How should we judge a government?

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

Why we should be against censorship: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

MyCen News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Violinist Joshua Bell in an experiment on perception


In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
At 6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
At 10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.
At 45 minutes:
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
After 1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story.

Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made. How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?!

Enjoy life NOW ...  it has an expiry date!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book on Translation from English to Bahasa Malaysia: who was the editor? Or was there even one?

What I have just received from an old friend living in Sydney, Australia, is proof that news of this poorly translated book had really gone viral.

'Should I explain more? Dear English educators, if you happen to know anyone in the MOE office please share this. Someone should investigate how this book could get its way to bookstores. A friend of mine Issl Iressa bought this book for extra reading thinking it could be useful not until she read the proverbs part. By the way, the preface was written by Milon Nandy? I don't think he knows about this.'

Edited 16/10:

'Since this post has become viral and spreading, let us look on the bright side of this issue. This is a lesson worth learning for all of us especially writers, editors, translators, publishers, book stores and consumers.
Thank God she noticed the errors because we don't know how many innocent non-English speaking parents have bought this book in hopes of helping their kids.
Yes, knowing how in love I was with English, my dad bought me Milon Nandy books when I was in Primary school (that was more than 20 years ago).
Thank God he didn't end up buying me books like this because if he did, none of us would know that they're wrongly written.
Well, in this case, I believe Milon Nandy is innocent. God bless everyone!'


Monday, October 20, 2014

Getting to know more about Ebola

How we wish such a deadly disease can easily be contained and eliminated before it spreads to other parts of the world. But with modern air travel, this is increasingly difficult in practice. Already someone warned about the biometric method of checking thumbprints without cleaning the equipment can be risky. However, it might help if we know more about the disease as well as the basic preventive measures which we can easily learn and adopt. Here is something I find informative:

Dr. Ben Kim's Natural Health Newsletter
October 14, 2015

Dear Reader,

Many have asked for my views on the Ebola, so I'll share a few thoughts here.

My understanding is that Ebola is more transmittable than most world health authorities are generally leading people to believe.

It's true that the current form of the Ebola virus is not airborne, which is to say that the Ebola virus isn't capable of traveling through the air without fluid encasing it.

Chickenpox and tuberculosis are examples of airborne germs that are capable of traveling through the air from one person to another without transfer of body fluids.  Put another way, airborne germs travel from the lungs of one person to the lungs of another without exchange of blood, sweat, or other body fluids.

The point that isn't being made strongly enough is that the Ebola virus counts as a droplet-borne disease.  Droplets of secretions that are generated with coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and even some routine medical procedures that are done around the upper respiratory tract can transmit the Ebola virus.

These droplets of secretions that contain the Ebola virus can infect someone nearby if the droplets come into contact with any of their mucosal linings, like those that protect the eyes, nasal passageway, and oral cavity.

So if you are within several feet of someone who is infected with the Ebola virus, even if there is no exchange of body fluids, it is possible for you to become infected if that person releases enough droplets of virus via secretions that occur with coughing, sneezing, and other involuntary contractions around the upper respiratory area.

The latest data indicates that approximately 70 percent of infected people are dying.  This is confirmation of how debilitating the Ebola virus can be, but it is also confirmation that even if infected, some people are capable of recovering.

My opinion is that in coming weeks, more infections will be confirmed in multiple countries.

We can only hope that the CDC and their counterparts in other countries will be able to contain confirmed infections, and that enough support will be given to those areas within Africa that are being devastated right now.  With enough supplies and trained response teams, even hardest hit areas should be able to prevent this outbreak from killing many millions - the current goal is to successfully bury 70 percent of those who have died from Ebola and isolate and treat 70 percent of those who are fighting infections, all within the next 60 days.

For those who are lucky to be living in areas that have not yet been touched by Ebola, here are some points on prevention to keep in mind until the current outbreak is clearly contained:

1.  If at all possible, avoid airplane travel.

2.  Ensure optimal vitamin D status.


3.  Eat foods that are rich in vitamin C.


4.  Be mindful of washing your hands with soap and warm or hot water on a regular basis.

5.  Be well rested.

I don't believe there is much else that we can do to minimize risk of infection, not unless we want to stockpile enough food and water to last until Ebola goes away, and stay in our homes until then.

Unless you are living in an area where new infections are being confirmed every day, I don't think you need to fear going about your regular activities.

That is all I have to say about Ebola for now.  Let's hope that things change for the better soon.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and peaceful week ahead,

Ben Kim

Friday, October 17, 2014

Second Penang Bridge for Penang lang only meh?

