Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Lucky 2008!

Er Ling Ling Ba means 2008

Ba is the Chinese for 8 and it's lucky because it sounds like fa which means prosperity. The character ba is written like two legs or like a lowercase n without the bridge at the top - 八.

To prove the point that the Chinese take the number 8 very seriously:

In China you buy mobile phone numbers from a long list provided by the salesperson. They vary from about $5 to about $10 normally. To get a number with lots of 8s you would pay $50 or more.

The olympic games are taking place in Beijing. They will start on the 8th day of the 8th month in the 8th year of this millenium at 8pm.

So here's my tip for 2008...

Now's the time to invest in China!

8 is a very lucky number in China so everyone there will expect to have a great year. Now in the real world this shouldn't mean anything but it's like the opposite of a bank-run. Everyone expects themselves and everyone else to have a great year so they act as if it definitely will happen - higher expected income, higher spending. Positive mindset creates a good atmosphere and people find it easier to overcome challenges.

And there are 1.3billion people thinking like this - that's a lot of people.

The really big questions will come for China once the Olympics are over. It will be interesting to observe and I would sell up during the Olympics. The challenge China will face is that the government has hyped everyone up to such a point about the Olympics, when it's over there is only one way for people to go.

Have a great 二零零八年!


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Sunday, January 21, 2007


I was pretty shocked to discover what the British government pays for Children to be learning. Even though this was reported 3-5 years ago, it still continues:

"We are interested to know what the Bible says about Science not because we wish to add a certain "religious flavour" to our Science lessons but because the Bible provides us with, as it were, spectacles through which the whole of reality can be sharply focussed."

This, I suppose is the sort of religious flavour that tells us the world is 10,000 years old. What sort of perspective does someone have on the world who is brought up to believe that the world is 10,000 years old?!

Or perhaps the following view is what we should flavour science with:

"Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, [b] O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt."

5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD." 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. [c] Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

7 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'

9 "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation."
Exodus 32, Source

In this interesting bible story, God decides to destroy thousands of people because they started observing an alternative religion and "they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry".

I am confused as to what positive lessons genocide teaches children? What exact religious flavour will enhance their understanding of how the world works? What benefit learning about these justified (even praised) genocides has to young people?

Another perspective:,,1389500,00.html


Friday, January 12, 2007

Je suis un photographer?!

Bad French? I must be a wanna-be artist. Here goes anyway!

Arty Photo

Black and Blue

The first picture is out of my office window (I was on a break!). The really amazing thing about this one is that the whole day there was a gale blowing outside the window. Suddenly the sun emerges low in the sky and casts long shadows over the town. The picture looks black and white but actually you can still see the blue at the top.

Busy Blur

Busy Blur

What a great pun! Sitting opposite the Dominian Theatre waiting for Camille to get out from Church at 8.30am on a Sunday morning. It feels a bit like a time-warp.



A distant cloud on the horizon. It's like a memory of a happy day flowing by. Like a thought passing through a magnifying glass. Like a bubble crossing a bubble of a life.

C'est tout!

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Internet Explorer - Scurge of the Web

It will achieve absolutely nothing but making me feel a little better, but I have a strong need to rant about Microsoft Internet Explorer.

I'm sure anyone who runs at the sound of 'HTML' doesn't even have the slightest idea but Internet Explorer is the most aweful and useless piece of software in existence. It would be like making a car which runs on a mythical non-existant type of petrol. Imagine - you stop at the petrol station and you ask for your mythical petrol. They should say no. But actually what they do is they take normal petrol, they spend days 'tweaking' it until it works in your car then they sell it to you at half the price.

I mean that would be crazy right? Why would they bother?

No - really - that is what is happening. Every website you visit has been made out of normal 'stuff' (let's not use techy acronyms). It's made beautifully and artfully so that you can have a pleasant dreamy experience. But then it's hacked to pieces, it's re-built with struts and supports like a tree that is far too old (the one in Sherwood Forest springs to mind!) just so that Internet Explorer can (sort of) display it as intended. The lengths that the poor people who put their hearts into these websites go to just so that Internet Explorer can continue to get away with 'running on mythical petrol'.

Let's have a guess at how we would estimate the economic cost to the world of Internet Explorer (it's gonna be high!).

