Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More Nuyork

NYC has always been one of my favourite cities so I'm going to put in more pics here.Some are of me, Cris and Dr Susilo at Columbia University.

NYC has its own beca/trishaw now.

New York! New York!

Cristiana and I made a crazy plan: we'd take the bus to New York (5 hours from Ithaca) over the long weekend. Thanks to her friend (also a Fulbrighter but based in NYC), Dr Susilo, we had a nice time in NY.There were times our gracious guide,Dr. Susilo, had to play the referee when Cris and I disagreed over where to visit first! Ha ha.Aku nak ke Harlem, dia nak ke Battery Park/Ellis Island.But in the end we did both (although not the full Harlem.I'd do it when Nik is here, InsyaAllah)and we both tak kuasa nak naik ferry to Ellis Island.I had been anyway.Cris was happy with just lazying around at Battery Park.We had lunch there and er...shopping. :)

Anyway, NY sidewalks and Central Park stink of urine!I have figured out why.There are no public toilets (like in Paris)Even one of the hotels we went to locked its toilets!!! I will write to Clinton on this (Hillary Clinton)and the city mayor, Bloomberg.I don't remember it being so bad 7 years ago when my family and I were here.

We visited the site of WTC (very sad!)

We went to Chinatown and Battery Park to cheer up again.

And of cos' the Broadway play we went to at 50% discount (tapi queued almost 45 mins).We saw Pirate Queen at the Hilton Theatre.Best gila! It's about rebellious women in the 16th century England/Ireland.Woman to woman war, politics and peaceful negotiations.Syok betul.It was a musical.

Nanti I nak tengok Jersey Boys dgn Nik and Z(pasal Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Guess who

I have a big family (on my side).One of the little ones on MY side yang kita selalu usik is Ijat.His dad is from Tganu.Ijat takes after him a lot, I think.Kalau besar jadi doktor macam dad and mom, bagus juga.

Ijat lives in his own world (very independent) but we like to kacau him and enter his world.Kadang2 dia layan.Kadang2 bolayan.I remember we took him out on the LRT.Dia duduk senyap2 macam Rodin, tangan di dagu.I tried talking to him.He did not respond.He looked so serious, like thinking of something very hard.I got worried so I asked the older brother what's wrong with Ijat, kot2 kejap lagi nak menangis nak mak dia (mana nak cari dalam LRT tu) ...he's gone suddenly very2 unresponsive (kalau tak, bukan main hyper!)

Aiman said, "Berak la tu!"

By the time his mom picked us up at the Bangsar LRT Station (kita nak shopping kat Megamall sebenarnya.His mom works in KL)mak dia checked diapers..Ya Rabbiii, memang betul!

Rodin la konon!

The Muse is back

Apa yang kau cari di sini?
(terilham selepas habis membaca novel Mohja Kahf The girl in the tangerine scarf -- dengan sedikit pengubah-suaian)

Di kota terbuang ini
ulat-ulat hijau berterbangan
ditiup angin kencang

apa yang kau cari di sini?

di kiri kau novel Mohja
bercerita konflik diri
sebagai muslim di daerah tersisih
bercerita bagaimana dia harus tabah mempertahankan
kerana itu didikan ibubapa yang sering berkata,
"jangan malu jika orang memerhati kita
sembahyang di tepi jalan
atau mengambil wudhu', membasuh kaki di sinki Sears
atau Macy"

di hari budak-budak skinhead menarik tudungnya
tiada seorang guru yang membantu
mengatakan ini tidak mungkin di sebuah negara
di mana kebebasan beragama adalah perlembagaan

di hari budak-budak Saudi mempersendakan tudungnya
sambil meraba kewanitaannya
di dalam limo mewah di pinggir padang pasir
sambil berkata,"tidakkan kau tidak biasa bercumbu
dengan lelaki? Mengapa kau bertudung.Ini bukan
cara Amerika"
dia memekik sekuat hatinya

Di Amerika mereka menghina
tetapi tidak mencabul kehormatan wanitaku.

Apa yang kau cari di sini?

Di kanan kau seorang anak remaja
bertungkus lumus menghadapi periksa
menangis terisak-isak
kerana tiada siapa di sisi untuk mengadu

apa yang kau cari di sini?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On the way to Waterloo...

...we stopped at the Taughannock Falls.What a beauty! And Lake Cayuga is huge.The farms aren't as nice as those in NZ but green.This is all I need at the moment -- greenness, sunshine and SHOPPING.My idea of heaven on earth.

