“Canada’s foreign affairs minister says he wants to crack down on Chinese spies who are stealing industrial and high-technology secrets at a tremendous cost to the economy… The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has been investigating economic espionage involving China… Foreign students and scientists, business delegations and Chinese immigrants are among those used as informants, says the spy agency… News reports last year said there are as many as 1,000 Chinese economic spies operating in Canada.” Montreal Gazette


“Then something strange happened… In the First World War, the average American soldier was still two inches taller than the average German. But sometime around 1955 the situation began to reverse. The Germans and other Europeans went on to grow an extra two centimetres a decade, and some Asian populations several times more, yet Americans haven’t grown taller in fifty years. By now, even the Japanese—once the shortest industrialized people on earth—have nearly caught up with us, and Northern Europeans are three inches taller and rising.” Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker

Taken over by tourists

“And the unsettling truth sinks in: Travel is oversold… Overrun by yappy guides, European capitals have become giant theme parks. Beset by swarms of tourists, the Acropolis looks more like an anthill than a Greek temple. Invaded by cellphones, Westminster Abbey feels like a playpen for tour groups rather than a revered place of worship. Now, even distant Asian destinations have a surreal cast, overbuilt with golden arches and accented by Starbucks logos. As tourism infiltrates the far corners of the globe, the juggernaut seems unstoppable — and increasingly unmemorable. Far be it from me to begrudge the benefits of the travel boom for the poor countries and rich corporations that depend on the hospitality industry. But why trek to an exotic locale that is so utterly westernized as to be eerily familiar?” Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star

German engineering

“By 1941-42, the allies knew that US and even British tanks had been technically superior to German Panzer tanks in combat, but they were worried about the capabilities of the new marks IV and V. More troubling, they had really very little idea of how many tanks the enemy was capable of producing in a year… Both the British and the Americans… asked statistical intelligence to see whether the accuracy of the estimates could be improved. The statisticians had one key piece of information, which was the serial numbers on captured mark V tanks. The statisticians believed that the Germans, being Germans, had logically numbered their tanks in the order in which they were produced. And this deduction turned out to be right. It was enough to enable them to make an estimate of the total number of tanks that had been produced up to any given moment.” The Guardian


“Sabian Ltd., one of the top two cymbal manufacturers in the world, laids its roots in Canada a quarter century ago after a bitter dispute over ownership divided the business… The company, which employs 150, produces 1.2 million cymbals every year. Sabian makes more than 1,500 different types with rides, crashes and hi-hats being the most popular. Most are made by machine… Cymbals cost between $64 and $770 for individual pieces, with custom-made cymbals commanding a premium.” Sharda Prashad, Toronto Star

The new strategy

“In a world where strategy is a commodity, creativity becomes the vital factor from which value flows. When everyone can think strategically about everything, the locus of value creation shifts from out-thinking everyone to out-creating them… Now, we see the hints of the revolution everywhere—from the death of mass culture/blockbusters, to the rise of free culture, to the exploding investment in innovation and design, to the flight of capital away from the US. I think it is going to create enormous challenges for firms—challenges which can’t be answered by thinking strategically; but can only be faced by thinking creatively.” Bubblegeneration

Big in America

“…We had been contacted by Jim Clark, the founder of SGI (Silicon Graphics Inc.), who called us up one day and said that he had just bought a company called MIPS Inc. which had been working on some things with some great R&D people, and it just so happened that they came up with a chip that they thought would be great for a video game console… We were quite impressed, and we called up Japan and told them to send over the hardware team because these guys really had something cool… When they reviewed what SGI had developed… they basically said that it… had lots of little technical things that they didn’t like… So, the SGI guys went away and worked on these issues and then called us back up and asked that the same team be sent back over, because they had it all resolved… There was sort of the same reaction: still not good enough… Well, Jim Clark called me up and asked what was he supposed to do now? They had spent all that time and effort on what they thought was the perfect video game chipset, so what were they supposed to do with it? I told them that there were other companies that they should be calling, because we clearly weren’t the ones for them. Needless to say, he did, and that chipset became part of the next generation of Nintendo products (N64).” Sega of America president Tom Kalinske, on the inner rivalry that existed between the American and Japanese branches of Sega


“The first bite into the yolk isn’t so bad. But then I see it. The little head with the little eyes, closed as if in prayer, the barely shaped wings crossed angelically across its chest. There is little left to do but bite off its face.” Globe and Mail reporter Deirdre Kelly, on the Filipino delicacy balut, a nearly developed duck embryo served as a boiled egg


The inconvenient truth

“Gore’s circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention.” Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, on Al Gore’s warnings of climate catastrophe in his film “An Inconvenient Truth”

Al Gore

Lifelong dream to be a Filipino

“It is my lifelong dream. I plan to retire here in Davao. I’m happy and honored and proud to be accepted into a country I’ve loved. It’s not that I don’t like being American, I just like being Filipino better.” US WWII veteran Charles William Mosser, on his lifelong dream to acquire his Filipino citizenship