(well the number doesn't matter, does it?)b

OK, people. I'll finally make it official, this blag is moving to a new home, where there are nice little pieces of virtual shortbread waiting for you, (but don't touch the cookies, they're for Santa, whom I was told is a little late this year because he took the public transport to save costs)There's also nice IKEA furniture, and a fresh coat of blue paint.
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The more curious/astute amongst you may already visited the new home, as there were not-so-hidden links in the previous posts in this blag. There are already new updates there, so you can read them while enjoying the snacks and the other virtual housewarming savouries. Just call me if they're any virtual mice there, they may have jumped tabs from the Mousehunt page. I'll have to drag my trap over then, and the ensuing action will be quite a show.
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So, the new URL is ambiguitytheories.wordpress.com , so inform your neighbour, friends, cat, dog, potted fern and goldfish (and remember to remind it once every 10 minutes) that the address has changed, so that they won't be left behind.
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PS: Unfortunately the youtube videos I posted here cannot be imported into the new blag. If you ever need to watch an old video, please watch it on the corresponding post here. Sorry for the inconvenience. Also, the CBox opens in an external window there, so it's a little more difficult for you to chat.

226b Snow?

What snow?
. ................ ........ .
. ........... . ................... .
. ..... ............... ........
. ...... ....... .................. .
Oh, that snow! If it hasn't started actually snowing yet, click here...

(15^2)[b] (a^2 + b^2 = c^2)

The number of this is a perfect square, and so I thought I’d put something square-ish for you:
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There were three medieval kingdoms on the shores of a lake. There was an island in the middle of the lake, over which the kingdoms had been fighting for years. Finally, the three kings decided that they would send their knights out to do battle, and the winner would take the island.The night before the battle, the knights and their squires pitched camp and readied themselves for the fight.
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The first kingdom had 12 knights, and each knight had five squires, all of whom were busily polishing armor, brushing horses, and cooking food. The second kingdom had twenty knights, and each knight had 10 squires. Everyone at that camp was also busy preparing for battle. At the camp of the third kingdom, there was only one knight, with his squire. This squire took a large pot and hung it from a looped rope in a tall tree. He busied himself preparing the meal, while the knight polished his own armor.
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When the hour of the battle came, the three kingdoms sent their squires out to fight (this was too trivial a matter for the knights to join in).The battle raged, and when the dust had cleared, the only person left was the lone squire from the third kingdom, having defeated the squires from the other two kingdoms, thus proving that the squire of the high pot and noose is equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides.
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PS: If you don’t get the joke, here’s a hint: “High pot and noose” is homophonic to “hypotenuse”… it’s a statement of the Phythagoras Theorem.
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PPS: Oh look! A butterfly, you must catch it!

224b Hmm...

I wonder what's at the bottom of this rabbitho... oh look, a pretty butterfly!
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As I was saying, there's this little rabbithole I found the butterfly has nice shimmering and colourful wings. And then, I looked down the rather curious rabbitholeI followed the butterfly to a rose bush, where it stayed very still. I tried to see where the rabbithole led, but it was very dark and deep, to catch the butterfly with my hands but it flew away. And so, I looked deeper into the rabbithole, and I slipped and fell in, I continued chasing the butterfly until I reached a large river. But, I fell deeper and deeper, but became curiouser and curiouser as to where the rabbithole led the butterfly continued flying, and it flew across the river. At the end, I ended in this place, a new place I have never seen before I returned home without that pretty little butterfly...
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PS: ... but, did YOU catch your rabbi... I mean, butterfly?

223 This Birthday...

...is a little different than the others. Other than the constant reminder that this is the start of my last year as "teen"-ager (yes, it's my 19th one), I actually celebrate a double birthday today.
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For the first time in the exactly 19 years of my existence, my 19th "English" birthday, or my Gregorian Calendar birthday, coincides with my 20th "Chinese" birthday. The reason why the numbers are slightly different is due to the fact that the Chinese count the actual day of birth as birthday number 1. I'm not sure how often the 16th of December coincides with the 19th day of the 11th Lunar Month, but there is a mathematical method of approaching this problem. However, I'm too lazy to work around the figures.
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Note: Of course, by first time, I mean first time since my birth, not inclusive of the day itself.
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Before I move on to a little something else, a big thank you to everyone who wished me Happy Birthday at the stroke of the midnight hour on MSN (I was inundated by no fewer than close to 10 conversation windows nearly simultaneously, and you know how I can't multitask), and the wishes on Facebook, which I'm still receiving from time to time at the moment. Now for a little something in return for the effort:
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I believe the following "game" is meant to be one of those tag games that involve shuffling the music your playlist, but I'm not going to impose this "game" on anyone, but rather let you voluntarily try it out for yourself. Here's what you do, there are no questions in this game. Rather, you write a poem of 20 lines based on the first line of the 21 random songs (the first line of the first song will be the title). I tried it out this morning, and this was the result:
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No Mountain's Too High
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When the vision surrounds you,
the whispers in the morning,
you can dance.
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What if I told it was all meant to be,
I've met so many women.
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If you had my love,
Lying in your arms...
I should have known all along...
yeah...
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Midnight, not a sound from the pavement,
Who are you,
You look into my eyes,
Talking to myself and feeling old.
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Baby, I knew at once you were meant for me,
I have been in love and been alone.
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From the first day,
You are my fire,
Gotta make a move to a town.
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When I opened my eyes today,
You make me feel funny.
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PS: Though only 21 songs were needed, I had to go through nearly 40 songs due to the large number of songs without words (i.e only music) and some foreign language songs in my playlist, which I obviously can't place in the poem without making it sound weird. (An alternative was to translate the lyrics to English, but I was in a bit of a hurry).

