Friday, March 24, 2017

Somebody to Love


The Queen song that can make me feel as if magic is in the air is “Somebody To Love”.

It’s an amazingly powerful song – the woeful tale of a man begging God to send him love – sung as only someone of Freddie Mercury’s caliber could.

But when you factor in his massive 4-octave vocal range completely on its own, you know you’re in for an incredible, once in a lifetime treat as you are with his vocal track from the 1976 classic!

For 5 minutes, we get to hear “Somebody To Love” in all its raw and open honesty as Freddie is heard without his band behind him, voice rising and falling and cracking in all the right places and never once tempted to fake his way through any part of his performance.

This was Freddie Mercury at his most open and vulnerable, pouring his heart and soul into his craft with a level of authenticity that’s impossible to ignore.

Check it out in the audio below!

Last evening, I was at Jalan Kiara in Mont’ Kiara, KL where I attended the Ireka Toastmasters meeting.

I evaluated a CC #10 and was rewarded with a Best Speech Evaluator accolade. I took part in Table Topics and I was voted Best Table Topics speaker. A double winner.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Going Under the Knife

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One K-pop girl group decided to show the "before" and "after" results of their cosmetic surgery through two music videos.

In the aptly named first video titled "Becoming Prettier (Before)", all four members of Korean group Six Bomb are seen receiving plastic surgery consultation.

The video was first released in February 2017.

The follow up video, named – you guessed it – "Becoming Prettier (After)," which shows the girls walking out of the hospital with their post-surgery results, was released a month later in March.

In the video, they dance in an operating theatre, as the surgery lights pulse in time with the beat.

The surgery cost $88,000 (100 million won) for all four girls, with a clinic confirming that they had all gone through operations "above the waist".

“We all wanted to get some surgeries done to look prettier... and thought, ‘Why not perform a song about it instead of trying to conceal it?’", lead singer of the group Dain told AFP.

Not surprisingly, most netizens were positive about the girls' decision to document their experience.

"Good for them. They're brave enough to literally come out and say they got plastic surgery, unlike other K-pop idols", one said on YouTube.

"It takes a lot of bravery to be so open and honest about plastic surgery", another said.

Plastic surgery is common amongst K-pop stars, although documenting the process in this manner is relatively unheard of.

South Korea was previously named the "plastic surgery capital of the world" in a Business Insider report – and it is estimated that this type of surgery in the country are around 20 procedures per 1,000 people.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

P Ramlee Doodle by Google

Malaysian Google users would be pleasantly surprised today to find P Ramlee's likeness adorning their search browser.

The image shows the national treasure perched on a director's chair, with music sheet in hand, a guitar by his side and a hailer in his other hand – a tribute to his extraordinary achievements.

Google honored the late P Ramlee with his own Doodle, in conjunction with the screen legend's birthday.

“Born 88 years ago today, P Ramlee’s artistic achievements left a permanent mark on the cultural history of Malaysia,” said Google in its Doodle description.

Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Putih or known better for his screen name as P Ramlee (right) was a prolific actor, director, writer, and musician who contributed to more than 60 films and composed at least 250 songs.

P Ramlee died on May 29, 1973, at the age of 44 from a heart attack and was buried at Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery in Kuala Lumpur.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pope Francis Begs for God's Forgiveness

Pope Francis (right) on Monday begged for God’s forgiveness for “the sins and failings of the Church and its members” implicated in the 1994 Rwanda genocide that killed at least 800,000 people.

[Read more about the Rwanda genocide at these links and].

The pontiff “conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi”, the Vatican said in a statement after his meeting with Rwanda President Paul Kagame.

“He implored anew God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings of the Church and its members, among whom priests, and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission”, the statement read.

The pontiff expressed his hope that “this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which, unfortunately, disfigured the face of the Church, may contribute to a ‘purification of memory'” and promote “renewed trust”.

Calling ALL Malaysians who are twenty-one years old and above – kindly get yourself registered as a voter, if you have not done so. The country needs you to act now!

Raja Bomoh is a Malaysian Hero!

Deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki tweeted on Saturday that the controversial shaman Ibrahim Mat Zin is being sought by both the police and the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) – for his antics deemed to be damaging to Islam.

