2013-05-04

New Citizens Imply an even Nuttier Multicultural Malaysia

So, some say, many foreign nationals are being given Malaysian citizenship by the former Malaysian Government, in exchange for the promise that they will vote with their new Malaysian citizenship, and re-elect the former Government. People who have had Malaysian citizenship for a longer duration than that are recoiling in horror... xenophobic reactions of "us," and "them," racist name-calling, derogatory classism... everything is getting out there.

So what if all of these newly minted Filipino, Pakistani, Indonesia, Nepali, Bangladeshi, and other, citizens of Malaysia do stay, and settle down, and procreate, and have families, and set up vernacular schools in their own languages? The Chinese and Indians did that once upon a time. The Bugis and Javanese, and others, have been doing (most of) that over the last few decades.

Even if Barisan National is perpetually re-elected to Government, and real democracy never returns to Malaysia, at least, I hope, we will have a richer and more diverse culture of peonage.

Sometimes, I wonder what it'd be like to have a country that I identify with. Seems like lots of other people have one ;)

Update: the phantom voters are being caught and documented, as expected. A bit daft of you... if you paid money for a phantom voter, but neglected to groom and dress it nicely...

Update post results: If you go to https://www.facebook.com/najibrazak and hit Refresh every few seconds, you can see his Likes increasing. Anwar's and Nurul's pages too.

Almost Rammed into 6 People; Still Blogging.

I just finished writing a project "risk + reward" review email to a client, and feel like a professional cheerleader. I hate having to be a cheerleader - that should be someone else's job. But, I guess that's only because my folks did this for a living, and I really prefer to be in the driver's seat.

Speaking of which, I hate driving. I hate driving because driving is cognitively expensive, never mind the economic and environmental costs of owning and operating a single-passenger vehicle. There's just so much physical brain power involved in driving that I find to be better employed thinking about real problems. Like the architecture of web application development frameworks in monadic functional programming; or the contingencies of loose legalese around a complicated business venture; or the structural flavour profiles of coffees at various points between sniff and swallow; or the culture and social mores of English-speaking upper-middle-class Malaysians in urban cafes around a pivotal general election; or the economic gamble of deciding to be a bartender, and giving up love, life, and other liberties in order to get more study time.

Anyway, I was thinking about all of those today, when at some point I decided to rush an amber light, and almost mowed down a dozen people replacing a car battery behind a blind corner. This was the junction at Section 16, on the SPRINT highway, where the golf course is to the left of the traffic light, and where you turn right to go up the hill towards Jalan Universiti. It's a junction I'm quite familiar with, as it's how I've gotten home from my temporary office in Taman Tun every few days for the past few months. It had been raining, and the street was wet. There's been a construction crew around there working on the new train line.

I'm not sure how much I saw before I rushed the light, but the chaps fixing the vehicle became visible just as I turned the corner. So I increased my turning angle, as I had less leeway - this resulted in oversteer, which I overcompensated for, again (I'll explain later), resulting in the nose of my car turning straight into the crew. Fortunately, I braked in time, inches away from the blokes who briefly scattered. Most of them appeared to be our darling Banglas, and then there were a few local chaps, one chubby Indian dude who kicked my car a couple of times - I don't blame him. It was my fault, I was stupid, and we were all lucky. I got yelled at. I deserved it.

I was embarrassingly calm throughout the entire thing. I wonder if it's just the training I've received over the years. Folks telling me I faced a 50% survival rate from juvenile dermatomyositis when I was in kindergarten. Getting assaulted by would-be muggers and having my pinky hewed off by a guy with a steering-wheel lock. Buying my first car, then losing control of it under similar conditions as today, then crashing it into the barrier of the SPRINT Highway a month later. I think about how I will die and the economics of it, almost daily. It's been intentional, since I went to college and had the free time to think about life in general. It's a good discipline, but it also makes me feel less normally human, sometimes. Cue all the Dexter and Sherlock jokes you care to indulge in. If I ever have to kill someone, I will, but I want it to be completely intentional, and in self-defense.

Whereupon the analytical tendencies I have place upon me a question of what counts as self-defense? I also wonder what it'll be like to have limbs amputated from accidents or assaults. I consider these things because I avoid hiding things from myself. I see these things happen in the world, and I apply these learnings to myself. Sometimes I wonder if none of these entertaining activities will ever help other people.

I try to maintain some semblance of thinking about things, and getting them done properly. I don't think free-will is an important component of being human - but many people do, and it is occasionally fun to indulge their conversation. Righto, so I've blogged about this evening's brush with death (not my own).

