It's not only the Big Mac Index in Hong Kong that has been rising, as we revealed this week. It has also been a surprisingly inflationary time for Hong Kong's 'minor vices' index. Amid little fanfare in last week's inflation figures, it was revealed that the price for alcohol and tobacco products rose 6.6 per cent in the year to last month. During the same period, food prices fell by 2.3 per cent (clearly, this was before McDonald's started to raise its menu prices). No wonder Hong Kongers are confused. We're told inflation is at a 12-year low and falling, but how so? You go down to the local McDonald's for a recession-busting, cheap fast-food hit - then it turns out you're now paying 5 per cent more for a Big Mac. Then you want to drown your sorrows about market woes, with some lager or perhaps a glass of wine - only to find your liquid refreshment is too expensive. So you reach for a pack of fags - but find they're about to damage not only your insides, but your hip-pocket nerve as well. So much for the beer essentials in life! A reader has written in to tell us he's confused. He thought that just because the mainland was communist, it did not mean that Hong Kong would become a socialist state. 'But now it seems to be effectively nationalising many of the main companies through its stock market buying,' he said. What are the implications of this for the Government's policy-making on companies, he asks? Will the Government now have to brush up on insider dealing rules every time it implements new rules affecting the corporate sector? And - heaven forbid - will Dapper Donald Tsang have to notify the market in future before taking any policy decisions? Over to you, Donald. The mystery continues to deepen on what has happened to the briefing about Worldsec Securities' earth-shattering report, 'Why will the share price of HSBC fall to $100?'. We again tried valiantly to find Worldsec director Carlton Poon yesterday, but only got as far as his assistant. We asked her if she knew when the briefing would take place. 'We postponed the briefing because the analyst [who was to co-ordinate it] was sick. We'll reschedule it, but we haven't got the schedule yet.' But if the analyst is now well, why doesn't the firm just go ahead and give the briefing now? 'You'll need to talk to Carlton on that,' she said. Alas, Mr Poon was 'out of town' - and apparently, out of phone contact - yesterday. But word has it a few copies of the report may be floating around town. If anyone has seen a stray copy that has escaped local corporate dustbins, Lai See would love to hear from you. Remember the kerfuffle about rat infestations at Chek Lap Kok? One expert sensed a 'ratastrophe' - estimating at a public hearing that 100,000 rats may have infiltrated the new airport. There was even a call for expatriate cats - or 'excats' - to eradicate CLK's hard-to-kill British rats. Well, Airport Authority corporate development boss Clinton Leeks now claims the rodent problem at CLK was over-ratted. While some were sighted at various sites, they certainly were not a 'serious plague', Mr Leeks now says. It would be nice to know the difference between a 'serious plague' and a minor plague of rats. Maybe in a minor plague they slum it in the cargo areas; in a serious plague they end up squirming in the carry-on luggage. We've had our usual robust response to the caption competition that started yesterday regarding what Boris Yeltsin and Viktor Chernomyrdin were saying to each other in the snap below. Ian Hardee suggests Viktor is whispering: 'And if you sack me again, I'll knee you in the Cossacks. . .!' Harry Gilbert suggests it is Boris talking, and offers two possibilities: 'Viktor, when I look in your eyes I see rubies . . . er, I mean roubles', or 'Viktor, if you drink as much vodka as I do, you will soon see the answer to all of Russia's economic problems.' But Sean Mok suggests it is a two-way conversation: Viktor: 'So, Boris, what will happen to that little brat Kiriyenko?' Boris: 'Send him to Hong Kong with all those other losers.' Makes a trip to Hong Kong sound worse than a one-way ticket to a Siberian salt mine.