Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Hillarious exam answers

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Place Names (and Coughing up Fur Balls)

I'm off on Friday morning to Munich, Prague and Cracow, so it's time for a quick blog before my trip.

Yes, I'm going to Cracow: not to Krakow, as my EasyJet ticket would have me believe.  The thing is, you see, this is the spelling of the town in English.  It's Cracowie in French, it's Krakau in German, it's Kraków in Polish - and as far as I'm aware it's "Krakow" only in the language known as EasyJet.

Ever wondered why we have multiple spellings of place names in different languages?  Well it's very simple.  In years gone by merchants or other travellers would visit and find it difficult to pronounce the local variant of the place name.  If the place was significant enough different spellings or versions would occur in different languages.  Cities like Brussels literally have dozens of variants, it being on an international cross-road. 

Kraków (the Polish spelling) is pronounced with a cross between an "u" and an "ooh" like sound in the last vowel because of the accent.  It's a bit like "ooh err missus".  It became easier for English visitors and those talking about the place to adopt their own spelling and pronunciation.   It's pretty hard for an English person to pronounce the German "ü" properly, or indeed to do the German "ch" (just listen to Classic FM presenters trying to say "Bach").  Therefore München becomes Munich in English.  The Italians call it "Monaco" incidentally.  One Monaco does Bier, the other Monaco does Casinos.
Brunswick, Germany: how lovely

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and actually quite a lot right with it. These different place names and spellings are usually hundreds of years old.  There's such a charm for me to see something like the above.  English people really genuinely cannot pronounce Braunschweig properly: stick to "Brunswick" and we don't have a problem.  Remember the opening to Browning's wonderful poem?  "Hamelin Town's in Brunswick, by famous Hanover city" - not "Hameln Town's in Braunschweig, by famous Hannover city".  Shame "Brunswick" has virtually vanished from any map or atlas nowadays.
I love reading Koblenz as "Coblentz" (used right up to World War 2) - it gets the "tz" sound of the German "z" across. "C" is a much more used letter in English than K is.  On my Becherovka bottle it says "Original since 1807: Carlsbad, Czech Republic".  I can't pronounce the Czech version Karlovy Vary half as well, nor its neighbouring spa town.  The historic English use of "Marienbad" works a lot better for me, ta, and probably for you too if you don't know your way round Czech's 42 letters and how to pronounce them.  These old fashioned names or spellings seem somehow romantic to me: they conjure up a past that has vanished.
No, I can't even try it either
A Dying Thing
So why is this type of usage dying out?  Well for some cities it's not.  The big ones are still Florence (Firenze), Cologne (Köln), Warsaw (Warszava), Lisbon (Lisboa) etc in English, rather than the local version.  We have an inevitable dumbing down and standardisation going on for the smaller places though.  The UN, quite surprisingly to me, actually has a 50 year old body called UNGEGN (United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names) which meets every now and then to discuss standardising place names.  Last time they met in Vienna, which henceforth presumably may only be referred to as "Wien".  (Never mind, by the way, this is pronounced Vee-en with in the local dialect, but Veen (i.e with a dipthong) by other Austrians).  It's a fruitless, impossible, needless task.
Place names can of course be political statements.  Ayers Rock is no longer considered acceptable by many Australians, whereas Uluru is.  This is a sacred place with special meaning for Aboriginals and Ayers Rock has strong colonial undertones.  The Poles call Dantzig (yes, the old English name!) Gdansk.  The Germans call it Danzig.  The use of one variant can definitely be used as a tool to imply ownership and it's not hard to think of examples when this was the case.
Nazi Propaganda from the 1930s
Interestingly, the incredibly politically correct (in this respect) and anxious Germans have not today sought to impose local Polish and Czech name usage on their former towns.  You still see "Posen", "Danzig" and "Breslau" flashing up in German airports on arrival boards.  Just as Britain is not laying claim to the capital of Italy by calling it Rome, rather than Roma, I quite agree with this.  These are simply the German names and their usage should imply nothing more than that.  This is not 1939 and there is no politics behind it.
English usage in this respect is a little different and more nuanced.  Breslau, for example, is the name you will find in history books for the Silesian town right up until 1945; Wrocław refers only and specifically to the post-1945 town with its new Polish population. 
Kate Adie Coughing up Fur Balls
So then finally we come to Kate Adie.  Bless her: she's an amazing, outstanding journalist.  She's been everywhere.  And she STILL effing well insists on calling Bahrain Bar-chhhhhhh-rain.  It literally sounds like she's gagging on a fur ball.  No Katie, it's "bar-rain" in English.  We don't say "Par-eeee" with a nice rolled French R do we?  We say "Paris" when we're speaking our own language.  She did it on Radio 4 recently and as great as she is, this strikes me as the most silly, pretentious, and actually wrong use of language.
Kate Adie on BBC Radio 4, 12 February 2012
When a Place Name Change *might* be a Good Idea
Okay, so we've established that I'm off to Munich, Prague and Cracow.  As long as I'm speaking English, I'm not off to München, Praha and Kraków.  
Whilst I'm in Munich, I may pop over the border into Austria.  There's a charming little village of 104 people there in the middle of the countryside, not too far from Salzburg.  It has a very old place name.  Here's a photo I took of my pal Jörg there on a previous visit.  Click on this link if you want a real giggle about something which actually has absolutely nothing to do with this blog entry at all.  I just wanted to share it :-)

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Pork knuckles @ Overtime, Pavillion KL

The 'aftermath' of munching on a huge plate of crispy, succulent German pork knuckles (rm52) at Overtime in Pavillion. Feeling the giddyness of rm20 margarita too!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

May Mei restaurant

Recommended: The crab- either chilli or marmite flavoured!
- yummy and huge
- located just before overpriced Mei Keng Fatt restaurant...
- worth every penny!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ang ko kuih

My mum made her delicious ang ko kuih today. I helped her a bit. Its mouth watering just writing about it.

