Monday, January 07, 2008

Japanese Government to Keep ‘Hooligans’ Away from Summit

Japanese Government to Keep ‘Hooligans’ Away from Summit
TOKYO - The Justice Ministry has begun preparations to put into force a hooligan provision of the immigration law to prevent anti-globalization activists from entering the country to protest the Group of Eight summit meeting to be held in Hokkaido in July.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Whatever happened to mandarin?

Language in Singapore is something that's fascinated me. Not the language itself (as can be proven by my hard-earned Cs in second language), but how it's treated. There are four official languages in Singapore - Malay, English, Mandarin, Tamil. Once upon a time, it seemed like everything was translated into all four languages - signages, official documents, brochures, etc.etc. It started to change - nowadays, it's actually quite fun to spot when and where and what language is used. Usually you'll find that it's English + Another. The Another can be Japanese (usually tourist areas), Bengali (ReallY! More on that another time), Mandarin, Malay.

It's worth a thesis in its own right. In the meantime, I'm wondering why "What's Up Doc", a newsletter for patients published by the National Healthcare group of Polyclinics, only has English, Tamil, and Malay. No Mandarin. It's quite unusual.

Does this mean that all Chinese can speak English, and they're worried about the Malay and Indians?

On further examination, I realised that the articles were about healthy eating during Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali, which sort of explains everything, really. Still, I can't help being a little tickled by it all.

In the meantime, I'm tempted to try the recipe for Nasi Tomato yang Menyihatkan (Healthy Tomato rice).


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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Santerias against global warming

Lately, religious leaders of all faiths from all over the world have been pointing out to their congregation that global warming, is, well, global, and it behooves all good Muslims/Christians/Buddhists to take care of the earth.

Apparently that includes Santeria priests.

HAVANA - Priests offering New Year's prophecies from Cuba's Afro-Cuban religion on Wednesday gave few hints on the future of convalescing leader Fidel Castro and instead warned about dangerous climate change and epidemics.

More here

(Yes, they do the animal sacrifice thing. Humanely. They consider themselves sorta Catholic.)


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Thursday, January 03, 2008

How to do what you love

Rather interesting post

Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you'd like to like.

That's what leads people to try to write novels, for example. They like reading novels. They notice that people who write them win Nobel prizes. What could be more wonderful, they think, than to be a novelist? But liking the idea of being a novelist is not enough; you have to like the actual work of novel-writing if you're going to be good at it; you have to like making up elaborate lies.

True dat. I often think it'll be fun to be a world-class fencer, but the idea of practicing squats ... not so much.

The test of whether people love what they do is whether they'd do it even if they weren't paid for it—even if they had to work at another job to make a living. How many corporate lawyers would do their current work if they had to do it for free, in their spare time, and take day jobs as waiters to support themselves?

Actually, I find the idea that some corporate lawyers would do their current work for free because they like it.. faintly disturbing. I have respect for lawyers, as with any other profession, but for some reason i find myself adding, "Yeah, I bet mass murderers would be happy to do it for free too."


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Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Come for an interview, plztnx"

This may be an employee's market, but that doesn't make the job hunt any fun. That said - I'm not particularly impressed by a comapany who called me down for an interview recently. Upon arriving, I was told that they had decided they wanted me for a different position than the one I had applied for.

Ok, it was similar enough that it wasn't such a stretch, but it was not necessarily something I would have applied for, would have required working in a different part of town, with decidedly different job prospects and environment.

Then again, perhaps I should have been tipped off by the HR person who called me the day before to confirm that I was coming down. Her opening line on the phone was, "Eh, this is X from the XYZ. You tomorrow coming down hor?"

The interview didn't inspire confidence either. I was asked two questions in total - and one of those questions was, "So, do you have any questions for us?"

The coupe de grace came as the interview wrapped up. "Oh, the person whom you'll be working under and hiring you isn't here, she's on holiday. If we shortlist you, you'll be asked to come for a second interview."

So why ask me to come down in the first place? I had to take leave for this. Gah.

