Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sea Special Team

that's what the English equivalent is, of our PASKAL, Pasukan Khas Laut. they're the best Malaysia has to offer in terms of special forces, in competition with the SAS, Green Berets, Spetznaz, Navy SEALS and Delta Force.

i was looking around the Internet for warfare medicine, and found myself surfed on to this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Malaysian_Navy_PASKAL

they have their own Wikipedia page! 

according to Wikipedia, what these guys can do include running 7.8km in less than 24 minutes, and swimming 6.4km in open waters with full mission load in less than 120 minutes, and (get this) "surviving in water with hands and feet fully tied-up (drown-proofing)". no mention of the duration of surviving in water though - i know they talk of amphibious special forces, but amphibian special forces??!??

part of their job description involves unconventional warfare, jungle warfare, guerrila warfare, reconnaisance, counter-terrorism, VIP protection and hostage rescue - the usual stuff. but "specific enemy assassination"??!?? someone's spreading vicious lies about our PASKAL. the truth is, Malaysians are expert in character assassination, not anything else.

they also have a list of famous members of PASKAL. apparently Commander Jason PASKAL is a famous member. haha! Commander Jason must be very loyal to his career!

but of course this is all from Wikipedia. i'm sure the truth is more complicated than that. please don't send anyone to kill me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

No Arms, Will Travel

i don't believe this. policemen in China just arrested a guy for driving with no arms.

apparently he was driving along minding his own business, when he got pulled over for a routine traffic stop. lo and behold, the policemen found that he had no arms!

he was driving an automatic, and using his legs to control the steering wheel. he said he was even more careful these days, after losing his arms. 

all he got was a public safety summons!! i can understand the cops - "is there a law banning driving with no arms?" "uh, i don't think so" "damn, we can only issue a summons for public safety!"

Levi's

i'm 4 days from my exam, but yet i want to say that i just washed my pair of jeans, that quintessential American denim product that even suicide bombers who wish death to Americans wear.

amazing how pieces of blue cloth sewn and riveted together have become such fashion icons that you will see it in downtown New York during rush hour, garlanding the hips of that young child soldier in Somalia, to the Russian oligarch who wears it to Chelsea games.

my pair of Levi's haven't been washed for, i dunno, a year plus maybe? i've worn it to a lot of places, and not in any of them was i over- or under-dressed. to weddings, hospitals, KLCC, the local sundry shop - they looked great!

Levi Strauss was a genius!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Oh No! Not Sarah Again!?!?!

that woman just can't stop. she just can't stop making gaffe after gaffe that make us laugh but at the same time worry about her running for president in 2012.

this time, she participated in an annual Presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey and preventing it from being slaughtered for Thanksgiving. only this time, she proceeded to give an interview while turkeys were being slaughtered in the background! 

Daniel Kurtzman had this wonderful comic that came out a week before this interview:
















watch this video - it's surreal!


and David Letterman had his Top Ten Sarah Palin Excuses for Turkey Slaughter:
10. I can see Russia, but I can't see what's going on 5 feet behind me
9. Not thinking straight after spending all night reading every newspaper and magazine 
8. Damn "gotcha" media got me again! 
7. My Remington shotgun says I don't need an excuse
6. Those were Al Qaeda turkeys 
5. I thought they were just torturing the little guy
4. I mean, doggonit, you know, like we have to lower taxes, and like, it all falls under job security, and we need to drill, you know?
3. Uh, stomach flu?
2. I'll get right back to ya! I'm still adorable, America
1. Don't blame me! Blame Joe the Turkey Slaughterer

yoga bans

I think I am taking a risk by writing this down, after having been warned by the National Fatwa Council yesterday that non-Muslims should not question the ban on yoga, as it involves “Muslims and their faith”, as expressed by Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin.

Before proceeding, a quick word on where I stand. I remain neutral towards yoga, believing it just another form of low-impact exercise. It may not have the cardiovascular benefits of the usual exercise regimen I encourage, but if it will get a sedentary person into stretching and moving, it’s always a good thing.

However, I disagree that practising yoga will lead you to deviate from your religion, whatever it may be. Banning it for that reason just implies that you are not confident enough in your religion, and may have the paradoxical effect of “encouraging” people to seek what is so “wrong” about yoga.

Also, we may have trapped ourselves on a slippery slope here. What’s next? Taichi? Taekwondo? Banana leaf rice?

But that’s not what I want to talk about, of course. As per instructions, I won’t take issue with the ban. Instead, I would like know why Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor specifically pre-empted the possibility of a non-Muslim questioning the yoga ban (which I AM NOT)?

 

In America, millions of white Americans recently voted a black man to be their President. I say the same principle should apply in Malaysia: We should be driven by intelligent arguments, backed by facts. And when we make a decision, we should be unafraid to defend our position.

The better our facts, the better our decisions and the more courage we will have to defend it. Sounds reasonable, no?

So there’s my issue. I’m not questioning the yoga ban, as much as I am questioning why we CANNOT question the yoga ban. Perhaps the idea of interference into another religion is a good reply, but it doesn’t address the idea of muzzling free speech. Is it okay then if a Muslim yoga practitioner questions the ban, and vehemently so?

As far as statistics and anecdotal evidence goes, I am convinced that there are a great many of them here in Malaysia, previously a country known for its attempts at free speech and moderation.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

i'm rewarding myself

one day very soon, this exam shall pass. and if i do well in it, i feel like rewarding myself. i'm going to be the contrarian - splurging when everyone's tightening their belts. if no one's going to kick-start the economy, i may as well try, by:

1. buying a really really cool hot pink iPod nano, OR (http://store.apple.com/my/browse/home/shop_ipod/family/ipod_nano)

2. going on a diving holiday in Sulawesi, OR

3. spending the weekend in Langkawi, just lying on the beach doing a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y nothing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

what's your poison?

any moment now, i half expect the FBI to barge into my house, by putting C4 at the door hinges and blowing them up, punching holes in my roof with their H&K submachineguns and flying in with their ziplines and combat boots, all ski-masked and gloved. 

they'll pin my arms behind my back, put a hood over my head and fly me to Guantanamo where even Barack Obama can't touch me. i'll be waterboarded and because i'm Chinese, maybe they'll do the water torture thing on me.

this is because my last 10 or so searches on Google (and we all know how big Google is on privacy) has been on words like sarin, ricin, anthrax, cyanide, strychnine, phosgene and lewisite. 

i think i better search for stuff like diabetes, erectile dysfunction and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis again, just to assure them i'm a doctor.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Midnight Magic

i wrote this last night, just before i went to bed:

It’s half past midnight, and I’ve finished my quota for the day. I’m off the internet, and I’m tired of hunching over the computer, clicking endlessly on the mouse, endlessly in pursuit.

Better Than Ezra is singing At The Stars. I’m warm and fed and clothed and contented. Today, mom cooked dinner, I played football, life is good.

Tonight it’s raining. It hasn’t rained at night for a long time. It’s not so heavy that it scares you with thunder and lightning, but neither is it so light that you don’t feel the enveloping presence of God’s soft embrace.

It’s nights like this you realise how much progress we humans have made, and how lucky we really are. A cold wet night kept at bay with four walls and a roof, darkness disappearing before electric lamps, the elegant stillness punctuated by Nat King Cole.

And it’s still raining – falling to wash our world from our sins and our pollution. And I know when I wake up tomorrow morning and begin my pursuit anew, everything will be just perfect.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Pirates of Somalia

the collective wisdom of the world's navies says that the waters off Somalia is 2.5 million square miles, and that they "can't be everywhere all at once".

in the mean time, the Sirius Star is anchored within sight of Xarardheere, north of Mogadishu, in an area known as a "pirate's sanctuary".  <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/world/africa/20pirate.html?hp>

come on, the solution is simple, isn't it? the whole world asks Mogadishu for permission (which they'll grant, because it's also in their interest to end the whole shenanigan), send some Delta Force and SAS and Spetnaz (and maybe our own Paskal) - first liberate the crude oil (more for environmental protection than the actual value of the oil), and then attack The Pirate Sanctuary. 

how hard can it be? isn't it what these guys train for everyday, to protect the innocent blablabla.

buggers went to Iraq mighty quick, but can't do s*** about a real and proper threat, for once. stop pussyfooting and start behaving like real men.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

you're on call...

... and you receive a phone call from Montevideo from a patient who was bitten by a dog and wants to know if he is at risk of rabies and what should be done. You gather that the patient had accidentally walked across a car park that was being guarded but had not understood the sign ‘beware of the dog’. You gather that the dog is healthy and the patient was bitten through two layers of clothing. 

What is the most appropriate advice?

A. Have the dog shot and biopsy the brain for rabies

B. Go immediately to a secondary care facility and ask for anti-rabies vaccine

C. The dog should be confined and observed for 10 days to determine if it dies of rabies before treatment is administered

D. The patient should be admitted for regular neurological observations as he might develop rabies

E. Start the patient on regular ribavirin and interferon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

ugh, not another MCQ

i'm. so. super. saturated. i. can't. take. any. more. information. 

plus, i think i have carpal tunnel syndrome.

i need a (healthy) distraction. the trouble is, i can't find any.

(i do apologise for this stream of consciousness. it's late, and i can't find anyone to talk to)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

everyone has stories

and i think i have a small talent - the ability to get their stories out of them, however reticent they are in the beginning. this isn't a boast, i think i'm just a patient listener when i want to be.

like this middle-aged lady who came with non-specific chest pains, without any risk factors for heart disease. in 30 seconds, i found out that she has one living child and one who passed at age 1year5months, just transferred to another branch of her latex glove factory, and is a bit depressed.

then in 2 more minutes, a diagnosis of occupational asthma for her, and mumps orchitis* for her husband. so THAT's why they only have one child!

*i asked why only one child, and she said her husband had unilateral facial swelling with fever, 3 years after her first-born (aged 15 now), complicated with swollen and painful testicles, and has been childless since then

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Love Google

they are incredibly intelligent down at Google Labs, and i too wish that i had my playstations, swimming pools and gourmet chefs at work.

but this is something else: they have managed to predict flu outbreaks in America, using Google.

when a bunch of people get sick, they type "flu symptoms" on google, even before they see a doctor. so google tabulates the geographic location, analyses the data, and voila! they have a pattern, and their statistics show that they can predict outbreaks 7-10 days before the mighty CDC issues their flu alert.

this is thanks to Google.org, their foundation to "help make the world a better place". you can check it out at google.org/flutrends.

i think it's a wonderful policy of Google's, this non-profit endeavour (i'd prefer NOT to be cynical), and a lot of other companies would do well to help everyone else out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Post Secret


i love this website, where people send postcards of their secrets, and no one knows who they are.

i saw this one, and almost cried.


Friday, November 07, 2008

i still can't stop - but i'm laughing now

1. when Bill Clinton's staff left office to make way for George W Bush, they hated the idea of passing over the baton to the Republicans (especially a dunce like him), they took the letter W out of some keyboards.

 2. Sarah Palin thought that Africa was a country, not a continent. and South Africa is a region of Africa, not a country. she should star in Who's Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

 3. W's dog bit a Reuters reporter during his congratulatory speech to Obama.

 4. "Sarah Palin's been spending the last couple of days being briefed by advisers on what she needs to know to be John McCain's vice president. That's true. Yeah. Apparently, the first thing they taught her was CPR." --Conan O'Brien

 5. "Barack Obama gave a speech in Germany and 200,000 people showed up. There were so many Germans shouting and screaming that France surrendered just in case." --Craig Ferguson

 6. "And all this week, the McCain campaign is trying to prevent Sarah Palin from talking to reporters covering the news, you know? They said, 'you can take her picture, but you can't ask her any questions.' What is she running for, vice president or 'America's Next Top Model'?" --Jay Leno

 7. "Everybody is trying to find out more about Sarah Palin. Someone was able to hack into Sarah Palin's Yahoo! email account because she hadn't taken the proper security measures. Yeah. So, folks, it's official. No one in the Palin family uses protection." --Conan O'Brien

 8. "Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin today said she thinks the economy needs some shaking up and some fixin'. I'm pretty sure is also her recipe for oven-baked chicken." --Jimmy Kimmel

 9. "Today John McCain campaigned in the Ohio town of Defiance. Next comes Anger, then finally Acceptance." —Jay Leno

 10. "And the big guns are out. The Democrats have sent Hillary to Florida to go after Sarah Palin. So, that makes two Clintons trying to nail her now." --Jay Leno

 11. "Sarah Palin made three campaign stops today: Saks, Nieman Marcus and Bloomingdales." —Jay Leno

 12. "Here's the amazing part: back in 1984, Sarah Palin actually came second in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant. Now she could be vice president. You know what that means? For the first time in history, a beauty pageant contestant might actually bring about world peace. They've talked about it for years; here's one that could do it!" --Jay Leno

 13. "Speaking of Sarah Palin, she said she's a life-long member of the National Rifle Association. Which may explain why she's in favor of shotgun weddings." --Conan O'Brien

 14. "Five kids? Does anyone in that party understand the concept of pulling out?" Bill Maher

 15. "Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is our new president. And I think I speak for most Americans when I say, anybody mind if he starts a little early?" --David Letterman

A President for The World

no, i am not going to get tired writing about him, at least not right now.

nothing America (with a capital A, for far too long i have spelt it america) can say or advise or coerce us into doing, will be more powerful than the message that they sent the whole world, 2 days ago. the message of tolerance, of belief that they can be better than who they were yesterday, of the importance of being bigger than yourself, of hope and the audacity to want change, and the power of one reasonable voice telling us that he will be the President of even those who didn't vote for him, so please can we just help each other out?

