The Possibility of Evil

21 October 2014

Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) wrote great short stories. The most famous of her short stories is The Lottery, a story about a bucolic American small town, with a very f-ed up ending.

Another one, which I have just discovered two days ago, is The Possibility of Evil.

Read it in its entirety here:



19 October 2014

I will be in Boston from 7 to 12 November.

Boston is the only city that I have lived in for an extended period of time, other than KL. Even though I hated the Boston weather, I still feel a close kinship with the city. Boston is a city of great politicians: when I was a student there in the early noughts, the Senators were Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, the Governor was Mitt Romney, and the mayor of Boston was (the lesser-known but no less great) Thomas Menino.

Boston is well-known for its great universities, foremost of which are MIT and the other university upriver which name I have forgotten, and also Boston University, Boston College (a different school), Brandeis, Tufts and Northeastern. The renowned Berklee College of Music is also in Boston. When I was there, the Malaysian saxophonist Jari (Ja’afar Abdul Rahman Idris) attended Berklee for his advanced music degree.

Boston has great sports teams, home to New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox (and also to Boston Celtics, which have seen better days). The Patriots and the Sox won the NFL and MLB championships in 2004. The Sox’s victory was particularly sweet because (1) the Sox last won the World Series in 1918, and (2) they defeated the hated rival NY Yankees in the semifinals. Bostonians were partying like crazy the night the Sox defeated the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series finals. But I remember a greater celebration after the semifinal win against the Yankees. Even the normally dorky environment at MIT turned jubilant that night, with people putting aside their problem sets (temporarily) and going out on the streets to rejoice. An Emerson student unfortunately got shot and killed by Boston police during the celebration:

Boston has a special place in US history — Paul Revere did his famed midnight ride in Boston, and the earliest battles in the US Revolutionary War took place in Lexington and Concord, just outside Boston city limits. Many of the founding fathers of the United States, such as Sam Adams, John Adams and Thomas Paine, were native Bostonians.

All that aside, what I really like about Boston is that the population are really chill and tolerant. There are places in Boston you’d like to avoid after dark, but most areas are safe. I shed a tear when the Boston Marathon bombing happened last year — it was like the city losing its innocence. People couldn’t imagine something like that happening in Boston, let alone at MIT. During the pursuit after the bombing, the bomber ran to MIT, and then killed an MIT campus police. I was hooked on the Boston police blotter feed and CNN throughout the ordeal.

Bal 019k

That was me in 2005, just before graduation. It was early summer, I was hanging out in Boston Common with my pal Irsal Mashhor (apa khabar bro? How’s NYC?).

Looking forward to the trip!

OMK result is out

16 October 2014

The OMK 2014 (Olimpiad Matematik Kebangsaan 2014) result is out:

Congratulations to all winners!

We hope to get more participation from schools in 2015.

Please do not contact me about the results. I am not involved in the organization of OMK, it is under the purview of the OMK coordinator.

Stupid, random thought that doesn’t belong in my blog

10 October 2014

Few days ago, I was wondering whether there exists an online community or portal or apps or whatever, that deals with Malaysian football, that uses the name e-Bola (which nowadays isn’t a very good name).


A somewhat accurate depiction

A simple Google search shows these:



E-Bola Sepak Negeri Johor ini dibangunkan bagi membantu pengguna untuk mendapatkan kaedah ringkas dan efektif dalam mendapatkan perkhidmatan yang terbaik hasil daripada pembangunan laman web ini. Melalui laman web ini pengguna boleh membuat tempahan dan pembelian tiket perlawanan bola sepak secara atas talian. Pengguna boleh membuat pilihan dari aspek tertentu dan berkaitan tentang sesuatu perlawanan bola sepak yang akan diadakan. Sistem ini akan menggunakan beberapa kaedah yang bersesuaian dengan kegunaanya agar ia dapat melaksanakan operasi berkaitan dengan web ini secara lebih berkesan. Sistem ini juga turut mengandungi sistem pangkalan data yang akan menyimpan maklumat yang berkaitan dengan pengguna dan tiket perlawanan bolasepak berkenaan


Forum E-Bola Sepak: a message board for Malaysian football.

How not to write Science Fiction

8 October 2014

This manual is intended to focus on the special needs of the science fiction workshop. Having an accurate and descriptive critical term for a common SF problem makes it easier to recognize and discuss. This guide is intended to save workshop participants from having to “reinvent the wheel” (see section 3) at every session.

The terms here were generally developed over a period of many years in many workshops. Those identified with a particular writer are acknowledged in parentheses at the end of the entry. Particular help for this project was provided by Bruce Sterling and the other regulars of the Turkey City Workshop in Austin, Texas.


Quite hilarious — a useful guide for any kind of aspiring writer.

Old Malay

8 October 2014


Siddham! Ni yang nāga punya putauv.
Ya urāng sepuy di ko, kurun ko jemā labuh nari svarggah.
Ya urāng paribhū di ko, kurun saribu thun davam di naraka, dengan tijuh kulo ko.

Literal English translation

Fortune this that serpent possess king.
O person respect in him, for him jewels fall from heaven.
O person insult in him, for one thousand years remain in hell, with seven family he.

English Translation

Fortune! this is the divine serpent of the king.
Whoever respects him, for him jewels fall from heaven.
Whoever insults him, he will remain for a thousand years in hell, with seven generations of his family.

Modern Malay translation

Sejahtera! Inilah naga suci kepunyaan Raja.
Orang yang menghormatinya, turun kepadanya permata dari syurga.
Orang yang menghinanya, akan seribu tahun diam di neraka, dengan tujuh keturunan keluarganya.


The Dong Yen Chau inscription was discovered in 1936 at Dong Yen Chau, northwest of Tra Kieu near the old Champa capital of Indrapura, modern day Vietnam. Georges Coedès noting it as “…the oldest text, presently known, written in a Malayo-Polynesian dialect”. Though not itself dated, the inscription is identical with those of dated Sanskrit inscriptions of Bhadravarman I of the second dynasty, who ruled at the end of the fourth century A.D.

You can learn more about the early development of the Malay Language here:

Interesting subject!

About writing in academia

5 October 2014

Another great Pinker piece, about why academics’ writing suck. Aptly titled “Why Academics Stink at Writing”. 

This should be compulsory reading in all freshman writing classes.

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