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Monday, January 26, 2009

Have a Bull of a year...

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It's a true reflection of how multicultural Malaysia is when in the span of less than 3 months, we observe 4 different new years - that Walski knows of, at least.

To all Malaysians, wherever you may be...

Image hosting by PhotobucketHappy Year of the Ox - hopefully with minimal bull...
(image source)

Happy Chinese New Year
Selamat Tahun Baru Cina
Gong Xi Fa Cai
(specific CNY dedications, and more, in the full post)

Special wishes and thoughts, in particular, go out to fellow blogger and friend Paula Khoo, aka Masterwordsmith. The new year this time around must be a very trying one her and her wonderful family. Walski's thoughts go out to you... and hope things progressively get better. (For context, check out KTemoc's post from Saturday)

So, is the year of the Ox going to see our economy strengthen for real? Or is it going to be the case where all we're going to get is more of the same 'ol, same 'ol that "the economy is as robust as ever", while downsizing and contraction of the economy goes on silently?

In other words, are we going to see a bull run, or just a lot of bull?

Walski's been told that these things will become more apparent once the Chinese New Year festivities are over - sometime in the next couple of weeks, after the 15th day of the new year.

Where Walski currently is, it was announced last Friday that the UK is "officially" in recession. Singapore announced that they are in recession some weeks ago.

Some things can't be hidden or swept under the carpet, for appearance sake. Might as well just admit that we're in recession. Or stagnation. Or whatever. Then, the necessary steps can be taken to mitigate the situation from getting worse.

Malaya (what is now Peninsular Malaysia) gained independence in 1957, the year of the Yin Fire Rooster (ref: Wikipedia), while Malaysia, as is (plus Singapore), came into being in 1963, the year of the Yin Water Rabbit. It would be an interesting exercise to see what the year of the Ox holds for entities born during these two periods (not that Walski believes in horoscopes and such).

In any case, Walski is hopeful that Malaysia will persevere this year. If we play our cards right, maybe even flourish...

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Malaysia!

Click here for the full post......

Saturday, January 24, 2009

LRTQ: Reading and Comprehension

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Image hosting by PhotobucketIt's really funny how we can always learn something from even the most mundane of everyday things. You might be wondering what little everyday mundane thing that Walski wants to bring up. But more about that later on in the post.

The first chapter of the Quran revealed to Prophet Muhammad is the Surah Al-'Alaq (96th surah):

Image hosting by PhotobucketSurah 96, verses 1 to 5 (from

(1) Read! (or proclaim!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created-
(2) Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood:
(3) Read/Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,-
(4) He Who taught (the use of) the pen,-
(5) Taught man that which he knew not.
(Yusuf Ali translation, via

The importance of seeking knowledge is something that the Quran emphasizes in many places. It is, however, very significant, in Walski's view, that the very first command to Muhammad was Read.

Not Worship. Or Preach. But Read.

There are, incidentally, two types of reading - the type that comes with understanding what you read, and the other type where it doesn't matter whether you understand or not. Some people call the second type of reading "chanting". Because as long as you mouth off the words being read the way they're written, then your obligation to "read" is done.

But does eloquently mouthing off the words good enough to enable us to pursue the knowledge contained within the words? Of any reading material, for that matter.

Which is where our mundane everyday example comes in...
(the consequences of incomprehension, and more, in the full post)

One of the things about living in a house in Malaysia (tropical climate and all), that totally drives Walski up the wall, is household pests. Specifically, roaches. And to a slightly lesser degree, ants. And so one day, Walski and the Mrs decided that enough was enough, and engaged the services to a pest control company to handle the problem that we were having.

As you can see from the pictorial evidence below, it worked quite well.

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe killing fields of non-comprehension

Don't ask Walski why exactly he took a picture of the roach killing fields under the counters of his kitchen. But witnessing the carnage that the pest control chemicals wreaked, a few thoughts did cross Walski's mind:

  1. There's probably a good reason why God made cockroaches illiterate. Presumably illiterate, that is.
  2. But what if the cockroaches could mouth of the word P-O-I-S-O-N? Very eloquently. But had no clue what the word meant?
  3. The skull and crossbones is another story altogether, assuming the roaches were the head-banger types - something along the lines of "Cool, man...." - munch, swallow, stagger, die...

Walski's somewhat irreverant roach example underlines the important fact that chanting off words doesn't bring us any closer to understanding what the words mean. Of course, the sprayed stuff would've gotten them roaches whacked anyways... but let's not be nitpicky on details, okay?

And that, really, is the point of the entire campaign - to encourage more people to read and comprehend/know/understand what's contained in the Quran. And that necessitates "reading" in a language you understand - which, for Walski, would either be English or Bahasa Malaysia.

It goes without saying, of course, that one cannot possibly teach, unless one knows. And one cannot possibly know, without comprehending. And if one were to learn "by the pen", simply reciting (or chanting) words probably doesn't quite cut it. Some level of comprehension would be necessary.

We live in the age of online information access, and the online resources when it comes to Quranic translations are bountiful. Here's one that Walski finds useful, incidentally: - it's got about 14 different translations all rolled into one convenient reference site. In addition, it's also got Transliteration and Literal translations (but the other ones are much more useful). And of course the original Arabic text, too.

The one translation Walski's not been able to find, so far, is Roach. Then again, we don't really want to have our vermin up to speed, now, do we?

Click here for the full post......

Saturday, January 17, 2009

LRTQ: Participant Post Update 1

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Image hosting by PhotobucketYou must be wondering why Walski hasn't posted anything yet, after the introductory post yesterday. Well, as sucky timing would have it, Walski is about to embark on one of his long-distance trips


Since there's some time before his flight, Walski thought that he should update you people on some of the other participants whom have posted something.
(posts up so far, and more, in the full post)

There are a few, actually, which Walski has tabulated for you:

Go and read them, in lieu of Walski's own contribution to the campaign - which, unfortunately, you'll have to wait for a bit longer, as he's en route to a place far, far away. Which means a long-ish flight.

