Lai See

Way to go

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 October, 2013, 2:01am

In the American Way of Death Re-visited, Jessica Mitford says it is not difficult for Americans to shell out US$8,000 to US$9,000 for a funeral. Meanwhile, in Tokyo the cost of renting a burial plot and buying a tombstone is about 2.7 million yen (HK$215,000), according to Bloomberg.

Now the San Francisco-based company Elysium Space is offering a cheaper option. For just US$1,990 you can turn your loved ones into shooting stars. Elysium Space offers "awe inspiring memorial spaceflights to have a symbolic portion of a departed's ashes launched into space", its website says. "Our specially designed memorial space craft respectfully and peacefully orbits the earth for several months ... eventually in the last poetic moments, the spacecraft harmlessly re-enters the earth's atmosphere blazing as a shooting star." Meanwhile, family and friends can follow the spacecraft's journey using a mobile app.

The ashes are placed in "space grade" aluminium capsules that are engraved with the individual's initials and a message of up to 80 characters can be etched on one of the spacecraft's metal plates. In this way, we are told, this special remembrance message "will be carried to the stars".

Bookings can be made on the website but are only available to people from the US and Japan. But watch that space.


Author Beardson says in book China will not rule the world

Tim Beardson's new book Stumbling Giant - the Threats to China's Future has attracted some attention with its main thesis - a view which has started to emerge recently - that China's rise to global pre-eminence is not going to happen any time soon. This stands in stark contrast to the view during the financial crisis that this was more or less a foregone conclusion.

Given the sensitivity of this claim we were surprised to learn from him that the book had not been banned outright in the mainland. He writes at some length - 512 pages - outlining the challenges facing the mainland over the coming decades. The book has even been reviewed - not altogether unfavourably he says, by the China Daily and the Global Times. His publisher has said that book contains "sensitive matters" and there would have to be some "deletions". But Beardson says he is prepared to accept this because he is keen for it to be distributed in the mainland.

In considering the merits of the book his publisher observed that there are two main topics that preoccupied men, first women, and second politics. He therefore felt that the book would appeal to researchers and businessmen. As for government officials, he noted, they are supposed to be running the country but often know very little about it. "So it would be most useful for them."


Whistle-blowing to the bank

The US Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced that it paid out US$14 million to a whistle-blower whose information led to the recovery of substantial investor funds. This is the largest amount paid out by the SEC's Office of the Whistleblower since being set up following the Dodd-Frank Act in 2011. The whistle-blower programme rewards high-quality original information that results in an SEC enforcement action with sanctions exceeding US$1 million, and awards can range from 10 per cent to 30 per cent of the money collected in a case.

The SEC's first payment was made in August 2012 and totalled about US$50,000. In August and September this year, more than US$25,000 was awarded to three whistle-blowers who helped the SEC and the US Department of Justice halt a sham hedge fund, and the ultimate total payout in that case once all sanctions are collected is likely to exceed US$125,000. Unsurprisingly the increase in awards has led to a rise in the number of whistle-blowers.


Eat Italian

In case you hadn't noticed Great Food Hall at Pacific Place is in the middle of an Eat Italian festival, which ends on October 10. More than 250 items are on display including olive oils, vinegars, deli meats and cheeses.

In addition, the Italian Trade Commission and Liguria Region have arranged for Italian chef Andrea Golino, who appears on Gambero Rosso web TV, to demonstrate the preparation of baccala mantecato, a Genoese codfish dish. Having sampled some of his cooking recently at Domani Ristorante we can confirm he is fantastico.


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