Thursday, June 30, 2005

Iceberg? Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Life Is A Leaky Bucket

The spirit is nourished as the physical body is nourised.
Good food translates to a stong body.
Good thoughts encourage a good spirit.
But life is a leaky bucket.
Just as we must replenish our bodies daily with food ...
So we must replenish our spirits daily with good and positive thoughts
or they will all drain away
and we will be running on an empty bucket.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Philosophy and Uncommon Sense v1.3

In our Malaysian parliament recently, a member of the cabinet was suspended for a period of time on the grounds that he spoke against some Government ruling although he probably believe that he was actually speaking on behalf of the people. I would refrain from going into details about his suspension and other political debates but wish to seek views particularly "to whom does an MP owes his position to?"; is it the political party chief in this case or to the common people who elected him in?

In Malaysia, an MP is usually nominated to stand for his party in a general election by his party chief. He is chosen amongst the many in various contests/ election/ lobbying etc. As the chosen one, his name is then endorsed by the head of the coalition party (also the Prime Minister in our case) before he gets to stand in the general election. The people then elects him into the parliament if there is a contest or he gets elected in (by default) if there is a no-contest situation. As an MP, some of them get chosen to sit in the cabinet to run the Government.

The problem arises because he is a member of the cabinet and also an MP; hence he has 2 masters, the people and the head of the cabinet. When he speaks, does he speak as a member of cabinet or a representative of the people i.e. an MP?

How can a man serve 2 masters?

Big sand castle handphone

Cinema seating

why do they have 'front row' seating in cinemas when the ticketing staff apologizes when all that's left are those seats and no viewers like them?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Fastest POKEMON Bullet Train in the World

New bullet train could be world's fastest. Fastech shinkansen features emergency air spoilers and cruises at 360 kph. And it looks more like a toy!! (More detail click here).


`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
`Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jujub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
`And has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Calloh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Famous Bloggers

TV Smith and Jeff Ooi

Any botanist out there who can identify this flower for me? Posted by Hello

Taiping Lake Gardens Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Three Planet-Conjuction Posted by Hello

Big solar show after sunset

Three-planet race

Keep your eyes on the skies this weekend, when a rare triple-planetary alignment promises a stellar show for star-gazers.

Scott Young of the Manitoba Museum Planetarium says the planets in question -- Mercury, Venus and Saturn -- are all big enough to be seen without a telescope.

When aligned, the planets will fit into a piece of sky the same size as a full moon.

"What we're seeing is the clockwork of the solar system," Young said.

"As the planets orbit (the sun) at different speeds, they will sometimes catch up and pass each other, just like cars on a racetrack. We are seeing a time when three planets just happen to be in the same direction from the Earth at the same time."

To catch the show, go outside after sunset today and find a spot with a clear view of the western horizon, Young said.

As the sky darkens, Venus will be the first astral body to emerge, as it's the brightest object in the heavens after the sun and moon. Mercury and Saturn will show themselves soon afterward -- both being about as bright as the other, and shining with a pale, yellowish light.

Young describes Mercury as an "elusive planet," noting most people, astrologers included, have never seen it.

"It is always very close to the sun in our sky, making it difficult to see in the haze near the horizon," he said. "It is much easier with a bright signpost like Venus to guide our eye."


And while star-gazers will be able to obscure all three planets simply by holding their outstretched thumb to the sky, Young reminds them appearances can be deceiving.

"In reality, the planets are millions of kilometres apart," he said. "They only appear close in the sky because of our perspective. Saturn is actually over a billion kilometres behind Mercury."

- On the web:

This is just a test to see if I remember how to upload a photo to a blog using hello Posted by Hello

Friday, June 24, 2005

Worst Calculus joke ever

One day, ex sees x2 running down the street in a panic.
"What's wrong?" asks ex.

"There's a Differential Operator in town!" yells x2. "If I run into him too many times, I'll disappear!"

"Don't worry," responds ex. "I'll go have a chat with him. No, don't worry about me -- he can't hurt me. After all, I'm ex."

So ex walks down the street to the Differential Operator. "My friend tells me you're a Differential Operator," ex says pompously. "Well, I'm ex."

"Pleased to meet you, ex," says the Differential Operator. "I'm d/dt."

the complete person is a happy person

on the article from the Globe and Mail, 'The new science of race' linked on Tuesday, June 21, 2005 entitled 'Controversial Topic: the new science of race'...

this is only controversial to people who put a premium on IQ and do not understand what god made men to do. if people realize what god's intentions are, then they will accept that some races are better at brain work than others with no problems because it is only one among the many different strengths god put into his creations. i can readily accept that the jews are superior to other races in the brains department because i believe in god.

I am always content with what happens; for I know that what God chooses is better than what I choose.

the complete person is a happy person.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Street of Fun

Anyone knows where this JALAN is? (another angle here).

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I Am Not There

When I am gone from this earth
Do not stand at my graveside and weep
Do not cry for me for I am not there
You will find me in the wind that caresses your face
You will find me in the cool mist that envelopes you
You will find me in the storm that lashes the earth
... in the brilliance of the lightning
You will find me in the roses that bloom in your garden
And the singing of the birds at dawn
You will find me hidden in the forest green
In the shimmering lake that reflects the sky
You will find me in the hawk that soars above the earth
I will be walking the earth with you
You will hear me in the beat of your drums and the songs that we have shared
You will feel me in the beat of your heart
Do not weep at my graveside
For I am not there

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Controversial Topic: the new science of race

Henry Harpending is about to titillate the world's conspiracy theorists with one of the most politically incorrect academic papers of the new millennium.

Why, he and his colleagues at the University of Utah asked, have Jews of European descent won 27 per cent of the Nobel Prizes given to Americans in the past century, while making up only 3 per cent of the population? Why do they produce more than half the world's chess champions? And why do they have an average IQ higher than any other ethnic group for which there's reliable data, and nearly six times as many people scoring above 140 compared with Europeans?

Prof. Harpending suggests that the reason is in their bloodline — it's genetic.

The 61-year-old anthropologist's explanation is not easily dismissed, but it crosses into the territory scientists fear most.

Full Story Here

Note from David Veerasingam: Please take this at face value -- by posting this, I am not necessarily endorsing or agreeing with the premises of the article (nor am I at variance with them completely either). I just thought it was interesting (and controversial at the same time), and is the sort of thing Mensans might be interested in. Don't shoot the messenger.

As most statisticians will tell you: correlation does not imply causation. I would encourage you to draw your own conclusions about it. (Read Herrnstein & Murray's "The Bell Curve" for something which rests nominally on good scientific footing)

Monday, June 20, 2005

the one who destroyed the sporting code

i am in the mood to vent my frustrations with the fia and formula one.

i have read many news articles which discussed how hypocritical the current general director of team ferrari marlboro is. under him, the flag of ferrari in formula one shines quite brightly as far as results are concerned. however, in the near future as these victories lose their glossiness, historians will realize much of this was achieved by a person who made one of the most sporting name in the early history of motor racing into one of the most unsporting (those that count anyway).

i have long believed those allegations that ferrari cheats to be true as they have so many accusers. also they often seek re-interpretation of the rules as long as it favours themselves. all this is the work of one man, jean todt. there is nothing essentially wrong with the team. much of the criticism laid on his star driver is also not of michael schumacher's making. i believe jean todt is the bad guy whose influence causes the entire team to be very unpopular among their peers.

in the latest crisis, jean todt explains that he and team ferrari marlboro were not informed of any plans to add an extra chicane to the indianapolis track. however, there is prove in the form of a letter from the fia cc to him, contradicting his claims. does a team principle who brought the ferrari team from years of failure to years of victory miss out on these significant events troubling his rivals?

anyway, whatever the answer to the question is, the fact remains that the fia wrote him a letter informing him of this possible solution to a simple problem; one which all 20 drivers had knowledge on and agreed to be all right. yet he claims not to have been told about it. this sort of behaviour is not dissimilar to the way the soviets used to deal politically with the west. jean todt's idea of being told about something is only valid if he approves the idea.

some years back mclaren was dominating the track and i wanted ferrari to do well. in fact, i always want fairness in sports. everyone should have their turn to do well. williams and mclaren were never proud privateer teams even when they were successful. ferrari was an equally sporting team. then, jean todt arrived on scene.

he alleges being in the dark over discussions by the nine teams, the twenty drivers (including those of team marlboro ferrari), the media, f1 fans, alex yoong, 8tv, itv, among others who were debating this issue and the letter from fia to all the manufacturers involved (including jean todt, scuderia ferrari).

he forgets the time when the michelin teams allowed bridgestone to use an intermediate wet tyre, although the rules specifically mentioned either a wet tyre or a dry tyre. in fact, the teams awaited for track conditions to be suitable for the bridgestone tyre before the race was resumed. all along the track was suitable for the michelin runners who had the correct tyre at the Brazilian grand prix. jean todt is not one who remembers how to be sporting and this is one of the ways he has turned a nice guy like michael schumacher into a person who will barge into his brother and his team mate for placing and someone who can face taking victory from a team mate who lets him by under team orders. michael never had a chance to have a clean sheet of honourable victories and this will probably hurt his pride in the years to come. stabbing a man in the back and living the remainder of life in shame is just not a way to live, mr todt.

everytime i hear an unfavourable comment on jean todt, how can i not believe it? how can i forget that he has constantly lied to everyone including ferrari fans? the name jean todt is beginning to be synonymous the one who destroyed the sporting code of formula one.

