How should we judge a government?

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

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

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan
Was he referring to Malaysia? Seems so apt...

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options

How the Chinese control the economy

How the Chinese control the economy

MyCen News

Friday, December 31, 2010

Brain drain

This is what you get when you pay peanuts:


You are lucky you did not get monkey instead.
Link

Did Mohamad Munir Bani lie?

Excerpts from an article, 'Palace shenanigans in Selangor state secretary debacle'
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?”

Link

Dummy's take on first using HTC Touch

As I have mentioned in one of my earlier posts, at the time I was given the HTC smartphone, I did not know how to make or take a call! I have resisted from buying a touch phone or a smart phone because I did not like waste. Since I have a phone which serves my purpose, its being out of date would actually be unattractive to would be snatchers, and if I happened to lose it, I would not feel the loss as much.

The phone came to me without the stylus, so my clumsy fingers tend to make mistakes when keying in. Then there was difficulty each time in correction, as well as not knowing most of the other functions.

While waiting for a charger, my friend in the phone shop suggested that I use the USB cable to connect to my notebook for charging in the meantime.

With a charged battery, I was able to try out the various functions to familiarize and I must say, I have yet to master them (old dog... new trick...). I could not connect it to my own Wifi router for some reasons. So I used my Digi prepaid simcard (reason for prepaid was my phobia of receiving bills with big surprises) to use the internet. I managed to type 'kosongcafe' to search for it (Google) before visiting it. Here again, I was not able to just type 'kosongc' when the whole word would appear on my notebook. It took a while to fully appear (at least 200kb) and with the small screen, what I got was only a small part of the full page. Knowing full well that time is going to cost me, I got out of my blogsite immediately. Soon there was a notification that I have used Rm3.00! But because I was asked whether to synchronize my phone with Digi, I was already using 3G or GPRS and I could see the digital clock ticking away! I switched off the phone and took out the simcard without further delay. I have just checked, it costed me another few Rm since the Rm3.00!

Later, I was at my usual coffee shop to have my lunch and spoke to the boss. He has an iPhone as well as an ordinary SonyEricsson. When asked about his experience using smartphone, I was shocked. His first expensive lesson was using a GPS system to guide his way to somewhere near Taiping and back, like a new toy. He was to discover that it costed him over Rm170!

His second more expensive lesson was when he got a message (Maxis) about 'free download' of a film on Astro and he thought everything was free. He watched the film and it costed him over Rm300!

If this could happen to an adult, I dread to think what could happen to those kids given smartphones with postpaid accounts by their parents.

I am trying to remain focus in my quest for Skype and maybe, a GPS system which does not use the mobile connection. So far, my attempts at downloading Skype was unsuccessful, due to my lack of knowledge using the HTC.
I am not sure about others, but I noticed advertisements of smartphones do not mention Skype. Skype to Skype calls are definitely unfavourable to mobile networks' revenues. Could this be a reason?

Update: China declares Skype illegal:

Link

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A portable machine that can convert plastic into oil

A Japanese, Akinori Ito has invented a machine which can convert ordinary plastic waste into oil! It looks so simple, yet able to produce almost ready to use oil. The best part was its portability, can even be taken as luggage when travelling by plane. He has taken it to various countries to demonstrate its usefulness. There is hope now for not only reducing plastic (a big problem in garbage dumps) but converting it into something useful, a commodity which is facing scarcity because of increasing use.

Man invents machine to convert plastic into oil:

Link

Try asking for a raise...

instead of changing your life style (as suggested by PM) when times are bad...

Employee: Excuse me sir, may I talk to you?
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.
Boss: Yes.
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!

Link

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why MCA?

The Sun: MCA1 chalks up new record at Rm300,100

First, a smart alec in MCA proposed that the Malacca state vehicle registration letters MCA be reserved for political party MCA. The gall of him, most people thought.

Well, for not following his ludicrous and presumptuous suggestion, the Malacca state JPJ benefited from the windfall of some crazy MCA-philes who tendered the record sum and other substantial sums for so-called auspicious numbers which go with MCA.

