Category Archives: Thoughts & Commentaries

The Future of Facebook

Any comments about the future are risky. The reason is obvious. If your prediction is wrong, you might be condemned and if you are right, you won’t get any prizes, in fact, no one might even acknowledge you. But this is not right from a moral point of view because both these reasons demonstrate human weakness, in the former case, the weakness of fear and in the latter, the weakness of unchecked ego.

I shall therefore proceed with this post about the future of Facebook. At least my Facebook.

In the beginning, Facebook was a revelation. Suddenly, I know what my friends and family are up to. Suddenly I get to connect not only with old friends from school but also with some vague celebrity of some sort that I am actually not very close with, but just merely an acquaintance at best due to the nature of my work. But the feeling was one of vague superiority, although I did not get into the race in having the most number of friends amongst my friends. At least not that vain.

As the experience of Facebook progressed, I became more discerning and stopped the rate of adding friends. But it is still a great tool to keep in touch with some friends and activities, such as Go related activities or board game related activities which I enjoy. I also enjoy the photos and stories posted by friends, some of them very inspirational. I also posted many photos and activities to share with my friends.

However, I only realized recently a few things on my Facebook activities. Not that I run an analytics about it (which I believe those guys at Facebook has) but just a reflection on my Facebook activities. I realized the following:

1. At the most, I communicate and participate in the activities of a small handful of my friends. I believe the number to be no more than 50 active participations. The rest are inactive. Their status and posts do pop up in my wall but I have no participation in them, sometimes not even interest. They have no consequences whatsoever in my life.

2. I sometimes get a feeling of disgust, to put it less mildly, at some posts. With all due respects, these posts are generally religious in nature. I know that the intent is good, the spreading of religious wisdom etc. but most of the time, it gets on my nerve. It gets preachy and gives me a holier-than-thou kind of feeling. My believe is religion should be a private affair, between you and God, something that you just believe and do, just do good, not talking good.

3. A show off affair. Yes, indeed it often feels like that. I myself is guilty of it sometimes. The need to show off is a result of an inferiority complex. The difference between showing off and sharing is one fine line. Sharing pictures of what you had for dinner in a particular restaurant and recommending the food because it is good is not show off. It is sharing. On the other hand, showing the food you eat in a business class flight is showing off.

I think Facebook, or at least my Facebook, will eventually become:

1. A network of very small group of family and friends where everyone in the group wants to know what each other are up to and not minding the food or vacation picture you put up, not to mention baby pictures (aarrgghh!). For me this group is at most around 50 people who are really close with me. This includes Facebook friends who are actively participating in my Facebook activities or those whom I participate in actively.

2. Facebook will eventually turn into a marketing tool, and a good one. And this is the reason to buy Facebook stocks because I think there is tremendous upside. I will find myself member of groups that interests me, such as board games, and would like to keep updated on the activities of the group. I might eventually make some purchases because of it. The main difference is the sincerity of the group. For example, the Boardgamecafe group is marvelous and superbly well run. I truly enjoy reading about their activities and explore the games that they played. This is a bunch of sincere board gamers who love to share their boardgame experience. Another example will be Go related groups, such as GoGameGuru, another superbly run company.

As such, the future of my Facebook will be one where I will have a very limited number of “friends”. This will also avoid annoying others with my posts the same way that some posts annoy me. I will keep in a separate group some people that interests me, people that I want to know their development and what is happening with them. But these people shall be spared from some of my posts meant for sharing with my group of close family and friends. I will also participate in groups that interest me, groups where I can contribute to and be active in. I think this will make my Facebook activities more meaningful and relevant.

The rest are crap.


Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

Things come in Circles

It is now almost one year that I have left this blog unattended. Besides spending most of my online social time on Facebook, some of you may also know that I have spent some time to write Go lessons published on a separate blog site. Those lessons do indeed take a lot of time and I am still struggling to find time to write more lessons.

So what happened during the year of absence? I am not sure if many people is interested in that but since this blog also acts like a diary, perhaps it is okay for me to just write.

2011 first and foremost, is the centenary of my favourite composers death anniversary. And of course my favourite composer is Gustav Mahler. To commemorate it, I bought two items. The first is a biography of him by Jens Malte Fisher. It was first published in Germany back in 2003 but took some time to be translated to English, and just in time for me to purchase and read in this meaningful year. The second item I bought is the 16-CD set 150th Anniversary Box set published in 2010 to mark the 150th anniversary of Mahler who was born in 1860. Although I have all the recordings on individual CDs in my collection, I went ahead and purchased the set anyways. Crazy. I hope my wife doesn’t read this blog.


Besides Mahler, I have also been very much into the 18xx boardgame series. Not to be confused with anything pornographic, the 18xx series is a game system where players invest in railroad companies. At the end of the game, the player that has the highest net worth in terms of cash and investment is the winner. The 18xx games are quite sophisticated games and involve many strategies. It has a stock market mechanism and also a map where companies can operate. In one of the variant, 1817, there are many financial tools that players can use such as short-selling, leveraging the company with loans, mergers and acquisitions, etc. In others such as 1841, companies can invest in other companies and this bring about very complex chain of command since these companies can merge and do all sorts of creative things.

There are, however, some more stable variants which does not allow outrageous stock manipulations. This is the kind that I prefer to play because you spend many hours on the game and the last thing you want is for someone to be able to trash you out to oblivion. In this variant, my favourite is 1844. 1844 has a solid gameplay where companies can have long term strategies. It has a very interesting map. The stock market aspect of it is slightly tamed down but is still superb because it still punishes badly managed companies.

