Thursday, December 25, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Many Firefox users including myself have been complaining about slow, choppy scrolling when they visit certain websites. For example, with the recent redesign, ReCom has been scrolling pretty choppily for me. Another example is this forum and this university website.
Apparently, the slow scrolling is due to the presence of a fixed background image in the web page. In the case of ReCom, there is a fixed background blue gradient. For the second forum, it is the giant globe, and for the university website, it's the pretty orange intersecting lines.
Interestingly this problem doesn't affect all versions of Firefox and all machines in which Firefox is used. But if you happen to be one of the unfortunate users, fret not - a fix is just a click away! This is a bookmarklet you can drag to your bookmark folder or save as a bookmark (found here):
Whenever you visit a problematic website, just click on this Zap Background bookmarklet and the problem will be solved instantaneously! How does that work? Basically it just tells Firefox to stop displaying the problematic background, so it could scroll smoothly again.
If you don't want to click on the bookmarklet every single time, there are more methods you could employ that solve the problem once and for all but involve some tweaking:
1. If the problematic website is one that you visits regularly, you could tell Adblock (if you have it installed) to block the problematic background image altogether. To find out the URL of the background image, just right click on the background and "view background image". Then go to your Adblock setting to add the background image to the blocked item list.
2. A more drastic action is to disable static background image altogether in all websites. Visit this page for more instruction.
Enjoy the smoothness! :)
Monday, December 01, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
It's here again. After 18 weeks, this hectic semester has finally come to an end. I am going to have an exam on next Friday.
In our exams, there are going to be four stations, each one lasting for 9 minutes. In two of these, we are supposed to take a history from a patient who present with a complaint like a stomach ache. In another two of these, we will be asked to examine a certain body system of the patient. For all stations, we have to give our differential diagnoses i.e. possible diagnoses for whatever we found through history or examination.
After the exam, I will have three weeks in Melbourne, and then fly home. I am so looking forward to it. :) Till then, I might just have a break in this blog. See you later!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Yesterday I came across this article titled "Awake During Surgery" in MX during my ride home. A 24-year-old patient in Northern Territory of Australia woke up during gall bladder surgery, felt every single cut by the surgeon, but couldn't do anything because she was totally paralysed.
Read the news below.
Woman wakes up during surgeryAwareness during anaesthesia may sound like the worst nightmare to most people. Just imagine this. You are helplessly wired up like a spaceman outside a theatre, wheeled into the threatre full of fear of the unknown. Within minutes, the anaesthetist injects some anaesthetic agents into your body, and soon you drift into unconsciousness. Some time later, while you slowly return from the oblivion of anaesthesia, instead of having someone tell you "the operation was successful" like what you see in drama, you actually feel the surgeon cranking and churning your stomach and the anaesthetists discussing today's Sudoku puzzle. Worse, the surgeon might be commenting on your humongous intra-abdominal fat. You lie there, full of fear, wishing this is just a dream but it isn't. Worse, you couldn't move.
12:00 AEST Tue Nov 18 2008
By ninemsn staff
A Northern Territory woman has endured a nightmare operation at Alice Springs Hospital after she became conscious during stomach surgery but remained paralysed by the anaesthetic.
Rebecca Jones, 24, told the Northern Territory News she could feel every cut of the surgeon's knife during the operation last month but was unable to scream for help as the anaesthesia had paralysed her.
Ms Jones, who was being operated on for gallstones, said she could not open her eyes but could hear and feel everything.
"I thought the doctors had woken me up because the surgery was over — I quickly realised that was not the case," she was quoted by the Northern Territory News as saying.
Ms Jones realised her predicament when she took a breath and found she couldn’t move, but eventually moved her hand to get the attention of surgery staff — to no avail.
"(Someone) said, 'she's just moved her hand' but they kept going," she said.
The hospital's general manager Vicki Taylor admitted to the NT News that Ms Jones had been awake during the operation but denied medical staff knew of her pain.
Ms Jones is now considering legal action against the hospital.
Everyday awareness during anaesthesia is experienced by about 100 people in the theatre in US alone. Having had some experience with anaesthesia (I spent one year doing a research in the Anaesthesia department), I am glad I have never come across any horror stories in the theatre. While horror stories like this may deter some people from ever having a surgery in the future, allow me to allay your fear by assuring you that this is very uncommon (only 1 in 1000), and you shouldn't feel any pain even if you wake up.
In the theatre, here are a few things that anesthesiologists / anaesthetists could rely on as an indicator of patient's anesthesia status (from the trivial to the more technical):
1. Patient is not moving. But this is not reliable especially when the patient is given muscle relaxant, as is the case for abdominal surgery like in this woman.
