How should we judge a government?
Friday, October 31, 2008
But then again, I am not too sure how their lives will be played out in the future. There is always the problem of security and fear that some bad guys might come to know about it. Then there are those poor relatives who might show their affection which they had so far neglected to, with stories of how they needed some money for a certain worthy cause, etc. etc.
This story of the uncertainty principle is just the reverse:
Two sailors ran into each other in a pub. Over a few beers, one of the men told the other about his last voyage: "After a month at sea," he said, "we discovered our masts had been eaten through by termites! Almost nothing left of them."
"That's terrible," said the second sailor.
"That's what I thought at first too," the first sailor said, "but it turned out to be good luck. As soon as we took the sails down to fix the masts, we were hit by a squall so suddenly and so hard, it would surely have blown us over if our sails were up at the time."
"That's exactly what I thought at the time, too. But because our sails were down, we couldn't steer ourselves, and because of the wind, we were blown onto a reef. The hole in the hull was too big to fix. We were stranded."
"That is bad luck indeed."
"That's what I thought, too, when it first happened. But we all made it to the beach alive and had plenty to eat. But now here's the real kicker: While we were on the island whining about our terrible fate, we discovered a buried treasure!"
As this story illustrates, you don't know if an event is "good" or "bad" except maybe in retrospect, and even then you don't really know because life keeps going. The story's not over yet. Just because something hasn't turned out to be an advantage yet doesn't mean it is not ever going to.
Little one cornered by dog:
Mother distracts dog:
Thursday, October 30, 2008
ACE MORTGAGE BROKERS
“We make your dreams come true”
Gee, I’d like to buy a house but I haven’t saved any money for a down payment and I don’t think I can afford the monthly payments. Can you help me?
Sure! Since the value of your house will always go up, we don’t need downpayments anymore! And we can give you a really really low interest rate for a few years. We’ll raise it later, ok?
Sure, no problem. Umm, there’s one other thing… my employer is a real prick and might not verify my employment. Would that be a problem?
Nope. We can get you a Special ‘Liar’s Loan’ and you can verify your own employment and income!
You guys are awesome! You are really willing to work with guys like me.
Well, we don’t actually lend you the money – a bank will do that – so we don’t really care if you repay the loan. We still get our commission.
Wow! Let’s get started!
A few weeks later, at the Bank…
FIRST BANK OF BANKLAND INC.
“Open your Christmas Club Account Today”
I’d better get rid of these crappy mortgage loans. They are starting to stink up my office. Thankfully the really smart guys in New York will buy them and perform their financial magic! I’ll call them right away!
Let’s see what the Smart Guys are doing…
RSG INVESTMENT BANK of WALL STREET
“Trust the ‘Really Smart Guys’ for all your investment needs”
Phew!!! We’d better get rid of these shitty mortgages before they start attracting flies.
But who would buy this crap, Boss?
I’ve got it! First we’ll create a new security and use these crappy mortgages as collateral. We’ll call it a CDO (or maybe CMO). We can sell that CDO to investors and promise to pay them back as the mortgages are paid off.
But crap is crap, isn’t it? I don’t get it.
Sure, individually these are pretty crappy loans, but if we pool them together only some of them will go bad – certainly not all of them. And since house prices always go up, we really have very little to worry about.
I still don’t get it.
The new CDO will work like this:
It will be made up of 3 pieces (or tranches) and we’ll call them ‘The Good’, ‘The Not –So-Good’ and ‘The Ugly’.
If some of the mortgages fail, as surely some might, we will promise to pay investors holding the ‘Good’ tranche first. We’ll pay the ‘Not-So-Good’ investors second, and the ‘Ugly’ investors last.
I’m starting to get it. And because the ‘Good’ investors have the least risk, we’ll pay them a lower interest rate than the other guys, right? The ‘Not-So-Good’ will get a better interest rate and the ‘Ugly’ guys will get a nice fat interest rate.
Exactly. But wait, it gets better. We will buy bond insurance for the ‘Good’ piece. If we do that, the Rating agencies will give it a really great rating, in the AAA to A range. They will likely give the ‘Not-So-Good’ piece a BBB to B rating, still pretty good. We won’t even bother asking them to rate the ‘Ugly’ piece.
So you have managed to create AAA and BBB securities out of a pile of stinky, risky mortgage loans. Boss, you are a genius.
Yes, I know.
Okay, now who are we going to sell the three pieces to?
The assholes at the SEC won’t let us sell this stuff to widows and orphans, so we’ll sell it to our sophisticated institutional clients. Like insurance companies, banks, small towns in Norway, school boards in Kansas – to anyone who is looking for a high quality safe investment.
But surely nobody would buy the ‘Ugly’ piece, would they?
Of course not – nobody is that stupid. We will keep that piece and pay ourselves a handsome interest rate.
This is all great, but since we are only using the smelly mortgages as collateral on an entirely new security, we haven’t really got rid of them. Don’t we have to show them on our balance sheets?
No, of course not. The guys who write the accounting rules allow us to set up a shell company in the Cayman Islands to take ownership of the mortgages. The crap goes on their balance sheet, not ours. The fancy name for it is ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ or SPV.
That’s great, but why would they let us do that, aren’t we just moving our own crap around?
Sure, but we have convinced them that it is vitally important to the health of the US financial system that investors not know about these complex transactions and what is behind them.
Let’s drop in to see the Accountants…
Sir, as an investor and a concerned citizen, I demand that you force our financial institutions to show greater transparency and openness in their financial reporting.
Gee, we never saw it coming…
NORWEGIAN VILLAGE PENSION FUND:
Hey man, what the hell is up? We’re not receiving our monthly payments!
RSG Investment Bank: Yeah, I meant to call you but it’s been really crazy around here. It seems that the assholes who took out the mortgages backing your CDO aren’t able to pay them off.
