Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My body belongs to God and me!

I think it is time that we stop questioning what Muslim women choose to wear. Whether she wears the head scarf, or face veil or a string bikini, IT IS HER CHOICE, OKAY?

Why is it a choice? Because that is God's gift and grace to us.

Why Do Muslim Women Wear The Hijab from rainbow collective on Vimeo.

Friday, March 25, 2011

On the days that you are feeling violent ...

... try counting to ten before setting anyone on fire. Unless you are Red Forman.

Kickin' DIY ass

All the laboratories complaining that they don't have enough money for a scanning electron microscope should watch this.

I salute you, Mr Krasnow.

From here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let's hear it for equal pay!

Once upon a time in Asia, girl children get only marginal education; priority was given to boys. Today, go to any university in Malaysia (and many parts of the world) and you can see how this is now laughable. More young women are qualified to enter universities than young men. This includes areas like engineering and mathematics, once upon a time the unencroachable domain of males.

Women are now breaching the glass ceiling; just look at personalities like the Governor of Malaysia's Central Bank, Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz. However, women still receive less pay than men worldwide; statistics in the USA show that women earn 77 cents to every dollar that a man earns.

If you want to show your support for equal pay for women, wear red on March 25th, will ya?

P/S Click on video at discretion (not entirely work safe). And you'll never look at your grandma quite the same way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who is afraid of the Internet?

Beautiful, beautiful animated video that makes you smile, and then think. It may be a little long, but definitely worth clicking.

A lot of people are saying that the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt was largely successful because of the Internet. Connectivity helps to fan the fervour amongst those protesting and garner support to their cause. An Egyptian man even named his daughter Facebook as a tribute to the social networking site.  

But are we naive in thinking that the Internet is so powerful?

The Internet is value neutral; but like a sword, the wielder can both cut and also BE cut. It can be used as a tool by the activists; but by the same coin, the authorities working to stamp out dissidence can also use it to track, identify and contravene the efforts of the activists.

But  as Evgeny Morozov pointed out, when the Internet is primarily used to download bootleg entertainment material (all right, porn, dammit) and to tell/troll your friends of your "noteworthy" activities, the likelihood of the "democratic change" extolled by the cyber-utopians are about as real as the Farmville corn you harvest.

Euphemisms You Should Know

Euphemism: a word or phrase used to avoid saying an unpleasant or offensive word.
'Senior citizen' is a euphemism for 'old person'.
The article made so much use of euphemism that often its meaning was unclear.

This one is a winner: Got caught cheating by your wife = Crashing the Escalade.

That's what happens when you get caught with your pants down. Sometimes even literally.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gotta love a nerd

Anyone who ever watched footie at a stadium (live or as a telecast) and/or is a hardcore rock music fan would know this iconic STOMP-STOMP-CLAP. I even had Generation Z students who used this song as template for a performance to explain mitosis.

This masterpiece is the brain child of one Dr Brian May, lead guitarist of the quintessential arena rock band, Queen. Dr May is more than a wild-haired electric guitar virtuoso, he is also an astrophysicist who wrote a book on the cosmology (aptly named Bang! A History of the Universe) based on his work on interstellar dust.

Yup, wild-haired brainy dude.(Thanks Wikimedia Commons!)

Initially, the sound effect was not to be included in the final cut of the song; but he was intrigued by the feedback from the audience during a concert that he thought deeply of how he could incorporate the audience participation in their live act - "a means of uniting the audience".

"I was thinking, 'What can you give an audience that they could do while they're standing there? They can stamp and they can clap and they can sing some kind of chant,' " he says. "To me, it was a uniting thing. It was an expression of strength." - excerpted from NPR interview.

He drew from his physics and mathematics background to create a distinctive sound of thousands of feet stomping and clapping in unison, building sound using old boards and prime numbers. Bet when you were swotting through mathematics, calculus, algebra and geometry, you never thought that you can use it to create a song that nets you millions in royalties, no?

Dr Brian May is the reason why girls love wild haired musicians: the guitar will loosen the knickers, but that brain? Totally meltworthy.

Copy and paste for uncomedic error

Plagiarism in academic circles are considered as one of the highest blasphemy (just below falsifying data). Used to be this is about not acknowledging information sources but the "Ctrl+C" and "Ctrl+V" function in most writing softwares has extended the odd quotes to large swathes of work lifted ad verbatim from the original source (with/without attribution).

