April 2003 Archives

Take cover!

Sometime today or perhaps in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, an Italian satellite (the BeppoSAX) will re-enter Earth's atmosphere. The 3100 lbs (1400 kg) satellite will disintegrate during re-entry, but hundreds of little fragments are expected to get through and crash into the earth. Its predicted that 1500 lbs of the satellite will not burn up in the atmosphere. That's a lot of satellite to be crashing into the Earth.

BEPPOSax Satellite
A good reason to eat at home tonight

Malaysia is on the list of countries that the Italian government has warned. We're on the re-entry path. These pieces of satellite could conceivably hit us. I suggest we stay in-doors today! :)

Expanding capabilities

The Volume of Interactions underwent a few improvements today:

Comments Listing and Top Commentors
I've come to realize that the interactivity of a blog is largely due to the ability of its visitors to voice their opinion over any particular posting. This is part of the culture that has made distributed nano-publishing the success that it is: if you have something to say, blogs (and the commenting engine included in many of them) allow you to say it.

Towards this end, i've installed a comments listing engine that displays the most recently commented entries on the VOI. Also, i've provided a simple count-mechanism to display the top commentors for the VOI (number of comments by a particular commentor is in brackets). This is my way of saying "THANK YOU" to those who have taken the time to frequent the VOI and make their opinions known here - if you have a blog of your own and you've filled in your website URL during the commenting process, a convenient link will be provided back to your blog. If you don't have a blog, i've made it easier for others to contact you through a [mailto:] link to your email address.

The "Comments" section of the VOI can be found near the bottom of the right hand links bar. Check it out.

Email to a friend, Email this posting to a friend
This has been included to make it easier for you to recommend particular articles appearing in the VOI to your friends. This is a facility i myself have wished for during my visit to many blogs - i've often found interesting content that i want to share with friends. But i've found it tedious to have to open my email client or log into Hotmail just to send an email recommending the content.

No records will be kept of any email address used in this facility (that's a promise, Tubs!).

Many thanks to all for the support and kind consideration.

The courts

Had a great game of badminton today - went 3 games unbeaten! My timing has improved significantly over the weeks and this has allowed for better strokes. My arm doesn't hurt anymore when i whack the shuttle - perhaps its gotten used to the strain. My footwork is much more organized - two steps to the front of the net, two steps to the back. Rewarded myself with a can of Yeo's Cincau afterwards. I think i deserved it. :)

Dad and Svetslana
Guess which one is Svetlana?

Images from the courts. Click to enlarge

Yellowjackets: a jazzy bunch

Due to a stroke of luck, i got a massive dose of jazz last night: the Yellowjackets came to town and were playing at the Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS. I was fortunate enough to get a complimentary ticket, and i'm happy to report that, indeed, the best things in life are free.

Yellowjackets
An evening with the Yellowjackets

The performance lasted a very long 2.5hours, but you wouldn't be able to tell that much time had passed. The talent of the musicians (Ferrante, Haslip, Mintzer and, the oh-so-cute, Baylor) coupled with the amazing acoustics of the philharmonic hall made for compelling listening.

A little bit of culture

A play serves 2 purposes: it entertains and it educates. As far as entertainment is concerned, last night's performance of "Ruman Kedai Jalan Seladang" by the Akar Gita Estetika (AGE) theatre troupe was a delight to watch.

Based on work written by Dr Haji A. Samad Ismail and adapted by Johan Jaafar, the drama touched a variety of issues linked to the Japanese occupation of Malaya (in those days, this included Singapore). The AGE troupe is an amateur group of mostly young actors, but their performance was anything but amateurish as they pulled off the difficult themes of the work with style, confidence and aplomb.

Images from the play (click on thumbnails to enlarge)

The play's fulcrum was an examination of how war and occupation effects a society - the Japanese occupation of Malaya being the platform from which the discussion was launched.

Rare day

Its a rare day when a woman calls me a "good-looking" guy. I must have done something nice to earn the praise. Whatever it is, perhaps i should do it more often? :)

Blogging is firmly established as an avenue of distributed nano-publishing; anyone with some time, the ability to put words together into a sentence, basic knowledge of the Internet and has something to say can publish to a worldwide readership. Its become so easy with tools such as Blogger and Movabletype. And its become quite fashionable to do so with all the press and hype blogging has received.

In Malaysia, organizations such as PROMUDA are beginning to recognize the emerging blogging culture and have begun promoting it (via NITC) as a form of self-expression and a tool to create public awareness over a wide range of issues. Personally, i think its about time - people who have something so say have been keeping quiet for far too long. Blogging allows them to be quiet no longer.

* Female Malaysian bloggers may be interested to participate/enquire about INFOSOC.

Wonderful photo

Najah, a good close friend, bought a spanking 5.0 megapixel camera prior to this weekend. Yesterday, i had breakfast with her and her husband to talk about Project Kugiran (perhaps someone wants to venture a guess what this classic word means?). Sometime during breakfast, she snapped a candid shot that turned out very nicely. Beginners luck? Talent? Or did the way canggih camera have something to do with it? ;)

Letter to Suresh

Dear Suresh,

I apologize if my response to your comment sounded harsh; it was not meant to be. I'm glad we've cleared this issue up between us. As far as i'm concerned, no hard feelings, and its all good, eh?