NVPF: Wait a minute! We bought the AAA ‘Good’ piece of the CDO. You know? The safe one. We’re supposed to be getting paid first.
RSGIB: Well unfortunately the loans were quite a bit crappier than we originally thought and there is very little cash coming in. Frankly, I assure you that we are as disappointed as you are.
NVPF: But you told me that housing prices always go up and that your borrowers could always refinance their mortgages!
RSGIB: Yeah, that was a bad assumption. We fucked up. Sorry.
NVPF: Bad assumption my frigid Norwegian ass! What about the AAA rating from the agencies?
RSGIB: They fucked up too.
NVPF: But this security was insured! What about the insurers?
RSGIB: Are you kidding? There’s no way they have enough money set aside to cover this mess. They fucked up.
NVPF: Well that’s just great, asshole. What am I supposed to tell my villages?
RSGIB: Tell them you fucked up.
George Bush said that he is saddened to hear about the demise of Lehman brothers. His thoughts at this time is to go out to their mother as losing one son is hard, but losing two is a tragedy.
Lehman have changed their recommendation on Lehman from hold to sell.
President Bush said clients shouldn't be concerned by all these bank closings. If the bank is closed, you just use the ATM, he said.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Our budget is based on oil prices, which are twice that of current prices, and almost half our national income depends on oil. So do we need an economist to tell us that our budget figures are way out of reality?
Our stock prices have continued to slide and they are not because of confidence in what our new Finance Minister had assured us, nor his quick fix of Rm5 billion loan from EPF to prop up the stock market. Nor Yaakob has just adopted a student for writing letters praising him that he had done well in 1997 and continues to be doing wonders for our economy. I should have thought of that instead of writing good of Lim Kit Siang and other opposition leaders only.
Despite complaints about Shah Rukh Khan being awarded Datukship by Malacca government, now it seems a wise decision because his coming will bring worldwide publicity and help towards our tourism industry. Apparently Najib’s wife is a great fan of Shah Rukh. But many people are peeved by Ali Rustam’s revelation that the award was suggested by Daim Zainuddin! Now we know who is the puppet master in our political scene.
Since it is such a good idea for tourism, Azalina should think of an award for Obama or Palin because they are currently hot personalities.
There are certain businesses, which are recession-proof. Eg. we have to wait for a table at our favourite coffeeshop now. Over the Deepavali long weekend, hotel rooms in Genting Highlands were fully booked. When people are desperate, they are more likely to gamble.
Good restaurants in Ipoh are fully booked for wedding dinners on certain auspicious days right up to next December! I joked with a friend that he could use the money to pick up some shares in the stock market and take profit for the event. In case there is no improvement in share prices or he lost, he could convert from dinner to lunch!
Monday, October 27, 2008
She finally overtook him at the checkout, and she turned to him and said, 'I hope I haven't made you feel ill at ease; it's just that you look so much like my late son.'
He answered, 'That's okay.'
'I know it's silly, but if you'd call out 'Good bye, Mum' as I leave the store, it would make me feel so happy.'
She then went through the checkout, and as she was on her way out of the store, the man called out, 'Goodbye, Mum.'
The little old lady waved, and smiled back at him.
Pleased that he had brought a little sunshine into someone's day, he went to pay for his groceries.
'That comes to $121.85,' said the cashier.
'How come so much ... I only bought 5 items…’
The cashier replied, 'Yeah, but your Mother said you'd be paying for her things, too.'
I walked down the busy footpath, knowing I was late for an important meeting. My eye fell upon one of those unfortunate, homeless vagabonds that are found in every city these days.
Wearing what can only be describes as rags, carrying every worldly possession in two plastic bags, my heart was touched by this person's condition.
Some people turned to stare. Others quickly looked away as if the sight would somehow contaminate them.
Recalling some long ago Sunday school admonition to "care for the sick, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked." I was moved by some powerful inner urge to reach out to this unfortunate person.
Yes, where some people saw only rags, I saw a hidden beauty. A small voice inside my head called out, "Reach out, reach out and touch this person."
So I did...........
"DO GOOD UNTO OTHERS......"
His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.
There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.
'I want to repay you,' said the nobleman. 'You saved my son's life.'
'No, I can't accept payment for what I did,' the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel.
'Is that your son?' the nobleman asked.
'Yes,' the farmer replied proudly.
'I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.' And that he did.
Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.
Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia.
What saved his life this time? Penicillin.
The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son's name?
Sir Winston Churchill.
Someone once said: What goes around comes around.
Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like nobody's watching...
Sing like nobody's listening...
Live like it's Heaven on Earth.
Pass this on, and brighten someone's day.
May there always be work for your hands to do;
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend always be near you;
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
From me, Happy Deepavali to those who celebrate this weekend.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
HMV or His Master's Voice, should make use of this story.
Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling.
They found out that the new baby was going be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his sister in mommy's tummy.
He was building a bond of love with his little sister before he even met her.
The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen, an active member of the Panther Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee.
In time, the labor pains came. Soon it was every five minutes, every three, every minute. But serious complications arose during delivery and Karen found herself in hours of labor.
Would a C-section be required? Finally, after a long struggle, Michael's little sister was born. But she was in very serious condition.
With a siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital,Knoxville, Tennessee . The days inched by. The little girl got worse. The pediatrician had to tell the parents there is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst.
Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial plot.
They had fixed up a special room in their house for their new baby but now they found themselves having to plan for a funeral.
Michael, however, kept begging his parents to let him see his sister. I want to sing to her, he kept saying.
Week two in intensive care looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over.
Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care.
Karen decided to take Michael whether they liked it or not.
If he didn't see his sister right then, he may never see her alive.
She dressed him in an oversized scrub suit and marched him into ICU. I looked like a walking laundry basket.
The head nurse recognized him as a child and bellowed, 'Get that kid out of here now. No children are allowed.'