Waterloo is a factory outlet, outside Ithaca.Oh God..I could go crazy here...so cheap! Practically EVERYTHING is so cheap (branded items) so I did my shopping for the folks at home..from the little ones to the oldest in the family.I hope I didn't miss anyone.I will need an extra suitcase home.

Sakan! This is the cream of my trip here.Ha ha.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Farewell potluck

Two of the Block A people are leaving this week so we threw a potluck party for them (initially it was for Christina but the Spanish guy is also leaving so he joined in as well) Each cooked something.I did nasi lemak/sambal ikan bilis, Manu vegetable beriani,the guys did Italian pizza, Hong did cabbage and bacon (nampak sedap) and Cynthia (Brazil) and Christina did desserts.Katarina pandai beli air and arak (tak payah masak apa2)

It's hi and goodbye for those who are leaving (we never spoke before this)but those who still have some weeks left (we are all short term visitors in the A block)will have f/ship from now on.At least we know where they are from and what research they do.
Aku tak kisah..aku dah nak balik.Tak sabar.:)

Kim said the pre-paid card she bought me has a fair amount of money left.I must use up! (I thought I ran out of credit)I'm useless when it comes to using pre-paid ph cards.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Missing Nabil

My girl and I would talk about Nabil in our daily phone conversation.Today, Z told me how 3 years old Nabil now aspires to be a superhero: from Superman to Spiderman to 007 (we'd tease Keluang man tak mau ke Nabil? Or Cicak man?)But one day his mom and him went shopping at the Curve and there was a promo of a super vacuum cleaner.Guess what? Our little superhero hid behind his mom crying, "Ma, vacuum cleaner, Ma!" He's afraid of (of all things!) vacuum cleaners!! Ha ha.

This is the same little boy who I took to an aquarium and showed him big fish (Z, when she was that age, would smile and point excitedly and say fish!fish! beautiful! beautiful!) but Nabil went excitedly and said, "kukus!kukus! yum! yum!". I just could not believe it!This child was barely 3 then!But thought it was so funny.Just the other day I spotted a deer outside my Kahin office and I thought: yum! yum! daging rusa ni sedap dimasak lemak cili api.Nabil's influence.

On Zafirah's bday, Nabil sang "Happy bday to elephant..." His mom tried to cover up by saying oh he's confused with his Disney Channel bday parties...I wonder...

Just the other day he saw Nik on TV.He cried cos' he wanted to go inside the TV (his mom said dah lama dia nak masuk TV tu!!) so when he saw his Uncle Dee on TV, he had wondered why he could not be there as well.

Every time Nik and Z visit him now (our usual routine on weekend is that we take him out for a couple of hours, spoil him rotten with ice creams and all the fattening foods..he'd return so comot to his mom/dad) he'd go, "Aunty Nor?" -- without fail since I left. Nabil has a good PR. :))

I just love young kids that age.Simply adorable.But only for 2 hours. :))

Z, send me his pic.Let's blog that little imp.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nik's special mention in NST article by Rehman Rashid

2007/05/08 (from http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Tuesday/Columns/20070508084252/Article/index_html)

Four fingers point back at every Pointman
Rehman Rashid

"POINTMAN" for the government during crises — now there’s a job I’d like.

(They probably wouldn’t take me, though. They wouldn’t entirely trust me.

No one does, perhaps because, like Groucho Marx, I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member.)

The government’s Pointman would be expected to deliver accurate, timely and relevant information in a way that illuminates, educates and informs the public on the government’s actions and intentions. This would also mean choosing the right words and phraseology with which to impart such information succinctly, clearly and confidently. (Disqualifying me right there.)

Singapore, once again, is exemplary in this regard. Their government has always had exceedingly sharp Pointmen minutely scanning the media for any dubious or inaccurate information on their nation-state, whereupon they would respond, often within the working day, with incisive corrections and comprehensive rebuttals in language of surgical precision.

This is not necessarily a matter of public relations per se. Good PR can be tremendously useful, of course, because the best PR makes good use of accurate, timely and relevant information. (The worst PR, on the other hand, thinks its role is to hide, cover up or obfuscate. No one gets away with that anymore. It simply doesn’t work. From having to deal with angry people, bad PR ends up having to deal with ignorant angry people; the worst kind.)
For better or worse, however, PR cannot help but be the first two letters of "propaganda". The government’s Pointman will therefore have to be more than a smooth-talking, well-groomed, suavely smiling silver-tongued shyster.