2. Patient's vital signs are not showing sympathetic outflow (BP, heart rate, sweating etc). This could possibly be masked by the other drugs given during surgery. Even if the vital sign changes are noted, it could have simply be perceived as an autonomic reaction towards pain, and interpreted as inadequate analgesia. (Yes your body still react to pain when you are under GA). So the anesthesiologist could have simply given her more IV analgesics instead of checking her consciousness status.
3. The concentration of the volatile agent (gas used to put you under) in the lung, called MAC (minimum alveolar concentration). In most modern hospitals, this is continuously monitored through the anesthetic monitor. Judging from the concentration of volatile agent PLUS opioid analgesics PLUS/MINUS other sedatives (sometimes used), the anesthesiologists have a good indication of whether the patient *should be* asleep.
The problem with this method is that sometimes people have idiosyncratic reaction or tolerance towards particular types of agents, so while statistically a particular combination of MAC and opioid and midazolam could anesthetize 99.99% population, there's no telling who that 0.01% is going to be.
4. Last but not least, an optional (but expensive) monitoring called BIS is used to detect the "brain activity" during anesthesia. This is a series of electrodes attached to the forehead to monitor the electroencephalography (EEG, the "brainwave"). It gives a number from 0 to 100 which roughly translates to the spectrum of consciousness from total brain silence to fully awake. It is not used all the time because of the cost, occasional inaccuracy and the fact that the monitoring above (3) is deemed sufficient.
Regardless of all monitoring and precaution, awareness during anesthesia is a recognised complication during surgery, which, although minimizable, is not 100% preventable. In addition to the idiosyncratic responses mentioned above, in certain surgeries (e.g. in major trauma, elderly patients or pregnant woman) the anesthesiologists in fact go for minimal anesthesia due to their fragile cardiovascular system. So in these population there is a higher risk of awareness, but even for them the risk is about one in a few hundred operations.
Anesthesiologists routinely inform the patients about the risk of awareness when they give consent for the operation. Therefore, though the lady endured a horrifying experience, as long as the anesthesiologists did not make any mistake, she could have simply been unlucky and has no case to make against the doctors.
So go ahead and have your surgeries if you need them. You *should be* in good hands (if you *are* in good hands).
Image Credit: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/article899011.ece
Monday, November 17, 2008
Me: Is there any disease that runs in the family?
Patient: Ya some angina.
Me: Your parents?
Patient: Ya mum died of some angina.
Me: Did she have actual heart attacks?
Patient: I think so. Died of heart attack when she was 59.
Me: What about your dad?
Patient: Died of old age.
Me: How old was he?
Patient: I think he was about 85.
Me: Ahh ok. You have other siblings?
Patient: No, no kids.
Me: Oh what about your own siblings, brothers and sisters?
Me: Ah okay you are the only child.
Me: So are you married?
Patient: Irrelevant. Next question!
Me: =.=" Oh sorry. Eerm, who do you live...
Patient: Sorry I am a bit tired.
Me: Oh alright, thanks for spending time with me.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
One and a half hours were how long it took to stop the bleeding
I should cut slower next time.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
1/800s - f/7.1 - 50mm - ISO 100
Werribee Open Range Zoo, Victoria
Little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth.
For a crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures,
and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.
- Francis Bacon
Monday, November 03, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
So I was in the theatre another day with an anaesthetic doctor. The doctor was a very enthusiastic and informative teacher. He was good looking too, but of course that's not a huge concern for me.
This is a rather informal kind of learning environment, so we kind of just touch on random topics about anesthesia as the doctor goes on doing his stuff. That patient in the theatre was having an appendicectomy (removal of appendix in appendicitis), and he was given a general anaesthesia together with muscle relaxant to aid the operation. The muscle relaxant works by paralysing all skeletal muscles in the body, but there is one problem: they could wear off. So how do you tell when to top up some muscle relaxant? There is a very simple trick they use - they shock the nerves and look at the muscles jerk in response to the electric pulses. In this particular case, the doctor attached the wire next to the patient's right eye, and the eye muscle flickered when the electric was delivered.
As I was watching the doctor shock the patient's eye, curiosity had the better of me.
Me: "Just wondering, if you do this on a conscious patient, will they hurt?"
Doctor: "What do you think? Do you want to try?"
Doctor: * Take the wire off the patient, and attach it to my right forearm *
Nerve Stimulator: * TICK TICK TICK TICK *
OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH. It hurts. Thank you doc.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Atheism is the lack of belief in God. Historically, this religion has always been despised, criticised and demonised in almost every single civilisation. A position frequently associated with the likes of Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Hitler, today this belief is common amongst hedonistic youths with no greater purpose in life except to seize the momentary enjoyment. They don't believe in God either out of pure rebellion, or because they try to look cool by subscribing to some so-called New Age philosophy. Those people fear no God, and they fear no one. They are the morally corrupt.
