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Sprintcuts! September 23, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Trivia.
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Sprintouts

OKOK 3 posts in a day is pushing it, but bear with me (besides, I won’t be around next week).

Sprintcuts (No idea who sponsors the site, maybe Samsung) is a cool-looking site with tips on how to speed up your life. I like the clean-looking videos with the deadpan commentary and animation.

I’m not sure that the “quick-peel egg” one works though… and the “soothe a crying baby” looks way too easy to be true. Check out the “Calculate your time” section too for a nice bit of Flash scripting.

Syed Hamid makes fool of himself on BBC September 17, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Malaysia, World.
2 comments

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar was featured on BBC’s Hard Talk recently. The funny thing is, the way he answers it’s as if he’s a joke interviewee on the Colbert Report. The sad thing is he actually seems to think that he is giving good answers.

Do view the first vid here, then find the rest on Youtube.

Some gems:
BBC:
But since poverty has been tackled, since illiteracy has been eradicated, what’s the justification for treating generations-old – ethnic chinese and indians who have been in Malaysia for generations, why should they be treated differently now?

SHA:

I think, when you are looking at it from a detached point of view, you may be seeing it that way but if you look in reality, what is happening is, the economic growth of the non-Malays is faster after the New Economic Policy than before it. The share of the economic cake is bigger, deeper, and wider than before so it’s not as if you’re looking at a theoretical, conceptual thing – you’re looking at the realities on the ground. The reality on the ground – look at the household income within Malays, Chinese and Indians. Even the Indians have got better household income than the malays.

[On the educational system]

I think you have to look at it this way, I think you have to look at it this way. Without getting excited about it, or emotional about it. [He just described “outside” people as “detached” earlier!] If you look in term of total number of students, of all the universities in Malaysia, there are still more non-Malays than the malays. and this should not be an issue that divides us. i think ultimately we have done, we have tackled all issue step by step. And it is working, I think ifor Malaysia it is working, whenever we see there is disparity.

BBC:
What about government contracts?

SHA:

For your information, the contracts that are enjoyed by the chinese, in absolute terms – the non-Malays – is bigger than even the Malays.

If I have a piece of land that is one acre in a rural area, that one piece of land may be valued at 10,000 ringgit. Which is about 3,000 US dollars. But if I have got a 10,000 square feet of land in the urban area, that would cost millions.

[First of all, this had nothign to do with the question, second of all, I thought the government liked to compare things at par, not market value]

SHA : (in response to question about rising resentment among races)

Democracy does not come by itself. It comes because we look at the examples of other races. So let me see that, in the case that, the most important thing is, there will come a time, when the Chinese, the Indians, and the othe races in Malaysia…

have accepted the arrangement. How can somebody from outside come to tell you –

BBC:
You mean that this situation is fine because nobody in Malaysia is saying anything about it?

SHA:

No, not nobody is saying. If, if they are able to – if the opposition, if they are able – or the Chinese parties – decide to get together, and to change that thing, there is nothing under the law to stop it.

[YEAH RIGHT]

BBC:
Do you not think it is a little odd that all the senior posts in the Cabinet in the last 30 years haven’t been held by a non-Malay?

SHA:

I don’t think so, this is a democratic system. Each one of them have agreed in a coalition to work together. It is well and good for somebody to say “Oh this – it should not be. I don’t think we’re going to be fooled.

BBC:
Article 11 of the Malaysian constitution says that every person has the right to profess and practice his own religion. Increasingly that seems to be coming meaningless. Is it?

SHA:

I don’t think so, I don’t agree with you… you know, Malaysia is one of the places where you can see the practice of multi religion – all religions exist in malaysia. But if you’re talking about converting one person – that is a different issue entirely –

BBC:
Why? If a Muslim – and there have been some high profile cases, and perhaps one of the most high profile: Lina Joy, a Malay woman. She tried to convert to Christianity, and she wasn’t allowed to.

SHA:

No no, I think you have made the whole thing turn into something that is negative. Lina Joy wanted to change her name. She was never not allowed to convert to Christianity or whatever religion that she has chosen. But a person is born with an identity card. That is the system we have in Malaysia, the ID [Wow, IDs!].And that ID you want to change, that creates problem. It’s nothing to do with the fact that nobody has arrested her and force her to become a Muslim. But the court decided on the basis that you cannot change your name on the ID.

