Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hari Merdeka 2008

IMG_1849-2 (by changyang1230)
Boon Phiaw and I in Fiesta Malaysia at Federation Square


Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Abused Probability (4)

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

Of Lee Chong Wei and My Country

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


Kofi Annan (by changyang1230)MorganFreeman (by changyang1230)nelson-mandela-2a (by changyang1230)
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.

- via Uncyclopedia - Morgan Freeman
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.


Friday, August 08, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympics

After the setback of Tibet unrest, Sichuan Earthquake, pollution and various concerns, the 2008 Olympics is set to kick off in 7 hours from now! Although life is getting increasingly hectic for me, I am definitely not going to miss out on this biggest sports event in the world. If only I could think of ways to sneak in TV times in between studies, sleep and studies in the coming two weeks. :P

So let's talk about the opening ceremony. One thing that I found amusing about the opening ceremony is the list of heads of state in the attendant list - including some who said they were going to "boycott" the opening ceremony. In particular, there is this subliminal hypocrisy by Mr. Nicolas Sarcozy the French President.

It's said that Jay Chou, Sarah Brightman and Celine Dion will be among the celebrities who will perform at the opening ceremony. I am not sure how well Jay Chou will do in front of billions of TV spectators, but I wish him all the best.

Naturally, we are all interested in finding out who's going to light the Olympic flame. For me, the obvious options include Liu Xiang (the 110m hurdle gold medalist in Athens, previous World Record holder) and Yao Ming (reportedly one of the most recognised Chinese face in the world). But Yao Ming is apparently the flagbearer of the parade ceremony, so there goes the chance of his earning this great honour. Meanwhile, I am guessing that with the recent earthquake, it's possible that some heroic survivors could be chosen for the role as well. While those people would have been the ideal choice, given the previous flame lighters (read here), I am thinking that having the Dalai Lama light the flame would be far more interesting.

Azizul Hasni Awang, the Malaysian cyclist will be our flag bearer. Interestingly, Malaysia will be the 10th country to appear in the parade of nations, due to the appearance order being arranged by the number of strokes of the first Chinese character in the nation's Chinese name. Malaysia is 马来西亚, and with 3 strokes in 马, we earned our 10th place quite easily. Australia will be near the very end, because 澳大利亚 has a pretty complicated first word with 15 characters. :D

Let the Olympics begin!


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My Mi Goreng Recipe

I have a little recipe for Mi Goreng, and no, I am not talking about fried noodle in Malay Language. I am talking about the internationally acclaimed instant noodle by IndoMie® Pt Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk, Jakarta 14430, Indonesia.

Yup this IndoMie Mi Goreng.
Well you might think, just about every single Tom or Dick in this world knows how to cook IndoMie. Just boil some water, put the noodle in, wait a few minutes until it's cooked, drain the noodles, mix in the MSG-rich sachets, and an instant delicacy awaits.


While I followed the instruction throughout the years to the last fine print, I have always felt that the noodle is a bit too stretchy to my liking. Some "elastic tendon" kind of feel. And the MSGs never felt thick enough, not salty and sweet enough. I know this sounds so unhealthy, but really, who can resist Indomie once they try their first serve in their lives? :P

So last year, when I had Indomie one day, what happened was I sort of put together a better tasting version of Indomie. It is springy but not stretchy, and the flavouring simply tasted superb to me. Thick, sweet and salty. Or put shortly, there was simply nothing more you could ask for in a pack of instant noodle. I have been cooking IndoMie this way since.

And today, I am going to share my favourite recipe:
  1. Cook noodles (obviously)

  2. Without any delay, proceed to prepare all the flavouring sachets (except the fried onion) in the bowl. The plastic sachets must be cut using scissors instead of tearing by hand. This is essential for the timing and to prevent dirtying your clothes.

  3. Proceed immediately to drain the noodle thoroughly with a kitchen sieve. Do the first two seconds of sieving under running cold water.

  4. Mix the noodle thoroughly with the flavouring in the bowl.

  5. Sprinkle the fried onion on top.

  6. Devour the fantastic Mi Goreng!
It seems that the time spent by the noodle in the boiling water is essential to the success of getting springy, half-tender noodle. Your mileage may vary, and so is your tastebud. So find what's best for you, and enjoy!

Disclaimer: I have not been eating IndoMie as much as I used to. I don't think I have even eaten one box yet this year; while in the first year I used to have enough to be used as lecture note containers. Please consume IndoMie moderately and responsibly! :D

p/s: In fact in the talk page of the Indomie Wikipedia article, there are even some creative cooking methods involving some other additional flavours and ingredients. :P Indomie fans rejoice!


