the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.



Jerking the Long (H)Arm of the Law and Up To No Good....

“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a big fall
All the King's horses and all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again"

Many childrens' nursery tales such as Humpty Dumpty have an entirely different meaning than the one we know. In earlier times, any criticism of the ruling order was considered as sedition or treason and you were likely to lose your head as well as other parts of your anatomy if you voiced them. But this didn't stop people from talking about and commenting on events, you just had to be careful how you voiced them. Hence the 'kids' songs, where the references to the ruling class' policies of the day were encrypted into a language where everybody knew what the words really meant.

Alas, Blogosphere too has its own Humpty Dumpty.

There will always be haves and have-nots and those with a vested interest in silencing voices that could 'cause trouble' and the werewithal to do it.
There will always be those who do not feel what they have to say is worth saying.
And there will always be those who yell out their message but are too far ahead of everyone else to be taken seriously.

Blogosphere needs its independence from the mainstream. It has values, rules and a culture of its own. But it is not set apart. It has borders where it meets other worlds: membranes through which ideas, images and customs all percolate. It is also a new world, where pathfinders and pioneers have much to say. It is also where the landless can stake claims, the frustrated find opportunities. So what matters in the virtual world, this relatively new land of opportunity? Perhaps, above all, this:

Will we use it to let ALL voices be heard?

Related: What's up?
A Chilling Effect
Good man is bad man?


Blog Buster: A Chilling Effect

Recently, across the Causeway...
When Singaporean authorities invoked the sedition act and charged local bloggers for posting racist comments on an online forum, commentators said it had a chilling effect on the Singapore Blogging community (useful links & related posts here)

Meanwhile, back home in Malaysia... (femes bloggers, links not necessary)
Celebrity blogger Peter Tan lodged a police report against 'Good Man' for "posting abusive messages containing racial slurs".

According to a press report, "He said if this is allowed to go unchecked, it will give a negative impression of bloggers." Internet and media savvy Peter Tan is believed to have provided details of the sender’s IP address to the police.

Blogger Ameer Zulkifli aka Mack Zulkifli also lodged a similar report against the same poster for sending a 'seditious' or 'insulting' message that was NOT PUBLISHED (!)on his blog.

"Ameer called on responsible bloggers to notify the police of seditious messages posted in their blogs."


“In the zest to be obliging to the authorities, some bloggers have failed to be responsible for their own space and invoked one of the most ugliest piece of legislation to stifle rants.”
Chez 1978 said

All of a sudden, the idea that the Internet is not a safe place has taken on a whole new dimension. Not just for bloggers, but for blog commentors as well. I fear proponents of freedom of expression may now have a negative impression of Malaysian bloggers :) :P

What is so potent about plain stupidity that we need invoke FEAR by raising the spectre of the Sedition Act?
Why, I wonder, is a blog that "stresses the freedom of expression" password-protecting related posts (as the post titles clearly indicate) that, doubtless, are of public interest?



I WAS about to click "Publish" when my index finger froze.

All that talk about the (il)legality of off or online 'speech', (self)censorship...

It was this bit (okay, it's a chunk, an insighful one) by chez 1978 that gave me pause for thought:

The interesting bit is whether the site becomes a private or public space. You know, if what is illegal offline is illegal online, I wonder if all this gathering in virtual space counts as illegal assembly. Would we have to apply permits if we call an assembly in chatrooms?

If physical assembly is the crucial recipe, then what is to deny us the same application in the instance of public and private speech? Contrary to many Malaysians who believe that the internet and the real world are the same, the cyberspace is actually a unique medium. O'Brien (see links) included secret to the mix, but the point is what I have been trying to yell at you guys for some time now - the real world and the virtual world have very different boundaries. Does the internet spell the end of private speech? How can we keep free speech alive, when there is no way to keep it at all by the definition of our some enthusiasts for law and order?

For one thing, she raises a rather fundamental question as to whether or not the Internet is a public sphere. (for those inclined to examine this issue, a logical place to start would be 'Habermas and the Public Sphere' - just google it).

The other thing – that bit on information poisoning - it brought back memories of my expatriate days in Brunei, where all non-Muslim eateries are legally required to prominently display this sign:


The same law applies for supemarkets, where non-halal goods may only be displayed and sold in a separate room.

But coming back to what I was about to publish - an article that came in last Sunday's church bulletin... it's a document issued by The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia. An informative piece titled:


Not exactly hot-off-the-press news, I know, but I think it's every bit as relevant today as when the Sharmala Sathyaseelan case - a case concerning denial of religious freedom - went to court a couple of years ago.

One more thing is relevant here. Another disclaimer (so tiresome, isn't it?)

The point of this post is not to stir up or ressurect anything. It is merely a reminder that in all matters, particularly those concerning faith and conversion, please do make an informed choice and look before you leap.

Oh Wait. In the spirit of the moment (ahem!) it might be prudent at this juncture, to state very clearly:


(pardon the bad Malay. The language, I mean )

Now, I haven't been able to locate an online version, (if anyone knows, please point me there) so I am reproducing it here, verbatim:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord,
If you convert to Islam, there are important changes in your legal status and what you can or cannot do.

Your conversion to Islam will be registered with the Religious Department and the National Registration Department, both of which are computerised so access to this information is available throughout the country.

Under Syariah enactments of most of the 13 states of Malaysia;
Conversion back to your former religion is either
a) not allowed under the law, or b) a criminal offence which means that you may be fined, whipped, detained or imprisoned under most State Islamic laws.

If you are under 18 years of age, you require your parents permission to convert to Islam. Your identity card will record your conversion to Islam.
Therefore, even if you are no longer practising, you may be fined, whipped, detained or imprisoned for violation of Syariah laws such as praying in Church, eating in public during fasting month, "khalwat", etc.

You cannot marry a non-Muslim. If you decide to divorce and attempt to convert out of Islam, you will lose custody of your children because they are Muslims.
Upon death, your non-Muslim relatives will lose their rights to any property, money etc, that you want to leave to them. The corpse of a convert to Islam will be taken away from his or her non-Muslim family for Islamic rites and burial even if you have not been a practising Muslim for many years.
In the event that your spouse converts to Islam, you may have no right to either your children or your spouse's property.

We know that certain Christians who convert to Islam for whatever reason, are not aware of or do not consider seriously the implications of such conversion. Hence the need to inform you.
By this, we are neither against Islam nor freedom of religion, which is guaranteed for all Malaysians in article 11 of our Constitution which gives the right to an individual to choose freely his or her religion.
But to choose correctly, you need to know clearly what you choose and the consequences of your choice.

Archbishop Murphy Pakiam (KL),
Bishop Antony Selvanayagam (Penang)
Bishop Paul Tan, SJ (Melaka-Johor).

Okay, that's it.

By the way, something else chez said bears repeating:

Now that most of us are now focusing on the sedition act, it is already admitting the remarks of "Good Man" as evidence for its malice intent.

Well, let me just put it this way, I WISH THE SAME LAW CAN BE APPLIED TO INFORMATION POISONING ON THE INTERNET, BLOGGER OR NO BLOGGER. But I won't support it, why? Because I do not agree with our laws who threatens to send people to jail for being stupid.


Reheated Pizza

AH, SO. You came by.

I remember what you said about pizza.

A slice of pizza is at its peak when served and eaten piping hot from the oven.

One that has been sitting around for a couple of hours will be much less appealing.

The crust will have dried out and hardened, the sauce will have congealed, the cheese will have turned to rubber and the toppings will have dried out.

You can stick it back into the oven.

Or nuke it in the microwave.

Sure it warms everything up.

But you can't revive it without turning it into a puppy's chew toy.


Beauty & The Beast

I FIND GREAT beauty in the atmospheric process...

Where I am, a storm is gathering and brewing up. It's gonna be a real cracker - big , heavy rumbles and hard cracks of thunder.

Storms can be awesome in their grandeur and power,

sublime in their appearance,

and inspirational in their complexity.

There's a primal and terrible beauty in a raging storm. Their power is truly, truly awesome to behold.

And strangely, the pounding in my head has stopped.

You win some, you lose some

IT'S DEFINITELY A day of mixed emotions.

First off, it's a Monday, traditional day of dread and ugh for worker bees. For those of us who tend to lean toward the blind optimism side of the scale, the dread gets mixed with a generous helping of "Hooray! It's a brand new week and anything is possible!" which leads to a general attitude of confusion-induced crankiness.

Second, it's CT & Mabel's birthdays, so there will be joyous celebration and cake! - two of the things that make me happy. No, not really, the second thing I never eat. No prizes for guessing why. Ah, but the first, the sparkly one, I never refuse. It really makes me really, seriously bubbly. And funny. And silly. And a third thing: there'll surely be mooncakes as well, which I simply cannot resist. Wait, I'm not at all sure mooncakes go well with wine. I know it goes well with tea; ocha or chinese tea, that is; not teh tarik. And thanks to Jill's recent trip to Toronto, there will also be maple-cream filled chocolates shaped like maple leaves.

Cake and Wine. Mooncakes and tea. And maple cream chocs. (con)fusion food?

It is also Jack's first day at the office, our new friend and colleague, and new friends and colleagues are always worth celebrating. I suppose.

The seriously mixed part of the emotions comes from learning that one very elderly family friend passed away last week. That's four funerals for the past thirty days. Stop. I don't want to dwell on the sadnesss, but I do want to say that he was very nice to my dog (years ago), very nice to my friend, and was a very nice person with a nice family; inviting, welcoming, and with large hearts..

Do you ever think about what you would like your funeral to be like? Hymns, flowers, casket, hearse... How about your obituary?

Oops, morbid thought. Quash that.

This is a really silly post. Must be something in this morning's coffee, I had two already. Forgot that Mary is always cranky Mondays.

My head is buzzing and spinning. Throbbing from the pounding that's going on inside my skull.

It's deafinitely a day of fusion and confusion. Definitely, I mean

I think I'd better go home after lunch.


Daylight Upon Magic

SOMETIME LAST WEEK, I drove through a brisk little rain shower that lasted perhaps ten minutes. A short while later, the sun broke through and a brilliant rainbow arched majestically over the LDP. It was a magical sight and a wonderful way to end a long, difficult week.
The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain
~ Dolly Parton ~

Now I know it sounds silly and childish, but I always get a thrill when I see a rainbow. To me it's a symbol of hope. I mean, rainbows are not just pretty, they make me feel like good things are coming. This is not very rational thinking, of course. But - unabashedly, I admit - many of the best things in my life are not based on logic or reason... So there you go... [now what would Dr. Spock or Spock & Tuvok say, I wonder]

So okay, maybe I do need to hop off that silly carousel. Be more mindful of the need for reality to balance my addiction to whimsy. Let cold hard facts weigh in objectively for a more grounded perspective. Oh, very well then, here we go...

Rainbows are an optical phenomena. They are caused by light bouncing off the insides of raindrops. The colours occur because different colours (wavelengths) of light are refracted by different amounts. This all, I understand from Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusions and the Appetite for Wonder.

By the way, this book is really more about the position of science in general in our culture, than it is about science. The title comes from Newton's discovery that the rainbow is not a mystical bridge to a pot of gold, but light split up into its elements.

I feel so damn cheated. Where got that 'fantastical boof of fairyfloss' waiting? :-S But well, airy-fairy aside, I suppose, you can't possibly get nerdier than Newton. Trust him to take away the beauty of a rainbow by explaining the science behind it. I'll take ole man Dr Seuss anytime!

Anyhow, in these things, brains trump fairy floss. Anytime, everytime.

Dawkins (of The Selfish Gene fame, and who, some critics have labelled, imo ironically, a 'greedy reductionist') makes the point that understanding something and seeing it for what it really is does not diminish the experience, but makes it even more beautiful. Douglas Adams (who wrote the critically acclaimed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) also addressed the issue:

"I will take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day."

He brilliantly adds that, understanding where we come from, who we are related to and how this vast, complex gene machine works does not make us less human or special. All it does is bring us closer to the world around us.

Why can't the fact that white light contains the full spectrum of beautiful colors be amazing?
Do we have to leave the world unexplained to appreciate it?

Why, indeed.

Because Ordinary Me have found what some unknown person of obscure origins once said to be not only true, but validated. Throughout my entire (unbrilliant) life. Over and over again.

"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards,"

Does logic preclude or predispose the need for creativity and imagination? Tell me, who can deny that our complex universe is an astounding, majestic marvel?

The mere contemplation of its vastness and grandeur causes our heads (most especially airy ones like mine) to spin. It is after all, our appetite for wonder that drives us to explore, discover and investigate the marvellous natural phenomena that never fail to astound and intrigue us, to tease and to egg us on. And to push and stretch the limits of our imagination. And thus, our very limited understanding of our ourselves, our existence, our lives, our world and other worlds.

It is also, after all, our sense of marvel that gives us an intuitive feeling of the unity of the cosmos, a oneness grounded in scientific fact: we are made of the same stuff as all of creation. Everything that is, was, or will be started off together as one infinitesimal point: the cosmic seed.

Who cares if rainbows are not good omens? They're still beautiful and magical anyway.


Trite & Tired

OH, SPEAKING OF 'high falutin'...

Ever thought how business speech and business writing are sometimes little more than high falutin' talk, filled with pretentious, overused images and puff phrases?

As soon as an authoritative author or a pontificating pundit unveils a clever new verbal invention, it's blasted around the world on the 24-hour news cycle, and everyone scrambles to be the first to use it in email or a meeting… like erm… ‘
pushing the envelope

Here are a few that once were clever and colorful, but now (I find) to be quite trite and tired…

on our radar screen
means "in our awareness". With a little imagination, it can transcend right into our zen-like stream of consciousness.... Very clever-sounding, eh?

on the ground
Desperately trying to remain vital, this one is transforming itself into "boots on the ground." It's probably military in origin — a flyer's or paratrooper's term. Ditto ‘bite the bullet” and “roll with the punches”, hopeful phrases used to magically confer the subject with an aura of stoicism if not actual courage, but in reality really reflect an absolutely hopeless and helpless state.

ahead of the curve, behind the curve
The 'power curve' describes the relationship between drag, airspeed and vertical speed for an aircraft. In business, the 'ahead' form means advanced or innovative, while the 'behind' form means "in too deep to ever dig out." Originally, using this image meant you were a pilot, which carried status. No longer.

Pursuant to
And with all due respect, while I don’t question the occasional (and human) need to sound self important, this very officious phrase, (sighted recently, rather interestingly, in a blog) - unless you’re pretending to be a corporate lawyer - sounds, really, quite pompous.

:O... waittaminit...

with all due respect
Probably popularized in modern times by Perry Mason or those characters on C-SPAN, this one is a real oldie. See, the patriotism entry in The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce.

And, that said, having said that
We used to say 'but'. Nowadays we seem to need more syllables.

And… at the end of the day, bottom line
If there is any beauty in the economy of words, how about saying 'finally'? 'Bottom line' comes from accounting and finance, and used to be cute. Used to be.

Got any to share?



I am very sorry to have to do
this. I've no idea what I've done to attract them

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