Am I Paranoid?


PIC138
I am sceptical about the idea of paranoia. Though, previously I had written an article on the origin of paranoia. Suddenly, I realize now that I have some kind of paranoia too. It started when my car’s side window was slashed by unknown forces causing the window to break. I woke up one fine morning and found out it’s broken.

The second event is when I returned home from Hari Raya leave and found some foul smelling creatures from the back of my house. My wife and I investigated and found some remains of dead cows were purposely left just next to our house.

Could these two events are just coincidental? On the other hand, may be somebody out there are not too happy with me and my family? Alternatively, could it be that just before Raya some thefts slaughtered stolen cows just near the bush next to my kitchen..

Let me work them out…You never know!

Jeng…Jeng…Jeng…

It turns out that the fireworks played by some of the naughty kids, a few nights before Hari Raya had smashed the side window mirror of my car. It costs me some 200 Ringgit just to replace for a ‘Made In Malaysia’ side window mirror. The old Korean made plus V-cool cover had easily cost me 700 Ringgit. In toto, I lost some 900 Ringgit just because of a damn stupid fireworks play. But, who should be responsible, are children or their parents that should be to blame?

I tried to confront the old pak cik (gentleman) who used to rear cows just behind my house. Once seeing me, the pak cik mount his bike and quickly ride away. Was that be the sign of guilty feeling? I have no answer..Sometime, you will never get the answer for everything in life. So leave it to God.

Am I still paranoid? No. It’s all relieved once I hit the button Publish. Yooo..enjoy your life while you are still breathing.

__________

P/S: the remains have been cleared by the pak cik. Hee..

Hillary Clinton


Many have read ‘Living Hillary: Hillary Rodham Clinton Memoirs’. Interestingly, this lady plays many roles in the world affairs, first as the First Lady and now as the State Secretary of the most powerful state in the world.

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton observed, “Our lives are a mixture of different roles. Most of us are doing the best we can to find whatever the right balance is . . . For me, that balance is family, work, and service.”

Hillary1Hillary Diane Rodham, Dorothy and Hugh Rodham’s first child, was born on October 26, 1947. Two brothers, Hugh and Tony, soon followed. Hillary’s childhood in Park Ridge, Illinois, was happy and disciplined. She loved sports and her church, and was a member of the National Honor Society, and a student leader. Her parents encouraged her to study hard and to pursue any career that interested her. Hillary2

Hillary3As an undergraduate at Wellesley College, Hillary mixed academic excellence with school government. Speaking at graduation, she said, “The challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible.”

In 1969, Hillary entered Yale Law School, where she served on the Board of Editors of Yale Law Review and Social Action, interned with children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman, and met Bill Clinton. The President often recalls how they met in the library when she strode up to him and said, “If you’re going to keep staring at me, I might as well introduce myself.” The two were soon inseparable–partners in moot court, political campaigns, and matters of the heart.Hilary4

After graduation, Hillary advised the Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge and joined the impeachment inquiry staff advising the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. After completing those responsibilities, she “followed her heart to Arkansas,” where Bill had begun his political career.

They married in 1975. She joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas Law School in 1975 and the Rose Law Firm in 1976. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, and Bill Clinton became governor of Arkansas. Their daughter, Chelsea, was born in 1980.

Hillary served as Arkansas’s First Lady for 12 years, balancing family, law, and public service. She chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Legal Services, and the Children’s Defense Fund.

hillary5As the nation’s First Lady, Hillary continued to balance public service with private life. Her active role began in 1993 when the President asked her to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. She continued to be a leading advocate for expanding health insurance coverage, ensuring children are properly immunized, and raising public awareness of health issues. She wrote a weekly newspaper column entitled “Talking It Over,” which focused on her experiences as First Lady and her observations of women, children, and families she has met around the world. Her 1996 book It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us was a best seller, and she received a Grammy Award for her recording of it.

As First Lady, her public involvement with many activities sometimes led to controversy. Undeterred by critics, Hillary won many admirers for her staunch support for women around the world and her commitment to children’s issues.hallary6

Hillary Clinton was elected United States Senator from New York on November 7, 2000. She is the first First Lady elected to the United States Senate and the first woman elected statewide in New York.

Senator Clinton is President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State.

Islam Teaches Tolerance


genocide

In 1994, the winds of ethnic hatred were blowing across the lush mountains and fields of Rwanda, a small African country sandwiched between Uganda, Tanzania, Zaire and Burundi.

After the winds, came the blood. In a carnage which lasted 100 days, about 800 000 innocent people, mostly members of the Tutsi minority, were killed by the majority Hutus.

Neighbours were killing neighbours. Friends were killing friends. Co-workers were killing co-workers. Priests were killing their own congregations. It was a genocide of the worst kind. No one was spared. Not women, not children, not the elderly. Such was the brutality of the killings that some of the victims had offered money to their killers in exchange for being killed quickly and mercifully.

The Tutsis were Christians as were their killers, the Hutus, and most were members of the same church, the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, Rwanda was at that time the most Catholic country in the whole of Africa. Yet churches and monasteries became killing grounds as those who seek shelter there did not find the sanctuary they were hoping for. There was even one instance of a priest instructing his own church to be bulldozed to the ground while 2000 Tutsis were still hiding inside it.

However, in the midst of this madness, there was sanity. Numerous lives were saved by complete strangers.

While Hutu Christians were hunting down and slaughtering innocent Tutsi Christians, Muslim Hutus were providing thousands of Tutsi Christians with sanctuary. Muslim homes and mosques throughout Rwanda in those 100 days were filled with Tutsi Christians.

The Muslim community in Rwanda constituted a very small minority at that time, and like the Roman Catholic majority, the Muslim community had both ethnic Hutu and Tutsi members.

The Muslim community is the only religious community which had survived the genocide virtually intact because Muslim Tutsis were protected by Muslim Hutus. In fact, it is only in the Muslim community that ethnic lines were essentially ignored. Muslim Hutus, by and large except for a few individuals, were not influenced by Hutu racial extremism and its call to murder.

While some Hutu Christians did put themselves in danger to protect and save Tutsis, the only community which has acted together as a unit to protect and save as many Tutsis as it could was the Muslim community.

What makes what happened especially remarkable is because traditionally in Rwanda, Muslims were looked down upon by the Christian majority. However, the decades of being placed on the fringe of mainstream society apparently did not stop the Muslims from sheltering those they could from certain death.

The various acts of life-saving on the part of the Muslim community are astounding and deserve to be read and shared with others. For example, some Christian Tutsis were saved when Muslims paid ransom money for them. Some Muslims died because they refused to give up the Tutsis they were protecting. In some places, Muslims set up road blocks in their areas and thus saving the Tutsis who came their way.

The Muslim community handled itself so well during those 100 dark days that within ten years, the numbers of Muslims in Rwanda grew twice as much as before 1994. Hundreds of mosques had to be built in order to accommodate the swelling Muslim population. Now, there are mosques in almost every district, town and city in Rwanda. Alhamdulillah.

Some converted to honour those who had protected them. Some got acquainted with Islam for the first time and saw its beauty. Some converted to protect themselves from future genocides ( since Muslims protected each others and also others ). Some converted when they discovered that Muslims had saved their family members. Some converted because they could not go back to the Roman Catholic Church for its complicity in the genocide and had to find God somewhere else. Even some Hutus converted to Islam as a way of showing that they did not have any role in the genocide.

The role of the Muslim community during the genocide and the subsequent conversions to Islam are unfortunately not well-publicised records. While there are few articles here and there such as “Islam blooms in wake of Rwandan genocide ” by Laurie Goering ( Chicago Tribune ), ” Rwanda’s religious reflections ” by Robert Walker ( BBC) or “Ten Years After Horror, Rwandans Turn to Islam ” by Marc Lacey ( New York Times ), they are essentially unknown events especially among Singaporeans, Muslim or non-Muslim despite these being more than ten years old.