I have played many games of 18xx series this year. Among the new ones that I have played, 1844, 1817, 1880, 1861, 1860 and 1841 stands out brilliantly.


Of course, besides all those, one of the biggest event for me, if not the biggest, is my participation in the 32nd World Amateur Go Championship in Matsue, Japan. It is my dream when I started playing Go to be able to participate in this event. It is like a pilgrimage. I believe it is every Go player’s dream to have a chance to participate in this. I represented Malaysia and have had a great time there, knowing many new friends. The organizers are superb and the locals in Matsue, together with the environment, made me wanting to migrate to this nice place. The weather is mild, the locals are all very nice and orderly, it is a very cultured place, with frequent musical and theatrical performances, not to mention Go related activities. It has a great castle and a very nice and soothing lake. The perfect place to live.


Then towards the end of the year, we went on a trip to Yogyakarta to visit the volcano mountain, the temples. It is a legendary place. The food is also very nice. We enjoyed the Nasi Gudeg very much.

The Borobudor is quite an amazing sight. It is huge and has such detailed carvings. It is said that it was the center for Buddhist studies and a site of pilgrimage. The carvings on the walls tells us the stories, of Buddha’s life, of the Buddhist philosophy told through many tales, such as from the Jataka tales.

Compared to Angkor Wat, it is a very different experience. Angkor Wat felt more adventurous but Borobudor is no less grand. Both places are must visits if you are in this part of the world.


The book at I am immersing myself in now is Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Murakami is one of my favourite authors as some of you may know and 1Q84 is a monster. I like Murakami for his natural prose style and his vivid imagination. The events and characters in his novels are not only fantastical, it is often also historical. The contents are rich not only in its story and storytelling but also the cross reference to music, travel, books etc. I learn a lot through reading Murakami.

1Q84 is a fantastical novel which has a very simple premise. A boy and a girl held hands when they were 10 years old. And the story took almost 1,000 pages to unfold, to tell us how they meet again. It is amazing.

In terms of movies, the more interesting one I saw this year is A SEPARATION by Asghar Farhadi which won numerous awards including the Golden Bear at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival and nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in the upcoming Oscars (the second Iranian film nominated, the first being Majidi’s CHILDREN OF HEAVEN).

The movie is at the same time a domestic drama and also a criticism of modern day Iran. Shot on handheld, it gives an immediate sense  and feeling of the characters and its environment. Brilliantly acted by the whole cast, it gives one a peek into the minds of the rising middle class of Iranian society.

Last but not least, this Japanese Whisky is incredibly delicious!!!!!

Sweet smelling, flowery with a slight hint of smoke. But it tastes really delicious. Fruity, slight honey and peat. It goes down very well and leaves some smoky flavour. It is wonderful.

Also, a new addition to the house. Dolby my Dobermann Pinscher has a new partner. Her name is Coco! Pictured below with my mom. She is now 1 year old while Dolby is now 2 years old. Got her from Dr. Sunny of the Sunny K9 Academy in Ipoh. Shy but very playful. Unbelievably fierce too!


Maybe this is good for the first post of 2012. I will perhaps start to write this blog again this year.

I wish you all a happy new year and all the best!

Leave a comment

Filed under Boardgame, Books, Gustav Mahler, Music, Thoughts & Commentaries

The Age of the iPad

I am lying now on the grass in my garden under the sky. Gentle wind is blowing and it is cooling. Dolby my dog kept disturbing me, sniffing my hair, trying to sip my can of beer and inviting me to play with him. This dog is hyperactive.

This post is to wax lyrical on the iPad. Needless to say, I am typing this on the iPad connected via the Wifi. I did not buy the 3G version because there is no need. Not to mention the extra monthly cost for the data plan.

Honestly, I was skeptical about the iPad when it was launched. Another fad, another selfish gadget, another toy to show off just to tell the world that one is in trend and hip. I was still rather skeptical until the day I bought it. I actually thought of getting it for my mom to play games on since she loves playing games. As for me, I can’t imagine much use of it.

To say the least, I prefer reading real magazines and I read either the Economist or BusinessWeek every morning during breakfast. I read real books because to me reading a book is more than just reading the lines. I love the smell of the book that I am holding in my hand. I like to flip the book forward and backward and peek at what is coming etc. etc. I read news on my laptop when I reach the office. I do not really know how the iPad wil change these habits. In fact, until now, I am still doing the same routine every day.

But what then is iPad’s value add to my life? For a start, I realize that I do not turn my home base iMac as often anymore. I can do all my web browsing, Facebooking, emailing all on the iPad and it feels great to do that. The size of the iPad and of course it’s touchscreen technology makes the experience such an easy and enjoyable one. Unless I need to do something heavier or there is something I really need to use Flash to watch or I want to play games, I no longer needed to turn on that giant.

What more, with Apps like QuickOffice Connect, GoodReader, Dropbox, Evernote all installed, I can even use the iPad if I need to do some simple office stuffs.

Of course there are the BBC and CNN apps that I have installed to catch up with some news if I felt like it.

Talking about office work, I have been using the Moleskine notebooks to write things down for the past few years. Moleskine has great and simple design which I admire and enjoyed using. However, I feel it will now be replaced by the iPad again thanks to the Penultimate app and the Pogo Sketch stylus. Note taking using them is such a breeze. With Wifi everywhere and cloud technology, I bring with me not only my ‘digital Moleskine’, I am bringing along with me the files and minutes that I need which I have already stored in the cloud. It is just so convenient and logical.