Also - reader CKGord has presented to Walski a number of questions, via the comments from the introductory post. And they are good, thought provoking questions. Well, rest assured that Walski will take a stab at answering them.

Unless any of you beats Walski to it. Which is very possible, under the circumstances.

Well, until Walski can have more time on solid ground again, which should be in about 20 hours or so, go and read those other posts that Walski mentioned above...

Click here for the full post......

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blog campaign: Let's Read The Quran

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We need your participation!

Image hosting by PhotobucketOn January 1st 2009, four friends Syed, Walski, Marina and Anas got together at Coffee-Bean Bangsar Village and decided to launch a campaign to encourage people to read and understand the Quran better.

This campaign is not only for Muslims, but also for our brothers and sisters who are Christians, Buddhists Hindus, Sikhs and those who believes in a God-Head but not so gung-ho about being in any brand of religion, too – come join us and share your ideas! You can join this campaign even if you are an atheist!

The goal of this campaign is to encourage people to read the Quran in the language they understand most and find in it areas of common values in our day to day living.

What is the Campaign all about?
Read the Quran in the language that you are familiar with.

When will the campaign start and end?
January 15th to February 14th (Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Participating blogs in the blogospheres.

So more people know what the Quran says and what the Quran does not say and to match it to what is really said in our daily lives.

Everyone who wants to – the more the merrier! If you have a Blog, Facebook, etc carry the logo/icon. 
(how to participate, and participating blogs, in the full post)

- To join the campaign, place the accompanying logo/icon at your blog.
- Write or share short articles based on the Quranic text.
- Share what you find in the Quran with family and friends.
- Ask questions about the Quranic message
- Read the Quran 
(there are plenty of resources on the Internet, for example: Quran Search @ islamiCity,, etc.)

Peace and Thanks,
Marina Mahathir
Syed Akbar Ali,
Walski, and,
Anas Zubedy

Participating Blogs
  1. 3540 Jalan Sudin
  2. Anas Zubedy
  3. ARTiculations
  4. Being Human in the World
  5. Cowboy Malaysia
  6. Disquiet
  7. Jebat Must Die
  8. Lunch at the Lake Club
10. myAsylum
11. O.B.E.
12. OutSyed The Box
13. Poetic Justice
14. Rantings by MM
15. Rapera
16. Renovatio
17. Rocky's Bru
18. Write Away
19. Writing By Amir

Click here for the full post......

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Leave them kids alone...

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Walski came across a scary picture earlier today (hat-tip: Shar101, via the comments). It's not scary in a gory way, but it does make Walski worry, somewhat.

Image hosting by Photobucketphoto credit: Abdul Rahman Roslan (via Flickr)

Future equal-opportunity jihadi? Sure, Walski had a lot of ambitions of what to be when he grew up, too. But "statistic" was never one of them. And just out of curiosity, if the male martyrs are promised 72 virgins in the next life, what do the female martyrs get, Walski wonders...

What on earth were the parents of this child thinking? And exactly WHAT are the parents of this child trying to teach the poor kid? Heck, and it's not even Halloween (not that the parents would approve of such a "pagan" observance).

But hey... can we really blame the parents? After all, they are the product of the Malaysian Education System - the last word used somewhat loosely. The same "system" whose minister is planning to do a mass child exploitation exercise (hat-tip: I Am Malaysian).

(a PDF version of the article can be downloaded here, which also includes readers' comments, most of whom are dead against the idea)

Isn't being Education Minister such thrilling fun? The ability to use so many students to further your own political ambition must be a high that Walski can only imagine. And he's gotten high on enough diverse things to know... 
(keep the young 'uns out of it, and more, in the full post)

No wonder the portfolio of Education Minister is one of those must-hold for any PM aspirant, as history tells us. For some reason, this exercise, to Walski, is less about really caring about what's happening in Gaza, and more about another battlefield - Kuala Terengganu.

And what hypocrisy, too. Remember the outcry by the police when underage individuals participated in the Jerit bike-the-nation initiative (with their parents approval, no less)? That they were arrested for their own protection? Is the police going to protest the Minister of Education's plan?

Walski doubts it - it's usually one set of rules for BN-friendly initiatives, and another set of rules for everyone else. When Khairy Jamaluddin is involved in an a protest against the Gaza war, everything's hunky dory. But when it's a group not aligned with the BN doing it, the police are out in full force to stop it, even when it's pretty much for the same reason.

Walski also thinks that this exercise will be forced upon the students, who won't be given a choice in whether to participate or not. Nor will there be a need to seek parent's approval, is his guess. Same with the teachers, who won't be given a choice. Such is the power that the Minister of Education wields. It's no wonder the state of our education system is the way it has become - politics becomes the key consideration, not education.

It's times like these that a particular (and very commercially successful) Pink Floyd ditty comes to mind.

Hey morons... leave them kids alone! Parents of the future jihadi wannabe included.

Walski's 72-word disclaimer footnote: The promise of virgins (or houri) in heaven, as far as Walski knows, is not made in the Quran. And depending on who you talk to, the number varies, but “72” seems to be the most popular one. It’s one of those extra-Quranic elements that have crept into the faith, and inadvertently become synonymous with Islam. The promise of 72 virgins (among other things) is allegedly a worldly enticement for would-be martyrs.

Click here for the full post......

Reader comment: Hypocrisy & Inconsistency

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From time to time myAsylum gets comments from its readers that Walski thinks deserve more attention. In relation to the post "Whinges of War", a reader, who goes by the nickname of Lars, left a comment Walski thought was important to highlight.

Some minor edits have been made for grammar and punctuation, but not the content. Any emphasis is by myAsylum.

In any case, the comment by Lars has to do how hypocritical Malaysians (and the Malaysian government) can be.

