internationalists (former Asia-based diplomat Jon Huntsman only has an outside chance), it is heartening to see President Obama push through a number of initiatives on his recent itinerary.

The decision to rotate US marines through northern Australia (Darwin) is one such strategic initiative that is within the cost calculus of the US, given its present economic circumstances.

Singapore, unlike Australia, is not a US treaty ally but it has been given the moniker "strategic partner". Indeed, since the 1990s, the US has been rotating -- not marines -- but a detachment of F-16 fighters through Singapore. Changi Naval Base is frequently visited by forward-deployed US aircraft-carrier strike groups.

The other key indicator of a close US-Singapore strategic nexus is the economic relationship. I'll let this article from Saturday's ST tell that story:

Singapore remains one of the most attractive destinations in the world for United States investors, said the country’s ambassador to Singapore, Mr David Adelman.

Mr Adelman told a panel discussion on the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that total foreign direct investment here from the US stood at US$106 billion (S$137 million) at the end of last year.

“That’s more than US business invested in China, nearly double that of Hong Kong, greater than all of Africa or the Middle East. Singapore remains one of the most attractive destinations in the world for US investors,” he said. The US-Singapore trade deal – the first signed by the US with an Asian country – came into force in 2004.

“Despite its small size and population, Singapore was America’s 13th largest trading partner and 10th largest export market in 2010, generating our fourth largest trade surplus,” said Mr Adelman.

He also pointed out that one of the most important recent developments in the global economy is that in the first quarter of last year, the US’ exports to Asia surpassed its exports to Europe for the first time.

“This is a trend that is not likely to reverse in our lifetimes,” he added. There are more than 2,000 American businesses operating here.

“While some of our FTAs with countries such as Chile, Bahrain and Morocco might have higher trade growth rates, these were accomplished from a much smaller baseline, and trading volumes with those countries are relatively small compared with Singapore,” noted Mr Adelman.

He pointed out that a more useful comparison for the US-Singapore FTA could be the one the US has with Australia.

"With Australia, US exports have grown 53 per cent since our FTA was implemented in 2005, while with Singapore-US exports have grown 76 per cent since our 2004 FTA implementation. Total trade volume with Australia has increased by 39 per cent whereas it has increased by 47 per cent with Singapore."

He described the US-Singapore FTA as America’s most successful bilateral deal.


On a lighter note, I thought this cartoon by artist Lee Hup Kheng, in last Sunday's New Paper, is pretty good:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A story, stripped to the bare truth...

A recent Lianhe Wanbao story (14 Nov), highlighted by, says strippers for parties in Singapore are in demand. Even parents are hiring strippers to celebrate their child's 21st birthday!

One supplier of strippers, a Ms Crystal, Marketing Head of Urs Truly Escorting Agency, told Wanbao that her company is seeing more strippers being hired for 21st birthday parties, as well as stag and hen parties. Each act costs $1,000 to $1,500, and the "action" usually takes place in customers' homes, hotel rooms, or beach resorts.

One female customer said she hired a male stripper because having a naked male dancing in a room full of women "livens up the atmosphere" [ya, I guess the women were all scrambling to get into pole position!].

But [even though every Tom, Dick or Harry seems to strip for a living these days] the local strippers still tend to keep their job a secret from their families.

Bryan, 31, a local part-time male stripper, has been strutting his stuff for the past eight years, but he's still keeping his day job as an administrative assistant.

[Now, here's the interesting bit...] He offered some insights on his job:

* His act lasts 20 minutes and for $300, he'll strip to his underwear. It will cost $400 or more for him to go all the way, ie stark naked [and what will he do for "even more"?].

* His customers are mostly white collar workers in their 20s, including homosexuals.

* He also takes special requests like wearing a policeman's or doctor's uniform, or turning up as a flower delivery boy ["I am the flower boy!"] or hotel staff member.

* One time, when he was performing in a hotel, the women screamed so loudly that guests from other rooms complained.