Another thing that I really like about this gadget is that I can load movies I wanted to watch but cannot find the time or for whatever reasons and take them with me when I travel or whenever I am free. Yes, there is not much storage space but there is enough space there to store several movies. And the screen resolution is good. It is easy to rip and sync movies between the iMac and the iPad. You just need to have Ripit and Handbrake installed and iTunes will do the rest.

I have watched Naruse’s FLOWING this way as well as re-watching BEFORE SUNSET, which I truly enjoyed and also as a homage, some years ago, tried to retrace the lead characters’ track in the movie starting from Shakespeare and Company itself, after purchasing a copy of Hemingway’s THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA and get that “Kilometer Zero” chop as a souvenir since THE MOVABLE FEAST, one of my very favourite books, is not in stock. Needless to say, the attempt to trace the whole route from Shakespeare & Co to the coffee shop failed.

Add on to this the current app that I am using to write this blog post, I am free and easy. No longer bound to the desk or have to carry that bulky Notebook around (still I will much prefer the iPad to the Macbook Air although the MBA is also sweet). And add to this, some games to play and some pigs to aim at when I am bored or when I wanted to take a break, and at only about RM1,500 (no need the 3G), this superb tool is great value for money.

Nice, isn’t it?

1 Comment

Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

Finding the Soul

Inspired by a good friend’s status update on Facebook where, inspired perhaps by the movie he saw, was saying he was looking for his Soul. I have been asking this and some other questions at various points in my life too and his update in turn inspired me to write this post, on what I thought on the subject matter. Not that I am an expert or anything but if at all, just inquisitive and would just like to share a thought or two, perhaps just for the fun of it, because, ultimately, I believe we won’t really find an answer to that question of a Soul.

When we talk about the Soul, it is inevitable that it is closely linked to Religion for without religion, there is no need for a Soul. The purpose for the existence of a Soul is many-fold but the most important of all is that this Soul transcends our physical existence, and thus is something eternal. In a way, it is a great concept because our existence do not end with the expiry of our physical being and as such, so are the rewards and punishments for the acts we have done in this world via our physical existence. It satisfy our need to have an eternal life, to be greater than just current mere existence, as well as a great carrot and stick mechanism to make sure that we behave. It is the great Santa Claus for Mankind.

For all these, therefore, Mankind needs to keep his/her Soul clean and pure in order to live a blameless life, and thus reaps eternal rewards when the Savior rides in the rainbow from the sky and such. This is the most simplistic way to look at it.

However, at another level, the Soul serves as a great concept in our current worldly life. What I meant is the Soul gives us strength to face the trials and tribulations of life, which we will face inevitably. Without this strength, it is hard to get on day after day in the face of adversity and set-backs. Everyone needs to have a certain pillar to draw strength from and this Soul is a great power provider. The Soul provides a sense of security and comfort, a certain peace. In short, the Soul radiates very positive energy when the owner of the soul believes his/her Soul is clean and pure. And as everyone knows, positive energy begets positive energy and good things will start to happen in one’s life.

But the ultimate question is, does the Soul really exist or is it just a concept stemming from our own psychological needs? Do the Soul really reside in our body and then leave us (to reincarnate or go to Heaven or Hell or wherever) when our physical being expires or is it just a creation of our mind, which will cease to exist when our physical existence expires? Or is the Soul just a form of energy that is within us and when we expire, this energy leaves us and transform into another form of energy, since energy cannot be created nor destroyed? And if it is an energy, how is this energy different from other forms of energy such as heat and electricity?

Since time immemorial, Mankind is actually quite a humble species in that they acknowledge that they are not in full control of all the elements in the world that we live in. As such, they worship the gods of sea, wind, sun, tree, stone, etc. etc. in the hope that they will favor them and thus give them good luck and make their life easier. From hunter-gatherer related gods, mankind progressed into agriculture related gods as they progressed from hunter-gatherers to farmers. As societies becomes more and more complex, various higher level gods are imagined until the ultimate “realization” of the one God. Then there are no other gods but God.

With the creations of gods, the creation of the Soul is inevitable as Mankind begins to ask what they are made of, where they come from and where they will go hereafter. As societies becomes bigger and bigger, rules and regulations need to be established to govern the society as close monitoring is no longer possible as societies became bigger. And when it grew bigger still, some sort of remote control monitoring system needs to be in place so that everyone do good and bad guys are punished, their crime recorded by invisible eyes up above. And for those who got away from punishments in this life, there is comfort in knowing that the criminal will be punished even if his physical existence expired in this world. That was really great comforting thoughts and encouraged everyone to behave.

However, in Buddhism, at least the Theravada tradition, they do not believe in the existence of the Soul as Gautama Buddha reportedly asked his disciples wherefore the Soul resides in the body. But the idea of transcendental punishment and rewards is still present in the Buddhistic philosophy via the theory of Karma where good deeds are rewarded with good rewards or good reincarnations, etc. And the subject of this reincarnation is again, to me at least, not substantiated with logical arguments. And asked about all these things that humans cannot logically understand and perceive, the Buddha just simply said that we do not need to know. Notice that He did not say yes or no.

