Milk is now 'mother's little helper'

From correspondents in Tokyo
September 27, 2007 03:17pm
Article from: Agence France-Presse

A JAPANESE dairy company has produced a super-premium milk for stressed-out adults - at the price of $US43 ($49) for less than a litre.
Tokyo-based Nakazawa Foods said it would launch the Adult Milk line of products in October targeting "adults who live in a stressful society".
The price of ¥5000 a bottle is nearly 30 times as expensive as ordinary milk even in Tokyo, which is famous for its high prices.
The milk is taken from cows once a week at the break of dawn as they discharge a lot of a stress-relieving hormone called melatonin during the night, the company said.
The milk is bottled within six hours of milking at a farm north of Tokyo.
It is said to contain three to four times as much melatonin as usual milk.

Victorian Speed (Safety) Camera Sham

A fine mess

Lawrence Money
September 24, 2007

For months, Age Diary columnist Lawrence Money has reported on motorists successfully challenging speed-camera fines. Are they exceptions or does it point to a bigger problem?

NOT long ago, two middle-aged men were riding motorbikes up the Hume Highway to Winton and passed beneath the VicRoads speed-check gantry at Beveridge. The bikers were in separate lanes but travelling side by side at the same speed, 103 kilometres. One biker, Brian Macdonald, registered 98 on the screen overhead and the other 107.

"There is no way our speeds were nine km/h different," Macdonald says. "My bike is a BMW R1150GS - that's the big hybrid one. It is a bike of high reliability. I've ridden it 70,000 kilometres. These speed checks are a ridiculous joke."

For many years retired Melbourne preacher Charles Winter has harboured the same sentiment about the speed-check gantry on the Princes Freeway out of Geelong.

"I have been travelling along there since the time it was installed," Winter says. "I now do what I suspect very large numbers of regular travellers do: I fall into the least-occupied of the three lanes, I hang back so I don't get a false reading by having another car too close, and see what reading it is going to give me this time. Sometimes it puts me anything between eight and 12 kilometres below what I am doing. Other times it will only be four or six. Most of us regard it as useless and we get a reading just for fun."

With these two speed checks operating, supervised by the Department of Justice, this would seem to offer a whole lot of fun for motorists but the joke soon stops for those who pay the devices serious heed: that is when a fine for speeding, from prosecutions boss Senior Sergeant Ron Ritchie, appears in the mailbox.

It was not until a motorist successfully challenged such a fine on the Princes Freeway, in April this year, claiming she had been misled by the speed-check reading on the Melbourne-bound side, that the odd and unwieldy relationship between speed check and speeding fine came to the surface. This driver, a woman from Toorak, claimed she had been driving along the Princes Freeway from Geelong in her Range Rover when she passed beneath the speed check at 100km/h and was advised that she was actually travelling at 92km/h. "It is a fairly new car," she told The Age, "and I thought the speedo must be under-registering. So I accelerated to 108 on the speedo, figuring this would be put me right on 100, and a bit later I got a fine the mail for doing eight km/h over the limit."

The driver put this argument to the Civic Compliance office and the fine was cancelled. A letter from Senior Sergeant Ritchie declared: "Following a review of the above-mentioned matter, I wish to advise you that no further police action will be taken against you."

However, there was silence from Ritchie over the speed-check link. When approached later by The Age, police denied the cancellation had anything to do with the speed-check apparatus, saying it was merely "advisory". A spokesman said police policy was not to give a specific reason in such cases because this would mean "5 million other motorists" would try the same thing. However ABC TV reporter Lucy Curtain said that on the same day as The Age first reported the matter, she was given a reason for the Range Rover driver's fine cancellation: it had been "an administrative error".

For the State Government, speeding and red-light camera fines are a cash bonanza akin to the payout from the pokies, a marvellous never-ending tidal wave of money that, according to Justice Department documents leaked to The Sunday Age, totalled $200 million in 2005-06. However, with traffic fines, in contrast to pokies, administrators can don a white hat as crusaders for road safety. Indeed, speed cameras were renamed "road-safety cameras" by Government spin doctors some years ago to fit this image.

The Government says "money received from traffic cameras is less than a tenth of the $3 billion cost of road trauma in Victoria each year".

It is a persuasive argument but only valid if the penalties are legitimately imposed. Most motorists cough up when fined, convinced that the technology is incontrovertible and that challenge is pointless. It has taken a few motorists to prove that this is not always the case.

Joan Rowlands is a 76-year-old amateur pilot. On April 11, 2006, she and husband Bob were driving along the Geelong road with cruise control set on 92km/h. They were travelling in lane three and at 3.23pm were being overtaken by a truck in lane two travelling at least 10km/h faster. Some weeks later they received a speeding fine in the mail: according to the speed cameras, they had been travelling at 110km/h. But Rowlands, not a woman to be bowled over by bureaucracy, stood her ground. She was confident she had not been speeding and her husband, a man with a scientific bent, examined the technology of the photographic equipment and found what he believed was a flaw.

Rowlands challenged the fine, saying she would be producing evidence to prove she was right and the case was deferred to allow police to produce an "expert witness" to counter their claims. On the appointed date in August the police announced at Sunshine Court that their "expert witness" would not be appearing. The Rowlands were amazed to be told that this meant they could not produce any of the evidence that they said showed the speed-camera technology was faulty. That evidence, in brief, argued that, in certain cases, there could be a critical flaw between the detector sensors in the road and the cameras that take the photographs as evidence.

