Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The zen-like ambience and culinary delights at the Japanese restaurant, KL Hilton - courtesy of Zahlia, the PR Manager.
I was surprised that I could still remember my mum's recipes for lontong and soto when NI said that her friend asked for them. And to think that I had spared many tears these last few years by taking a shortcut to shelling and pounding shallots by buying blended spices from Liza at TTDI wet market. Be that as it may, the Undomestic Goddess welcomes a complimentary food tasting session any day, rather than spending a whole day running to the wet market, and then skinning, shelling, peeling, pounding and simmering in the kitchen!

I used to beat myself up and lament about all the missed opportunities at making something of myself, and then a friend lent me Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself by Florence Littauer.
Sure, Ms Littauer and her daughter Marita are "internationally known speakers" who have "changed the world of Christian speaking", but since no Muslim friend has introduced me to works by a Muslim author/speaker (maybe I should start writing and conducting seminars on the temperaments according to Islam), it opened my eyes to the reasons why I had 'sabotaged' my chances at success to move forward and tone down the sanguine-choleric attributes with the more sobering melancholy and phlegmatic qualities.
On the other hand, boy, do I feel sorry for the all 'Perfect' Melan-cholics with their suspicious minds, axes to grind, labyrinths of wretchedness, manipulative mind games ... the laundry list goes on and on.
And not forgetting the 'Peaceful' Phleg-matics who non-chalantly surf along the high and low tides and accept the status quo in life!
To be contd.

Abishek Bachchan as/in GURU. Man, have Hindi movies evolved from song-and-dance routines to address issues of the Indian (labor) diapora and the struggle to make it from rags to riches in Hindustan. Three cheers for the Triumph of the People vs the State! To be contd.
This Japanese mime duo, Gamarjobat, is a riot and a half, and hilarious to boot! Ketch (red mohican) and Hiro-pon (yellow mohican) wowed the audience-packed Actors Studio, BSC, on Wednesday nite with their silly antics and superb rendition of Rocky, the movie.
'A Shut Up Comedy 2' is a tender yet funny 'mini-blockbuster' featuring "cops and robbers, love and loss, rags and riches, sight and myopia" and a whole lot more! www.gamarjobat.co.uk
And to my most ardent admirer, who makes me his priority day and nite, miming's great for clowns, but not for Prince Charming a-courting his Lady Love!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bloggers United, Cicakman, Desire: Table for Three and Darling Muse

In the spirit of solidarity, I too pledge to 'walk or march' with Jeff and Rocky, fellow bloggers who were slapped with defamation suits in the last few days.
It was one of those boring Sundays when NI and I decided to watch Cicakman, the movie which starred Saiful Apek, Fasha Sanda, Yusry Kru, Aznil Nawawi, AC Mizal, etc.
Although it didn't draw the crowd nor great reviews, I thought it had the makings of a good satire. However, the so-called "high-quality special effects" made Metrofulus smacked too much of Gotham City, Profesor Klon too much of The Joker, the Ginger Boys too much of The Matrix, Tania and Hairi too much of Mary Jane and Spidey, and ... by now, you get the drift. A little of "intertextuality" is fine but too much is lethal.

Desire: Table for Three is one over-the-top tele novella with hot babes, studs/hunks, and a formulaic story line - a love triangle between two brothers and a woman they both lust for. One of those 'no-brainer', 'guilty pleasure' that one indulges in when life is one big yawn.
And a coward's exit route from what-could-have-been an over-the-top real life drama!

Should one be a-mused or be-mused when one is fascinated by the persona but repelled by the person? Will anything happen if neither one is willing to adapt to the other? Que sera sera, whatever will be will be. So, enjoy the free-flowing Chandonnay and hor douvres while you're there, babe!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lombardi's Lecture

Last Friday, Selva and I had the good fortune to attend an enlightening lecture on "The Changing Competitive Context for Research Universities" by Prof John V. Lombardi at the Nikko Hotel, KL.
During his afternoon talk, Lombardi touched on a number of issues pertaining to definition, competition, measurement and trends in higher institutions of learning in the US.
The Chancellor and Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, opened his speech with several one-liners, joking about his academic career and academic job security at ivy league universities on both sides of the Atlantic.
He then proceeded to trace the history and economic development of nations to the 'leading or innovation curve', the technological discovery or edge that led to the creation of new sectors, new ideas and new capacities to produce wealth. This, in his view, is a ‘nationalistic game’, a self-reinforcing competition to create capacity for its own society to prosper and flourish. Within this frame of reference, universities are regarded as rarified, exotic products, ‘luxury goods’ or an economic surplus.
He pointed out that out of 4,140 accredited colleges and universities in the USA (Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2005), only 600 are successful and competing for research funding and only 160 receive significant amount of competitive research money. About 92 percent of all money for research goes to the top 1,000 researchers who he also regards as top quality faculty members. However, these faculty members face challenges to sustainability, namely producing high quality, original research year after year after year.
Thus, hiring and retaining outstanding research faculty is essential to enhance a university’s overall excellence in creating and advancing knowledge, stimulating and sustaining related work in other areas within the institution. The lack of good, research scholars produces a competitive culture that is changing the embedded culture of entitlement with tenure becoming less and less viable. The new competitive environment is characterized by a) quality and productivity; b) fast moving; and c) money matters. In other words, universities have to be constantly good, be more efficient and budget on driving quality in both teaching and research, with first rate researchers, technicians, labs, libraries, programs, students, etc.
The competitive culture also results in short-term contracts for faculty staff and a rougher, tougher environment that is not collegial and congenial. In fact, the academic world is turning into a Ruthless Pursuit of Excellence for the Best or Next Best via Money, Performance and Strategies to Achieve Objectives. Hence, promotional exercise is deferred from seven to nine years and peer reviews go beyond the minimum standards required for promotion to tenure track.
During the Q&A, Lombardi addressed issues relating to the Superstar phenomenon, the volatility and problems of rewarding, keeping scores and measuring countable productivity, via number of reputable publications, awards, ranking, tokens of quality or standards that apply across disciplines.
According to him, there are no absolute indicators for measuring standards of performance among academicians today; the marketplace defines the work and sets the benchmark for continuous improvement.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Ultimate Sacrifice

It was “a slap in the face” for Islam and Muslims, Sunnis and Shiites alike, when Saddam Hussein was hanged on the Day of Sacrifice (Eid-ul-Adha). He may have been a tyrant or dictator during his lifetime, but in his final moments, he appeared calm, composed and dignified, in contrast to the ”despicable heckling” from certain bloodhounds. By being a “sacrificial scapegoat” at the altar of political expediency, he may very well be remembered as an Icon or Matyr for the Palestinians, the Arab World and Beyond.
Al-fatihah for the late Saddam Hussein. May his soul rest in peace in the hereafter.