Need a page of education comments from the blog for July Triple-M

Dear everyone,

I need to fill a page in Triple-M (imagine an A4 sized sheet, with 0.6" border all 'round, at Times 10pt) for July and am hoping that someone (or several someones) here can help us out for this issue.

Since we had the Youth talk show and we have had the Terence Gomez situation I would like it very much if we could compile what comments have been made here about it (and any new comments), and perhaps intersperse with our feelings about Malaysian education in general and other thoughts. This will make the July issue closer to the theme of 'education' since July's Teen Talk will be a summary and experience of the talk show.

I would do it myself but I have three other articles to write for July and am kind of snowed under.

Please let me know in the comments, or in an email to me at As this does not require (much) original writing it would be a matter of editing, arranging, getting permission from the people being quoted, etc. Best if this is done in the next three or four days. We can also reference the blog, or other blogs we have found useful.

Cheers, and thanks all,


Sunday 24th July 2005 Treasure Hunt will look like in this photo showing Last Year's Start Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 19, 2005

China's secret internet police target critics with web of propaganda

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Tuesday June 14, 2005
The Guardian

China's communist authorities have intensified their campaign against the party's biggest potential enemy - the internet - with the recruitment of a growing army of secret web commentators, sophisticated new monitoring software and a warning that all bloggers and bulletin board operators must register with the government or be closed down and fined.

The escalation of the government's effort to neutralise critical online opinion comes after a series of large anti-Japanese, anti-pollution and anti-corruption protests, many of which were organised or publicised using instant messaging services, chatrooms and text messages.

With the number of users forecast to rise above 100 million this year, access to the web is spreading beyond China's well-rewarded middle class and into the more disgruntled factory and farming communities, where young migrant workers are teaching their families about internet cafes.

In response, the propaganda departments of provincial and municipal governments have recently been instructed to build teams of internet commentators, whose job is to guide discussion on public bulletin boards away from politically sensitive topics by posting opinions anonymously or under false names.

Although advertisements are supposed to have been placed in-house, many details about the part-time political pacifiers have emerged in the domestic media. According to the Southern Weekend newspaper, a team of about 20 commentators has been operating in the city of Suqian, in Jiangsu province, since April.

"In the information age and the internet age, the most important and critical mission in front of us is how to seize the initiative on internet opinion and how to seize the high point of internet opinion," the paper quoted the deputy director of the local propaganda department, Zhang Fenglin, as saying.

Applicants for the job - mostly drawn from the propaganda and police departments - were told they had to understand government policies, know political theory, be politically reliable and understand internet technology. Successful candidates have been offered classes in Marxist theory, propaganda techniques and updates on the development of the internet around the world.

A summary of objectives declared that commentators should "be proactive in developing discussion, increase control, accentuate the good, avoid the bad, and use internet debate to our advantage."

Reports that at least two other localities have recruited similar teams suggest the strategy is being encouraged by the central government. Few will admit to the practice, but Nanjing officials said the city was hiring 20 online commentators from the ranks of its existing employees.

"They don't need to give up their current jobs because it is not full time. All they need to do is spend some time every day monitoring internet discussion," said a member of the propaganda department. "There are commentators like this all over the country. Until now we haven't had detailed instructions about how it works. So nothing is clear yet."

Although the existence of an internet police force - estimated at more than 30,000 - has been known for some time, attention has previously focused on their work as censors and monitors. Countless critical comments appear on bulletin boards of major portals such as Sohu and Sina only to be erased minutes, or sometimes just seconds, later. In the most recent case, all postings that blamed corrupt local officials or slow-moving police for the deaths of 88 children in floods last Friday were removed almost as soon as they appeared.

But the task of covertly guiding opinion - as in Suqian - has proved controversial for different reasons. "I think Suqian's practice is not proper," said Zhan Jiang, dean of journalism at China Youth University for Political Sciences. "If officials want to guide public opinion they should publish an editorial in the People's Daily under their own names. It is very wrong to anonymously spread government propaganda. Online commentary is a kind of abuse of power."

China's leading bloggers were equally scathing. "The government's tactics are too funny. They are actually hiring staff to curse online," said Liu Di, who was arrested last year for comments she posted under her internet moniker Iron Mouse. "But it also shows that the government can find no better way to deal with netizens' discussion. Compared to other media in China, the internet is still the most free. It is powerful among young people no matter whether they are chatting online or playing games. It will be difficult for the government to control."

Philosophy and Uncommon Sense v1.2

There is a great debate going on in our country with regards to University, its role, unemployed graduates, politics in education, meritocracy, renaming university colleges as just universities etc.

My personal interest are both in education and philosophy. In the 70s, there appear this book called "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M Pirsig. Its nothing to do with motorcycles or zen but more about philosophy and life.

There is a quote in it which relates to university which holds very true that reads:

"The real University, he said, has no specific location. It owns no property, pays no salaries and receives no material dues. The real University is a state of mind. It is that great heritage of rational thought that has been brought down to us through the centuries and which does not exist at any specific location. It's a state of mind which is regenerated throughout the centuries by a body of people who traditionally carry the title of professor, but even that title is not part of the real University. The real University is nothing less than the continuing body of reason itself.

In addition to this state of mind, "reason," there's a legal entity which is unfortunately called by the same name but which is quite another thing. This is a nonprofit corporation, a branch of the state with a specific address. It owns property, is capable of paying salaries, of receiving money and of responding to legislative pressures in the process.

But this second university, the legal corporation, cannot teach, does not generate new knowledge or evaluate ideas. It is not the real University at all. It is just a church building, the setting, the location at which conditions have been made favorable for the real church to exist."

Brain Comes Alive to Sound of Music

The music that makes the foot tap, the fingers snap and the pulse quicken stirs the brain at is most fundamental levels, suggesting that scientists one day may be able to retune damaged minds by exploiting rhythm, harmony and melody, according to new research (November 1998).

Exploring the neurobiology of music, researchers discovered direct evidence that music stimulates specific regions of the brain responsible for memory, motor control, timing and language. For the first time, researchers also have located specific areas of mental activity linked to emotional responses to music. . . .

The latest findings, presented at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Los Angeles, underscore how music--as an almost universal language of mood, emotion and desire--orchestrates a wide variety of neural systems to cast its evocative spell. "Undeniably, there is a biology of music," said Harvard University Medical School neurobiologist Mark Jude Tramo. "There is no question that there is specialization within the human brain for the processing of music. Music is biologically part of human life, just as music is aesthetically part of human life." . . .

Overall, music seems to involve the brain at almost every level. Even allowing for cultural differences in musical tastes, the researchers found evidence of music's remarkable power to affect neural activity no matter where they look in the brain, from primitive regions in all animals to more recently evolved regions thought to be distinctively human

Reprinted in the Sacramento Bee

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Crazy in Love? It's in the Brain

Have you ever been crazy in love? Scientists now say the brain activity of those in a whirlwind romance is nearly identical to those with mental illness, Philadelphia television station WCAU reported.

New research with brain scans finds that new love lights up the part of the brain that is also lit up by thirst, hunger and a craving for drugs.

"Of course, drug addictions can be very powerful, very compelling kinds of experiences for people and the kinds of experiences that people feel they need to have that kind of thing," said Dr. Andrew Newberg at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. "And if love runs along those same lines, it's really not completely surprising the same brain areas would be involved."

