First question: What do retirement funds, comics and horse racing have in common? Well, yes, someone can draw in (or on) all of them. But that's not really the answer we were looking for. The common link is the MPF. These days, the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) is starting to sound distinctly desperate. It seems all those stories in the business sections of newspapers just aren't getting their message across. With the December 1 deadline looming, more than half a million small firms and self-employed people have yet to sign up. So the MPFA has decided to push their plans on the pages of more influential publications. Such as Dragon-Tiger Hero, Sky Soldiers and Magic. For those of you who don't read them, those are comics. The pension-plan word is also being spread through horse-racing papers such as Professional Racing News, and Elder Ng's Racing Comment. Seems a bit ironic, pushing plans for the future in the domain of the quick-buck dream. But the MPFAers tell us that more men read the horse-racing newspapers than either the business or entertainment news. Which brings us to Question No 2. What do horses, snails and plane travel have in common? And no, it has nothing to do with the inflight meals on China Southern. It relates to gambling. People lay odds on all three. Lai See has just learned that there's more to betting than the Sha Tin and Happy Valley race tracks. In fact, we think Hong Kong gamblers should break out of their ruts and try branching out a bit. Instead of spending week after week watching majestic beasts thunder across a finish line, why not watch slime trails forming instead? These days anyone can experience the thrill of snail racing - live and in colour. Reader Ed Pownall discovered the event mixed in with the more traditional sporting fare served up at gambling site Bluesq.com. 'The Olympics may be over but snail racing continues Friday live on the Internet,' the site enthuses. The event is pretty straight forward. Snails ooze up variously coloured poles, while gamblers put money on which one will get to the top first. Here's an excerpt from the official rules: In the event of a photo finish, the judge's decision is final. The starter will call 'No more bets. They are under starter's orders' when the starting stall lowering process begins. If any snail falls off or refuses to race after coming under starter's orders, all stakes on that snail will be lost. Good grief. It makes snail racing sound like a matter of life and death. And it isn't, by the way - unlike the odds being tallied at amigoingdown.com. There, anyone about to board a flight can find out their exact chances of survival. The statistics are based on information put out by the aviation authorities. They take the overall mortality risk figures, then factor in destination, airline and time of year. Log on, feed in data on the whats, whens and wheres of your journey, and click on the button that says 'Am I going down?' If you're flying to Guangzhou this month, it says your chances of dying are miniscule at just one in 1,141,211 . . . if you take Cathay. On Air China, it claims you're less than half as likely to make it (one in 448,224). And people who decide to cut costs and opt for 'other PRC airlines' are pushing their luck down to one in 215,659. As the brief analysis accompanying the tally puts it: 'That's really not good'. Still, the odds remain in your favour. The dodgiest of airlines is still safer than the safest car. So you really should feel free to fly wherever and whenever you like. There's absolutely nothing to worry about. So will Lai See be jetting off for a mainland holiday on Air Somewhere-Tiny-You've-Never-Heard-of-In-Northern-China? Don't bet on it.