222 pǝʇɹǝʌuı

˙ǝɔuǝıuǝʌuoɔuı ǝɥʇ ɹoɟ ǝsıƃoןodɐ ı puɐ 'ʇsod sıɥʇ pɐǝɹ oʇ ƃuıop ǝɹɐ noʎ ɹǝʌǝʇɐɥʍ ɹo 'ƃuıʇɹǝʌuı ɹǝʇndɯoɔ ɹo ƃuıpuǝq pɐǝɥ ǝɥʇ ɥʇıʍ noʎ ƃuıʎouuɐ doʇs ʍou ןןıʍ ı 'ʞo
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˙noʎ ɟo ןןɐ oʇ sɐɯʇsıɹɥɔ ʎɹɹǝɯ 'sʎɐs ɹǝpɐǝɥ ǝɥʇ ǝʞıן ʇsnɾ 'os ˙ʇuǝsǝɹd sɐɯʇsıɹɥɔ puɐ ʎɐpɥʇɹıq ɐ sɐ ƃuıןqnop sı ɥɔıɥʍ doʇdɐן ʍǝu ɐ ǝʌɐɥ ı 'sǝʎ ˙ʇɐɥʇ ʇnoqɐ 'ɥɐǝʎ 'ɥo ˙doʇdɐן ʍǝu ʎɯ uo doɥsoʇoɥd ǝqopɐ ƃuıןןɐʇsuı oʇ punoɹɐ ʇǝƃ oʇ ʇǝʎ ǝʌɐɥ ı ǝsnɐɔǝq ɹǝɔıu ʎuɐ ɹǝpɐǝɥ ǝɥʇ ǝʞɐɯ ʇ,upןnoɔ ı 'ʎןǝʇɐunʇɹoɟun ˙ƃ ʎuuǝʞ ʎq "ןǝou ʇsɹıɟ ǝɥʇ" ɟo ƃuıʎɐןd ǝɥʇ puɐ 'sǝʞɐןɟʍous ǝןʇʇıן ǝɥʇ 'ǝɔuǝɥ ˙noʎ ɟo ןןɐ puɐ ɟןǝsʎɯ oʇ ɹǝǝɥɔ ǝʌıʇsǝɟ ǝɥʇ
ɟo ǝɯos ƃuıɹq oʇ ɹɐǝʎ sıɥʇ ʇıq ɐ ƃoןq ʎɯ ǝʇɐɹoɔǝp oʇ pǝpıɔǝp ı puɐ 'ƃuıɯoɔ sı sɐɯʇsıɹɥɔ
.
:sʍǝu ǝɯos ɹoɟ ʍou 'ʞo ˙uʍop ǝpısdn ʎןǝʇǝןdɯoɔ ʇsod ǝuo ʇno ǝdʎʇ oʇ ʎɹʇ ʇnq dןǝɥ ʇ,upןnoɔ ı puɐ pǝɹoq sɐʍ ı ʇnq 'noʎ ƃuıssǝɹʇsıp sı ʇsod sıɥʇ ɟı ʎɹɹos os ɯ,ı

221 The Path of Totality

Come this Chinese New Year, other than the little red packets, round orange fruits and other goodies you'll be receiving, the cosmos has decided to give us South East Asian Chinese a little something extra.
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There will be an annular solar eclipse occurring on the 26th of January 2009, and we will be treated with a sunset we may never see again in our lifetimes. The better half of SEA will lie within the penumbra of the Moon's shadow, while a small strip of land on the island of Sumatra and Borneo will enjoy the privilege of being in the umbra (hence enjoying the full show).
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Unfortunately, unless you are celebrating CNY in Sumatera, we Malaysians (and Singaporeans) will only enjoy a partial eclipse at sunset, ranging from a 70 - 80 % eclipse in Johor - Singapore, to a 50 - 60% eclipse in Ipoh (where I'll be). Here are the details:

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This diagram shows the path of totality, marked in red, and the area in the penumbra, marked in the blue grid. Below are the details of the eclipse for specific areas throughout Malaysia:

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Alor Setar, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Ipoh, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Johor Bahru, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Kota Bharu, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Kota Kinabalu, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Kuantan, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Kuching, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Miri, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Sandakan, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Sibu, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Sri Aman, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation
Tawau, MalaysiaLocal CircumstancesAnimation


The times are given in UT or Universal Time, which is astronomical standard of time. It is nearly equivalent to GMT time, which places Malaysia at approximately +8 UT. However, due to the machination of Dr. M, who standardised the East and West Malaysian clocks, the actual timing is actually between +7 to +8 UT.

The eclipse occurs at about 4 to 7 pm in West Malaysia, and it is about then you should find a place with a relatively clear view of the western horizon, that is, either find an open field or get to a relatively high place. The maximum eclipse occurs at about 4.30 to 5.30 pm. So, drop whatever you are doing, wherever you are about this time to witness this rather rare phenomenon. Feel free to take pictures, bang pots and pans or anything else you fancy.

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Warning: Please, please, whatever you do, don't look directly at the sun. Use polaroid filters, solar filter, film negatives, water reflection, telescopic projection or any mostly translucent object to observe the sun.

220 IKEA

For each of the following names, decide whether it's from IKEA or LOTR (Lord of the Rings):
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(... it actually rhymes!)

  1. Faramir
  2. Freden
  3. Grundtal
  4. Boromir
  5. Mogler
  6. Galdor
  7. Freda
  8. Agerum
  9. Babord
  10. Frodo
  11. Grima
  12. Akurum
  13. Brunkrissla
  14. Sultan Hogbo
Mmm... this is making me think of Swedish meatballs, yum, yum. Anyway, LOTR fans will identify the character names easily and the same goes for IKEA fa... wait is there such a thing?
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Edit: Yup, IKEA doesn't sell fans, I wonder why...

219 Dagget

Since I'm back in the blogosphere, and since I'm in the writing sort of mood, because I was halfway through my Phoenix work, and stopped pending more inspiration, I'll just do this little tag.

  • Do you think you're hot?
    Give me a moment while I go fetch my thermometer
  • Upload a favourite picture of yourself.
    I'm in a writing sort of mood, not an uploading-picture mood, but if you insist, it's my Facebook profile pic, at the moment.
  • Do you like the picture?
    Something about "favourite" implies "like", doesn't it? Wait... it's part of the definition, isn't it?
  • When was the last time you ate pizza?
    Oh, how random... MM treat... and it's not LKY I'm refering to.
  • What was the last song you listened t0? National Treasure OST - Trevor Rabin
  • What are you doing right now besides this?
    Trying to find something else to do because my Mousehunt Hunter's Journal looks like a rainbow
  • What name do you prefer besides your name?
    A name isn't your name if it's not your name... OK, that's just me being cranky... Zach
  • 5 people I tagged
    I'll make it a little mathematical: You may make this assumption for the folowing questions: Let number 1, 2, 3... denote the first, second, third... person I tagged.
  • Who is number 1?
    A friend of 5
  • Who is number 3 having relationship with?
    Number 2.718281828459045..., also known as "e", proof that love has always been a little irrational...
  • Say something about number 5.
    He had dinner with number 3 last night
  • How about number 4?
    She is an arch rival of number 1
  • Who is number 2?
    The person who kissed 13. (This may or may not be a House reference)

218 Familiarity

You know you're back (home) in Malaysia when:

  • Landslides (and floods, but that's just too commonplace) occur whenever the monsoon season arrives, or when it rains for a few successive days in the Klang Valley
  • Politicking is the daily staple of the news, and even if it's not on the front page it's in there somewhere after the headlines
  • The constant reporting of some bus accident or other, followed by a few days of people urging that something be done, and then total silence.
  • The very erratic water supply, and the occasional blackout, put in for good measure to enhance the experience.
  • The slightly slower internet speed, but then again, shouldn't compare to Singapore, right?
  • The lack of Christmas atmosphere in town, but that's OK, my neighbour's making up for it.
  • The presence of motorcycles and wandering cows that act like they own the road, making a total nuisance of themselves. Cows, though, are a bit more amusing to encounter.
  • Signboards are placed in the most ridiculous positions, like just after a bend, or behind trees. I am yet to figure out how to get to Jalan Tebrau from the new checkpoint, thanks to that particular typical lack of common sense.

217 Ohemgee


...and I nearly fainted. Instead of fainting though, there was just a lot of ohemgee-ing and a rather strange aftertaste. And it's not that I'm racist or anything, but yeah, TV shows tend to spin off in weird directions sometimes.
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PS: It's from House, by the way, and you don't want to know the details.

