Thursday, August 11, 2016

Remember Farmville? Yeah, let's see how long Pokemon Go can last ...

I HAVE the Pokémon Go app on one of my mobile phones. Yes, 54-year-old me. Curiosity got the better of me. 
Baby boomers like me are not alien to video and computer games. We started our adulthood during the Space Invaders, Asteroids and Pac-Man era. I believe if we were to play Pac-Man again, we could beat the pants off some of the millennials. 
Pokémon Go is relatively easy to understand. I found out fast enough to know that you (called a trainer) can catch these Pokémons at public places while you refresh your supplies of the balls (used to catch these Pokémons) and collect other stuff at what is called a Poke Stop. 
Since I began on Saturday, I have collected 60 Pokemons and surpassed Level Five (now at Level Six) where you can join a team and fight battles against other trainers for fame, glory and loot. My niece, nephew and I have since joined Team Valour but we have not had any battles as yet. 
The Pokémon Go application for Android has registered some 100 million downloads so far. Some parents have had requests from their children to get their phones and data plans upgraded to enable them to play the game. 
But, even before the game reached our shores, there were attempts to get the authorities to ban it, even to the extent of involving the religious authorities. Muslims here are discouraged from playing the game due to its negative effects. 
The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) has in fact supported the decision by the Federal Territories Islamic Legal Consultative Committee in forbidding Muslims from engaging themselves in Pokémon Go. 
Apparently, the decision was said to be consistent with the views of other Muslim countries which found the game to be dangerous, resulting in fatal accidents. 
It is a different story across the Causeway. 
I was drawn to a Facebook posting by the Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore — Darul Arqam Singapore, whose building is one of the Poke Stops in the republic. They have not stopped anyone from entering the building. In fact, they encourage trainers to use their facilities. They welcome trainers "to step in to cool down your body after a whole day of outdoor activities. 
"For Muslim trainers, do perform your daily prayers before continuing your quests to catch ‘em all". They also encourage trainers to stay safe while on the move. 
When you start up the app, it actually warns you to heed your surroundings and not trespass but as long as we are human, we are bound to make mistakes. Trainers tend to ignore these warnings in the heat of chasing after these creatures of all shapes and sizes. Their concentration will be on the screen of their mobile phones. That is when accidents happen. We have read about injuries and even deaths because of Pokémon Go in other countries. 
One thing good about this game is that you will have to do a lot of walking. My nephew, who shunned outdoor activities before, is now spending more time outside the house, but we cautioned him to be careful like we always did even before the Pokémon Go craze. 
While there are many reports of the negative side effects of playing Pokemon Go and any other video or computer games, there are numerous articles that give the benefits of it. 
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported this week on a study by associate professor Alberto Posso, an economist from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology of Australia, who said playing computer games could boost a student’s school performance and should be incorporated into classroom activities. 
Posso had used the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s test results and information on the amount of time Australian students spent in the digital world to measure the impact computer gaming and social media had on 15-year-olds’ performance in maths, science and reading. 
Social media was outed as a pastime with little return on investment. He said games like Minecraft let students apply and sharpen skills such as problem-solving and analytical thinking. 
"They have to solve puzzles, use their cognitive skills and even solve some maths when playing video games," he said in the (SMH) article. 
Posso said for a generation whose lives had become increasingly virtual — 97 per cent of Australian teenagers have access to the Internet, which is above the global average — incorporating gaming in education made sense. "We shouldn’t be dismissing these games," he said. "These are the tools that they are using... and the curriculum perhaps has to be a bit more flexible to reach this generation." 
Well, I would not worry too much about Pokémon Go. It is a craze and like all crazes, the novelty will run out. 
Take, for example, Facebook’s FarmVille. Launched in 2009, it became the most popular game on Facebook but by 2011, it experienced a considerable decline in popularity. By May 2012, it was ranked as the seventh most popular Facebook game. 
As at April 30, its rank had fallen to the 110th most popular Facebook game by Daily Active Users, while FarmVille 2 is at 42nd place. 
Millions of mobile phone users, like some of my older friends, may have downloaded the Pokemon Go app just to see what everyone is talking about. They will likely uninstall it. 
And depending on how aggressive these players are, they will reach the end of the game in no time. 
Don Bluth, an American video game designer and once a Disney animator, was quoted as saying the shelf life of a regular video game is usually about three to five years. 
So, let’s see how long Pokemon Go will last.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Date With Selena Gomez