I don't think they'll be calling me. I may cost too much. Am I an elitist?


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Monday, December 10, 2007

A teddy bear called Muhammad


A pretty cool article about the Muhammad teddybear incident in Sudan, by Arsalan Iftikhar, the contributing editor for Islamica magazine in Washington, D.C.

From the article:

While I was making the global network-television rounds during the Danish cartoon controversy a few years ago, it dawned on me that our human collective was going to continue having international crises every time some backward Muslim knucklehead irrationally reacted to global events somewhere.

Having been asked to explain virtually every kooky action performed by some criminal Muslims worldwide, I saw a new chapter added to the legacy of this sad phenomenon in recent weeks. This time, it was a story about a little teddy bear named Muhammad that lived in the deserts of the African nation of Sudan.

When the incident broke out, I was heartened by the number of commentators on the BBC Have Your Say article, who announced that they were Muslim, and now fully intended to name their next cat Muhammad just for kicks. Of course, there were those who felt very very strongly about it, and thought that the teacher should be lucky that she wasn't getting executed.

Of course, at the heart of it, the story was about culture, not Islam. As you know, Muslims are differents! Some wear scarfs, some belly button rings. Some booze it up, others go vegetarian. Sometimes they're all in the same family (ref: Egypt).

This was my impression of the reactions:

1. Muslims in countries with clear judicial systems and clear recourse to expressing displeasure, seem to feel that if the parents had felt so offended, they should have just asked the teacher to change the name.

2. Muslims in relatively first-world countries, where they were not the underclass, offered to name their next cat Muhammad.

3. Countries with a Muslim majority that had been former British colonies, dryly asked if there would have been a similar outcry if it was a local teacher.

4. Countries with a Muslim majority that had been former British colonies, and still suffering from the aftereffects, thought the world should stay out of this, and the teacher in question should thank her lucky stars that she wasn't executed.

The categories overlap, of course. They're not exact, and definitely not scientific. But to me, it seems to say once again, that the whole conflict had never been about religion. And if that's the case, why are Muslims worldwide on trial? And what's the point of thinking that moderate Muslim leaders will necessarily solve the problem? To Sudan, it's just another case of colonial imperialism.

I'm not saying that moderate Muslim leaders shouldn't bother to speak up. They still have a pull with Sudanese Muslim groups that most world leaders don't have. But at the end of it, the rest of us should stop passing the buck to religious organisations to "take responsibility" for their own, and acknowledge there's more to it. It's too simplistic - and oh yes - fundamentalist.

In the meantime, I agree with Arsalan Iftikhar:

Meanwhile, the world has had yet another chuckle at the expense of every Ali, Akbar and Ahmad out there.

Let me explain: I call this the "Ali, Akbar and Ahmad" phenomenon, which is comparable to the old adage about "Tom, Dick and Harry." To put it in proper context, I would say something like, "I am sick and tired of having to answer for every Ali, Akbar and Ahmad who does some idiotic thing around the world."

But alas, Ali, Akbar and Ahmad always come calling.

If I were given the opportunity, I would fly to the United Kingdom to offer Gillian Gibbons a peace offering. I would express my sadness for her ridiculous ordeal and humbly offer her a teddy bear to put a happy ending on this story.

And that teddy bear's name would be Muhammad.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Indians will rule the world - first stop, Lousiana

Indian-American wins in Lousiana

The US state of Louisiana has elected its first non-white governor, Bobby Jindal, since the 1870s.
Mr Jindal, 36, also becomes the youngest US governor and the first Indian-American to head a state.


Ah. That's why we need the GRC system, because clearly the minorities can't get ahead, and because the majority always votes along racial lines. This is despite David Marshall and JB Jeyaratnam getting in without racial hassle, or needing the minority quota on a group ticket.

Bobby Jindal managed it in Lousiana, and there's a Sikh mayor somewhere else. They're doing it in a country where there's an even lower population percentage of Indians than in Singapore. They manage to get representation.

So why do we need GRCs again?

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