Monthly Archives: April 2007

Get burnt alive or jailed for a kiss on the cheek

“A kiss is not a kiss, in India.”

Richard Gere went to New Delhi early April to attend a HIV/AIDS awareness summit.

He was invited onstage by Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, 32.

What happened next was unexpected. After swooping her into his arms, a dip was followed by multiple kisses on her cheeks. Gere claimed that it was a clumsy attempt at mimicking a scene from the 2004 film “shall we dance”.

Video:

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But the reaction to that was amazing.

First,  some outraged Hindu groups deemed the act as an insult to Indian culture and an outrage to Shetty’s modesty. Effigies of not just Gere but also Shetty were burned in several major cities.

Later, some people filed legal complaints against the two. Indeed, after viewing the video footage, Judge Dinesh Gupta  of a Jaipur court agreed that it was “highly sexually erotic” and “transgressed all limits of vulgarity.” An arrest warrant on Gere was issued, and if found guilty of public obscenity, he could be jailed 3 months. Gere had already left India by then.

Shetty was also ordered to see the judge on 5th May to explain “why she did not resist Gere’s advances.”

Gere himself said that”this recent media storm has taken me by complete surprise.”

Shetty has defended the actor: “I understand this is his culture, not ours. But this was not such a big thing or so obscene for people to overreact in such manner.”

Source: it’s all over the Net!

For civil servants only: which is the better option: pension or EPF schemes?

This info is not formally told to anybody at any stage when they become civil servants, at least for the Sabah civil service. Please add/correct where necessary. Thanks.

Pension scheme

Advantages:

  • Will still be eligible for free treatment at government hospitals after retirement. This is an especially pertinent point since most medical expenses will come up as you one gets older.
  • Take-home pay bigger than EPF because no EPF deduction.
  • Some kind of spending control exists, because you still get monthly payments instead of one lump sum when you retire. I read somewhere that most people would use up all their EPF savings within 3 years of retiring.

Disadvantages:

  • Upon retirement, one would get an amount much less than EPF, possibly by a factor of 3 or even more, even after including gratuity.

EPF scheme

Advantage:

  • Upon retirement, one would get an amount much bigger than pension scheme.

Disadvantage:

  • No more free medical treatment at govt hospitals after retirement. With medical costs and health insurance premiums spiralling upwards, this is a major concern.
  • No spending control built-in like the one in pension scheme. You’d get everything in one lump sum when you retire. It’s possible that this could be a seven figure amount. Of course you can opt for an annuity type payout, but you’d have to opt – it’s not automatic.
  • Take home pay less by a few hundred RM because of EPF deduction.

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Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, Keadilan candidate in Ijok, asks voters to vote for Barisan Nasional instead

From the looks of it, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is not a natural orator. Of course it was a slip of the tongue, but in political circles, it sure will be exploited to the full by your opponents.

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A little bit about him: he is the treasurer general of Keadilan: has an MBA from University of Queensland. He was CEO of PNB for 15 years from 1979. His moment in the corporate limelight occured in 1981 for the dawn raid on the LSE, resulting in PNB getting 51% share in Guthrie in 1 hours plus. He later became the CEO of Guthrie for 8 years from 1995, after which he left the corporate world and entered politics thru Keadilan. Despite being in the opposition, he still maintains top positions in organisation like Sirim (director), ISIS (fellow), Islamic Development Bank (adviser) and National Productivity Council (member).

Malaysia’s recent hall of shame

V Ganason, 40 would-be rapist

The limousine driver is facing 8 charges for what he did on two 21-yr old female UKM students on 3rd April at 9.45am in a bus in Kajang, Selangor. He stripped and threatened them with a knife and curry powder, which he claimed was acid.

Chong Lean Hin, 43 bra thief

The labourer stole 2 bras worth RM10 belonging to 2 sisters in Penang at 1.45am on 28th January. He was caught with the bras partially tucked inside his pants. Jailed 3 months.

Cho Seung-Hui was not the first Asian student to kill in a US university

That dubious honour belongs to Dr Gang Lu PhD, 28 of China who had recently received his doctorate in physics from the University of Iowa. On 1st November 1991 he used a revolver (he was also carrying another pistol) to shoot dead 5 people, then killed himself.

Just before 4 p.m., Lu shot and killed his professor, Christoph Goertz, 47; Linhua Shan, 27; department chair Dwight Nicholson, 44; and Robert A. Smith, 45, an associate professor in the department and Lu’s co-advisor. Shan, like Lu, was from China & had also recently received his PhD in the same subject.

Then, he walked 3 blocks to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, where he shot and killed T. Anne Cleary, 56, an associate vice president and professor of education. He then shot himself.