That means that new love might be less emotion and more physical addiction. The study's authors call it life's greatest addiction.

Once your crazy love has mellowed, many people's brain scans tend to light up in regions involved in long-term attachment.

Newberg is a neuroscientist and he researches brain scans. He said he is not surprised first love lights up like an addiction because if we don't fall in love and have babies, our species would die out.

"It really makes sense that the feelings we have around love, mating and sex are among the strongest we have as human beings. And showing that on a brain scan is not surprising to me," Newberg said.

The study's author, from Rutgers University, said that new love is so addicting that some people actually commit suicide if they get dumped.

Drug addicts rarely do that if they don't get their drugs.


Friday, June 17, 2005

The Story Behind Proton and Perodua

Once, there was a family known as Malaysia. In1985, they were blessed with their first born, Proton. The family loved Proton all they can. They gave Proton everything. They protected Proton from the bigger boys in Kindergarten. They told Proton,"You're young, you need protection from them. It's okay to make mistakes, you're young. Even if you don't learn from's areyoung."Proton became spoilt. He always depended on parents and used up all his allowance on useless things. When he had to do his chores, he paid people to do it and the work is lousy, causing theparents having to call repairmen to fix all themess that he made.Anyway, when Proton was 10 (but he still actedlike he is 1 or 2 years old), he had a youngerbrother, Perodua. At first, everyone thought this younger brother will be like Proton. Anyway, this new baby was more handsome and looks smarter thanProton. Malaysia knew there is a possibilty Perodua could be smarter than Proton. Since they love Proton so much, they decided that Perodua can only learn a few things. Cannot learn the samething as Proton. This is so that Perodua wouldn't beat Proton at what Proton is doing.Although Perodua was also protected by Malaysia,he learn to be independent very fast. He made goodfriends with Daihatsu, who had an elder brother Toyota. The two of them helped Perodua ineverything. Perodua, being independent and smart, learnt a lot and in a short while,was becoming as good as, if not better, than Proton.Malaysia realized that Perodua was becoming betterthan his brother. Although proud of Perodua, they still love Proton best. They paid Lotus (which is older and well known worldwide) to be friends with Proton. Using this advantage, Proton mentioned Lotus everytime he wanted to tell people abouthimself. On this own, he was still the same. Moreover, Proton is always not updated. When doing his work, he still uses the typewriter and refusesto use the computer. Perodua, so much younger,used the computer, with broadband for his work.Perodua was improving so much that Toyota has assigned him with his work codename Avanza.2005. Proton is 20 years old, Perodua only 10. Itwas obvious that Perodua was the more successful of the two siblings. What is worse, Proton said he still need his parents to help him for another 10years. He still need to protection from the bigboys. In May 2005, Perodua was about the show Malaysia his best work so far...codename Myvi. Proton, being jealous...quickly came up with an unprofessional remark about Perodua's work and show his work at the same time as Perodua on purpose. The future of Malaysia and her two kids are still unknown. But it would be obvious that Perodua will shine, leaving Proton crying. It would be a wonderif in 2015, Proton will ask Malaysia for another10 years of help and protection...maybe from Perodua as well...........THE END

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Der Untergang

Der Untergang (2004; international English title Downfall; released in the US as The Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich) is a controversial German film dramatising the final days of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in 1945. The movie was written by Bernd Eichinger and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. It is based on the eponymous book of historian Joachim Fest about Hitler's final days, and the memories of Traudl Junge, secretary of Adolf Hitler.


Played by Bruno Ganz, Hitler is presented as he was: the sick, exhausted man still dreaming of a Greater Germany amid the ruins of a war-ravaged Berlin. As the Red Army draws nearer and imminent defeat looms over the Third Reich, Hitler is seen alone with his clique consisting of Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes), Albert Speer (Heino Ferch) and the sinister SS leader Heinrich Himmler (Ulrich Noethen), as well as his personal staff.

Most of the time, the events are depicted from the perspective of Hitler's young, personal secretary Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara). On the day before his death, Hitler marries his longtime sweetheart Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler) and they die together in a suicide pact on April 30, 1945, ten days after Hitler's 56th birthday.


The film is neither a paean nor a denunciation of Hitler or the crimes his Nazi regime perpetrated. Instead, it is a testament based on eyewitness accounts and the personal testimony of the people who knew Hitler. Though portraying Hitler and his associates as anything other than one-dimensionally evil is somewhat of a cinematic taboo, many critics have praised the film for its attempt at objectivity. Roger Ebert in particular points out that viewing the Nazis as human beings helps us to better understand the historical importance of their rise to power, something which is too often "distanced and diluted" by stereotyping.

The movie incorporates, as introduction and conclusion, the struggle for self-forgiveness of Traudl Junge, as voiced in the documentary Im toten Winkel. It was nominated for the 2004 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in the 77th Academy Awards.


Attn. Mensans (Penang and Northern Regions)


There are three events organized by Malaysian Mensa Penang branch in June and July. You can invite family members and friends to join those events. Hope to see all Mensans and friends join mensa events.

Event # 1. Bowling Fun Game:
Date : Saturday 18 June
Time : 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Place : Sunshine Square Bowling center
# of Games: Three

Members : RM10.00
Non-members : RM12.00
(This event is subsidized by society for games and prizes)

Contact: Mr KP Loh at or 016-4094872 . Reply before June 17. 5.00pm.

Event # 2: Durian Feast at Relau. Eat all you can for tropical fruits....

Date : Sunday 26 June
Time : 4.00pm to 6:00pm
Fee : Around RM10 or less.
(This event is subsidized by society, you just need to pay a small $$ to enjoy all the fruits)

Contact: Mr KP Loh at or 016-4094872 . Reply before June 22 5.00pm.

Event # 3: EYE-Q Treasure Hunt.
A challenging Motoring Hunt lasting for about 5.5 hours. It is open to the public and fund raising for La Salle Learning Centre.

Date: Sunday 3 July
Fee : RM200.00 per team of 3-4 members.

Contact : Mr Jayaram at or 012-4201364.
Max. of 50 Cars based on first come first serve.

You are welcomed to contact me for the above three events as well.
Hope to see you soon....

Guess who

Can you name this famous Malaysian Mensan?

1) Studied at Victoria Institution, and later read Electrical Engineering at Brighton.
2) Was the top wrangler in his home state in the Senior Cambridge exams (i.e. pre-historic SPM).
3) Favorite game: Golf.
4) He's about the same age as me....

Update: Yes, it is Ismail Omar... Heh heh...
"On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux"

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Found: Earth’s distant cousin by 15 light years

By Dennis Overbye

Astronomers in the United States on Monday announced a milestone in the quest for life beyond Earth as they unveiled the discovery of the smallest planet yet outside the solar system.

Said to be the ‘‘most Earthlike planet ever found’’, the new planet, orbitting a dim red star in Aquarius known as Gliese 876, is the third and innermost member of a shrunken version of our own solar system. Its detection gives scientists hope that others like it, and Earth, are common in the universe.

The discovery was made using a Hawaii-located 10-meter diameter Keck telescope. On the team were scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, the Carnegie Institution, NASA’s Ames Research Center, and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Alien-planet news has had an almost nonstop run since the first was detected 10 years ago. Most of the 150-odd planets that have been discovered since are gas giants like Jupiter. But, said team member Dr. Geoffrey Marcy, ‘‘this is different’’, the planet being made of the same materials as Earth, and perhaps owning an atmosphere.

The team had long been interested in the Gliese 876 system, about 15 light-years from here. Its two giant outer planets orbit in an unusual lockstep configuration, taking 30 and 60 days to go around, so that they line up every two months.

The new planet, according to the data, circles Gliese every 1.9 days, putting it slightly less than 2 million miles from the star. By comparison, Earth is 93 million miles from the Sun.

This planet is about 70 per cent bigger than Earth, Marcy estimated, and is made of silicates, iron and nickel, like the terrestrial planets in our own system. At such a close distance, the planet could be tidally locked, keeping the same face toward its star at all times. One would expect its to be an inferno. However, Gliese 876 is small and dim, about 1/50th the luminosity of the Sun. Marcy said that heat levels on the side of the planet facing the star would be at ‘‘chicken-roasting temperatures’’, between 400 to 700 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 200 to 370 degrees Celsius).

That is too warm for liquid water or ice, but it could be cold on the nightside of the planet, which, as Marcy said, ‘‘faces the darkness of the universe.’’