216 The Office

As I am typing this, the BBC World Service anchorwoman is reading the latest news about the situation in Mumbai, and the stand-off at the Bangkok airport... My rather beloved Physics textbook, sits open wide on another chair to my right, and my other companion, the whiteboard stands scrawled with equations describing the physics of a capacitors, scattered with some other random equations describing wavefunctions, Kepler's Third Law and superposition on the margin. On the section of the table I occupy lie the whiteboard markers, my faithful Ziploc bag carrying my stationery, and my calculator.
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The room hasn't changed much since I moved in, with the exception of my lecture notes which have returned to my other table in my actual room.
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If you haven't figured out what I'm describing yet, well... it's OK. No one close to me has had the opportunity to see the little room, which I now affectionately call my "office", in the USP study lounge, otherwise known as "Chatterbox" or "Chatter", in short. Most people were under the impression that the place looks and feels like the "Quiet Area" in the Central Library, or the Study Room in YIH. I assure you, it's not filled to the brim with people desperately cramming for the exams we all were so pressured about. It's sometimes just you, the whiteboard, and a little room by the corner. The occasional visitors are welcomed, and I listen with fascination to their talk about Durkheim, and Weber, and the cunning plans of Prospero in Shakespeare's "Tempest" the lust of the Magistrate in Coetzee's "Waiting for the Barbarians".
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I thank this little space, and forgive it for the ridiculously cold nights the air-conditioning has given me, for making my Reading Week and the exam period a wholly bearable one, for the little comforts it provided me in my time of need and the hospitality it has offered.

215.5 Spordniar

Once again, click to enlarge the "poem":

This isn't actually Raindrop Resonance translated into another language. It's an encoded "secret message" written in the form of a poem. Yes, there's always a reason why I write secret messages, I only want certain people who know the encryption method to read it. Notice I always leave the key, yeah, same reason.


215 Raindrops

Click on poem to enlarge:
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214 More Quick Random Notes

  1. Overheard at Subways...
    • American Man: I'm very happy today.
    • Counter Lady: Why?
    • AM: The results of the election in my country, erm... the person I supported won
    • CL: (pause) Ah, good. Rainy day, today.
    • AM: yeah
  2. Finished my presentation... for UQR2206, otherwise known as Simplicity, which isn't as simple as the name suggests. A 20-minute presentation in 4 days... not funny. The questions were not difficult and mostly anticipated. So the grilling session was more like a sauna session, slightly uncomfortable, but still enjoyable, and you leave with a nice feeling.

  3. PPT syndrome... or the Post Presentation Tiredness syndrome kicked in after the initial happiness from completing the presentation. Went back for a nap, before heading out to PGP for the end-of-sem-party, which is more of an excuse the USP-PGP residents to get free food. Ended in chatter about topics ranging from how all great works of fictions are based on the same Myth structure (see Paper and Politics for more details), and quantum entanglement.

  4. It is just a coincidence... that PPT is also the short form for Powerpoint....

  5. Did you know... that NUS has its own weather station at the top of E2, the exact place is E2-04-01, which is a very, very, out-of-the-way place which you'll find only if you're really, really lost in the Engin Fac? Only thing is that I wasn't lost, just exploring the deeper, hidden areas of the Engin Fac, that even the final-year engineers don't know about. It comes complete with a rain gauge, barometer, thermometer, anemometer, wind vane (without the rooster), solar intensity reader (or pyrometer) and other interesting stuff. The weather data such as wind speed and direction, rainfall and temperature is uploaded in 5-minutes interval to http://nt2.fas.nus.edu.sg/geog/weather_frame.asp.

  6. Why was I all the way up there?... Actually, as usual, I was illegally climbing stairwells and ladders looking for a very high point for a great view. I have the photos with me and I will upload them soon. Going up tall building at night during a thunderstorm offers great display of lightning bolts, but I was not quick enough to take some nice pictures. And, yes, I know it's dangerous...

  7. Hmm... Terri... should go back to Malaysia, I think I'll have the time to take care of him during the exam period and I don't want him dying then. But I'll miss a good window sill mate, oh nevermind...

  8. I have been getting different songs... stuck in my head on and off lately, either I craving for something to fill my head with or I've been listening to too much music. I don't really know whether it's actually a good or bad thing... stress relief perhaps...

  9. I applied to do running... for the USC productions... why do I keep going back doing things that I've done before. Perhaps I love it, or is it just a bad case of lots of inertia, oh well... it might be greater fun if there aren't so many people this time round. And this time, it could be the Drama Centre at the National Library. Ah, another show, another stage...

  10. Things to do: PC1141 Lab Report, MA1505 and PC1141 Tutorial. It's the last of everything, and time to gear up for the exam period. Here we go...

213 "I'm very boring"

...is perhaps one of the more annoying phrases commonly heard in everyday conversation. Other than the initial silent laugh when one first hears the phrase, the humour turns little bit more sour after every subsequent time those three words are heard. There are others who have the the merit and privilege of joining this list, like "irregardless of". So if you "borrow me" some of your time, I shall present to you a list of the 10 Most Annoying Phrases in the English Language, compiled by a group of Oxford professors:

  1. At the end of the day
  2. Fairly unique
  3. I personally
  4. At this moment in time
  5. With all due respect
  6. Absolutely
  7. It's a nightmare
  8. Shouldn't of
  9. 24/7
  10. It's not rocket science
PS: If you "couldn't care less" about such trivialities, I won't blame you. We "literally" hear these words everyday, and you might believe that "if you can't beat em', join em'".

212 Just Dropping By

Perhaps Physics has a profound impact on how I look at the world around us. Because I found myself photographing raindrops after a lab session one day. It's not that I've never seen raindrops before, but it's because I've never really realised how raindrops look up close, and I was pleasantly surprised when I began examining them at close range.
Has anyone realised how each raindrop looks significantly differently from one another because of the amount of light incident on them, their size, position and the images from the objects around them? ...and it became highly obsessive. I began attempting to take pictures of these raindrops (but more specifically, it's the images they form on due to their property as both a mirror and a lens). The camera doesn't excactly do justice to the pictures, but they still capture some of the more exciting and sometimes spooky features.














PS: Speaking of lab sessions... I ought to be doing my two final lab reports for the semester... but here I am posting pictures of raindrops...

211 An NUS 360: Faculty of Science

Lately, I had developed a strange habit of climbing (climbing, mind you) to the top of the building only known as S17/SOC1 during breaks during and between my Physics lectures. Practically nobody knows about the place, because it involves getting to the 8th storey of an out-of-the-way building, and getting out to a balcony, and climbing a series of ladders (don't worry, there's nothing scary about the ladders because it doesn't involves dangling off the side of the building, climbing old rusty ladders, four storey drops etc.). Being the third highest building in the Faculty of Science, it provides great views of the Science - Medicine - University Hall (Lower Kent Ridge Road section) part of NUS, along with the areas beyond the AYE. Here are some photos:
















PS: Unfortunately, the roof of the Physics department building is not as tall and very, very cramped with the airconditioning units and water tanks, as I went up there once while waiting for lab to start. (it's the building on the furthest left in the first picture). So if you need to do this, find some other Physics department:


PPS: The answer is 3.60 m, if you're wondering. I'll leave working it out as a practice, a common line whent the lecturer is running of time...

