Friday, March 31, 2006

Sir Richard Francis Burton

(not the actor!)

“Do what thy manhood bids thee do,

From none but self expect applause:

He noblest lives and noblest dies

Who makes and keeps his self-made laws.”

Check Occam's Carbuncle

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Last night I dreamed I was a muffler (updated)

Last night I dreamed I was a muffler
I woke up exhausted.

(Ba-da bump, cymbal crash.) This form of joke has other possibilities, as long as the form is followed. Feel free to add yours. Examples:

Last night I had nightmares that I couldn't decide whether to be a salad chef or a lathe operator.
I tossed and turned all night.

Last night I dreamt I was booster cables.
I woke up with a start.

Last night I dreamt I was a Japanese camera
I woke up with a "crick"
(this is my personal favorite, coined by friend Tony C)

Balbulican and Richard get it:

Richard said...

Last night I dreamed I was a gay Dwarf. I woke up Happy.

Balbulican said...

Last night I dreamed I was a midget. I woke up shortly, afterward.

Brendan has some too
Last night I dreamed I was a dipstick. I woke up oily.
Last night I dreamed I was a calendar. I woke up sure that my days were numbered.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bons mots du jour

Right now I'm having amnesia and deja-vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.
Steve Wright

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Western brides don't study this stuff...

Shops that specialize in cleaning people's ears and massaging them are popping up around Tokyo. The concept behind the new establishments is to give Japanese people the pleasant feeling some had as children when they would rest their heads on their mothers' laps and have their ears cleaned.

Staff use an ear-pick equipped with a tiny camera to show the insides of clients' ears. A salon operator said she gets a good reaction with the device because people can see the wax buildup in their ears on the monitor.

Many women have said they want to learn how to remove earwax to please men, said another salon operator, adding she was thinking of starting classes to teach women ear cleaning and massage as part of their bridal training.

The Japan Times

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Former Malaysian PM slams Muslims

Muslims are dependent upon others for almost all their needs in life, says former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Currently the chairman of the Islamic Development Bank Vision Commission, Mahathir said that even in the extraction of the wealth and resources that Allah has blessed the Muslims with, they were still dependent on others.

"We hire other people to do everything for us," he said in his address prior to the launch of the report containing details of the vision Thursday.

"The whole Muslim Ummah of 1.5 billion is one huge consumer society, procuring all our needs from outside our community, including our defense and security requirements.

"We produce practically nothing on our own, we can do almost nothing for ourselves, we cannot even manage our wealth," he added.

Mahathir said the Islamic world today was full of paradoxes and contradictions. In spite of a number of Muslim nations bei
ng extremely wealthy, there is not a single one of them that can be classified as developed by any criteria.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Why is "fashion" so weird? Posted by Picasa

Seen at recent fashion shows Posted by Picasa

Teacher seeks £1 million over 'farting' chair

The deputy head of a large British school was forced to sit in a chair that made flatulent noises every time she moved, an employment tribunal has heard.

Sue Storer, 48, claims her requests for a new chair were repeatedly ignored and she was "victimised, harassed and bullied" because she was a woman.

Ms Storer told the tribunal her two joint deputy heads, who were both men, were given new "executive" chairs without having to ask, whereas she continually had to apologise to pupils, parents and other teachers for the noises.

She has resigned from her £48,000-a-year ($116,700) post at Bedminster Down Secondary School in Bristol and is claiming more than £1 million, based on lost earnings and loss of pension, against Bristol City Council for constructive dismissal and sex discrimination.

The Times

Killing Muslim converts to Christianity

Politicians took such pains in the post 9/11 days to say we weren't at war with Islam, just with terror.

But as more details of that belief system come out into general knowledge, shouldn't we expect decent people in all parts of the political spectrum to question how we can reconcile western freedoms with Islam's tenets? And since the two civilizations clearly clash at that level, what comes next?

As posted here ten days ago:
"Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force."
Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Undertows worsen with society's changing tides

(Posted March 11; please add comments below)
Like many conservatives, I have concerns about the changing tides in society. I'm philosophical that times change and people come to value different priorities, but when the core values of society are eroded by those in positions to shape opinions, I think it is worth speaking up.