Walski, with regards to this topic, allow me to ask a simple question, both as a fellow Malay and a Malaysian. First, let me say, I am supporter of neither side here - Israel is very violent and aggressive, Palestinians are simply way too corrupt, disunited and violent as well to rule themselves as they demand. Ok, here goes:

Do you think the Israelis are being made scapegoats by both our government (and many Muslim governments) to blind our local people to the many problems around?

Think about it.

What do Malaysians care if Israel kills 1000 or even 10,000 Palestinians? Seriously. It sounds callous, but think about it.

They're on the other side of the world. Ok, people will trot out the same old tired rubbish about "ummah" and them being human beings.

You know what? I agree. And here we are, in our backyard, the Thai government has been fighting a virtual civil war not even 10km from Malaysian borders. Oh, it doesn't get much publicity, but you know what? Death toll is just as high as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the last 10 yrs. And you know what? Not only are they Muslim (making them part of the ummah) they are also 99% as Malay as you and me, probably more Malay than any of our PMs, past and present. Not only religion, but race is common factor as well.

(the rest of the comment, and more,  in the full post)

Why no protest? No angry mobs burning Thai flags? No UN resolutions by our foreign minister? Where the hell is the "Ketuanan Melayu" UMNO screams about when Malays is getting brutalized?

Why when Condoleeza Rice came to visit, our local "hero" KJ jumped the police barrier to deliver a protest letter, but when the Narrathiwat massacre happened, not even a peep from our dear sleepy PM and his hero SIL? Or no US$ 1 million for the victims?

I'll let you in on another secret. Just to the north of our beautiful Sabah, another "ethnic cleansing" has been going on as Filipino troops fight a 20-year civil war against Moro separatist. Guess what? Muslim? Check as well. Also, many genes in common with Malay.

Death toll? No one really knows, but far exceeds Israel-Palestine. In fact, our Sabah is choked full of refugees from this conflict. Just go to Semporna and see...

So how come so many ignorants in our Government and Press? TV3 blasts Israelis to the max but not one bad word against Thais or Philippines? In fact they say many good things about them?

Jagalah halaman rumah sendiri sebelum pergi jaga tepi kain orang dekat Asia barat tu....

For the benefit of non-Bahasa Malaysia speakers, the last sentence reads "Let's take care of our own backyard, before being overly concerned about the people in the Middle East..."

And Walski agrees. 

Why the selective (and therefore hypocritical) boycott and protests? The instances quoted by Lars doesn't even take into account the silence by our Government and "concerned" NGOs about atrocities that happen to communities that are non-Muslim - silence, most of the time.

Not to take away from the tragedy and human carnage that has left Gaza in tatters. And Walski thinks he doesn't need to re-emphasize his stand.

But to answer the implicit question that Lars has posed, as to why the overzealous exuberance when it comes to Palestine, and not Southern Thailand or Mindanao? There are two reasons Walski can think of immediately.

First, as Muslims, we've been conditioned from young to believe that all the troubles in the world faced by the so-called ummah are the fault of the ubiquitous other. And no bigger other exists, as far as Muslims are concerned, than the Jews. In Malaysia, we've added to that list the ethnic Chinese, the Christians, the non-Malays... anyone that fits into the category of the other. It's always their fault.

And every one of these others is out to destroy Islam and Muslims. This "blame others" mentality has been built into our psyche, almost. And to think otherwise is tantamount to treason.

And the sick mindset of thinking that when bad things happen to people we don't like, it's God's punishment, and in extreme cases, something we should even rejoice. Some of us sometimes even hope and pray to God that bad things happen to people on our hate list.

But what about when Muslims kill other Muslims? Does any concerned Muslim in this country even care that Hamas has no qualms about persecuting and killing their own?

Or is it because they are outwardly fighting Israel that their crimes internally are turned a blind eye to? As long as it's against the other, then however cruel they may be to other Palestinians doesn't matter. Why? In the name of "Muslim solidarity"? Walski happened upon this video on YouTube. Watch and reflect.

A wrong is a wrong no matter who commits it. The silence of Muslims at large, in the end, becomes an indictment against Islam itself.

Ever wondered why the Arab states (with the exception of Egypt) have been very silent on the latest Gaza assault? Could it possibly be that they, too, want Hamas out of the way, and that Israel is doing the dirty work for them?

Secondly, specific to Southern Thailand and Mindanao, Malaysia always chooses to be the "good neighbor" who doesn't want to offend or interfere. Kinda like the neighbor who remains silent while the next door neighbor's wife is continually being abused physically and mentally, and the kids beaten half to death. And always the excuse of what happens in Asean countries is none of our business.

What hypocrisy.

Speaking of being hypocritical, why is it okay to protest a war when the protest is organized by BN-friendly parties, but not okay when organized by those seen as not being BN-friendly? Read Marina M.'s posting on how the police arrested 21 anti-war protesters yesterday, including MP for Klang, Charles Santiago. If you are a Malaysiakini subscriber, you can read about it here.

And why the big fuss about "child exploitation" when Jerit did its cycling campaign (with the consent of the underaged cyclists parents), but when the Education Ministry plans a mass rally using schoolchildren, probably without the consent of their parents, it's not exploitation?

What hypocrisy. And inconsistency.

Anyways... Walski thanks reader Lars for his valuable comment, by the way. It's refreshing to know that Walski's not the only person in this country who is sickened by this hypocritical behavior...

It's nice to know that he's not alone.

Click here for the full post......

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gaza: A few things you CAN do...

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Despite the fact that Walski absolutely does not support any ill-advised and emotionally-reckless boycott (see here and here), which apart from feeding certain people and organization's egos, will do more harm to Malaysia (and Malaysians) than will help the Palestinians, there are actually a few constructive things that we can do to lend some help to the war-stricken people of the Gaza Strip.

And no, volunteering for jihadi suicide missions is not one of them.

