Tuesday, May 15, 2012

梦里不知身是客


早上我被哭声惊醒了。嫣然睡在我身旁,一脸泪水。

“你发梦了,你发梦了”我试图安慰她。

她爬起床来,断断续续地哭着,独自走下楼去。

不久我妈便来了,喂嫣然吃早餐。心情平复后,她笑着对奶奶说,“奶奶,我梦见你死了。”

我吃了一惊。怎么她会有这么奇怪的梦呢?

妈笑着说,死了也很好,什么都不用想。

嫣然六岁了,对于生老病死,开始有了体会。她知道了人终将会变老的,常常问我人死后的事情。

蔚然虽然只有四岁,却也开始忧虑了。她常常苦着脸对我说,她不想长大,因为长大了,要生孩子。生孩子非常痛,要用刀子割,她很害怕。她也求我不要变老,不要死,她要我永远照顾她。

这些问题都是尖锐的问题。我没有好的答案。有时候,我也哄哄她,说以后大家都变天使,到天堂去。有时候我就避开话题,说别的去。

有信仰的父母,处理这些话题,应该游刃有余,因为他们可以滔滔不绝的搬出一大堆理论或神话。这些父母由于自己也相信,所以不用说谎,内心不用煎熬。二来,对孩子也有一个好的交代。这似乎是有信仰的一大好处。

作为一个无神论者,我什么也不相信,什么也不确定,问题就来了。怎么能够跟孩子说我们的缘分也许就只有短短的几十年呢?我们都是生命的过客。百年以后,一切灰分湮灭,尘归尘,土归土,这么残酷的事实,我怎忍心跟小孩说呢?

孔老夫子的千古名言,未知生,焉知死,比较巧妙地避开了这些尖锐的问题。看来,这也是我唯一能够采取的基本态度。目前,我能够做的,就是要尽量给他们设下各种目标,让他们学习各种各样的东西,给他们的精神生活丰富些,有趣些,忙碌些。是时候让嫣然学骑单车了!

也许,等她们再大一点,我会负责任地跟他们分析各种可能性。也许我会跟他们说,其实爸爸也没有很好的答案。

等他们上了中学,我希望能够跟他们讲讲百家争鸣,跟他们分析各个哲学流派的代表人物的主要学说。关于生命的意义,生死的问题,罗素,尼采,康德,甚至科学家霍金,都有很多有趣的理论。我希望能跟他们一一介绍。

不过,也许到了那个时候,嫣然和蔚然已经不再问我问题了。他们对于生与死的忧虑,已经不及脸上的青春痘那么可怕。我和妻会无限缅怀2012年五月的一个早上,嫣然在我们身旁哭醒的那一刻。



Monday, November 07, 2011

Poor signs

English competency is generally poor in Malaysia. This can be evidenced by the fact that the signs of "Temporary Closed" far outnumber that of "Temporarily closed" at a ratio of 8 : 1.

And I bet 98% of the Malaysians cannot pronouce "Temporarily" without hurting their tounges.

She must have been inspired

I watched Lost in Translation again last night and I came to this conclusion : Sofia Copolla must be inspired by the movie In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai.

Similarities
1. The man and the woman had their own respective spouse.
2. They developed a very subtle relationship out of lonelieness and boredom.
3. They lied on the bed, exchanging feelings, stories, but they did not crossed the line into have sex.
4. And the last scene... Bill Murray whispered something into ears of a teary Scarlett Johanssan, before they parted goodbye. This is so similar to Tony Leung whisperring into a hole of a tree at a temple in Myammar. Both whispers were not audible.

Plagiarism is too strong a word but many more parellels can be drawn.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How much is enough?

I have not tried Dick's but I assume it's the in same league as Carl's Junior. I'm not eating McDonald if I am a millionaire.
Speaking at the University of Washington, Mr Gates is reported to have said, “I can understand wanting to have a million dollars - it’s freedom. But once you get beyond that, I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger.” He explained by saying “Dick’s doesn’t raise their prices,”, referring to the Seattle fast-food chain, but added “being ambitious is good.”
I agree that beyond a certain wealth, earning more does not necessarily bring you extra happiness. But the threshold is not a million. 10 Million maybe, if all you need a nice house and some good cars, and send your kids to Ivy Leagues. 100 Million if you really wish to do some serious work on charity.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

The grestest thing he did



Much has been said about Steve Jobs, who just passed away last week.