Here are three dangerous undertows that I think are worsening.
1. "Mother Earth" replaces "God of the Universe". Public figures say that Earth would be better off without people, and there is no immediate objection or derision from the general public.
2. "What's best for me?" replaces "What's right?". Arguments over public policy are won based on individual convenience/utility rather than societal good and time-tested principles, and the mere use of principle in debates provokes ad hominem attacks.
3. "Victimhood" is exalted above "self-sufficiency". Politicians win elections based on how they will enable victims more effectively; courts support them with rulings separating people from the painful consequences of their own free choices.

I will be expanding on these themes in this blog over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, I welcome your comments about these three undertows, and suggestions about one or two more that belong in the list.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Demographic reversal

Japan is now officially shrinking. Last October's census found 19,000 fewer Japanese than the previous year; the first non-wartime year that the population has dropped since censuses began in 1920.

The peak population figure of 127.75 million may well one day be burned into the brains of future students. By 2050 that is expected to fall to 100 million and some alarmist predictions have the last Japanese switching off the lights sometime in the next century.

Low fertility rates and deep-seated mistrust of outsiders mean that Japan's population will continue to shrink. But that country is merely a precursor - most industrial countries have birth rates below replacement levels.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Amazon accused of anti-abortion bias

From The Independent

Amazon, the online bookseller, has been thrust centre-stage in the American abortion debate as pro-choice groups expressed anger that customers typing in "abortion" were offered listings on adoption.

The company was forced to defend itself against suggestions it had given a political slant to results from its supposedly neutral search technology.

Campaigners complained that requests for information on abortion generated the response "Did you mean adoption?" at the top of the page. They expressed their suspicion that Amazon was tampering with its search results to appease pro-life groups, and expressing what appeared to be an "editorial position".

Halfwise comment:

If the abortion lobby has good arguments, why do they need to attempt to smother an opinion they disagree with?

Handy Household Hints

This is so far from the normal themes of this blog that you'll wonder if I've been kidnapped and replaced.

How do you remember when and how to rotate your mattress? Here's a mnemonic using the changing of the seasons: Side Over Side on the Solstice; End Around on the Equinox. Otherwise I can never remember if I'm supposed to flip it over or just swing the darn thing around.

Normal programming will resume shortly...

Monday, March 20, 2006


It's been a tough day here. But not as tough as a day in the life of The Four Yorkshiremen.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Liberals, eccentrics lose in Oz state elections

POLITICIANS in Tasmania and South Australia got what they deserved on Saturday. The premiers of both states were rewarded for running disciplined governments, focused on financial responsibility and providing the services the electors expect. Their Liberal Party opponents were hammered, in the main for treating politics as if process matters more than policy and for failing to offer any alternatives of substance to those of the incumbents.

And demonstrating that voters have even less affection for advocates of eccentric ideologies that are irrelevant to the aspirations of ordinary electors, the Greens were rebuffed in Tasmania and the Democrats demolished in South Australia. For all the talk about boredom in the electorate and the need for new ideas in politics, both results demonstrate that fringe social issues and environmental zealotry do not rate.

The Australian

The facts of life

...are conservative, said Maggie Thatcher. But many of us would prefer to vote for a lovely vision over today's reality, especially if we can be shielded from the consequences of our choices, using someone else's money.

Parties on the left tend to do a better job of capitalizing on the public's fantasies and guilt than the parties of reality do of capitalizing on the public's common sense.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Danish prosecutor ruling leads to travel warning

No charges for paper that published cartoons

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Denmark’s top prosecutor said Wednesday he will not press charges against the newspaper that first published the Prophet Muhammad drawings that triggered deadly protests by Muslims worldwide.

The prosecutor’s ruling prompted the Foreign Ministry to upgrade its travel warnings for Muslim countries from Algeria to Malaysia. “The decision may cause negative reactions to Danes and Danish interests abroad,” the ministry said. “With that background, Danes should be particularly cautious when traveling.”

International flavour to St. Patrick's day

When the Irish Republic opened a new embassy in Beijing to great fanfare on a St Patrick's Day in the early 1980s, the centrepiece of the lavish celebrations was a quantity of shamrock air-freighted to the Chinese capital at significant expense.

The bunches of Trifolium dubium were arranged in a large Waterford crystal bowl, which was carefully placed in the entrance hall where Chinese dignitaries and ministers formed a queue to meet and greet Dublin's ambassador.