I WAS at the Selena Gomez The Revival Tour 2016 concert at Malawati Stadium in Shah Alam on Monday night. 
Yes, me. No, I’m not a fan, just an aunty who was there to chaperone my niece and her friend, who she invited to come along as my nephew decided not to go because he had to prepare for his examination. 
I believe I was not alone in doing that. I saw parents with their children and guardians with their wards at the concert. Some made it an all-girls’ night, as like my niece puts it, “not all boys like Selena Gomez’s songs”. But there are those who dragged their husbands and boyfriends. 
The national anthem was played before the start of the concert. 
The multiracial crowd sang the Negara Ku with such gusto. It was a night of screams. When the lights came on, the girls screamed. When it was off, there was another round of screams. The same thing happened when a band member took his position on stage. When Selena finally appeared on stage, the crowd went wild. 
Our seats were located behind the Pit Zone (standing room only), which was in front of the stage. So, when the concert started, there was no way we could see the stage if we remained seated behind the Pit Zone. We resorted to standing on the chairs instead, only I (and some of the other adults) did that for the first half of the show. I remembered that the last time I stood on a chair was in Standard Four when I couldn’t remember the lines in a poem in Mrs D’Cruz’s English class. It was a torture, not only having to stand the entire period of English class but having to stand on a chair. 
We sang and danced and when Selena sang a Eurythmics’ classic, Sweet Dreams, the adults were on their feet and singing along. That was probably the only song we could relate to that night. 
Selena was dressed in a black long-sleeved turtleneck and loose silk pants during the first few songs. She then changed into a gold sequin midi dress that was bared at the back and two songs later, she was in a sleeveless black top and pants and a cardigan of sorts until the end of the show. 
It was a wholesome fun night for the concert goers. 
And what was so wrong with that? Most importantly, Selena was dressed and conducted herself appropriately and not provocatively as per the Communications and Multimedia Ministry’s guidelines on application for filming and performance by foreign artistes. 
And, I believe the members of the Central Committee for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes attending the concert — under the guidelines, the concert organiser has to allocate 20 tickets and any number of passes to the committee for the purpose of monitoring — saw that the Revival Tour concert met the ministry’ requirements. 
Well, some 20-odd men — reported to be members of Pertubuhan Kebajikan Darul Islah Malaysia — didn’t think so, even before the concert took place. One of them, using the loudhailer, told the concert-goers, especially the Malay crowd, why they should not go to the concert. We also saw them while walking towards the car park after the concert ended. We read later that they held hajat prayers and recited the Yassin outside the stadium. 
And, I have a feeling that some quarters were disappointed that no untoward incident happened. I don’t know what they had achieved that night but I thought it was a cheap stunt at getting publicity. 
The ministry defines entertainment as, one, a happy, joyful, pleasant and peaceful feeling that a person experiences as a result of something; two, an art, ability and capability to entertain and provide satisfaction in any reasonable manner to delight anyone; and three, an artistic and cultural performance exhibited and performed before an audience. 
Now, why shouldn’t we support the entertainment/music industry as an extension of the tourism sector? 
Currently, its potential as a revenue earner to the country is generally ignored. Concert organisers, for example, have to make payment of the foreign artiste’s withholding tax (the rate of withholding tax is 15 per cent of the foreign artiste’s gross income) to the Inland Revenue Board. And there are other fees to be paid, too, to the authorities. 
Also, if the concert is held only in Malaysia, there is a likelihood that those in neighbouring countries would travel here to catch the show, like what some of us do when there are international stars performing either in Jakarta or Singapore. That would definitely translate into tourism ringgit as the foreigners would be spending on food and accommodation and maybe a spot of shopping while they are here. 
It was reported that an estimated 10 million people travel internationally each year for the main purpose of watching or participating in a music or cultural festival. In the UK, for example, music tourism alone contributed £3 billion to the British economy in 2014. 
As such, we should facilitate the concert organisers, not make it difficult, for them to bring in the foreign artistes for their own solo concerts or to be part of a music event. 
Furthermore, music is also a powerful way of connecting people if we know how to utilise it.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

