Saturday, November 08, 2008

No, we can't!

Obama's response to questions about Ahmedinejad's congratulatory letter on Awani Global really put a damper on my euphoric state over his victory.
Israeli's relevance to the US? Hmm ...
Obama: A nuclear-armed Iran would be 'unacceptable'
Nov. 7, 2008
JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST
In his first press conference since securing the United States presidency on Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama said Friday that a nuclear-armed Iran would be "unacceptable."
Asked whether he responded to the letter of congratulation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - the first instance of an Iranian leader congratulating an American president-elect since the Islamic Revolution which brought the ayatollahs to power in 1979 - Obama said "I am aware that the letter was sent," adding that so soon after the election there had been no time to "review the letter and respond as appropriate."
Obama also said that Iran's support of terror groups "must cease," and that the US must mount "an international effort to keep [Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons] from happening."
His opening speech at the conference implied that the global economic crisis would be one of the first matters to be tackled after his inauguration on January 20, 2009.
Regarding both the Iranian issue and the economy, Obama reminded reporters that the US "can only have one president at a time," and that US President George W. Bush's administration was still the US government until his inauguration.
Regarding Iran, Obama said "I want to be very careful that we are sending the right signals to the world as a whole that I am not the president and I won't be until January 20th," and avoided outlining a policy whilst Bush remains in power.
Asked what would be his current response to the Bush administration's handling of the economy, Obama said "the critical tone that has to be struck by all of us right now is the American people need help, the economy needs help, and now is a good time to set politics aside for a while and think practically what would actually work to help."
He said the middle class would be the demographic most in need of help, saying 95 percent of Americans would benefit from his economic agenda.
Obama said he and his wife Michelle were "graciously" invited by Bush and his wife Laura to visit the White House.
Asked about consulting with former US presidents, Obama said he met with all former presidents "who are living," including Republican George Bush, father of the current president and the man who presided over Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in the early 1990s.
Obama said he also read the biographies of former presidents and cited former US president Abraham Linclon as "an extraordinary inspiration."
Finally, a reporter asked what breed of dog the Obamas will bring to the White House, a question that seems to be high on the mind of Americans, according to Obama. He said the family considered taking a dog from a shelter, but eventually decided against taking a dog that would be "a mutt like me," referring to his mixed Caucasian and African lineage.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes, we can!


Finally, I'm compelled to write about a historic occasion after a two month hiatus.
(Never mind the Hari Raya prayers at the Shah Alam mosque, the Sultan's and MB's open houses; they are now a distant memory. But wait ... I can still recall the irate "taxpayer" (I presume) at the Istana who objected to the rakyat entering through the side gate, and not the main gate, and the attractive young woman in her tube dress that just about covered her 'endowments'. I certainly hope that Khalid Ibrahim is still pursuing his vision of a zero-poverty state based on the Caliphate Economic Model that he shared with me two Hari Rayas ago at Anwar Ibrahim's house in Bukit Damansara. And I pray that he values ALL his supporters, including the single mother of two endearing boys, a 12 year old and an infant, who was willing to pay RM80 for cab fare to and from Taman Tun Razak to attend his 'rumah terbuka').
Well, I guess I'm just another sucker for emotional appeals in political campaign speeches but I had to wipe tears from the corner of my eyes upon hearing both McCain's concession and Obama's victory speeches.
(With the amount of campaign money raised and media coverage on the Republican and Democratic candidates, I have completely forgotten that I had rooted for Ralph Nader, the real McCoy and the genuine article, in 2004. Tell me all about 'agenda setting function' of the media.)
Although I had my share of flak for politicians, I do admire their magnanimity and grace in the face of defeat as well as their astuteness in encapsulating their thoughts while endearing themselves to their constituencies at very such notice.
I had managed to sneak away to follow the US presidential election results at the Renaissance earlier today. It was indeed a poignant moment - not just for the African Americans, but for all US, and perhaps global, citizens.
Throughout his speech, I pictured a son of a white American woman from the counter-cultural generation who had an eclectic background. Never would anyone imagine that he will be the 44th commander-in-chief of the US of A.
What remain etched in my mind, though, was his call for American patriotism to forge unity and reconciliation. Let's hope he'll able to live up to his campaign promises before the various lobbyists, neo-cons or neo-libs close in on him.
Congratulations, Mr Prez-elect!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Selamat jalan, semoga impianmu menjadi kenyataan