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

This is the founder Chairman of MM, Dato Yong Poh Kon Posted by Hello


This is from Poh Wah:
Dear friends,

Itching to see fellow Mensans and would like to take part in a
little mind game of Scrabble?
What better way to start than to get yourselves organized for your

Date: 18th June 2005 (Saturday)

Venue: Lot 201, 2nd Floor Block F
Tropics Shopping Centre
No. 15, Jalan PJU 8/1
Bandar Damansara Perdana
47820 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan

8.30am: Registration

Details are listed in your Triple M.
Otherwise, please log on to and look
in the files section, it's there.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Governing Forward ......

I've noticed the following traits about our Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi

1) For major and long-term decisions, he likes to use independent commissions of well-represented experts.

2) In public, he still gives respect to the former PM, although Abdullah's actions are not in line with the style of Mahathir (i.e. commissioning the services of the former lord president who "had" to step down during Mahathir's tenure, revisiting projects approved during Mahathir's 22-year tenure, release of Anwar Ibrahim ??)

3) He wants corruption out of the picture since this will also make policies and governance ineffective. Catch them he will. For 22-years executive power grew and many things were at the discretion of the executive. On top of that, anti-corruption was about "instilling values" only.

4) In the first few months, Abdullah tried to not make decisions for other agencies and ministries but this proved ineffective because they were not willing to study first, propose and justify (eg. City Hall retract an order for night spots to close early as soon as Abdullah asked why was this done).

5) He still doesn't want to make decisions without thorough study and planning but of late seems to be breathing down everybody's neck to speed things up. (I intrapolate that the petrol increase was his executive decision during the critical time that the diesel was in shortage)
[* I actually wanted the removal of all petrol/diesel subsidies as well as removal of the new vehicle excise duties but seeing the recent chaos it probably should be scheduled over a 10-15 year period. However, currently I'm wondering if a timetable would give advantage to the diesel smugglers]

6) He's definitely an auditor for governance and nation-building. He questions you and breathes down your neck if you're not moving. [I heard something similar when he was with the foreign ministry). He wants your clear justification for the right reasons. [ I heard from Air Asia that MAS was called up by Abdullah after the stupid tri-party arrangement with SIA and Silk Air which obviously bring no benefit to Malaysia but only to spite off Air Asia).

7) He wants the rakyat, the public, the newspapers, independant organisations, journalist to be his eyes and ears as well as provide him feedback on what the government need to focus on. I just hope that people will analyse and realise why many oversights of the government is being uncovered now e.g. the sad state of Sabah schools that has been the same for the last 40(?) years. (Don't forget that Abdullah has only been in power for about 1 year).

That's why I'm hoping that Abdullah Badawi can remain for 3 terms. There's too much cleanup to do and changing 22-years of mindset takes time. New processes, check and balance, independant systems takes time. I know his health may not permit it. His care for his wife (who has cancer) and his family may be another reason he would want to step down sooner. I'm sure there's a handful of people who are waiting for him to step down so that they can continue where they left off.

Mahathir on the other hand was a strong leader, a good spokesman, tireless and managed to rally the support of everyone around him whether they wanted to or not. Mahathir gets what he wants done, quickly, and ignores or turns off any noise from whosoever.

Why Daily Blogging is a Bad Idea

From Amy Gahran:

Time to explode an unfortunate bit of “conventional wisdom.” I’ve heard and read many people’s perspectives on how to do blogging right. There are about as many views on this as people expressing them. However, one common theme I hear mindlessly repeated is that it’s important to blog daily – if not several times daily.

For most blogs and most bloggers, I think a daily posting schedule is counterproductive. Here’s why…

Full article here.

David's Remarks
I'm afraid I happen to know the individual the article is referring to. It is someone whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of defining by means of the perpendicular pronoun....

It is.... I.

Cherie warned on Malaysia lecture

Cherie Blair has been asked to reconsider giving a law lecture in Malaysia unless she is prepared to be frank about its human rights record.
Story here.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

ZZZenandung Malam JB Singapura

I just made a quick trip down to Singapore for a 3 day weekend there and took the KTM night train down and back again. The usual response I got when telling people that is "What? The night train? Why didnt you take a flight or the bus? Much faster and more comfortable!" Well, I love the night train. I think its great. The sound of the train as it rumbles along the tracks, it's so lulling. It's nice to lie there in a horizontal position in the cool airconditioned coaches and gaze out of the windows, see the bright lights at night, the buildings all lighted up. Almost everyone who takes the night train seems to be regular travellers on it and a disciplined bunch, all retiring to their respective bunks and closing the curtains shut, minding their own business and keeping silent so everyone can have a good nights' sleep.
The only grouse I have is probably upon reaching Singapore where we have to get off at Woodlands, then go back on the train once again and proceed for a further 45 minutes ride.
Well, the sad part is that the trains dont seem to be that well maintained though, it used to be such a joy to just shut the curtains, switch onthe reading light and read for a while before falling asleep but this trip, i found the reading light not usable on both trips to and fro and had to make do with leaving the curtains open, and using the aisle lights, which were bright enough as I was on the upper berth.
You know, you dont really waste time taking a train provided you are not a light and sensitive sleeper! It's a great experience!

Government okays Gomez's Secondment, Resignation Revoked

From Malaysiakini:

The Higher Education Ministry has overruled the decision by Universiti Malaya to reject Dr Edmund Terence Gomez’s application for two-year secondment to head a prestigious United Nations research project.

Story here

The Star covered it here.

Opinions by Tony Pua here.

Advanced Google Cheat Sheet

My son thinks this might be interesting to the more computer-inclined folks among us, so I'm passing it on:

"For those of us who frequently perform advanced queries on Google, here's a nice cheat sheet summarizing Google operators."
Google Cheat Sheet
Google Advanced Cheat Sheet

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Scholarship Test

TV Smith is at it again.
For future scholarship applicants, here's his scholarship test.

Mensa Annual Bowling Competition

Steven Fung (R): Best Bowler among mensans, receiving his prize from Chairman Lawrence Hie Posted by Hello

More on Robots

Here's a ballroom-dancing robot

An newscaster robot

A rescue robot

The Japanese think of everything!

More here.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Robot Attends Nursery School

Qrio, a humanoid robot developed by a Sony Intelligence Dynamics Laboratories Inc has been attending a nursery school in California since March to play with children up to 2 years of age in an experiment to help develop a robot that can "live in harmony with humans in the future."

read more | digg story

Education Malaysia

I think this is a very good site for an unbiased opinion on the Malaysian Education scene by Tony Pua, CEO of CyberVillage (1st M'sian tech co. listed on SESDAQ). Whilst I do not fully agree with some of Tony's views on some of the topics, I feel we should explore some of the issues that he brings up on his blog.

Nerds make better lovers

Ready for a real relationship? Ditch the
pretty boys and grab yourself a geek

read more | digg story

How To Light The Fire

Every month, the Malaysian Mensa National Committee meets up to rack our brains to come up with talks and events and activities that will spark SOME interest in our members. There is much brain dancing going on indeed .... salsa, tango, rhumba, jive, macarena, hip-hop, waltz ... perhaps even some belly-dancing. We go home much exercised but still unable to come up with the perfect solution to ensure more participation from our fellow Mensans. It is sometimes disheartening to spend time and effort in organising talks and events, not to mention the embarrassment of facing our invited speakers (most of whom give their time voluntarily because it is for Mensa), when we have such a poor turnout of audience. What exactly do Mensans want? What event or topic of talk would tempt their brains to join in the dance? What choreography will light the fire? Can you please tell us? Send an email to : or or or We are all waiting to learn new dance steps

Thursday, June 09, 2005

VoIP your home phone

KUALA LUMPUR: Internet service provider (ISP) Jaring will offer its Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service to its customers using a Linksys VoIP device, under an agreement signed between the two companies here today.

Malaysia's first and oldest ISP will offer a Linksys Phone Adapter 2 Phone Ports (PAP2) to small and medium-sized businesses and home users when they sign up with Jaring?s MY015 Phone service.

The service will allow customers to make low-cost, high quality calls over a broadband Internet connection by simply plugging their phone into the PAP2 that is connected to a DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable modem, the ISP said in a statement.

Read the article in The Star

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

So what is a "blog," anyway? And why should I care?