The mother rose up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed right into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line.'He is not leaving until he sings to his sister' she stated.
Then Karen towed Michael to his sister's bedside. He gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live.
After a moment, he began to sing.
In the pure-hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sang:
'You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray.' Instantly the baby girl seemed to respond. The pulse rate began to calm down and become steady.
'Keep on singing, Michael,' encouraged Karen with tears in her eyes.
'You never know, dear, how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away.'
As Michael sang to his sister, the baby's ragged, strained breathing became as smooth as a kitten's purr.
'Keep on singing, sweetheart.'
'The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms'.
Michael's little sister began to relax as rest, healing rest, seemed to sweep over her.
'Keep on singing, Michael.'
Tears had now conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glowed.
'You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't take my sunshine away...'
The next day...the very next day, the little girl was well enough to go home.
Woman's Day Magazine called it 'The Miracle of a Brother's Song.'
The medical staff just called it a miracle.
Karen called it a miracle of God's love.
NEVER GIVE UP ON THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE.
LOVE IS SO INCREDIBLY POWERFUL. Life is good.
'The evidence of God's presence far outweighs the proof of His absence.'
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Modern bank convenience like ATM is now common and taken for granted by customers. It can be found, for customers’ convenience, at shopping malls, highway service centres and even places like Starbucks.
As a machine holding cash to be withdrawn, must be a tempting sight to would be robbers. From memory, I have read of fire crackers being used to try and break open the machine, and even excavator to carry the whole machine away only to realise that it was the cheque deposit machine instead!
Some criminals wait for customers with cash just withdrawn, to rob, while more sophisticated ones use special devices to get details of customers for use later. The following is an email being forwarded to warn us:
For your information. This is true. Already in KK so be careful..
Please give wide publicity !
Bank ATM's Converted to Steal IDs of Bank Customers
A team of organized criminals are installing equipment on legitimate bank ATM ' s in at least 2 regions to steal both the ATM card number and the PIN . The team sits nearby in a car receiving the information transmitted wirelessly over weekends and evenings from equipment they install on the front of the ATM (see photos) . If you see an attachment like this, do not use the ATM and report it immediately to the bank using the phone on the front of the ATM .
The equipment used to capture your ATM card number and PIN are cleverly disguised to look like normal ATM equipment . A ' skimmer ' is mounted to the front of the normal ATM card slot that reads the ATM card number and transmits it to the criminals sitting in a nearby car .
At the same time, a wireless camera is disguised to look like a leaflet holder and is mounted in a position to view ATM PIN entries
The thieves copy the cards and use the PIN numbers to withdraw thousands from many accounts in a very short time directly from the bank ATM .
Equipment being installed on front of existing bank card slot .
The equipment as it appears installed over the normal ATM bank slot
The PIN reading camera being installed on the ATM is housed in an innocent looking leaflet enclosure .
The camera shown installed and ready to capture PIN ' s by looking down on the keypad as you enter your PIN
A MYR billionaire on paper (based on market capitalization of his shares for easy illustration) might now be worth only MYR500 million or less, and it is not going to change his lifestyle. But the most immediate casualties are those ordinary folks buying stocks and shares using margin accounts which were freely offered. They are likely to be unable to meet cashcalls, and some might even be unable to pay shortfalls after forced selling of certain stocks.
Other countries' economic problems will see employees forced out of jobs and many will have to return to look for jobs. Higher unempoyment means lower spending and traders will see reduction in business and marginal ones close shop. Property prices will drop and forced selling of houses might see some owners unable to pay the shortfall between selling price and loan amount.
The stock market is one of the most sensitive barometers of our economic outlook and what we see is not a pleasant sight - 'carnage' like what my friend used to describe the 'all red' prices on the board. Suddenly, we see sellers having to give to the buyers at a few bids below what they intended.
Dire straits require drastic actions, and it may be useful to revisit the following statement by Vicki Robin:
A Declaration Of Independence From Over-consumption
By Vicki Robin
An edit of an address given by Vicki Robin, New Road Map Foundation president, at the United Nations on April 6, 1994.
We are all consumers. Every human takes sustenance from and returns waste to the environment. But overconsumption means taking more than we can productively use -- or more than the environment can sustainably provide. Overconsumption has become our way of life in the United States. We put our faith in "more," but it's never enough; we report being no happier now than we were in 1957, when cars were fewer, houses smaller and microwaves, VCRs and personal computers did not even exist. Worse yet, our lifestyle, which threatens our social fabric and the very web of life on which we depend, has become the envy of much of the world.
As Robert Muller, retired Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, says, "The single most important contribution any of us can make to the planet is a return to frugality."
Overconsumption Is A Mounting Catastrophe
Quantity as well as type of consumption defines the individual's impact on the environment. With population rising and expectations for more, better and different stuff increasing, humanity is taxing the earth's life-sustaining systems, its "carrying capacity." Each overconsumer is responsible; we must face this catastrophe in the making.
Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe for Ourselves:
· Declining quality of life. Our habit of overconsumption enslaves many of us to longer hours at tedious or morally questionable jobs. We say we value relationships over possessions, yet our behavior says the opposite. As we spend less time with our families and communities, we end up with more crime, violence and teen suicides.
· Economic weakness. Our habit of overconsumption has led to debt, bankruptcy and the lowest savings rate in the industrialized world. We don't have money to invest in infrastructure, in education, in the future.
· Personal excess encourages institutional abuses. The more-is-better mentality allows us to tolerate wars over oil, and corporate practices that are wasteful, polluting and unethical. We can't say "no" to Nintendos for our children or new gadgets for ourselves, so how can we expect our government to say "no" to deficit spending or CEO's to say "no" to exorbitant salaries?
Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe For Humanity:
· Modeling an unattainable and unsustainable lifestyle to the global community. The earth cannot support everyone in the manner to which Americans have become accustomed. We must find a way to limit our excess and maintain or increase our quality of life while providing the world's people with our best knowledge and technologies so that they too can enjoy sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles.
Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe For The Earth:
· Environmental destruction. Overconsumption accelerates species extinction, water and air pollution, global warming, and accumulation of toxic waste and garbage.
· Resource depletion. Overconsumption means we're using renewable resources faster than nature can restore them. Twenty percent of the groundwater we use each year is not restored. One million acres of cropland are lost to erosion annually. Ninety percent of our northwestern old-growth forests is gone.
We Can Change!
Strategies For Ending Overconsumption
Break the Silence
We must begin to talk about our consumption and challenge the conspiracy of silence. We can't solve a problem we won't acknowledge. Challenge yourself. Challenge others. Risk being uncomfortable. Risk offending others. Ask:
· Should we be able to buy whatever we can afford, no matter what the effect on others or the earth?
· Should we allow credit cards to lure us into excessive debt?
· When is personal consumption a matter of public concern?
· Who or what will set limits for us, if we won't do it ourselves?
· Does overconsumption really make us happy?
At the 1992 Earth Summit the United States refused to talk about consumption, saying that a country such as ours could not tell its citizens what kind of lifestyles and consumption patterns to have. By the 1994 Cairo Population Conference, the United States at least acknowledged the need to reduce our consumption. The door is opening. Speak out. And keep speaking.
Reframe the Game
Saving money -- "creating a nest egg," "saving for a rainy day," "recession-proofing your life," ensuring a decent retirement income independent of shaky pensions or social security -- benefits you, the economy and the planet. By getting out of debt, saving money and building financial security, you consume less. By living life at a slower pace, you consume less. Frugality isn't deprivation. Deprivation is pouring your time and talent into your job while ignoring your health and your loved ones. Poverty is wanting more than you have. Wealth is having more than you want. So make overconsumption sound dull-witted and frugality smart. (It's easy, because it's true.)
Debunk the Myths
· Myth: "Standard of living" equals "quality of life." Once we have enough for survival and comforts, quality of life suffers when we continue to focus on quantity of stuff. Studies show that good relationships, meaningful work and restorative leisure are core components of quality of life.
· Myth: Overconsumption is natural. No, it isn't! It began in this century as a deliberate strategy on the part of business, media and government to educate people to want what they don't need in order to increase markets for American products. Overconsumption is selling your life and mortgaging your future so the economy can grow. Now that's unnatural.
· Myth: The US (or any) economy is dependent upon overconsumption. Respected economic observers like Lester Thurow of M.I.T., Charles Schultze of the Brookings Institute and Alfred E. Kahn of Cornell all assert that economic health in the 90's depends on consuming less and saving more.
· Myth: Government programs, revolutionary business practices or new technologies will take care of it. Green taxes! Renewable energy! Fuel efficient cars! Clean industry! Better living through chemistry! All are valuable -- but, even all together, they are not sufficient. Creating a sustainable future requires a new way of thinking. We must re-examine our desires, transform our perceptions and develop a new ethic. Only then can the larger systems within which we operate be transformed.
· Myth: One person can't make a difference. There is no "they." There is only us, a society of individuals making personal and collective choices. Legislators, CEOs and consumers are all people who can change their minds and thus change the world, no matter what they did yesterday. Lowering consumption happens one transaction at a time.
Educate About Overconsumption
Every conversation is an opportunity. Share your ideas and success stories with friends, neighbors and colleagues; write about them in your letters. Discuss and debate. Put together a study circle. Talk to the media. Show the link between overconsumption and environmental and social issues. Begin to notice all the ways that others can benefit from what you have learned.
Provide Tools For Personal Change
Beyond the what and why of overconsumption, people need the "how to." Based on 25 years of experience in living and educating about low-consumption, high-fulfillment lifestyles, Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin wrote the bestselling book Your Money Or Your Life. Among the many other available resources is The New Road Map Foundation's popular booklet, All Consuming Passion: Waking Up from the American Dream.
Live A Sustainable Lifestyle Yourself
Each of us has the mandate to consume in moderation. Ask yourself now and every day, "How much is enough?"
A Call To Action
The shift away from excess and back to balance is on. "Voluntary Simplicity" is one of the top 10 trends in the 90's, according to the Trends Research Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Books on getting out of debt, saving money and working less are hot. Churches are exploring stewardship, not dominion. Foundations are funding projects to explore the issue of consumption and activate solutions. People are taking back their lives. The can-do American character has faced challenges before. When science showed us the dangers of being couch potatoes, of smoking, of too much fat, we responded with lifestyle changes. The mandate to reduce consumption can energize our country in a similar fashion, this time in a fiscal fitness campaign. Let's transform the American way of life and pave the way to a sustainable future.
Friday, October 24, 2008
My friend forwarded to me this news report:
Keyboard sniffers to steal data
By analysing the signals produced by keystrokes, Swiss researchers have reproduced what a target typed.
The security researchers have developed four attacks that work on a wide variety of computer keyboards.
The results led the researchers to declare keyboards were "not safe to transmit sensitive information".
The attacks were dreamed up by doctoral students Martin Vuagnoux and Sylvain Pasini from the Security and Cryptography Laboratory at the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).
The EPFL students tested 11 different keyboard models that connected to a computer via either a USB or a PS/2 socket. The attacks they developed also worked with keyboards embedded in laptops.
Every keyboard tested was vulnerable to at least one of the four attacks the researchers used. One attack was shown to work over a distance of 20 metres.
In their work the researchers used a radio antenna to "fully or partially recover keystrokes" by spotting the electromagnetic radiation emitted when keys were pressed.
In a web posting they added: "no doubt that our attacks can be significantly improved, since we used relatively inexpensive equipment."
In videos showing their early work the researchers are seen connecting keyboards to a laptop running on battery power. They avoided using a desktop computer or an LCD display to minimise the chance of picking up signals from other sources.
