July 2003 Archives

Kung-fu, stick man style

If you're bored, there are many better ways to spend your time than by playing this game.

Haaaaaaiiiiyaaaaa!

Sex in Malaysia

The recent hoolaboo about Bruce Almighty touches on the issue of religion and to a lesser degree, race relations in Malaysia. Most definitely a touchy-touchy subject for a country with our background, composition and history. Made me wonder, what other issues are the government very sensitive about. In a word: sex.

Most people who've had sex (either married or not), enjoy it and want to have it again. Most people who've not had sex are curious and want to see what all the fuss is about at some point in their lives. Nothing unusual here - this is how we're programmed to reproduce, so it goes to reason that we'll spend lots of time thinking about it.

Next question: what about sex in Malaysia? Its a no-no in schools (the closest we get to sex ed is in a Form 3 science class). Its a no-no in books, magazines, movies, TV and radio. Its a no-no topic of discussion among "polite" company. Women who dress or act provocatively in a sexual manner are frowned upon. Parents warn their daughters about befriending over-"studly" men.

Sex is important, perhaps incredibly important even. Yet most people in this country won't talk about it openly and frown upon those who try. Strange.

I received this email from a friend today. He too had the same questions in mind. He shared with me this link. To summarize, its about looking for sex in Malaysia. Don't click on this if you're not 18 years old; it might shatter your innocent (naive?) beliefs about what this country is really about on the issue of sex. You have been warned: SEX IN MALAYSIA

*sigh*... again

This is an important update to the previous posting about the potential banning of "Bruce Almighty":

bq. Akhirnya Tuhan yang digambarkan dalam bentuk manusia berkulit hitam berjanggut putih (lakonan Morgan Freeman) muncul dan menawarkan kuasa kepada Bruce selama tujuh hari.

bq. Masya-Allah! Betapa jahilnya manusia berbicara mengenai ketuhanan. Dan bagaimana pihak berkenaan boleh meluluskan iklan dan tayangan di pawagam. Seterusnya tidak mustahil VCD haram atau halal akan tersebar di pasar-pasar malam. - Letter from Utusan Malaysia

This letter is an example of how insular, and perhaps, even bigoted, the Malay-Muslim can be (i'm assuming that the writer is a Muslim, and by sheer statistical probability, a Malay).

Choices

We make choices everyday. Some are more important than others, some less so. But significant or not, we are responsible for them. Its wise advice to be sure of your choices before you make them.

But when you are sure, never hesitate. Life is too short to hesitate on the choices that matter, on the choices that are important. Often, you may never get another chance to make them again.

I'm in love. That's a choice i've made and its a choice i'm happy to make. Its most certainly a choice i'm sure is correct. I have no doubts, i have no reason to look back (or into the future) and say, "What if..." - some choices, seriously, are just meant to be made. Some choices, seriously, are, quite simply, meant to lead to happiness.

Am i happy? You betcha. Am i certain? You better believe it. Alhamdulillah wa Allahuakhbar

For Norbaizura Shaari

A new blog is born

Been working on this project quietly over the last 2 weeks: My Cigar Blog - A Malaysian's Journey in Search of the Perfect Cigar. I started this blog for a few reasons:

*sigh*

My words are not enough. Let's have the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin do the talking:

bq. Abdul Hamid said the Film Censorship Board should refer to the Islamic Affairs Department over the film ("Bruce Almighty") in which a man was given the power to be God for a week. “It’s not appropriate to show the film in this country. I don’t know how far the Film Censorship Board has taken action,” he said. - The Star Online

Islamic family law

Its been a long time since i last posted a chat on the Volume of Interactions. But i believe the following chat on the rights of a husband and wife in an Islamic family might be of interest. Feedback and comments are very welcome - this is an area that i think many of us (myself included) do not yet fully understand, and its probably something that all of us, Muslim or non-Muslim, should be aware of.

Kick-a$$ Matrix Screensaver

If you have second generation video card e.g. ATI 8500 series and DirectX 9 installed, and you're a fan of the Matrix or ultra-cool screen savers in general, then you MUST check this site out - MVR 3D Inc. The Matrix Screen Saver (2.26MB - a lighter version, 988kb, can be found here), in particular is, quite simply, AWESOME. Kicks the crap out of the "official" Matrix Screen Saver being offered at Download.com. MVR's version (the 2.26MB one) runs at just about any resolution your graphics card can handle, and its literally a 3D environment that you can navigate in (e.g. fly between lines of scrolling code). Amazing stuff.

Romephotos.com

I love to travel. Alas, i don't have the money or the time to go to the places that i dream about. Perhaps someday when i'm rich and don't need to work for a living. Then i'll just keep all my monies in FD and use the interest from there to travel.

Until that time comes, i'm glad i've got the Internet - i can "be" where i want to be, without actually "being" there. Ahh, the wonders what a tourist can do with a digital camera and a webserver. Check out Romephotos.com for a wonderful dose of this historical city; some quite amazing pics to be found there.

Check this for a quick sample.

Mom is home

Mom is HOME! :)

Mom is home
The most beautiful woman in the world

She's back for 10 days or so to organize the transfer of the assets from here to Australia (plus do some serious shopping; apparently lots of stuff can't be found Down Under). I've taken leave today from work, so it'll be my pleasure to drive her around.

In the garden.jpg
Quite happy, i am

Good to have you home, Mom.

Malaysia v Singapore

Just to prove that its the big boys in government who have problems with each other. We, on the ground, the rakyat of Malaysia, and the citizens of Singapore have pretty good relations.


Beautiful ladies lending their support to their boyfriends, Azlina (left) and Najwa (right) (click to enlarge)

Having said that, its still nice to gloat that Malaysia won the first ever futsal tournament held between Newcastle Supporters' Clubs of our two nations. :)


We're all here - Malaysia & Singapore Newcastle Supporters' 1st Futsal Tourney (click to enlarge)

Excellent lads from across the Causeway - we enjoyed playing host to your company and do look forward to seeing you all again soon. Howay the Lads!

Full pics of the tourney in Visuals.

Newcastle choked

Why does last night's FA EPL Asia Cup result not surprise me? Over the years, Newcastle has got a reputation of being a very good football team, but when it comes down to the final hurdle, when they are on the verge of actually winning some silverware, they have made it a habit of choking and tumbling out. * shakes head, ruefully *

It happened a couple of years ago when they were leading the EPL by double digits going into the final straight. Keegan lost his cool when taunted by Sir Alex, and the championship was lost. It happened the season after that again. Over the last few years, Newcastle under Sir Bobby have come close to winning something, but, again, no cigar.

And, last night, losing the Chelsea on penalties with Alan Shearer, of all people, missing his spot kick by slamming it against the cross bar. If he had scored, they would have won.

Man, this sucks lah.

Full pics of the outing can be found in Visuals.

Nana is gone

It wasn't surprising - her run in Akademi Fantasia lasted longer than what most observers would have guessed. Tonight was her last show, Nana has walked.

While that wasn't unexpected, the reaction of the live audience certainly was. When Aznil announced Nana was out, the crowd cheered and clapped. When Aznil asked, "Adakah anda gembira dengan keputusan anda?" (are you happy with your decision?), many actually shouted out, "Ya!".

I thought that to be very rude. Uncalled for and disgraceful. It left a sour aftertaste to what was the very best Akademi concert so far.

Every once in a while

... i read something that piques my interest in the most curious way: it gets me thinking, it gets me looking at things in a way i haven't thought of before. Such reads aren't necessarily well written - in fact, they can be written atrociously in the most broken representation of a language. But, i read to think, i read to give my mind fuel for thought. The following will keep me going for a couple of days, at least.

An excerpt:

bq. The American educational assault goes farther than immorality; it extends into the illogical and absurd. Did you know that our ancestors were monkeys? What? You say that you knew your ancestors, and though one of your uncles had a low forehead, he was hardly simian? You may also say that the first man was Prophet Adam, peace and blessings be upon him, and he was no monkey. You know this because God said so, not just in Islam but in all three major religions of the world, and plus evolution has been deemed impossible by a huge but muffled community of scientists. (Read Evolution Deceit: The Scientific Collapse of Darwinism... by Harun Yahya) If you make the mistake of expressing your religious beliefs in class, you will be laughed out of class and scolded when you come eventually come back. - A Thoughtful Article By A Sister For The Parents In America (thanks to the excellent xy@d for finding this and sharing)

The Great Malaysian Blog List

Its been ages since i visited my own humble little creation, the Great Malaysian Blog List (GMBL - pronounced "gamble" by some friends). Normally i just do enough each day to approve new requests, update & backup the database. I haven't actually taken some time to study the statistics and reports. If anyone is remotely interested to see what i see, please download this file (5kb, .txt).