I am an atheist. (Gasp) Or to be precise, I am an agnostic inclined towards the atheist position. (Scratch head)
Today I am writing a case for atheism. I am not prosetylising this religion, neither am I shoving you the belief of why atheism is "the truth". Heck, I am not even 100% sure that there is no God. Nevertheless, today I attempt to make a case for atheism, a case for its "believers", and most importantly, a case for why atheism is a totally reasonable and acceptable worldview, one to which no connotation of immorality should be attached.
To begin my little spiel, I invite you to read this letter published in today's The Age:
To Jenny Ejlak, Parkville (Letters, 19/10). Many millions of people were killed in Russia, China and Cambodia for opposing the religion of the ruling elite. That religion was, of course, the religion of atheism. Read Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot, whose atheist faith influenced their politics.At the first glance, one might be tempted to cheer for the eloquence and power with which this letter devastates the atheist belief. After all, haven't we all witnessed the outrageous evil by these leaders in the history? How could atheists even begin to defend themselves, when these murderers' atrocity is indefensible by any yardstick of morality? Does morality still mean anything when there is no superior being to fear? Where did morality come from in the first place?
That's not to mention Hitler, who implemented the evolutionary doctrine of eugenics. Many presume atheism or agnosticism to be neutral positions, which they are not.
Religion is always involved in politics because you can't separate people from their world view, which is decided by their position of faith. Most of the healthiest democracies today are in countries that have a Judeo Christian heritage and support rather than suppress that faith.
ROBERT PRENTICE, Forest Hill
These are the questions atheists have to answer before they engage in any further conversation. I invite you to stay with me as I elaborate on it in the future.
[to be continued...]
Sunday, October 19, 2008
In this troubled time, this is one of the few stories that actually make sense.
Once upon a time in a village, a man appeared and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each. The villagers seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them. The man bought thousands at $10 and, as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort. He further announced that he would now buy monkeys at $20 each. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.Thanks to bluez for showing me the light.
Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer increased to $25 each and the supply of monkeys became so scarce it was an effort to even find a monkey, let alone catch it! The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50 each! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy on behalf of him.
In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers. “Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has already collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $50 each.” The villagers rounded up with all their savings and bought all the monkeys.
Then they never saw the man nor his assistant again, only lots and lots of monkeys! Now you have a better understanding of how the stock market works.
Apart from my rambling about IndoMie Mi Goreng recipe, I have never blogged much about food. I am not too much of a food photographer, but I do appreciate the beauty in the food brought out by good food photographers like Jian Wey. Here go a few random food pictures in the past few months:
Smoked salmon at Hanging Rock Cafe, Macedonian Range. Nice food at an affordable price.
A cake we bought from Brunetti for Freda and Thow Kong's birthday.
Ying Thai 2, one of the most famous Thai Food restaurants on Lygon Street.
Roasted chestnut on Swanston Street.
The Coffee Club - taken a moment before I spilled the whole glass.
Lemon chicken rice in China Bar.
Rice Bar - Not only rice (yes that's the full name of the restaurant).
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Just to introduce you something I found quite interesting - The Eyeballing Game.
The game works by showing you a series of geometries that need to be adjusted a little bit to make them right. A square highlights the point that needs to be moved or adjusted. Use the mouse to drag the blue square or arrowhead where you feel it is 'right'. Once you let go of the mouse, the computer evaluates your move.
Without using any aids, my highest score after five tries is 2.72 although the other scores are around 4. Have a go at it. :)
Monday, October 13, 2008
Something interesting for everyone - pee shiver, piss shiver, or whatever you want to name it.
Let me be the first voter - I chose option 1. Feel free to chip in your two cents in the comment section too! Let's keep this poll open for one week or two, and I shall let you in the good bit later. :D
Dedicated to Jie Ni, my childhood friend :P
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I am sure many of you would have already seen it somewhere, but for those who haven't seen it, here you go.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Thank you Alvin.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Something else we have in common: flying on the airlines, and listening to the airlines’ announcements, and trying to pretend to ourselves that the language they’re using is really English. Doesn’t seem like it to me.George Carlin, one of the greatest comedians of all time. Passed away earlier this year. RIP.
