How should we judge a government?
Friday, December 31, 2010
Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle
"However, a similar upheaval is building in Selangor, the country’s richest state, which could dwarf what took place in Perak.
It is already clear that Najib and his Umno party plan to use all the resources and the might of the federal government machinery they control to suppress the Selangor state government led by Pakatan Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.
Overseas or bowling in Kelang Parade
Already, Najib's minders have inveigled Palace officials over to their side. Private secretary to the Selangor Sultan, Mohamad Munir Bani, has already been accused of blocking Khalid from meeting the Ruler.
“Khalid was originally slated to meet the Selangor Sultan on December 27 with a shortlist of three names for the state-sec position. But it was suddenly cancelled without reason," a high-level Selangor state government source told Malaysia Chronicle.
"So Khalid decided to bring it up during his weekly meeting with the Sultan which was due to take place yesterday (December 29). This time, Munir told Khalid the Sultan had gone overseas. Now this is really stretching it because the Sultan does not leave the country spontaneously. His schedule is fixed for months ahead. But the best part is that people actually spotted the Sultan playing bowling in the Kelang Parade yesterday. Now, since when has Kelang Parade become overseas? This is clearly unbecoming behaviour, and with all due respect, the Sultan should grill Munir and ask him, what is going on?”
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Boss: Sure, come on in. What can I do for you?
Employee: Well sir, as you know, I have been an employee of this prestigious firm for over ten years.
Employee: I won't beat around the bush. Sir, I would like a raise. I currently have four companies after me and so I decided to talk to you first.
Boss: A raise? I would love to give you a raise, but this is just not the right time.
Employee: I understand your position, and I know that the current economic down turn has had a negative impact on sales, but you must also take into consideration my hard work, pro- activeness and loyalty to this company for over a decade.
Boss: Taking into account these factors, and considering I don't want to start a brain drain, I'm willing to offer you a ten percent raise and an extra five days of vacation time. How does that sound?
Employee: Great! It's a deal! Thank you, sir!
Boss: Before you go, just out of curiosity, what companies were after you?
Employee: Oh, the Electric Company, Gas Company, Water Company and the Mortgage Company!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
'Why?' asks the father?
'The teacher asked 'How much is 2x3,'' I said '6', replies RALPHY.
'But that's right!' says his dad.
'Yeah, but then she asked me 'How much is 3x2?''
'What's the f....... Difference?' asks the father.
'That's what I said!'
One day, Little RALPHY was sitting on a park bench munching on one candy bar after another.
After the 6th one a man on the bench across from him said, 'Son, you know eating all that candy isn't good for you. It will give you acne, rot your teeth, and make you fat.'
Little RALPHY replied, 'My grandfather lived to be 107 years old.'
The man asked, 'Did your grandfather eat 6 candy bars at a time?'
Little RALPHY answered, 'No, he minded his own f....... Business.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
To cut the long story short, the elder brother actually sacrificed his life during a gun battle, not only to save his younger and naïve (in Triad terms) brother's life, but so that he could carry on the family business on a clean slate. He even told the police officer that he was responsible for all the crimes linked to his brother. The father had earlier got out of Triad connections, but we have often seen in films, something very difficult to sever completely.
Towards the end of the film, an antique chair was shown with the comments, 'Nobody could or dared to sit on this chair', followed by another picture of the same chair in an antique shop with the price say, $385 crossed out to show $285! This goes to show no matter how great a person had been, 'Man proposes, God disposes'.
I had come across people commenting about a certain property, 'The owner will never sell, no matter at what price.' But come the next generation, if not the following generation, the original cherished sentiment will mean nothing to the descendants.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
DARPA aims to make soldier of tomorrow impervious to sneak attacks with 360 degree vision
By Michael Gorman posted Dec 23rd 2010 8:43AM
DARPA is currently soliciting proposals for the development of Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Cameras, also known as SCENICC for those who prefer brevity. This latest project is a visual enhancement system that seeks to meet all of our armed forces terrorist-hunting and war-waging visual needs. The system, which is purely theoretical at this point, will provide a 360 degree, three-dimensional field of view for soldiers in the field. This optical omniscience is obtained through the use multiple cameras, including images from airborne drones. Soldiers will have real time 10x zoom capabilities and can operate everything via voice commands. As if that weren't enough, SCENICC employs augmented reality to identify and track targets in a way (we presume) not unlike your garden variety T-800. As this bit of kit is years from production, our commandos will have to make do for now with smartphones and wrist displays to keep an eye on enemies of the state.