She is about to go for an op. I can't help but look back at the number of times i had to go to the hospital as a visitor since i came back from glasgow. Hospitals are really a sad place. People's emotions go wild when they are admitted to hospitals. Tear drops of sadness overwhelmes even the strongest person when he or she has to lie down on a hospital bed. The fear of death comes. The fear of the worst comes creeping up in their minds.

As a visitor, it takes a lot of courage and will power to be there by your loved one's side because you visit the hospitalised to give support and encouragement that everything will be alright. Being emo is a no-no.

Today i also visited an aunt who just had her had a surgery yesterday. She tells her experience in the hospital, the fear and stress before the appointment of the surgery, its just makes her weep. She wept to be grateful that the surgery went well and she is still around with her supportive kids, sisters and niece caring for her.

From this, I learn, its important to have more children so you dont feel too lonely and there will be more care. To those ppl who say they dont want to get married or dont want any kids, you might want to rethink that for the sake of your old age. Family is important. Friends may come visit for one hour, but the one with the same blood ties and love will stick around for 24 hours n more till u r alright.

Woops.. I got carried away there. Suppose to be about ang ko kuih. Heres a pic of my mum making the juih and i must say, she looks as young as me..... ;)

** i will never understand why some people do not like taking photigraphs. Photographs are important memories to cherish and look back on when you have parted ways or can never see that special someone again...


I love it when a photo leads me into new internet terrain! I grew up with skaters out in California, and actually know a bunch here, so it's fun to stop and watch them do trix down at Ingólfstorg, the plaza at the very end of Laugavegur (btw, love the interactive map I just linked to!) This time I got a few shots, not the best in the world, but something to post anyway (and the dude in the pink shoes in the photo below is Stephen who's in my college English class : )

The fun started, for me at least, when I googled Ingólfstorg. I got a cool article about the plaza's history (sorry, it's in Icelandic, but with lots of b/w photos...and I don't have the time to translate it), its international renown as a skate spot (see here - it's got a funbox!- and here - "NO problem with the police...there is a 8 step stairs, where you can grind the steps, and the steps are a little gap!!") and the fact that 68 submissions have been received by the City for its redesign (unfortunately also only in Icelandic, but you can download - or read in Google Docs - the PDF of the Redesign Competition guidelines.)

Though pretty much everyone agrees that the plaza is a total design failure as far as enticing humans to enjoy it (and other wildlife as well!) I'm sure skaters will be super unhappy to see it turned into something new, because we all know without having to ask that out of those 68 submissions, not one incorporates room for any kind of bling or flair by boarders. I'll go ahead and link this video of some locals doing the torg for posterity's sake, and also so you can hear how well young Icelanders swear in English...they've hardly even got an accent! : )

 The winners of the first round of the design competition will be announced next week, on Leap Day, and I, for one, am really interested in seeing the results.

Have you tried Dynamic Viewing yet? Five new views in all. Use the blue tab at the top of the view page to check them all out : )

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


The only disability in life is bad attitude

Gay Marriage

Gay marriage* has certainly been in the headlines recently with Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, joining a coalition of Christian groups to oppose David Cameron's plans to introduce same-sex marriage by 2015.

Lord Carey has said "This matter is so serious and so important for our nation – we cannot allow this act of cultural and theological vandalism to happen." 

The first thing to say in this debate is that I'm amazed how many straight people assume that gays have the right to marry in this country.  They don't.  They never have had.  Civil partnership was introduced under Tony Blair in 2004.  It accords an almost identical set of rights as marriage to same sex partners who wish to enter into one.  There are a few very minor differences to marriage: civil partners cannot enter a legally binding union in a church and then there's the name.  This is a CP, not a marriage.

What's All The Fuss About Then?

Well in many respects the battle has been won.  Civil Partnerships were passed with remarkably little debate in 2004.  The vast bulk of other European countries (such as France and Germany) also have same-sex civil unions, but there are differences that may mean a same-sex couple doesn't get the same tax treatment as a married couple, or can't adopt etc.  That is not the case in the UK: the rights are identical.  Huzzah.

However, there are two important little points to be made.  The first is a practical one.  When you tick the "Marital Status" box on an application, PR, bank or mortgage form, you do not tick "Married" you tick "Civil Partnered".  Instantly you are disclosing your sexuality to whoever reads the form.  I regard that as a completely irrelevant and intrusive disclosure of fact about someone's private life that, reflecting the prejudices that still exist in Britain in 2012, might lead to discrimination.

Get ready to reveal your sexuality when you reach 3

The second is a rather more fundamental point.  Up until 1967 many States in the USA prevented inter-racial marriages.  The Supreme Court struck this down in the landmark civil rights case Loving v Virginia.  Whites and Blacks were able to marry one another on absolutely equal terms as uni-racial couples.  They had not previously been able to.  Now, imagine instead of this landmark ruling, a separate institution had been created that accorded exactly the same rights as marriage but it had been called "inter-racial partnerships".  What would the fuss have been about?  A black/white mixed couple would have got the same rights.  It's just a different name!  Okay they have to tick a different box on a form, but so what?

Hopefully you get the point.  This is about equality.  As long as society is saying that same-sex couples do not deserve to have their unions accepted on the same terms as straight couples, it is making a distinction between the two unions.  It is the State saying the two institutions are not equal.  It is that simple.

But Marriage is a Traditional Institution!

