Happy Year of the Golden Fire on Water Pig

Happy Chinese New Year and Seol Nal!  (Seol Nal is the Korean name for the lunar new year.)  This is the Year of the Pig, but not just any ol’ Pig Year.  Depending on who you talk to, it’s either the Year of the Golden Pig, Year of the Fire Pig, or Year of the Fire Pig that falls on a water element.  It is such a special lunar year that no one can say for sure whether it happens every 60 years or 600 years or every 12 years.  Either way, it’s a special year, and a lot more babies will be born in Greater China, on the Korean Peninsula, and their respective diaspora.  Many Chinese and Koreans believe this will be the most special year to bear children since the Year of the Dragon seven years ago, and hospitals are expecting a spike in birthrate.  Births will undoubtedly increase as East Asian parents rush to have children who will be recipients of the good fortune lavished on them by this auspicious Zodiac sign.

Why?  According to an article published by AsianAvenue.com:

Supposedly children born in the year of the Golden Pig will make a lot of money. The Pig sign represents everything that makes us plump—health, fertility, and money. And the fact that this year’s pig is golden only adds to the material wealth. But the pig has bad traits as well—it’s also a symbol of greed, laziness, filth, and stupidity. But for many couples, this seems to be a small tradeoff for an early retirement.

However, no consensus has emerged on the special significance of this year.  After all, the Year of the Pig occurs every 12 years, but this year is being touted as a special one by many people, especially merchants hoping to generate additional sales by promoting the “Year of the Golden Pig.”  According to Korean broadcasting company, KBS:

People who believe in the year of the golden pig say the special year comes every 600 years. They came to this conclusion through calculations, using a combination of the Chinese zodiac and the yin and yang theory. However, a folklore professor, Joo Young-ha, at the Academy of Korean Studies rebuts the theory. He explained that if the year 2007 is the golden pig year which comes every 600 years, there should be records about the special year written in the ‘Taejong Sillok,’ archives of King Taejong. King Taejong ruled the Joseon Dynasty 600 years ago. But there are no such records, which makes him believe the myth was made not long ago.

This Year of the Pig may not be so special after all.  According to Asia Times Online:

This lunar year…is fraught with an especially strong dose of astrological Viagra because it is believed to be the Year of the Golden Pig, which – depending on the astrologer you consult – comes once every 60 or 600 years. Either way, it’s a rare pig.  Or is it? Serious Hong Kong practitioners of the ancient art of feng shui, or geomancy, have debunked the notion that this is a golden year, writing it off as a commercial invention fostered by shopkeepers to boost business. The next golden pig year, they say, will not come around until 2031.

This is a fire-pig year, according to feng shui masters such as Raymond Lo and Peter So. It is only golden in the fired imaginations of shopkeepers scheming for additional profit. But those merchants have succeeded in duping the general public.  Before the crass intervention of commerce, here, by most accounts, is how the Chinese astrological system was supposed to work: each year in the lunar calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals of the zodiac, which then rotates through five earthly elements – metal, wood, water, fire and earth.  This year’s pig is matched up not with gold but with fire and, significantly, the fire sits on water. The elements are therefore in conflict – a theme not particularly popular with merchants and mall decorators – and the year ahead will be full of turbulence.  It would be better if this year’s flame were a yang fire, which symbolizes the warmth of the sun, politeness and optimism. But instead, it’s yin fire, and that signifies the spark of tension, conflict and even war. 

From what I gather–and I am no scholar in Chinese astrology–this is really the Year of the Fire Pig on Water.  So what are the sociological implications of this combination?  Well, it seems to portend that children born in 2007 will be hotheaded but prone to being all wet.


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Off to Xi’an

I only have a few minutes today to tell you that I’ll be offline until next week.  We will be traveling to Xi’an, China, home to the famous terra cotta warriors, for a short two-day weekend trip.  While weekend trips in Korea feel like brief outings, our trip to Xi’an–about two hours away by plane from Shanghai–feels like a major undertaking.  I hope to have stories to share when I return.  I should be back online on Monday.

Last night my wife’s sister, her husband, my wife, son, and I went for Thai food at Banana Leaf, a trendy Shanghai restaurant.  The restaurant is very popular.  The food tasted undeniably like Chinese-style Thai food–save the peanut sauce.  I was appalled to discover that the restaurant could not serve Pad Thai because they ran out of key ingredients.  What?  You’ve got to be kidding.  A Thai restaurant isn’t Thai without Pad Thai, the national dish of Thailand.  We settled for Pad Siew instead.  I think my Chinese family members enjoyed the meal more than I did.  Afterwards, my brother-in-law and I went for a massage.  Not surprisingly, I am really sore today.  It’s been said that the best massages are the painful ones.  However, I think this one was a bit too painful.  My back is feeling the dull pain today.  It was more expensive than I thought it would be.  Oh well, I guess reality never lives up to your expectations.

Have a great weekend.  I’ll be back on Monday.

Straight from the Headlines (2006 Edition)

Luxembourg and Germany to Co-Host 2006 World Cup

Zurich, Switzerland (RFN) – The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) announced today that Luxembourg will join Germany in co-hosting the 2006 World Cup, the world’s premier football event.  Following the announcement, a jubilant crowd of 35 Luxembourgers gathered near Luxembourg City Stadium shouting “Vive Luxembourg!”  FIFA’s unexpected decision followed recent efforts by the European Union to assuage strained relations between the two EU member states.  FIFA’s move also mitigates mounting concerns that Germany will have difficulty single-handedly hosting the world’s largest single-sport competition.