13 More Days July 8, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Personal.
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Was on MSN today and saw Marv logged in with “12 more days” as his status message. I happened to have “13 more days” as my status message. After the ensuing conversation I realized my priorities may be backwards…

Me: 12 more days to what?
Marv: My gf coming back. You? 13 more days to what?
Me: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!!

No More Grape-ing!! June 7, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Nuffnang, Personal.
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Been busy doing stuff for theCICAK, ferrying my sister to her A-level exams – and going for interviews.

My first interview was at Gizwiz Studio, which is in Northam Tower. It’s an easily recognizable building, because the engineers must have been colourblind – it’s purple. Yes, the building is PURPLE!

The interview was cancelled, unfortunately. The next day (Tuesday), I was in Northam Tower at the Samsung customer service center to replace a broken ice tray. That same evening, I got a call from Netcentric Sdn Bhd to go for an interview the next morning. The address I was given was “Menara Northam, 20th floor“.

“Ah yes yes, I know where that is – see you tomorrow”.

When I arrived for the interview half an hour early I thought everything was going fine… until I went up to the 20th floor and couldn’t find the office. I went down, called the company; “Yes, yes, it’s the 20th floor”.

Then I realized Northam Tower has two wings. So I went up to the 20th floor in the second wing… nope, not there. I actually went up the first wing *again* before making another call. This time the person mentioned Maxis being on the ground floor.

But Northam Tower has Samsung, not Maxis, on the ground floor! I went out and realized that:

Northam Menara Tower Northam

The building on the right, where I was, is called Northam Tower. The building on the left is Menara Northam!

Seriously, which genius came up with these names? (Probably the same fella who decides when to use Bahasa “Melayu” and Bahasa “Malaysia”).

Needless to say, I was late. Thankfully, the interviewers were understanding – I get the feeling this is not the first time this has happened.

The day was about to get more surreal though. I was sent outside after the interview, and someone came in whose face looked vaguely familiar… Ewe Thiam! We used to go to the same church youth group – ten years ago. He seemed to recognize me (well my face at least) as well. I was like “oh you’re working here? or coming for interview?”

This is an example of how getting used to skimming over articles is bad. Netcentric is the company behind Nuffnang, a Malaysian web startup that does blog advertising. If you read blogs often, you’ll have noticed their ads, along with their rival company Advertlets. They were featured in In-Tech recently.

Anyway… I skimmed over “Timothy Tiah” – co-founder. His full name turned out to be “Timothy Tiah Ewe Thiam”…

Small world, no?

To cut the story short, I’ll be starting work at Nuffnang :).

I think localized blog advertising is a good thing. I absolutely HATE advertisements as a rule, unless they’re one of the more entertaining, funny ones like you see on ASTRO sometimes. I hate it when people throw flyers over your gate, or stick them on car windshields. Online, the much-touted Google Adsense NEVER serves any relevant ads to Malaysians – what more generic banner ads. Even “established” sites like these run inane “HOME BUSINESS!! EARN RESIDUAL INCOME!!” ads.

If you read my earlier (gushing) review of Opera you’ll know it’s freaking easy to zap any offending ad (along with all similar ads) in a few mouse clicks, then you never have to see it again. But somehow I never blocked Nuffnang (and this is way before I joined the company!!), because I had to (grudgingly, at the time) admit that the ads it serves were relevant. For example, they recently had some MPH discount promo, and now they’re offering some free drink thingie at Foodloft, Gurney Plaza. In both cases these are actually places I go to all the time.

What’s ironic is that I can’t serve Nuffnang ads here with free WordPress. The affiliate program they’re having with Exabyte web hosting looks tempting though.

Examining Expletives May 25, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Literary, Thoughts, Trends.
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I sometimes find myself “filtering” conversations with others.

Take for instance something that happened to me recently – two months ago, I borrowed a book from the library to refer to for an assignment. After I was done with it I passed it to a groupmate, who was supposed to return it to the library for me.

Long story short, I went to the library to fill in a clearance form before graduating and I’m staring at a big fat fine on the screen.

If I were telling this story to someone I don’t know well (including you, dear blog reader), it’d go something like this:

1) “You know, I reminded him many times to return it but he didn’t!”

Which is fine, but fails to convey how I really feel.

