Friday, August 3, 2012

Rafizi Ramli ~ A shining star in the fast-changing firmament of Malaysian politics

I don't particularly like attending weddings and funerals, even though I appreciate that these are significant rites of passage for most humans. All non-human life-forms generally mate and expire without undue ceremony - and I prefer to align myself with non-human life-forms, simply because I don't detect too much hypocrisy and pretense among them.

Some wedding invitations I cannot refuse, for various reasons - and there are times when one is compelled to formally send off a beloved friend or relative on his or her further adventures. Well, one of the rare weddings I did attend last October was when my dear friend Fi-Sha married Rafizi Ramli.

I had met Fi-Sha during the Hulu Selangor by-election in April 2010 when she came to KKB to observe the proceedings. It was an instant soul connection between us. I found her beautiful and honest beyond words and completely uncontaminated in essence. We chatted often via email, SMS and facebook, and enjoyed a long chat over tea after an evening at the theatre. Her openness, empathy and vulnerability were not only endearing but made me feel very protective towards her. So when she announced that she was engaged, I felt compelled to run a check on her future mate.

PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli
One look at Rafizi Ramli's face was all it took to convince me that theirs was destined to be a very auspicious union - one that would ultimately influence the future of Malaysia in a truly positive way. My instincts were confirmed when I finally met Rafizi Ramli on his wedding day and congratulated him on his exquisite taste in women. I also met members of both families and found them perfectly charming and befriendable - the sort of authentic, uncorrupted Malaysians with core values intact who would do their country proud simply by being themselves.

Fi-Sha and Fizi (as she calls him) looked absolutely resplendent at the wedding reception - a very homely and modest affair attended by close friends and family. I whispered to Fi-Sha: "Now you're in for it. One of these days your hubby will be a key figure in the new government, and you'll have your work cut out keeping him grounded, sane and on track."

Disgraced Wanita Umno Chief
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil
It didn't take long for Rafizi Ramli to hit the headlines. His spectacular exposé of the grotesque and almost comical RM250 million National Feedlot Corporation fiasco involving Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and her immediate family gripped the attention of the entire country - and Rafizi's calm and lucid revelations presented over a series of well-attended media conferences lent his shocking accusations irrefutable credibility.

Malaysians have almost become unshockable when it comes to political scandals. What gave an incisive edge to Rafizi's investigation into the NFC scam was the thoroughness and detail of his probe. Of course, a whistleblower or two was involved - otherwise it would have been well-nigh impossible to produce incontrovertible documentary evidence of such shameless financial wrongdoing.

In the following weeks and months it appeared that Rafizi Ramli was on a roll and rapidly warming to his new-found role as Umno's can (of worms) opener. Even as BN was forced to make a big show of arresting and charging Shahrizat's husband Mohamad Salleh Ismail with multiple counts of CBT and misappropriation of funds, Rafizi launched a full-frontal assault on the biggest target of all - crime minister Najib Razak himself who, doubling as finance minister, was shown to have personally manipulated the outcome of an "open tender" exercise in favor of a golfing crony's bid.

Needless to say, BN's knee-jerk reaction was to order Rafizi Ramli arrested on a spurious charge of breaking some banking secrecy law. This is akin to arresting a kid for unlawfully peeping through a keyhole (and infringing on some minister's privacy) when he reports a brutal murder in the bedroom. In this instance, a murder was committed, for sure - the cold-blooded murder of the public's confidence in the BN regime.

Umno crime minister & finance minister(!)
Najib Abdul Razak
By heavy-handedly tampering with routine administrative procedures to ensure that public projects are competently, effiiciently, cost-effectively and - most importantly, safely - implemented, Najib Razak and his cohorts in crime are not only committing massive fraud, they are also endangering the lives of commuters by allowing a dishonest and inexperienced operator to engineer and construct a railway extension at grotesquely inflated cost.

Almost overnight, Rafizi Ramli has joined the ranks of the most electable young candidates in Malaysian politics. My heartiest congratulations and thanks, Fizi!

Once more with feeling... ABU!

Hypocrisy keeps the Status Quo static... (reprise)

A few years ago I received an invitation to what was billed as "a global conference on Enhancing the Role of Philanthropy in Challenging Times." Hmmm.... that's intriguing, I thought. The idea of encouraging corporations to give back more to the community during a financial meltdown is certainly refreshing...

Then I read in the next line that the conference would be officially launched by the Crime Minister of Malaysia.

The third line boasted "a host of international speakers, including the wife of the PM."

Pukimak! That did it. I almost retched on my keyboard!

As if that wasn't sickening enough, the conference was going to be officially closed by the spineless minister of national unity, Koh Tsu Koon!

I immediately shot off a response to the perfectly respectable gentleman who had sent me the invite:

"No collaboration with the Irredeemably Corrupt, Greedy & Murderously Wicked!"

