Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year 2007

Here's wishing all of you a happy and prosperous New Year 2007.

May the new year bring you joy, good health, and wishes come true!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Tree

Last year Doug and I, together with the kids, went Christmas tree shopping at the Scouts christmas tree lot in Galt on the 1st of December. I remember how cold that evening was and how much fun the kids had running between the trees.

This year the kids and I will be spending Christmas in Miri together with my parents. I got my parents a new tree (not a live one lah!) and some new ornaments. I decided on a purple and silver theme for the tree after seeing a beautifully decorated tree at the shop.

I would have got the tree sooner but my father was quite sick and was hospitalized for 5 days. I wasn't sure if I wanted the house to be too festive looking while my father was lying sick in the hospital. My father is still not fully recovered but he is a lot better than he was prior to being hospitalized.

My mother has mentioned that she is not keen on celebrating Christmas on a big scale this year. She wants to only spend Christmas with the family. But I don't think that would be possible because my friends who know that I am back in Miri would surely come by for Christmas visitation.

This is the 2nd Christmas that the children and I are spending without Doug. The kids spent their 1st Christmas here in Miri without their Daddy too. We miss Doug's presence and Doug says that we will spend a belated Christmas together as a family once we get back home in Galt in January. :-)

Here's an early Christmas greeting to everyone!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Way to Go, Malaysia!

Way to go, moderate Islamic country, Malaysia!

Continue to make those 2 am raids more regularly especially on elderly white foreigners! Yes, who knows, those randy old, white men might have some young and nubile Malay women in their bed! Go ahead, knock on their doors and scare them so that they might leave the country with such good impressions of moral uprightness being practised in the beautiful country of Malaysia!

The Star Online > Nation

Couple in khalwat raid may drop second home plan

LANGKAWI: Retired American policeman Randal Barnhart, who was subjected to a 2am raid by religious enforcement officers, is reconsidering his plan to make Malaysia his second home.

“After that unpleasant episode two weeks ago, I do not feel like making Malaysia my second home. It is a pity because both my wife and I really love Langkawi,” he said.

On Oct 12, Barnhart, 62, and his wife Carole, 61, were in their rented condominium in Kuah when enforcement officers continuously knocked on their door at 2am, accusing them of committing khalwat (close proximity).

He said the officers demanded to see his marriage certificate, although he had told them that they were Christians and should not be subjected to Islamic law.

HAPPIER TIMES: Barnhart and his wife Carole posing for a picture during an outing. They felt humiliated by the raid by religious enforcement officers in Langkawi recently.
“We find it difficult to forget the unpleasant episode. My wife was so terrified by the incident that she fears sleeping in that condominium,” he added.

Banhart said the officers were rude and insisted on “seeing the woman” when he opened the door.

“My wife had to show herself despite only having a sarong on at that time. We felt humiliated for being treated this way,” he said.

He said he had to send his wife back to the United States on the next available flight because she feared people might return to the condominium to terrify her in the middle of the night.

She flew home on Wednesday.

“I want the religious department to apologise to me and my wife in writing,” he added.

“I also want the department to compensate the RM4,315 I had to pay for the return ticket so that my wife could go home.”

Banhart said he would be sailing to Thailand once his yacht was repaired.

State Religious and Humanity Development Committee chairman Professor Datuk Wira Dr Othman Ishak said he would investigate the matter.

“I was not aware of this case. I will ask the Religious Department head. We will get feedback from the vice-prevention squad in Langkawi before making comments,” he said.

Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said he would check with the state Religious Department to find out what really happened.

“I was not informed about this case. I will find out what really happened before making any comment,” he said.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thank Goodness for YouTube!


I have been able to catch up with my favorite dancers of the Dancing With the Stars competition via YouTube. ABC has videos of the competition on their site but the download is just impossible to put up with on a dial-up connection. :-(

I am sorry to read that, country star, Sara Evans, has withdrawn from the competition. It seems like she is going through a messy divorce.

Mario Lopez seems to be the favorite with viewers even though I think Joey Lawrence is the more talented of the two. I would hate it if Joey did not make it to the last two of the competition. Emmit Smith has a strong fan base and Cheryl Burke is a talented dancer and choreographer. It was most definitely her talent as a choreographer that clinched the title for her and Drew Lachey in the previous season.

I am glad that finally Jerry Springer is voted out of the show. It has been long overdue! Better dancers have long ago been booted out but because of his strong fan base, Jerry was able to stay on till the 6th week!

I am looking forward to the grand finale! Again, I say, thank goodness for YouTube and the fans who took the trouble to post the video clips online!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Miri Update

It has been three weeks since we arrived in Malaysia. I've been itching to get online but dial up connection can be summed up in two words: It sucks!

Big time!

I have been relying on my brother's computer and internet account to get online. I just couldn't get my own laptop to connect to the internet until today. I brought my laptop to a computer shop in town and a young man got the configurations right and so today I am using my own laptop to get online, using my brother's account, of course.

My first order of business after being able to get online on my own computer was to sign with Rush Limbaugh's 24/7. I have been having talk radio withdrawals.

I am listening to Rush Limbaugh as I write this. I think it is fantastic that even while in Malaysia I can still listen to Rush Limbaugh and keep up with the latest happenings especially on national politics.


I got to meet Vynne and Francis in Kuching. Too bad Doug was not able to go kayaking because Kuching Kayaking only takes a group of at least three people.

In KL, I met Jared and his daughter, Ayu. Denice and Ayu got along famously!


On the first day of Hari Raya, I met up with James and several other members of The dinner at Ming Cafe was great, and after that everyone continued on to Latong Cafe. I stayed for maybe half an hour. It has been a while since I entered a karaoke pub, and the cigarette smoke and loud karaoke got to me, I guess. I must be showing my age! :-)


I also visited relatives because none of them has met my children. We didn't do much while in Kuching, and nether did we do much in KL, because the children were still suffering from jet lag and after only a couple of hours out, they got cranky.


I had forgotten how hot and humid it is in Miri! Maybe in another couple of weeks the heat and humidity will be more bearable. Thank goodness for air-conditioning!

More updates later!

Monday, October 02, 2006

All Set

We are all packed and ready to go! My next posting will be from Malaysia. Woo hooo!

Last Saturday, we had to make a special trip to Walmart to get two more duffel bags. The two that I was relying on were not fit for another long trip. One had a broken wheel, and the other had tears near the handle.

Anyway, with three large duffel bags, I thought initially that I had more space than I needed. But with all the last minute things stuffed in, errr, it is as it has always been when we take a trip to Malaysia. Bags are stuffed till they almost look like they are ready to split! :-(

This trip I made sure to spread our clothings around in all three bags. With the change in airplane in Hong Kong, a bag could get lost, and I didn't want a whole bag of my clothes and things to disapper, or a bag of the kids or Doug's clothes and things to disappear! I am, however, hopeful that all three bags will be there at the arrival carousel in KLIA.

Looking forward to meeting old friends and enjoying the fabulous food back home!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I have been tagged by Guruh Roy. This is hard because I don't listen to much music, and the music I listen to regularly are those associated with the theme music of the talk radio shows! :-)

The Tag Rules are:
List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your Live Journal/blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.

