Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scenic poetic humour

Today marks the end of official Effective Communication lessons. I really find it a good platform in my journey to try become an effective communicator.

Fitted in the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle this morning. I spent a couple of hours yesterday editing and re-editing and rehearsing my final assignment -- the 3 minutes "Say no to slimming products" speech. And i'm pretty glad having breezed through it without much pauses. However, despite feeling confident practicing by myself in my room and on the train to school, the heart still beats thrice it's normal rate while I wait for my turn.

Observing some speakers while waiting for my turn, I find that reasonable time and effort must be put in while preparing one's script. Only then will one be able to step up confidently and share one's hard work with the rest of the class. As a member of the audience, i want every speaker that steps up to do well -- and that's provided he or she is well prepared. And I realize that i am one of those who is not a fan of those who do not seem to care about their speech. Speakers should know that members of the audience can tell whether due time and effort had been put into the speech.

I'll use this speech as the backbone for my Project 2: "Organize Your Speech." This speech has to be between 5 to 7 minutes, which means that I'll now have the opportunity to add some depth into my speech. I've heard the word "humourous" after giving my 2 speeches. So it seems to me that humour will always be part of the way i write. Still finding it hard to associate Ali and Humor as one.

And i remembered someone approached me after my P1 speech and asked,"You spent quite a lot of time on your speech, didnt you?" And when i said i did spend a fair bit of time on it and asked how he could tell, he said that he finds my speech poetic -- reminding me of the phrase "scenic and poetic" which i had read somewhere, sometime back.

I'll keep in mind these two words the next time i write: poetic humour. Sounds like a new genre altogether. In time, it'll be scenic poetic humour :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Nice song by Keane.

Glad P1 is over

First speech went well and i was surprised i had zero erms, ahs, hmmm..... Im a pretty fluent speaker. I have been forcing myself to just speak fluently ever since the day i tried to "verbalise my thought" -- irregardless of whether or not i make any sense. With fluency, I believe the next step is to talk with more sense as well as conviction.

I was also surprised my evaluator found me humorous for i believed i was far from it. I just do not see myself being humorous. I like me to sound cool, calm and composed -- like Gaurav Keerthi or Ashraf Safdar who were judges for the game show, The Arena.

But nevertheless, now that ive got this one over and done with, I'll build on my voice and my reliance on notes. Ive got next week's oral presentation on slimming pills that I could work on. After all this who know's, i might end up reading the news one day. (Are they well paid?)

Anyways, I got back home late and was i glad to hear one of the twins got first in class. The other came in a distant 15th. Really glad that they're coping well with their studies despite me not intervening-- except those times when they encountered tedious maths questions. My mum mustve be feeling very proud and happy. I know i am.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ice breaker

Second speech. Hoping to get the hang of writing one. This one's almost 5minutes 30 seconds and ive got 30 seconds to spare. Basically, it's suppose to be about me. Ive gotta present it tomorrow and ive just finished writing it. Didnt have time for much editing. But it being the first, im sure it's ok.

Its been a while since i last written. Time doesnt seem to permit. Or maybe it's because i always fall asleep earlier than usual. Till next time....

My name is Ali Marzuki. You can call me either Ali or Marzuki. Most of my school friends call me Ali because I have always introduced myself as Ali. I know that people will remember it better. This is the first time I’ve introduced myself as Ali Marzuki to my school friends.

Marzuki is the name I’m more used to as that’s the name my family calls me by. U can try calling my home now and ask for Ali. Should my grandma picks it up, she would tell u that there’s no one by the name of Ali living in the house. And that’s provided u asked her in Malay – or Javanese.

And no it’s not Japanese, it’s Javanese… with a V. I have been told once in a while that Marzuki sounds cool coz it sounds Japanese. Suzuki, Kawasaki, Ayumi Hamasaki, Ali Marzuki … U get I mean. Though it may be cool to be jap, I’m not. I’m Malay - born and raised in Singapore.

According to my mum, there was a doctor in the hospital where I was to be delivered. He goes by the name of Dr Marzuki and it’s obvious to me that my mum wanted me to become a doctor. However, I never liked my chemistry nor am I really into dissecting frogs nor rabbits -- so Biology is definitely a no no for me. Still, I did make it into university and I know I have already made my mum pretty happy.

As you can tell, I’m pretty close to my mum. I’m the first of 4 children and that’s probably the reason why. She really had a huge influence on me and I actually feel like a carbon copy of her.

