10 Deadly Sins of Boring Speeches

Why wasnt any Malaysian Judge this entertaining?

Hidden as a close to item no. 9 in a speech titled “Boring Speeches – 10 Deadly Sins”, Michael Kirby exposes the modern speaker:

“Welcome to the world in which the new media nurtures new forms of boredom. The speaker who is bereft without his slides. The lecturer who always puts her transparencies upside down. The obdurate laptop that brings every international conference to a grinding halt because it simply refuses to deliver the visuals designed to add dazzle and glitz to a speaker who, left alone, would commit every one of the foregoing sins.” It doesn’t quite reflect the fun of the rest of the speech, but it’s the one I’m most guilty of. I find that I could no longer be interesting without these paraphernalia. Maybe it’s the corporatisation of an entertaining exercise such as a presentation. Whereas presentation in the past imports the entertainment industry (see how “corporatised” that very idea is?) it now conjures up images of an executive in pin-striped suit in a boardroom projecting charts and diagrams from his notebook computer onto some screens. Even pastors in churches do it now. It is proof of how much work went into preparing the message. But does that matter? I don’t care how much work went into any exercise if it isn’t entertaining or fruitful.

“So, I commend the enjoyment of life.” (From the Bible – really. Eccl 8:15)


Be That As It May

“Be that as it may”. Many have heard that phrase before, I’m sure. These 5 words are really the equivalent of that 1 word which I dislike but unfortunately a word which, kids my daughter’s age like to use. “Whatever”, uttered with a shrug of the shoulders but more annoyingly, with a rolling of the eyes (bottom-up). An older generation would probably say, “who cares”. To be fair, BTAIM goes further than WE or WC. BTAIM says yes but or, yes however. WE is really just WC. There are other more rude versions, but we wont go there. BTAIM is a way of saying, “I know that but even so” or “I know that but let’s leave that aside for the moment”. It may mean Augustine Pauline irrelevant, but it need not. I can say “I know Fact A but BTAIM…” without saying Fact A is irrelevant, although it often means I am saying it is. Have you used that phrase today? You must be a lawyer or a politician.


Logomachy Heard of that one? Neither have I. I should have, but I have
only just. Not before. It means I think a battle between meanings of
words. A conflict of meanings of words. If a melon is a fruit it
cannot be a vegetable. If a right is proprietary it cannot be
personal. Personal rights cannot be proprietary. Yes, stuff only
lawyers and academics worry about. But isn’t that what makes life
interesting. One learns new things, new words, at every turn. One is
never too old to learn, so the saying goes. I often feel too old to be
taught however, and so the process is not enjoyable. Yet I am being
taught everyday. By my daughter. By my wife. By my new boss. By my
younger colleagues. Logomachy. Go make sense of it, but what do I
learn after trying to do some legal research for the better part of
this afternoon? Affirmation of some vague legal principles for sure,
but the lesson that will stick better is that of a new word learned.

Problems with Dunces

An ex-boss of mine once said a major problem with lousy employees was they didn’t realise they were. He was a young, innovative and very bright CEO then, and he’s a respected industry leader now. So he must have known what he was talking about even then. I therefore think of him often, about what he would have said or done in a given situation. In these very new surroundings of mine now, I am often made to feel like a dunce. The bigger problem however, was that I often wondered if I was acting like a dunce in any given situation. Sometimes I would react in a way which would have been perfectly (I think) acceptable but for these new surroundings. Then I would reflect and ask if I was acting like a complete buffoon, and not knowing it. I guess it is true that the only scene sadder than an idiot is one who doesn’t realise he is one. Or is it? Is ignorance, true and complete ignorance, bliss? Is it better to realise one is an idiot, or is it better not to know? Surely the happier person is the latter? Unless one is wise enough to know it may be alright to be an idiot? Then is one truly free? Hmmm… things must be bad for me to think these things on the first working day of the week…

Running Shoes

I miss my New Balance 800 series shoes. The types for serious over pronators. For long runs, those were the best value shoes I have owned. Unfortunately they are not easily found. Especially those with 4W sizes. Of course the Asic ones are also very good, especially the Gel Kayano, but the prices for these have shot through the roof since about 3 years ago, and NB have proven very good substitute. The Nike Air Structure Triax was another good one I used, but again that was also very difficult to find, while I was in Malaysia. My reduced running meant my hunt for shoes have also tapered off, but I’m hoping to up the pace a bit, and may start looking for good ones again.

Long Weekend

Tomorrow’s Anzac Day – long weekend. We’ve finished most house chores we normally do on weekends, so tomorrow’s pretty free for recreation, I guess. Also, will feel free for a longer run. Since moving to Melbourne, I’ve not run as much as before. The 8-10k’s daily runs have not dwindled down to maybe 8k every other day. Sometimes it gets a bit wet in the morning, so I sometimes go for up to 3 days between runs. Thankfully my weight hasnt changed all that much, in fact have lost a little bit. This morning however, was able to go over to a football (that’s Aussie Rules Footy, actually) field for a run. They call it the oval over here, a bit like the stadium track I sometimes run on back in Klang. I mentioned to wifey how few people were there and she said that’s probably there’re ovals all over whereas back in Klang, there were probably only 2-3 spots to exercise, so each spot is usually filled with people. Anyway, the run was good and as always, the cooler and cleaner air makes for much better running. Maybe tomorrow I can go for a longer one, maybe a 15k. Need to have less wine tonight though, if I want to do that.