"It will only happen if two vehicles cross the sensors within the processing time for the photograph," Bob Rowlands says. "It is probably not a common occurrence."

However infrequently, this flaw resulted in the wrong vehicle being fingered as an offender. Whatever the case, the police did not want to know, says Joan Rowlands. "If either my husband or I mentioned the words 'camera' they became distinctly twitchy."

Is there a critical flaw or flaws in the lucrative speed-camera system? If there is, it seems that neither the police nor the judiciary want to know about it.

Last month Robin Rodgers, a Geelong resident who regularly travels the Geelong road, took his speeding case to Werribee court. He says he was driving with cruise control on 90km/h yet he received a fine for travelling at 108km/h. He obtained the photo from the speed camera and noticed that the speed sensors were clearly visible.

They showed that his car's rear wheels were yet to cross the sensors and that a large milk transport was thundering past him in the adjoining lane. He challenged the fine and went to court.

Says Rodgers: "It was a sham. I got there early and the police prosecutor told me that if I changed my plea to 'guilty' the charge would be dismissed. I felt very uncomfortable about that because I wasn't guilty."

As in the Rowlands case, he was prevented from producing the evidence that he believes showed the cameras were faulty. "I was told I couldn't lead any evidence at all," Rodgers says. "In the end I was let off even though I hadn't said a word."

That struck a chord in another case involving motorist Leon Flinkier who was fined for allegedly speeding in the Domain tunnel. "I challenged," Flinkier says, "and when I arrived early in court the only person there was the prosecutor. He told me that if I changed my plea to guilty, I would be let off."

Flinkier says that, although police had sought an adjournment to gather evidence for their case, he was told he had no power to seek an adjournment himself. "I was told police would bring an an expert and if I lost I would have to pay the expert's costs. But if I pleaded guilty, I would be let off. I pleaded guilty and yes, I was let off. No conviction."

According to one local silk there is a simple explanation: the court system is so clogged it simply could not handle a deluge of cases. "If a lot of motorists challenged their fines at one time, they would have a very good chance of getting off even if they are guilty, because the system can't cope with the load," he says. With a minor speeding infringement worth one or two penalty points, he said, it is just not worth the court's time.

The police say that 4000 motorists contested speeding fines last financial year and only 23 were successful. Total number of speeding fines in the same period were unavailable. However, a week after The Age first submitted a list of questions to the Police ministry about traffic fines, Assistant Commissioner Noel Ashby announced that in future police would take any successful appeal by motorists to the Supreme Court unless their case was supported by technical evidence.

Ashby said he was concerned that drivers had been beating speeding fines on appeal by swearing under oath to magistrates that they had not been speeding. He said this threw doubt on the accuracy of speed cameras and put road safety at risk.


Man hides sex toys in the wurst way...

Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:04pm EDT

BERLIN (Reuters) - Staff at a German butcher's shop were shocked to discover a customer had hidden two sex toys in their sausages for transport to Dubai, police said Wednesday

"It was two latex dildos with a natural look," said a spokesman for police in the southwestern city of Mannheim.

After shopping there earlier in the day, the man, who spoke broken English, returned to the butcher's with two large "Schwartenmagen" sausages. He asked a shop assistant to wrap and cool them until he departed for Dubai the next day.

But the assistant noticed the goods had got heavier and alerted police. Officers discovered the man, who was about 50, had removed some of the meat and packed the dildos inside.

"He could have used a loaf of bread," the spokesman said. "It's not against the law here. But obviously I can't speculate on what customs in Dubai will have to say about it."


Thousands of hyphens perish as English marches on

September 24, 2007 12:00am

Article from: Reuters
  • People have lost confidence in using hyphens
  • Ungainly horizontal bulk between words also a factor
  • Hyphens seen as "messy, old-fashioned"
Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly.

And if you've got a problem, don't be such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby).

The hyphen has been squeezed as informal ways of communicating, honed in text messages and emails, spread on Web sites and seep into newspapers and books.

"People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they're not really sure what they are for," said Angus Stevenson, editor of the Shorter OED, the sixth edition of which was published this week.

Another factor in the hyphen's demise is designers' distaste for its ungainly horizontal bulk between words.

"Printed writing is very much design-led these days in adverts and Web sites, and people feel that hyphens mess up the look of a nice bit of typography," he said. "The hyphen is seen as messy looking and old-fashioned."

New Terms in Oxford English Dictionary

New terms

Addy An email address

Cattle class Economy seats on aircraft

Garburator Kitchen waste disposal unit

Get your ya-yas out Enjoy yourself uninhibitedly

Heaviosity Quality of being serious, intense, or "heavy", esp. in popular music

Manbag Man's handbag or shoulderbag

Semifreddo Italian dessert containing cream and eggs

Wairua Spirit or soul in Maori


May/December Couples Boost Human Lifespan

By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 17 September 2007 08:54 am ET

Older men who shack up with much younger women keep the grim reaper at bay for the human population and extend our species' lifespan, new research claims.

Even beyond movie stars and Playboy's Hugh Hefner, there is a tendency for older men to partner with younger women, according to the study, published in the Aug. 29 edition of PLoS ONE. In less developed, traditional societies, males are about 5 to 15 years older than their female partners. In the United States and Europe, guys are an average of two years senior to their partners.

More interesting, when old men father children, their genes seem to increase the lifespan of both sexes over evolutionary time.

