Thursday, December 16, 2010

Religion pluralism

Recently, various Malaysian Islamic Organisations called to reject religious pluralism. That is to say that not all religions are equal - and Islam is the supreme religion.

Some suggested that Muslims should stop attending other religion's celebrations citing that this will threaten Islam as the supreme religion in Malaysia. But is this isolation and narrow-mindedness the threat to Islam or is it the willingness to share each other's joy the threat?

Some even suggested that Islam should stop having inter-faith discussions/forums as these are seen to put Islam on equal ground with other religion on the talking table. So now refusing to talk on equal grounds will make Islam great and supreme? I doubt that is what Prophet Muhammad had in his mind but I'm open to any Muslim reading this blog to correct me...

A lot of these religious scholars, Islam or Christian alike, read too much Quran or Bible that they need some time-off and read "common sense" and "logical thinking" in their spare time instead.

"It's true that in believing one's faith, one has to feel that his/her faith is superior compared to others. But that does not mean that other faiths should not be respected or be given equal treatment under the law. There's a difference between wanting your own faith to be strong, and wanting other faiths to be weak." -sL Dec 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Conference in Grenoble and the meeting with Albert Fert

Are you using a Gigabyte Hardisk? If so, then you must thank this guy - Albert Fert.

I have this honour to meet him in Grenoble France in a conference. He is one of the discoverers of Giant Magneto Resistance (GMR) and the Physics Nobel Laureate 2007. Without GMR, the hardisk we know today would not be able to surpass the Gigabyte limit. In short, GMR is the effect where the resistance of a material changes depending on its magnetization. This effect is important because it allows the hardisk read head to detect minute changes in magnetization, which in turn is the 1 - 0 data bit.


Grenoble seems like a fantastic place. It is known for skiing holidays. The town itself is surrounded by the alps and is beautiful beyond description, but its beauty is difficult to capture on the camera. Perhaps its also the people. The people there are also friendly (unlike the ones I met in Paris). And in this little beautiful town is the home to many of France's advance physics research facility including the ESRF, ILL, nanoscience center and atomic research center to name a few.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Malay Supremacy and the King

Malay Supremacy is changing faster than I can write. Just a day after I wrote my post about it here, UMNO & Co. change their views again.

First, they claim there is no such thing as the Malay Supremacy, then they say actually there is and it is enshrined in the constitution, now they say it's actually about the King or our Supreme leader, not about the Malay race. Why is this term so damn confusing?

So Malay Supremacy is now about the special position of the King and not the race. Only the King is special right? No race is special? So does that mean under the King, every Malaysian regardless of the race is equal then? Yay!!! PERKASA then can you stop whining a? Because King is Tuan, and all of us (the rest) - Malay, Chinese, Indian or "lain-lain" underneath the Tuan would be equal la? yes? No a?

Dammit, Malay Supremacy is easy to understand la. But some people just like to beat around the bush. They want everything for themselves - the political power, the economy pie, etc. BUT, they don't want to sound too selfish yea, and that is why the confusion la. Malay Supremacy or Malay privileges or Malay Special Rights or Ketuanan Melayu, whatever you want to call them, they are what they are - ploys to make a particular race better at the expense of others.

Please la, if you have the balls to demand, then have the balls to admit it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Malay Supremacy and the status quo

And suddenly they are claiming that there is no such thing as "Malay Supremacy". Huh? Equality for Malaysians finally? Guess again.

A week ago, Dr. Wan Azizah said that Malaysians should reject "Ketuanan Melayu" (Malay Supremacy) and instead embrace "Ketuanan Rakyat"; and within 24 hours UMNO & Co. lambasted her for politicising the issue. They claim that there was never a need for the Ketuanan Melayu, it never existed and neither did the constitution ever mention this concept. Huh? Huh? They, claim that what was mentioned in the constitution is the Malay Special Privileges, not the Malay Supremacy. Hang on a minute... Wasn't "Ketuanan Melayu" published on Utusan Melayu's headline countless of time and that if any of us - the non-Malay challenges this we shall be skinned alive and fed to the fishes in the South-China Sea?

Oh, now it's more trendy to say "Malay privileges" instead? I don't give a damn what you call it. But, we the non-Malays know what it is. It's the quota you set for our University education, it's the quota you set for our scholarship, it's the discount you give to Malays for purchasing house, it's the promotion that was denied merely because of our skin colour, it's the open tender that could only be given to a particular race, it is the requirement that every listed company has to have a certain amount of the indigenous race; it is the excuse that you make to benefit your cronies, to enrich your own little circle of friends, to build multi-million dollar house in Selangor (read Khir Toyo) or to own a multi-million dollar house in central London (read Taib); and it is also the countless threats of May 13, and "know-your-place" assertion and also the infamous "go back to China/India" insults.

So you claim, that you never wanted to create a Master and Slave relationship between Malaysians, but yet you remind us every other week to be grateful of our "jus soli" citizenship and our "social contract". And at the very instant we try to move our lips to speak out against this policies, we will be punish. I ask you sincerely, if not for the internet, will we ever have the chance to speak? I sincerely ask for your opinion that if this sentence sounds like what a Master would say to the Slave, "Kalau tak suka, keluar Malaysia"? Has the person who uttered such vile statements been reprimanded? No. But if anything would happen to him, I'm betting that he will be transferred to another state - it's currently the most popular "punishment" a racist can get in Malaysia.

But even this is not the latest trend. The latest trend is to say that Malaysia has been in harmony for decades now. So why bring in new terms like the Malay Supremacy into the "game"? Let's maintain the status quo which has made Malaysian happy. Seriously, dude, is Malay Supremacy the status quo which Malaysians have lived upon harmoniously for the past decades, or is it so because certain quarters have been asked to shut up on this issue or face the music? The so-called status quo, I'm guessing, was established in 1969 after the NEP where the so-called wealthier race agreed to compromise to help the weak and the poor, and more importantly to restructure the society's wealth distribution. But let's be frank, are we helping the poor or just helping the Malays? How many national policies are based on income and how many are based on race alone. You know best. Now you can't be doing that forever and claim for status quo, can you? Are the so-called wealthier race forever wealthy and are they suppose to be compromising forever? This is beginning to look like a Master and Slave relationship again!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Silicon Valley comes to Cambridge

Last Friday, I attended a series of talks by the "big shots" in Silicon Valley. Those who came included CEO of Linkedin , CTO of Facebook, CEO of Mozilla and GM of Google.org. Below are some of the interesting Q&A:

1. How big is big enough for the Venture Capitalists?
Ans: 1 million (CEO of Linkedin)

2. Do you have a balance life?
Ans: That's the wrong question to ask. The right question to ask is if we are happy. If we enjoy what we do and believe what we do can change the world, then we'll be happy doing it, even if it is 2am in the middle of the night. (CTO of Facebook)

3. Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?
Ans: Because this world is fucked up so bad. I want to unfuck everything. (CEO of Knewton)

4. Which kinds of employees do you like best?
Ans: I like the kind of people where you told him to do one thing; he goes back think for a while; then comes back and tell you are wrong, and then come up with something better. (CTO of Facebook)

5. What did you do before you become an entrepreneur and how is that helpful?
Ans: I worked with Goldman Sachs, in various management consultant jobs and the banking industry. And they are a waste of my time. (CEO of Knewton)

6. How important is it to create a good environment for the employees?
Ans: We have nurseries, laundries and other services. But we do not like to see them as perks for the employees. These are conveniences such that they have more time to do what is important or interesting to them in life (CTO of Facebook)

7. Why did you like Mozilla/Firefox so much?
Ans: When Jerry Yang (founder of Yahoo!) slammed on the table and points his finger at us, we knew we were doing something right. (CEO of Mozilla)


CTO of Facebook (Mike Schroepfer) at the center

Silicon Valley comes to Cambridge

CEO of Mozilla

GM of Google (Megan Smith) on left

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's difficult being a racist

I can't believe Dr. M said this - meritocrats are racist? Meritocrats are people who make decisions solely based on results, racist are people who make decisions solely based on race. Now, unless by merit means by exclusion of certain race naturally, meritocrats are not racist!

First Perkasa, then the headmistress in Johor, and now Chedet. Everyone seems to be jumping onto the bandwagon to label others as racist. "You're racist!", "No, if you label me as racist, YOU are the racist!" So is Perkasa being racist? Or are we racist by labeling them as racist? Are the proponents of Malay supremacy racist or are the people against such idea a racist. This is all so confusing.