This photograph of Boulevard du Temple in Paris was made in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, the brilliant guy that invented the daguerreotype process of photography. Aside from its distinction of being a super early photograph, it is also the first photograph to ever include a human being. Because the image required an exposure time of over ten minutes, all the people, carriages, and other movingthings disappear from the scene. However, in the bottom left hand corner is a man who just so happened to stay somewhat still during the shot ” he was having his shoes shined.
It is interesting how sheer luck earned the guy a place in the history of photography. Too bad we all probably will never know his identity.
By the way, how many mega pixels do you need to achieve a quality image?
According to Wiki.answers.com:
Pixels are tiny building blocks of color in your images; the more you pixels you have, the clearer and more rich your image will be. A mega-pixel is a set of one million pixels. Digital cameras have a range of 3.2 pixels up to 16 mega-pixels.
Friday, December 24, 2010
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, did you have any experience jumping off a building?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
If you were to ask at random, someone in a coffee shop, you are likely to come across someone who is uninterested in politics, apolitical, unaware of the latest news or any news about what others deem as 'breaking news', or never watch the television except follow serials on Astro or in their DVDs. The biggest problem seems to be getting anything important across to the people. If someone is uninterested, he or she will just turn a deaf ear, even if pretending to be listening. Some may not even know who is the PM!
At each election, time and again, we have witnessed how disparate a group, the voters of each constituency are. No matter how prepared the election machinery of each side, towards the end of a campaign, a simple photo or any unfavourable news could make a big difference to the results. We have also seen, here as well as abroad, the power of personality (eg. Film star) as well as the power of sympathy votes which elevated candidates to become people's representatives.
I admire the relentless work of some activists like Raja Petra, Haris Ibrahim, Bernard Khoo and so on. Each of them strives towards justice and good governance, though their effects might not necessarily coincide. They are quite like political parties PKR, PAS and DAP, working towards a common objective, but having to deal with their differences in party constitutions and policies. The people expect differences to be ironed out before the big battle in the next General Election. Some even expect perfection as in no disagreements and ideal candidates. But like what Margaret Thatcher once said, 'We have highly intelligent people working together, we are bound to have differences.' or something to that effect (trust my memory!).
What the people do not wish to see is while dealing with the differences, including semantics and what have you, we miss out the most important factor - the right candidate, and that means, the winning one. What good is it, with all the right credentials acceptable to party and others, the candidate is unpopular with the people? Yes, we have had winning candidates who were proven disloyal after the elections. But nobody can really tell whether a particular candidate is going to be loyal, unless and until he or she is elected. Even with the best psychological tests, it is impossible to weed out the undesirables because most people still has a price beyond which he or she is open to persuasion. It could be Rm1 million to a certain person, or Rm50 million to another. It could even be because of blackmail, torture or livelihood of a family member.
The people definitely would not wish to see three-cornered fights if we assume they are more for a two-party system to come into fruition first. MCLM and Pakatan should try to work out something to avoid this.
I cannot help using the analogy of when Gerakan Penang argued over who should be the next Penang Chief Minister, the people decided to end their quarrel once and for all by giving it to DAP instead!
The following joke, originated from US, illustrates people's perception of a corrupt judiciary:
At the height of a political corruption trial, the prosecuting attorney attacked a witness.
"Isn't it true," he bellowed, "that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?"
The witness stared out the window as though he hadn't heard the question.
"Isn't it true that you accepted five thousand dollars to compromise this case?" the lawyer repeated.
The witness still did not respond.
Finally, the judge leaned over and said, "Sir, please answer the question."
"Oh," the startled witness said, "I thought he was talking to you."
Thursday, December 23, 2010
1) Argued over nothing.
2) Refused to apologize when obviously wrong.
3) Gained weight.
4) Talked excessively without making sense.
5) Became overly emotional.
6) Couldn't drive.
7) Failed to think rationally.
8) Had to sit down while urinating.
No further testing was considered necessary.
Doesn't that remind you of Nazri's kind of logic?
According to this Bernama report: Apco letter proves Anwar lied...
She puts on her robe and goes downstairs to look for him. She finds him sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee.
He appears to be in deep thought, just staring at the wall.
She watches as he wipes a tear from his eye and takes a sip of his coffee.
"What's the matter, dear?" she whispers as she steps into the room. "Why are you down here at this time of night?"
The husband looks up from his coffee. "Do you remember twenty years ago when we were dating, and you were only 16?" he asks solemnly.
"Yes, I do," she replies.
The husband paused. The words were not coming easily. "Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car?"
"Yes, I remember" said the wife, lowering herself into a chair beside him.
The husband continued. "Do you remember when he shoved the shotgun in my face and said, "Either you marry my daughter, or I will send you to jail for twenty years?"
"I remember that, too" she replied softly.
He wiped another tear from his cheek and said, "I would have been out of jail today and a free man!"
But when she least expected it, a surprise call past midnight from Cheng in Maastricht asking for its recipe saved the day! As she had noted, having it in a real winter made it more meaningful than us observing the festival in a hot equatorial country...
Maastricht under snow
"My first experience with making "tong yun" was a "great success", as Borat would say. The rice balls turned out to be really soft and chewy, the soup tasty - largely thanks to a last-minute SOS phone call to Ma asking for cooking instructions (vital recommendations include: adding cornflour and oil to the rice ball dough, and sauteing garlic and dried shrimps before adding water and meat for the soup). Yum! :D
I wasn't sure if you could access my friend's Facebook album on this so here are some photos from today. The first photo is funny because we have Sepide from Iran and Hibret from Ethiopia rolling rice balls - they were quite talented! *grin* I've also attached a photo of "Yalda" from the day before, the Persian winter solstice festival of gathering over dried fruits, nuts, and "Hafez" poetry. I think I've finally understood the rationale behind "koh tung" (fancy us equatorial inhabitants celebrating autumn, spring and winter festivals?!) whilst living in this part of the world - there has been so little sunlight and so much snow in the past weeks that these little traditions truly bring people together, making winter a wee more bearable. :)
Christmas will also be a busy, sociable period as I have a dinner and karaoke session at the Tirivayis on Christmas eve (this Friday already?!), dinner at Asel and Nico's on Christmas day (actually, I was also invited to Janneke's but I promised Asel and Nico first...), and then another dinner with Janneke and my other Dutch friends on the second day of Christmas. On the 28th, I will leave for London. I hope to be lucky again by evading last year's Eurostar tunnel problems! *fingers-crossed*"
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
A drunkard with ragged, dirty look came to apply for the position.
The director of the factory wondered how to send him away.
They tested him.
They gave him a glass with a drink. He tried it and said, "It’s red wine, a muscat, three years old, grown on a north slope, matured in steel containers."
The director was astonished. He winked at his secretary to suggest something.
She brought in a glass of urine. The alcoholic tried it.
"It’s a blond, alright. 26 years old, pregnant in the third month. And if you don’t give me the job, I’ll also tell who’s the father!"
Don't ask me why, except for the description of how he looks, he reminds me of the mentalist, Patrick Jane, starring Simon Baker.
It was reported in The Star:
The bus involved in the horrific accident along the Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai road which killed 27 people was to be used only for city tours, not for long-distance travels, especially those involving hilly terrain, experts say.
A few years ago, when I was driving an older couple from Hong Kong, using the old road from Tanah Rata back to Batu Gajah, I earned the nickname, 'Onn cheen tai yat' or 'Safety First' because I practically tailed other cars all the way! The simple reason was that my driving experience using the route, though travelled many times, was few and far between. I always believe in travelling at speeds within my control, more so in the presence of others who are older than me.
When driving downhill from the highlands, invariably I would come across vehicles which overtook me at great speed, especially drivers of heavy vehicles who must have thought they were familiar with the road. Who are we to question them?
Cameron Highlands is one of our favourite places for day trips, especially since the opening of the newer Pos Slim-Cameron Highlands road which reduced travelling time from Batu Gajah by half, depending on which part of Cameron we are heading to. The road is also generally more gentle, wider and less winding.
For those unfamiliar with Cameron Highlands: using the new route, it is nearer and quicker to Kg. Raja than say, Brinchang or Tanah Rata. On the other hand, using the old route, you would reach Tanah Rata first, then Brinchang and then Kg. Raja.
For those coming from the south, like Kuala Lumpur, they have a choice of starting the winding journey a few kilometres after exiting at Tapah, or continue on the North-South Expressway and exit at Simpang Pulai to go on the new road. Some people would not mind going further on the NSE to use the less arduous route.