It is amazing, almost incredible, that such an expensive new bridge lacks the necessary road signs to encourage road users to use it. I am also surprised that so far, I have yet to hear of complaints about this lack of road signs leading to the bridge to get out of Penang island. Just imagine there is still no publicity, let alone information, on how to find the way to the second bridge. Even the Tourism information counter at Penang airport could only give directions when asked, and the man just shrugged his shoulders when asked why there are no info on directions to the second bridge.

My second attempt at finding the Penang second bridge from Penang airport

My first attempt was a disaster, as I skipped the first turning at the roundabout outside Penang airport (sign shows Balik Pulau), tried the second and ended up in Relau, and then tried the last which took me to the old Penang bridge!

Last, Saturday, while waiting for Cheng to arrive, I asked man at Tourism info counter on how to get to the second bridge. His reply was pretty straightforward (so I thought): 'On your way out, take the left turn at the roundabout, then at the traffic lights, turn left.'

When we got to the traffic lights junction, there was indeed a left turn just before it but we did not take it, thinking it led to some housing estate. Then we saw two trailers turned into the road and we thought we should have. Continuing on the road straight ahead, we had our doubts as it was a narrow stretch too, until we came to another traffic lights junction. Here, at least we were reassured by a sign indicating the way to 'Jambatan Sultan Halim...' But as we continued, no more reassuring signs at a few road junctions! Basically, we are left to our own devices, using our own judgment and common sense. We were pretty sure the route wasn't the route where we came via the second bridge before.

To sum up, it is ludicrous that after the opening of such an expensive and well constructed bridge, there are no proper road signs leading drivers back to it. It was so straightforward joining it from the NSE. It would seem, the bridge is meant only for 'Penang lang' or Penang folks, and not for tourists from other states or countries.

We were under the impression any driver can pay and go into Penang via old or new bridge and return free of charge taking either one. We were right. But for the first time, when we saw toll booths, we thought we had to pay again, but it turned out those were actually PLUS entry booths to join the NSE.

One thing which I have yet to confirm is the rate payable for vehicles with 'twin-axle' like the pickup trucks Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton and so on. At the old bridge, such vehicles need to pay Rm12 instead of Rm7 for ordinary passenger cars. But at the new bridge, the rate difference is much greater at over Rm30 instead of Rm8.50. I wouldn't want to try using such a vehicle without first confirming the rate applicable, because of the big difference.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

It is safe to joke about Christians

Years ago, Irish comedian Dave Allen was well known for his jokes on Christianity but there were no complaints because the people in UK took it as merely jokes with no offence meant. There were video clips acted out in full Pope or Archbishop robes and so on. Once, we went to his live show in Leeds and he entertained the audience for one and a half hour, merely sitting on stage telling jokes, sometimes showing his missing or shortened finger.

Anyway, it is safe to tell Christian jokes, especially in ultra-sensitive Malaysia...

A friend was in front of me coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. He grabbed my friend's hand and pulled him aside.
The Pastor said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!"
My friend replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor."
Pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except at Christmas and Easter?"
He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service."
A man sobering up from the night before is sitting through the Sunday sermon, finding it long and boring. Still feeling hung over and tired, he finally nods off.
The priest has been watching him all along, noticing his apparent hangover and is disgusted. At the end of the sermon, the preacher decides to make an example of him.
He says to his congregation, "All those wishing to have a place in heaven, please stand."
 The whole room stands up except, of course, the sleeping man.
Then the preacher says even more loudly, "And he who would like to find a place in hell please STAND UP!"
The weary man catching only the last part groggily stands up, only to find that he's the only one standing.
Confused and embarrassed he says, "I don't know what we're voting on here, Father, but it sure seems like you and me are the only ones standing for it!"
An elderly lady was well-known for her faith and for her boldness in talking about it. She would stand on her front porch and shout "PRAISE THE LORD!"
Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, "There ain't no Lord!!"
Hard times set in on the elderly lady, and she prayed for GOD to send her some assistance. She stood on her porch and shouted "PRAISE THE LORD. GOD I NEED FOOD!! I AM HAVING A HARD TIME. PLEASE LORD, SEND ME SOME GROCERIES!!"
The next morning the lady went out on her porch and noted a large bag of groceries and shouted, "PRAISE THE LORD."
The neighbour jumped from behind a bush and said, "Aha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn't."
The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and said,"PRAISE THE LORD. He not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them. PRAISE THE LORD!"