Relevant stats:

* 567 blogs listed in the VOI Blog Directory
* 393 blogs listed in the GMBL
* Most blogs are from Kuala Lumpur (87)
* The Northern and East Coast states (Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Terengganu) have the fewest blogs between them (8 in total)

Log file stats reveal:

* Most visitors to the GMBL click on the "What's New" page and follow the new links there. *TIP: All new blogs are marked as "New" for 14 days. If your blog has been in the GMBL for a while, and you would like to "refresh" your listing to be marked as "New" again, simply "Modify" your account with all the same information. I've noticed a few canny bloggers doing that so their blogs are always marked "New".
* "Popular" blogs just keep on getting more popular e.g. Hani's Honey - visited 621 times from the GMBL. But having said that, its interesting to note that blogs that have an interesting description seem to pick up a lot of hits very quickly.

An interesting surprise is how my own blog, the Volume of Interactions has slowly crept up the "Top Rated" blogs - 8.15 from 55 votes! :)

Son of Napster

Does it get any more brilliant than this?

bq. Each Snapster share carries ownership rights to those 100,000 CDs. You see, Snapster is a kind of mutual fund, so every investor is a beneficial owner of all 100,000 CDs. Each share also carries the right to download backup or media-shifting copies for $0.05 per song or $0.50 per CD, that download coming from a separate company we'll call Snapster Download that is 100 percent owned by Snapster. With one million co-owners each downloading one CD per month, gross revenue would be $6 million per year. If they download an average of 10 CDs per month revenue grows to $60 million per year. At these download volumes and with the very low cost of running the service, the $200 million market cap is justified even at the lower sales level. At the $60 million sales level, the share price ought to rise. Now grow the business to its logical size of 60 million users. At 10 CDs per user per year, Snapster download revenue would be $3.6 billion or about a quarter the size of the current recording industry, which it would effectively replace. With 90 percent profit margins, Snapster would be making $3.2 billion per year in profit. Based on a modest price-to-earnings ratio of 10-to-1 (I am choosing this low number because of the obvious legal issues involved in this business) Snapster's market capitalization is now up to $33 billion, which is more than any current record company. Investors who paid $20 at the IPO will now find each of those shares worth $33,000, which is comparable to Microsoft or Dell or Cisco in success except that Snapster would do this all in one year. - Robert X. Cringely

The problem with file-sharing like Kazaa and Napster is that the people sharing the files don't own the files being shared. Bob Cringely's idea circumvents this problem superbly - all the users of the system (i.e. Snapster) own all the files being circulated in system. OH MY GOD. BRILLIANT. Why didn't anyone think of this before? If you own the music, certainly, you can't be accused of any copyright infringements! How do you steal from yourself?!

Ok, let's do it. All members of PPS share the cost of buying 100 of the latest CDs.

100 x RM$35 per CD = RM$3500
100 PPS members = RM$35 "share" per member (each "share" entitles us to joint ownership of those 100 CDs).

Digital copies of these CDs (we can rip them - why not? We own them after all, and Fair Use laws allows us to make digital copies of CDs we own) will be made available on a central server from which we, as owners, can download the music whenever we want.

Therefore, a RM$35 allows each of us to have unlimited access to 525 songs (assuming that each CD has 15 songs on average). A pretty damn good deal. And legal too. Any lawyers out there willing to challenge the legality of this idea?

Mat salleh semput!

Newcastle played Birmingham in Bukit Jalil tonight to a crowd of about 15-20k spectators. This game of football had it all: a couple of goals (Newcastle won 2 - 1), a sending off (poor chap called Cunningham from Birmingham), a couple of yellow cards, a missed open goal from six yards (with a name like "Stern John" what do you expect??), and a whole load of "world-class" players (including a World Cup-winner, truth be told) who just stood around the pitch staring at each other, as though saying, "You get the ball, its too hot here; i can't run."

It got so bad at one point in the first half, someone sitting behind me yelled, "Mat salleh semput!" and everyone burst out laughing. Someone explained what that means to some of the non-Malay speaking mat sallehs in the crowd (there were many), and they burst out laughing too. It was hilarious! *lol I reckon the reason why the players, who just arrived from the temperate UK 2 days ago, couldn't do much running is because the weather is incredibly humid by their standards. I swear there were a few occasions when a few of them started chasing the ball, then suddenly stopped dead in their tracks, as though gasping for air. The humidity must have been searing their lungs - the referee, Bob Styles, had his shirt stuck firmly to his back with sweat even before he blew the whistle to start the game.

This is unnecessary

The US is planning to show off the bodies of Uday and Qusay, the sons of Saddam Hussein who were killed yesterday in a fierce gun-battle in the town of Mosul, northern Iraq. Saddam's 14 year old grandson was also killed.

The timeline of the attack (with images - from CNN.com)

The US wants to show off the bodies to prove that they are really dead - it is hoped that this will break the sporadic resistance being put up by guerilla fighters left in Iraq. While i can understand that this is an important strategic goal, i question the humanity of it all. In all probability, Saddam's sons deserve the death they received - both were instrumental in the deaths of thousands of Iraqis over the years - but showing off the bodies? Where's the point in that?

Saddam's sons
Saddam and his sons, Uday and Qusay

If they are indeed dead, news of their death will trickle down to the rank and file of the guerilla resistance soon enough. And even if it doesn't, and they are indeed responsible for organizing the guerillas, their deaths will almost certainly create a command and control vacuum - guerilla attacks will no longer be coordinated and almost certainly, therefore, be less potent. Showing off the bodies will not necessarily accelerate this process - it might even spark off a round of revenge attacks.

Showing off the bodies smacks of triumphalism and arrogance. There is no need. They are already dead.

UPDATE: I found this very interesting. What does this tell us about the Iraqi mind? A lot, i reckon (thanks to Shafina for the pointer).

bq. "In Falluja, we don't care about this," said Abdul Majid Noori, 27, of the deaths of Saddam's sons. "We care about our religion."

bq. Sitting in a sign shop festooned with banners in English that read, "Our aim is not to kill you, but our independence is more precious than your blood," Noori continued: "In our religion, the infidel has no right to relieve the oppression of believers. If we want to change the regime, we'll do it ourselves."

Smoking

I tried my first cigarette when i was 13 - i stole a box of my aunt's imported Dunhills and puffed them all away in the toilet of my grandmother's home in the space of a single week. Felt really stupid afterwards, so i quit. Didn't see the big deal about smoking; friends at school were all the rage about it, but it just felt like inhaling BBQ smoke. Where was the fun in that?

Over the last few days (and partially inspired by this posting), I've been thinking about the difference between a cigar and a cigarette. Went to a cigar shop in KLCC the other day to ask about cigars - what made them so special? what is the difference between cigars and cigarettes? how were they made, where do they come from, why are they so expensive? The following are the answers i received (from a very kind, knowledgeable man who's been in the business for 20 years):

# Smoking a cigar is a luxury, a cultured lifestyle activity.
# You don't inhale - not unless you want to turn green
# There are two types: hand rolled cigars and machine rolled cigars
# The best cigars are from Cuba (tobacco is one of Cuba's main exports, apparently)
# There are many types of cigars - from the tiny ones, to the really thick ones (with names like "Robusto" and "Gigante"!). Different processes in making each type results in different tastes - some are "stronger" (pungent?) while some are "lighter" (even less "tasty" than average cigarettes)
# Cigars are expensive because they are expensive to produce (especially the handmade variety), and because some types of cigars can be quite rare (US$210 each for a Cuban Davidoff Don Perignon?? - gosh)

Read the following for the Anatomy of a Cigar. Go to the CigarNexus for an education on cigars.

I've never let a curious itch go unscratched, and i wasn't about to change that habit now. So i went ahead and bought a single Romeo y Julieta Vintage, took it home and puffed away. The results:

* The type i bought was very light - it had a very mild taste and felt quite comfortable in the mouth. I only smoked about 10% of the cigar - then i stubbed it out and placed in back in the cedar-lined aluminum casing that came with it.
* While in the mouth, cigar smoke is not unusual. The aftertaste, though, can be quite strong and provides a whole different experience. The taste of the cigar was still in my mouth when i woke up this morning, and mildly present even after brushing my teeth and having a cup of juice. Its not necessarily unpleasant, but more like a thoughtful reminder of what transpired last night. This is very different from cigarette smoke, when the taste of a single cigarette does not linger this long.
* I tried inhaling. That was a mistake.