I wonder if any mother could hold back her tears when parting with her daughters, or sons, for that matter.
NIA finally left for the Big Apple (NY, NY) at 8:50AM on flight MH090. Tears welled up as I said goodbye and wished her all the best for her life ahead.
It seems like only yesterday when she was a rambunctious kid; today, she's a dewy eyed young adult chasing her dreams.
(Updated on 27/08/08)
NIA called at 10:38AM to say that she arrived at Newark late due to flight delay. She had to share the shuttle to Sheraton Meadowland, NJ, with two 'cold' and 'cliquish' fraulines. However, she's getting along swell with roommates from Brazil (the girls from Ipanema are sure hot, eh?). The city tour was 'awesome' and she'll be in Manhattan or Long Island by Thursday afternoon (Eastern time). I could hardly wait to revisit NYC and Boston.
http://www.motherdaughterdance.com/grouchy.jpg

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The 11th Hour


And so the saga continues in Malaysian political telenovela/soap opera. Last night, Malaysians celebrated the "opening up" of the public sphere or democratic space by the historic televised debate between Anwar Ibrahim and Shabery Cheek. This afternoon, they were shocked by the dramatic arrest of the former DPM, now the Parti KeADILan Rakyat's advisor, by Special Squad police personnel with balaclavas.
Talk about deja vu or is it a repeat of a highly rated episode?
In any case, I would like to alert those who have not watched the 11th Hour to do so, join the movement and reduce our addiction on consumer capitalism in general and dependency on fossil fuel in particular.
http://11thhouraction.com

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sepi the movie


Another product from Kabir Bhatia but with a slightly different 'take' on life, love and loneliness.
Although not as riveting as Cinta, Sepi's plot has its own twists and turns that made the audience sit up and made sense of some of its scenes.
In a nutshell, it is a narrative of three people's lives that intersected at one fateful moment and unravelled from then on.
Adam, a chef, realised that he should marry the woman he loves rather than settle for the one who loves him; Sufi, a shoe maker, ran from the memories that haunted him to a destiny denied; and Imaan, a playwright, woke from a coma to bid farewell to her past and greet her future.
Syed Hussein as Ean was convincing as the persistent suitor to Baizura Kahar's feisty Imaan while Pierre Andre's Khalif was a self-effacing 'phantom' who was jealous of her new relationship yet not bold enough to stake his claim.
Muhammad Riefqie's Ashraff was credible as a grieving yet discerning child.
http://www.sepithemovie.com/

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The morning after ...