Glib charmers can be usefully telegenic, but that’s not enough to compensate for lacking credibility. A respectable record of integrity would help, but in this job, competence is judged not on past performance but presence of mind amid clear and present danger in the here and now.

If this seems to describe a Special Forces commando in a well-cut suit, that may not be far off the mark. Lee Atwater of the Reagan administration and George Stephanopoulos of Bill Clinton’s were past masters of the Pointman’s trade.

Karl Rove leaves something to be desired, but Barack Obama could be among the greatest if he hadn’t decided to run for president himself. (Maybe a mistake, that: Genuinely clever men tend not to do too well in the Oval Office. True, neither do genuinely dumb ones, but they don’t mind.)

Here at home, we have the notable likes of PLUS’ Khalilah Talha, the Shangri La Hotel’s Rosemarie Wee, the EPF’s Nik Affendi Jaafar and the Health Ministry’s Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican. Millicent Danker’s gone to Zambia, but the redoubtable Datuk Dr Paddy Bowie’s still on song.

The government’s Pointman (or woman) will be an individual (or a team of individuals, like MCA’s Datuk Michael Chong and the Chongettes) whose task will be to forestall the fearful rumours, wicked gossip and paralysing innuendoes, misinformation and disinformation that inundates the speculative landscape every time something alarming happens in this country.

In announcing the search for such a Pointman last week, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the need was to "prevent confusion among the people".

"It’s not our intention to cover things up," Najib assured his audience at an international conference on information management in Kuala Lumpur. "We’ll disclose information in full to prevent rumours from spreading."

The DPM was referring specifically to health scares such as bird flu, SARS, hand-foot-and-mouth disease and other such outbreaks and epidemics, but it would be wonderful if the Pointman’s office could also be tapped as a one-stop shop for similarly forthright transparency on everything else the government has to face.

For instance, it might be useful to have someone explain to the public that the information minister’s criticism of foreign media for reporting on ousted local politicians was actually to get them to acknowledge these people’s present standing in this country.

Or perhaps the science, technology and innovation minister’s alleged remarks on Indian complexions to a group of Malaysians in California could be attributed to a momentary lapse of reason due to overwork and jet lag, when he was only informally contrasting Dravidian and Indo-Aryan culturo-genetics.

There could be instant and reassuring explanations of aircraft, yachts or mansions here and abroad, or on whether or not Datuk Siti Nurhaliza’s in the family way. There could be quick and ready reference to corporate structures and shareholdings, and the developmental economics of fishermen owning racehorses. Above all, there could be the assurance that someone knows the answers, and that’s the Pointman.

Of course, this doesn’t mean he’ll tell you everything. As a government servant, he, too, will be bound by General Orders to observe the constitutional privileges of his elected masters. But he will be in a position to advise them on how to make sure the people get the right stuff in the right way at the right time (as immediately as possible, that is, or prudent) so that they will know the government’s true intentions and not be troubled by doubtful outcomes.

That’s why I for one would love the job. It may not mean I’d tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but at least, at last, I’d know.

Otherwise, what’s the point of being a Pointman? There’d only be four fingers pointing back.

Happy birthday Zafirah!

Dear Adik,

May 11, 1992 was a very special day for Ibu and Papa.We waited 5 years for your arrival and finally one Subuh one Monday,you came as expected: bouncy and beautiful.Putih melepak more than your mom (ha ha) and I got scared cos' you looked so much like me (tapi lama2 rupa macam Papa but in many ways you are still like me that it gets scarier each day...the things we like, the kinda jokes we make, etc)

I'd like to wish you all the best and semoga Allah terus melindungi dan merahmati hidup Adik sehingga ke anak cucu cuit muit.Whatever.

We love you so much but we don't want to pressure you too much in your studies (ha ha).Ikhtiar and doa.Whatever that happens after that, kita terima dan bersyukur.Tak payah la tidur sampai 2-3 pagi, studying.Yang penting cukup tidur and banyak minum air and senam.

Hadiah when you get here.Kad bday tu dah boleh buka now. :))

Happy birthday, buntat!


