Sunday, October 30, 2011

Azuma Japanese Restaurant

A short trip with the intention of going to the PC fair but tak jadi in the end cos there wasn't anything we wanted to get from there. So, we detoured to Queensbay for a short shopping trip and ended up for brunch here.

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We were early and while away the waiting time, window shopping; something which I have not done for a couple of months. We were among the first customers when they opened for business.

Moshi

And the first thing I noticed was the sushi conveyor belt. Other Half and our gal were looking out for this, mochi, which has now also become a favourite of our gal. I usually give them a miss. Mochi is actually similar to our tangyuan.

Sushi

This is also from the conveyor belt. Generally, the sushi bar's offering is better than Sakae Sushi or Sushi King.

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I am a gindara fan and I ordered their Gindara Teriyaki set. And it's one of the better Gindara Teriyaki sets that I've had. The cod fish was lemak and cooked to the right texture. The teriyaki sauce did not overwhelm the fish. Overall, it was a nice blend of natural cod taste and the sauce. Went very well with the rice. Another thing I liked about the set was their chawanmushi. The texture was soft like good tau-huey. 8)

Gyu Tenderlion Kushi Yaki

We tried a few orders from their menu. This is their Gyu Tenderlion Kushi Yaki, basically beef, mushroom and some capsicum grilled on skewers. Beef was very tender and succulent.

Tsukune Kushi Yaki

Tsukune Kushi Yaki... Tsukune is chicken meatball. Yaki means grilled. Kushi means skewer. So Skewered Chicken Meat Balls. Nice...

Shitake Butter Yaki

And the Shitake Butter Yaki which was very yummy. The mushroom soaked in the sauce and gave it a really nice buttery taste.

Hotate Chahan

Hotate chahan... sounds exquisite but hotate is scallop. Chahan is fried rice. So basically, this is scallop fried rice. It's nice but not something that most of us can't cook up ourselves. For such small bowl at RM10, you might want to spend it trying something else.

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Overall, the food is quite nice.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Steve Jobs ...by Walter Isaacson

The book was launched on Monday and by the same evening I was already reading it. The irony was it was made possible by the very person I was reading about. I found the book 'mesmerizing' enough to keep me glued. And 48 hours later, I was done with it, all 728 pages of it. In between, I went to do a video shoot of a kiddy sports, at the same time downloaded and installed the iOS 5 for the same friend; multitasking. I sat too with my girl with her lessons and pottered around the house, the usual never ending housework, edited some of the video and pictures on my iMac.... but I was rather disorientated and blur though, because I was caught up by the book. It's best to enjoy a read when one is free actually...

What do I think of the book? It's a good read. Rarely do we get an opportunity to read a biography, 'in his own words', the words of the person being written... but from the author's perspective. I sound confusing, I know. It would have become an autobiography had Jobs written it himself. When Jobs knew that he was going to die, he sought out Isaacson to write his biography - so that his children will know him, he said. He gave Isaacson a free hand to interview anyone, everyone and write his biography in the way he saw fit.

Reading about Jobs' growing up years was fascinating. Jobs and Gates, the two men who shaped computer technology are contemporaries. Jobs did not finish college. Neither did Wozniak until many years later. Gates dropped out from Harvard. It could be all these men were self taught but the education system must have succeeded in shaping their minds. I am impressed by the depth of their high school projects. Even though we have so much facilities and better trained teachers (on paper), we pale in comparison almost 40 years later.

Jobs was a difficult person with a reality distortion field; as how those people around him labelled him. To me, it's a more techy (and polite?) way of saying he lied when it suited him. But he was brutally honest too. I think everyone of us is like that too, often, have our own reality distortion field, but minus the brutal honesty. Most of us would prefer to keep our reality distortion field comfortable for everyone. Jobs did not outwardly seem to care how his actions might cause others to feel or think about him or the consequences that would befall him. But his genius was his ability to bring out the untapped and the genius in others, for at least those who were willing to be pushed into the unknown of themselves. And that's why he was able to do the things that he did, make his gadgets a lifestyle, change the way we do things. Despite his reality distortion field, I find him compellingly consistent, be it, his quirky food habits (he gets fixated with one kind of food, his fasts and purges), his famous mean streak, stubbornness, his focus on the products that he envisioned, and commitment. Mr. Nice Guy he was not, but life can never achieve greatness by just trying to please everyone, I think. But being consistent is a necessary good (or evil, depends on how you look at it) where this is concerned, I think.

While many of the ideas he claimed his weren't exactly his, as Jony Ive, one of those few people who understood Jobs better than most said that, had it been other companies or CEO, it would have taken good ideas weeks, months or never to come to fruition because cost (profit) would have mattered more than anything else. In one instance, when Rubinstein told him that he needed $10 million to seal what he believed is a solution (which was Toshiba's 1.8 inch hard drive. The Toshiba engineers had no idea what to do with it yet at that time) to the problem of storage of what was to become the IPod, he approved it immediately, minus all the hassle of board meetings. This is one of life's lessons which I've had good fortune to experience.

Years ago, when I was just a rookie, I transferred into a school with an enthusiastic Principal with a passion for education technology. That was almost 20 years ago. We had many conversations even though I was still very new. He liked to throw ideas at me and get my response. And through our conversations, he discovered that I had some computer skills. He wanted to set up a media room, with LCD projectors but could not find anyone willing. My youthful gungho-ness and recklessness said that it could be done but I needed 20K. It was a huge sum back in those days! Somehow, he convinced the PTA to fork out the amount of money and we went on to set up one of the first media rooms. Those were heady days for me. I learned a lot. And it was because my boss believed in me and he continued to support me by having many more conversations and encouraging me on.... even though I had many doubts after my initial recklessness. I owe a lot to that boss and am grateful to be able to work with him. Because of that experience, I embrace technological advances and changes more readily today too. But bosses like him are hard to come by these days.... made worse by the haziness of politics.

Jobs' work ethics was legendary. An organization is only as good as its head. A fish rots from the head. Again, and again in this book I find it to be quite true. The rise and fall of Hewlett Packard, Disney, Apple, IBM... they speak volumes about the people who led them. You are only as good as your head because the majority of us, come with very bendable reality distortion fields. At some point, our reality distortion field will convince us that we are doing great, bringing in good profits, etc, etc. but they can only be stretched that long before the distortion becomes reality of the opposite. Take a good look at our own country, Malaysia. The AG report for the past few years have been highlighting abuses after abuses. It used not to be this bad... imagine deferring the repairs of the roof of our National Stadium which hosts many major sports events or the purchase of useless horses. So, if anyone of us gets on our high horses, I think we should take a good look at our own reality distortion fields.

