December 2005 Archives

Happy New Year 2006

2005 has come and gone. Its now time to turn to the future and see what that has in store for us. Welcom, 2006. May all our dreams and wishes for the new year come true.

happy New Year, everybody!

Truths

Its an unfortunate truth that when you're tired, frustrated or tense, you tend to take it out on the people closest to you.

Ifs a fortunate truth that if they really care for you, they won't mind.

The Star isn't hiring very well

I would have died before putting my name on this piece:

To have big companies buy expensive artworks by famous artists is not something new. In fact, in more developed countries, big companies are expected to do so as a way of supporting the arts and presenting a cultured image.

via The Star.

Shame on you, Veronica. No harm spending if you have money. Only fools spend more money when they are bleeding cash. Only raving idiots applaud them for it.

Happy Birthday, Aishah

We all have special days in our lives, one such day is the birthday. The day we came into this world, the day when opportunity sprung hope and possibilities.

Today is Siti Aishah's birthday, 22 Dec 2005. As a gift, consider the following poem to dispel the shadows:

Birthday Blessings

Instead of counting candles,
Or tallying the years,
Contemplate your blessings,
As your birthday nears.

Consider special people
Who love you, and who care,
And others who’ve enriched your life
Just by being there.

Think about the memories
Passing years can never mar,
Experiences great and small
That have made you who you are.

Another year is a happy gift,
So cut your cake, and say,
"Instead of counting birthdays,
I count blessings every day!"

via PS.

Happy birthday, dear lady. Hugs and kisses and good wishes.

Sexuality in schools

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First step forward, its a good move to finally bring sex to the classroom. The only thing the educators need to be wary about is not to gear the syllabus into an enhanced morality class -- sex education should teach us what sex is, what is responsible & safe sex, and, if it be your choice, how to say "NO" effectively and resist peer pressure. Leave the morality to the agama and moral classes -- that's what they are there for.

By bringing these topics into the classroom and lifting the veil on these taboo subjects, the Government hopes Malaysians will become more respectful of gender and sexuality. In the long term, it hopes to drive down the number of sex crimes.

via NST.

Sex has always been a taboo subject for Malaysians, and i really don't envy the task lying ahead of the educators selected to pilot the syllabus in schools. But i do applaud them for the effort.

What i've noticed is that while the educated, urban Malaysian is generally not ignorant about sex, they do tend to be quite uncertain about their sexuality. There is a lot of doubt about the experiences attached to sex: how should i feel? am i doing something wrong? sex is intercourse, but what does it mean to men and women -- is there a difference? how do i deal with the emotions of sex?

Sexual myths should also be debunked: i can't get pregnant if he doesn't ejaculate inside of me; cunnilingus isn't sex; i am a bad person if i enjoy sex; men who have sex with many partners are macho, women who have sex with many men are sluts; if i masturbate, hair will grow on my palms/i'll go blind -- the list is a long and, at times, very complicated.

The education system has an opportunity here to set things right for so many Malaysians. We may try to deny it (or at least never admit it in polite conversation), but sex has a significant influence on the our lives and physical and mental health. It makes perfect sense to educate ourselves about it.

But, having said that -- if the syllabus turns out poorly ("Thou art a sinner and shall burn in Hell forever if you have pre-marital sex"-sorta way), then perhaps its better to remain ignorant.

WoW 60 Days Pre-Paid Card for Sale

Ok, long story short: i got a spare 60 days pre-paid World of Warcraft card for sale. Paid RM115 for it, willing to sell for RM100. Comment here or email me if you're interested.

Why do we believe?

On the train this morning, i looked around, saw all the clean faces and wondered how many were Muslims. It struck me a moment later what a weird thought that was to have, and i began asking myself why that was important.

How do Muslims become Muslims? I would venture a majority of Muslims are Muslims because their parents were Muslims (who were Muslims because their parents were Muslims). The average lifecycle of a Muslim includes periods of study/exposure to religious practices when young, and conditioning either through the family or through the State and non-State education system. Most Muslims i saw on the train this morning were born Muslims, and nearly everyone of them, myself included, were taught how to be a Muslim.

The next question that appears in the mind hence is -- if we were taught to be Muslims because we were born Muslims, where does the element of faith and belief come in?

Are we taught to believe as well? Or do we believe as a consequence of learning and understanding the religion? If this were true, could we be taught to believe in any other religion too? Or is it our destiny through birth and environment to be Muslims regardless of anything else that we may be exposed to in our lives?