Blog is short for weblog, a kind of web page that makes it super easy to post your thoughts and opinions online. The phenomenon began to take off about five years ago, and phenomenon is the right word. Today there are roughly eight million of the things, with 30,000 new ones being created every day. The subjects covered are as varied as the people creating them, ranging from politics to poltergeists, from sports to spareribs, from law to lyrics, from technology to life in Tokyo. You get the the idea. The best way to get familiar with what they are is not via some comprehensive abstract description -- many have tried and failed -- but rather by checking out a bunch of them and finding a handful that interest you.

If you have a blog, you'd obviously like people to read it. RSS (forget what the acronym means; doesn't matter) allows interested readers to subscribe to your blog so they get a direct feed into their ewsreader every time you post something. If you don't have a blog, but are one of those interested readers, you similarly want a way to subscribe to the blogs you like. For bloggers, whatever tool you chose will assist you in publishing an RSS or other kind of feed, such that RSS readers can pull in what you've written. For readers of the human kind, the RSS reader you chose should enable you to add any blog that publishes an RSS feed.

All this is much simpler in practice than it sounds -- and practice is the way to figure it out. As with the other elements of blogging, the best way to see how this works is to check out some of the RSS readers available.

In Tokyo, A Nerd/Geek Only Town!

Self-Described 'Nerds' have set up their own neighborhood, with anime and computer games a common sighting.

read more | digg story

The fitness center that never sleeps

This article is about New York but it applies to any place on earth, read on.

It's an amazing place. A fitness center open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days year. There are no fees, no contracts. Just show up whenever you like and get what thousands of doctors and fitness experts will tell you is the very best all-around exercise workout: power walking.

I just spent four days at the "center" and there's no doubt about it: The streets of New York City offer some kind of amazing physical workout. And those New Yorkers know how to walk. They walk many blocks, even miles, to and from work. Notice I did not say, "stroll." This is a city filled with power walkers.

To fully understand my appreciation for the New York power walk, you have to understand that I live in Sendentaryville, USA also known as southern California. We sit in our cars for hours on end, day in and day out. We are commuters. We have no choice. Our cities are not compact like New York. We are spread out with no public transportation to make the connections. We drive 50 miles or more a day just to get back and forth to work! Throw in the traffic factor and we're talking 8 to 10 hours a week sitting in a car.

I think New Yorkers are on to something. They combine their commute with a daily workout. Whether by design or of necessity, it's a lesson for the rest of us. Get out there and walk! Walk like a New Yorker (fast and with purpose) not like a tourist who does the window-shopping stroll.

Power walking is an unrivaled aerobic conditioning activity. Its calorie burn and weight-loss potential are similar to running, yet it's much easier on the body because there's about half the impact and wear and tear on one's joints.

For optimum results, power walk for 20 minutes outside (or on a treadmill). Remember to hold your head up and centered between your shoulders. Keep your chin up and focus your eyes straight ahead. Take long strides, drive your elbows past your hips and travel at a brisk pace. This will remove lactic acid from the body, burn fat and help cool down your muscles.

While any walking is good for you, getting your pace to 4.5 miles per hour is optimum. Not sure how fast that is? Here's a quick, measurement-free way to remember. Pick up your pace to the point where you're just about ready to break into a jog. That's about where you want to hover for most of your walk. Your pace should feel as it would if you were running late for an important appointment.

Not only is walking good for your health, it could be good for your wallet, too. Adopt the free outdoors as your fitness center and you can cancel that pricey membership at the gym.

By the way, during my brief time in New York I didn't see a single diet center. Oh, I'm sure there are some in Manhattan, but not on every corner as they are where I live. I think I know why.

From Cheapskate

Italian men are Mama's boys: study

My first post:

Italy has the highest percentage of adult males who live in their parents' home, according to a study of industrialized countries released last week. Stop Mothering Men (SMM), an international women's group, commissioned the report, which found that 90 per cent of Italian men remain at home until they marry.

"My son loves me," she said. "All good Italian boys love their mothers. Vittorio is not going to insult the woman who gave birth to him by leaving me for no reason."

Full story here.

This is Radio Sepang

KLIA to be world's first airport with radio station

SEPANG: The KL International Airport (KLIA) will be the first airport in the world to have a radio station to serve its 25 million passengers and 13 million listeners in the Klang Valley.

The radio station,, will be launched on June 30 in conjunction with KLIA's seventh anniversary. It will provide up-to-date information on KLIA events and airline flight schedules as well as travel tips.

?We will be focusing on travel and tourism, but of course, we will provide music and entertainment as well,? Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Bashir Ahmad said.

He said the radio station, broadcasting on a frequency of 95.8FM, would be available on the west coast of the peninsula by the end of the year.

It will be run by Max-Airplay Sdn Bhd (MAX) with financial backing from Media Prima Bhd.

MAX chief operating officer Azman Shah Mohd Yusof said the station would broadcast in Malay and English.

From The Star

Solving quadratic equations

Quadratic equations (ax2 + bx + c = 0) stumped ya in high school? But good at filling out tax forms?

Here's how to solve a quadratic equation using only book-keeping math.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

KLCC Twin Towers Posted by Hello

Academic Solidarity

From Tony P's blog:

""Solidarity with Dr. Terence Gomez"

Venue: Kelana Seafood Centre, Lot 1122, SS7, Jalan Perbandaran, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya

Date: Monday, 13 June 2005
Time: 8.30 p.m.

Tickets are priced at RM40 per person or RM400 per table.
There are limited tables specially reserved for students atRM20 each, on a first-come first-served basis.

Tickets: Carmen/Ms Lim/Ms Yong at 03-79578022 / 79578127

The dinner has the following purposes:
  • To express Malaysians' support, sympathy and solidarity with Dr. Terence Gomez;

  • For distinguished Malaysian personalities, both academics and non-academics, to express their views on the Terence Gomez debacle and the continuing higher education crisis in Malaysia;

  • To articulate and mobilize national aspirations for democratization and liberalization of higher education policies to create "towering Malaysian personalities"; and

  • A public platform for Dr. Terence Gomez on his thoughts on being the latest victim of the prolonged higher education crisis in the country. Distinguished Malaysian personalities, both academics and non-academics, will be invited together with Dr.Terence Gomez as guest speakers at the dinner.

For those who are still unaware with regards to the crisis regarding Dr Terence Gomez, an academic from University Malaya, here's a quick recap from someof the articles which has been published in the last 1-2 weeks:

From the Sun on 30th May 2005:
ASSOCIATE Professor Dr Edmund Terence Gomez is not the first or only respected Malaysian scholar who has chosen to resign from a local university in order to further his or her academic career in an internationalorganisation.

Gomez had applied for a two-year secondment from Universiti Malaya (UM)after being appointed manager for a research project at the United NationsResearch Institute for Social Development in Geneva. His application was rejected. The reasons were not made known to him untilthe matter was highlighted in the press.

In an official statement last week, UM said it could not release Gomez because he was needed at the university.

"Higher education in crisis 2" by Jeff Ooi on Screenshots:
"Terence Gomez is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill lecturer," said the PKAUM [UM Academic Staff Association ] in the press statement. "From the numerous letters from academics from all over the world, it is evident that his academic work is recognised internationally."

"Every effort should be made by the Universiy of Malaya's management to retain him at the university," PKAUM added.

Letter from Dr Gomez on his wife's leave application to UM:
This application for leave, as my wife had explained in her letter, was so that the and our three children would be able to join me in Geneva. On Tuesday (May 24), my wife received a written response from her head which stated: ‘I must emphasise to you that I will not support your application for unpaid leave. We will expect you to resume your duties in Semester 2, 2005/2006.’

Letter from Ong Kian Ming on crisis impact on UM international reputation:

The recent appalling treatment of Associate Professor Edmund Terence Gomezby the University of Malaya (UM) has repercussions far beyond the parochial imagination of the university's administrators.

...this episode only cements the view of foreign academics regardingthe precipitous decline in the standards of academia in public universitiesin Malaysia.

Perhaps an even bigger loss to the country and its public universities is not the talent that it is getting rid off or the foreign talent that itwould not be able to recruit, but the fact that many Malaysians who are doing their PhDs abroad would be further dissuaded from coming back to teach and contribute to the Malaysian academia.

"Create Harvard of the East" column by Azly Rahman at

There is more to Malaysian higher education than the definition offered bythe minister of higher education.

If only the minister had understood that education is not about creatingideologically-driven universities but academies of studies with aphilosophical foundation and able to pursue in-depth inquiries fashionedafter great medieval universities.