But look, although I would like to have an equal, meritocracy-based Malaysian society, I can understand why some Malays want to support the NEP and the Malay-Special-Rights policy.

However, there is a difference between wanting your own race to be strong, to wanting other races to get out of the country; there's a difference between wanting Islam to be the official religion, to preventing other religion of their own freedom; there's a difference between wanting people to join Islam because of the faith, to preventing Muslims from leaving the religion by law. You can make A > B by either reducing B or by improving A. So if the Malays want to be A and want A > B , by all means. But do so by improving A, not by killing off B.

Wanting A to be better than B by virtue of all B either dying or leaving the country, is that not racist? If Malaysia really wants to be 1 Malaysia, then the government must give a firm stand on what is true racist and what is not. The government can make us understand why they need NEP so that the economy is "fairer". But do not try to make us understand why asking us to leave is not a racist remark.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What do Cambridge Phd students do when they are stressed?

Punting...

BBQ...

Formal Halls...

Celebrations...

Support our boat racing team...
video

Playing Wii?

video

Bumper Cars (in tuxedo)??
video

Thursday, July 1, 2010

T. Tokieda

I was on the way to Trinity College when I suddenly paused. "I have tonnes of work waiting for me. Should I really be listening this talk about 'physics of toys'? Anson, did say it is THE lecture to go for..." For a moment I turned my back away from the city, but fortunately I did another U-turn and ended up at Trinity College for the lecture.



It turned out that this one of the best lectures that I have ever been to in University of Cambridge. Not only is Tadashi Tokieda a brilliant mathematician himself, he is also a genius in making what seems complex mathematics into something that everyone could understand.

He never ceases to capture the audience's attention, alternating between good humour and extraordinary mathematics in every moment of his lecture. That is hard to achieve. In one instance, he took a piece of white paper, crumpled it and then stepped on it. Then he unfold it and ask, what did you see? You see lines, random lines. But if you try to draw a crumpled piece of paper by using networks of random lines, you will immediately recognise that the drawing isn't a crumpled piece of paper. This means that there is more than just random lines in a piece of crumpled paper. Did you realise that for each point on the crumpled paper, there can only be an even number of lines coming out from that point? If there are only four lines coming out of a point on that crumpled paper, then did you know that the sum of the opposing sectors are equal? He proved all these without using a single equation. All he had was 3 slides and less than 100 words in the 2-hour lecture. When I have to write what he had actually explain in that lecture, I'm lost for words. So if you find it difficult to understand what I have just told you about crumpled paper, it is my fault, definitely not his.

He went on to talk about negative Poisson ratio and origami and how this revolutionise the way the satellites fold their solar panels. He did all these without using any equations. You get a real sense that what he is talking about is really complex, interesting and cutting edge but yet everyone in the room understood it completely. At the end of the lecture, not only do I feel entertained, but also feel that I have learned so much in just 2 hours.

During the Q&A session, one audience asked, "you said you haven't solve this problem negative Poisson ratio. Why?" He answered, "Because it's hard!" to the laughter of the audience. He went on, "It's hard, but not because of what you think. The difficult thing about research is that unlike in school, you have to formulate the problem which you yourself is going to solve. If the problem is too easy, it becomes uninteresting to the research community. If it becomes too hard to solve, it becomes uninteresting to you. So how should you formulate the problem, set the conditions right so that it can be interesting yet solvable. The common fallacy is that people think research must be important. They are wrong. Research must be interesting."

I'll remember him, T. Tokieda.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

St.. Edmund's Mayball

I'm 30. The party was meant for those below 20.





Nevertheless, I attended this unique event in University of Cambridge called May Ball. It's called 'May' but it's held in June, after the exams. It's a 'Ball' which means you must wear a bow tie, tuxedo and a full set of black tie formal wear otherwise you will be denied entrance, even if you bought the tickets. This was the first ever time I wore a bow tie and a tux.

It started at 9pm. It ended at 6am the next day!




Free flow of drinks (from all kinds of beer and wine), food (burgers, hot dogs, chocolate fondue, etc) and entertainment e.g. Laserquest, movies, magic show, hot air balloon, bumper car!!



I went with a bunch of Malaysian lads - my good friends here in Cambridge University (too bad Fendi wasn't around...)



It was a lot of fun!

Doing things we like and doing things that are important

It's important to do the things you like, but things we like to do may not necessarily be important.

Do the right thing: Place important things ahead of the things you like to do. It's call responsibility!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Did Idris Jala asked the right question?

Years of debate training taught me one thing: you can trap your opponents by asking the right question. For example, if I asked, "Would you prefer your country to go bankrupt or for your subsidies to cut?" The reasonable answer is rather obvious for if I said I would rather the country to go bankrupt I will look like a selfish bastard. But this was exactly the question that our minister, Idris Jala and PM, Najib posed to Malaysians a week ago. They asked us to choose between being a selfish bastard or a "noble" countrymen.

But if I rephrase the question into, "Would you rather have your subsidies cut, or to stop the corruption and wasteful government spending in order to save the country from bankrupt?" Then suddenly we are not so sure anymore that refusing subsidies cut is a selfish thing to do.

Any successful businessman will tell you that "you reap profit, not by saving money but by investing it!" What good is it if we are able to save all the money in the world if they are not meant for investing into a better future? Then perhaps this is a good time to reflect on our major government spending spree and see how the ROI (return on investment) looks like. From the Multimedia Super Corridor, Sepang Formula 1 Circuit, Bakun Hyrdo Dam, to the hundreds of low-cost housing development areas...how many of these actually reaped concrete returns to the people of Malaysia? As if to add salt to the wound, recently we purchased state-of-the-art submarines that cannot submerge (and once submerged would never emerged) and 257 armoured vehicles at RM31 million each. What is the ROI for these?

And to my shocking, I stumbled onto a 2005 Nature journal paper titled, "Malaysian biotechnology: The valley of ghost" which claimed that the government had spent USD160 million on building a biotechnology hub in Malaysia but it failed, miserably. Although I understand that the building of this hub is still "work-in-progress", how would any world-class bio-technology researcher want to work in Malaysia after this revelation by Nature, one of the most influential journal paper in the world? What is the ROI for this?

Would the subsidy cut succeed in saving Malaysia from bankruptcy if implemented as a stand-alone policy? The answer is a straight NO. In the recent sub-prime financial crisis, many countries in the west have a bail-out plan, tighten loan requirements and also have the subsidies/welfare cut. But they knew that this was just a temporary mitigation plan. Their long term strategy was to restructure the way banks work. So do we have a similar long term strategy? Or is cutting the subsidies our "long term" strategy?

Let there be no doubt that we, the Malaysians, have been enjoying a whole range of subsidies since we were born. And I totally agree with Idris Jala that Malaysians are one of the most heavily subsidised citizens in the world. But the question that goes begging here would be: where did we go wrong? Was it the 1997 Asian financial crisis? Was it the 2001 burst of the IT bubble? Was it the recent sub-prime financial crisis? Could the government be giving a false impression to us for past decades by keeping the subsidies high, the inflation low and fueling the economy with debts? It is not possible that the years of economic boom under the leadership of Dr. M is just a mirage after all?

BN knows very well that they cannot do a drastic subsidy cut. It will increase the inflation that will kill off the economy and as well as any chance they have in the next general election to re-gain the two-third majority. So they may just keep the subsidies. Here comes the scary part: Would the government continue to drive the economy with the current failed strategy despite knowing that Malaysia will go bankrupt? And mind you that when we say the country goes bankrupt it doesn't mean everyone becomes dirt poor, but only the middle working class like you and me. I personally believe that BN will continue with the "bankrupt strategy" because (1) BN ministers have abundance of wealth far beyond the reach of middle working class like you and me; (2) most of them own a 'backup' property in Australia.

I have absolutely no grudge in paying more taxes and in accepting the reduced subsidies from the government, provided that I know the money that I help saved is well spent. But not only is my confidence in the government policy so lacking, so is the general public's. There is no way a subsidy cut is going to work, not if the government first show their commitment in combating corruption and wasteful spending. And no, I'm not talking about the MACC actions on corruptions amounting to only few thousand ringgits. We wouldn't be bankrupting with that amount of corruption.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

伟人、改变世界

最近读到一位辩论“小瓜”的博客,有感而发。(其实,她已经不是小瓜,可是相对我而言,还是。。。嘻嘻)

其实这种想法真的很普遍:想要改变世界,讨厌霸权和不合理的事;但同时又害怕改变世界以及害怕要面对霸权。只要不合理的事还未涉及到我们,或是我们周围的人,我们又何必当改变世界的“先锋队”呢?起码,我并不是狼狈为奸。只要做好我本分,那不就好了吗?何必想要成为伟人?

