Day by Day Daily Cartoon by Chris Muir

The Mad Scientist... Mwahahahahahahahaha

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Independence Day

It's the 31st of August today, which is the Malaysian independence day. Actually, it's the Malayan independence day, which makes me wonder why East Malaysians should be celebrating it, but never mind.

So, Happy MERDEKA! For what it's worth.

I'm an unhappy camper. Cheesed off, really. Just downloaded a backgammon program for my Dad, and am trying it out myself. But let me tell you something. If you've ever been tempted to think that computer opponents stack the deck against you, well they do. Inevitably, wherever it is possible, my dice rolls will be implausibly, even impossibly against me. And everything will go hunky dory with the computer. How is this possible? Well, not having the source for the program, I cannot say. But I'm willing to bet that the so-called pseudo-random dice roller algorithm is plugged into the algorithm of the backgammon playing AI engine for the computer player.

Now, it might not even be intentional, just an unintended side-effect of dynamic run-time interaction of both sets of code. But there you have it, folks, a backgammon program that is nigh impossible to beat without some major strategy involved, not to mention seriously conservative playing styles.

What does that have to do with my title? Nothing, really. Oh, I suppose I could make out that in a similar fashion, the odds are stacked against non-Malay, non-Muslim minorities in this country (and possibly every other Muslim country you come across), but that would be reaching. No, it's just your basic rant against dummkopf programs and the power of observer bias.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A pathetic people

Civic consciousness is a thing sorely lacking in 3rd World countries. Of course, it is sorely lacking elsewhere as well, but that's more a thing of legalism and the fear of having your pants sued off you. Take for instance the taxi driver who crashed intentionally into a motorcycle with two snatch thieves, causing it to ram into a nearby tree and one of the thieves to have a broken leg. Or Joe Singh, who manages to make a citizen's arrest every week or so by using his superbike to crash intentionally into... can you just imagine what would have happened in the US, where they can sue you if they broke into your house through the roof and hurt themselves in the process?

No, unfortunately, civic consciousness (and the lack thereof) in Malaysia is caused not by legal moronicism, but by the simplest thing of all; apathy. Otherwise known as the 'tidak apa' (doesn't matter) attitude, or the 'frog-in-slowly-boiling-water' syndrome.

A public exhibition and roadshow is under way right now, showcasing the latest in toilet technology. Visitors to this lovely country will soon notice that our public lavatories are not lovely. They're not even sanitary, for that matter. We're not talking about graffiti on the walls; scrawls of lewd comments, phone numbers for gay blowjob offers, stupid yet funny poems, political comments and the like. No, that would make too much sense in a semi-repressive society. We're talking amount the vast majority of people here (a 60%) who, having come from a 'kampong' or village background, find the flush, and even the toilet bowl, a thing of novelty and most difficult to master. They shit and piss everywhere, and never bother to flush. Others, coming on their heels, don't bother either. Still others will simply choose other stalls (and who could blame them) or just hold it in until they get home (and who could blame them either).

Roadside litter is commonplace. People throwing it away or recycling it are rare. Older ladies crossing the road with a younger helper? That's almost unheard of. You may find a few folk ready to give up their seats in the bus/LRT/train, but I won't hold my breath too long.

And that's just the petty things. Nobody wants to become involved in politics unless they're rich or want the prospect to become rich. Our consumer's association is fangless and toothless. Our legal remedies for inter-religious issues have been systematically dismantled over the 49 years since independence. And all of this is because people do not want to rock the boat. Apathy, in a word. If it doesn't immediately, directly and visibly impact them, they don't want to do anything about it. They may grouse about it, make a whole lot of noise, but at the crunch, nothing gets done.

So. Put a live frog in boiling water and it will instantly jump out. Put that same frog in a pot of cold/room temp water and slowly bring it to the boil, and you'll get frog stew. You can see that apathetic people are a pathetic people.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Arrogance, Protection and the Christian

It strikes me as I write this that Malaysia, for all its troubles, problems and disadvantages to non-Malay, non-Muslim segments of its population, is still my birth country. True, Christians are merely travellers through this world, and hold citizenship in a different Kingdom; one that is more to be sought after and esteemed. Still, unless and until I take up citizenship in another country, Malaysia is still where my earthly citizenship resides. And so I will keep Malaysia's welfare in mind.

Now, there is no denying that there are troubles everywhere. Malaysia is not the only country in the world to be afflicted by idiotic policies; politicians worldwide are moronic by popular definition. But they have to juggle more knives in the air, just to keep themselves in power. It is amazing how the smartest people in the world immediately descend to the lowest level of intelligence when they're in a mob being harangued by rhetoric and hot air.

So what does that have to do with my title? Well, it just occured to me that weblogs are, in effect, publicly accessible diaries/journals. I don't say that I want people to read and react to what I say, but it would be nice to know that somone's interested. That's arrogance for you. It is said that most weblogs are narcissistic in nature; it is hoped that this one would not be so.