Image hosting by PhotobucketMalaysia is truly blessed to have a daring and caring organization like Mercy Malaysia, a volunteer non-profit organization that does aid and relief work worldwide. And Walski is equally humbled that he has, in the past, been privileged enough to have met the founder and president of this wonderful organization, Dr Jemilah Mahmood, who is currently in Rafah (on the Egyptian side, Walski hopes), personally lending her support, as much as she can, for the victims of the disproportionate Israeli action against Hamas.

The following comes from Mercy's website: 

Like any other 14 year old teenager, Shoroukh has dreams and aspirations. She enjoys school, is naturally gregarious and has many friends. One day, she hopes to go to University, succeed and go on to teach other students. It is her love for school and her friends that led her to make her journey there on the fateful day of the beginning of the Israeli air strikes in Gaza. Her school was damaged and debris falling on her also resulted in multiple fractures in her right leg.

Image hosting by Photobucket

She considers herself lucky. Her father had decided to take her out across the border for medical treatment. Little did they realize that when they left, their house along with many others in Brej Camp in Gaza would also be damaged and fall to the ground, burying her younger sister Nadine, 7.

Nadine barely survived and lies unconscious in Al Shifa hospital in Gaza with head injuries. Her mother and other four siblings are sleeping on the street.

“It is cold out there and I miss my mother and siblings,” cries Shoroukh.

“I wish it was me and not Nadine who is so badly injured. She is such a young girl and should not suffer like this. I miss her and I want to go home,” she adds.

But where is home now for Shoroukh and her family? Where will she stay when she returns to Gaza? What of the plight of the 2200 injured and still in Gaza? And who will shelter those who have lost their homes?

Palestinians are people too
(Source: Mercy Malaysia - Stories from Gaza)

(give Mercy Malaysia your support, and more,  in the full post)

What Mercy Malaysia needs now is financial support, to which you can help out by contributing to their Palestine Relief Fund. At least, by contributing directly to Mercy, you know that the contributions will go to real aid, and not for the procurement of weapons or other non-humanitarian needs. This is one organization Walski trusts, and feels that if you can, do contribute.

Image hosting by PhotobucketAnother thing you can do is sign a petition, put together by, a coalition of concerned world citizens. Walski got the tip-off from Marina M. via e-mail yesterday, and is passing the information on to you folks. Walski's signed the petition, which currently stands at over 370,000 signatures. They managed to get 250,000 signatures from around the world in 5 days, and are now targeting half a million. The petition will be handed to the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Arab League, and of course, the United States of America.

You may not think much of petitions, or their effectiveness, but sometimes when a petition reflects negative world opinion, the possibility that something positive happens is always there. The poster below gives you a better idea, perhaps, of where they stand.

Image hosting by Photobucket(click here to view a larger, more legible image)

It's not about calling for anyone's destruction or the dismantling of any state. What the Hezbollah are currently doing (shooting rockets across the northern Israel border) is not going to bring the region any closer to an acceptable resolution. What it will do is attract more violence.

A couple of simple and doable things for you to consider. More importantly, what you do, as an individual, will not jeopardize the jobs of other Malaysians, nor will it potentially isolate Malaysia economically.

Think about it.

Incidentally, if an article like this one can appear in a mainstream magazine like Newsweek in the US, "hope" is not just a four letter word...

Click here for the full post......

Boycott McNutty

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Related post: Nutty McBoycott

Our ex-PM, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, has asked Malaysian employees of McDonalds and Starbucks quit their jobs in protest of the US supporting Israel. For that matter, to quit from any US company.

But why stop at a half-assed boycott of "selected" companies? Walski thinks that it's a little hypocritical to target only mention these two companies specifically. Well, four, if you count Coca-Cola and Colgate-Palmolive (as PPIM has proposed). If you really want to cripple the economy of the US, there are a whole load of other companies you should boycott, too.

A pretty comprehensive list can be found here (via Wikipedia - which you should also boycott immediately after reading the list of American companies, since it's founder, Jimmy Wales, is also an American). But the complete list is somewhat boring, so Walski's selected a few key immediately recognizable ones that you should boycott.

Well, after all, Dr. M says that it won't kill ya... so, here's a guide to other American entities that you probably should boycott, too.
(let's boycott comprehensively, and more, in the full post)

And like most lists, we'll do this alphabetically. Until Walski gets tired. Plus, some explanations, to tire Walski out...

Image hosting by Photobucket3M Company - among other things, this company makes those yellow Post-it® notepads. And there are a whole host of other products 3M makes that you can happily boycott, too. Like Scotch-Brite® scouring pads. 3M operates in Malaysia as well, although offhand Walski's not sure how many Malaysians they employ.

Abbot Laboratories - core products are in the areas of pharmaceuticals, nutritional products and medical equipment. Got a headache? Well, don't take Vicodin. In fact, just live with your damn headache, since Panadol (made by GlaxoSmithKline) is made by a company that, while isn't US-based, is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. And no, living with headaches won't kill you... you'll simply be miserable, but you'll survive. Medical equipment? Walski reckons some people would rather die and become martyrs.

Adobe Systems - PDF's? Nope, forget about 'em - archive your documents by chiseling them in stone. They'll last longer. Illustrator? Use a fucking pencil instead (the non-US made ones) - it'll be tough doing web-based graphics, but that shouldn't matter anyway - read on to find out why.

Avon Products - Skip looking pretty (or less stinky) by boycotting products from this American corporation. Sure, it'll put a heckuva lot of direct selling housewives out of work, but hey - who needs money when you can beg on the streets, right? Sometimes, it's better to receive than give...

Boeing - Walski hopes that when traveling, Dr. M avoids any Boeing aircraft like the B737, B747, and B777 (65 out of the 79 MAS birds are Boeings). Luckily for Air Asia, they switched to Airbus, almost entirely (only 19 out of their 66 planes). But guess what, sports fans?

Image hosting by PhotobucketOne of RMAF's Boeing F/A-18D Hornet

Yes, RMAF's got quite a few Boeings in their fleet, too. Walski thinks they should just mothball 'em in support of the boycott. Better yet, fly 'em across the sea and ditch them. Hard. After the pilots bail out, of course.

