The 13th Malaysian General Elections will be the most important turning point in the history of our nation, bar the independence of Malaya and the formation of the federation of Malaysia. For the first time ever, all 222 parliamentary and 505 state assembly seats will be contested. This broke the tradition of BN winning seats by default during nomination day due to non-contest.

Continue reading “Ubah!”

Invisible Obama and Phantom Tweeters

The just concluded 2012 Republican National Convention was memorable because Clint Eastwood gave a kooky speech while talking to an empty chair. Apparently, he was castigating an invisible potty mouthed Barack Obama who supposedly sat in the chair. Even before poor Mitt Romney took the stage to give his acceptance speech, the twittersphere was a buzz with snarky and often humorous tweets on the surreal “performance” of the Oscar winning, husky-voiced, octogenarian actor-director.

One of them is @InvisibleObama. He (or she, or they) started a series of funny tweets (often at the expense of Mitt Romney and the GOP) with gems like:-

When Mitt Romney says “Mr. Chairman”, do you think he’s referring to me?

I’m behind Mitt! No seriously. I’m right behind him.

Pretty soon, everyone joined in and even President Obama chimed in with this:-

This seat's taken.
“This seat’s taken.” tweeted Obama

Memes started popping up:-

Meanwhile, our own Communications and Information Minister (who has the dubious honor of a permanent hashtag of #yorais attached to every tweet regarding him) encouraged tweeting Malaysians to tweet between 8.15pm and 9.15pm on the 31st of August. The topic is should be about freedom, independence and…how grateful Malaysians feel towards “promises fulfilled” (which is the theme of this year’s independence day).

While Rais Yatim claimed that the massive simul-tweet campaign is a success, others didn’t think so when they analyzed the tweets.

Politweet reported a spontaneous need for 111 Malaysians to tweet about their bowl of Curry Mee in Queensbays Mall at around the same time in almost the same language on their Facebook page.

It is interesting to note the prominence of social media in our modern political arena. While one can control the message, one can’t control the medium (without being discovered). In parting, there is only one way to compare what happened in the US with what happened in Malaysia: While Americans are tweeting about an invisible president, invisible Malaysians are tweeting about Merdeka!

The Maps for Hedeby Island

I’m current reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and I discovered that the English edition did not come with 2 maps of Hedeby, the fictional island where most of the action takes place. While one may not need the maps to enjoy the book, I found that they greatly helped as a geographical frame of reference for the narrative.

After some fruitful (albeit long and tedious) googling, I stumbled upon 2 maps that were originally included in the Swedish edition of the book. The maps are in the original Swedish but thanks to Google Translate, I reproduce here for fans of the book, the 2 maps in English.

Do note that the Swedish to English translation is not perfect and most of the time, I have to make judgment calls. Please let me know if there is a better English version out there.

BTW, halfway through the book now and it is really a good genre novel. Actions move fast, situations are intriguing, characters are engaging. Overall, a very good light reading vacation novel 🙂

Official Star Trek Posters

The following (final) Star Trek posters had been leaked via the Internet! There are 5 variants, though there is no clear indication yet on which is going to be the official official poster.

Star Trek (UK- Alternate)

Star Trek (Spanish)

Star Trek (German)

Star Trek

(click for full size)

It is quite perplexing why they had released so many different posters apart from the possibility that they are monitoring the response from die-hard fans and general population before deciding on one.

In all 4 versions, McCoy is noticeably absent, replaced by a young and sexy Uhura. Of course, this is a fan boy’s reaction but overall the posters are not bad but not terribly exciting.

This, however, hasn’t done anything to taper any of my excitement for the movie. After watching the latest cinematic and TV trailers, my expectations are already running so high that I’m afraid to be disappointed if the movie turns out to be less than spectacular.


Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers
Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers



Outliers: The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell

“No one who can rise before dawn three hundred and sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.”- Chinese Proverb

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is thin in terms of pages but not short on great and entertaining bits.  It explores the phenomenon of human outliers, i.e. individuals or groups that stand out significantly from the accepted norm. Ironically, at the end of the book, Gladwell hopes to have persuaded you that there are no such things as human outliers.

His premise is simple: great success comes to those who are born at the right time, brought up in the right environment and are hardworking. Having a high IQ or an innate talent helps but one just have to be smart or talented enough to be successful.

He weaves interesting tales about Canadian hockey players, Silicon Valley technoprenuers, The Beatles, Asian math whizzes, Korean Airlines, among others, to make his point quite convincingly. And he tells a pretty personal story at the end of the book on the journey of a hardworking Jamaican girl who was born at the right time and brought up in the right environment who eventually became his mother.

Maybe I was reading Outliers through a pair of slanty Chinese eyes because I find some of his conclusions as nothing more than common sense, or at least, common sense that I grew up with. It seems painlessly simple but every Asian that I know, knows that no success can come without hard work (and a little bit of luck) and the right roots.


The 10,000 hour rule

Harlan, Kentucky

Rice Paddies and Math Tests

Shoot the Dog or the Messenger?

An office colleague of mine recently sent an e-mail soliciting signatures to stop Guillermo Vargas, a Costa Rican artist from repeating an installation that he did in 2007 of a starving dog. The event was scantly reported in the local press but it seems the installation involved tying a dog up in a corner of the art gallery and allowing it to starve to death by withholding food and water.

Starving Dog 1

 Starving Dog 2

On first reading of the e-mail, I was outraged. But I did a little digging.

Peta and other reports on the web indicated that the event could be a stunt and the dog was actually fed daily and released quietly at the end of the installation.

The the artist said that the “art” was performed to show the hypocrisy of people. We treat abandon animals no better and yet we get outraged when one of them is displayed on the stage for all to see. We see his act as an abuse of the animal but yet we are no better when it comes to the treatment of strays when we see them loitering near our houses. Neither do we shed any tears when they are carted off by the city councils and shot.

I brought this to my colleague and she was angry with the artist. She sees the artist as being inhumane, exploitative and inconsiderate. I don’t blame her and the multitudes who signed the protest petition as I believe that everyone can take out different messages from an “art”, especially those that are meant to provoke.

I do not know whether the artist truly planned it that way but it did raise my consciousness towards our hypocrisy towards issues bigger than just stray dogs. If the BBC has not highlighted the plight of the unknown war in Congo that has killed more people than World War II, will the world care about it? Or are we so fixated on the global war on terror not because it has killed more people but because it is more shocking and received more airtime coverage?

 Has art evolved to a point in our modern world that artists have to resort to shock art to get their messages across? Is this an example of the relativist nature of art?