Telling this story to say, my mother, it’d go:

2) “You know, I reminded the stupid guy many times to return it but he didn’t!”

To a friend from church?

3) “You know, I reminded the guy so many darn times to return it but he didn’t!”.

You see where I’m going here? To someone I know well and am more comfortable with, I’d just come right out and choose the precise words to convey it:

4) “You know, I told that stupid fucker so many damn times to return it but the fucker didn’t!”

Only 4) properly conveys the extent of my aggravation then; 1), 2) and 3) are politically correct, but gives the impression that I’m only slightly annoyed.

Are You Sure You Still Want to Use That Term?

Now let’s digress a little for another story: about a week ago I came along a post in a friend’s blog. She was concerned about how people were using the word cam-whoring. She linked a definition from Wikipedia:

A cam whore (sometimes cam-whore or cam-slut) is an individual who exposes himself or herself on the Internet with webcam software in exchange for goods, usually via enticing viewers to purchase items on their wish lists or add to their online accounts.

ARE YOU SURE YOU STILL WANT TO USE THAT TERM??? (sic)” was her conclusion.

If you read through the rest of the Wiki, however, the entry continues:

While the label is usually considered derogatory and insulting,[3] it is also used by these people to describe themselves, occasionally in a self-deprecating manner.

The term “cam whore” is also used to refer to individuals who post pictures or videos of themselves on the Internet to gain attention. The term disparages those who post pictures of themselves at inappropriate times or places, and usually implies self-absorption. This second usage of the term, deriding vanity and histrionics, is overtaking the prior, more intuitive definition. It is usually synonymous with attention whore.

Trends in Terms

The first thing to realize is that the meanings of words change. Damn, for example, comes from damnnation: a punishment from God. Fuck is right up there on the list of expletives, of course. The etymology of fuck is actually a good read – mainly because for all its controversy, the actual origin of the word is obscure (For the more liberal readers, there is a popular Flash of the various ways you can use the word). It literally means “sexual intercourse”. But I was obviously not condemning the offending person to fire and brimstone, nor am I privy to his nocturnal activities.

The Guardian published a list of TV’s most offensive words based on a survey, assigning an “offensiveness” rating to every phrase (to my credit, I know only about half of them). It shows that different groups of people have differing opinions on how offensive the phrases are. Arse is only “mildly offensive”, while arsehole is “quite strong” for some. Yet, bum, which has the same meaning literally, is rated “mild”. The most offensive body part is cuntcock is only “a middle of the road” word (I wonder if feminists will be up in arms about this).

A common practice is to bowdlerize “offensive” words. “Oh my god” becomes “Oh my goodness“; “damn it” becomes “darn it“; “fucking terrible” becomes “freaking terrible“. When I was growing up I learnt the the thing in front was dadu (DARE-do); the thing I didn’t have was dudu. Internet slang has also conveniently introduced shorthand – people rarely take offense when you type OM(F)G, WTF, WTH, FFS, etc.

A friend of mine blogged about a comedy routine by George Carlin, who went one step further. Carlin made a list of “unspeakable” words, and assigned numbers to them. Now, would “You 6ing, 7ing monkey 5er. You think your 1 don’t stink well 3 off you 3ing 3er” be allowed on TV? Would it be any different from inserting strategically-timed beeps?

Enid Blyton was a very conservative children’s writer – you won’t find subtle philosophical insights or social upheavals in her writing (unless Georgina was a closet tranny!). But meanings change, and once-innocuous names like Dick (my favourite of the Famous Five) and Fanny have been censored with politically-correct versions. Same for the poor golliwog, a children’s toy that became a symbol of racism.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most memorable novels a child can read – on one side a captivating tale of childhood adventure, on the other, a glaring look at the racism of those times. Jim, the black slave fleeing down the Mississippi River, is elegantly portrayed by Mark Twain: black people were regarded as inferior, but Jim proves to be the only good man in the story. And yet, to this day it remains one of the most banned books in the US. The century-old controversy revolves mainly around the usage of nigger and negro. Apparently this makes the book “racist” and “offensive” – never mind that this is precisely what the novel portrays, the racism of those times!

