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Saturday, December 13, 2003
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris 

Author: David Sedaris
Title: Me Talk Pretty One Day
Related Links: David Sedaris (Unofficial Page), An Interview With David Sedaris, Literary Quotes, Similar Reviews
This precious little gem was a birthday present from Attila The Hun in mid 2003, and I've been re-reading it since, fondly leafing it through on rainy nights while snuggled warmly in bed - in short - a 'feel good' book ;)

Now I haven't heard of David Sedaris locally, but I've since found out why he's wildly celebrated in the states, and it's the kind of book I wished I'd be witty enough to write someday ;P I'll include some trivia - in 2001, David Sedaris became the third recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and named by Time magazine as "Humorist of the Year" in 2001.

The rationale behind the title is explained in the beginning of the book, where suffering a lisp, he struggles in his speech therapy lessons, avoided and quite eliminated all words starting with 's' in his daily vocabulary, and continues in the later chapters ranting about his family, vividly describing his brother as (warning: profanity ahead)

This is the grown man who phones his father to say, "Motherfucker, I aint seen pussy in so long, I'd throw stones at it"

Well I'm tempted to share each chapter with you - this book is that well written - but yeah it's basically an autobiographical narration that's hilariously and cleverly sardonic; filled with anecdotes of him growing up, being happily and openly gay, living and working in New York, Paris, his boyfriend Hugh, among others.
SIX: I bought my drugs from a jittery, bug eyed typesetter whose brittle, prematurely white hair was permed in such a way that I couldnt look at her without thinking of a late season dandelion. Seeling me the drugs was no problem, but listening to my increasingly manic thoughts and opinions was far too much for one person to take on a daily basis... Click for more
But I guess I could end my review with one of my favorite Sedaris classic humor, an excerpt from this twelve-series short story in Twelve Moments In The Life Of The Artist, his being an art graduate getting involved with art exhibitions & performances while having a love affair with amphetamines.

graceshu  # 7:13 PM


Friday, December 12, 2003
The Other Malaysia by Farish A Noor 

Author: Farish A. Noor
Title: THE OTHER MALAYSIA, Writings On Malaysia's Subaltern History
Price: RM 35.00
Publisher: Silverfishbooks
Related Links: My last Column, By Farish A. Noor, More On Farish A. Noor, A Similar Review On The E-Bookstore Eloka.Com
It was in early May 2003 when Farish A. Noor stopped writing in NST and the online daily Malaysiakini.com, and I have to admit I hadn't read much of Malaysiakini then, though I've stumbled upon some gems of his that are still online.

Well, THE OTHER MALAYSIA, as the blurb of the book says, is a compilation of some of the articles by Farish A. Noor in Malaysiakini, so it quite piqued my interest when my friend Daniel Khong casually handed me this book when I was hanging out in his room w my fellow cicak kobeng friend, May Ling, since was bored with flipping channels on the tv ;D as there was, as usual, nothing on tv except sexy girls, copulating animals, a documentary on some obscure little civilization, people running around in some kind of sport, more news on more people dying, economics and how everything is getting expensive, and er, yeah the usual boring stuff that basically spells out - omg we're a doomed generation God save the Queen our sorry souls please.

But yeah anyway.

Now, although I've always kept an eye on Malaysian politics, I'd always shrugged it off as something that's not quite related to me - I found it particularly distasteful and childish at times at what the local newspapers churn out daily - and the various shenanigans exposed online - but yeah reading THE OTHER MALAYSIA gave me quite an insight into Malaysian politics and how it related to Malaysian history - in an different but containing both equally favorable and unflattering perspective to it.

For this I applaud the effort the author has made in presenting his views in a manner that has obvious prior analytical and critical thinking despite his obvious history with the Internal Security Act for exhibiting anti-government beliefs.

I was really quite impressed with the knowledge or perhaps the research of history done into writing his thoughts out - they are detailed and perhaps quite reliable as it has helpful little footnotes and explanations included in each article.

I must admit that although it was quite a good read indeed, it isn't an easy or relaxing read though - this stuff is quite thought provoking, I had to re read some articles and paragraphs - it challenges your mind as such - as of course opposed to reading (for example) a classic like the Bronte sisters - perhaps because its because after awhile I find out that Malaysian politics is indeed related to me - as an individual with 'Warganegara' stamped on my identification card.

But I have to say though that it isn't really a complete representation of what the title professes to be, The Other Malaysia - as I believe his writings are rather more focused on the Malay community and Malaysian politics where the Malays are concerned, and doesnt properly encompass the entire of the Malaysian community - but perhaps its how he relates best to it.

Someday I'd like to read a Farish-esque book on perhaps really objective and unbiased representation of Malaysian politics-history in a complete manner - including all political parties of various other races and causes but as we know is quite unlikely ;D as will probably only get a dissection of the ruling party, but yeah wistful thinking ;)

Post Script: This is a series of reviews on some books I've been reading during my seven-week holiday. You can certainly expect more coming up!

This Was Reviewed By Graceshu

minishorts  # 11:52 PM


Transition - Making Sense of the Digital Age 

Title: Transition -
Making Sense of the Digital Age
Author: Oon Yeoh
I'm sure many of you would have heard of the new book by Oon Yeoh, called Transition. If not, then maybe this review could serve as an introduction and hopefully be useful to you. It's truly an insightful book and agreeing with the comments from Yeap Jin-Soo, Managing Director of Korn/Ferry International (Kuala Lumpur) on this book, - this is cool writing indeed.

Transition is divided into four main parts, namely Technology, Issues, New Media and Concepts, with subchapters under each part. In the first two chapters under "Technology", the author wrote about the wireless technology, outlining current technology of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G. The areas of application for these three technologies are inherently different and each appeal to different users in the market. They might seem to be competing technologies, but in the question of Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi, Yeoh reckons that it's unlikely that we'll see a typical winner-loser situation, but instead will likely to co-exist, even complement each other. As for 3G, there is a need to upgrade the current mobile phone systems, which often suffer under congestion. In this sense, 3G is a necessity - not a luxury, says Yeoh. He futher talked about concepts and ideas, which can be adopted from successful, existing companies in order to make 3G more marketable.

In the following chapter, Yeoh talked about the provision of broadband, its pricing and its importance to a country like Malaysia - a country with an ambition to turn into a knowledge economy as well as a technological hub in its region. He says that our country should emulate South Korea with their success in implementing broadband - about 70% of the household there has broadband access. In the chapter "P2P", Yeoh explains what peer-to-peer (P2P) computing is all about, giving three distinct concepts involved, namely file-sharing, distributed computing and online collaboration. He completed the Technology section with a chapter on web services, explaining clearly how web services are being used today, standards available, and its future in our evermore advanced (and demanding) society.

In "Issues", the author touched on issues of internet jurisdiction and intellectual property. He cited examples and cases involving international disputes in the world of "borderless domain of cyberspace". Protection of intellectual property in the digital age is also certainly different and "virtually impossible" in a time, where distribution of exact duplicates of digital content is a norm. Yeoh explained why some companies are putting more value into their services rather than surviving solely on the sale of products. Some even give away their product for free, but charge customers by providing additional services. He also touched on the provision of online music and how the concept of distributing MP3s via the Internet is a norm these days, since made popular by Napster just a few years ago.

Other issues mentioned included the importance of the appearance of a website, internet censorship as well as Yeoh's views on the concept of having online relationships. Read about why he thought that "Style + Technology = Fantasy" and look at how internet censorships are being used, be it by governments to restrict foreign news or by parents filtering offensive materials from their children.

In the subsequent section, "New Media", the author discussed five topics, including online media, blogs, deep linking, the issue of charging internet content, and streaming video. He analysed three popular and significant sites in Asia, namely South Korea's OhmyNews.com, India's Tahelka.com and not forgetting, Malaysiakini.com. OhmyNews is very influential with the Koreans, even able to move public opinion. Tahelka had its moments as well, but at this moment, as Oon Yeoh puts it, "is all but dead". Malaysiakini, launched during the general elections in 1999, also plays an important role. Unlike many of the controlled mainstream newspapers, this online news provider is "committed to press freedom, giving opportunities for different viewpoints to be aired, especially in its letters section". Being more familiar with the local news provider, the author provided more details on Malaysiakini than on OhmyNews or Tahelka.

Many of you reading this review probably owns a blog already. If not, read on what having a blog (or in its full term, a weblog) is all about. Yeoh defines blog in a nutshell as "a series of ongoing commentaries that include embedded links to external web pages". A blog, he says, could complement mainstream media and "expand the media universe". Carrying forward the discussion, he talked about approaches to deep linking - its negative aspects and benefits. It all depends on how the deep linking is done, he says.

Should internet content be charged? Yeoh discussed this question and listed available (and suitable) methods, which providers can use to charge users. He ended this section with a chapter on streaming video, which is fast gaining popularity. Take a look at where MPEG-4 is heading and where it seems to fit in with current media formats and the various media players.

Finally, Yeoh provided some tips on concepts, such as internet speed (i.e. tips for acquiring "internet speed"), human networking (i.e. tips on how to establish and expand your network), creativity and innovation (i.e. tips to help you improve creativity), free agency (i.e. tips on how to become a successful free agent), and the "art of the buzz" (i.e. tips for creating a successful viral-marketing campaign).

Overall, this book covered a wide range of the many and different technologies in our society today. Whether you are a technology expert or not, I believe this book provides a wealth of useful information on various issues - many of them in relation to the Malaysian society. What's more, this book comes with a web companion for additional information and updates. From the website, you can get a feel for the book by reading summaries of the various chapters I've mentioned above. Go check it out. I'm sure you'll like what you see.

Ivan  # 5:11 PM


Monday, December 08, 2003
Book Swap Meet @ KL Sentral ;D 
I was running slightly behind time and it isnt exactly the most responsible thing to do being the organiser and not arriving punctually, but I was forgiven and it wasnt that bad since I didnt have to choose any excuses from the whole lot I'd thought up on the way ;P

It was a rather informal meet and it went on rather well if I'd say myself. Among the attendees were Nicholas Chan, Chooki, April Yim, Ryuu, Albert, Irene, Graceshu, and surprise surprise - Wena ;)

We'd gottened on splendidly, even if this was the first meet for most of us - we'd hardly noticed how time went by and left only at about 6 pm - hows that for a first meet? Well it was alot of talking, mostly ;P There was talk about Leon Uris, shakespeare collections, chinese names & characters, chinese taboos, 24 stories of filial piety, nutrition, malaysian food, courduroy jeans, aisec / interact / leo, its all in the hips, celebrity bloggers, hair conditioning, programming w java, nokia phones, ragnorak, and then theres of course a sneaky little fella ;D who slyly came without any books to swap at all - but to collect all sorts of gossip (Hi!) ;D but yeah it was good dirt alright =P

And yes of course we swapped books too ;P

graceshu  # 9:26 AM