An interesting note here. I first downloaded and read the book on my iPad. And how I read it is also Jobs' legacy. It would have been rather difficult for me to get my hands on his book on launch day in the old days. Malaysia has become a smaller dot in recent years... can you imagine the iPhone and iPad being launched first in our little dot of a neighbour down south. It has a population of 5 million plus. Malaysia has more than 5 times people, more resources, yet..... Singapore developed the one source that we selectively disregard, people. Anyway, I wanted to go to the gym yesterday. It seemed such a waste of time to walk on the treadmill and not read. But I had not put the book in my iPod. Other Half had thoughtfully put it in my Dropbox for me to download and read the day before. So, in less than 5 minutes, I downloaded the Dropbox app into my iPod and then the book. It would have been a rather cumbersome task in the past to transfer files. I managed to read for 40 minutes at the gym. One stone, two birds or two stones, one bird... depends on how you look at it... That is also part of Jobs' legacy. Changing the way we do things.

And it's been a long time since I last finished a book within such a short span of time. It felt good that I could still do it, despite the stress on my presbyopic eyes. But it also made me realize something too... passion, intensity, inquisitiveness are all those catalysts required to produce that sort of life changing excellence. And unfortunately too, they are rather lacking these days in many of our young ones. This is one of the better biographies I have read... The writer left a poignant view by Jobs. He was in Turkey and he noticed that the young people there were similar to other young people everywhere else.... no Turkish iPhone, American iPhones... to the young, an iPhone is an iPhone. The world has become more uniformed than we care to admit. And here we still have archaic politicians who are still trying to convince us that a certain race is more special than others.... Technology has turned us into one global village..... it has also brought uniformity in many areas. And that happened because of Jobs who was part of the computer equation.

Book 29, a good and worthwhile read and a strange book too cos it's read so soon after the subject's death. It's another first for Jobs, I guess.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Great Pretender

An old, old song that I used to listen as a kid cos my dad used to play it on the vinyl record... Remember those black round plasticky discs which you spin on the record player? My dad still has the player. It used to give us hours of listening pleasure. Of course, it was much to the chagrin of my mom who always felt that dad played it way too loud, disturbing the neighbours. But as a kid, I used to enjoy singing along to the familiar tunes. Anyway, this tune kept bugging me this morning.

Aren't we all pretenders at one point or other???

Saturday, October 22, 2011

PPSMI... Barking up a dead tree!

The ink is already dry on the wall. The voices of authority have been sounding it out... the text books are ready. MBMMBI is set to roll but many parents, students, NGOs don't seem to want PPSMI to be phased out. Many say teaching Math and Science in BM being the national language should be elevated, that BM is the mother tongue, but they forget too for some, English is a mother tongue... politics of expediency.

Would it really make a difference, going back to BM as the medium of instruction? Some of my colleagues feel that it would. But these are also people whose language competency is deplorable to begin with. Will the students' grades go up if we revert. I think it would but the rise would not be spectacular. The passing percentages in the public exams do not seem to indicate that the medium of instruction seems to matter. But argue what we may, we have not tackled the basic issues yet. English is important but no matter how important or necessary it is, there are 2 areas which we need to look at.

One is the teacher competency. You use peanuts, you get peanuts. Guy Kawasaki in his writing talked about how Jobs believed that 'A players should hire A players'. Kawasaki modified it to 'A players should hire A+ players', though. We don't see this happening in the teaching fraternity. If anything is to go by, there was one period of time when the MOE absorbed many of those who could not withstand the rigorous demands of the corporate sector. I think there is a general feeling that the quality of teaching have deteriorated. I am inclined to think so too. The state of the teaching profession today is in part due to this decision. I think they must have felt that anyone can teach or is suitable to be a teacher. We have many uninspiring teachers today. Promotions for the really capable ones, even if they are Malays are hard to come by. Don't even begin mention the non-Malays. So in this scenario, many of our Science and Maths teachers are basically incompetent in English. PPSMI would fail because there are far less competent teachers (in English).

The MOE tried to ensure competent teachers by sending promising young people to English speaking countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand for their basic degrees in Science at the start of PPSMI. We're slowly getting these teachers into the system. Though some of them still do not have very good command of the language, they are at least competent enough to teach in English. Now we may never know whether this group of teachers can make a difference.

The second reason is the attitude of today's students. Say what one may that attitude can be shaped, etc, etc... But one thing that stands out is students attitude is bad. The statistics speak for this too... nearly 1 in 10 drops out. School is boring, students get away with their misbehaviour a lot these days. And many teachers seem unable to control their classes. It is not uncommon to go into your average school and find teachers and students talking at the same time while class is on. Meaningful noises? Add that to the marginality of teenage years, you find yourself in a cauldron of helplessness. Discipline should enforced strictly. Lack of parental supervision, family problems coupled with inept school management.... these are among the other problems which add on to the attitude problem.

Free netbooks, scholarships... the list is unending. The message that the students seem to get is they will still get these things even though their grades are bad. The recent 1Malaysia free netbook is one such example. We are teaching our kids that one will still get 'rewarded' even if one does not work hard. Same goes for scholarships.... There is no accountability there... they get the money.

So the MOE may say that they are getting native English speakers to teach or have more English teaching periods. But for as long as attitudes do not change, we are hitting the wall with all the programmes.

Send truly competent teachers to teach the early years in primary. Perhaps that's where we ought to send the native English speakers. By the time the kids are in upper secondary, with the exam to contend with, the teachers are at wits end what and how to teach. Coupled with teenage angst and myopia, it is difficult to make progress.

As for Math and Science in English, a choice should be given to parents. After all, MARA Science Colleges are continuing to teach in English, so it was reported. It would be rather elitist to just allow that. It's crazy to do Science in BM up till Form 5 and the switch to English. It's even worse for those who attend vernacular schools. In Primary, it would be in either Mandarin or Tamil. Then from Form 1 to Form 5, BM would be the language of instruction. And if the kid moves on, English would be the next language of instruction. Crazy????