Romeo y Julieta Vintage
My first cigar, RM30

Verdict: I imagine it can be a fun hobby to indulge in - considering the extremely wide array of cigar-types and the assorted accesories, it wouldn't be hard to begin a collection of such items. Unlike cigarettes, there are a lot of possibilities involved in cigars and i think this adds to the charm of the activity. A good hobby is one that allows for depth and width of exploration. Cigars certainly fit the bill.

UPDATE: A guide to the various types of Cuban cigars.

Howay the Lads!

It was a cold dreary day in 1993 - i was in the UK, it was raining outside, and mom wouldn't let me go out and play. Dejected, i flipped channels, and chanced upon a game of football being shown: Newcastle United FC against someone i can't remember. In those days, Newcastle was trapped in the lower divisions of British football, and though they had a huge fan base, affectionately called the Toon Army, their games were, at best, shown on TV on a massively delayed basis; probably the stuff the TV stations show when they don't think anyone is watching but they have to put something on the air anyway to pass the time.

To say the least, for some insane reason, i was enthralled by the Magpies (that's Newcastle's nickname) - their style of play was unstructured and a bit messy back then, but the attacking football was undeniable in its class and determination. They won the game, i cheered, and since then, i've been a fan.

As a football fan, there are two missions in life:

# To watch your team play LIVE in a competitive match
# To make a trip to their home (in this case, the city of Newcastle in the North-East UK), and watch them play a game there

Winning or losing is not too important in relation to these missions - at the end of the day, you hardly remember whether your team won or lost; what matters is that you were there to witness them play, LIVE.

Well, tomorrow, the first mission will come true. Newcastle is in Kuala Lumpur and will play the opening match of the FA Premier League Asia Cup against Birmingham at Bukit Jalil, 8.45pm.

Alan Shearer
Shearer's famous one-handed salute

I got my tickets months ago. I've got my replica Newcastle jersey prepped. Thinking about making a banner saying, "Alan Shearer - I LOVE YOU". I can't wait. My footballing heart is buzzing in anticipation.

UPDATE: The NUFC Malaysia Supporters' Club held its first activity over the last weekend. Check out the report here.

Star Wars

When i found this great site, The Star Wars Alphabet Project it brought back a flood of memories from my younger days. I don't know whether any of you did this too, but i used to pretend that my hands were spaceships (of the Star Wars variety) and i would re-enact whole battle scenes from the movies. One hand would "chase" the other, then "shoot" its laser beams, then one hand would "explode" - all to the tune of the Star Wars theme in the background, and verbal commentary by myself (i would mimic the voices of the pilots in the ships, "Die, rebel scum!" or "The Force is strong with this one").

It was great fun. And i confess, i still do it, once in a while, even now.

"Red Wing, Gold Wing, make your attack run now... "

What i notice about PPS

Since Project Petaling Street was launched (12 June 2003), i've noticed a few things:

# I'm reading more blogs now - but i'm still reading only the ones that sound interesting (how can i tell? based on the titles and excerpts).
# Blog-trawling is no longer difficult to do: with content coming to a single space, it doesn't take long to quickly read what people are talking about.
# Its easier to notice blog-trends - e.g. its not difficult to notice so many different bloggers talking about the Bolehwood controversy.

What is the potential of PPS? What is its ultimate purpose? Or have it already been achieved? Its difficult to answer these questions, even for me who has been with the project since day 1. But what i am sure of is that the project is providing a valuable service to those who want to use it. When all is said and done, is PPS making a difference? I hope so.

Irrational

Jealously is an irrational emotion. Yet we feel it anyway when a loved one is with someone else even in the most seemingly platonic circumstances. Perhaps, to be jealous is to fear competition for her affections?

I can't help but feel jealous, and though you may say i shouldn't, maybe to be jealous is better than to be not.

The Water Booklet

Malaysia is most definitely treading on shaky international precedent. Rarely does one country publicly publish its grievances with another - in this case, Malaysia publishing a booklet on its much publicised water dispute with neighbouring Singapore. It'll be interesting to see how our friends across the Causeway respond to this throw of the gauntlet at their feet.

Choice excerpts from the report:

Although Singapore has generated a profit of RM662.5 million from Malaysian raw water in 2001 alone, Singapore paid Johor only RM2.39 million - or S$1.09 million or US$628,947- in 2001 for a whole year’s supply of water. This works out to just 26 Singapore cents (US 15 cents) per person per year.

In other words, Singaporeans got all the water they wanted from Malaysia for an
entire year for just one small bite of a Big Mac.

On the other hand, Johor paid Singapore RM6.3 million for the treated water it took in 2001.

From the conclusion:

In Singapore dollar terms, the amounts involved are minuscule. Even if Singapore were to pay Malaysia RM6.25 per 1,000 gallons, the cost for an ENTIRE YEAR’S SUPPLY OF WATER LAST YEAR would have amounted to only S$268.1 million -just 0.17 per cent of Singapore’s 2002 Gross Domestic Product - or less than one-fifth of one per cent of Singapore’s GDP. At RM6.25 per 1,000 gallons, each of the 4,163,000 people living in Singapore will pay just S$64.40 or less than 19 Big Macs in exchange for a whole year’s supply of Johor water.

Even at RM6.25 per 1,000 gallons, the cost of a whole year’s supply of water to a person living in Singapore is less than 0.17 per cent of his per capita GDP of S$37,401 last year. Singapore enjoys one of the highest standards of living in Asia and is by far the richest among Asean countries, apart from Brunei. The Singapore Government’s reluctance to pay an easily affordable and fair price is puzzling.

What a mess. Read the whole report from the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) July 2003 below in multiple formats:

# The Water Booklet (edited to minimize size) - PDF 84kb
# The Water Booklet (edited for Microsoft Word) - .doc 72kb
# The Water Booklet (edited for Notepad) - .txt 24kb

Get the originals here:

# The Water Booklet Pages 1-10 - PDF 3.3MB
# The Water Booklet Pages 11-20 - PDF 3.3MB

Death in the family

Early this morning, my cousin died from injuries sustained when his motorbike was knocked down in a hit-and-run accident late last night in Kampung Batu. What a waste: he was just getting his act together, after a prolonged period of personal malaise - he got his diploma, was holding a stable job at Celcom, and was taking night classes to earn his degree. Rest well, cuz. I won't forget you.

Al-Fatihah

Bullshit

I almost never swear on my blog. But f**K THAT! An injustice was done tonight. Rosmah, perhaps the only lady who has an ounce of singing talent and potential among the 4 remaining ladies, was voted off tonight from Akademi Fantasia. Do the people who send in votes have any taste at all?

UPDATE: An interesting theory by Sultanmuzaffar (this is the best blog i've found that writes daily about Akademi Fantasia):

Teori “Survivor”
Untuk terus kekal dan menjadi juara, kita harus menyingkirkan peserta yang hebat dan bakal memberi saingan. Adakah pengundi Vince yang menyebabkan Rosma terkeluar ? Jika teori ini terus menjadi pegangan semua, tidak mustahil selepas ini Sahri akan terkeluar. Taktik mengekalkan Nana dan Liza secara tidak langsung membesarkan lagi peluang Vince untuk muncul Juara. Taktik seperti perlu dikikis kerana ini bukan Survivor.

A comment from Aznil Nawawi on Rosmah leaving AF (sourced from Sultanmuzaffar):

“Bila kita terlalu confident, kita cuma memberi tumpuan kepada pelajar lain sambil berharap pelajar lain dapat mengalahkan undian pelajar yang bukan favourite, akibatnya, ROSMA tidak atau terlupa diundi. Untuk pengetahuan anda UNDIAN SMS ini disahkan oleh AUDITOR yang bertauliah. Untuk mengelakkan perkara yang sama berlaku, saya cadangkan anda pastikan pilihan TOP5 anda dan berikan tumpuan undi anda pada pelajar TOP5 itu sahaja. Mungkin ini dapat melahirkan keputusan yang lebih adil. SEKIAN.”

Englishmen

"One Englishman, an idiot.
Two Englishmen, a club.
Three Englishmen, an Empire."
- Hermann Wilhelm Göring

More words from this Nazi leader:

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." - Hermann Wilhelm Göring

Words that are still valid in their truths today, perhaps? Read this for further context and this for Tony Blair's full speech.