MCA is becoming irrelevant, and it was proven at the last General Election in March 2008. What if MCA became truly irrelevant at the next one? Imagine how silly it would be, having a car with registration MCA1, paid for with Rm300,100, and the party did not win any seat? It is highly unlikely, but still probable, with the uncertainty of elections.
Link

Politics in Malaysia can be so predictable?

We have had Sodomy 1, followed by Sodomy 2, with more or less the same script, 'actors' and director.

We have had Coup 1 in Perak, with Najib as Umno State Chief using all his tricks and power as PM, with the help of the State Secretary. Now, Selangor is having a new State Secretary appointed by Public Service Commission, without prior consultation with Selangor Menteri Besar, and Najib happens to be Umno State Chief!

Former Menteri Besar of Perak, the victim of the infamous coup, has already sounded the warning...


Sometimes, our leaders seem to lack creativity... or maybe they are just insulting our intelligence!

Update:
MB can't say no to appointment, says Nazri...

but... but... but...the People Can!
Link

After Little Johnny, we now have Little Ralphy...

Little RALPHY returns from school and says he got an F in arithmetic.

'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.

Link

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Man proposes, God disposes

A few days ago, I chanced upon an old HK movie, starring Miu Kiu Wai and Ken Tong as sons of two rival Taikos. The scene when I watched it was when one of the fathers was already dying in hospital, yet the rivals wanted to settle some score. As usual, there were devious scheming and back-stabbing within each group. But what struck me was the dying man's instruction to his elder son (Miu) that sibling rivalry will tear them apart and it was his duty to uphold the family business (or was it their Triad group's?) name of 'Hing Loong'.

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.
Link

Talking about smartphones... literally...

I used to enjoy The 2 Ronnies, starring Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett (the large one and the small one respectively). But as they say, even the best of friends must part, with the demise of Ronnie Barker in 2005.

Ronnie Corbett becomes The One Ronnie, as this Youtube clip gave a preview of his classic humour...

My Blackberry is not working!

I was given a used HTC Touch while in PJ and for a while, I did not know how to make or take a call! As most of my contacts remained in my old phone, I had to use it instead or risk being caught without certain numbers which I need to call. Moreover, I need a charger too. I need to use it like a dummy before I can write more about it later.
Link

Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Fai Wah' means 'words said with no meaning'

The first time I came across examples of 'fai wah', it was on television, said by some HK actors. Examples were: a husband came home and the wife said, 'farn cho lei ah' or 'came back already'; someone eating, and another asked, 'seg karn farn ah?' or 'eating rice?' Got the drift?

Our local examples which came to mind:

Najib said '1Malaysia is not political but...' (but I am a politician?);
Umno leaders said 'All races are equal' (but we represent Malays and fight for Ketuanan Melayu?);
Nazri said 'Anwar lied, because Apco given 2 letters confirming they were not involved in 1Israel'
(Apco is more credible... because I said so?);
All those interviewed at grand buffets hosted by PM and other Ministers said they really like the food; and such gatherings are great ideas (free food mah, but paid for by poor taxpayers who had no say over them); and so on and so forth.

There are many more examples but I am in a hurry to set off for KL.
Link

Saturday, December 25, 2010

With the benefit of hindsight?

I used to joke about having the benefit of hindsight means literally, having eyes on our bottoms. Well, with today's technology, this seems possible, according to this report forwarded to me by a friend:

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.

(It took only 172 years since the first ever photograph of a man in 1838, to make this possible.)
Link

The first ever photo of a person in 1838?

So recent? Seems like a long time ago that we first had photography.


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.

How many mega-pixels you need depends on how large you will print your pictures. The larger you print your pictures more mega-pixels your camera should have. For example, if you use a 3.2 mega-pixel camera to take a picture you will enlarge to poster size, the image will fall apart or appear grainy and less sharp. A poster-size picture taken with a 16 mega-pixel digital SLR will appear sharp and clear in comparison.

However, you don't need a 16 mega-pixel digital SLR if you only plan to use your camera for typical 4x6 vacation and family snapshots. Your resolution will appear just as good as the professional grade digital SLR (although, the digital SLR's picture be better due to other features and settings, not just resolution).