 It is not acceptable behaviour.

Anyone teaching at an institution of higher learning will tell you that "copy-paste" term papers are pretty par for the course. The students claim that they are overworked, don't quite understand what is the objective of the paper (and hence stuffed everything possible in it in hopes to garner some mercy points) and all kinds of excuses ("I didn't have time to do the paper properly since my cat died and I'm in mourning." is my personal favourite) to justify their action.

Identifying plagiarised paper of most student is actually pretty easy; just look for islands of flawless sentences in a sea of awkwardly written prose or perfect English sentences from students who could barely identify themselves in said language. Softwares like turnitin makes proving academic dishonesty that much easier.

What are the consequences of citation amnesia? It ranges from suspension, paper retraction or to even stepping down from being the defense minister. Karl-Theodore zu Guttenberg, a charismatic and youthful politician from aristocratic lineage (with the courtesy title of Baron), was alleged to have plagiarised significant portions of with Doctorate of Law thesis. Four years after granting him the degree, the University of Bayreuth withdrew his PhD.

The moral of the story is: If you lie, don't get caught.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Go ahead and drop out of school ...

... but only if you are an amazing warlord with charisma to inspire the golden horde.

Otherwise, hit the books.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day!

Eye candy and an emphatic message for women = FTW!

For those who are wondering, the answer is "Yes. I have a thing for Daniel Craig." Silent or otherwise.

Not shooting blanks

Measuring fertility in men often seems to involve a porn magazine, a sterile container and a microscope. However, it appears that there is a less "invasive" way to find out whether your swimmers can actually hit the target.

Gentlemen, time to whip out the measuring tapes!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Frustration ...

I has it.

Philosophy to live by, y/y?

What really occurs between Batman & Robin is a mystery...

... I don't think I want to solve it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

The scariest book I ever read

No, it was not Twilight. Nor did it feature any of the usual monsters of the week hunted by the Winchester brothers *dreamy eyes* (even though reading it may scare the crap out of Dean).

Did not feature these darlings.

Eric Schlosser wrote a frank and engaging examination of one of the biggest icons of Americana: Fast Food. Its history unfolds in early 20th century and helped produce some of the biggest self made men in the US, the perfect embodiment of the American dream.

This book exposed the nightmarish side to these success stories.  From unfair business practices that ruins small businesses, fatal food contamination,  hideous and slave-like working conditions, to the globalisation of obesity via fast food and even exploitation of children through advertisement, Schlosser exposed any number of issues that we do not think about when we unwrapped our burgers. Although most of the companies featured in the book refused to officially cooperate in his research, Schlosser was able to persuade a number of the employees of those companies to speak to him; giving him first hand accounts of what lay behind the shiny facade of the big corporations that made the fast food machinery what it is.

Naturally the corporations featured in the book did not take it lying downand fought back with threats of lawsuits and such. Boldly, Schlosser invited them to conduct fact checking and prove any of the allegations in his book as untrue. Although there was much blustering and threats, none of the corporations named in the book took legal action against him. Instead, they launched an online campaign that petered out like a deflated balloon.

What I find most interesting in the book is that even though the successes of the individuals that built these giant corporations underscore the possibilities promised by the American Dream, it came at the expense of the iconic Western cowboys and the freedom promised in the frontiers. As small and medium sized ranches disappear to the pressures of economy, it also diminished the mythical tough men of the West: suicide rate of the American cattle ranchers and farmers are three times the average in the country (refer to page 146). The legendary West featured in films and dime novels are now lost in the mist of history.

Books like Fast Food Nation makes one pause and contemplate one's decisions over things that were previously taken for granted. I don't think a reader of the book would immediately swear off McDonalds and KFC. But perhaps you would scrutinise the fine print even more after reading this. After all, caveat emptor.

Like Dean Winchester often said; it is people who are the worst monsters, not the demons and ghouls and beasties that stalk in the night.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Brains and beauty

What do Hedy Lamarr and Werner von Braun


have in common apart from near-Alpian ancestry?

They were both rocket scientists.

Did you know that Natalie Portman, winner of this year's Oscars for Best Actress, was a straight A student who competed in the Intel Science Talent Search and has a degree in neuroscience? There is a long history of women who made it big (or even modestly impressive) in Hollywood who are also brainy thinkers and does work in the fields of mathematics, engineering and science.

Here's to beautiful and intelligent women the world over!