The "tradition" argument is used time and time again to try to stop things from changing.  There have been many traditions in this country.  Until 1833 Slavery was permitted in the British Empire.  It was tradition and had been the case for ever such a long time.  Until 1882 married women could not own property.  Until 1918 only men could vote in parliamentary elections.  Until 1967 gay sex between consenting adults was punishable with prison.  I could go on and on....  The point is that society changes, develops and moves on.

Nothing would ever change if the argument "it has always been this way" is applied: it is a silly non-argument.  There can of course be very sound reasons not to change something, but simply to say "it's tradition and therefore by definition must not change" is wholly unconvincing.

It is also quite interesting to consider exactly what the tradition of marriage is in history and around the world.   Hinduism and Buddhism for centuries permitted marriages between one man and multiple women.   Judaism allowed them until 1000AD: under the Sephardic tradition this continued longer.  Only one of the 22 Islamic Arab League countries prohibits them today.  It is actually public policy under English private international law broadly to uphold polygamous marriages.

Queen Isabella: Married (13) to King John (33)
European Christian society permitted marriage with pre- or barely pubescent children for centuries for royals and nobles.  The Old Testament details the incestuous marriage of Abraham with his sister Sarah, and that of Lot and his daughters.  Marriage between first cousins was par for the course throughout Europe for centuries and is still permitted in many US States.  Same-sex marriage itself existed as a legal institution in Ancient Rome and was around before the first straight Christian couple wed.  It was only prohibited in Ancient Rome in 342 AD by a clause in the Theodosian Code.  It was practised in China throughout the Ming Period.  I've already touched on marriage until quite recently as being defined as only between people of the same race in some places.  The same applies to defining it only to people of the same religion, which applies today in many societies.

If you are surprised or indeed shocked by some of these examples you are proving the point.  The goal posts of the institution of marriage have changed repeatedly through the centuries, and in all likelihood will continue to do so.  This is how society works: things change to reflect the views and norms of the people at the time.  People once accepted these norms: they do not now.  Homophobic hatred, promoted by the Church, was the norm: it now no longer is.  Society has changed and so will the goalposts of marriage.

What Is Marriage Then?

Like it or not, those trying to "defend traditional marriage", you cannot simplify the argument to the institution always having been a fixed unbending concept of the union of one adult man and one non-related adult woman.  Even today marriage is still not a homogenous concept around the world.  It does not belong to one faith and has not originated from one single faith either.  

Let's also be absolutely clear, Lord Carey, this is not a Christian institution that belongs to bishops to decide on: it belongs to humanity, to us, to society, to people around the world.  It always has done.

What is then the core element that defines marriage, if it is not what the "traditionalists" say?  In my view it is very simply the desire to declare a public bond about your union.  The State allowing a same-sex couple to marry is not about creating a new institution (click here for that rather off the point argument).  It is about extending this long-standing human institution to reflect a truly massive change in how society relates to same-sex unions today.  The very point here is that couples will not say "I'm same-sex married" (as they would if it were a new institution, like CPs) - they will simply say "I'm married".  It is the same institution that has existed for thousands of years - marriage - being extended to a group who could not previously marry.

Even if it were about creating a new institution (the logic of which I refute) that is also irrelevant.  Was allowing women to vote creating a new thing, or extending an old thing?  Actually I doubt too many women went to the poll box saying "I'm going to cast my woman's vote" but who cares: the argument is not relevant to the argument about granting equality regarding men and women being allowed to vote.  Nor is it here.

It's All About Children

It is true that marriage often provides a framework for raising children, but it cannot be argued that marriage only exists to bring up children.  There have been millions of childless marriages.  Lots of children have been appallingly and miserably brought up within the context of marriage; equally children have been successfully raised in all sorts of different situations not involving marriage.  The survival of humanity does not depend on a fixed view of marriage that has in fact varied through history.  

If marriage is only about children, why should society permit infertile couples, those who do not want children, or post-menopausal women to marry?  If permitting them to marry does not weaken the institution of marriage on a macro level, I fail to see how allowing a likely total of 75,000 same sex marriages in this country would do so.

"An Act of Cultural Vandalism"

Lord Carey claims this is an issue "so serious and so important for our nation".  He said in his recent article in the Daily Mail that the Government has "no right to change marriage" and that "marriage will only remain the bedrock of a society if it is between a man and a woman."  He continues that marriage is the "glue that holds this country together" and somberly adds that if the plans go ahead this will be "one of the greatest political power grabs in history."  His article gives us the warning that "such communions would jeopardise the stability of our country."

How is that for hyperbole?  One third of the population has not just been wiped out by the Black Death.  Opposing forces are not meeting in battle during the bloody Civil War.  In a true political power grab, the King has not just broken from Rome, nor has Parliament just signed the death warrant of the Monarch.  The workers are not on General Strike.  This is not June 1940: hundreds of thousands of Nazis are not about to invade.  Yet this change of name from "civil partnership" to "marriage" jeopardises the stability of our great nation.  Stop and think about this claim for a moment.

Note the caption on the Mail photo, taken directly from his article.  Two gay women, who remember can already enter into a civil partnership, dress however they wish, and believe it or not are already allowed to kiss in public, are a "threat" to the stability of our nation... all because the name of their partnership might be changed to "marriage" by means of a democratically voted on, perfectly legal, Act of Parliament.  What an actual drama queen that man is. 

In 2001 The Netherlands became the first nation in the world in modern times to extend marriage to same-sex couples.  Society immediately collapsed.  (Oh, sorry, no it didn't actually).  Next came Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina.  None of them is a perfect society: such a thing does not exist.  However many are much further up the list than the UK in terms the UN Human Development Index (Norway is at the very top).