"Requiem for scholarship and excellence" column by Sim Kwang Yang at

The country has lost yet another talented and principled scholar. MU, that institution of higher learning that once enjoyed an exalted position among similar institutions in Southeast Asia in the early years of our independence, has taken another dip on its path of slow but certain
The brain hemorrhage of the nation continues unabated.

In my wildest dream, I would envision hoards of angry university students -numbering perhaps
in the tens of thousands - descending upon the MU campusto protest the blatant humiliation of our prominent academics at the hands of faceless bureaucrats and arrogant politicians. But alas, this is Malaysia!

Can we have faith that our current government administration eat a little humble pie, and right the very wrongs? I'm keeping my fingers crossed. There's been so much more written on the Dr Terence Gomez issue already, such that it's probably not worth much more for me to comment. I'll pay my RM40 contribution and see you guys at the dinner."

Monday, June 06, 2005

Advice to would-be Bloggers

Why start a blog?

(From Timeonline)

If you have not blogged before do not be tempted. Here be dragons. Keep ye thine eyes skinned for hippo-griffs. The absolute golden rule of blogging — it is literally made of gold — is: “Do not blog.”

Who are you trying to kid? There were 70 billion blogs in the world yesterday, there will be 70 billion billion by next week, and what crazy hubris makes you think you have anything new or interesting to say? Yet you, like all the other lemmings, assume your blog will be one of the tiny fraction that is brilliant, and you’ve already got your gleeful little paws over the edge of the cliff. So all I can do is offer a few invaluable tips to stop you embarrassing yourself, ruining your love life, alienating your friends and getting the sack. If you follow them. Which you won’t.

Want to stay updated? Use Firefox's Live Bookmarks lah!

There's a way to automatically stay updated with the postings on this blog without having to visit it all the time.... if you are using Mozilla Firefox.

1) Visit this website..... actually, you are already here!
2) Notice an Orange picture with radio waves on the bottom right corner of your Firefox? Click on it.
3) It says Subscribe to 'Brain Dancing'. Click on that.
4) You get a dialog box. Under Create in:, choose Bookmarks Toolbar Folder.
5) Voilà! An automatic Live Bookmark now appears on your personal bookmarks toolbar! If there are any new postings on this blog, the title will automatically appear on that bookmark.

You can now do the same with your favorite news sites like The Star, BBC News, etc.

You know, I'm an old man, but I'm always learning new tricks.

Yours, V. David

Reference: Guide to adding Live Bookmarks

Golf vs. Reality

One of the advantages bowling has over golf is that you seldom lose a bowling ball.
Don Carter, pro bowler

I've had a good day when I don't fall out of the cart.
Buddy Hackett

I know I am getting better at golf because I am hitting fewer spectators.
Gerald Ford

Once when I was golfing in Georgia I hooked the ball into a swamp. I went in after it and found an alligator wearing a shirt with a picture of little golfer on it.
Buddy Hackett

It's good sportsmanship not to pick up lost balls while they are still rolling.
Mark Twain

Golf's three ugliest words: "Still your shot."
Dave Marr

It took me seventeen years to get three thousand hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.
Hank Aaron

The reason the pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can't see him laughing.
Phyllis Diller

I'm very lucky. If it wasn't for golf I don't know what I'd be doing. If my IQ had been two points lower, I'd have been a plant somewhere.
Lee Trevino

Golf has more rules than any other game, because golf has more cheaters than any other game.
Bruce Lansky

On a recent survey, 80 percent of golfers admitted cheating. The other 20 percent lied.
Bruce Lansky

I have a tip that can take 5 strokes off anyone's golf game. It is called an eraser.
Arnold Palmer

Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into a very small hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.
Winston Churchill

Golf can best be defined as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle and remember to tee your ball high ... air offers less resistance than dirt.
Jack Nicklaus

Why is it that when you tell yourself, 'don't hit it in the water' your body only seems to hear the word 'water'?

The trees taunt you; the sand mocks you; the water calls your name...and they say golf is a quiet game.

Golf's a hard game to figure. One day you'll go out and slice it and shank it, hit into all the traps and miss every green. The next day you go out and, for no reason at all, you really stink.
Bob Hope

Only a stupid golfer throws his club behind him. The smart golfer throws his club ahead so he can pick it up on the way to the next hole.
Tommy Armour

Corollary: Clubs don't float.

He who has the fastest golf cart never has a bad lie.
Mickey Mantle

Malaysian Mensa Treasure Hunt 24-7-05

From Lawrence Hie - Taoiseach of Malaysian Mensa


Date - 24 July 2005 (Sunday)
Time - 8.00 am to 1.00 pm ( 5 hrs )
Route - Klang Valley (Total Distance within 50 kms)

Venue Sponsor - Sekolah Sri KDU
COC - Lawrence Hie

Entry Forms with more information will be out soon.

Open to members of the public.

Don't miss it !!!

The Difference Between Being Good And Being Nice

There's a difference between being nice and being good. Being nice is doing things in order to get people to like you. Being good is about doing what's right for others and this is what love is about.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Feel you are not getting anywhere?

If you feel you are not getting anywhere in life why not change your name. You can do that at this site: name changes where King Nicholas I will attend to your needs. He was one such bored character until he changed his name and now he is also a blogger.

"Political Reforms in South East Asia."

Speech by Ambassador Yeop Adlan Rose at "An evening with Anwar Ibrahim with his guests Dr. Amien Rais from Indonesia and Senator Kraisak Choohavan from Thailand." May 29th, 2005 at Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur.

"Political Reforms in South East Asia."