Thank you also for your advice concerning the broadcasting of copyrighted material - this is an issue that i've been grappling with lately and my concern for the copyright of artists' is reflected in the research i've conducted online and offline over the issue.

A marrying time

Is there ever a right time to be married? The romantics out there will say, "When you've found love, that's the right time". Well, true and, sometimes, not true.

How are you EVER sure that the person you've chosen to marry is the right one? How are you EVER sure that 2, 5, 10, 20 years down the road he will change into a person that you simply can't love anymore? Perhaps, by waiting just another day, you will meet the person you're REALLY supposed to be with and not the person you're planning to marry. Perhaps, once you're already married, you'll meet another man and suddenly realize that he's THE ONE. Or worse still, AFTER you're married, you realize that a person you knew from before, but never considered for marriage, is really the one you should be with.

Ahh... so many disaster scenarios. But really, let's think positive. Marriage is a wonderful union. Just like everything else in this life, the decision to marry must be a responsible decision followed up by responsible action. Whatever the outcome, good or bad, it will therefore be ours to bear.

Review of the VOI: Audio

ACCESS THE VOLUME OF INTERACTIONS: AUDIO

The following email was sent to registered members of the VOI Blog Directory:

Traffic surge

The launching of the Volume of Interactions: Audio has had a very dramatic impact on the bandwidth of the website. Most months, i pass no more than 200-300MB. In just the last two days, i've passed 300MB of data. Hhmmm... people are listening.

Bandwidth stats
Notice the suddent spike?

The strangest offer

In an attempt to make it easier to manage my digital photographs, in the hope that it'll make me want to use my sorely under-used digital camera more, i bought a Compact Flash card adapter. Its basically a PC-card that fits into my notebook and it allows my notebook to read compact flash cards directly. Downloading and even editing my pics directly from the camera's "film" will be much easier now. No more cable hassles, no more plugging the camera into my notebook.

What struck me as strange was when i bought the adapter from the PhotoFlash shop downstairs here in KLCC (3rd floor). It was priced at RM$95. I asked whether i can have it for RM$90. The guy said ok, he will sell it to me for RM$85. Stunned, i just said yes, paid for it quickly and left.

I'm still weirded out by what happened there. Can someone explain it to me?

Streaming MP3

Discovered Andromeda by chance today - its a PHP script that allows a web server to stream/broadcast MP3s. As i've got thousands of MP3s on my notebook (all legally obtained from my personal CD collection, i assure you), i thought that this may be a good way to share them with everyone; the Volume of Interactions: Audio is born!

Andromeda
Andromeda, MP3 streaming PHP script

There are probably some legal copyright issues here that i have yet to understand:

  1. does public broadcasting for non-commercial purposes constitute copyright infringement?
  2. is there a difference between streaming MP3 and downloading MP3?
  3. by broadcasting selected copyrighted work, am i denying the copyright owner to rightful income or am i assisting in the copyright owner's marketing efforts (i.e. you may listen to what i've broadcast and decide to puchase the full CD for yourself)?
I'll scour the 'Net for the answers to these questions and post them for review as and when i find them.

Comparing bitrate streams

The Volume of Interactions: Audio has been updated to reflect a test i'm conducting to compare bitrate stream quality for various compression values. I believe that the type of audio being streamed is a factor affecting the quality of the stream at a particular bitrate.

To reflect this theory, i've made two identical copies of Robin Williams' stand up routine, one with 128bitrate and the other at 64bitrate. You will notice, as i have, that there is very little difference in the quality of both. But the file size for 128 and 64 differs greatly; i suspect very much that a regular 56k modem connection will be able to stream a 64bitrate file with very little or no buffering.

To test the affect of bitrate on music (which may tend to be more complex than comedy routines which are plain speeches), i've prepared three sets of files at 64, 96 and 128bitrate. What i've discovered is that while 128 is the best (near-CD quality), 96 is acceptable, and 64 is very poor. I think most normal modem (non-broadband) connections will not be able to handle 128 streams without long buffering times or frequent breaks but this has yet to be confirmed.

[This test and review of bitrate effects on streaming media will continue for 7 days from the time of this posting. At the end of the test period, the files being the subject of the test will be removed.]

Too many gadgets

If a "geek" is defined by the number of gadgets he posseses, then i am undoubtedly a geek; perhaps not an uber-geek, but geek-y enough to be allowed entrance into Geekdom.

Nokia handphone, Palm PDA, IBM notebook, Canon digital camera, wireless LAN, thermal photo printer, PS2, Sony discman - well connected and digitally wired would be good terms to describe by personal space. But where does it all lead? Do the number of gadgets i possess make me in any way a better or more productive person? Did i collect these gadgets to satisfy the hype, to be "not left behind"?

The Japanese say: "If you believe everything you read, you'd better not read." - its all about the hype and you'll never be able to satisfy it. But we try anyway. Why?

Convenience, entertainment and knowledge - these are the three contributions gadgets have made to my life. A lot of the first, a bit of the second and a smattering of the last. Is it enough? Have i received my expected Return-on-Investment (ROI)? Or could i still get more from them?

Perhaps. The one gadget that has been sorely underused is my digital camera. Photography is an expression of the self, more than a representation of the real. What i can't say with words (and there's a lot of that), perhaps pictures will say for me. Time to brush up on my digital photography skills.