This is a real shame because the self-styled Raja Bomoh (right) is, in fact, a national hero! If we can accept his claim that he has been protecting Malaysia from harm for seven decades – from even before the country's independence.

"I don't want money. I pray to ring-fence Malaysia," he told Singapore’s The Sunday Times in an interview on Thursday.

His prayerful efforts to find the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane and to save Malaysia from a North Korean invasion with coconuts and bamboo cannons have endeared him to the Malaysian citizenry.

Yup, we don’t need a missile defense shield to protect the country.

As Ibrahim had said: “…we use ancient methods to fence the air, the earth and the water, so that missiles will go missing and not reach Malaysia". Wah, terror lah!

His belief is so strong that even as he is on the receiving end with brickbats and even taunts – he remains undeterred.

Ibrahim insisted his methods are in line with Islamic teachings. He cited the work of other Malay faith healers and medicine men over the decades, and claimed that government officials, including Malaysia's first two prime ministers, had previously requested his “divine” help.

On Sunday, Celtic moved to within one win of their sixth straight Scottish Premiership title with a 2-1 victory over Dundee. Their goals came via Jozo Simunovic (45+1) and Stuart Armstrong (52).

With a 25-point lead over second-placed Aberdeen and nine games left, Celtic could clinch the title in their next match against Hearts on April 02, although they would already be champions if the Dons fail to secure at least a point against Dundee on March 31.

Down south, Liverpool drew 1-1 with Manchester City in a match of missed chances – and this ensured the latter stayed above the Reds in the EPL table and with a game in hand.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bali Did Not Cover up

A Balinese statue is seen along a main road in Denpasar, Bali, on March 8, 2017. Photo: AFP

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (above photo) was in Jakarta, Indonesia for a 3-day state visit – after which he proceeded to Bali for a vacation scheduled from March 04 to 09.

When he met President Joko Widodo for talks in Bogor, near the capital, officials hid some naked statues in the grounds by covering them with cloth and putting plants around them as a sign of respect for the Muslim monarch.

Strict interpretations of Islam forbid the creation of images of living beings – such as statues of women – and worship of idols.

But in Bali – a pocket of Hinduism in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, the local authorities did not extend the same courtesy.

The resort island, which attracts millions of foreign visitors every year, is home to many statues of Hindu gods and bare-chested women. In the past, Balinese women often wore only sarongs that did not cover their chests.

"We're just going to leave (the statues) as they are, we don't have to cover up anything because it is our culture," Bali local government spokesperson Dewa Mahendra had informed AFP. He said that they "are cultural creations, they are art".

Certainly, King Salman and his entourage of 1,500 people staying at five luxury hotels in Nusa Dua were not offended.

In fact, the beauty of Indonesia's most popular tourist destination captivated the royal visitor that he decided to extend his stay for another three days.

Malaysian Muslims should learn from King Salman.

Today, I was at the Sai Masters Toastmasters meeting in Petaling Jaya.

A wee attendance of just nine Toastmasters but yet they still managed to successfully infuse the meeting with joyful bursts of explosive energy. And I was given a double role – as a Toastmaster-of-the-Day and as a speech evaluator.

Voracious Predators

Come dine with me! Image credit: bemiedup, CC BY-NC-SA

Spiders (Class: Arachnida; Order Araneae) – of which there are more than 45,000 species with a collective weight of about 25 million tons – devour up to 800 million tons of prey each year, making them some of the world’s most voracious predators, according to calculations by a team of Swiss and Swedish scientists.

Most of their victims are insects but the largest tropical species occasionally make a meal of vertebrates such as frogs, lizards, fish and even small mammals.

Martin Nyffeler, from the University of Basel in Switzerland says. “In concert with other insectivorous animals such as ants and birds, they help to reduce the population densities of insects significantly”.

Nyffeler continues: “Spiders thus make an essential contribution to maintaining the ecological balance of nature”.

And adds Nyffeler: “We hope that these estimates and their significant magnitude raise public awareness and increase the level of appreciation for the important global role of spiders in terrestrial food webs”.