What Matters

We need to realize is that words are a social construct. Words have no power except what we choose to assign to them, and the intent behind them. Bocor isn’t a swear word, but in the context where it was used recently, it was definitely offensive. Which is not to say that I encourage freely replacing all your adjectives with expletives (mainly because people won’t be able to tell if you’re angry, or REALLY REALLY angry), nor should you throw insults around for no good reason – rather, examine the intent, not the letters on your screen.

For those still squirming at the un-PC-ness of this essay, I hope I may soothe you with a catchy advertisement you won’t find showing here any time soon.

Dangerous, Dompok, Dangerous May 18, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Malaysia, News, Thoughts.
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Dangerous lah, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok! Don’t you know how to do your job? As DS Nazri has so ably pointed out in the Star, you are clueless when it comes to the role of the Parliamentary Select Committee of Integrity:

Nazri, who said the committee’s scope of duties was only to get feedback from the people for the Government to formulate unity programmes, said Dompok’s views might have been influenced by Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, who is a member of the committee.

[…] There is a general consensus among the ministers that the committee, which is not permanent, is not empowered to call anyone to give testimony or evidence.

Mr. Dompok, is it so hard to understand that you are only supposed to get feedback and plan programmes for national unity? As it so clearly states in the notification document on the Parliament website:

Tanggungjawab, peranan dan tugas Jawatankuasa ini adalah
seperti berikut:-

  1. meneliti dan membincangkan isu-isu etika dan integriti di kalangan
    masyarakat dan Ahli-ahli Majlis;
  2. merancang dan melaksanakan pelan tindakan integriti berdasarkan Pelan Integriti Nasional terutamanya sasaran utama TEKAD 2008;
  3. mencadangkan penambahbaikan program dan aktiviti pelaksanaan Pelan Integriti Nasional yang mempunyai kaitan dan impak terhadap kesejahteraan sosial masyarakat dan negara, khususnya ke arah pencapaian cabaran keempat Wawasan 2020;
  4. mengkaji dan meneliti akta-akta dan peraturan yang berkaitan dengan usaha pengukuhan nilai, etika dan integriti dan membincangkan pandangan serta syor yang berkaitan oleh pihak awam;
  5. mengemukakan cadangan dan perakuan perubahan dasar, semakan dan pindaan akta-akta dan peraturan tertentu kepada Parlimen untuk diperhalusi, dipertimbangkan dan diluluskan, serta diambil tindakan oleh pihak-pihak yang berkaitan; dan
  6. meneliti dan melaksanakan strategi dan agenda integriti yang telah digariskan dalam Pelan Integriti Nasional untuk institusi politik.

As shown, it is vastly improper for you to summon the National Registration Department if you are to investigate the issue of national ICs being issued to foreigners over locals in Sabah. Surely you have better things to do than look for “evidence”. That is not the way things are done here. To do things properly, please refer to the Star’s article on how to be a pillar of integrity:

The Government’s seriousness in tackling issues involving integrity and good governance was reflected in two documents launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday.

If all committees in the Government started clamouring for the power to act then our national security is going to be threatened. Anything you do should be in line with Government policy: please take note of the exemplary way the Committee of Gender Equality chaired by our PM dealt with the recent bocor issue. Oddly enough, I can’t find the links to what he did now, but I can assure you something was done. Only with such decisiveness will we see results [Cached link].

What compounds your treachery is that you could have actually been influenced by Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang! Yes, he may be a member of your Integrity Committee, but may I remind you that it was only last year that the proper way to deal with issues raised by the Opposition was outlined. If you have forgotten, please read this and this.

The Opposition parties have been spectacular failures in highlighting pertinent issues. Note the recent leaking roof incident. If Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu had not used his engineering expertise to find leaks in the Parliament building, then somebody could’ve gotten hurt real bad. If it were not for him, the 90mil-worth of renovations in the Parliament building made only two years ago could have gotten wet. And yet all the Opposition does is harp on how much the last repair cost. I say, always look to the future, not the past.

The other bocor incident also saw the Opposition dropping the ball. Take Women, Family and Community Development Minister Sharizat Abdul Jalil’s graceful acceptance of YB Md. Said and YB Bung Mokthar’s unconditional apologies:

Shahrizat meanwhile said no other actions were necessary against the two MPs as they have suffered enough criticisms from everyone in the past week.