Mr. Chairman,
YB Datin Seri Wan Azizah,
Presiden Parti Keadilan Rakyat Malaysia,
YB Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,
Whose evening tonight we are sharing with,
His special invited guests,
Dr. Amien Rais from Indonesia and
Senator Kraisak Choonhavan from Thailand,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are fortunate tonight to be with three distinguished leaders from South East Asia. Stalwarts they are, nationalists, reformists, tirelessly and fearlessly taking up the shovels to move mountains of injustice sitting on their peoples even at great risks and great costs to their own personal lives and that of their families.
Their illustrious CV's are distributed before you. In the interest of saving time so that we shall have more time to hear them, I shall not read those to you. Suffice to say that they are truly three South East Asian icons for change and reform.
Before I invite each one of them to speak, I would like to express my own views in an attempt to try to provide a framework and scope for this evening's talk, in the hope that we can keep focus so as to derive maximum benefit from what they have to say.
The topic is "Political Reforms in South East Asia."
It is my observation that the political, economic, social mess afflicting most South East Asian countries with only one or two exceptions, are no different, indeed they stem from the same malaise experienced by almost all developing countries, save for few exceptions, in Africa, Asia and Latin America after independence in the 40's and 50's.
The gist of the common experience is the following: Almost all began by having the Westminster model of government supplanted or borrowed after independence as the system of government. Whether they care or understood its history, or how it's supposed to work in order to realise its purpose, is quite another matter. What followed after independence was a massive drive for development, and the race to catch up with the material progress of the developed world - the West. It became a race to build and build, and then build more and more prestigious symbols of development, as marks of progress on par with the West. Bigger and expensively equipped armed forces, bigger and longer bridges, biggest airports second to none, taller and taller buildings etc., regardless of whether the countries needed them, could afford them, or indeed if those were priorities at all. In the process, they incurred huge debts on loans easily offered by international loan sharks, mixed with by business corporations and wheeler dealers ever ready to make quick hit and run profits.
And sure enough, down this road were ready made prescriptions for the one word that eventually consumed and destroyed all the fabric of governmental systems, indeed destroyed the countries themselves. One word - CORRUPTION.
And it goes on and on, to the extent that development plans and projects are renewed and new ones made, precisely to lay the ground for, or with corruption already inbuilt.
Next came public protest because the people began to feel the hardships from debt burden, inflation, rising costs. In the ensuing chain of Government action and reaction, the situation deteriorates, chaos prevails and all systems go out of control.
At this stage, a common phenomenon occurred. The Westminster system of government which was started centuries ago beginning with King John being forced to sign the bill of rights, The Magna Carta, a system today seen developed in all its component parts: the constitution, the role of parliament, the judiciary, the executive, the civil service and the role of the media and press…to realise the larger good for the larger amount of people; all that are next trampled. The Westminster system is willfully abused and used to ensure that those in power sustain themselves, continue in power, with brutal suppression of any opposition so that they may continue to be in power, to enrich themselves through corruption and by robbing the people, and also, so that they may never, ever be held accountable for their crime.
Sounds familiar?
You've seen it happened. Almost all of Africa - Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast…and almost all of Latin America went down the same road…Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina…
I may be unkind mentioning names, but let's be honest to be kind, so that we might all see and recognize it. Today, most are wallowing in their own muck! Some form of tyranny rule the day, disguised or legitimized through the Westminster model of universal suffrage and democratic elections.
Students of politics and government in the universities have a term for it in their textbooks. It is such a common occurrence that it has become an academic term. How power corrupts, and in the need to survive, how corrupt power deteriorates into tyranny, and into a system called Political Gangsterism!
You've seen the comparison depicted in the Hollywood gangster movies. Al Capone, the famous American mobster…he appeared a respected citizen, he went to church every Sunday, cavorts with the Padre, kisses babies, donates to the church, to charity. He employs top lawyers and goes by the law, or so it seems. But he bribes the judges, the jury, and he has the Police Chief, the Mayor, and key Senators on his payroll! He could do anything with impunity, and it was near impossible to touch him. And any threat to his empire is met with violence and murder.
What political reform and change can take place in Asia, Africa and Latin America then when change is not allowed to replace Political Gangsterism?
With very few exceptions. In Ghana, Jerry Rawlings wrested power, rounded up and mass arrested all the corrupt politicians, civil servants, judges, business cronies including army and police echelons, ran the country with an iron fist for twenty five or thirty years, brought back order and discipline, and gave it back to parliamentary democracy. Today, Ghana is a singular model of hope in all Africa.
In Chile, Augusto Pinochet did the same. He mass arrested all connected with the corrupt regime. They fought back with arms. There was a civil war. He fought them in kind, defeated and eliminated them. He ruled with an iron fist for a quarter century or so to restore discipline, and gave it back to parliamentary democracy. Today Chile is one bright star of order, discipline and hope in Latin America. In Cuba, Fidel Castro led a people's war and threw out the corrupt Batista regime and gave back Cuba to the Cuban people, gave them back their honor and dignity. Today Cuba has the best health system among developing countries by WHO standards benefiting all Cubans. It has the best education system and the highest literacy rate among all developing countries by UNESCO standards. There are no Cubans too rich and none too poor and, in distribution, its per capita income index matches what it has in resources.
Now let us narrow it down to countries in South East Asia. It is my observation that there is no difference in their experience from the experience of the majority of developing countries in most of Asia, Africa and Latin America. They have traveled down the same river or road since independence in the 40's and 50's and in varying degrees, have reached the different milestones but along the same destination.
They went through the same five stages:
One. Independence with borrowed Western constitutionalism and Westminster model of government.
Two. Massive and expensive development driven by a morbid need to catch up with the West as if that is the end game in itself.
Three. Mega projects giving way to corruption, huge national debts and waste of resources.
Four. People protests and uproar leading to political gangsterism. Chaos ensues followed by "anything goes." All systems go out of control.
Five. It depends on how long tyranny prevails. The longer it lasts, the more suffering the ordinary citizens will bear, the heavier the costs.
Tonight we come to hear what our distinguished speakers have to say as they look at South East Asia.
I like to use the metaphor of looking at a tree. Why is it not fruiting? Why are there no flowers? Why do the leaves look unhealthy? Why are the branches too brittle?
And the prescription? Shall we spray insecticide? Shall we trim the branches? Do we prescribe the latest magic fertilizer? In other words do we institute political reform?
What we don't see, cannot see, and often, are not allowed to see is what is happening underground. The root system is being infested with and being eaten away by termites. The tree is going to rot, die and fall. The big fat termites can run on to another tree. And as you know, very well, there are trees in the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, in Switzerland or indeed in Singapore they can run to ! To look at the leaves and branches alone is therefore, futile.
You need to destroy the termites, uproot the tree. You need to plant a new seedling in its place, nurse it painstakingly to maturity. And it will be a long, long time before it begins to flower and to bear fruit. And all the time you have to ensure that not a single termite has remained in the soil because it can breed again and destroy again. That is a metaphor prescription for nation building.
Now let us take a look at a few South East Asian countries a bit more closely. Thailand of course did not go through the colonial experience other countries did. Thailand nevertheless chose the Westminster model of its own accord; The Thais have had their share of corrupt military dictatorships going in and out. The last one was thrown out by people outrage and paid with people blood and a new constitution put in place. They have had several major constitutional overhauls since to improve the system to realise justice and progress for the Thai people.
The Philippines uprooted a corrupt regime by a popular peoples' revolution. At least they have done so. But have they rid themselves of all the termites of corruption?
Similarly, Indonesia uprooted a corrupt regime and have undertaken a major constitutional overhaul for direct presidential elections, for free elections, for a free press…can the new system eradicate the termites of old or prevent the birth of new ones? Good luck to all of them. We wish them well.
Let's look at Singapore. Does Singapore need uprooting? They need some political reforms here and there perhaps, but they did their uprooting more than forty years ago. Now look at them, they are on autopilot!
What about Malaysia? We have not even begun to look. Not allowed to look. We have gone down that same road. The components of Westminster have been systematically trampled, used and abused to sustain political gangsterism akin to those we have seen in other countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America mentioned earlier. Parliament is a rubber stamp. With a two thirds majority, you can call black to be white, and get away with it! Scandalous and unfair elections, shifting electoral boundaries to ensure massive wins for the ruling party, no free press, no opposition access to the media, no single common electoral role, phantom votes…all those coupled with endemic corruption and cronyism at the highest to the lowest political levels aided and bribe - abetted by eager self-indulging mercenaries in and outside government. And as a last line of incumbent defence and protection, fortified by the ISA being used against the Malaysia people for any sort of protest.
And as we speak there are Malaysians being detained indefinitely without charge causing cruel all-round misery including to their families, wives and children.
And even as I speak, I am keeping an eye on that door at the back of the hall just in case it should burst open and a hoard of mercenaries come barging in and have all of us arrested under the ISA! You might laugh, but such is the scenario hanging over our heads in this country.
And in the meantime, the country has mortgaged itself into massive debts for prestige projects lined for corruption. Affordable homes, hospitals, schools are not a priority. With only 24 million people to look after and blessed with an abundance of natural resources - tin, rubber, timber, palm oil, oil and gas, being agriculture friendly and with fisheries aplenty, it should have been, to use the expression, a piece of cake to manage. We are not one billion people or more like in India or China. And forty seven years to do it in, to provide enough food, affordable homes, good affordable healthcare and hospitals, good and quality education, good schools and universities, planned cities and satellite towns, cheap public transport systems. Germany and Japan were bombed to smithereens during the Second World War. In twenty five to thirty years they rebuilt, restored and became world economic powers again. If you cannot do it for only 24 million people with all those God given resources at your disposal, and in forty seven years to do it, there are only two words to describe it…HOPELESS and INCOMPETENT.
Here's a headline from an article in the Financial Times dated April 12th, 2005 "Mission Impossible to stop the rot in Malaysia." What more need I say?
Saudara Anwar Ibrahim is your evidence. He was dangerous to their empire and had to be politically destroyed, nearly murdered by those bent on continued power and protection for themselves to the point of evil. Now they try to cover themselves by collecting a string of PhD's and ceremonial medals as a cloak of respectability, like the wolf with ferocious fangs, but dressed in sheepskin trying to fool 'Little Red Riding Hood.' You know the saying don't you, "You can pour any amount of perfume on dung. When the alcohol has all but evaporated, what remains is still what it really is…SHIT!" I only know corrupt fascists will eventually end up the same as all the others…Nkrumah, Mobutu, Shah of Iran, Ceacescu, Marcos, Batista…
There will be no Rawlings or Pinochet here as they are either in league or being bribed by promises of lucrative rewards after retirement. There will be no peoples' uprising here as in the Philippines or Indonesia because the people are being fed disinformation, and led into non-stop pesta's and more celebrations to be lulled into believing our own propaganda, that we are the best, we are exemplary and we are better than most. Change through the electoral process? As things are today, you can forget it! Foreign investors have all but left. They know. Well, we shall wallow in our own muck for a long long time I am afraid. It is all too familiar.
Enough. You did not come here tonight and paid for your dinner to listen to me. I hoped to attempt to have a compass point and provide a scope for our distinguished speakers less we are guilty of missing the woods from the trees. Of looking at the leaves and the branches and failing to see what is under the ground, the rotten core that is at the heart of the mess why most developing countries deteriorate into that new category of states called "failed states." Corruption destroys any system. And any system must stamp out corruption to realise its purpose. And there must be will and grit to fight corruption because power easily corrupts. That is what we are talking about tonight. I am rude, pretentious and presumptuous if I think our eminent speakers might miss the point. They know better than I do. Let's hear them.
Thank you.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Philosophy and Uncommon Sense v1.1

Free needle swap and condoms was reported in The Star as being considered by the Government in Malaysia in a bid to stamp or reduce the incidence of HIV/ Aids.