Voyage to Cairo

This is hilarious: a website that generates a movie plot for you based on your input into a couple of fields.

This is mine:

Voyage to Cairo an original screenplay concept by Aizuddin Danian

Romance: A shell-shocked war vet teams up with a cute dog named Jake to find the true meaning of love. In the process they fall in love with a nun. By the end of the movie they have sex on 10 trains and end up winning the admiration of their world, living happily ever after.

Think Titanic meets Star Wars.

Hehehehehe... Or use this one for porn movie plots (don't worry, no pictures, just lots of words). :horny:

IZHAI DIKUA

Greetings. You may now call me IZHAI DIKUA - this will forever more be my Jedi name. :)

Get yours here. May the Force be with you.

BP vs HP

Bike-power versus Horse-power.

Jeff and i think alike: we can't stand seeing money wasted. And when local authorities are spending large sums of money (~RM250k) on silly things like HORSES for law enforcement duties - i begin to wonder these people understand the value of money.

Let's assume for a moment that law enforcement is actually within the jurisdiction of the Klang Municipal Council (MPK); it very well might not be. Let's assume for a moment that a mode of efficient transportation is required for "crime prevention work such as patrolling narrow areas and back lanes" - surely these places are too small for police cars. Given these assumptions, what would be an effective, cost efficient solution?

Horses? Or bicycles? Yes, BICYCLES. Case in point: New York City.

Bicycles: cheaper (unlike horses, you don't need to feed them), longer lasting (unlike horses, they don't die), easier to use (unlike horses, you don't need to train a law enforcement officer for 6 months to ride a bike well), don't leave manure lying around (unlike horses, they don't have a digestive system).

Perhaps the MPK has too much money; they did blow another RM200k on robes and a mace for its council members lately. Perhaps, they don't understand the economics of a cost-benefit analysis. Perhaps they kesian their law enforcement officers; don't want them to get tired so give them horses to ride rather than kayuh themselves around. I don't know what the problem is with these people. Do you?

The Freenet Project

This is an important update to an earlier posting concerning running an online campaign anonymously, The Freenet Project:

bq. Freenet is free software which lets you publish and obtain information on the Internet without fear of censorship. To achieve this freedom, the network is entirely decentralized and publishers and consumers of information are anonymous. Without anonymity there can never be true freedom of speech, and without decentralization the network will be vulnerable to attack.

bq. Communications by Freenet nodes are encrypted and are "routed-through" other nodes to make it extremely difficult to determine who is requesting the information and what its content is.

bq. Users contribute to the network by giving bandwidth and a portion of their hard drive (called the "data store") for storing files. Unlike other peer-to-peer file sharing networks, Freenet does not let the user control what is stored in the data store. Instead, files are kept or deleted depending on how popular they are, with the least popular being discarded to make way for newer or more popular content. Files in the data store are encrypted to reduce the likelihood of prosecution by persons wishing to censor Freenet content.

Looks like the champions of uncensored free-speech have another tool at their disposal. Cool.

Pendekar bedebah!

Celaka padamu, Hang Tuah - akulah pendekar bedebah, bukan engkau! Jagalah dirimu baik-baik, sekiranya dilihatnya engkau di sini lagi, nahas lah engkau dan keluarga mu. Keris ku akan bermandi darah kau dan warisan mu!

Jebat! Di sisi ku!

A new browser king in town?

I downloaded the latest build of Mozilla Firebird a few nights ago, and i've been using it almost exclusively these past days to surf the Internet. My verdict: Internet Explorer (IE) 6 is finished as the "king of the browser hill" unless it does something quick. Microsoft has released a statement that IE6 SP1 will be the final standalone installation - does this mean that no further development will be done on IE? I'm not sure, but it sure sounds like it. Perhaps a bit of hubris has set in; after winning the browser wars, Microsoft doesn't see the need for further investment in IE.

And while Microsoft stands still, Mozilla is chugging away. While the full-client Mozilla may not be suitable for everyone (currently version 1.4 and includes everything you could ask for from an Internet + email browsing and editing suite), Firebird caters for those who prefer a simple, fast, and lean standalone browser; no frills, just usable to the max. To put it mildly, its a real kick-butt browsing app - downloads at about 6MB, doesn't require installation to work (just unzip into a folder, and you're set to go), and is blazingly fast (certainly faster than IE and perhaps marginally so over Mozilla 1.4). What more can you ask for from a browser? Note: comparisons between browsers made using the same Internet connection, accessing the same websites.

For a full list of reasons why you should switch to Firebird, read this. To download Firebird, use this link.

Don't just take my word for it, read some other excellent reviews by tech experts, here, here and here.

Let's go shooting!

After a very successful first meet, the Kota Raya bloggers are organizing a new activity for sometime between late August - early September 2003: PAINTBALL (of the shooting kind, not the thrown version). For more information, refer to the following for more info:

* Kota Raya Tembak Activity Wiki - register your interest here
* Xtion Paintball - this is where we're going to play!

Hahahha! Deluded!

It made the front page of The Sun; its also been reported in The Star Online:

bq. The Election Commission (EC) will monitor material posted on the Internet during campaigning period for polling offences including the circulation of sensitive issues. Commission secretary Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said the EC would set up teams to keep an eye on cyberspace campaigning, including through e-mail. He added the EC would track the source of the documents if necessary with the help of IT officers and the Energy, Communications and Multimedia Ministry.

bq. “If we find any evidence that someone is campaigning by using illegal means, such as circulating sensitive issues via the Internet, we will charge them in court,” he said at a press conference yesterday after briefing state police on election laws, regulations and preparations.

bq. He added that candidates would be held responsible for the behaviour or action of their supporters.

There are a host of bugs with this proposal:

* Keeping "an eye on cyberspace campaigning" - basically, that's all the EC is going to be able to do: they can watch what happens, but they won't be able to do anything about it. The Internet can be a labyrinth of hidden identities and shadows. It really doesn't take a genius to hide his trail on the Internet when using it to run an online campaign. But just in case you need help, here are some wonderful resources to get you started:

bq. Anonymizer
Anonymous Internet - Peace of Mind
Evidence Blaster
BulletProofSoft

* Tracking email - this is a lot more difficult than it sounds; shows like CSI notwithstanding, its a lot easier to hide your email trail than it is to follow one. But having said that, there is a precedent for the interception of email by the authorities.

bq. "(of the Communications and Multimedia Act) Section 234 prohibits unlawful interception of communications. Section 249 sets rules for searches of computers and includes access to encryption keys. Section 252 authorizes police to intercept communications without a warrant if a public prosecutor considers that a communications is likely to contain information which is relevant to an investigation.

* "...candidates would be held responsible for the behaviour or action of their supporters." - this is a potential nightmare. What it means is that Ali, who is a staunch UMNO supporter, can write libelous things and spread a pack of lies on the Internet on behalf of an Opposition candidate and it will be that candidate's responsibility for what Ali has done. This can actually be a new campaign tactic: say bad stuff about the person you really support, and claim that you're saying such things because you support someone else (e.g. the candidate opposing your candidate). This is ludicrous.

Again, all of the above is a fine example of speaking before thinking.

On censorship

Watching movies at the local cinemas can be a very frustrating experience: you just never know when the censor's scissors will snip something away. A bit too much gore: no can do. Cut. A passionate kiss: no can do. Cut. A little too much skin in a parallel horizontal position: no can do. Cut. Sometimes, whole sentences are butchered because the script calls for a liberal dose of expletives.

And worse yet, sometimes, award-winning movies of great socio-cultural impact don't even reach our shores due to the liberal use of the powers granted to our Censorship Board. The massively significant Schindler's List (1993) is a case in point. The remarkably entertaining and educational Prince of Egypt (1998) is another.

Found one

A very nice group-blog (11 contributors) was registered with the Great Malaysian Blog List today. I like it - the writing is straightforward and frank. The following is an excerpt from Critic Me This:

bq. Perhaps it's a mere coincidence that just when pornography has been wiped out of the piracy market, these ruthless bastards come out of their shell, possibly in search for some sort of “emancipation” without thinking about the consequences involved. A life is precious - obviously that wasn't in their heads when they're blood-thirsty for flesh. The country obviously overlooked the fact that "a certain group" of gutless citizens of hers will easily lose control of their pathetic raging hormones when they haven't 'satisfied' their urges in awhile. This does not mean that I am either pro or against pornographic material - I just don't understand why some people can't balance or differentiate between fantasy and reality; if the general code of conduct in the real world is to uphold goodness and not killing your own kind like cannibals!

