Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Emails hurt IQ more than pot ?

Came across this article some time back which accounts for my slow but sure decline !

Monday, March 13, 2006

Philosophy and Uncommon Sense V1.7

Err. phoenix asleep over the weekend ah?

Over the weekend I happen to be in a mall and after parking my car and as I was leaving it, I saw a car with a copy of Architectural Digest on the passenger seat in a car next to mine. Straight in my mind, was an assumption that the car belonged to an architect or an interior designer and since the mall had an IKEA outlet, it must be so. It suddenly also dawned on to me that my assumption may be incorrect as well.

We all live with many assumptions in our minds and probably trained to do so in school, work and at our leisure time. In my younger days, I used to be a fan of mystery novels and Agatha Christie, Perry Mason, Sherlock Holmes were some my favourites. To those of you who are familiar with Sherlock Holmes, we would always encounter a situation where basic assumptions were frequently proven true. Holmes would frequently tell Dr Watson that it's all "elementary". By mere observation, we can deduce many aspect and to a certain extend a character of a person be it from his horse carriage, his home or even the way he/she dresses. In many instances, the fiction proves the case to be true.

Reality however is not so simple. A mere observation of a copy of magazine in someone car can mean many things. The magazine could belong to any member of the car owner's family. It could also belong to a friend etc. The car may be rented. The magazine could just be some coffee-table copy for any passenger. The list goes on. As humans, many of us have a tendency to deduce a conclusion based on the most straight forward plain vanilla premise. That's what many do. Why think further? My conclusion based on this premise is likely to be true. Period!

Then I was wondering to myself, what if someone peers into my car on that day itself? I'm one who always try to bring a book or magazine wherever I go particularly when I have to meet someone or wait at a bank or Govt department. It's needed to keep my mind occupied and to prevent my grey cells from dying. In my car that day was a book that I'm currently reading entitled "The Encyclopaedia of Stupidity" by Matthijs V Boxsel.

Who buys and reads this type of book anyway except a moron like myself.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Malaysia's record-breaking obsession

The BBC's Jonathan Kent explains why the small country of Malaysia is so keen on beating world records, even those involving the world's longest buffet.

At Rawang, a little way outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, 300 people light little fires under clay pots.

They were attempting to set a new record for the largest ponggol cooking event in the world.

There was so much smoke from the little fires that my eyes started streaming.

One of the participants, Mrs Dasaratharaman, told me that Ponggol was a festival celebrated by Hindus.

"After harvesting, they have a festival to celebrate it. This pot is meant for cooking sweet rice with cow's milk," she said.

But what I really wanted to know was the answer to a much broader question - where does this Malaysian obsession with breaking records come from?

Sujartha Nair, who works for the Malaysian Book of Records, said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad encouraged many of the country's record-breaking events.

He even turns up to some of the attempts himself, Sujartha Nair said.

And it is not just ponggol cooking contests. Malaysians seem driven to make one bigger, better or tastier than everyone else.

So much so that the unofficial national motto - Malaysia Boleh, or Malaysia can - has become something of a joke, satirised in a spoof "Bolehwood" award ceremony.

"The tallest flag poles, the tallest buildings, longest bridge," she said.

"Then of course we go from the sublime to the ridiculous. We have the world's largest park... the longest buffet line on the beach... the world's biggest lemang," she said.

A lemang, she explained, is a kind of rice cooked in bamboo.

"We had the biggest lemang in the world, but also the only lemang!" Jo Kukathas said.

The Bolehwood awards don't just send up Malaysia, they also poke fun at foreigners' perceptions of the country.

Malaysia has not been well served by Hollywood. The comedy Zoolander was banned here, not least for suggesting that Malaysia was a sweatshop economy.

The movie Entrapment angered Malaysians for showing the world's tallest buildings, the Petronas Twin Towers, next to imaginary slums.

"Did you see the background?" advertising company boss, Austen Zecha, asked me.

"He's in a boat, he's in a canal, and yet the twin towers in the background... there is no such scene in Malaysia. That's superimposed."

Mr Zecha's firm has been given the difficult task of branding the small multiracial, multicultural country for the tourist industry.

"We hit on the idea that the thematic tack line could not be anything else but to say that Malaysia is truly Asia," he said.

"You don't have to go to China to experience great, superb Chinese food. You don't have to go to India to experience great, superb Indian food. Or you don't have to go to Indonesia for great Indonesian food. It's all here."

But most of the foreign tourists I spoke to on the streets of Kuala Lumpur had a very different mental picture of Malaysia before they arrived.

"I didn't think it was such a developed country," said one person I met.

"All the women wear head dresses - that's the first thing I think of when I think of Malaysia," said another.

Noah Morowitz, a television producer making a programme about Malaysia for an American channel, said his audience was barely aware of the country at all.

"Most Americans know next to nothing about Malaysia," he said. "They would probably know that it's somewhere in the Pacific, but besides that, they would have trouble finding it on a map."

If Malaysia was just a small country with a big ego, its attempts to be noticed would simply seem funny.

But since 11 September and the Bali attacks, it has become deadly serious.

Bali may be 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from Kuala Lumpur, but in the minds of much of the world it is right next door.

It has suddenly become vital that predominantly Muslim Malaysia gets out its message - that it is friendly, safe and open for business.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Philosophy and Uncommon Sense V1.6

Wow, the phoenix attempts to rise..uh is it?