How it works

Women often lose their reproductive capacity around age 50, but if men can still reproduce into their 70s, Darwin would say it's advantageous for males to live longer lives providing they can hook up with a woman capable of reproducing. Natural selection should favor longevity-boosting genes, which would get passed down from fathers to both sons and daughters. So women would benefit as well in future generations, the scientists say.

Result: Over time, the older-guy-with-younger-gal lifestyle would lift the lifespan ceiling for both men and women in the next generations and so on.

"By increasing the survival of men you have a spillover effect on women because men pass their genes to children of both sexes," said study team member Cedric Puleston, a doctoral candidate at Stanford University.

Anthropologist Cheryl Jamison of Indiana University, who was not involved in the research, called the results "fascinating."

Wall of death

From an evolutionary perspective, women who can no longer reproduce are non-players, and since "it takes two," men partnered with menopausal women are also irrelevant.

Following that idea, natural selection should select for harmful mutations that impact women after menopause. Over time, the discriminating genes would accumulate in the population causing what evolutionary biologist William Hamilton called the "wall of death," in which mortality of women spikes at the onset of menopause.

Population records and everyday observations indicate that's not the case. Life expectancy for men and women in today's industrialized countries is 75 to 85 years, with mortality increasing gradually, not abruptly, following female menopause.

Men matter

To figure out whether male fertility could help explain human longevity, Shripad Tuljapurkar of Stanford University and his colleagues examined lifespan and fertility data from both men and women.

They studied four societies thought to closely mimic lifestyles of our ancestors, including two hunter-gather groups, the Dobe !Kung of the Kalahari and the Ache of Paraguay (one of the most isolated populations in the world), as well as the Yanomamo forager-farmers and an indigenous group in Bolivia called the Tsimane. The research team also looked at farming villages in Gambia and a group of modern Canadians.

In all six groups, women stopped having children on average by their 50s, while some men continued to reproduce. The age after which men showed no reproduction varied among the groups and included:

  • Canada—Men showed fertility until 55 years old.
  • !Kung—55 years old
  • Gambia—75 years old
  • Yanomamo—70 years old
  • Ache—65 years old
  • Tsimane—60 years old

Mate choices

Until now, the most popular explanation for the bounty of over-55s, called the "grandmother hypothesis," suggested women get a life extension in order to care for their children and grandchildren.

The new findings don't contradict that hypothesis, but help explain how men give women another boost over the "wall of death."

"I don’t think the finding conflicts with the grandmother hypothesis but rather that it can be considered along with it as explanations for human longevity—there doesn’t have to be a single gene or single selective factor," Jamison told LiveScience.

But why do men choose younger mates and females prefer older men?

"There is a lot of evidence from evolutionary psychology that men are seeking younger women and women are seeking older men," said anthropologist Martin Fieder of the University of Vienna, who was not involved in the current study.

Cases in point: At the age of 26, Anna Nicole Smith married 89-year-old Jeremiah Howard Marshall II. And in 1995, actor Tony Randall, then 75, married and had two kids with Heather Harlan, who was 24 at the time. Last month, 90-year-old Nanu Ram Jogi from India reportedly became the world's oldest father when he announced his 21st child.

Evolutionary psychologists argue that older men have more resources to protect and care for the family, while younger, more fertile women give their male partners better means of passing along genes.

In a study of about 10,000 Swedish men and women, Fieder and his colleagues have found that men had the most children if they were partnered with women about six years younger than themselves.

So the benefits of "age-defying" couples go both ways. Plus, the human species gets a boost.

Navy paid for breast implants

Article from: The Sunday Telegraph

By Sharri Markson

September 16, 2007 12:00am

THE Royal Australian Navy is paying for women sailors to have breast enlargements for purely cosmetic reasons, at a cost to taxpayers of $10,000 an operation.

Defence officials claim the surgery is justified because some servicewomen need bigger breasts to address "psychological issues''.

Darling Point plastic surgeon Kourosh Tavakoli told The Sunday Telegraph the navy had paid for two officers, aged 25 and 32, to have breast-augmentation surgery at his private clinic.

Dr Tavakoli said the women had not been injured but claimed to suffer "psychological'' problems.

"I've had two female officers who have got the navy to pay for breast augmentation for psychological reasons,'' he said.

"I know for a fact two patients claimed it back on the navy. They (the navy) knew it was breast augmentation and paid for it.

"I don't know why they pay for it. There's no breast augmentation, that I know of, for medical purposes. You've got to be fair to yourself.''

A Defence spokesman admitted cosmetic surgery occurred at "public expense'' when there were "compelling psychological/psychiatric reasons'', but refused to say how many such cases were taxpayer-funded.

Cosmetic surgery was also provided for servicemen or women who were disfigured by work-related injuries, he said.

"Cosmetic procedures undertaken solely for the purpose of preserving or improving a person's subjective appearance will be considered only if the underlying (psychological) problem is causing difficulties that adversely impact on the member's ability to do their job.

"Operations purely for cosmetic reasons are not allowed.''

The Sunday Telegraph asked Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, formerly a GP, how many members of the armed forces had received taxpayer-funded cosmetic surgery.

A spokesman said figures would not be available until next week.

Australian Defence Association spokesman Neil James defended the practice of taxpayers funding medical proceduressuch as breast enhancement surgery for psychological reasons.