  1. Rush Limbaugh Show theme song, My City Was Gone by The Pretenders, Learning to Crawl Album
  2. Hugh Hewitt Show theme song, Theme from Last of the Mohicans
  3. Engelbert Humperdinck, The Way it Used to Be, Entayang's current song on her blog
  4. Mark Levin Show theme song ... don't know the name! ;-(
  5. Ray Charles, America the Beautiful
  6. Naff, Kau Masih Kekasih Ku
  7. Stella Philip, Sulu Injau - ringtone ID for hubby

I now tag the following:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Random Musings

I have been enjoying the Dancing With the Stars series. Last week Joey Lawrence scored 2 tens and 1 nine from the judges. It was indeed a surprise this early in the season. But I can tell he was the other male dancer besides Mario Lopez who can really dance.

I am not looking forward at all to missing the subsequent episodes! Next week, we are leaving on the day of the show and from that week onwards I will have to settle for the video clips of the shows on the ABC website! This series is the only show that I follow on TV right now. I do not watch anything else other than the news channels on TV, err, maybe some movie every now and then.


We are leaving next Tuesday evening, and I have not done any packing yet. It is not something I look forward to doing at all. I will have to make sure that each piece of luggage does not exceed 30 lbs. And that we are not going to have more than 3 pieces of checked in luggage! It will be hard, but we will have to do it. Dealing with two young kids will be hard enough, and we do not want to be distracted by excess baggage!

I heard on the radio today that it is now okay to carry small amounts of liquids and gel onboard. I had already bought some tic tac because if I can't bring any toothpaste in my carry on luggage I'd better have some alternative for freshening my breath!

It was pleasant news for me because that also means I can shop for some perfume from the duty free shops. The prices of perfumes at the US airports duty free shops are far cheaper than those in other countries. Prices at Taipei airport was no bargain and neither are those at KLIA. We'll be in Hong Kong for a few hours stop over and it'd be interesting to compare prices there too.


This past two weeks I was in a beading frenzy. I spent a few hundred dollars on beads and beading supplies. You can view some of my latest creations here.

I sold 3 pieces of my jewelry to one of my kids' teachers, and because of that surprise sale, I got really motivated! Heheh. The new beads I bought were chunkier and also of better quality. I also spent a bit on sterling silver wire, and find that the finished product looked classier. I like the sterling silver beads and the hill tribe silver too but those will have to wait. The price of the finished product will most definitely go up once I start using the better quality beads and wire.

I enjoy looking at the works of other beaders and I must say there are many of them out there! Others have online stores at places like Etsy to sell their creations. I am not ready to do that although if anyone is interested in purchasing any of my creations that they see on my blog, they are welcome to email me.


Today I got in touch with an old friend, Vernon, through his blog. It is wonderful to be able to reconnect with Vernon after all these years.

Vernon has an interesting blog that is filled with stories of the lifestyles of Malaysian celebrities. He is in the position to blog about Malaysian celebrities because he is an executive producer and artiste manager. I don't personally know any Malaysian celebrity, not even a small time Iban singer! Heheh. So I am always curious to know what goes on with the Malaysian celebrity scene.


Today is officially the second day of autumn but it doesn't feel much like autumn. People are still going about in their skimpy clothes. Only the mornings are cool and during the day, the temperatures are still nice and warm. Yesterday I went to church in my sleeveless dress and I was glad I dressed lightly because while we were out shopping that afternoon after church, the weather was quite warm.

One of the things that I miss about autumn, being in this part of California, is the autumn colors. There are very few places that you can go to to enjoy the spectacular beauty of fall foliage. Hardly any near where I live. Pity.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Peridot Necklace

Amethyst Chips Necklace

I used dark purple rochaille beads which were lined with silver foil, amethyst chips, fresh water pearls and swarovski crystals for this three strand creation. It elicited various compliments when I wore it. :-)

Friday, September 15, 2006

In God We Still Trust

Rose Quartz Beauty

Rose quartz bracelet with silver metal beads to match the necklace.

Rose quartz, lamp-work beads, glass chips, fresh water pearls and some metal beads.

Aventurine Bracelet

Aventurine beads matched with some metal beads and some crystal rondelles.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dancing With the Stars Season 3

Dancing with the Stars' season 3 began today. I enjoyed the previous two seasons and I was lucky enough to have turned on the TV yesterday and heard that the new season begins today. I would have been really disappointed if I had missed the opening show! :-)

One of the dancers of this new season is Tucker Carlson (see pic at left). I know Tucker from his show on MSNBC. But poor Tucker. If ever there is guy with two left feet, he is the one! One of the judges even compared his dancing to sitting on the toilet! I felt sorry for him that I casted my vote for him tonight. Heheh, I don't want him to not receive any votes at all from the viewers! His score was the lowest from the judges. I am sure the other dancers will receive lots of votes. Already I can see at least 3 couples who are really good.

Harry Hamlin (Clash of the Titans, and TV's LA Law) is also one of the contestants this year. Last year his wife, Lisa Rinna, was in the competition. As for Harry's dancing, it was only slightly better than Tucker's. This guy doesn't have the moves. He was quite stiff.

I couldn't believe it when I heard at the start of the show that Jerry Springer was a contestant! I think he has a horrible TV show. But he was game enought to participate in the competition. His score was third lowest. He was really funny and he felt sorry for his professional dancing partner who had him as a partner.

Sara Evans (country singer) was also a contestant. I thought she danced really well, and I was surprised that she had the second lowest score before Tucker.

Mario Lopez (actor and TV host) is the cutest looking male contestant this season! His dimples! Heheh. Mario and his professional dance partner received the highest score from the judges tonight. I think I will be voting for this guy all the way this season too! He reminded me a lot of Drew Lachey in the previous season. They are both natural dancers.

There are a few new professional dancers this season. Jesse DeSoto is one of them and is the cutest looking of them all! Cheryl Burke is back this season. Last season, she and Drew Lachey were the champions of the competition. This season her celebrity partner is Emmitt Smith of NFL fame. He is a really big guy but he can move!

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's result show. Tom Jones will be the special guest of the show. You know what? I just realized that I will be in Malaysia in early October and that means I am going to miss the last few episodes of the shows including the final! Boo hoooo. :-(

Update: Tucker won't be dancing with the stars in future episodes. He is the first to be eliminated from the competition.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Going Home

I have finally got the air-tickets for our trip home this year. This time we will be travelling through San Francisco and flying on Cathay Pacific. We normally take Malaysia Airlines and fly through Los Angeles but this time we thought we'd try another airline.

We will be in Kuala Lumpur from October 5 - 9. So those of you in the KL area, and if you are free during that time, how about getting together for some makan makan? Let me know .. Guruh, Agus ...

After KL, we'll be in Kuching for a few days. I am buying Doug a day trip with Kuching Kayak. I just hope that the weather will stay dry during that time. I can't swim, so I don't think I'll be joining Doug for any kayaking trip! :-( When I first mentioned this fact to Francis a few months ago, he told me there was enough time for me to learn to swim. Heh. No time lah.