SAKIT TUA?

My mother celebrated her 75th birthday in late December last year. Other than diabetes, which is under control for the past few months with her blood sugar reading hovering between five and 6mmol/L (milimole per litre), she is in good health. My brother and his daughter accompany her whenever she goes for her medical check-ups at the government hospital. 
But, of late, she has been complaining of aches and pains. She cannot be on her feet for too long or else her ankles would be bloated. We gave her a cane to aid her walking. When she had trouble adjusting to the cane, we gave her a walker. Whenever we are out with her, we try to get her to use a wheelchair for ease of movements. But, she is more comfortable being left at home instead. 
Now staying at home has it disadvantages. You see, she watches television and reads newspapers. And, more often than not, she would zero in on the advertisements and commercials for the so-called local health supplements. 
I have asked her to seek the doctor’s advice on these local supplements. “Nenek did ask the doctor. The doctor told nenek not to waste her money on them,” Mysara, the granddaughter, reported. 
The doctor’s advice has turned on deaf ears. My mother is taken in by the users’ testimonials. She would give Mysara money to buy these supplements. “Others have tried them and they work. I want to try them to see if them work,” she would say. So, Mysara would buy these local health supplements to humour the grandmother. 
And, these products are not exactly cheap. A bottle of what I believe is just a fruit concentrate but hyped up as a health supplement costs about RM200. My mother’s biggest “investment” thus far is a RM1,500 blanket which is said to be good for the joints. She stopped using it after hardly a week, claiming that it has not worked its said miracle. I have asked my relatives and friends not to pitch any supplements or products to my mother. While it may work for them, it may not work for her. 
Why do you think our elders are easily suckered into buying these products? Probably because of the promises these local health supplement producers are giving to potential buyers. 
A promise of being able to perform the prayers the normal way after taking the supplement, for example, would go down well with those who had to resort to sitting on a chair to do this. I can understand how my mother feels being helpless. I have twice being in that position; once in 1989 after a knee operation and the other two years ago when I fell and chipped the humerus bone on my right hand. 
Because she cannot walk without being aided by a cane or walker, she could no longer potter around the house like she used to. She can no longer cook because cooking would mean having to be on her feet. She cannot help hang the laundry at the balcony. She cannot help to water the plants as the watering can is too heavy for her. 
This Raya, I can feel her frustration of not being able to cook. I took over the kitchen duties and cooked the rendang, kuah kacang and harissa. She has even told her brother and sister not to visit because she would not be able to entertain large number of guests on the first day of Syawal. 
That is why I believe she and many others like here are ever willing to be a guinea pig for these products if they are made to think that they can be well after consuming or using them. 
My mother has actually stopped asking us to buy her any of these supplements after I told her that a colleague's mother was admitted to the hospital for kidney failure after consuming a certain health product. 
Yes, some friends are facing the same problem with their mothers. And, somehow, it is only the mothers, not the fathers, who are attracted to these health supplements. A friend remarked, “Fathers have embraced ageing. Mothers have not.” 
Whatever that ails our parents now are actually age-related. We can see the physical, psychological and social changes in them. In fact, the doctor has referred my mother to an eye specialist for what he had termed as “macular degeneration of the eyes”. 
Ageing is among the greatest known risk factors for most human diseases. It has been reported that of the 150,000 people who die each day across the globe, about two-thirds die from age-related causes. 
The Malays has a term for it. It is called sakit tua, only tua or old is not a penyakit or illness; it is simply old age.​

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A quieter Raya this year?