The following extracts of a speech made by him in Stamford was crazily quoted everywhere.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I am not too impressed.

Well, the above quote, while valuable to some, is not practical for most people. 90% of the world population, including me, is ordinary folks doing ordinary, mundane things. We do not really have the luxury to follow our inner voice to do whatever we desire.  A functional society requires disciplined people who stick to their boring jobs, playing their tiny parts to keep this world moving. If you clean toilets or deliver letters,  you better do exactly just that. You don’t fucking follow your heart and pick up a pen and write books, or build the next operating system.  The world would be in an unthinkable position if everyone follows their hearts.

The top 10% talented an independent people, however, will certainly take on unique routes one way or another and they do not need much reminder from Steve Jobs.

To say that Steve Jobs was an idealist or someone who never compromised would be a mistake. To me, the most remarkable thing he did was not about shipping iPhone or iPad.  The most remarkable thing he did was simply this : when he went back to Apple in 1997, he did not get all cocky to do whatever he wanted to do. He flew to Seattle to suck the ball of Bill Gates, and painfully negotiated for a settlement with Microsoft, and also got a cool 150 Million investment, a lifeline very much needed that kept Apple going. He accepted IE as the default browser on Mac, however he resented it. He very skillfully laid out a pragmatic principle for his Mac crowds: For Apple to Win, we do not need Microsoft to lose.

He was simply a very good CEO who knew his position and played his cards right.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Gotta say somethin'

If the world truly mourns the man, the stock of MSFT wouldn't have risen and the stock of APPL wouldn't have gone down.




Friday, September 23, 2011

This is no chinatown

In one of the recent episodes of CSI, an agent appeared to have given an unclear answer. His superior responded - This is no Chinatown! So it appears that one of the stereotype for chinese people is that chinese are often ambiguous in expressing themselves.




Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The origin of myth


There are many conspiracy theories about September 11th. Some argue that Jews or even the US Government itself planned for the attacks. Dr.Mahathir, who recently claimed in his blog that 911 is not a work by muslims, seems to subscribe to similar conspiracy theories.

Dr.Mahathir argued that muslims are not capable of planning and executing such sophisticated operation, which requires great precision. One plane maybe, but 4 planes?

While Dr.Mahathir is right to cast some doubts, his argument is far from solid to conclude that muslim is not behind the attack, especially when the entire world has seen the video of Bin Laden talking proudly about how they planned the plane crash, and how he was the most optimistic among the comrades to predict a total collapse of the twin towers.

Well, I suppose Dr.Mathair would dismiss such video as another artificial work, no different from AVATAR.

To understand why Dr.M's behaves in such a manner, one only needs to read the following paragraph.
What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires -- desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way. ~~~  Bertrand Russell.
To be fair, Dr.Mahathir certainly is not alone in having this syndrome. U.S government behaved similarly in 2003, when they wanted to launch a war against Iraq. Based on some sketchy satellite photos or some overhead phone conversations, they were convinced that were weapons of mass destruction and jumped into the war, because this is in line with their instincts, and that's what Bush wanted. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

The 911 Memorial Service

There was not one single speech of George.W.Bush that could outperform any of those made by President Obama, who is always articulate and natural, until yesterday, when the September 11th memorial service took place.

George.W.Bush read out a letter written by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 to a mother who lost five sons during the Civil War. (Damn, I always thought the mother who lost three sons in Saving Private Ryan had experienced the worst possible pain). Although there were references to God in the letter, it was not religious in nature. The focus of the content was about consoling the poor mother. It was inspirational and in a sense, moving.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

In contrast, Obama made a poor choice of just blatantly reading out a section from the bible. He said,

Psalm 46 begins, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.”

It seems inappropriate to have a Christian scripture quoted in a national ceremony. The victims of the attack 10 years ago, and the families and friends of the victims, are not all Christians. They come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and religious faiths. If not all religions can be accommodated in the ceremony, none should be included at all. And I bet a large number of the victims were atheists. Did they not deserve to be spared from the Christian scriptures?

The mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomberg, has excluded any religious figures or prayers in this ceremony, in an apparent attempt to avoid any controversies. This, in my view, is a right decision. After all, the democracy of the United States is based on a simple concept of separation of church and state. The president has violated the city mayor's directive.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Women don't need help this way

Although the "30% of the decision makers within corporations must be women" policy sounds politically correct, it is not. Fundamentally, it implies that women need help, and that they are incapable of competing head-on with males.