If we are taught our beliefs, is it possible to unlearn what we were taught, thus unlearning our beliefs?

If we believe because we believe (not because we were taught to believe), what was the catalyst fo belief? How did we begin to believe independently of our teachings and environment?

These questions are relevant even to non-Muslims who later in life embraced Islam. Did they learn about the religion, did they learn about Islam, which led to belief (i.e. they were taught to believe)? Or did they have this feeling one day of unshakable belief that Islam was the religion they believed in?

I have a problem with believing in something i was taught to believe in. No doubt about it, i believe i am a Muslim, but i refuse to accept that this belief was taught; its just unacceptable that belief is something you can be taught/conditioned -- that isn't real belief. I believe i'm a Muslim, i want to be a Muslim but the fact that i was exposed to the inescapable instruments of my environment that taught me belief, i'm caught in a paradox: am i a true believer?

The stuff of dreams

Ever since puberty, i've had dreams of women in different sexual encounters; the women in my dreams are people whom i've never met in real life. Perfectly normal, i would think. The funny thing is that the women i've been with over the years, they tend to object to me having dreams of other women.

I've tried to explain to them that such dreams are completely harmless, and though the dream was sexual in nature, it could very well be that the subconscious thoughts leading to those dreams are completely unsexual in nature.

In my experience, dreams tend to serve 2 purposes:

1. As a pressure valve: ever notice the funtion of the pressure caps on most pressure cookers? Built up over-pressure is released slowly to ensure that the pressure cooker doesn't explode. Same thing with dreams -- a dream of a sexual nature is a means of releasing the pressures we experience while we're awake. Its important to note that these dreams, while sexual, may have nothing to do with sex in our waking world.

For example, during a period of intense work pressure i experienced in the past, "happy" dreams were much more common. Dreams of holidays with parents, dreams of eating tons and tons of sweet chocolate (one of my favourite "happy" dreams!), and dreams of having sex with gorgeous women. All perfectly harmless, and they all helped me keep my mental health in check.

2. A reflection of our worries -- that's why we sometimes have "bad" dreams. As a boy, i was afraid of tight places. I've had a recurring dream of being trapped in a pyramid made of pipes and steel, caught between the pipes, pinned against moving and having the pipes continuously constrict and squeeze me in. Its a bad, bad dream, a nightmare that always gets me to wake up in the middle of the night.

In a previous relationship, i had a dream of my girlfriend having an affair with another man (she was doing nothing of the sort), and while i'm awake, its not something that i actively thought about. But because i loved her, and i had some insecurities in the earlier half of our relationship, those dreams occasionally popped into my mind. It was uncomfortable dreaming such things, but i knew they were harmless and it would have been very silly of me to act on them.

I think most people aren't aware that we dream every night, the moment our body enters deep sleep, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) begins that leads to the firing of our brains synapses which create these little movies in our minds. We are able to "view" these dreams we are not completely unconscious -- being partially awake (conscious) allows comprehension and awareness of the dream in progress. Occasionally, we are able to remember the dream when we do wake up, but most times we can't.

Sometimes, even rarer still, i've actually been able to "control" the dream -- the movements, the characters (always more than one) and the outcome. Almost always, these type of dreams happen very early in the morning, just when i'm about to awake, thus explaining the extra bit of consciouness needed to exert control over the events in the dream. Sometimes, i consciously try to keep myself asleep longer so that i can "finish" the dream. I had a Star Wars dream like this once. It ended very funnily.

Some interesting questions to leave you with:

1. Do you dream in colour or black and white? I dream in colour, but i know others who dream in black and white.

2. Do you dream in first person or third person perspective? i.e. do you dream through your own eyes, or do you dream "seeing" youself do the actions? I normally dream in first person perspective, but the sexual dreams i've had are usually in third person perspective.

3. Do men and women dream different type of dreams?

Suu Kyi: Free her, says ASEAN

Aung San Suu Kyi

Well, well, this is something i didn't expect to see happening anytime soon. ASEAN's unwritten rule of non-intervention in the internal policies of member nations has been broken?

ANALYSIS: The AirAsia 2 million ticket giveaway

AirAsia's 2mil ticket giveaway is a fantastic campaign. It does two things:

1. Creates a market/industry buzz: in an industry where the giants are struggling (read: MAS), for an airline to give away tickets for free goes against the grain. Result: customers flocking to AirAsia + consumer goodwill + additional pressure on the competition (that's always a good thing). 2mil customers for me = 2mil less customers for you.