* Bryan says is "very professional" with his act -- he makes sure he does not get an erection while he is performing. Which, I guess, disqualifies the guy in the picture below from aspiring to be a stripper:

Friday, November 18, 2011

A ding-dong bus driver, a miracle dog, and a series of in-your-face ads...

I have on occasions highlighted letters to the press, describing bizarre incidents.

This one is from Miss Tahiradulnisha Kader Ibrahim, whose letter appeared in today's ST (18 Nov), under this headline:

Extent of bus driver's English vocabulary? 'Ding' and 'dong'

I pressed the bell as SBS Transit's bus service 145 approached my stop... but the driver drove past the place. When I questioned him, the only words I could decipher from his reply were "ding dong", which he kept on uttering [shucks, the writer should have taken a video clip and uploaded it on YouTube!].

After alighting at the next stop, I [called the SBS Transit's hotline and] reported the matter... The staff replied that someone from the company would get back soon. No one did, and my subsequent email to SBS went unanswered...

SBS should improve its courses for teaching basic English and customer service. Drivers should [be required to] pass a practical test in handling customers and speaking in English in a variety of circumstances.


Daniel the miracle dog

This next item is a heart-warming one, about a beagle that cheated certain death -- execution by gas chamber! The pooch has since been called "Daniel the miracle dog". I'll let this YouTube video clip tell this adorable canine's amazing story:

I have an especially soft spot for this breed, since one of my dogs, Brady, is a beagle:


In your face!

The last item today is a controversial ad campaign by Benetton. Here is's story, with the link below:

A very unorthodox ad campaign has attracted massive international controversy. The ads in the "Unhate" campaign from the United Colors of Benetton features photos of unlikely pairs of world leaders locking lips with each other [such as] US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao; North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak; and Pope Benedict XVI and Imam Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb.

The Vatican swiftly issued a condemnation of the ad campaign, calling it "a serious lack of respect for the Pope and an affront to the feelings of the faithful".... [Benetton said the] ads were presented as a way to promote "unhate", and are said to make a statement of brotherhood with a kiss.

ST ran the story (18 Nov) with what I thought was an uninspiring headline:

A better headline would be:

'In your
face' ads
that rile

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spunky Tao Li on target! Meanwhile, some had 'fired blanks'?

TODAY reporter Tanya Fong did a great job in bringing out battler Madam Choo Hong Eng's spunky attitude to life (see my posting on 11 Nov).

ST reporter Terrence Voon -- filing from Palembang, Indonesia -- has done the same in his story today (17 Nov) spotlighting national swimmer Tao Li ("Tao fights back... She fends off flu, fatigue and most recent loss to smash 100m back mark," page B12):

Palembang: On an evening when even her own trainer had written her off, [diminutive] Tao Li reminded everyone who was the big fish in the [South-East Asia] Games pond.

The first lady of Singapore swimming claimed her sixth gold medal of this [26th SEA Games] Wednesday night, with a superlative swim in the women's 100m backstroke that broke her own Games record and left her new coach Ian Turner happily embarrassed.

"I don't think so," he [had] replied, when asked earlier if his charge -- a butterfly [ie not a backstroke] specialist -- could win the event. "If I had another six weeks with her? Maybe."

As it turned out, Tao Li did not need the extra work.

The 20-year-old was already leading when her head emerged from the water at the 15m mark. And as her rivals fell away with every stroke, it was clear the Singaporean was racing only herself.

She touched home in 1min 2.11sec -- nearly a full second faster than the time she set two years ago in a now-banned supersuit... [her] time was also a new personal best and national record.

All this, from an athlete who was suffering from the flu and the effects of swimming her seventh race in five days.

"It's great," she exulted later. "Before I swam, I was so tired. After my morning race, I felt like I wanted to give up, but Ian talked me through everything."

Tao Li's thoughts were also focused on erasing the memory of her only defeat so far -- the 200m back, when she could claim [only] a bronze...

[Head coach Ang Peng Siong] expects two more golds Thursday, the last night of this year's aquatics competition. One of them will almost certainly come from Tao Li in the women's 50m butterfly, where she is the reigning Asian Games champion.