If I had a choice, I would want my kid to study Math and Science in English.... for practical reasons. I wonder about all those who are vehemently against PPSMI. What would their choice be? If they are truly concerned, why all these policies which has caused us to end up with substandard teaching. The ranking (or none ranking) of our universities in the world ranking is one such reflection of the state of our education system. Just compare National University of Singapore and University Malay. Same roots, different outcome. NUS today is well-known. It is one of the top universities in Asia. None of our best universities come even close to it. The dumbing down of whole generations because of politics.

Alternative education???

Friday, October 21, 2011

Animal Farm ...by George Orwell

LOL!!! This book brought so many chuckles here and there. Of pigs and horses, dogs and donkeys, goats and chickens... those that make up a farm. At the end of the novel, Animal Farm was renamed The Manor, the ruling animals took to walking on 2 legs instead of 4. What began with noble aims failed, because mortal nature is such that greed always surfaces when power undisputed.

This book is a satire of the Russian Revolution, the rise of the peasants against the bourgeoisie... Stalin, capitalism, Marxism, of ideological struggles so long ago. But as I read, there were many moments where I couldn't help but chuckle to myself. Pigs are smart, pigs are lazy. Dogs are loyal, running dogs... and they are us. Smart lazy pigs... they get others to do their running. They grow fat on inequalities they dupe others into believing is good. If not for the background knowledge I had at the start of the book, I could be excused for thinking that Orwell was describing my own little world, right now, in 2011.

What started of as a noble cause to create an equal society within a short time brought the animals back to square one with a few changes. The pigs (Major) started the revolution going. It was done with a noble aim, to give all animals equality and freedom. By and by, after Major died, the other pigs became what the humans had been to the animals. And the animals, unthinking and ignorant as they were, worked hard with little for themselves for the broods of pigs that came after that. Boxer, the not so intelligent but steady worker of a horse was one such animal. The pigs were smart. The got the dogs to be their bodyguards. The pigs had a good life while the other animals slaved for them. Among the ignorant animals were a few who dared speak out. They we snuffed out, executed and obedience soon prevailed. And the animals worked very hard, feeding the new noble class, not realizing that this new noble class are like them... but more manipulative; the animals that we are too.

Old classics like this are real gems of work. Creative and critical writing in one. Thinking skills too. They make see yourself in a different light; unlike today's literary works which seem to put emphasis on the superficial. I've not come across many present day books written in this vein. We should make such readings a literature read in our schools instead of those stuff that they make our 17-year-olds read.

I read this book in between all the other books that I was reading. It took a while. These days, my eyes tire easily from staring too long into the screen....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Catch 22 ...by Joseph Heller

' I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.’ ... Yossarian, pg. 442 in Catch 22. As I was getting to the end of the book, this phrase got stuck in my mind. And it basically sums up the comedy in every chapter of the book. The tragedies and human decencies in every chapter see someone else cashing in on them.

I started reading this book almost 2 months ago. When I first picked it up, I found it to be a rambling sort of book. But like many books which I persevered, it got better as I went on. Ideals are good but not all people are good is another phrase which caught my eye. Instead of the usual novel on bravery, sacrifice and everything noble that I usually read in novels about war, this one highlights the greed that turns people in opportunists in every situation and it felt like reading a comedy of errors.

One can't help but laugh at how Milo transformed his war into a business enterprise, how he profited by snitching the emergency kits and supplies on the planes for his own profit. Or how he bombed his own side just so that there is more profit for him. And how he as the mess officer 'abused' government facilities and properties for his personal gain and justifying it as a good for all - using the air force planes to source eggs, cotton, tomatoes, potatoes and everything else to prosper his enterprise. Or how Colonel Korn or Colonel Cathcart tried to advance their own careers at the price of their men's lives; by increasing the number of missions for the men each time the target is achieved. They profited greatly by working in cohort with Milo. It resulted in almost none of the original squadron members getting out alive. People cashing in on every decent impulse, every human tragedy.

I did some reading up while I was mid way through the book and discovered that the phrase Catch 22 was coined from this book. It means a no win situation. The men in the stories were in a no win situation. Survive a bomb run, only to live through another nightmarish run. And so it goes on and on because their superiors wanted more for themselves. There was no way out for these men who kept seeing their goal posts moved after getting there.

War makes us to lose ourselves. You lose either your life or ideals. Either way, a part of you dies. You can feel the characters losing themselves as you follow their brief lives in the book. War is a farce that profits those on top.... to the ones who did the actual fighting and dying, they are pumped up with huge doses of noble aims - to sum it up, freedom from the yoke of oppression. Yet those at the top live to enjoy that freedom, while those who fight for that freedom die in the process. Now, how not to become a cynic on that?

I started reading this book on my iPod Touch but ended up reading on my iPad because upon updating my iOS, i discovered that the app that I had been using all this while, Stanza would not work with the the new iOS. And that set me on another little journey to find out why. And the reason was this. About 2 years ago, Amazon had bought up Stanza. Stanza had been rated as one of the best ebook readers around and I agree. You can download books wirelessly to your iPod Touch or iPad if you had it installed on your desktop. Turns out, Amazon bought it and let Stanza die. Good small product giving big company a run for their money. Big company buys small company. Left it there to rot. And with the new iOS, Stanza is as good as dead. But I am sure the guy who wrote Stanza got a good deal.... too bad little people like me won't get to enjoy using Stanza any more.

On a note of cynicism myself, this is book 27.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Back In Time ...

Back In Time 1

This is my 3rd ebook app this year. I decided to give this a try after reading because of the good reviews I read about it. And after going through it for the past 2 weeks, I agree with the reviews. I like the idea of the 24-hour time frame analogy used in this app to represent the history of our universe; from the beginning till present day. And it helps a great deal also that the illustrations are beautiful and vivid.

Being an app also means you find multimedia elements, which enhances the presentation. They are not very detailed but sufficient enough to paint a clear picture. One can always google up more details. But before that, having the big picture helps.

Back In Time 2

In short, what I like most is the perspective presented by the app. I have always liked the use of timeline to give the bigger picture of everything, if possible. I believe that in understanding our position in the bigger picture it helps us understand things better and be better learners. When we learn things on a standalone basis without taking in the bigger picture, it's sometimes hard to see its relevance to our lives or even make sense of it. The bigger picture is usually hard to see but the makers of this app manage to do it in a way that even my primary school going kid could understand... with some help, of course.

Back In Time 3

The timeline in this app is cool. There is this black hole which you can push the topics that you are done into... in a way it represents the theory that one day, everything around us will be sucked into the black hole when our world begins to collapse.... the end of times.