210 Quick Random Notes

  1. The Hairspray Effect - A psychological phenomenon where one finds, plays and/or downloads the songs played in a musical immediately after watching one. May last up to a few weeks, as long as one doesn't watch another musical in that period.
  2. Overheard during tea some time ago - "The thing about NUS is that they teach you a new thing, and you try your best to absorb it. But before that new thing sinks in, they go on to the next new thing..."
  3. UWC2101P Paper 3 deja vu- I find myself somehow returning to the news story that I've wrote on for my paper 1. Coincindence? I think not...the last time I finished a paper on Anwar, he won the Permatang Pauh by-election, wonder what will happen this time...
  4. I find that... I'm better off as person who you go to if need to bounce some ideas off, for some reason I do that a lot better than looking for my own topic for my paper.
  5. $750 extra this semester, that should just clear the deficit...
  6. What am I going to do... with the potted fern during the December holiday, it'll be quite funny to bring a potted plant all the way home, wouldn't it? I should give it a name... oh well...

PS: I named the fern Terri... after the name of the Phylum that ferns belong to, Pteridophyta, and also because that name bears an uncanny resemblance to someone's name in Sets and Sets is the reason why I've got a fern in the first place.

209 Of Alliteration, Absences and Anwar

An observant reader may realise at least one of the following regarding my blogging:
  1. I'm consistently making up title posts following the format of "Of ... and...", where the nouns in between begin with the same letter, (called an alliteration for consonants and assonance for vowels). Yes, I'm bitten by a variant of the "Re-..." bug, and have started messing around with the posts titles for the fun of it. Sue me if you must.
  2. This post is written at a weird time. Of course, weird is relative. Waking up at different times to go to school was weird once. So was going to sleep past midnight for no apparent reason. And not forgetting, Anwar getting charged for sodomy. Now, they've achieved a normality approaching routineness... maybe with the exception of the Anwar part, but I'm afraid my USPee paper may disprove that.
  3. There was a one month break between post 205 and 206, well sorry for keeping you wondering, but apparently when there's a sudden change in lifestyle, getting used to it is a primary concern, and making remarks (aka blogging aka complaining) about it is secondary. Also, blogging about how little time you have to blog is a kind of funny (in an ironical way, not amusing)...... Wait a minute, am I subtly doing exactly that now? Oh, darn...
  4. I like making lists, like this one. Not that I like making lists, in fact I never do make practical lists because they're too mundane (like shopping lists, homework lists etc.). I like making lists of things that are not normally listed, like reasons to justify the different unconventional things I inadvertently find myself doing when blogging. For instance, telling you that I like lists.

A concerned person would wonder about at least one of the following:

  1. Why this fellow isn't sleeping yet
  2. Whether he has an 8.00 class tomorrow and...
  3. Why he's making another list, and...
  4. When this will end so he would note that he should be wondering about point 1.

I'm not sure either... how about I end now and leave to you wonder about points 1, 2 and 3?

Yup, that's a good idea...

208 Of Merdeka and Music

For this 51th Merdeka Day, here's a something for you people. While there's a lot of other things I could tell you about now, well, I guess for my own good, I better keep it short. In what was a tumulous year in Malaysian politics, I guess there is still something Malaysian to be proud about and that would actually be our music.

The Malaysian music industry is not as big as we would like it to be, and when it comes to the patriotic song department, Malaysia is quite far behind Singapore and certainly leaves a lot more to be desired, for instance, in its catchiness. The Singapore National Day Parade (NDP) Songs are still among the best I've heard so far. Singaporeans still love the NDP songs of years past, and during that time we've been stuck listening to "Keranamu Malaysia", which isn't as great as we would like it to be.

...and I'll admit it, the NDP is at least 20 times more watchable than the Merdeka Parade, which simply involves watching a lot of people march past the PM. There is real need for something more spectacular, but then again, people will just complain it's a great waste of tax payers money.

But among the whole lot of songs, there are still are few diamonds in the rough that I am extremely proud to call Malaysian, simply because it is representative of Malaysia and means a lot to anyone who calls himself or herself Malaysian. These are favourite 3:

1. Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes for Unity. I've blogged about this song before, so it needs no introduction, by it truly deserves an encore:


2. Olimpik Di Beijing - Various Artistes: The Malay(sian) version of the one of the 2008 Summer Olympics theme songs. Based on a Cantonese song of the same name in direct translation. A very good listen, and rather catchy too.
3. Sejahtera Malaysia : One of those Merdeka songs no one hears about anymore, but it was from an era long gone, where there wasn't so much weird things happening in Malaysia, and life was so much simpler. But the fact I still remember this song, is a sign that this song is more powerful than it sounds


That's it for now. Happy 51st Merdeka!!

207 Of Papers and Politics

The first draft of the first USPee paper I've written, the predecessor of many more to come. It's a paper based on none other than the Man, Anwar, completed on the day he won the Permatang Pauh by-election and returned to the Parliament.

But first, enjoy this video:


The Myth of Sisyphus in News

Over the centuries, myths have been found to be an essential part of societies and it is entirely possible that they still exist in this day and age. Some academicians have postulated that, today, myths have assumed a new form, that is, in the news we read. Jack Lule, in his book, "Daily News, Eternal Stories: The Mythological Role of Journalism", suggests a model of Seven Master Myths that describes the different forms of myths we encounter in the news and how it affects our society (2001, 21-22). However, the model, in his own words, “cannot be considered exhaustive or complete.” (2001, 22)
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In this paper, I will introduce a new form of myth as an improvement to the model based on the Myth of Sisyphus[1], from ancient Greek mythology. Based on an analysis of a news article, I will attempt to show that The Sisyphus has distinct defining features and societal functions, separating it from the other master myths. An understanding of this myth could put us one step closer towards creating a comprehensive model for understanding the relationship between news and myths.
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Lule’s Seven Master Myths
Before exploring The Myth of Sisyphus, it would be apt that I briefly explain Lule’s model of The Seven Master Myths. In his model, Lule introduces seven recurring myths in the news, which are the following:

  • The Victim: An innocent person who has been struck with a catastrophe or tragedy, such as a disease or criminal act. This myth elevates the value of life, and draws sympathy and pity from the readers. (Lule 2001, 22)
  • The Scapegoat: Portrays a person who has gone against the norms of society. The myth encourage the readers to shun the person, and acts as a warning to those who which to follow in his footsteps. (Lule 2001, 22-23)
  • The Hero: The story of a man who has reached great heights from humble beginnings, and meant as an inspiration to all to attempt to achieve the same within their own means. (Lule 2001, 23)
  • The Good Mother: A figure of compassion, kindness, gentleness and maternal protection. The myth is used as a role model for society, and to show that there are good people out there. Besides that, Lule states a negative analog to the myth, Terrible Mother that reflects cruelty and evil. (Lule 2001, 23 – 24)
  • The Trickster: A crude figure that creates chaos in society, and, and as result of his acts, The Trickster is ridiculed and mocked by society. The myth primarily discourages members of society to act in such unlawful manner. (Lule 2001, 24)
  • The Other World: Stories of either paradisiacal lands abroad or places of utter chaos. The myth encourages readers to emulate the ways of these utopian lands and disregard the practices of the latter. (Lule 2001, 24 – 25)
  • The Flood: Stories of natural disasters and mass destruction that aims to remind us of the humbling power of Nature. (Lule 2001, 25)


The Sisyphus does not fully fit into any of these seven Myths, and to prove my point of contention, I shall now explain the characteristics of this Myth.

