Sunday, November 17, 2019

Joker is Almost At The $1 Billion Mark

Looking at Thursday's numbers, the cinematic masterpiece on the Clown Prince of Crime is almost at the $1 billion mark in receipts worldwide. 

After 43 days, Joker has earned an estimated $994,462,180 at the box office – and it just needs to sell another $5 million worth of tickets to reach the cinematic milestone. 

Joker is a slow-burn story of an iconic comic-book character that is told in a predictably unpredictable manner – and it has this strange ramification of making me strangely sympathetic to a strange man who erupts uncontrollably into cackling laughter at the most inappropriate moments. 

This, of course, is due to a real medical condition called pseudobulbar affect (PBA). It is characterized by involuntary and intermittent bouts of crying, laughter, or other emotional displays, which are disconnected and even exaggerated from the individual's actual emotional state. It is most commonly caused by brain injuries or neurological disorders that impact how the brain processes emotion. 

I don’t know about you but this is a fascinating film that has Joaquin Phoenix in a spellbinding and unforgettable role. He gives us a daring yet disturbing performance that gutsily invites us to endear ourselves to Arthur Fleck, that much-maligned character whom he assumes. 

And I can still remember that chilling line in the wickedly weighty movie: “Is it just me or is it getting crazier out there?” 

US health officials on Thursday reported 2,172 confirmed and probable cases and 3 more deaths from a mysterious respiratory illness tied to vaping (right), taking the death toll to 42, so far this year. 

Health officials last week also dubbed the discovery of Vitamin E acetate – believed to be used as a cutting agent in illicit vaping products containing marijuana components – in all lung samples from 29 patients as a breakthrough in their investigation. 

Investigators have not linked the cases to any specific product or compound, but have pointed to vaping oils containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, as being especially risky.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Pakatan Harapan Sink in Tanjung Piai

The Tanjung Piai by-election is today. And the results are just out. 

And not surprisingly, Pakatan Harapan lost. By 15,086 votes.

The parliamentary seat fell vacant after Md Farid Md Rafik, 42, who was also a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, died on September 21 due to heart complications. 

In 2018, the Bersatu candidate had won the seat by the skin of his teeth. He scraped through with a mere 524-vote majority in a three-cornered contest against Wee Jeck Seng of BN and Nordin Othman of PAS. 

This is the ninth by-election to take place since Pakatan Harapan took over the government after GE14. Five were state seats – Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia, Balakong, Semenyih and Rantau; while four were federal seats – Port Dickson, Cameron Highlands, Sandakan and of course, Tanjung Piai.

Introducing Malaysia's Wonder Woman

With BN's Brobdingnagian failure and now when it seems PH too are starting to head in that general direction – there is a gaping need to find another way out of this screw-up that Malaysians are finding themselves stuck in. 

And a hero has appeared. In the form of Wonder Woman. The Malaysian version. Our very own, activist lawyer, Siti Kasim (right).

Sure, the long struggle to save Malaysia came about with the May 09, 2018 general election – and which witnessed regime change – BUT NOTHING ELSE IS HAPPENING. 

Pakatan Harapan, despite their reformasi credentials don’t seem to have the steely courage to want to reshape, reframe and reboot the nation into Malaysia Baru

Unfulfilled election promises, racial and religious rhetoric and PH’s shortsightedness which is apparent from their politicized policies do not augur well for the country. 

Already, Mahathir Mohamad (left) and his Bersatu had grabbed critical portfolios and ministries and filled them with dimwits (Maszlee Malik, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof immediately come to mind) – and with his own brand of toxic politics has put the whole country on a downward trajectory. 

PH are slowly and surely evolving into a flop. 

As the dissatisfaction, disgruntlement and frustration grow, a few individuals have stepped forward to give Malaysians new hope. 

Hopefully, it is the new political narrative, the one that PH were entrusted to fashion but have since chickened out. 

MAJU (or Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity Foundation) launched on August 28 this year by Siti, hope to bring together ALL Malaysians to network with the goal of creating a more inclusive nation. 

This is critical as the nation is now divided along race and religion – which is detrimental for future generations. 

And they made a good start. The MAJU forum titled “The Battle is Not Over after May 9th – Be Empowered to Save Malaysia” held on Wednesday at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall pulled in close to two thousand Malaysians. It is said that the overwhelming public response had surpassed the organizers’ expectations. 

Malaysians are expected to turn to MAJU if we wish to keep faith with the country that still holds so much promise but yet still unable to deliver that potential. 

Let’s “maju” with MAJU!

Public Speaking in Melaka and Elsewhere

My hometown is going to be a happening place on March 15 next year. 

That’s because we will be celebrating World Speech Day in Melaka.

CV+ are joining hands with World Speech Day (Singapore) to bring this public speaking event to historic Melaka. A chance for you to speak and get your voice heard! 

After all, Mohammed Qahtani (left), 2015 Toastmasters’ Public Speaking champion – I met him in Penang in May 2017 – has this to say: “Words have power, words are power, words could be your power”. 

Whether in Melaka or Kuala Lumpur or Penang, please join us on this day of speeches and speechmaking. Sunday, March 15, 2020. 

#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday 

On Thursday, I braved the crazy traffic and the lashing rain to be at Sunway Mentari in Petaling Jaya, Selangor to attend the KPP Toastmasters meeting. 

I also took the opportunity to present CC#9 titled “Menjiwai Semangat Toastmasters” – and only one speech remains before I complete yet another round of the Competent Communication manual. This was for #65 and it will be the second time I attempt it in Bahasa Melayu. 

We had a smallish attendance but numbers don’t matter when you know you've had a good meeting. To be sure, we had 7 Table Topics speeches, three project speeches as well as the accompanying evaluations and in my book, that's a good meeting!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Liverpool's Slave Auction Re-enactment is Shameful

Liverpool University had hosted the Group of Trainers in Clinical Psychology conference last week – and during the conference dinner, it did something odious, obnoxious and offensive. It put up a show that was a slave auction re-enactment. 

There was no warning that the program would be taking place – and horrified attendees branded the show “unexpected” and “ill-judged”, to put it mildly. 

In fact, the organizers were despicably disgraceful – and dumb! 

These people who are responsible for the Group of Trainers in Clinical Psychology conference must have a screw loose – and admitting they had not “thought sufficiently” about how the presentation would be received, is simply not enough an apology. 

As Samantha Rennalls, a trainee clinical psychologist, asked: “Is clinical psychology a safe place to be for black people? Are we even seen? Does anyone actually care?” 

Chris Jones, a clinical psychologist, declared: “The re-enactment of the slave auction at #GTiCP2019 was a shameful day in the history of British Clinical Psychology”.

These simpletons might have attempted to use the performance as a way to acknowledge UK’s oppressive colonial history – instead, they turned it on its head by making it into a spectacle that had the effect of diminishing that history to representing black people through slavery. 

And this was in Liverpool itself? It was so, so wrong! 

Surely, they knew that Liverpool's maritime history played a crucial role in bringing the city to a position of global power and prominence. 

Surely, they knew too that among the maritime trade flowing in and out of the city was a thriving slave trade that made merchants rich off the back of human suffering. 

By 1795, Liverpool controlled over 80% of the British and over 40% of the entire European slave trade. Liverpool was the European capital of the slave trade from the 1780s right up until slavery was abolished in Britain in 1807. 

Slaves for sale – an advertisement in 1766 edition of the Williamson Advertiser, on show at the slavery exhibition in the maritime museum in Liverpool. Image credit: Liverpool Echo, October 18, 2018 

In fact, in 1999, Liverpool City Council passed a formal motion apologizing for the city's part in the slave trade. And this year, on August 23 marked the city’s 20th year of commemoration for Slavery Remembrance Day:

Prepping for War

The stage is set for an all-out war that may just cause Hong Kong to lose its soul.

An anarchist gets ready to catapult a projectile at Hong Kong's City University on November 12, 2019. Image credit: AFP 
Anarchists sit on a sofa next to a collection of Molotov cocktails in front of a burning barricade at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, HK on November 13, 2019. Image credit: AFP/Anthony Wallace

Outside the Chinese University of Hong Kong, HK on November 13, 2019. Image credit: AP Photo/Kin Cheung

An anarchist releases a flaming arrow at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, HK on November 13, 2019. Image credit: AFP/Anthony Wallace

An anarchist holds a bow and arrow at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, HK on November 14, 2019. Image credit: AFP 

Image credit: Channel News Asia, November 14, 2019
Anarchists testing an improvised slingshot to fling tennis balls across a barricade at Hong Kong Baptist University, HK on November 14, 2019. Image credit: Reuters/Thomas Peter

An anarchist makes Molotov cocktails inside The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, HK on November 14, 2019. Image credit: AFP/Isaac Lawrence 

Hong Kong anarchists are gearing up for war! Expect casualties that will only cause anguish, agony and hurt.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Joker is Just Short of Under $11.3 Million

Joker has now reached an estimated $988,735,635 in global ticket sales. As at November 12, 2019. Just short of under $11.3 million before it joins the $1 billion club!

Indeed, Joker isn’t messing around. 

And when the movie manages that sometime in the coming week, it will sit at the same table with Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises and James Wan's Aquaman as the only DC Comics films to make north of $1 billion worldwide. 

That is no small feat for an R-rated movie that trades in standard action thrills for more character-focused drama. 

Today, I was at the Ireka Toastmasters meeting in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur – and thanks to Nor Fathiyyah, I was offered a speaking slot and which I gladly accepted. 

I delivered a CC#2 speech titled One Hundred and Thirty-Eight Days – and a reminder to myself that my days in Toastmasters are numbered. They are coming to an end. Finally.

I was also the General Evaluator.

Overall, a good meeting because I was there! 

I'm only joking – just good speeches, good evaluations and good Table Topics. And a good lunch too.

Hong Kong On the Brink of Total Collapse

As Hong Kong totters on the brink of total collapse, I wish to share DW’s Tim Sebastian’s telling interview with democracy activist Joey Siu! 

It is evident that Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement has no game plan. And Siu’s attempts to justify the rebels’ riotous actions show clearly their obdurateness, rigidity and die-hardism:
The fact of the matter is these Hong Kongers are more than willing to destroy their city – if the government doesn't meet their 5 demands. 

Interestingly, two of their key demands are the unconditional release of the arrested "protesters" (actually, "rioters") and the complete retraction of the official British-era labeling of the protests as "riots".

Meaning, these yobs believe they are above the law!

And Siu tells us point-blank that even if she disagrees with the violence inflicted by these youngsters going berserk, she will not condemn their acts of violence. 

It looks like there shall be no compromise and no retreat. 

That means, there’Il be only grief and pain – and the people of Hong Kong will soon get to experience much more than just tear gas and water cannons. 

I believe this "revolution" is coming to a dead end. And I reckon law and order will be restored before the Lunar New Year in January.

Yesterday, I was at the CIMA Malaysia Toastmasters meeting in First Avenue, Bandar Utama in PJ, Selangor. 

I took up two roles – as Speech Evaluator for an Advanced speech from the The Professional Speaker manual and as a Grammarian. 

Photos from the said meeting: