Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 2013 Toastmastering Report Card

Here’s my report card on my 2013 Toastmastering activities:

I wasn’t a good speaker and I wanted to speak well. That’s why I joined Toastmasters in the first place. And now I love speaking. To speak well, one must speak consistently. Courageously. And tirelessly.

In 2013, I completed 61 project speeches. This works out to an average of 5 speeches a month. When I look back and finish counting – I have amassed a grand total of 171 project speeches since I became a Toastmaster on July 01, 2008. This total excludes invocations, contest speeches, presidential addresses as well as Table Topics speeches. It's a pretty good accomplishment, is it not?

“Let It Go”, a song from the Disney animation movie Frozen and performed by Idina Menzel is very appropriate as we say goodbye to 2013:

Najib Razak's Fb Page Breeds Frustration and Anger

Unhappy Malaysians are flooding Prime Minister Najib Razak's Facebook page with remarks that describe their frustration and anger against the latter. There were also pleas for him to be sensitive to citizens struggling to cope with the hike in the prices of goods and services.  

Netizens appear unconvinced by Putrajaya’s attempt to justify price hikes and subsidy rationalization with the argument that it was necessary to protect the economy and investor confidence. 

I am urging Malaysians to continue to post their sentiments of disquiet and dissatisfaction so that he is aware of his madcap recklessness in managing the country's economy. As far as economic management is concerned, Najib gets a big F!

This evening, I was on the sixth floor of Suasana Sentral in KL Sentral to attend the last Toastmasters meeting of the year on the last day of the year! Yup, I was at the Bangsar Toastmasters meeting and I was tasked to evaluate Lucky's speech from The Entertaining Manual. In fact, we witnessed a decent attendance fifteen of us graced the meeting. I would score it a 7 over 10.

Arctic 30 Finally Free

Image credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24985001

Image credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24462045

Image credit: http://350.org/about/blogs/update-global-day-solidarity-greenpeace-s-arctic-30-freethearctic30 

On December 21, in a post titled "Russian Amnesty", I blogged that Russia had dropped charges against the Arctic 30 activists. They had been illegally held at gunpoint by Russian secret services when they participated in a peaceful protest at Gazprom's oil rig to call attention to the threat of oil drilling and climate change – as a matter-of-fact, their Dutch-flagged ship Arctic Sunrise was in international waters.

The thirty Greenpeace protestors were originally charged with piracy and faced up to 15 years in jail. This was changed to ‘hooliganism’, which could carry six years behind bars. And then they were told they had been freed under a Kremlin-backed amnesty, ahead of February’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

On Sunday, Polish national Tomasz Dziemianczuk, 37, flew out from Saint Petersburg to Warsaw – he followed the other 25 who had all left by Saturday. Another four are Russians and they too benefited from the reprieve and are free to travel inside and outside the country.

The Arctic Sunrise ship remains under Russian control in Murmansk and Greenpeace had made clear that it wants its vessel back.

FYI, Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom, whose Prirazlomnaya rig in the Pechora Sea was the target of the Greenpeace protest, has just started oil production at the platform.

Yesterday, I was at the Malaysia Airlines Academy in Kelana Jaya to attend the Kelana Bilingual Toastmasters meeting. I managed to secure a speaking slot and I delivered my CC speech #7 titled “Drink and Live” – this is my twelfth round. I also took part in Table Topics and the TT Evaluator, Shirley Bak kindly presented all five participants a Christmas cookie each! (Photo on the left).

I also volunteered to be the Timekeeper – in order to complete my second round of CL. I can say it was a good meeting and I would give it a score of a 7 over 10.


Turun @ Dataran Merdeka

NOTE: Suaram, PAS, Lawyers for Liberty and human rights lawyers to provide legal help in the event of arrests. 

Image credit: http://www.viralnova.com/ron-mueck-sculptures/

If you are to tell me that the people in the above pictures weren’t real, I’d laugh in your face. The truth of it is, though, they’re not. 

They are creations of a London artist named Ron Mueck, who specializes in sculptures. He used to be a model maker and puppeteer for television and films (e.g. He created Ludo the gentle giant in the movie 'Labyrinth'). 

Now, he focuses on making hyper-realistic and detailed sculptures of humans that have museum visitors studying them and even staring for hours. 

And the marking of a pile of exam scripts and moderating another pile are finally completed for this semester, at least! It was less painful than in previous semesters but these tasks can be a real drudgery.  Anyway, all in a day's work for a university lecturer!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Grenades Readied to Topple the Government

Malaysians, take heed! The police seem to believe there is a sinister and dangerous plot to overthrow the government tomorrow! And the action begins at Dataran Merdeka. 

On Saturday, Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Amar Singh Ishar Singh had said police would not hesitate to detain parties attempting to spark unrest under the Penal Code and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma). He was referring to the planned protest spearheaded by Turun: 

He added that police intelligence found Kumpulan Gerakan Turun Kos Sara Hidup (Turun), Jingga 13, Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia and Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia to be involved in the planned illegal assembly to show their dissatisfaction against the government. Somebody should tell Amar Singh that the information is public, so he should get his police intelligence to do something more useful! Besides, since when is it illegal for citizens to meet up? 

But thereafter, he began to babble nonsense when he mentioned that the organizers would be bringing weapons, including grenades and gas masks to stir up trouble. In this regard, Amar Singh advised the people not to participate and support the demonstration as it is against the law.

I'm only surprised that our cops, who can't bring down crime, did, however, manage to detect subterfuge. The Machiavellian organizers weren’t just planning a protest; they actually wanted to bring down the government! And they must have been very stupid to let the police find out!

Grenades were specifically referred to. I am frightened that these groups of Malaysians can easily get their hands on them. Maybe police intelligence should go undercover and ascertain if the grenades had gone missing from our armories. Or if not, maybe they were smuggled in – so kindly check with the Customs Department. 

Sorry, I really shouldn’t be speculating! Probably, Amar Singh (left) woke up on that Saturday morning with a bad headache and he started seeing grenades spinning around his throbbing head (just like in those cartoons when they get hit on the head and they see stars).

Actually, he wanted to mention C4, the same ones used on Altantuya Shaariibuugiin. But it was too sensitive, so he mentioned grenades instead!

BTW, why is Amar Singh doing the dirty work for UMNO?

And anyway, the police responses are getting more delusional and paranoid by the day! If indeed, the police knew there will be grenades a-plenty on that day, what are they waiting for? Go and confiscate them and arrest the conspirators lah!

Why is it that every time Malaysians come together to protest against the corrupted BN government, UMNO and Najib Razak go into “Panic” mode?

Midfielder Kris Commons scored the only goal of the game – in the third minute – as Celtic beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1-0 in the Scottish Premiership.

Also yesterday, Liverpool saw a 2-1 defeat by Chelsea and are now six points behind leaders Arsenal, sitting in fifth place in the EPL table.

One individual cannot keep his mouth shut and he was still insisting that the Reds can challenge for the title! Of course, he is none other than Brendan Rodgers. This man’s bragging is covering up the fact that Liverpool’s “success” if you can call it that was 99% due to Luis Suarez! We have seen in the last two games that once the opponents shackled Liverpool's chief tormentor, they will quite easily defeat the Reds.

Bizarre Lifelike Sculptures

Image credit: http://laughingsquid.com/eerily-lifelike-sculptures-of-animalhuman-hybrids/

Chinese artist Liu Xue creates bizarre sculptures of human figures that have been augmented with animal body parts. The lifelike sculptures range from centaur-like human/pig hybrids to rather disquieting chicken-people.

Last Saturday, I was at the Bankers Club, Amoda Building in KL’s Jalan Imbi for the Premier Advanced Toastmasters meeting. I was hoping to get a speaking slot I didn’t instead, I was roped in to be a speech evaluator for an Advanced speech from the Storytelling manual. 

The speaker narrated an abridged account of “I Love Girl”, a humorous piece cleverly penned by Simon Rich and which appeared in The New Yorker last year (if I am not mistaken). The material was of course brilliant – even the truncated version – and her performance would have been more entertaining if it had incorporated vocal acrobatics and animated hand gestures. Still, a nice speech, nonetheless. 

Overall, this was a good meeting. A 7 over 10 score.