Monday, December 24, 2012

This and that

It's been a very bad week for people who had prepared for the end of the world. They have to pick up where they left off. And, they need to now clear all the canned food and preserved food from their pantry.

That aside, I mourn the passing of Lim Keng Yaik. Malaysia has lost another good man. He will be missed.

Which leaves me to raise this feeling in the pit of my considerable stomach about the state of our fluency in the English language and, worse, the quality of thought processes.

I have just skimmed through a piece written by an academic at one of our local universities who wrote ponderously (or so, she must have thought) on Montesquieu and the doctrine of the separation of powers. 

Her grammar and syntax kept falling apart. I find that to be quite forgivable and tolerable because I, too, have learnt to lower my expectations as my work life progresses. In such situations, I merely speed up my skim-reading, you know, like a hydofoil increasing its velocity in choppy waters so as to raise the hull further from the surface water...oh, I'm sure you get it.

What I found difficult to pardon is that the piece, being a written contribution to an august journal of professional practitioners and peers, did not stray very far from its encyclopaedic roots. There was, after nearly 10 pages of excursus into the wherewithal of Montesquieu's thesis and its influence on politico-legal thought on it, nothing that the piece had to offer by way of pushing the envelope of the proposition further or offering a comparison between the adoption of the doctrine in various constitutional jurisdictions.

As William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)) wrote, "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves..."

I really shouldn't have even tried to read that piece.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

B Ark candidates: Maths and Science in Malaysia

The Trends in Maths and Science Study 2011 (TIMSS 2011) has revealed that Malaysia's appalling academic showing in the field of Maths and Science is trending in the wrong direction.

This reminded me of a possible fate of Malaysians and the possible types of skill sets that Malaysians may end up being good at given this trend as indicated by the TIMSS 2011 survey.

The scenario may be played out as such-

“I mean, I couldn’t help noticing,” said Ford, also taking a sip, “the bodies. In the hold.”
“Bodies?” said the Captain in surprise.
Ford paused and thought to himself. Never take anything for granted, he thought. Could it be that the Captain doesn’t know he’s got fifteen million dead bodies on his ship?
The Captain was nodding cheerfully at him. He also appeared to be playing with a rubber duck.
Ford looked around. Number Two was staring at him in the mirror, but only for an instant: his eyes were constantly on the move. The first officer was just standing there holding the drinks tray and smiling benignly.
“Bodies?” said the Captain again.
Ford licked his lips.
“Yes,” he said, “All those dead telephone sanitizers and account executives, you know, down in the hold.”
The Captain stared at him. Suddenly he threw back his head and laughed.
“Oh they’re not dead,” he said, “Good Lord no, no they’re frozen. They’re going to be revived.”
Ford did something he very rarely did. He blinked.
Arthur seemed to come out of a trance.
“You mean you’ve got a hold full of frozen hairdressers?” he said.
“Oh yes,” said the Captain, “Millions of them. Hairdressers, tired TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, public relations executives, management consultants, you name them. We’re going to colonize another planet.”