I hope to meet up with some of you in Kuching too ... Vynne, Desmond, Dara, Mac. Cuthess and Chris come and meet me in Kuching!

After Kuching we'll be flying to Miri ... my hometown. The kids and I will stay till mid January, but Doug will return to California after two weeks. In January, he'll come back to fetch us home.

I told Doug he shouldn't complain about having to spend that money on air tickets to fetch us! Just think of how much more he can save without me there in California spending money on fabric and beads and Christmas toys! :-).

I am so looking forward to all the wonderful food back home! :-) And yes, I'll be sending Doug home from Miri with a bag full of food mixes, pastes, belacan etc! My supply till my next trip home!

Friday, September 01, 2006

End of the Month?

Not having to go to a regular job outside the home, dates are not important to me. But I must know what day it is though. I have to take my kids to pre-school and on the days they don't have to go, I sleep in.

It is the end of August and as I look at the blog entries for the month .... wahhhh, only five? Have I really been that busy? Sort of. Beading, finishing customers'quilts, taking care of the kids, the heat of summer ..

Speaking of the heat. August this year has got to be the mildest since I arrived in California. Not a day of over 100 degree Fahrenheit temperature!! That is quite unbelievable! I'm not complaining because our electricity bill for July was more than double our normal usage! I hope September will be as good, if not better than August. I am ready for autumn!

All the stores are clearing and putting away their summer stuff. That is not always good for me because my favorite fabric store will have put away the fabric for summer. And I am just starting to do some sewing.

I am finally taking the plunge at sewing my own clothes using the ready to use patterns by companies like Simplicity, Butterick, Vogue. Of course, I started of by making something very simple and straight forward. A dress that had no other fancy cuts other than the usual neck, arm holes and sides. That went well, and my second attempt was more complicated. Did I waste a lot of fabric or what!? Good thing I had lots of the same fabric.

One of the saddest thing I discovered through all this sewing is that no matter how good the pattern looks on paper, it doesn't translate the same with the finished product. No, it has nothing to do with the quality of my workmanship. Alas, my once slim figure with its trim tummy is now a thing of the past.

It is depressing to have to adjust and alter the mid section in order for the dress to fit. Just thinking about it makes me want to go on a fast. Yeah, right. Me fast? I, who have to eat a bowl of cereal every night before I go to bed? Heheh.


Selamat Hari Merdeka!

(Oooopsss, it is already past midnight so it is the beginning of September!)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Seeing Too Much

Last night I was listening to a Chicago radio station over the internet. I don't remember the name of the show but the two hosts had so much fun talking about What Your Freshman Don't Know.

For example, smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines. There has never been a Soviet Union. And the funniest comments from the two hosts came when they got to Young women’s fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.

They talked about how they have seen things from strangers that they had hoped to see, in their younger days, from their girlfriend after six months of dating.

This brings me back to an earlier entry on this blog that had two pictures of thongs being exposed. Since that entry Paris, France has an official ban on the wearing of thongs on their beaches. Talk radio had a field day with that news from Paris. To them, it was Paris's way of kowtowing to the demands of their increasing Muslim population.

Here in the US, some people with young children were offended by a group of men wearing thongs at Vandercook Lake during the recent heat wave. Now that is one sight that I would not want to miss, provided of course, the men had the body to show off with their thongs! Otherwise, the sight would spoil my appetite. Heheh.

I have never seen an exposed thong on anyone. Maybe I haven't been watching too carefully or those who wear thongs have taken the advice of fashion experts. "It's an inappropriate thing to show your thong sticking out," said Elycia Rubin, lifestyle director for E! Networks. "I don't think it looks nice. It's tacky."

Besides peeking thongs on wearers of low rise jeans, flabby tummies and tummies with stretch marks are also things that I find tacky. I know that there are people who are such slaves to the fashion trends that they don't care that certain fashions are just not suitable for them.

For your entertainment here's a link to Google Video, where you can feast your eyes on a parade of thongs! Doug got quite a kick from that video clip! :-(

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

One Year

Puteri's Musings is one year old today! Woo hoo! Heheh.

I am really glad I got into blogging. Not only has blogging become an outlet for rantings, ravings, and trivial thoughts, it has also brought me into contact with the most unexpected people.

A few people have written to me because they discovered my blog through the search engine ... other Iban ladies living in different parts of the world. I have made friends with other Malaysian bloggers and despite not having met them, they have become people that I really look forward to meeting in person one of these days.

Thank you to Blogspot, the best free blog hosting site on the planet!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Religious Rights Undermined in Malaysia

Compass Direct) – Hotels in Malaysia have refused to host a series of religious rights forums after angry protestors shut down an event on May 14 and accused the organizers of being “enemies of Islam.”

Article 11, a coalition of 13 religious and human rights groups, had organized a series of forums to discuss constitutional rights and the dilemma created by a dual legal system incorporating both civil and sharia law.

The coalition is named after the same article in Malaysia’s constitution, which guarantees the right of every citizen to “profess and practice his religion.”

Cases such as Lina Joy’s failed application to drop the word Islam from her identity card after becoming a Christian, and the sharia court’s insistence that national hero M. Moorthy had converted from Hinduism to Islam prior to his death, have stirred heated debate in Malaysian society in recent months.

Third Forum Undermined
Two initial forums were held in Petaling Jaya and Malacca without incident. On May 14, however, police cordons and a crowd of roughly 500 demonstrators waving banners and shouting slogans greeted participants arriving for a third forum in Penang.

Some banners protested against a planned inter-faith commission, although Article 11 would have no connection with such a commission. Other banners carried slogans stating, “Allah’s laws prevail over human rights.”

Police allowed about 50 protestors into the venue to attend the forum. When the protestors stood up and interrupted the speakers, police insisted that the forum be shut down, despite having issued an official permit for the event.

“This incident shows how serious the breakdown in constitutional values is,” National Human Rights Society deputy president and lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a speaker at the forum, told local reporters. “We have lost the ability to dialogue. If we cannot speak on the constitution, where are we as a nation?”

In an open letter to Prime Minister Dato Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – a task force of the United Nations – reprimanded the police for failing to control the protestors.

“The Observatory is very preoccupied by the fact that the police decided to cut short the forum, instead of guaranteeing the security of the organizers and ensuring that it would take place without being disrupted,” the letter read in part.

The Observatory urged Malaysian authorities to honor the U. N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which awards every citizen the right to “promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights,” and “to draw public attention to these matters.”

In conclusion, the Observatory called on authorities to comply with international human rights agreements signed or ratified by Malaysia, “all the more since Malaysia was elected on May 9 as a member of the new United Nations Human Rights Council.”

‘Enemies of Allah’

Two days after the forum was shut down, a group calling itself the Anti-Interfaith Commission (BADAI) issued a press release, which was e-mailed to the Malaysian Bar Council. BADAI’s president described Article 11 as an “enemy of Allah” and threatened the coalition members, saying, “I guarantee that the Article 11 coalition and the like will face greater risk than what happened on May 14.”

Article 11 immediately reported the incident to police, accusing BADAI of criminal intimidation.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) and the human rights group Aliran also expressed their concerns. Both groups assisted Article 11 in organizing the forums.

