Thursday, November 27, 2014

Renaissance-era Cosplay

The Internet was a-buzz when photographer Sacha Goldberger uploaded some masterpieces from his gallery outing. The artist had re-imagined iconic superheroes (including Star Wars characters) as they would have been depicted in Renaissance portraits.
[Note: The Renaissance was a cultural phenomenon that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the sixteenth century, its influence was felt in literature, philosophy, art, music, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry].

These much-talked about pieces were first shown at the Grand Palais’ exhibition in Paris, France.
You may be interested to know that the above photos aren't fakes, or even photoshop fantasy. Rather they represent a small army of people, from costumers to cosplayers to models to hairdressers to make-up stylists who were involved to make the above a reality.
To be sure, an inordinate amount of time went into producing each image, from planning to styling to wardrobe to makeup and, of course, shooting. And the end results speak for themselves.

This creative play on pop culture is superbly magnificent.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

169 Dengue Fatalities in Malaysia

Dengue fever has reached pandemic levels due to public apathy. And I am concerned that many Malaysians are not as alarmed about the mosquito threat as they should be.
There were 88,806 cases reported until November 08 this year compared to 31,170 in the corresponding period last year. And in that same period, a Health Ministry report showed 169 dengue-related deaths, compared to 63 in 2013.
But yet, Malaysian media is shy to shout about it. Only occasionally, dengue made the news and even then, it quietly occupied an inconspicuous portion of a page.
At Sunway University, fogging is done on a regular basis because the dengue threat is real!


Yesterday, I was at Cobra Club in PJ’s Lorong Utara B to attend the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting. I completed my CC manual – my fifteenth round todate – when I delivered CC #10 titled “Blessings”. My dedicated evaluator, Lim Thian Seng must have heaved a big sigh of relief because he had the tenacity, stamina and patience to evaluate all ten CC speeches. Anyway, I was voted Best Speaker and I also received a Competent Communicator ribbon.
(Just so you know, I have another 13 CC manuals that are work in progress and I am supposed to finish them all by end of this year – but that looks very unlikely. Still, I am determined to complete them by June 30, 2015).
A good meeting and I am giving it a score of a 7 over 10. One assignment speaker was way off the mark and methinks he should redo the speech. My opinion only.



The Cameron Hiighlands Mess

The Pahang Sultan (left) threw a humongous fit! HRH made a visit to the ravaged Cameron Highlands on November 19, 2014 – nearly two weeks after Ringlet town was hit by landslides and a mud flood after a torrential downpour caused water from a nearby river to overflow. In the incident, five people died and five others were injured while 203 residents from 47 families in Kampung Baru and Bertam Valley were evacuated.
It was not the first time the last one saw four people killed in a mud flood which occurred in Bertam Valley, Ringlet in October 2013. [Water had gushed down onto houses from the Sultan Abu Bakar dam when water was released from the dam as it had reached the danger level].
It is something that is expected to happen because we have no respect for the environment. The deforestation and illegal cutting of hill slopes for farming have been going on since God knows when. And now, we are paying the price. Deaths and destruction are expected.
No matter how much the powers that be are trying to deny – it is common knowledge that these environmental calamities occur because of irresponsible developers, corrupt officials, a sleeping member of parliament, and a shadowy mob of villains whom HRH referred to as ‘gangsters’.
And this time around, there was also a reference to “yellow letters” – they supposedly represent royal consent which allows letter holders to open up tracts of land in Cameron Highlands for development. [So far, no letters, yellow or otherwise have surfaced and whether these are real or the result of somebody’s fertile imagination is anybody’s guess].
Sultan Ahmad Shah indignantly maintained he has nothing to do with the “yellow letters” which certain people have been using to farm illegally here. So since HRH didn’t know about these letters, those who had used the letters to open up land had forged documents, deceived government officials and impeded law enforcement. And these are the very people that HRH labelled ‘gangsters’. He reiterated that nobody was above the law, not even him.
To make his point, he even brandished his fists and said: “If I know who they are, I will punch them. Once you’re a gangster, you’re always a gangster”.
And for good measure, HRH also gave Cameron Highlands MP G Palanivel a stinging royal rebuke. "…Tell your MP to come here every other day. Where has he been? What has he done? Nothing”.
In fact, Palanivel should hang his head in shame because he is not only an MP in this constituency but he is also the minister of natural resources and environment. And his “fine” work is on full public scrutiny here at Cameron Highlands!
No wonder there has been strident calls for him to resign. Even his colleagues in MIC where he is party president have trained their guns on him. A boob. A bozo. A buffoon. That’s what he is.
This nonsense has been going on for so long that Palanivel and many others should be held accountable. But don’t count on it because at the end of the day, nothing will really change. The Cameron Highlands we know will disappear. I hope I am wrong but we can only wait and see.
On Monday, I was at UM's Faculty of Engineering to attend the University of Malaya Toastmasters meeting. I went without any preconceived notions but this meeting surprised me in a good way. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. And the members were enthusiastic, energetic and eager. What’s more, senior members like Heng Jing Yi (photo below, left) and Tan Ing Ting (right) are always there to guide, coach and mentor.

I was there to deliver CC speech #7 and I was evaluated by CP Lau. My speech was more than decent and I was happy with the speech. I guess I should be pleased that I was voted Best Speaker.

Overall, the meeting went well although we started seventeen minutes late. The latter is something members must take seriously and hopefully, the meeting will be better time-managed the next time around. I am giving this meeting a score of 4.5 over 10.

I received a card as well and I am sharing it with everybody. It was a nice gesture and I felt good about receiving it. Thank you, UMTMC!