可是,要成为伟人不是一种选择,是他人给予的肯定。
改变世界。这,是一种选择。

Sunday, May 16, 2010

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY...

WISHING MYSELF A BELATED BIRTHDAY...

thank you for the cake and the dinner...

thank you for the birthday wishes and card...


thank you for the ... game ...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

the British general election

Gordon Brown was caught last week calling a retiree a bigot behind her back. Though the Labour had since lost the GE, it has still garnered quite a lot of votes. It seems like the people of U.K. are more concerned about the policies of the parties, rather than the morals of the party leaders. But how could they believe the policies of a leader who is capable of such backstabs? On that particular day, Gordon Brown was all smiles as he campaigns for Labour Party. He spoke to the woman, held her hand. But after that brief meeting, he forgot to turn the microphone off. So the entire conversation where he call this woman a bigot was recorded. He also said that the meeting was ridiculous. Why would the Brits trust a PM who backstabs?

And after losing more than 90 seats, he is still not surrendering his post as the PM. While I find it hard to believe this is happening in the land of 'gentleman', there is something Malaysians can learn.

The conservatives and the lib dems are talking today for a possible coalition. They accept that since no one has the majority, they would have to form at least a loose coalition and then TABLE A VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE in the next parliamentary session in order to remove Gordon Brown from his post. And the Queen of England has cancelled all her appointments while waiting for the outcome of the negotiations before meeting with the leaders of the party. This is what is reported in the news.

Now, wait a minute!!! Isn't this very similar to the Perak 'crisis' a year ago??? But did UMNO table a vote of no confidence? Or was the speaker and Chief Minister forcefully removed from position? Was our 'King' as 'gracious' as the Queen of England? Or did he take things into his own hands and 'sacked' the Chief Minister immmediately?

We inherited the Parliamentary Democracy from England, but we did not inherit their common sense. And now to add further insult to this crooked common sense, Hee Yit Foong was given Datukship (Knighthood, in England). Such a salutation is only given to people who has significant contribution to the society and country. So what does this Datukship acknowledge? That when she jumped ship from DAP to pro-BN it is a SIGNIFICANT contribution towards the country?

Who is the real bigot here?

Friday, April 30, 2010

PR never learns...

Wtf? Pakatan Rakyat never learns??

Stop blaming the "buy-election", start thinking of how to win a "buy-election" i.e. accept that vote buying happens, but think how PR's gonna outsmart BN in this aspect. Obviously, PR cannot "outbuy" BN.

Next big thing for Pakatan to worry...

More prediction on Malaysian politics...

When Samy Velu quits MIC, a significant portion of votes will go back to BN. Although this seems impossible now, I'm betting that Najib will force Sammy to quit just a few months prior to the next general election. Pakatan MUST think ahead and counter this threat before it happens!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The love-hate letter to Pakatan Rakyat

Prologue
"Vote for change", "Give us a chance", "We have changed". Before the 308 political tsunami, I would have not believe these are the words BN is telling us, the rakyat. Yet it is true, these slogans seems synonymous with BN in recent days. But it was Pakatan who had first talk about "change" that helped created the political tsunami in the last general election. BN hijacked Pakatan's idea, disguised it as 1Malaysia and turned it around into a weapon against Pakatan. No doubt that the millions spent on APCO is at work here, and working so well - money well spent!

Pakatan needs to react, especially in the face of the recent defeat at Hulu Selangor. Stop giving excuses. What was so appalling during this by-election was not the "dirty tricks" by BN but that Pakatan seems to be scrambling all over the place trying to react to a well-coordinated attack by BN. Pakatan was throwing arguments all over the place without a central theme. Meanwhile, BN had all their arguments well connected and channelled through the same theme - "we've changed" and "1Malaysia". Pakatan still reacts ONLY as an opposition party and resort to attacking BN on corruption which plays in very well with BN's theme that they are now a "changed person". Furthermore, Pakatan's campaign is lacking in giving rakyat a clear vision of Malaysia under its rule. This is well echoed by my friend, Onion, here which she asks "Where is PR leading us to?". People want Malaysia to be more than just free of corruption, people want a vision for Malaysia!

On the eve of the by-election, I was fueled with this anger that I wanted to write this love-hate letter to PR. How could they have not seen this coming? I wanted to write a hate letter to Pakatan for its growing failure to counter the BN's campaign of "we've changed" and "give us a chance". I wanted to write this letter to Tony Pua of DAP and cc my DAP friends, which include Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching. However, I chickened out the last minute. They are so many brilliant politicians in Pakatan that I refuse to believe that they have not thought of what I wrote below. Still, I'm itching to publish my love-hate letter. So, here it is below, the email that never got out. My love-hate letter to Pakatan Rakyat.



Re: Some suggestions for organising arguments during election campaigns

Dear Tony,

Sorry for the rather lengthy email, but do bear with me.

I am a Pakatan supporter. I am following closely the recent by-election in Hulu Selangor. Since at the moment I am in the UK, I am only following this by-election by comparing news report from thestar.com, Malaysia-today, Malaysiakini, MerdekaReview and MalaysiaInsider. From what I read, I was disappointed by the campaigning efforts done by the Pakatan in this by-election. It wasn't because the lack of organization of talks and banners. That, I believe you'd know much more than me. But the organisation of arguments to counter BN's accusations and campaigning was really mediocre at best. It wasn't because there was a lack of brawn, but I reckon it was the lack of brain. To be more specific, the overall impression of Pakatan in this by-election was that it lacked focus and that every argument Pakatan had thought of, BN was up for it.

I might be a bit naive, and might not have interpreted the actual situation correctly since I'm only following the by-election remotely. But I'd like to present some of my ideas on how Pakatan should "arrange" their arguments in an election campaign, in which if you think what I said is useful then use it. Otherwise, just ignore. After all, I am only trying to help and what I might said might have already been done.

I was trained as a debater for many years and then coached for many more. So what I say here, will definitely resonant with the people which I have put in the cc list (Teo Nie Ching, Serdang MP; Chow Yu Hui, DAP strongman in Bentong; and Snowpiano) whom you know and whom I have worked with countless time over many national and international debate competitions. And as I said, I'm fully aware that the real "war" out there can be vastly different from a debate competition. Still, I think there are similarities. Here, I list down 4 important elements and I hope it could be of use:

1. A central theme
In the weeks before US declared war on Iraq, the American President, Secretary of state and all other members of the White house always begin and end their speech with "let there be no doubt..." to tell the audience there was no doubt about the threat of Iraq's WMD. This is an example of using a central theme. In a debate competition, we speak for almost an hour. In a by-election, the candidates speak for even longer. But the audience have very limited memory. For countless and countless of minutes, the audience will only remember, at most 1-3 sentence. What this 1-3 sentence that the audience take back from the ceramah is important. And if we emphasize too many things, focus will be lost. This 1-3 sentence that will remain in the audience mind long after the ceramah ends is our central theme, this is where arguments stem out from and eventually get channelled back into.

In the recent by-election, Pakatan seems to be saying a lot. Yet, it is difficult to identify what is the point-of-the-day. If I would want to pin-point one, it would be that BN is corrupted. This theme is fine and had work in the past. However, the theme by itself must be able to anticipate and counter whatever BN's rebuttal could be. BN has been saying this for a long time now, "We're changing under the new leadership. We're more open and less corrupted. We're changing." Therefore, by saying that BN is corrupted is only playing into BN's game because they would just say, "yes, maybe we are corrupted in the past, but that is changing under Najib's rule".

Pakatan needs a stronger theme. E.g. "Corruption before, during and after...". This would place Pakatan in a more comfortable position to defend against BN's banner like "Kita mampu berubah" because a lot of the corruption actually happened after Najib took over or when Najib was the M.O.D. Yes, it could be true that even without such a theme, Pakatan would be able to counter BN's call that they have changed. But the essence of the point here is that the audience have short-term memories and cannot remember everything everyone had said. At the end of the day, they just remember the themes from BN and Pakatan. If BN's is "we can change, we have changed", while Pakatan's is "They are corrupted", the audience may be just swayed into giving BN a chance.