Any policy that is not based on merits carries with it some degree of favoritism, creating an unfair advantage for certain group of people. Affirmative actions are sometimes necessary to give a little support to people (often minority) that really fall behind, but affirmative actions must not be permanent. There must be a clear, measurable goal, which serves as the exit criteria to end those unfair policies.

What really needs to be done is to empower certain governmental units to serve as watchdog to scrutinize companies everywhere. If a company exhibits discrimination based on gender, or religion or race or sexual orientation (okay, maybe we are not there yet), lawsuits should be launched. In the United States, Justice Department and ACLU play such role.

Law cannot dictate how a company should utilize its resources in the most effective way. This is a question of management. Law should just ensure that everyone is born equal.

No, I don't want to tell my daughter that she might stand a higher chance of getting a promotion because she is a girl. I would tell her it's a cruel world out there, very imperfect, often dominated by men, and she needs to work extra hard to make it to the top. And she can.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Donnie Brasco

Finally got the chance to re-watch Donnie Brasco, a film that I saw in 1997. I gotta say it still beats The Departed hand-down.

The Departed was nicely executed, but you wouldn't care any of the characters in The Departed. Whether it's Matt Demon, or Leonardo, none of them could come close to the complexity and depth of the character of Jonnie Depp in Donnie Brasco. And Al Pacino.. that little low-level figure... was such a strong contrast from Michael Corleon. Al had exhibited great courage to take on interesting role. The final scene in which Al left his rings and watch and some money in the drawer for his wife, before stepping out into the unknown danger, was heart-breaking.

Donnie Brasco is truly the Godfather of all Undercover films.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Botak chin

The demolition of the Pudu Jail, led me to read about various tales of the prison. The most interesting is about this man Botak Chin. I vaguely recall hearing him from my mom when I was a little kid.

Having grown up in Jalan Ipoh, it's absolutely fascinating to learn that there was such a famous gangster in this area.

Interestingly, he was finally captured on the night when I was born.

http://themalaysianlife.blogspot.com/2009/11/botak-chin-malaysias-robin-hood.html

吴冠中逝世

Monday, January 11, 2010

King of quotes

I can always cite some Bertrand Russell's remarks for any possible scenarios.

Let's see. On Tiger Wood's downfall, Russell said 50 years ago, that:

"The place of the father in the modern suburban family is a very small one, particularly if he plays golf."


On the "Allah" issue, Russell put it this way :

"Government can easily exist without laws, but law cannot exist without government."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

that's it?

I'm struck by the simplicity of the menu of the most important dinner of the entire world. In contrast, even a usual wedding dinner in KL would have 6 or 7 course.

The dishes are also impressively environmental-friendly. There is no sharkfin, for instance. It's interesting to note the difference between now and say 30 years ago.When Lee Kuan Yew visited Deng Xiao Ping, he was served bear paw. It is inconceivable now.

What is more important for us to take away from this menu is the brand of wine. If you ever visit China, you need to buy 中国河北2002年出产的长城干红和长城干白, because Obama drinks it.


国家主席胡锦涛17日晚举行盛大宴会,欢迎来华访问的美国总统奥巴马。

宴会菜单中西合璧,正餐包括一道冷盘,一份汤和三道热菜:翠汁鸡豆花汤、中式牛排、清炒茭白芦笋、烤红星石斑鱼。餐后甜品为一道点心和一道水果冰淇淋。

宴会上配餐的红葡萄酒和白葡萄酒分别是中国河北2002年出产的长城干红和长城干白。

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You would think SG is error-free when it comes to English, but I saw this advertisement in MRT

"HELP US TO FULFILL THEIR WISHES"

This is grammatically incorrect.

It should be : "HELP US FULFILL THEIR WISHES"

On a related note, I have always wondered which one of the followings is correct, when speaking to my daughters
1. Sit in the chair
2. Sit on the chair

Google seems to point to the first sentence as the correct answer.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

News that haunts you

What is more unbearable? The thought of losing someone so dear to you, or that someone so dear to you is aware of her looming death ...

http://www.zaobao.com/wencui/2009/10/lhwb091029.shtml


(美国辛辛那堤讯)原本天真活泼的女孩子埃琳娜,因为脑癌,在这个世界活了短短6年就离开了。由确诊至逝世的一年间,虽然逐渐衰失说话能力,但她暗暗地写下数百张爱的字条,以图画文字答谢父母的爱,并收藏在不同地方,让父母在她离开后,逐一发现。