I must confess that I did join the hordes of motorists who waited in the long queus for last minute fill ups at petrol kiosks last night.
Not so much to take advantage of the pre-revised price*, but simply because my tank was almost empty.
It pained me though to observe the dependency of local motorists on their vehicles, or other 'wonders' of technology for that matter, for their sense of identity or social status.
Perhaps the exorbitant price increase will force us to change and adopt a more eco-friendly life style after all.
Perhaps, from here on, some of my colleagues will stop feeling sorry for me when they see me walking from home to office and back.
Correct me if I'm wrong but economists such as Amartya Sen and Inayatullah have long advocated austere or frugal development policies so as to be kind to our wallets, souls, and Mother Nature.
*For those who don't have to pay for their own petrol consumption, the price of unleaded petrol went up by 41% or 78 sen per litre effective June 5 2008.
=========================================================================================Here's a short excerpt from an article "The freedom to be frugal" by Molly Scott Cato, a lecturer at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff. She is economics spokesperson for the Green Party in England and Wales and was one of the party's candidates for Wales in the 2004 elections to the European Parliament.
"An unexpected consequence of the relative definition of poverty and the growth dynamic that underlies it is the loss of another freedom: the freedom to be poor. In response to the realisation that the level of consumption of most citizens in the developed world is a threat to the survival of our species, some environmentalists have adopted a frugal lifestyle, yet this can result in disapproval from their neighbours. In an article called 'Poor not Different', the German economist Wolfgang Sachs tells of a visit he made to Mexico City shortly after the 1985 Earthquake. He was impressed by the restoration that had been carried out:
We had expected ruins and resignation, decay and squalor, but our visit had made us think again: there was a proud neighbourly spirit, vigorous activity with small building co-operatives everywhere; we saw a flourishing shadow economy. But at the end of the day, indulging in a bit of stock-taking, the remark finally slipped out: 'It's all very well, but, when it comes down to it, these people are still terribly poor.' Promptly, one of our companions stiffened: 'No somos pobres, somos Tepitanos' ('We are not poor people, we are Tepitans') ... I had to admit to myself in embarrassment that, quite involuntarily, the clich├ęs of development philosophy had triggered my reaction. (Sachs, 1992: 161)
The insult was created by Sachs's assumption that he could impose an objective judgement of poverty, that he could decide from the outside the acceptable standard of living, that he could deprive the Tepitans of their right to be poor. As Sachs concludes, "The stereotyped talk of 'poverty' fails to distinguish, for example, between frugality, destitution and scarcity ... Frugality is the mark of cultures free from the frenzy of accumulation." His conclusion about the Mexican village where he was working was that 'Poverty here is a way of life maintained by a culture which recognizes and cultivates a state of sufficiency; sufficiency only turns into demeaning poverty when pressurized by an accumulating society.' (Sachs, 1992: 161)
Readers can access the full article at http://www.feasta.org/documents/review2/cato.htm

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Start Your Day with P.O.P and Change the World!

The International Museum of Women (I.M.O.W), a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is spearheading an important online campaign to inspire women around the world to connect with other women and spark a global dialogue around the issue of why women's political power matters.
The Power of Politics Campaign (P.O.P) in conjunction with I.M.O.W.'s new global online exhibition Women, Power and Politics is asking women around the world to take part in the exhibition and educate themselves about why women's political participation makes a difference in every woman's life.
The exhibition will showcase historical and contemporary political stories about women in provocative ways just as the spotlight intensifies on groundbreaking campaigns, elections, and leadership of women from Argentina to the United States. The exhibition runs from March 8 - December 31, 2008 in four languages: Arabic, French, English, and Spanish at www.imow.org
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Did You Know?
The United States ranks 67th globally in including women in high-ranking political representation? That means that only 16% of the U.S. Congress is comprised of women.*
Out of 200 countries in the world, less than 40 have ever had a woman as a prime minister or president.*
By understanding the historical role of women in politics and learning how women today can influence politics to transform the futures of women and girls, facts such as these will hopefully become obsolete as women ascend to more powerful positions in various political arenas around the world.
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The P.O.P campaign has 5 really easy steps that women can take TODAY to help increase their political knowledge, inspire each other to become active in the political process and support women who are interested in running for both informal and formal political positions worldwide:
Step 1: Connect with the Women, Power and Politics global online community of people who are talking to each other 24 hours, 7 days a week about the role of women in politics and how they can use their individual power to help other women.
Step 2: Share with us how politics has shaped your life by submitting stories, poetry, art, photography, political cartoons and/or music to our Women, Power and Politics exhibition at www.imow.org. Your submission may be chosen to be included in the worldwide exhibition!
Step 3: Take Action in your own community or help a woman in another country by connecting with one of our community partners at www.imow.org. Here you can connect with various organizations and learn how to run for political office, tap into political networks and register to vote among other life-changing activities.
Step 4: Spread the word to your family, friends and colleagues and promote the P.O.P campaign on blogs, your MySpace and Facebook pages and any other online network to which you belong. You can also create links to www.imow.org.
Step 5: Donate to the International Museum of Women and help us to continue our work to inspire and connect women around the world at www.imow.org.
Take one step or all five and help women globally learn about the importance of the Power of Politics in her life today! Thank you for your support.
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Note:
* Statistics provided by (1) The Interparlimentary Union Report, 2006 based on U.S. House of Representatives and (2) International Museum of Women Independent Research from the Women, Power and Politics Exhibition 2008.