But by the time the final VIP's hand had been shaken, the Irish diplomats noticed the shamrock had vanished. The mystery was solved when embassy staff noticed many of the guests picking bits of chewed green leaf from their teeth, using the pins that had been provided to secure the plant sprigs - and unplanned hors d'oeuvre - to their clothing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Naked wedding photos a hit in China

BEIJING: Forget the Mao suits of a generation ago. Actually, forget about any clothes at all. Naked wedding photos are the hot new trend among young couples in once deeply conservative China.

This attitude is now prevalent even in northwest China's Xi'an, a proud ancient capital and home to the – fully dressed – terracotta soldiers.

The Xi'an Evening News did a random check of five photo studios, and found that all of them would be willing to take nude photos of soon-to-be-married couples, should they so wish.

"Most of the people who come here to have the bold, naked photos taken are young, trendy and unconventional," said a studio owner. "There are still lots of people who don't like it."

The China Radio International news website even carried an article on the trend showing some images of naked newlyweds.

One bride wore nothing but a veil and bouquet of flowers while another couple embraced in a provocative position, although the photos were carefully taken to avoid displaying full-frontal nudity.

If at first you don't succeed

...better not try skydiving.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What kinds of worlds are people trying to make?

"Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force."
Oliver Wendell Holmes

All generalizations...

...are wrong. I can say this categorically.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Climate change skeptic (II)

If global warming caused the Bering Sea ice area to drop from about 200,000 square kilometers above average in late January to almost the same amount below average today, how did it get to be above average in January? (Reference here)

And why does the Rutgers Global Snow Lab data show that through January, the Northern Hemisphere areal coverage was about 1 million square kilometers above average, with a negative anomaly in the North American region being more than compensated by a large positive anomaly (of about 2 million square kilometers) over Europe and Asia?

If it's only showing up as a regional or monthly variation, it's NOT global warming. Could we have some better science reporting please?

Koran violates German constitution?

An indictment has been filed with a German prosecutor stating that the Koran violates the German constitution. In the appendices to the indictment, 200 points have been listed “where the Koran is against and claims itself above the constitution.” The indictment is against the 200 verses of 114 suras (chapters) of the Koran that are not compatible with the constitution, including demagoguery, incitement to murder, murder and mutilation, war, acceptance of thievery against infidels, meaning all non-Moslems. Verses are also pointed out where the equal rights of men and women are not upheld and where people of different faiths are oppressed. Original story here.

Hat tip to excellent blog the Canadian Sentinel.

What's good for Canadians is bad for Afghanis

Funny thing: gun-control advocates tell us to call the police instead of defending ourselves. So, in Afghanistan Canadian soldiers are like the cops, and what do we get from the Left? "Leave them to defend themselves."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Buddha Boy slips away

250 km south of Kathmandu: The weekend disappearance of a Nepalese boy whom supporters hail as a reincarnation of Buddha has sparked a nationwide search.

Supporters have showered 16-year-old Ram Bahadur Banjan with money and gifts for allegedly sitting in motionless meditation in the roots of a fig tree without taking food or water, or using the toilet, since May 16 last year.

The youth, dubbed Buddha Boy by the media, left the site in southern Nepal because the thousands of devotees who flocked there had disturbed his meditation, local media reported yesterday.

A search using plainclothes police and civilians failed to find the boy, but he had reportedly been spotted in nearby jungle.

S. Africa energy problems scare off investors

INTERNATIONAL investors have abruptly ended negotiations with government on future investments in South Africa because of the ongoing power crisis in the country, says the Sunday Times.

In addition to impacting investment plans by Alcan and a Russian aluminum smelter, reports say
"industry has lost millions due to lost production; workers lost thousands of rands in wages due to down-time; tons of food have gone to waste, both commercially and domestically; and investor confidence in Western Cape has been seriously undermined"

Dave Barry is wise AND witty

"People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Plant a tree, increase global warming

Here's a published study that claims covering grassland with forests would lead to warming, while replacing forests with grasslands would lead to cooling. Maybe it's right. Maybe it isn't. But surely this should remind us of how complex the whole climate change issue is.