While there are loads of other companies, come to think of it, Walski simply doesn't quite feel like writing about all of them... and trust him on this one - there are a lot more than you can imagine.

Image taken from Malaysiakini, hosting by PhotobucketScrew the environment, we've got a boycott on our hands
(via )

Other Food Products
But there's one thing that perplexes Walski, though. If Coca-Cola is to be boycotted, what about Pepsi? Starbucks, but not Coffee Bean? McDonalds and not Burger King, Wendy's, KFC or A&W? Umm... they're all American, too, you know? Let's not be hypocritical about the boycott, now, shall we?

And if you like pizzas, you also know that Pizza Hut, Shakey's and Domino's are off limits as well, right? Walski reckons the smaller boutique pizzas are safe... but better check who makes their ovens...

There are actually more American food brands than Walski can shake his joystick at... But, as usual Dr. M's right... not eating won't kill you. Not immediately, anyway.

Whether it's Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, or even the cheapo Low Yat Plaza variety of DIY computers, they almost ubiquitously contain either Intel or AMD microprocessors. Not to mention support chips from Texas Instruments. All of these companies, incidentally, are... yup, you guessed it - American. Boycott them all. Stop using your PC (after you finish reading this post, that is). Oh, you're a Mac user, you say? Well, guess what?

Ditch all 'em computers and go back to the good old abacus days, people... Oh, hang on... the abacus is a pendatang device... Damn. Oh well... Who needs to count up to anything more than twenty anyway, right?

And since Computers must be boycotted, Walski reckons that's that for the Internet, too. A chunk of which probably runs on Microsoft products of some kind. Maybe it's time we went back to the good 'ol days of smoke signals, carrier pigeons and human messengers. Snail mail's probably not free from being tainted by American products somewhere along the supply chain.

~ ~ ~ o O o ~ ~ ~

Walski could continue until Blogger runs out of disk space... but since Blogger is owned by Google, which is an American corporation, Walski reckons that he should probably stop here. If you don't see a new post on myAsylum for a while, you now know why - well, the boycott and all. Wouldn't want to be seen to be hypocritical or anything. Incidentally, Wordpress users - quit now - 'cause it ain't kosher either.

Which reminds Walski - Dr. M has a blog, as we all know. Any American products you using to run your blog, doc?

Walski's poll tie-in announcement footnote: Nothing works better to gauge how effective an initiative is than an opinion poll. And it's perhaps time to launch a new one. The poll can be found in the usual place, on the sidebar. So, after reading this post, do you think you'll still boycott ALL American products? Or do you choose to be hypocritical, and boycott selectively at your convenience? 

Click here for the full post......

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Nutty McBoycott

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A couple of evenings ago, Walski received a text message, that reads:

"Sms from London: Dear all, PLEASE ACT IMMEDIATELY! Starbucks & McDonalds, in the UK, are going to give all their profits to the Israelis until next Saturday. Spread the news. BOYCOTT Starbucks & McDonalds worldwide!! Sanusi Junid di London."

The only Sanusi Junid that Walski knows of is of the ex-Minister variety, and whether or not the guy is in London... well, let's just say that Walski doesn't maintain Sanusi Junid's social calendar.

Meanwhile, PPIM - The Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (yes, the same people with the "Crosses on Biscuits" crucifixation) - will apparently kick off a campaign to boycott 3 selected allegedly pro-Israeli products/companies, as reported by The Nut Graph.

Although the press release (originally from Bernama) didn't mention which companies specifically, a visit to PPIM's website tells us exactly who they have in mind - Coca Cola, Starbucks and Colgate, alleging them of being supporters of Israel. In addition to the 3 products mentioned specifically, PPIM has a separate listing of some 108 brand names (including the aforementioned three).

The press release does highlight one thing about PPIM, though - to them all Jews are bad, Zionist or otherwise.

More telling about the PPIM mindset, however, is their "choice" e-mail article: an allegation that Hinduism was created by the Jews!     
(jom boycott everything, and more, in the full post)

Unfortunately for PPIM, business today does not operate in a vacuum (unlike PPIM) - it's a Flat Earth economy - global businesses are connected in more than one way to other global businesses. And this includes interests, either direct or otherwise, reaching just about every corner of the globe, Israel included.

And will PPIM's nationwide boycott help stop the carnage that is happening in Gaza? And what would really happen, assuming their boycott is a resounding success?

It's time for Walski to give PPIM a bit of a reality check, he thinks.

First of all, Starbucks in Malaysia is majority (50.1%) owned by the Berjaya Group. Is PPIM also claiming that Tan Sri Vincent Tan is Jewish? Or Hindu (since according to PPIM's choice e-mail, they're pretty much one and the same)?

More importantly, however, go to just about any Starbucks outlet and observe who the employees are. The majority of them are Malay, and therefore Muslims. Assuming PPIM is successful, they're gonna be putting a heckuva lot of their own brethren out of jobs. Is PPIM going to find them new jobs?

Well, the press release doesn't go into such detail, unfortunately. Why? Probably because the thought of boycott alone sent them into such an ecstatic frenzy that other important details became unnecessary.

Again, assuming PPIM is successful, and puts Starbucks out of business in Malaysia, apart from Muslims loosing jobs, what else would happen? Best case, nothing. But worst case, Malaysia would lose a big chunk of foreign direct investment - who's gonna pay for our bloated civil service then? Isolating Malaysia economically at this juncture is probably not the smartest thing to be thinking about.

The point Walski's trying to make here is this: has PPIM thoroughly thought out it's proposed boycott, bearing in mind how real-world business works? Answer: Probably Not.

It's easy to get emotional over what's going on in Gaza. And as Walski has reiterated in his earlier post, how Israel went after Hamas must be condemned. As should the blockade that Gaza has been under. News of a UN school being shelled (via Al-Jazeera), killing innocent refugees, including children, has, quite frankly, broken the camel's back of world opinion against Israel in the Gaza Operation.