Details of the attacks are scant but the work is expected to be reported in a peer-reviewed journal soon.
The research builds on earlier work done by University of Cambridge computer scientist Markus Kuhn who looked at ways to use electromagnetic emanations to eavesdrop and steal useful information.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
With the Malay majority, in control over government, army, police, judiciary and other government agencies, there is no need to posture and get the minority races worked up. Instead of Malay supremacy, it gives the impression of supreme insecurity.
If we look closely at what the non-Malays are complaining, they are mainly against unfair discrimination, abuse of power by those who are really in control who happen to be Umno Malays, which tend to confuse matters.
Pak Lah can deny that Umno is a bully, but it sure rings hollow against reality. The latest victim being Gerakan's Wanita Chief, Tan Lian Hoe (I watched the video clip of her in Parliament) and as mentioned in Straight Talk:
Gerakan Women's Chief Tan Lian Hoe cuts a lonely figure in parliament. She was humiliated today by the rowdy Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz who told her that the episode of her speech touching on Malays as immigrants from Nusantara is not yet over.
A police report against the Deputy Information Minister was lodged at the Cheras district police headquarters by Young Malay Graduates Pro-tem Committee president Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz on her statement.
Tan had mentioned that the three main races in Malaysia had come from the Malay Archipelago, China and India.
"Although the statement is historically correct, the general conclusion makes it seem that the Malays should be equally treated as the Chinese and Indians and there is no need for the Malays to have any special privileges."
"It is not right of Tan to make such a statement in her speech, and her remarks can stir up religious tension."
Khairul is showing us a prime example why some graduates are unemployable. Being a Malay nationalist and probably a UMNO sympathizer, I can understand Khairul's sentiment and anger.
But I cannot fathom his logic. If Tan is historically correct, she cannot be intellectually wrong. As a graduate, Khairul cannot accept and respect history but he expected others to accept the social contract as a historical fact.
A few months ago, at the Malaysian Youth Leaders Forum, I shared the same podium with the eminent Royal Professor Ungku Aziz who said there was no social contract. It was merely politicians mind game. Did Khairul or any UMNO members lodge a report against the academician?
Finally, I cannot understand how Tan's speech can stroke religious sentiment? Khairul's mumbling and bumbling suggests that he might have to go back to school again.
Sadly, Tan is a lonely voice. Helpless and overawed by her racist siblings in parliament. Where are big brother Koh Tsu Koon, new youth chief Lim Si Pin and others?
The following quote is relevant, both to personal relationships as well as relationships among component parties:
Don’t let someone become a priority in your life,
When you are just an option in their life.
Relationships work best when they are balanced.
This bridge is on the Old Donner Pass Highway.It has a spectacular view of Donner Lake and Donner Pass on Route 80.
A bear was walking across Rainbow Bridge (Old Hwy 40 at Donner Summit, Truckee) on Saturday when two cars also crossing the bridge scared the bear into jumping over the edge of the bridge. Somehow the bear caught the ledge and was able to pull itself to safety. Authorities decided that nothing could be done to help Saturday night so they returned Sunday morning to find the bear sound asleep on the edge.
After securing a net under the bridge the bear was tranquilized, fell into the net, lowered, then woke up and walked out of the net.
There is a moral to this story you know: this old bear made a wrong move and found he was hanging by his nails. Somehow he was able to pull himself up onto the ledge where he saw he was in a very bad, impossible situation and what did he do?
Two little boys, ages 8 and 10, are extremely mischievous. They are always getting into trouble and their parents know all about it. If any mischief occurs in their town, the two boys are probably involved.
The boys' mother heard that a preacher in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The preacher agreed, but he asked to see them individually.
So the mother sent the 8 year old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the preacher in the afternoon.
The preacher, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, 'Do you know where God is, son?'
The boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there wide-eyed with his mouth hanging open.
So the preacher repeated the question in an even sterner tone,
'Where is God?!'
Again, the boy made no attempt to answer.
The preacher raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, 'Where is God?!'
The boy screamed and bolted from the room, ran directly home and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him.
When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, 'what happened?'
The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, 'We are in BIG trouble this time... GOD is missing, and they think we did it!
While we are witnessing this being played out, we are also coming to terms with the acronym 'RAHMAN' being completed when Najib takes over from Abdullah.
For those who are new to this idea, each of our Malaysian Prime Ministers' name seems to bear a letter of the name 'RAHMAN':
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Anyway, among computer users, the knowledge ranges from those who just know how to surf the net to those who are able to write software programs. For those ordinary users, there is a vast difference as to how much each person knows... even in the usage of what is available. So many features are left unused because of the lack of knowledge. One good example is this email, which has all kinds of graphic and animation which I am unable (lack of knowledge) to transfer on to this page. So, here it is, without the interesting features:
I had some free time, so what did I do? I checked the computer to see if I'd heard from you!
I used to walk out to a box to retrieve mail. But I'd rather get it instantly, than wait on the snail!
Checking my e-mail is always fun! I usually get a joke or greeting from someone.
I feel so blessed because on the other end, I know I've connected with a friend!
When I've had a hard day and need to share, Here I can find a friend who will listen and care
And to this friend I hope I've let them know, That I am always there for them also!
Isn't it a strange kind of bond we form? It isn't exactly like the "norm"!
But, where is it written, face to face we must be, For you to be a very good friend to me??
That little joke or note, or just a simple "Hi", Could be like a ray of sunshine from the sky!
So my online pals, this is dedicated to you, For all the smiles you have made anew!
May our friendship continue to grow, And the warmth we feel continue to flow!
Always remember this...
A smile is such an easy thing to pass along the way,
Like a ray of summer sunshine, On a somewhat gloomy day!!
Thank you for being my Online Friend!!!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from??
With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap ... and all of them are in jail.
Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.We cannot blame the white people any longer.'
