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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Was busy the weekend...

While I am hot in the pursuit of tracking the cases of A(H1N1) infections worldwide, I had to have some time with my family. And last weekend was that time. With the upcoming baby girl (4th girl out of 4), we'd have to buy an extra bed, some other small things, and - this is the big thing - rearrange our bedrooms.

Saturday was doing the shopping.

Sunday was the rearranging.

Bboth days were tiresome - and fun. The 3 girls helped religiously, and while cleaning up is not always a pleasant chore, the outcome is actually the pleasurable event. So they did. We all did.

Well. For the most part that requires brute force, I did that, and for the smaller, nitty-gritty, detail-oriented activities, the ladies did it.

I finished last on my items, with a lot of peeking on the TV, when the girls, having finished earlier, decided to watch. Batman and Dr Freeze. That stopped me a lot of the time, and the funny thing is, I have watched that movie many a times. The girls also have watched that movie many times, but some things that you enjoy, you don't mind doing over and over again.

Anyway, some of the bigger pieces of furnitures have to go, and so they were dismantled and put in the storage room, and some things that were already giving way, we really have to throw them out. But wait just yet for the replacement. Coming together with the bulk of the things bought last Saturday.

Hmmm. One final thing I did today morning is to plug up the SCV connection from the bedroom TV to the living room TV, and that took about an hour on a Monday morning. But I managed to finish it.

And I was late for 15mins at work. Not a big deal, no. A one-time off of tardiness, it wouldn't kill me. And even if it happens twice, so long as it is not within the same month, which means a spaced out tardiness, that could still be accounted for. What will kill you is a tardiness that the HR folks can consider as habitual.

I'm not there yet, and I'm doing my best not to be there. I love my job, and I will keep it. I can do many, many things while I am working. Talk about freedom while working. That is what I enjoy. Hopefully, I don't get distracted with all the things that I am doing aside from my work. One mistake, and I can get sacked. So extra care while doing something aside from work.

I like doing that. For one, it really does keep me awake. I am jugglilng between three or four things at the same time. The delay doesn't matter, since it is only by some minutes, not hours. So it actually is helping me stay awake, especially at times when there is not much things to do at work. I have some things to fill up the time, instead of just passing it without doing anything. That is just unacceptable. So I found some ways to make use of the time, especially slack times.

That was when I chanced upon the idea of keeping track of the swine flu (then), so I am aware of what is happening, and to let others know also of the same fact.

I really hope that I am helping many others in what I am doing.

Till then. Keep up. I will.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

A family that cooks together

How about this one for a family matter… and a family business at that?


By Don Mendoza, TODAY | Posted: 30 May 2009 0731 hrs

090530-0731hrs SINGAPORE: It all began 20 years ago, with a humble yet emphatically elegant trattoria on Tanjong Pagar.

Nestled a few stones’ throw from the heart of the city, Trattoria Da Paolo, then, was one of only a handful of authentic Italian eateries on the island — an astonishing fact, when you consider our protracted (at least as far back as this 38-year-old can recall) and rather curious obsession with Italian food.

Capitalising on its strengths in this vastly popular cuisine, the casual start-up by executive chef Paola Scarpa and his wife Judie has since diversified and grown into a gourmet dynasty of sorts, comprising no less than 10 food and beverage enterprises.

Clearly, chef Paolo can’t be at all restaurants at one time, but he is still king of his kitchens, ensuring the standards he has worked hard to attain. His son Andrea is now also a chef and, like his dad, thrives on hard physical work, his mum Judie proudly declared.

The 22-year-old graduated top of his class at a renowned culinary academy in Parma and is currently garnering experience in Europe at leading Italian restaurants, before he returns home to help run the family business.

Call it what you want, but surviving our fickle — though not always discerning — palates and two of our country’s worst economic storms, and coming away as a leading brand name in Italian fine foods is no mean feat.

In late-June, the opening of Da Paolo Group’s latest Gastronomia outfit (its fifth gourmet store, at Marina Bay) will aim to lay proof of its continued success.

“There is always hay to be made,” Judie said. “We also believe that in this current economic gloom, our products are extremely attractive to professionals working and living in the vicinity.”

Enjoying such high quality food at a restaurant, she explained, can be a relatively expensive affair. “But these cost only a fraction at a gourmet cum eat-in concept store.”

Okay, so its new mushroom with taleggio cheese sandwich (S$10) I sampled can’t compare to the homemade egg pasta filled with braised veal in veal jus (S$24, at Da Paolo’s Il Giardino on Bukit Timah Road). But that’s not the point, is it?