He said young men and women were attracted to defence careers because they offered free medical care. This, in turn, improved the efficiency of the force.

"Just as there are in civilian life, there are some females who feel their breasts are too small and if their breasts were bigger, they might be more of a 'normal' woman,'' Mr James said.

"If they were lacking in self-confidence, this might provide the measure of self-confidence that would help them tackle their wider job.

"There are privacy issues here for people. It's not as if they keep a record of who has had a nose job in the Defence Force over the past 100 years.''

Dr Tavakoli, a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, said the navy officers had visited him in 2005 and 2006.

Each had had $10,000 worth of surgery, which required a recovery period of at least two weeks.
Boosting self-esteem was the biggest motivation for cosmetic surgery, Dr Tavakoli said.

The Sunday Telegraph understands Dr Tavakoli is not the usual surgeon used by the navy for reconstructive/cosmetic surgery.

"I don't see a lot of them (naval officers) because they have their own plastic surgeon,'' he said.

"I know for a fact they have their own surgeon.''

Last year, a Brisbane surgeon revealed that an army cook had had a taxpayer-funded nose job.

The English Language

Can you read these right the first time?

1) The bandage was
wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to
produce produce .

3) The dump was so full that it had to
refuse more refuse.

4) We must
polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could
lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to
desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the
present, he thought it was time to present the present .

8) A
bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the
dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not
object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a
row among the oarsmen about how to row .

13) They were too
close to the door to close it.

14) The buck
does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a
sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his
sow to sow.

17) The
wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to
subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I
intimate this to my most intimate friend?


Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work
slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what langua ge do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise
guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.


PS. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"
You lovers of the English language might enjoy this . .

There is a two-letter word that perhaps
has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is
"UP."
It's easy to understand
UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?

We call
UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this
UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed
UP about UP
! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP , look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP , you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say i t is clearing UP.

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things
UP.
When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it
UP
, for now my time is UP , so............ Time to shut UP.....!

Game for a new BMW M3

The Australian
Simon Canning | September 13, 2007

BMW has invested a large part of its global marketing budget for its new M3 Series Coupe in a computer game it hopes will help convince customers to invest in a $160,000 sports car.

The marque, known for its advertising innovation with initiatives such as BMW films, believes the high-end computer simulation will entice buyers for the car, which launches in Australia next month.

The game will be made available online and will appear on magazine cover-mount DVDs in coming weeks, with BMW launching the M3 in Australia at the Sydney Motor Show next month. The car maker joined forces with game manufacturer 10tacle to create a true computer simulation of what it is like to drive the car.

10tacle based the game on its successful GT Legends computer game and BMW Australia marketing director Tom Noble said it was a rare chance to give customers a virtual drive of the real thing.

"The tough thing for us is that not everyone gets the chance to test drive the car and how do I give somebody that experience without actually sending a car to them," Mr Noble said. "So if I can give them a pretty cool experience before they go look at a car it will make it even more interesting for them to come in for a test drive."

The game, which accurately renders the M3, its cockpit and the famed 22-km Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, will be the centrepiece of an online racing competition, allowing drivers from across the globe to compete against each other.

The promotion will end with the top 14 drivers in a world championship shoot-out, the winner of which is expected to be handed a real-life M3.

Mr Noble said the decision to create a BMW game played to the recent advertising heritage of the company.

"Like with BMW films, where we did short three-to-five-minute films by some of the top directors around the world, we are looking at different ways to stay innovative in communications and so this is a little bit of left field thinking," he said.

Where games had once been the domain of children, Mr Noble said the audience was now a perfect target for a prestige car maker.

"It's a really good vehicle to communicate. If you are 30, 35 or 40 years old today you played a lot of video games growing up, so it's certainly not just kids stuff any more," he said. "You are getting such a high level of realism at the moment and such a high level of interactivity it becomes a good way to experience it."

The game is available from:

www.m3-challenge.com

Designer vaginas 'inspired by porn'

Monday Sep 10 13:00 AEST
By Danielle Cahill
ninemsn

Women who have cosmetic surgery on their vaginas are being made insecure by pornography, according to Australia's premier gynaecological college.

And doctors say surgery for "designer vaginas" is becoming increasingly popular.

"One of the reasons [why women have the procedure] is that women look at pornographic magazines and see other women who look different and they want to look like them," said a spokeswoman for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG).

RANZCOG argues that labiaplasty — where surgeons trim the inner vaginal lips — is rarely medically necessary.

"Labias vary greatly and for most women, it's not something they give a lot of thought to."

The comments come in the wake of a rising trend in labia-related procedures being performed for cosmetic reasons. In the US, women not only have labiaplasty but many also have surgery to enlarge their G-spot.

Labiaplasty takes around an hour and is largely performed by cosmetic surgeons. The operation can cost around $10,000.

One Sydney cosmetic surgeon who performs the operation around 20 times per year hit back at suggestions the procedure is a vanity exercise for insecure women.

Surgeon Colin Moore said he has seen a gradual increase in the patients seeking the procedure over the last decade.

"For the majority of females that require this [operation] have issues with discomfort during penetration, wearing tight clothing and urinary tract infections," Dr Moore said.

"It's a very satisfying operation to perform, patients are almost universally grateful."

Dr Moore said he was "disgusted" with the attitude displayed by some gynaecologists in relation to labiaplasty.

"They consider it kind of beneath their dignity in a way, they regard the procedure as unnecessary."

Dr Moore said his patients find the operation makes a huge difference to their quality of life.

"Often when they come in for their follow up they just hug you because it has made such a difference to them," he said

Paris in China ?


Paris comes to Shanghai

From Reuters
Tue Sep 11, 5:47 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese developer has brought the delights of Paris to a housing estate on the outskirts of Shanghai, including the world's second-largest replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Tianducheng, a gated community near Hangzhou, capital of coastal Zhejiang province, boasts its own Arc de Triomphe and rows of European-style villas to attract China's newly wealthy.

"(It) can house up to 100,000 people comfortably," said Lu Xiaotian, a director at the Zhejiang Guangsha Co. Ltd, the estate's developer.

Only 2,000 people currently reside in the 19 sq km (12 sq mile) complex which opened in June after five years of meticulous landscaping.

But they have the space to sit on the steps by the Bassin de Latone, an imitation of the famous fountain in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, and admire the Eiffel Tower looming above.

Tianducheng's Eiffel Tower is 108 metres (354 feet) high, second only to the 165-metre replica at the Paris Las Vegas hotel in Nevada, and 8 metres higher than the third-largest in China's southern city of Shenzhen.

"After the completion of its third and final phase, Tianducheng compound will offer amenities ranging from a country club, a school and a hospital, in the midst of the serene surroundings of a park atmosphere," according to a promo on the Zhejiang government Web site.

Spurred by common notions of France as a romantic destination, Chinese honeymooners flock to Paris, and French wine, handbags and designer labels -- both real and fake -- are popular status symbols in major Chinese cities.

Tianducheng is the latest in a growing line of housing communities designed to evoke the charm and lifestyle of old European cities.

Thames Town, an hour's drive from Shanghai's skyscrapers, features Georgian and Victorian-style terraced houses, and caused a minor uproar after English publican Gail Caddy accused it of replicating her pub and fish-and-chip shop in Lyme Regis, a town in southwest England.

Italian and German towns are also reportedly under construction, and in 2005, shocked English press reported that a Chinese firm in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province in the country's southwest, was recreating Dorchester, a village in Dorset that inspired novelist Thomas Hardy.

Related Links:
Photos from Reuters
Satellite Images from GoogleMaps

Developer website:
www.tianducheng.com

Ankle biters get star treatment

September 10, 2007 - 10:04AM

In days gone by, when ankle biters were to be seen and not heard, little travelling darlings would be lucky to get a "Hi, how are you" upon boarding a plane.

And that's if they were lucky. Most of the time parents got dirty looks from fellow passengers if their babies so much as squeaked.

One exasperated parent from those days tells how she couldn't get her toddler to stop crying for more than two hours and was eventually handed chocolate by an air hostess. She threw it back in disgust (probably not a good idea).

But other long-haul veterans tell stories of being totally ignored by plane staff despite travelling on their own with children and ending up drinking brandy with the European men at the other end of the plane when the children finally got to sleep.

How times have changed.

Now it is all about specialised menus, endless cartoons and face painting sessions.

Virgin Blue says it always acknowledges children on its flights with an onboard announcement: "Welcome aboard ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls..." to make them feel extra special.

And when jet-setting, most airlines try their best to accommodate the needs of families.

People with kids are given pre-flight priority, allowing a little extra time for everyone to shake the ants out of their pants and get settled before take-off.

Carmel Spark, features editor of Little Kids magazine, says that this time can make all the difference.

"Give yourself lots of time at the airport and try and stay relaxed," she says.

German airline Lufthansa goes one step further, equipping some planes with dedicated mother and child seat rows.

For the bubs, bassinets are available on long-haul flights and can be attached to the seats.

Most airlines offer this service but it is essential to book in advance as numbers are limited.

The team at Lufthansa will provide a baby-care set complete with food, nappies and bottles.

For rumbling tummies, some airlines have a specific children's menu that makes you wish you were under 12.

Kids on Lufthansa are treated with a creative menu listing dishes such as the Tiger Tail - a pancake filled with chicken and vegetables, and the Pirate's Hand - fish fingers with savoy cabbage mixed with creamed potatoes.

In all cases, make sure you lock in the children's menu at least 24 hours before taking flight.

Keeping the kids entertained has advanced way beyond the days of finger puppets and crayons.

Most airlines will show cartoons and other kid-favourites as well as offering the traditional themed kid packs.

Virgin Blue cabin crew say they're happy to assist with young children, allowing parents a short break to stretch legs. They've even been known to get stuck into some serious face painting.

And everybody agrees, training children young to be good travellers can only be a worthwhile investment.

Whether flying, driving or cruising, the family holiday is more popular than ever.

Cathy Wagstaff, editor of Holidays With Kids magazine and website, says that according to Tourism Australia the family market is the strongest growth segment.

"Families are far more adventurous than ever before in the destinations they are choosing," Wagstaff says. "Long gone are the days where the annual holiday was to the same camping destination each year."

"With the majority of families having both parents in the workplace there is far more money being spent on family holidays."

And, the travel market is responding to the growth. Hotels and airlines are upping the ante on their family-friendliness.

Wagstaff cites Loews Hotel group as pioneers in this movement.

The US-based hotels operate on the motto, "the family that stays together, plays together". Plus, they include four-legged family members.

For the youngest in the brood lending libraries, kids menus and recreational games are on offer.

For the the often hard-to-please teen bracket, Loews gives each and every one a backpack full of things to keep them out of trouble and lends out Game Boys, DVDS and a host of other electronica.

And, no-one is forgotten. Dog walking routes, grooming and vet services will keep the family-member with fur and a wet nose happy.

So, what about the extra cost of taking the kids?

On international Lufthansa flights children under two fly at 10 per cent of the adult fare, provided they do not occupy a seat of their own. Children up to the age of 12 normally obtain a children's discount of around 33 per cent of the applicable adult fare on national and international flights.

Local airlines, Virgin Blue and Qantas fly babies under two-years-old free of charge.

The key to keeping everyone happy: preparation.

Organise kids meals and bassinets where necessary.

"Before you fly, talk to your child about the experience so they know what to expect," Wagstaff says.

"Discuss how long the flight will take and the behaviour that is expected of them. Let them pack their own back pack with their special things to keep them amused on the flight."

And, for when it gets chilly, Wagstaff says to "dress your child in layers".

Spark agrees: "Take a few snacks along, take water and pack a showbag of some sort with novel items to keep them occupied. But nothing too messy."

"Glitter is probably not a good idea," she says.

And with international flights, water needs to be bought after you go through security checks.

On such long-haul flights, Wagstaff recommends trying to book a night-time flight and align the hotel check-in with touch down.

She says that it is OK to ask at the airport if there are any spare seats on the flight so that the kids can lie down for some shut-eye.

Finally, make sure the whole troop is involved in the getaway from the start.

"Involve the whole family in the decision making process. Select a destination that will have appeal to each family member," Wagstaff says.

Of course this might mean a bit of bribery and wheeling and dealing so all siblings are happy.

Spark reassures, "They'll (the kids) often surprise you".

Links:

http://www.holidayswithkids.com.au/
http://www.qantas.com.au
http://www.lufthansa.com
http://www.virginblue.com.au
http://www.loewshotels.com/en/default.aspx

AAP

Facebook ban incurs 'lactivist' wrath

From TheAge
Asher Moses
September 7, 2007 - 2:00PM

Thousands of Facebook members are on the warpath after the social networking site removed images of breastfeeding mums and banned others for posting "obscene content".

They call themselves "lactivists" and say Facebook's practices are discriminatory.

Facebook's hardline stance on what its members can publish on their profiles is somewhat hypocritical given that it was caught running an image of a topless model in a banner ad for a dating service.

The mothers, many from Australia, started a petition in the form of a Facebook group called "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!". The group now has almost 7000 members.

"Absolutely it is discriminatory and it makes me angry," said group member Pru Wirth, a mother of two from the central coast in NSW.

"If actual venues can be fined up to $40,000 for asking breastfeeding mums to cover up or move on, then why not a virtual public place?"

Another group member, Sally Millwood, from Petrie in Queensland, said: "I know from first hand experience breastfeeding can be a tough road to go down and, if you have success at the end of it, it's an amazingly proud and important achievement to be shared."

Facebook spokeswoman Meredith Chin said Facebook - which has more than 200,000 Australian members and 31 million users worldwide - did not prevent mothers from uploading photos of themselves breastfeeding their babies, but it did remove content that was reported as violating Facebook's terms of use.

"Photos containing an exposed breast do violate our Terms and are removed," she said.

It's not clear what constitutes an "exposed breast", which has the lactivists baffled.

Facebook did not respond to emails requesting further clarification but several group members have reported that their images were removed despite the fact they contained no nipple.

"Where does the feeding stop and the boob begin?? A peek of nipple?," one lactivist wrote.

Wirth, who is yet to have one of her own images removed, rejected Facebook's justification, saying there was a "real difference" between a user uploading their own images of their own body and Facebook themselves violating their own terms of use for profit.

"Regarding the case of the inappropriate banner ad that was posted, we have since removed the ad as it was a violation of our Terms of Use," said Chin.

In addition to removing particular photos from the site, Facebook has permanently revoked the membership of some of the mothers.

When one, Karen Speed, appealed and asked to have her account reinstated, Facebook said its decision was "final".

"We will not be able to reactivate your account for any reason," read Facebook's reply, published by Speed on her blog.

Wirth said it was important Facebook reconsidered its policy because it was restricting users from "sharing a normal part of our lives and our babies' lives".

She said Facebook had adequate privacy settings that allowed users to restrict access to their images.

"I can't see how sharing photos of your baby feeding with friends and family, or anyone really, could be deemed obscene," she said.

"If breastfeeding was done publicly more often it would just be the normal done thing, not something women should feel ashamed about, and it certainly wouldn't receive this kind of offensive reaction."

Schoolboy to sell $59 iPhone hack

From TheAge
Asher Moses
September 5, 2007 - 2:11PM

A teenager from Victoria says that within days he will start delivering a hack that unlocks the iPhone for Australian mobile networks, using only a software application.

The 17-year-old high school student from Mildura, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had signed up to be an Australian reseller of the iPhoneSimFree hack, developed by hackers in the US.

Instead of selling the software directly to individuals, the iPhoneSimFree developers have opted to sell wholesale licences to resellers around the world.

The hack has not yet been made available to individuals but was proven legitimate via a live demonstration on CNN and a video published on the Engadget blog.

The boy, who has already begun accepting pre-orders through his website, aussieiphoneunlock.com, said he was selling the hack for $59 per iPhone.

