China launches its first aircraft carrier

But it’s used and has no planes. China bought the vessel in 1998 from Ukraine and had it refurbished – few details of its capabilities are known. But, from Reuters, “defense experts say it lacks the strike aircraft, weapons, electronics, training and logistical support it needs to become a fighting warship.” And so it will stay in the training fleet until they figure out how to land a plane on it.

The response has largely been mocking, from the Brisbane Times, ”if it is used against America, it has no survivability. If it is used against China’s neighbours, it’s a sign of bullying.” And those neighbors are the ones in the crossfire. Japan has disputed territory with China in the East China Sea and the Philippines are arguing over a shoal in the South China Sea.

Still, it is a sign of the rising military power of the Chinese – after all, only 9 countries have an aircraft carrier. Seven of them only have one, Italy has two, and the United Kingdom only uses theirs for helicopters. So the launch could be a symbol of pride, that the Chinese are equal to the other powers. But they have a long journey ahead to challenge the United States and our 11 aircraft carriers.

 

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Occupy Asia – there are more millionaires in East Asia than North America

There are now more rich people in East Asia than in North America. Both have around 3 million millionaires and there are 11 million worldwide.

But don’t forget about the little countries. Japan still has three times as many millionaires as China.

 

Millionaires in Asia Pacific. (source : Quartz)

 

And, if the rest of Asia were to unite they would outnumber China too. Perhaps, a strategic partnership could counter-balance the Rising Tiger.

Looking at the rest of the world, North America still has more money and really rich people – more billionaires than anyone lese. Europe is solidly in third place, while the Middle East is tied with Latin America. But only tied in terms of people, not overall wealth. I guess Latin Americans can buy bigger boats than Middle Easterners.

 

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‘Ring of Fire’ – solar eclipse coming this Sunday

There will be a stunning partial solar eclipse on Sunday, May 20th. The moon will begin shrouding the sun at 5:27 p.m. (PST) and will cover 83 percent of the sun’s surface at 6:40 p.m. The eclipse will take place while the sun is sinking toward the horizon, out over the ocean. It’ll be easy to see, if skies are clear.

Do not — repeat, do not — look at the eclipse with your naked eye or with materials that don’t protect your vision from UV and infrared radiation. You risk permanent and serious damage to your vision if you don’t use the proper safety equipment to view a solar eclipse, and the damage can occur within seconds.

via Gary Robbins

 


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Gesture-based vending machine – recognizes hugs and dispenses soda

The Coca-Cola Hug Machine. You hug it, it returns the favour with a Coke. Because vending machines have feelings too. #hugmecoke

A new campaign from Ogilvy & Mather features the Coca-Cola hug me machine. Look for more of these gesture-based machines to pop up across Asia in the upcoming months.

Change your world view – maps with the North Pole as the center

Imagine the world with its center at the North Pole.

Asia nearly touches North America, and Europe is a short Viking’s paddle from North America too.

Add in the Winter ice and all the land masses connect.

The view from space.

 

 

//Maps are from – Reading Teachers, Athropolis, and the National Science Foundation.

China's military continues to grow – spending tops $100 billion for the first time

China announced an 11.2% increase in its defense budget for 2012.

For the first time, China’s defense spending will top $100 billion

At a news conference Sunday, Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for the congress, announced the $110-billion budget, while stating that the spending “constitutes no threat to other countries.’’

“You can see that we have 1.3 billion people with a large land areas and a long coastline, but our outlays on defense are quite low compared to other major countries,” said Li.

By way of comparison, the U.S. Congress has approved $662 billion in Pentagon spending for next year.

Last year at this time, Beijing announced a 12.7% increase in military spending, resuming double-digit expansion after a more modest 7.5% increase in 2010.

Adm. Robert Willard, U.S. commander for the Asia-Pacific region, told the Senate Arms Services Committee last week: “They continue to advance their capabilities and capacities in all areas.”

via LA Times

China’s military continues to grow – spending tops $100 billion for the first time

China announced an 11.2% increase in its defense budget for 2012.

For the first time, China’s defense spending will top $100 billion

At a news conference Sunday, Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for the congress, announced the $110-billion budget, while stating that the spending “constitutes no threat to other countries.’’

“You can see that we have 1.3 billion people with a large land areas and a long coastline, but our outlays on defense are quite low compared to other major countries,” said Li.

By way of comparison, the U.S. Congress has approved $662 billion in Pentagon spending for next year.

Last year at this time, Beijing announced a 12.7% increase in military spending, resuming double-digit expansion after a more modest 7.5% increase in 2010.

Adm. Robert Willard, U.S. commander for the Asia-Pacific region, told the Senate Arms Services Committee last week: “They continue to advance their capabilities and capacities in all areas.”

via LA Times

Family History Day: a new American holiday

Would you like to celebrate a new holiday with me?

I call it Family History Day, or Ancestors Day. 

Let’s celebrate it right before Halloween with a variety of fun and somber rituals, pulled from the most popular festivals around the world:

  • Qingming festival from East Asia
  • Día de los Muertos from Mexico
  • The rituals of Shinto in Japan.

From each I have chosen the best elements and combined them together to form a truly marvelous holiday. One that, I hope, will accomplish the goal: to gain wisdom. Wisdom is an elusive foe, one that evades us all our lives. Sometimes we find it right before we die or after a great tragedy, but none of us have it on a daily basis. This holiday is an attempt to find wisdom every year by seeking out those in our past who had it, for just a brief moment. It also formalizes the search into a ritual that can teach us about family, honor, and respect. Here is how other cultures celebrate.

Qingming

The Qingming Festival, often called Ancestors Day, occurs on the Spring Equinox, usually around April 15, and is celebrated in many countries from China to Cambodia. “Celebrants remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, paper accessories, and/or libations to the ancestors.” “It is also the time when young couples start courting. Families go on outings.” There is also a rich history of honoring ones ancestors through poetry and painting.

English Translation:

The ceaseless drizzle drips all the dismal day, So broken-hearted fares the traveler on the way. When asked where could be found a tavern bower, A cowboy points to yonder village of the apricot flower.

Día de loe Muertos

Día de los Muertos, translates as Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexico over two days, November 1-2. The first day honors children and second honors deceased relatives. It is a fun and morbid holiday that celebrates death with joy. Families create candy and treats for children in the shape of skulls and skeletons.

Young ones get involved with costumes and skeleton dolls at parties with dancing and music. Adults visit cemeteries to “build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed.” Celebrated on the Catholic holiday All Souls Day, the intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that they will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

Shinto

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