While they are called sandwiches, they aren’t quite what many delis would serve. Premium ingredients aside, the freshly baked country bread I selected for my sandwich also flaunted a freshness I could actually taste.

Despite its modern-minimalist facade, the new Gastronomia outlet will be taking the same unpretentious approach to fine dining — that is, serving fine foods without the prudish peculiarities of a meal at a fine-diner.

And, unlike its other outlets, it will be serving new pasta dishes whipped up a la minute — these will average S$12 to S$15 per serving. There will also be new salads and Italian wines sold by the glass, alongside the usual staple of desserts. The lemon tart (S$8) that I often have is just the generously portioned, nicely sweet and sour delight I would go for after a light savoury meal.

But how is this thriving family business planning to keep up with Singapore’s continually changing culinary landscape? By “keeping it together in the family”, of course.

Daughter Francesca, 26, is now one of the group’s directors. “She has ambitions to bring the business to the next level, so it was a natural progression,” Judie explained.

“She also felt that it was her duty to relieve her parents of the day to day running, so that we can slow down and enjoy the fruits of our labour.”

Da Paolo Gastronomia is scheduled to open in the third week of June at The Sail (#01-15 Tower 2).

- TODAY/ yt

From; see the source article here.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

When Caught in a Trying Situation…

Some days are very good, and some days are not. Let's admit it. Some days seem to be much like the days before… not very good. Bad… worse… and to some point and some areas… really trying. And having seen all that is around you, the world news, current events, impending catastrophes, bombings, killings, melting of the ice, hazardous chemicals in children's toys and clothes, A(H1N1) virus still on the loose and threatening the whole world… name it, and you have seen it… and as you are caught in a really bad and trying day, you look to yourself, then you feel sad, remorse, anger, pity…

The economy doesn't look good, and while there are countries with a slightly better outlook in their currency, the rest of the world isn't just following that trail of good news.

While many are having the time of their life, you simply aren't. And you aren't asking that much either, you say.

And you start to pity yourself. And you pity yourself some more. And still some more.

I've been in this kind of self-pity many, many times, and what I have always learned is that it doesn't last forever. Not a lifetime, not a year, not a month, not even a week, and not even a whole day itself. Not even an hour – honest to goodness – no!

If you are thinking I do some meditation or do some rhythmic talks, or that like, no, I don't. It simply is reversing the whole process, from the inside out.

Self-pity comes when you are looking at others, outside, external, then you look to yourself, to your own internal affairs, inside of you. And what you usually see when you do that is that you see your predicaments rather than your achievements, the things that you lost rather than those that you have gained, those things you don't have, rather than what you have and enjoy.

Some things come and go, and there is no point holding and grasping them, then eventually to painfully let them go, willingly or by some force so distressing, and then to force yourself to settle without them. If we only will learn how to hold and let go, we would be happier persons.

Well, let me now get to the point that I want to drive home today.

Should you be caught in a trying situation, here are some things that you can do to reverse it:

Don't lock yourself in your room for more than 30 minutes.

Locking yourself in a room without anybody else is like cutting off an already suffering limb. It receives no nutrition and support to nurse it back to life. A ball that is rebounding and slowing down to a halt will stop faster when the area it can move about becomes smaller. Similarly, don't lock yourself in a room. That will make you think more only of yourself and your bad situation.

Talk to somebody else.

Pick up the phone, or chat with somebody. Let out a bit of steam, but don't do it angrily. Do it calmly, do it patiently. This will help to take your focus out and away from your own self. And as you express yourself calmly and patiently, you are re-composing and re-building your better self. Before you know it, you are peeping out of your box, and you are peeking into the world again.

Take a walk and smile to others you meet.

Open the door, and get out. Take a walk in the park, observe other people, Stately people, Casual people. Lowly people. And you will be surprised that there are many, many others out there who – if you'd only notice – are in an even more desperate and trying situation than you. You will then appreciate your 'better' position in life, and thank God for letting you go through it – all to make you a better person. And smile to those you meet. You may not know it, but somebody else may just be needing a smile to be brought back to life again. Keep your watch on others, and smile.

Read a book.

Especially true stories of inspiration, read on other people's lives. One way of the other, you will begin to find some stories that you can identify with, and that what they have gone through in the past you are going through now, and what they did, or what others did to help them, you may yet just make use of, to find help, to get others to help you get back to life again. And when you are done and back to circulation again, get your story into a book, into other's book if you are not writing one, so others will also have a chance to gain an insight from your experience.

Listen to inspirational music.