I should love to hear George Carey for one moment define how "traditional marriage" in these countries has been undermined by the extension of marriage to same sex couples.  I would like him to explain exactly what the wider damage to these countries is and how their societies have been destabilised in such a fundamental way.   Cultural vandalism is a phenomenally strong term to use.  I would like him to explain what it means in this context.

I want to know exactly what the harm is to the institution of marriage in allowing same sex couples to call their civil partnerships marriage.  I have yet to hear one cogent argument that can prove any harm, or likelihood of harm.  If your heterosexual marriage is somehow weakened by a gay couple marrying, you have the problem with your relationship.  There is no cost to this name change: the financial rights accorded by marriage are available already to civil partnerships.  

To be absolutely clear: we are talking about the institution of civil marriage here.  500 years after Henry VIII shifted the goalposts for marriage by allowing divorce, the Catholic Church is still not forced to marry divorced couples: they can make their own rules.  There is no suggestion that churches would be forced to open their doors to same-sex partners if it conflicted with their own beliefs (it doesn't, of course with all faiths: see Reform Judaism, the Lutheran Church of Sweden, the Mennonite Church of the Netherlands, Metropolitan Community Churches, Unitarian Universalists etc. etc.).  If you're a divorced Catholic and your church won't accept you, come to a registry office.  The law of this country will allow your union (as long as you're heterosexual, of course.)

Further, as Ben Summerskill put it "If you don't like same sex marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex."  Straight people are not somehow being converted here.  No-one is forcing gay people to enter into these unions: it is simply giving gay people the same right as straight people to make that choice or not.

Sweden: a morally bankrupt nation on verge of collapse
One thing that the introduction of same-sex marriages in these countries has of course already done is to destroy the "tradition" argument: an 20 year old alive in Holland has spent more than half his or her life with the tradition of same-sex marriage around them.  Many of these countries are our close neighbours: gay marriage is a reality all around us.  Marriage has been redefined once more.  If history is anything to go by, it won't be the last time.

Mimicking a Straight Institution

There are plenty of individual gays who reject the idea of marriage as a failed example that they would not want to copy.  I understand where they are coming from.  As a woman friend on Twitter put it to me "Heterosexuals have undermined the institution of marriage far better than gays ever could".  Why would anyone want to copy it?

I do not have a partner, I do not currently want or expect to get married to another man.  I do want to extend this basic element of equality, though, to those who men and women who do.  As long as kids use the term "gay" as an insult in school playgrounds, as long as gay teenagers self-harm because of their sexuality, as long as society sees homosexuality as something wrong, different, or not equal to heterosexuality, I will take this position.

Why should they be "separate, but equal"? What's wrong with equal?

To go back to my fictional example of "inter-racial partnerships" you can hopefully see why it is simply not good enough to have "marriage" for one group and separately to have "civil partnerships" for another.  It is State defined discrimination and it is wrong.  To equalise the two institutions would send out a huge message.  Names matter; signals matter.  This is a small, but symbolically highly important step on the path to equality.   When kids grow up seeing same-sex people and couples on equal terms society will change.  It is already happening, thank God - despite the best efforts of particular elements within society for decades now to prevent it.


I used to feel quite relaxed about this subject: kinda "meh".  The more I think about it, and the more I see the hysterical utterances of the likes of Lord Carey, as expressed in the Mail and Telegraph, the more irritated I become.  We live in a largely secular country.  The definition of marriage does not belong to a minority group (traditionalist Anglican or Roman Catholic churchgoers and their leaders).

Once again, marriage does not derive from and belong to the Christian Bible, it is not a fixed concept, and it belongs to society to define.  Lord Carey is being perverse when he attacks David Cameron and says law-makers have no right to extend the institution.  It in fact very much belongs to us, society, and not to the bishops.  It is our elected representatives that make laws on our behalf in Britain.  All I can see is spite and prejudice coming from anyone seeking to deny this change.  I have yet to see a cogent argument against it not based on "it's tradition" and "I don't want to give this to you".

A sign of how far our society has changed is the fact that the leader of the Conservative Party is apparently pushing for this harmless, just, and simple change.  I really hope that the pressure of these mean-spirited, hysterical, reactionary groups does not lead him to waiver in this.

* It's been correctly pointed out I should refer to same-sex marriage.  There are bisexual couples who also wish to marry, so apologies.

The wise one said..

Usually you will have to have more than one boyfriend to find the right one.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Trolls and Tweeting About Politics

You hear a lot about "Trolls" on the Internet.  What exactly are they?  There are various definitions: they invariably centre around someone whose behaviour is intended to cause upset to another online.  At their most extreme they can be someone who post offensive messages on a tribute site to cause grief to a bereaved family.  I've heard of trolls who pretend they are young mothers who spend weeks making friends on things on Mumsnet, only to troll message boards and be offensive.  Hilarious, yeah.

On Twitter my general understanding of a troll (there is also a verb, to troll) is someone who generally you do not follow, but who sees a tweet of yours through a search or a retweet, and who sends you an uninvited message that is either simply offensive, or that is intended to start an argumentIt's not simply someone you disagree with: it's someone who is purposely goading of offending you for the fun of it.  You will often never have seen their avatar or name before.

Why Do We Feed the Trolls?

Trolls are a regular feature of the medium and probably one of the things that upsets people the most.  There is of course a simple mechanism to stop them "don't feed the trolls" - don't engage and/or block them.  Would that it were that simple, however.  First it takes some restraint if you've just been called a "fucking idiot" or similar not to respond.  Secondly, the troll may appear semi-reasonable and you may think you are being drawn into a civilised conversation and want to defend your viewpoint.  After a few exchanges your blood pressure goes up a notch and it takes even more effort just to walk away.  You're drawn in and it rarely ends pleasantly.