Another feature of a good theme is that it must be on the attack, not on the defence. For example, by saying that "Pakatan is for justice" is on the defence. Why? Because this slogan is open for BN MPs to open their salvo and slander all they want during their ceramah to say that Pakatan is not really for justice but are really for ...something else. But if we can have a slogan such as "We vote for more than just money" would then, I believe, put BN on the defence. The former allows ample space for BN to redefine 'justice' into something that fit into their model, whereas in the latter case BN is forced into explaining what they are doing is more than just about money. There's a lot which we could say from this slogan, e.g. "BN is only for money", "development and making ppl rich is important, but not through corrupted means", "money is important, but with BN money is only with the cronies", etc. This slogan would reminiscent with "a corrupted BN" yet at the same time say that Pakatan is also for development, but much more...

With a good central theme and slogan, we could channel all our individual arguments against BN into one unified "big argument". Whether, it is the VK Lingam case, the submarine that doesn't submerge, or PKFZ scandal, etc. Obviously, with more brain-storming, better themes and slogans can emerged. The important thing I want to emphasize here is that there must a be a central theme that links all the smaller issues mentioned in all the ceramahs, otherwise they become lost in a goo of arguments. And that this central theme, must not only be representative of what Pakatan fights for, but must also counter what BN would try to represent.

Lastly, but not the least, themes used by Pakatan had always been about portraying BN as corrupted. But it has never been about the vision of what Malaysia would be with Pakatan's rule. It's time for Pakatan to stop campaigning as merely opposition, but also as a viable government that would bring Malaysia to greater heights. What would Malaysia look like if Pakatan takes over Putrajaya? Obviously, by declaring that it will be a "Fair and Just Malaysia" will not be sufficient. It's a bit too cliche! I admit it's not easy to come out with such a very good slogan and I admit that 1Malaysia is a pretty darn good slogan that connects with every race and every issue that Malaysians face. So Pakatan should think of something better, maybe something like "More than just development for Malaysia" to reiterate that Pakatan will not only bring developement, but much more than that, i.e. for all people and through proper means. My fellow friend, Onion, had write something similar about this here (this last paragraph was added in after the by-election).

2. Do not try to portray Pakatan as perfect angel, and BN as a perfect devil.
Leave some space for both Pakatan and BN. Praise BN occasionally and condemn Pakatan occasionally. It is more convincing playing to be imperfect.

Pakatan always try to be perfect in the eyes of the audience, whereas sometimes it is better just to admit some of the accusations that BN hurled at Pakatan. E.g. Pakatan have disagreements, but at least Pakatan say it out in the open and agree to what we disagree. And yet, Pakatan still have many more in common.

Pakatan may not have made every poor soul in Selangor to be rich in 2 years, so obviously someone may feel that the Selangor govt. had not do anything. But Pakatan govt. is doing that bit by bit in this 2 years. Pakatan had definitely done more to many ppl in the past 2 years than what BN had for 50 years.

BN is not all evil, they did build a few Chinese schools. but they demolished more. BN did help some poor Malays, but help their own cronies even more. For every MYR 1.00 to the poor, MYR1,000,000.00 goes to the crony.

Also praise that not everyone in BN is an evil. There are some good people, but there are too little and insignificant that when it comes to big decision, they don't matter. Conversely, they are still some rotten tomatoes in Pakatan but there are insignificant and when it comes to the big decision, the highest leaders always agree to the right decisions. Besides, these rotten tomatoes are jumping ship to the other side of aisle, rejoining the original rotten tomatoes.

This is a bit like Tai-Chi. You take the negative energy hurled at you by your opponents and turn them around into a positive energy.

3. Help the audience differentiate fact from fiction
Whether or not Malaysia is a Muslim state, is being debated. But BN govt gave away gambling and liquour license is a fact.

Whether Anwar 'liwat' Saiful or not, is still under trial. But Chua Soi Lek's rock hard evidence of affair and oral sex is not even charged.

Tell the audience, maybe there are somethings that cannot be proven at the end of the day even with all the cirumstantial evidence.But those that have been proven with clear cut evidence, all points to BN as being evil, yet nothing has been done. Draw parallels between accusation from BN which in most cases are yet to be proven with the accusation with PR where it has been proven beyond doubt.

Tell the audience it's ok if you do not believe everything I said, but at least there are some evidence that prove BN's corruption are beyond any doubt. Agree with the audience that no matter how much we try to defend Anwar's case, BN will have something new to say. At the end of the day, there may still be some doubts. But Chua Soi Lek 's involvement in an affair and oral sex was proven beyond doubt. Absolutely no room for doubts on that, and yet he was getting off scot free? This is, in a certain degree, playing as I mentioned in (2) i.e. playing to be imperfect.


4. Anticipation
We can never anticipate 100% what BN would say. But we could safely anticipate most of their main arguments. Our campaign must be such that we force BN into a corner, into saying only the things we want and nothing more than that.

We must speak on their behalf before they do. For example, they are likely to attack Pakatan saying that Pakatan is in a mess - each party has different ideology, MPs are leaving and they are bickering in the public. But Pakatan could say that, "yes we have disagreements. but we voice them out in open, and agree to what we disagree. Even so, we have far more agreements than disagreements. This in contrast with a "hand-kissing" Kamalanathan that says "botol" to every single UMNO request. In order to force them into a corner, these "anticipations" have to be said before they actually occured, i.e. Pakatan must be brave enough to say "yes we have disagreements, but ..." before UMNO starts firing at Pakatan saying, "they always have disagreement". It is only through this way that we may force UMNO into a position we want them to.


Conclusion:
To be fair, Pakatan has been doing most of this all this while. But I am not sure whether it is being done in a conscious way or unconscious way. Even so, I think the message can be clearer e.g. there is usually very little emphasis on playing imperfect. (point no.2). If I were the lead campaigner for Pakatan in H.S., I would judge myself whether the rakyat had received the following messages in a very clear and loud manner:

1. Vote for more than just development.

2. 50 years on and every 4 years they still ask for a chance? Why believe when they've been lying for so many years?

3. Support Malay rights - but Malay rights through corruption and dirty means? No thanks.

4. We have disagreements and we believe that this is better than kissing hand and kowtow to the "Big Brother UMNO".


Best regards,
Chin, Shin Liang


I end this post with a powerful speech about 尊严 from DSAI.



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sometimes I hate to be right...

We've all seen it coming...

Somehow I hope I was wrong...but I wasn't...

Good luck to Malaysians...this will be the beginning of the transformation...it will be gradual, but definite...it's PERKASA land by 2030.

My prediction for Hulu Selangor's by-election...

My prediction for tomorrow's by-election...

BN will win with more than 1000 votes and tomorrow will mark the beginning of the new kind of 20-year-Mahathirism. Not so bad...if you are a Malay

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

World Cup - England

England better win the World Cup this year.

I just supported their cause with this GBP38 T-shirt. >.<
(I think should have chose a better background for this picture... )

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why is UK boring?

You want to know why UK is boring?

This banner, located at the BIGGEST mall in Cambridge city center says it all...


8pm is considered LATE.

Worst case scenario for love-seeking men

It took him 2 years to realise that the current one is not the right one.
It took him 5 years to realise that the first one is the right one.
It took him his entire life to realise that all of the above is wrong.

Vote for change?

At the Tory booth.



I just watched the first ever British live debate among the British PM candidates. It was disappointing. It was nothing like the US Presidential debate.

It was more like a Q&A session. Yet, neither of them answered the question directly, e.g. when asked about how to improve the economy all of them started to take turns in throwing slogans like "fair", "reducing deficit", "cut tax", etc. But why is one better than the other? Why is it fair? How can it be fairer? Why tax cut works better than tax increments? Nothing said.

They kept on harping on what they will do without providing a concrete solution, e.g. on the immigrant issue G. Brown says that he introduced the point system and D. Cameron said that he wants to implement a cap. But the immigrant problem in the UK has, in my humble opinion, very little do with the immigration policy. It has nothing to do with the immigrants. It is because the UK skilled work force is in a decline, the education system is failing and UK is attracting the wrong type of people into the country. There are a lot of capable people, all looking to work in UK but very frequent denied entry. Yet, people who are coming to UK without a degree ended up working in restaurants are in abundant.

I would have expected D. Cameron or N. Clegg to say something like, "I have tried to do this and that to improve economy and reduce crime rate as an MP in the Parliament but many of my attempt failed because of opposition from the Labour Government". But nothing like that happened. There was no spark, no humour, no feud.

When it comes to election, nothing beats Malaysia. Back at home, Hulu Selangor is having an election too. Somehow I have got a bad feeling that the people would vote for "change" (Pakatan held the seat until the death of the MP a month ago) and Pakatan will lose this battle that they could not afford to.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Talking makes Islam less equal?