The easiest and most accessible of all, is to turn on the radio, or play a CD or a cassette tape, and listen to some lifting music. To inspirational music. And in situations where you are not very much in control of, what you can just easily grab and put in the player is what you would listen to most probably. And that will either be good or bad. So make sure, that while you are not in a bad situation, keep only those items that will be of help to you when you will be in a bad mood (again). The one thing we should learn is to prepare for the next flood – so we are better prepared for the next onslaught.

Read your Bible and be aflame once again.

The ever-relevant, un-outdated, basic, primary, fundamental principle of human life is already penned down many, many years ago in the Bible. And what better way to find uplifting stories of real people and a real God, with history being played out in the lives of individual men and women, from birth to childhood, to manhood/womanhood, until death, the many facets and events that happened in their lives, all recorded in the Bible, these will surely ring a bell, and throughout the pages, there is always one singular theme: "when in distress, they cried to God, and God helped them." Have you tried that before? Do it again!

Call the person you have a rift with and get reconciled.

Do unto others what you want others do unto you. And that includes the times that you are so tried and tested. And you seem to be in a lump of jelly that you want to stay on the ground, unmoving, untouched, unfeeling – paralyzed. And when in this state, we simply wanted somebody to come and say a word to us, talk to us, be given a pat on the back, a word of appreciation – whatever… and why not do that yourself? We find ourselves giving a word of advice to somebody who is having a bad day, and why not then 'follow your own advice'? and for once, be on the proactive side. Be the giver, not the receiver. Give the person you have rift with a call. Though not immediately reconciliatory, your phone call will surely start a bridge-building activity. You'll be back together in no time at all.

Say "I love you" to your spouse, especially if your spouse is the person you have a rift with.

Finally, the saddest moments in your life is when you part from your loved ones in an unpleasant manner. It will affect your whole day, your work, your social life. Like you will bump on any and every thing you come across with while walking, when driving. And mind you, that includes those concrete posts and railings. Like when angry, you are invincible! But actually, that is your weakest moment, when you are controlled by your anger, you are susceptible to almost any action – usually things that will make your regret later – if you happen to be alive still.

But when you let down your own guard, and pick up the phone, and make a call to say "I love you", while the effect is not immediate, you know that you are once again at peace with yourself, and given some more time (for sure not very, very long), your spouse will be reciprocating with the very same words of affection. Wooaahhh! Cloud 9! And isn't that life's best gifts? It's the present, and it is only for today, not tomorrow.

Easier said than done? Exactly! Actually, it is easier done than not done. And if you do it, you certainly will be jumping back to life, out of the rut, and out into the world - again. And before you know it, you would actually be 'infecting others' with your lively and bubbly countenance, spreading the good news that there is a way to being simply happy and contented than being remorseful and desperate when caught in a trying situation.

Why not try it today?

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Running late? It might be a blessing

On life's minor irritants


YOU know how it is with forwarded "spam" mail. Friends, who receive these from their friends, will send them through to you and me, and we in turn – more often than not – will click the Forward button and send them to yet other "victims" in our address book.

This is even more so when there's a message tagged at the end which says "Don't keep this to yourself, send this out to at least 10 of your friends within the next minute and you will receive a stroke of good luck!".

Well, to my good fortune, so to speak, my boss forwarded me a piece of "spam" mail the other day. However, instead of deleting it, which I've done many a time due to the limited storage I have in my office computer inbox, I decided to take a peek at it and, boy, was I glad I did.

No, it wasn't porn or a lewd joke. Nor was it a YouTube video showing Britain's Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle in full throttle, or judge Kara DioGuardi ripping open her black dress at the American Idol finals to reveal her hot bod.

It was just a simple text message entitled "The Little Things".

The piece was very dated and had probably travelled around the Internet universe a trillion times as it referred to the Sept 11 incident. However, after reading it, I felt the need to share what I had read.

It cited incidents involving "little things" that happened on the morning of the tragedy in 2001 which resulted in the people involved being spared a horrific death – from an alarm clock that didn't go off on time, to missing the bus; from a car that wouldn't start, to not being able to flag down a taxi; from having to go back home to change a soiled shirt, to stopping to answer a telephone call.

However, the one that really struck me was the story of the man who decided to put on his new shoes that morning, took various means to get to work but, before he got to the office, developed a blister on his foot and stopped at a store to buy a plaster. And, because of all these activities which inconvenienced him before he could get to his office at the World Trade Center, he is alive today.

I remember vividly an occasion when I was tempted to beat a red light as I was very late for an appointment. However, something caused me to step on the brake rather than the accelerator. The car next to me sped on – and was hit by a taxi coming through on his right.

