Saturday, 30 January 2010

ex-Demons 12 years later.....

I was searching high and low for something I've left unnoticed for many years, but I found something else instead....

A nostalgic picture of me and my ex-classmates (only a few of them) taken during Aidilfitri gathering last year. We are all graduates of De Montfort University of Leicester, England, 1997. It's been 12 good years now and everybody has become somebody in their expert field. Tam Masthura,Nor Azlina and Emizura were not in the picture. They could not join us the last minute.

Back, right to left: Shiful, Salini, Syed, Marina, Julia and Khairul. Sitting in front is Min and myself. Eh, mana hilangnya Faizal & Marliha?

Wish we could have bigger crowd in the next gathering.I've recently found Rosela, my so called 'soulmate'at the Kenneth Holmes Hall of Residence. I also found Mary, Angie, Magdalena, Ahmad Halfian, Syahanum, Raidah and some others through facebook. It's wonderful to be able to get in touch with them again. I miss you guys!!!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Unexpected visitor

Rain has been heavy lately. There has been strong winds as well. I found the rain water dripping from a hole at the ceiling of my son's bathroom. Made a check. The roof is intact. No leak. It means no problem. But somehow water could still go through the tiny-miny holes in between the slates because of the strong wind factor. Need to do something about it before the water rip open the ceiling one day (sigh!).

But what I really wanted to share here is not about the ceiling, actually. The heavy rains and the strong winds brought a visitor stranded and trapped at the back door of my house. An enermous catfish..! Yikes! In a glance, it looked like a giant snake!

Where it came from, we really have no idea. Perhaps from the nearby drain. But the drain is too shallow for the fish to swim in. The rain water must have overflown a river somewhere and resulted strong current that dragged the fish along, threw it into a drain and left it stucked at my doorstep. Well, I suppose that's what must have happened. What else could I think of?

Bibik took all her energy to put the fish into a big basin (for God knows the fish was awfully heavy and slippery!), while the children shouted hilariously as if they were running away from Freddie Crouger on the Elm Street. The fish was still alive and we didn't know what to do. No way we are going to cook and eat it. Ewwwh!!! But we can't simply throw it away either...

After sometimes, we stopped an Indonesian passerby who was on his way back home from work. Offered the fish and turned him the happiest man in the world. You should see his BIG smile when he took the fish home.....

Oh! well...! Tak payah masuk pertandingan memancing pun, ikan datang menyerah diri kat rumah... Hahahaha! What an incident...!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

A message to the VC of UM

We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.
-- Charles F. Kettering --

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Publish or perish - The dilemma of "Jigong Jinli"

The pressure to rack up publications in high-impact journals could encourage misconduct, some say - by Jane Qiu

The latest in a string of high-profile academic fraud cases in China underscores the problems of an academic-evaluation system that places disproportionate emphasis on publications, critics say. Editors at the UK-based journal Acta Crystallographica Section E last month retracted 70 published crystal structures that they allege are fabrications by researchers at Jinggangshan University in Jiangxi province. Further retractions, the editors say, are likely.

Chinese universities often award cash prizes, housing benefits or other perks on the basis of high-profile publications, and the pressure to publish seems to be growing. A new study from Wuhan University, for instance, estimates that the market for dubious science-publishing activities, such as ghostwriting papers on nonexistent research, was of the order of 1 billion renminbi (US$150 million) in 2009, five times the amount in 2007. In other studies, one in three researchers surveyed at major universities and research institutions admitted to committing plagiarism, falsification or fabrication of data.

"The extent of the misconduct is disturbing," says Nicholas Steneck, director of the Research Ethics and Integrity Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. "It highlights the challenges China faces as it struggles to rapidly improve the research capacity of a very large system ? with significant variations in quality ? to be a world-class player in science."

Two weeks ago, reacting to the retractions of the crystallography papers, Jinggangshang University fired the correspondent authors, Zhong Hua and Liu Tao. It is unclear whether their co-authors, who include researchers from other institutions in China, will also be investigated.
The journal's editors say that the discrepancies came to light during tests of software designed to flag possible errors and unusual chemical features, such as abnormal distances between atoms. The software identified a large number of crystal structures that didn't make sense chemically; further checking, the editors say, suggests that the authors simply changed one or more atoms of an existing compound of known structure, then presented that structure as new. Zhong and Liu could not be reached for comment.

