Omertà is a popular attitude and code of honor, common in areas of southern Italy, such as Sicily, Apulia, Calabria, and Campania, where criminal organizations like the Mafia, ‘Ndrangheta, Sacra Corona Unita, and Camorra are strong. A common definition is the “code of silence”.

Omertà implies “the categorical prohibition of cooperation with state authorities or reliance on its services, even when one has been victim of a crime.” Even if somebody is convicted for a crime he has not committed, he is supposed to serve the sentence without giving the police any information about the real criminal, even if that criminal has nothing to do with the Mafia himself.

Within Mafia culture, breaking omertà is punishable by death.

Omertà is an extreme form of loyalty and solidarity in the face of authority. One of its absolute tenets is that it is deeply demeaning and shameful to betray even one’s deadliest enemy to the authorities. Observers of the mafia debate whether omertà should best be understood as an expression of social consensus surrounding the mafia or whether it is instead a pragmatic response based primarily on fear. The point is succinctly made in a popular Sicilian proverb “Cu è surdu, orbu e taci, campa cent’anni ‘mpaci” (“He who is deaf, blind, and silent will live a hundred years in peace”).

Hike at Clearwater Bay – Lung Ha Wan Country Trail

Dear all

Please find below details of the hike this Saturday.

Date: Saturday 27 November 2010

Meeting time: 2:30 pm

Meeting point: Tseung Kwan O MTR station (outside the turnstiles towards Exit A1)

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

Distance: Around 4 km

Level: 1 boot (suitable for inexperienced hikers)


From the meeting point (Tseung Kwan O MTR station – outside the turnstiles towards Exit A1) we will take taxis to Tai Hang Tun at Clear Water Bay Country Park, the starting point of our hike. We will work our way up the hill to the summit at Tai Leng Tung (291 metres).

From the summit we will pause for a break to enjoy the views for about half an hour. Part two of our hike will commence with a descent along Lung Ha Wan Country Trail. You will be rewarded with views of great scenery and Sai Kung laid out in the late afternoon sun far down in the distance. We will end the hike at Lung Ha Wan Picnic Site.

If you still have energy, you can continue down the road to look for the Lung Ha Wan rock carvings:

Bring all the usual things, a camera, enough water, sun block and if the weather looks dodgy, rain gear.

Route Map:

If it is raining hard or thunderstorms are threatening, the walk might be cancelled and I will send out an email. If in doubt, call my mobile.


Quote of the Week

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali (1912)

A tea with the power to unwind time

By Inara Verzemnieks
Published in Portland’s premier gourmet food and wine magazine “Mix Magazine” in April/May of 2008.

I had never heard the term “tea drunk” until I met Paul Rosenberg. Now I can say I know exactly what it means. I’m talking head floating off your shoulders I’ve never felt so good in my life why shouldn’t I run away to Paris drunk. All from a cup of tea.

It’s the strangest thing. Beautiful and unnerving and quieting all at once. And it all starts in the attic of a rambling Portland bungalow, where Rosenberg, 49, a former chef and Asian antiquities dealer, regularly hosts tastings of incredibly rare teas, hoping to expose people to the nuances and poetry of the drink. He specializes in rare Chinese teas and one tea in particular: Puerh.

Picked from Camellia assamica trees- some more than a thousand years old and as thick and tall as Douglas firs – that grow in Yunnan province in southwestern China, puerh tea has developed a passionate worldwide following in recent years, stirring the fascinations of collectors and speculators into heights normally reserved for oenophiles. Some of the older, sought after puerhs can command $1000 a pound.
Continue reading A tea with the power to unwind time

De Oppresso Liber


De oppresso liber is the motto of the United States Army Special Forces.

“The turbulent have to be corrected,
The faint-hearted cheered up,
The weak supported;
The Gospel’s opponents need to be refuted,

Its insidious enemies guarded against;
The unlearned need to be taught,
The indolent stirred up,
The argumentative checked;

The proud must be put in their place,
The desperate set on their feet,
Those engaged in quarrels reconciled;
The needy have to be helped,

The oppressed to be liberated,
The good to be encouraged,
The bad to be tolerated;
All must be loved.

Corripiendi sunt inquieti,
pusillanimes consolandi,
infirmi suscipiendi,
contradicentes redarguendi,

insidiantes cavendi,
imperiti docendi,
desidiosi excitandi,
contentiosi cohibendi,

superbientes reprimendi,
desperantes erigendi,
litigantes pacandi,
inopes adiuvandi,

oppressi liberandi,
boni approbandi,
mali tolerandi,
omnes amandi.

~ Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430)