Copyright matters

Dear Scott,

I've just downloaded and installed Andromeda on my webserver, and i'm happy to report that its working as advertised. People like you make dynamic web a no-brainer. Thanks and congratulations.

What i am concerned with are the copyright issues surrounding Andromeda. Have you done any research concerning the legality of streaming/broadcasting copyrighted work for non-commercial purposes? For example, i'm currently streaming a couple of Robin Williams CD tracks. I obtained the MP3s from original CDs that i purchased. Does my current action of streaming them in any way breach copyright law? If you have done some research into this, i would appreciate it greatly if you could share it with me.

I understand its quite a grey area: streaming audio could perhaps fall under "fair use" exceptions, and if the broadcast was coupled with some form of review or research attached to the act of streaming (e.g. a non-profit music review site), then the streaming should be legal. But reproduction/distribution through broadcasting? I'm unsure about what the law says about this and i was hoping you might be able to point me to some authoritative references.

Lastly, i'm sure you've thought about this and you may have posted the answer on the andromeda site, but forgive me for asking anyway. How do i make it impossible for users to download the whole MP3 directly off my server? For example, i've placed all my MP3s in a folder called "audio" and this is the same folder where andromeda.php resides. A person who knows the exact URL of the MP3 file could download it in its entirety, bypassing Andromeda. This would result in a copyright infringement. I hope you will be able to advise me on how to protect the files in the "audio" folder from improper download.

Thank you so much for your assistance. I look forward to your reply. Take care, God bless.

Current research findings are as below:

VOI Links

My first car

There's a certain charm about buying and owning your first car. Not the one your parents bought for you, or the one you won through some fluke or contest, but the car that you bought with your own hard-earned cash.

No matter how old it is, it could be brand new, or second-hand, third-hand or fourth-hand, it will always be a beauty to behold. No matter how many bumps and bruises it sports, no matter what brand it sports, no matter how much you paid for it - you feel pride that its yours, you feel good that it belongs to you. Almost like a first love, you never forget your first car.

Proton Wira 1.5
My first car: Proton Wira 1.5

My first car was a venerable second-hand Proton Wira 1.5 (auto). When i got it, it was sparkling white and the interior smelled of freshly blasted anti-rust. It was intoxicating to get behind the wheel, to put the pedal to the metal that first day as i drove it out the dealership in Jalan Kelang Lama. I didn't care that the power windows were buggy, or that the rear view heat screen wouldn't go up. It just felt so good to be behind the driving wheel, finally, a master of my own domain and responsible for my own on-the-road fate.

Had some good times in that jolly machine. Made out a few times in the back and front seat. Remember playing music so loud, the dashboard would vibrate. Sped up and down the North-South highway at speeds that Proton probably didn't design the Wira to achieve - 2.5 hours to Penang from KL. Never got a ticket in that car, for all my recklessnesses and illegal parkings. Scratched it against a parking lot wall, against a tree and against a speeding motorcyle.

What a joy it was. A car with personality it was - lovely, temperate and driven to please.

Beating Svetlana

Last night's game of badminton was very good - Svetlana, she who can run like an unending gust of wind, went down under a flurry of smashes and cheeky drop shots. She was leading 13-7 until i pegged her back to 14-14. My remarkable recovery was probably too much for her as she conceded the next 3 deuce points with hardly a whimper.

Championship Manager 4
The ultimate soccer management simulator

Coupled with the purchase of an original copy of Championship Manager 4 earlier yesterday, last night's victory certainly put a bounce in my step today. Next: bring on the fat and balding old man!

The value of a woman

Its an unfortunate truth that the Malay society "values" women according to their perceived perfections and imperfections.

An unmarried virgin is the expected standard. An unmarried woman who is not a virgin has a lower "value". This is what my parents tell my sisters, and i'm sure the same message is repeated in an overwhelming majority of Malay households.

Men should marry women who have not been married before. Why? Widows and divorcees have lower "market values". I once entertained the "what if" thought of marrying a woman who has been married before. I argued with my mom for an hour - i said i prefer mature woman and a woman who has been married before, arguably, is more mature and experienced than a woman of comparable age who has not been married before. The counter argument was that there are so many never-married before women out there - why pick one that has had the "nectar sucked out of her"?

A woman who has fair skin is "valued greater" than one with dark skin. Its almost as though there is an intra-race brand of racism - Malays divide and prejudice amongst themselves. I do wonder how this came about. An informal caste system has been created with rules that don't belong in a modern society.

Of course, the Malays are not the only ones to judge the value of women - i'm sure other societies do it as well. Why does this culture exist? Perhaps one answer lies in the patriarchial structures that still dominate, by and large, gender relations amongst the Malays. Women are valued by what is desirable by men, and the society (of a patriarchial nature), in turn, values women in relation to that desire. As a race, the Malays have come a long way, but perhaps not where it counts. Money we have, position we have, education we have - but we still don't understand so many things.

Marican in Iraq

Last week it was reported [and here] that Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican, the President and CEO of PETRONAS is being considered as the new Iraqi oil chief, responsible for the rebuilding and management of the second largest oil reserve in the world.