I guess these highly controversial steps were probably never considered previously on the grounds that it would appear that our State encourages free sex or drug addiction; a definite no-no in our conservative society. I seriously doubt that this proposal would ever be given a go-ahead by our Government.

Anyway coming to this topic, I recalled a book on Critical Thinking which depicted several pictures to highlight something similar with the wrong premise used to support the argument that giving free needles or condom encourages both these acts. In this book (which I cannot recall its title), three pictures were shown with a caption below each:

a) A fire extinguisher with a caption that reads "Encourages playing with matches"
b) A car dashboard fitted with airbags with a caption that reads "Encourages road accidents"
c) A condom vending machine with a caption that reads "Encourages free sex"

I rest my case.

On holiday at Frasers' Posted by Hello

legacies during our lifetime

if we focus on cultivating good habits in the young and neglect the older generation then we have considered them to be useless people. what kind of message will adults bring to children if we shift the responsibility to them to be concerned citizens while we behave in a happy-go-lucky manner? they will look at us with disrespect and think of us as hypocrites.

we all leave legacies during our lifetime. from a young age to an old age, we spend much of our time criticizing others. it is good to listen to the criticism leveled at us as well. younger people like to compare themselves with older people; children like to compare themselves with their parents. children feel like 'pulling their hair' when their parents seemingly do not understand them. hopefully these children will grow up knowing what to do with their own children.

we may have been adviced to love ourself so that others may love us, respect ourself so that others will respect us. dress well for self-respect. be well cultivated and don't behave like a villager. this supposedly makes us happy? i can't tell if this works or not.

if these are good things in life, then we need to look at this: if we love our country, that would make others love it too. if we are proud of our country, others will be proud of it too. citizens and foreigners. this will make our place look greener to others and draw brainy people and investments to assist us in building ourselves economically. it is an exponential effect. girls like guys who are confident. citizens of other countries will also like us if we're confident of ourselves which collectively make up the country. want to be a leader or a slave?

there are a few countries which are idolized and the majority which are not. the proud countries have many admirers. are those countries inhabited by a superior race or humans just like you and me?

what would be beneficial is for each one of us to examine ourself as to whether we have a 'first-world' mindset or a 'third-world' mindset. seriously, this is how others view us.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic two most wanted war criminals still at large. Posted by Hello

Bloggers take on European elites

By Kevin Anderson
BBC News website

The French newspaper dubbed Marseille law teacher Etienne Chouard "Don Quichotte du non".

Mr Chouard did not much care for the EU Constitution, but instead of simply voicing his upset to his neighbours, he wrote an essay and set up a blog to explain why he was voting 'Non'.

Just ahead of the vote, his blog was getting 25,000 hits a day and his anti-constitution broadside had been photocopied, faxed and blogged about across France.

Despite overwhelming support for the constitution by the governments of both France and the Netherlands and a huge media campaign by political leaders in both countries, voters have rejected the constitution.

And just as the media and political establishment in the US found during last year's presidential election, European elites have now felt the sting of these online upstarts, the bloggers.

An 'enormous force'

Mr Chouard, the teacher turned blogger, has become a folk hero for the 'Non' campaigners who rebelled against what they saw as an out of touch political elite.

Fans posting to his blog have asked where they can send contributions to erect a statue of him in Marseille,

He took issue with the 66,000 word constitution saying that it would be difficult to amend and that it did not lay out the separation of powers between agencies.

The "Yes" campaigners argued that the blogs were perpetuating myths and half-truths, French internet consultant Stanislas Magniant told the BBC.

But those opposed to the constitution found the internet in general and blogs in particular as one of the ways to get their message out, he said.

"Proponents of 'No' have said the mainstream media have been shamelessly in favour of the 'Yes'. They said the internet was the main area where the democratic debate can take place," he added.

But it was not just Mr Chouard, Nicolas Vanbremeersch of the blog Publius actually expected more online activism than took place in France after the role of blogs in the US presidential campaign last year.

But he told the BBC News Website that both "Yes" and "No" campaigners used the internet and weblogs extensively.

However, the "Yes" side's internet efforts were too late and too little.

"The 'No' side, the extreme left, was very organised on the internet. The 'Yes' side has been late in taking up blogs as interactive tools," he said.

The political left already had many internet sites ahead of the constitutional campaign and they quickly launched blogs for the campaign, he added.

Mr Magniant is not ready to say that blogs were a determining factor in the referendum, but he does believe that blogs dramatically lowered the barrier to entry to take part in political debate.

"In terms of grassroots power, (blogs) have been an enormous force," he said.

Prayers are answered for distracted congregation

LONDON (Reuters) - British telecoms operator BT Group Plc has wired up a church in Wales to allow the congregation to hook onto local high-speed Internet connections when they want a break from the sermon. Britain's largest fixed-line telecoms operator said on Tuesday it had installed a Wi-Fi wireless network access point, known as a hotspot, in Reverend Keith Kimber's St John's Rectory church in the city of Cardiff.

"The church has to move with the times and I wanted to make St John's a sanctuary for everyone, including business people with laptops and mobiles," Kimber said in a statement issued by BT. "I have no problem with people quietly sending an email or surfing the Internet in church, as long as they respect the church."

Wi-Fi -- a medium-range wireless network that is often rolled out in coffee shops and airport lounges -- allows users of laptop computers and other gadgets to access fast Internet connections without having to struggle with wires and mismatched phone plugs.

in love, it's better we don't use the brains department cause we all have different capacity to think; it's better we use our hearts as we all have the same capacity to love.

How brainy are you

It doesn't matter how brainy you are or how much education you've had - you can still improve and expand your mind. Boosting your mental faculties doesn't have to mean studying hard or becoming a reclusive book worm.

There are lots of tricks, techniques and habits, as well as changes to your lifestyle, diet and behaviour that can help you flex your grey matter and get the best out of your brain cells. And here are 11 of them.

Click here to read more

From Mind power news

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

so what's the problem man?

semua orang ada pendapatnya sendiri. misalahnya, saya setuju dengan cadangan untuk menyalurkan lagu negara dalam pawagam.

saya pasti ada kelompok yang akan memberikan penghormatan yang sepatutnya kepada lagu negara dan yang lain akan memalukan sendiri dengan jenaka apabila lagu ini dimainkan dalam pawagam.

memainkan lagu negara sebelum filem ditayangkan tidak akan menimbulkan masalah negatif terutamanya jikalau iklan-iklan yang tidak membawa faedah positif dibenarkan. oleh demikian, tidak salah jika lagu negara dipersembahkan.

walaupun iklan-iklan minuman ringan seperti bir diteruskan, saya rasa ini tidak akan menjejaskan hidup orang yang bermoral.

so what's the problem man?

sila periksa bahasa saya.
terima kasih.


Last week I received I gift from Malaysian Mensa in the form of a puzzle for my renewal of subscription. Four pieces to form a square - beginner's level. Five pieces - genius level. Four pieces was not a problem. Five pieces? Hmm... I tried and I tried and I tried and I tried. Family members had a good laugh. 'Sure you are in the right society?', they queried And they tried and they tried and they tried. The best we came up with was a square, if you look from a far off distance and didnt notice the gaps in between. I agonise, I felt like cutting up the triangle a little smaller to fit exactly, I wanted to send back the puzzle to Malaysian Mensa to write them and express my outrage at their mistake, this was a malfunctioning puzzle! I wondered if any of the Mensans felt like I did, that we got in by chance rather than ability!The pieces of the puzzle are still there, on my hall table, just waiting, waiting to be solved by someone, anyone. My only hope now is that some bored and unsuspecting visitor, may somehow, casually (and revealing more deserving Mensa recruitment potential perhaps?) would put me out of my misery by solving it! Either that, or that the answer to the puzzle would be published perhaps in the next edition of Triple-M, our Malaysian Mensa magazine ;-)