The journey back in time begins with The Big Bang. The explanation is simple enough, the expansion of energy from that one point... And the makers chose the events which they felt were defining moments of our vast universe. It's a good job done considering our limited understanding of our universe. This beats a paper and print book cos you get to move the timeline and see the progress of time.

Back In Time 4

Another book under my belt. This year, my book review has gone onto another platform. I used to think that digital books would never replace the paper and print book that I grew up with. The demise of the latter is unavoidable as I can see it. We are in a transitional stage now, I feel.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Apple Is So Going To Own Our Lives

I downloaded the new iOS like many yesterday. And since yesterday, in between sitting with my girl who is having her exams soon and the distraction of the new iOS, I fiddled with my iPad and iPod. What caught my attention most was the iCloud. 5GB worth of free storage which can be accessed as long as you have an Internet connection. And so, this morning, I sat with my iPad and fiddled with the Reminder app. Then when I took up my iPod much later, lo and behold, everything that I had keyed in was there as well. iCloud made sure of it. The night before my spreadsheets went into the cloud too without so much of me batting an eyelid.

The new iOS is impressive. And it's also scary to think that Apple might own our lives too via this one day. Not too long ago, Pixar's animated movie, Toy Story changed the landscape of animated movies. The storyline is rather hazy in my mind now but I remember the cruel Emperor Zurg wanting to control the unamind which creates a collective mind (was it the little green people) so that he can conquer the universe. So many of us are happily embracing this newest convenience (the iCloud) that manages the data of our lives. What is there to stop the people who own the servers to mine the data there. Steve Jobs bought Pixar from George Lucas and it transformed the animation movie world. Toy Story was the company's first success. And in the movie, no toys get left behind. It's kind of reminds me how this little luxuries in the forms of iPhones,iPods and iPads have enabled many of us not to be left behind too... in education, the cool factor...no toys left behind in Toy Story. Apple products are now within the reach of the many of the masses. Less are getting left behind....

But what's scary with iCloud is your personal life goes into a cloud not owned by you. With FB you put out what you want to be seen by your audience. iCloud is different. The convenience might make you put in information which you would not put on a social networking site. And with this too, thieves and robbers will change with the new reality.

A decade ago, we talk about education in the light of producing knowledge workers... That will probably change too with the changes in the way information comes our way. In the past one year since we acquired our iPads, I've realized that knowledge alone is no longer enough. In the last decade or so, I'm seeing more emphasis in teaching thinking... Not that thinking was never taught but in my own experience I've been seeing a systematic dumbing down of kids by our over zealous education system which prizes the accomplishment of A(s) more than anything. The process of getting there causes us to train our kids to become experts in regurgitating. (Having policies which favor one race over others have also caused a systematic downgrading of our assessment.) We compromise quality for quantity. So, it is now common to find a student with an A+ in SPM English not able to write well at all. The A+ came about because the student had mastered the art of regurgitation. It's possible to do well in a subject like language which is actually a skill without actually having the skills. I know it sounds crazy but that's another reality of the success of our education system.

Anyway, knowledge alone is insufficient... I think we need to train our kids to be instinctive workers too; in that they can see the next step. We didn't even know that we 'needed' the iPad until Apple came out with it. Detractors said people would not find it useful. But Apple succeeded where other tablet makers have failed. They made the iPad so intuitive that both end of the spectrum (kids and seniors) could use it with minimal instruction. Same product but the people at Apple had Jobs who seemed to have the instinct to know what we need. A newborn baby thrives on human touch. iPhone, iPod, iPad, they all thrive on the human touch too. A knowledge worker will know how to solve a problem but might not have the instinct. A knowledge and instinctive worker will not only know but turn it into something that don't know we need yet. That is the genius that made Steve Jobs remarkable.

If iCloud really catches on, they have the making of their own unamind too. When I studied Sociology at university, I learned about the collective behaviour, how it is shaped. Remember The Matrix and the collective consciousness? Now, that script is not only filled with sic-fi knowledge but was also instinctive of what the future might look like.... man and machine co-existing. Which brings to attention Siri. Was just reading about how one guy asked silly questions to it and it actually came across as having a character... AI for the masses.

Just amazing how the last 5 years have seen the emergence of an intuitive technology and also why sometimes I wonder if Jobs had been given a few more years, what would it have been like. But think too, if after years of dependence on the iCloud (or its likes) and one day, it is taken away from us. Would we be able to function? With every bit of advancement, we give a bit of ourselves too. Whoever owns the cloud owns the people... very unamind like, don't you think?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

E for ....

Education.....

Education has been central in human civilization. Education comes in formal and informal forms. What we are more familiar today with is the formal type, the one that collects everyone within 4 walls where instructions and skills are mostly taught.

Education is supposed to be empowering. It empowers in a way that enables us to better our lives, it provides a more level playing ground. The poor has a way out of their poverty through education. It enables us to fit into the modern society by equipping us with the necessary tools; meeting the needs of the market, so to say. Long time ago, if you are born a slave or peasant, you are stuck there. So it would be woe to you if you were born in the bottom pile of the pyramid. Of course, if you were born a noble, you'll definitely have life easier.

Education is supposed to enhance. It gives you tools to improve, make better your life so to say. Instead of learning everything on your own, you draw on the expertise of others. You get to enjoy more of everything else, time, recreational activities.

Education is supposed to be embracing. It is supposed to open your mind to diversity, tolerate them and perhaps even try to understand within the confines of our small minds that differences should not be feared.

So, does our education system do the above? I'm inclined to think it only does up to a certain point. I read somewhere that we Malaysians must embrace hypocrisy. And I wonder whether that is a product of our education. And so here goes another round.....

Education is empowering... It empowers some of us to to say that God created some more equal than others. It allows us to claim that we are the special sons of the soil. The funny thing is, the earth is also made up of different soils.... And everything returns to the soil. So, here we have, each 'different type' of soil claiming that it is better than the other. Yet in nature, each type of soil has a specific role to play and together they make up part of Mother Earth. That kind of empowering is being carried out in schools..... direct or indirectly. Yup! Education does empower us to be hypocrites.