Although some have argued that accepting the position if its actually offered would be "dishonourable", i think there are a lot of practical reasons why Malaysia shouldn't turn it down.*

*Don't mistake this reality: if Tan Sri accepts the appointment, it will be a political appointment that will reflect on Malaysia as a nation rather than the decision of an individual.

The war is Iraq is effectively over. For all our and the rest of the world's protests, the United States and Britain went ahead, did the business and now the world is faced with a vastly different realpolitikal environment in the Middle East. Iraq won't be deserted the same way Afghanistan was simply because it holds the key to a sustained global economic revival: oil. The logic is a simple one of supply and demand.

With the billions of barrels of oil Iraq can put into the market (probably unrestricted by the monopoly of OPEC; you an bet the house that an excuse will be cooked up to bypass OPEC controls), the price of crude will drop significantly. Just about every economic activity on this earth is related in some way and form to oil. A significant drop in the prices of oil will mean an equally significant boost to the global economy; taking into consideration economic "magnifier effects", the boost to the world economy will be unlike anything recent history has witnessed.

To have a chance to be a key cog in the wheel that makes this happen and turn it down would be a case of allowing pride to get in the way of progress. Malaysia's position in global politics would be greatly enhanced. The influence we would have on a host of matters ranging from Israel-Palestine issue to the future shape of international finance would considerable to say the least.

Some may argue that we would be selling our soul the West. We would be dismissing our principles in exchange for power. Principles are nice to look at and nice to hold, but they don't make much sense in the dynamic environment of global politics where success is measured by how well we adapt to given situations and opportunities. The United States and Britain don't have to offer this position to Malaysia but can we really afford to say no if they do?

This article was published on Malaysiakini.com at http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/200304220034279.php

Read M Putucherry's response at http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/200304230034290.php

Read Jeffrey's response at http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/200304250034312.php

A Net following

Generally speaking, personal websites come in two flavours- the type that provides commentary on events, circumstances and issues of human interest, and the type that talks about the writer, as a form of online journal/diary.

The Malaysiana Digests
The Malaysiana Digests

An excellent example of the first type is The Malaysiana Digests (http://najah.blogspot.com/). The writer, a KL-lite, discusses a wide range of contemporary issues; from women's role at home to the workplace, from Malaysian politics to her fear of SARS, from religion to the war in Iraq. Add to it a spattering of personality from the writer's own life and you get a good daily read.

Then, we have the second type, of which, the really good ones have reached cult-status in some circles. Of these, a particularly interesting example is Natasya in the sky... (http://natinski.diaryland.com/). Over the weekend i was told that this website's following is very strong, almost fanatical. And after reading through it myself, i discovered that there is good cause for it. A good way to describe it would be to call it the Malaysian version of Bridget Jones' Diary. On it, Nate speaks about, among other things, her love life, about the sorrow of her father's passing, about her experiences with Fawa (who, its rumoured, is a gorgeous babe).

Natasya in the sky...
Natasya in the sky...

Nate never reveals her identity directly, and though pictures are occasionally posted, they hide more than they tell. The addictiveness of her website comes not only from the content but also from the mystery of her persona. Some of her ardent readers, i've been told, have made it a mission to try and figure out who she is!

A brilliant movie

"If we can't find anything pleasant, at least we shall find something new." - Voltaire.

Well, i can guarantee the discerning movie goer that in Gary Winick's "Tadpole" you shall find something pleasant AND something new. Its a brilliant comedy that transcends the normal by appealing to the tiny portion of our mind that asks the "what if". Truly amazing, what a gem and my only regret is that i've had the DVD for months but only watched it today.

Tadpole
An uncommon pleasure

It tells a tale of Oscar (Stanford) who's in love with his stepmother, Eve (Weaver), but falls to the wayside one drunken night by sleeping with Diane (Neuwirth) who is Eve's best friend. Hilarious scenes follow as Oscar desperately tries to hide the truth of his indiscretions (and his love for Eve) from his father (Ritter), Eve, and his friends.

What appeals to me is that the humour that follows isn't crass or objectified, or rude; perhaps the best word to describe it would be "scenic" - humour that comes from uncontrived situations that we could almost imagine ourselves to be in. Its the sort of funny that is truly rare - just about the only other movie i've seen this year that comes close is the equally wonderful "About Schmidt".

Watch this. Its an uncommon film, to say the least.

Jobs and Malaysians

I've written about this issue before. But, after a meeting with Benny Moe yesterday (he's the General Manager for JobsDB.com, Malaysia), i was given so much inside insight into the problem that it has prompted me to write on this issue again.

One of the requirements of Benny's job is the need to be in close acquaintance with HR managers from all over the country. Many of them use JobsDB to find employees - they pay for the ads that JobsDB advertises and they pay to contact potential employees on the JobsDB database. Its fairly distressing that many HR managers are becoming less and less satisfied with the quality of fresh graduates that are looking for their first serious job.

After a lengthy discussion with Benny, these are the top 4 questions you should NOT ask an employer if you're a fresh grad:

Tuesdays with Morrie

Lately, i've been reading three books simultaneously. During downtime in the office, i'm reading Tom Clancy's "Red Rabbit". Just before i go to sleep each each night, its "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel. And in the toilet, as i sit on the bowl in the evenings, Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie". Of the three, the last has given me the most soul-searching satisfaction.

