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Friday, April 27, 2007

Japanese sold sheep instead of poodles

Thousands of Japanese have been swindled in a scam in which they were sold Australian and British sheep and told they were poodles.

Flocks of sheep were imported to Japan and then sold by a company called Poodles as Pets, marketed as fashionable accessories, available at $1,600 each.

That is a snip compared to a real poodle which retails for twice that much in Japan.

The scam was uncovered when Japanese moviestar Maiko Kawamaki went on a talk-show and wondered why her new pet would not bark or eat dog food.

She was crestfallen when told it was a sheep.

Then hundreds of other women got in touch with police to say they feared their new "poodle" was also a sheep.

One couple said they became suspicious when they took their "dog" to have its claws trimmed and were told it had hooves.

Japanese police believe there could be 2,000 people affected by the scam, which operated in Sapporo and capitalised on the fact that sheep are rare in Japan, so many do not know what they look like.

"We launched an investigation after we were made aware that a company were selling sheep as poodles," Japanese police said, the The Sun reported.

"Sadly we think there is more than one company operating in this way.

"The sheep are believed to have been imported from overseas - Britain, Australia."

Many of the sheep have now been donated to zoos and farms.

update: Sam has correctly pointed out that the venerable snopes.com has reported this story as false, Dammit.

.. still writhing octopus tentacles on a dinner plate in korea ..

Thursday, April 26, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, the Sultan of Terengganu, will officially ascend the throne as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong today in an installation ceremony steeped in tradition.

The rich royal traditions and customs of the installation ceremony will be held at the Balairong Seri or Throne Room of Istana Negara at 10am.

The hour-long ceremony to be broadcast live by Radio Televisyen Malaysia will begin with the blowing of the nafiri, announcing the arrival of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah at the Balairong Seri.

It will be followed by the haunting strains of the Kumpulan Nobat Diraja Terengganu, or the Terengganu Royal Ensemble, rendering the song Raja Berangkat accompanying their majesties to the throne.

The ceremony will be attended by the rulers, members of the royal household, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, ministers, heads of state governments, members of the foreign diplomatic corps and local and foreign guests.

The arrival of Tuanku Mizan, 45, and Tuanku Nur Zahirah, 33, at the Balairong Seri will be led by the Grand Chamberlain Tengku Farouk Tengku Jalil and bearers of the "Mace of the Universe" and the "Mace of Religion".

Both the sceptres are made of silver and form part of the royal regalia symbolising the royal authority of the government of Malaysia.

They will be accompanied by his majesty’s footmen and bearers of the royal regalia.

Tuanku Mizan will be in the official ceremonial attire of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the "Muskat" comprising the black royal jacket embroidered in gold thread, long black pants, together with the Tengkolok (Royal Head-Dress), which is intricately woven with gold thread.

The king will wear the "Royal Buckle" or the Pending which is made of gold and decorated with 11 rubies, and an engraved centrepiece featuring the federal government crest, while the belt is made of heavy ribbed silk and embroidered with floral motifs in gold thread.

From his waist will hang the "Royal Short Kris" made of ancient kris blades and ivory studded with gold engravings.

Tuanku Nur Zahirah will be in the ceremonial dress of the Raja Permaisuri Agong, crowned with the "Royal Tiara" or Gendik Diraja and will wear the Kalung Diraja or "Royal Necklace".

Both the tiara and necklace are made of platinum and studded with diamonds.

After the grand chamberlain presents a copy of the Quran to the king, the prime minister will read the "Letter of Proclamation".

The grand chamberlain will after that present the government kris or the "Royal Long Dagger", the symbol of power and authority, to the king.

The king will give his pledge as the "Paramount Ruler of Malaysia" and the nobat will render the Raja Bertabal (The King is Crowned) and this will be followed with shouts of Daulat Tuanku.

This will then be followed by a 21-gun salute and the rendition of the Negaraku by the Royal Malaysia Police band.

Abdullah will then on behalf of the government and people of Malaysia congratulate and pledge loyalty to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, to be followed by the king delivering his royal address.

Tuanku Mizan was elected the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong at a special meeting of the "Conference of Rulers" on Nov 3 last year to succeed the 12th Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail whose five-year term ended on Dec 12, 2006.

.. of Ubuntu linux & taco mix ..


Evan from Datacom is here in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of months. Hi Ev. His girlfriend has just come over for a week and was kind enough to bring me the one thing that I have had significant trouble finding here, Taco mix. There are quite a few things that I'm used to from Sydney that I can't find here... but Taco mix is just one of those things that finding a replacement for just isn't really an option.

In other news, last week I downloaded and installed the latest Ubuntu linux and I must say, very impressed. Especially for what is a free (as in beer) offering, it's really up to the point of giving the likes of Windows Xp and Vista a run for their money, especially for the slightly more tech-savvy users.

It downloads as an iso file, so you burn that to a cd and boot from it to give you the full OS running off the cd. On the desktop is a handy 'install' link, which gives Linux the advantage of being the only operating system that I'm aware of that allows you to surf the web while you're installing it.

On first boot it had installed and configured my video, network and sound, certainly a nice start before enbarking on adventures in a new operating system. I remember when i first installed linux five years ago, i was confronted by a start button that filled my entire screen and had to enlist the only local linux guru i knew to install and configure graphics drivers from the terminal. yikes. It's almost enough to put you off for five years.