Worth a read, most definitely so.

TV Smith, funny-man and teacher

TV Smith's Dua Sen is a gem of a blog - his latest posting on the potential abuse of our privacy through the use of the MyKad is a case in point.

The posting has got everything you could possibly ask from a blog:

* It informs and educates
* It has links that recommends readers to other online resources to gain a better understanding of the issue at hand
* Its got a sprinkling of humour - i think being funny is one of the hardest things to do in this world. Being funny is a gift from God - a talent.

Sometimes, the hardest lessons are better received when taken with a pinch of laughter. That makes the funny person, not just a comedian, but an educator.

Ping-pong crazy

THIS IS HILARIOUS! I'll bet you've never seen ping-pong played this way (well, not unless you've seen this video before *lol). Make sure your speakers are on - the sound effects enhance the comedy (or perhaps satire, if you've ever seen a real ping-pong match where the players really get into it, you'll know what i mean).

UPDATED: And if you thought THAT was funny, wait until you see this pong-based cartoon (yes, "pong" the computer game!) MEGA-HILARIOUS!

Interesting

This is by far the most interesting description of Project Petaling Street i've had the good fortune to read:

bq. As if to drive home this point, a collection of multiple Daily -Us- Me views is available in Project Petaling Street, which is now in version 1.5 and is taking public submissions after a succesful beta period. This collection of Daily Me views could be seen collectively as one big Daily Us. Think about it. - Alphaque.com

Pics of family

One of the wonderful things about blogging is that i am given a chance to share my life with everyone. When my family left for Australia a month or so ago, i received a deluge of email wishing me well and a safe journey for my family. Thanks to all for the support and encouragement - living alone after 26-odd years of "protection" can be a daunting experience for the uninitiated.

Dad sent back some pics today - please allow me to share them with you:

The strength of the Malay civilization

I'm almost ashamed. While my peers are earnestly debating the censorship of the excellent (or so i've been told, coz i haven't had the chance to see it), 2nd First Annual Bolehwood Awards, i was glued to my TV, transfixed on the competition that is Akademi Fantasia (AF).

UPDATE: Sultan Muzaffar features a daily review of AF on his blog!

I've been watching it for a couple of weeks now, not religiously, but enough to understand what's going on, and to be pretty absorbed by it when things get interesting. While entertaining, its a show that raises a question that i don't quite have a suitable answer for: why are the participants so bloody nice to one another?

This ain't Survivor folks, its not even Fear Factor, or anywhere nearly as grueling as the Amazing Race - in these series, and other reality shows on the airwaves where competition is a key ingredient (i.e. one contestant has to outperform all the others in order to win) and cut-throat, back-stabbing action is almost assured. But not so in Akademi Fantasia. Some may argue it isn't really a reality series, more like a glorified talent search - you don't have to be nasty to win. In fact, since votes are cast by the viewing public, it pays to be nice so to win the "Mr/Ms Nice Guy" votes; if you're an angel, cry when tears are deemed necessary, weep when a fellow AF-ian is voted off each week, people will like you, hence vote for you more.

This in itself is indicative of the Malaysian persona: why vote for the nice guy or girl? Why not vote for the BEST? Every week, Vince is, by far, the best performer of the lot, thus garnering the lion's share of votes. But last week, Rueben was voted off - his performance has been consistent over the competition and based on that, he shouldn't have walked. There were at least 2 others (who happen to be very pretty ladies) who should have been shown the door based on their woeful singing skills.

Has the Malaysian persona been conditioned to reward appearances, to place that above merit and ability? Is that the state of our society? Or should i say, is this the state of the Malay society - it can be argued that the demographic target of the show is decidedly Malay i.e. Malay language program, all Malay cast, predominantly Malay (only 2 non-Malays as far as i can tell) Akademi "students".

This same issue is addressed in the Bolehwood production by the Instant Cafe Theatre - the phychological and mental lot of the Malays. Its critic and analysis is one of the themes of the production - and while the production meant it as satire, the high-handed imposition by the authorities to censor such themes from the production in fact acts to validate the truth of the assertion.

UPDATE: A review (with pics) of Bolehwood by Nizam Zakaria.

A letter to Utusan written as a complaint of the themes of the show is further proof positive of how weak the Malay mind is when faced with criticism, albeit one that uses potentially "impolite" language (this is subjective, relative to the tolerant levels of individuals for such language).

bq. Yang saya tidak faham, kenapa dan bagaimana mereka ini boleh cemburu dan mengkritik secara berlebihan tentang kemajuan yang dicapai oleh Malaysia sedangkan mereka sendiri adalah rakyat Malaysia? Atau adakah mereka ini sering berulang-alik daripada Malaysia-London. Dengan kata lain, menjadikan Malaysia seperti tempat persinggahan sahaja? Ataupun mereka tidak menetap di Malaysia sama sekali dan hanya mempunyai visa pelancong?

bq. Jika benar tanggapan saya, maka saya tidak hairan golongan ini boleh mempermain-mainkan atau memperlekehkan beberapa negarawan/tokoh politik negara dengan selamba. Mereka perlu faham atau setidak-tidaknya tahu dengan jelas dan sahih tentang kronologi/keadaan sosio-politik negara, sebelum mereka lahir sehinggalah merdeka dan seterusnya pada masa kini. Barulah boleh untuk mengkritik, itupun biarlah secara sihat berlandaskan kata-kata yang berlapik.

A truly strong mind, one built on the foundations of a flourishing civilization would welcome criticisms, even stinging ones that may not seem justified, in stride and see it as a challenge for self-improvement, rather than hide behind the rock that is "we-can't-criticize-because-we-shouldn't" arguments.

But perhaps, that's something we, the Malays, have generally yet to develop: our inability to respond positively to the challenges of criticisms. We may like to think ourselves as civilized, but its quite possible we've forgotten being civilized does not necessarily indicate a vibrant civilization.

Project Petaling Street v1.5 is LIVE

Project Petaling Street (PPS) v1.5 is now LIVE! Its most significant new function is its ability to accept and display content from any Malaysian blog interested in participating (yup, that's right - if you have a blog, you too can have your content posted on PPS!) Thanks to all the PPS BETA Testers for their wonderful support and dedication.

Further reading:

What is Project Petaling Street?
The Cakap-cakap Petaling Street Forums (the official PPS forums)
The Kota Raya Mailing List (the official egroups mailing list on Yahoo!)

Najah responds

This will be the final posting on the VOI concerning the current thread of discussion involving InTech's recent article on blogging and the furour it generated. Please allow me to point you to Najah's final response. Below is an excerpt:

bq. A lot has been assumed of why I reacted to certain things. Mr Asohan, I am a woman operating in a man's world. Yes, that forces me to be a sensitive feminist of sorts when it comes to appreciation or recognition of women in technology in general. If you read my post, the main undertone was - yes, I was a bit irked that I was 'sidelined' - perhaps my contribution was not as worthy as the others. But this is the second time it has happened, and I wasn't about to wait for a third time to voice my discomfort that what this could have implied.

This whole exchange has led me to think along two separate lines, both of which will be items of research for the VOI in the coming weeks:

# Bloggers and journalism? Are we journalists? What is a journalist? Can a blogger also be a journalist? Or more importantly, can a journalist be a blogger?
# What are a blogger's legal responsibilities (if any)? Will need to do some real research about this, and perhaps enlist the help of one of my lawyer friends to share with us what the law says about what we do. Thanks to Mohd Affin for the suggestion

Hype ALERT!

The launch of Project Petaling Street v1.5 is imminent! The BETA test team has been tweaking and improving the system for the last 2 weeks or so, and everything will be ready for general public use by tomorrow, midnight, 13 July 2003. The list of improvements and functions are:

# A public submit function - Malaysian bloggers will now be able to add their content to PPS
# Content filtered according to categories
# The Cakap-cakap Petaling Street forums - includes a "Blogging Tips & Tricks" category where bloggers can exchange ideas and seek advice
# Blog o' the Week - nominated and chosen by the PPS core team, and the BETA team, these blogs are among the best Malaysia has to offer! :)
# PPS has been completely re-designed with a new layout

Asohan speaks

A. Asohan, the editor of InTech has provided a public response to all the bruhaha that started with a posting i recently made in review of an article written by L.C. Wong about bloggers in INFOSOC. The response in its entirety can be found below:

Hi everyone.
Yes, it's me, A. Asohan, that horrible In.Tech editor.