The Myth of Sisyphus Explained
According to the myth, Sisyphus was a man condemned by the gods to spend eternity pushing a boulder up a steep hill, only to watch the boulder to roll down the hill again once Sisyphus reached the top. Sisyphus was highly intelligent and eloquent man, but used his abilities to challenge authority, and subsequently incurring the wrath of the gods. Although, today, there are no gods that will curse a person to eternal slavery, the myth can be viewed from a different perspective.

The Sisyphus, as portrayed in the news, is a man who has faced repeated challenges to achieve a dream, or an ambition, only to be struck down before he reaches it. The story does not attempt to elicit sympathy[2] or anger[3] from the readers, but instead invokes a feeling of general futility and emptiness in ambition, despite the man’s great potential. The myth can be further extrapolated to include crises, be it political or economical, that have undergone several attempts to achieve a resolution, and the efforts found to be in vain at the end. The reporter’s reason for embedding the myth in a news story is perhaps as a means to reflect the frustration of the public and to serve as an indication to the government that the citizens are unhappy with the situation.

Hence, The Sisyphus is most commonly embedded in reports of political crises, such as in the political situation in Zimbabwe (BBC 2002, Africa) and more recently, the sodomy case against Anwar in Malaysia (Channel News Asia 2008). The latter of the two will be analysed in the following section to further understand this myth.


The Analysis
There is a common thread running through Sisyphean stories, based on the fact that a country’s citizens are frustrated by the futility of these political squabbling and the empty ambitions of politicians to gain or hold on to power. This interpretation of the myth is supported by the Roman poet, Lucretius, who described the pursuit for power in his poem “On the Nature of Things” as “here in this life a Sisyphus…for to seek after power – an empty name” (Lucretius 2001, III)[4]. To portray this myth, reporters tend to describe to frustration of the citizens towards to current situation.

These feelings are evident in the choice of wording of the news article’s title: “Malaysia wearily faces another lurid sodomy trial” (CNA 2008). The usage of the words “wearily” and “lurid” suggests that the reporter wants to reflect the frustration of the Malaysian citizens. In addition the reporter’s choice of material in the report further strengthens the belief that the story has a Sisyphean slant. He uses quotes such as, “A lot of people are very tired… People thought it was blatant political maneuvering,” (CNA 2008, P 5) and, “The new sodomy charges…are all a political game.”(CNA 2008, P 16)

The article does not portray Anwar as neither a Victim nor as a Scapegoat but rather as a person with great political ambition, a “charismatic 61-year old” (CNA 2008, P 11) and “the figurehead of a thriving opposition” (CNA 2008, P 2) being repeatedly struck down. The reporter neither blames him nor the Malaysian government for the current events. Instead, the reporter focuses on the repercussions of Anwar being charged for sodomy on the Malaysian people. This is shown by the fact that the reporter only uses quotes and statistics from the general public, such as “66 percent believe it is a politically motivated action…” (CNA 2008, P 13) rather than going for official statements from the politicians or the police.

These excerpts from the news article clearly shows that the reporter wishes to convey to the reader how Malaysians are tired of the political climate in Malaysia and regard all the current events as a futile attempt by politicians to achieve power. All these are not unlike the thoughts of an external observer watching Sisyphus push the boulder up the steep hill and then, watching it roll down again in the end.


Conclusion
Based on the analysis, it is evident that The Myth of Sisyphus is a viable addition to Lule’s model. As shown above, none of Lule’s existing seven models are able to adequately describe the mythic situation highlighted in the analysed news article, that is, the feeling and reflection of frustration and tiredness towards a recurring situation However, since this proposal is derived from analysis of a single news article, this myth has be tested in other publications outside South East Asia, and the wider media to examine whether The Sisyphus is truly a recurring myth in the news.


[1] For brevity, the “Myth of Sisyphus” will be called “the Sisyphus” or “Sisyphean”
[2] cf. Victim myth (Lule 2001, 22).
[3] cf. Scapegoat myth (Lule 2001, 22 -23).
[4] Translated by William E. Leonard

206 Finally...

Yes, I'm blogging again, with the hope that I don't get stuck figuring out what Tailor Polly-no-mails or Four-Rear Anal-lysis are in the coming days...

What? Polly's got no mail?


Mathematical jokes aside, here's what's been going on lately. There's sets, (not of the Venn diagram type, but I call it Venn Diagram just to annoy people), where happy, like-minded people get together to build stuff for concert. And that should be consuming my weekday nights. But, I wholly enjoy it, so I don't mind working till dawn, if I had to do it. But, I don't have to, which is a good thing for my long term health. Short term health, however, is affected by Sets Anxiety, where I continue wondering why things keep preventing me from doing it. Also, to keep my mind occupied during "life-away-from-sets", I do this...


Excerpts from the Great Sets Book


Which keeps me really happy even when I'm not immersing myself with tutorials. Of course, my sets obsession stems from my Rag obsession... which consumed and nearly ate me alive during the infamous week 0 of the semester. Yes, it was really, and truly no holds barred work, for near 24 hours in a row stretches, which gave me a mild cold closer to the end, and mysteriously healed after Rag ended.

The USP float, so much work, so little time



The Static Display portion of the judging



Ah, the crown jewel of the float, The Eiffel Tower. I didn't do it, but we're extremely proud of it.

That's it for now, this post is marked with a "to be continued in 207"

205 CORS-ing

Perhaps the best word invented since "toothache"... the NUS Centralised Online Registration System (CORS), and its verb analog, CORS-ing (since I'm lazy to press the "Shift" button repeatedly, I'll spell it as corsing from here onwards), is something that drives one up the wall, and even to the ceiling. Especially if you're one of those people with short attention spans. I have moderately long attention span for figuring things out, relative to most Science Fac people, and I'm still quite glad that I wasn't tempted to reach for the nearest clothes hook, (for whatever purpose, I'll leave it to your imagination.)
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This diagram seriously looks more like a cross between a flowchart for chemical synthesis, and a Physics formula