Again I'm writing because I'm fed up one liner cliches that "attempts" to solve our world's problem that you see in our press headlines day in day out. In the last 2 weeks over in Malaysia, our fuel subsidy was slashed and hence fuel prices increased by quite a substantial percentage. Next day we get politicians coming out to defend the move. That's what politicians are good at, talk and talk. No one attempts to act to defend the move. This talk is no different from the Miss World/ Universe type of question in their quest to reduce hunger, poverty, make the world a better place..bah!

Everytime I read some one liner answer, I get extremely upset because it does not solve anything but people keep using it or writing it. Doesn't everyone know that there is no such thing, a cure all in one liner or answer? Answers to many of our problems and challenges lies in the many details that keep things going. Let me put it in another way, to get an automobile moving, all its parts, components and everything else must work 100%. If you have just any single part or component fails no matter how small it is, the entire car just refuses to move or move temporarily before it fails. In other words, any answer to our challenges, problems etc. lies with every component, context, people, Govt etc. all working 100%. If any one part fails, nothing works.

People out there want you to believe there is a simple one cure cause it makes money. You can hire a consultant to solve your company's problems after they issue a report. You can consult a self-help guru who asks you to think positive daily and presto, your life will turn around. You can buy a book or tape and listen and hey, your problems solve. The world unfortunately is not so easy. You can be positive day in day out but can your positiveness rub onto everyone so that your problems can be solved? The environment is something very critical in our daily lives and something are just beyond us. It may work sometimes but not everytime.

So folks out there, stop looking for simple answers because there just isn't any. All answers to our problems and challenges must be looked at both micro and macro level. You cannot assume that this or that will work if we tweak this. Our world is not just black and white. It is all grey between the extreme black and white and the answer lies in this grey area. This grey area however is wide, all encompassing and highly fluid and unpredictable. Why is this so? Because every second, the world changes. The weather is different, the wind changes, the sun has moved, the tide has changed and so has everything else.

And like the grey areas, doom, gloom and happiness are just phases in our daily lives. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Malaysian Book of Records

UMS (Universiti Malaysia in Sabah) in collaboration with Malaysian Mensa Society will be going for an entry in the Malaysian Book of Records. The feat attempted would be the most number of people sitting for the Mensa IQ test. This will take place Sunday 12th March in Kota Kinabalu.


Until 1998, the Internet was overseen almost exclusively by one man: Jon Postel, a computer science professor at the University of Southern California. As a graduate student in the 1960s, he was among the handful of engineers who built the Internet. For the next 30 years, he managed it on behalf of the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency, which funded the Internet's initial development.

Postel made seemingly technical decisions such as who should get to operate a country-code domain. Although it may seem odd that national address suffixes (such as ".uk," for the United Kingdom) were allocated to private individuals rather than government bodies, such was the case. In its early days, the Internet was so new and strange that there was usually no appropriate national organization to hand a suffix to. Besides, governments, and particularly their monopoly telecom carriers, more often hindered communications development than helped it. By the mid-1990s, however, it became clear to the small coterie of officials in the United States and elsewhere who were aware of the matter that the Internet could no longer be administered by a single individual. But who or what would replace him?

After a bitter series of negotiations among the business community, governments, and nongovernmental organizations worldwide, the Clinton administration helped broker a compromise and established ICANN in 1998. Because the United States' hands-off approach had allowed the Internet to flourish, it seemed appropriate that the new organization be based in the private sector. This would make it more responsive, more flexible, and less prone to bureaucratic and political squabbling. The negotiations were so tense that Postel suffered a heart attack as they were ending and never lived to see the birth of the successor organization he was instrumental in creating.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A song by Charles Aznavour

Written by Charles Aznavour and
Herbert Kretzmer

She may be the face I can't forget
A trace of pleasure or regret
May be my treasure or the price I have to pay
She may be the song that summer sings
May be the chill that autumn brings
May be a hundred different things
within the measure of a day

She may be the beauty or the beast
May be the famine or the feast
May turn each day into a Heaven or a hell
She may be the mirror of my dream
A smile reflected in a stream
She may not be what she may seem
inside her shell...

She who always seems so happy in a crowd
Whose eyes can be so private and so proud
No one's allowed to see them when they cry
She may be the love that cannot hope to last
May come to me from shadows of the past
that I remember till the day I die

She may be the reason I survive
The why and wherefore I'm alive
The one I'll care for through the rough and rainy years

Me, I'll take her laughter and her tears
And make them all my souvenirs
For where she goes I've got to be
The meaning of my life is She... She... She......


Now here is the original version:

Tous Les Visages de l'Amour

Paroles et Musique: Charles Aznavour 1975
© 1975 Editions Chappell

Toi, par tes mille et un attraits
Je ne sais jamais qui tu es
Tu changes si souvent de visage et d'aspect
Toi quelque soit ton âge et ton nom
Tu es un ange ou le démon
Quand pour moi tu prends tour à tour
Tous les visages de l'amour

Toi, si Dieu ne t'avait modelé
Il m'aurait fallu te créer
Pour donner à ma vie sa raison d'exister
Toi qui est ma joie et mon tourment
Tantôt femme et tantôt enfant
Tu offres à mon cour chaque jour
Tous les visages de l'amour

Moi, je suis le feu qui grandit ou qui meure
Je suis le vent qui rugit ou qui pleure
Je suis la force ou la faiblesse
Moi, je pourrais défier le ciel et l'enfer
Je pourrais dompter la terre et la mer
Et réinventer la jeunesse

Toi, viens fais moi ce que tu veux
Un homme heureux ou malheureux
Un mot de toi je suis poussière ou je suis Dieu
Toi, sois mon espoir, sois mon destin
J'ai si peur de mes lendemains
Montre à mon âme sans secours
Tous les visages de l'amour