There have been so assumptions made over the last couple of days – about the integrity of my reporter, about the quality and ability of all In.Tech reporters, and about how we work here -- that I think I better clear the air about some of these issues.

This is going to a long, long post, unfortunately.

Interview bersama Limau Nipis

Thanks to Nizam Zakaria for the interview he conducted with me via email. Quite a long one - good questions, picking my brain about what i think about blogging and where the practice is headed. Just an excerpt:

bq. NZ: Would you agree that Weblogs have increased the masses of content out there? But there are so many contents out there, so how does one differentiate between relevant contents and the ones that shouldn't be published in the first place?

bq. Aizuddin: I believe in the freedom of speech. As long as you're honest and sincere in your writing, there should be no distinction between content. But what I've found going around a lot lately is that some bloggers try to pass off their opinions as "fact" and that's a definite no-no. If it's an opinion say so. If you're not sure, but think you're right, say that you think you're right, but admit that you could be wrong. If there's any doubt, don't pass off what you know as a fact. How do you know what you know is really fact or just opinion? Do research before you publish something. Publish the findings (e.g. links) of your research to back up what you've said.

Can you get it up?

I was once told that while women are vain about their appearance, men are vain about their testosterone or their ability to look and function like a man should. Its such vanity that makes the anti-impotency drugs such as Viagra sell so well, its such vanity that has made the tongkat ali root (famed for its male-enhancing qualities) an endangered species, and its also the reason why our mailboxes are constantly clogged with spam claiming to be able to teach us to "satisfy a woman in 5 minutes".

Let's conduct a quick poll:

Are you a man?
If you're a woman (men, skip to the next question), is it important for you that your man can "perform"?
If you're a man, is it important that you're able to "perform"?

It was reported this morning in The Sun that "1.7m Malaysian men can't get it up" (page 6). According to Dr Ismail Thamby, a committee member on the Malaysian Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Advisory Board for Training, there are many reasons for ED but it is "basically a lifestyle-related condition". Take too much alcohol, too many late nights, and over stress at work are some of the main factors. Nasty stuff - statistics like that mean nearly 1 of every 10 Malaysian men have a problem.

There are things that can be done to assist, the most interesting of which i've found is this:

bq. Vacuum Devices

bq. Mechanical vacuum devices cause erection by creating a partial vacuum, which draws blood into the penis, engorging and expanding it. The devices have three components: a plastic cylinder, into which the penis is placed; a pump, which draws air out of the cylinder; and an elastic band, which is placed around the base of the penis to maintain the erection after the cylinder is removed and during intercourse by preventing blood from flowing back into the body. - National Kidney and Urologix Diseases Information Clearinghouse, How is ED treated?

Further reading:
Erectile Dysfunction - NIDDK
Patient Resources: Erectile Dysfunction
Male Impotence Treatment
Tongkat Ali - Testosterone Booster

Its also important to understand how to assist a partner who is suffering from ED.

bq. Working together, you may need to rebuild intimacy on both the physical and emotional level. It is a process that begins with acknowledging and discussing the problem and continues beyond your partner's treatment for ED.

Further reading:
Impotence does not always end your sexual relationship
Erectile dysfunction affects personal relationships

Hullo ZEMPT!

And i thought that w.bloggar was the best. Just goes to show that technology is rarely static, and a single version upgrade can make the world of a difference. There is a new leader in the arena client-side publishing tools for Movable type - its called Zempt.

Just last month, i wrote that i was using w.bloggar to update my blog. I really liked it because it allowed me to blog anywhere (no Internet connection required), and it allowed me to save my work in a local dB. Back then, Zempt 0.2 allowed for that too, but it wasn't as polished as w.bloggar - perhaps because w.bloggar is much further ahead in its development cycle while Zempt is relatively new.

But with the release of Zempt 0.3, i reckon Zeller and Kalsey have got a winner. The main draw of Zempt is the fact that its specifically designed to work with Movable Type, while most other client-side publishing tools try to accommodate as many applications as possible (e.g w.bloggar supports Nucleus, b2 and Blogger among others). With so much focus to making Zempt work well with MT, its not surprising that the latest version of Zempt does it quite well indeed.

Main strengths:

* Built for use with MT
* Can handle a majority of MT functions locally
* Pings PPS very well. For some reason, faster than the server-side auto-pinger that comes with the standard MT installation.
* Spell checker
* Can save drafts on local for future publishing
* Handles MT formatting plug-ins natively! I'm using the must-have Textile and it works great with Zempt, no problems

Full feature list

Weaknesses:

* Cannot handle image/file uploads or insertions. This will be addressed in version 0.4
* No keyboard shortcuts for some key functions (e.g. inserting a hyperlink)

Worth a try - if you liked w.bloggar, you'll love this (assuming you're using MT). If you haven't tried a client-side publishing tool before and want to, start with this. It won't disappoint.

Corrections

Dear Asohan (editor of InTech),

Its been suggested to me by some of my readers through comments on my website and also through email that my posting was unfair in its criticisms towards InTech. The posting is question is:

http://www.aizuddindanian.com/voi/archives/000602.html

Over the last few days, i've been giving it a lot of thought and concluded that some of my assumptions were wrong. For these errors, i apologize:

* It was presumptious of me (or anyone else for that matter) to suggest to InTech how they should run their stories. When i made mention of how some of Najah's ideas were not reported upon, it was incorrect of me to suggest that they should have been included.
* During the interview with L.C. Wong i repeated some of Najah's ideas - L.C. was absolutely correct to report it as she heard it. It is not within her responsibility to track back on whose idea it was or wasn't. In all fairness to her, she was faithful to the things that were mentioned during the interview.

There are also a few published comments on my blog that may have been inaccurate and hurtful, as they were drawn from the posting i made. While i do not have absolute control over what my readers say, i think i do have some responsibility over what they read, hence i understand i have an influence on what they think. For giving them the wrong idea, i also offer my apologies. I think that's what it means to be a journalist (though i'm not one, i think there are publishing principles are universal): to have a sense of responsibility in reporting and writing. While writing can be done in isolation, its an important lesson i've learned that their effects rarely are.

InTech has been particularly supportive of the blogging phenomenon in the past, and i'm sure that many of the newer generation of bloggers have begun writing because of your team's efforts. In that sense, i think we share the same goals - my objective is to get as many Malaysians as possible to contribute to the online knowledge pool through the written word. Please keep up the fantastic work; i will do my best to do what i can on my end with Project Petaling Street and the rest.

Thank you for your kind patience and understanding. I look forward to a time in the future where our paths will meet in the offline world.

What's love got to do with it?

Take a moment to think about someone close to you: husband, wife, daughter, mother, boyfriend, girlfriend. Then take another moment and ask yourself what this person means to you. Is that love that you feel? Do you love the person you're thinking about?

Allow me to challenge you: prove it. Prove your love.

How would you prove it? Would you cook and care for him? Would you be by her side day and night if she were sick? Would you give her a million dollars and 1 carat diamond ring? Would you sing for him a beautiful love song? Would you write poetry and send it to her with a bouquet of flowers?

All this and anything else you think of as an answer, i'm sorry, doesn't prove anything. Anything that can be done without love as an excuse cannot be used to prove the existence of love, though some may believe that it may. Some believe so strongly in this that they believe love is absent without these "symbols" or "acts" of love - if he truly loved me, he would ___________ (fill the blank with an endearing act). While it is important to show a person that you love him through kindness and appreciation, it is not possible to assume that such acts necessarily mean the presence of love.

What is love, you may ask. I have an idea, but i don't have enough words to describe it. And i don't doubt that each of you have an idea about what it is too, so i won't presume to tell you what i think it should be. But as a guide, i reckon poets such as Byron, Marlowe and Frost have probably got it mostly right:

bq. When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever the years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder, thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.
- Lord Byron, "When We Two Parted"

So if there is no way to prove love, how do you know when you're in love? Think of this: if there is no way to scientifically prove the existence of God, how do you know He exists? The answer to the two questions is the same: faith. When you believe you're in love, then you probably are. The signs of love are within, not without. While it cannot be proven with actions and words, it exists with emotion and thoughts - when you look at her, all you can think about are your plans with her for the future. When you look at him, all you can feel is how lucky you are. When you are together, it doesn't take words or deeds to feel just right, that feeling that you belong - the very same feeling you get when you're sitting at home in your favourite chair. That's love, i'll say. That's love, i'll claim - some things don't need to be proven. They really just are.