When some opposition MPs cycled to Parliament one day, Nazri did not think it was funny and said something with disdain.
This is unsurprising because our mentality seems to be that to progress, we look forward, not backward. Going back to cycling like in the kampong? No way. Don’t even think about it. We judge a person by the position he holds, the number of titles he has and the palatial size of his home as well as the luxury cars he possesses.
In developed countries, cycling is a way of life for some, not necessarily out of necessity, but by choice for health as well as environmental reasons. It is common to see partners of professional firms, company directors and professors taking the train to work.
It would be credible if someone like Warren Buffet, being the world’s richest man, were to advise on how we should not waste and that we should buy what we need and not because of the brands or to show off. For someone without the material wealth, to say things like that would invite comments like ‘sour grapes’ because you cannot afford the life styles of the rich and famous.
My wife met up with a former nurse who used to work in the same hospital. All these (almost 30) years she had been sending us Christmas cards whether we replied or not. Even when we did, there was no response to our invitation to meet up if she happened to be in Malaysia, until recently when she replied, giving us her contact numbers.
They met up at Picadilly tube station and CL’s initial reaction was that she could not recognise SP but SP could, which was a surprise to me because SP refused to wear glasses unless necessary, and most time she would say she couldn’t recognise someone.
Anyway, CL cycles to work but for this appointment, she took the train. She said most friends from Malaysia would ask, ‘where did you park your car?’ She thinks probably because she does not own a car, most friends did not bother to contact her when they were in London.
What was most surprising to me was the fact that over the period of less than 20 years when in London, she and her 3 siblings (a younger sister and two younger brothers) managed to buy and fully paid for 3 houses! The house where they are living now, is worth over GBP1 million! Not in MYR after conversion! Their lifestyle has not changed and all of them still cycle to work!
Recently, she renovated the house and the good contractor discovered that the old timber floor is actually old oak, which is much appreciated. He advised her not to replace but to restore it to its natural beauty. How fortunate, even when renovating the house, to have someone who knows and willing to advise her instead of secretly taking away the expensive wood for his own use.
I would leave the moral of my story to the reader.
She called her husband, who came later with a mechanic.
The mechanic checked the usual causes but could not find any fault. He then said said tentatively, “Looks like no fuel flow…”
The husband then asked his wife, “Did you put in petrol?”
“What petrol?” She replied defensively, “You gave me the car, I just drive lah”
Monday, October 20, 2008
The picture below is of a T-shirt which is supposed to be a brilliant design to help any traveller in a country where he does not speak the language. He can just point to what he is looking for and the local should be able to show him where.
Posted by Super Admin
Sunday, 19 October 2008 00:00
People avert their eyes. The sight was anathema to them. A chance glance causes a sharp wincing pain. The telltale warning sign is a quick blink and a sharp turn of the head. If accosted longer, the accosted shifts weight from left to right leg, right to left leg a few times. The person is wont to clear his throat, constricting his voice box to a high negative neighing as no clear words are formed at the start – brain rearranging data to give a plausible reply.
(Malgal was helping sell RPK t-shirts and in turn, has richly experienced a huge range of Malaysian behaviours.)
Saturday, October 18, 2008
That we are reminded of our racial origin and what to expect from that is so well known that it is second nature to us, when filling in forms for any purpose; when in school, higher institutions of learning and at work.
Now, we have to be careful what colour T-shirt we wear in case the police are given orders to look out for some ‘trouble-makers’ wearing certain colour. There is already a law on assembly of people, which require permit, and we are not talking about large numbers, just a handful. So it is at the discretion of the mighty police and the ‘rule by law’ Home Minister. His power craziness includes banning an opposition leader from 5 km from Parliament; arresting him before the time given was up; and arresting a journalist ‘for her own safety’; just to give some examples of his judgment.
The latest news was a big joke in town: "A police beat base located in the Chow Kit area of downtown Kuala Lumpur has been shut down because the “presence of criminals could make it unsafe” for police officers." (Well! The presence of criminals makes it unsafe for the rest of us too but guess we can't rely on the police?) Marina Mahathir's comment in brackets.
According to Lim Kit Siang, there are crises in confidence in IGP, AG, judiciary, ACA, PM, DPM, well, just about every pillar of society. For the latest – the appointment of Zaki as CJ, he even asked if ‘it is the last nail in coffin of Abdullah’s judicial reform’.
It is like completing a jigsaw puzzle favouring the ruling party. Under such circumstances, the headline ‘Rulers defend social contract’ adds as icing to their cake. We are effectively warned not to question too much.
For those who question Anwar’s list of MPs, if they were unable to understand the complexities involved in ensuring a smooth take-over, then I would say they are being naïve. He has to consider the insecurity of the Rulers. If those on the list were merely from Sabah and Sarawak, it would effectively put the non-Malays or non-Muslim MPs in the majority.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
A married man was having an affair with his secretary.
One day they went her place and made love all afternoon. Exhausted, they fell asleep and woke up at 8 pm. The man hurriedly dressed and told his lover to take his shoes outside and rub them in the grass and dirt. He put on his shoes and drove home.
'Where have you been?' his wife demanded.
'I can't lie to you,' he replied, 'I'm having an affair with my secretary. We had sex all afternoon.'
'You lying bastard! You've been playing golf!'
The 2nd Affair: (The truths hurt, not sure which one more)
A middle-aged couple had two beautiful daughters but always talked about having a son. They decided to try one last time for the son they always wanted. The wife got pregnant and delivered a healthy baby boy.
The joyful father rushed to the nursery to see his new son. He was horrified at the ugliest child he had ever seen. He told his wife, 'There's no way I can be the father of this baby. Look at the two beautiful daughters I fathered! Have you been fooling around behind my back?'
The wife smiled sweetly and replied, 'Not this time!'