I have a confession to make. 
Some years ago, I brought home RM600 worth of sparklers and fireworks. My mother didn’t ask me where I got them from and I didn’t tell her. She repeatedly said I was “burning money” for buying and lighting up the fireworks. That money could have put to good use elsewhere. 
That was the year we beat the other houses in the area in an unofficial fireworks competition. It started close to midnight on the eve of Syawal and was based on who could shoot the highest or the loudest. We kept our “secret weapon” for last. We let our neighbours have all the fun — they had teased and taunted us with their fireworks. 
At the stroke of midnight, our fireworks lit the skies. We gave our neighbours, and a passing patrol car, some two minutes of spectacular fireworks display. No, we didn’t get into trouble with the authorities. They didn’t even alight from their car. They probably saw that the fireworks were lit under adult supervision. We didn’t think they were going to drag all of us to the police station that night. It was already past midnight; in fact, it was Syawal morning. 
A year before that, I brought home firecrackers, the ones the Chinese would burn at the stroke of midnight on Chinese New Year. I remember Mak scolding us twice; the first was because we lit it close to midnight and that the racket disturbed our neighbours and then the morning after when she saw the front lawn blanketed by a sea of red paper. We had to clean the lawn before she allowed us to sit at the dining table for breakfast on the first day of Raya. 
But, I must tell you that we were good kids. We still have our fingers intact. There was little or no MacGyver in us. We never attempted to make our own bamboo or pipe cannons. In fact, we had never seen one in our lives. We would stick to the original thing, with no intentions of modifying it. 
Whenever Mak is on her reminiscing mode, she would regale my niece and nephew with stories of her playing with “meriam buloh” during her growing up years in Batu Pahat. Yes, they made their own cannons and bombs. She would describe in detail the hissing sound when calcium carbide is added to water and the sound it made when it was lit. “Boleh dengar kampong sebelah. Tak ada pulak yang putus jari atau mati (even the neighbouring village can hear it. And, no one lost their fingers or their lives),” she would say. 
I asked around, but no one really knows when fireworks became a tradition in Malay households. I remember playing with sparklers when I was small. And, Mak never failed to use the mishap that left a scar on my body while playing with sparklers as an example of how dangerous it was to play with them. 
I read that fireworks were invented during the Tang Dynasty in 7th century China and were used in many festivities. The Chinese originally believed that the fireworks could expel evil spirits and bring about luck and happiness. 
It eventually spread to other cultures and societies. But, it is during Ramadan and Hari Raya — not Chinese New Year where fireworks are part of the tradition — that we read about incidents relating to fireworks. 
So, Mak was relieved when she read in the newspapers last week of Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar’s warning to parents who buy or allow their children to play with firecrackers. 
She no longer has to worry about the grandchildren playing with fireworks. 
Khalid had said there is “a strong, solid law” and that police “will enforce it to the fullest”. Under Section 8 of the Explosives Act 1957, anyone convicted can be imprisoned for up to seven years, fined RM10,000 or both. The law also empowers the police “to enter or board and search any house, premises or other buildings or place, or any vehicle, vessel or aircraft specified in the warrant and to search all persons found therein and thereon”. 
Even parents who were found buying their children these firecrackers would be arrested, Khalid said. The police authorised only the POP-POP firecrackers and a specific type of sparklers for the Malaysian market. 
Many other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Switzerland, France and Chile, have enforced fireworks laws. In fact, fireworks are illegal in Ireland and Chile, and only certain types can be sold to the public in Australia. For the other countries, for the most part, citizens need to be 18 to buy fireworks. In some countries, the fireworks are for sale only on certain days. 
Even China has banned fireworks in some of its cities, not for safety reason like but more due to the dire smog problem they are facing there. 
We will have to wait and see if this Raya will be a little quieter or less jubilant. Despite Khalid’s warning, I could still hear the deafening Thunderclaps outside the balcony of my brother’s apartment in Putrajaya over the weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Fasting brings the faithful closer to God