Skandal artis dan pramugara

I received two emails yesterday with the following subjects:

# "Pramugara Terlampau"
# "Skandal Dramatis *** ********"
(the "*" represents the artist's name; its been edited out by me)

I was tempted to open the attached .avi files (each >5MB in size) - the contents of the email informed me the attachments were ripped from the VCDs that were making their rounds with Uncle Ho prior to the crackdown on his employees. Its been suggested the appearance of these two VCDs sparked the recent furore by the authorities against the sale of pirated digital media; i was understandably curious what all the fuss was about.

bq. The current crackdown was sparked in part because of the controversy that surfaced after a pornographic home video featuring a Malaysia Airlines steward having sex with his female colleagues began selling like hot cakes. - Leslie Lau, The Straits Time reporter in the article, Will Malaysia's anti-piracy crackdown work this time? (Google cached version)

After scanning both files with three different anti-virus apps and finding them squeaky clean, my finger hovered over the "Play" button. It occurred to me that no matter what i would see on either file it must have taken QUITE A LARGE DEGREE OF STUPIDITY & CARELESSNESS on the part of the "actors" to allow videos of themselves in compromising positions to make it out into the public.

What were they thinking? No doubt, their public careers are over. She will never get another job in media, print or broadcast. The steward and -stewardesses- would have almost certainly lost their jobs by now. It would take a lot of courage to touch any of them with a barge pole. For what? A bit of fun and voyeurism with a video camera? That's too much to lose for so little.

The lesson: what we do with our private lives, should stay PRIVATE. Be careful in protecting yourself, be mindful of protecting the privacy of those who trust you - if you're entrusted with secrets, honour them.

ps. Don't bother emailing me for either video file - they've been permanently deleted. Possession of pornographic material is a crime in Malaysia. ;)

UPDATE: Jiwang.org keeps tabs on the scandals involving Malaysian artists. Also read this link for info about the authenticity of the Edry and Linda Rafar pics. Thanks to Faridah for the lead.

Why do men rape women?

Politicians all over the world are the same: they suffer from the foot-in-mouth syndrome.

bq. A top Japanese cabinet member who is also in charge of gender equality issues came under fire on Thursday for allegedly saying that many women who are raped seemed to be "asking for it" by the way they dress. Yasuo Fukuda, the top government spokesman, was quoted by a magazine as saying many women invited rape by dressing in a provocative manner, because men are "black panthers." - Reuters

At first glance, this is an example of what NOT to say when talking about the sexual of assault of women by men. For all the silly things our local politicians say sometimes, none, thankfully, have publicly suggested anything along these lines throughout the horror-show that is the rape and murder of Canny Ong.

Deeper analysis seeks the answers to a few questions:

# Why do men rape women?
# Does the social environment contribute in any way towards the occurence of this crime?
# Do the actions/provocations/dressing of a women have any influence on her personal safety?

Malaysia's youngest blogger

There is just something inherently adorable about a child's thoughts - a child's perspective on life is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for each of us. I wonder when did we forget to be that way?

On that note, i nominate Raeven's Tan Hui Wen as Malaysia's undisputed youngest blogger at the tender age of 1 (born: 6 June 2002). -His- Her blog, "Everybody Loves Raeven" is a pleasant reminder of days gone by. Those who second my nomination, say, "Aye!".

bq. As usual, she had been sitting in front of this big colourful box that had moving words and images, which is controlled by this thing on the table that mommy and daddy use. It has a lot of buttons that one can press, and I've seen mommy and daddy pressing the buttons very quickly, to what purpose I'm not sure.

Bloggers in InTech today!

INFOSOC received feature coverage in InTech today - generally, its a good write-up about the event and deserving of a read. Some of things discussed at INFOSOC will be part of the local IT environment for several years to come.

Bloggers and blogging received a full-page mention as well (page 28, Features) - Dinesh, Jeff, Najah, Sharizal, Jikon and myself presented ideas during a session at INFOSOC. Our full presentation slides can be found here (1.23MB .zip file).

Of the report on blogging appearing in InTech, there are positives and some not-so-positives. The positives first:

# Project Petaling Street received a first mention in the press - timing is pretty good since v1.5 will be launched at the end of the week.
# Dinesh finally got someone to call him a "prophet" in print. :)
# The article highlighted the potential blogging communities have in shaping public opinion and policy
# The article highlighted how blogs are normally "knowledge" repositories and not "information" ones - the difference between the two is clearly spelled out.

And, now, the not so yummy:

# Najah played a very prominent role in the conference, and the subsequent private interview from which many of the ideas in the article was drawn. But no mention was made about a key point she had been trying to make in both: that women have a very active and prominent role to play in the local blogging community.
# A miscredit:
"According to Aizuddin...information in a blog is considered "digested" information. "What you see in blogs is an increasing amount of information that has been churned into knowledge," said Aizuddin."
While i may have said this during the private interview following our presentations, it was more a clarification of Najah's original idea about blogs and knowledge (she spoke about in great length during her presentation).
# Jeff Ooi does NOT run the "popular Transitions" blog - his blog is called "Screenshots". Transitions used to be run by Oon Yeoh ("used to" because Transitions no longer exists).

UPDATE: Najah speaks her mind about the article.

UPDATE 2: IreneQ (a professional journalist) explains the newpaper publishing process. Its not as easy as it sounds - a lot can get lost very quickly.

UPDATE 3: InTech published a note today (10/07/2003), apologizing for the factual error concerning Jeff's blog (its "Screenshots" not "Transitions"). Its worth noting that the cause of the initial error is not the reporter who wrote the series on INFOSOC, L.C. Wong.

UPDATE 4: The last word (hopefully) about this issue by our resident KL-dweller, Najah Nasseri.

Something really interesting

There is something really interesting going on here. A social experiment with some very positive results.

http://yat.ch/wiki/?KotaRaya

The experiment: take a group of complete strangers, the more diverse in personality and interests the better, give each a website to write about whatever they want. Let them read what each other has written. After some time, allow them to meet in the "real world". Observe results.

UPDATE: Wanna read something REALLY (OH GOD, YES!) FUNNY? (those who don't find this funny, please forgive me - i must have a strange sense of humour). Do yourself a favour and click on "MORE" below:

Oh you must! You MUST!

You just have to try this out.

The (now) infamous, WMD trick for Google, the "Pornolize" trick, and the French-joke (don't we just love our French parodies?) trick. All web-based, all free, all lots of fun.

And all done from one place: your friendly Woodyloh blog.

Pocket Tunes or Aeroplayer

I was disappointed when i used the bundled Real Player to listen to MP3s on my Palm Zire 71 - the sound, while listenable, was quite "hollow"; it lacked a great deal of definition.

Then, i discovered Pocket Tunes and Aeroplayer. Both are shareware, the latter costing US$14.95 and the former, US$9.95. I have no idea how either works, but they made my Palm into a CD-quality MP3 playing machine!

Now i just have to decide which one i should keep and pay for. Or if someone would be so kind to email me the reg key for either, that would certainly make up my mind for me! :)

Bloggers' Meet

I don't get shy easily; in fact, i can't remember the last time i've blushed with such shameless intensity. But when Sajen Asan said some kind words about me, in front of everyone, i think i turned red as a lobster and nearly died on the spot (from embarassment, i assure you). That was just a sample of the emotions that i think most of us at the 2nd KotaRaya Blogger's Meet felt.

The online meeting the offline. What a rush!

What surprised me the most is the fact that we seem to click so well together, eventhough our backgrounds couldn't be more diverse. The bouncing-bubbly Racheal, our feisty chairperson, Sarini (most gracious thanks for making this all so possible - your efficiency made it seem easy), the quiet guru that is Adipujangga, the "enforcer" Kaz, the effervescent Hani (who fits her role as Queen Blogger Bee perfectly), the observant Jenn - we may be different, but united in our quest for online freedom and expression. We chatted, we socialized, we mixed, we shared, we laughed and at the end of it all, we became the friends that we thought we could be.

(click to enlarge) (from left to right The men all lined up | Bloggers together | Our chairperson in action)

On a personal note, it was a very happy occasion for me to meet some of the loyal, and dedicated PPS Beta Testers in the flesh. Let me tell you: these bunch of people have been absolutely fantastic - if PPS achieves its vision, it'll be because of them more than anyone else. My most sincere thanks to you all. PPS v1.5, barring any last minute disasters, will be ready for a public launch by the end of next week.