In fact, if you've been following the developments, a truce is currently being brokered by Egypt and France, which has also gotten the support of the US (via The Malaysian Insider). At this juncture, as Walski had indicated previously, a complete ceasefire is what's needed. It's not going to be easy, but let's hope there is some progress that would at least lead to a halt in fighting.

And if a ceasefire is achieved after the launch of their Nutty McBoycott, it would really be funny if PPIM actually claimed responsibility... 

Click here for the full post......

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Whinges of War

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Complex problems rarely, if ever, have simplistic solutions to overcome them. Assigning simplistic reasons to explain complex problems, too, doesn't help. And neither does blame-storming.

Image originally from Wikipedia, hosting by PhotobucketIn Walski's mind, as things stand today, the problem that is the Middle East is an extremely complex and convoluted problem. Walski has purposely refrained from writing anything about the conflict thus far. Not because he doesn't care, but because it is a very difficult and complex subject to write about.

But let's make one thing crystal clear - and get it out of the way - the disproportionate response that Israel has inflicted upon Gaza is definitely something that needs to be condemned, and in that regard, the UN has been an abject failure in putting a stop to the attacks.

What Israel is doing with this military exercise is akin to solving the problem of a termite infestation with a flamethrower, which in the process totally burns the kitchen down. If not the entire house.

The target of the Israeli assault - Hamas (via Al-Jazeera), popularly voted into the Palestinian Authority in 2006, defeating their rivals, and then Authority incumbent, Fatah. Since then, the in-fighting between Hamas and Fatah has been ongoing.

And herein lies part of the problem.

Hamas, in part, gets its support from Iran, and written as part of the Hamas charter is the call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Plus, they have this nasty habit of shooting rockets into Israel's backyard...  
(many sides to the Middle East story, and more, in the full post)

This recent mini-war in Gaza comes after the expiry of a six-month long ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, from June 19 until December 19 of 2008.

The ceasefire, which was brokered by Egypt, started to break down earlier, when in November, 6 Hamas militants were killed in an incursion by the Israeli military into Gaza, after the discovery of a tunnel being built under the border fence system, which Israel claimed was planned to be used to abduct Israeli soldiers, stationed about 250m away from the fence (source: The Guardian).

Hamas then responded by firing a barrage of rockets into southern Israel, which they claim was their response for Israel's breach of the truce. Hamas refused to renew the truce, upon its expiry on December 19, citing the refusal of Israel to keep it's end of the deal, by lifting the blockade put in place since June 2007, when Hamas seized control of Gaza. Israel, on the other hand started to ease the blockade initially, but backtracked claiming that Hamas, too, did not live to their end of the bargain, which included halting rocket and mortar fire, plus putting a stop to weapon smuggling.

And so, Hamas resumed their firing of rockets, which increased drastically towards the end of December. Now, knowing full well how Israel would react, it would be reasonable to ask: why the heck did Hamas start shooting rockets across into Israel again?

So, who's to blame? Is it really as one-sided (hat-tip: OutSyed the Box) as some of us prefer to think?

To Walski, in this case, everyone involved in the current (and ongoing) conflict is to blame. Israel, Hamas, the neighboring Arab states, the United States, Iran... every single damned party to the conflict has blood on their hands.

The "stakeholders" in the Middle East conflict, so to speak.

Funny, but when "stakeholders" are involved in any argument or conflict (remember the "stakeholders" in Malaysia's own fracas about the language to be used for the teaching of Math?), it's always the children that eventually suffer (hat-tip: Marina M.). Every stake being held represents a self interest, usually, without so much as offering holistic solutions to the problem(s) at hand.

In a conflict as long-lasting and emotional as the Arab-Israeli conflict, it's also sometimes easy to take sides. Yes, Israel must be condemned for their over-zealous and over-the-top military action - of that there's no doubt whatsoever, and most of the world agrees (via Al-Jazeera). But at the same time, Hamas, too, bears responsibility over what has happened in recent weeks.

What's most imminently critical, at this point in time, is a total ceasefire. On all sides.

And then the tougher part comes - how to once and for all solve the problem that we know as the Middle East.

In any argument or conflict, the two things critical towards complete resolution are trust and compromise. Usually in that order, too.

Israel needs to be convinced that its neighbors are not out to destroy and dismantle it. On the part of Hamas, Fatah and all the other Palestinian "stakeholders", the rhetoric of calling for Israel's destruction has got to stop. And rather than fighting each other over who has the rightful claim over the problem, the factions need to ensure that the welfare of the people they claim to speak for is paramount.

And for all sides to agree that PEACE must be central to the solution.

The time has come to collectively move forward, not analyze root cause anymore. This continued path of assigning blame may be the easier route, but it certainly is not the most productive one. And the time has also come for all parties to realize - both within the blast range of the killing fields of conflict, and amongst the parties that support the belligerent participants - that this is not about religion or religious/moral high ground anymore.

It's about territory, stewardship over said territory, and most importantly, it's about being good neighbors. And in general, the realization good neighbors don't go whacking each other off just because someone's idiot dog or cat made a mess on the neighbor's lawn. Regardless of what the equally idiotic relatives of the aggrieved neighbor have to say.

Complex problems generally can't be solved with simple solutions, as Walski said initially. But when a problem, involving lots of people and a long history, gets so complex and convoluted, arriving at a solution may just require a complete cease and desist maneuver, of any and all action in progress, allowing a look at the bigger picture of what it is exactly that needs getting solved.

The eventual solution(s) may still not be simple, but at least it makes getting to the solution a lot less painful... for all "stakeholders", but more importantly, the innocent victims caught in between.

In the case of the whining, whingeing and warring parties that make up the never ending mess we call the Middle East, all this is easier said, of course, than done.

But, more importantly, not impossible.

Click here for the full post......