It is already the 11th day of Ramadan. Soon, we will see people rushing to do their Raya shopping although shopping complexes have been putting shoppers in a festive mood since the start of the fasting month. Huge (and to a certain extent, ugly) decorations are hung from the high ceilings; the banners and bunting are on the walls and Raya songs are aired. 
Yes, there are still many things to be done before Syawal arrives. The Hari Raya cards need to be mailed; hopefully, it will reach the recipients on time. Despite the advent of technology, there are still people who mail greeting cards to friends and family members. Those with email addresses will be sent e-Hari Raya cards, of course. 
On top of that, text messages will be sent on the eve of Syawal, which will see the telecommunication companies earning millions of ringgit. Have we ever gotten a text message greeting from the companies? What we do get is a reminder to spend more through their special Syawal promotions. 
There are cookies and cakes to be baked (or bought) and the menu for the first of Syawal to be planned ahead. 
Travel plans are made to ensure that more houses are visited when we balik kampung. These could easily be done earlier as we would already know the date for the first day of Syawal. We need no longer wait for the announcement by the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, who appears on television twice a year (the first to announce the first day of Ramadan and then the date for the first day of Syawal). The announcements are made after the sighting of the new moon. Now that the mode of calculating or rukyah is used to determine the two dates, the sighting of the moon has become a formality. In fact, the announcement now does not say whether or not the new moon is sighted. 
But we wouldn’t want to miss the adrenaline rush of doing things the last minute, do we? 
In our excitement to prepare for Syawal, we tend to forget it is the last 10 days of Ramadan that are very important. They are actually considered the Nights of Power. It was a practice of the Prophet to spend the last 10 days and nights of Ramadan in the mosque. 
I know of some Malaysians who would undertake the umrah on these last 10 days to enable them to be in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah; never mind that the umrah packages are most expensive during this period. 
Lailatul Qadr, one of the holiest and most blessed nights where the reward of worship is better than the worship of a thousand months or equivalent to a person’s lifetime, falls on one of these 10 nights. 
Some say it is in the last 10 days while there are those who say it is in the final seven. The Sunnis generally consider Lailatul Qadr to fall on either the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th day of Ramadan, while the Shias consider it to be either the 19th, 21st or 23rd. 
However, due to the uncertainty of the exact date, we are recommended to observe all the nights. 
Each of us differs in what Ramadan means. Growing up, I looked forward to Ramadan; not because of the abundance of food on the table but the fact that everyone in the family would sit together at the dining table. Either my mother would cook all the food or my father would go to our usual makcik selling kuih to get whatever the children want. 
The concept of Bazaar Ramadan or RM100++ Ramadan buffets was unheard of back then. Then, we would perform the Maghrib prayers. After dinner, my father would then leave for the surau for terawih. And terawih prayers can be the most humbling experience. 
We may all hold senior positions in our respective companies but standing in a congregation at the mosque, our titles serve no purpose in God's house of worship. We are “brothers” and “sisters”, irrespective of colour and creed. Fasting, in general, is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind us of the suffering of those less fortunate. 
Let’s not lose sight of this.