The 3rd Affair: (Natural reaction gave it away)
A mortician was working late one night He examined the body of Mr. Schwartz, about to be cremated, and made a startling discovery. Schwartz had the largest private part he had ever seen!
'I'm sorry Mr. Schwartz,' the mortician commented, 'I can't allow you to be cremated with such an impressive private part. It must be saved for posterity.' So, he removed it, stuffed it into his briefcase, and took it home.
'I have to show you something you won't believe,' he said to his wife, opening his briefcase.
'My God!' the wife exclaimed, 'Schwartz is dead?!?!'
The 4th Affair: (Same trick)
A woman was in bed with her lover when she heard her husband opening the front door.
'Hurry,' she said, 'stand in the corner.' She rubbed baby oil all over him, then dusted him with talcum powder. 'Don't move until I tell you,' she said. 'Pretend you're a statue.'
'What's this?' the husband inquired as he entered the room.
'Oh it's a statue.' she replied. 'The Smiths bought one and I liked it so much I got one for us, too.'
No more was said, not even when they went to bed.
Around 2 am the husband got up, went to the kitchen and returned with a sandwich and a beer.
'Here,' he said to the statue, 'have this. I stood like that for two days at the Smiths and nobody offered me a damned thing.'
The 5th Affair: (Another form of revenge)
A man walked into a cafe, went to the bar and ordered a beer.
'Certainly, Sir, that'll be one cent.'
'One Cent?' the man thought. He glanced at the menu and asked, 'How much for a nice juicy steak and a bottle of wine?'
'A nickel,' the barman replied.
'A nickel?' exclaimed the man 'Where's the guy who owns this place?'
The bartender replied, 'Upstairs, with my wife.'
The man asked, 'What's he doing upstairs with your wife?'
The bartender replied, 'The same thing I'm doing to his business down here.'
The 6th Affair: (Quiet revenge)
Jake was dying. His wife sat at the bedside.
He looked up and said weakly, 'I have something I must confess.'
'There's no need to,' his wife replied.
'No,' he insisted, 'I want to die in peace. I slept with your sister, your best friend, her best friend, and your mother!'
'I know, I know,' she replied. 'Now just rest and let the poison work.'
Last but not least: (Woman's sixth sense)
A man called home to his wife and said, 'Darling, I have been asked to go fishing up in Canada with my boss & several of his friends. We'll be gone for a week. This is a good opportunity for me to get that promotion I've been wanting, so could you please pack enough clothes for a week and set out my rod and fishing box, we're leaving from the office & I will swing by the house to pick my things up'
'Oh! Please pack my new blue silk pyjamas.'
The wife thinks this sounds a bit fishy but being the good wife she is, did exactly what her husband asked.
The following weekend he came home a little tired but otherwise looking good.
The wife welcomed him home and asked if he caught many fish?
He said, 'Yes! Lots of salmons, some bluegills, and a few swordfishes. But why didn't you pack my new blue silk pyjamas like I asked you to do?'
The wife replied, 'I did, dear. They're in your fishing box!'
Mansor’s main point of contention is that he is against any form of action which stifles freedom of expression, which by his definition, should be absolute, otherwise there is no freedom of expression. In his own words:
‘Freedom of the press and of expression do not have their limits. If there are limits, then there is no such freedoms in the first place.’
Therefore, again in his own words,
“Suing anyone for RM30 million is serious business by any account. It is aimed to put the person who loses the case in permanent disability and castration much like the persons who are in detention under the ISA.
Therefore, by anyone’s rough calculations there is no difference in the ISA than filing a defamation suit.”
With due respect to Mansor Puteh, who wrote some very good articles, like the one on universities which I even keep for future reference, I cannot agree with him on this.
There is this public perception that Utusan Malaysia is a mouthpiece of Umno, much like The Star is that of MCA, regardless of how they deny it, as their actions time and again have proven.
I am glad, Mansor states that his letter is not in support of Utusan Malaysia, as there are enough evidence to suggest that the claims against Teresa were baseless and could be malicious, though some might disagree.
Assuming there is a concerted effort to discredit Teresa and to muster support along racist and religious lines, what avenue is there for Teresa to defend herself? Practically all the mainstream media are under BN’s control, not to mention the other authorities like police and judiciary, which are perceived to be less than independent. What are the chances of Teresa’s legal action against UM, under the circumstances? It would have been different if the government were to take action against oppositionists, like in Singapore, which effectively shut up some criticisms when they were made bankrupts. But in this case, it was Teresa against a corporation, shouldn’t we leave it to the courts to decide if she has a case against it?
Mansor should try and put himself in her situation, which for his sensitivity and creativity, it should not be too difficult.
As to "What if their party is able to form the federal government...", I think he has jumped the gun there.
I actually wrote a short comment in Rocky's Bru, referring to one of Mansor’s articles (subject of which I have forgotten) in Malaysia Today and that the resulting comments were fast and furious against him, so much so it was taken off by the editor soon after. I have looked through the list of comments in Rocky's blog but could not find mine. So much for freedom of expression, even if Rocky thought my comments were feeble.
What I was trying to suggest in that comment was that Mansor himself wrote something really ‘out of character’ which attracted so much fierce and unsavoury comments and the editor (Raja Petra?) took it off. So where was the freedom of expression then? Truth be told, I did not like some of the unsavoury comments which I found to be offensive then, but going by Mansor’s total freedom of expression which he expects, shouldn’t he face all the criticisms thrown at him then?
Excerpts of his letter:
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2008
Not in support of Utusan Malaysia
Defamation Suits - ISA of the Opposition?A letter from Mansor Bin Puteh
"Where are they, the liberals and democrats amongst the Malaysia, especially those who have been vocal to the point of annoyance and who demand these freedoms?
And where is the National Union of Journalists or NUJ? When is its president, Norlida Daud going to ‘ambush’ Teresa Kok and Karpal Singh to demand that they withdraw their suits against anyone or to stop using the defamation suits as the ‘ISA’ of the opposition?