She hates butter and milk , cheese and mayo and so do I. Of course I did try them before and I definitely do not like them one bit.

I remember her not liking to watch shows like star trek or star wars because she doesn’t like the idea of people dressing up as some ugly and deformed aliens or scary hairy monsters. And I guess I kind of followed in her foot steps. However, I must clarify that it is not the reason why im dressed like this tonight. You guys should know that I’m actually dressed as a werewolf. It’s just that there not going to be a full moon tonight.

My mother also doesn’t like the idea of spending money on unnecessary items like going to the movies, buying toys and stuffs like that. Just a secret between you and me, though I’ve told her I’m in toastmasters, I’ve never mentioned having to pay a small fee for it.

She’s really into the idea of saving for a rainy day but I’m glad that she is, for the rainy day had came.

It was two years ago, Father’s day. Rain wasn’t falling that Sunday morning but tears were. My dad left this world for another. I was only a few months into my National Service. I was at a lost. I did not know what to expect. Nor did I know what I should do.

All I know I had to start thinking and acting more like an adult, less like a kid. I was still 18 and I was far from ready to be a father. I even remember feeling unhappy that I had to put on hold my plans of getting braces for my teeth and getting a driving license but I just knew I had to. For I had no choice. I also knew I’ve got to make lots of sacrifices from then on.

I almost signed on as a specialist in the Army. At that time, it seemed like the best solution to my problems. I almost wanted to forget about going to the Uni as I was afraid it would be a burden on my family financially.

But despite all these irrational thoughts, I managed to convince myself that with a better education, I could better support my family. I knew I had to think long term. And that’s the reason why I’m standing here today.

Fellow friends,

My life has always been revolving two things -- family and school. I am very much aware that this translates to no life at all. I’ve given it much thought and had found a solution. Toastmasters –- a club where I’ll learn new things and make new friends.

Thank you for your time. I hope I’ve given u a glimpse of the person I am. And I wish you all the best for the coming exams.

Thank you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mandatory seat belt laws

A recent paper in the May 2008 edition of the Journal of Health Economics by Carpentera and Stehr finds that mandatory seat belt laws save lives.

“…we find consistent evidence that state mandatory seatbelt laws – particularly those permitting primary enforcement – significantly increased seatbelt use among high school age youths by 45–80%, primarily at the extensive margin. Unlike previous research for adults, however, we find evidence against the selective recruitment hypothesis: seatbelt laws had consistently larger effects on those most likely to be involved in traffic accidents (drinkers, alcohol-involved drivers). We also find that mandatory seatbelt laws significantly reduced traffic fatalities and serious injuries resulting from fatal crashes by 8 and 9%, respectively. Our results suggest that if all states had primary enforcement seatbelt laws then regular youth seatbelt use would be nearly universal and youth fatalities would fall by about 120 per year.”

So should we implement mandatory seat belt laws? From the evidence in their paper, Carpentera and Stehr believe so. However, is this issue truly so clear cut?

One question is whether or not mandatory seat belt laws really caused increased seat belt use. Did the seat belt laws cause increased seat belt use or did increased seat belt use lead to the increased popularity and passage of a law?

This paper is important in that it quantifies the benefits of the mandatory seat belt laws, but does not quantify the costs. What is the cost of enforcement in terms of 1) time law enforcement must dedicate to seat belt policing instead of “real” police work? and 2) the cost to the justice system and work absences due to the adjudication or appeals process for seat belt violation, and 3) the violation of a person’s individual freedom to choose to not wear a seatbelt. In this case, there is no externality to not wearing a seat belt; the person harmed from not wearing a seat belt is that person themselves. A libertarian would be strictly against a mandatory seat belt law. Nevertheless, a compelling argument can be made that minors do not use an optimal decision-making process when deciding whether or not to wear a seat belt.

Do I support a mandatory seat belt law? No.

I believe that parents should help to convince their child to use seat belts and that it is possible that schools should educate children on the benefits of using a seat belt. However, using police resources to fine individuals who do not wear seat belts seems to be a waste of resources. If mandatory seat belt laws are not enforced, then this would free up police resources, but also would weaken the impact of mandatory seat belt laws.

Seat belt save lives. But I think parents and schools–not the government–are the best institutions to spread this message.

* Christopher S. Carpentera and Mark Stehr (2008) “The effects of mandatory seatbelt laws on seatbelt use, motor vehicle fatalities, and crash-related injuries among youths“, Journal of Health Economics, Volume 27, Issue 3, Pages 642-662.