Amidst the furor surrounding these events, Abdul Hadi Awang, president of the opposition Islamic Party of Malaysia, remarked that, “In our political history, the position of Islam has never before faced such a challenge. It is the responsibility of every Muslim ... to protect the position of Islam in this country.”

Equal Rights
Article 11 members insist that the forum was called simply to reaffirm the supremacy of the constitution and to reiterate the fundamental rights of all Malaysian citizens.

Some protestors had claimed that the forum was held to undermine the special position of Islam, described in Article 3(1) of the constitution as the “religion of the Federation.”

Non-Muslims, at 40 percent of Malaysia’s 26 million-strong population, form a significant part of the federation.

Article 8 of the constitution guarantees equal status before the law for all citizens, according to Siew Foong of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia.

“But in recent years, we’ve seen a worrying trend,” Siew explained. “The civil courts are refusing to exercise their jurisdiction on freedom of religion cases. People accept that Malaysia is an Islamic country because it is constantly proclaimed. Some have argued that the constitution recognizes Islam as the official religion, and therefore sharia should be the underlying principle of all civil laws.”

In a landmark court case in 1988, then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas ruled that the mention of Islam in Article 3(1) referred only to the practice of Islamic rituals and ceremonies and was never intended to raise Islamic law above civil law.

“Islam is the religion of the federation as stated in Article 3, but it is not the basic law of the land, and only Islamic laws governing personal and family matters are allowed by the constitution,” Siew said. These laws, he added, should not be applied to non-Muslims – hence the need for a clarification of the dual legal system.

State-Funded Islamic Missionaries
In a curious aside, officials in Kelantan state, northeast Malaysia, reportedly hope to convert 10,000 people to Islam through state-funded missionaries.

The state will provide missionary candidates with training, free housing, a monthly allowance of 1,000 ringgit (US$271) and a four-wheel-drive vehicle, Hassan Mohamood, head of Kelantan’s Islamic development and missionary panel, reportedly said.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, in power in Kelantan since 1990, has closed betting outlets, restricted alcohol sales and banned rock concerts in the state. The party also wants to impose sharia law, including extreme punishments such as amputations and public lashings for criminals, but is prevented from doing so by federal law.

Member Organizations of Article 11

- All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
- Malaysian Bar Council
- Catholic Lawyers Society
- Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship
- Malaysian Civil Liberties Society (MCLS)
- Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism,
Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS)
- National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
- Pure Life Society
- Sisters in Islam (SIS)
- Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
- Vivekananda Youth Movement, Seremban
- Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)
- Women’s Development Collective (WDC)

Reprinted from Persecution Alert June 29, 2006

Inter-faith Discussion Ban

“ ... no cause to fear any discrimination or persecution on account of religion because the Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of worship”. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, when addressing students at the Jakarta Islamic State University (Universitas Islam Negeri Syarif Hidayatullah).

The ban by Malaysia's Home Ministry on inter-faith discussions, as repeated in yesterday's news article, is at best a case of burying one's head in the sand.

Preserving ethno-religious harmony of the country at the expense of mature, intelligent and measured discussions in a democracy makes a mockery of Malaysia's aspirations of becoming an industrialized nation.

Malaysian leaders, it would seem, prefer to pretend that there are not already tensions amongst the citizenry. They would rather sweep aside the legitimate concerns of Malaysians who think that their religious freedoms are under attack, and shut off any civilized debate.

In any modern society there are bound to be diverse views but the proof of that society's maturity is the ability to conduct civilized and rational dialogue on "sensitive" issues without resorting to censorship or worse, imprisonment of people for holding certain views.

Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's words, as quoted above, are a sham because Malaysians are not allowed to address their legitimate concerns regarding the guarantee of religious freedom as provided for by the constitution.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More Air Travel Woes

Photos by Reuters

I was dismayed to hear the breaking news late last night about the additional security measures for air travellers. Flying international has always been such a hassle since 9/11 and now with additional security measures in place, it is almost enough to make me want to just stay home and forget about going back to Malaysia later this year.

Why can't there be a more sensible plan in place to keep air travellers safe? Yeah, like I don't don't know why! Forget about being politically correct and get the travelling masses out of their misery, and out of the airports and onto the planes!

Yes, use racial profiling. We know who the enemy is. If I am in the group that is being profiled then it is just too bad. One of the most ridiculous sights in the name of airport security is to pull aside, for so called random checks, an elderly woman on a wheelchair!

Why is it racist for airport screeners to pull aside young men of Middle Eastern descent? How many foiled plots to blow up airplanes involving Middle Eastern/Pakistani/Muslim men do we need to hear about before we are convinced that that particular group of people are the ones that ought to be singled out for profiling?

Of course, I am not suggesting that every Middle Eastern/Pakistani/Muslim man is a terrorist. I am also not saying if a non Middle Eastern/Pakistani/Muslim man looks suspicious he should be given a pass by airport screeners. He should be pulled aside for further scrutiny too.

It is not sensible for everyone to be put through all the additional hassles of airport screening, resulting in long lines and delayed flights, just so we can say that we are not racist.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blessing Israel

Passage Genesis 12:1-3:

1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

2 "I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."

That passage from Genesis is the basis for the support evangelical Christians give to Israel. Israel, as a nation, is not without its weaknessess, but as a Christian I see beyond the controversies surrounding the nation of Israel. I see Israel's role in the destiny of mankind.

With the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the anti-semitic rhetoric is more pronounced than ever. Why are there so many conspiracies involving Jews? Jews are the cause for practically every problem in the world, even the tsunami! The radical Islamists' aim is to exterminate Israel and the Jews.

If only the anti-Israel crowd knows what God has said about Israel. They will be a lot more peaceful than they are today!

Thoughts on the Middle East

In war there is no substitute for victory. - General Douglas MacArthur

Since the war started between Israel and the Hezbollah, I have a hard time writing about things. The current war in the Middle East is occupying most of my thoughts, and the topic on talk radio is mostly about the war too.

The following is part of an article by Michael Rubin that first appeared on National Review. I totally agree with his view on how/when peace is achieved, and what the role of diplomacy is in the context of any conflict, more so in the Middle East.

When academics and commentators decry disproportionate force as an obstacle to peace, they replace analysis with platitude. Lasting peace is seldom made between equals, but rather between strong and weak. The United States ended World War II precisely because it was willing to use disproportionate force. In doing so, it allowed Japan to rebuild and thrive. England and France did not pull back from Germany and allow the Nazi regime to re-arm and try again. Wars are fought until they are won. Among Israel’s neighbors, only Egypt and Jordan have accepted peace with the Jewish state. In 1977, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat sought peace only after a disastrous attempt at war. King Hussein of Jordan also accepted peace — not as formally at first — after understanding the price of war. Negotiations between Jerusalem, Cairo, and Amman succeeded because they accepted that violence could not achieve their aims, an epiphany still lost upon many in the Arab world and Iran. The irony of the Oslo Accords was that those that fought the first intifada were not those handed the reins of leadership. Both U.S. and Israeli leaders enabled the Tunisia-based faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization to take control. Arafat viewed his chairmanship over the Palestinian Authority as an entitlement, without understanding his responsibility.