Whole thing starts when you get to the gate. First announcement: “We would like to begin the boarding process.” Extra word, ‘process,’ not necessary, ‘boarding’ is enough. “We’d like to begin the boarding.” Simple, tells the story. People add extra words when they want things to sound more important than they really are. ‘Boarding process.’ Sounds important. It isn’t. It’s just a bunch of people getting on an airplane.
People like to sound important. Weathermen on television talk about ‘shower activity.’ Sounds more important than ‘showers.’ I even heard one guy on CNN talk about a ‘rain event.’ Swear to God, he said, “Louisiana’s expecting a rain event,” I thought, “Holy shit, I hope I can get tickets to that!”
‘Emergency situation.’ Newspeople like to say, “Police have responded to an emergency situation.” No they haven’t. They’ve responded to an emergency. We know it’s a situation, everything is a situation.
Anyway, as part of this ‘boarding process,’ they say, “We would like to pre-board.” Well, what exactly is that, anyway? What does it mean to ‘pre-board’, you get on before you get on?
That’s another complaint of mine: too much use of this prefix ‘pre-,’ it’s all over the language now, ‘pre-’ this, ‘pre-’ that. “Place the turkey in a pre-heated oven.” That’s ridiculous, there’s only two states an oven can possibly exist in, heated or un-heated! ‘Pre-heated’ is a meaningless fucking term. It’s like ‘pre-recorded,’ “this program was pre-recorded,” well of course it was pre-recorded, when else are you gonna record it, afterwards? That’s the whole purpose of recording, to do it beforehand. Otherwise, it doesn’t really work, does it?
‘Pre-existing,’ ‘pre-planning,’ ‘pre-screening.’ You know what I tell these people? “Pre-suck my genital situation!” And, they seem to understand what I’m talking about.
Anyway, as part of this ‘pre-boarding,’ they say, “We would like to pre-board those passengers traveling with small children.” Well, what about those passengers traveling with large children? Suppose you have a two-year-old with a pituitary disorder? You know, a six-foot infant with an oversized head. The kinda kid you see in the National Enquirer all the time. Actually, with a kid like that I think you’re better off checking him right in with your luggage at the curb, don’t you? Well, they like it under there, it’s dark, they’re used to that.
About this time, someone is telling you to get on the plane, “get on the plane, get on the plane,” I say, “Fuck you, I’m getting in the plane! In the plane! Let Evil Knievel get on the plane, I’ll be in here with you folks in uniform. There seems to be less wind in here!”
They might tell you you’re on a non-stop flight. Well, I don’t think I care for that. No, I insist that my flight stop! Preferably at an airport! It’s those sudden, unscheduled cornfield and housing development stops that seem to interrupt the flow of my day.
Here’s one they just made up: ‘near miss.’ When two planes almost collide, they call it a ‘near miss.’ It’s a near hit! A collision is a near miss! (Crunch) “Look, they nearly missed.” Yes, but not quite!
They might tell you your flight has been delayed because of a ‘change of equipment.’ Broken plane.
They tell me to put my seat back forward. Well I don’t bend that way! If I could put my seat back forward I’d be in porno movies!
Then they mention ‘carry-on luggage.’ The first time I heard ‘carry-on’ I thought they were going to bring a dead deer on board. I thought, “what the hell do they need with that, don’t they have the little TV dinners anymore?” Then I thought, “carry-on, carry-on, there’s going to be a party, people are going to be carrying on on the plane!”
Well, I don’t care for that, I like a serious attitude on the plane, especially on the ‘flight deck’. Which is the latest euphamism for ‘cockpit!’ Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to use a lovely word like ‘cockpit,’ can you? Especially with all those stewardess going in and out of it all the time!
There’s one, there’s a word that’s changed: ‘stewardess,’ first it was ‘hostess,’ then ‘stewardess,’ now it’s ‘flight attendant.’ Know what I call ‘em? ‘The lady on the plane.’ Sometimes it’s a man on the plane, now, that’s good, equality, I’m all in favor of that. Sometimes, they actually refer to these people as ‘uniformed crewmembers.’ ‘Uniformed,’ as opposed to that guy sitting next to you in the Grateful Dead t-shirt and the ‘Fuck You’ hat — who’s working on his ninth little bottle of Kaluha, I might add!
As soon as they close the door to the aircraft, that’s when they begin the Safety Lecture. I love the Safety Lecture. This is my favorite part of the airplane ride. I listen very carefully to the Safety Lecture, especially that part where they teach us how to use: the seatbelts.
Imagine this, here we are, a plane full of grown human beings, many of us partially educated, and they’re actually taking time out to describe the intricate workings of a belt buckle! “Place the small metal flap into the buckle.” Well, I ask for clarification at that point! “Over here, please, over here, yes, thank you very much. Did I hear you correctly? Did you say, ‘place the small metal flap into the buckle,’ or, ‘place the buckle over and around the small metal flap?’ I’m a simple man, I do not posses an engineering degree, nor am I mechanically inclined. Sorry to have taken up so much of your time, please continue with the wonderful Safety Lecture.”