The hijab (Part 3)

I received an email today from Chez1978 about my research on a women's aurah in Islam - does it include her voice? (Part 1 & Part 2). I have no idea who this person is, but i do know that he/she is a frequent visitor to some of the blogs i visit too; i've seen comments from him/her on Najah's blog. Please allow me to share this email with you - it's worth a read as an alternative perspective.

The hijab (Part 1)

Yesterday was the last day of Hitz.fm's "Avril Wannabe" contest. I was driving home when a caller called Jakeman and asked him whether it was the cue to call. He said no. She said, that she really wanted to take part in the contest, she claimed to be really able to sing. Jakeman (the sporting lad that he is), asked her to sing anyway, and so she did. She was incredible - her voice, after passing through TWO electronic filters (i.e. the phone on her end, then the radio waves before reaching me in the car), was simple amazing; it gave me goosebumps - she sounded better than Avril Lavigne.

The Jakeman couldn't believe his ears, asked her to stop, and said to her, "If things don't work out with this contest (i.e. she misses the next cue to call), call me, and i'll set something up for you. Your voice made my hair stand on ends [sic]!"

Her response, "(giggle) I don't think i can be a singer; i'm wearing the tudung."

I sat there, in my car, dumbfounded. She had an amazing voice. Does wearing the tudung make it impossible for her to share that with the world? I did some research.

Before i started these were my assumptions:

# Years of studying at the International Islamic University Malaysia taught me that a woman's voice is her aurah - being as such, it should be guarded. Its the same reason why a Muslim woman wears the tudung - to cover the aurah that her neck, bosom and hair. I remember seeing posters on the walls in IIUM reminding the female students to lower their voices.
# The Malaysian public would not take well to a musician, no matter how blessed with a voice of an angel, who dressed conservatively, who wore a tudung. Yes, there were female nasyid groups in the market where all members of the group would sing Islamic-themed songs and all of them were dressed according to Islamic jurispudence. But the popularity of such groups will never be able to compare with the likes of Siti Nurhaliza, Ning Baizura.

bq. Could this be what the young lady on Hitz meant when she said she couldn't sing while wearing the tudung? Not because of religious reasons, but because she felt that the Malaysian public wouldn't support her?

Part 2: My Research Findings will come later this evening. In the meantime, pls read this excellent perspective: Hijab and Muslim Women where the author writes about how the tudung has liberated her.

The hijab (Part 2)

If you haven't already, please read Part 1 first to gain some background and context info.

The findings of my research are:

# The concept of aurah (or sometimes spelled "aurat") in Islamic shariah requires men and women to cover parts of their body, so that they are not exposed in public. For women, the Quran talks about this requirement on numerous occasions:

bq. "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed and Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:59)

Frigid Friday

* The 2003 Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships starts today.
* Its going to be another one of those grunting Finals.
* Drew on fire (literally!)
* Should airlines compensate the families of DVT victims? They say no. What do you say?
* I would hate to be a US soldier in Iraq. Bush with his foot-in-mouth again.
* I'm all for scientific research, but isn't this taking things too far?
* The coolest job on earth.
* Digital shoplifting - using handphones to take pictures of books and magazines.

The Daily Sho(r)ts is a simple collection of links i've found interesting each day. They are sourced from websites i visit regularly e.g. CNN.com, Slashdot.org and Google News

Creative juices

This must rank as one of the most creative methods of displaying a navigation bar that i've ever seen on a website (HINT: If you can't find it, you're probably looking right at it, but thinking the wrong things).

Not to be missed. Oh, the Web is a wonderful repository of wonderful ideas.

Tennis quirks?

Am watching the Wimbledon ladies semi-final between Serena Williams and Henin-Hardenne. By the looks of it, one Williams will be through to the Finals.

I've always wondered why tennis is a game that requires the crowd to be silent once the ball has been served. For badminton and table tennis matches, the crowd is allowed to make as much noise as they want. For squash/racquetball, i understand silence is needed because the umpire plays such a vital role; noise may drown out the umpire's instructions. But tennis? Why the silence? Will the players be able to concentrate less well if the crowd cheers on their every swing of the racquet? If so, why is it NOT so with most other racquet-based sports?

UPDATE: Yup, Serena just won. I know this may sound crass, but don't the William sisters have the largest jugs you've ever seen on a tennis player? Its a wonder their mobility is not impended. :)

Glad to be TMnet

This is going to sound like a broken record, but Malaysian ISPs are crap. They provide lousy customer service, they launch products that break often, and we are one of the few countries at this particular stage of development to have virtually no broadband internet access for home users (according to international Internet standards and definitions; 384kb Streamyx, the only truly affordable package for home users is NOT broadband).

And yet, i thank God, for once, incredibly, that i'm a TMnet subscriber. By the sounds of it, Jaring users have had a week of hell. What happened? Anyone knows the real deal? No press releases please.

Bloggers, a protected species?

Check this out:

bq. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday that Web loggers, website operators and e-mail list editors can't be held responsible for libel for information they republish, extending crucial First Amendment protections to do-it-yourself online publishers.

bq. Online free speech advocates praised the decision as a victory. The ruling effectively differentiates conventional news media, which can be sued relatively easily for libel, from certain forms of online communication such as moderated e-mail lists. One implication is that DIY publishers like bloggers cannot be sued as easily. - Wired News

While this ruling does isn't applicable to me since i'm not an American, it does create a very logical argument to distinguish between an individual publishing online (i.e. virtually all bloggers fall into this category) and a news/media publishing service whether offline (i.e. newspapers) or online (e.g. Malaysiakini).

bq. "One-way news publications have editors and fact-checkers, and they're not just selling information -- they're selling reliability," said Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "But on blogs or e-mail lists, people aren't necessarily selling anything, they're just engaging in speech. That freedom of speech wouldn't exist if you were held liable for every piece of information you cut, paste and forward."

Part II of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia guarantees our freedom of speech. This doesn't mean that we can say whatever we want; our exercise of this right must be done responsibly. We can still be sued for libel and slander if we tell lies or untruths, or even truths that cannot be substantiated. We can still be called to dock for inciting hatred and sedition.

But this ruling argues that the packaging of our writing in a blog format does give bloggers a measure of protection - substantiate what you write with links, use information that is readily and widely available as the basis of your opinion. It's not absolute protection from legal liability, but its certainly a basis that can be used to defend your position and opinion should you ever be forced to do so.

The sweetest entry

I'm a sucker for romance. This is an incredibly romantic blog entry - i can only wonder whether i will be a husband like him under similar circumstances.

Much ado about comments

Jeff started with them on. Then he turned them off. Then, after going to INFOSOC and listening to what some of his fellow bloggers had to say (1.23MB .zip file), he suddenly turned them back on again. Then after a few days, he's made an announcement that turning them completely on was probably not such a good idea: he'll be moderating them beginning from today.

In less than 2 months, the issue of comments on one of Malaysia's premier blogs has gone into every direction possible. Jeff must be frustrated by some of the ningcampoops he's attracted, yet intrigued by some of the real conversations he's been generating.

There really are two sides of this commenting coin:

Conducting a test

The Project Petaling Street Beta Test for v1.5 is currently underway in ernest. The BETA team of 28 people are pinging the site. What does this mean?

This means each time they update their blog, PPS is updated too - this makes a PPS a content aggregator or "blog-tal". A single visit to PPS allows a user to catch a glimpse of what the 28 people (+ the original core PPS team) are writing at any given time; a snapshot of the Malaysian blogosphere is being created. Once the project moves out of BETA and v1.5 is officially launched, then that snapshot will become larger and larger depending on the number of Malaysian bloggers choose to participate. The larger the participating group, the more accurate the snapshot will be.

Plans are also in place to take PPS beyond v1.5, but those will be discussed in due time. The vision of PPS has always been to be act as an aggregator of Malaysian blog-content; want to know what Malaysian bloggers are writing/talking about? Visit PPS.

BETA Test Update 1/7/2003: New site design in place based on the feedback from Grace, Ghazali, and Zhi Xin. Kah Shing seems to have found another way to ping PPS - a custom job by the sounds of things. Irene asked the Q: What about RSS/XML? Yow Kee publishes some incredibly simple-to-follow instructions. A few questions are asked: How can Blogger-users easily ping PPS without using the public pinger? [See the list of BETA testers here]

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About this Archive

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

June 2003 is the previous archive.

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