"Jangan cabar Islam!"
"Jangan cabar toleransi kami!"
They do not agree to setting up of the inter-faith committee.
They do not believe they need to talk to other religions.
They believe that the way Islam can be great is for the rest to shut up.
They believe that to make the rest to shut up is by making threats.
They believe by talking to other religious leaders, it makes Islam less equal.
They do not believe all religions are meant to be good, and that mankind are equal.
That's who they are.
They call themselves Muslims.

But are they?

If that's what they think Islam is about and they think they are doing Islam a favor, go ahead. Good luck to them during akhirat.

I have not read the Quran and neither do I know too much about Islam. But if Muslims believe that talking to other religious leaders makes Islam less equal, then I'm not a bit interested in this religion.

But this is not Islam. It's Islam in Malaysia.

I'm just glad that the Muslims I know are unlike them. They are the pretenders. But yet, their numbers are significant enough in Malaysia to have a political impact. That's what make me sad.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Written after reading that some Muslims in Malaysia staged a protest against the forming of inter-faith committee and our DPM tried to please these people by saying the inter-faith committee is 'small fry'

Monday, April 12, 2010

How to train your dragon

Screw "Clash of the titans"! The Kraken took 20 minutes to rise from the sea and took less than minute for Perseus to finish it off. Hades lasted even shorter. If you want a good Greek mythology with action, you'll be better off playing "God of War 3" on PS3. But if you want to enjoy a good movie this summer, go watch "How to train your dragon". This is just one of the animations that made you wonder if actors would be obsolete in the near future.




(the starting soundtrack - 'this is berk')

From the beginning, the music would have captivated you, a hallmark of a very good movie. The movie soundtrack is AWESOME, and I would highly recommend buying it.

The storytelling was also excellent and the script was very well written. There was no moment of lapse.

The animation was very detailed and unlike some of the animations, the fast-moving scenes are well rendered. The emotions of the character were well animated and these was very well complemented by the excellent voice acting.

The casts include voices by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (who also acted as Red Mist in Kick Ass, another highly recommended movie by me!), America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), Gerald Butler (300, Law Abiding Citizen, Gamer, Bounty Hunter) and my favourite Craig Ferguson (from the Late Late Show). But perhaps, the best voice acting goes to the main character in the movie, Jay Baruchel as Hiccup.

Lines like, "You are not my son!" and "I'm proud of you my son!" may sounds too cliche in animations. But with a good build-up of story, good voice acting coupled with good animation, the lines popped up at exactly where they are suppose to be, triggering the emotions of the audience.

Despite the typical brain vs brawn theme (i.e. brain saves the world and gets the girl), this movie turned out to be a lot of fun. It is definitely worth a watch. It is indeed very rare that animations are able to capture human emotions as well as "How to train your dragon". The other animated motion picture that came close was, to my opinion, "Finding Nemo".

At the rate computer graphics and animations are improving, I can see that somewhere in our future, our grandchildren would be saying, "Haha, my grandpa used to watch movies acted by real person! What a joke!?"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Theory of relativity

I went back to K.L. for Chinese New Year celebration a few months ago. Over dinner, I was explaining the theory of relativity to my friends and to my utter dismay, I did a terrible job of it. And in the process of doing so, I realised that I did not understand the theory as well as I had hoped. So here I am again, attempting to explain this theory which I failed to do so miserably months ago and I hope this time, I would do a better job.

Motion is relative
We need to first understand that motion is not absolute, but relative. What do we mean by that?

Let me begin by a simple question: If you are standing still, are you moving? This question may sound absurd and to many, the answer is a quick "no". But what if I repeat this question to someone who is observing you from the Sun? The Earth revolves around the Sun, so if you are standing still on Earth, you must be rotating together with Earth about the Sun. So an observer at the Sun will see you as "moving", while an observer on Earth will see you as "standing still".

Let's look at another example. If you are at the train station when a speeding train whizzes past you. To you, it looks rather obvious that the train is moving - moving FORWARD. But to the passenger on the train, it is you who is moving BACKWARD. For the same motion, two different observers see it differently and there is no one single reference frame which we could base all our observations upon and agree! Therefore motion cannot be absolute. It must be relative, i.e. whether an object is moving forward, backward or not moving at all is completely subjective to the observer or the equipments that are measuring it. A motion or measurement of speed has no meaning if we do not attach a point of reference (or observing point) to it!!

Let's say the train is moving at 50 km/h. If the passenger in the train throws an apple vertically into the air, the apple would have landed back onto his hand. But to the person at the train station, it would seem like both the apple and passenger had moved forward in the same speed and thus the apple landed onto the hand of the passenger again when it drops. Now imagine that the passenger now throws the apple in the direction of the moving train at a speed of 10km/h, what would the person at the train station see? He/She would have seen the apple travelling faster than the train! The apple has to be travelling faster than the train in order for the passenger in the train to see the apple going forward. The speed of the apple would SEEM to be travelling at 50+10=60 km/h. In other words, the velocity of the apple is the "sum of the velocity of the train and the velocity of the apple being thrown":

v_sum=v_train + v_apple

v_sum is the velocity of the apple as seen by the person at the train station
v_apple is the velocity of the apple as seen by the passenger on board the train
v_train is the velocity of the train as seen by the person at the train station

If, however, the passenger is now throwing the apple in the backward direction, i.e. in the opposite direction of the travelling train. Then, the person at the train station would see the speed of the apple as "the speed of the train minus the speed of the thrown apple", i.e.

v_sum=v_train - v_apple

Speed of light is constant in vacuum
From the above, it would seem that 'speed' can be added linearly. The above is true for Newtonian physics - physics before theory of relativity. But the observant reader would have noticed that I emphasized the word "seem" to suggest that Newtonian physics is not entirely true, especially when we approach the speed of light. Motion is still relative, but the assumption that "v_sum=v_train + v_apple" no longer holds true! Let us see why.

Center to the theory of relativity is the discovery that the speed of light is constant in vacuum. In the late 19th century, carefully conducted Michelson-Morley experiment had proved this so. But how can this be true if speed can be added linearly, like the apple thrown in the train?

Imagine now that instead of throwing apple, the passenger turns on his/her flashlight and point it in the direction of the moving train. If the observer/person at the train station carries equipment that could measure the speed of light, what would the measurement be? Based on what we have discussed earlier, we would have expect that the speed of light measured by the person at the station is the speed of train plus the speed of light. Just like,

v_sum=v_train + v_apple

with v_apple now representing the speed of light as seen by the passenger.

but if v_apple is the speed of light, then v_sum would have to be greater than the speed of light. But this is NEVER the case! One may argue that perhaps the speed of the train is so small compared to the speed of light that the equipment is not sensitive enough to pick this up. But very careful measurements have been made and every time the speed of light remains constantly the same, whether it is measured by the person at the train station or the passenger in the moving train. This is very peculiar indeed and the assumption that speed can be added linearly must surely be wrong!

The physicists who came upon this experimental result were dumbfounded and they needed to re-visit their fundamental understanding of what 'speed' really means and how measurements are made (did they measure the speed of light wrongly?).

How do we measure distance and time?
There are many ways to measure distance but the basic principles are the same. We measure distance, for example, by using many rods of the same length and lining them up together. If we find the 3 rods lined up exactly along the side of the table, we say that this table is 3-rod long. The common 'rod' that we used is called a meter, so we can claim that the table is 3-meter long. But what if the table is just a little short of the 3 rods? How do we measure the length then? We could, of course, then use shorter rods. That is why we have centimeters, milimeters and inches. They are just 'rods' with different lengths.

Measuring time is a bit more difficult, but again the basic principles are the same. Time can be defined as 'how long it takes for an event to happen'. Now if we can find an event that always take the same amount of time to happen, we can use that as our reference to measure the time for everything else - just like the rod for measuring the distance. The first clock, invented in China, was based on the event of a dripping water. Today, most mechanical clocks measure time based on the event of the ticking of a second.

Special Theory of Relativity: Time and space is relative
From the discussion so far, we know that when we approach the speed of light, things are not always as they seem. For one, speed can no longer be added linearly and that the speed of light is always constant, no matter how you measured it. What does this tell us about time and space?

If the speed of light is always constant, something else must be changing. Speed is defined as the distance travelled divided by the time taken. If speed remains constant, then the distance travelled or the time taken or both must have changed in such a way that the speed of light is always constant. For example, if v = a/b, then v remains constant if a and b increase or decrease by the same amount. It turns out, after some mathematical considerations (called Lorentz transformation), that both the time and distance must have changed. This suggests that not only motion is relative, but time and space must also be relative (note that space is just length in 3-dimension)!