Perhaps like Kant said, transcendental ideas are by nature not understandable by human beings simply because it transcends our understanding and the capacity of our brain power. It is fruitless and meaningless to talk about it and the only way to work on it is to have faith in it. This is perhaps true and is perhaps why early Chinese philosophers such as Confucius and Lao Tzu did not talk about the Soul, but merely the Way (or Tao) of Heaven. And here it also gets interesting when the concept of God first started as Shang-di (Heavenly King) to Tien (Heaven). Perhaps from one God whose image is like Human and all powerful to a Concept of Heaven only. Not until Buddhism made a big impact in China did they have again the idea of human-like gods.

So, coming back to this concept of Soul and it’s relevance in our modern and future society. There is no doubt in my mind that the idea that a real Soul exist and resides in our body and will move on after we die is an important idea and I think billions of people in world live and believe in its existence. However, to each their own, some people also do not believe at all in it and lives a purely existential life. But what I believe is that the “Soul” is a culmination of our own self-inquiry into the nature of our own beings. Our philosophy and world-view, a way and guide for us to live and face the trial and tribulations of life. A philosophical concept attained purely by self-reflection and meditation, from study of self and others, from the exploration and learning of the world around us. And thus building character and self confidence and strength to live a blameless life, to face problems, to have the ability and wisdom to appreciate our own life, family, friends and the world surrounding us, to live a good and happy life, hopefully benefiting and also learning from everyone who comes into contact with us, if possible contribute to the betterment of Mankind and finally, the wisdom and ability to be able to let go.

Hmmm… well, there goes my lunch time.


Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

The Disappearing Act – Part 2

It actually felt good to be blogging again. It’s a good way to relax and unload all the thoughts I have inside, lightening the load of stuffs in my head. This part 2 continues where I left of in the last post, on the top 10 stuffs of 2010.

7. Best Movie

Every year, I have a top movie listing and I discuss and talk and preach endlessly about movies. But 2010 is a sad year for my movie world. It is the Dark Ages. I have not watched as many movies as I wished, where my previous record peaked at 27 movies in a week. Talking about 27 movies in a week, I do not wish to do that again nor set a higher record because I found that it diminished my enjoyment of each of the movies. I used to have a habit of watching a movie once and then a second time to take notes. Watching 27 movies in a week is work. Not really enjoyment, especially so, not doing any justice to the movies.

As anyone who has been reading my blog for the past few years knows, I do not have much good things to say about Hollywood movies although I do acknowledge that some of them are very creative and technologically superior and can be immensely entertaining. Take INCEPTION for example. It is a superbly creative, well made, well executed, well told story. But it didn’t hit my heart. But make no mistake. I admire the movie. I will remember INCEPTION as an exceptional movie, which I will recommend people to go and watch. But I will recommend DEPARTURES ten times out of ten if I were to choose between INCEPTION and DEPARTURES. (DEPARTURES is not a 2010 movie, however. I am just giving an example). For me, a movie has to shake my being. It has to go right through me. As another example, many critics and film lovers will cite CITIZEN KANE as the best movie ever. I appreciate that and I appreciate why they think that way. But CITIZEN KANE did not pierce right through me. It is like INCEPTION. Well made, well executed, immensely creative, etc. However cheap you will accuse me of, I will recommend IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE over CITIZEN KANE ten times out of ten.

By now, you will realize that I am beating round the bush. I am supposed to tell the world the best movie I watched in 2010. And by now you will also realize that I do not have a best movie for 2010. I really don’t. I have not watched enough movies and those that I watched did not pierce me in the heart. So, 2010 – bummer year for movies!

8. Best New Skill Attempt

I have attempted to learn Japanese in 2010 and have gotten on to some speed. Little by little I am learning some more and more Japanese words. I have purchased the Rocket Japanese Course, an online course which is a superb resource. That lasted for about 3 months. Then the house renovation thing came into the picture again and I stopped. Luckily, the Rocket Japanese Course is a lifetime course and I can access the lessons any time I like, for the rest of my life (provided, of course, if the company still exist). As a guy said in a WKW movie, everything has an expiry date. So no such thing as forever. In 2011, I will re-start the Japanese course and hopefully can converse with our Japanese friends in the Japan Club 100% in the Japanese Language. Gambate kudasai!

9. Best Web Initiative

In 2010, I have started an online website for people to learn Go. It is an extension of the beginner material that I have written for the Malaysia Weiqi Association. It is a syllabus for beginners and the website is to supplement the course. Since it started, I have received many feedback regarding the site. But alas! again, the house renovation came into the picture again and I had to stop after a few lessons. I will resume that work in 2011 for the benefit of all the people that wants to learn Go and also for myself, to strengthen my own knowledge and fundamentals of Go.

10. Best New Best Friend

Dolby my dog. haha.

Well, seems like 2010 is the year of the house. Now that the dust is settling, I am looking forward to another exciting 2011. Let’s hope everything goes well.

1 Comment

Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

Boardgame Thoughts

This post is not really a review of any boardgames, just some thoughts that boardgames inspired. I don’t really know that much about boardgames to be competent to give any of them a good and proper review although some thoughts about the games is possible. But that said, this post is not a review of boardgames.

I like boardgames that has multiple paths to victory, i.e. there are many ways to win, not only one scripted way only. In a way, I think this is how I prefer to view life too. There are many ways to live life, not just one way. I feel lucky to have close friends that have very differing points of view (these groups of friends do not know each other… they may have seen them perhaps during my wedding or during the house-warming but they do not mix).