But I must say, using the new route, I miss visiting Bharat Tea Shop which is beside the road and next to their tea plantation:
Using the new route, Boh Plantation is nearer. Despite its more inconvenient location which requires a few kilometres of winding road to reach its factory (open to visitors) and its new cafe, it is worth a visit because it offers a panaromic view of its plantation and beyond: http://www.cameron-highland-destination.com/highlands-bharat-tea-plantation-shop-tour.html
Monday, December 20, 2010
"When you take into account the lifecycle cost of nuclear power — from feasibility to construction to operation and, finally, decommissioning — it is the most expensive conventional method of producing electricity.
Add to that the inherent risks of nuclear reactors, plus the still unresolved question of what to do with spent fuel, and it is no surprise that the nuclear power industry has seen some very tough times in the past three decades.
Paradoxically, the characteristics of nuclear power so feared by its critics — enormous capital cost, open-ended escalation clauses and the oligopolistic nature of the industry — makes it a very attractive proposition for corrupt practices, provided you can ride roughshod over the opposition. This is exactly what happened in the Philippines, more than three decades ago.
The tragic tale of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) has been carefully and comprehensively documented by the conservative business magazine, Fortune, in a remarkable 1986 article entitled “The $2.2 billion Nuclear Fiasco”. Initially Marcos delegated the responsibility for the plant to the National Power Co, the government-owned electric utility, which began negotiating for the supply of two 600MW nuclear plants from General Electric. By 1974 negotiations were more or less complete, with GE offering to supply two 620 megawatt reactors for US$650 million (RM2 billion at prevailing rates).
Westinghouse was late to the game and decided to leapfrog GE by dealing personally with Marcos. Westinghouse appointed Herminio Disini, a golfing buddy of Marcos whose wife was a cousin of Imelda Marcos, as its agent and he was able to arrange for the latecomer to present its pitch directly to Marcos and his cabinet at Malacanang Palace. After the meeting Marcos directed National Power to stop negotiating with GE and deal only with Westinghouse.'
More of that where it came from:
Malaysia Chronicle's 'Dictators love nuclear power'
Sunday, December 19, 2010
After the contest they went to the 3rd prize bull's owner, wanting to know what his secret was.
The woman asked; "How do you make your bull so strong?"
The owner said; "You have to make sure the bull makes love once a week."
The woman turned to her husband and said;"Ah Chu ah! See!"
The old man was displeased but said nothing.
They then went to the 2nd prize bull's owner and the old woman asked the same question, to which the owner replied; "You must make sure your bull makes love 2 or 3 times a week."
Again the woman turned to her husband and said; "Ah Chu ah! See! See!"
The old man was annoyed but remained silent.
They then went to the 1st prize bull's owner and again the old woman asked the same question. The reply was; "You must make sure your bull makes love at least once every day." The woman turned to her husband and said;"Ah Chu ah! See! See! See!"
This time the old man got angry and asked the owner; "But does your bull always make love to the same cow?"
The owner replied; "No, no. Many many cows."
The old man quickly turned to the old woman and said; "Rosie! See! See! See! See!"
I was forwarded this article from The Economist... quite dreadful for the Christmas season (echoing several others under "Comments") http://www.economist.com/node/17723223
here are some excerpts:
"about shortages of high-level skills, suggesting PhDs are not teaching the right things. The fiercest critics compare research doctorates to Ponzi or pyramid schemes."
"But universities have discovered that PhD students are cheap, highly motivated and disposable labour. With more PhD students they can do more research, and in some countries more teaching, with less money."
"In Canada 80% of postdocs earn $38,600 or less per year before tax—the average salary of a construction worker." (postdoctoral researchers are PhD graduates without full academic positions, very common nowadays to reflect the PhD "glut")
"Foreign students tend to tolerate poorer working conditions, and the supply of cheap, brilliant, foreign labour also keeps wages down."
"In the humanities, where most students pay for their own PhDs, the figure is 49%. Worse still, whereas in other subject areas students tend to jump ship in the early years, in the humanities they cling like limpets before eventually falling off. And these students started out as the academic cream of the nation. Research at one American university found that those who finish are no cleverer than those who do not. Poor supervision, bad job prospects or lack of money cause them to run out of steam." (sounds rather familiar? ;-))
I guess the take-home message to PhD students is: enjoy the perks (flexible working hours, intellectual discussions, etc.) and keep future job expectations low. *sigh* *sigh*
Saturday, December 18, 2010
In retrospect, what I learned was not really the effects of high rates of inflation but more because of population growth! But basically, it was the same in the sense that my mother had to stretch the buying power of a fixed amount of Rm10 daily. She had to think of ways to cook meals using cheaper items, by substitution. There was a time when a sister-in-law was in confinement at home, and she had only eggs and noodles with a dash of the customary sesame oil to cook for her.
I could still remember when she actually commended the three of us (youngest brothers) that we did not mind what was provided, or left over after others had eaten earlier. I could also remember when there was nothing left, a visit to the local food stall to buy back some curry to go with home cooked rice was considered a treat by me. I could eat rice with just salted vegetable to go with it.
I have been through tough times and I could not resist reminding teenagers not to be fussy over food, especially when they say, 'I'm fed up of eating rice at that shop'. The word 'fed up' would seem inappropriate even though it was probably true. To me, it would be better not to mention the term and just go to another place to eat for a change.
Dangerous to amend Constitution, say analysts
NADIRAH H. RODZI
Friday, December 17th, 2010 12:49:00
Bodoh is the word. Nazri 1 Pakatan 0
16 DECEMBER 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
"Note this: Malaysian government once complained of billions of Ringgit subsidies in food imports. Since Dr M's rule, University Pertanian have changed to University Putra - with very little actions in modernising farming.
Thus the priority have been WRONG all the time. Now poorer Msians suffer with inflationary costs of food. Some resort to robbery just to feed families...."
"Holland the size of Pahang (about 12% of Malaysia land mass) exports more in agriculture than Malaysia though much of its land is below sea level with expensive dykes to maintain whole year round. Yet Holland is number 3 in the world in farm exports at USD 55 billion last year, just behind giant USA and France. Holland population is about 17 million compared to Malaysia's 28 million."
Thus Malaysia has less people per area than Holland (Holland has about 5 times more). Malaysia has no land under the sea, unlike Holland. And Malaysia has no winter inhibiting plant growth.
How? Holland applies SCIENTIFIC methods in farming - its cow sheds don't smell, with much of shits reused as gases...
What happens to Bolehland's Universities' agriculture R & D?"
In Malaysia, I have heard of many cases of farmers selling cheaply fertilizers provided by government to middlemen, who made millions from reselling them. Cattle provided by government ended up in feasts instead. This must be one of the main reasons why our agricultural policies failed.
It would appear our success in plantations was mainly due to ideal natural conditions, good private management and foreign workers. It could have been much better. The reliance on cheap foreign workers have seen Malaysian companies planting oil palms in Indonesia instead.
The following news report suggests we prefer industrialization to agro-base economy. Yet, with the continual brain drain as a result of discrimination, our industries are mainly foreign companies taking advantage of tax and other incentives, without much transfer of technology. The car industry remains essentially assembly-based with poor quality controls, while South Korea has emerged as strong competitors much feared by even the Japanese.
Today's Star: No turning back to agro-base economy, says Dr M
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Gas stations also commonly place holds of $50 to $75 on your bank account when you use a debit card to purchase gas. These holds can last for days after your visit to the gas station. And it doesn't matter that you only put $10 of fuel in the tank to top off the rental car.
If you use your debit card at a gas station or hotel, find out what their hold policy is and make sure you have plenty of money in your account to cover it."
1. My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:
Marrying you has screwed up my life.
2. I see your face when I am dreaming.
That's why I always wake up screaming.
3. Kind, intelligent, loving and hot;
This describes everything you are not.
6. Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's empty and so is your head.
7. I want to feel your sweet embrace;
But don't take that paper bag off your face.
9. My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way?
11. What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I'm here humbly to ask a few questions:
2) Which age group should I target?
3) Why most wives of the riches is only average-looking? I've met a few girls who doesn't have looks & are not interesting, but they are able to marry rich guys
4) How do you decide who can be your wife, & who can only be your girlfriend? (My target now is to get married)
Dear Ms. Pretty,
I have read your post with great interest. Guess there are lots of girls out there who have similar questions like yours. Please allow me to analyze your situation as a professional investor. My annual income is more than $500k, which meets your requirement, so I hope everyone believes that I'm not wasting time here. From the standpoint of a business person, it is a bad decision to marry you. The answer is very simple, so let me explain. Put the details aside, what you're trying to do is an exchange of "beauty" and "money": Person A provides beauty, and Person B pays for it, fair and square. However, there's a deadly problem here, your beauty will fade, but my money will not be gone without any good reason. The fact is, my income might increase from year to year, but you can't be prettier year after year. Hence from the viewpoint of economics, I am an appreciation asset, and you are a depreciation asset. It's not just normal depreciation, but exponential depreciation. If that is your only asset, your value will be much lower 10 years later.
By the terms we use in Wall Street, every trading has a position, dating with you is also a "trading position". If the trade value dropped we will sell it and it will not be a good idea to keep it for long term - same goes with the marriage that you wanted. It might be cruel to say this, but in order to make a wiser decision; any assets with great depreciation value will be sold or "leased". Anyone with over $500k annual income is not a fool; we would only date you, but will not marry you. I would advise that you forget looking for any clues to marry a rich guy. And by the way, you could make yourself to become a rich person with a $500k annual income. This has better chance than finding a rich fool.
Hope this reply helps. If you are interested in "leasing" services, do contact me.
"A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man."
"Using your own logic, what are those people who voted for your party in the last elections going to feel because they are caught in a constituency in which the opposition candidate got more votes and because of that they are being left out?
Do you think by ‘punishing’ those who voted for the opposition (and in so doing punishing your own supporters), will necessarily mean more votes for you next time around? Is that your logic?
Well, try this. Give everyone the benefit of development funds and perhaps everyone will vote for you next time. Or are you just simply unable to think outside the box?"
More where that came from in Malaysia Today's 'Muhyiddin, you have lost the plot':
"Hearing something you like about someone you don't" and "No one gossips about other people's secret virtues" are basically what bitching is all about.
Wikileaks' exposes have confirmed to us that people in high positions gossip just like ordinary folks, but in secret, as in something you tell someone at a time, which in time, the whole world will know about it. Wikileaks' leaks just hastened the process.
Welcome to our world of no borders and secrets anymore!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
This is not part of Dan Brown's novel. Researcher Silvano Vinceti— chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage—has found a secret code in the Mona Lisa by scanning her eyes. A code that could reveal her mysterious identity:
Leonardo was keen on symbols and codes to get messages across, and he wanted us to know the identity of the model using the eyes, which he believed were the door to the soul and a means for communication.
The other letters are B or S—although he points it could be C and E. These letters could offer the clue to finally find the real identity of the owner of mystifying smile, who has remained in a shroud of mystery for hundreds of years. Another secret hint discovered under the bridge in the background—under its right arch—is a minuscule number: Vinceti believes this is a 72 or L2.
Some believe that the Mona Lisa was Lisa Gherardini, a woman married to a Florentine merchant. Vinceti says that this is not true, pointing to another clue in the painting: The number 149 plus an erased digit, which he says indicates Leonardo painted it in the 1490s, during his stay in Duke Ludovico Sforza's Milanese court.
Monday, December 13, 2010
The madam opened the brothel door in Winnipeg and saw a rather dignified, well-dressed, good-looking man in his late forties or early fifties.
"May I help you sir?" she asked.
The man replied, "I want to see Valerie."
"Sir, Valerie is one of our most expensive ladies. Perhaps you would prefer someone else" , said the madam.
He replied, "No, I must see Valerie."
Just then, Valerie appeared and announced to the man she charged $5000 a visit.
Without hesitation, the man pulled out five thousand dollars and gave it to Valerie, and they went upstairs.
After an hour, the man calmly left.
The next night, the man appeared again, once more demanding to see Valerie.
Valerie explained that no one had ever come back two nights in a row as she was too expensive.
"There are no discounts. The price is still $5000."
Again, the man pulled out the money, gave it to Valerie, and they went upstairs.
After an hour, he left.
The following night the man was there yet again.
Everyone was astounded that he had come for a third consecutive night, but he paid Valerie and they went upstairs.
After their session, Valerie said to the man, "No one has ever been with me three nights in a row.
Where are you from?"
The man replied, " New Brunswick ."
"Really," she said. "I have family in New Brunswick ."
"I know." the man said. "Your sister died, and I am her attorney. She asked me to give you your $15,000 inheritance."
The moral of the story is that three things in life are certain:
3. … and being screwed by a lawyer!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her.. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.'
'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'
'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.
'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice.. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a
'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.
'Nothing,' I said.
'You have to make a living,' she answered.
'There are other passengers,' I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
Four friends , who hadn't seen each other in 30 years, reunited at a party.
After several drinks, one of the men had to use the rest room. Those who remained talked about their kids.
The first guy said, "My son is my pride and joy . He started working at a successful company at the bottom of the barrel. He studied Economics and Business Administration and soon began to climb the corporate ladder and now he's the president of the company. He became so rich that he gave his best friend a top-of-the-line Mercedes for his birthday."
The second guy said, "Darn, that's terrific! My son is also my pride and joy . He started working for a big airline, then went to flight school to become a pilot. Eventually he became a partner in the company, where he owns the majority of its assets. He's so rich that he gave his best friend a brand new jet for his birthday."
The third man said: "Well, that's terrific! My son studied in the best universities and became an engineer. Then he started his own construction company and is now a multimillionaire. He also gave away something very nice and expensive to his best friend for his birthday: A 30,000 square foot mansion."
The three friends congratulated each other just as the fourth returned from the restroom and asked: "What are all the congratulations for?"
One of the three said: "We were talking about the pride we feel for the successes of our sons. ...What about your son?"
The fourth man replied: "My son is gay and makes a living dancing as a stripper at a nightclub."
The three friends said: "What a shame... what a disappointment!"
The fourth man replied: "No, I'm not ashamed. He's my son and I love him. And he hasn't done too badly either. His birthday was two weeks ago, and he received a beautiful 30,000 square foot mansion, a brand new jet and a top-of-the-line Mercedes from his three boyfriends."
Saturday, December 11, 2010
by Esther Liang
Ms Chen leads her life with a daily routine. Waking up at three in the morning, she makes her way to the vegetable wholesaler and sets up her stall, which she tends till seven or eight in the evening.
In the dark and damp market, Ms Chen, nearing her 60s, holds the stall her father left her dearly. Yuan-Jin Vegetables is her everything.
With her vegetables selling at "a bundle for NT$30 (S$1.30), three bundles for NT$50", she earns only marginal profits.
Yet, her frugality has allowed her to donate about NT$10 million towards various charitable causes, including helping schools, orphanages and poor children.
In March, Forbes magazine named her one of 48 outstanding philanthropists from the Asia-Pacific region. A month later, Time magazine selected the year's top 100 influential people and she emerged under the Heroes of Philanthropy category.
Despite the honour of receiving the Time award in New York, gaining global recognition, and a personal meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou, all Ms Chen really cares about is her vegetable stall.
Born in 1950, Ms Chen lost her mother after completing her primary-school education. Her mother was admitted to hospital because of difficulties in labour and the family had to pay an insurance of NT$5,000 before medical attention could be granted.
Doctors suggested that the family send her brother to Taiwan National University Hospital, but they could not afford the fees.
Mr Huang Shun-zhong, a teacher at Ren-ai Primary School, started a donation drive.
Unfortunately, her brother could not be saved.
After experiencing the kindness bestowed upon her family, Ms Chen made up her mind to help the poor once she was able.
When her father died 17 years ago, Ms Chen, a devoted Buddhist, generously donated NT$1 million to Fo Guang Shan Monastery.
In 2000, she donated NT$1 million to her alma mater, Ren-ai Primary School, to set up an Emergency Relief Fund to help poor children obtain financial help.
All she needs is food and a place to sleep. Everything else is a luxury. She does not buy expensive clothes as "I do not socialise much, hence, there is no need for such beautiful clothes. The clothes from the roadside stalls are good enough for me, and, even then, I like to bargain".
She also sleeps on the hard floor, a habit from her younger days when she started working at the vegetable stall.
The comfort of her warm bed made getting up early to go to the wholesaler very difficult, especially during the cold winter months. Hence Ms Chen made up her mind to sleep on the cold floor, where she would not run the risk of being late.
Friday, December 10, 2010
This afternoon I was not amused when my nose detected an awful smell of stale curry and saw a black plastic bag of discarded food and used paper cups outside our compound. It was obvious that a worker of the previous night's caterer, took the easy way out by throwing them in the dark.
In front of our house is a multi-purpose hall of the Sri Swami Subramaniyar Hindu Temple on Jalan Pusing, Batu Gajah.. Occasionally, the hall is booked for wedding ceremonies and dinners. This is the first time discarded food was thrown in front of our compound at the side end which is shielded by some bushes. Before this, they threw it in someone's vacant land nearby.
If only dinner guests who attend buffet are conscious of the proverb, 'Waste not, want not', then they would not take more food than they could eat. Any leftovers still in caterer's containers are likely to be given or eaten by somebody later. But unfinished leftover foods are normally thrown into big plastic bags to be thrown away. If the caterers had provided separate bags for foods and disposable plates and cups, then the leftovers could be given to dogs or rice even to chickens. In this way, there is no wastage of food, and at the same time, there is a big reduction in rubbish to be collected. Stale foods leave an awful stench, so any reduction or preferably a target towards zero leftover foods will be most welcome.
I hope someone who reads my post and know the caterer would inform him about this.
"Dubai's real estate regulatory body on Thursday accused the Gulf emirate's state-backed master developers of damaging its ailing property market by continuing to build despite a rampant oversupply.
"The master developers should understand, believe, that they are damaging the sector by introducing more supply," Marwan bin Ghalaita, the CEO of RERA said in an interview published by Arabian Business online magazine.
He named troubled Nakheel, the giant property arm of debt-laden Dubai World, as well as troubled Dubai Holding, which is owned by Dubai's ruler, and Emaar, developer of the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa."
More where that came from:
The Star: Big developers accused of hurting Dubai property
What I have seen on television last night was a scene of our Parliament in session where DAP Members of Parliament, YB Jeff Ooi (Jelutong), and then YB Fong Po Kuan (Batu Gajah), had to continue speaking despite being told to sit down by Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin. They were suspended for not obeying orders.
For anyone watching the scene the first time, it would appear both MPs were rude and therefore justly suspended for a short while. But I am sure I am not the only one having this perception that the Speaker had been biased in numerous occasions when dealing with MPs, depending on which side of the political divide they are from. Much leeway when dealing with BN MPs but harsh and quick to suspend when dealing with opposition MPs. Had the Speaker been more generous in allowing topics proposed by opposition for discussion, as well as giving more time for them to discuss in more detail when they were given the chance, all these apparent disobedience would not happen. Given that time is precious in Parliament, much time was wasted in so many occasions involving relatively petty issues.
The double standards are obvious too where Speakers are concerned. Speaker's power is deemed paramount in Parliament, yet a State Assembly Speaker was dragged by force with the help of the police acting on the order of a mere State Secretary, with the acquiescence of or more likely, upon secret orders from people in the higher order.
I can imagine local issues which seem important to local people have little chance of being heard, so the local MP has to try very hard to make it possible, sometimes by indirect means. It is like getting a leg in the door first to get attention. I can empathize with the MPs, if they felt frustrated for whatever reasons.
Outside Parliament, it would appear that to get PM's attention, it is relatively easy if one happened to be a turncoat, alleged victim of sodomy or even a reformed rude rapper.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day.
She requested that every day for the month's duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.
I told Jane about my wife's divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.
My wife and I hadn't had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don't tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.
On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn't looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.
On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me.
On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn't tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.
She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.
Suddenly it hit me... she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.
Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it's time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.
But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn't noticed that our life lacked intimacy.
I drove to office.... jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind...I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.
She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won't divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn't value the details of our lives, not because we didn't love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart.
Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away.
At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I'll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.
That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed - dead.
My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push thru with the divorce.-- At least, in the eyes of our son--- I'm a loving husband...
Why I think renewing intimacy to save a marriage is easier said than done:
By switching sexes in the example, it could be very different. Imagine the wife having found a lover and wanted a divorce. If we believe in some basic differences between man and woman, having looked for someone new is a sign that a woman has lost her love for her husband to start with. Would she be so easily persuaded by renewed intimacy? Or more likely, she would not even allow him to touch her! The main condition of intimacy would been been unacceptable from the beginning!
We should recognize the fact that each individual is different and there is a marked difference between man and woman as well.
On a lighter note, I have never been able to carry my wife properly, more so with my present backache. Will she carry me instead, to see if it works?
News by Todd Haselton on Wednesday December 08, 2010.
A firm called Arieso has conducted a series of studies comparing mobile data usage across multiple operating systems.
The studies analyzed a host of smartphones including the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the Google Nexus One, the HTC Desire, the Sony Ericsson Xperia, Samsung Galaxy S devices, and the Apple iPhone 4, and compared them against the iPhone 3G which it used as a "normalized benchmark."
The firm found that Android smartphone users consume the most data in terms of data call volumes, time connected to the network, and data volume. Data volume was measured in kilobits per subscriber, and Android smartphone users consumed the most data both while downloading and uploading. "Samsung Galaxy users typically upload 126 percent more data than iPhone 3G users, and HTC Desire users download 41 percent more data than iPhone 3G users," the firm said.
The research also found that iPhone 4 users use more data than iPhone 3G owners. iPhone 4 owners typically "make 44 percent more data calls, download 41 percent more data to their devices, and spend 67 percent more time connected to the network for data," Arieso said.
Despite the increase in data usage on newer devices, Arieso said that growth in voice calls per subscriber still remains relatively flat. Arieso says that shows "the new breed of smartphone subscribers use their devices first and foremost for data consumption rather than making phone calls." [via Reuters]