Arrogance can take many shapes. My particular arrogance is in my language and research capabilities. Everybody likes to think they're right all the time. The arrogance of Muslims, for instance, is taken in the form of their thinking that they can control the entire world. Their veritable duty, even.

Hence, the many troubles in Malaysia. The Chinese are arrogant in thinking that their numbers are small, but their economic importance makes them a political force to be reckoned with. The Indians are arrogant in thinking that they're small enough not to be bothered, but large enough to fight for themselves when needed. Arrogance, arrogance everywhere.

You can see its outworking in legal systems. The Malaysian Constitution guarantees freedom of worship, as well as the Federal Court as the highest court of the land. Look what's happening now, through. (Lina Joy is but a single test case). In the USA, however, the Constitution is elevated to the statues of almost Holy Writ, enshrined even. Both are wrong, and do not take into account that people are imperfect. Although I might well prefer the US approach more, still it is arrogance at work.

Ultimately, it all boils down to this. In Islam, there are NO guarantees. Which is why the Muslim has to be ever hard at work to preserve the 'Islamness' of where he is. Their protection has to be guaranteed by themselves, and no other. Christians, however, are protected by God Himself. Not against earthly torture, pains and anguish, nor against persecution and diaspora. No, our protection is against the powers and principalities, the spiritual forces of darkness. And our protection is against the sin nature of unregenerate man. Our guarantee is that if we love Jesus our God and Saviour to the end and beyond, we will be with Him for all eternity.

And that's all that matters. That's all that should matter. It is my flesh that argues against laws and regulations that shackle and restrict. Should I care that (if I were Muslim) I can not officially change my religion without some massive inertia to overcome? Perhaps, but it is more important to spread the Word and witness. Must I (as a Christian) fight against the godless atheists and evolutionists that pollute natural science with their noisy unfounded prattle? Surely, it is more important to ensure that people know the truth, that they can discern for themselves. All this world will pass away, but the things of eternity are our treasure, stored up in Heaven.

So keep up the good fight, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ! Onward we march, towards Jesus our Master and Friend indeed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Money isn't everything... but!

So, thanks be to God, the Lord Most High, YHWH the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus. In His infinite mercy and grace He has proven me quite employable by giving me two job offers in a single day.

First, Nilai College calls up. Then Marcusevans. Quite an eventful day it was. So I've made up my mind, but I won't publish it today, since I notify them only tomorrow. Even if I'm the only one who ever reads this blog, it's still a matter of courtesy.

I spent all day yesterday (Sat) trying to create a spreadsheet to manage my finances. But doing so with only online resources is an exercise in frustration. Those blasted people at Inland Revenue (i.e. tax collectors, the lowest form of intelligent life during the 1st century AD and I don't think much has changed since then) never update their website and information there is around 3 years old. Considering that taxes here seem to change on an annual basis, this is just not on. Worse, the only material they have which seems to be updated, you've got to pay 15 bucks for. Now, I already want to reduce my tax obligations and you expect me to pay IRD some more money? You must be joking! And they say ignorance is no excuse. Well, it is when you have to pay to know the law!

And what do you get for your 28% (highest personal tax bracket as of 2003) tax? No health cover, no 'dole', no welfare of any sort. Police are on the take (though I'm told that this is becoming a lesser problem, but still!), crime is rampant, public transportation is for the dogs. And if you're disabled good luck to you catching a bus, I can tell you that. One must wonder. And there's no such thing as freedom of information, so nobody knows how much the ministers and ther top honchos get paid to gallivant around the world. Maybe they have to pay their own way (but I don't hold my breath).

Never mind the Taxation people. You cannot avoid death and taxes anyway. But this issue with Socso (Workcover to you Aussie folks). If you start with Socso, you never stop. I wonder if I can get my employers to keep me below the radar until I earn >3k a month. Having to pay Socso until I retire, even when the coverage is so blasted pitiful, is a ridiculous notion. Talk about subsidising bludgers.

Money isn't everything. But seeing blatant abuse of my soon-to-be-paid taxes surely hurts. And for some unknown reason, these guys don't know how to run the Department properly. Have you any idea how long it takes for you to get a refund if you don't chase 'em for it? Try never. But I will render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. After all, I can't take it with me. And neither can they, which is a thought to comfort me through my next 30 years of working life...


Thursday, August 03, 2006


Got up this morning and went for my usual 6km walk with my parents. Thereafter could not stay awake.

This was related to my interviews yesterday. Try walking any significant distance in KL city and you'll feel the same way. The air quality is none the best, the gradient is unpreditable and pedestrians are the lowest form of life - we're treated like that, anyways.

Marcus Evans is looking for conference producers. Really cool job, if I can get it. Hopefully I can go far enough in the process.