Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Drawing parallels

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Notice the odd one out? Actually you shouldn’t, as all men are created equal and has equal access to rights of freedom, speech and association.

Way to go for University Malaya students. It’s time for the students to roll the ball, get the whips cracking and voice our opinions about the regime that lasted for 40 years. If Egypt, Tunisia and Libya can, why not us? After all we’re 1Malaysia Bolehland, time to put the name to good use.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stephanie

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Is the name I christened for my friend Simpson’s new object of interest – the SpaceProbe 130 STEQ Reflector. Hence the name Stephanie. He was adamantly against it, and after we left he renamed it Buddy. Best not to get the telescope confused, duh :D

I dabbled in stargazing and astronomy back in Form 2-3, to the point of something I may call ‘intermediate amateur’. Back then I only had a pair of binoculars which is more suitable for bird watching, but nevertheless I made do and managed to see interesting things from my backyard such as the Pleiades, Orion Nebula, the Moon. Back then I focused more on constellations.

So our stargazing gathering last night was somewhat sort of a homecoming for me to the stars, now with a family in tow. Anyway, under the starry skies I screamed out “Tadaima / I’m home!” to the familiar sights of the likes of Sirius and the Orion belt. And of course, I gained more from the trip, seeing and identifying more constellations and perfected my RA-Declination concept. With Stephanie we observed Saturn, the Moon and M41, a star cluster near Sirius.

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Here’s for more clear skies and stargazing nights! Cheers!

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

春眠不觉晓

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You can hear the whisper
Of spinning fans
Of leaves rustle

Sun is high up in the air
Baking the ground
A street-sized heater

Sweat trickles down your back
And seeps into
Your old white singlet

As you fan yourself in vain
Resisting temptations
Of the daydream slumber

Light turns to dark and dark turns to light
As the wind chime trinkles
Trails of handwriting ceases

As you slowly succumbs to
An unawakening spring slumber

Monday, February 14, 2011

Follow up on Sg Buloh – Kajang MRT line

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I haven’t updated myself big time about the MRT until I found out that there was already a satellite-based map of the MRT line. However the station which concerns me is totally screwed up. It was the same distance from my house as in the KTM, and there are no parking facilities for it too. So much for a MRT. But I guess the MRT also helps to alleviate some of the traffic from my place to KL.

Thankfully Subang Jaya areas are next in line. This project has been totally overdue. We like to ‘pride’ ourserlves as ‘First class infrastructure and third class mentality’, but really I don’t think our infrastructure are first-class yet. We still have a long way to go, bro.

Rough Map - http://media.kvmrt.com/pdm/Alignment_Map.pdf

Satellite image Map - http://www.kvmrt.com.my/media/pdm/MapKVMRT-B_opt.jpg

Artists impressions -

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt

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What that was initially taken as a small ‘gesture’ from a small group of youths turns out a sweeping wave of unprecedented proportions that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime of 30 years. Articles and comments and videos are already running around in the newspapers and websites., but still I would like to add my part in this large cauldron that set the world buzzing about democracy in the Arab world, once thought impossible.

And in comparison, this is what that happened in our own country.

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http://promahasiswaupm.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/um-ganggu-sidang-media-pro-m/

The picture speaks it all. This was taken at a press conference organized by the pro-Mahasiswa (a student rights activists body) students of the Malaya University which was interrupted by the university authorities on 11 Feb 2011. Apparently the university authorities haven’t took a hint  from the World section of the newspapers. And this comment was issued by the authorities to the students involved :
“Saya minta kepada semua bersurai. Kalau tidak bersurai, saya akan hantar nama kamu ke HEP (Hal Ehwal Pelajar). Tolong fikir masa depan (kamu) dan emak ayah kamu di rumah,” I ask of you all to dismiss from here. If you don’t, I will send your names to the Student relations department. Please think of your future and your parents at home.
Don’t you think that this is like a gimmick that can happen only in Primary School “I will send your names!” huh. And the ending sentences sounds like a threat to the students there where freedom of speech, so passionately advocated in democracy nations is subdued in a university, the top one in our country where where apparently all the brains are gathered?

Unfortunately we are living a higher standard of life, provided by the advantages of natural resources of oil and gas under the seas. Nobody are really suffering, as long as you go along with the system you will live a peaceful and quite life, all’s right with the world, have a nice day. Unlike in Egypt, where 20-30% of the population are still in poverty. Their sufferings are more widely felt, and in turn they are more active in politics for it concerns their daily lives and their future. In fact, what I think that makes the British, Chinese, Russians and Americans so strong (or was so strong) is that their weather caused them to be more aggressive and powerful. In contrast, we laidback tropical nations are so comfortable with all year round sunshine that even when someone comes to rule over us, we don’t really care unless it affects our rice bowls only. We only fought for independence because of someone who bothered to take a stroll in the United Kingdom and learnt what did it mean by being colonised.