It enhances our hypocrisy and we enable it by using those tools that we've learned. The British did a good job by dividing us into different races. Some among us learned that it is an easy way to remain in power. More than 50 years have passed since the day the Brits left our soil and we remain more divided than ever. Even a first generation American Chinese would feel more loyal to America than a 3rd generation Malaysian Chinese. This is the byproduct of hypocrisy/

And then we make excuses that this is the reality of Malaysia. I wonder whether the core of that which makes up our soul teaches inequality. And in religious Malaysia, the core of our souls is supposed to be shaped by our faith. I read with interest the civil rights movement in America in the 60s, when the schools were forced to open their doors to the blacks. Yet, practicing White Christians were downright vehement in objecting. And their show of outrage was venomous too. I guess they must have forgotten Jesus' teaching to be fair, loving, compassionate, etc, etc... But at least there were more more right minded people who forced through equality and today, they have a 'colored' President. In Malaysia, we are still saying that our reality is different... yet, doesn't it feel that we seem no different than apartheid South Africa 20 years ago, really.

I guess in Malaysia, people here think they are God's chosen. A certain segment of the society might be more like the Jews than they care to admit actually. LOL! And perhaps too, that is why too more of the younger ones are turning away from religion, in part I guess shows the success of education. It has succeeded to teach them how to think somewhat.

You see this bunch of leaders who profess to believe in a God. You look at their lives. A leader spends RM10 million on his travel bill, footed by the taxpayers. And your mind goes, "Wow!" And indeed it is a figure that rightly brings out the wow in us. RM10 million goes a long way for the poor. So, your mind gets cracking. Conclusion - it's crap all this religion thingy. And so the masses begin to turn away. What we see happening in the West, the rise of the 'exotic' religions, perhaps, in part is fueled by such a thing, I supposed. And one day, it'll happen here too. Who would have seen the Arab Spring coming a decade ago? Similarly, why are some churches losing their appeal too? Far from being that sort of salt and light, we are now reading about allegations of scandals which involve super well known evangelists. Education has unfortunately taught us how to hide behind the veils of religion..... but also makes us realize...

Ramblings on a gray morning... and also before piles of papers end up on my table for grading.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More on Learning Mandarin...

One can only read the same stuff that many times before one feels bored. Been trying to learn and improve my Mandarin to teach my girl her Science which is in Mandarin. Ebooks that read to you are mostly kiddy ones. Then I remembered this... the Bible. It's practical and the reading list is endless...

Bibleis
Enter this iPad app called Bible.is. The opening screen says this - faith by hearing. And indeed it is faith by hearing! 8) It reads to you in Mandarin. I learn to recognize the Chinese characters by following it on the screen while it is read out to me. I like the way they read it too, making the Scriptures come alive, different voices and all that; multi roles. Bible.is comes in many languages - Malay language and even Hakka! This reads to me as many times as I want. And I can make it repeat it as often as I want too! It negates the need to ask someone do it for me. Humans get tired. Gadgets don't. Moreover, I will not feel sheepish at my own forgetfulness. The only snag is you need to be online for the audio section to work.
Holy Bible

The reading continues even when you open up other apps. And since I have some difficulty understanding everything, what I do is try to read the verse in its English equivalent while the reading is ongoing. I am also using YouVersion for the same purpose. The only difference is, this one doesn't provide you with the drama - no multi voices. It is more of a narrative. This a win-win situation cos I learn how to read and the Scriptures too.

Paul Avery

But if I want a side by side comparison, I use The Holy Bible by Paul Avery. The problem right now is the Mandarin translation that I have is not the simplified version.

One more example of how the iPad has enabled individualized learning... and doing a pretty good job at it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Words...

Words said, words not said... people get hurt from both, either from too much or not enough. Yet we cannot live without words. When our elder kid said his first words, it was a happy occasion. We couldn't wait to hear him spew out more words. A baby's words or babble make the heart soar. Yet that same mouth, 15 years down the road will be a source of anguish, bewilderment, amazement (of how much things can change over time) and so much more.

Words said... damage comes from words said. Harsh words wound the soul, sharp ones slice through the heart, incessant bugging irritates, nagging ones agitates.

Words not said... hurt comes from those not said. An explanation, a word of encouragement, a word of praise, a word of apology, a word of comfort, a word of love, a word of compassion... they gladden the heart, heal the wounds, lift the spirit. When not said, none of these have the chance to take root.

Words repeated, words reported... they sometimes take on a life of the reporter. Words not said become words said through the mouth of the one who reports and it becomes misinformation, a reason for discord. Funny, isn't it? Words... beautiful and ugly at the same time. We cannot escape it because words is life.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My iPad and I

I think it's beginning to become clearer that tablet computing will change education in ways we never imagined... and the picture became way clearer after Apple's iPad. Personally, in less than a year after we got our first iPad, it has enhanced many areas of my life.

After a few months of the first iPad, we realized that the iPad is highly personalized. Everything you play or touch stops at where you stop. The next person who uses it has to either start all over again or pick up from where it was left off. So it becomes highly disconcerting when someone uses an app that you had just used. It's like your space getting invaded and most of us can get quite irritated by that fact. And so, we got ourselves a second iPad, the iPad2.

The iPad has become many things to me. It became my library. I started packing all kinds of books into Stanza and iBook. I'd cut my reference books and scanned them so that I could carry them around. I downloaded books, magazines; all kinds of reading materials into it. Emailing articles to myself became a norm because the iPad is always there. Slowly my iPod Touch was relegated to be my book companion during gym time. The iPad enhanced my already wonderful reading experience after a year of fantastic reading time on my iPod Touch.

I'm now thinking iPhone because it would make it more convenient for me to learn Mandarin via the Pleco app. I used to think of the iPhone as quite unnecessary but now has now become a 'need' because it will aid greatly in helping me learn Mandarin. Its camera can auto focus, a feature which will make live OCR a more pleasant experience. The iPad became my teacher where Mandarin is concerned. But it's too big to hold over words to scan them. While it may not teach me the nuances of the language, it's probably the best teacher I have at the moment. No human teacher will be able to withstand the same repeated query that I give out. The 4s comes with a camera which with a f2.4 lens, which makes it an added pull.

The iPad has seeped into my work. It is quite clear to me that tablets will be integral to education. But I also think our MOE is slow to respond to this technology. Unlike other countries, we have not even yet started mulling over its applications. We should start working on digital textbooks and apps to aid teachers. There're very few if no education apps tailored to our local needs at the moment. So I adapt from whatever I can get my hands on. And teachers should be exposed to the educational possibilities offered by tablet computing. The iPad has become my most convenient and faithful personal assistant at work.. I also use it to keep records of work given and student data. My extensive library means I never run out of exercises or ideas. At home, I have a HP printer which makes printing on the go a breeze. I can be anywhere in the house to send a document for printing, as long as there is a wifi connection. Printing on the fly. But when there is none, I have my MIFI to fall back on.

