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Israeli soldiers speak out – why not Americans too?

I read a comic recently, called Palestine . Actually, ‘comic’ doesn’t describe it properly; the author Joe Sacco is described as a ‘graphic journalist’, and that’s what ‘Palestine’ is – a graphic documentary on life in Palestine around 1990. He manages to render the atmosphere of resentment, resignation and simmering hatred very well.

One story that stuck in my mind is that of a lady whose son was shot in the head after Israelis raided the area in Rafah where she lived;

after seven hours, and being sent from one place to the next, they got to an Israeli hospital. He died about a day later, having had no treatment. Later, another teenage son was shot five times – perhaps after throwing stones, perhaps not.

He had been taken to a military hospital in Israel; after delays it was too late to take him to a better hospital in Jerusalem. He died too.

Each time, they were only allowed to bury the bodies in the middle of the night, guarded by soldiers.

Continue reading "Israeli soldiers speak out – why not Americans too?"

Saya berpelajar Bahasa Malaysia

I'm doing BM classes, and this is my homework - my first more-or-less lengthy piece in BM! Any comments are welcome :-)

Diri Saya

Nama saya Julian, saya dilahirkan di bandar Ennis, negara Ireland. Tetapi, bila saya empat tahun, keluarga saya berpindah ke Luxembourg kerana ibu kami pegawai kerajaan Eropah. Selepas, saya pelajar di Luxembourg, England dan Scotland. Selepas ijazah yang pertama saya bekerja di Belgium untuk lima tahun. Selapas itu, pergi pelajar untuk ijaza yang kedua di London, dan semasa itu bertemu isteri saya – tetapi, pada waktu itu dia bukan isteri saya, kawan perempuan sahaja! Selepas London, saya bekerja di Nigeria untuk enam bulan, selepas ketika itu saya pergi ke Malaysia. Sekarang, saya tinggal di Malaysia untuk enam tahun. Saya suka Malaysia, tetapi ada selalu masalah dengan imigresen.
Di Malaysia, saya lalu bekerja sebagai guru empat tahun di satu kolej. Selepas itu, saya terima biasiswa dari Monash Universiti untuk ijaza PhD, oleh kerana itu saya sudah berkerja di kolej, dan menjadi pelajar lagi. Saya nasib baik.

Revealed! Rambunctious Reptilian Rampage of Baffling Blogging Bevy

Thanks to the Nuffnang and Digi, I got to attend the launch of a Digi promotion on Friday. They're having "fear-themed roadshows” in malls in April and May, where you can get to sample such delights as baby grasshoppers

or play Snakes 'n' Ladders

and win prizes. But the theme of their promotion is an "Easy Win" contest: to win free calls for a year, charge up RM30, wait for a call (if you're lucky) and answer three questions. If you charge RM50 then you get a chance to win RM100,000 cash - only one question for that one. Entry is automatic as soon as you charge up, and the calls will be made on Fridays from 9-12 noon, and 3-6pm. So if you use Digi Prepaid, make sure your phone is switched on Fridays!

There were other bloggers there of course, including Kim Yoong who went into the snake pit and got paparazzied afterwards.

I got to meet some more bloggers, and afterwards we went to Charms in The Curve - having met Robb for the first time, I'm sure he isn't going to forget me as I gave him a lift and I managed to forget where my car was not once, but twice! :-/

But, you've been waiting for the shocking revelation about the Blogging Bevy... after daring investigation and facing unparalleled obstacles, I can now bring to you the TRUTH about the secret world of B.L.O.G.S.

Thanks to the (unwitting) participation of Robb, Skyler, Kim Yoong, Joshua and Jan :-)

And 'Hi!' to Yee Ming, Amy, Nick, Kate, and Kenny.

RSI – Don’t use a wrist support!

I think I have an Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) problem coming on – the wrist of my ‘mousing hand’ has a nagging pain most of the time, and it immediately gets worse when I start using the mouse or typing. It’s a problem, because my work basically involves typing and surfing the net (could be worse ;-)), and I spend easily 8-12 hours a day on my computer.

So, I went surfing (ahem) to find out more, and found out some surprising things from a reliable source, Cornell University: on mousing, and on typing posture.

• First of all – don’t use a wrist support, especially the soft gel ones!
“research has shown that using a wrist rest doubles the pressure inside the carpal tunnel” ( Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University)
At least, if you do use one, put the heel of your hand on it, not your wrist. The reason for this is simple: try laying your arm flat on a table, you’ll notice a curve up at the wrist

therefore – you don’t want to be putting pressure at exactly the point where your body is designed to avoid pressure! This is addressed in an alternative wrist pad by Ergoguys
• Also, move your mouse from your elbow, not by flicking your wrist. Resting the heel of your hand on the wrist support pad is not going to help this though.
• Your ideal posture should not be a straight back, but actually leaning slightly backwards. The wrist should be lower than the elbow, and the keyboard lower than the wrists. So a keyboard that slants upwards is not good – notice how the keyboard in the picture slants downwards.

For this a decent chair is important, the problem is they are expensive, I find that the standard cheap office chair does not have good height control – but I’ve tried putting a cushion on mine to lift me up a bit higher. And a box to put my feet on, otherwise they dangle a bit (short legs!) which is not good either.
• I’m also trying to use my mouse with my left hand to give the right a rest. It’s a bit fiddly, but doable.
• Finally, take regular breaks. One useful way to do this is to have a software that reminds you, and forces you to stop by temporarily blocking your computer – I have installed Workrave (free OpenSource) which is nice because it gives you exercises to do, and has cute sheep :-) The problem is, it doesn’t always seem to always remind me – maybe because I use Vista (unfortunately). There are other similar ones out there too.

There are more things, but these stood out to me. So, take care of your body – do something to improve your habits today! :-)

Just say ‘No’ to plastic bags

(politely though, a little courtesy never hurt anyone ;-))

Doing a bit of blogsurfing (‘blurfing’??) on Sunday I came across a post on Yinhao’s blog, who was apparently inspired by Nikkiko who asked people to “take a picture of yourself with, something to represent, not using plastic bags?” and then we get a link on her sidebar.

Well, thanks to my wife, I have been severely trained into not using plastic bags; actually I always tried to using them too much, but she would glare at me so much when I came back with even one bag, that I made even more effort :-)

We used to come back from the market with a bag for almost every stall we went to, and sometimes more. But we started to avoid them, and after about six months we had reduced the huge pile of plastic bags we had stored up and now have quite a good system in place. Cloth shopping bags (keep one in the car) and Tupperware for wet stuff.

Plastic bags are really useful, mainly because they are light, waterproof and durable. The problem is, these qualities also make them extremely polluting and damaging to the environment.

A plastic bag will take about 500 years to decompose – so, to get some perspective, if a Portuguese had left a plastic bag in Malacca when they first arrived in 1511 – it would have just decomposed by about now. In Singapore about 2.5 billion plastic shopping bags are used every year, so in Malaysia it must be more – imagine how many will be clogging up the land in 500 years if we carry on at this rate! And even if they are incinerated, what a waste of energy – using energy to burn something that took energy to make…

There are some arguments that paper bags consume more energy to make, transport, etc. (UK government report) but there’s a simple solution to that – reusable bags.
Continue reading "Just say ‘No’ to plastic bags"