gambitch - now available in blue
Our constant efforts to reinvent ourselves reveal how much we fear our own images.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The word is out. Six Arsenal players will be hauled up before the FA to answer charges for misconduct, while two United players will also have to do the same.

My friend brought to my attention a potential conspiracy theory regarding systematic bias against Arsenal on the part of the FA, in order to stroke Sky Sports' fur so that it can secure the new TV deal with Sky. Apparently it has something to do with the fact that Sky actually holds a 10% stake in United shares. That conspiracy theory may actually hold some water, but I don't really want to be drawn into that. Fact is, the Londoners did misbehave, and so they most certainly asked for it. If they want to accuse Ruud of goading them cleverly, I think players should be punished for stupidly falling into traps rather than being clever about the way they are baiting. Response to adversity is part of the modern game.

The truth is, sports is no longer a physical game. A lot of it is mental or psychological. You don't expect people who like to go "duh..." to be excellent sportsmen nowadays. Sorry, Moose, the good ol' days are over.

Speaking of water, a study apparently shows that people who drink the requisite 8 glasses a day would be healthier physically as well as psychologically. They will supposedly feel they are in a better state of holistic well-being, and will be more focused and perked up than those who drink, say, 4 glasses a day. This is in addition to things like higher plasma content in their bloodstream.

Maybe that explains why I keep feeling really poor. Maybe I drink too little water.

But wait! I drink a nice big bowl of soup whenever I have dinner at home - which is almost every day of the week. That's worth about two or three glasses! So why am I still not taking in enough water?

Which brings me to this whole thing about psychological well-being. It's true. I'm not feeling like I'm anywhere near being in decent form. In fact, my form guide for the past few months has been pretty much rubbish. I feel de-motivated, in need of a perk-up that's nowhere in sight, and there isn't much help I can provide for myself.

I might have a use for a cheap psychiatrist. Or I might need something more than that.

There was some mention out there about stressed-out schoolkids who turned to suicide, and how they were having all sorts of woes being poured out on their blogs in the months leading up to their commitment of that fateful act. The truth is, blogs may have a cathartic effect in letting people vent out what would otherwise be pent up deep inside their heart of hearts. That's pretty cool. But venting does nothing more when the feelings only end up regenerating, and the cause of that regeneration would be due to the lack of a support network that does more than say "oh, you poor thing". It has to be able to offer help, either directly - through doing something to aid the poor soul - or indirectly, - by galvanizing the poor soul and turning sorrow and frustration into strength, so that he or she can dig deep into the reserves and sort the problem out on his or her own (with active support and encouragement all the way, of course).

The only problem with the latter bit is really quite simple. You cannot guarantee that the soul will be galvanized. There is just no sure-fire way of doing it. These things aren't formulaic. There are experimental methods that sometimes work, but they don't always work. And on the occasions where they don't work, we are back to square one, or maybe worse.

Souls out there silently crying out loud for help, lend me your ears.

gambitch [ 1:01 AM]

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Somewhere, in front of a little laptop, I'm still stuck on the work I'm supposed to do. But it feels a little better. There have been some small steps of progress, and I think there will be some more in the day to come. Another bacon saved. I hope.

It really helps to have people to talk to. To the people who were there to share my woes and hear me pour out, thanks. You deserve a hug of gratitude, but I'm lousy with hugs, so this little message here will have to do. Do take care of your headaches and flus. This is a bad time to catch the disease, especially with the SARS scare still lingering and spooking a few people out.

I came across this piece of news that says that the Malaysian state of Kelantan is imposing a new law come the end of the year. Under this law, advertisements that show women will be banned from all billboards and television commercials in the state capital of Kota Bahru. The reason given seems to be to prevent the exploitation of women.

I don't know about you, but I don't feel too easy about this new ruling. The reason itself sounds noble and feminist, if a little illiberal. Who can argue against the desire to stem the exploitation of women, which continues in the media despite years upon years of protestations by the women themselves? Wave after wave of feminism hasn't really seen the advertising industry behave all that much better. Sex still sells, hence we still have women in ads selling beers. And that's one of the things the new Kelantan ruling wants to stop.

All that sounds mighty fine, but by shutting women away from the public (advertising) eye, that is not exactly giving these women equal opportunity. And that is something the women have been fighting for. By allowing men to dominate billboard advertisements, except in pro-family values and cultural promotion campaign posters, we run the risk of presenting a male-dominated culture. The slippery slope this could lead down to is horrifying, to put it mildly. Women could soon be deprived of work opportunities as Kelantan society slips into good old classic patriarchal structures, dominated by men who set the agenda.

Don't get me wrong. I don't know whether the move was on the request of either women or women's groups (the two can be very different, mind). Maybe it was, in which case I have even less cause for complaint, because the people who would be affected by the policy, for better or worse, had asked for it. Even if they had not, they might well voice their support for such a piece of legislation. Never mind the practical difficulties that may present themselves in the implementation of this legislation - for starters, banning women in TV advertisements necessarily means Kelantan has to run its own television separate from the rest of Malaysia - they might well have asked for it, and the founding principle of the democratic paradigm is to give them what they want. Don't try to quote Locke here as a rebuttal to me - opinion-poll politics has led to the customer-service mantra spilling over to governance guidelines.

It's a little more disturbing, though, when you remember that this piece of legislation applies specifically in Kelantan. For those who do not follow Southeast Asian politics, that's PAS' stronghold. You know, PAS, the party that wants to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state, the party who thinks that the UMNO-led coalition government that has been in power since Malaysia's founding - and many say before - is selling out and Westernizing the country, bringing in all sorts of immoral activity in the process. PAS are a religiously devout bunch, so devout some think they are fundamentalists. And that's a problem.

In fact, the reporter from whose article I learnt about this legislation seems to be pretty scared of their brand of Islam too. The journo said that this new legislation was "the latest in a series of Taleban-like rules". Wow, imagine! The Taleban! The same bunch of despotic religious mullahs who sheltered Osama Bin Laden and made Afghan women walk around in burqas that covered all of their bodies! The same bunch of insane people who destroyed two anthropological and religious treasures, the Bhamiyan Buddhas, because Buddha wasn't Muslim!

Non-Muslim world opinion on the Taleban, long ousted by the American-led coalition troops, would simply be described as terrible. The world may not fear Mullah Omar the same way they feared Hitler or, to name a lesser man, Hirohito, but nobody in non-Muslim circles could claim to love the Taleban and expect to be believed. Even the Chinese (by which I mean the PRC state, not the race - though that would extend easily enough) seemed pretty upset by the Taleban's acts. I don't know about the Muslim world, but I suspect not too many fellow Muslim brethren loved the Taleban either.

But to slap onto the PAS the label of implementing Taleban-like policies is a bit of journalistic bias to say the least. Yes, the non-Muslim world may have reason to be wary of PAS' political ambitions. Should PAS sweep into government of the federation in the near future - a thought that is realistically unlikely, even if scary - it may choose to kick out foreign investors, who have been pouring funds into Malaysian industries of all sorts. Or it may not. I wouldn't know.

It probably seems like I don't know a lot. Which is true, actually, and you will have to take my word for it. What I do know is this: This reporter has, with a few strokes of his pen (or keyboard, if you prefer), scared us into believing that PAS is potentially as fundamentalist, as intolerant, and as evil as the regime that ruined the quality of life of poor Afghans living in a land that already gives them too little aside from poppy flowers. He is explicitly telling us to have a negative image of PAS, just as we already have a negative image of the Taleban.

We might be justified in deploring the legislation to be absurd or stupid, given that our cultural context and that of Kelantan may not quite coincide. But to tell the readers of a newspaper (a non-Malaysian one, by the way) to associate a legitimate political party that governs two states out of Malaysia's thirteen (thanks to a procedurally sound election, I must add) with a regime that had won international condemnation and alienation in the months leading up to its elimination... Well, that's a little low for a reporter. That's overt, nay flagrant, bias.

gambitch [ 1:12 AM]

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I almost got myself run over by a truck this morning. If I did make contact, I would have fully deserved it.

For those of you who think that I'm just in a depressed mood and looking for an accident as an excuse to end my life, or something like that, I'm sorry, but that's not why I think I deserved to have been run over. I'm in no mood to feel sorry for myself. There are too many reasons out there for me not to feel that way. Rather, the reason is much simpler: I didn't do the standard thing, which was to look left and check for oncoming vehicles. Because I didn't turn and look, I didn't know that there was a lorry coming in from the left. So, if I did get hit by the truck, the driver could in theory claim negligence on my part, and I would have taken the blame - and the impact of the crash - on the chin. With no cause for complaint, I should add.

As it happened, my near-brush with injury turned out to be exactly that, a near thing. The lorry buzzed past harmlessly as I was just one second slow. And that made all the difference.

Did it make me start re-looking my whole life, the way lots of people say near-death experiences end up doing exactly that kind of thing to them? Well, no. It has not begun to make me more interested in finding God, or other things like that. I remain as staunchly agnostic as ever, and it will stay that way, thank you very much.

It hasn't really done anything, other than delay my crossing the street for all of two seconds on my way to picking up the paper from my newsagent.

So what am I doing talking about it here?

I don't really know either, except to say that I'm feeling bloody uninspired and wanting some ideas to hit my head where it matters! All that digging isn't helping much!


gambitch [ 8:49 PM]

Fan mails - they're a wonderful thing, aren't they?

gambitch [ 12:01 AM]

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Did I also mention that CBS' The Amazing Race won an Emmy last night? I feel so absolutely happy!

gambitch [ 11:06 AM]

I get my share of funnies every so often.

At an event last night, I was speaking to a male friend - my prez, actually - and his lovely girlfriend was speaking to another female friend right next to us. My friend and I were pretty engrossed talking about the event when suddenly we caught the female friend mentioning the words 'sleep' and 'sexy lingerie'. If nothing else, those words sounded very out of place. Maybe it's just girl talk, but my friend and I made a sharp turn and looked at the two ladies with the "what was that all about?" look. And the girls promptly teased us for being "dirty young men".

With no intention to defend myself (that can be left to another time) I just think, well, hello, she was the one talking about it. Is it wrong for men to be generally curious?

Anyway, after the event, a few friends and I got a ride home from our new prez, incidentally also a friend of mine. It was pretty late, actually, a little past 10pm, and the car was parked in a public car park (at least at that time it was free, since it was after hours). So we were innocently walking to the car park, and chatting about various things as we walked. And then, just as we got to the big man's car, we spotted a couple in a slightly compromising position in another car parked next to it. Embarrassing to say the least. Yeah, sure, the clothes were on, but still the sight is funny. One person alone and waiting for someone else in a car is all right. Two in a stopped car, well...

A little reminder to couples: If you want to make out in a car at night, please don't be so stupid as to park it right next to another car in a public car park! Go to a secluded spot in a park or something!

gambitch [ 11:03 AM]

Monday, September 22, 2003

Just when you thought it was safe, something must strike to extend your contract period.

I just got a call from a friend working on an event. Because I'm a bit of a music mixer, I used to prepare soundtracks for events, mostly as "house music" piped out before the event actually starts. I recently left the job (at least officially) in order to let other people get some practice doing it. It wouldn't do for me to keep doing the same job forever, simply because realistically, no one lives forever. But I reckoned without an event coming along for which the music maestro doesn't quite seem to have the same quality of touch.

So I had to pick out a few tracks from my stockpile of music (officially sanctioned, so no copyright issues, thank you) and send the songlist to the friend in a little over 6 hours.

And then he wants me to be a guest at the event. Well, well...

But the morning started well. We drew the Gunners in a goalless affair, and one red card to Paddy - which is always welcome. The acrimony with which the match apparently ended will no doubt leave the FA with some serious work to do, but in the midst of all this I think we held our nerve much better than the Gunners. They may be top of the table, but we are still only one point behind, and we've had the better discipline. Keano survived with only one early yellow card, and Ruud did the smart thing by not retaliating to those punches thrown by the Londoners.

Go ahead, Arsene, claim all you want. There's a reason why the decisions go against the Gunners, and it's not called blind bias.

gambitch [ 3:00 PM]


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