The e-mail on "little things" has certainly put a whole new perspective on how I view less-than-perfect circumstances in my daily life, which occur ever so often: The children not getting dressed on time, getting stuck in a traffic jam, forgetting to take my mobile phone to work and having to drive home to get it, not being able to find my documents, having to perform an extra chore for the wife...

The next time I encounter similar situations, I am going to take it that that was where I was meant to be at that time. And to believe that positive outcomes would continue to emerge as a result of the inconveniences.

The writer is a senior vice-president of the SPH marketing division and the general manager of SPH NewMedia for Zapcode.

From myPaper, By The Way – Thursday, 28-May-2009

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Odourless cocaine seized

Now, this IS something!!!


BOGOTAColombian police seized a shipment of black cocaine that is almost impossible to detect with traditional anti-trafficking methods, regional police chief Fabio Cardona said on Sunday.

"It's the first time we have encountered this type of cocaine," Mr Cardona said after reporting that 15 packets of the drug had been discovered in the fuel tank of a car heading to the El Dorado airport in Bogota.

Black cocaine has no odour, making it extremely difficult to detect, even for well-trained drug-sniffing dogs.

The 15 drug packets were only found to be cocaine two days after their seizure, after police sent the stash to police laboratories to investigate their chemical compound.

Black cocaine can often be smuggled undetected — disguised as plastic coating, print cartridge toner or make-up — and effectively washed out with a solvent upon delivery. AFP

From, World News – Tuesday, 26-May-2009; see the source article here.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

CPI falls 0.7% in April

This is a related news to the 'Mum's cooking, and everyone's eating home' news, which is causing lower sales at eateries but more at groceries – a higher bill at home…


Singapore is beginning to experience deflationary pressures, as consumer prices fell last month due to lower housing and transportation costs.

Data released yesterday by the Department of Statistics showed that the consumer price index (CPI) last month fell 0.7 per cent from April 2008, the first decline since June 2005. Analysts had expected it to rise 0.4 per cent.

April's CPI reversed the 1.6-per-cent increase in March. The fall was due mainly to a decline in housing, transport and communication, as well as recreation costs. Lower electricity and conservancy charges helped push the housing component of the CPI down. Transport and communication costs slid more than 6 per cent as a result of cheaper petrol and lower car prices.

The April CPI was 1.5 per cent down from the previous month after adjusting for seasonal factors, the biggest decline since records began in 1974, Reuters reported. The central bank is forecasting that this year's overall inflation rate will be between -1 and 0 per cent.

But Mr David Cohen, a director at Action Economics, doesn't think the latest data heralds the start of a deflationary spiral: "I think this is going to be temporary — several months below zero; it does reflect the easing of inflation pressure for sure. The energy prices globally have already started to steady. And maybe we will see softness on the housing side for a while yet." Channel NewsAsia

From, Top News – Tuesday, 26-May-2009; see the source article here.

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Mum’s cooking never tasted better

In my family's case, it's mum's and dad's cooking… I'm helping in the kitchen while my wife is on her pregnancy… maybe even after that… it is something enjoyable, especially when after dinner it is a scene of empty plates and empty pots…



Household spending up as more eat at home and food prices go up


IN A bid to tighten belts, more Singaporeans are opting for home-cooked meals instead of dining out.

As a result, the average monthly household expenditure has increased by some 14 per cent, according to the latest Nielsen survey.

This is due partly to higher food prices and Singaporeans spending more on fresh produce, groceries and household items compared to the same period last year.

"Fresh food spend registered an average growth of 15 per cent across households, with the biggest jump, 27 per cent, reflected among high-income households," said Ms Ooi Pin Pin, The Nielsen Company Singapore's associate director of retail services.

Though wet markets continue to capture half of shoppers' share of wallets, they are slowly losing their customers to supermarkets and hypermarts. Wet markets registered a 9-per-cent drop in fresh food spend by consumers last year, on top of a 7-per-cent decline in 2007.

On the other hand, supermarkets and hypermarts reported an increased spending of 7.7 per cent and 53 per cent on fresh produce, respectively.

The finding was backed by Mr Tng Ah Yiam, NTUC FairPrice's director of integrated purchasing.

Sales of fresh produce at FairPrice have increased by about 15 per cent in most categories — with fruits, vegetables, bread, fish and eggs registering the biggest rise compared with last October.

He added that sales of organic products at FairPrice "have increased by more than 20 per cent compared with the year before".

To combat inflation, some seven in10 Singaporeans said they have altered their spending patterns. For instance,74 per cent of shoppers indicated that they now buy only the essentials, such as rice, bread and infant milk.

Higher food prices, according to the survey, have led to shoppers cutting down on impulse buys such as chocolates, soft drinks and snacks.

However, said Mr Tng, this was not the case at FairPrice.