"Nobody can race me in that one," she boasted [Blog note: Yes, she has since bagged the gold for that event!].


Still on the current SEA Games, both ST and TODAY -- in trying to play on words in crafting their headlines today -- shot themselves in the foot in their reports on the poor showing by our shooters at the Games.

Here are ST's and TODAY's headlines, respectively:

Both newspapers used the expression "fire blanks". Unfortunately, that makes for poor headline writing. The meaning can't be used literally, since the shooters did use actual rounds. As for the idiomatic meaning of  "[to] fire blanks", it's a humorous way of describing a man's inability to impregnate a woman! See:


So, to wrap up, here's a "fire blanks" joke:

A 90-year-old man told his doctor, “My 18-year-old wife is expecting a baby.”

The doctor said, “Let me tell you a story. A man went hunting, but instead of a gun, he picked up an umbrella by mistake. A bear suddenly appeared and charged at the man, who took the umbrella, shot the bear, and killed it.”

The man said, “Impossible. Someone else must have shot the bear.”

The doctor smiled before he replied, “My point exactly.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Still on the whirl of numbers...

Some numbers just hit you in the eye. This set below is truly an eye-opener:

It means that, if you put ten 12-year-old Singaporean kids in the same room, chances are that six or seven of them wear spectacles! But peek into a similar room with Aussie kids, and you'll find only one of them wearing glasses.

Talk about Singapore's spectacular achievements! I was a "specky" kid, having to start wearing glasses in primary school.


This next set of numbers provides a glimpse into how rich are rich folk. ST carried a story today (16 Nov, "Socialite settles divorce suit", page B2) in which certain details were revealed.

The socialite in question, in the divorce hearings, had sought $450,000 a month in maintenance from her estranged husband because that was "the standard of living she enjoyed" in her married life. The husband "had been known to spend some $303,000 a month for more than 27 months", the court heard.

The court had earlier frozen $93 million in assets that the husband has. We are told he has cash in the bank and trading accounts, together worth $15.4 million. His other assets include a house in Sentosa Cove and another in Hong Kong, together worth $14.6 million. Another $79.2 million was tagged to his shares in a private company, his wine collection and three cars -- a Lamborghini, a Porsche and a Ferrari.

[So, while economists have been measuring wealth disparities using the Gini Coefficient, maybe someone should come up with the Lamborghini Coefficient to measure the spending propensity of a country's top one per cent!]


This last one is a just a single figure -- but one that makes no sense to me. It shows how, as consumers, we must always be alert to marketing gimmickry:

What does "Contains 45% California Raisins" mean???


Some musings about yesterday's posting:

* I should have tried to offer an alternative to the Singlish phrasing in the Peranakan Museum's ad -- "Man accompanying a woman will get 50% discount". I suppose such an attempt would be along these lines: "Male companions get a 50% discount on the admission price." Hmmm, will someone come up with better wording? Singlish also can!

* I found that Googling "Orchids" uncovered a host of interesting material about this plant (but caveat emptor, whenever we look up anything online!). Here's one extract:

The orchid flowers are one of the largest families of plants in the world. In fact, there are more than 25,000 species in the world that occur naturally, plus many more which have been developed by orchid growers.

The name orchid comes from the Greek word orchis, which means testicle. They’re named this because of the shape of their bulbous roots. The largest orchid in the world can grow up to 20 metres tall.

The website I took these "fun facts" from is:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's only midweek, but it's already a mad whirl of numbers...

It'll be Wednesday (midweek) when Singaporeans read this. Here's some crazy numbers already:

Who says there are now 7 billion people in the world?

Hey, don't you know just 12 Asia-Pacific countries have at least 800 billion people, and counting. The  "proof" is in this ST page 1 report today (15 Nov, "Spectre of US-China rivalry haunts new trade pact"):

Honolulu: Asia-Pacific leaders wrapped up their annual economic summit on a conflicted note on Sunday, with the spectre of intensifying rivalry between the United States and China threatening to overshadow the momentum behind a bold, new regional trade pact.