Awwwww Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bons mots du jour

There's a fine line between fishing & just standing on the shore like an idiot.
Steve Wright

How to give a Nutritionist a coronary

The Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League promised to create "Baseball's Best Burger" in time for the team's opener in late May. And some might say they have succeeded.

The ballpark sandwich will include a hamburger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon -- all between a "bun" made of a sliced Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut.

Calorie counters predict the monster will set you back about 1,000 calories and 45 grams of fat. On the bright side, for $4.50 you get dinner AND dessert, and only have to use one paper plate.

from ESPN

Australia changes course on aboriginal policy

ONE of the worst frauds perpetrated in Australia occurred over the last 30 years of the 20th century by the rights and reconciliation lobby who claimed they had a solution to the deprivation of indigenous Australians. All Canberra had to do was admit the crimes of the settlers, apologise for the stolen generation, accept all Aborigines' unique link to the land, and spend money - a great deal of money - on indigenous issues. And anyone who did not agree, especially about the money bit, was reviled as a right-wing racist... [And yet] Aborigines continued to live shorter, poorer lives than most Australians. And substance abuse and domestic violence made family life a misery in too many communities.

It has taken Aboriginal voices, notably those of Noel Pearson, and recently Labor Party president Warren Mundine, to discredit the obsession with symbolic issues. Instead of passive welfare, Mr Pearson wants to encourage indigenous Australians into work and education, by reducing individual welfare benefits if necessary. And rather than maintain the pointless fiction that all indigenous social problems are due to the destruction of traditional tribal life, Mr Pearson says drunkenness and domestic violence are immediate issues that need urgent answers. In the past few years, the Howard Government has begun to act on his ideas.

Read the whole editorial

Scientists say red wine is good for your gums

Scientists have found that certain compounds in red wine could play a role in preventing gum disease and tooth loss. Researchers from Laval University presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research in Orlando, Florida, yesterday.

When extracts of Bordeaux wine were used to treat periodontal bacteria in laboratory conditions, the Quebec scientists found that the polyphenols had a "significant inhibitory" effect on the growth of the bacteria. They concluded that the compounds could help to prevent the spread of gum diseases.

The Independent

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bons mots du jour

"Which painting in the National Gallery would I save if there was a fire? The one nearest the door of course."
George Bernard Shaw

Monday, March 06, 2006

King Canute* would have supported Kyoto

Before there was Global Warming the big deal was Global Cooling. Temperatures in 2003 (after 35 or so years of warming) reached temperatures last seen in 1938. At the start of the 1940’s a cooling trend began that all of us baby boom climatology students were fully convinced was anthropogenic. The refereed literature was most convincing, from the end of the 1960’s to the late 70’s. There was even talk of spreading coal dust on Greenland’s ice caps to reverse the trend.

No one knows for sure what triggered - or what reversed - that cooling trend. Best guess is overlap of short and long term cycles of solar radiation.

I doubt that any climatologist would say seriously that there is no such thing as climate change. All there IS with climate is change. So when people claim that they can stop climate from changing, it’s considered good scientific form to ask for some proof.

IPCC scientists are claiming that the Kyoto protocol would stop around 0.1Centigrade degree worth of climate change by 2100. Since they are projecting about 5 degrees of heating by then, it seems prudent that we either learn to adapt or get out of the way, rather than count on a carbon tax to cool things down. Nothing to do with political ideology, just a pesky fact that anyone can look up. Start with Wigley, T.M.L., 1998. Geophys. Res. Lett., 25, 2285-2288.

*Final note - Yes, I know that Canute was actually trying to demonstrate his mortal powerlessness by telling the tide to stop. Artistic license was used in the headline...

Hyperactive Bait

"Tokyo is huge. Something like 15 million people live there, and my estimate is that at any given moment, 14.7 million of them are lost. This is because the Tokyo street system holds the world outdoor record for randomness. A map of Tokyo looks like a tub of hyperactive bait. There is virtually no street that goes directly from anywhere to anywhere."

Dave Barry

(Note: This is true. One Tokyo place that I lived in wasn't even on a street - it was in the centre of a block. When we first arrived it took the cab driver half an hour to find the block and then another half an hour for us to find the way through to the building. The Japanese perfected the fax machine so that people could send maps to each other.)