Still alive.
Still a legal citizen.
Still cavalier.
Still on the right side of the law.
Still wondering what else I'll get around to before I go to bed.

Such is the life of one regarded as philosophical. Most days, I'm just fighting my abnormalities, and trying to fit in.

2013-05-02

Watching Rain Fall

It is dark, and a light rain falls outside. It was heavier not so long ago, and the sound of pouring water surrounds me. I sit in a chair by the glass door and watch lightning form over the hills, filling the sky above, the houses, and apartments before me. Trees. A large creek turned into a drain.

This is Malaysia, where I grew up. Elsewhere in the country, everyone's excited about elections. I am bored. I feel nearly nothing for this country. Its people have their ways, I have learnt to live among them. I consider myself fortunate, but here I am. I tend to think that were you to drop me in Namibia or Switzerland I would learn their ways too, and make a life of it. But here I am. Wherever I go, it is the people that bore me.

Here I am, trying to recuperate from a lack of routine. A few tired years. A few years of study, though in equal part with the economic chores that enable such study. I'm going back to watch the lightning now.

Stuff that does interest me on the other hand... this video reminded me quite closely of how I think, about thought. That being said, I've mostly held the view that I wouldn't allow myself to funnel full effort into such esoteric interests, unless (until), my economic infrastructure becomes effortless. So I have a few concurrent ongoing research operations, I suppose. Basal economics, and then more cutting edge stuff.

Not a good day for getting work done. Not at all.

The next day.

What a messy day. Industry networking at 1030 hours; legal team meeting ate 2200 hours. Irrelevant stuff in between. Breaking at 2000.

Just bumped into a couple of those kids I used to look up to because they were older, and in the cool band.

OMG. I just found what looks like Old Town White Coffee's logo by Stumptown. It turns out that OTWC is as old as Stumptown - but look at these fonts and colours. Maybe convergent evolution?



My standard for thought may have eroded over years of professional empathy. Maybe I need to quit the services industry.

Pitfalls of Software Development

The temptation to hire non-experts in the hope that they'll acquire expertise (in time) is strong in any field; but in some fields, it's more fatal than others... lol... at least, this isn't quite brain surgery we're involved in. Or is it?

Philosophical Poison

Well, here's the problem... words like "philosophy," "religion," "love," etc. are used informally in a great many different ways.

A lot of people use "philosophy," to refer to "asking questions about stuff in general and coming up with trivial answers to one's own questions." That activity, whatever you choose to call it is, of course, easily a target of criticisms that it is "unrigorous," or "silly."

If, however, you want to turn up the dial on rigour.... then you end up with more of what they call "analytical philosophy." If you turn it up all the way, then you get a lot of symbolic logic, and discussions about how language works, because most of the time we're just using language imprecisely.

Being a pop-philosopher is more a matter of entertainment (which is a meritable activity), and being an analytical philosopher is more a matter of splitting hairs (which has other merits).

Pick your poison...

Recently noticed: FB is raising the standard of literacy in Malaysia. Maybe in a few more years, we can start to have some really technical discussions. Meanwhile I am going to try and avoid the maturing mob, and just focus on making coffee... or something. Is this written in jest? No. Ignorance, maybe, definitely not jest.

2013-05-01

Broken Gear and Stuff

Auto's air conditioning compressor was just replaced, but it still take several minutes at high speed to cool down in the day.

One of the rear wheels, or something along their axis is not rotating smoothly. Also, brakes may be wearing down. Also, time for 5000km-ly service.

Much to be done...

... at least my phone works fastet after a reset to factory defaults, and subsequent restoration of a backup.

I also managed to change the water filters at home, and do a round of laundry.

Chores, chores, chores.

---

The day before elections.

Paid mechanic to fix car. Problem still not fixed. Sigh. Time perhaps to head back to the regular bloke. Two strikes probably means I should stop using this one.

I feel sad at dropping a service provider. But if a certain quality of service just isn't there, it seems irrational to continue.

Not much cash for a new car. LOL. I'm wondering if I should cut back on my coffee routine (work related) or just out and get a cuppa :P

Hurry up voters. Get it on, and get it over with.

Making very slight progress at work today, amidst just about all other variables being in limbo. Nap time.

---

The day of elections.

Too many uncertainties in my head. Half a dozen categories. I'm going to pause software development until the car is fixed.

--

The day after elections.

It turns out that the problem is a bulging tire. Fixed!

Some Things Just Have to be Said


Here's one of the contexts for this piece, the world I grew up in.

I don't think it was bad in any way except that it was unnecessary; but such are people when they play gentlemanly games. The people are kept in fear of violence. I prefer quick, violent, solutions. But I'm not one to pick fights... finishing them on the other hand...

