An obligatory 2009 Merdeka post

(The reality of the nation these days – Image source: http://blinkstar.wordpress.com)

Merdeka or Independence Day is just couple of days away and at some places, ‘celebrations’ has been scaled down due to the H1N1 pandemic. The way I see, there is a reason to celebrate Merdeka and there is a reason not to celebrate Merdeka

The reason to celebrate Merdeka

To remember the sacrifice that our nationalists, freedom fighters and security forces did in order for our nation to gain independence and ensure that independent preserved throughout the years

The reason NOT to celebrate Merdeka

After 52 years of independence, what we have achieved?

In my opinion, nothing much – yes, we have one of the tallest buildings in the world and our technological and economical development of the nation has been in par with many of the developed nations. But that is about it.

We are yet to be truly united (Najib’s 1Malaysia seems to be nothing but a maya – despite a promising front, his political party’s elements are continuing to spew racial discord), we have lost 71 Malaysians to H1N1, corruption bar is still high and MACC yet to net any big fish despite many official complaints & reports – now one can add the death of Teoh Beng Hock, we had a coup in Perak and that mess is yet to be cleaned up and before this can be resolve, there are already seeds of a potential coup in Selangor and our economic prowess, compared to some of our neighbours, is nothing to shout about (despite having all the right resources).

For this Merdeka, I will be taking the opportunity to ‘celebrate’ it by taking a longer nap and wake late to enjoy the day

H1N1 – The Missing Pieces

star_anise

(Is this the real cure of H1N1? Image source: Wikipedia)

As at todate 71 Malaysians have died from the H1N1 virus and we have yet to see the end of the pandemic.

Compared to the earlier days of the pandemic, the Health Ministry has been providing a good day to day status of infections and deaths on their H1N1. But that is the end of it. Other key information is missing.

The missing information is:-

1. What are the H1N1 hotpots in Malaysia? (The DPM opened his mouth and said that the government might reveal the hotpots but it was a case “no action talk only”)

2. What is the demographic profile of the infected victims? (it is not for any racial discrimination but for an insight of diet and lifestyle)

3. The total people that has been infected as at todate (the Ministry does provide the daily infection number but stopped providing the grand total unless one is keeping the daily number religiously)

Then you have this interesting revelation:-

If you read the stories on H1N1 influenza written by the mainstream media, you might incorrectly think there’s only one anti-viral drug in the world. It’s name is Tamiflu and it’s in short supply.

That’s astonishing to hear because the world is full of anti-viral medicine found in tens of thousands of different plants. Culinary herbs like thyme, sage and rosemary are anti-viral. Berries and sprouts are anti-viral. Garlic, ginger and onions are anti-viral. You can’t walk through a grocery store without walking past a hundred or more anti-viral medicines made by Mother Nature.

Where do you think Tamiflu comes from, by the way?

It’s extracted from the Traditional Chinese Medicine herb called Star Anise. It’s one of hundreds of different anti-viral herbs found in Chinese Medicine, not to even mention anti-viral herbs from South America, North America, Australia, Africa and other regions.

Then if one digs further, we find this:-

Shikimic acid, a primary feedstock used to create the anti-flu drug Tamiflu, is produced by most autotrophic organisms, but star anise is the industrial source. In 2005, there was a temporary shortage of star anise due to its use in making Tamiflu.

Late in that year, a way was found of making shikimic acid artificially. Roche now derives some of the raw material it needs from fermenting E. coli bacteria. The 2009 swine flu outbreak led to another series of shortages as stocks of Tamiflu were built up around the world, sending prices soaring.

When we look further at the source of star anise, we get disturbing news:-

Only star anise grown in the four provinces of China is suitable for manufacture into Tamiflu and 90 per cent of the harvest is already used by Roche.

Well, well, isn’t it interesting to note that the main source of ingredient of the medicine against H1N1 is controlled by one pharmaceutical company and the governments around the world are stock-piling the Tamiflu as the number of H1N1 infections and deaths are increasing?

