Saturday, February 27, 2010

Imprinting of the rainbow flag? Really?

There has been a lot of discussion over the cause of homosexuality. Many would prefer the biological explanation; if it is natural, then it is not wrong. These people delight in research that lent credibility to their arguments, primarily those dealing in the search for the "gay gene".

Well, just because something was researched "scientifically" it doesn't mean that it will be a truism. The scientific community is filled with debunked theories. JB Satinover elucidates why homosexuality is not easily explained away with genetics.

If someone actually could pinpoint a particular gene or gene clusters that "causes" homosexuality, will suppressing the gene make a gay individual straight? And if it does, is it ethical to do so or to force gay individuals to undergo said treatment?

Personally, I think it takes a whole lot of different factors that determines something as complex as a person's sexual orientation. For those who have no plans to stick to vanilla heterosexuality, the world is a jungle out there. Sometimes, things are not so black and white; there are many men who get married and still have male lovers on the side (same with women) who will not consider themselves as gay or bisexual. This is why reading the term MSM (men who have sex with men) used in infectious diseases and other medical journal makes me snerk.

(Mind you, I do believe that labelling or defining yourself by your sexuality / sexual orientation is doltish.)

I am, however, a fan of the environmental influence on a person's sexual orientation theory. While experimentation with the various flavours of sex can come from a person's sense of adventure, situation (e.g. living in boarding school) and curiosity, sexual and emotional attraction is a different kettle of fish altogether.

But no matter how much Holywood would like to romanticise homosexuality and making it sound normal and attractive (I have heard of idiots who claim or want to be gay because it is cool), it is still a thorny path to tread and fraught with challenges both emotional and social.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tiger, tiger, burning bright ...

Everyone is jumping both feet down Tiger Wood's throat for being a rotten, cheating bastard. Frankly, I am surprised that it is only recently that this shit hit the fan for him.

However, I don't get why this is so. He's not the first athlete who cheated on his partner; check out Ashley Cole and Beckham. But because his PR people portrayed him as this regular Joe who is home-loving but could hit golf balls out into the orbit, people forget that he is exactly that: a regular Joe.

Let's face it: regular Joes cheat. Even those who don't earn eight figures annually cheat. Some says it's in men's DNA, but that's bullshit. Women cheat just as much as men (perhaps even more); it's just that they are more discreet about it.

This piece articulated my feelings about the whole Tiger Woods debacle.

And for those guys who think that their gf/wife would never cheat on them, read this and know fear.


Monday, February 22, 2010

OMG I do not know which competition this came from, but seriously ... whoa ...

Probably not safe for the workplace (unless you got your privacy). :p

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spearing your destiny

One of the longest post I've written here was a spleen venting on the sad state of the National Museum. However, I am pleased to see that things are a-changing, as evidenced by the new look to the Jabatan Muzium Malaysia's website and the multitude of exhibitions planned.

The list of museums under the Jabatan Muzium Malaysia is also quite impressive, something I am sure that many are unaware. However, this does not include the museums by the respective state governments and other institutions such as the Islamic Arts Museum under the AlBukhary Foundation. All in all, there are roughly 150 museums in total in Malaysia; from the government sponsored (federal and state), institutional or departmental (e.g the Muzium Seni Asia in Universiti Malaya) as well as private museums.

What cinched it for me was the Sg Lembing Museum of Mining in Pahang. A lovely bijou nestled in the highlands of Pahang, it documented the hey days of tin mining in Malaysia, but particularly of the state.

I had an opportunity to see it during a Kuantan family trip; a massive one comprising of 9 families to a total of 45 people.

The grand melee.

Sg Lembing was once the hub of tin mining in Pahang, boasting the deepest tin mine in the world. It is also the home of my uncle's in-laws, who kindly hosted us for a lovely morning tea. We took a moment to splash around in the deliciously cool waters of Sungai Kenau; its rich mineralised landscape evident in the colourful striations of the rocks and pebbles of the river.

Don't ask why is the Jeep resting in the river. I have no idea.

The museum is housed in what used to be the mining company manager's residence up on a steep slope of an already hilly country. Climbing up towards it was quite a challenge to some of the gang members hampered by less than ideal health condition.

The harmonious blend of colonial and local architecture, no?

The environment surrounding the museum was wonderfully landscaped to make the most of the undulating surface and the cool temperature of the highlands lent a vigor to the flowers.

Antique water tap?

Not as cool as Cameron Highlands, but delicious nonetheless.

It was documented by historians both local and foreign that tin mining has been a crucial element in the economy of the Malay states even way back during the Malacca sultanate. This means that tin mining was actively engaged in the Malay states even before the British colonialist wangled it into becoming the backbone of the British empire.

Some of the ledgers and cashbooks of the mining company.