Seatbelt. High-tech shit!
The Safety Lecture continues. The next thing they do, they tell you to locate your nearest Emergency Exit. I do this immediately. I locate my nearest Emergency Exit, and then I plan my route. You have to plan your route, it’s not always a straight line, is it? Sometimes there’s a really big fat fuck sitting right in front of you. Well, you know you’ll never get over him.
I look around for women and children, midgets and dwarves, cripples, war widows, paralyzed veterans, people with broken legs, anyone who looks like they can’t move too well — the emotionally disturbed come in very handy at a time like this. You might have to go out of your way to find these people, but you’ll get out of the plane a lot goddamn quicker, believe me.
I say, “Let’s see. I’ll go around the fat fuck, step on the widow’s head, push those children out of the way, knock down the paralyzed midget, and get out of the plane where I can help others.” I can be of no help to anyone if I’m lying unconscious in the aisle with some big cocksucker standing on my head. I must get out of the plane, go to a nearby farmhouse, have a Dr. Pepper, and call the police.
The Safety Lecture continues. “In the unlikely event….” This is a very suspect phrase. Especially coming, as it does, from an industry that is willing to lie about arrival and departure times. “In the unlikely event of a sudden change in cabin pressure —” Roof flies off! “— an oxygen mask will drop down in front of you. Place the mask over your face and breathe normally.”
Well, I have no problem with that. I always breathe normally when I’m in a six-hundred mile an hour uncontrolled vertical dive. I also shit normally — right in my pants!
They tell you to adjust your oxygen mask before helping your child with his. I did not need to be told that. In fact, I’m probably going to be too busy screaming to help him at all! This will be a good time for him to learn self-reliance! If he can program his fucking VCR, he can goddamn jolly well learn to adjust an oxygen mask! Fairly simple thing, just a little rubber band around the back is all it is. Not nearly as complicated as, say, for instance, a seatbelt.
The Safety Lecture continues. “In the unlikely event of a water landing….” Well what exactly is a ‘water landing?’ Am I mistaken, or does this sound somewhat similar to crashing into the ocean? “Your seat cushion can be used as a floatation device.” Well, imagine that. My seat cushion! Just what I need — to float around the North Atlantic for several days clinging to a pillow full of beer farts!
The flight continues, a little later on toward the end, we hear, “The Captain has turned on the ‘Fasten Seatbelt’ sign.” Well who gives a shit who turned it on? What does that have to do with anything? It’s on, isn’t it? And who made this man a ‘Captain,’ might I ask? Did I sleep through some sort of an armed forces swearing-in ceremony or something? ‘Captain,’ he’s a fucking pilot, and let him be happy with that! If those sight-seeing announcements are any mark of his intellect, he’s lucky to be working at all! “Tell the ‘Captain,’ Air Marshall Carlin says, ‘Go fuck yourself!’”
The next sentence I hear is full of things that piss me off. “Before leaving the aircraft, please check around your immediate seating area for any personal belongings you might have brought on board.”
Well. Let’s start with ‘immediate seating area.’ Seat! It’s a goddamned seat! “Check around your seat!”
“…for any personal belongings….” Well what other kinds of belongings are there besides personal? Public belongings? Do these people honestly think I might be traveling with a fountain I stole from the park?
“…you might have brought on board.” Well, I might have brought my arrowhead collection. I didn’t, so I’m not going to look for it! I’m going to look for things I brought on board! It would seem to enhance the likelihood of my finding something, wouldn’t you say?
Tell me to return my seat back and tray table to their original upright positions? Fine, who’s going to return this guy in the Grateful Dead t-shirt and the ‘Fuck You’ hat to his original upright position?
About this time, they tell you you’ll be landing shortly. That sound to anybody like we’re gonna miss the runway? ‘Final approach’ is not very promising either, is it? ‘Final’ is not a good word to be using on an airplane. Sometimes the pilot will get on, he’ll say, “we’ll be on the ground in fifteen minutes.” Well, that’s a little vague, isn’t it?
Now we’re taxiing in, she says, “Welcome to O’Hare International Airport.” Well how can someone who is just arriving herself possibly welcome me to a place she isn’t even at yet? Doesn’t this violate some fundamental law of physics? We’re only on the ground four seconds, and she’s coming on like the fucking mayor’s wife!
“…where the local time….” Well of course it’s the local time, what did you think we were expecting, the time in Pango-Pango?