Monday, June 02, 2008

An Interview With An 80-year-old Woman


The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just gotten married -- for the fourth time.
The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband's occupation.
"He's a funeral director," she answered.
"Interesting," the newsman thought. He then asked her if she wouldn't mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living.
She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years. After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she'd first married a banker when she was in her early 20s, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40s, later on a preacher when in her 60s, and now in her 80s, a funeral director.
The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.
She smiled and explained, "I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."
Just hope this joke doesn't offend anyone's sensibility!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Interlude: Happy Mother's Day


(Dedicated to all mothers, biological or otherwise)
Airmata Ibu
Artist: Siti Nurhaliza
Lirik Lagu
Apakah sebenarnya
Terbuku dikalbumu
Apakah erti linang airmata di pipimu
Ucapkanlah padaku
Tak bisa kurungkainya
Rahsia yang kau pendam itu
Aku hanya menduga
Tidak mampu merasa
Sebenar-benar perasaanmu
Pengorbanan yang kau lakukan
Untuk dewasakan ku
Pengorbanan yang kau lakukan
Untuk dewasakanku
Hanya bisa ditanggung oleh hati ibu
Namun kupercaya
Takkan terlerai kasih
Ikatan ini takkan putus
Telah kau telan lara
Dan terima segala
Dugaan dan badai yang melanda...
Duhai ibu
It's been four years since Mak left us and I hope she will find perpetual peace in His Garden, fragrant with her favourite jasmine (melur). Just like Yat who breathed her last when I was taking a break outside the room of the krankenhaus in Bonn 14 years ago, Mak passed away in UH when I went home to refresh myself. I read somewhere that most people don't want the person they love most to see them die.
I hope that's how special I was to Mak and Yat coz I remembered how the nurses (both in KL, and Bonn) would tell me that how Mak, and Yat, would look forward to my extended visits and care-giving. One of them said that Mak would refuse to open her eyes until I arrived at her ward. Mak, forgive me for being so stubborn, for making the wrong life choices, for buckling under pressure while we were under the same roof and for just about anything that caused you to shed a tear.
AL-MU'MIN Surah No. 40 Verse No. 39
"Wahai kaumku! Sesungguhnya kehidupan dunia ini hanyalah kesenangan (untuk sementara waktu sahaja), dan sesungguhnya hari akhirat itulah sahaja negeri yang kekal."
Translations by Abdullah Yusuf Ali
"O my people! This life of the present is nothing but (temporary) convenience: It is the Hereafter that is the Home that will last."
Amin.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Waiting For Godot* (Part 1)