It wasn't all work.I had time to mingle with the Harvard community (Profs and students).It happened to be the Arts Festival week.Prof Muhd took me around and we wanted to visit his friend (a Philosophy Prof who owns a poetry bookshop) and say hello.They were having poetry reading session so we joined and heard a few (including the 1999 winner of a poetry competition...hers was powerful..about child sexual abuse)

Before that I joined Yenching's 30 years old tradition ( a lunch at end of a semester)in which lobsters were served (along with other foods, etc)Oh wow, some lobsters and some company! It was nice getting to know scholars from other Asian countries especially East Asia.

We also saw Harvard students (of all ethnic b/grounds) doing an African dance (and other crazy stuffs...all very artistic and stylish)

Some pics.

I didn't take any pics of the dinner we had at Prof Muhd's home (with Kak Ani who's very gracious and kind)Azmi and his TNC came along.Prof Azmi is so funny when he talks.One joke he shared with Prof M was about a Prof who was gagap.Prof M said somehow this lucky Prof had always full house lecture hall.We were wondering why.Prof M said the kids loved it cos' they could take their own sweet time writing down lecture notes.
Azmi menyampuk saying, "not only that, he repeats!"

Kak Ani, TNC and I macam nak pecah perut gelak.Scientists and artists bila berjumpa dan melawak macam ni rupanya. :))


I flew to Boston on Friday to assist the Biotech Malaysian delegates (3rd largest participation after US and Canada).Quite a number of Ministers, Chief Ministers (some with wives), MPs,KSUs were in attendance.The Deputy Prime Minister (with wife) were guests of honour for the Malaysian community in the US in particular, and Malaysia had a nice mention at the launch of the world event (which is held annually.This is is Msia's 4th year, participating)

There were some 50 volunteers mostly undergrads from universities all over the US (mostly with biotech b/ground)It was nice meeting these restless (intelligent) young minds.I also met the older ones (US citizens/PR)They work as lawyers, architects, engineers, entrepreneurs here (all Malaysian/Malay women).We had nice time together especially with Pon of Las Vegas.

My impression is affluent nations are big on biomedic research and products and not too keen on green biotech per se(although biomedic could be part of this too, no?)Thailand, Singapore are way ahead us and we have a lot to catch up with.The money spent on trips to Biotech exhibition and conference could be given to biotech R&D.We don't have to be no. 3 in terms of participation but we should aspire to be no. 1 at least in ASEAN as producers.I had spoken aloud my thoughts with some Tan Sris and Vice-Presidents of this and that but in general, my newly found friends are aware of the need/issue/gap we have where biotech is concerned.Some are pretty disgusted that we should spend so much money on 'branding' Malaysia.Give us products then brand lah!

But there are so many qualified people in the industry and that's nice to know.There is hope yet.The politicians should not interfere with voices of the experts if Malaysia really wants to move forward or lead the field.

Some pics of the event.I don't have any pic of me and another student jadi tea ladies (waiting on wives of TPM and MBs of Tganu and Kedah).Nasib takda... don't want to look like bibik!I was bidan terjun (I happened to be in the wrong place when they needed people to wait on the ladies but Adi, the Bosnian waiter, did most of the job.He loved it cos' he said Malaysia helped build a hospital for his country after the war)

Friday, May 04, 2007

A history of warfare between science and theology?

Katarina and I went to a talk on the above (without the question mark) by Nobel Laureate of Physics, Steven Weinberg.Google him at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Weinberg and his remark on religion as an insult on human dignity.With that kind of title "A history of..." I was curious to find out which history he'd focus on.What kinda stand would he take (western scientists can surprise you.Some might quote the Quran in Arabic!) but Weinberg didn't surprise me one bit.In fact, that title was plagiarised from Cornell's first President (which he acknowledged).I find him NOT to be a true Scientist at all.Scientists are supposed to be value-free/impartial.You just report your scientific findings but no...and he admitted at the end of his talk: he would preach: for the death of religion so that science could grow and develop.

What was interesting was his bashing of Islamic 'stand' on science, claiming it died with Al Ghazali who caused the death of science since Al Ghazali advocated that everything happened by the grace of Allah.And then he went on and on equating suicide bombers with Islam and the rest of Muslims as motivated by the wish to die in the path of Allah (sacrifice)at the expense of others.He went on and on having a go at Christianity and Buddhism and Hinduism etc.I can understand why he no longer teaches at Princeton or Harvard.This man is offensive (as well as sexist..objectifying woman as a plaything...good for dancing etc) What is so intellectual saying things the non-schooling people would say in response to FOX/CNN news of suicide bombers, etc.