Air no more

I remember the first time i watched him play on TV - it was the 1992/93 season and the Chicago Bulls were playing the Phoenix Suns (that was a strong team in those days with Charles Barkley as their star player). I remember watching in awe as he made his signature move - the turn-around fade away jumper. Again and again he hit the same move from different spots around the opposition basket.

The Suns just couldn't stop him. They doubled up on him - he dribbled through them or jumped over their despairing blocks. They tripled up on him - he passed the ball to an open team mate. They fouled him, they hacked him, and, once, Barkley, in a fit of frustration, just pushed him to the floor as he hung in the air over him. In a supreme act of sportsmanship, he just picked himself up, smiled, took the ball and jammed it home on his next possession.

Michael Jordan
His Airness, Michael Jordan

Last night, Michael Jordan played his last ever NBA game against the Philadephia 76ers. Unfortunately, his team, the Washington Wizards lost. But that in no way takes away the significance of the event. The greatest player to ever grace the hard courts is now finally retired. For all the years of wondrous amazement his talent has brought the sporting world, i thank him.

Keeping to the task

Its probably already blindingly obvious, but i'll say it anyway: the best way to succeed in a venture is to keep plugging away. Never say, "Enough", never give up, never concede defeat.

Too often we lack the conviction and discipline to see things through, to grit our teeth when the going gets tough and to finish the job. Failed marriages, failed businesses, failure in our studies - ever wonder how much more you could have achieved if you had kept at it for another day, another hour, another minute?

My own personal failure involves my inability to write a book. Its something that i've wanted to do since i was 14, and its something that i've tried often enough over the years. Boxes under my desk, drawers in my desk and countless trash bins are full of my manuscripts - every one of them a story that i wanted to deliver from my mind. But i could never finish any, and that is down to a lack of mental discipline.

I may one day yet write a book, but it won't be today, or tomorrow or anytime soon. My personal battle right now lies with my weight. And this is something that i will conquer. I would rather faint or collapse from exhaustion and the lack of food than experience the pleasure of meal that is so often eclipsed by guilt and regret afterwards. Keep at it, keep at it. A mouthful of rice and a scrap of protein is all that is needed to stay alive. Any more would be a breach of discipline.

Emotional women

"Generally, women are more emotional (than men)", "women are more prone to emotional imbalances and thus, may make decisions rashly/on a whim" - i'm troubled by these statements, deeply troubled.

Consider their implications:


  1. Women shouldn't be allowed to make critical decisions - they're likely to screw them up because they "may" suffer "emotional imbalances".

  2. Organizations should never promote a woman to a managerial position - what if her "emotional" decision proves disastrous for the company?

  3. Women should be banned from holding government office - God forbid that legislation is tabled by an "emotionally imbalanced" woman. Sure, they aren't imbalanced all the time, just "sometimes", just "generally", they "may" be emotional. Can we take the risk with our country's legislation over "perhaps"?

  4. Since we're at it, lets not even let women work, or drive, or do anything of significance - "emotionally imbalanced" women "may", "perhaps" give a new definition to the phrase "road rage". We wouldn't want that, now would we?

  5. Let's set up a council of men who will help women make decisions - just in case a woman "may" be "emotionally imbalanced", she can seek help here

Arguing that women can't make rational decisions because they are "emotional" really sets the tone for a dangerous slippery slope. Where does it end?

Ladies, i am not in your shoes so i won't pretend to know what you know about yourselves and your gender. But, if you're looking for reason why you can or can't do something, look beyond your emotions. Emotions are not your exclusive domain; men can be equally poor in managing theirs.

Menjatuhkan talaq

I saw my parents' marriage certificate. What struck my interest was that it clearly gave control to the wife to divorce her husband (through a petition with the courts) if he fails to pay her "maintenance" - i assume this is a sum of money or services in kind that a husband is obligated to provide his wife under the syariah. If he doesn't provide her "maintenance" for a period of 4 months, she can go to the authorities and obtain a divorce PROVIDED she can furnish proof as to her ill-treatment.

Now, that got me wondering: how does a woman prove that her husband is not giving her due maintenance? At the end of the day, doesn't it come down to his word against hers? Especially, if the woman is working herself and has her own income, it won't be obvious to the courts that she is not receiving her just rights. What if she's very wealthy on her own accord? There will be very few obvious signs that he has not performed his duty as a husband as required by law in the marriage certificate.

The same burden of proof doesn't apply to the husband. He can divorce his wife at any time for absolutely any reason whatsoever. In fact, he doesn't even need a reason to pronounce the talaq (divorce). An obvious imbalance of power exists. Strange that Islamic law, the syariah, being fair and just, would allow that to be.

Women on the courts

Last week i was beaten by a man who's fatter and older than me. Tonight i was beaten by a woman who, quite frankly, hits like a woman. :) Gracious, i must really suck at this game called badminton.

Insulting women

"When I was in religious school, we studied about this topic too, and the ustazah said that the reason why the power of talaq is in the hands of men is because women are more prone to emotional imbalances and thus, may make decisions rashly/on a whim... just imagine how dangerous it is if the power of declaring talaq is in the hands of women. We'll have couples divorcing left and right, and the divorce rate would be shooting sky-high..."

The above is a comment addressing my previous posting. I am not singling out the author in any way or form; but i am singling out the principle in the message for particular criticism as i've found this same message repeated too often by too many people. This is a topic i feel strong about, and my response to this comment is as below:

Which is worse?

