Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 August, 2011, 12:00am

New strain of influenza is not to be sneezed at

The Chinese University of Hong Kong has identified a new strain of influenza. It's something that has apparently been with us for some time but has only just been identified. Thankfully it's not dangerous, though over the years it has apparently affected a number of people. Young Englishmen are particularly at risk. If caught at an early age it can persist for a lifetime.

The symptoms are highly unusual. An obsession with pin stripes; sometimes accompanied by an edifice complex; often highly clubbable, and so on. The identification of this strain appears in the university's update to its 'CUHK Hong Kong Quality of Life Index'. In a press statement the university says there's been some improvement in the index, adding: '... Swire influenza has been removed from the list of notifiable infectious diseases since 2010.'

Prices up but not under

One of the most eagerly awaited boozy corporate junkets - er, sorry, we meant networking opportunities - is just a month or so away. New Zealand hosts the Rugby World Cup next month, but critics have already lambasted the country for a sudden surge in the price of everything from a cappuccino to a beer to a night's accommodation.

Now its most sacred icon, the All Blacks, are under fire after the public decided the team's new jersey is too expensive. It goes for NZ$220 (HK$1,461) from a New Zealand retailer, but can be obtained for just NZ$104 online from the US, including shipping. (To make matters worse, adidas is now accused of paying the workers who make the shirts just 60 New Zealand cents an hour.)

Our advice is buy the jersey online before you visit New Zealand for that important banking conference next month. You might want to bring your own supply of coffee, beer and, perhaps, a tent.

And if you do think that NZ$220 is a bit rich, especially for a jersey that may be an embarrassment after the Rugby World Cup final (google 'New Zealand chokers' and see what you get), you can always try a different colour. Apparently, Wallabies jerseys cost NZ$190 - and after the tournament's over, it may turn out that gold is the new black.

Bad timing ... or is it?

Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) the Singapore-headquartered global shipping company, announces its second-quarter results on August 12. We've received our invitation to the event, which comprises the results announcement and a briefing on the results by the management. However, the timing of the event is slightly unusual in that it is being held at 6pm on a Friday when people's attention is probably wandering to the weekend, drink and the like. Anything but a rigorous analysis of NOL's results.

NOL's communications people appear to be encouraging this line of behaviour and have allowed just 15 minutes for a question-and-answer session. This is the sort of time you choose when you want to hide bad news. So we are not filled with confidence - but we could be completely wrong.

Fake firm's web of lies

Some people unkindly published on the internet what purported to be the results of a survey showing that users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer have lower IQs than those who run rival browsers.

A company called AptiQuant released a report claiming users of Internet Explorer 6 have an average IQ score barely more than 80. Firefox and Chrome users fare much better, with average IQ scores of about 110, while Opera and Camino users have an average IQ score of more than 120. While it didn't go viral, the report caused a stir. Some media outlets then noted similarities between French firm Central Test's website and that of AptiQuant.

The people behind AptiQuant subsequently admitted the company was bogus and the report was a hoax. The hoaxers also apologised if they had hurt readers' feelings. The aim was to draw attention the incompatibilities of IE6 and how it held back innovation.

The joke's on Microsoft

That Microsoft item reminds us of another jibe at the software giant's expense. A bartender at a Silicon Valley bar wants to cheer up a group of depressed executives who obviously work in the tech sector. 'Have you heard the latest Microsoft jokes?' he asks them.

They glare at him balefully. 'We work for Microsoft,' one of them finally replies.

'That's all right,' the barman answers. 'I'll tell them slowly.'


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