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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Take me home, country roads

I've returned from another two interviews. Oh boy, do they take the energy right out from you. If you're wondering why the title of a John Denver song, well, the manager for the first interview at AIA happens to like it. He also likes hip-hop and Yanni (or maybe that was his juniors' favourites). Ever had background music during an interview? It's interesting, gotta hand it to them.

Will be attending there again tomorrow. Kumon on Friday. DAVOS on Monday. And who knows is gonna call up later this week.

Nilai is a great place. Went there for an interview. Food is slightly cheaper than in KL, and can you believe a double chicken burger for less than 4 bucks? Only drawback is the Komuter ticket, which is about 4.70 or so one way. But then again Nilai is in Negri Sembilan, so I guess it's justified.

I haven't been hired yet, so it's not as if I'm getting paid to flog their place, but I gotta say that the Nilai International College is something else. The lecturers are approachable, the staff are friendly and they've got free transport from various areas around Nilai to their college. On-campus food and accommodation, WiFi hotspots, clean (clean! though slightly wet) toilets - about the only thing I found a little off was the colour scheme of the exterior walls. But that wasn't their fault.

Well, I'm enthusiastic because my brother, who by and large doesn't make a lot of mistakes about such things, thinks Nilai is a good college. I pray they'll seriously consider my application.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Interview with the Vampire... er, Employer(s)

Fresh graduate or experienced management type, interviews can be wearing on your nerves - on both sides! My brother is an interviewer himself and he's got plenty of horror stories about interviewees. Well, I can tell a horror story or two about prospective employers myself.

So far, in my search for a job, I've been to about 5 interviews. One I aborted because of horror stories on the Internet. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean it's bad, but caveat emptor and I definitely did. Another (Col Shutters) was my first, and I thought it went all right. I guess my interviewers didn't, because I never heard back frmo them. Still, it was a sales job and that wasn't my main intention, so it wasn't too bad.

Subsequently, I've had interviews from Tactics Asia, Kumon and AIG. I'll be having second interviews with the latter two, and another from Nilai International College. It's going to be hectic, but that's a good sign; the more the better, if I can give 100% to all the interviews.

Prospective job seekers; here are a few tips before you attend your interviews. Nothing hard, just common sense stuff.

1. For crying out loud, make sure you don't lie or hide anything in your resume/CV. You think employers can't check stuff out? They can!

2. Going with (1) above, ensure you can verify/prove what you claim. It's not so important if you say you've attended as an ordinary member the Chess Club while you were in Uni. But if you claim your English is superlative, both written and spoken, then be prepared to do some Shakespeare.

3. Remember details of your application. When they call you up, they might want to do a phone interview. It really helps if you can recall (or have handy) what your job description is and what the company is so that you sound like you know what you're talking about. I got burned by this one somewhat, so I speak from experience.

4. Look stuff up on the Net!!!! This is the one single HUGE advantage we have over those of even 10 years ago; we've got the mighty Google. Use it! Look up the company. Look up the industry. Look up the job. Look up whatever you can so that you'll be as prepared as possible going into the interview.

5. Commit everything to God. Most important step. Quite possibly the only one step you really need to be all-out serious about. Man proposes but God disposes. Paul plants, Apollos waters but God gives the increase. In everything go to the Lord in prayer.

Simple stuff, really. Just go in calm, collected, courteous, charming. Smile a great deal. Have a sense of humour. See the silver linings. Good luck and God Bless!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Serious business! Food business!

So, sooner or later I've got to get down to putting some really serious stuff up. After all, what's the point of having a publishing medium, if you don't publish?

But food is serious business, especially when you're Chinese and you're in Malaysia. Last night my parents, brother (and sis-in-law) and myself went to this all-you-can-eat buffet steamboat place. It's called Restaurant Yuen, and it's located in Sunway Mentari. For RM18.80, you can eat from 5pm-midnight, and it's got (supposedly) 100 dishes for you to choose from.

Well! Those of you who know me know that this is a losing proposition for the restaurant, but not everybody eats like I do. And boy, is there a lot to eat. Forget about their Meehoon and Fried Rice; if you're hungry and can't wait for the seafood to cook, go grab their curry chicken. Every 15 minutes on the quarter-hour (give or take), their world-famous chicken wings come out. True enough, after 1 minute they're all gone, so you'd better be standing there long before.

Prawns, fish, crabs, sotong (cuttlefish), chicken, lala and teckhan (cockles and bamboo clams respectively), wantan (dumplings), yong tau foo, - and that's just for starters! Eggs and mee. Amazing amount of food! I stuffed myself thoroughly in 90 minutes, and so did the rest of my family.

OCFers Unite! We have to book the place (they don't open on some Tuesdays), and be there EARLY! You won't believe the queue...


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Caveat Emptor!

Malaysians beware! There are more than one things to remember when you come back from overseas.

1. Bring your MyKad with you everywhere! A fine not exceeding 20,000 bucks apply if you're ever caught without it.

2. Distinguish between Sales and Marketing. If your prospective job description sales includes 'must have own transport', that means they want you to flog their products face-to-face.

3. Goods sold here are NEVER refundable. Never. So make sure when you buy something it's really what you want. You may exchange defective products but that's pretty much it.

4. EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) is available here in the form of Bankcard. But very few shops accept this as yet, so bring cash. Related to this, Public Bank now charges an annual fee of 8 bucks for your ATM card. Maybank restricts your transaction limit. Read the fine print! M'sian banks don't have Cirrus or Maestro enabled on their ATM cards, so if you want those facilities, keep your foreign bank account.

Did I say being your MyKad everywhere with you?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

1st of the post

 In case you haven't caught it, the title for my inaugural weblog entry comes from the Australian slang for direct election, rather than the preferential scheme they use for most positions there.

Greetings. My name is Gregory Kong and I'll be running my mouth off here from time to time. Those of you who were my school friends will know that I talk the way I write. Those of you who know me through OCF will notice my language is somewhat stronger (but no downright obscene words, still and all). Those of you who don't know me, well... this is a good chance! Anyways, welcome to my spot on the Web.

Nothing major for my first entry, except this - If you think that Christianity is wrong, you better thing again. Better yet, take Pascal's Wager. I can tell you that any betting man would.

[EDIT] If you notice that my blog is in pinksh colours, well, it is. I'm assured that it's relatively easy to change the colour scheme, so don't be surprised if it swaps out from under you. I'll be changing the scheme until I find the few (or the one) that I like from the many.

Hopefully, this doesn't make it too much of an eyesore.