Picking up the thread from my former colleague ("Everyone's a fan" blogger Sheih, http://kickdefella.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/sheih-on-sheih-persona-non-grata-years-the-beginning-of-the-end), I too felt like indulging in some stream of consciousness ramblings.
For one, I need to clear my head after checking the nth exam script that spewed back what I had delivered in my lectures.
And for another, I'm looking forward to 'find my inner success nature' from this Masters of Success session that I'll be attending tomorrow (refer to flyer).
So, here goes ...
It was one of those evenings when TF was in the mood for 'readings'. She shuffled and laid the tarot cards on the table, turned them and looked straight into her eyes: "There's a king on a horse and ... a 'hang' man". A 'hang' man or a 'hung' man, as in a 'hung' jury? "A hang man - his hands and feet are tied, he's hung upside down from a tree, unable to move."
That was must have been more than five years ago. And yet, rewind to ten, 15, 20 years ..... "the-beginning-of-the-end", the liberation, the rennaissance, the renewal, a 'new dawn'?
It felt so great to be free from the sham and the shackle that for the next years that she was away, she relished the freedom and the solitude, even on winter mornings when the void and the loneliness just gnawed deep at her gut. Then she would just put on her coat, get out and let the cold wind brush against her cheeks. Tears were so rare - like rain in the desert - they hardly ever flowed.
It was flattering to have admirers (at a safe distant, not too close, and certainly not intimate). "Ah! They're attached anyway". Even after they had 'unattached' themselves, she hardly ever thaw. "It's just too complicated, with me at grad school, the kids at grade school, the cultural differences, yadda, yadda ..."
And so began the pull between desire and resistance, the need for companionship and the fear of intimacy, the risk of being hurt and betrayed, the never ending circumnavigating but never stopping, never braking, no making of decision, no taking of action. Just looking from a distance, from outside looking in at other people's lives, at the attempts, the gestures ... immobilised, paralysed, in a limbo, a perpetual liminal state.
Four years, and it was time to say goodbye. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, to have caused so much pain, even if it was from a distance." She was sad, and glad, to leave. She wished she had accepted all the help, the favors, the protection, the love offered to her. How different her life story, her narrative, her script, would be. Yet, she was glad she hadn't, or "could you imagine how difficult it would be to leave, or to stay for that matter"?
Would she still be who she is if she had been the subservient assistant, the docile companion, the disempowered damsel in distress?
She was proud that she made it on her own all those years, and yet her pride and stubbornness had ruined her chances at success. Never mind the sabotages (and self-sabotage). She crinched at the thought of failure; she had wished that the earth would just open up and swallowed her and she never had to face the whispers, the talks behind her back, the snide remarks.
Back home, and it was like walking back into the prison that she had tried to escape by taking the plunge, when she knew she shouldn't ("But he had begged me, and said he couldn't live without me; how could I ever leave someone who is so needy of me?"). Everyday, she was reminded: "What will people think? What will people say? Pray, earn your living (the honest way), take care of your kids, your siblings' kids, so people won't talk." Forget my own needs, put others' needs before mine, be the 'Madonna' on the rock, be the Rock!
And so the years went by, and she told herself (at the slightest sign of complication) that it was simpler and more efficient to be alone - she could read that book, she could attend that conference, she could write that manuscript.
And watching some of her friends and family members getting hitched again, and 'unhitched' again (with more responsibilities in tow), made her glad that she made the decision, or in her case, NOT make ANY decision to change her status. "Well, if they want me bad enough, they can woo, propose, get-down-on-their-knees". But time or circumstances have changed since AI wooed her, and the few attempts she made at taking initiatives at forging relationships were awkward and embarassing. So, it's better safe than sorry!
"Why give my heart and feelings away, be vulnerable, risk rejection and expose myself to possible manipulation, humiliation and even exploitation?"
But having your life suspended, hanging (albeit metaphorically) from a tree with your hands and feet bound for such a long time can cause severe paralysis!
So, will she be able to cut the invisible ropes that wound around her and set herself free from this self-imposed 'isolation' that had held her back and kept her from taking positive action all these years?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Go Blue N Green

Trying to assuage your guilt at leaving carbon footprints and accumulating carbon credit by posting a "cut and paste(d)" piece, eh?
Well, I am also trying hard at separating the garbage, recycling, taking my shopping bag and declining the plastics whenever I can.
Things I'd like to do next would be to start a compost heap, an herbal garden and an organic farm (Don't pray, pray; I will get to that soon enough!)
So here's somethin' from StopGlobalWarming.org:
This Earth Day brings much welcomed coverage by the mainstream press of the environment with cover stories in TIME (see below).