"Sales of non-essential food items — snacks, chocolates, ice-cream — remain largely unaffected. In fact, some items have seen sales increase. We believe this could be due to more customers opting to spend time at home in the recession," he said.

Nielsen surveyed 1,300 households between September and November last year. The inflation rate in November was 5.5 per cent. Singapore's inflation rate unexpectedly fell to -0.7 per cent last month, its first decline since June 2005. Food prices, however, rose 3.6 per cent.

From, Top News – Tuesday, 26-May-2009; see the source article here.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Slow recovery prompts review

Points to consider for employers? employees?



Pearl Forss, 

WITH the increasing unemployment rate and a projected fall in GDP in Singapore, the tripartite partners — comprising the government, employers and unions — have issued updated guidelines to help companies lower costs and save jobs.

Some green shoots may have appeared in the economy but we are not out of the woods. Hence, the tripartite labour partners have decided to update their guidelines that were first issued last November, as many companies continue to grapple with low demand and excess manpower.

Secretary-general of NTUC, Lim Swee Say, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said: “The global economy may be performing better, at least for the second quarter. But in Singapore, the tripartite partners are very mindful that we are still a long way from a sustained recovery.”

The guidelines state that if shorter work weeks are to be implemented, it should not exceed three days in a week, or last more than three months at any one instance, subject to review.



Shorter work week

  • Ask workers to take up to 50 per cent of their earned annual leave
  • Implement the reduction in work week such that it does not exceed three days in a week and not last for more than three months at any one time, subject to review
  • Pay the affected employees not less than half of their salary on the day(s) when the employees are not working, during the period when the shorter week is implemented
  • Leverage on Spur to send workers for skills upgrading on the day(s) when they are not working, and claim absentee payroll — a move that will benefit both employees and employer

Temporary layoff

  • Request for employees to take up to 50 per cent of their annual leave
  • Implement the lay off period such that it does not exceed one month at any one instance subject to review
  • Pay the affected employee not less than half of their salary during the layoff period


Employees should also not be paid less than half of their salaries on the days they are not working.

Likewise, if temporary layoffs are necessary, the period should not exceed one month, subject to review, and employees should not be paid less than half their salaries.

For shorter work weeks and temporary layoffs, the guidelines also suggest requesting workers to take up to 50 per cent of their earned annual leave.

In implementing no-pay leave, companies should have first put in place other cost-cutting measures.

Vice-president of the Singapore National Employers Federation, Bob Tan, said: “Workers don’t earn a lot . So if they have no-pay leave, they got to find other ways and means of earning a living ... But it’s better to have no-pay leave and send the workers for training than to retrench the workers. So I think these guidelines take into account what is fair for the workers but at the same time enables the company to continue operating.”

As for pay cuts, the guidelines recommend management should lead by example and take deeper cuts.

Deputy secretary-general of NTUC, Heng Chee How, said: “When it comes to things that affect wages, then can you do it in such a way that you can get a buy-in from the workers? Management should lead by example so workers will know that this is true and they are not taken for a ride.”

In a period of slack, companies are also encouraged to send their workers for upgrading. They can pick from the over 1000 subsidised courses under the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (Spur).

And if retrenchment is inevitable, the compensation should be calculated based on the pay the worker was drawing prior to any wage cuts.

The prevailing norm is to pay a retrenchment benefit varying between two weeks and one month salary per year of service.

Companies should consult workers if retrenchment becomes necessary and notify the Manpower Ministry as soon as possible.

The guidelines also recommend making the monthly variable component (MVC) a permanent feature in calculating salaries.

Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong said: “We want to encourage our employers who have implemented wage cuts this time, that when they restore the wage cuts, to put in the MVC so that it will create more flexibility in our wage system.”

Companies facing problems can turn to the tripartite upturn strategy teams at for help. Channel NewsAsia

From TODAY, News – Monday, 18-May-2009

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I tried… and will try again… until I succeed

Tuesday, 19-May-2009

A famous quotation from Theodore Roosevelt is below:

"In the battle of life it is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

How true of it, then, and now, and in the future.

While there are many men who knew a great deal of anything, they come short of acting on what they know. That is why, in the world of discovery, the great men and women always blaze the trail to uncover and rediscover many a great things that has been known in the past, what is unknown in the present, and what is the possibility in the future.

Even to the point of being branded a heretic. Take the example of Copernicus.

During the 16th century, it was the belief that the Earth is the center of the universe. (I mean, don't you see this now, in the 21st century, where people thinks that the world revolves around them?) When he presented his thoughts and discoveries, he was rejected! And why not?