Saturday, January 03, 2009

KL Party Poopers

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As has been the case in years before this, 2009 starts with a scandal. Involving young people. Remember Goat Gate, that blemish of a stupid incident, which kicked off 2006?

Somebody once told Walski that two's company, three's a crowd, and four's an orgy.

Well, guess what? In KL, any more than 4 is liable to put you at risk of getting the longer-than-necessary arm of the law banging at your door.

The first question that popped into Walski's head when he heard about it: If this was such a terrible crime, as the Mainstream Media (particularly the Bahasa Malaysia ones) is making it out to be, exactly who were the victims?

Note to potential visitors to Malaysia: the terms "Privacy" and "Behind Closed Doors" are virtually non-existent in this country's vocabulary.
(the right to NO PRIVACY, and more, in the full post)

What some of the reports contained, too, raised Walski's eyebrows (yes, he has two). Like this one from The Star article clipped above:

"The women also tested positive for drugs, sources said."
(Source: The Star)

Not "some of the 26", or "a few of those arrested"... but very specifically "the women". What, weren't the men tested? Or was it because the guys weren't important enough. Two of those nabbed in the incident were female celebrities, as you'd probably have gathered from the numerous news reports.

Knowing something about how the Malaysian police does their drug screening (fortunately not first-hand), just about ANYTHING can cause you to test positive. Including that deadly substance called paracetemol.

Note to potential party-goers: If you have a headache, and have taken Panadol, stay the fuck home. And make sure nobody saw you popping 'em painkillers. Do like Mulder: Trust No One...

More scary, however, are the details of how the police (and who knows what other agencies) managed to nab these heinous criminals (of a victimless crime) in the wee hours of 2009 (from the same article, emphasis by myAsylum):

Sources said the duo had earlier partied away at a 2009 countdown celebration in Mont Kiara.

Later, along with some other acquaintances, they proceeded to the four-star hotel to attend the sexual escapade.

Sources said a team of police from the city headquarters busted the private sex party some 30 minutes after it began at about 3am.

“When police arrived, many of the party goers were already high on drugs.

“There were also three couples lying on beds, but they were clothed,” added the sources.
(Source: The Star)

What? They were found CLOTHED? What kind of a stupid SEX PARTY was it, if everyone was CLOTHED?!? Well, that probably depends on your definition of sex. In certain quarters, even holding hands is considered foreplay these days... but that's another stupid story Walski won't get into right now.

Image taken from Berita Harian, hosting by PhotobucketAnd as usual, whenever there's something sensational pertaining to young people - particularly young celebrities - the media was armed and ready. With their image capture apparatus, that is. Well, judging from what Walski has gleaned from the 'Net, the media that carried pictures at the scene were Kosmo! (Utusan's scandal paper), and Berita Harian (NST's BM semi-scandal paper). Like the one you see on the right. And just like Goat Gate, 3 years ago, the press were readily on hand.

Now, the details of where, what time (precise time, no less), and what not... makes Walski wonder if this was a set up, or if the celebs were followed and snitched on.

Maybe by someone who didn't get invited, and was pissed off... Who knows...

If Walski were prone to conspiracy theories, he'd have surmised that this was something planned, to pave the way for more stringent strangleholds on young people. Just watch what happens in the coming days and weeks. Since this was allegedly organized via Friendster (as The Star reported), Walski wouldn't be surprised if some high-ranking dickhead starts calling for snooping and surveillance on social networking platforms.

Oh, what a coincidence... UMNO elections coming up in March... Hmmm...

Also, since the raid was done on something going on behind closed doors, between consenting adults, it does make one wonder - is any place safe and private anymore? And does the term "consenting adults" even mean anything anymore?

What happened in KL in the early hours of 2009 was perhaps the more high-profiled one. Raids on hotel rooms were apparently also carried out in Kuantan (as reported by Kosmo!). And probably in other parts of the nation, too.

Note to self: Avoid Kuantan hotels like the plague on New Year's Eve.

Latest news reports is that everyone of the 26 are off the hook as far as "sex charges" are concerned, but will be investigated further for drug use. Particularly those who tested positive.

On a lighter note, based on the attention being given to the incident (by both the MSM and the morally rabid bloggers), Walski notes with sadness that even when it comes to sex scandals, Malaysians can't be more muhibbah... Sheesh...

And so, for 26 young adults, the year definitely began with a bang... well, actually it didn't - kinda difficult to do any sort of banging fully clothed.

Unless, of course, you count holding hands as foreplay...

Click here for the full post......

Friday, January 02, 2009

Oh Oh Nein!

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As a follow up to yesterday's post entitled Goodbye 2008, Walski was almost going to title this one "Hello Kitty!". For some strange reason, he has this morbid fascination with that annoying, but iconic, cartoon figure.

Image hosting by Photobucket

In any case, before he gets totally and kitty-fyingly sidetracked, a very Happy 2009 to everyone. Hope that the last night of '08 didn't take too much of a toll on ya. Walski celebrated the ushering in of the year with some friends in Seremban. It was also said friend's "official" wedding dinner. Suffice it to say, the evening ended very late, and so the daylight hours started very late yesterday morning, too.

And then he had to do some real world stuff... which is more satisfying than just staying cooped up in cyberspace. Plus, why join the crowd and wish his readers a Happy '09 on January 1st, when Walski can do it a day later?

Ok... excuses out of the way... on with the first post of '09.

Walski had originally planned this to be a retrospective of 2008, plus a look ahead at what to expect of 2009. And then he realized that everyone else had pretty much done the same thing. So, does he stick to the plan, or just make this first post of the year about something else?

Not that he wants to dwell on the recent past, but there were a few important things that happened last year, which will have some bearing on how this year will likely turn out. 2008 was, as Dickens would probably have said, the best of years, and the worst of years... 
(optimistic pessimism, past and future, in the full post)

2008 - The Good
There are probably a lot more good things that happened in 2008 than what Walski has listed below. But these are perhaps the most memorable to him. Plus, being he has the memory of a sieve, some events Walski may have simply forgotten.