It is considered superior to other iPhone unlocking methods because it involves no hardware tampering and does not require the purchase of special gadgets such as TurboSIM or Super SIM.

Numerous Australians have already imported and unlocked iPhones using the TurboSIM and Super SIM tools - the exclusive distributor of TurboSIM in Australia shut down its online store after being inundated with orders - but the new software hack's simplicity is expected to appeal to those who are not tech savvy.

"Basically what you do is upload an app to your iPhone and then when you run that app it contacts a server, and if your phone is verified with the server through a serial number on your phone, it will unlock the phone," the boy said in an interview.

"What we have to do is we have to collect the information that's specific to each customer's iPhone and then we have to input that into the iPhoneSimFree database to create a licence."

In the CNN demonstration it took about two minutes to hack the iPhone so it could run on the US T-Mobile network, as opposed to AT&T, the US mobile carrier with which Apple has signed a multi-year exclusive rights deal.

The boy said the US developers were finalising the system they would use to accept orders and he expected to receive an invoice for the bulk licences he purchased within the next few days.

He said his site had already received 1000 unique visitors in less than 24 hours, and the 50 preorder items he put on eBay last night had been snapped up as of this morning.

"The reason I started it mainly is to get the unlocks out to people - I didn't really start it to make money ... I just wanted to offer a service to people who, just like me, want an iPhone and want to get it unlocked easily," he said.

Resellers pay $US25 per unlock for licences bought in lots of 5000 or $US36 per unlock for lots of 50.

"It's a lot easier for them [the iPhoneSimFree developers] to sell bulk lots rather than having to deal with thousands of emails from people ... they probably don't have the capacity," the Australian reseller said.

But he acknowledged the possibility that Apple might release an iPhone software patch that could reverse the hack.

"There is a chance of that but iPhoneSimFree have said if the unlock is undone by any software updates then they will try and update their software through their wholesalers so we can distribute it again to all our customers," he said.

UniquePhones, a British firm that has also said it would sell an iPhone software hack, stalled its plans after reportedly receiving legal threats from AT&T.

But the boy said he was not concerned about potential legal threats arising from his new business venture. He said he did not believe Apple was worried about the hacks because "in the end for Apple it's going to increase their sales".

An Apple Australia spokesman declined to comment on the legality or otherwise of selling iPhone software hacks online.

Links:
http://www.iphonesimfree.com/
http://aussieiphoneunlock.com/

iPhone craze hits China

From AP
September 5, 2007 - 11:36AM

The new Apple iPhone can be bought in China, even though it has only been released in the United States.

And the phones, which have been unlocked by hackers, don't function properly in China despite costing almost twice the list price.

Enthusiasts willing to pay 8800 yuan ($A1425) can buy the iPhone at electronics markets in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, computer and electronics newspaper Dian Nao Bao reported yesterday.

The cost was nearly double the price of the iPhone in the United States, where the gadget can be bought for $US499 ($A608), and the phone does not work correctly, the weekly paper said.

Users can make calls and text message but can't receive calls. The voicemail function also does not work.

The iPhone is arguably the gadget of the year, combining an innovative touch-screen interface with the media-playing abilities of the iPod.

It is currently only sold in the US, where it is restricted to a single carrier, AT&T.

China already has the world's largest number of mobile phone users and the market is expected to grow rapidly in coming years as incomes rise.

The government says the number of Chinese mobile phone subscribers should reach 520 million this year, up from 460 million in 2006.

The iPhone comes amid Apple's surging popularity among young Chinese urbanites.

Many groove to tunes on iPods as they walk around town, while others hang out in coffee shops and surf the internet on Mac laptops.

One Beijing shop owner told Dian Nao Bao he gets about 30 buyers and potential buyers in one day, and that the customers don't care about the price or that the phone isn't fully functional.

The phones come from the southern industrial boomtown of Shenzhen, another vendor told the paper.

However, the report did not say how the phones got to China in the first place.

Dian Nao Bao said agents with the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce recently seized several iPhones from the Zhongguancun electronics market.

AP

Kung fu monks ropeable over online Ninja slur

From TheAge
September 3, 2007 - 12:34PM

China's Shaolin Temple has demanded and received a public apology from an internet user who posted a comment on an online forum claiming a Japanese ninja beat its kung fu-practising monks in a showdown.

An open letter from the temple posted on the internet late last week denied the fight ever took place and called on the person who posted the claim to apologise to the temple's martial arts masters.

Monks from the temple, nestled in the Songshan Mountains of central China's Henan province, said they will consider legal action if the person doesn't make a public apology.

The posting last week on the "Iron Blood Bulletin Board Community" - by someone calling themselves "Five Minutes Every Day" - described a ninja who challenged the monks of the Shaolin Temple to a fight in August after practising boxing at a Japanese mountain retreat for five years.

The internet user claimed the monks accepted the challenge and the ninja won, proving the monks are trained to perform rather than fight.

Ninjas - professional assassins trained in martial arts - date back to mediaeval Japan.

The Shaolin Temple's letter said the posting was "evil" and "a pure fabrication." It said the account of the ninja's victory had been widely commented on and distributed, especially in Japan.

"This extremely irresponsible behaviour not only impacts the Shaolin temple and its monks, but also the whole martial arts community and the Chinese people," it said.

According to some reports, the ninja-booster, Five Minutes, later posted an apology.

"What I wrote was fiction. I apologise to Shaolin Temple and all my readers," he wrote. "I hope that the Shaolin masters will exercise their Buddhist compassion and virtue, and forgive me."

