Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oasis in Hong Kong

Monday, June 14, 2010

Babies in the house

No!! These are not our babies. These are babies from the same birds which picked our ripest peaches last year, red whiskered bulbuls. All day long, the mother bird and father bird will make tireless trips to feed these babies. So after a few days they are almost ready to leave our house. Hope they come back again and bring more life to this house.

Note: You might need to select 480p resolution to see what's going on.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Graffiti on carriages in Singapore underground

You might not know the name Michael P. Fay. He was the American kid who got caned in Singapore and shot to fame as the US government tried literally to save his ass. The US government managed to reduce his pain by 1/3, he took 4 instead of 6 cane strokes and got a Wikipedia entry for that.

Foreigners never learn from this incident and all the "Caning" T-shirts sold in souvenir shops. The Singaporean government is trying to extradite a Brit for vandalizing an underground train with another Swiss who was already caught. Vandalism in Singapore can carry a fine of nearly £1,000 or three years in jail and three to eight strokes of a cane.

The graffiti was so professionally done that initially the underground staff took no notice and thought it was officially sanctioned!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

X-ray Specs, spy pen camera and other gadgets

The 2-day university entrance examinations in China is underway and so far 6 groups of people have been arrested for selling exam-cheating devices.  Concealed walkie-talkie, embedded ear transmitters, spy pen camera, ruler with hidden display, etc, etc have been confiscated. With the end of the cold war, this is perhaps the biggest single drive for surveillance devices. And in order to catch potential cheats, the education authority employs security professionals to monitor exam hall covered with CCTVs, signal jamming devices and other anti-surveillance measures.

Cheating used to be a shameful act frowned upon by parents but in the twisted social values in China, parents are often condone such acts and even participate in the act by feeding answers to their sons inside the exam halls through the wireless devices. For an example of local coverage of the matter, see the link in Chinese below:

Of course, it's not just written examination where they cheated. Earlier this year, students cheated in marathon because the result formed part of the education credits.

But physically taking the exam even without the need to study maybe too much hard work for some, by paying a fee of RMB 8,000, you can guarantee yourself a qualifying score for university entrance. You might think that such services would only be available in some back-alley shop where you walk through a small door guarded by a guy with a turban. You slip a stash of cash into an unmarked envelop and pass to the old man behind the counter. He would tell you not to worry about the exam result. You are wrong!! You can find such services openly advertised on the web and you can even pay by credit cards. It is so institutionalized that such services are offered for a large range of exams.

In China, you can never be sure if what you are buying will actually work. In the desperate pursuit to succeed, you might fall prey to charlatans promising the world in exam results or sell you gadgets purport to do everything. But you have no legal recourse in the event that none of these work. Perhaps the only solution in China is to be born in a family with all the right connections.

Stop Press: Instead of enduring the mad struggle to get a university entrance, fake graduation certificates solve the problem. You can get those issued by Beijing University or Qinghua University for RMB 400 under your name and for whatever subject you care to name, even if the subject is not being offered by the university (a bit like the fake Cartier watches with features not found in the original). You can refer to the original article in Oriental Daily for more details and photos.

Noone can save you!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hoover and Mop

A few years ago, auntie R sent us this card.

And now she added this video clip to the collection.