  居住在美国辛辛那堤的埃琳娜,5岁确诊脑癌,仅余下7个月至一年寿命。
  埃琳娜对自己的情况心中有数,暗中以特别的方式感谢父。随着病情恶化,她口舌不清,于是利用纸和笔,一次又一次,向父母和妹妹说“我爱你们”。并将字条藏在家中不同的地方,好让他们不时能收到她的讯息。

  埃琳娜最终不敌癌魔离世,她的父母某日在一个背包中,首次发现了爱女留下的纸条,写着“妈妈、爸爸和格雷丝,我爱你们”。之后,不论在书架的书中间、衣柜角、碗碟之间或藏在箱中的旧照片中,都发现她的字条。

  父亲德瑟勒治说:“我们至今发现了数百张,而即使到现在,仍不时有新发现。”但两夫妇各留有一张字条未打开,好让永远还有一张未看。

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chagall


Finally watched Notting Hill, a film that I was supposed to watch 10 years ago, when it was first released, in Canada. I still remember clearly it was rated 3 stars in the Hours newspaper, and the review was pretty positive. However, during that age I had a tendency of going for some "heavy" and "dark" movies. Light comedy was not exactly my cup of tea. I hesitated for a while in going to see this movie. Eventually I must have chosen something else that I thought more worthy of my attention and this movie got buried in the back of my mind. It is finally summoned out.
In the movie, Julia Robert gave Hugh Grant an original artwork produced by Marc Chagall. I did not know who the artist was but I promised myself to google it later on.
And it turns out Picasso thought very highly of this guy. Picasso remarked,"When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is."
Anyway, I thought this painting is the most thoughtful gift ever produced in any romance movies.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

中秋论团圆

数个月前我还认为两岸故宫不可能在中国领土内进行合作交流,看来我是错了。大陆把雍正的文物借给台北展出,展现了大陆的气度,以及前所未有的自信。

“三希堂文物展“指日可待了。


(台北讯)来自北京故宫博物院的三件清代雍正朝稀世文物昨日在台北故宫博物院举行开箱仪式。两岸故宫文物60年来首度聚首,并将于本月7日在台北登场的“雍正——清世宗文物大展”上与参观者见面。

   据中新社报道,“雍正——清世宗文物大展”展出内容分为“雍正皇帝的一生”及“文化与艺术”两部分,首创以文物铺陈雍正其人、其政及其艺术文化成就,全 方位解读这一在史学界颇具争议的清代皇帝。选展的246组件文物包括档案、史籍、地图、肖像、绘画、书法、砚台、瓷器、漆器、玛瑙、玻璃、珐琅器等。

   据悉,这次雍正大展是两岸故宫自今年2、3月间“务实交流”以来所落实的具体成果之一。北京故宫博物院精选了37件清代雍正朝文物,包括雍正肖像、生活 绘画与器物等,远渡台湾海峡实现了两岸故宫文物60年来的首度聚首。此外,参与展出的还有上海博物馆、台湾中研院历史语言研究所等。

  今 日开箱率先与媒体见面的包括雍正“为君难”寿山石螭钮方印、铜胎画珐琅缠枝莲纹六孔瓶、描金彩漆包袱式纹长方盒。据台北故宫博物院院长周功鑫介绍,此次 “雍正——清世宗文物大展”规模大,其展出之物皆稀世珍品,仅保险费用就高达14亿2000多万新台币(约6234万新元)。

  周功鑫表示,今年初台北故宫博物院造访北京,与北京故宫同仁已就两岸人员交流、出版物交流等达成九项共识。此次“雍正展”就是其中的一项成果,希望让文物自己对观众“说话”。

Monday, September 14, 2009

口头禅

One of the most amazing qualities about Obama is his ability to make speeches that unify people of all races, or religions, or parties. I observed that he has repeated the follow phrase in a few speeches. The most recent speech about Health Care, contained such phrase too.

"I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper."

This phrase effectively conveys a sense of brotherhood that is equivalent to a chinese saying 有难同当

It is interesting to discover that that phrase originates from Bible.

A saying from the Bible's story of Cain and Abel. After Cain had murdered his brother Abel, God asked him where his brother was. Cain answered, “I know not; am I my brother's keeper?”

  • Cain's words have come to symbolize people's unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellows — their “brothers” in the extended sense of the term. The tradition of Judaism and Christianity is that people do have this responsibility.