A Quick Guide to Star Trek – Part 2

“She [the Borg Queen] brought me closer to humanity than I ever thought possible. And for a time, I was tempted by her offer. (Picard: For how long?) Zero point six-eight seconds, sir… For an android, that is nearly an eternity” (Data, Star Trek: First Contact)

Read Part 1 here

Star trek

(One is Klingon warrior and the only of his kind in the Starfleet but often looked down by his own people whilst another is a cool, master tactician Vulcan who prefer logic over violence) 

5. The tactical officers

What is deep space exploration without any confrontation with aggressive aliens? In the world of Star Trek, enemies of the Federation comes in many shape and form, from known enemies like Romulan and Borg, unknown  space life forms and misunderstood friendly aliens.

And right at the front of space battles is the tactical officer who lays out tactics within critical timespan, ensures the starship is adequately shielded from on-going blast and phasers, aims the ship’s weapons for a direct hit and provide security details for internal and away missions.

ST: TNG – In 2364, Lieutenant junior grade Worf (Klingon) was assigned as a command division bridge officer on the USS Enterprise. Worf spent most of his first year on the Enterprise-D as a relief officer for the conn and other bridge stations.

Worf was permitted a variation from the Starfleet uniform dress code, and wore a Klingon warrior’s sash, sometimes called a baldric by Humans, over his regular duty uniform.

In 2365, Worf transferred to the operations division and officially became the Enterprise-D’s chief tactical officer and security chief. After seven years of service aboard the starship, Worf rose in rank to lieutenant commander in 2371.

VOYTuvok (Vulcan) was the tactical officer and second officer aboard USS Voyager. He served in this post for the seven years that Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Tuvok was a prize-winning orchid breeder. He used grafting techniques on flowers from both Earth and Vulcan.

Tuvok’s main pastime was the Vulcan game kal-toh. Tuvok also spent his spare time meditating, and instructed various members of the crew in this pursuit over the years.

My pick – I guess it depends on the situation, Worf for close combat (it is suicidal to take on an angry Klingon in an hand to hand combat) and Tuvok for long range ship tactical and security crew readiness (he had the logic enough to write a “worst case scenario” holodeck program for the USS Voyager’s crew). Tuvok edges Worf in the long run considering that Star Trek Voyager encountered species in the unknown quadrant.

moral

(One can read your mind in an instance whilst another doubles up as the ship’s chef but both gets the job done nonetheless)

6. The moral officers

Long journey in Star Trek starships especially in the case of USS Voyager can be lonesome, boring and stressful. Thankfully both USS Enterprise and USS Voyager is equipped with holodecks for the crew to let off some steam but at end of the day, it helps if there is one who is willing to sit down and listen and advice crewmen on their personal problems.

In the case of USS Enterprise, Deanna Troi is also helped by Guinan (played by Whoopi Goldberg) who is also the bartender and an informal moral officer

ST: TNGDeanna Troi (half-Betazoid, half-Human) served as ship’s counsellor aboard the USS Enterprise-D and the USS Enterprise-E. Troi’s empathic skills made her an important asset to the Enterprise and often came in handy when dealing with hostile races. Since she could usually tell if others were lying, she repeatedly proved herself invaluable in many suspenseful situations

VOY Neelix (Talaxian male) joined the USS Voyager, serving as chef, morale officer, ambassador, navigator, and holder of many other odd-jobs. Aboard Voyager, Neelix served as a chef, “Special Consultant for the Delta Quadrant”, and occasionally as a self-appointed “chief morale officer”. Captain Kathryn Janeway gave Neelix the unofficial title of “ambassador” when he proved to have a flair for diplomacy.

My pick – Neelix for his multi role duties and also for the fact, he can’t read one’s mind. He is less emotional too.