Even without the mathematics, but just logic considerations, we would have came to a similar conclusion. Let's now go back to the example of measuring light speed on the train. The passenger on board the train, travelling at the speed of the train, shines his/her torch light in the direction of the moving train. The person at the station makes a measurement of the speed of the light. According to Newtonian physics, he/she should obtain a speed faster than light in vacuum, but he/she does not. To correct for a smaller value for speed (v = a/b), either the numerator have to be smaller or the denominator have to be bigger or both. The numerator turns out to be the distance (smaller) and the denominator is the time (bigger), and so our measurements for distance and time must have changed accordingly. It must have because space has contracted, and time has dilated (moved slower).

Hence, the theory of relativity predicts that as we approach the light of speed, space contracts and time dilates (move slower), i.e. the measured distance is shorter and the time taken for the measurement is longer (since 'distance' or 'length' in 3-dimension is space).

But the adept reader would have argued that if space contracts for an object that is travelling at the speed of light, would not the rods - which we make measurements with - contract as well. Thus, we would have counted the same amount of rods for the contracted distance. The fallacy of the argument lies in the fact that this reader had failed to see where the measurement is being made. The measurement of the object travelling at the speed of light, is made by the person standing 'still' at the train station, using the rods provided. These rods, are not travelling at the speed of light. They are WITH the person, standing 'still' and therefore do not experience space contraction. So the measurement was made by using rods at still, to measure the distance covered by an object travelling close to the speed of light, which is experiencing space contraction. And the same explanation goes for the time dilation.

We have so far covered the "special" case of theory of relativity. So what this theory say is that not only motion is relative, time and space are also relative. There is no way we can say for absolute, 1 second is 1 second and everyone else agrees. 1 second is different for everyone. 1m is different for everyone. But at speeds much less than light, these differences are OK. There is, however, a bit more to this theory ...

The Twin Paradox
We can claim that A is moving away from B at light speed. But since motion is relative, this is analogous to saying that B is moving away from A at light speed. Remember, the relativity of motion states that there is no way we could know whether A or B is really moving, it only depends on where your reference is.

Consider this: Ali and Wong are twins. One day, Ali sat on an alien spaceship and whizzed off to outer space at light speed. After a certain time Ali came back to Earth, also at light speed, and met his twin brother Wong again. When they compared their watches, they realised that Wong had aged faster than Ali.

Let's consider the problem in detail and see why this is such a tricky problem.


What does Wong see?
1. Ali travelled away at light speed.
2. Since Ali was moving at light speed in relation to Wong, Wong observed that Ali's time ran slower (dilated). (For argument's sake, let's just assume that for every 1 hours that Ali had travelled, Wong observed that it only took 2 hour.)
3. Ali stopped his space ship when Wong's clock recorded 10 hours had passed. Due to time dilation, Ali's clock recorded only 5 hours.
4. Ali now return to Earth and Wong recorded that it took another 10 hours, but again, Ali's clock recorded only 5 hours.
5. In total, Wong waited on Earth for 20 hours, but observed Ali's clock to have only ran for 10 hours.


What does Ali see?
1. Ali travelled away at light speed.
2. Since motion is relative, Ali observed that he was stationary but it was Wong who was travelling away at light speed.
3. Ali stopped his space ship when his clock recorded 5 hours had passed. Due to time dilation, Wong's clock only recorded 2.5 hours. (because to Ali, it was Wong who was travelling at light speed and thus experiencing time dilation)
4. Ali travels back to Earth and recorded that it took him another 5 hours, but again, Wong's clock only recorded 2.5 hours.
5. In total, Wong waited on Earth for 5 hours and Ali travelled for 10 hours.

Herein lies the paradox: Upon returning from his travel, Ali thought Wong was younger but Wong thought Ali was younger. How can they both see each other as being younger than themselves? One of them had to be wrong! Carefully conducted experiments suggest that Ali (who travelled away in light speed and returned) is the one who should be younger. Then, where did our understanding of theory of relativity gone wrong? Surely a theory must be able to explain the results of an experiment!?

The main issue here is that because motion is relative, i.e. we cannot distinguish who is moving or who is at stationary. Ali sees Wong travelling away at light speed, but Wong sees the same of Ali too, just like in the train example above. Therefore, it is perfectly logical (if motion is relative) to claim that either of them had experienced time dilation.

But since experimental results suggest otherwise, there must be something different between Ali and Wong. What is the difference? How can physics distinguish them? Can we distinguish who is the one who is really 'moving away'?

No. We cannot distinguish who is really 'moving away' but they could distinguish who is 'returning'. Now, the adept reader should realised that so far all our attempt to explain theory of relativity has been made on constant speed. No acceleration (change of speed) was involved. If the train moved at constant speed, then neither the passenger nor the people at the station would be able to tell who is moving. But what if the train suddenly brakes? The passenger on board the train would see the people at the station going backward but suddenly losing this speed. The people at the station would see the passenger going forward but suddenly losing this speed too. But the people at the station will not feel the 'force' of the brake, the passenger will!! The passenger will lunge forward as a result of the sudden brake and will have to hold on to something to prevent injury. The people on the station feel nothing at all!

So while we cannot distinguish the two based on speed alone, we can distinguish them based on a change in speed, i.e. acceleration. Acceleration - that was the difference, that was what broke the symmetry between Ali and Wong. As Ali turned his ship around and returned to Earth, he experienced significant acceleration. And it would seem from this case (since Wong aged faster) that the effect of acceleration was to 'distort' Ali's observation on Wong. During the turnaround, Ali's time stood still while Wong's time ran for another 15 hours such that when Ali returned to Earth he recorded 10 hours of travelled time while Wong recorded a total of 20 hours (5 hours for Ali's outgoing and incoming flight + 15 hours of the turnaround). The acceleration had obviously no effect on Wong.

Now, after this 'adjustment', both of them would have agreed that Ali aged slower.


The above example is a bit extreme, of course. No one could travel at light speed and turnaround at light speed IMMEDIATELY. If the turnaround was not that extreme (but still in the order of light speed) then Ali's time would not have stood still while Wong's time ran for another 15 hours. Instead, Ali's time would just run much slower compared to Wong's time e.g. 1 hour of Ali's time to 15 hours of Wong's time. Therefore, acceleration seems to give similar effect to time (and length) as travelling near the speed of light would. Acceleration would make time run slower and length contracts too. This is the basis for the general theory of relativity!


General Theory of Relativity: Gravity changes time and space

The main difference between the Special Theory of relativity and the General Theory of relativity is the inclusion of the effect of gravity for the latter.

While explaining the twin paradox, I explained that acceleration had a similar effect on time and space (remember that length contraction is equivalent to space contraction). In science, if there is ABSOLUTELY no way to distinguish between two things, then these two things are said to be same. Is there a way to distinguish between the effect of acceleration and a gravity field?

The answer is no. In the twin paradox, Ali made an instantaneous turnaround to return to Earth. During this turnaround, he experience acceleration. The effect of this acceleration is analogous to the effect of gravity. During this turnaround, Ali would be pushed back to his seat just like a gravity field is pulling him. Therefore, if acceleration could cause time dilation and space contraction, so can gravity. They are equivalent.

We can now rephrase what we know about gravity based on our understanding of the twin paradox. The effect of gravity is that time dilates and space contracts for observers close to the gravity field. For the twin paradox, we could have well said that during the turnaround, Ali was close to the gravity field and experience significant time dilation while Wong was sufficiently far enough that he experienced none.

Let's assume that time and space are the two axis of a big fish net. If we place a big object (like a planet) at the center of this fish net, this will create a huge gravity field. If gravity causes time dilation and length contraction, you could imagine that the net has a higher "density" near where the planet is located. The net will look as though it is bent around that region. That is why general theory of relativity says that space-time is warped (bent) by gravity field. Now, if we roll a ball across the net, you could imagine that the ball will initially move in a straight line but then curve inwards as it approaches the bent. This is how general theory of relativity explains the gravity pull!
(source: nrumiano)






And that's all to the theory of relativity! The rest are just maths and more maths. I hope this have helped you to understand the theory better. There is another excellent website on this here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Blackjack and Marriage

"Marriage is like playing blackjack. Everyone wants 21. But you could only try to get as close as possible to 21, without busting." -sL

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

赌博与玩耍

我爸爸年代:小赌怡情,大赌伤身!

我的年代:小玩(computer games) 怡情,大玩伤身!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Q1 review...

End of first quarter. Review of my new year's resolution...