There was one day I was teaching a poem and I had difficulty trying to describe the guango tree to my students. The iPad was very handy. Word definitions, extra information came in a jiffy. I could even show my class how the guango tree look like. A picture speaks a thousand words. It is also changing my mindset where learning is concerned. I am beginning to realize more too how learning will take on a more individualized form. The teachers will eventually be mentors. We should increasingly take on the role of managing and guiding the students in their learning. Our roles will be one that helps to connect the dots to a bigger picture. Going online during lessons enhances learning too, I believe. There is a greater need for dynamism and willingness to adapt on the teachers' end. Without that, we will be quite ineffective as agents of educational advancement.

In the days before the iPad, I had only the Besta Dictionary to rely on. And it costs just as much as an iPad. With the iPad, I get a more versatile 'Chinese teacher' and it meets my other 'needs' too. For me, the one most dramatic contribution of the iPad has been how enabling it has been in my learning of Mandarin. As for Pleco, I have nothing but praises for the people behind it. After purchasing it, I had some trouble getting it to work. It seemed that the ITunes servers had been under hackers' attack on the day I made my purchase. The Pleco support was fast and efficient. Within the day itself, my problem was resolved and each email I received was signed by Michael Love himself. Michael is the founder of the Pleco company. It's interesting also to read up how he hacked up a usable Chinese dictionary with a Palm IIIx in his early days. Other Half and I went through a couple of Palms. My first e-book was read on a Palm V. And it has evolved into the Pleco on the iPad I use today. It takes someone who has gone through the difficulties of learning Mandarin to come up with those features that Pleco has which reduces much of my pain of learning Mandarin. Only someone who has gone through the struggle understands.

Ebooks have transformed the way books are presented. Reading is a different experience for my girl. I've bought The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, The Magic of Reality, and they're awesome. I am in the midst of downloading Back In Time which is supposed to be a cool ebook too! Today these are novelty but sometime in the future they will all become the norm.

Magazines! Articles! Blogs! News aggregators aggregate them for me. You have CNN, Editions from AOL, Malaysian News App, Singapore News App... the list is quite, quite long. There are always more than I can read. Individualized learning, continual and lifelong learning... the iPad is totally capable in providing that sort of platform. The local newspapers feel rather boring after all these, I can tell you. So, you'll pardon me if I think teachers will be obsolete or utterly boring if we are not able to keep up with the tools and know how of how education will change in the coming years or even the possibilities that might open themselves up.

There are apps to make my tasks for many things easier... the Bloomberg app to monitor the markets. I even bought Bento just to try out. With Jib Jab, we had some fun personalizing books and teasing our little girl. Even Barrels had a go at this book. My girl has had countless hours of fun with the Talking apps. Sometimes it seems so crazy but I also realized that it gives them an outlet for fun which is good as a stress buster.

Even in between household chores, I could surf the Net. Or listen to a talk (podcast, sermons, talks) downloaded earlier or make quick references. Recipes abound in the Net. Multitasking has never been easier..... I am constantly learning about the existence of sites which can complement classroom teaching, the simple reason being the ease of use. I get to copy ideas from everywhere. I used to have to sit for hours in front of the computer to do that. These days, I do it on the go. I don't see any courses organized by the Education Department teaching us or at least giving us teachers an idea to do that. It's hard to imagine us moving forward with such lack of vision.

And games...they've never been more fun. There're opportunities for family interactions via the games. The iPod Touch (we have 3) become the racks, the iPad the board. You have Fragger HD, Asphalt 6 which are just entertaining enough. No need for joystick, just one tool, and super intuitive too. If that is not a one all tool we need most of the time, I don't know what is.

Twitter

I always found budget speeches boring to sit through. This year I multitasked... played some games, passed some comments, read some while following Budget 2012 on Twitter. I use MyPad, which enabled me to switch between Twitter and FaceBook in one single app. In one day, I followed 10 new people on Twitter - Parliamentarians and newspapers. I did not have to sit glued to the TV. And I got all the salient points. After the budget was over, I downloaded the Budget Speech into my iPad where I could read in detail the areas of interest. This morning my colleague wanted to confirm something in the budget. I whipped out the file I downloaded and showed it to her. Last week, I downloaded a Surat Siaran to read and when my clerk said she had no copy of it, I emailed it to her immediately from my iPad. Information at my finger tips.

In the days after the passing of Jobs, I've been watching his videos and my admiration for him has grown even more. Imagine this, he was already talking about the iCloud back in 1997 and even Siri way before that too! He's truly a remarkable man. People may not be able to open up the iPad to see what's under it that makes it run but little kids, senior citizens... they have all warmed up to this tablet. And that's the genius behind Jobs. He made all these possible, for us to own that little bit of luxury that is so simple to use. And he truly deserves to be compared alongside the greats in history like Einstein, Newton, Edison.... I started writing this post this morning on my 3 year old MacBook and end it here on my iPad on Blogsy.... in a couple of minutes, tomorrow dawns.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Viet Cafe Revisited

They have moved! Have blogged about their old place here.

Viet Cafe

And this is their new premise, located at the block of shophouses next to TESCO Mergong. It's dining gone boutique. The new place also offers alfresco dining. There're a few tables outside, still within the building premise itself, just beside the corridor. In Alor Setar, the City Council very often seems to selectively go after outlets who put tables on the corridor while just beside the block of new shops, many hawker stalls have set up business on the pavements. They are an eyesore and I wonder how the authorities don't make these operators operate from hawker centres with clean water supply. One wonders about hygiene at such roadside stalls.

We took a drive around the new blocks of shops after dinner and discovered that there are quite a few restaurants at that locality, including a steamboat and barbecue outlet that had just opened that very same day. This seems a nice new place for a dining experience of another sort in Alor Setar. There're also the hawker food stalls to dive into too.

Viet Cafe Menu
New premise with new menus... well, they seem to have just added the Oriental Seafood Menu.
Fried Spring Rolls
Finger food... fried spring rolls with its own sauce. I used to order this at their old premise whenever I went.
Spring Rolls
The non-fried version. It will probably taste a bit 'bland' to those used to strong flavours. But if you take time to savour the natural flavours of the vegetables used, it's actually quite nice.
Indonesian Fried Rice
Cafe-type of food... one dish meal, Asian style. This is Other Half's order of Indonesian Fried Rice. Notice the curry leaves? They give the rice this pungent smell. This makes a nice meal on its own.
Fish With Onion Sauce
I ordered their Garlic, Onion, Fish Rice. It was spicy enough to make me reach out for tissue papers. Fried with onions, dried prawns (plenty of it), onions, lemon grass and chillies, it's enough to make one sweat a bit. But it's tasty. The sauce goes very well with the non-fried spring rolls. 8)
Four Seasons Beans
We ordered this, the Four Seasons Beans from their Oriental Seafood Menu just for the fun of it. It's quite nice, with minced meat, garlic, mushrooms and dried prawns (??). Food is quite nice but be prepared to wait a bit if there is a crowd as they seemed understaff at the moment. Renovation is still ongoing as this restaurant. It seems they will be catering for meetings at the hotel which will be opening soon too. The restaurant is part of the hotel set-up, I think.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pinjam, Borrow, Lend and Rent

It's PMR season, well.. it's ending soon, anyway. Today's students are a pampered lot. Just prior to the exam, they had their sembahyang session with them, to seek for blessings. Pencils and erasers were given out to each student. Many schools do that. All of us like to be perceived as prihatin.

Today afternoon was Geography paper. I saw hordes of students crowding round their Geography teacher before the paper began.... upon scrutiny I noticed that they were borrowing protractors. The teacher had a bag full of protractors.... I am sure the teachers were also busy lending out calculators and rulers for the Math paper too. I see my colleagues supplying graph papers, rulers, even exercise books. And the reason given is if they don't do that, the students won't be able to learn. See where the students get the idea that we owe it to them??? It's from us.

And that's how it's like throughout the year... borrowing and lending, always forgetting to bring this or that. And teachers would just keep lending or renting those tools which they require during term. And the number of students who borrow or rent just don't seem to get any lesser. In fact, there seems to be more of them now.

I remember when my boy was younger, and he'd sometimes forget to bring his things to school. He would call home and usually his long suffering dad would send the thing he forgot to school. And it happened frequently... he didn't appreciate his father's prihatin-ness. In fact he began to take it for granted that we owed it to him to make sure he has the stuff he needed.

Second time around, with our daughter, we decided early on to let her bear the consequences of her own actions. Guess what, she seldom forgets her things. The fear of punishment plus the knowledge that we will not bail her out for her own irresponsibility made her more responsible. Period.

Parents, teachers, the whole system that we're in make us like that. The preferential policies that we have in place which are racially biased has also played a big part in contributing to our current state of more irresponsible young people. Empathy is often an excuse to do the less right thing. Empathy is an escape route to an easier path.

It's tiring to keep at it... to bug and mete out punishments for those who forget. But with persistence, I have also discovered that the students do toe the line. Many actually do take responsibility for their own learning eventually. But the earlier years until the marginal madness dissipates, require a lot perseverance, persistence from the teachers. Many of us seem to prefer the easier way out... give in. We get the grades we want and hope they just pick up whatever they need to pick up as they grow up.

Parents too seem to be heading that direction. We are encouraged to understand the psychology of kids. The thing is we also want our time to do the things we want and enjoy our life. So we also do the same, believing that our children will learn to be responsible at some point. Maybe or maybe not. Parenting and teaching... they're not much different. Both require the same stuff.

So, PMR season is just about to end. Soon it'll be SPM and STPM. The pencil and eraser giving will continue. When term begins next year, the lending and borrowing will continue too... Teachers expect to, students expect it. We need to show that we empathize.... they feel we owe it to them. The vicious cycle is perpetuated by the people in it... Just great, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Of Marginal Behaviour

Schools often get teacher trainees on Rancangan Orientasi Sekolah or ROS. They will be attached to a school for a week or two to observe how a school is run as part of their coursework. This is to enable them to get a feel of the school environment before they go for their teaching practical a few months down the road.

We recently got 2 young men, undergoing their KPLI. Because of the PPSMI, the MOE sponsored quite a big number of undergraduates to universities in English speaking countries like the UK, Australia to pursue their basic degrees, mainly in the Sciences. So when our Minister says one reason why PPSMI cannot continue is due to competency issues, such teachers would eventually solve that problem. It'll take time though but PPSMI has already been running so many years.

The two young men who came to my school have just come back from the UK. Anyway, they are different from other trainees I've come across in my years as a teacher. For one, these are not young men who come into teaching after a few years of trying their luck outside and finding it hard to find their place. These were plucked fresh from school and given scholarships to pursue a basic degree with the agreement that when they graduate they'll come back for a year of KPLI before becoming teachers. Many of them come from residential schools; meaning, at least their formative environment would have set them apart in terms of attitude. Having spent years abroad would have at least given them the opportunity to see their world from a different perspective. And those stuff would make them different from many....

And we've been seeing rather interesting responses from our marginal people at school these couple of days, marginal behavior which makes one shake head. LOL! First, let me reiterate that these young teachers-to-be still have that boyish enthusiasm, looks.... see the difference? We've been getting to many 'old' male trainee teachers... LOL!

These young men sit opposite me. And for the past few days, traffic at my usually quiet area has gone up a few notches. And I've been seeing really silly behavior up close. One student kept coming up to my colleague to ask questions, and when there were errors to be erased in her book, she even ran back to her classroom to get her eraser. She could have just taken her book back to class! LOL! And as the instruction was going on, I could see her throwing furtive glances at them. And students who never frequent the Staff Room have been coming in, wandering around, pretending to look for something... with this smitten, bowled over, impish grins on their faces. I thought I was seeing all those classic symptoms of a concert crazed audience.... Infatuation deeply scratched into their marginal minds...

Then as I was going back to the staff room, it just so happened that the two young men were in front of me. Sandwiched between us were 4 girls. It was comical just to see them.... adjusting their tudung, slapping each other to spur each other, whispering and giggling.... If I didn't know any better the state of their marginal minds, I should be excused for thinking that they are mad.... madly smitten. Apparently, there are students who await the coming in and going out(s) of these soon-to-be teachers too in the mornings. And more students seem to be offering their services to carry teachers' bags into the staff room.

It seems to when the young men were introduced to the school, teachers saw all kinds of silliness among the students, especially the girls. Marginal minds tend to throw caution to the wind. Marginal minds don't seem quite able to control their actions... I think made even worse by the way we educate our kids today... And I am seeing more brash behavior too, coming to the fore... definitely not our Asian values. LOL! More and more, the young people seem uninhibited. In recent years, I've had students who have had no qualm about baring themselves for photos or even sending out such pics of themselves out to their friends. Exhibitionist tendencies are now seen more. Girls are getting louder, sometimes to the point of seemingly 'kasar'.

Flower

I wonder too whether too it's because there is less instructions from the home since many parents work these days. As for these young men... they are nice chaps who seem to have a heart for teaching. I was teasing them to enjoy this movie star adulation and adoration.... In the meantime, up to half of my school population might be swooning for the next 2 weeks...

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Magic of Reality... by Richard Dawkins

Magic of Reality 1

This is an ebook, an iPad app. This book generated much attention when it came out, for different reasons. It was highly rated as an educational app and I thought I'd give it a try. But this is one book which perhaps should come with its own cinema-like rating, not because it contains vulgarity but because it denies religion its place in the big picture. Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, which basically puts him alongside Darwin. To put it in a nutshell, he believes science is all that is needed to explain everything there is to be explained on this earth.

Magic of Reality 3

I've gone through the book and it has a very educational content. The artwork is really nice. It has interesting experiments. Layout is excellent, pleasing to the eye. And animations are used to make concepts very easy to grasp. Almost every chapter has an animation to explain a concept or an experiment to help us appreciate science. It has an edge over traditional text books because everything feels so vivid and there is interaction. One can feel science coming alive in this book. This is an example of how the various media can be utilized to really enhance the learning process. I enjoyed the science coming alive part very much.
Magic of Reality4

Dawkins is an atheist. So it's only expected that he treads the atheist line. Everything else is myth to him. His contention is that faith is a delusion and to that end, he refers to everything as myth except that which can be proven by science. But then again, the science of evolution is also based on many conjectures cos no one has truly seen it happen... it's all a belief too! Science when used to proof the theory of evolution lends it much credence too. But this form of science, as much as I may not fully understand it, is also based a lot of us filling in the blanks with many unknowns too.

Years ago I remember reading about Lucy, the Australopithecus aferensis discovered in Kenya. It was hailed as a significant find as evolutionists said that it was the missing link to man's evolution. Then other studies came out saying that it might not have been a direct descendent. And there was Ardi, supposedly another link. As certain as the study of science is supposed to be, the study of evolutionary science is also filled with big holes with big question marks.

Anyway, this book is quite an eye-opener for me, an experience on its own. It's a little pricey though, @ USD$13.99. Book 25.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Kesian (kasihan) Culture

Kasihan (or when spoken sounds like kesian) is well and too alive in our midst today. Actually,, I think we are living in an empathy crazed society. Translated loosely into English kesian means pity, empathy. We empathize way too much today. In school, the practice today is we try to be understanding. We try to empathize... and that's where we ourselves go sesat. Empathy, it seems does not make us do the right thing.

A teacher warns the class at the beginning of the year that work must always be handed in on time. Right from the very first homework, a student fails to complete his homework. He tells the teacher that he had to help with a kenduri over the weekend and could not complete his homework. It's his brother's wedding. Now do you let him off? He expects empathy from you cos it's his brother's wedding. And if you take action, you will seem so unreasonable. So, you let him off the hook because he tells you some story about having to help with the massive cooking and entertaining the guests. The parameters were set earlier, yet when it was broken, we empathize. Punishing him would make us look as if we have no heart. Empathizing with him makes us feel good, look good...

Empathy... I found myself empathizing with my kid back in his teenage years. The more I tried to empathize, the more he learned to work around things. I was trying too hard to be his friend. I've realized this, we go through phases with our kids too. There is a time when we should be friends, but that phase comes after we are parents to them. To be a parent means you have to rebuke, remind... do all the unpopular things first. So that he gets onto the right path, a helpful routine. To get gold, we literally have to wrest it out from the earth. Same goes for diamonds too. You don't get beautiful things without effort. Similarly good kids don't just happen to be there.... somewhere along, someone, some experience need to show them the way...

So empathy... recollections from those who surveyed the Holocaust showed that many of the Nazi soldiers were crying as they sent the Jews to their deaths. Those deaths were horrible deaths... death by gassing, being mowed down, they did all kinds of horrible unimaginable things. Yet those soldiers continued with their task. It seemed that when their personal interest was at stake, empathy does nothing. Duty on the other hand makes men willing to die for their country.

Students misbehave all the time. When you have enforced rules, a better learning environment is created. Troublemakers get less opportunity to drag everyone else down with them. Because there is more empathy and less discipline, recalcitrant students learn that they are able to get away with their disruptive behavior. They are emboldened. Chaos descend after a while. Marginal minds after all follow their equally marginal hearts.

Parents try too much to empathize too. When you empathize you are actually trying to be a friend. A kid needs parents to enforce a certain discipline in his life. I learned it the hard way. In trying to empathize with my boy when he was in his teens, we brought out the little monster in him. I look back into my own childhood and that of many of my friends'. I think our parents instilled into us, first and foremost a sense of duty. When we were too marginal to understand, they made sure that we knew we had a duty to our parents and family. But as I grew older, that sense of duty was slowly transferred to ourselves. It is only with maturity that one is able to differentiate and carry out decisions which we don't feel like doing but know that is needed.

Empathy... It makes us favor people too, our friends and family. We feel for our friends, so we tell them only things we know they'll want to hear. We try not to be harsh because we don't want to break them down. We don't seem to realize that sometimes we need to say the unpleasant things, stand up for the wrong, even sacrifice. Well, sacrifice is perhaps too big to ask for. Say, someone goes up to the pulpit and share in church about how a certain TV station's broadcast has helped her.... The problem is it's an 'illegal' satellite TV station. And no one from the leadership comes out and clarify the issue... That's what is plaguing the Muslims in this country too; the cow head incident, church arson, corruption cases. The sense of duty, it feels, is all mixed up in the cauldron of empathy. Sometimes, it's hard to see whether religious institutions are there because we believe in an eternity or it's just there as a tool to further our own personal agendas.... God just happens to be a good idea to use cos it gets us what we want.

A sense of duty, a sense of empathy... both leave lasting legacies. One ensures that we do what is required and right while the other ensures that we carry out as we feel....