And finally, my favourite characters in both Star Trek series…

AI

(Can an android beat a hologram? Both are simply the most lovable characters in the respective series although the Doctor have a serious issue of mobility)

7. The Artificial Intelligence

The cream of the Star Trek series – the crewmen who is not really “alive” (although Captain Picard did argue differently for Data in Starfleet) and can do wonders with limitless calculation and memory storage. The best part of the “artificial intelligence” in both series is that they try (sometimes to an extent of humour) to be as close as a humanistic can be.

ST: TNG Lt Commander Data (Soong-type android) was composed of 24.6 kilograms of tripolymer composites, 11.8 kilograms of molybdenum-cobalt alloys and 1.3 kilograms of bioplast sheeting. All told, he weighed approximately 100 kilograms.

Data’s upper spinal support was a polyalloy designed for extreme stress. His skull was composed of cortenide and duranium. Data was built with an ultimate storage capacity of eight hundred quadrillion bits (100 petabytes, approximately 50 times the identifiable storage capacity of the human brain) and a total linear computational speed rated at sixty trillion operations per second.

Data served as operations officer and second officer on board the USS Enterprise-D from 2364 until the vessel’s destruction in 2371. Since he did not require sleep, he routinely stood night watch on the bridge. His speed of thought and great strength made him an important asset to the ship, and the fact that he was unaffected by disease, radiation or mind control was vital on more than one occasion.

Data pursued many of the higher arts of Earth. He developed his painting skills, creating art of many styles and subjects. He wrote poetry and performed in plays. He played the violin and performed on several occasions.

VOY The Doctor (hologram) was the name given by the crew of the USS Voyager to their Emergency Medical Hologram (alternatively abbreviated as “EMH”). The EMH Mark I, of which the Doctor was an example, was a computer program with a holographic interface in the form of a Human male doctor.

The EMH Mark I, properly known as the Emergency Medical Holographic Program AK-1 Diagnostic and Surgical Subroutine Omega 323, was developed by a team of engineers to be an emergency supplement to the medical team on starships.

Only meant to run for a maximum of one thousand five hundred hours, it had little personality and the apparent objectives of first accessing an emergency situation before dealing with that crisis, as efficiently as possible.

It was capable of treating any known injury or disease; programmed with medical knowledge of every member world in the Federation (at least, as of 2371), it had the knowledge of five million surgical treatments and was capable of adapting to create new medical treatments.

It also had a database of spiritual medical treatments practices by Native Americans. The Doctor took a keen interest in opera, frequently practising his singing with a holographic soprano.

My pick – Data because he is not limited to any shortcomings in the hologram circuits. He can’t perform major medical functions but that is not a major shortcoming. He just needs to learn the same from the ship’s massive library within seconds.

(Key data and pictures for this Star Trek post sourced here)

MAIKA Screw-up Revisited

(“I’m innocent – I don’t know what happened to the Telekom shares. Besides, ACA have cleared me”. Image source: http://www.topnews.in)

MIC party polls are coming up in September…

And thus far, there is no clear challenge to the head honcho and his nominated men. At this juncture, Raja Petra of Malaysia Today revisited the Maika – Telekom share scandal from an interesting point of view:-

A bit about Maika. Maika Holdings was once touted as the miraculous economic vehicle to elevate the Indian poor from the shackles of poverty. Launched by MIC in 1982 as their investment arm, the original plan was to ensure that at least RM30 million worth of shares were subscribed to but so successful was the promotion campaign that by 1984, RM106 million was raised from almost 66,400 shareholders with SV being the largest shareholder with 2.8 million shares.

From then onwards, it was downhill all the way.

Read the whole post here

When one reads the sequence of events pertaining to the Maika Telekom shares fiasco, one would realise why MIC should continued to be denied from any representation and the wrongdoers in the Maika Telekom shares fiasco need to be caught, stripped naked and flogged by each of the 66,400 Maika shareholders.

Read Also

Missing Maika Money

Maika – say no to bailouts

Maika Debate

What MIC really needs to do?