Editors at the journal are now checking the authenticity of other published crystal structures, including all submissions from Jinggangshan University. Half of the 200,000-odd crystal structures published by the journal during the past five years have come from China. William Harrison, a chemist at the University of Aberdeen, UK, who is one of three section editors for the journal, would not discuss the ongoing investigation but says that the generation of large numbers of structures by one group would not necessarily raise questions, because diffractometers can easily collect a couple of data sets a day. "In terms of papers submitted to Acta E, the vast majority coming from China are correctly determined structures, and they make a valuable contribution to science," he says.

Nevertheless, the Wuhan University study suggests that misconduct could be widespread in many fields. The team, led by computer scientist Shen Yang, used website analyses and onsite investigations to identify a wide range of dubious publishing activities. These include ghostwriting theses and academic papers on fictional research, bypassing peer-review for payment, and forging copies of legitimate Chinese or international journals.

The researchers analysed the most popular 800 websites involved in such activities - which together rack up 210,000 hits a day- and found that the cost of each transaction is typically 600 -12,000 renminbi. Three-quarters of the demand comes from universities and institutions, says Shen. "There is a massive production chain for the entire publishing process," he says.
Concerned by such trends, China's science ministry commissioned a survey of researchers, the results of which remain under wraps. However, several sources revealed to Nature that roughly one-third of more than 6,000 surveyed across six top institutions admitted to plagiarism, falsification or fabrication. Many blamed the culture of jigong jinli - seeking quick success and short-term gain as the top reason for such practices, says Zeng Guoping, director of the Institute of Science Technology and Society at Tsinghua University in Beijing who was involved in running the survey.

The second most-cited cause is bureaucratic interference in academic activities in China. Most academic evaluation from staff employment and job promotion to funding allocation is carried out by bureaucrats who are not experts in the field in question, says Fang Shimin, a US-trained biochemist who runs a website called 'New Threads' that exposes research misconduct in China. "When that happens, counting the number of publications, rather than assessing the quality of research, becomes the norm of evaluation," he says.

Cao Nanyan, a colleague of Zeng's at Tsinghua, conducted a similar survey commissioned by the Beijing municipality, which surveyed 2,000 researchers from 10 universities and research institutions. It, too, found that roughly one-third of respondents admitted to illegitimate practices.

To critics such as Rao Yi, dean of the life-science school at Peking University in Beijing, the lack of severe sanctions for fraudsters, even in high-profile cases, also contributes to rampant academic fraud. Many researchers criticize the fact that Chen Jin, a former researcher at Shanghai Jiao Tong University who is accused of falsely claiming to have developed a series of digital signal-processing chips, was fired with no other repercussions. Meanwhile, others involved in the scandal have gone unpunished.

"You send out a very wrong signal when such high-profile cases are not dealt with properly," says Rao.

Will Universiti Malaya be in the same "jigong jinli" dilemma too? How soon is that?

Monday, 18 January 2010

I believe in you

I was on my way to the general office to check my letters when I met Dr Anna Azriati. We exchanged hellos and shared what we have been doing in the past few weeks since we last met. I shared with her my progress in study, which is now on the right track and is taking momentum. It was enjoyful talking to a person so full of spirit and motivation, not to mention beautiful like Anna. Pursuing PhD resembles embarking a lonely journey. I always felt light hearted everytime I met her. At the end of the conversation before we depart separate ways, she moved me inside when she said,

“I believe you can do it”

Thank you, Anna. I promise I will never let you down.

Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin, life is so beautiful at the moment…!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

New South Wales, here she comes.....

Liana is flying to New South Wales, Australia today. She has managed to secure a place at the University of New South Wales. A four-year placement to pursue her doctoral degree in Islamic Accounting. That's a rare opportunity. Congratulations...!

We went to Bangsar Village Nando's to celebrate her. How odd it felt to be together again because it has been terribly difficult to gather all 6 ladies in a place simultaneously due to dissimilar workloads and individual schedules.