Using the naked eye, following the pinpricks of light in the night sky, Nicholas Copernicus, born in Poland 19 years before the discovery of America, put forth the radical theory that the earth revolves around the sun, not the sun around the earth. He overturned Ptolemy's entrenched theories and laid the groundwork for today's astronomy.


But he did make his assertions, against all odds, against the currently prevailing school of thought and teachings of Ptolemy. And in doing so, he laid the groundwork for later studies and discoveries:


Copernicus's Theory

While residing at the Frauenburg Cathedral, Copernicus made the majority of the important observations that he would use later in calculating his planetary theory. Interestingly, he would later borrow, without credit, many of Ptolemy's observations to supplement his own.

In an attempt to unravel the mystery of the daily pattern of motion in the sky above him, Copernicus devised an explanation which provides the essential elements of our modern-day theory. Published the year of his death, 1543, and delivered to him on his deathbed, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium -- On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres -- was Copernicus's great triumph: a mathematical explanation of his theory that was appealing for its relative simplicity.

Striving for basic answers to the questions raised by the motion of space, Copernicus arrived at a fundamental conclusion: the earth and all other planets revolve around the sun. It is difficult to conceive today of how radical this assertion was, for the Copernican solar system is as firmly entrenched now as Ptolemy's theory was in Copernicus's day.

The very notion that the earth even moved had to be explained, for Ptolemy had asserted that the earth stood still while the other planets rotated around it. Even so, Copernicus stated that the earth revolves around (orbits) the sun and that it completes one full rotation around its axis every day. The very mobility of Earth, then, was another of Copernicus's great contributions and it made up the entire first portion of De revolutionibus.

Though Copernicus even used his theory to explain the motion of other celestial bodies, he was never able to prove his assertions mathematically. In fact, his proposal of circular orbits for Earth and the other planets was found to be false and many of his calculations were quite inaccurate. However, his theory aroused significant interest, and the early 17th century brought with it astronomers Galileo and Kepler and finally also the long-awaited proof and refinement of Copernicus's theory.


What do I say then? It was even said that Einstein's preface on his first book was an apology to his teacher, Newton, for he would be disproving his instructor's many teachings.

That topic being aside, the point again here is that, while there would be many obstacles, and while there may be many contrary beliefs, the real acid test of our courage is whether we push through or retreat when we are already facing these giants, the mountains of our journey.

There is, of course, the very indispensable value of understanding what you are doing, determining the direction where you are headed, weighing the pros and cons, the estimation of your load – whether you are able to carry on when you have hit a flat tire and you have to proceed on your own two feet… alone. There is the value of that indispensable tool.

And while it is very true, that "Knowing is half the battle", if you don't act on anything, you also, as logic stands, will not accomplish anything. My children have caught that very thought, and when I go through with them on my 'sermon without text' session, they will be more likely to rhyme with me:

"If you do nothing, you will finish nothing; if you study nothing, you will finish nothing; if you graduate with nothing, you will land a job of nothing. You will earn nothing – then you will eat nothing."

Finally, here is a suiting quotation to close, but not end, our 'nothing' post:

"It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all."

At least, to say it out loud, "I tried", "I did my best", and "I will try again"… "until I succeed."

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Monday, May 18, 2009

'Evil' China sex park torn down: state media

Way to go… some things aren't really that worth putting up, even just thinking about…


By AFP | Posted: 18 May 2009 1556 hrs

Sex theme park in southwest China that has been ordered to be torn down

BEIJING, China: A sex theme park in southwest China that featured giant genitals and a sex-technique workshop has been torn down after officials said it had an "evil influence" on society, state media said Monday.

"Love Land" was due to open in Chongqing municipality ahead of China's national day on October 1, but it was ordered to close following an investigation by local authorities, the Global Times reported.

Besides displays on sex history and techniques, the park boasted a giant rotating statue of the lower portion of a nearly naked woman bent over at the waist.

The Global Times published a photo of workers in the Nan'an district of Chongqing pulling down the statue from a podium covered in flowers.

"The investigation determined the park's content was vulgar and that it was neither healthy nor educational," an official was quoted as saying.

"It had an evil influence on society and had to be torn down immediately."

He Shizhong, head of the municipal publicity department, said the company behind the park had "ignored its social responsibility and was interested only in profiting from sensationalism," the paper reported.

Images of the park's content found their way on the Internet last week and sparked widespread debate and controversy, with the majority of comment opposed to the site.

But some people expressed disappointment that the park had been torn down.