Which type of male is worse: the type that charms you with sweet promises and little nothings or the type that makes no pretenses and goes straight for your pants?

Obviously these are not the only two choices available to women. There are "good" men who are neither and will be "good" mates, boyfriends and husbands (not necessarily perfect, but good enough).

But between the two types of men above, which is worse?

The charmer - he makes you feel good with his innocence, his wit and his boyish Hugh Grant-ish smile. His smile lights up the room and you wish that he would talk forever just so that you can listen to his voice. Falling for him is easy, but ultimately very dangerous because loving him is a full, heart-given exercise. A risk you're willing to take? Are you willing to risk a shattered heart?

The stud - his raw attractiveness is irresistable, his power, his complete machoismo. He wants you sexually and makes no excuses for it. You know that once you have him, and he has you, it probably won't last. You know this, but he is just so darned irresistable and having him is so wonderful, his leaving will hurt nonetheless.

A rare opportunity

A friend told me today that she is getting married. She is happy that her long-time boyfriend has proposed, and she wants to marry him. But she's unsure of herself, unsure about her "readiness" to be a wife and mother. She can't cook to save her life, she's doesn't know how to look after a house, and she eats with her mouth open, muching away like a rabbit. 'Nuff said.

I looked at her for a moment and thought about her insecurities. Then i told her that i would give absolutely anything to be in her shoes right now. I told her that she's got an opportunity that so few people have, not even those who are already married. The opportunity she has is the opportunity to get things right. Bachelors like me, we don't have that chance because marriage is an option that has yet to become available. People who are already married, in all likelihood, their chance to get things right has already come and gone; they have either got it right, or they haven't.

But people like her? Those who are on the verge of marriage, but not yet married? The opportunity available to them is a rare one indeed. And i told her that she should embrace this chance and not to blow it wondering whether she's ready for marriage. No one is ever ready for marriage, not even those who think they are because no one unmarried really knows what marriage is really like. No two marriages are the same making those self-help books that claim otherwise worth less than the paper they're printed on.

If she spends this precious time she now has to doubt herself, her opportunity to get things right will be gone before she realizes she ever had it.

Her response to my advice? She gave me a million dollar smile. It was worth it.

Pro-tem President

I was appointed the pro-tem President of the Official Newcastle United FC Supporters' Club last night at the Crown Princess, KL. It was a good meeting of 6 people - so you could say we weren't exactly spoilt for choice. We discussed how we're going to develop this society into something to be proud of; top on the list of priorities is to market the society aggressively and build a strong membership base. With a lawyer, a writer, a business man, an IT professional, a marketing guy and a project manager in attendance last night, i think its going to be fun. We will succeed. Wish us luck.

For more info about the club (and how to register your interest to be member, if you are so inclined), goto:

http://www.theblackandwhiteonline.com/

Blessed

I've always been a very money minded person. When i was a kid, perhaps 4 or 5 years old, i remember raiding the coin jar (where my parents used to dump their lose change). I never took very much, just enough to buy ice cream. In kindergarden, i was the school bully; i used to make some of the other kids pay me 10 sen as "protection money", or to "take care of business" for them. When i was in primary school, i bought kuih from the canteen and resold them to teachers in the staff room for a profit. In secondary school, the other kids would pay me to help them with their homework.

Throughout my adult life, i've been sniffing for ways to make money. I've got my job, but i've never found that to be enough. So i've kept my ear close to the ground for any opportunity that i could take. Through the grace of God, and perhaps some good fortune and persistence, money hasn't been too hard to come by. Probably that's why when people tell me that they don't have enough money, or when they complain about how low-paying their jobs are, or if they tell me that they can't find jobs, i find it really hard to understand. I ask them in return whether they've really looked hard enough.

Overweight

There is only one thing worse than being overweight on the badminton court: being overweight and being beaten by someone who is FATTER and OLDER than i am!

I need to seriously lose some weight quick, and condition my body.

Leaving for Australia

Its official - the good people of the Australian government have approved my family's move to Australia. Everyone except me (i don't want to leave at this time because i have so much to do here) will be leaving for Dubbo, Australia on 7 May 2003. The move promises to be a major change in the the lives of everyone in this family, regardless of those who are going or staying behind.

Dad is a brilliant medical doctor. He's written hundreds of papers, presented at dozens of international conventions, has his own website that garners hundreds of thousands of hits a month, and is one of the few doctors in this country to specialize in infectious diseases. When he was awarded his full professorship at the age of 39, he was the youngest doctor to ever receive that position in Malaysia. With his credentials, its no wonder that the Australian Department of Health and Ageing want him, and want him desperately. To work and live overseas for an extended period of time has always been his dream and i'm very happy that he's now getting that chance. He's deserved it.

Divorces

Its never a good thing when a marriage ends in divorce. In fact, its never a good thing when a marriage ends, period. But its particularly nasty when the husband and wife decide that they can no longer live with each other. If they didn't like each other in marriage, its almost a certainty that the process of divorce will make them hate each other.

Just a few of the thorny questions that need to be answered:

1. Whose fault is it?

This is not necessarily clear cut since most divorces are not a result of a single bad event or cause. He's been sleeping around because she's a terrible home maker. She's a terrible home maker because she has to work long hours because he doesn't work. He doesn't work because of an accident that could have been avoided if she wasn't driving so fast one stormy night.