Bons Mots du Jour

"If my critics saw me walking over the Thames they would say it was because I couldn't swim."
Margaret Thatcher

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Competition for Hamas? From Shi'ites?

Palestinian Authority security forces are investigating whether Iran, Hizbullah or al-Qaida are behind a new Shi'ite group that has been operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past few days.

Called the Higher Shi'ite Council, the group is headed by Muhammad Ghawanmeh, a former Islamic Jihad official from the West Bank. Ghawanmeh was close to Islamic Jihad secretary-general Fathi Shikaki, who was reportedly assassinated in Malta in 1996 by Mossad agents.

Hamas officials, upon learning of the new Shi'ite group, expressed deep concern and called for an investigation to establish who is behind the initiative.

PA and Hamas officials told The Jerusalem Post that Iran or Hizbullah were most likely behind the group. "The timing of the establishment of the new group is very suspicious," said a top Hamas official here. "It appears that some parties are trying to replace Hamas or compete with it."

A PA security official said he did not understand how a Shi'ite group could operate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip "where we don't have even one Shi'ite." All the Muslims living in the PA-controlled areas are Sunnis.

Many Palestinians expressed fear on Sunday that the presence of a Shi'ite group in the West Bank and Gaza Strip could lead to a similar situation as in Iraq, where Shi'ites and Sunnis appear to be on the verge of civil war.

Dramatic deal to limit S. Africa blackouts

ESKOM has struck a barter deal with a French company to avert two months of rolling blackouts in South Africa's Western Cape.

But, even without further mishaps, the rescue plan means that the Western Cape can still expect cuts in peak times until the middle of winter.

Koeberg Nuclear Plant's Unit 1 is down for months because of damage to a 200 ton rotor, and Unit 2 is scheduled to run out of fuel by May. France has one of the massive rotors — and it is not for sale because it represents that country’s only defence should a similar problem occur at a French nuclear power station.

Yesterday, Eskom CEO Thulani Gcabashe confirmed that a barter deal had been struck this week.

He told the Sunday Times that Eskom’s French counterpart, Electricit√© de France, had agreed on Tuesday to release its rotor on condition that the rotor from Koeberg Unit 1, once repaired, would be sent to France in a straight swap.

But Eskom must now hold its breath that there are no problems at power stations in either South Africa or France; it will have to bear the huge cost if a disaster befalls a French power station rotor in the three months before the Koeberg rotor is ready, probably in July.

“All costs are for us — they won’t be paying any costs. We need to stand good for any exposure they may have as a result of not having this [rotor]. There has been an agreement reached for how they would be compensated,” said Gcabashe.

“The difficulty is that they have only one rotor to spare and they have many more units to care for, so you can appreciate the risk to them.”

However, the downside of the rescue plan is that, running on low fuel levels, Koeberg’s Unit 2 must run on just 66% of its power until the middle of May — meaning that Koeberg will be down to just 33% of its total power.

Unit 2 will reduce power this week for the same reason that motorists, discovering that their petrol tanks are on reserve, drive at slower speeds and coast down hills in order to make it to a distant filling station.

Gcabashe said this fuel-saving speed — buying time for the French rotor — would see the Western Cape short of 300MWs of power in the mornings and early evenings, and that “load-shedding” power outages could therefore be expected. They might continue until the middle of July.

However, he said, a campaign, starting tomorrow, to encourage customers to reduce their power usage, could save up to 400MW in the region if successful.

Energy expert Andrew Kenny said a failure to get the French rotor running by the time the fuel for Unit 2 ran out would represent “a far greater disaster”, due to the much higher demand for electricity in winter.

Gcabashe said a national energy-saving campaign would be launched tomorrow, because the safe reserve of 15% between the country’s total power capacity and its winter demand was down to “a very tight margin” of 8%.

Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin admitted on Friday that government capacity planning had been “two years out of line” and that, “with hindsight”, Eskom should have been allowed to build new power stations in 2004.

Marketing is different in Japan...

All Nippon Airways Co. will set up a commemorative space for air disaster victims in a new facility in Tokyo that will display debris and other material from past accidents, company officials said Sunday, according to the Japan Times.

