with Luisa Tam
Supply and demand: it's academic, really
Tight state budgets are forcing dramatic reductions in education funding across the United States. As a result, tens of thousands of teachers are expected to be handed their pink slips. Some districts have already laid off hundreds of teachers and even shut down schools.
The problem is that the redundancy method they use is rather arbitrary. Most schools take the 'last hired, first fired' approach which is based on seniority rather than individual performance. That means they could be getting rid of their highest-performing staff while keeping the least competent ones. Durr!
If Hong Kong can make scholastic pop stars out of ordinary grammar teachers and shower them with million-dollar salaries and perks, it can certainly accommodate a few down-and-out American teachers.
Pain in these numbers
Think again if you believe creativity in accounting is an oxymoron. Accountant Gerry Li Kwok-hung got into trouble not for false accounting, but for being a copycat.
Li was responsible for designing an examination paper for a subsidiary of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants in 2008.
In a draft paper he submitted, the institute found that he had copied one of the questions including background information from a different test paper published by another accountancy body. He admitted to plagiarism and was fined HK$20,000.
Beauty has its price
Talking about creativity, a number of high-end spas around the world have come up with some very interesting or rather unorthodox beauty treatments to attract customers.
According to Britain's Elle magazine, the Ada Barak's Snake Spa in Israel offers clients live snake massages, which it says can help relieve tension and ease aching muscles. Hmm, not sure whether customers will be de-stressed or distressed.
The Diamond Resort and Spa in Hawaii uses nightingale dung mixed with clay or bran to rejuvenate a tired complexion. While the Hari's hair salon in London uses bull semen as a key ingredient in one its conditioning treatments.
At the Yunessun Spa in Japan, they serve visitors with ramen noodle soup, green tea, sake, coffee and wine, not as food to eat, but to swim in! Ramen soup is supposed to boost metabolism and cleanse the skin.
We still prefer to eat it.
Serving up an opportunity
Another Earth Day has come and gone. Four decades after the first Earth Day to raise environmental awareness, we are still not too sure whether the future bodes well for our children and our grandchildren.
But, one type of 'green' business seems to have a rather promising future: commercial production of lush green grass.
An industry insider tells us that apparently they have to import the grass for tennis courts on the mainland, and it costs about 125,000 yuan to cover just one court. We also understand that tennis court grass is very different from ordinary grass and it doesn't grow on the mainland.
Hmm, we seriously doubt that the grass is really greener on the other side.
Ferrari goes gardening
The legendary Ferrari carmaker, whose products are usually associated with red, is in fact a 'closet' greenie.
The company's factory in Fiorano, Italy, prides itself on being environmentally efficient. It uses mostly natural light as technicians work under a huge glass roof and build engines on real grass.
They have put a garden in the factory with plenty of trees to provide ideal humidity and air quality levels for the comfort of their staff.
Not surprisingly, it has been rated one of the best places to work in Italy, or maybe even the world.
Now we know green (grass) has its luxury roots; just look at the price of a Ferrari.
Hair of the dog
Just when you thought the Apple iPhone story was over, someone else jumps on the bandwagon.
Apple engineer Gray Powell has been in the headlines after leaving the iPhone behind at a German-style beer hall in California after celebrating his birthday last month.
Someone found the phone and sold it to Gizmodo which realised it was a prototype for a new model. Now Deutsche Lufthansa has offered Powell a free business-class flight to Munich, where he can indulge his 'passion' for German beer.
'We all know how frustrating it can be to lose personal belongings, especially when it is such a unique item,' Nicola Lange, Lufthansa's director of marketing and customer relations in the Americas, wrote in an open letter to Powell. 'We thought you could use a break soon.'