The life-saving actions by the Muslim community in Rwanda were the teachings of Islam being put into practice. The genocide had started about a few weeks after the end of Ramadan, and during the Ramadan of 1994, Muslim religious leaders especially imams had openly preached against local Muslims getting involved in any ethnic conflicts in Rwanda.

As though being prophetic, the Muslim religious leaders repeatedly told Rwandan Muslims that “murder is a sin”. In fact, Muslim religious leaders were the only ones among the various religious groups in Rwanda to continue openly calling on their followers to reject the killings during the genocide.

The Rwandan Muslim experience needs to be told. Here is a great example of Muslims practising Islam in motion. This is a great example of what Islam actually is, as opposed to what the media wants everyone to believe.

(This abstract was taken from the internet in conjunction with the Holy Ramadan. It illustrate the fact that Islam teaches tolerance and does not condone terrorism)

Happy Celebrating Eid Mubarak.

Wisdom Centre In The Brain?


brain
The nature of wisdom has long been the domain of philosophers, but University of California at San Diego neuroscientists Thomas Meeksand Dilip Jeste have thrown their hats into the ring with the likes of Plato and Kant. They analyzed decades of research and found that the multitude of characteristics associated with wisdom—including social decision making and control of emotions—may be accounted for by a surprisingly small number of brain regions: a putative wisdom network. One brain area, the anterior cingulate cortex, detects conflicts and makes decisions.
Psychologists at Stanford University recently found that activity in this part of the brain predicts how we balance short- and long-term rewards. But wisdom is about more than just cold calculation. “Instincts and emotions are also critical,” says Jeste. So areas of the brain responsible for emotions, such as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, play a role as well. A recent study from Caltech and the University of Iowa found that damage to this area made people less susceptible to guilt and could lead to poorer social decision making. As Meeks and Jeste continue developing their model of wisdom in the brain, they plan to study the distribution of wisdom in the general population and examine brain-damaged individuals to confirm the regions involved.

Intellectual Answer to Cultural Plagiarism


This article written by a well-known scholar is chosen as a response to my comment in Memperkasa Paradigma on 10 Sept 2009. Please visit: http://drmohdjamil.blogspot.com

bali1

Demo season has come early this year, and over the weekend it was reported that a number of anti-Malaysian demonstrations had flared up across several towns and cities in Indonesia. The reason for this latest round of acrimony lies in the claim that a tourism ad for Malaysia had presented a Balinese dance as being ‘Malaysian’ and as such quite a number of Indonesians were miffed about it.

The ASEAN region seems to be facing the prospect of what can be aptly described as the new ‘Cultural wars’ of the era. Over the past few years, we have witnessed clashes (some of them violent) over temples, artefacts, words/signifiers, handicrafts and local local products that some nations and communities claim as theirs, and which have been ’stolen’ by other societies. One of the hot topics at the moment is the Indonesian claim that batik is a uniquely Indonesian invention and that countries like Malaysia and Singapore have ’stolen’ batik by claiming that it is theirs as well.

On a superficial level one understands the nature of the complaint and the logic behind it. It would be perfectly reasonable for a country to be angry if its products were bought by another, only to be re-sold to the international market after the original ‘Made in X’ label was removed and replaced with a ‘Made in Y’ label instead. Intellectual copyright is something that this academic understands and appreciates very much, for it would be akin to someone stealing the contents of one of my academic papers or books and simply replacing the author’s name with his/her own. That is theft and copyright infringement, plain and simple.

But when it comes to copyrighting cultures, we move to an altogether more murky and complicated domain. For how does one copyright an idea, a colour, a theme, a sentiment or a musical note?

