|Shizuka Bernstein gives what she calls a Geisha Facial - AP|
It's winter in New Zealand and at this time of year the thrushes and blackbirds are showing increasing signs of desperation as they root amongst the litter debris and bark for grubs and other tasty morsels.
While I can understand their need I don't appreciate the spread of bird droppings that greets me each time I open our front door. Let's face it, our avian companions are far from being toilet trained and in the winter months leave their calling card with gay abandon.
One would think that this would be the end of the matter (pun intended), but apparently not. There are cultures where the bird droppings are harvested and put to the strangest of uses. While bird guano from islands such as Nauru has long been a source of agricultural fertiliser, the idea of smearing the stuff on one's face could only have been dreamed up by the Japanese.
Clients in the Shizuka New York beauty spa are paying $US 230 a time to have a 'Geisha facial', which consists of a paste of Asian nightingale excrement mixed with rice bran, liberally applied to the visage of the gullible.
Meanwhile in Singapore it is smearing of a different nature that is occupying the minds of government. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen is reported in the Straits Times as saying that "Online misinformation, rumours and smears are a 'threat' to Total Defence".
Misinformation is always one of the weapons of war and the ongoing claims and counter-claims from the Egyptian and Syrian conflicts are current examples of this reality.
However one has to wonder at the timing of this statement, coming as it does hard on the heels of the recent regulation of online media in the republic.
I have always believed that there is an inherent truth in the old saying "Stick and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me". Are we right to assume that the Minister is not inferring that any online criticism of Singapore and its policies be deemed a threat to national security?
Readers of this blog will know that I am a strong supporter of Singapore and its governance. One would hope that Ng Eng Hen's words are related to crisis management situations rather than a open ended generic statement - I suspect they are.
The article goes on to point out how Singaporeans pulled together both online and offline to combat the recent haze situation. The understandable rage expressed in social media about the arrogance of Indonesian plantation owners and farmers was understandable.
The venting of such frustrations in this manner is therapeutic and much more cost-effective than a Geisha facial. Although in the case of the haze it was the Indonesian government who ended up with the stuff on their face.