Support for the fledgling trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), rose sharply this past week after Japan, Canada and Mexico all declared that they wanted to be included.

That brings the number of interested parties to 12 [countries], representing a market of 800 billion consumers...   


Or would you rather believe the plethora of recent reports on the 7th billionth birth on 31 Oct 2011, such as this one in the UK's Guardian newspaper:


Meanwhile, every time I went into a Cold Storage supermarket, the checkout girl would ask me, "Do you have the Passion card?" I used to wonder why, and several thoughts flashed by me. I once overheard someone else at the next counter reply, "Got passion lah but got no card." Anyway, I eventually found out what was meant without getting a slap on the cheek, so I signed up for "it". But the application form had this strange age stipulation:

So, don't worry if you're still in mummy's womb and is technically "zero years old". You are eligible for the PAssion Card.

Oh, if you are 120 years old, still can. But at midnight, just before you turn 121, please return your card, hor. Your PAssion quotient has run out.


On the same theme, here's a strange ad by the Peranakan Museum:

It classifies "women" as being aged 1 to 100. And "Man accompanying a woman" gets a 50 per cent discount. What about other combinations, like one man and two women, two men and one woman, etc.


Lastly, this one is serious. Go to the World Orchid Conference, now on. It's awesome. You get to see the spectacular Flower Dome too. Here's a weblink to some 40 pics, courtesy of xinmsn:

Monday, November 14, 2011

APEC = Attire Planned Extra Carefully

This year's APEC summit is in Obama's home state, Hawaii. You've seen the usual photo-op pictures on television and in the print media. But did you see these?...

The pics were provided by the "President's Blog, White House". Here's the link:





* The website above is a parody of the real White House website. It says so, at the top: "Parody of".
* The pics are of course fakes, ie doctored as part of the spoof.
* The peg for creating this spoof is Obama's decision to do away with the traditional shots of Apec leaders dressed in the host venue's "national costume" (which, since it is Hawaii this year, would have them dressed in anything from grass skirts to surfing gear?).
* Pictures of past years' APEC fancy dress-up in other venues are found on this spoof website. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

World Kindness Day

Today (13 Nov) is World Kindness Day. These thoughts by the American writer Marc Estrin, about kindness, were put up by the Singapore Kindness Movement:


A favourite song of mine is Glen Campbell's "Try a Little Kindness" (1970):

Try a Little Kindness

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he's sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and stay you're going the wrong way

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

Don't walk around the down and out
Lend a helping hand instead of doubt
And the kindness that you show every day
Will help someone along their way

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets


Here's a concert performance that Campbell gave in 2001, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (some 31 years later), and uploaded on YouTube:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My banana peel moment...

I stepped on a banana peel at the office last night:

No, I didn't. But I did fall that way ie I slipped and started to fall backwards, as if I had stepped on a banana. I must have turned on my side (clever me!) because I did not land on my back but on my left side (I would otherwise not be writing this now).

I hit my ankle and foot against the wall near the ground-level toilet I was coming out from. There was a slight ramp just after the toilet, on the way to the building's side entrance. There must have been something slippery on the ramp.

My ankle no longer hurts but there is a swelling on my left foot, on the top. The doctor thinks there's no fracture. The pain on my foot has eased, so I hope he's right.

Today's posting then is dedicated to my "banana moment". I found this person's blog that has gone bananas:

It's quite funny. Here's a YouTube video from it:

Bananas vs cats

And of course I can't resist including one banana joke here, especially if it has something to do with Texas:

The bus conductor and the green banana joke

A Texas man works as a bus conductor.

One day -- for some unexplained reason -- he decides to ring the bell for the driver to set off while a woman is half getting on the bus. The driver sets off, the woman falls from the bus and is killed.

At the trial the man is sent down for murder and seeing as it's Texas, he's sent to the electric chair. On the day of his execution he's sat in the chair and the executioner grants him a final wish.

"Well," says the man, "is that your packed lunch over there?" "Yes," answers the executioner.