The appetite of spiders even exceeds that of whales, which get through an estimated 280 million to 500 million tons of prey a year.

In comparison, all the humans on Earth consume about 400 million tons of meat and fish each year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Journal reference: The Science of Nature, DOI: 10.1007/s00114-017-1440-1.

On Saturday, I was at the MIMKL Toastmasters meeting to evaluate a CC #2 speech before going to the HELP University campus at Persiaran Cakerawala in Subang Bestari, Seksyen U4, Shah Alam to judge at the Area J1 International Speech & Table Topics contests.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Fearless Girl

Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

On March 07, 2017, State Street Global Advisors, which manage some $2.5 trillion in assets, signaled their support of International Women’s Day the following day – when they temporarily placed a roughly 50-inch-tall bronze statue of a defiant girl in front of Wall Street's iconic charging-bull statue in New York City. 

The statue which was designed by artist Kristen Visbal, depicts a young girl in a dress standing fearlessly with her hands on her hip and her chin up. It has lured flocks of people to Wall Street, where many have posed for photos next to it.

The idea is to make a strong statement about feminism, about gender diversity. And yet it is much more than mere symbolism. The firm followed up the installation with a letter to companies in the Russell 3000 index asking them to take action to increase the diversity on their boards. There is room for improvement: State Street say that roughly a quarter of the 3,500 companies they sent letters to have no women on their boards.

[Note: The Russell 3000 Index is a market capitalization weighted equity index maintained by the Russell Investment Group that seeks to be a benchmark of the entire US stock market. More specifically, this index encompasses the 3,000 largest US-traded stocks, in which the underlying companies are all incorporated in the US].

State Street, the investment arm of the Boston-based financial firm State Street Corporation have a long history of engaging with companies on corporate-governance issues, although they usually do so in a very quiet way.

It has been reported that more than 8,000 people have signed an online petition last Friday urging the city’s mayor to let this particular bronze statue stay in the center of the world’s financial capital.

All of this may be fine – but let’s not forget that it is more than “molding young girls in the image of a banking industry that bets against us, shorts us, and then receives government bailout money” – as Cara Marsh Sheffler daringly puts it (The Guardian, March 14, 2017). “We need women who will realize new possibilities for companies to work toward the common good”.

More than this, I think it is important that we embrace a world view – not just focusing on any one segment of the population. We must remember, recognize and represent the needs of everybody, and not forgetting, the marginalized – “those who didn’t go straight from Harvard Business School to a hedge fund without a care in the world”.

And across all demographics and across all communities.

Today is St. Patrick's Day!

I was at Havana Bar & Grill in KL’s chic and bustling Changkat Bukit Bintang last evening for another Liquid Gold Advanced Toastmasters meeting. I delivered my CC speech #6 simply titled "Victor".

These photos tell you Liquid Gold meetings are always enjoyable!

BTW, I was presented with this medallion – for completing my (fourth) ACG award this term!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kim Jong-nam's Murder Puts Malaysia in a Spot

On February 13, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother Kim Jong-nam (left) was murdered in Malaysia, of all places.

South Korea was quick to call the killing an "act of terrorism" and even said it was carried out by the North Korean government. At least four North Koreans are currently under investigation by Malaysian police.

North Korea meanwhile, accused Malaysia of hatching a political conspiracy in Jong-nam’s murder investigation, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries.

As if things were not bad enough, Malaysia’s Defense Minister decided to display his idiocy by talking of war! Like the fool that he is, Hishammuddin Hussein (left) boasted on Monday that if North Korea wants war, Malaysia is ready. And then he added that the country will count on its allies.

What kind of talk is that?!? What an effing imbecile!?!

And yet, in the same breath, he admitted that Malaysia does not have enough military assets compared to Pyongyang if the two countries go to war, even acknowledging that the reclusive state has nuclear weapons in its arsenal.

Then he ruled out the chances of a war happening between the two countries.

WTF?!? This only goes to show he is nothing more than a dumb ass!!!

Why is he hell-bent on provoking unpredictable North Korea? He may just invite retaliation.

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The country is more than capable of raining missiles on us if they do decide to unleash their military hardware. We would be incapable of responding. I mean, what could we possibly do?