Diplomacy that preserves a status quo in which terrorists win concession through violence ensures future bloodshed. Hezbollah is not a movement whose existence diplomats should intercede to preserve. While world leaders condemned Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and threats to eradicate Israel from the map, they ignore that on April 9, 2000, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared, “The Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities,” and argued, “Anyone who reads the Koran and the holy writings of the monotheistic religions sees what they did to the prophets, and what acts of madness and slaughter the Jews carried out throughout history... Anyone who reads these texts cannot think of co-existence with them, of peace with them, or about accepting their presence, not only in Palestine of 1948 but even in a small village in Palestine, because they are a cancer which is liable to spread again at any moment.” Nasrallah has made his aims clear. That anyone would intercede to enable someone whose goal is genocide to continue is irresponsible, if not hateful. Nasrallah later provided an answer to those progressive tempted to argue the problem to be Israel’s existence. To the Hezbollah leader, Israel is just one part of the fight. On October 22, 2002, Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanon’s Daily Star, “If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them world wide.”

There will be a role for diplomacy in the Middle East, but it will only be successful if it commences both after the eradication of Hezbollah and Hamas, and after their paymasters pay a terrible cost for their support. This does not mean that Israel is without blame. Lebanese politicians may have been cowardly in their failure to exert sovereignty following Israel’s May 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The State Department and European foreign ministries were negligent in their failure to keep up the pressure on Hezbollah, Damascus, and Tehran following the Cedar Revolution. But there will never be peace if Syria and Iran are allowed to use Lebanon as a proxy battlefield safe and secure in the knowledge that they will not pay directly. If the peace is the aim, it is imperative to punish the Syrian and Iranian leadership. Most Lebanese are victims, too.

— Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is editor of Middle East Quarterly.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Head On

What the *%!#?! When I first saw this commercial, I thought that it has got to be the most irritating commercial I'd seen in a long time!

But you cannot deny that something short, repeated three times quickly, really sticks to your head! No pun intended! Haha. The commercial may be irritating but it sure is effective!

Below is a spoof on the commercial. What else can you apply directly to your forehead?

How about that head butting incident with Zidane during the recent World Cup? :-)

Head On plus Zidane!

Friday, July 21, 2006


This is a plug for my friend, Richard Carr, who created this innovative program, KeepAndShare.

KeepAndShare is the ideal way to create and share documents among friends and work colleagues.

KeepAndShare is so easy to use, you'll use it to:

* Organize documents, notes, photos, files and more
* Create photo blogs
* Share information and collaborate
* Keep all your to dos and calendar
* Keep in touch with others
* Organize any group
* Easily access your account from any internet PC
* Ensure your data is safe.
* Remember favorite web sites

I am a subcriber, and a believer in the usefulness of KeepAndShare. I use it mainly for posting large photos for my family members to view. Most of the stuff which I want only a limited number of people to see is placed in my KeepAndShare account.

That is one aspect of KeepAndShare that I really appreciate. I can make anything I want on my account as public or as private as I want.

Every KeepAndShare page is private and password protected by default - only you can see them. However, you can share each page and folder with specific people (these shared pages are still password protected and only visible to the exact people you specify), or you can share pages publicly with the entire world.
I have a list of bookmarks, and when I travel overseas (without my laptop) and want access to my bookmarks on a friend's/relative's computer, it is right there available for me to use.

KeepAndShare has a lot more useful purposes than I am using it for right now. The sharing of documents and the ability of the people in your group to edit it is something I find very attractive.

Please check out KeepAndShare, and open an account while you are at it! :-)

The Malaysian not there yet

I don't think there are very many, if any, Malaysians who actually believe that there is true racial integration in the country.

The survey mentioned in the following article confirms what most Malaysians know for a fact - there is no such thing as The Malaysian.

I am surprised, though, of all the ethnic groups surveyed, the Indians came out the most integrated. 75% saw themselves as Malaysians first and only 22% of them think that they should help their own race first before others. I am very impressed by this finding of the Indian community considering the fact that the vast majority of the Indian population in Malaysia has such a small share of the economic pie.

I am sure many of us have our theories/reasons as to why Malaysians, in general, cannot identify themselves as Malaysians first before their religion or race.

The main reason that comes to mind is the race preferential policies (or put negatively, government endorsed racial discriminatory policies) of the government. It cannot be denied that there are quotas given, or lack thereof, to each ethnic group when it comes to government jobs, scholarships, government contracts, low cost housing, university admisssions and the list goes on. You and I know who the full beneficiaries are.

It is virtually impossible to remove race preferential policies once they are in place. You would think that in a country like America, such a policy would not exist but you would be so wrong! Affirmative action, put in place to help the minority groups in America, has become a political football. The term "minority" is misleading in the context of affirmative action in America. Asians, eventhough a minority group, does not get to enjoy the benefits of affirmative action. Anyway, long story for another time.

Just how does a government detemine when the playing field is level? The NEP's objective was to have at least 30% bumiputra participation in the economy, and 35 years on, just how much has been achieved? At this rate the NEP, by whatever name, will never become obsolete. The government can remove whatever hurdle to help a particular race achieve economic success, but government intervention can backfire leading to economic inefficiencies, increase in national debt, increase in poverty levels of other racial groups etc.

What is the point of this whole diatribe, one might ask? That as long as there is inequality between the races, inequality that is endorsed and advanced by the government, a true Malaysian identity is not going to happen anytime soon.



Friday July 21, 2006

PETALING JAYA: A national survey has found that racial integration is still not yet a reality.

The survey, conducted by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, found that the majority of respondents still identified themselves according to their race and religion.

When asked what they considered themselves to be first, 61% of the Malays surveyed gave their religion as the answer, while 28% said Malaysian. Interestingly, only 5% gave ethnicity as the answer.

As for the Chinese, 47% gave their ethnicity as the answer while 44% answered Malaysian. Only 5% gave their religion as the answer.

Of the Indians surveyed, 75% saw themselves as Malaysians, 14% by their ethnicity and 5% by their religion.

The survey, entitled National Youth Opinion Poll on Civic Engagement, involved 1,505 Malaysians aged between 18 and 32.

Of those surveyed, 52% were Malays, 20% Chinese, 8% Indians, 8% natives of Sabah and Sarawak and 2% others. There were 748 male and 757 female respondents.

The answers were obtained via telephone interviews over a one-month period.

When presented the statement "One's responsibility should first begin by helping members of one's ethnic group before helping others in society", 63% of the Malay respondents agreed, as did 44% of the Chinese and 22% of the Indian respondents.

However, on questions related to the future of Malaysian society, the survey found that the majority felt that Malaysians of various ethnic backgrounds were "coming closer together" rather than moving apart.

When asked specifically what their expectations of Malaysian society were, 43% said they desired a society where the various races and cultures were treated equally, 27% wanted a more democratic society, 18% wanted a society where Islam played a bigger role and 6% said they wanted a Malay-dominant society.

On the issue of morality, 62% said they wanted the Government to regulate it.

