Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Marked intimacy when killing your enemy

Long ago in Borneo, you can only tattoo your hands if you have successfully completed a ngayau (headhunting) expedition. You need to get up close and personal with your enemy, breathe in his last breath, and feel the sprinkle of his hot blood as you severed his head to take home before raising your phalanges to be inked.

Marked warrior(1)

More than just a trophy, the severed head is a talisman against evil to protect your longhouse and its occupants against enemies and disasters. The heads are placed at the highest points in the house, to have a vantage view of all within. And during feast days, the heads are brought down, cleansed and smoked in a ritual as old as mountains, accompanied by the chantings of wizened wise women.

Hands of a master weaver(2)

It takes a great deal more skill and power to kill your enemies with a bladed weapon. A will of steel to steady your hands when needed. A dying art of war immortalised in museums and books, little more than ink and paint on paper. The heart of the tribe is now transformed.

The West are better killers, of course. With their phosphorus bombs, high calibre projectiles, cluster munitions, and drones. Now they can kill aseptically from thousands of miles away, viewing death from high tech lenses, spewing bullets and explosives like a child with a PlayStation in the den. Never feeling the gut-wrenching fear of dealing with your enemies face to face, not caring of their names or faces, armed combatant or otherwise.

Nowadays, who earns their tattooed phalanges honestly? Are there still any?

Note: Cross-posted from my social media account.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Tears Running Dry

As I type this entry, my nose is still blocked and my eyes are sore from what tantamount to 2 hour and change of weeping.

Thanks to Nagasaki: Memories of My Son (N:MMS).

It has been ages since I wept through out a film. The first film that ever made me cry was Story of a Mad Woman, a Taiwanese film that glorified insane sacrifices for love and filial piety. I was eight years old and it was the first time that a tale moved me to tears. Not easy for someone with 'hati kering' like me.

The Japanese are no slackers at crafting tearjerker melodrama and below is my reaction to this insanely evocative and sentimental post WW2 film.

Beware! Spoilers ahead!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Mars and Venus in one

Have you ever thought what it's like to live as the opposite gender? I occasionally dreamed I am a man; boy, those dreams were fun. There are no drawbacks to being stronger, taller than other people; no one complained when I dominated the conversation.

This is an interesting viewpoint of someone who has experienced living as both a man and a woman.

Welcome to being mansplained, Paula.

Friday, March 2, 2018

If This World is Wearing Thin and You're Thinking of Escape

Donald Trump's election into the White House felt surreal to me after 8 years of Obama administration. How or why he won, well, them's the break.

But truly, the only defense in the age of Trump is humour.

Post title came from the first line of this song.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Run, run, baby
Run, run
Til your heart gives out
And your knees break apart
Like a child's toy at the end of childhood

Run, run, baby
Run, run
Out of the cage of hope and denial
Black blue flesh hidden under thick skin
Craving the kiss of misery

Run, run, baby
Run, run
Til the end of the round Earth
Ending up where you began
Writing secrets with your tears

Run, run, baby
Run, run
Breath has deserted you
Deflated lungs scrying your death
Essence of the stars returning home

Friday, January 26, 2018

What Lies Beneath

I liked watching beauty through the decades videos because it gives us a glimpse of how things once was like.

Of course those are limited to:
1. Western beauty ideals; and
2. Beauty ideals that were set by the wealthy (because they can afford it).

These videos underscore how no matter how much things change, some things remain the same. Women are expected to look a certain way (and suffer to get it if they didn't win the genetics lottery) to be considered beautiful. The beauty standards are often arbitrary and fickle; thick eyebrows one decade, pencil thin the next.

Here is another such video with an interesting twist. (Stolen from here)

It's a good refresher. Women are forever being erased from the history books as though half of the world's population have no historical value or did anything interesting enough to be noted. It is important to remind ourselves that women are not just vainpots primping in front of the mirror; they move the world as well.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Going Viral

How does a word that used to denote disease now becomes the buzzword of communication tech? People in marketing are now always on the look out for ways to make their campaign reach the widest possible audience, and today the most visible marketing currency is video.

Watch Sarah Wood, COO of Unruly Media, explain what it takes to make a marketing video go viral; it's a little chilling how what you think is an organic online interaction really is orchestrated by algorithms crunched by unseen people a world away.

*video is stolen from Wired.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Haunted by Sea Maidens

This song is used as part of the spiritual healing ritual based on the tale of the fisherman who lost his heart to the sea princess. Traditionally this was used for treating what now would be called post traumatic stress disorder; to revive the spirits of someone who has had a traumatic experience.

In other words, traditional Malay medicine use music and song and dance to heal psychological illness. Pretty progressive, don'tcha think?


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Breaking Up is Easier than Breaking a Habit

Every new year (be it the Islamic or Gregorian calendar), I'd tell myself to cut my electronic umbilical cord AKA the smartphone.

Or at least, put it far enough away from me during off times so I'd be more productive -- write more, make inroads in my avalanching to-be-read pile, finish embroidering my kebaya ...

Alas, I still fail. I'd manage maybe 2 or 3 days, and then I fall off the wagon again. The phone is also where I keep track of my email - work and personal - so even when silenced, I still reach for it every so often.

Watching this is pretty sobering, I must say.

Freakin' scary.  Especially since I'm in the middle of reading Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brain.

I can feel my brain being rewired.

Frankly, I have no idea how I'm going to wean myself off of the phone. I am a reading junkie; my phone plays a HUGE role in feeding my habit. I use it for reading my e-books and it's where I keep my Kobo account. Heck, I'm reading Carr's book on my smart phone, small screen notwithstanding.

It's ever harder to put the device far away when so much of our social interactions - be it family or friends or professional relationships - is controlled by that rectangle of silicon and circuits.

By making itself indispensable, the smart phone controls our lives beyond what we should be comfortable with. With the Internet of Things, one day we may not even have to carry the smart phone anymore; it may be grafted under our skin, with retinal implant to display the screen. Forget being afraid of Big Brother's surveillance; we already take Big Brother everywhere we go on purpose and eagerly.

If you wanna know more, read this and let me know if it made your hair raise as it did mine.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Dressed to Kill

You can never dress alone ...

... if your clothes are this complicated.

This sort of fashion was probably the reason why very few European ladies follow their husbands when they go pillaging in the tropics in the 18th century. The suffering when your scapula began to itch; how on earth do you reach that annoying spot?

I don't imagine the garment is terribly comfortable; the boning of the corset looks like sheer torture. Keeping the spine erect is one thing, but the squashing of boobies is another.

Thank God this style is no longer in fashion, no? Although those pockets are really kind of sweet.

*stolen from theLiverpool Museum blog.