“The joining of Luxembourg and Germany today to co-host this event shows the power of nations working together to promote world peace,” said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.  “We hope that the only conflict will take place on the football field.  Our referees will keep their yellow cards handy.”

Tensions between the two countries rose recently following a controversial speech given by Dresden Alderman Georg Schtimmpf.  In it, he claimed that the name “Luxembourg” originated from the German language, contrary to the view of Luxembourger scholars who consider the name to be French.  Despite Luxembourger demands for an apology, the German Parliament declined to take action.  Alderman Schtimmpf has gone into hiding and was unavailable for comment.  So far this year several Germans and Luxembourgers have been injured following mishaps with German and Luxembourger beer and wine bottles.

FIFA has not yet announced whether the Luxembourg national football team will receive automatic entry into the World Cup.  Luxembourg has not announced whether it will field a team.

Disgruntled Voters Launch Utopian Party

Boston (RFN) – Delegates from around the United States representing frustrated voters rallied today near Boston Harbor and announced the founding the Utopian Party, a new party for disillusioned American voters.  50 Utopian Party delegates representing each U.S. state spent two days behind closed doors negotiating their new party’s platform.  The party announced its intention to nominate Congressman Bernard I. Sanders (I-Vermont) to head the new party.  It will formally ask the Congressman to assume party leadership at its upcoming convention.  Confidental sources assert that Billionaire Ross Perot, Commentator Pat Buchanan, and former Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont are also potential candidates to lead the new party.  Interim spokesperson Ariana Huffington declined comment on news that she would serve as interim Utopian Party leader.

Invoking images of the Boston Tea Party, delegates expressed frustrations over the two major political parties, citing several instances where the parties failed to deliver results.  In her initial press briefing, Spokesperson Huffington stated, “The two major parties have failed us.  The Utopian Party will be different.  We will promise everything to everyone so that when something happens, we can honestly say that we did what we said we would do.  We are tired of promises without results, and you are too.  The Utopian Party’s promises will fit the results.”

The Utopian Party will reconvene in Los Angeles next month and begin seeking candidates for the 2006 U.S. election.

Hyundai Air Earns Record Profits on Manufactured Air

Seoul, Korea (RFN) – Yesterday investors sent the price of Hyundai Air (KOSPI:HAIR) soaring in late trading on news that it recorded record profits during the first quarter of 2006.  Hyundai Air, a subsidiary of the Hyundai Group, earned a record U.S. $1.6 billion on sales of $6.3 million drivenly largely by a 153% increase in sales of manufactured air.

Hyundai Air’s special air manufacturing process, patented in 2004, has won it substantial business worldwide, earning the company a 3% global market share.  Nature still retains 97% of the market, a figure that Hyundai Air hopes to match in the next few years.  According to Spokeperson Kim Bum Suk, “We’re well on our way to successfully adding value to a commodity product.  Customers prefer value-added products over commodities.  At Hyundai, we want our customers to rely on us for everything.  We want them to buy their Hyundai car, cell phone, computer, and television at the Hyundai Department Store and take them home to their Hyundai apartment.  Hyundai Air is a natural fit for the Hyundai lifestyle.”

Hyundai Air was founded in 2003 by its corporate parent to complement a wide range of products that meet every need.  In addition to manufactured air, the Hyundai Group offers consumers a vast array of goods and services available at virtually any retail outlet.  Riding upward momentum of Hyundai Air, the Hyundai Group established a new airline, Hyundai Airline, that will begin worldwide operations in late 2006.  Investors looking for corporate synergies are hopeful that the exhaust from Hyundai Airline jets will help drive demand for manufactured air and that Hyundai Air will in turn keep the airline afloat.

Pitt and Jolie Caught Breathing on Tape

Hollywood (RFN) – The April edition of Paparazzi Magazine (PM) reveals that Hollywood megacouple and actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie disrupted their film dialogue to breath together during several scenes in the hit movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”  The film, starring Pitt and Jolie as a husband and wife who double as secret agents hired to kill one another, earned over $186 million at the box office and sparked the match-made-in-Hollywood romance that led to the megacouple’s marital merger.

PM Reporter Cecil Broadside uncovered the breathing during several movie viewings while preparing to cover their covert wedding ceremony.  “I couldn’t believe.  It was right there, and no one caught it.  You heard it here first,” Broadside wrote in the article entitled “Brad Pitt:  From Chicken Suit to Stardom.”

Actress Jennifer Aniston was not available for comment and declined to discuss her break up with Pitt.  She is currently on the talk-show circuit promoting her upcoming movie “The Break-Up” co-starring Vince Vaughn.  No word yet on a possible intimate pairing of Aniston and Vaughn.

ACLU Seeks an End to April Fool’s Day

Los Angeles (RFN) – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), citing possible civil rights violations on April Fool’s Day, plan lawsuits to end practical jokes.  The ACLU asks those who are potential victims of April Fool’s Day pranks to contact the April Fool’s hotline at their earliest convenience.  The ACLU will prepare cases for eligible claims in an effort to combat this offensive practice.  If you believe you have wrongly duped by an April Fool’s Day joke or prank and seek redress, contact the ACLU at 968-3665 (YOU-FOOL).

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