"The park was above board, so why was it pulled down? How can a country get powerful if it doesn't open its mind?" one person was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

From; see the source article here.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Web piracy? ‘C’est fini’



French lawmakers vote for tough punishment for illegal downloaders

PARIS - French lawmakers on Tuesday adopted a tough Bill to combat Internet piracy by cutting off the Web to illegal downloaders, after one of the sharpest debates of Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency.

The National Assembly, dominated by Mr Sarkozy's right-wing party, passed the Bill by a vote of 296 to 233 and the measure was set to go before the Senate for final approval yesterday.

The legislation, described as one of the toughest drafted against Internet piracy around the world, would punish those who pirate music and film by shutting down their access to the Internet for up to a year.

The Bill enjoys broad support from the music and film industry in France and abroad, but consumer groups and the Socialist opposition have warned it will be difficult to implement.

Under the Bill, a state agency known by the acronym Hadopi will be set up to track and punish those who pirate music and movies on the Internet, serving as a go-between for content providers and Internet service providers.

It will set up a "three-strikes" system for offenders who first receive an email warning, then a letter and finally lose their Internet account for up to a year if they are caught a third time.

Socialist deputy Patrick Bloche, who voted against the Bill, called it a "law of intimidation" that amounted to "a lose-lose situation for artists and for Internet users".

Supporters hope the Bill will wean Web users away from pirated films and music, and towards fledgling legal download sites.

More than 10,000 French filmmakers and musicians, from Johnny Hallyday to Catherine Deneuve, have signed a petition backing the Bill while the Directors Guild of America has thrown its weight behind the measure.

Consumer groups say the Bill is unnecessarily harsh on downloaders who would still have to continue paying their Internet subscription fees after they are cut off. AFP

From TODAY, World – Thursday, 14-May-2009

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Overly Generous… to one’s self?

I found this striking thought about being generous to others, and more so, to one’s self… self-indulgence? May we not fall into this bondage… please God.


“An upscale London department store launched a new gift card with the slogan, “The Gift of Self-Indulgence.” Throughout the store, signs, slogans, and even nametags called attention to the cards. According to one employee, sales of the gift cards during the first weeks of the promotion had been very strong, far exceeding company expectations. Generosity may prompt a person to give a luxurious gift to someone special, but too often we find it easier to purchase what we want for ourselves.”


From Our Daily Bread, “The Gift of Self-Indulgence”, 16-May-2009

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pirates turn to books

Talk about stealing… perjury… plagiarizing… as I have read in one book, the only way for you to be sure not to have your work copied, pirated, is NOT TO PUBLISH IT!



05:55 AM May 13, 2009

NEW YORK - Science fiction author Ursula K Le Guin was using document-sharing website Scribd last month when she came across digital copies of her books.

But neither Ms Le Guin nor her publisher had authorised the electronic editions. To her, it was a rude introduction to the quietly proliferating problem of digital piracy in the literary world.

“I thought, who do these people think they are?” she said. “Why do they think they can violate my copyright and get away with it?”

Unlike in the music business, to authors and publishers in the age of electronic readers, it’s new and frightening territory.

For a while now, determined readers have been able to sniff out errant digital copies of titles as varied as the Harry Potter series and best sellers by Stephen King and John Grisham.

But some publishers say the problem has ballooned recently as an expanding appetite for e-books has spawned a bumper crop of pirated editions on document-sharing websites like Scribd and Wattpad, as well as on file-sharing services.

John Wiley and Sons, a publisher that issues the For Dummies series, employs three full-time staff members to trawl for unauthorised copies. Mr Gary Rinck, general counsel, said in the last month, the company had sent notices on more than 5,000 titles - five times more than a year ago - asking websites to take down digital versions of Wiley’s books.

Sites like Scribd and Wattpad, which invite users to upload documents like college theses and self-published novels, have been the target of industry grumbling in recent weeks, as illegal reproductions of popular titles have turned up on them. Both sites say they remove such books once notified.

Until recently, publishers believed books were safe from piracy because it was so labour-intensive to convert a book to a digital file. Reading on the computer was also unappealing compared with a printed version.

Now, with publishers producing more digital editions, it is potentially easier for hackers to copy files. And the popularity of electronic reading devices like the Kindle make it easier to read in digital form.
Book sales are down, and publishers say it is difficult to determine whether electronic piracy is denting sales.

For some writers, tracking down illegal e-books is simply not worth it. “The question is, how much time and energy do I want to spend chasing these guys,” best-selling author Stephen King said. THE NEW YORK TIMES

From TODAY, World – Wednesday, 13-May-2009

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MC? I don’t want

Well, I'm working in Singapore, but I'm not practicing this; I take whatever MC I am given, but only happens very rarely


As recession bites, S'pore workers are showing up at work despite being sick

05:55 AM May 13, 2009

IN AN ominous finding, a workplace survey has shown that employees here are turning up for work despite being sick, even as Singapore braces for the arrival of the H1N1 virus that is rapidly spreading across the globe.