The core impact of it's uselessness is web developers' time. It probably takes at least 1.5x the time it would otherwise take if everyone used Opera (for example). Well they have a living to make and so they charge this in full to the people who pay them - the companies hosting websites. So every website ever developed has cost 50% more than necessary. I think when you consider that even tiny websites can cost £200 while most commercial ones cost over £5000, you begin to see the scale of things.

Oh then let's add in the lost revenue of companies whose websites haven't worked in Internet Explorer - that's gotta count for a few billion.

Then we can add in the cost of security leaks - all those hackers shutting down government computers.

If it doesn't exceed all the money Bill Gates has ever made (oh Internet Explorer is made by Microsoft if you didn't know), then I'd be surprised. Maybe the world should sue Bill for all the money his company has cost us, let alone the psychological damage.


This rant has a simple solution. Download Opera. Three reasons. First, you can zoom into pages - click the "+" key on your keyboard and the site gets bigger - trust me - this is amazing! Second - widgets - read this blog in a cool modern looking thing which pops up and down, rather than in this quite boring website. Third - mouse gestures - open a link in a new tab by right clicking and moving the mouse up then down - it's sooooo easy.

My God - I'm using the porsche of browsers for free while everyone else uses the run down ford fiesta that needs mythical petrol. Are you all crazy? Absolutely off your heads? It's like someone is handing money to you - not wanting anything in return. It is simply better - there is absolutely no (yes absolutely no!) drawbacks to it. Nothing zilch!

Opera with Widgets

Here is a screen shot of my computer running opera (zoomed out a bit on BBC page) with my photo widget displaying a shot of Shanghai and my Blog widget displaying a post from a few days ago.

Ahhh...rant over! Please boycott Internet Explorer - it's rubbish and it causes mental anguish all over the world. (for the brave or tech-savy: IE Bugs Galore)

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Pretending I'm Somewhere Interesting

It could be perceived as a little desperate (?) or perhaps sad (?) or maybe just different (?). But with the volume of posts you could just assume I'm travelling the world, visiting exciting countries, witnessing beautiful events unfold.

Here, for example is an exotic sunrise. I'm enjoying my current situation, living life in the 'real' England (not just the cities and tourist hotspots!). I am finding the British people very friendly and the food is pretty good - although it's definitely too bland for my tastes!

Wantage Sunrise

Romantic Sunrise in Wantage

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

UK Weather?

This is the view right now out of my office window.

I'm looking for opinions - what does it look like?

What Does It Look Like?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Chinese Meal in London

As our New Year 'treat' Camille and I had a Chinese in China Town. For some reason Camille wanted to go to the same restaurant as we had gone to the previous year. We actually got the same table. I suppose it was romantic in some way!

Here (for any Chinese people still reading this!) is what a British Chinese Meal looks like:

Dumplings Chicken Wings

Grilled Dumplings ***; Chicken Wings **

Later we went to the ridgeway in Oxfordshire to see in the New Year in a peaceful way (as opposed to A. Drunk or B. Squashed, Wet and Cold), with the fireworks all over the Vale of the White Horse shooting up into the sky creating an awesome light show in a break between the awesome special effects added by Nature.

New Year Lights Trafalgar Square

New Year Lights and Fireworks; Trafalgar Square

Actually I think this was my favourite New Year. Such a relaxing and romantic evening. Perfect.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I've been reading an incredible book since Christmas. It's called "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". It's philosophical but it has a gripping story. The writing style is unlike any I've read before.

For example the author gives himself a voice and starts to 'talk' out of the blue in the middle of a chapter. It would seem a little random but is intriguing rather than annoying. In another part he writes a chapter as an afterthought to a previous chapter - writing this quite clearly. It's as if part of the book is a narrative about writing a book.

The story is of a husband and wife. From when the meet through to ... ? I haven't finished yet. I think they die though - there were some hints. It's set in Prague in the 60s and 70s. The man is a prolific womaniser, the woman knows this but has deep rooted 'issues' and won't leave him despite the infidelity.


Book Cover; Random Image from Google Images (search for book title!)

What I think I like is the lack of detail. It skims over the story and puts most of the 'effort' into describing emotions and thoughts. At the same time I think I'm gripped by the story.

It's by Milan Kundera (amazon link).

I suppose I felt compelled to share that as the book is so intriguing. I'm going to post some photos in a seperate post.


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