Out of 10, I only completed 2 - no. 2 and no. 8;

And if my working rate is like an S-curve, then I should be near the steep curve soon...

Damn...I better buckle up...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Power and responsibility

"With great power comes great responsibility" - Spiderman
"With no power comes no responsibility" - Kickass

Friday, April 2, 2010

谈大马华教是不是种族主义?

最近,慕尤丁在国会中说华小和淡小要与国小享有同等的地位是不可能的。这个看法在华社引来了一场小风波。华小是我们的“根”。很多人一听到慕尤丁那番话就会一肚子火,因为这根本就是政府的另一个借口来拒绝对华小的帮忙,甚至成为破坏华小的借口。慕尤丁与巫统政府对华教从来不怀好意,这个众人皆知。但是撇开对慕尤丁的偏见,让我们“华人对华人”探讨一下,华小是否真的应该与国小享有同等的地位呢?

我支持华教,这毋庸置疑。华教的待遇需要改进,这毋庸置疑。对华教的破坏必须停止,这也毋庸置疑。但是,要求华小与国小拥有完全同等地位却是一个不同的问题。

每一个人有学习自己语言的自由,有提倡自己母语教育的自由,但是每一个国家也必须有自己的国语。在大马,它就是马来语。而在华小,它并不是主要教学媒介语。国家也必须有自己一套完整、统一的核心教育内容。用同样的语言学习共同的历史,无疑对国家的认同感和人民的团结是有帮助的 (虽然我国现在4分5裂与这无关)。况且,拥有统一性的教育内容,可以让政府更有效地培养出有关国家发展领域的人才。比如,教育是否要着重实用科学、文科、还是金融方面的知识。在韩国,政府早在20年前就制定好方针要他们的教育着重实用科学,而且以生物科技和电子科技为主,所以至今才会有这样的成就。因此,一个国家拥有统一以及“recommended”的学校教育系统和内容是正确的。而在我国,它就是国小。虽然华小的教课书内容与国小相近,但是国小比起华小还是有一点优势的。国小其实也能上中文课。就好像,在华小也能有国文课一样。理论上,两者唯一的不同,就是在教学媒介语,以及学生种族的比例。这个差别虽然不多,但是对国家发展而言是很重要的。可惜,实际上,两者还有更多的差别。其中最明显的,就是华小、淡小经常受到政府的打压,而国小没有。

我支持华教。但你不得不否认,毕业于国小或国中的同学们更能否融入马来西亚的社会。他们有更多不同种族的朋友。

我国政府没有必要打压华小,对华小的待遇也应该更好。这个大家都认同。但是,要把华小的待遇与国小同等化,那只不过是另一种种族主义,那只会把我们化身为巫统的evil twin - 我们同样是种族主义,只是为不同的种族而已。就好像之前我们怎么嘲笑慕尤丁在国会的那段话:“我是马来人优先,但是也支持1Malaysia,这两者没有冲突”;当我们要求各源流学校拥有完全同等的地位的时候,我们也不是一样相信了“3Malaysia”吗?统一的教育,对一个马来西亚来说,无疑是更好的。但是,在统一之中,我们也还能寻求多元性!华小是我们教育系统的一部分,但是它是用来complement我们的教育系统,不能与国小同等起来。在我国的情况而言,国小有着“特别的任务”。

独中呢?华社很支持独中。火箭党也很支持。他们要政府承认统考,要独中得到资金的援助。但是,如果独中的待遇也应该跟其它政府学校一样的话,那么独中还是独中吗?它们,还是“独立”中学吗?它们,还需要董事部吗?华社总不能既要马儿跑又不让吃草!独中的历史教课内容都甚少提到马来西亚。而且教育内容与其它源流学校大有不同。独中,就是名副其实的独立中学。它,与一些国际学校没有差别。不同的地方就在于独中在大马扎根比较久,而且华文是3大民族之一的母语。但是,很多“香蕉”人也是把英文当作是他们的母语了。而且,在马来西亚,英文也算是非常重要的沟通语。那么这些(英文)国际学校,是不是也应该得到政府的援助呢?也许你会说,独中对大马的贡献很多,所以应该得到更多的援助。但是,难道这些国际学校的贡献会少吗?那么,政府是不是也要承认IB (国际学校的“统考”)呢?我很难想象要我国大学以一个完全没有国文,甚少提到马来西亚历史的考试文凭作为录取标准(当然,在政府部门里,我认为统考是可以得到承认的)。如果要独中得到与国中一样的待遇,要统考得到本地大学的承认,那么华社是不是太过注重自己种族的利益呢?华社,也是不是”优先华人“呢?

我认为,华社之所以对华小这么敏感和不满,主要源自于巫统政府多年来对华小的打压和欺骗。他们不但不新建华小,还要想尽办法将我们的华小和独中逐渐逐渐地破坏。想当年,位于八打灵的百乐镇国中(Damansara Jaya) 是一个华文教学非常强的国中。他们的辩论队还比八打灵公教中学来得强。然而,换了一个校长后,百乐镇国中的华文课逐年减少。至今,它已经是一个堂堂正正的 “英文学校”。我们不能说百乐镇退步了,因为在这个校长的带领下,这间国中确实发展得很好。我们只能说,继改制国中还有宏愿学校计划以后,我们又再次被政府欺骗了。

我们不要求华小和独中得到与国小和国中同等的地位。我们不应该,也没有必要这么做。但是,政府更没有必要打压或破坏我们的华教。这不是一个零和的游戏。我们要求更好的待遇,师资分配好一点,金钱分配比3%再好一点。不,是比3%好很多!!但我们从来不要求50-50。我优先国小,但也支持华小。可是,我还是相信“一个马来西亚”。是真正的“一个马来西亚”,不是慕尤丁的那个!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

debating with Muhyiddin...

He says, "I'm a Malay first, " and then only a Malaysian. He says it does not contradict with 1Malaysia. He says there's nothing wrong in fighting for their own race and still believe in 1Malaysia.

So what's wrong with his statement?

There is no contradiction trying to be a Malay and a Malaysian at the same time; or try to fight for both the Malays and Malaysians' welfare at the same time. But that was not what the DAP stalwart, Lim Kit Siang, asked. He asked, which do you place first?

LKS did not ask Muhyiddin to choose between the two. He can be both a Malay and a Malaysian; and can fight for the interest of both Malays and Malaysians. The essence of the question is, when these two have a conflicting interest, who would you place first?

Of course, there's nothing wrong in fighting for his own race, but does his race's welfare comes before the general Malaysian? Muhyiddin believes so. And to place one's own race above everything else is, simply said, a racist.

And if this does not contradict with 1Malaysia, then there's only 1 logical explanation left - that 1Malaysia is a one single united Malaysia for Malays.

And since Najib defended Muhyiddin on this statement, he must have believed Muhyiddin's interpretation on 1Malaysia too. Maybe, Najib places Malay first too. But then again, who doesn't in UMNO?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In Cavendish Lab...

Compared to the good ol' glory days in Maxis, what am I doing here in the University of Cambridge???

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Being awake

"The only way to keep me awake, is for me to get more sleep..." - sL

Natural beauty

About cosmetics ...

"When it says natural beauty. What it really means is creating beauty that looks natural using unnatural methods." - sL

Friday, March 19, 2010

公开评审与辩论比赛的公正性

一个辩论比赛要精彩,莫过于几个简单的原素 。宣传、赛会的流程、辩题的素质、辩手的素质以及评判的素质。其中,评判的素质对于比赛的公正性扮演着绝对重要的角色。然而,评判的素质往往就是被忽略掉的一个。

在1999年的国际大专辩论赛“足球比赛引进电脑裁判利大于弊”,西安交通大学的主辩这么说过:“公正性是要建立在准确性的基础上的,缺乏准确性,空谈公 正,那只能是清水衙门糊涂官。”任何比赛的基本原则就是要公正。而公正是建立在准确性的基础上。但是,在判断一场辩论赛的胜负,如何可以达到“准确性”呢?