Friday, June 3, 2016

The joy of blogging

I went to a gathering of blogging and Facebook friends in Bukit Jelutong last week. I was invited to the gathering, hosted by a well-known ceramics designer, by a friend who is back from London for some work and some down time in Malaysia. 
The London friend was in fact the guest of honour at the gathering. I’ve met one or two of the bloggers invited to the gathering while the others were relatively new to me; I know them by name, having read their blogs and also their comments on the London friend’s FB page. 
The gathering was held at the ceramics designer’s showroom. The driver dropped us (the London friend and I) at the wrong showroom. “Why don’t you give her (the ceramic designer) a call and ask her for directions to the store?” I asked the London friend. “I don’t have her number,” she said. “Then how do you communicate?” I asked. “Through Facebook,” she said. 
In fact, she told me she had never met the ceramic designer before this. 
Yes, I believe we all started like that; knowing each other by name at first (even then, some bloggers write anonymously, using pseudonyms), reading and writing comments on each other’s posts and over the years, making physical contacts. 
“We started interacting with each other on the topic of cats,” the London friend said of the time she and the ceramic designer first hooked up on the blog. 
That’s one of the benefits of blogging. In fact, that is the best part about blogging. You can have friends from all over the world, be they Malaysians who have set up home elsewhere or foreigners who have read and liked your blog posts. 
The London friend told me she was in Istanbul, Turkey, prior to Kuala Lumpur and had stayed with another blogger friend there. “I met her for the first time during the trip. She had been asking for me to visit and since I was on transit there, I decided to stay with her,” she said. 
Blogs started in the late 1990s as the Internet introduced web publishing tools that could be used by non-technical users. Blogging was, back then, a social networking service as visitors to the blogs could leave comments and could even message each other. As at February 2011, Wikipedia said there were over 156 million public blogs in existence. 
I started as an anonymous blogger in 2006. Over the years, the number of my blogging friends has risen. I have doctors as blogging friends as they followed posts I wrote on a cancer-stricken friend and later, on a friend who had lapsed into a week-long coma due to a brain infection. 
I also count politicians as blogging friends who found my blog a reprieve from their dog-eat-dog world as I blogged on everyday life. 
I attended just one bloggers’ gathering sometime back but over the years, I have been in touch with some of them through other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 
Blogging has many other benefits, too. It can improve one’s writing skills as there will be some kind soul on the worldwide web who would leave comments on your grammar and writing style. 
You’ll get free advice from readers when they think you need them. There are some bloggers who have made their sites money-making machines. 
But over the years, I noticed that some of my friends have slowed down on their writing while others are no longer blogging. 
In fact, some marketing gurus have said that blogging is dead. Well, my London friend did try to rally some dormant bloggers to revive their blogs in May last year. I must say it started off quite well but the enthusiasm wavered along the way. I participated in that blog revival initiative. I had since made private my old blog and started a new one but had since posted only 24 times, with the last one in January this year. 
Personally, I have found it tedious to blog. You have to sign in and open alternate windows to post text and photographs unlike on Facebook or Instagram where you can literally post the text and photographs with only a click of the button. Furthermore, you can reach a wider audience through your network of friends on the other social media platforms rather than the blogs. More bloggers, political and non-political in nature, are increasingly looking at Facebook and Instagram to post their opinions and updates.
It has, like the blogs, become our online personal diary, too. One friend in Germany, who used to blog, told me she is now on FB and also Instagram to keep her family back home informed of their wellbeing. “If I do not post anything for more than two days, I’ll get phone calls from Malaysia. My parents want to keep track of us and the grandchildren and similarly, my family members have their own accounts where we can track them,” she said. 
In whatever form they may be — blogs, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms — they serve the same purpose. They connect us with each other from wherever we may be. Old relationships are renewed and new relationships are made. 
And they give us friendship that could possibly last us a lifetime.​

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Let's eat fish ...