Having a Temporary Break from His Keyboard

What Is The Point of Arguing?

A huge strength of Twitter is of course that it facilitates an exchange of ideas.  It is perfectly possible to have a conversation with someone of a different viewpoint that can make you think again about something.  Perhaps this is why we engage: we want to listen.  Perhaps, if we're really honest, it's just because we want to feel we are "right" and convince the other person and anyone else who sees the conversation of our position.  From my experience a genuine reflection and revision of your own position is far more likely to happen when discussing something politely with someone you actually follow and know.  Very rarely, you might meet someone new whom you disagree with, but nonetheless like and respect, and then decide to follow from one of these discussions.

Let's face it, though, someone who has strong personal views that abortion should be illegal, that gays are evil, who describes the European Union as the EUSSR, or that my being vegetarian is a lifestyle choice that makes me "an economic burden" (oh yes, I was told this for real over the course of 3 hours one evening recently) is not going to be able to convince me of their viewpoint.  Nor am I going to be able to influence them of my diametrically opposed opinion.  What *is* the point, unless the act of arguing from your keyboard makes you feel happy about yourself?

Personal Abuse

My last blog was a set of observations on what happens when a celebrity dies.  It led to accusations that I was trying to censor people, lecture them, was being authoritarian, and these lovely unsolicited personal messages:

From someone I'd not spoken to before

From someone I blocked 9 months ago
Why do people send stuff like this?  More importantly, why can't they get their syntax and grammar correct (at least in the case of the first one)?  Why don't they have to courage to put their faces on their avatars?  These two are in fact members of a special little group of ghoulish right wingers and libertarians who always hide behind faceless anonymous profiles, who make lots of noise on Twitter, and who are quite well known for their unpleasant online behaviour.  I'm still amazed to see people I know and like corresponding with the likes of them.

I've also had the head-ghoul, @Old_Holborn message me with the type of thing below.  This isn't trolling, it's just sending pretty grotesque personal homophobic abuse.  If I see anyone RTing the man I'm quite likely to unfollow them as a result.  Why am I in effect naming and shaming these people?  Do I have an axe to grind?  Yes, I guess I do.  I don't see why these people who have sent me abuse in public should not be named here for others to see so they can make their own judgements and steer clear of them if they wish.

From Someone Who is Quite Sick

On a philosophical level, I don't believe there's such a thing as inherently nasty or evil people: only people who in some situations behave in a bad way.  I'm sure these guys have friends and family to whom they are pleasant, and often no doubt loving.  All I know is that I've experienced them being pretty vile to me and to others, and it's not what I come on Twitter for.  I'm able to shake it off better than some I know: if they caught the attention of a few of my friends I know they would leave the medium for good.  They can create a stink that lasts months.  I hope they feel good about doing this.


Now we come to politics.  I used to enjoy tweeting about politics on Twitter.  One of the things I love about Twitter is the flow of news, current affairs and the comments and reactions of an intelligent, engaged group of people I've found on here.  I barely do it now for the reasons set out in this blog.

I have found that my enjoyment of Twitter has in some ways had an inverse relationship to the number of my followers.  The more people who follow you, the more an RT will reach the likes of someone who wants to pick a fight.  It's amazing that tweeting about being vegetarian will do this, or making some simple observations about the death of a celebrity.  I really don't know how people with really large numbers of followers cope: I saw Sally Bercow tweet "Is it odd that when I hear an Amy Winehouse song I still feel sad?" and just watched the abuse pouring in at her.  No wonder she doesn't seem to tweet half as much as she used to.  Get into party politics and just wait for the really argumentative reactions.  It's exhausting.

I guess I should man up, just ignore the crap, and say what I want to.  I've chosen to shut up instead, because I've found a group of people to follow whom I largely agree with on politics, and prefer to listen to their reactions and discuss them with them one on one, rather than tweet openly in my timeline.  There's less chance of an RT and hostile arguments that way.  If Twitter is about encouraging free speech and open discussion, then this is a bit of a sad indictment of the way the medium can go.  I do have stuff to say about current affairs: instead weariness with the arguments has led me to tweet about my dog, my socks, and what I'm having for breakfast. Great :S

Troll Guidelines

To conclude, and in the true spirit of lecturing people, being authoritarian, and being sanctimonious (thanks again guys!), here are some suggestions I have on the subject of Trolls.  I shall endeavour to apply them myself:

1)  If you don't want a lot of potential grief, simply don't engage with someone you don't know, who has sent you an unsolicited tweet disagreeing with you.  It will very likely, unless you have super-human control and perception in knowing when to get out of the conversation before it heads to aggression, end up in your wasting an evening arguing, and ending up upset or angry.  You will convince them of nothing.  You may feel "right" at the end of it.  So what? Do NOT feed the trolls.

2) Trolling, at least in its mild manifestation, is often a question of perception according to where you are sitting.  All the trolls I know are right-wingers.  I'm sure there are Tories out there who know a whole bunch of lefty trolls.  The same people who behave reasonably to me may pick fights and behave very differently with others.  Think about whether a response of yours to someone you don't know could be seen as "trolling".  Honestly, why are you sending the message?  To be mischievous, to pick a fight?

I'm not above admitting that I've done it on occasion, not that I'm proud of it.  I sent a tweet to a random Christian this week who was being homophobic to some friends, who went on to call me a "liar" and rather bizarrely told me to "get a job".  I ended up sending a deliberately offensive tweet as as result, when really I shouldn't have got involved.  They could have blocked this person themselves if they were upset and are really quite able to look after themselves.  Apart from the utter dickheads I've mentioned above, I'm sure no one would revel in the description of being called a troll.  Don't inadvertently do anything to deserve the label yourself.

3) To put 2. in a nutshell, the best tweet I read all week was from @Yorkdid.  I think he's 18 or 19.  I understand it might not be original, but who cares.  It is brilliant advice and I'd never heard it before formulated like this.  It simply said the following:

There's a real person reading your tweet or message.  Put simply, just run anything you're about to send past this simple test: how would I feel to receive this myself?  Rocket science it is not.

4)  Put the trolling in context.  I follow 1100 people.  I must have interacted with well over 5000 since I've been on Twitter.  I've sent over 60,000 tweets and have probably received at least 20,000 @ mentions, given how much I interact.  Of these around exchanges maybe 50, tops, have been nasty, aggressive and have stuck in my head.  That's 0.25%.  I actively dislike and seek to avoid perhaps 10 people of the 5000 tweeple I've spoken to.  That's 0.2%.

It is so easy to get upset and to forget about all the "good guys" and what makes Twitter so enjoyable.  Concentrate on the 99.75% and the 99.8%.  I know it's not human to do so, but they really do deserve your attention more.

There we go.  I feel better for having written this anyway, which I guess is the whole point of blogging.  I hope you've enjoyed reading it.  I'm now off to "make like a tree and wobble off".  Yes, what the *actual* fuck <does> that mean...?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Valentines at Alrawsha Restaurant

Western restaurants in Ampang were packed with patrons on Valentines night. The obvious reason would be because the mat salleh take Vday seriously and plenty ofat salleh stay along jln ampang.. I saw Victoria Station packed with people and cars queuing up outside, causing a bit of traffic outside. Drove pass Souled Out and it was packed. The same went for Las Caretas and Brussels..

The last minute hunt for a restaurant was due to the fact that I was uncontactable by phone as my iphone switched off by itself without me realising. So, dinner booking at the 'secret' place (i still dunno where) was cancelled....

Hence, with all the hype that muslims were not allowed we celebrate vday and stuff, we ended up at Alrawsha Restaurant, near the Kampung Pandan roundabout. The place was massively big, that we need not worry about not getting a table.

Everthing to me there was enormous, from the dining hall to the food and you could also order a jug of
Orange juice for rm50. One cup cost rm10.

Food was

I did mention on a previous post about having a memorable vday restaurant to rave about for the next few years... This is it!

Unfortunately, they had this rotation schedule for their lamb mandy where its replenished/cooked every six hours... So, we were just a few minute late when they ran out of lamb. Fyi, this is a 24 hour restaurant.

Chicken was good. Rice was good. Service was good. They have longggg tables there too, perfect for birthday parties as its uber spacious. Loved it. Though not airconditioned, it was alright at night, but i was told it could get quite warm in the afternoon.

Awaiting the day to return there to feast on lamb.

Oh yea, you have to open the memu from left to right...


Retro Iceland Eyes, first posted in February 2007

After the smá útrás, or little bit of venting I did in the last post (and by the way, thank you to all of you who took part in the discussion. I shared your comments around - they were very astute, thought-provoking and much appreciated!) I thought I'd chill things out a bit with a nice, calming view.

This photo is consistently chosen by readers as one of their favorites, and here's the text that accompanied its original posting:

This view is found on the little island of Grótta, just outside of the town of Seltjarnarnes (Seal Pond Point) which is a tight-knit and slightly snobby community at the very tip of the peninsula that Reykjavik sits on. It's a nature reserve and bird sanctuary that is connected to the mainland by a thin spit of land that exposes at low tide. There's a golf course out there, a nature center, old war bunkers and a very wonderful stretch of beach that reminds me of a typical Northern California strand, with cold-water waves crashing against the sands and rocky outcrops. It's a lovely place for a walk, especially as winter fades away and the days lengthen once more.

Have you tried Dynamic Viewing yet? Five new views in all. Use the blue tab at the top of the view page to check them all out : )

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Ka Fei Dian, Festival City

Whenever I have a meal in Festival City (which is quite frequent), it was always either Octopus Sushi or Shih Lin Taiwan House. Sometimes too much of one thing can get a tad bit boring. Don't get me wrong, I have tried other restaurants in Festival City such as Daily Kopitiam, Pulau Ketam Steamboat and Sushi King(i should say the worse sushi ever!). Just that cravings for Octopus sushi and shih lin was more frequent :)

Today, I decided to try something new. Ka Fei Dian aka Kopitiam. Pretty good lunch set menus which comes with a choice of barley, cincau or ice lemon tea.

Recommends: nasi lemak kukus berempah- Absolutely divine. The sambal and chicken was really good.

Not recommended: fruit rojak- the sauce tasted weird; hainanese steamed chicken rice - Pappa Rich does it better!

I would definitely make a second trip to Ka Fei Dian. My mum craves for more of the nasi lemak kukus berempah:) Lunc set meal cost about rm9.50.

Monday, 13 February 2012


It's sometimes uncomfortable to voice anything other than a Pollyanna viewpoint on current affairs, and so I usually avoid writing about current affairs! Occasionally, though, I just have to write what I feel, and this is one of those days, though I don't have the heart to go into details. Something about these still, trapped, waiting men in this dirty, decaying window is prompting me, so this is what I have to say:

The glamour/adventure construct that our PR men and women have spun in the past decade has paid off in tons more tourism and happily so, because that's where the money lay, right? I don't disagree at all, and find the average visitor to be a polite and friendly type, willing to help the natives see their homeland for all the glory it has to offer via their curiosity and cash. No cynicism intended: the traveler brings with them a new view and if they open their wallets, it's to share some of what they've got in return for local goods and experiences. Win win for sure! I hope we maintain an ethical, eco-friendly bent in the further development of our tourist industry, because that's why people come here, and not to get what they can get in any other Euro city, and probably for less.

Before we start pandering to Others and their dollars, though, we need to take care of our Own. Though a shiny new hotel might lure a thousand more weekenders into the city, it does little for the morale of the local who can barely maintain the roof over her and her children's heads. It may bring in summertime cash and create a few jobs, but it doesn't solve the problem of once-reasonable and seemingly practical student loan debts, taken by people who honestly wanted to better themselves and their society, that have now doubled since the crash with no discussion on the table of doing anything about it. A new hotel might make us feel superficially proud and even rich as a nation but does nothing for that overwhelming deep-seated feeling that we've completely lost our way and are wandering, ethically compromised, into strange unknowns, missing in our cultural hearts something we can't quite seem to name...

We can welcome our visitors with all the stuff and buildings and ads and magazines and luxuries we think they will need and enjoy, but when traveling nothing ever really surpasses a warm and contented smile from a local, does it? Let's not twist the faces of our single, hard-working mothers and ammas and grandfathers and men into hard-scrabble grimaces because they are just barely scraping by. There's a offended,indignant  tone, a bitter swallowed anger that is stuck in the throats of so many Icelanders these days for the ever-mounting evidence of swindle, corruption, greed, violence, and social breakdown happening here, on our beloved wonder of an island. There is no glory in suffering, and there is no glory in wealth if it's at the expense of a distant relative, or the woman who scans groceries. At the expense of one's own people, born here or not.

Something has to give.

Bigger eyes

I was skyping using my iphone and realised my eyes on camera always looked like i was sleeping. That was because the camera on the phone is located at the top part of the phone.

So, what i did was turn the phone upside down wjen skyping and voila, the other person can never tell that you are looking tired, like ever, because your eyes will be so much bigger!
It also makes u look like a happier person:)
With this finding, i concluded that taking pictures using the iphone camera when it is upside down is recommended for those who want their eyes to look bigger. Mata sepet also can become bigger-Iphone is great :p

Sunday, 12 February 2012


There are some things which I can never do:
1) Ride a bicycle
2) Bowl
3) Watch a horror or action movie without closing my eyes.
4) Well, there should be more, but I cant think of it now.

The whole point of this post wwas to show my 'memorable' bowling points. Another memorable bowling moment was when I was about to bowl, the bowling ball slipped off my fingers and went backwards instead of forward...

Today was the first time I have ever finished a bowling game by myself. I should be the one to blame for not trying to learn bowling earlier. But, I always had this theory when I was younger, that I would not be tall if I took up bowling. So, I avoided bowling like a plaque. But its different now, since I will not be growing north anymore... Just heading south;p I would wanna try it again. Need stamina to bowl. Played three games, but energy level went down the gutter after the first game.

I was also told a scary experience by a friend. She went bowling with long fingernails and ended up with one fiher missing the nail.

A Celebrity Dies

I woke up this morning, just as you probably did, to the news that Whitney Houston had died, aged 48.  It's one of those days when frankly I'd rather not be on Twitter.  We follow the same pattern we've seen on recent events.

Initial Responses

First come the people announcing the news.  Many people wake up and tweet it as if they are breaking some news.  Look at your timeline first and you'll realise that 1/3 of the tweets probably relate to it.

People then express their upset.  It's often heartfelt if they are fans.  For this to be a big story it means that the person involved had or used to have a major fan base.  Even if you haven't bought the person's records recently, or seen a film they've been in, or watched the sport they played, you'll have seen their name and know who they are.  For me in this case the news brought back memories of my 15th birthday and a song that was in the charts.  Like it or not, "celebrity" forms a big part of our every day existence.

The RIPs flood in.  I guess this is just a way of people expressing their sorrow, but there is very little can be said and when you've seen the 18th in a row, you wonder a little what it is adding, even if it harms no one.

The Worthies

Next we have the "worthies".  These are mainly people on the left who attack the "cult of celebrity".  Yes, you have a point.  Children were killed in Gaza, people were murdered by their government in Syria, homeless people will be freezing to death in this weather.  Thanks for pointing this out.  Does it mean though that someone expressing their upset about an artist they liked cannot feel upset and outrage about this too?  Why is it one or the other?  Is emotion like a pie that has to be shared out in a limited number of pieces? Do you think for one moment that the press will change its ways because you've got on your soapbox?  In any case, the news *is* actually full of stories about Syria and it's a sickening upsetting sight we're all to familiar with.  My timeline has been full of discussion about it.  Do you feel better, more intelligent, or that you've somehow proved your moral integrity for having tweeted about this?

You're also missing an important point: we have a "relationship" with celebrities that we do not with the people involved in these other matters.  I can feel horror and pain at the sight of a nameless child on my TV, but he or she has not formed part of my memory and day to day life in the way a celebrity has.  I know who Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse or Gary Speed "was": it is only natural I will a degree of association I cannot with the other victims unless I've family or friends in the place affected.  That in no way means the death of the individuals elsewhere is less important (and it's a bit idiotic that I have to add this sentence for the avoidance of doubt.)

The Jokes

Next we have the sick jokes.  They're not even original.  The one below appeared six times in a row on a search.  People aren't even crediting it, they're stealing it from one another.  I like to think I have quite a good sense of humour (who doesn't) - but frankly, just fuck off. 

I've got no time for anyone in my timeline who thinks it's amusing to joke about the recent death of a mother and to compare that to a load of murdered teenagers.

Moral Lessons

Next come the moral lessons.  In some cases, for example Gary Speed, Twitter served arguably a good function in getting people to talk about the issue of suicide.  I found that day personally a bit overwhelming and had to get out.  Anyone who has thought about suicide is well aware of the issues and I do have some residual doubts that his tragic death will have "served the greater good" in any way, but the intentions are no doubt good.