After a while, corsing starts to make a little more sense, and you realise that it's like some silly application you'll find in some Facebook application, or Neopets, albeit that it's injected with a dose of formality befitting a programme coming from the Department of Mathematics... and also, it begins to dawn that the game you're asked to play in decides your future. And, I hate leaving things to totally random chances (I do so very hate coin tosses, and Rock, Paper, Scissors), and now the fate of my next few months of tutorials depends on balloting, which as effective as playing Russian Roulette.
And, we all realise that we were better off when we were playing to feed a cute blue Kacheek
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Being a student of the Faculty of Science, I have the privilege of declaring my first major till the very last day, but with the (dis)advantage of not having pre-allocations, i.e, I get all the fun of building timetables for myself, which is very exciting until you realise that you have as many clashes as a multi-car pileup on the North-South Expressway. After multiple failed attempts to clear the debris, I finally got one that works. And even after that, I had to tweak the table a little more to fit in my USP modules. In the process, there were various threats to my sanity, and some not-very-decent words were blurted out. But, that's the trouble a person attracts to himself when he attempts to do 6 modules in a semester, another of my infamous attempts at performing academic gymnastics. So, after experiencing a couple of days of trauma, I finally placed my advance bids, and wondering whether I will ever be able to complete the minor in Chemistry.
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So, here's to everyone, good luck corsing, and welcome back to the Land of Countless Acronyms and Persistent Bureaucracy.
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PS: Repeat after me: "Acronyms are good for us. They make communication so much simpler, despite the fact that the are initially confusing."
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PPS: Note to self: I will not work so hard. University life is supposed to be good for you.
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PPPS: Seriously consider getting a bike.

204 Silence and Sounds

It usually takes some time for this to happen. After all the hustle and bustle of moving into a new environment, saying hello and exchanging greetings and information, there this total silence overcoming the sounds we hear.
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The sudden silence and solitude when you're surrounded by new walls and new people is unsettling, and then you realise that they are going to be around you for quite some time. The unfamiliarity it emits is strange. It's not that we fear the change, we'll always try to embrace it, but the change reciprocate in a way that we can't comprehend. It's like they're trying to introduce themselves to you, but we just don't know how to accept it. There's a certain sublimity to new experiences, and it has the power to make you wonder what you've gotten yourself into. There's confusion, which is then followed by a period of catharsis (it's a difficult word, so I'll define it for you: it's a purging (washing away) of emotions), when everything else going on around you doesn't seem to matter anymore. It's just you and the suddenness of the transition. You lose yourself for a while, but when the unfamiliarity evaporates, it's replaced by an insignificance, or routineness of life, just like the feeling you have towards your own house, when you're at home after living there for the most part of your life. There's nothing new to learn anymore, and we live as such until the next significant change hits us in the face, and we go through it all over again.
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But sometimes, sometimes, we look back and wonder at what happened the last time we were in a new place, and we are puzzled, if not surprised, by the feelings we had back then, and we realise we are experiencing them all over again.

203 Here I go (again)

1 Day
24 Hours
1440 Minutes

1 Final Moment

Finally, home... for 24 hours, rather reminiscent of Ryan's return home after the Redang trip.
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Perhaps I brought this upon myself due to my rare over-enthusiasm about returning to Singapore, but starting the first day now, isn't like starting the first day of primary school. No crying children and new faces, and no parents looking through the window, wondering when their child will start crying, or notice they are missing.
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There is much to do, a very little time left at home, last-minute packing etc. Perhaps, me enduring 14 hours of train rides the last time helped, now I know what I have to bring and what to expect, which separates it from, say, McNair, when we really had no idea that there were 5 (6, initially, thank god there were MIAs) people in a room, or that there was a swimming pool, easily mistaken for a fish pond ( I will confess that I, too, initially thought it was a fish pond... really). But, beyond that, it's just another veil. One day, one room, that's how life goes.

A rather old picture of 202 I found in a folder somewhere, just don't ask me why the date is upside-down
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Yup, one day, one room, just yesterday I was in a totally different room, one with a dog, which hates it when I move the chair for the computer, thus effectively blocking me from using the Internet. And I found myself later that day sitting two steps above it in the stairwell, because I felt that it was lonely, and needed someone to accompany it. It seemed rather happy to find me sitting next to it, and let me pat its head, while wagging its tail. Or maybe it's just because I was eating an apple while sitting there. (I was told it's a cross between a Spitz and a Shih Tzu, so I coined the name Spitz Tzu for it, though it seems like it the Shih Tzu characteristics were lost in the genetic battle.)

A Spitz Tzu named Nike: One very, very paranoid dog. Barks at every suspicious looking object, including those big black bags you're be repeatedly warned to look out for in MRTs.
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In the end, I was given/paid a S$ 100 (yes, S$ 100, not RM, the epitome of practicality), for enduring the dog/repeatedly telling my cousin to study/teaching Chem, Physics and Maths/slacking around in the mornings/correcting "thank you for your patients " to "...patience" and for being the first in the generation to go to university. Between all that, there were plots to blow up a red spray paint can and "colour" the innocent children in the nearby playground, but I didn't stay for its execution. However, other pyromanic endeavours were successful, like using perfume as a liquid fuse. And, there was a lot of "Bones", which turned to be a great way to blackmail my cousin to not release the dog on me. As a result, I got out of there pretty much in one piece. OK, that was the last week, more or less.
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PS: I need to go figure out how to use the laser printer. Yeap, finally printing stuff is now so, so much easier.
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PPS: Got the printer for RM 385, not a bad price.

202 Hostage

I find myself in a less than comfortable position to blog, since now me being near a computer is a slightly rare occurrence. The irony is that I do have free access to the Internet, unlike my cousins, which I found out yesterday, who were subjected to the concealing of the modem adaptor plug. It's the dog, which is usually tied up in strategic areas that either prohibits me from going upstairs and downstairs freely, or using the computer, or both. So, here I am being able to create a small window when the dog is tied up outside, and I can blog in peace. But, it'll get annoyed soon, and create a racket, so this has to be quick. And sorry guys, I can't read your blogs or do much online these days.

...and I can sense its annoyance now, so I'll make it rather quick....

It struck me on the way back from Singapore the other day, that climbing a mountain does change a person. I realised that the thoughts I had while climbing Mount Kinabalu is actually applicable to a wider situation. Among them, was this interesting thought:
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"The main problem with any mountain, no matter how high it is, is that it has a summit. The climbing, as long as it takes, will eventually come to an end."
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It's common for people to equate life to climbing mountains. There was that speech during Grad Night on "How To Climb A Mountain", which was adapted from the Paolo Coelho book, "Like The Flowing River". But there are mountains that we didn't intend to have to climb, unwanted detours in a life that we wish that would be as easy to cross a field of dandelions. (I realised that running across a field of dandelions would be great fun, but that idea's probably from some movie).
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And so, think of troubled days as the days that you have to climb a mountain. There are easy mountains, and there are difficult mountains, but they all have one thing in common. As painful, as tiring and as depressing the climb can be, by taking it one step of the time, one day, the trouble, the pain and everything unpleasant is all over Bad things, like something we must concede about good times, are never permanent. I know that every field of dandelions will have its end, but every mountain, too, has its summit. And once, you get to the summit, rejoice, for you have conquered yourself once more, and all the sweat, blood and tears shed will be compensated by the triumph and satisfaction, but keep on walking and don't rest for too long, for tomorrow there may be another mountain to climb.
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PS: I know how to make friends with the dog, but I just can't bring myself to do it... it's far too scary