"May I have that green banana?"

The executioner reluctantly gives the man the green banana and waits till he's eaten it. When the man's finished, the executioner flips the switch sending thousands of volts through the man. When the smoke clears, the man is still alive. The executioner can't believe it. But the law says the man is now free to go.

"May I go?" the man asks. "I suppose so," says the executioner, "That's never happened before."

The man leaves and eventually gets a job back on the buses selling tickets. Again he rings the bell for the driver to go when people are still getting on. A man falls under the wheels and is killed. The man is sent down for murder again and sent to the electric chair. He sees the same executioner who is determined to do it right this time, so he rigs the chair up to the electric supply for the whole of Texas.

The condemned man is again sat in the chair. "What is your final wish?" asks the executioner. "May I have that green banana in your packed lunch?" he says. The executioner sighs and once again reluctantly gives up his banana. The guy eats the banana all up and the executioner flips the switch. Millions of volts course through the chair blacking out Texas. When the smoke clears the man is still sitting there, smiling in the
chair. The executioner can't believe it and lets the man go.

Well, would you believe, this psychotic fella gets his job back on the buses. Once again he rings the bell whilst passengers are still getting on, this time killing three of them. He is sent to the electric chair again. The executioner rigs up all of the United States electricity supply to the chair, determined to get his man this time.

The man sits down in the chair smiling.

"What's your final wish ?" asks the executioner, with a long sigh. "Well," says the man, "May I have that green banana out of your packed lunch?" The executioner hands over his banana and the man eats it all, skin included.

The executioner pulls the handle and gazillion volts go through the chair. When the smoke rises, the man is still alive -- without even a burn mark.

"I give up," says the executioner, "I don't understand how you can still be alive after all that." The executioner strokes his chin. "It's something to do with that green banana, isn't it?" he asked.

"Nah," says the bloke, "I'm just a really bad conductor."


What better way to end this "Gone Bananas" posting than to include Harry Belafonte's 1956 classic, "Banana Boat Song". Enjoy (either of the two here):

Friday, November 11, 2011

Madam Choo, you rock!

I am sure there were many cynical and sceptical smirks when Madam Choo Hong Eng declared that she would donate half of her $416,000-plus casino winnings to charity.

Madam Choo is the feisty "auntie" whose name became famous locally as a result of her tug-of-war with Marina Bay Sands over her jackpot machine payout, and I blogged about her on Wednesday.

TODAY writer Tanya Fong's profile on her today (11 Nov) is such a compelling and heartwarming read that -- even though I am sure many people would have seen the story already-- I will put it here, as an antidote for such times as when we become cynical and sceptical:

Lady Luck smiles on her at last
by Tanya Fong

She was once illiterate but, thanks to years of running her own hawker stall, Madam Choo Hong Eng can now read in Mandarin.

And she can certainly tell the difference between the words "cash" and "car".

Mdm Choo, 58, is today a celebrity of sorts, having taken on Marina Bay Sands (MBS), and coming out tops, after it had initially refused to hand her the more than S$416,000 in cash she had won at its jackpot machine on Oct 18. The integrated resort -- citing a technical glitch in the machine -- had instead offered her a sports car worth S$258,962 and S$50,000 in cash.

In an interview yesterday, Mdm Choo said she decided to fight for her case -- MBS this week agreed to pay her the full prize money in cash -- as "a matter of principle".

"That was how I was brought up and these are the values that kept me going in life," said Mdm Choo, who does not frequent casinos or buy lottery tickets.

On that fateful day, she was at MBS for a stay-cation with her daughters and showing her friends from Macau and Hong Kong around. Wearing a pink polo T-shirt, white capris and slippers yesterday, Mdm Choo looked like a typical "aunty" at the Geylang coffeeshop where her Kwan Inn vegetarian stall enjoys brisk business.

But beneath her petite frame is a feisty woman with a big heart. Mdm Choo has two daughters, 19 and 17, whom she adopted when they were young from a friend who could not afford to bring them up. They live in a five-room [public housing] flat together with a maid. [Note: for the benefit of non-locals, a five-room public housing flat has three bedrooms; the other two rooms are the living room and the kitchen.]