One group of friends are really money minded. They are really passionate about accumulating as much wealth as possible, doing business and all and they are rather successful. They buy land for development, they buy fast cars (e.g. one guys is contemplating the Ferrari 430 or something), they go out to socialise to enlarge their network, when they go overseas, they go to “nice” places, etc. In short, their whole being is dedicated to making money and spending them on properties and fast cars. Seldom do I hear them talking about their family (except for bad-mouthing their wife) or other hobbies or passion, not to mention such things as love for the environment or protection of animals. They will love the environment and protect animals only if these activities profits them. This is one bunch of friends I have.

On the other hand, I have friends who are idealistic, loves art and culture and sacrifice material comfort for the arts, for the environment, for other human beings. They admire music, or movies, or painting, or stage shows etc. and can converse competently and interestingly about them. They go around and saw the world, travel on budget and go to places that bruises their bodies, just so they can experience the world. And they are really passionate people.

Then of course, there are a bunch of friends who let event lead them. They do what they do everyday, enjoy their life if they can, put up with the bosses, may do bad things if a chance is presented to them (e.g. commit adultery or steal money), but they are really not bad people per se. They are just being influenced by events, so when a good event present themselves, they ride on them and if there are bad events, they go down with them. They manage to live by, even can afford some nice things like a nice holiday or house, but they are that, i.e. they do not have something fixed in their mind that they are passionate about. They just live life as presented to them.

But all of them are okay, they live the life they want and still win. There are multiple paths to victory and no one path is the TRUE path, i guess. And just like in games, perhaps there are victory points and each one will have to choose their path and earn their own victory points, those points that matters to them, those points that they can relate to. Forcing one’s victory points condition on another person that cannot relate to it is just not right.


Filed under Board Game, Thoughts & Commentaries


“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”

The above quote is probably one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s most popular. However, what got me hooked when I started reading him in my teenage years was this, “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” How true this you would think and how much courage and willpower this inspires when it is understood. Emerson was the first author to inspire me in a huge way, and then followed by Stephen R. Covey. But those are teenage days when one tries to find his identity.

What inspire me most nowadays are the stories of people’s exploits, how they live the life that they want and get the most of their short time on earth. Just like Hajime in SOUTH OF THE BORDER, WEST OF THE SUN, one of Haruki Murakami’s darkest novels. It is inspiring to read about Hajime’s life and one would think what a life he had lived, warts and all. Compared to the Siberian farmers who always dreamed of what lies West of the Sun or Shimamoto’s curiosity of what lies South of the Border, one needs to breakout sometimes, explore the world, and find their own answers. Clocking in day in day out in a rat job cannot be something inspiring, not to mention fun to do. So what is this little thing that you are looking for all your life? When you are old, what is this little story that you can tell?

At quite a young age, I always seem to imagine my own funeral, which was at once scary (not to mention a huge taboo!) but also quite fun to do. It just struck me later that I am not the only one and many people do that too, and I was amazed when I read that Gustav Mahler, the greatest symphonic composer in the history of mankind, in my humble and biased opinion, did the same thing too. One would imagine who will come, will that ex-lover come? will that hated enemy come? Which friend will come and which friend will just give an excuse not to come? What will they say? Will they cry? What kind of life would they say I have lived. It is something like Kanji Watanabe’s funeral in Akira Kurosawa’s IKIRU. What a great film that is!

Life is a series of existential choices, or so people like Jean Paul Sartre will say. Condemned to be free they say. But is this really so? In my opinion, yes a person can choose whatever he or she wants to do but must live with the consequences of their actions. That’s why Sartre said we are “condemned”. Sometimes, the consequence of one’s action can be very serious and can hurt people. Like Hajime’s story, he didn’t realize that his action can hurt someone so deep they can never recover. Some actions will lead to death itself. In this context, are we really free? No. We are bound by certain responsibilities towards people. Towards ourselves. Even towards Mankind and the world. It is never as simple as do what you want and ignore the consequences of one’s actions.

Well, I don’t know why I am ranting but just something in my mind. It’s good to blog it out. Now, go get a life.

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

Kubrick in Malaysia

Usually, around this time of the year, I am either a very happy person or a very sad one. The reason for being happy is to be able to go to Hong Kong as this is the Hong Kong Filmart and the Hong Kong International Film Festival time and the reason for being sad is simply not being able to be there. Well, life is a series of decisions and choices and for that fact, if I would want to go for the film festival, I can just go and get the ticket and leave all the work behind. But I chose not to because I just can’t at this moment. Too many pressing issues…..

But I am delighted when I received a message from an ex-colleague and dear friend who is currently there and her message put a smile on my face when she said, “Very happy B-). Lots of books! Can sit here for whole day. Bought tickets for The Hurt Locker too – ah ~~ :-D”. Gosh, I can feel her happiness and excitement! And yes, I wanted to be there too!!

Of course, my geeky friend who is now working in Hong Kong excites me a lot too when she sent to me the films that she is going to watch, a long list of movies that I would have wanted to watch too!

Too much excitement and not much action will do my heart no good. Haha. But I am thrilled and happy just thinking that such a place exist on Earth and that I have friends who enjoy what I enjoy too, and they are such dear friends.