Pick your battles mate. I get concerned about Malaysian politics as soon as democracy fails and we descend into civil war. Meanwhile, I have busloads of work to worry about... that's the first-order thought anyway. The second-order thought is, geez, these reform activists are as shallow as the people they're trying to replace... ... God help us all.

Many people pontificate over others, that what is lawful is not ethical. I am encouraging the latter to tell the pontifs to fuckoff. I'm just saying that being lawful is more important than being ethical ;P *

This country doesn't mean that much to me - to be honest, not that any other country has had much greater appeal... I think you have to understand that (local politics) doesn't disgust me (perhaps others like me too) more than it bores me. Life in general, bores me. What little entertainment I manage to squeeze out of it... does not come most efficiently from helping people with their day to day concerns. I mean, I can appreciate the job of getting things done quickly, but it's the pleasure of doing such a job that would draw me to do it, not the pleasure of helping people. If I ever run for public office, I will let people know this... and if they don't want to vote for me, that's fine. But one should always be candid about one's motivations, at each specific point in time...

(* Because ethics ex-law is an open question; also, this is obviously in and of itself a point of ethics.)

As the parties to go the polls, popcorn... and coffee! Perhaps, one day I shall be subject to that fate. But for now, coffee is keeping me awake in front of code, not in parliament...

Some network/data-activism related links, for the GE13:
Tell you what lah - I've had a slight interest in building high-availability infrastructure for publishing the content of disenfranchised political factions (don't really care what country, or party, but we have obvious local victims). If GE13 doesn't result in a complete meltdown, let's hang out more and start looking at a design for GE14. This could be fun.

I've previously approached local web publications about the consistently low-availability of their sites I under duress. They don't seem to want help, often enough. I'm interested in developing a "mostly idiot proof" method that can be taught to content publishers say, 1 year before GE14 is due. Would be fun to discuss.
At which point, intelligent readers in this field should smell a unicorn...

Sometimes, it feels like I'm the only chatty person who doesn't give a fuck about the future of the nation, who hasn't left yet. No push, no pull. Life's easy here. But I have low standards... and if there's a Malaysia I do give a fuck about, it'd probably be run by the government that comes after both the current options have proven themselves to be corrupt. Around 1998, I gave myself 20-30 years to see what would happen. I'm still holding out. Strike when iron is hot, they say. Some believe hot is now, I believe hot is later.

BN supporters should uphold the democractic process, to give any victory a sense of legitimacy? That's true if you're on the side of democracy. But I guess a significant chunk of BN's supporters still aren't - they're still operating with a feudal mentality, so BN only stands to win, in the near term, by derailing the democratic process. Democracy and BN have been incompatible (at least) since Mahathir - I simply assumed since 1998 that I don't live in a democracy.

Then you have kiddies complaining that non-voting is bad citizenship, and that it doesn't matter who wins as long as one votes. 1. If it doesn't matter who wins, it doesn't matter who votes; robot citizens make robot makers rich; plain as day. 2. If you want X to win, you have to ask your self is voting a sufficient condition? Also, is voting a necessary condition? I believe it is neither. Most people do, however, associate voting with the necessary conditions for responsible citizenship, and I am happy to accept their points of view... From my silly point of view, I grew up in a Malaysia that was run as a veiled dictatorship. I'm happy to let you guys turn that into a democracy while I get on with other things in the mean time. Thanks in advance, if it works out.

I wish there was more BN stuff on my Facebook newsfeed to share... but most of my network seems to support PKR!! (Do I mean PR? I guess. You know, I barely involve myself in the difference. Pardon my lack of involvement.) Call me for a fist-fight, but I ain't voting in an environment where mobs are implicitly condoned. I'll leave voting to you non-violent types. ;)

Post results: Without saying the unnecessary... oh look, NOW everyone's getting philosophical...

2013-04-30

Data, Data, Data...

Not quite four years of study as a "serious" computer programmer... I wonder how long I will pursue this for.

If I live to be old, there's a strong chance I'll regret my youth. Either way, one gets on with it.

Never too sure if it's preferable to empathise with people who have mediocre targets, or to avoid them.

Doing some code review. Considering Twitter Bootstrap for Hell.

Ok. Slightly productive. Off to bed.

Awake. Must feed. Stay alive etc. Kinda regretting not having scheduled myself out of the country during the campaigning period.

Calibrating my cognition. Not enough somatic data. Going to exercise to get some. Then hopefully a careful, crafty, day at the cafe.

Jasmine rice and murky curry. Tastes like Asia to me.

Taking a sick nap in the sick little car. Come on outrageous fortune, it's either you or me...

Most people fear being naked, so much so that they don't know a naked person when they see one.

I think the !@%^& ciggy ash has set my nose running again...

Sniffling into a tissue over a keyboard, coffee, and code. Perhaps, I could be weeping over the sum of human stupidity.

Back to debugging code...

Zombie cookie. Argh.

Started using web developer cookie management tools - feeling a little more grown up now...

... just tripped into arbitrary-rank polymorphism. Siggggggggggh.

Aaaaannnd... AAPL is 10% up from it's recent trough. I miss trading :)

2013-04-29

Self-actualisation, a Marketing Vector?

Eh, that's been a major push of marketing since the 80s... I dated an ad girl who believed in individuality. Many in the industry seem to thrive on such beliefs, wingless as they are...
buy me because you're different; extraordinary; not one of the sheep; buy Radiohead; Nirvana; U2; SO IRONIC
I miss the girlfriends, whom I'm not the boyfriend to. Hmm. Maybe I should write teenybopper pop.
looking around the house for a good place to set up a Taylor Swift altar... maybe next to the Shrine of Avril
This was the political climate I grew up in, and it helped me to decide in advance to simply avoid involvement for a few decades.

Resources + Girls + Computer Programming?

I was poking away at some code in a coffee shop where my bosses hang out, when a femme friend came over to say hi, and later asked if I knew any resources for training women in programming computers. I know there are tons of resources out there, but you know, charitably, (insert stars and unicorns), I've assembled a short list of resources to get her started. Viva la lazy web, I suppose.

Stuff

storified SXSW discussion on scarcity

"Institutions"

blackgirlscode
Girl Develop It
Girls Who Code

Individuals

5 Girl Coders Under 21 to Watch
15 Developer/Hacker Women to Follow on Twitter - check out the six Twitter lists of MORE developers at the bottom of the article

I'm following a bunch of people on Twitter. Here are a few of those.

@geekgirlweb
@lindseybieda
@jeanqasaur
@piratefsh

I'm interested in women and technology, though not necessarily in a related fashion.

Sundaze

My prioritisation looks like this: family? Delete. Ppl I know? Delete. Ppl I'm selling time to? Priority. Ppl I don't know? Priority.

Modern communications provide parents with a medium of harassment. Every stalker knows. :p

Servicing startups feels like working in a driving school. I feel like I've moved up from janitor to instructor. #firstAidAnd911

Homework at the Bee. #meyer

That hair. Those thighs. I keep running into this door bitch... lol

At Publika for more research into local communities. Killing time till 7pm.

Socrates Cafe folks defining happiness. I guess most of my stress comes from avoiding unpalateable subjects in common discussion.

Back home. Recollecting myself, and my extensions over various projects. It's a nice rainy day in Sungai Long.

A rare moment when I'm just chillin. Pulling stuff out of subconscious to contemplate in conscious memory.

The insides of my head are as usual, at once, a porn studio, a knife fight, and Dexter's laboratory. But my body is composed. And my voice is still.

A gentleman is a fashionable maggot, flesh wrapped around an endoskeleton. Ah, my humanity, you bemuse me.

2013-04-28

The Languages of Crude Sex and Fine Coffee

It may just be, that for some ...
  • "acidity" is to "sexiness"
  • "bright" is to "fuckable"
  • "body" is to "friendship"
  • "muddled notes" is to "has baggage"
  • "flavourful" is to "good talker"
  • "full bodied" is to "reliable"
  • "lingering aftertaste" is to "good cuddler"
  • "aroma" is to "vibe"
  • "clean cup" is to "effortless relationship"
  • "shoe" is to "coyote ugly"
  • ...
  • ...
Context: I'm a straight guy who has been working on a third-wave coffee project for the past three months. It's said, by some top professional buyers of uber-scarce specialty coffee that it takes five years for someone to become a decent cupper (degustator / taster) of coffees.

The phenomenology of coffee, that is the language for describing how coffee is experienced, is young as far as technical languages are concerned, but fairly mature - it is differentiated from that of wine-tasting, for example. Nevertheless, as someone whose primary interest is in quantifying (read: analysing / demystifying) the varieties of human consciousness in general, I'm always interested who use different words could possibly be referring to the same sensation.

My career interest to-date is modeling human experience, and I'm at a stage of study where I'm interested in learning how to program computers so that I can implement models of cognition, and test them to see how well they behave. I think of all sensations as quantifiable signals, like sounds, but there's no need for everyone to go there (at least not in order to reflect on the map above).

Not sure if I'm achieving the right balance of student (math/theory/art) and normal-people stuff (models/politics/biz) in social media.