Almost instantly I received a reply: "Thanks for your frank and realistic comments. The challenge is how to manage the wicked to do some good... can we con them too or get caught by them?"

Well, at least my friend didn't attempt to deny or dispute the fact that the conference had invited, for the sake of political correctness and expediency, some notably wicked people to officiate. In any case, I felt it was my moral duty to elaborate on my visceral response to receiving such an invitation to participate in the philantrophic conference (for only RM900), so I wrote the following clarification, which I post here for the public record:

Anyone who publicly or privately endorses the crime ministership of Najib Tun Razak and Rosmah Mansor is tacitly expressing complicity with Umno/BN's abysmal track record on issues of justice, human rights and abuse of power.

Just as lending support to tyrants like Robert Mugabe, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush is tantamount to acquiescing with oppressive laws that allow the state to detain dissidents without due process, inflict torture on those suspected of political or religious heresy, and manipulate the mass media so that the public remains unaware of the colossal crimes committed by those in high office.

Corporations "play footsie" with such degenerate entities because they themselves are degenerate and hypocritical and are almost indistinguishable from their counterparts in politics. That's why there is a revolving door that facilitates a smooth exchange of personnel between big business and government; and that's exactly what keeps the nightmare carousel of human suffering going around and around seemingly without end.

However, the end is undoubtedly nigh for this despicable kind of self-serving "pragmatism" - all for the sake of an extra buck. This kind of cynical self-justification is what characterized the Pharisees and Sadducees in Judea. 
We seem to have learned nothing and made no spiritual progress after 2,000 years!

Nevertheless, the moment these archcriminals resign from office or publicly demonstrate remorse for their gross transgressions, I am of the opinion that they be should be offered the opportunity to restore their "good standing" in society by returning at least 80% of their ill-gotten gains to the national treasury and accepting that they are henceforth disqualified from wielding political power. No need for lynch mobs and lifelong incarceration.

I absolutely do not agree that you can cooperate with them in any positive or wholesome way - just as it would be suicidal for PAS or Pakatan Rakyat to form a political alliance with the ravenous and morally depraved Umno which deserves to exist henceforth only in cultural museums as an instructive relic of the Kali yuga.

Those of you who profess to be Christians: quit playing the role of Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes for whom the Bottom Line is all that matters!

Whose side are you on anyway? Yeshua the Reformer... or The Corrupt and Evil Establishment?

How will things ever improve if you keep smiling for the camera and shaking the Sheriff of Nottingham's pudgy hand to clinch a couple of lucrative contracts... while secretly applauding and rooting for Robin Hood?

[First published 19 June 2009]

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Goodbye, Gore! What a colorful, intense, brilliant and vibrant life yours was...

Eugene Luther Gore Vidal (3 October 1925 – 31 July 2012) was a liberal American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar (1948), outraged conservative critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality. He also ran for political office twice and was a longtime political critic. [Source: Wikipedia]

"We are all bisexual to begin with. That is a fact of our condition. And we are all responsive to sexual stimuli from our own as well as from the opposite sex. Certain societies at certain times, usually in the interest of maintaining the baby supply, have discouraged homosexuality. Other societies, particularly militaristic ones, have exalted it. But regardless of tribal taboos, homosexuality is a constant fact of the human condition and it is not a sickness, not a sin, not a crime... despite the best efforts of our puritan tribe to make it all three. Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. Notice I use the word 'natural,' not normal." ~ Gore Vidal

A SUDDEN OUTBURST ~ short poem by Antares

A sudden outburst of outrage
Brought on by gasps of indignation
Cataracts of complaints
Cascading down adrenal gutters -
Innocent bystanders are in for a soaking!

There must be better things to talk about
Than private outcry against public obscenity.
There must be better ways to get it off
Than to do it up in everybody's face.

Mr God didn't expect to stay for the speeches;
He thought it was going to be all fun & games.
On top of that the chocolate chip cookies
Were stolen by crooks from the casino.

More music is what the government should listen to.
And it's never just a question of taste:
Music is everything that makes sense and rhythm
Out of the contrapuntal harmony of Chaos.

By this time most humans have realized,
Being sapient has nothing to do with homogeneity.
In fact the truth has been cleverly disguised
In strange forms of fiction authored by deity.

Next you'll be asking for a bibliography
Of every book you feel you ought to lay your hands on;
The trick is not to fondle the folios
But to caress the ideas within with your soul naked.

You're probably wondering where the thread runs
That connects the first verse with the last.
Who said anything about last or first?
And what do you mean by verse?

[Written in 1975, first published in Moth Balls, Magick River 1994]

Do you still want your kid to study accountancy and become a big banker?

[Brought to my attention by Olivia de Haulleville]

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

'The Last Mimzy' ~ a vastly underrated sci-fi film for kids of all ages!

Thanks to Kamran Ahmed for uploading 6 episodes from The Last Mimzy. For some reason, he has yet to upload the final sequences, which is frustrating for those who have been viewing all the clips so far (I happen to have the DVD but haven't figured out how to rip the content and upload on YouTube, or I'd be happy to do so). However, the following video of the theme song written by Roger Waters contains a few visual clues as to the film's uplifting conclusion...

The Last Mimzy is the story of a distant future's attempt to avert a catastrophic ecological disaster that has destroyed their world. High tech devices, masquerading as toys, are sent back in time into the hands of Noah and Emma, two children who live with their parents Jo (Joely Richardson) and David (Timothy Hutton) in early 21st century Seattle.

The "toys" are mostly incomprehensible to Emma (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) and Noah (Chris O'Neil), except for what appears to be a stuffed rabbit named Mimzy. Sensing the strangeness of the devices, the children initially keep their discovery a secret from their parents.

Interaction with the devices causes the children to develop increased intelligence and psychic capabilities, including telepathy, levitation, telekinesis, teleportation, and the ability to communicate with arthropods (bugs). Emma becomes emotionally attached to Mimzy, from which she learns how to further operate the devices. Because of her bond with Mimzy, Emma develops more of the unique abilities than her brother, being the only one of the siblings to display an abnormal increase in intelligence/brain activity telekinesis, levitation, precognition, and telepathy (though Noah can communicate with her once she has contacted him).

Emma is also the only one who can use the Spinners, strange spinning, floating rocks that produce a force field. Noah's abilities are increased intelligence, communication with arthropods, and telepathy (before the blackout, he can also use one of the toys to teleport objects after staring at it, and then observing his surroundings, but it is assumed he can no longer perform this ability after the toy fuses with another of the objects).

At one point, Noah seems somewhat envious of his sister's prowess, but she reveals to him that even though she is the Chosen One, he is her Engineer and she cannot "build the bridge to the future" without him. The children's unusual abilities and Emma's obsessive attachment to Mimzy soon alert their parents and schoolteachers to the devices; later, a power black-out of half of the state of Washington caused by the toys alerts the FBI to their activities as well.

The family is held for questioning by Special Agent Nathaniel Broadman (Michael Clarke Duncan), and it is revealed that Mimzy is actually an advanced form of artificial life utilizing nanotechnology created by Intel. Mimzy has brought a message from humanity's future, which Emma explains to mean that pollution has corrupted humanity's DNA. Many rabbits like Mimzy were sent to the past, but none had successfully returned; Mimzy is the last one remaining.

The reason for the other Mimzys' deaths is revealed to be because the Chosen Ones before Emma had no Engineers (like Noah) to help build the bridge across time and they were too afraid to attempt it. Mimzy explains to the children that they must use the toys as a time machine to return her to the future with uncorrupted 21st century DNA, which the people of the future can use to correct the damage to their DNA caused by the ecological problems.

Despite attempts by an unbelieving FBI to hinder them, Noah and Emma use their psychic powers to escape with Mimzy and the other objects and are able to activate the time portal by which Mimzy can return to the future. Fortunately, Mimzy carries with her a tear of Emma's, thus providing the pure DNA required to prevent the disaster. Emma is almost sucked into the future with Mimzy, but Noah grabs Emma's foot and pulls out just as Mimzy is sent to her own time.

In the new future, Emma is revered as the "mother" of all the present generations, and the children and teacher who narrated the movie exhibit the same psychic gifts that Emma had developed. The world has become a more beautiful place, where it is presumed that humanity has integrated better into the constructed ecosystems. The story ends with Emma's teacher (Julia Arkos) calling on Emma in class, asking what she did over the break. Emma smiles. [Source: Wikipedia]

Director ~ Bob Shaye
Screenplay ~ Bruce Joel Rubin, Toby Emmerich, James V. Hart, Carol Skilken
Based on a short story by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore)
Music ~ Howard Shore
Theme Song ~ Roger Waters
Cinematogaphy ~ J. Michael Muro
Production Design ~ Barry Chusid
Casting ~ Margery Simkin

Released by New Line Cinema, 2007

[YouTube series brought to my attention by L'aura Ann Elizabeth]

Mythicopolitical surrealism redefined ~ "I, Pet Goat" by Heliofant

ABOUT HELIOFANT: Based in the beautiful Laurentian mountains just north of Montreal, Canada, Heliofant is a nascent independent computer animation studio focused on creating experimental and challenging content. Bringing together artists from the fields of dance, music, computer animation and visual arts, the company is very interested in exploring the common ground that underlies many spiritual and philosophical traditions in a lyrical form.