201 Detour

The number after 199 is not 201, unless it's a sequence of odd numbers, or an arithmetic progression with a common difference of 2. Hence, this is a detour post, while I gather to time and will power to complete the 200th post, and as we are waiting for that, an update after a long absence is certainly due.
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So, let's get on with it...
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I found myself away from home, with a dog that was barking at me all day yesterday. This morning, he decided I wasn't that repulsive after all. Its name is Nike, and its now lying on the floor behind, ignoring me. And its not my dawg.
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But wait, where am I?
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SS26, a real boring name for a place by any stretch of the imagination, like all the names of places in a city we all fondly call PJ, editing the English on a website that "Thanks you for your patients". Definitely normal, if not an extremely sweet notice for a hospital, but not very appropriate a computer website, since it's reminiscent of exploding laptops, or "farmer in the Dell"
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I should be in Singapore getting accustomed to my new room in Raffles Hall, or walking along the underpass to Yusof Ishak House, but I'll just leave that for next week, when I start the first day of the next four years. I realised that the double room isn't that small, but then again, as the cliched saying goes, "anything is larger than McNair". I've gotten most of my things ready to go to Singapore, but as life goes, sometimes we take unnecessary long routes just to get to the same point just for the fun of it. But teaching Chemistry and maybe Physics later can be rather fun, too, if you can still remember Form 4/Form 5 stuff... but mostly it's the satisfaction from being condescending, boys, I find, are less sensitive to my ways of teaching, and I daresay, they find it a bit enjoyable. Oh, that's the other reason why I'm in SS@6.
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PS: A laser printer is RM 490, Ryan! What wrong with this world?

199 Reminder








Information regarding the bus to Kuala Terengganu and other related stuff can be found in post 190 Redang Trip Part 4... just scroll down for a little while or click here, and I'm sure you'll find it. Thank you for your kind attention. The latest posts will appear below this announcement.

198 Stand up and be counted

So, Malaysians, ever wonder whose town/city is larger the other? Find the need to know whether your town is livelier than your friend(s)? I came across this list of Malaysian cities and towns listed according to previous censuses and population estimations. The cities in bold are generally metropolitants, i.e. combining several townships, sururban areas, and any kampungs that happen to fall within the municipality.


This list is only the top 30 largest cities/towns in terms of population in 2008. Unfortunately, but not overly surprisingly, Kangar remains the only state capital which is not in the top 30.


It's rather interesting in some ways, being a little strange that JB - Singapore are grouped together as a single conurbation. But then again, being separated by a thin strip of sea, gives you the bragging rights to be considered the same urban area, like other cross-border cities, such as (prior to 1997) Hong Kong - Shenzen.

The Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan area covers the bulk of the Klang Valley, as far north as Rawang, Klang to the west, Puchong & Kajang- Sg. Chua to south and Gombak - Ampang to the east. If you Petaling Jaya / Subang Jaya / Cheras people are upset about your towns being counted as KL, don't fret, you can slog it out amongst yourselves because there's another list just for you at the end of this post. Penangites, the same applies for you, since the Seberang Prai towns and places like Air Itam and Jelutong are included under Penang.


Ryan, you must be happy, since Chukai stands at number 29, and it is nice to see that most Sarawakian and Sabahan towns stand proudly in the top 30 with 6-digit populations, with the Crown Jewels of Borneo, the Cat City (the city so big such that two mayors are required) and KK in 5th and 6th respectively. Ah, yes, Seremban, just below Sandakan, I'm half-inclined to think that the included the orang-utans in Sepilok to bring the numbers up, but I digress.

Kangar is at number 62 with a population of 64 807. Go figures.

197 Cartographamania

A self coined word, for obsessive-complusiveness with regards to maps: After all that ranting and raving about how inaccurate maps are, I decided to create my own maps. These are the maps that I'll be bringing to KT.



The official Kuala Terengganu maps for the Redang trip.

So if we ever get lost, touchwood, these will save us. But don't count on that happening, I've studied the maps far too many times.


196 Excerpts

Passengers Alight Return Bus at Pudu Raya
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KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 - It has been made known that the people going to Pulau Redang on the 8th of July will be departing from Hentian Putra, and returning to Kuala Lumpur on the 12th of July at Pudu Raya. In a statement released by Ryan, whose cousin had bought the return tickets to Kuala Lumpur, he wishes that the other people going to Redang take note of the place of arrival, and plan their travels back to their respective homes accordingly. However, he failed to provide details on the departure and arrival time. Speculators believe that it is highly probable that the bus will depart Terengganu in the morning, and they are awaiting confirmation from the source. Passengers are reminded to inform their parents/guardians/LRT operators/goldfish of this new piece of information to avoid any misunderstanding.
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Traffic Volume Decrease: Petrol Prices or Euro 2008?
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DAMANSARA, June 23 - Many local Malaysians newspapers have reported decreased traffic volume heading in and out of the Kuala Lumpur city centre, even during the peak hours, in the last week. Although reporters and politicians have attributed this to the 40% price hike in petrol, effective earlier this month, local researchers beg to differ. Scientists from the Damansara Utama Medical Base in collaboration with the Sri Hartamas Institute of Technology conducted a study on the effects of the recent 2008 European Championship, usually shortened to Euro 2008, on the general Malaysian population.
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In a report that is due to be published after the researchers cheer on their favourite team in the Final, one of the few more apparent effects of the Euro craze is a decrease in work attendance, and a decrease is the usage of cars. According to a groggy-eyed Professor Noh Ai Der, men, who make up a substantial percentage of the Malaysian workforce have been staying up to 5 am to watch every tantalising second of the games, live and exclusive from Austria and Switzerland on television. With only less than 3 hours of sleep for, at the very worst, a few consecutive nights in a row, these less-than-alert drivers have decided to do the responsible thing, and avoid driving to work. He adds that, it may not even be altruism that propels this act, and that it may be simply an act of self-preservation, that is, to avoid being hit and/or injured and/or killed by another driver who fell asleep on the wheel.
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A field observation showed that those who decided to not skip work, crowded bus stops and LRT stations in hope of being able to catch forty winks on their commute heading to their workplaces. But, they were bitterly disappointed, as they were shoved and stepped constantly by other like-minded workers, and reached their offices worse off than when they got out of bed. A DUMB researcher, who declined to be named but wished to say that he was a Spanish supporter, cited that almost 50% of the 200 Malaysian men surveyed who previously drove to work gave the Euro as an excuse for taking the public transport to work and that 90% of them were supporters of Spain. However, he didn't deny the possibilty that the increased petrol price tainted the survey a little, since no question related to it was included in the survey form.
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While sceptics are trying to disprove the DUMB - SHIT report on the the Euro, by planning to monitor the traffic volume after the Euro has ended, the conflict arising from the difference of opinions is quite reminiscent of rivalries between conflicting football teams. Certainly, this is one time the Beautiful Game and the Beautiful Mind have come together to create an interesting result.

195 You've got to be choking...

Actually, I'm not, and there's no need to administer the Heimlich Maneuver (which sounds more like a German Shepherd trick jump through a hoop in a dog show).