Hmmm, maybe, we can look in the direction of North Korea and spit at them.

Also on Monday, another bozo came into the picture. He too wanted to hog the limelight.

Raja Bomoh or Ibrahim Mat Zin had turned up in front of the National Institute of Forensic Medicine at Hospital Kuala Lumpur reciting prayers and performing a rite using sticks before he left about five minutes later.

He had claimed he was protecting us from any threat or attack from North Korea. In fact, a video of the shaman has gone viral on Sunday where he and 3 other loonies were on the beach conducting a ritual where four halfwits including Raja Bomoh were ankle-deep in water and holding two coconuts, a pair of sticks used as binoculars, five bamboo cannons, a carpet, and a bowl of seawater. And the 3 minutes and 18 seconds video ended with the bomoh throwing the coconuts into the water.

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Are these the allies Hishammuddin was referring to? They could well be. If the North Koreans had watched their performance, they might just abandon any hostile intention because they could be preoccupied with laughing so hard that they forgot they are upset with us.

Anyway, throwing coconuts is better than spitting. The coconuts can hurt if they land on the North Koreans! LOL!!

I was at 15, Persiaran Pasak Bumi in Seksyen U8 in Shah Alam to attend the Zuellig Pharma Toastmasters meeting on Wednesday. I was both a speech evaluator as well as General Evaluator.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Minaj and Picasso

Check out the bold, bare-breasted outfits Nicki Minaj wore at the Paris Fashion Week Fall 2017 (Women’s) from February 28 to March 08!

Immediately, it drew comparisons to Lil Kim‘s similar bold, bare-breasted 1999 MTV Video Music Awards ensemble, and to a lesser extent, Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction at Super Bowl 38 in 2004.

But the Queens star took to Instagram on Sunday and hinted that the inspiration for the outfit came from famed artist Pablo Picasso.

In fact, she posted an image of Picasso’s La Femme à l’Éventail painting, which featured a female subject with her left breast exposed.

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Please don’t get offended. Many of Picasso's paintings prominently show women’s bare breasts:

Pablo Picasso – Woman in an Armchair (Eva), 1913. Image credit:

Pablo Picasso – Femme au bain, 1933. Image credit:

Pablo Picasso – Buste de femme. Nusch Eluard, 1938. Image credit:

Pablo Picasso – Woman in a Rocking Chair, 1956. Image credit:

Pablo Picasso – Femme nui poignant assise dans un fauteuil, 1965. Image credit:

Pablo Picasso – Venus et Amour, 1967. Image credit:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

UMNO in Dire Straits?

Some serious political bloggers have opined that there has been significant migrations of UMNO members to Bersatu and to a much lesser extent, other Malay-centric opposition parties. And this provides a sliver of hope to Malaysians.

Even if I am optimistic and hopeful, I’m not sure if this reported development is enough to cause UMNO to break up – but the situation is said to be much worse than it was in the last General Election.

In the last GE, UMNO won 89 seats which have now been reduced to just 86 seats three crossed the floor to the opposition bench.

In the coming GE, I am more inclined to believe the findings of some political analysts that UMNO will maintain only 50 seats while the rest of their lackeys in peninsular Malaysia will be wiped out.

Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of UMNO and MO1 and associates!

Liverpool kept their push for a top-four finish in the EPL on course as Georginio Wijnaldum’s coolly converted volley (45+1)  and Emre Can’s low 25-meter strike into the bottom corner of the goalmouth (61) gave the Reds a hard-earned 2-1 comeback win over Burnley at a relieved Anfield on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp's side were again out of sorts – they were dismal, disappointing and dolorous. While nowhere near their scintillating best, typifying the Merseysiders' uneven form of 2017 – Liverpool still displayed a fair bit of character to strike back after going behind to an Ashley Barnes goal after only seven minutes.

Typical Toastmasters meeting set-up

I was in KL’s Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam yesterday – to attend the Speakers Dream Toastmasters meeting. I was a speech evaluator for an Advanced speech presented by the club president. I also took part in Table Topics.

And I was voted Best Evaluator and Best Table Topics Speaker. Nice!