Instead of following her leadership, the Opposition organized a public forum to demand that actual action be taken. How are you going to defend women’s rights if you don’t listen to our Women, Family, and Community Development Minister? These people probably even voted for Paris to go to jail even after she said sorry. Well yes, it wasn’t the first time she was caught driving dangerously, and she only said she was sorry after being brought to court – but the important thing is she said she was sorry.

I hope this advice was useful to you, Mr. Dompok. I know, I know, it can be hard to toe the line; sometimes we get dangerous ideas about actually doing something. I find it useful to ask oneself: What Would Pak Lah Do?, and the answer is pretty obvious: set up a committee, make recommendations, call a press conference or two – or best of all, elegant silence.

So Hard to Say Sorry… May 16, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Malaysia.
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The StarMPs apologize for sexist remarks:

[Bung Mokthar]: “I said it in the heat of an argument with DAP members, who were calling me binatang (animal) and accusing the Barisan Nasional of corruption.

Unfortunately for the “YB”, the videos of the incident have been uploaded on Youtube and viewed by 30,000 people. If you watch it, they make the bocor remarks at about 4:00 – they are definitely not being provoked, in fact the issue about the leaking Parliament roof is not even directed at them.

Only later at 5:00 does the Jasin MP say “Sejak dia kalah dekat Ijok, Datuk, dia dah gila mayam sekarang nih“. Then LKS states that it was BN that lost because of the $ they spent there (I don’t agree, it was taxpayer money). There is no binatang remark anywhere in the video.

Even if they had been called binatang and accused of corruption, their statements wouldn’t be justified. But there was no provocation!

So hard to say sorry; compounding sexism with lies.

See the entry at LKS’s blog for more info.

Information Minister – Blogging is bad for the rural people May 6, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Malaysia.
2 comments

In today’s NST:

Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said today that Malaysia has to classify bloggers as professionals and non-professionals as a mechanism to prevent misuse of Internet blog sites.

Zainuddin said the Internet has yet to be widely used by the people in Malaysia and if blog sites become an alternative press that forces the shutdown of newspapers, the rural people who depend on newspapers will be denied the right to information.

He reminded bloggers not to touch on matters that have been agreed upon by the consensus of the country’s multi-racial population such as the special position and privileges of the Malays, the Rulers and Islam so as to maintain peace and harmony.

Our Information Minister deserves the “spin of the week” award. Following the same brilliant reasoning, all local newspapers should shut down their online versions so that more people will buy their paper; and we should ban all foreign magazines, and access to Wikipedia, Google News, etc so that our local papers get more revenue so that they stay open so that the rural people can get propaganda news.

The suggestion of classifying bloggers itself is too absurd to comment on – thinly veiled repackage of blogger registration. The word professional means “one who does something as a means of livelihood” btw, not pro-government.

They Changed the Names May 5, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Literary, Personal.
2 comments

When I was reminiscing in an earlier post about the Enid Blyton books I read when I was a kid, I mentioned that I’d heard some names had been changed in modern editions to be politically correct. I wasn’t sure about it at the time, only having read about it on Wikipedia.

But today I was in the bookstore and remembered to check – and it’s true! No more Dicks and Fannies.

Below are pictures from two different editions of The Folk of the Faraway Tree (click to view large versions):

Original Names intact:

Modern/politically correct versions (2005 edition):

Forgot to take a pic of “cousin Dick” becoming “cousin Rick”. Oh well.

And what is it with the lame-ass illustrations in the modern version?

The Japanese aren’t Stupid (just weird)! April 28, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Skeptic.
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I subscribe to the RSS feed from Snopes.com: New Urban Legends. Pretty interesting and you get a good laugh from some of the more outrageous tall tales going around.

In the past two days I’ve actually had three people message me with links to a story that has been picked up by several news sites. The Age and Ninemsn.com carried stories on Japanese being fooled in a poodle scam. The story goes that cunning dealers have been selling sheep – yes, sheep – to clueless Japanese, passing them off as poodles. Apparently since sheep aren’t native to Japan, they can’t differentiate.

Seriously – the Japanese aren’t stupid! They invented the Playstation, Nintendo and anime! And as Snopes points out, even schoolchildren would know what sheep look like from books. Shame on you people who believed this!

P.S. While on the subject of Japanese urban legends, those skirts-with-underwear-pattern pictures that circulate are staged/fakes. So are the ones with “sharking”. The reports about a Japanese fertility festival are true, though…