The exhibit displayed implements used in the open mining and deep mining methods. The mining done in Sungai Lembing was the latter process, as the grounds made it impossible to have the open type mining more popular in the flatlands of Selangor and Perak. Those open mines brought about thousands of mining pools that have been converted to either aquaculture ponds or covered for commercial development.

Some scary looking instruments, yeah?

The old fashioned fire engine.

The dulang for the mendulang is actually made of wood.

The miners wore minimal clothing as the temperatures in the mines reached hellish proportions.

Tin that was extracted from the ground was processed nearby the mines for export purposes. Plating using tin made processed food production for long term storage possible in the 19th century, indirectly contributing to the economic domination of the Western powers. Today, tin is mostly used as solder, in the plastic industries and as anti-fouling agents. However, it was found that organotin compounds may have undesirable effects on the environment; hence its use is becoming more and more limited.

The granite containing tin ore.

Processed ore.

Jongkong timah. :D

Tin mining was done on mega scale by the British colonialists who brought in the Chinese coolies to work in the mines. I won't go into detail about the impact of this exercise upon the socioeconomy of the indigenous population here, but suffice to say that this changed the ethnic landscape of the Malay states dramatically. To this day, the Chinese community is very prominent in Sungai Lembing.

Lanterns to mark the lunar new year.

The managers of the mining company were usually from Great Britain. They lived in style here and some even brought their family over.

Old school trike.

Grand bedroom.

It was a pity that I didn't have much time to really go through the exhibits as I would have liked. I dawdled enough that my Mum rang me on my mobile to remind me to get down as everyone had left for lunch. There were so many more things to see; the diorama at the outside as well as other items placed outside the museum. Oh well, them's the breaks when you travel in a large group.

However, I must say that the museum was as finely appointed as the mining museum that I visited in the Blue Mountains while I was in Sydney last year. It gave me an appreciation of the impact tin mining had not only to the socioeconomy of the country but also how it contributed towards our subjugation by foreign powers. The museum brought to life a slice of history that was unbearably dry and unexciting when it was taught in school. I hope that more people make full use of the museums in the country to learn of where we came from so that we can chart where we are going next.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An update of the WonderBra

The things that inspire people can be the darndest thing. Dr. Elena Bodnar and co-workers have filed for patent a most marvelous and unique invention: a brassiere that can be converted into two (yes, two) protective face mask in an emergency.

The next time you get caught unexpectedly in a haze-/smoke-filled environment, no worries.

Definite must for clubbing outfits for those of us who hate the ciggies haze. *makes point to look for one before next clubbing outing*

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blessings in disguise

Everyone has got an opinion about bureaucracy; most of them unprintable. And whenever there is an annoyance, there will be someone who wants to calculate and quantify it. Apparently, that includes bureaucracy.

The jury is still out on whether it is a good thing or just something else to elevate your blood pressure.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tongue firmly in cheek

The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.

The winners are:
1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief
that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take
any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:
1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops
bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the
purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate's disease. ( that one got extra
9. Karmageddon (n): Its like, when everybody is sending off all
these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's
like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day
consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after
you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into
your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub
in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Standing on the shoulder of giants

We learn from one another and build upon each other. This is never more true than in the medical sciences where hideous tests on prisoners of wars translated into hypothermia treatment and understanding the process of wound healing.

Radical bioinformatics that will make all experiments in silico is still some time away, so scientists who want to study biological processes but don't work with live animals (either in vivo or in situ) commonly use tissue culture from derived cell lines. The most famous of which are the HeLa cells that was derived from the tumours that riddled Mrs. Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who died of cancer in 1951.

The thing was, permission was not obtained from Mrs. Lacks' family to obtain the sample by either the physician who took the sample nor Dr Gey, the guy who propagated the cell line. Mrs. Lacks has been described as "a black woman whose body had been exploited by white scientists".

Frankly, I get Dr Gey's situation; you get samples for your experiment, you don't tend to question too much. After all, they are hard to come by. These days, what with university and hospital ethics committee having a voice in how you conduct your research, these sort of things are in the past. As the idea for informed consent evolve and people began to understand and assert their rights, no one will blindly sign forms just because someone in a white coat told them to do so.

Then again, may be not. Ask anyone who has to collect human samples for their research experiments.

But I digress.

The issue here is her tissue (notice the alliteration? I'm kinda proud of it XD). Although Dr Gey received no monetary rewards from the development of the cell lines (or so it stated), but there have been hundreds of inventions and innovations that had come about thanks to these ever multiplying immortalised cells. If the decendants of Arthur Conan Doyle could still dictate the way the source material of Sherlock Holmes is treated (and getting paid gobs of money for the right), why shouldn't her children, who are also not well-off and presumably struggling, benefit from the companies who have made millions out of the cells that had killed their mother?