The commemorative space will display the names of more than 350 passengers and crew members who have died in ANA mishaps, including a 1971 accident in Shizukuishi, Iwate Prefecture, in which an ANA jet collided with a Self-Defense Forces plane, killing 162 people.

ANA plans to open the facility in Ota Ward by the end of March 2007.

The commemorative space is based on a proposal by an ANA employee.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Keep quiet for the nice dentist and he'll give you a yummy sucker... Posted by Picasa

Switch-hitting Episcopal bishop back in news

The Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson has checked himself into alcohol rehab, on the advice of his "partner," stating in a letter to his diocese that he is "dealing with...a disease over which my particular body simply has no control."

Robinson's assistant, the Rev. Tim Rich, acknowledged the bishop had been an alcoholic for years, but, "We did not see it in any way impact his ministry in the diocese."

Scott Ott writes satirically on behalf of the "American Drunkards Association" (ADA), "Bishop Robinson has reinforced the stereotype that being a drunk is some kind of medical condition that needs a cure. Alcoholism isn't a disease, it's who we are. We want to be accepted for who we are. The bishop has done irreparable harm to drunken clerics everywhere, not to mention the damage done to millions of lay-drunkards. The ADA lobbies lawmakers to gain equal rights for alcoholics—a large and growing group of Americans who face discrimination daily, especially from the department of motor vehicles. Imagine not being allowed to drive just because of who you are." Ott interpreted Robinson's letter to say, "My life sends a refreshing message to our parishioners of redemption without repentance. It's a real improvement on old-fashioned Biblical principles."

If THEY can't get it right, who can?

Tax preparation giant H&R Block is under scrutiny for "errors" on its state income taxes for the 2004 and 2005 fiscal years.

Good white farmers can stay in Zimbabwe

HARARE - Zimbabwe's vice-president has said the country's remaining white farmers would be spared eviction if they toed the line and respected the law, local media reports.

"We cannot remove every white man in this country," Vice-President Joseph Msika was quoted as telling a farmers' rally.

"If you think it's possible, that will not happen. We will respect those white people who respect our laws and want to live with us," the private Daily Mirror newspaper quoted him as saying.

The state-owned Herald further quoted Msika as saying: "We cannot remove every white farmer because it's stupidity. That is shooting yourself in the foot."

Msika also lashed out at lazy black farmers who invaded white farms and seized properties and then failed to produce anything.

No more than 600 white farmers remain in Zimbabwe following controversial land reforms which saw the eviction of at least 4,000 of their peers to pave the way for land redistribution to poor blacks.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Thinking of getting that organ transplant in Shanghai?

Malaysians have died from botched organ transplants in China, a National Kidney Foundation official said yesterday. In related news, Japan's Health Ministry is investigating human organ transplants in China after a report that at least seven Japanese died due to treatment there.

Datuk Dr Zaki Morad Zaher, the foundation's vice-chairman, told The New Straits Times he was aware of a number of patients who went for transplant operations in China and died there or after returning home due to complications.

'We do not have the exact numbers because almost all of them go on their own for the organ transplants, mainly kidney transplants,' he said.

His statement came after Japan said it was investigating the deaths of several of its citizens who received similar organ transplants in China.

Some of the deaths occurred after patients developed infections, pneumonia or brain haemorrhages.

Dr Zaki, who is the Malaysian Ministry of Health's consultant nephrologist, said he learnt of the deaths from colleagues whose patients had opted to have transplants in China.

The Malaysians who went to China for transplants were reportedly elderly, unwell and unsuited for major surgery, which may have cost between RM70,000 (S$30,500) and RM100,000.

This could hurt a guy's confidence...

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian second division soccer club UT Arad sold a player in exchange for 15 kilograms of meat, local sport daily Pro Sport reported on Monday.

However, fourth division Regal Horia made a bad deal because defender Marius Cioara decided to end his footballing career and take off to Spain to find a job in agriculture or construction.

"We are upset because we lost twice - firstly because we lost a good player and secondly because we lost our team's food for a whole week," a Regal Horia official was quoted as saying.

In other soccer news, Superstar David Beckham has said his six-year-old son's maths homework leaves him baffled.

"Their homework is so hard these days," Beckham, 30, said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday. "It's totally done differently to what I was teached when I was at school, and you know I was like 'Oh my God, I can't do this'."