2. Reduces overall cost of operations: don't be fooled -- very few routes fly with 100% capacity. Its not uncommon for flights to take off with 30, 40, even 50+ seats empty; AirAsia knows the average capacity for each route and knows how many seats it can give away -- obviously for popular routes (e.g. KL-PEN), there may be fewer available free seats. So it costs nothing to give away those seats that would otherwise be empty anyway especially since it does Item 1 (read above). An additional side effect (i may be mistaken about this) is that certain operational costs such as airport fees/taxes remain constant, and since this cost is passed on the customer who will be taking up those 50 seats that would otherwise be empty anyway, this means an overall decrease in operational costs.

*yes, the 2mil tickets are FREE, but the caveat is that the customer is still required to pay for corresponding airport taxes/fees, which in some cases adds up to 40% of the total cost of the ticket for the customer. So the customer still needs to pay a some monies.

So the concept is pretty good, but the execution, i must say, sucks to high-heaven.

1. The website is barely accessible during the day. I had 5 tabbed screens open yesterday, throughout the day, all attempting to connect to the website. Most times, the main page was inaccessible. On the occasions when the screen was accessible, a search for the tickets i wanted resulted in another error screen. There are 5-6 pages the customer needs to go through before the tickets are confirmed. With each page, there is a possibility of a broken connection or an error, requiring the customer to return back to the first page and start again the process. There was once where i had reached the 2nd last page, then i hit an error, then i had to start all over again. Major frustration here.

More than an hour of trying lapsed before i gave up.

Its obvious the website could not handle the overload the campaign had created. A classic case of the infrastructure not supporting the business. This isn't be the first business campaign that has suffered from this problem, but you would have expected AirAsia to have learned from its past mistakes.

2. The website didn't work. What were the alternatives: the call center. Dialling the 1-300 number resulted in a consistent engaged tone. After 30 min of trying there, i gave up (i can only bear hitting the re-dial button so many times). Then i noticed another number, the one AirAsia offers for "customers calling from outside Malaysia" -- its a 03- number, so i thought why not. Tried that a few times, got the engaged tone at first, then suddenly i got on.

The experience was pleasant enough for a moment -- the IVR worked well and i was breezing through the program until i hit 2 snags:

a. The system uses voice recognition to identify where you are departing from and where you want to go. For some reason, it couldn't recognize what i was saying and kept on offering me the destination where i didn't want to go. The system also works on a 3 strike basis, so after the third failed attempt to correctly identify my destination, the system said, "Thank you, we still cannot identify your destination," and hung up on me.

*Proposed solution: route the call to a "LIVE" person after 3 failed attempts -- this shows the customer that you care enough to speak to me personally to help me out. Most of the steps have already been done anyways, so the time spent with a live CS representative would have been minimal.

b. I tried again, the system still couldn't recognize the destination i wanted correctly, but i didn't mind, i just carried on to see what the conclusion to the process would be like.

After the destinations and dates have been picked, the system offers you the available flights -- this was a nightmare. The IVR spewed out the flight numbers (like i would know what that means) and the departure and arrival times (too quick, there was no way to hear it properly). Then it asked me to choose which flight i wanted. Quite silly considering the way the choices were presented to me was almost completely beyond my comprehension. So then, i hung up.

Again, in a situation like this, the customer should be offered the option of speaking to a live person. The whole experience was incredibly frustrating, and though i got my tickets eventually -- logging on in the dead of night when the rest of Malaysia was asleep -- customers should not be expected to go through such a poor experience when they want to do business with you.

Conclusion

Pros:
- Great concept, good campaign

Cons
- Terrible infrastructure and workflow processes are unable to support the business requirements.

More than 2 hours spent = no tickets. A lot of potential customer dissatisfaction. In such a competitive industry, the adage "if you don't look after your customers, then someone else will" certainly holds true. If you really want the tickets, i would recommend trying to get on in the middle of the night when no one else is on.

When a wife makes love to her husband

I'm unmarried so this is something i've never experienced. Watching an episode of Rome tonight made me wonder what it would really be like when a wife wants to make love to her husband. In the world of make belief, on TV, she cooked for her husband, prettied herself, and waited patiently for him to return from work. As he stepped into the house, he was immediately taken aback by the change in the home: the children were away, the table was spread with fresh bread and olives and cheese. The candles were lit, flickering shadows on the walls and ceiling. She greeted him warmly, saying to him, "Welcome home, husband; would you like some food to eat."

She looked dazzling and, though he had already eaten, he replied, "I've eaten," pauses, then, "But i will have some more."

