HK leader's secret basement: pix

mountain fortress

THE NEW LEADER in Hong Kong has got off to a bad start—and he hasn’t even started yet. Leung Chun-ying starts work on July 1. But he is being heavily criticized for having illegal structures under his home.

To put this in context, the Hong Kong government is extremely strict about following building regulations and frequently makes life miserable for little people. But it seems that the rich and powerful can get away with it. That’s why people are cross.

I once got into trouble for having a flower pot outside my front door. True story.


BUDDHISTS WANTING TO gain good karma bought hundreds of live snakes and set them free. Neighbors were not impressed.

More than 200 snakes were let loose in China’s Hebei province by a group called Let Blessings and Wisdom Grow, whose members believe that releasing animals generates good fortune.


A passer-by alerted nearby villagers, who beat a few of the snakes to death, and narrowly resisted doing the same to the visitors.

Reading about the incident in the UK Daily Telegraph on-line gave me shivers, as it reminded me of the time I used to live around the corner from a live snake shop.

The shopkeeper had everything from keelbacks to banded kraits to cobras at about US$10 per kilo (same price whether you wanted to cook them or release them).

I lived in terror of a group of happy Buddhists turning up, buying the lot and releasing them on my front doorstep. Good karma for WHO, that’s my question? Not me.

I reckon that the real problem is that instead of classifying animals the proper scientific way as:




squishy things

creepy crawlies

and so on, Asian systems divide animals into “evil” and “non-evil” categories.

Snakes are “maximum evil” and so generate maximum karma.

Last year, a Buddhist group in China released a large number of foxes (which are classified as “medium evil” along with weasels and government officials) next door to a chicken farm containing 20,000 birds.

The farmer failed to see the funny side. (As did the chickens, I imagine.)


TALKING OF POULTRY, chickens are being reverse-engineered into dinosaurs, BBC Science reported last week.

I am not making this up. DNA-doctoring has already created a chicken with a reptile-like snout (below) instead of a beak, and Harvard evolutionary biologist Arhat Abzhanov hopes to develop live “chicken-o-saurus” beasts.

You know who I feel sorry for? The foxes released by Buddhist groups such as the abovementioned Let Blessings and Idiocy Grow.

One day, a fox is going to break into a hen coop and find a MAJOR surprise waiting for him. “Oops. Sorry, ladies,” he’ll say, looking up and backing out as fast as he can.

On the upside, consumers will get extra choices at KFC.

BUYER: “Fried chicken leg please.”

STAFF: “Regular chicken leg or seventy kilo chicken-o-saurus claw?”

chicken giant


PRESIDENT OBAMA last week issued a surprise order allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the US. So, FINALLY he’s going to admit to being a Muslim from Kenya. (If Donald Trump is reading this, don’t get over-excited, it’s a joke.)



THERE IS NOW only 58 cm of road for each citizen of Shenzhen, officials told the Shenzhen Daily newspaper last week.

This 15-million-strong city in Southern China has grown faster than any other community in the world, with the possible exception of “people who don’t like Justin Bieber”.

If you’re planning a driving holiday in Shenzhen, don’t expect to spend happy hours motoring down the open road with the wind in your hair.

shenzhen traffic


THE FREUDIAN SLIP, a belief that spoken errors reveal the issues which are really on our minds, really exists, scientists confirmed last week. Yes, when it comes to grabbing headlines, scientists know just the right bottoms to press. Er, buttons.



TO RETURN to someone we all love to tease, I note that twice recently Donald Trump has been called “a clown”. This is unfair to clowns. Their hair isn’t nearly so ridiculous.

trump hair


watermelon hong kong

In Asia, cops don’t rely merely on human skills

AFTER A CRIME WAVE swept through their district, police launched a unique new crime-fighting method. They smashed a pumpkin on their doorstep.

They believed that this action, accompanied by suitable chants, wouldcall down the gods to their side.

But officers at Gudiyattam police station in Vellore, India, were sneered at by journalists last week, who thought this showed “desperation”.

I see nothing wrong with what the police did, which is common throughout Asia.

Even in ultra-hi-tech Hong Kong, you’ll find statues of Guan Yu in every police station.

That arrangement ran into problems when police noticed robber gangs also adopted Guan Yu as their patron saint.

The dispute has now been sorted.

Temples issue police stations with right-handed Guan Yu statues said to enhance law enforcement skills.

Robbers are issued left-handed Guan Yu statues which aid criminality. (Asian gods are very flexible, not like Western ones.)

On a practical front, any religious ceremony that involves smashing pumpkins has definite visual appeal and should be encouraged.

Even better, someone should organize a ceremony based around the Holy Dropping of a Watermelon Off a Building (pic at top). That I’d sign up for.


TALKING OF crime, I can’t help but feel a nagging admiration for the masked raider who robbed a shop in the UK last week while holding a mug of coffee. He marched into the Manchester store with the steaming drink in his right hand, terrorized the shopkeeper into filling a sack with goods, and then strolled off, still sipping. A cop at the scene described the man as “nonchalant”. Imagine how efficient this robber would be AFTER his coffee.


A TOP ASIAN economist proposed a “hotness” tax for men. Good-looking guys would be heavily taxed, while ugly ones would get deep tax reductions on a sliding scale of hideousness, said Takuro Morinaga of Tokyo.

The result would be to make all men equally attractive, boosting the rate of marriages, births, economic activity, etc.

ugly people funny

The report was forwarded to me by reader Chris Huber of Hong Kong, who said: “I know some guys who would be totally exempted from paying any tax at all.”

Thanks a lot, Chris. I thought you were my friend.


AN ANTARCTIC explorer was shocked to see male penguins having sex with dead female penguins who had died a year earlier, according to a century-old journal finally published last week by a museum in the UK. So what? Guys are guys, we’re not observant enough to notice minor details.


I’M FED up of reading “shock” reports about small children who are addicted to chain-smoking cigarettes or eating only junk food. There is a little known but very powerful parenting technique which can be used to cure such cravings. It’s called Not Giving Them Any.


A MAN TRIED to sell an aircraft engine for US$2 million on eBay, but he failed to get a single bid, the UK press reported recently.

Why are UK reporters surprised at this?

Is this how aviation people normally make planes in that country?

“Hey, I got a cheap fuselage off eBay, we can add some new routes for British Airways.”

Gerard Arpey Executives British Airways American LBS4QQJ9U5il


MY SISTER sent me this great video trick.

You go to a certain link and see a video (below) of a hunter and a bear. The nice thing is that you can change the end of the story by altering the title.

Click here to try it.

hunter shoots a bear


PS In case you didn't get it, the pic at the very very top is not really Leung Chun Ying's basement; it's a joke.