“…enjoy your stay in Chicago, or whever your final destination might be.” All destinations are final. That’s what it means, destiny, final. If you haven’t gotten where you’re going, you aren’t there yet!
“The Captain has asked….” More shit from the bogus ‘Captain.’ You know, for someone who’s supposed to be flying an airplane, he’s taking a mighty big interest in what I’m doing back here. “…that you remain seated until he has brought the aircraft to a complete stop.” Not a partial stop — ‘cause during a partial stop, I partially get up.
“Continue to observe the ‘No Smoking’ sign until well inside the terminal.” It’s physically impossible to observe the ‘No Smoking’ sign even if you’re standing just outside the door of the airplane! Much less well inside the terminal! You can’t even see the fucking planes from well inside the terminal!
Which brings me to ‘terminal.’ Another unfortunate word to be used in association with air travel. And they use it all over the airport, don’t they? Somehow, I just can’t get hungry at a place called the ‘Terminal Snack Bar.’ But if you’ve ever eaten there, you know it is an appropriate name.
p/s: Sorry Jasmine, instead of a photoblog, this is becoming a "random video blog" instead. :P
Monday, October 06, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
I have blogged about it before, but I don't think a good thing can ever be shared more than it should be. Behold the Pale Blue Dot, one of the most famous astronomy pictures of all time.
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem like any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider that little dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you loved, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there's no hint that help could come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes; settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
What does it feel like to have a stroke? No one can tell the experience better than Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. A brain scientist by profession, one day she woke up with a pounding headache, and over a few hours she felt her mind deserting her slowly but inexorably. Immediately she knew she had a stroke. She tried to call for help, but she couldn't - she lost the ability to talk.
Nine years later, she stood forward and gave an inspiring lecture in the TED conference. It's tremendously insightful and touching at the same time. Towards the end I kind of felt that she's getting excessively emotional and pretentious - but probably that's only because I can't empathise what she's been through.
This is a video you don't want to miss. If you have 18 minutes to spare, you will not regret watching it.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Note: This is modified from a post in ReCom.
Racism is the national conversation topic in Malaysia. Everyday we talk about racism, and some of us (hopefully not all) let out racist rants to the like-minded audience. In fact, "Do you think everyone is a racist" is often a good conversation starter when we run out of a topic in a gathering. And as you might expect, most people would answer "yes" to this question. However, I beg to differ. In my opinion, before we decide who's racist and who's not, it's important for us to have a good discussion about what constitutes "racism".
After all these years discussing about racism in ReCom and in real life, I have come to make the observation that the whole issue is muddied by the fact that almost everyone has drastically different yardsticks on the boundaries of racism. What is considered racism by me may sound perfectly innocuous to you; and vice versa.
For example, consider these examples:
- "Indians are among the poorest in Malaysia"
- "In general, Chinese do the best academically in Malaysia"
- "Malays are becoming lazier due to NEP"
If you ask me, I would say all three lines above ARE NOT racist. Yes they categorise according to races and make a sweeping generalisation about it, but these lines per se do not cast any prejudice and are NOT discriminatory. In fact, if you ask any rational person on the street, all three lines are as factual as "Obese people die earlier than the rest of us". Therefore these lines are as much racist as saying obese people die earlier makes me a weight-ist.
At this point you might wonder that given the lenient boundary I draw for racism, nothing much can be considered racism anymore and the whole discussion would be moot. However, that would be inaccurate. Off my mind, I can think of a few outright racist examples:
- "HAHAHA, look at those Indian kids, they are so dark I don't think we can even see them at night!!"
- "Chinese robbed the land and opportunity from us, and they should either be satisfied with what they have or go back to Tongsan"
- "Malays are annoying"
I would just end my little spiel here with one addition - ascribing a character to someone based on race without ascertaining the person itself, IS racist and foolish. For example, "You are Malay so you are lazy" is racist. That might sound obvious, but if you take a good look around, you would see just how many people do that on a regular basis. In this case, you would then have a good reason to think you are a racist.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
It was Mid-Autumn and the moon was full*.
So we played lanterns.
A few of us gathered in my house,
to see me play.
Okay not really.
After lighting up the lanterns and playing with the fire,
we went out for a walk carrying lanterns with a myriad of colours.
As we were chit-chatting and doing our round of parade, some local residents opened their door and peeked at us curiously. Some pedestrians detoured from our path. Judging by the looks we got, I think some of them must have thought we are a bunch of possible arsonists. :P
Along the way we stopped for pictures, including some with flash,
and some without flash.