Link

Friday, December 24, 2010

Quiz on jokes in a court of law

Find the Malaysian one:

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.

Link

MCLM vs PR = Victory for BN!

The recent debate on the Third Force, or some would rather called it the Third Farce, seems to assume the voters are discerning, of the same level of intelligence, and up-to-date with current socio-political affairs; and there is uniformity in their willingness and ability to listen to the finer points of argument. For a start, they are likely to be educated in Malay, English, Chinese or Tamil. Anything in English is likely to be left out by those who read Malay, Chinese or Tamil newspapers. To make matters worse, all the MSM are controlled by BN. Last but not least, of those who listened, are they registered voters?

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!
Link

What a difference a letter 'F' made ...

(Zunar's Cartoon from LoyarBurok, courtesy of Malaysiakini)

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."

Link

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Does Beer contain female hormones?

I would like to dedicate this joke to Nazri, the man who made the decision to suspend Anwar without following proper Parliamentary procedures, as forewarned earlier: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/anwar-will-be-punished-over-apco-israel-taunt-says-nazri/

Last month, National University of Lesotho scientists released the results of a recent analysis that revealed the presence of female hormones in beer. Men should take a concerned look at their beer consumption. The theory is that beer contains female hormones (hops contain phytoestrogens) and that by drinking enough beer, men turn into women.

To test the theory, 100 men drank 8 pints of beer each within a 1 hour period. It was then observed that 100% of the test subjects:

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...

http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=551962

A letter from a foreign consultancy firm is considered more reliable and credible than Mr. Opposition's claim. There was no need to have a proper hearing to hear his side of the allegation nor to examine if he actually could furnish proof to substantiate his claim. The Speaker accepted the Rights Committee's decision to suspend Anwar and three others for six months!

The people should punish Nazri in the coming General Election, for not respecting their choice of representatives in the House of Parliament.
Link

The original shotgun marriage story?

and who said men aren't sentimental?

A woman awakes during the night to find that her husband was not in their bed.

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!"

Link

Winter Solstice Festival in Maastricht!

Yesterday morning, our part-time cleaner asked my wife whether she knew it was 'Koh Tung', a Chinese winter festival involving the making of 'Tong yun', soft balls made of glutinous rice flour normally cooked in sweetened boiling water. As usual, my busy wife forgot all about it!

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


Sepide from Iran and Hibret from Ethiopia making 'tong yun'




And the taste?

"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*"

Link

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

THE DIGITAL STORY OF THE NATIVITY

... since God joined Facebook, the Bible story re-told to become more relevant...

There is a specialist in every field...

As the Cantonese saying goes, 'Hong, Hong yau chong yin' or 'there is a specialist or expert in every field of work' or something to that effect. Take this man, for instance...

In an alcohol brewery, the regular taster died and the director started looking for a new one to hire.

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."

"That’s correct", said the boss.

Another glass.

"It’s red wine , Cabernet, eight years old, a southwestern slope, oak barrels."

"Correct."

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.

Link

Double-decker bus unsuitable for highlands

isn't that obvious? More so with the benefit of hindsight, after the recent horrific accident along the Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai road...

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.

They said high-decked buses were unsuitable for travelling uphill as the centre of gravity was higher, making such vehicles very unstable.

Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) vehicle safety and engineering division director Dr Wong Shaw Voon said such buses were only meant for city tours, like the famous ones used in London.

“The bus can become unstable when going uphill or when travelling at a higher speed. This is especially when drivers negotiate sharp bends,” he said.

More of the report:
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/12/22/nation/7668401&sec=nation

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:
http://www.cameron-highland-destination.com/highlands-bharat-tea-plantation-shop-tour.html

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
Link

Monday, December 20, 2010

Is Pakatan Rakyat ready to rule?

I wish to refer to the latest posting of Dr. Azly...

Azly Rahman's Pakatan Rakyat ready to rule?


What I have heard from someone who had a discussion with the driver during his taxi ride from LCCT to Petaling Jaya, could possibly answer that question! This is because, taxi drivers seem to be the best when it comes to managing a country. They would give us the impression that they could have done a better job than any incumbent Prime Minister.

On the question of whether PR could rule Malaysia, he said something to the effect that when Britain granted Independence to Malaya, what experience did Tunku and his cabinet members have before that? They were given a chance to run the country, helped by the already efficient system of administration left behind by the British. They were lucky to have efficient civil servants who were willing to carry out their tasks, unlike now, where sabotage by them could seriously retard any well intentioned changes to inefficient and corrupt systems which they might have a vested interest in.

Barring trouble which could be created by sore losers and sabotage by uncivil civil servants, PR already has more than enough well qualified and experienced administrators which included an ex-DPM, some ex-Ministers, incumbent Chief Minister and Menteri Besars, state legislators and so on. What they lack is probably high level corruption which I hope most people are willing to give them a chance to prove themselves that they are capable of ruling without resorting to it. What the people giveth, they can taketh! Until they are given the power, nobody can tell what could happen, can they?
Link

Are we ready for nuclear power plants?

Malaysia Chronicle has warned about the dangers of choosing nuclear power plants for its being a choice among dictators, as well as its long term costs and risks to mankind.

Why are we in such a hurry to go into something which we should have learned from others to avoid? What we have seen recently: collapse of new stadium roof and continual leaking roof of Parliament. I dread to think the consequences of a poorly constructed and maintained nuclear power plant which happened in Philippines during Marcos's rule.

"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'

Link

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cow Peh Cow Bu

Instead of an elderly couple, imagine Rosie and Phua Chu Kang:

An elderly couple went to watch a contest for the strongest bull.
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!"
"Don't blame me er! No chance only! Don't play, play with Phua Chu Kang... best in Singapore, JB, and some say Batam!"

Link

Reality of PhD

From what I have gathered so far, to be motivated seems to be vital for someone pursuing a PhD qualification. For those rich enough, acquiring a private university in Malaysia to get an honorary PhD followed by professorship seems easier! The easiest is to buy a Penang registered car with letters PHD!

An email from Cheng:

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."
(very true!)

"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*


Link

MCLM as a friend of Pakatan Rakyat

I have just read the following article in Malaysia Today:
Who is your real enemy?
by Waiphil(feel)

In my humble opinion, as a last resort, the best way to avoid three-cornered contests in the next General Election is to be able to come to a decision to withdraw a lesser known candidate from either MCLM or Pakatan, after nomination.

For example, if Malik Imtiaz Sarwar (a well known lawyer) and a lesser known candidate from Pakatan, have filed their nomination papers successfully (we have seen some disqualified on technicality alone), then Pakatan should be able to agree to a withdrawal, as a gesture of goodwill to MCLM. Similarly, with a well known Pakatan candidate and a lesser known MCLM candidate, then MCLM should do so likewise.

I believe in the past, some independent candidates filed nomination papers as a hedge in case of disqualification of an intended party candidate.
Link

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My first lesson on inflation

My first practical lesson in economics was on inflation. In the Sixties, as a teenager, I was helpless when my mother lamented that she had to buy 'vegetables' (a term used by Chinese to buy fresh vegetables as well as meat and fish to be cooked, to go with rice as main meals like lunch and dinner), with only Rm10 a day! During those years, we have extended families living with us as well, so the yearly increase in number of people added to the effects of inflation which admittedly, the rate of which was comparatively low. Other basic items like rice, milk, sugar and so on, were ordered and delivered in bulk by the local sundry shop, taken care of monthly by my father.

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.

I was actually made to reminisce about the hard times by the first paragraph of the following article in The Sun:

Pinch or blow by Daniel Chandranayagam...

Has BN already regain two-third majority in Parliament?

The antics of our so-called august House of Parliament have generated a lot of publicity locally as well as worldwide, especially with today's internet. There are endless articles and comments touching on its legality in suspending at will (without those suspended being given a chance to be heard), BN's ulterior motive in regaining two-third majority in Parliament which it lost in March 2008, and so on.

We have lawyer Nazri calling lawyer Karpal Singh 'third class' lawyer while the latter replied later that the former has 'no class'. We have lawyers everywhere, but their standards vary from a scale of 1 to 10. Ask the man in the street about Karpal Singh and he can tell you that he is a well known defence lawyer. Even my neighbour, while walking towards his daughter to reassure her being afraid of our dog, said, 'Don't worry, Karpal Singh is here'! But Nazri? He is known for 'Racist, racist, racist...' so many times in one go that someone counted more than 40 times according to Hansard. I have recently watched a BBC Economic Debate where participants (including Malini Mehra, Kevin Rudd, He Yafei) were given 20 seconds each to have their last say at the end of it, and I can imagine what Nazri would come out with.

Anyway, I am confused because of the following different views on the topic of two-third majority in our Parliament...

According to Malay Mail:

BN regains two-thirds control of the House
Dangerous to amend Constitution, say analysts
NADIRAH H. RODZI
Friday, December 17th, 2010 12:49:00


According to Uppercaise:

Bodoh is the word. Nazri 1 Pakatan 0
16 DECEMBER 2010
Link

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's wrong with agro-based economy?

We are one of the major problems. The usual leakages in implementation of government policies and brain drain as a result of discrimination led to poor results. People who are willing do not have lands while those with lands are not willing to work on them. Idle lands mean no productivity. We cannot escape from this basic fact.

Someone commented when forwarding an email:

"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?"

I wish to add that Holland has many residents cycling to work. Does it show that they are backward? They do not need tallest buildings to impress.

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


Link

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reasons using a Debit Card is Risky

"When you check into a hotel with a debit card, many hotels put a "hold" on money in your account. That "hold" that starts the moment you check in, can be for more than the amount of the room multiplied by all the nights you're planning to stay, too. How can it be for more than you'll be spending? They argue that you may decide to use the mini-bar or charge things to your room, so they're just protecting themselves from your potentially free-spending ways. Meanwhile their hold, while temporary (and often arbitrary), can cause devastating results for you. One consumer complained that a phantom charge -- a hotel hold for a room that was eventually paid for with cash -- cost him $140 in overdraft fees because he was unaware that his stated bank balance was made partly "unavailable" by the undisclosed hold. It caused his regular bills, which were scheduled to be paid while he was away, to bounce.

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."

More of the article in Finance Yahoo '5 Reasons using a Debit Card is Dangerous' by Kathy Kristof:

Who said Poetry is boring?

Some Entries to a Washington Post Competition asking for a two-line rhyme with the Most Romantic first line, and the Least Romantic second line:

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.


Link

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What should I do to marry a rich guy?: Question and Suggestion

A young and pretty lady posted this on a popular forum:

Title: What should I do to marry a rich guy?

I'm going to be honest of what I'm going to say here. I'm 25 this year. I'm very pretty, have style and good taste. I wish to marry a guy with $500k annual salary or above. You might say that I'm greedy, but an annual salary of $1M is considered only as middle class in New York . My requirement is not high. Is there anyone in this forum who has an income of $500k annual salary? Are you all married? I wanted to ask: what should I do to marry rich persons like you? Among those I've dated, the richest is $250k annual income, and it seems that this is my upper limit. If someone is going to move into high cost residential area on the west of New York CityGarden (? ), $250k annual income is not enough.

I'm here humbly to ask a few questions:

1) Where do most rich bachelors hang out? (Please list down the names and addresses of bars, restaurant, and gym)
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)

Ms. Pretty

Awesome reply:

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.

signed,

CEO
J.P. Morgan


Relevant quote:

"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."
Link

Politics 101 for our DPM

by Americk Sidhu

"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':

http://www.malaysia-today.net/mtcolumns/36613-muhyiddin-you-have-lost-the-plot

Aliran's view:

My take on Wikileaks' leaks

"Today's gossip is tomorrow's headline." In this case, it was yesterday's gossips which become today's headline.

"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!


Link

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How mothers deliver a baby...

from a little girl's point of view... is a classic...

Youtube Clip from Cosby show...

Link

The mystery of Mona Lisa about to be revealed?

"Are you warm, are you real, Monalisa? Or just a cold and lonely work of art?" croons Nat King Cole.


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.

Invisible to the naked eye and painted in black on green-brown are the letters LV in her right pupil, obviously Leonardo's initials, but it is what is in her left pupil that is far more interesting.
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.

The picture has been widely copied all over the world, including some nationalistic ones...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Not easy to bargain with the Chinese

One day, a Chinese Malaysian trader was bargaining with a Chinese trader in China, to buy some shoes. The price for sale was equivalent to Rm10 a pair of shoes. The Malaysian bargained it down to Rm5 a pair, and he ordered 1000 pairs to be sent over. Upon receipt of the goods, the Malaysian discovered that all the shoes were single instead of pairs, eg. all shoes were for the left leg! The Malaysian had no choice but to order similar quantity of shoes for the right leg to make pairs of them so that they could be sold. Don't play play with the Chinese in China!
Link

Three things in life which are certain...

1. Death
2. Taxes
3. and...

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:

1. Death
2. Taxes
3. … and being screwed by a lawyer!


Link

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No charge because the feeling was priceless...

The Cab Ride

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked.

'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

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
movie.

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
wheelchair.

'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.


Link

A measure of success...

but based on what criteria? Personal ability or attractiveness?

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."

So who is the winner?

Link

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Workaholic vegetable seller, selfless and generous to a fault

Excerpts from Readers' Digest's 'The generous vegetable seller'
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.

The selfless generosity of a woman with such humble income has placed her under the international spotlight.

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.

Fellow Taiwanese and Oscar- winning director Lee Ang wrote her entry personally. "Money is worthy only if given to those in need," he quoted Ms Chen. He also wrote: "Amazing, but of all she has given away, her greatest gift is leading by example."

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.

Ms Chen saw her father asking their neighbours for money, but it was too late to save her mother. The eldest daughter in the family, Ms Chen had to grow up overnight.

She gave up her studies and dedicated her life to helping at the vegetable stall.

When she was 18, her younger brother fell sick and the illness dragged on for over a year, gradually depleting the family's savings.

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.


Link

Friday, December 10, 2010

Caterers and dinner guests need to be reminded...

about the adage, 'Waste not, want not'.

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.




What was the guy thinking when he decided to do this?

Please check out Mary Schneider's 'Water, water everywhere...' to know how the Australians are trying to save water, a commodity which we Malaysians have in abundance and are still in wasteful mode.

Malaysia Boleh or Bokiasi?

Our PM's way of reaching greater heights will literally be in the form of Warisan Merdeka, which should be taller than Petronas Twin Towers.

Why do we have this urge to splurge?

The reason as is shown in a message, aptly shown in Daniel's graphic creation, is clear to those who understand Hokien:

"It's now or never..." Nothing is likely to dissuade those in favour of the ego boosting project, not even the problems faced by Dubai...

"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


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Ways of getting attention

In a court of law, a lawyer has to be appointed to act for someone because he knows the rules. It is common for someone at the witness stand, feeling frustrated because questions are framed in such a way that he or she has to answer 'yes' or 'no' and not allowed to elaborate on it.

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.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Can renewed intimacy save a broken marriage?

The following is the ending part of a story which is worth repeating...

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn't want anything from me, but needed a month's notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month's time and she didn't want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

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...

(Especially when we are already old when the end is already near, more so with children... Marriage is like an egg, once broken cannot be mended to its original state. But modern views seem to suggest 'moving on' is better for happiness for the rest of one's life instead of clinging on to something which is already dead. To each, his or her own views and opinions, and final decision.)

Why I think renewing intimacy to save a marriage is easier said than done:

Let us assume the ending was not tragic. The story involves husband who wanted a divorce and he was persuaded by renewed intimacy which were lacking because of his neglect and pre-occupation with someone new. The wife wanted him back which was the key, the rest depended on how easy a man could be persuaded with intimacy with a woman... provided she was not already an object of hate or abhorrence.

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?



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Smartphones not used enough for phone calls?

Galaxy S users gobble more data than iPhone 4, says study

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]


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