She serves him, not sitting with him as she pours him some wine and takes his cloak. Their eyes hardly meet, though he stared at her wondering what was going on. He broke the bread, and before eating he said, "Come, sit with me, join me."

She sits, he handed her his cup, and half of his bread. They ate quietly for a moment, dipping the bread into the rich olive oil before she said, "The calendar is right, you can have me tonight if you wish."

"I do," he replied.

In a moment, the scene cuts to her wetting a cloth, kneeled down, cleaning his feet and legs of the grime from the long day's work. He could bear it no longer, he brought he to her feet and kissed her passionately, she returned the love and he brought her to bed.

Such a simple scene from a more simple time, but full of love and honesty. Is that how a wife makes love to her husband?

Sudoku

If World of Warcraft wasn't a big enough timesink, now we've got Sudoku! Oh crap. The puzzles are just so bloody addictive. Check out the web version.

What makes it such an interesting game is its paradox: how can something so simple be so devilishly complex. When the human brain encounters such things, it goes into over-drive and the desire to resolve the paradox becomes overwhelming. Well, at least that's how it is for me.

Are we too quick to judge?

I'm guilty of this also: passing judgement based on one side of the story. I recently wrote that Khairul could have been saved if the doctors in Pantai Cheras Medical Center had reacted faster to the situation. It was easy to believe that the big-bad-rich mega corp had once again done wrong to the tiny little common man. I was parroting the news in the papers and i delivered a judgement based on what i read.

The hospital has just released a statement that throws a different light on the story:

He said Khairul was immediately wheeled to the back of the registration counter into the ED resuscitation bay. "The medical officer, Dr T. Shan, and a surgeon, were already there as they had been waiting for another case. So, Khairul was attended to immediately as his condition was deemed to be of a more urgent nature," he said.

via Malay Mail

His injuries were severe, an adominal aorta had been punctured. He was bleeding out, and in shock. Depending on how long he had been bleeding before he made it to the hospital, there is a chance that there was nothing the hospital could have done to save him. There is only so much blood a person can lose before there is no turning back, and all doctors will tell you that a punctured major artery is almost a certain killer depending on the severity and elapsed time of the puncture..

I feel for the family, but honestly, there is very little merit in his word against the doctors in a medical matter.

Sallehuddean Latif, the uncle of Khairul, maintains his nephew could have been saved if doctors at the Hospital Pantai Indah had attended to him immediately.

via Malay Mail.

How would he know how severe the injury was? He isn't a doctor. For all we know, it could have already been too late.

If this case goes any further than it already has, it'll be settled out of court. I think hospitals have funds for situations such as these; eventhough there may be no way to prove the accusations against them, they can do without the negative publicity. The family will probably be advised by their lawyer, if things stand as they have been reported, that the case is unwinnable, a case of their word against ours, to accept a settlement.

Khairul's case is a tragedy, but the real criminals in it have yet to be caught.

Religionism

It was happy fortune to be present at my cousin's wedding over the weekend. She was the gorgeous bride and he, the strapping young lad. May their fortunes be blessed with goodness.

What did trouble me was the kadi, a person whose responsibility in the ceremony is akin to the priest in Christian weddings. Just before the ceremony, while waiting for the groom to arrive, the kadi and the uncles sat around, shared a smoke and drank some teh tarik. The banter was polite, but at a table full of Malays, my presence as a Chinese face was soon explained to the kadi, "This is Aizuddin, the son of one of our sisters. She married a Chinese."

An almost necessary introduction, given the circumstances and something i'm had to smile through countless times over the years. When he was then told my parents live in Australia, the kadi started a retelling of his experience during a visit he made there.

He started out well enough, cracking jokes about how he was the appointed "halal food finder". Then suddenly he took a turn in the conversation that made my skin crawl: he said that Australians, though kafir (unbelievers, infidels), were a decent bunch of people. This too, i've heard many times before, and i knew what was coming.

First the praise -- [insert any non-Muslims] are good people, hardworking, kind hearted, etc, etc, etc. Then the kicker -- "But they are kafir, and they are all going to burn in Hell forever." Then the optional add-on -- [insert any random quotation from the Quran (there are many) stating the kafirs going to Hell].

It was all i could do to try and keep a straight face, stoic and quiet, unlike my uncles who were all being politely agreeable, nodding and smiling to the kadi's words. Inside my heart, i felt a rush of anger. At the first available break in the conversation, i left the table with some mumbled excuse. It was a wedding, after all, thus not the place to break into religious arguments and debate.