According to the results of the 2009 Workplace Survey released yesterday by human resource specialists Robert Half, 61 per cent of Singaporean respondents cited a fear of falling behind on their workloads as their greatest concern for showing up when ill, highest among the more than 6,000 polled in 20 countries including the United States and Japan.

Some 52 per cent of the local respondents fear that too many sick days could go against them, while 50 per cent did not want to be perceived by superiors and peers as not working, the highest rates among those surveyed.

And as Singapore's worst recession continues to bite, workers here are feeling increasingly stressed.

Globally, Singapore ranks only second to Japan, with 69 per cent and 71 per cent of respondents, respectively, who expect workplace stress levels to rise this year.

The main reasons cited for the expected increase in stress levels are worries about job security and excessive workloads due to under-staffing. According to the respondents in Singapore, the main effects of rising stress levels are lower staff morale (64 per cent) and lower quality of work or service (37 per cent).

Some 32 per cent also feel that decreased productivity due to stress-related issues would be the most significant cost to the company, followed by increased employee turnover (24 per cent) and a drop in the quality of work or service (19 per cent).

Rising stress levels at work are also taking a toll on employees' personal lives and welfare.

And Singapore again ranked highest globally when it comes to employees checking company emails outside working hours, with 26 per cent spending on average 30 to 44 minutes a day doing this.

From TODAY, Singapore – Wednesday, 13-May-2009

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Ohio teen expects to be suspended for trip to prom

It may sound too conservative, but taking this news verbatim, the boy is aware, but “didn’t think” that what he did was wrong; that means he is aware of the rule and the consequences. So even if the stepfather files a lawsuit, this may be where his case will fail. What do you think?


AP - Monday, May 11

FINDLAY, Ohio - An Ohio teenager says he expects to be suspended from a Christian school for attending a public school prom with his girlfriend.

Officials at Heritage Christian School in Findlay had warned 17-year-old Tyler Frost that he would be suspended and prohibited from attending graduation if he went to the Saturday dance. The fundamentalist Baptist school in northwest Ohio forbids dancing, rock music and hand holding.

Frost says he went to the dance because he wanted to experience the prom and didn't think it was wrong.

School officials say he could complete his final exams separately to receive a diploma.

Frost's stepfather says the rules shouldn't apply outside of school and he may take legal action if Frost is suspended.

From Yahoo! News; see the source article here.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Innocent? We want your DNA

Despite opposition, UK Home Secretary proposes new DNA database policy


04:02 PM May 08, 2009

LONDON - The genetic profiles of hundreds of thousands of innocent people are to be kept on the national DNA database for up to 12 years. But critics claim the scheme is designed to sidestep a European human rights ruling that the “blanket” retention of suspects’ data is unlawful.

The proposed new rules for the national DNA database to be put forward today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith include plans to keep the DNA profiles of innocent people who are arrested but not convicted of minor offences for six years.

The proposal would also apply to children from age 10 who are arrested but never successfully prosecuted. In cases of more serious violent and sexual crime, innocent people’s genetic codes will be kept for 12 years.

It was widely expected that the DNA profiles, samples and fingerprints of 850,000 innocent people kept on the database would be destroyed in response to the ruling by the European court of human rights last December.

But the proposals fall short of those expectations and contrast sharply with the situation in Scotland, where only the DNA profiles of suspects arrested for serious violent and sexual offences are retained for a maximum of five years.

The Home Secretary said that the DNA database, which was set up in 1995 and holds information on about 4.5 million people, was a “vital tool” in fighting crime.

“These new proposals will ensure that the right people are on it, as well as considering where people should come off,” said Ms Smith.

However, human rights groups, and opposition politicians united yesterday in expressing dismay that the Home Office had rejected that option and predicted a race to the courts to challenge the new policy.

Ms Shami Chakrabarti, head of civil liberties group Liberty, said: “Wholly innocent people - including children - will have their most intimate details stockpiled for years on a database that will remain massively out of step with the rest of the world.”

Data on jailed criminals will continue to be stored for life, but young people convicted of only one minor offence will have their DNA samples deleted when they reach 18 years of age.

Ms Smith added the database proposals would ensure that “the right people are on it, as well as considering where people should come off”.

The Home Office estimates that even this package will mean 4,500 fewer crimes each year being detected compared with the current policy of retaining indefinitely the profiles of all those arrested.

From TODAY, World – Friday, 08-May-2009

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