Minah-minah hippy-yippies

Talk to the FORK...!

Oh..! I am so sorry I have forgotten to snap some photos on the gift we bought for Liana... But I hope she'll like it.

Minah-minah skema

Tale of the bengong Bangfes tutor

Single and available...

Anyway, take care, sweet girl. God luck in your study. May Allah protect you from any kinds of evil doings and harmful people. Looking forward to meeting you again when you come back to collect your data here. Have a safe journey!!!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Ghajini 2008: The return of Aamir Khan

I am sure, at least once in your life, there must be a time when you watched a movie and was touched by the story line that you kept remembering it until after several days. Be it thriller, comedy, romance or any other genre, the after effect of the film made you continue thinking about it as if you are part of the story. Mesti ada, kan? Well, last week I had the opportunity to watch a Hindi film "Ghajini", starred by Amir Khan and Asin. Such a sweet love story that has a very sad ending. So touching. Until today, some good scenes from the movie are still re-played in my mind.

Amir Khan used to be one of my favourite hindi actor. His boyish face is so cute and attractive. But the moment the other two Khans conquer the industry, Amir suddenly disappeared as if he was swallowed by mother earth. I mean, he still played hero in some movies, but none of the movies reached my high expectation. His last film that I watched was "Mann" and that was way back in the late '90s. Since then, I had never thought that he would make a come back. I mean, seriously, all his films since "Mann" failed to get my attention. I can't waste my precious three hours watching rubbish till my butt hardened like metal, can I?

But then this new film released in 2008 really made me think of him as an attractive person (hello! attractive as in the movie la ye, not in personal life, okay!).

The film's story revolves around a rich business entrepreneur (Aamir Khan) who falls in love with an ad film actress (Asin Thottumkal). Sanjay Singhania, the owner of AirVoice India falls in love with Kalpana, the actress-model cum activist in several meet ups though she does not know that he is a tycoon. One day, her activist work for children comes in the way of child racketeers. When she successfully saves a bunch of children who were in danger, she is brutally murdered by a gang leader, Ghajini as she intervened with his plan of kidnapping 25 young girls to Goa. Aamir himself gets hit hard on the head when he tries to save her, eventually leading him into a state of short term memory loss.

Because of the severe injury to his head, his memory can only last for fifteen minutes and he doesn't remember events or incidents that have happened before in his life. He can now only live a comprehensible life by tattooing notes on himself and taking pictures of things with a Polaroid camera to remind himself of the incidents that have happened. Aamir’s status as a patient at the hospital is later studied about and helped by a psychology / medical college student, Chitra (Jiah Khan) who is searching for a patient with an "interesting" record for her college project. Chitra comes to know about his love story through his diaries he kept with him.

There is also a role of a police officer (Riyaz Khan) who is hunting Aamir due to several murders he has committed while trying to find his girlfriend's murderer through his diary. With the help of Chitra, Sanjay sets out on a revenge spree, searching for the murderer of the one love of his life... but then the romantic scenes in this movie are really, really romantic....Aww...!!

Tengok la citer ni... Tak rugi mengadap TV 3 jam bertenggek atas sofa macam burung jampok tengah-tengah malam. Dari mula sampai akhir, citer ni memang best...!!! Yang paling sedih, sampai ke saat akhir Asin mati, dia tak tau pun identiti Aamir yang sebenarnya...uhuk! uhuk!

Thumbs up for Aamir Khan and Asin!!!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Celebrities in the lime light...!

Errkk!!! Oh! No! Which one is my father-in-law? I am confused!
Baju warna apa dia pakai tadi, yek???

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Saying goodbye to yesteryears.....

Today, with heavy heart, we let go of this house to its new owner
So many damages done
I am sad, only God knows how I feel

It should have been nice
Comfy place for us to get together
To run away from metro life
And sink deep into tranquility...

Each piece brings memory,
Each spot has its own story to share....
Hush! Let them be buried!
For I refuse to bend down to history

This was where I kept my diaries
Were they still there?
Who read them?
Did they know of our story?

Mom, they ransacked the kitchen!
Look! Your beloved punch bowl was there
Its glasses nowhere to be found
I am sorry.....