Come to think of it, in Kuala Lumpur, I don’t seem to be able to find that feeling I get whenever I go to Kubrick, i.e. the very happy feeling, as if on drugs, of going through their DVDs for sale and picking them up like buying vegetables in the market only to realize that I can only afford 20 or so DVDs and had to decide whether to take that Tarkovsky or that Ghatak. Hard choice I tell you. And then to browse their collection of books, then sit down for a cup of coffee while awaiting for that Japanese movie to start screening. What a wonderful feeling that is.

Of course, in KL you can basically do the same thing, go to Speedy Video then go to MPH then go to Mc Donald’s and then go to GSC for a movie. But damn, compared to the Kubrick experience, it’s worlds apart. And what is the difference? Well, for sure the atmosphere but definitely, the selection and quality of the goods in trade, the variety and choice, the depth.

The nearest I get to that feeling was to go to that little shop in Jaya 33 and browse their superb collection of DVDs, then go to Subway for a good sandwich.

I would really hope to find a place like Kubrick in KL and if not, hopefully to be able to build a place like that. But to do that will cost a lot of money but the returns, if any, is going to be slim. I doubt there are enough people interested in a place like this to make it profitable, so anyone who wants to do it must do it only out of passion and of course a deep pocket. But I would really love to run a place like that. Let’s hope I strike the lottery and get the money to do it. That will be awesome!

1 Comment

Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

Positional Relevance

“Just because the moon and the sun looks the same size from where you stand does not mean that they are of the same size.”

This “thing-in-itself” and “thing-as-they-appear” is not so new and has been quite thoroughly explored by Kant and then further “improved” by Schopenhauer, as he would have liked to believe. Anyways, it will be a very long post if we delve into this topic, even if we are just to discuss about Kant’s idea of thing-in-itself versus Schopenhauer’s so-called critique. It suffice here to say that in Kant’s idea, the “thing-in-itself” is transcendental and cannot be known while Schopenhauer thought that the “Will” is the “thing-in-itself” which is not separate from the things that appear to be (phenomena).

Anyways, nowadays I lean towards what is said in the Heart Sutra, that everything is empty of itself, i.e. there is no distinction between things in itself and things that they appear to be (which one feels like what Schopenhauer is saying although not exactly but this is no surprise as he is very much into Oriental philosophy).

Well, let’s get back to the subject of this post. Actually what I wanted to say here is really simple, i.e. it is important to be aware and realize our own point of view because just because we happen to be standing here and looking at something and interpreting them as they are, this does not mean that other people standing somewhere else cannot have a different interpretation. At the end, they are both talking about the same object but just describing them from their own perspective, their own point of view.

This is really basic and very simple to understand but inevitably, somehow this gets lost somewhere and mankind lose their rational mind and unreasonable emotion gets in the way. It is of course impossible to “take away” emotions which I personally believe is impossible. An emotionless rationality makes no sense because mankind is an emotional animal and to take away that aspect by pure force of logic does not stand against the test of time. But what I am really saying is to regulate such emotion and use the rational mind, together with a regulated emotional state and make sensible and reasonable decisions.

Emotion without reason is as deadly as reason without emotion.


Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

The Obvious and the Not

“sharpening the eye that observes and the eyes that see”

Day by day, I appreciate Musashi’s words more and more. What brilliant insights.

What is obvious may not be the truth, the truth may not be obvious. If one relies only on external signs and jumps to conclusion, how foolish indeed. To be able to “see” beyond the obvious, to be able to deduce the truth from both obvious and not obvious signs, it is a deep skill indeed, a skill that is worth cultivating. Only then will one steer clear of danger.

As Sun Tzu also said, “Warfare is the Tao of Deception. Although you are capable, display incapability” etc. Therefore, since time immemorial, to have mastered the skill in seeing through deception, to be able to see things as they really are, and not only what they appear to be, will therefore lead a person out of danger and steer safely through a jungle of deception and false appearances.

This is applicable to many aspects of our life, whether playing a game of Go, bringing up our children, negotiating a business deal or going to war.

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

When Giants Fart

Ok, well, I could have used a less offensive word but I can’t think of one that has the punch. Anyways, sorry if you find it offensive, although it is funny if anyone would have found something that we do perhaps everyday offensive. Something like digging nose. Okay okay. Let’s move on.

Nowadays I am getting more and more aware of the environment, not that I am not previously especially after Al Gore’s excellent awareness generating campaign. This is because I am now (well, actually since April) the champion (the term is EMR) for our company’s ISO140001 :2004 Environmental Management System program. We should get certified by November 2009, which is soon and thereafter we are targeting a Green Certification either from the New Zealand Ecolabel or the LEED from the US.

Enormous amount of work! We have to look at each and every aspect of our raw materials and processes and each one of them must meet stringent green criteria.

I feel really great about this actually although this is an extra project that I have got to take on besides other stuffs I have to do. It gives me a feeling that I am contributing to something important.

Anyways, the thought of China and India and Brazil etc. coming out as upcoming economic super power is one of happiness but is also something that is of concern. Happy because we need a multipolar world. A world dominated by only one superpower is not going to be good. But above all, the thought of millions and millions of people is going to come out of “poverty” and have the opportunity to live a better life is very good.

But with all these there is a price to be paid especially the damage that is to be done to the environment (not only the damage to Man’s soul). Development eats natural resources. Lots and lots of them, from oil to aluminum, steel, coal, etc. And the burning of fuel contaminates the environment badly, especially from the burning of coal.