Reader’s Digest in Trouble

(Image source: TheStar)

I recall getting old Reader’s Digest magazines from one of the neighbours when I was small and in recent times, been getting the latest editions from my yearly subscription.

There are 2 things I like about the Reader’s Digest is 1. the small size of the magazine (about 18.5 cm x 13.5 cm). It is easy to store or bring it along during a travel and 2. the contents. There is no specific theme – there is humour, real-life story, word-quotes, environment, technology, condensed fiction, crime and history. In other words, there is something for everyone in the magazine.

A short profile of the magazine:-

Reader’s Digest is a monthly general-interest family magazine co-founded in 1922 by Lila Bell Wallace and DeWitt Wallace, and based in Pleasantville, New York, United States of America.

The Audit Bureau of Circulation says Reader’s Digest is the best-selling consumer magazine in the USA, with a circulation of over 5.5 million copies in the United States, and a readership of 38 million as measured by Mediamark Research (MRI).

According to MRI, Reader’s Digest reaches more readers with household incomes of $100,000+ than Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Inc. combined. Global editions of Reader’s Digest reach an additional 40 million people in more than 70 countries, with 50 editions in 21 languages.

It is also published in braille, digital, audio, and a version in large type called Reader’s Digest Large Print.

(Source: Wikipedia)

However, despite interesting readership statistics, the magazine is in serious trouble and has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Reader’s Digest Association Inc., publisher of the iconic general interest magazine that began gracing American homes in 1922 and now reaches a worldwide audience of 130 million, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday as it faces falling print circulation in the Internet age and looming debt payments.

Reader’s Digest said the prearranged bankruptcy filing, which only affects U.S. operations, would give lenders a 92.5 percent ownership stake in exchange for lowering its indebtedness to $550 million from $2.2 billion.

(Source: TheStar)

This probably explains why in the recent times, the number of ads in the magazine have kept increasing.

A Quick Guide to Star Trek – Part 1

“I refuse to believe that the afterlife is run by you, Q. The universe is not so badly designed!” (Captain Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generations episode Tapestry)

star trek

The best starship manned by the best crew and led by the best captain in the Federation – Star Trek: The Next Generations (ST: TNG) and Star Trek Voyager (VOY) was one of my favourite TV shows in the 1990s. Image source: The Wrap

And in recent times, I managed to get hold of whole 7 seasons of ST: TNG and it was worth watching the show all over again. VOY on the other hand, took viewers on the other side of ST:TNG and had it’s own interesting attractions as the Federation ship that got lost in the Delta Quadrant which requires 70,000 light years to return back home.

Whilst on the onset, both series looked the same (with ST: TNG being more prominent between the 2), there are some interesting differences and my pick between the 2.

starship

(USS Voyager (right) is smaller but better designed compared to USS Enterprise)

1. Type of starships

The crew in ST: TNG flies the more famous USS Enterprise a Galaxy-class Federation starship commissioned in 2363 whilst the crew flies the lesser known, much smaller but more nibble USS Voyager, the Intrepid-class Federation starship commissioned in 2371. Further USS Enterprise is deemed the flagship of the Starfleet and one of the largest among all Federation starships.

ST: TNGUSS Enterprise has 42 decks, 14 phaser arrays, 2 torpedo launchers, 250 photon torpedoes, deflector shields with a maximum warp speed of 9.8 and a crew complement of 1,014

VOYUSS Voyager has 15 decks, 13 phaser arrays, 38 photon torpedoes, deflector shields with a maximum warp speed of 9.975 and a crew complement of 150.

