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July 2009

All the news we found by reading yesterday's paper

Today's SCMP has a big story on the front page of the City section informing us that Cable TV would like to provide a free-to-air television channel.  They say that it's unfair that TVB has a Pay TV service and free-to-air terrestrial channels, but no-one else is allowed to do both.  Which seems like a fair point.

Indeed, it was a point that Cable TV's very own spokesman put forward in a letter in Tuesday's edition of the SCMP - though you wouldn't know this from reading the story in today's paper. 

If anyone at the SCMP actually read the letters before they publish them, they would presumably have had the wit to put the story in Tuesday's paper and not make themselves look like idiots by running it 24 hours later.


We call it a term - get over it!

In Hong Kong, you often find the UK and US versions of books sitting next to each each on the shelves.  And generally the US version is significantly cheaper, but for many books from the UK I don't want the US version.

Because they change stuff. 

I remember reading the first of the Charlie Bone books and being really confused because it seemed to be set in the UK and yet it talked about semesters rather than terms.  Had I really got the wrong idea?  No, the US publisher had employed someone to go through the book and change all those pesky UK English words to their American English equivalents.

Is this really necessary?  Wouldn't it be possible to have a brief glossary to explain a few of the terms that are different?


Eat more, eat less

A recent study showed that being "overweight" can be good for you (Study: Overweight People Live Longer):

There is more evidence that people who are overweight tend to live longer than people who are underweight, normal weight, or obese.  In a newly published study, people who were underweight and those who were extremely obese died the earliest.

People who were overweight, but not obese, actually lived longer than people whose weight was considered normal, based on body mass index (BMI).

This seems counter-intuitive because we are always told that we should be losing weight.  But wait - monkeys who are given 30% less food appear to stay healthier and live longer

Over 20 years, monkeys whose diets were not restricted were nearly three times more likely to have died than those whose calories were counted.

Writing in Science, the US researchers hailed the "major effect" of the diet.

It involved reducing calorie intake by 30% while maintaining nutrition and appeared to impact upon many forms of age-related disease seen in monkeys, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and brain atrophy.

It seems as if there is a study somewhere out there that will support almost any theory.


B&Q moves out

I see that B&Q are closing their only store in Hong Kong, in the lovely Megabox in Kowloon Bay.  The SCMP rather ridiculously compares this to Carrefour's withdrawal from Hong Kong a few years ago, but somehow doesn't have the space to explain what actually happened. 

B&Q simply had the wrong type of shop for Hong Kong (and in the wrong place, probably), whereas Carrefour found that several key suppliers were reluctant to do business with them - having been sent a clear message by the PnS/Wellcome duopoly that competition is not really such a good thing after all.   


Damp squib

Another weekend, another typhoon signal. 

Looking at the predicted direction of Tropical Storm Soudelor it never looked likely that it was going to come anywhere close to Hong Kong.  Yet the Observatory raised the no.3 (strong wind) signal - and on the basis that you can never be too careful the management here closed our outdoor swimming pool and applied tape to the windows of the clubhouse.  It was a bit windy, certainly, but it was never going to anything more than blow rubbish around.

A few hours later the Observatory abandoned the no.3 signal.  Thanks, guys.


Chrome

After the browser, the operating system.  As with the Chrome browser, it would appear that Google's main interest may be in prompting Microsoft to respond.  If Microsoft can offer a cheaper (and smaller) OS to run on Netbooks, then that will bring down prices and encourage more people to go online more often - and click on more Google ads.

In other Google news, GMail is no longer in "beta", a mere ten years after it was launched.  Oh, alright, it's only just over five years.

Just recently they announced a few more minor improvements, the best of which is that you can 'hide' labels that you don't use very much.   There are a still a whole big pile of things they ought to do, such as label hierachies and allowing you to add or remove emails from conversations (there's a list of some of them here).  One day.


Panic?

A 76-year-old man gets the flu, and is now in a "serious condition".  It's swine flu, so this is news.

People get flu.  Unfortunately some of them do die, especially if they are elderly or sick.  This is nothing new - flu is much more serious than a cold (even if most people get them confused).

Do not panic.  Do not close all schools (oh, they did already?).


On off

Virgin Atlantic aren't having much luck with doubling their number of flights to London.  They introduced a second flight (3 days a week), and then came 9/11 and they cancelled it.

They  announced a second flight in 2006, but it never happened (Even more options).

Then one year ago they announced it again, and it was duly introduced in October 2008.  Unfortunately it is being suspended from 27 September.

Meanwhile, Virgin's Australian operation may start flying to Hong Kong (V Australia adds Hong Kong to list of possible new routes).


A bear?

Wellcome are currently running a promotion which features Paddington, the bear from Darkest Peru who lives in London (at 32 Windsor Gardens) with the Brown family. 

What shouldn't have surprised me, I suppose, was that people in Hong Kong wouldn't have any idea about Paddington or that there are a whole series of books about him.

He's a bear?  From Peru?  I never knew that...