Monday, August 04, 2008

Great Ocean Road (2)

Continued from here.
IMG_7264 (by changyang1230)
While the lightstation might make a great destination for historians; we didn't find it too appealing as we were not particularly interested in naval or telecommunication history.

IMG_7300 (by changyang1230)
So we just wandered about the site with our photography equipments. Yes that's camera backpacks and tripods you are seeing here. And a huge white lens, for those who know what it is.

IMG_7295 (by changyang1230)
After taking a few shots of some interesting stuffs,

IMG_7305 (by changyang1230)
we promptly moved on and headed to our next destination.

IMG_7308 (by changyang1230)
I am sure by now you should be able to recognise this place. Yup, that's the entrance to the Twelve Apostles, one of the major attraction of the Great Ocean Road. It started drizzling and the air was freezing when we reached there. I overheard some Chinese tourists cursing, "When we were young we endured hardship to earn more money; now that we are old, we earn money only to endure hardship here." I can't say I wasn't agreeing with them. :P

IMG_7307 (by changyang1230)
IMG_5956 (by changyang1230)
Twelve Apostles is probably one of the most misleading names among Australian tourist attractions. To begin with, the stony stacks are limestone structures formed by centuries of erosion, and they have nothing to do with the twelve apostles in Christian belief. Also, there are not even twelve structures remaining on the site - at last count there were only eight. One of them collapsed in July 2005, between my first and second visit. The bottom pic was from the first trip, and you can see how it looked much better before the first stack turned into a pile of rubble.

IMG_7319 (by changyang1230)
Here is just another view of the same thing. On the right hand side is the boardwalk we walked on while we revelled in the majestic scenery. I hope that they check the ground regularly. Because...

DSC08114 (by changyang1230)
Remember Gibson's steps, a beach near the twelve apostles? This time, this place was closed down due to "safety concerns".

Around this time, the rain starting pelting down on us like a flow of torrent, and we couldn't withstand the chill anymore. Needless to say we were quite disappointed that we missed the opportunity to capture sunset pictures of the twelve apostles. The mood was a generalised low as we started heading towards our motel at Warrnambool.

IMG_7324 (by changyang1230)
But. A glint of golden ray appeared as we passed by the Lord Arch Gorge, another famous limestone stack site. After taking a few more snaps, we reluctantly called it a day.

And we have a secret plan for the second day...

[to be continued]


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Great Ocean Road (1)

Three weeks ago, I visited Great Ocean Road with fellow Fotoholics.

n885670056_3576333_7449 (by changyang1230)
The Great Ocean Road is a 273km stretch of road along the South Eastern coast of Australia, one and a half hour away from Melbourne. It is one of Australia's great scenic coastline drives. At the starting point of the road, ten of us took a group photo just in front of the huge road sign. It's interesting to note that while photo enthusiasts go to great lengths in the composition and colour in their photographic subjects; when it comes to customary shots, they just don't care that much. :)

IMG_7210 (by changyang1230)
Our first stop was at Apollo Bay, about one quarter into the GOR. We stopped by a restaurant which was packed to its capacity. I think I had fish and chips.

IMG_7218 (by changyang1230)
Just a short walk from the restaurant is the beach of Apollo Bay. GOR is special in that you can pretty much find a beach to stop by any where along the route, be it in a small town or in the middle of no where. Here, the club President Stanley could be seen taking some shots. (Anyone guess what that plastic thingy on his backpack is? :D)

IMG_7222 (by changyang1230)
Meanwhile, Roger, a friend from Shanghai is posing.

Me (by changyang1230)
And I was thinking of how to get rid of my adipose tissues on my face.

IMG_7232 (by changyang1230)
Having reloaded our stomach, we embarked on the journey again. Stanley is one of the drivers of the trip. I was amazed by the novel GPS display on his car. It was very handy throughout the travel.

IMG_7250 (by changyang1230)
Our next destination was the Cape Otway Lightstation. Despite having gone to GOR for three times before, it's actually my first visit to the lighthouse. I didn't go there previously because it's a bit out of the way and require a detour from the main road.

IMG_7268 (by changyang1230)
First lit in 1848, Cape Otway Lightstation is the oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia.

IMG_7270 (by changyang1230)
After climbing up a flight of steep stairs,

IMG_7286 (by changyang1230)
you can see the Fresnel lens which was used to focus the powerful beam, allowing it to be visible over a large distance.

IMG_7276 (by changyang1230)
The lightstation was decommissioned in 1994. So instead of the grand tower, we have a petite, solar-powered light.

IMG_7244 (by changyang1230)
Also located at the lightstation historic site is the telegraph station. Apparently there was an underwater cable connecting this lightstation to Launceston, Tasmania 420km away.

[To be continued...]
[Sorry for having too much greenness in the photos. I guess I was "feeling green" when I edited those photos]
[Continued here]