My pick – USS Voyager. For a simple fact, it is faster, more nimble and carries less unnecessary crew. Besides Captain Picard hates it when there are children on board.

captains

(No one can ignore the ‘prominent’ feature of Captain Jean Luc Picard (left) and the powerful stare from him)

2. The captains

Long before playing the role of Professor X in X-Men, Patrick Steward played Captain Jean Luc Picard in ST: TNG and that it was one of the key crowd puller for the Star Trek series. For Voyager, we had an unsettled first impression but Kate Mulgrew who played the Captain Kathryn Janeway showed that Kathryn Janeway was one tough lady and had all the rights and skills to captain a Federation ship.

ST: TNG – USS Enterprise D is captained by Captain Jean Luc Picard (human). Picard not only witnessed the major turning points of recent galactic history, but played a key role in them also, from making first contact as captain of the Federation’s flagship with no fewer than 27 alien species, including the Ferengi and the Borg.

He also became the chief contact point with the Q Continuum as well as serving as Arbiter of Succession, choosing the former leader of the Klingon Empire, Chancellor Gowron, and exposing the Romulan Star Empire as backers of his chief rivals, later aiding an underground movement of dissidents to gain a toehold on the Romulan homeworld. Captain Picard ‘s favourite drink is hot Earl Grey tea

VOY – USS Voyager is captained by Captain Kathryn Janeway (human). She became the first Federation captain to successfully traverse the Delta Quadrant, encountering dozens of new planets and civilizations over the course of seven years. While there, she and her crew also survived numerous encounters with the Borg. By 2379, she was a Vice Admiral at Starfleet Command. Captain Janeway’s favourite drink is hot black coffee.

My pick – Captain Jean Luc Picard at any given day! He’s bald and yet he is cool and one that had stood up to Q on almost equal terms

ist officer

(Both have the right looks of a first officer but Commander Riker (left) is more experienced with Federation starships)

3. The 1st officers

Captains cannot work effectively without having a fine, dedicated, skilled crew and first in line are the ‘number ones’ or the next in command. When the captain is unable to take helm of the ship or is away on missions or trapped in some alien world / ship, number one have the control and final say. Number ones also take care of job assignments and staff evaluations and other operational issues.

ST: TNG – USS Enterprise D’s 1st officer is Commander William Thomas Riker (human). He was perhaps best known for his long assignment as first officer under Captain Jean-Luc Picard aboard the USS Enterprise-D, and later the USS Enterprise-E. In 2379, he finally accepted a promotion to captain and was assigned to the USS Titan. Riker was a jazz aficionado, and his favourite musical instrument was the trombone.

VOY – USS Voyager’s D’s 1st officer is Commander Chakotay (human). Chakotay didn’t use the holodeck often, but enjoyed reading instead. He occasionally took the time to embrace his artistic side, such as creations using colored sand while trapped on ‘New Earth’ and carvings of Native American symbols. Chakotay was a vegetarian; one of his favourite meals was mushroom soup.

My pick – it is tough choice between the 2. Both had their own strengths and weaknesses but I guess Riker have the edge over Chakotay – he already been offered captain-ship several times but opted to remain Jean Luc Picard’s number 1.

engineer

(Geordi (left) is blind and needs a visor to see things in a very different way)

4. The chief engineers

The heart of Federation star ships is the warp propulsion system and without the right person at the engineering, the starship, no matter who is in charge, is in deep trouble (they can loose speed, shield and weapons). Since the time of Scotty Scott and Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, the role of the chief engineer has become more complex, as starships gets bigger and more technologically innovative.

ST: TNGGeordi La Forge (human) held the rank of lieutenant commander and was the chief engineer of the USS Enterprise-D and USS Enterprise-E, both under Captain Jean-Luc Picard. As a junior officer, his specialities included antimatter power, dilithium regulators, holodeck programs, and climate-control computers. His intense focus enabled him to master the complexities of warp engineering and other starship systems.

VOY B’Elanna Torres (half-Klingon, half-Human) served as Chief Engineer on the USS Voyager. Torres was initially assigned the provisional rank of lieutenant junior grade. Torres had difficulty getting along with the temporary chief engineer, Joe Carey.