When I googled him, I found out that the Nobel Prize he won was not based on his work alone.THAT was NOT mentioned in the introduction on him or that he took the trouble to acknowledge his scientist buddies (one happened to be an Ahmadiah Muslim, Abdus Salam who unfortunately would never get to tell his stand on science and religion cos' he died in 1996 in Oxford, UK) But Abdus Salam was a Muslim and one write-up on him is this :

Abdus Salam was a devout Muslim, who saw his religion as integral to his scientific work. He once wrote: "The Holy Quran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah's created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart."[1]

During his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Physics, Salam famously quoted the following verses from the Quran

"Thou seest not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection, Return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze, Comes back to thee dazzled, aweary."
He then proceeded to say: "This in effect is, the faith of all physicists; the deeper we seek, the more is our wonder excited, the more is the dazzlement for our gaze." [3]

(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdus_Salam)

I had to stand up and pointed out to Weinberg that even after Al Ghazali's death, there were still great scientists making great discoveries especially at the height of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.Who was he kidding?Also it wasn't because of religion that we were left behind in scientific explorations...colonisation suppressed many of the Muslim countries..there were lacks of fundings and grants for scientic researches, etc. I should have said every time a Muslim country wants to do anythimg scientific...they would be accused of developing Weapons of Massive Destruction..look at Iran and its nuke scientific project(but I was the only Muslim in a crowd of 100 over people and my knowledge of Islamic science isn't as great as some of my collegues back home. I also said we have big Science faculties back home and have started on space exploration programmes which he said good, he's happy to know there's a return and may it weaken religion.Darwin's pet!)When you are not just a scientist but a scientist with an agenda...you will get Steven Weinberg.

My take is to all who want to believe, who feel that religion has helped them cope with so many things and tragedies in ther lives...fear not of scientists like Weinberg.He's not the only one.There are better scientists who do not see the divide between religion and science (like his co-winner of the Nobel Prize, Abdus Salam).

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Akhirnya, Spring!

Minggu ini minggu akhir semester di Cornell.Bulan ini juga bulan akhir ku di sini.Sedih pun ada (sebab bila dah panas, seronok juga duduk di Ithaca ni) tapi pastinya ini bukan kampungku.Aku harus pulang.Lain kali datang lagi. Ha ha.

Kelas hari ni dgn Prof Gilbert, seronok gila seperti last week.Menyesal tak join awal (itu pun Prof Culler yang beritahu she would be here till this week).Dia ni sungguh lucu dan bijak.

Chrissy and I bergambar di musim bunga yang tiba juga.Katarina flatmate baru dari Berlin and I tanam pokok ros yang macam nak mati.Harap2 dia akan survive udara dingin Spring.Tak sangka budak German ni takut cerita hantu (I started telling her Msian ghost stories and she told me German ones.Memang takda kerja lain sebab apartment kita takda TV.Kita buat cerita sendiri)

My last paper almost done (kertas yang ke 6)Harap2 besok siap.Para pembaca jangan ingat saya bercuti di sini.Gambar2 ini tidak mewakili penderitaan saya. :))

Enjoy gambar2 baru.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Malaysian politics

A lot of excitements in Malaysia while I'm away.They had at least two by-elections in the last couple of months (Machap and Ijok?) Ijok was like a bad circus.There were some 1500 FRUs installed and there were fights between rivalling supporters.Shameless fights in which some were admitted to Intensive Care Units.Have we come to this level? What happened to the old spirit of Malaysians who always gave way and were respectful of one another? Esp those of the Malay culture.Are Javanese in Ijok any different? Javanese in Malaysia (of whom I have come across)are amongst the gentlest beings.So who were these people who had gone on violent rampage? Almost unrecognisably Malaysians! Were they from outside? (there were at least two buses spotted, said to have ferried phantom voters and that they came from a state, bordering Thailand.A blogger wrote about how an IC was faked to enable a person to vote.He gave this IC no. of an 8 year old 990518610029 and if you enter it in the box at this site http://daftarj.spr.gov.my/daftarbi.asp to see the particulars of the person who's registered to vote in Ijok, you will be amazed how an under-aged boy could be given an IC so soon! Usually the age is 12 to get an IC.

If this is an error..it is costly and a threat to the sovereignty of the nation.
I will write to the Election Commission to find out.I'm sure others had done so already.But just in case they had not...

This year Malaysia will celebrate its 50th Independence Day.I hope we are not moving backwards.