Some from a distance,
Lanterns are just a small aspect of what Mid-Autumn Festival is about. Conspicuously missing in this series of picture are boxes of mooncake due to the speed at which they were devoured in my house. Mid-Autumn Festival is the event for the reunion of the family, and for friendship. We had quite a simple event, but it was unique and meaningful as many of us are going to part our ways in the future in a few months time. Until next time...
* It was actually the day before the full moon when we took the pictures.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
So I went to Fiesta Malaysia, an event in Federation Square, Melbourne held in conjunction with the National Day of Malaysia.
And I went home.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
A very intense but educational video. Watch it - this is two minutes that could save your life. Or the life of someone you love.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Get your own here!
(Sorry for being so nonsensical for the last few days. I am bored)
If you thought Chrome was the coolest thing you have seen in a while, think again. Enter Ubiquity, Firefox's latest experimental feature:
Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.
An instantaneous blow-away for me.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
- Download Google Chrome
- Overview of Google Chrome
- Comic - The story behind Google Chrome (a bit technical but strongly recommended)
And now, time for a quick review after two hours of browsing with Chrome! My apologies in advance for the occasional technical remarks that might be boring to you.
My overall feeling for Chrome is that it's a stripped-down version of Firefox plus the Webkit (Safari) rendering engine plus some Opera designs (the tabs on top, the start page etc). And oh ya, the incognito (private) browsing from IE8.
The design and browsing experience feels so much like Firefox, at times I even forget that I am in a different browser. The only time the difference shows is when the webpage rendering differs from my expectation, e.g. the big "B" in my ReCom signature (it's small in Firefox but big in IE and Safari), or the chatbox in ReCom.
I can't help but to sense the irony in seeing Chrome as a stripped-down version of Firefox: Firefox was the stripped-down version of Mozilla suite when it first began before it gained all its fancy bells and whistles and when the bloat and memory complaints began to pour in. And now with Chrome, I can't help but to ask whether we are going through another cycle of "strip down and bloat over time" process again. In the few hours that Chrome is released, I have already seen discussion threads in various places asking for this and that feature to be added to Chrome. Eerm.
Of course no review of Chrome would be justified without mentioning its multi-threaded processing feature. So far I haven't seen any obvious advantage or problems from this distinct programming approach, and I think it will take time before we could ascertain the difference this will make.
Now for the minuses. The lack of extensibility is first sorely felt with the reappearance of advertisements throughout the Internet. ReCom, Digg, Sinchew and so on. After using adblock in Firefox all the while, I have grown so unfamiliar with what ads look like. Apart from the adblock, there are other features that I would sorely miss including Greasemonkey, Forecastfox, Answers.com extension, and hey, the very new and cool Ubiquity from Mozilla Lab! Now there are rumours that Chrome may eventually allow extensibility, but to what extent this will affect its speed, stability and the "streamlined-ness" remains a contentious topic.
There are also some problems with scrolling. The lack of smooth scrolling is quite detrimental to the browsing experience - and hey, talk about things we take for granted in Firefox, IE, Opera etc.
Last but definitely not least: what the hell happened to RSS support?
UPDATE: After one hour of usage, Google Chrome crashed for no obvious reason. Unfortunately, it did not live up to its "kill one tab, save the whole browser" claim - the whole browser had to be ended and restarted.
Overall, Google Chrome provided an excellent albeit slightly-limited browsing experience for me, and considering that it's the first public beta version, I would give it a score of 9.5 out of 10. However, for the time being I will still stay with Firefox due to the reasons listed above and my familiarity with this beloved browser. :)
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Boon Phiaw and I in Fiesta Malaysia at Federation Square
Saturday, August 23, 2008
This post is a pseudo-continuation of a previous post.
Do you know that an athlete's astrological sign is correlated to his or her achievement in the Olympic Games? After comparing the birthdates of every Olympic winner since the modern Games began in 1896, a statistician discovered gold medals really are written in the stars. And the news is published in Reuters, one of the most recognised news agency in the world!
Now, if you have some five minutes to spare, go ahead and read the news article in Reuters. Ponder about it for a while, and take a stand on the issue. Then read this reply in Good Math, Bad Math.
You would be amazed by just how easily we could be misled by abused probability, especially when it comes from some crackpot "authority" and published in the mainstream media.
Man who run in front of car get tired.
Man who run behind car get exhausted.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
When Lee Chong Wei beat Lee Hyun Il and booked himself a place in the Olympics final, Malaysians were swept by overwhelming joy. At Mamak stalls throughout Malaysia, Malays, Chinese and Indians cheered in unison, "Malaysia Boleh, Chong Wei Boleh!". Everyone thought that after all these years we were gonna win a gold medal. Everyone felt so good.