This was my bedroom
It used to be tidy
There was a flower vase close to the window
I was proud of my books on the shelves
My treasures

Nights and days were spent
with tears streaming the eyes
And wet the pillows
Again and again
Where is our Dad?
Why isn't he at home?

I bought the dining table
Forked out money from my first salary
I worked at Hitachi Air-Cond Bangi
I was an account officer

At night Dad used to rest here
He can't sleep properly in bed
It made him feel uncomfortable
Restless, endless nights
No one could endure the pain like he did
He was my superhero
He still is
I miss him dearly

Goodbye yesteryears
I suppose nobody cares in the end
They have forgotten the family
Fatimah, Wati, Lina, Za, Fadil, Farid, Eda, Firdaus
Perhaps one day I'll buy back the house

Will it do any good?

"Ya Allah! Kurniakanlah kesabaran yang teguh ke atas kami sekeluarga dalam menghadapi kesukaran dan dugaan Mu ini. Aku mohon padaMu, Ya Allah, tunjukkanlah kami jalan yang benar dan berikanlah balasan yang setimpal dengan perbuatan masing-masing. Amin."

Let the competition begin....

New school term has just started. Irfan is now in standard 5 and Aliya in standard 2. Time sure flies fast. Within a few blinks of the eyes, my children has grown up and I am getting older. Add another few years and they'll be out of school in no time. Just like any other parents, I want the best for my children. I send them to a good primary school (well, I've heard people said that Sekolah Kebangsaan Jalan 3 is the best primary school in Bandar Baru Bangi). I send them to a reputable tuition centre (perhaps the one and only tuition centre in Bandar Baru Bangi that obtained operation licence and is registered with the Ministry of Education). I also put them into Abacus class, Tae-Kwon-Do class, add up with more swimming sessions..... All things that they love and enjoy doing and I love it too but I never have the chance to experience it at their age many many years ago.

Come to think of the young generation today, things are very different from the olden days. During my time, there was only sekolah kebangsaan without any sekolah agama. Which means I would be spending my time in school for 5 hours the most. The rest of the day was fully occupied with co-curriculum activities. I was a hockey player, for the school and for the state. Such a beautiful memory. Weekend was untouched. That's family time together. No extra activities involving schools. Unlike today, Saturdays and Sundays could not be considered off days any longer due to extra classes. Family vacation will have to wait until school holidays start.

Schools are also turning contemporary. We dont have any centre for ICT in my days. Desktop computers were aliens to us. There was fear that if you press the wrong button on the keyboard, the monitor will explode and you will die. At that time if you can type very fast with typo error at minimal, you qualify to work as temporary clerk with handsome monthly pay. There were also no pusat sumber, kaunseling rakan sebaya, hari kantin and year-end jamboree. Gosh! Where do these teachers find their time to organise so many activities in school?

Anyway, first day of the school term normally witnessed lots of parents in distress and running after their precious time to ensure their children settle nicely in their classes. Eager parents are those who sent their children to standard 1. Will my child be alright in school? Will he/she cry if I left him/her and head for office as I am running late now? Does he/she know where the toilet is? More important is to ask whether he/she knows how to clean him/herself when done? What is offered at the canteen? Does my child know how to trade their money with food of the same value? Is the canteen operator an honest person who returns the balance of money paid by these children? Oh! where is the classroom by the way? ........................

Achievement in 2009 summarised:

506,620 candidates sat for UPSR nationwide.

48,171 achieved 5A in their results.

95,826 applications were made to boarding schools.

6,600 only were accepted due to limited placements .

(source from Utusan Malaysia)

Of 48, 171 candidates with 5A, only 13.7% managed to secure placement at the boarding schools. What will and normally happen to the rest that fail to go anywhere? Will they be denied their opportunity for brighter future? How do they end up after school in 5 years time? But then, how sure are we that those kids that go to boarding schools will succeed and continue to university? How lucky can they be? (sigh) Long journey.....

Come, my children, it's time for you both to start running and win the race. Dont look back and never reduce your pace. Be strong and steady. Your dad will ensure your path to success is paved for you. I will run together with you and protect you from any obstacles.

Run! Let the competition begin......


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