Monday, October 13, 2008

First persuasive speech...

6 years ago, a local actress by the name of AndREa started taking a diet pill named Slim 10, ALL BECAUSE her weight increased slightly above 48kilos. Two months later, she was near death, unconscious in a local hospital. Doctors suspected that an ingredient in the slimming pill had ravaged her liver, which had all but shut down.
6 years ago, a friend of mine by the name of Ally also wanted to lose weight in order to get out of the TAF club- a club where all overweight students have to be in until they get their weight down to a healthy level. Ally was THIS close to buying Slim 10 after seeing so many ads about it in the papers and on TV. Lucky for him, unlike Andrea, Ally didn’t and is well and alive.
It is generally assumed that being thin is being beautiful and being slim is being healthy. And MANY have this misconception that one of the “quickest” and “easiest” way to lose weight is by taking slimming pills. I would like to alert all of you TO SAY NO TO SLIMMING PILLS. I say again, SAY NO TO SLIMMING PILLS. Keep this in mind. If you know of anyone who consumes slimming pills, tell them to SAY NO.
Tell them they are doing MORE HARM than good to their health.
People should avoid slimming pills due to extreme health risk and adverse side effects.
i. Cause diabetes
ii. high blood pressure,
iii. heart attack,
iv. heart failure,
v. stroke
vi. anxiety
vii. nervousness,
viii. insomnia
ix. hyperactivity,
x. digestive problems like vomiting, diarrhea, constipation
xi. fever,
xii. headaches,
xiii. dizziness,
xiv. hair loss,
If you cannot remember all these side effects, Just remember TO SAY NO TO SLIMMING pills because you don’t want to lose your hair!

Exercise, eat healthy – eat more fruits, more vegetables, less fast food, less fatty food, less soft drink. There are so MANY other SAFER and MORE effective ways to lose weight. Just say NO to slimming pills.
Thank you.

Ive got only 3 minutes and this one falls just above 2 and a half. 3 mins speech took me more than 3 hours to prepare -- the thinking, the planning, the writing, the editting, the re-editting and u get a first draft. And then there's rehearsal and more editting......

I wonder who prepares the PM's speech each National day rally.....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wisdom might not be a wise thing to wish for...

I had asked for wisdom when i turned 21 but i never thought it would come in the form of a tooth. Boy it sure does hurt. Finally explains why my head's been feeling some pain this past few days.

Yes ive been doing school work but im definitely sure it wasnt the cause of it. Heard that plucking it out would cause severe pain and headaches and swelling and even complications if the dentist isnt skilled. So now would definitely not be the right time to do remove it. There's oral presentation in 2 weeks and i sure cant afford to screw that up. But not removing it will affect the way i talk too.

And looking at forums on the extraction of wisdom tooth, prices seem to range from $500-700 per tooth. And that's a little bit crazy. Should've removed mine while i was still in the army but that's long gone.

Well i hope I'll be able to sleep away the pain.... till the exams are over.

The timing is just so so wrong.... ouch!

Panic studying..

The final stretch of first semester and i'm preparing for the sprint. Only now i realize that it's good to have the right people around you who inspire and motivate to work harder. There are those who will occasionally ask little things like how you are coping and encourage you to work hard. And there are also those who need not say anything as their very presence and actions say it all.

There's simply this tendency to wait for everyone to start panicking before one really go full steam ahead. One simple has got to realise that there's really no point waiting. It all depends on one's engine -- if it's not as powerful as the ones made in China or India, one simply gotta start the sprint earlier.

And the library is indeed a conducive place to study. That's the place where one will find the motivation to study. And yes, it's also a good place to socialize and meet people. Someone caught my eye too! Hoping that our path will somehow cross..... haha...

Anyways, I also realise that Ive got to always remember my responsibility to those around me. To not be selfish when it comes to sharing what I know. That's the only point i remember from the khutbah yesterday. Everything really comes from Him. My ability to grasp computing concepts with ease really isnt my doing. And i fear that should i hide my knowledge from others, I might lose it all some day.

Also, the next most enjoyable part about school, after studying, is making new friends as the days go by!! Starting to see why some of those i know are ever so wiling to trade places with me. Think about it and start enjoying the 4 years.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Jewel Of Medina

Was browsing through BBC's website and an article about this book caught my eye. Reading through the prologue, I must say that it is indeed a nice piece of literature that actually brought my mind to the desert, riding on a horse, listening to conversations.....