Christianity In Vogue in China

How times change. I remember when I was a kid, i used to hear stories about chinese Christians being persecuted. Now it seems, Christianity has become a fashionable thing (see article in Economist on 21 April 05, linked above). I guess when a country opens up, its people get to choose what it wants. I hope Malaysia opens up more, too. I read recently it would allow Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia to be freely available but it must be restricted to non-Muslims only. Why? Dont they trust Muslims to be strong in their own faith? Has the millions of ringgit spent on furthering Islam been all for nothing, in that Muslims still need to be protected in this manner? I think this restriction is an insult to Muslims.

“So, I commend the enjoyment of life.” (From the Bible – really. Eccl 8:15)

Brilliance of Malaysian Civil Service

Take a look at the comments to Jeff Ooi’s posting (20 Apr 05) on a possible Malaysian cabinet re-shuffle. There was a long comment regarding the alleged Malaysian Civil Service. That part of the comment about the employability of retired civil servants reminds me of one such person. He was a very senior civil servant who on retirement went on to pretend to serve on the board of a listed company. That listed company had just been taken over by the ministry of finance, who was in the process of injecting a public service/amenity into that listed company, to “privatize” it. He commented that that was a brilliant proposal for that company, as that public service/amenity is a potential goldmine.  It would be easy, he suggested, to increase profit margins astronomically. After all, he quipped, the costs of printing a 20 sen stamp would be the same as for a RM100 one (gee, did I just give away the identity of that public service/amenity?).  Those of us sitting in the boardroom (who aren’t directors) just tried very hard not to drop our jaws/ROTFLOL. Of course, the months after that was a nightmare for us. I left the company a few months later, not being able to absorb all those brilliant ideas. True Malaysian that I was, I sometimes asked myself if it would have been worth the while just to remain in that company and earn buta money/salary. I am glad I left.

H Potter and Others

Harry Porter’s next offering is titled Half-Blood Prince or something like that. I was strolling past a bookshop during lunch earlier today and lo and behold, a 4by4 poster strung prominently across a pillar inside that bookshop (Dymocks) says they are taking orders now. It is a countdown poster, for 100 days. They have marked it to the 87th day, so presumably there are 86 days left to go. It costs $29.90, rrp $45.00. A shop assistant told me sales are going well and they are encouraging pre-launch purchases. I was wondering if I should buy it for kiddo when I woke up and realised I should buy a book after I read reviews for it, not before. Unless I love the author, which I don’t. Not really. Kiddo of course, is crazy about this series and would surely have loved it if I’d bought it. I think I’d wait. There was a far more interesting book titled “1001 Movies You Should See Before You Die”. Hmm… I love movies, but that’s not the reason I live. I flipped through it, and of course, it is filled with classics galore. Kurosawa, John Ford and Hitchcock are the only directors I recognised for pre-60’s movies. Of course I didn’t go through it thoroughly. I’m sure there are others I would have known. Didn’t buy it of course, because this monster weighs in at over a thousand pages and it’d be uncomfortable reading in bed or the throne, my two favourite reading places. Didn’t buy the discounted Da Vinci code, either (only $15). In fact, haven’t even finished the last 2 books I borrowed from the public library. I should do something about my reading. I know I get tired of reading at the end of a mostly …reading and writing day, but I should resume my reading.


Footy In Melbourne

I must know this Aussie Rules Football more. I cant go on living in Melbourne without appreciating this sport, as it is virtually the only sport people talk about. I mean, Man Utd creamed the barcodes on Sunday and no one has anything to say about it the next day. Tiger regains the US Master and no one has anything to say the next day. But when some otherwise obscure footy player says something, gets injured or simply cries, it gets heaps more column inches than Prince Charles’ wedding. So, what do I know about this game so far? The teams I have heard of include: Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Brisbane Lions, Carlton Blues, Collingwood Magpies, Essendon Bombers, Geelong Cats, Hawthorn Hawks, St Kilda, Fremantle, West Coast Eagles, Melbourne, Kangaroos (or are they both the same team….) Any player could be in any part of the field at any time during the game. You could give the ball a big kick like goalies do by carrying the ball a few yards before dropping it for that kick. A team member who takes a clean catch from such a kick is said to have taken a good mark, who is then free to take that kick, unimpeded (sort of like a free kick). You could also volley (using your hand) the ball to pass it to a player near you. You could kick it normal soccer style, ie along the ground, to another player who is free to pick it up any way he chooses. You could simply throw it rugby style, to another player. All this while (except when you have a good mark), any player can tackle you, rugby style. The objective of course is to get the ball past the middle goalposts, which gives your team 6 points. If you get it past either of the side goal posts, your team scores only 1 point. I have yet to watch a whole game (in fact I have not watched more than 2-3 minutes of any given game), so I don’t really know anymore stuff, like whether each quarter really lasts 15 minutes or whether there are only 4 quarter in a game. I also don’t know how many players there are in each side. I shall make efforts to find out however, as I am now strongly anchored to the bottom of the tipping table in my office. My daughter and I agreed that we shall take steps to identify a team to call our own, by the end of the current season, and perhaps start attending games next season.