countries are formed by quirks of religion (Bhutan or Saudi Arabia), race (Japan and France), language or their 'conquerors' (Brazil and South Africa), geography (Madagascar and Australia), or even tribal (Uganda and the Caribbean islands) - but no one country is formed entirely on an idea. an idea that was born in Greece many many years ago, but was brought to life in America. only in America.

only there can we see this beautiful story of the son of a Kenyan father and Kansan mother, born in Hawaii, brought up in Indonesia, study in Harvard, organise a community (take that, Sarah Palin), inspire a country, win an election, and renew the world's faith and admiration of America.

storybook stuff - like Abraham Lincoln and the apple tree and FDR and his polio. 

of course his victory was aided and made starker because of W's unprecedented incompetence - but not for one moment should this detract from the fact that for the first time since perhaps JFK, does the world have a President that they look up to and want to follow in the footsteps of.

on November 5, 2008, America gave all the nations and all the peoples of the world A New Hope - an expression of strength and confidence in their collective courage to make the right decision. our faith in America has been renewed.

God bless America, and God bless America's 44th President.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Declaration of Independence, 1776

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Unlikeliest President

"...in no other country on earth is my story even possible...

and so we have, ladies and gentlemen, the 44th President of the United States of America - President Barack Hussein Obama.

call me unpatriotic, but the 2008 elections for the President of the USA has struck a chord with me, and perhaps millions of people all around the world. it's basically this: a country of white Christians, tens of millions of them, have voted for a man to be their leader - a man who has a white Christian mother and a Muslim black father, raised in Indonesia, studied in Harvard, listens to Jay-Z, quotes Abraham Lincoln, and has an Arabic middle name.

150 years ago, he would be a legal slave. 27 years ago, in 1981 when i was born, the last black man was lynched. and now, an African-American President. how far they have come.

for a long time, the world has lost faith with the US (and George congratulations-and-go-enjoy-yourself Bush). we've seen the arrogance, the waywardness and the foolishness with which they have misplaced all the world's affection to the American way of life. all the moral authority gained from WWII and the Marshall plan, and the sympathy from 9/11 disappeared in a smoke of broken English by the rancher from Texas.

the post of POTUS is, for all intents and purposes, the leader of the free world. he makes decisions that have a huge impact on people from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. the difference is, this time, we feel like we've elected him, instead of having the choice forced upon us.

and now... a leader we meet perhaps only once in a lifetime - someone who inspires and bridges divides and appeals to E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. Barack Obama has become more than the President of the USA, he's become the President of the World.

Barack Obama is my President too. his story gives me hope that all nations in the world, and not just America, may one day see beyond the colour of my skin. that's not hard to imagine - America has always been the driving force for change, from miniskirts and Coca-Cola to democracy and free trade. why should this be any different?

Barack Obama is my President too. his story renews my faith and love in the American Way, where anything you want is possible, if you work that little bit harder. for a long time, many of us were disillusioned with America. we hated it, but yet cannot help but be drawn to them, for travel or education or ideas. but now, no longer.

Barack Obama is our President. leaders of men should be that little bit more than who we are, not some guy-i'd-love-to-have-a-beer-with. he needs to make decisions, he needs to inspire us into becoming a little better than yesterday, he needs to fulfill Voltaire's idea of a philosopher-king. and he does, doesn't he? Barack Obama does.

imagine again, if you will, what just happened. the scars of racism is most alive in America, where the distinction between black-as-pitch and white-as-milk sometimes linger, sometimes fester. but yet, tens of millions of white men and women voted freely for a black man with a Muslim name.

Barack Hussein Obama is now President of the United States of America. now who dares tell me, that Hope and Change are false anymore? 

**

"That's how this thing started," he said, "It shows you what one voice can do. One voice can change a room, and if a voice can change a room it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it can change a state it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world."

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Few Words... on Buying a Car

it's more than just a car, isn't it? it's a fashion statement, a sign that you've arrived, and that you're financially solvent.

it's a reminder of your independence, that you no longer have to rely on public transportation, your parents or remain at the mercy of the fickle Weather.

so really, it isn't just a piece of welded metal attached to four steer-able wheels driven by an engine - perhaps Henry Ford didn't expect his motorcar to become a symbol of our times.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Few Words... on Loneliness

i suppose there is a huge difference between being alone, and being lonely. we've all heard often enough about how "you can be in a room full of people, and still feel lonely". 

but you know, i think i enjoy my own alone-ness. i have no doubts i can go to Langkawi for a weekend, and just be by myself and read a book. or maybe three books. 

but you know what else? it's when you find a woman who you can be together with, not have to say a word, and do your own thing, and still come away thinking that you've just spent the best time together - the two of you aren't lonely, but you're alone - you've become so close that you've essentially become one entity.

now isn't that just fantastic?