The thing is countries must grow but how to grow intelligently without great damage to the environment is the way forward. The old way of burning ourselves to death does not work. We need to work out new and better ways of doing things, use clean and renewable energy, etc. China contributes a lot to the world’s CO2 emission but China is also at the forefront in spending on new environmentally friendly energy. In fact China is focusing a lot on environmental issues as seen in the new laws that is being passed, as well as it is number one in the world in terms of green spending.

One of the nice thing I observed was when you buy books in Beijing, they wrap it in paper and tie it with strings. If you want a plastic bag, you have to pay more. This kind of practices is really good and I hope to see this happening in Malaysia as well. Also, architects have a great responsibility in designing houses or offices or factories that is environmentally friendly, by using natural lighting, solar and wind power, intelligent power management systems, natural air-ventilation systems, etc. We are already seeing a lot of these in new buildings in China.

After all, we have to take care of our house. But we also have to grow and make our people live a better life, lead a better quality life. But we can do it much more intelligently, with our new technologies and insights, our new understanding of science and engineering. If we continue to grow using the Industrial-Age methods, we will burn ourselves to death.

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries


I remember many years ago, in one of my training, the facilitator asked what is “Ego” and my friend Ashok who is always very clever and is also a big movie buff answered that Ego is what is between the Id and the Super-Ego. He is absolutely right. What a clever answer.

Anyways, what we learned was that Ego in itself is not a bad thing, contrary to what many people believe. In fact, having an Ego is a good thing and is essential to one’s psychological health. However, it is also a double edged sword when it is left unchecked.

I learn the lesson quite young, around 16 years old. I am sure I had my lessons before that but what happened when I was 16 impacted me greatly and even until now, I can still remember the scene vividly.

It was one of our usual band practice and being one of the leaders of the band then, I am seen as a fierce a**hole. Then one fine day, after the practice, a guy whom I was quite friendly with came up to me and told me this:

“You know, HD, what is your problem? Your problem is that you always, ALWAYS, have to win an argument, no matter if it is right or wrong”.

I remember that and appreciate it until now because firstly, it takes the guy considerable guts to dare say that to my face and secondly, he cares about me enough to tell me the truth while others may be caught in the emperor’s new clothes syndrome. For that I am thankful to that guy even until now. He even came to my wedding ;-)

What he told me really made me think. Why am I so stuck up and has to be correct all the time? Isn’t it possible that I be wrong sometimes too? Should I listen to what others have to say too?

My second lesson came after I started work. It just struck me deep and I still can remember my boss’s face as he told me:

“If you don’t know, just say you don’t know”.

So I begin to think, do I really HAVE to know everything? It is just impossible, so to stick to the idea that I HAVE to know everything when I don’t, I sometimes just Bullshit. And people know it when you bullshit. Or you parrot someone else opinions or thoughts. And people will know that you are just a parrot. People just know that YOU DON’T KNOW and you PRETEND that you know.

Nothing is more damaging to one’s reputation than being found out that you are just a pretentious parrot.

So these two are really important lessons. First, you are not always right, so be humble, listen to others. Then only will you learn.

Secondly, it is impossible that you know everything. There are bound to be things that you don’t know. And when you don’t know, just be humble (really humble, not pretend to he humble), and just say you don’t know (and bloody well get to learn it and know it).

Only then can one be truly humble, because to know what you know, and to know what you don’t know, that is a great wisdom.

So stop bullshitting and start living.

p/s: Other lessons I have learned:

Most of the time:
a. You are at most only half as clever and good as you think you are.
b. When you point one finger at others, always realize that there are at least three fingers pointing at you.
c. Confidence is when you are strong and willing enough to admit defeat, to acknowledge that you are inferior but with a belief that you shall overcome them, and you overcome them and emerge better. Confidence cannot come from pretending to know all answers and pretending to be good in everything when you are not.


Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

Weekend Movies

I begin to watch more movies nowadays. That is probably because I have spent less time on Go now. Playing Go can sometimes be so frustrating. You invest so much time and effort in it but the results can be disappointing. And when you keep on losing, you really feel like giving up. But quitting is a bad word. Quitting is a sign of weakness. You can get away from it for a while, but you should not quit. You should not quit for the wrong reasons.

As is stated in the Book of Five Rings, the Fire Scroll under the chapter:

“To renew” applies when we are fighting with the enemy, and an entangled spirit arises where there is no possible resolution. We must abandon our efforts, think of the situation in a fresh spirit then win in the new rhythm. To renew, when we are deadlocked with the enemy, means that without changing our circumstance we change our spirit and win through a different technique.”

Anyways, here are the few movies that I thought is worth your hard-earned money that is still showing right now:

1. OVERHEARD (Hong Kong)
2. SETEM (Malay)

Hong Kong owes us a good movie. It owes us big time. OVERHEARD is one good one, although it cannot be said to be really superb. It is just a normal good movie, i.e. it is not a crap movie. The normal ingredients are there; greed, action, brotherhood, etc.

SETEM is a movie by Tayangan Unggul, my dear ex-company and the movie is good not because of sentimental values but is definitely a much more intelligent movie compared to the huge bunch of crap, ahem, locally made movies out there. It reminds me of BAIK PUNYA CILOK, only better. If you would like to watch a nice Malay movie, this is a good bet.

DISTRICT 9 is worth to be watched not only one time but perhaps two or three times. It is worth watching not because it is a big budget movie but because of the meaning it carries. It occurs to me more than just a few times how it reflects our human conditions although it is supposedly a movie about “aliens”. How we as human has inside us the seed for discrimination, of creed, of race, of greed and of class distinction. But also how, inside us too, there is a seed for great compassion and equality and a sense of justice. It is a movie very worth watching.