Fast forward to the first few minutes of the final. Malaysians watched in horror as Lee Chong Wei trailed Lin Dan 1-7 within the first few minutes of the final. Our hopes faltered, but deep inside we wished that he could come back and win the game. However, as the game progressed, the frustration sank in as we watched on. By the time Lee Chong Wei was trailing 0-8 in the second set, all hope had vanished. Disappointment was etched on the face of Chong Wei, Misbun, and all Malaysians.
As Chong Wei failed to return the last ball and Lin Dan collapsed to the floor, Malaysia went quiet. In less than an hour, Lee Chong Wei was demolished by Lin Dan in the Olympics final by 12-21, 8-21.
Malaysia lost after all.
Malaysia tak boleh after all.
Chong Wei didn't deliver. After all.
As an emotional Lin Dan gave his rounds of salute to the enthusiastic spectators, here in Melbourne, I turned off the live stream on my computer, and the disappointed crowd in my room dispersed. I started to reflect on the game.
Why do we feel down? As Malaysians, aren't we already immune to bad news after all these years? It's not like it's the first time our hopes were cut short in the Badminton finals. It's also not like this is the only, or the biggest bad news in the past week or two. Does anyone still remember the biggest news in Malaysia before the Olympic Games? Apart from Anwar, his bid in Permatang Pauh and the national obsession with Sodomology, can you recall any other major incident in the past week?
This particular news comes to mind: UiTM students protest against suggestion to open doors to non-Bumis. In my country, there's this special single-race university that accepts only students of indigenous origin. A State Premier from the opposition party suggested that the university take 10% students from non-indigenous origin, presumably to improve the integration between races and improve the academic quality of the university. The suggestion was immediately met with vigorous objection from some of the indigenous students. These people think that the Chinese and Indians (make up 35% of Malaysian population) will encroach into their constitutionally-protected special rights by taking up 10% seats in the university. The non-indigenous people, it seems, are the rival of indigenous people in my country.
It is quite sad, really. In any decent country, any university that accepts only students of particular origin will have been censured for outright Apartheid. But in a country where non-indigenous citizens are seen as "them" on regular basis, the existence of such a university seems so natural, or even justifiable to everyone. After three to four generations, the non-indigenous who are born in Malaysia are still "them", and will never become part of "us".
That brings me back to Lee Chong Wei.
When Lee Chong Wei became a Gold-Medalist hopeful, I was intrigued as to what will happen if he went on and win Malaysia's first Olympic Gold medal amidst the UiTM protests. Would those students lament that it's a non-indigenous medal? Would they feel that the medal is of less value? Would they even remember, amongst their celebration, that the medal is won by a non-indigenous Malaysian?
The picture at the top of this article kind of gave us the answer to all that. Time and again, Badminton has united our country without even us knowing. I can still remember what I saw when Malaysia participated in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. A group of Malay students brought flags and wore national team costumes to support the Badminton team - which entirely consisted of Chinese players. This time around, I read reports of how Malays, Chinese and Indians watched the semi-final together and celebrated the victory at the Mamak stalls. I read of how Malays, Chinese and Indian came together and commiserate, lament, console or even curse Lee Chong Wei for the tame loss.
Then I thought. Aren't we united when we watch badminton? Haven't we all forgotten about skin colours, when we placed our hope on Lee Chong Wei throughout his fateful Olympic journey? When he lost, aren't we all thinking "Malaysia lost", instead of "Malaysian Chinese lost"?
That, my friends, is national unity and national identity. National unity is not a tourism show where a Malay, a Chinese and an Indian girl pose and wave at the cameramen. National identity is not having a homogenised society where everyone speaks a single language at the top fluency. It is actually quite simpler - national identity is when Lee Chong Wei hugs Misbun and kiss the flag, and everyone is moved because "WE won".
So, Lee Chong Wei lost. But even in defeat, I thank him for giving me a feeble glint of hope in the country. Yes, we still do not quite believe in our country and its people, and yes, this article probably come across as a naive outlook on the harsh reality in Malaysia. However, through his journey, Lee Chong Wei gave us at least something to hold on to and build on.
And I reckon the footage of Mamak stall spectators makes the best advertisement for Hari Merdeka.
Monday, August 11, 2008
It has been speculated by many people that Morgan Freeman, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan are the very same person who manages to quickly switch identities.Can you tell who is who? They don't exactly look alike when you put the three pictures together, but come to think of it, indeed I always thought they exude the same aura with their smiles. And the silvery hairs too. In fact, the middle guy totally copied the hairstyle and facial-hairstyle of the person on the left.
- via Uncyclopedia - Morgan Freeman