Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Today my Malaysian contacts are telling me the story of a modern day Lazarus. A 65-year old was pronounced dead by doctors at the Seberang Jaya Hospital in Butterworth (Penang) but came back to life after two and a half hours. His family had already started making funeral arrangements, and a canopy to house his coffin for the wake had already been put up in front of his house in Bukit Mertajam (on the peninsular side of Penang island). But as his wife and son were on the way to the district police station to lodge the report of his death, they were stunned with a call from the doctor telling them that the man was alive. He had been rushed to the hospital when he stopped breathing, at home, at around 11 am Doctors present performed CPR, but pronounced him dead about an hour later. The man's revival has been attributed to Lazarus Syndrome, the spontaneous return of circulation after attempts at resuscitation had failed.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
The Guangdong unit of Sinopec, the largest oil refiner in China, is being investigated for spending $400,000 on expensive alcohol, including 1996 Chateau Lafite Rothschild (the most favoured Chateau in China) at $1838 a bottle. It seems we missed quite a party. At a recent auction at Sotheby's in Hong Kong, two bottles of 1945 Lafite were sold for $49,914. The Rothschilds are now producing wine in China in a joint venture with Citic. The first vines were planted in 2008 and they added the Chinese character for 8 to the labels as a celebration and also to help their marketing as 8 is considered to be the luckiest number in China.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Some years ago my friend visited a Japanese pharmaceutical company which has just introduced the contraceptive pill to Japan and whose shares were going through the roof as a consequence. She was asking ten company officials, each with a pile of files, detailed questions (in English which was then translated into Japanese) about sales, pricing and distribution and they were consulting their papers and replying, their answers relayed in English by the translator. She then asked, "Do you think that the Morning After Pill will affect your sales?" The officials consulted with one another. One was sent outside the room and returned with another large file. There was much discussion and the translator said, "The morning after what?"
Friday, April 08, 2011
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
We watched the Lipizzaner stallions trotting around the Spanish Riding School,the covered parade hall in the Habsburg Palace, their white coats gleaming in the light of the chandeliers above, their hooves enlivened by the stirring tune of the Radetzky March.
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna was first built in the palace gardens in 1572, taking its name from the lineage of the Lipizzaner horses which were cross-bred in Spain from Andalusian, Arab and Vilanos bloodlines. Archduke Charles II of Austria set up a stud in Lipizza (now called Lipica and in Slovenia) from whence the new name for the breed derived. Charles VI commissioned the new building in 1729 and his portrait still oversees the parade hall.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
I've been waltzing around Vienna, dazzled by its art and music. I enjoyed visiting the house of the architect Hundertwasser (1928-2000) and was impressed by what he tried to achieve with his buildings. He hated the straight lines, the monotony and lack of colour and imagination in twentieth century industrial buildings and council housing. "A person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm's reach. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm's reach. So that it will be visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardised man who lives next door," he said. Here's a photo of the thermal power plant he designed in Vienna.