Monthly Archives: February 2013

Chinese New Year 2013

Year of the Snake

Year of the Snake

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

Today (Sunday, February 10, 2013) is the first day of this important annual celebration marking the start of the new year according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The holiday is also known as the Spring Festival because in pre-modern times it was the seasonal sign that farmers in China had to start sowing their fields.

The date usually falls in the months of January or February and each new year is represented by one of the twelve creatures of the Chinese Zodiac. 2013 is the year of the Snake, also called the Junior Dragon. According to ancient Chinese wisdom, a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means that the family will not starve.

People born under the sign of the snake (1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013) share certain personality characteristics. They are said to be cunning, thoughtful and wise. They are also great mediators and good at doing business.

The characteristics of the Snake are tempered by one of the 5 Chinese elements of Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth overlaying a 5-year cycle of characteristics on the original 12-year cycle.

In 2013, that element is water. Water Snakes are influential and insightful. They are good at managing others, are motivated, intellectual, determined and resolute about being successful at whatever they do. Although they are affectionate with family and friends, they tend to hide this side of their personality from colleagues or business partners.

More than a billion people around the world will be ushering in the Year of the Snake with festivities that last for a few weeks after new year’s day.

Not only is holiday celebrated in China, but also in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Taiwan, Macau, Mauritius, Philippines,Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, as well as in Chinatowns  everywhere from Canada to the US to Africa to Australia.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper cutouts and Chinese poetry about good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.

Typically on New Year’s eve, Chinese families gather for the annual reunion dinner which is a big feast. Dishes include pork, duck, chicken, sweet delicacies as well as fish. The tradition is that the fish is not finished during the meal, so that it can be stored overnight – a belief that the years will be blessed and profitable. Families end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.

Celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year’s Day itself to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar.

We wish a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful year to all!

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Filed under China, Chinese New Year 2013, Chinese Zodiac, Rabbit in the Moon by Deborah and Joel Shlian, Year of the Snake

New Discovery by Longevity Researchers in Mice

Reverse aging in mice

Reverse aging in mice

Since one of the themes in our international mystery thriller Rabbit in the Moon is finding the secret of longevity, we’re always on the lookout for what’s new in longevity research.  

 In a study published online Jan. 31 in the journal Cell Reports,biologists reported a discovery about the aging process in mice might one day help efforts to develop treatments for age-related diseases in humans. The authors say they were able to turn back the “molecular clock” in old mice by placing a “longevity” gene called SIRT3 into their blood stem cells.

This gene  belongs to a class of proteins called sirtuins, which are known to regulate aging.

 When the gene was inserted into the blood stem cells of old mice, the formation of new blood cells was increased. 

 Principal investigator Danica Chen, an assistant professor of nutritional science and toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley says that this  is evidence of a reversal in the age-related decline in the old stem cells’ function.

 The finding “opens the door to potential treatments for age-related degenerative diseases,” Chen said.

 When we wrote our novel we were aware that researchers have been searching for the secret of longevity for decades. Although our story supposes that someone in China in 1989 had found the key to doubling man’s lifespan, as far as we know that was pure fiction.

 One of the obstacles for any scientist to succeed in this quest has been the understanding of the aging process.   Once assumed to be a purely random and uncontrolled process, it is now believed to be highly regulated and possibly even open to manipulation.

 “Studies have already shown that even a single gene mutation can lead to lifespan extension,” Chen said. “The question is whether we can understand the process well enough so that we can actually develop a molecular fountain of youth. Can we actually reverse aging? This is something we’re hoping to understand and accomplish.”

 So stay tuned. Scientists may find the secret yet!

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Filed under longevity, longevity research, Rabbit in the Moon by Deborah and Joel Shlian, Uncategorized

“Body doubles” doing criminals’ time in China?

Apparently in China you can hire someone to serve your prison time for you.

According to Quora contributor Ti Zhao who was born and partially raised there, this is known as ding zui (translation:“substitute criminal”).

The practice is actually  illegal and not very common, says Ti Zhao.

However, Jeffrey Sant in a Slate article claims that wealthy people buying their way out of trouble, while a much poorer “body double” sacrifices his or her freedom for cash is not at all uncommon and has been documented in the Chinese media.

In August, during the sensational trial of Gu Kailai, the recently convicted murderer and wife of ousted Communist Party official Bo Xilai, a number of Chinese citizens began speculating online that the woman in court was actually a 替身 – tisthen (translation: “body replacement”).  As a result, Chinese blocked the term.

So if you want to learn more about this practice, you’ll probably have to find your sources outside of China.

 

 

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Filed under body double, China, substitute criminal