With Whitney Houston, we've already had people falling over themselves to warn of the dangers of drugs.  The first point here is no one knows if her death was drugs related.  People did exactly the same with Amy Winehouse, and it looks like it was actually alcohol that killed her.  The next point is that I remember well when River Phoenix died.  Did his death have the slightest bearing on me in my twenties as to my own behaviour?  Of course it bloody didn't.  WE ALL KNOW drugs are a bad thing that can and do cause deaths.  You'd have to be an utter moron not to.  I really don't think that my tweeting "now kids, remember, don't do drugs" is going to have any effect on any of my followers. 

Into the moral lessons come the snide remarks about someone's life.  Yes, Whitney Houston apparently had major substance issues.  How about feeling compassion, rather than judging her when she has not even been dead 12 hours?  Again what does that do?  Make you feel oh so smug?  Well good for you.

Saying Nothing

Twitter is about saying things.  It is Camus in action: it wouldn't exist if we didn't say things: we'd be looking at a big blank screen with nothing going on. I tweet, therefore I am.  The same can be said about this blog: why am I even bothering to blog this?  It's not about dictating how people should react or tweet, it's about thinking a little bit more about things.  You can agree or disagree, but at least you've considered the issue.

It really is the biggest cliché but I do think the saying "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all" could applied a bit more frequently.  An event like this brings out the worst of people.  Worthiness, smugness, judgement, sick jokes.  Someone has died: I can see the arguments breaking out already on my timeline and people taking objection to things others have said.  Isn't that a bit sad? 

I didn't know Whitney Houston: I didn't particularly like her music.  I didn't feel the need to tweet anything about her this morning: Bren (above) just said it perfectly for me.  I'm so glad Twitter wasn't around when Princess Diana died: it would literally have been unbearable.  When Mrs Thatcher dies it will be the same.  You don't have to worship someone, agree with them, or even like them at all to realise a death is a genuinely sad thing for many people.  In my view it's not hard just to see it in those simple terms and to respect that.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Valentines Day gift

At this age, where we read more about health, what should be the perfect Valentines Day gift to your loved one?

Numerous restaurants are currently promoting their VDay specials like VDay buffets, VDay dinner, etc.... But, for the same price of a buffet, gyms are currently offering monthly memberships too... So, it comes to a point where you think: Gym membership OR A romantic night out with scrumptious delicacies to satisfy your cravings...

Isnt it also an insult to some if you present them a gymembership, which also implies, "You need to lose weight!".. Just like its a taboo to give presents like watches and clocks. But, logically, if we don't be so terribly oversensitive and superstitous, it would be, "Oh hell yea, I could use a gym to tone up AND a watch would be useful."

So, buffet or gym membership? Buffet lasts a few hours and if its really good, it will be something to rave about for the next few years as being 'the most amazing valentines meal'. As for a gym membership, we need to be committed for that month, sweat it out, and if we dont overindulge on sweets and fattening food, theres bound to be a change in our looks after that month. Furthermore, if we have time to attend the dance classes or aerobic classes provided in the gym, who knows you might meet your new bestfriend ;)

So, now, gym OR buffet???


Fish pancake

Look what I made... Fish pancakes with a side of kaya.. Taste good. Looks so adorable :)


Retro-post from February 2010, originally titled Life: Tiny moss in macro ~.~ One of my favorite photos, from the early days of my fascination with macro.

I love how tenacious life is, especially the life we barely see here in colder climes. It's humbling to consider that something as small as this moss, just barely bigger than the snow it's holding, has the power, over time, past seasons and through sheer will of growth, to destroy all that we've constructed.

While humans scramble and fret, love and hate and build and tear down, regret and hope and try to keep faith, this plant lives. It may die in time, but will eventually emerge again in a new set of cells, driven by the same compelling desire to lift and rise and expand downwards as well as towards the sky. It clings and survives, and forces willing, thrives, a simple and beautiful symbol of eternal life.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Fit to fat

This article just goes to show that its easier to transform from fit to fat than fat to fit.... And also shows why we should not take chips and carbonated drinks and chocolate milk!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Viral factor, the movie

So, if you were to ask me would i chooes to watch Chronicle or Viral Factor, I'd definitely choose Viral. Previously, I did mention that Chronicle was really bad. I was so unsatisfied with Chronicle, that I needed to watch another movie to get over the dissapointment of ever purchasing the tickets and wasting my time to watch Chronicle! Of course, I chose to watch Chronicle based on a friend's passing comment that it was a fantastic movie. Suffice to say, we can take in a friend's opinion about a movie, but it doesn't mean it should be our opinion too because different people have different taste and interest.

Viral Factor was like a tour of the hotspots of Malaysia. I think about 90% of the show was filmed in Malaysia. There was also a glimpse of IMU's main entrance! That probably meant they did some filming inside IMU;) Other filming places included the Golden Triangle, Pavillion, Putrajaya....and more. One thing about watching a film made in malaysia is that Malaysians know the roads and places filmed. Hence, when the actor, Nicholas Tze was shown running from Putrajaya and ended up at the Golden Triangle, it allowed a good chuckle.

The movie was great, in my opinion;) Loads of action and drama which made 2 hours bearable. It was a show with a mixture of english, malay, cantonese and mandarin.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Chronicle, the movie

Review on the Chronicle: BAD!! The worse movie everrrrr.... Boring boring boring.. Somemore with the shaky hand held video cameras which gave me a headache... Yawned so much during the movie... Even ppl behind me were saying how horrible the movie was!

Nope, Highly NOT recommended.

On a totally different thing: salted fishES from Manila. Too many not for me but for my younger sister who loves it. I dislike salted fish and lap cheong and loh mee....