I went fishing in Norway last week; at a fjord near Bergen, a city on the west coast of the country, to be exact. The weather was fine; a little chilly despite the temperature recorded at 20°C. 
Between the 13 of us, including the captain of the boat, we not only caught five fishes, but also got ourselves a little bit of a tan being in the sun. Jon Erik Steenslid, the Norwegian Seafood Council regional director for South-east Asia, identified the fishes we caught, which were then released into the water after a brief photo taking for keepsake. 
The Norwegian Seafood Council arranged for the media trip to enable us to learn more about the Norwegian fisheries industry, especially on two of their biggest exports, namely salmon and trout.
 Contrary to popular belief, the salmon we eat at most Japanese restaurants here do not come from Japan but from Norway. In fact, salmon was never part of the Japanese sushi and sashimi menu until the 1980s after a Norwegian seafood delegation visited Japan and Project Japan — a Norwegian initiative to promote its seafood industry in the Land of the Rising Sun — was launched. Today, Norwegian salmon is the sushi fish of choice among the Japanese. 
Here in Malaysia, local chefs have baked and fried salmon and trout, and cooked them in curries and asam pedas. I am not sure if anyone had tried cooking salmon and trout in masak lemak tempoyak, masak asam or masak lemak cili api yet as these pelagic fishes are as oily as the famous patin fish from Temerloh. 
Malaysians are generally seafood eaters. A 2014 study by fishery products expert Infofish showed that Malaysians were among the world’s biggest consumers of fish, eating at least 56.5kg of fish per person each year. 
This was way above the world average of below 20kg per capita and even slightly ahead of Japan. The major species consumed in Malaysia included mackerel, shrimp, squid, tilapia and catfish, but, we are increasingly buying imported and more expensive “high-value fishery products” such as cod, salmon, mussels, oysters and abalone. 
The study also showed that a majority of Malaysians, 54 per cent of respondents, eat fish once to three times a week while 37 per cent eat fish and seafood on a daily basis. 
In fact, Norwegian National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) director of research Ingvild Eide Graff recommended that we take two to three seafood dinners a week. Seafood contains marine Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iodine and selenium, which are nutrients that are not found in any great quantity in other types of food. 
In addition, seafood contains easily digestible proteins. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to provide a wide range of health benefits, including a lower risk of coronary heart disease and improvement in cholesterol levels. Vitamin D helps, among others, to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. Lack of iodine can contribute to mental retardation while selenium has antioxidants that protect cells from damage. 
But, there are local myths relating to eating seafood, especially fish. A former prime minister does not eat fish (but takes dried salted fish or crispy fried tamban instead) because his mother told him that eating fish will not make him smart. 
When we were growing up, my grandmother and my mother told us not to eat fish head for the same reason when, in fact, there are bountiful meat tucked in and around the collar of the fish, in the cheeks and the forehead. Most of all, there is flavour in the fish’s head. 
I asked Graff if she was able to debunk another popular myth, if I can call it that, of seafood causing gout. It has been said that eating seafood would increase the uric acid levels, which would in turn result in gout, a kind of arthritis which causes swelling in a joint, usually at the feet. 
She was unable to do so as she had not done any research on it. In fact, she said that it was her first time hearing about it. Her research, however, has shown emerging evidence of beneficial health effects from seafood. 
Most interestingly, the Norwegian government has also introduced a programme called Fiskesprell, which literally means wriggling fish, in 2007. It is a national diet programme aimed at increasing seafood consumption among children undertaken by the Norwegian Health Ministry, the Trade, Industry and Fisheries Ministry and the Norwegian Seafood Council, which together with fish sales organisations are funding the programme. 
Most kindergartens in Norway have introduced this programme where children are taught the importance of a healthy seafood diet. These children, with the assistance of their teachers, will prepare their own lunches using fish. They get to use real knives (not the plastic ones) to cut up the fish fillets into smaller pieces and chopped vegetables that go with it. Their teachers will cook these ingredients outdoors, on the campfire or grill. In primary and secondary schools, children are taught about health and food under the Fiskesprell programme.
 Well, I guess eating fresh fish beats having to down a spoonful of the awful tasting fish liver oil like what I did when I was a child.