In terms of ethnic breakdown, 73% of Malays and 67% of Indians wanted morality. As for the Chinese, the majority surveyed favoured morality being self-regulated or by the family.

The survey also found that Malaysian youth were also not as uncaring as assumed to be.

When asked whether they were concerned about the problems in their immediate community, 71% said they were.

This, however, did not necessarily translate to action because 59% of the respondents had never taken part in any community service or any volunteer activity.

Announcing the results of the survey yesterday, Merdeka Centre programmes director Ibrahim Suffian said the organisation conducted the survey to understand the perception of young Malaysians of society and how they related to issues and concerns affecting the country.

P.S. Malaysian newspapers do not make their articles available online after a number of days, therefore I have chosen to quote whole cloth articles I use in my entries.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Third World Impression

I found this picture on The Star's Citizen's Blog posted by a blogger called aleslpy. He thinks that the motorcyclist is being irresponsible. That may be so, but the thing that comes to my mind is that this picture is a reminder that Malaysia is a third world country, despite the claim to being a developing country.

I lived in Vietnam for 2 years in the mid 90s, and several people on a motorcyle was a common sight. In fact, it was one of the more amusing sights when I first arrived in the country. The motorcycle is used to transport all kinds of things, and the Vietnamese are ingenious enough to rig their motorcycles in such a way that they can be used to transport the most unlikely things .. a slaughtered pig, stacks of baskets, a refrigerator etc.

In the last several years the sight of more than 2 persons on a motorcycle is becoming common in Malaysia. My conclusion is that either more people can afford motorcycles and therefore choose to take their family on the motorcycle rather than take the bus, or there are more poor people living in the major towns who can only afford to own a motorcycle.

It bothers me a lot when I see young children riding pillon on motorcycles, and especially the sight of a mother with a baby riding pillon. I know to them the motorcycle is most convenient but it is not necessarily the safest mode of transportation especially on busy roads.

In America, motorcycles with small engines are not even allowed on the highways. As it is, there is an increase in road fatalities involving motorcycles. Riding big bikes is getting to be a popular sport among people, both young and old.

I think Malaysia needs to do more to improve public transportation so that people do not need to resort to transporting their whole family on a motorcycle. And also, the prices of cars need to be lowered a lot more from their present inflated prices so that more people can afford cars. Cars are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity. The prices of used cars in Malaysia are simply ridiculous! The prices should at least be within reach of the lower income group, and I am not even talking about junky cars.

In the World But Not of the World

A few weeks ago, I received a letter of solicitation from People for the American Way (PFAW), a liberal interest group. If you visit their website, they proclaim loudly that they are for defending democracy.

What they actually are, is clear to me. They are anti-Christian, especially what they call the Religious Right. They say they are for "respect for individual liberty, celebration of diversity, religious freedom, love of country and reverence for the democratic institutions" but their actions belie their words. What they are for, one might find in a socialist party manifesto.

Christian personalities like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are considered intolerant and religious extremists. People for the American Way feel threatened by the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Traditional Values Coalition, and the American Center for Law and Justice.

Why do PFAW feel threatened by such groups? Because they know that the majority of the population believe in the values espoused by such groups, and as such PFAW can only demonize those groups in order to advance their liberal beliefs and values. PFAW decry intolerance and bigotry, yet by their very actions against people of faith and people who hold traditional moral values, they are the very thing they charged others with.

As a Christian I am not at all surprised that groups like PFAW hate what Christians stand for. The words of John 15 have never been so true.

John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

What the world holds dear are opposite to what the Christian is focused on. The Christian has an eternal perspective, and looks beyond what the trends are in the world today. Christians are called to be "in the world but not of the world" .

And as such, should Christians be exempted from participating in public discourse especially about the direction the nation is heading? I think not. Christians are to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) and we can only do that if we influence society and not the other way round. We can do that by standing up to Biblical truths, and emphasizing Christian morality. If we fail to do this then we are as good as surrendering ourselves to the church of secular humanism which is prevalent in our society today.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another Talent Show

After American Idol ended, there was nothing left worth watching on TV, that is, not until America's Got Talent! This is one strange show, and just how do you choose between the different talents with kids, adults and animals competing together!? Comedy acts, acrobatics, dancing, singing, magic show etc?!

But I did find two young people very impressive. The talented 11-year-old Bianca Ryan with her powerful voice, and the younger of the Miller Brothers and his harmonica.

Also, the Quick Change Artists were fantastic. I wonder what else they can do to top that!

Watch these videos and judge for yourself!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Liberal Christianity

The following article reminds me why I do not go to an Episcopalian (Anglican) church here in the US. I was raised Anglican but the majority of the Anglican churches in the US are practising liberal theology.

I live in an area that is under the see of the Diocese of Sacramento, and this diocese is well known for its liberal and pro-gay agenda .. a no no for me.

I am, however, heartened to hear that the more bible-based Anglican churches in the US, like the one in Plano, Texas are thriving and growing in membership.

Christians are called to be in the world but not of the world. A church that does not adhere to biblical orthordoxy, and can't even acknowledge the Trinity or the Divinity of Jesus Chrisit is no church at all.

From the Los Angeles Times
Liberal Christianity is paying for its sins

Out-of-the-mainstream beliefs about gay marriage and supposedly sexist doctrines are gutting old-line faiths.

By Charlotte Allen
CHARLOTTE ALLEN is Catholicism editor for Beliefnet and the author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus."

July 9, 2006

The accelerating fragmentation of the strife-torn Episcopal Church USA, in which several parishes and even a few dioceses are opting out of the church, isn't simply about gay bishops, the blessing of same-sex unions or the election of a woman as presiding bishop. It also is about the meltdown of liberal Christianity.

Embraced by the leadership of all the mainline Protestant denominations, as well as large segments of American Catholicism, liberal Christianity has been hailed by its boosters for 40 years as the future of the Christian church.

Instead, as all but a few die-hards now admit, all the mainline churches and movements within churches that have blurred doctrine and softened moral precepts are demographically declining and, in the case of the Episcopal Church, disintegrating.

It is not entirely coincidental that at about the same time that Episcopalians, at their general convention in Columbus, Ohio, were thumbing their noses at a directive from the worldwide Anglican Communion that they "repent" of confirming the openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire three years ago, the Presbyterian Church USA, at its general assembly in Birmingham, Ala., was turning itself into the laughingstock of the blogosphere by tacitly approving alternative designations for the supposedly sexist Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Among the suggested names were "Mother, Child and Womb" and "Rock, Redeemer and Friend." Moved by the spirit of the Presbyterian revisionists, Beliefnet blogger Rod Dreher held a "Name That Trinity" contest. Entries included "Rock, Scissors and Paper" and "Larry, Curly and Moe."

Following the Episcopalian lead, the Presbyterians also voted to give local congregations the freedom to ordain openly cohabiting gay and lesbian ministers and endorsed the legalization of medical marijuana. (The latter may be a good idea, but it is hard to see how it falls under the theological purview of a Christian denomination.)

The Presbyterian Church USA is famous for its 1993 conference, cosponsored with the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other mainline churches, in which participants "reimagined" God as "Our Maker Sophia" and held a feminist-inspired "milk and honey" ritual designed to replace traditional bread-and-wine Communion.