There are two points that require emphasis here, and both are related to the common shared cultural history of our Southeast Asian region:

Firstly it has to be recognised that much of the misunderstanding that has arisen thus far over issues of cultural borrowing has to do with the narrow nationalist histories that we have relied upon since the day our nation-states became independent. The realities of the colonial era were that the region of Southeast Asia – which historically has been one of the most fluid, cosmopolitan and diverse in the world – was cut up and divided according to the logic of colonies and then nation-states. As a result of this our postcolonial histories tend to be narrow and inward-looking, and fail to note the cultural continuity and overlap that has existed in the region for hundreds and thousands of years.

As an academic who moves between Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, I am struck by how little the citizens of all three countries know about each other. Do Indonesians realise that all over Malaysia there are Malaysian communities who still speak Javanese? Why is this so? Because all over Malaysia there are millions of descendants of Javanese, Sumatran, Madurese, Bugis migrants who have settled there over the centuries, such as my own family who were first categorised as ‘Jawi Peranakan’ (Hybrid/Mixed Javanese) in the 19th century. So when some Malaysians speak Javanese at home, is this a case of Malaysians ’stealing’ the Javanese language? Surely not: If anything it points to the continuities of identities over time and space, which is a factor that enriches the region as a whole.

On the issue of Batik and other art and cultural forms, it should also be noted that Batik was worn by many of the communities of the region, and not merely the Javanese. Batik was the lingua franca of the plastic arts for Javanese, Sumatrans, Balinese, Bugis, Malays, Peranakan Chinese, Indians, Arabs and Eurasians for more than a century; and in my collection of photos of Batik as it was worn between the 19th to the 20th century we see how Batik was adapted, used, popularise and produced by practically all the communities of maritime Southeast Asia.

While I understand and sympathise with the complaint that some Indonesian batik may have been bought and then re-sold as ‘Malaysian’, let us not go overboard by claiming that Batik was produced by only one community in the region. Batik production was predominantly centred in Java and parts of Sumatra, but it was also produced in parts of Malaysia and worn all across the region. Indeed, batik production extends as far as Africa and even Europe, where European artists tried their hand at the batik technique to produce batik pieces that were inspired by the school of l’art nouveau and art deco. That is the factor that makes batik the rich cultural heritage of all, and not the parochial totem of a few…

Secondly, in the process of re-claiming our history let us not be provincial, or worse still, neglectful of the complexities of history. The popular art forms of Indonesia such as the wayang kulit puppet theatre is not unique to Indonesia alone, for it exists all across Southeast Asia (in Malaysia, Southern Thailand, parts of Cambodia and Southern Vietnam) and can be found in places as far apart as China to the East and Indian and Turkey to the West. Furthermore the repertoire of stories that are told and enacted include the Ramayana and Mahabharatta, both of which certainly did not come from Indonesia or any country in Southeast Asia, but India – the wellspring of so much classical Asian art, culture and religion from the time of the Gupta dynasty.

Thus if any country has the right to claim copyright to the wayang genre and the stories that make up the popular lore of Asia, it would be India. So how would the countries of ASEAN react if India were to lay claim to our arts and culture, our architecture, our religions (Hinduism and Buddhism come from South Asia, after all) and even our languages (the Thai, Khmer, Lao, Burmese, Malay and Indonesian languages all borrow heavily from Sanskrit and other South Asian tongues). What then?

As stated above, in the process of rediscovering our past and our culture, let us not be narrow-minded in our approach. Southeast Asia is a rich patchwork of diverse communities and cultures, and we are all the richer because we share this common legacy together. One understands the need for commercial regulation of goods and products, and in such cases theft and misrepresentation of labels is simply a case of criminal fraud that can be dealt with in the courts. But culture cannot and should not be cut up, demarcated and commodified as some may want it to be. By all means, sue and penalise unscrupulous businessmen who sell fake goods, but let us understand and accept that the cultural wellspring that inspires the production of so much of our arts and crafts belongs to us, together.

(By: Farish A. Noor)