In cases where the divorce occurs under unhappy circumstances (is it possible for a divorce to happen under happy circumstances?), the issuance of blame is vital in order to determine liability and the subsequent consequences of that liability.

2. Whose property is it?

During the marriage, its inevitable that property will be acquired. The husband has a company that started from nothing, but at the time of divorce is worth millions. How much of that company is the wife entitled to after years of support, care and love? She buys a house to share using his money but under her legal ownership. How is that house divided amongst them?

CDs from Amazon

"Good things come in small packages" - how true! Received the CDs i ordered from Amazon today in small vacuum sealed packages. How delightful! Ever since i got my credit card a few years ago, i've been buying stuff from Amazon, mostly things that can't be found on Malaysian shores. Their service is extremely reliable and worry-free. And since they reduced their charges for overseas shipping (the 3 CDs i ordered only cost US$11 in shipping), they've become an even more attractive proposition.

My 3 CDs:

Ray Romano - Live at Carnegie Hall (Audio CD) - US$14.99
Robin Williams - A Night at the Met (Audio CD) - US$8.99
Robin Williams - Live 2002 (2 Disc Audio CD) - US$14.99

Been listening to Ray Romano (of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame) the whole morning, and his jokes are hilarious! (his Jewish jokes are insanely funny) Definitely a pick me up for a dull Tuesday morning.

Asking a lady out

Its never been an easy thing for me to ask a woman to go out, especially if she is someone whom i admire or am attracted to. Things get awkward, i break out in a cold sweat and my feet begin a nervous shuffle. Not very easy at all.

I suppose the reason why its not easy is because i don't know:

1. what is she thinking at the moment of asking?
2. what will she say?

If there was some way to know the answers to these questions beforehand, asking women out would be so much easier, not just for me, but i suspect a large number of the male population would breathe easier. We would only ask women who we know will say yes.

But perhaps its better that we don't know. As a test for ourselves, we at least now know whether our wanting to spend time with a particular woman overcomes our fear of asking her. This makes the act of asking an act of courage. So, all you women out there, the next time a man asks you out, please know that it takes some courage for us to do so. Even if you're going to turn him down, try to appreciate this fact.

Coming off the rails

I try really hard not to write about my passion for the English Premier League. But i can't resist the temptation today to scribble something about events that transpired last night, especially with the title race coming so close to its climax.

Sexual therapy

I'm a sexual magnet. No, not THAT type, no where near that type methinks. But i seem to attract men and women who want to talk about sex. No, not THOSE types of conversations. These past couple of weeks, i've had conversations with half a dozen people about their sexual insecurities, sexual problems and how to solve them. Has word been getting around that i'm some sort of sexual therapist? I can assure you that i'm not.

There was one conversation that interested me enough to do more research on, findings of which i will now share.

A friend told me over lunch last week that she was afraid of sleeping with her boyfriend. I asked her why: did she feel that it was religiously wrong to do so? Did she want to wait for the "right" guy? Did her boyfriend indicate that if she didn't sleep with him, he would leave her? Is he a rough person and she was afraid that he would hurt her in bed?

No, she said. She was afraid because she was a virgin.

Happiness in a day

If we look hard enough, we should be able to find something special in each day. No matter how bad things seem to be going - you just lost your job, you smashed your car against a cow crossing the road, your girlfriend left you for that rich hunk, people discovered you wear a toupee - there is ALWAYS something good to be found. You just have to look for it.

My Special Thing for today wasn't very hard to find. I spent the evening, just a brief 2 hours with my dad, playing badminton at Dewan Badminton SS24, Taman Megah. Just a short moment made this otherwise bland day a day to remember.

Dad and i have never been particularly close; i'm told that this is because dad and grandad were never particularly close either. My relationship with dad is a victim of my father's past and upbringing, two factors completely beyond my control. So for today to happen the way it did was really special. We joked on the courts. We played against each other in one game (he beat me with a series of wicked drop shots), we played together as a pair for a doubles match (we won), and he cheered me on when i was playing my third game against some of the blokes. We checked out the babes together, dad commenting on one's long legs, i mentioned something about how gravity would keep another well endowed lady from successful jump smashes. It was an amazing experience, and something that i always envisioned i would do someday with my own kids because i could hardly imagine it would ever happen between my dad and i.

Its an irony for this to happen now, just when he is about to leave soon with the rest of the family to Australia. I wish we had more time.

What love is

People say that they love you all the time. Your friends say it. Your boyfriend or girlfriend says it. Your parents say it. Your government says it.

But, unless you're one of the fortunate few who everyone loves, very few mean it. I did some soul searching this evening, while i was waiting of the England v Turkey match to begin (England won 2-0, btw) and asked myself how many people really, truly loved me. Some refer to me as sayang, others have referred to me as darling, others still just call me "aiz", or affectionately "koko" (the chinese salutation for "elder brother") - among them i suppose there are a few who genuinely, literally and espressively, love me.

Who am i to love? I don't know. But after filtering through all the emotions in my mind, it seems the appropriate answer to that question should come from the persons in my life that are willing to love me for my evils and sacrifice for me despite of them. Of my evils, i have many and yet i find it amazing that those who love me accept me wholesale, and are always willing to burden themselves in my favour. Perhaps that is the most accurate description of love.

I can be a terrible son. My room is a mess, getting me to help in the house chores is a chore on its own. I'm almost like a leech that sucks the resources of my family while giving very little back in return. I live rent-free. My parents and sisters are moving out in May, and i've somehow managed to convince them to pay ME to live in this house alone (i'm "looking" after the house, i argue). I shout at my parents when they get irritating. I shout at my sisters whenever i feel like it. And yet, each of them love me because, through all that is bad about me as a son and a brother, none have let me down in my time of need. Countless times mom and dad have bailed me out, even when they could have easily said, "This is your problem, you sort it out", even when by helping me it means hardship onto them. Its hard to explain why they would do something like that, over and over again, over the years. The only explanation is love.

When i woman says she loves me, this will be the acid test. Its easy to profess love when the going is good and the times are rosy. Its easy to say "I love you" when there is so little on the line. Its a lot more difficult to love me, the asshole, me, the inconsiderate shithead. Its a lot more difficult to give up personal comforts and sacrifice for another person, especially when it would be so easy to turn a back and walk away saying, "Its not my problem, its yours".

The next time you say you love me, or any other person in your world, check yourself, look inside your depth of emotions and ask yourself who is more important, you or the person you say you love. Only one answer really means love.

When 15 becomes forever

This happens to me a lot, mostly due to the females in my life. I'm not sure whether its a coincidence or is this something inherently female.

Mom takes the family shopping, either for clothes or for food. She gets me to drive her, saying that it'll only take 15 minutes. She just wants to pick up a few things, nothing much, it won't take long. I end up spending the next 2 hours waiting for her to be done.

Sister asks me to drive her and her friends to Mega Mall. It'll only take 15 minutes, she says. Get there, drop them off, get back. No sweat. I end up having to pick up her friends from their homes (because suddenly the plan to meet at my house doesn't materialize), send them to Mega Mall, get stuck in a traffic jam (because its a Saturday afternoon), and even pick them up later (no cabs available). 2 hours lost travelling back and forth (twice).

Friend tells me that she will call back in 15 minutes. She's busy she says, she needs to speak to a few other people before getting back to me. I don't exactly hold my breath waiting for the phone to ring, because its not terribly urgent anyway. But she doesn't call, 2 hours on. Perhaps she forgot.

Is it just me and the females that i know, or do all women think that 15 minutes actually means 2 hours?

All is fair in war, not love

Francis Edward Smedley once said, "All is fair in love and war". The war in Iraq is not very fair - the Americans + British are pounding the crap out of Iraq while taking very, very few loses in return (and still they complain!). But this is war, so everything goes, thus justifying the latter portion of Smedley's quotation.

But there should be a sense of fair play in love, at least. One rule that i think should be upheld is "don't lie on another's man's bed": if she has a boyfriend, or if she is married, or has a fiance, then she should be officially off-limits to further approach, even if she makes advances on you first.

This rule goes beyond common decency and gentlemanly conduct. There is a very pure and logical reason why it should be upheld: "don't do upon others what you wouldn't want done upon you." Because, believe it or not, "what goes around comes around." You may get the girl, you may even live happily ever after, but you can bet your life that somewhere down the road, your indiscretions will return to haunt you. I'm not a big believer in karma - i believe all punishment and reward will be dished out or granted in the Hereafter. But this is certainly one area where erring on the side of caution is preferred.

If you want the girl (or the man, as the case may be), and she wants you back in a serious way, let there be a clean break between her and the other him before you and her start anything. Its better this way, better than sneaking around and feeling guilty.

Understanding the .com

After training 635 dealers and their staff, i've made a pretty amazing discovery: everyone, and i mean every one of them without exception, understands the meaning of ".com" - they know how to spell it (eventhough "com" is normally pronounced as "kom"), they realize its significance and place in Internet addresses (it usually lies towards the end of a URL), and they understand that it is a symbol regularly associated with the cyber world as a cyber-real estate tag.

Before you scoff at the insignificance of this finding, take a moment to consider that a majority of the dealers i've trained have absolutely never surfed the Internet before. Some have never even touched a PC (there was one whom i had to hold her hand and guide her while moving the mouse for the first time). With so little exposure to the Internet as a practical tool, its amazing that they understand the significance of one of its cornerstones, the ".com".

Marketers speak of the brand recognition of such things as Coke, CNN, PETRONAS, Nike or McDonalds. I do believe that the ".com" more than rightly deserves its place among the elite brands on this planet. Assuming, of course, we can even consider it a brand.

What a difference a beauty makes

Dealernet training is usually a dry affair - almost sterile if not for the stupid jokes that i try to bring to each session. Sometimes, the audience loves me, sometimes they roll their eyes when my attempts fall particularly flat. I've been doing this for 6 months now, so while they have only seen me for the first time, i've seen "them" over and over again. Its understandable that i need something to make it interesting for me, is it not?

Every once in a while, the training is interesting even without my jokes, my anecdotes and general hyperactivity. Every once in a while, a person in the audience just lights everything up and i know that THIS training session will be exciting.

Call me your typical male, but if you were in my shoes, i'm sure you would appreciate the difference a beauty makes.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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