The incident comes amid lingering tensions between China and Japan over World War II atrocities. China is highly sensitive to anything that smacks of Japanese militarism, particularly because many believe Tokyo has yet to show adequate remorse for its wartime actions in China.

Last year, some ten thousand Chinese protesters staged a demonstration inside an online game after a motif resembling a Hinomaru or "rising sun" Japanese flag was used in The Fantasy of the Journey West - a popular game set in the Tang dynasty period (618 - 907).

The Seed

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose
a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his
directors or his children, he decided to do something different.

He called all the young executives in his company together.

"It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO," he said. "I
have decided to choose one of you."

The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. "I am going
to give each one of you a seed today - a very special seed. I want you
to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with
what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge
the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received
a seed.

He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get
a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed.

Every day, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After
about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about
their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept
checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now,
others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and
he felt like a failure.

Six months went by - still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had
killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had
nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just
kept watering and fertilizing the soil - he so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company
brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that
he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest
about what happened.

Jim felt sick at his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing
moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right.

He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed
at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were
beautiful--in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor
and many of his colleagues laughed. A few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young
executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back.

"My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the
CEO.

"Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his
empty pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front.

Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he
will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his
seed.

Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and
then announced to the young executives, "Here is your next Chief
Executive! His name is Jim!"

Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed. How could he
be the new CEO the others said?

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a
seed.

I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me
today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not
possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers.

"When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another
seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and
honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one
who will be the new Chief Executive!"

Moral:

If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.

If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.

If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.

If you plant hard work, you will reap success.

If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap
later.

Malaysia at 50

Tall buildings, narrow minds
Aug 30th 2007
From The Economist print edition

After 50 years, Malaysia should stop treating a third of its people as not-quite-citizens

THE government of Malaysia has laid on all sorts of grand pageantry this weekend, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Malay peninsula's independence from Britain. There is much to celebrate. Living standards and access to education, health services, sanitation and electricity have soared during those five decades of sovereignty. The country's remarkable modernisation drive was symbolised, nine years ago, by the completion of the Petronas twin towers, in Kuala Lumpur, then the world's tallest buildings.

Yet there will be a hollow ring to the festivities. Malaysia's 50th birthday comes at a time of rising resentment by ethnic Chinese and Indians, together over one-third of the population, at the continuing, systematic discrimination they suffer in favour of the majority bumiputra, or sons of the soil, as Malays and other indigenous groups are called. There are also worries about creeping “Islamisation” among the Malay Muslim majority of what has been a largely secular country, and about the increasingly separate lives that Malay, Chinese and Indian Malaysians are leading. More so than at independence, it is lamented, the different races learn in separate schools, eat separately, work separately and socialise separately. Some are asking: is there really such a thing as a Malaysian?

The pro-bumiputra discrimination was laid down in the country's first constitution, in 1957, to ease Malays' fears of being marginalised by the Chinese and Indian migrants. These had come, supposedly temporarily, to work in the tin mines and plantations but were settling permanently and increasingly dominating business and the professions. The perks were extended greatly after race riots in 1969. Malays get privileged access to public-sector jobs, university places, stockmarket flotations and, above all, government contracts. The most notable result, as with South Africa's similar policy of “black economic empowerment”, has been “encronyment”—the enrichment of those well connected to the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the party that has led all governments since independence. Malays as a whole, like other races, have got richer but the gap between the Malay haves and have-nots has widened. The corruption and waste these policies engender seem to have got worse in recent years.

As criticism has grown, UMNO's leaders have resorted ever more frequently to growling that nobody should question the “social contract”. This is a reference to the metaphorical deal struck between the races at independence, in which the Malays got recognition that the country was basically theirs, while the Chinese and Indians were granted citizenship. The veiled threat of violence lurking behind calls to uphold the social contract was made explicit during last year's UMNO conference, at which one delegate talked of being ready to “bathe in blood” to defend Malay privileges and the education minister, no less, brandished a traditional Malay dagger.

The hypocritical Malay dilemma
The social contract may once have seemed necessary to keep the peace but now it and the official racism that it is used to justify look indefensible: it is absurd and unjust to tell the children of families that have lived in Malaysia for generations that, in effect, they are lucky not to be deported and will have to put up with second-class treatment for the rest of their lives, in the name of “racial harmony”. When the mild-mannered Abdullah Badawi took over as prime minister from the fire-breathing Mahathir Mohamad in 2003, there were hopes of change for the better. Mr Badawi preached a moderate, “civilisational” Islam and pledged to crack down on corruption.
Four years on, corruption, facilitated by the pro-Malay policies, is unchecked. The state continues to use draconian internal-security laws, dating back to the colonial era, to silence and threaten critics. UMNO continues to portray itself to Malays as the defender of their privileges yet tries to convince everyone else that it is the guarantor of racial harmony. One commentator this week gently described this as a “paradox”. Hypocrisy would be a better word.

The damage caused by this state racism is ever more evident. Malaysia's once sparkling growth rate has slipped. Racial quotas and protectionism are scaring away some foreign investors. While Malaysians celebrate having done rather better than former British colonies in Africa, they must also notice that South Korea, Taiwan and their estranged ex-spouse Singapore have done much better still. The economic consequences alone justify ending Malaysia's official racism. Even without them, it would still be just plain wrong.

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