On the Masters of the Universe front I was surprised as anyone to see this:


eSkeletor... the sworn enemy of eHe-Man!

from the land of the quite large snail, till next time.

Hong Kong Inventors Unveil New Micro-Wind Turbines Suitable for City Dwellers

Buzzing Hong Kong is better known for keeping lights on all night and the air conditioner running full blast, not saving energy. But engineers in the city have introduced an innovative wind energy technology than can help both rural and city residents protect the environment and cut down on energy costs - without having to spend a fortune on an expensive device. Claudia Blume reports.

A large wind turbine on a small outer island is one of Hong Kong's few sources of renewable energy. One of the reasons not more are being built is that the wind in the city is simply not strong enough, a problem it shares with many places worldwide.

Engineers at the University of Hong Kong and a private renewable energy company have developed a new micro wind turbine that can generate electricity even if wind speeds are as low as two meters per second.
Inventor Lucien Gambarota demonstrates how the micro wind-turbine can generate electricity

Lucien Gambarota , the main inventor of the technology, says this is its advantage over conventional small wind turbines, which only work about 40 percent of the time because of low wind speed.

"We never stop this machine and they never stop because there is always one meter per second wind - 365 days, 24 hours a day, they keep working," said Gambarota. "They deliver different levels of energy because the wind changes but these turbines they keep moving, they keep spinning."

Gambarota says the small turbines are ideal for crowded cities such as Hong Kong because they can be installed on rooftops and balconies.

Their design is simple: plastic gearwheels, each about 25 centimeters in diameter, are linked to one another and turn, moved by the wind. Groups of gearwheels can be arranged in an array of shapes and sizes, ranging from about two up to thousands of square meters, depending on how much energy is needed and how much space is available. The energy generated by the turbines is stored in a battery, which then powers electrical appliances.

The wind turbine is easy to install and comparatively cheap. At the moment, a set of 20 gearwheels costs about $25. Gambarota says the price will go down once the turbines are being mass-produced, making them a good option for consumers who want to cut down on their energy costs.

"Let's say if you have good conditions, five, six meters [of wind] per second, if you are a family with one kid you need most probably three, four square meters of that then you can most probably cover at least 60, 70 percent of your [energy] needs."

The technology can also help power bigger buildings. Administrators at Hong Kong's Sea School, a secondary school offering basic seaman training, will install the new micro wind-turbines on its roof in April.

Gambarota says his biggest dream is to see his invention being used in developing countries. He says energy generated by micro wind turbines can be used to pump water, for example, saving women and girls from having to walk for miles to rivers and lakes to fetch it.

floating battery-powered jellyfish for your pool

I want to buy a pool just so i can have bunch of these cool floating pool lights drifting around in it. What's the collective noun for jellyfish?

A Smack... a smack of electric jellyfish floating in my pool.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The first planet that could support life as we know it outside our solar system has been discovered.

A team of European astronomers say they have detected a rocky world, possibly only 50 per cent larger than the Earth, circling a small red star called Gliese 581, 20.5 light years away in the constellation Libra.

What makes the discovery so important is that the planet orbits in what astronomers call the "Goldilocks zone" - where makes it neither too hot, nor too cold for life.

The newly found "super-Earth," about five times more massive than our planet, is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the sun. As a result, its year lasts only 13 Earth days. It has been named Gliese 581 C.

However, because the star is only a third the mass of our sun, it is also much cooler.

more at Space.com

Friday, April 20, 2007

HotDoll - sex toy for pooches!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Indian Superman Part 2

.. thanks Sam

visit his blog, if you dare

The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business

What entrepreneurs starting family businesses can learn from the demise of Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi.

... more here

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Stackable Obelisk furniture

from here

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Chork: Chopsticks + Fork
The Chork: Chopsticks + Fork

...perfect for gwai lo everywhere!

found on slashfood
The Chork: Chopsticks + Fork

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

... beautiful

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Architect peddles idea of cycling city

THE Danish architect commissioned to redesign Sydney has a simple message for its residents: get on your bikes.

Henriette Mortensen and her boss, Jan Gehl, hope one day to see cycle lanes down George and Elizabeth Streets and a traffic system that favours pedestrians, not cars.

"Pedestrians have too much to struggle with in Sydney, and much more can be done to make walking more attractive," she said.
Her first priority: get Sydneysiders to cycle to work. "In 20 years we will all be doing it," she said.

Ms Mortensen and Mr Gehl have been commissioned by City of Sydney council to conduct a $210,000 Public Spaces and Public Life Study to improve use of open areas in the city.
Ms Mortensen said she would not be riding her bike while working in Sydney in May as "I would be killed".

But she hopes the harbour city will adopt suggestions to make it more like Copenhagen, where one-third of all commuters cycle to work.
"Cycling is now so popular we have congestion in the cycle lanes and are considering increasing their size from 1.5 metres to 2.5 metres," she said.

The biggest hurdle the architects face is changing commuters' attitudes towards transport and the city. "At the moment there is a lot of focus on trying to get the traffic through the city. We are saying that we want to shift the emphasis on cars and put more focus on walking and cycling and relieve the city of some of the pressure from traffic," said Ms Mortensen, who bikes to her office every day.

"The spin-offs will be less pollution and more people taking exercise by cycling and walking to work."

The plan for Sydney will include linking existing public spaces such as Martin Place and Pitt Street Mall with pedestrian-friendly streets that have limited access for cars. Traffic lights will be designed to favour the flow of walkers, not cars.

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