Woofen! Woofen!

But, there's still reason to gag, and come close to choking, because I've just discovered that they're some lesser known medical conditions, that the common man may be afflicted with. The following chart shows the ways these wonderful but rather malignant diseases manifest themselves in my ever demonstrative stick figures.


Lesson learnt: Durian and alcohol don't mix, even in print

PS: Can someone, anyone, please tell me why alcohol and durian can't mix. It kills me not to know what could have nearly killed me. Just don't ask how that incident happened.

194 Rectangles, once again

Ah, yes, these late night posts: Well, if you were wondering, one of the reasons for people blogging at the oddest hours of day is because they're waiting for something that happens even later that night, like Euro 2008, or Tiger Woods being forced to play an 18-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate (previously ranked a 100-something in the world). But that's my reason, at least.


So, to the main post...
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(a mysterious narrator's voice is heard)


Previously on Scribbles...


The readers were given a problem. A problem titled "Rectangles and Integers". They had to prove a strange property regarding this basic quadrilateral, and it this was the challenge:


Prove that a large rectangle, consisting of smaller rectangles, all with the property of having either an integer width or height, also have this property.


(opening credits roll)


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OK, seriously, that's very TV series cliche, but I couldn't help myself.
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So, now on to the proof. It's surprisingly rather simple. Shade all the rectangles with integer width with one colour, (say white) and integer height with another, (say black). But leave a strip of the other colour along the the integer side. For instance, a rectangle with an integer width (white) will have a strip of black along the side that is the width, and vice versa, (see figure below). For any combination of black and white rectangles, one will be able to trace a line over a single colour (either black or white, or both) using the area of the rectangles and/or the strips. The reason why they are strips is because, going along vertical sides does not contribute to the displacement in that direction, since the strip is always perpendicular to the direction of displacement. But for any given rectangle, there will always be a single colour path.
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The example below shows the proof for a rectangle with an integer width, note how an path is drawn using merely white coloured rectangles and strips. That's it for this mathematical problem. Case closed.

193 The States of the Mind

This post has got nothing to do with psychology, psychoanalysis, psychiatry, an old horror movie or a bad Ashley Simpson song. In fact, it's not even scientific. It's just a 10 - minute memory test, OK, maybe a little geography and/or general knowledge might be helpful, but for people on this side of the world, it's mostly a plain old memory test. The challenge: do what Ross of Friends couldn't do in an episode of the popular sitcom. The task: To name all the 50 states of the U, S and A in 10-minutes.


It's easier than, perhaps, naming all the states of Mexico, (though, there a few familiar names like Tabasco and Chihuahua), or counties of England but harder than naming all the capitals of the 13 states of Malaysia, or the provinces of Australia. Naming the 50 states may take up a bit of time looking up an atlas, and trying to associate the names of the states with familiar people, like, say, David Archuleta's home state, Utah, or David Cook's (Missouri) if you're more of a fan of his. It may even be educational in some way after you're familiar with the names. For instance, after learning the states up, you may have a better idea of whether MIT is in the East or West coast, or somewhere in the middle, and that Kentucky is more than a fast food franchise selling fried birds.


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One of my attempts at trying to name the 50 states by hand. I got 49/50, damn you Arkansas!
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Now, for The Game. Type the name of the 50 states, in any particular order in the box. The timer will start once you start once you start typing, there is no need to press "Enter" once you type the name, it will automatically accept your answer, IF it is correct. Your answers so far will accumulate below the box for your reference. You have 10 minutes to name as many states as possible... and no cheating.


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192 Maps

Albert Korzybski once said, "The map is not the territory". Well, it's a quote on semantics, and of how language relates to the object itself. Like how the word "chair" denotes a piece of furniture you sit on, but doesn't exactly describe everything about any particular chair, based on the analogy that a map doesn't exactly describe a place. But, he may not have meant for that to be taken literally, but in this post, I will show how real maps are not the territory, and show that too many maps may spoil the broth for the cartographically challenged.

Now, I want to know how to get from the bus terminal to the Syahbandar Jetty in Kuala Terengganu. There's only one map that reads JETTY, and I'm not even sure whether that's the Syahbandar Jetty, or the jetty to some fisherman's house, or the place to get a good bargain on sotong for that matter.

Exhibit A: A map provided on some hotel's website


Much to my unhappiness, the bus station shown on the map is not the Terminal Bas Baru MPKT, the one that we're alighting at. The MPKT terminal is on Jalan Masjid Abidin (Jalan Masjid, on this map), and neither bus stations indicated on the map are located along that road. And, I later found out that this map is the most inaccurate, due to the difference in the positions of certain landmarks.

Exhibit B: A map from a travel brochure


Note the differences between Exhibit A and B. Firstly, the position of the Tourist Information Centre and the Istana Maziah are different. In A, the both are to the east of Jalan Tok Lam, and in B, they are to the west. There's an unaccounted Jalan Paya Bunga in exhibit B, and there's no jetty marked in B. We can assume that the unnamed road directly west of the Bus Station is Jalan Masjid Abidin, since it matches the orientation of the "Jalan Masjid" in A and has a landmark marked Abidin mosque along that road. To convince myself that B is more accurate than A, I had to find another map.



Exhibit C: Yet another map of Kuala Terengganu


The location of most landmarks match comparing B and C, i.e the General Post Office, Bukit Puteri, Istana Maziah and Masjid Abidin, although some squinting is required. So, map B/C can be accurately used for determining the positions of landmarks. But still there's no good information regarding the jetty. So, I Googled Syahbandar Jetty, and guess what? No maps, but some sketchy directions, such as next to the Central Market, and opposite the Post Office. Putting all the information from the three maps together, we now know that map A is more or less correct about the location of the Syahbandar Jetty, based on the position of the landmarks on maps B and C. There's one more thing left to do, plan the route by searching for the fastest way from point A to point B, and luckily there's Google Maps, the most accurate road map along with scale to see whether walking is possible (the roads in these three are too small, and inaccurate for my liking). But there's a problem:

Exhibit D: Google Maps

Google Maps doesn't indicate landmarks at all, just roads, so I need to place all the landmarks onto the blank areas on that map. And to make matters worse, all of a sudden, there are a dozen other roads unaccounted for in the Google Map, based on all the other maps... and the road orientation differs a lot when the maps were simplified for the tourist. We know that the Bus Station is somewhere between Jalan Tok Lam and Jalan Masjid Abidin, but exactly where? My guess is that it's somewhere between Jalan Sultan Sulaiman and Jalan Syed Hussin. The Syahbandar Jetty is somewhere along Jalan Sultan Zainal Abidin, on the left side of the intersection between Jalan Masjid Abidin and Jalan Sultan Zainal Abidin, directly opposite the Post Office, and to the right of the Central Market, making it a walk of about 300 - 400 metres, north along Jalan Masjid Abidin. All that, after taking almost an hour finding and analysing four separate maps. But seriously, people, a 400 metre cab ride?

PS: I must admit, I'm a little obsessive - compulsive when it comes to maps. I'm apologise for that.