This is probably the part of Islam i have the most difficulty with: the documented intolerance, and, depending on the version of the translation you rely on and depending on the interpretation of the reader, the absolute vehemence Islam holds for non-Muslims. Without exception, Muslims are required to believe that ALL non-Muslims are destined for Hell FOREVER. The Quran seems quite absolute and clear on this point.

The kadi infuritated me with his holier-than-thou attitude he sported during the conversation: "They've got a nice country, they are nice people, but ha-ha, they're all going to Hell."

The afterlife, life after death, is a crucial component of many religions. Religion helps us understand what happens to us after death, to give us comfort, a sense of purpose and a belief of continuity. What i don't understand is why Islam has to be so negative in its description of what the after-life holds in store for non-Muslims.

Perhaps, Islam sees it as (a) an incentive for Muslims, and (b) an answer to what happens to non-Muslims -- thus creating a sense of superiority? Arrogance? I can see how such thoughts enter and manipulate the minds of Muslims who murder innocent non-Muslims, most often seen in recent times in acts of terrorism. God will forgive me, i'm killing "infidels". Its the type of warped logic that appeals to suicide bombers and self-proclaimed martyrs.

Rascism. Nationalism. Fascism. All the other -isms. Common in their ideology is the belief that they represent something superior, better, more deserving than the "other". Though it was perhaps not meant to be that way, Islam has created Muslims who believe in religionism.

Time to fall on your sword, Noh

Just like a little kid with his hand in the cookie jar, Noh Omar has been found out. Video recordings by TV3 don't lie, an MP3 recording on Lim Kit Siang's blog does not lie either.

Noh Omar

You can try to explain it any way you want, but the only person who has misunderstood anything is you. You're a flaming racist, incompetent nationalist and all-around dim wit idiot who has absolutely no control over the words that come out of your mouth.

Really, dear Noh, the best thing you can do now for all the other Malaysians you've humiliated and embarrased is to fall onto your sword and disappear. Just resign your post and take your trash talk with you. Then, pray for all of us that what you've said does not do any more damage than it already has.

Nude video of a woman doing squats? That was nothing compared to this; this is worse, much worse because its a crime committed by a Minister.

Hippocratic Oath should have saved Khairul

An oath that all doctors have to swear by should have saved Khairul Anuar Salim's life.

"in every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing ..."

via Wikipedia.org.

Completely shocking how a private hospital full of doctors allowed a boy to die at their doorstep, but this is a price the society has paid for the benefits it has reaped from capitalism and the free market. But this death was completely avoidable through more ways than one.

The uncle, after unsuccessfully attempting to convince the hospital to admit Khairul, drove all the way back to TTDI from Cheras, picked up the grandmother and drove back to the hospital. This took the better part of an hour, during which period, Khairul's condition worsened; it is likely he was bleeding profusely. An hour of uncontained bleeding in this manner could have sent his body into shock, before ultimately killing him.

Simple question: why not just drive Khairul to UKM Hospital, also in Cheras, and have him treated there? Its not a private hospital, and there is no way they would have turned him away.

By wasting time, by not thinking clearly, based on the available reports of what happened, the uncle is also partially liable for the boy's death. A poor decision helped kill his nephew.

Absolute press freedoms?

The interesting thing about Squatgate is that its brought to a surface a host of secondary issues: national immigration policies, anti-Chinese sentiments, and, most recently, the questioning of press freedoms. Noh Omar said something stupid in front of the press yesterday, the PM's office made a call to squash the story, a story of that magnitude refused to be squashed, and today, the PM had no choice but to acknowledge it and censure Noh.

Did the PM's office do the right thing in calling the major dailies to overlook the story? Or is this another case of the media being unfairly supressed by the Government?

It really depends on the context and purpose of the PM's office "request".

1. Was it done to save Noh's ass? To ensure the Opposition has left ammunition to play with in its current and future confrontations with the ruling party? What is a selfish request, one meant for political self-preservation?

or, was it:

2. A genuine attempt to save the embarrasment of the COUNTRY? Already tension is building daily between China and Malaysia over the issue -- the fire did not require any further fuel from a rogue statement by a man who has already proven himself woefully inadequate to handle the situation.

Just like any other freedom we enjoy, its difficult to argue that press freedoms are absolute. I think there should be some common sense in its application, and while the press exist to keep the people informed of what's happening in our country, on rare occasions, it has a responsibility to protect the country as well. The difficulty is in the determination of when the latter is to be applied.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2005 is the previous archive.

January 2006 is the next archive.

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