According to the university, Lu was angry and jealous that his doctoral dissertation had not received a prestigious academic award. Instead, it was compatriot Linhua Shan who got it, the 1991 D.C. Spriestersbach award for outstanding doctoral dissertation. His dissertation concerned an explanation of the structure of Saturn’s ring system. He was also a member of the theoretical space physics team in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Linhua Shan was not yet 27 when he died

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Quantitative Analysis Course: SPSS module

Update post exam, 26th April:

We had to answer 5 questions (no options) in 2 hours. First impressions: this is going to be much easier than the stats exam. But surprisingly, I found myself running out of time, and actually failed to find the time to answer a part of one question, and not quite 100% sure of my answers to some others. I think this is the price I paid for being too overconfident. However, I am confident of at least passing it. A few colleagues remarked that they’ve scored full marks on both stats and SPSS exams, hence they’ve got  at least 65% of the QA course marks in the bag, meaning they can skip the research methods module altogether!

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For this module, there are 300 slides to go through in 5 days.

By the end of the 2nd day, we were already at the 178th slide. I must add here that it’s rather embarrassing to the lecturer and INTAN in general regarding the state of the computers in the huge lab. The PC she used popped up a window every few minutes with the big bright words: “Warning, infected with virus”. Quite a few of the computers are infected with malware, and some did not function at all. At least one had a problematic SPSS installation – it would quit without warning. It was so bad that she had to declare that the exam would be paper based instead of computer based. And the INTAN director’s office is just a short walk down the block!

Back to the module. My initial thought was that this module was going to be easy – all computer based – let it do all the number crunching – but as we went on, there are actually so many new things to be learnt with regards to arcane statistical concepts. We didn’t actually go through the background of the names, there was simply no time for that as the lecturer zoomed through the slides like there’s no tomorrow.

For example, in checking on the responses to your questionnaires for your research, you’d have to ensure that it has what’s called reliability of scales, meaning the scales you use consistently measures whatever it’s supposed to measure. Scales in this case can be of the form: 1-strongly disagree, 2-disagree,…, 6-agree, 7-strongly agree. For that, you’d have to first compute the “Cronbach Alpha”. If its value is more than 0.6, then you can rest assured that your questionnaire is OK.

But if not, you’d have to fix it by doing the next step called the “Factor Analysis”, where you’d select the “Rotation method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization”. Then you’d display the “Scree plot” and extract “Eigenvalues” that’s over the value of 1.

We’d encounter dialog boxes like this

The resulting scree plot

Another crazy dialog box

Hair-tearing stuff indeed, especially when it’s a hot afternoon in a room containing more than 70 computers with less than adequate airconditioning.

Apart from the Scree plot (chart), I also encountered at least 3 other charts which I would never have imagined the usefulness of had I not embarked on this course. They are the mysteriously named “stem & leaf plot”, “box plot” and “Q-Q plot”.

A box plot

A Q-Q plot

I also encountered colourful sentences in the notes like the following: “Need to test formally using Kolmogorov-Smirnov or Shapiro-Wilk statistics to check for departure from normality.” No need for that, we’re confirmed to be way departed from normality…

And we have not even started on hypothesis testing yet. That should cause us to let off more steam from our heads.

The exam is next Tuesday.

Testfreaks.com: critical reviews of gadgets and consumer electronics

Testfreaks.com is a review website which will launch within a couple of months and should be on the bookmark of savvy buyers who’d like to do their homework before committing to a purchase.

Consumers generally have the problem of narrowing down their product of choice from the initial sheer number of choices. How would they know that the range of camcorders by company A is the best choice, based on their budget and their requirements? Going straight to the store and asking the salesperson is probably the worst initial move one can make. They could be pressured to purchase a substandard product, just because the salesperson is eager to clear out their old stock. I know, it’s happened to me too.

Testfreaks.com comes to your rescue here. It collects the best reviews from the pros, blogs, forums. There are many categories, including camcorders, cell phones, digital cameras, mp3 players, TVs, home entertainment, personal computers and laptops / notebooks. It goes further than that: it drills down to more details, for example for camcorders, it goes right down to batteries type of media used and brand of camcorder. Hence, if you’d like to find out how a particular model from a particular brand storing movies on hard disks movies fared in the reviews, you’d be in luck.

Hmm… I wonder if they would even review a home theater carpet?

In Ijok, MGR is bigger than Mawi

On 21st April 2007, The Star reported that local megastar Mawi have descended on Ijok to make the campaign of the Ijok by-election a carnival-like atmosphere.

However, he has been overshadowed by the unexpected appearance, or rather reappearance of legendary Tamil actor MG Ramachandran (MGR) on Thursday night. The real MGR died in 1987 but impersonator M.G. Lakshmanan made sure he lived on to share the stage with none other than MIC president, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

The real MGR

MGR (1917-1987) was one of the biggest celebrities in Tamil cinema from the late 40s to early 70s. In 1977 he became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, a state in India, and remained so until his death.

Now I know Samy Vellu’s favourite songs, for he sang 2 oldie numbers – Aacham Enpathu Madamaiyada (It is stupid to fear challenge) & Aganthamam Un Malaiyum.

MGR resurrected 20 years after his death, on far right. sharing the stage with Samy Vellu

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