The cover story, written by Bryan Walsh, is a call-to-arms, making the case that the U.S. can no longer afford to sit out the fight against global warming. The piece outlines a number of important steps in the battle against global warming, including establishing an effective cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, tougher energy-efficiency mandates and significant new investment in green technologies.
Click here to read the full story
StopGlobalWarming.org

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blue is the new green


Want to stop global warming? Wear BLUE for Earth Day 2008! Join millions of people around the world who will be wearing BLUE to signify their vote for NO COAL. Events will be happening April 19th through April 22nd, so...
If you’re attending the Earth Day event on the National Mall in Washington, DC on April 20th, wear BLUE.
If you’re attending another major Earth Day event, wear BLUE.
When you dress in the morning on Earth Day, wear BLUE.
No matter what you’re doing for Earth Day 2008, wear BLUE.
A BLUE shirt, top, sweater or jacket... whatever. Just wear BLUE.
Then, on April 22, make your voice heard. Pick up the phone: Call Congress (or your MP) and ask for an immediate ‘Moratorium on Coal’ - a halt to the construction of any new conventional coal-fired power plants. Through this Call for Climate event, Earth Day hopes to generate over a million phone calls to Congress!
Your BLUE vote will count. Fifty-nine conventional coal plants were canceled in 2007. That’s over a third of the 151 planned. That happened before millions of people joined together to say No Coal.
BYOBlue for Earth Day 2008. Be the vote that tips the balance.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When the future comes knockin’ (at your door)


Many described the aftermath of the 12th GE as a political tsunami; while some others compared it to a new dawn. Still many others are reeling from the shock and trying to take stock of the new reality. As someone who had been waiting for a new beginning for more than a decade, I thank God that the voice of the subalterns are being heard and pray that the people’s choice will pave the way for a bright and shining future!
The times they are a-changin'
By Bob Dylan
Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai


http://www.care2.com/send/card
Well, I have yet to read and review my 'free' novel but managed to take a break from early semester schedule since most people around are on a holiday mood anyway.
Happy Lunar New Year to all friends and (acquired) family members who celebrate the cultural festival.
The Year of the Golden Rat has a special meaning for me since my late mother was born in the year of the Rat. Although she was no Rat (perhaps a Ratatouille), she had the misfortune of having to deal with many who were not even born in that year. Speaking of Real Life Rats (RLRs - of animal and human forms), I wonder if a person close to me should seek help (and if so, where?) for her phobia as a result of having encountered too many 'human rodents' in her past. It will certainly make her take incremental steps to change her solitary life to one that is more fulfilling.
In any case, here's a description of people born in this 'auspicious' year:
Rats are imaginative, honest, charming and generous - although they do have a tendency to be aggressive. They are expressive and talkative, yet keep their problems to themselves. The Rat is sensual and loving. They are very loyal and devoted to their families. They are quick-witted and get things done fast. They are confident and usually have good instincts. Stubborn as they are, they prefer to live by their own rules rather than others. They are very organized and talented. The Rat makes a good business person, politician, writer, critic or publicist.
Famous people born in the Year of the Rat:
Ursula Andress, Marlon Brando, Englebert Humperdinck, Burt Reynolds

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Nigel Barley's "Rogue Raider"


Rogue Raider
The tale of Captain Lauterbach and the Singapore Mutiny
by Nigel Barley
It is the First World War and Julius Lauterbach is a German prisoner of war in the old Tanglin barracks of Singapore. He is also a braggart, a womaniser and a heavy drinker and through his bored fantasies he unwittingly triggers a mutiny by Muslim troops of the British garrison and so throws the whole course of the war in doubt. The British lose control of the city, its European inhabitants flee to the ships in the harbour and it is only with the help of Japanese marines that the Empire is saved.
Rogue Raider is the adventure story of how one ship, the Emden, tied up the navies of four nations and how one man eluded their agents in a desperate yet hilarious attempt to regain his native land. It is fictionalised history but a true history that was deliberately suppressed by the authorities of the time as too embarrassing and dangerous to be known. Revealed here, it brings vividly to life the Southeast Asia of the period, its sights, its sounds and its rich mix of peoples. And through it an unwilling participant in the war becomes an accidental hero.

Boy, am I glad I won a free copy of the title from Monsoon Books in Singapore.
Now to find the time to read and review it.
To win a book, do check out: http://www.monsoonbooks.com.sg/freestuff.html

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Go Eco in 2008


Well, it's that time of year again - time to start putting those New Year's resolutions into practice.
Top of the list — shed 5 kg, the unsightly 'butterfly' arms, the 'thunder' thighs, and hit the gym for that six-pack abs and jlo butt;
Second - get on a regular detox program and go organic;
Third - fill in the application form for the phd program and put my nose to the grind for the doctoral research and dissertation;
Fourth - link research and teaching with neighborhood conservation and cooperation projects.
Have a happy and bountiful new year.
Below are tips from care2.com:
Be Naturally Beautiful. I hate to break it to you but that gook you put on your face and in your hair might be doing a lot more than making you feel pretty. It could make you feel sick. Take this quiz and check your products for dangerous chemicals such as phthalates or sodium laurel sulfate. Many everyday products such as shampoos, soaps, lotions and lipsticks contain them. Opt for organic products made of natural ingredients and thank Mother Nature for that radiant glow.
Wake Up and Smell the Perfume. Don't let the pretty smell fool you: Most fragrances are just chock full of hazardous chemicals. But there are alternatives that will leave you smelling sweet as a rose. Get the scoop here.
Eat Organic. No two ways about it, buying organic dairy and meat saves tons of resources and is just plain better for you. Organic produce is tastier and also healthier, but it is more expensive because it's a lot cheaper to dump chemicals on a crop. If you can't afford to buy all organic, here's a list of the top 10 fruits and vegetables to eat organic.
Buy Local. Common sense says that the farther away your food is grown, the more fossil fuels are required to get it to you. So look for local produce at your grocery store and make it a point to visit your community farmers market whenever possible. Defining local.
Be a Bag Lady. Even if you're just bringing back all the paper and plastic bags stuffed in that bottom drawer of your kitchen, always BYOB. If you don't want to spend money on reusable grocery bags—although there are lots of really cute options out there—look around the house for old totes, beach bags, twine-handled fancy shopping bags or even large baskets. Keep lots in your trunk (and don't forget to put them back in the trunk after unloading your groceries!), plus one compact bag folded up in your purse so you're never without it.
Clean Green. You don't even want to know all the gross chemicals that are in commercially made products. Not only are you breathing those chemicals, but then you end up pouring them down the drain. Not good for you, or the Earth. So what's the answer? Make your own non-toxic cleaning kit.
Change a Light Bulb. If just one light bulb in every home in America were switched out for a compact fluorescent—aka CFLs—it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year. CFLs are everywhere now, there are tons of different kinds to choose from and it's such an easy fix. Learn more.
Sip, Don't Guzzle. Even if you don't plan to buy a hybrid, there are ways to make the car you have get the best possible gas mileage. A properly tuned engine will get between 6 and 20 percent higher mpg, for example. Here's a list of 12 things you can do to stretch a tank of gas.
Be a Peddle Pusher. Sometimes a car is necessary, but just running errands around town? Ride your bike to the post office, the grocery store, the dentist, etc., and experience the true joy of being car-free for a while. Bonus: Hello, exercise! More benefits of biking here.
Be an Online Activist. Did you know you can help stop global warming, save the rainforest and keep pollutants out of our oceans with a single click? You can. You can also sign petitions to let the people in power know you care and want to make a difference.
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/resolution-be-green-in-2008.html