She was recommended as a replacement chief engineer by Chakotay. However, Kathryn Janeway opposed this decision. After Voyager became trapped in a quantum singularity, Torres proved her skills to Janeway and earned her respect. Janeway then made her chief engineer over Carey.

My pick – Between 2, Geordi is better simply because he is more prominent when it comes to new innovations to the warp propulsion system and key starship systems. And without a “Klingon DNA”, he is often more adapting to handle critical situation without losing control or temper.

(Key data and pictures for this Star Trek post sourced here)

To be continued…

(Read Part 2 HERE)

White Skins

(In modern times, global cosmetics have taken over natural selection to give fairer skins. Image source: http://cache.jezebel.com)

For those with fairer skin, here’s a food for thought:-

The idea that early humans became fair-skinned as they migrated north out of Africa so they could make enough vitamin D to stay healthy has been questioned again, reopening a debate that many think is settled.

Juzeniene and her colleagues recently reviewed alternate hypotheses for why humans might have evolved lighter skin. One highly controversial idea involves sexual selection: once sensitive light skin was no longer hazardous, as in Africa, it was selected for sexual attractiveness.

The other idea is that dark skin was more prone to frostbite in higher latitudes, and hence would have come under negative selection pressure, a claim that comes from studies of soldiers during the Korean War, when black soldiers suffered far more frostbite than white soldiers

(Source: New Scientist)

Ya Right, Khir!

(You all don’t trust this face ah? I have nothing to gain from the toppling the current MB lah.  I am angel, trust me lah. Image source: http://dppwp.wordpress.com)

From theStar:-

Meanwhile, when contacted, the politician, who was overseas, said the allegations were baseless. “I have nothing to gain by toppling the Selangor government,”

Ya right, Khir – you have nothing to gain from toppling the Selangor government, just like BN gained “nothing” when they toppled the Perak government?

The more the politician denies the allegations stated in the unsigned letter with such statements, the more he looks guilty as charged. You still think you can screw the people and can get away with it?

Childhood Memories Part 15 (Bike GP)

GP

Still remember the time when Formula 1 was unknown and a distant away and all we have was the Bike GP (Grand Prix)?

And to colour them was Rothmans Honda, Lucky Strike Suzuki and Marlboro Yamaha. I still remember entering my uncle’s room one day and there on the wall, was a large poster of Kevin Schwantz taking a corner on his Lucky Strike Suzuki.

Me and my cousins used to get excited whenever we see replicas of the Rothmans Honda, Lucky Strike Suzuki or Marlboro Yamaha on Malaysia roads (although it is not of the same model). The Motorcycle Grand Prix came in 3 classes – 125 cc, 250 cc and 500 cc. One needs to agree that the most intensive competition lies in the 125 cc class but at the end of the day, the juicy stuff lies in the 500 cc class.

Rothmans Honda

Freddie Spencer / Wayne Gardner and Rothmans Honda

One of the most outstanding achievement by Freddie is being the 250cc and 500cc World Champion on the same year. I still recall watching Fast Freddie way up in the front, riding rather casually whilst the nearest competitors fighting off for the second place. Wayne Gardner continued carrying the Rothmans Honda challenge thereafter to be the first World Champion from Australia (way before Mick Doohan came into the picture)

Malboro Yamaha

Eddie Lawson and Marlboro Yamaha

The 4 times world champion and was the one who everyone else would try to outrun. Steady Eddie was Kenny Roberts’ partner before taking helm at the team.

Lucky Strike Suzuki

Kevin Schwantz and Lucky Strike Suzuki

Kevin Schwantz was a blast with the corners – he introduces the sliding when taking corners. This way he was able to catch up with the front runners when they slowed down for the corners. He was battling with Wayne Rainey for the championship and managed to be one in 1993.

Whilst the riders are the main focus when we were watching the Grand Prix on the television, the colourful bikes was the focus especially on the colour of the tire rims as the riders were taking the corners.

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