Solitary pursuit livens up Woo probe

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 December, 1998, 12:00am


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The marvels of modern technology can never be underestimated. If nothing else, they have helped to ward off the monotony of the Woo Commission on the new airport's early stuff-ups.

Bored witless by the inquiry's endless witness line-up, legal types (some of whom, we might add, are being paid the gross national product of small countries) were turning to their laptop computers to stay awake last week.

Laptops have been allowed at the commission - so counsel and their solicitors can read a simultaneous transcription of the proceedings.

But some lawyers were making constant use of the most important part of the Windows 95 programme: its games line-up.

And Lai See can reveal the most popular laptop game at the inquiry has, without doubt, been the Windows version of solitaire.

A colleague last week bore witness to a riveting game of solitaire being played several rows in front of the press gallery.

We also had unconfirmed reports that one multimedia-loving legal type went even further to ward off slumber.

The lawyer apparently managed to watch a movie on his laptop in the thick of proceedings.

Where was all this cyber-expertise when we really needed it: that is, when computer systems were on the blink at Chek Lap Kok in early July? Days after his departure as Airport Authority head honcho, the anagrams just keep coming in for Hank Townsend.

Peter English enigmatically suggests 'down, then sank', as well as a possible reference to his departure from SAR shores: 'HK send - no want!' Lai See's colleague who writes the column over to the right, Jake van der Kamp, came across a fascinating insight into the minds of students the other day.

He received a compilation of the most bizarre efforts to answer GCSE exam questions in Britain.

Here are some of the better efforts he came across: 'Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and travelled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that inhabitants have to live elsewhere.' 'Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.' 'Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German half Italian and half English. He was very large.' 'Napoleon wanted an heir to inherit his power, but since Josephine was a baroness, she couldn't have any children.' And, finally: 'The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East and the sun sets in the West.' We think we might just have stumbled upon a reason the British empire is not the great power it once was.

Your correspondent, a confirmed Luddite, has been continuing his tentative ventures into cyberspace to check out some of the atrocities of the Internet.

Last week, we told you about the rather out-of-date Macau home page. Today, we invite you to check out the Motorola Web site at www.

It's a prime example of metaphorical madness about mobile phones.

The site goes all out to convince cyber-travellers that a call on a cellular phone is just like flying.

Its sales pitch is appropriately airy: 'Wings. One of nature's most perfect designs. Lighter than air and ingeniously engineered. With wings you're free to soar. Effortlessly.' Yes guys, but what does this have to do with phones? 'When we say that Motorola makes wings, it's because our personal communications devices are designed with one purpose in mind: to set you free. To let you take off.' Someone, please: help us take flight from this drivel.

One joke being circulated provides a nice insight into the present predicament of the Russian economy. It goes something like this: A Brit, a Frenchman and a Russian are viewing a painting of Adam and Eve frolicking in the Garden of Eden.

'Look at their reserve, their calm,' muses the Brit. They must be British.

'Nonsense,' the Frenchmen contends. 'They're naked, and so beautiful. Clearly, they are French.' But the Russian points out: 'No clothes, no shelter, they only have an apple to eat - and they're being told this is paradise. They are Russian.'