辩论比赛,本来就是一场主观的比赛。它是一个"shifting goal posts" 。有些评判的goal posts 很小;有的很大;有的摆在中间;有的摆在角落;有的只有一方的goal posts, 另一方则没有。一百个人的眼中有一百个哈姆莱特;一百个评判就有一百个胜负标准。因此,对于很多主办单位来说,他们是无法控制或改变评判的素质的。

虽然,要求辩论比赛达到100%的公正性是不可能,但是相对的公正性是可以的。比如,辩论比赛的历史发展就促使了以下的几个方法来让比赛变得更公正:

1。一场辩论比赛的决赛一般会有7个或以上的评判;
2。有3轮投票(其中一次包括分数票);
3。分数票的最高分与最低分去掉;等等。

然而,这是不够的。特别是当两支势力相当的队伍相碰的时候,分数相差不到3分,各有输赢的理由,评判“误判”的可能性会更高。这时,以上的方法皆无法有效地解决这个“准确性”的问题,因此评判的公正性则受到质疑。随着辩论队伍之间的水准差距越来越小,受到质疑的判决就会越来越多。

我个人认为,这10年来华语辩坛的发展速度一日千里。每一支队伍在自由辩论时,不会再有 “冷场”;懂得“追”问题、“逃”问题;懂得设定义、衡量标准和论点架构;大家都会有智囊团和教练团;大家都开始拥有如马大辩论队般的传承与训练系统。每一位上场的辩手都是经过严格的训练而且对于辩论比赛赛制的运用了如指掌。相反的,我并不认为在这10年来,评判的评审水准大有进步。假设辩论的水准可以与评审水准作比较的话,我相信辩手的平均辩论水准已经远远超越评判的平均评审水准。当然,评判们这10年来的知识水平与个人历练是有提升的。但是,评审能力并不只是针对某课题的熟悉程度而更要看评判们对辩论比赛“游戏规则”的了解程度。评判不可能像辩论员或是某些大学的教练一样,每天不断地钻研辩论技巧。因此,有些评判对于比赛胜负的要求就只是在于是否迎合他们本身的想法或口味。

以“国阵比民联更有能力治理好国家”这个辩题为例。如果评判是一个火箭党的老友,他会不会认同国阵这50多年来治理国家的方针呢?实行新经济政策是国家发展的障碍还是“踏脚石”呢?反之,若评判是一位国阵议员的话,他就会斩钉截铁地告诉我们,新经济是我国发展史里最有智慧的政策。

如果正方的辩手在比赛之前就知道火箭党的人来做评判的话,正方的辩手很可能会不谈一些具有争议性的政策如新经济政策。他们很可能会这么说:“在理论上。。。国阵比较多治理国家的经验,只要它们。。。国家就会变得很好”。

如果是国阵的朋友做评判的话,正方则可以放心把新经济政策、“阿拉”字眼风波、内按法令拿出来谈,并且说:“没有了新经济政策我国的贫富悬殊的问题将会导致动乱让发展停滞不前。内按法令是防范措施,只要不被滥用,它能确保国家安全。” 而评判都会在点点头。

明显的,不同的评判会让双方有不同的起跑点。如果哪一方有一个比较 “另类” 观点,那么那一方就必须花更多的口舌来建立他的论点。而这所谓的“另类”是相对评判而言的。

为了公正,评判们不能以己见为判断胜负的基础。可是在辩论比赛里,这是做不到的。比如说,某一辩手说妈妈不是女的。那么评判能不能够以自己的理解为基础而认为这个论点荒谬,所以要扣分呢?可是有些评判会认为如果另一方辩手连一个这么荒谬的论点都无法有效反驳的话,他必须被扣更多的分数。究竟什么时候反驳的责任比较大,什么时候论证的责任比较大呢?结果还是见仁见智!辩论始终还是一个主观的“游戏”。

有鉴于此,评判团不可能有固定不变的评审“方程式”,可是也应该有些基本评审原则,比如:不能以己见作为审判的基础;以论点为首,以发音为次;正方犯上明显的错误,反方没有反驳,评判不能擅自为反 方反驳;不能给予“可怜”分;不能因为另一支队伍是卫冕冠军而要求特别苛刻;不能因为一支队伍从初赛到复赛进步特别多而判他获胜。随着辩论的发展,这些原则是可以增减,也可以改善而且必须是与时并进。就好像辩论员一样,评审的水准也可以不断地提升。这个过程必须由观众,辩手和评判一起来做。而要达到这个目的,最好的方法就是公开评审。

这一次(2010年)的马来西亚全国大专辩论赛首次实行了公开评审。我认为这一步走对了。

一般而言,担任评判是没有压力的。因为举办单位给了他们一个这样的权力:评判的决定就是最后的决定。因此,别人或自己都没有必要质疑这个判决。有多少位评判会为自己的决定进行赛后的检讨?会把过去评审的经验累积作为提升自己的动力?唯有通过公开评审,给予评判一定的压力,评判们才有动力去提升自己的评审能力。否则,很多评判会误以为自己在一场辩论比赛里是至高无上,无法动摇的权威。注意,这里指的评审能力不是指针对某个课题的掌握,而是一些评审的技术。比如,是否做到上一段落所说的基本评审原则?是否有能力把双方的论点记录下来?是否在自由辩论掌握到双方的攻击点?做过评判的都知道后面两个是不容易做到的。

一个评判如果多次在公开评审的时候提不出双方的论点,只是说一些客套话,如:“今天的比赛是龙争虎斗,旗鼓相当”;或是也提不出什么很好的胜负理由,如:“正方主辩的咬字很清晰,所以判正方胜利" ;或是完全不听双方的论点,只以自己的观点判胜负,如:“国阵怎么会治理国家?不能啦。。。可惜啊,这个辩题对正方不利,他们不可能胜的。。。所以他们一开始就输了!”(注:我本身遇过这种评判,以上这些理由,非虚构)面对多次在公开评审时作出这样评语的评判,作为主办单位和辩论员的就会知道那些评判以后最好就不要再碰见。作为评判的则可以以此为鉴,提升自己的评审能力。

前年和去年,我带领马来亚大学辩论队到过台湾参加他们的奥瑞港式辩论比赛。他们正是采用公开评审而且哪一支队伍如果认为那个评判不适合,可以在比赛前要求换评判。在台下的每一个评判几乎都是身经百战的。他们的评语甚至还比台上的辩论员更动听,更有说服力。在马来西亚,这次的全国大专辩论比赛应该算是第一次实行公开评审。

公开评审的效果不会在一次的赛会中看得到。但是实行一段时间后,我相信比赛的公正性会随着评审能力的提升而得到改善。这一次全国大专辩论赛不能说完全没有误判的可能性。毕竟,辩论比赛还是主观的比赛。把主观完全去除掉,辩论就不是再叫辩论了。但是,对任何比赛而言,公正性是很重要的。我们必须尽可能达到公正的评审。因此,这次在全国大专比赛实行的公开评审是马来西亚辩坛历史发展的重要里程碑。我深深相信它会让辩论比赛变得更公正,更精彩。我希望马来西亚各各比赛会考虑采用这个方法。

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It wasn't because they needed to listen to rakyat

Oppps, they did it again. Flip-flopping.

This is not the first time that our government had done that - the teaching of science and math in English, the "Allah" issue are just some, and now GST. The government goes in full force and then pulls out full force, completely obeying Netwon's 3rd law of motion.

Chronicle of events:
1. announce that GST shall be implemented
2. Then, announce that GST shall be delayed
3. And finally, announce that rakyat's opinion will be taken into account

Isn't the right order the other way round? I am not an expert on policy-making, but I doubt that the above is the correct order for making a good policy.

I'm not an economist and I would not like to debate about the feasibility of GST here. But I'm flabbergasted by the flip-flopping attitude of the government. What good is the government, other than pulling off public relations stunts like 1Malaysia and the impromptu visit to UKM?

The only reason I can think of why the government would implement a policy in the wrong order, other than incompetence of course, is that because they are testing the water, so to speak. By first announcing it and then observe the reactions. But that is not the way for policy-making at the highest level.

First of all, there is a better way to do this 'survey'. There is no need to test water by creating this first wave of 'fear' and spark needless debates among the public. Most importantly, the implementation of GST must be due to the need of the country, and therefore the test for this policy should be whether it will rake-in more revenue for the government and stimulate economy rather than the rakyat's reaction, for there is no sensible citizen in the world would rejoice when the government implements additional tax.

What further appalled me is that the ruling coalition said that the decision to delay has nothing to do with the opposition. However, from the beginning, this idea was the ruling coalition's and there was no objection whatsoever from anyone on that side of the aisle. The only voice shouting against it came from the opposition. Now that the government had decided to delay the implementation of GST it could only mean two things. Either they did not do their homework, or the opposition did their job. C'mon BN, at least have the balls to admit that!

So it could not have been because BN suddenly realised he needed to listen to rakyat. BN never listened when it comes to ISA, NEP and a multitude of national issues. And if BN did, it would have listened to the rakyat first before announcing the implementation of GST, not the other way round. Or maybe this is just another public relations stunt?