What if their party is able to form the federal government, don’t you think that they, too, would want to take such drastic and even ‘draconian’ actions against anyone who do not write or speak like them?
Suing anyone for RM30 million is serious business by any account. It is aimed to put the person who loses the case in permanent disability and castration much like the persons who are in detention under the ISA.
Therefore, by anyone’s rough calculations there is no difference in the ISA than filing a defamation suit.
Now it seems that the opposition only has the defamation suits to use and they are using them to their full advantage and to get wide publicity which they could otherwise not get, unless if they go around to put up road signs in Mandarin or Tamil, a habit that they decided to stop with the arrest of the three under the last ISA roundout.
But if they come to power and are able to introduce new laws will they not want to ban anyone from filing defamation suits since it is against the spirit of the freedom of the press and of expression?
Look at America or the United Kingdom and many other countries in the West, or for that matter, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines, for instance; how many of the national leaders from both sides, have instituted defamation suits against anyone?
I was speechless again when I heard on television that there is one opposition member of parliament who said that freedom of the press has its limits! Was he serious?
There is no such thing. Freedom of the press and of expression do not have their limits. If there are limits, then there is no such freedoms in the first place.
They cannot say that and expect anyone else to respect them for their stand; it’s the weird form of the freedom of the press and of expression.
Let’s hope once they have cleared this that they would want to bring out their candles and light them outside of the Utusan office in Jalan Chan Sow Lin.
I do subscribe to the freedom of the press and of expression, especially those whose skins have become so thick that cutting them with razor blades would not hurt them at all.
In fact, they won’t even mind to show the scars, that they can get from the cuts as a ‘badge of honor’; the more scars they have the better their reputation is.
There is no such a thing as a bad or negative publicity.
If those who had lost in any elections including those in the party had any real ‘reputation’, they would not stayed in politics, having lost in the elections even once before.
Yet, with their ‘thick skin’ and being so shameless, they still pursued."
This was followed by DPM giving a speech somewhere and by the way, condemned the visit by Hindraf to PM’s open house and this segment was televised. There was a contradiction in unwelcome visit and open house. At the time, I was thinking 'he is burning bridges’ already.
The reaction from Susan Loone, for example, was ‘not yet in the position, so garang already’.
Now, it is official – that Hindraf has been declared illegal, according to this Star report:
Thursday October 16, 2008
Governemnt bans Hindraf for contravening Societies Act
KUALA LUMPUR: The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has been banned effective yesterday, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.
In a statement yesterday, Syed Hamid said the decision to declare Hindraf illegal was made as a result of investigations by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).
“The ministry found the organisation’s activities contravened the Societies Act 1966 and if left unchecked, the organisation could pose a threat to public order, peace, security and morality in Malaysia,” he said, adding that even the sovereignty of the country and prevailing racial harmony would be jeopardised.
He made the declaration based on powers vested under Section 5(1) of the Societies Act.
Syed Hamid said Hindraf had the criteria of an organisation as it had filed an application to register with the ROS on Oct 16 last year.
Despite not getting approval, he said Hindraf had been organising illegal assemblies and inciting hatred among Malays and Indians.
“Hindraf also tried to get the support of foreign countries to pressure the Government to bow to its demands,” he said, adding that all these had affected the country’s image.
Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran said the decision was ridiculous and uncalled for, adding that he would move an emergency motion asking for an open debate in Parliament today.
“This is against the interest and aspirations of the Indian community that is seeking a more tolerant and fair Government,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had agreed to hold a dialogue with Hindraf leaders but “nothing was done”.
Hindraf national coordinator, R.S. Thanenthiran said the ban was unfair as they had not committed any crime or broken any laws, adding that Syed Hamid could have done this in retaliation to the police reports Hindraf supporters lodged against him.
Thanenthiran said Hindraf chairman P. Waythamoorthy, who is in self-exile in Britain, had instructed coordinators to wait for a day before making further statements.
Coalition of Indian NGOs secretary-general Gunaraj George said that by banning Hindraf, Syed Hamid had rendered the Indian community voiceless, but said it would not dampen the spirit of its supporters.
“I know that their struggle will go on especially to free all those detained under the ISA.”
If we were to go by the book and strictly investigate organisations registered with the ROS, many would have to be de-registered and become illegal, though Hindraf’s case is different in that it has yet to be registered.
That we are going to experience a hardline approach from the soon-to-be PM is quite certain. With a Home Minister who is ever so ready to ‘abide by the law’, more people will be arrested for one reason or another, while the conventional law breakers like thieves, robbers, rapists, and murderers enjoy the lack of attention from the distracted police who are told to look out for people wearing Hindraf and RPK t-shirts.
Instead of ‘a branch of olive’ and inclusiveness, our powers that be have decided on using the ‘stick’ instead. This would effectively drive the movement underground.
I have seen many MIC members willingly joined the opposition parties sympathetic to their cause. The main difference, which is obvious, is the ‘willingness to pay expenses to take part’ compared with ‘being paid to take part’. At rallies, they risk their personal safety and freedom too.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
But jokes aside, someone might design a mini version of the paint roller and it might catch on.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
In a state of movement, travelling to a predetermined destination. Yet to arrive, but arrival is impending.
i) I will be indeterminably late
ii) I am at home but am planning on leaving soon
iii) I am at another location but will drop by should the mood strike me
iv) I won't be coming at all
Neil : I'm already here, where are you?
Alan : Ah, I'm on the way, on the way. Will be there soon.
Being late is an inextricable part of Malaysian life. This phrase is indiscriminately used by Malaysian people regardless of the point they are at in their journey. You will hear this expression at least 10 times a day, the number is extrapolated by the fact that it is usually repeated with conviction.
There is a well known idiom that Malaysian people adhere to, which states
"Late is on time, on time is early and early is inconceivable."