By the way, I am tuning in to Astro’s channel 110, a tribute channel to Yasmin Ahmad. SEPET is playing now. I have watched SEPET for so many times I lost count but each time I watch it, I am amazed by it. It is such an excellent, excellent movie.

The channel is quite nicely put together but it will be so much the greater if we can have RABUN, SEPET, GUBRA, MUKHSIN, MUALLAF and TALENTIME all together. I know the complications about rights and censorship etc. but it will just be such a great dream to be able to watch her movies freely, without all unnecessary interventions, just a pure appreciation of Yasmin’s vision and interpretation of the human condition, of a Malaysian’s Malaysia. Through her films, we can really and truly see that Malaysia is a great, great country and all the propaganda to make us feel less Malaysian, all those crap that makes us hate each others guts, is just so puny, so unnecessary and above all, so stupid in comparison.


Filed under Movies, Thoughts & Commentaries

Indulgences and Some Pleasures

Weekends are usually very nice and I look forward to it very much. The first qualifying criteria to have a great and happy weekend is to have all the work in the office well taken care of the week before. If there are still work not taken care of, not necessarily finished because the larger part of my work involves some very long term timelines such as the Initial Public Offering (IPO) and the ISO14000 and Green Certification projects, then the weekend will not be that enjoyable as I will have a very bad nagging feeling inside me and I won’t feel at peace.

So yesterday was great. Not only we played Go and Shogi in the Japan club but also in the night, we played Risk. Alex, Philip, Zaid, Jacky & Chi Kuan came and with the new and improved Risk, we played until 3 something in the morning. There are many other ideas to improve the Risk some more and make it more enjoyable and to also increase its strategic and tactical gameplay but just the basic gameplay itself takes 3-4 hours to finish. It is still very enjoyable nonetheless, a good break from the “serious” strategic game that is Go.

I really appreciate these friends of mine. They are really great and interesting personalities.

Then today just right in the morning, I woke up quite early despite sleeping at almost 4am last night, I read some Isaac Babel. I managed to finally buy a copy of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF ISAAC BABEL and looked forward very much to read more of him. That is probably the reason for me waking up early. Babel is another great story writer and for me rank right up there with other Russian writers, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, all three whom I love, but loving Chekhov the most among the three and Dostoevsky second.

It is perhaps by pure coincidence or perhaps it is the work of my subconscious mind, I popped in Shostakovich’s 13th symphony into the CD player (Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Decca), one of the greatest symphonic works and can stand side by side with the greatest Mahlerian symphony (okay…. tsk tsk… Mahler is still the GREATEST!!). Babel is a victim of the dreaded Stalinist regime and Shostakovich’s work is also a criticism of the Stalinist regime. The combination of these two sent shivers down my spine and reminds me of how lucky I am to be born in this era in Malaysia.

The 13th symphony is actually a choral symphony, putting into music the goosebumps-inducing texts by the Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Some excerpts:

From Babi Yar that speaks about the Nazi massacre of over 100,000 civilians, mostly Jews but also consist of other races: “There is no Jewish blood in my blood, but I feel the loathsome hatred of all anti-Semites as though I were a Jew – and that is why I am a true Russian”. It is a call for all humanity to put an end to Racism. Racism has caused just too much blood to spill.

Also, here’s an excerpt from Fears: “They stealthily subdued people and branded their mark on everyone: when we should have kept silent they taught us to scream, and to keep silent when we should have screamed.”

These are just excerpts of the harrowing text. Now, imagine Shostakovich’s music accompanying these texts. (Then read about what happened to Isaac Babel)…

Maybe I should have Pelmeni and some Vodka for lunch afterwards…..

Leave a comment

Filed under Events and Happenings, Thoughts & Commentaries

What Everyone Needs

Well, of course, what everyone needs is a break. Everyone needs to chill out sometimes. Everyone needs to do something stupid once in a while.

But that is not really what is in my mind. What is in my mind is that everyone needs to have a set of principles to live by. A set of beliefs on how to live life, how to face problems, how to enjoy life, how to treat people and the world around you. Everyone also needs a motto.

Without this set of principles and beliefs, one is easily swayed off course. Especially so, principles and beliefs are what sustain a person when faced with challenges and doubts. This is probably why one is most religious when faced with hard challenges of life. Because he/she needs something to hang on to, a pillar of strength to be able to carry on and stare the challenges in the eyes.

I think as we grow up and know more of the world, we will begin to form our own opinion of the world and inside us, we begin to work on some principles that we thought is the right way to deal with the world. I remember distinctly when I was still a teenager, I have this blue notebook where I wrote down my principles and beliefs, I wrote down what kind of person I should be.

Now, is quite a different story. I rarely write down things anymore, except of course blogging here. I can’t however, write my most private thoughts in a public blog. Perhaps I should start another blue notebook. When I write, I am in my best introspective mode. It is like some sort of meditation. Now, I just think by myself and don’t write things down. But even by just thinking and after I reflect on my principles and figure out what I want in life etc. and how I should proceed to live life, I feel good and that feeling can sustain me over the long haul, until doubts prevail again, and I will have to take time off and think again.

Thinking about it now, I don’t know what I will become if I have not had this system of self-introspection and self-motivation. I may not have gone very far, I may not have walked that extra mile.



Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries