Monday, October 31, 2016

Clowns: Too Scary for Halloween

Clowns are officially too scary for Halloween.
School districts, counties and spooky festivals across the US of A are banning clown costumes this year, after a summer of panic-stricken hysteria over “killer clowns” and soaring sales of evil clown masks.
The creepy clown craze started in Greenville, South Carolina in August 2016 after unsubstantiated reports surfaced that clowns were spotted trying to lure children into the woods.
The furor has since ignited a nationwide phenomenon, with clown sightings kept happening, across the south in Florida and Kentucky and up to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Here's a sample of hair-raising incidents. An armed clown hoax temporarily put a Massachusetts college on lockdown. Hundreds of students in Pennsylvania State University swarmed surrounding campus streets to carry out a mass clown hunt. And from Rainbow City in Alabama, it was reported that at least seven people faced felony charges in making a terrorist threat connected to “clown-related activity”. In Virginia, police had arrested two teens for wearing clown outfits and chasing children. And police in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, arrested a man for falsely claiming he had seen a clown trying to lure children and chased it into the woods. He had made it all up, he told police.
How grave is this clown threat or is it merely a runaway prank – nobody knows for sure.
The mass hysteria has not yet led to any serious injuries or deaths, likely because most of the clown sightings involved either young pranksters dressed as clowns or callers inventing clown stories.
Anyway, it’s no surprise one of the hottest 2016 Halloween outfits is a clown.
But clowns are turning Halloween from fun-scary to scary-scary.
In fact, in Kemper County, Mississippi, local authorities went a step further, creating a county ordinance to make it illegal to appear in clown costume, mask or makeup until November 01.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s mascot, Ronald McDonald (right), is keeping a low profile.
McDonald’s in New York had told the Associated Press the company was being “thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events” as a result of the “current climate around clown sightings in communities”.
Clowns have long terrified both children and adults, especially in the 1980s after King created the nightmare-inducing clown Pennywise (left) in the horror novel, "It", which was later turned into a movie.
Criminologists and psychologists agree the root of the fear lies in the fact that clowns wear heavy makeup and paint extreme emotions on their faces that hide their true identity and feelings.
“The fascination with clowns is really the fact that they’re not real,” says Scott Bonn, a criminologist and professor of sociology at Drew University in New Jersey. “We don’t know what’s beneath that makeup. It could be anyone or anything. They’re actually very frightening”.
David Kiser, Ringling Bros’ clown expert, has this to say: “…clowns hold up a mirror on society, so we can see the absurd in ourselves. So to be afraid of them is ultimately to be afraid of yourself”.
Copy-cat incidents involving clowns have also been reported in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.
According to Google Trends, interest in clowns tends to spike each year ahead of Halloween on October 31 but a wave of creepy clowns first spotted around the US of A has brought with it a frantic frenzy of goose-bumpy fear.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Make-up

Celebrating Halloween has become much more than Trick-or-Treating.
The adults have made it sophisticated in a spooky sort of way. For those who enjoy ghouls, ghosts and all things ghastly, Halloween is a  perfect time to dress up or if not, to paint up.
And thanks to Instagram and YouTube, Halloween makeup looks are just a click away.

Halloween falls on Monday, October 31, in case you don't know! 
Yesterday, Celtic stretched their lead over Aberdeen at the top of the Scottish Premiership to 10 points with a 1-0 victory over the Dons.
Tom Rogic's controlled half-volley in the twenty-third minute put the reigning champions ahead. And that was all they did.
The solidity Celtic have displayed for much of the season was on show but the usual flair and potency in front of goal was missing. In other words, the football was not great.

And then there was the Liverpool-Crystal Palace game. The final score: 4-2.
The first half had been described as a manic match – five goals went in. Defensive mishaps and attacking verve. BTW, that was the most first half goals in an EPL game this season.
Three from the Reds – Emre Can (15), Dejan Lovren (21) and Joel Matip (43) were the contributors – and two from the other side.
The second half was an anti-climax. It was devoid of goals – almost. Except when Roberto Firmino (70) sealed the game for Liverpool and ensured that three points were theirs to keep.
The Reds have now netted 79 league goals since Jurgen Klopp took charge – and at least three more than any other team in the competition.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Happy Deepavali 2016


Happy Deepavali! Let the joy illuminate our lives! 
As we celebrate the festival of lights, let us pray for Malaysia. And hope that good will triumph over evil.
Especially the evil (read, MO1) who tightly cocoons this country like a death shroud.

Yesterday, I was in Jalan Tangsi in KL to attend the UniRazak Toastmasters meeting.

I love this view from the 7th Floor of UniRazak

I was the General Evaluator. And I was happy to have presided over a good meeting!


Friday, October 28, 2016

Budget 2017 is Just Ho-hum

Malaysia’s Budget 2017 is just ho-hum. It is best described as perfunctory, pedestrian and platitudinous.
No wonder, opposition parliamentarians staged a walkout. They had to keep their wits about them – if they had stayed back and listen to PM Najib Razak blather, they would have to suffer a slow death from passionless paroxysms of lifeless lethargy. Really.
After all, Budget 2017 did not contain any major new reforms to address the country’s underlying fiscal weaknesses.
Moody’s in a report released Tuesday, said it is challenging for the government to meet their 3.1% of GDP fiscal deficit target for this year. And for 2017, revenue remains the binding constraint to providing further support to the economy.
Fitch are expecting Malaysia’s 2016 deficit to come in at 3.2% of GDP – one percentage point higher than Putrajaya’s 3.1% target – although they believe the official deficit target of 3% in 2017 will be achievable.
1MDB continue to haunt us. Fitch viewed the unresolved issues over 1MDB as an indication that governance standards remain a weakness in Malaysia’s credit profile.
Sure, Fitch opined that the 1MDB impact on government policymaking, political stability and fiscal finances is limited thus far but the 1MDB hot potato “remains a source of uncertainty” nonetheless.
Najib has successfully kept a very tight lid on 1MDB but when the latter goes kablooey – I honestly don’t know what will become of this country!
Diwali is just a day away. It is timely because thinking about the sorry state of affairs in this country is enough to make anyone severely depressed, if not suicidal.
The Berjaya University College of Hospitality students conceived this:

 A grand effort!
On Thursday, I attended the Metro Toastmasters meeting at No.12 in Jalan Sg. Besi, KL. I took up two roles (again) and I was Toastmaster-of-the-Evening as well as a project speaker.  


I completed my last speech from the Special Occasions manual and this means that I have now earned another educational award, i.e. an ACG. 

BTW, this is my fourth ACG. It is also my tenth educational award for 2016-2017.
This is assignment #4 and I also had the perfect photo opportunity, i.e. a snapshot of Victor Ong presenting an "award" to Victor Ong!

[Note: It is only make-believe because it is a requirement of the particular speech].