As if to one-up the Presbyterians in jettisoning age-old elements of Christian belief, the Episcopalians at Columbus overwhelmingly refused even to consider a resolution affirming that Jesus Christ is Lord. When a Christian church cannot bring itself to endorse a bedrock Christian theological statement repeatedly found in the New Testament, it is not a serious Christian church. It's a Church of What's Happening Now, conferring a feel-good imprimatur on whatever the liberal elements of secular society deem permissible or politically correct.

You want to have gay sex? Be a female bishop? Change God's name to Sophia? Go ahead. The just-elected Episcopal presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, is a one-woman combination of all these things, having voted for Robinson, blessed same-sex couples in her Nevada diocese, prayed to a female Jesus at the Columbus convention and invited former Newark, N.J., bishop John Shelby Spong, famous for denying Christ's divinity, to address her priests.

When a church doesn't take itself seriously, neither do its members. It is hard to believe that as recently as 1960, members of mainline churches — Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and the like — accounted for 40% of all American Protestants. Today, it's more like 12% (17 million out of 135 million). Some of the precipitous decline is due to lower birthrates among the generally blue-state mainliners, but it also is clear that millions of mainline adherents (and especially their children) have simply walked out of the pews never to return. According to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, in 1965, there were 3.4 million Episcopalians; now, there are 2.3 million. The number of Presbyterians fell from 4.3 million in 1965 to 2.5 million today. Compare that with 16 million members reported by the Southern Baptists.

When your religion says "whatever" on doctrinal matters, regards Jesus as just another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it's a short step to deciding that one of the things you don't want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to church.

It doesn't help matters that the mainline churches were pioneers in ordaining women to the clergy, to the point that 25% of all Episcopal priests these days are female, as are 29% of all Presbyterian pastors, according to the two churches. A causal connection between a critical mass of female clergy and a mass exodus from the churches, especially among men, would be difficult to establish, but is it entirely a coincidence? Sociologist Rodney Stark ("The Rise of Christianity") and historian Philip Jenkins ("The Next Christendom") contend that the more demands, ethical and doctrinal, that a faith places upon its adherents, the deeper the adherents' commitment to that faith. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, which preach biblical morality, have no trouble saying that Jesus is Lord, and they generally eschew women's ordination. The churches are growing robustly, both in the United States and around the world.

Despite the fact that median Sunday attendance at Episcopal churches is 80 worshipers, the Episcopal Church, as a whole, is financially equipped to carry on for some time, thanks to its inventory of vintage real estate and huge endowments left over from the days (no more!) when it was the Republican Party at prayer. Furthermore, it has offset some of its demographic losses by attracting disaffected liberal Catholics and gays and lesbians. The less endowed Presbyterian Church USA is in deeper trouble. Just before its general assembly in Birmingham, it announced that it would eliminate 75 jobs to meet a $9.15-million budget cut at its headquarters, the third such round of job cuts in four years.

The Episcopalians have smells, bells, needlework cushions and colorfully garbed, Catholic-looking bishops as draws, but who, under the present circumstances, wants to become a Presbyterian?

Still, it must be galling to Episcopal liberals that many of the parishes and dioceses (including that of San Joaquin, Calif.) that want to pull out of the Episcopal Church USA are growing instead of shrinking, have live people in the pews who pay for the upkeep of their churches and don't have to rely on dead rich people. The 21-year-old Christ Church Episcopal in Plano, Texas, for example, is one of the largest Episcopal churches in the country. Its 2,200 worshipers on any given Sunday are about equal to the number of active Episcopalians in Jefferts Schori's entire Nevada diocese.

It's no surprise that Christ Church, like the other dissident parishes, preaches a very conservative theology. Its break from the national church came after Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, proposed a two-tier membership in which the Episcopal Church USA and other churches that decline to adhere to traditional biblical standards would have "associate" status in the communion. The dissidents hope to retain full communication with Canterbury by establishing oversight by non-U.S. Anglican bishops.

As for the rest of the Episcopalians, the phrase "deck chairs on the Titanic" comes to mind. A number of liberal Episcopal websites are devoted these days to dissing Peter Akinola, outspoken primate of the Anglican diocese of Nigeria, who, like the vast majority of the world's 77 million Anglicans reported by the Anglican Communion, believes that "homosexual practice" is "incompatible with Scripture" (those words are from the communion's 1998 resolution at the Lambeth conference of bishops). Akinola might have the numbers on his side, but he is now the Voldemort — no, make that the Karl Rove — of the U.S. Episcopal world. Other liberals fume over a feeble last-minute resolution in Columbus calling for "restraint" in consecrating bishops whose lifestyle might offend "the wider church" — a resolution immediately ignored when a second openly cohabitating gay man was nominated for bishop of Newark.

So this is the liberal Christianity that was supposed to be the Christianity of the future: disarray, schism, rapidly falling numbers of adherents, a collapse of Christology and national meetings that rival those of the Modern Language Assn. for their potential for cheap laughs. And they keep telling the Catholic Church that it had better get with the liberal program — ordain women, bless gay unions and so forth — or die. Sure.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times |

Saturday, July 15, 2006

9/11 Conspiracies

In the US we call those folks who believe in all kinds of conspiracies especially those about the government as the "black helicopter crowd".

I am sure most of you have heard of theories with regards to the events of 9/11 ... the Jews were behind the plane crashes on the twin towers, the Bush administration blew up the Pentagon themselves, CNN did not report the whole truth about the 9/11 events etc etc. :-)

There are many sites on the internet with their theories about what "really" happened on 9/11 and there are also sites that debunk the theories. Here's one site that has the most loony theories put together on one page. :-)

The most controversial of the events of 9/11 is on what actually happened to the Pentagon. I found the following video clip via Little Green Footballs. Anyone with some shred of common sense can readily see for himself/herself that the computer simulation presents the most likely sequence of events that happened at the Pentagon that day.

But then again not everyone is going to readily believe this video clip as attested by the comments found on You Tube where the video is posted. There are believers of these conspiracies in places as far flung as Malaysia. So what else is new, eh?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Talk Radio

I have mentioned it several times on my blog that I enjoy listening to conservative talk radio. I had to listen to less of talk radio for a while because I was under some kind of stress and listening to talk radio did not help my stress level at all! :-)

Anyway, I am back to listening to talk radio full time and one of my favorite talk show hosts, is Mark Levin.

When I first heard Mark Levin on Sean Hannity's show, I thought he was an elderly man. He has the kind of voice that elderly people have, and he is only 48 years old!

I enjoy listening to Mark Levin because he is a very smart guy and very, very sharp. His irreverence is also one of the things that I find very attractive. He calls Hillary Clinton "Her Thighness", the New Times, "New York Slime" and other politicians all kinds of names.

I don't see Malaysia having this kind of talk shows, which is a pity. I am sure there are Malaysians who will say that this kind of talk radio is not good for a multi-racial, multi-religious country, but hey, that is what free speech is all about. Especially the freedom to speak about our government, good or bad.

Here's a sample of the first segment of today's second hour of the Mark Levin show.

The Mark Levin Show - Mark Levin

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy July 4th

Here's a video clip accompanied by Ray Charles' rendition of America the Beautiful to help celebrate today, America's Independence Day.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Lyrics by Kathy Lee Bates
Music: Originally sung to 'Auld Lang Syne, & any other popular or folk tune that fit the lyrics. Commonly song now with music "Materna," composed by Samuel A. Ward in 1882, 10 years before lyrics/poem were written.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Size of the USA's economy

I read with interest The Sun's article, which appeard on Malaysia Today, where Tun Mahathir called the USA a "bankrupt country" because of its double trade and budget deficit . That resulted in a lively discussion among the readers of Malaysia Today.

The size of the US's economy is hard to comprehend because it is in the trillion of dollars. I came across this interesting tidbit of information on National Review's July 3rd, 2006 edition. Look at the chart and maybe we can begin to understand a little what the size of the USA's economy is.

~ ~ ~

The American Colossus, in Perspective

One of the problems with economics is that the numbers involved are just too big. A trillion here, a billion there, who can keep track of it all? U.S. nominal GDP was about $13 trillion in the first quarter of this year. Corporate profits were about $1.6 trillion. The mind freezes just trying to think about such numbers.

Because of that, news reports tend to focus on the changes. Real GDP grew 5.3 percent in the first quarter. That’s the kind of number that one can easily digest. But the levels contain enormously important meaning. If one wants to put the U.S. place in history and geopolitics in perspective, then one must start by understanding the significance of our economic scale. If the global economic competition were a basketball game, then the U.S. would be Shaquille O’Neal, and all of the other players would be dwarves.

The accompanying chart illustrates the point. The United States is a giant. Its GDP is roughly comparable to that of Japan, Germany, the U.K., and France combined. But the really striking thing is that the U.S. is so prosperous and productive that many of its cities have larger economies than whole countries.

In 2005, for instance, the New York metropolitan area alone out-produced all but eight countries. Russia, on an economic roll because of its massive oil wealth, has a much smaller economy than New York.

Los Angeles topped both Belgium and the Netherlands. The annual production of our nation’s capital was almost identical to that of Poland. The Iranians are certainly causing political problems for the West. Their nuclear development has tied our diplomats in knots. Their threats move oil prices. In terms of purchasing power, however, they are Lilliputians. Even with all of their oil wealth, the Iranians have about the same size economy as Detroit. And Iran is relatively wealthy in its part of the world. Pakistan has about the same economic heft as Cleveland. If you could convince someone to give you the economy of Milwaukee in exchange for that of Kuwait, you would come out ahead (and have a beer to toast your good fortune).

Given these numbers, it’s odd that Americans would be, as sentiment indicators imply they are, so down in the dumps. Economic growth has been good, but the economic levels are stunning.

And why are they so good? Compounding is, as Einstein mused, the most powerful force in the universe. The U.S. is so wealthy because we saw the benefits of free markets long before most others. The result has been two centuries of almost uninterrupted growth. Inching ever upward while others stagnated, we are the earth’s colossus.


Yahoo Answers

When I first started participating in forums, I was really into it, but now ... heheh, the enthusiasm is waning off. It has been a while since I looked into Comeherelah, RumahDayak, and MyBuddies.

Have you checked out Yahoo Answers? I think there are some really interesting topics out there but at the same time there are some weird people there asking their provocative questions.

I got into Yahoo Answers when I asked about posting something in French in Blogger. The French language accents did not come out right once my post was published. I got one reply, and the guy happened to be a French language teacher at a school in Illinois. He posted something in French in his blog and told me that it came out alright. Later I discovered the problem I had was related to the template I was using. That was how Pemerindang Ati ended up with a new template! :-)

Anyway, back to Yahoo Answers. I looked at the topics under Religion and Spirituality, and you can just imagine the sort of questions and answers you get under this section. Discussing religion always provokes all kinds of reactions. The non-religious bashing the religious, the Christians bashing the Muslims, the athiests bashing the Christians etc ... definitely not for the easily offended!

I don't know about the others on Yahoo Answers, but this thing can be quite addicting! Somehow or other, you just feel like you have to answer some of the questions that are posed! I have answered questions relating to NBA players, World Cup, and miscellaneous questions on religion. Haha.

Another thing, there is the points system that Yahoo has for participants, and the highlighting of particular participants in the Yahoo Answers Team blog. I guess that is some sort of an incentive for the participants. Not that the points collected mean anything but for some who are competitive, who knows what it does to the ego! But to those who really know the answers to the questions that are brought up, it is just wonderful to know that there are people out there sharing their experiences.

I don't know, I just feel that Yahoo Answers has a lot more going for them than some of the forums .. no offence to forummers! Heheh.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

TuneBase™ FM for iPod

I was at Costco last weekend with Doug and the kids The primary objective was to look at the swing set available there and compare the product with the ones available at Toy'S'rus.

While there I saw the TuneBase™ FM for iPod. Wow, that would be neat to have, and imagine being able to listen to your iPod via your car radio. I don't like to have the ear buds speakers in my ears while I am with other people .. it is so anti-social! :-)

Anyway, I tested the TuneBase FM on my car radio and it sounded fine .. a little staticky but the problem was resolved when I turned on the mono feature ... for listening to stuff that is not music, setting the sound to mono is preferable.

As for the swing set, we didn't get the one at Costco because the alternative at Toy'S'rus was $300 cheaper. We picked up the one at Toy'S'rus that evening. The swing set is still the box .. we still need to get the area where we want to put it ready. Right now the weeds in the backyard are dry and there are stickers there. More work needs to be done!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The stuff on my iPod

I'm really enjoying my iPod especially with my Beginner French lessons. :-) Comment ça va? Heheh, how are you?

When I am doing the dishes, and there is nothing worth listening to on Talk Radio, I listen to my French lessons. I can't seem to get beyond Lesson Five though. :-( Not only do I have to remember how the words are pronounced, I have to remember how the words are spelled as well. The French language is not an easy language to learn. The singular and plural forms of verbs or nouns sound the same and as such one of the first things a beginner needs to learn is to learn to listen in context.

The beauty of a lesson on podcast is that it can be replayed over and over again without having to rewind anything as one would with a cassette! Cassettes are becoming obsolete. My car does not even have a cassette player, only a CD player and of course a radio.

I appreciate folks who put out things on the internet for free like the folks on The French Ecole. I'm sure it is quite time consuming to draw up the lessons and produce the podcasts, and yet they are doing it for free. All they ask is that those who use their podcasts vote for their podcast on Podcast Alley. I haven't done that, but I will because I am benefitting so much from their work.

I also listen to Christian programs on my iPod. I especially like teachings by Dr Erwin Lutzer of The Moody Church in Chicago. He is a very dynamic teacher. I also enjoy Focus on the Family a ministry of Dr James Dobson. So many practical insights on marriage, parenting, and culture can be learnt on this program.

I have subscribed to more than one audio Bible podcasts. I have decided on the one that I find most pleasant to listen to, and later I will unsubscribed the others.

There are so many interesting stuff on podcasts ... and so little time. :-)