And what can be more despairing than being betrayed by our own people and not knowing about it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Escapism : The alternative world

One of the pleasures of fiction is that it allows readers a temporary getaway from cold, hard reality – if its a good story, that is. And most usually, by ‘fiction’ I meant of both books, shows and movies. However books and TV shows (anime) offers the best alternative world to escape into, 1 1/2 hour movies are just simply too short for us to explore deeper into the mysterious parallel universe (Read : What if)

Therefore, my list of priorities in an anime series goes like this, 1.Concept/Background, 2. Storyline 3. Male characters. I used to have #3 as ‘female characters’, but after a while i realised that all female characters are pretty much the same, the male characters seems more important because if he gets too cocky and irritating I quit the show even if I’m watching halfway. The best concept stories are those that makes you go search on their wikis and read all of their specific terms and background story. And my preferences is also biased to those with a slight psychological inclination and references to history/literature.

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1. Neon Genesis Evangelion – Of course this will come up top, the psycho aspects of this show is just essentially mind-blowing. If you watched the show (anime series), chances are that you’ve done your research after that about the bio-mechanic aspects including LCL, sea of consciousness, Human Instrumentality Project and so on. One of the taglines in this show ‘God’s in His Heaven, All’s right with the world’ is an extract by a poem ‘Pippa Passes" by Robert Browning. The train scene along with the last two episodes experiments with psychology and its visualisation.

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2. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Storyline is irrelevant in this series, the concept of a schoolgirl having omnipotent-like powers and three factions of aliens, time travellers and espers is already enough to like this series. In this story the ‘aliens’ are actually human representations of the Integrated Data Sentient Entity, this echoes something that I read before that apart from matter and energy, there exists a third form of substance called the ‘data’. Whereas ‘time travellers’ utilise something they call the ‘time plane theory’ to travel through time. As I read the light novels (further stories from the anime) they mentioned paradoxes and the need for time travellers to resolve paradoxes as they travel in time. In the shows itself as the story goes on the ‘timeline’ of the characters gets more and more intertwined, and one of my favourite is the ‘John Smith’ event (Read: A point in 3D is called a location/point, a point in spacetime is called an ‘event’) and how much it mattered to the progression of the story.

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3. The Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko

The story set in Moscow, Russia with a ‘layered’ parallel world (similar to reality) which has seven levels. People with the power to enter these parallel worlds are called the ‘Others’ and they are separated into two factions, the Night Watch and the Day Watch. There are no righteous or evil side. The story goes across four books in total, with citations of mythological creatures and historic events to enrich the fictional world and make it more believable. Of course, that’s fiction. Hailed as the ‘J.K.Rowling’ of Russia – Sergei Lukyanenko. But actually, I think he is much more better. Harry Potter is for kids. Oh, and the lyrics of the songs that the main character Anton listens to, Sergei states that they were real and actually exist (In Russian). Too bad I don’t know Russian, I would really like to hear those songs too!

4. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni series

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A tragedy in a 50s era small village called Hinamizawa experiments with parallel universe storytelling and it was fantastic. When it was in the ‘first round’ nobody knew what happened, me too. But persevere, I tell you, and it will be one of your favourite shows ever. The story focuses on different characters in each ‘round’ or parallel universe, and slowly the pieces started to connect just like a jigsaw puzzle and… the plot thickens from there.

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And the latest show that had potential I think would be the Puella Magi Madoka Magica series. Although storyline kinda lacked, the repeated references to Goethe’s Faust was interesting. The unique runes in the show had fans skilled in cryptography attempting to decipher the code and they succeeded. Some even compared the characters in the show to some of the characters in Faust such as Mephistopheles. These are exciting times, ha ha as this is the first time I’m actively ‘chasing’ such an interesting show in the aspect of concepts.

Oh yeah, do you think that Physics is also kind of escapism, with all the mind blowing theories of the really small and the really big too!  :D

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Price of Tradition III

Of course, it’s the Chinese New Year staple, gambling!

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LOL this doesn’t happen to me often. Truth is I’m a pretty crappy gambler, with even no signs of ‘beginner’s luck’ the very first time I played =.=. Guess this is a good sign, as ‘God does not play dice’ and this effectively keeps me away from the likes of casinos, 4Ds and jackpots, haha!

Anyway, my favourite style of card game is none other than Cho Tai Di / Big Two / Da Lao Er / Hong Kong style poker. If you’re wondering, here are the rules of Cho Tai Di, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Two and there is a website http://www.viwawa.com that allows you to play this Cho Tai Di game with other players, but you need to register-lah! This Cho Tai Di is a combination of luck and skill, if you play your cards right you can even turn the tables of fate and win with a lousy deck!

Oh and guess what, I just found a blackjack statistics chart (for single deck). Let me study this first… and I shall (hopefully) turn my tables tonight! :D

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Price of Tradition II

Chemistry Class Question : What are fireworks?

Answer : Fireworks are what you get when you ignite a string of metal and get patterns of different colours depending on the type of metal used. When the metal is ignited, the electrons in the metal atoms jumps to a higher quanta level and when it drops back to its ground state, it releases photons of varying wavelength depending on the type of metal atoms. Green are caused by barium, lilac by potassium, white by magnesium, and yellow-red by sodium. There are also some fireworks with gunpowder inside and when you ignite the firework it flies up into the sky and explodes. Many people have been hurt by these types of fireworks and therefore it is banned for public safety. In addition, fireworks are dangerous things and mishandling them may cause injury or even death. The smoke from the combustion also contributes to air pollution, and the noise produced will disrupt people and causes noise pollution.    ITS BEAUTIFUL.

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It’s simply just not Chinese New Year without playing with fire. Come on, get your asses up, go out and light that damn stick that you’ve wanted to play for so long.

Happy Chinese New Year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The price of tradition

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Every time when Chinese New Year comes usually I have this standoff about a tradition – books not allowed in the living room.

My father says that books must be kept from eye’s view during Chinese New Year because it signifies bad luck, the word ‘book’ in Cantonese sounds similar to ‘lose’. Not for me bibilophiliac who prefers to see books all over my place, obviously. Books are keys to accessing vast knowledge and windows to epic stories. How in any way will it signify ‘lose’?

But, traditions are traditions anyway, they are incomprehensible, unspoken laws of the culture that everyone follows to avoid the ominous ‘bad luck’. And while I’m at it, let me tell you some other traditions for the Chinese New Year :

  • No sweeping of the floor during the first day of the New Year, signifying sweeping good luck out of the house.
  • No speaking ill of anyone or anything during the period
  • No wearing of black or white clothes during New Year.
  • Families with members who recently kick the bucket are not allowed to celebrate within 100 days of the day

And now for the yes(es):

  • Wear RED. Red shirt, red pants, red stockings, red shoes. Red underwear for bonus luck.
  • Giving angpaus to the younger : Signifying…a long story….. oh well, Once upon a time there was this monster call ‘nian’ which comes every New Year to attack the villages. The children will be scared and cry, attracting the attention of the monster. So the adults bribe the children with angpau to keep them quiet. 
  • Stay up all night, or as long as possible. Not really practised now due to health reasons… But it felt sorta nice to be able to play the night off with mahjong and Cho Tai Di. Some believe that staying up signify their parents living longer and healthier.
  • CIMG8405            Eat all kind of ‘auspicious’ food. New Year Cakes signifying ‘scaling to greater heights year after year’, steamed fish signifying ‘many leftovers every year’, eating ‘Fa Cai’ (Nostoc commune var. flagelliforme, something to do with nitrogen) signifying prosperity. The list goes on…
  • Play with firecrackers (safely under supervision of adults) Related to the ‘nian’ monster, it is alleged that the villagers burn firecrackers to scare the monster away with its loud sounds.
  • And of course, seasonal auspicious greetings, e.g. 恭喜發財 新年快樂 萬事如意 大吉大利 招財進寶 風調雨順 好運當頭 青春美麗 et cetera.                                                   

Oh and my family practises some Taoism, and are going to welcome the God of Prosperity tonight at midnight. (around 11PM to 1 AM to the direction of South-East) Well, that’s all, and Gong Xi Fatt Chai!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Capitalism Made Easy

Mary is the proprietor of a bar in Dublin. She realises that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronise her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).

Word gets around about Mary's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Mary's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Dublin . By providing her customers' freedom from immediate payment demands, Mary gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages.

Consequently, Mary's gross sales volume increases massively. A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognises that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Mary's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then bundled and traded on international security markets. Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Mary's bar. He so informs Mary. Mary then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since, Mary cannot fulfil her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and the eleven employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS drop in price by 90%.The collapsed bond asset value destroys the banks liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

The suppliers of Mary's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the various BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion euro no-strings attached cash infusion from their cronies in Government.. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Mary's bar.

Moral : Playing with money is playing with fire.

Source : http://masterwordsmith-unplugged.blogspot.com/2011/02/irish-economics-made-simple.html

Holiday Homework

Once I thought it was extinct from my life, for good. However, sometimes things just don’t go as expected. How would’ve I know that since 6 years ago where holiday homework is erased, I will witness its rebirth again in A-Levels! Almost a whole chapter of Maths, complete with the disaster of the ‘Review Exercises’ with easily 140 questions to do! Luckily other subjects weren’t that cruel… I think I weren’t even this hardworking in primary school!

By the way if you’re wondering where my original background and the music box has gone, apparently the hosting server has some problems. This is temporary, but actually I find it quite nice. Sometimes life’s like that too, you need to face a problem before you stumble on a gem of a solution :D