"I never got married because I think I'm independent and strong-headed. I think any man I married would have been unlucky," Mdm Choo said with a laugh.

Before she adopted the girls, Mdm Choo had helped sponsor three university students, giving them a stipend of S$600 a month for four years. But they have stopped visiting her since they graduated.

Mdm Choo, who was abandoned in an orphanage, grew up without ever knowing her parents. Her foster mother, a nun, adopted her when she was three.

"When I was about nine, I saw her working really hard trying to make ends meet. She was so tired, she fell down the stairs. From then on, I decided to work to support her," said Mdm Choo.

The odd jobs she took ranged from plucking rambutans from trees in her village in Paya Lebar and selling them, to selling tickets at Gay World, an entertainment centre in Geylang [it no longer exists].

Her world came crashing down shortly after she turned 21 when her foster mother died. "She was my world. But I had to quickly pick myself up because I had no one else to rely on," said Mdm Choo, fighting back tears.

She then took on various jobs, such as working in a machinery factory, before she was asked to help run a vegetarian stall in 1985. She was then 32. "I realised Singaporeans love chicken rice, so I thought of a way to cook vegetarian chicken rice with soy for the meat and flavoured the rice with ginger, pandan leaves and vegetable oil," she said.

It was a hit and Mdm Choo then started making vegetarian laksa, for which her stall is now famous for. Her thriving business meant that she had more money to employ workers. That was when she adopted her two daughters.

When asked how her lucky strike will change her life, Mdm Choo -- who has pledged half her winnings to charity -- said: "I don't think anything has changed or will change. I guess maybe it's a gift for the charity I've been doing, to do more charity."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beware of scams, and even scam stories these days...

Almost everybody seems to have a tale about someone having been scammed nowadays.

For sure, what gets reported in the mainstream media would be reliable in that it would have had been checked and verified to have actually happened and should have included at least some tag to say police are following up on a complaint by the victim/victims.

But there are what appears to be "good samaritan" emails and online postings, urging people to be wary of the latest scam job. The one below seems to be of non-local origin. It is persuasive and plausible, but I have not seen reports about it, so it may just be someone's active mind at work.

But then again, if someone does come delivering flowers and wine... don't say you have not read this account below, which I came across recently:

Did this happen?

I want to let you all know that Frank and I have been the victims of credit card fraud this week and felt I should warn you all about the clever scam. It works like this:

Last Wednesday, I had a phone call late morning from [someone from] Express Couriers to ask if I was going to be home as he had a delivery for me. He said he would there in roughly an hour. He turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and wine.

I expressed my surprise as I wasn't expecting anything like this and said I was intrigued to
know who was sending me such a lovely gift. He said he was only delivering the gift and the card was being sent separately (the card never arrived).

There was a consignment note with the gift. He went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol he has to charge the recipient $3.50 as proof that he had actually delivered the gift to an adult, and had not left it on a door step if the recipient was out, to be stolen or taken by children. This seemed logical and I offered to get the cash.

He then said that the company required the payment to be by EFTPOS [ie NETS or credit card] so he was not handling cash and added that everything was properly accounted for.

Frank was there and got his credit card. "John" swiped the card on this small mobile machine he carried that also had a small screen upon which Frank entered in his pin number. A receipt was printed out and given to us.

Between last Thursday and Monday, $4,000 was withdrawn from our credit account at ATM machines in the north shore area. It appears that a dummy credit card was made using the details in  the machine. Of course! They had Frank's pin number.

The Bank has stopped our cards and I've been to the Police this morning, where they confirmed that it is a definite scam and many households were hit during the first three days of the month.


True? I have my doubts. But then, who knows?

There was, however, a true story this week of an ATM machine having been stolen in Malaysia! I thought a better headline was needed for the story (the picture below shows an empty space where the ATM was):

Here's my suggested headline:

Heist of the machine

The inspiration for my headline is, of course, the third movie of this series: