Today found Lai See thinking Zen thoughts. And no, we don't mean humming in the lotus position seeking inner peace. It is of Zen Pacific Civil Contractors that we speak. And we doubt they've been finding much peace lately either. They're the ones behind the dodgy pilings at Yuen Chau Kok, near Sha Tin. They've just sent out a letter from their director, along with a legal statement to all their suppliers and subcontractors. Here are some extracts: 'Please rest assured that we are taking this matter very seriously and are jealous of our otherwise excellent reputation and track record,' it reads. (Cue violin music): 'Both the Housing Authority and Zen Pacific are victims of the actions of others.' 'All remedial works should be carried out as . . . economically as possible.' 'Demolition must be avoided if at all possible in order to minimise cost.' Oh, and just in case that gave you the wrong idea, rest assured that Zen Pacific 'is committed to quality in construction and always puts quality and safety before profit'. Hmm. Like some of their other recent work, that last claim appears to lack solid foundation. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's top economist has been taking a childish delight in saying a naughty word. This word is so bad that just saying it attracts hate mail. This word has prompted strangers to chase the market watcher from his home. But fearless Lai See dares to print it. Bubble. There. Now let the chips fall where they may. And falling chips (of the blue variety) are just what New York-based Stephen Roach is worried about. Yesterday found him telling a Hong Kong audience that 'the biggest risk of all is that the American equity bubble pops'. Here he paused to express his immense satisfaction at having said the word 'bubble'. 'When I am in the United States,I am not allowed any more to use the word 'bubble',' he explained. 'I have appeared on television and used it a few times - I've got hate mail, I've got people chasing me out of my home. 'So I am not allowed to use the word 'bubble' in describing the near virtual ascent in the US stock market since the end of 1994,' he said. 'But when I leave the country it is a word that I use over and over again.' The economist seemed delighted by his own recklessness. But Lai See didn't think the banned word scored very high on the risque-o-meter. We didn't say so to Mr Roach though. We'd hate to burst his bubble. Here's some more proof that beer drinkers always get a head. The two Delaney's pubs in Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui are currently running a competition for Hong Kong-based and imported Irish traditional bands. And in true Irish tradition, the opinions of hard-core beer drinkers are the only ones that count. Every night until March 17 (St Patrick's Day), drinkers at the pubs are invited to vote for their favourite band. But you only get a voting card if you buy a Guinness product. The press release unabashedly states that the cultural event aims 'to promote the consumption of Guinness'. So the musicians with the heaviest-drinking friends can stack the voting and win. Lai See thinks it's a fine idea - and certainly no more biased than our own political system. In fact, we'd like to see the exact same approach taken towards the Legislative Council elections. Hey, if we can't have true democracy, we might as well get drunk. Some more wild and wacky subtitles from Stephan Hammond's as yet unpublished Hong Kong film guide Hollywood East : 'Dumb-bell, this is a civilised world, better talk, no fighting, man. Damn you creeper! You nonsense!' - God of Gamblers 3 - The Early Stages ; 'Boss, if I can't figure out a vile method to . . . make them suffer from great loss, then I'll become a small potato.' - War of the Underworld ; 'Nuts! You fat-headed. All rascals said they are superiors. But the greatest one was chopped into nine pieces.' - To Be No 1.