But reading and re-reading the names of prominent figures, it made me feel a little annoyed and frustrated. Really, what is the purpose of author Sherry Jones when writing this piece of literature?

I just have this feeling that this book will be to many what The Da Vinci code was to some.

US Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies, Denise Spellberg, who said the book was a disrespectful mis-representation of history, wrote in the Wall Street Journal: "I used my scholarly expertise to assess the novel. It was in that same professional capacity that I felt it my duty to warn the press of the novel's potential to provoke anger among some Muslims."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

When it all seems like too much...

I realised that whenever it all seemed like a little too much for me to do, my mind will simply hibernate and i'll just head to the kitchen to look for food and will most probably end up watching whatever it is they're showing on TV. Or play a game of Chess Titans which will lead to another game whether or not i win or lose. And sometimes after all that, i'll end up writing...

So now I'm asking myself what should i do? Im done with my computing and the inorganic part of chemistry. What should i do next? SHould i do maths? What about Physics? And econs....? There's also tutorials..... And exam's just round the corner...
I used to panic back then but now, i panic a little more calmly. Should i write what i need to do on a piece of paper, make a timetable for the day and prioritise the things i need to do first?

I think I know what to do... I shall go take a bath, pray and ask for some intervention.

Or maybe i should do this and see if i can ever clear the post-its faster than i paste.

Etrack, rising electricity tariffs, inflation...

"An Energy Consumption Tracker (ECT) is being developed by a local company, Bridex Harwal Pte Ltd, with support from NEA. The ECT can track the real-time energy consumption of key energy-consuming appliances in the home and display energy consumption information in kilowatt-hours and dollar value. It can also display households' monthly energy consumption for the past 12 months, which can enable households to track the effectiveness of their energy conservation efforts in reducing their overall energy consumption."

This is definitely a good innovation that caught my eye while reading Friday's Newpaper -- especially when households are expected to pay more a month for electricity due to the increase in electricity tariffs by 5 cents/kWh.

While watching the F1 night race, my mum said something about how we'll end up paying for the electricity used to light up the track during the night race.

This might explain the increase in tariffs despite falling crude-oil prices. But then again, there's this concept of forward fuel-oil prices which Ive yet to comprehend. I do not want to be like the many who're too tired to figure all the technical stuffs and end up paying whatever amount that's written on the bill.

I'm starting to feel that the value of my dollar slowly decreasing. Felt it when i saw that the price of McSpicy EVM's now $6.55(without upsize). Is this what they call inflation?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Feeling Good....

Alhamdulillah... All effort put in for computing certainly paid off and i was presented with another good grade for it. This time i cant wish for it to be any higher. Not too sure about its weightage but it's a good start to my first semester.

Nevertheless these are just small fishes in the sea compared to maths, physics and chemistry --areas which i should really be scoring.

But im feeling good about chemistry too....

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life..... for me...
And i'm feeeeeling good...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sven Jaschan and the Sasser worm

Peaceful and quiet 21st. I like it subtle. I had hoped for a dark chocolate truffle from The Royals but i was too lazy to step out of home to get one. The nearest outlet was at Choa Chu Kang. Maybe someday when I really feel like it.

Spent the day within the four blue walls of my room -- doing computing and chemistry as well as lots of idling. And I guess now it's time for me to sleep. I'd like to share a little from a news clipping i came across online:

It's about Sven Jaschan,19,an introverted teenager, who spent up to 10 hours a day in front of his computer in the family home, creating a 15 page long code -- later called the "Sasser" computer worm --which crippled hospitals, closed banks, grounded planes and trains, and even delayed the Taiwanese post.

And the evening of his 18th birthday, he hit "send" and launched the virus on the web.
The scary aspect of spending the day on the computer, writing and debugging programs. And instead of frustration, i derive enjoyment. But do not worry for i am fine.



Plagiarism is certainly a crime. And it's scary how there's softwares to detect plagiarism.

I recently submitted an essay and there's only 2% plagiarism. It's due to the 17 words that we quoted from a letter we obtained from the web. We did submit the letter along with the essay but scary how the report included the website from which we got that letter from.

So guys, they aint kidding when they say they've got the program to track plagiarism. And copying from your friends is definitely more dangerous as prior to submission of the softcopy online, I was prompted that my group essay too will be stored in a database for protection.

Keywords here are: summarize, reword, restructure...