The most important good thing that happened in 2008, Walski thinks, is the 12th General Election, which saw Barisan Nasional lose its 2/3 majority in Parliament for the first time in history (not counting 1969). Although what has ensued since is probably less than satisfactory, it did show that the people are pretty much fed up with the UMNO-dominated coalition.

Within BN, while most of the other component parties were calling for some sort of reform, UMNO remains in denial, blaming any plausible (and sometimes not so plausible) cause external to the party for the dismal showing on March 8th. Which, in the long run, is probably going to cause the party (and BN) to lose ground even more. Walski thinks that this, too, is probably a good thing. At the very least, it shows that the shock and awe of the status quo is losing its effect on the voting public, indicating a growing maturity in how the voting population thinks.

Another good thing that we saw in 2008 is an explosive and exponential increase in blogs. Walski thinks this, too, is positive, as it showed (to him at least) that people had things to say, but before discovering blogging, had no avenue to vent those thoughts. Quality of blogs, however, remains sporadic. But hey... it's very rare that quality comes with quantity, in any case. Overall, though, the increase in blogging is a good thing, if Walski may say so.

Because of blogging, and other alternative web-based media, 2008 also saw more exposure to how Malaysia really felt about issues. Certain things getting pushed through as policy and getting the whitewash treatment as far as public acceptability is concerned by the media mainstream became a thing of the past. The true pulse of what the nation was thinking can now be surmised via what the blogs are talking about. The most recent examples would probably be the yoga and pengkid (lesbian tomboys) fatwas. The outcry from the public (initially via the blogs, and later picked up by the press) was too loud to ignore. It now becomes more difficult to shove things down the people's throats. Which, in Walski's book, is a darned good thing.

What Zaid Ibrahim did - resigning from his position in the Cabinet and subsequently from the Senate - in protest over the unlawful detentions under the ISA last year (more below) - was something of a positive, in Walski's books. In Malaysia, it's very uncommon for a minister to resign on the grounds of principle. Which is possibly an indication of how un-principled most ministers generally are - but that's just Walski's point of view.

All things considered, the overall good thing that happened in 2008 was the desire for change. But change is a double-edged sword, and that is something that most people have difficulty coming to grips with. And with that, we now segue-way into....

2008 - The Bad
Yes, change is good, but change always comes with a price. It seems to Walski that many expected overnight improvements after March 8th. Compounding this expectation was the rhetoric of turn-coat politics, promoted by Anwar Ibrahim, putting specific deadlines for a change in government. Well, the deadline came, and went. Twice. And faster than you could've said "WTF!", absolutely NOTHING happened.

Disappointed? Well, to an extent, Walski decided that he should suspend his enthusiasm and put his cynical hat on... Yes, Anwar was a bit of a disappointment. Walski's sure that what was promised didn't happen for a good reason. The moral of the story? Don't count your frogs while they're still tadpoles squirming in your wishing pond.

Another moral of the whole deal - if you're gonna do something drastic, don't publicize it to death... just fucking do it. Anwar - please take note.

But in truth, exacting change isn't easy, especially if said change isn't thorough. And Pakatan Rakyat getting control of 5 state governments only means that the Federal Government is only going to turn the screws on tighter, to undermine any positive change that the local governments can manage.

Malaysia, after all, is governed based on a centralist Federal mandate, and the Feds have control over many national institutions. Like the police, for example. As long as the Federal Government doesn't change, real and lasting change can't be realized.

And so, while March 8 was a good start, it merely was just that - a start. And Malaysians need to realize that. Do read The People's Parliament post on this very subject. It puts expectations into proper perspective.

It's damn near impossible to undo in 9 months, what has been festering for the good part of almost 40 years (counting from 1969). The roots of familiar contempt do grow deep in four decades. And that's something we shouldn't ever overlook.

Yes, the police played their part in making 2008 a little more lackluster than what we'd have hoped. Instead of being apolitical, the PDRM certainly made it clear whose side they were on, giving leeway to public protest gatherings which were BN Government friendly, while ensuring those protesting against the status quo got their 15 minutes in Hell... and then some.

Compare and contrast: 

... with some of the other keeping of the peace that the police did in '08 (all links via Malaysiakini):

... and other incidents, where the police acted in a very heavy-handed way, compared to the kid glove treatment the pro-Government protests generally got.

2008 - The Fugly
Probably the ugliest thing that happened in '08 was the apparent renewed hatred for the ubiquitous "other" - be it in the form of racism, religious exclusivism, or simply the generalified us-against-them-ism...

The FUD-planting exercise by some, surrounding March 8 continues even into the new year, and Walski doesn't expect this to change much in 2009, at least not until the UMNO elections are done in March. At which point, they will either diminish (which Walski hopes to be the case), or will get worse.

Perhaps the biggest mindset problem Malaysians have, generally, is this idea that "if you're not with us, you're against us". We just can't seem to agree to disagree on things. We sometimes embody our ideas to the extent that any criticism of the ideas becomes a physical affront to our being. So, for example, if Walski opines that the NEP (as is) is detrimental to the nation, Walski is all of a sudden anti-Malay, and therefore must be put down, in the most inhumane way imaginable. Like calling him names and stuff...

Another related ugliness that reared its head in '08 was growing conservatism and exclusivism, especially on the religious front. Any public discussion that even touched on Islam was met with vehement protest. Like the protest against the Bar Council forum in August last year.

2009 - the 364.25 days ahead
As Walski mentioned earlier in the post, what happened last year will have some bearing on what we can expect this year. Truth be told, he is apprehensively enthusiastic about 2009 - hence the title of the post.

Come March, Rosmah Najib will become the new PM, after "winning" the UMNO elections uncontested. Yes, Walski is psychic that way... The bigger question, which Walski's psychic ability cannot foresee, is "And then what?" Well, the jury's still out on that one. One thing's for sure, though - the guy will be taking up office with a lot of baggage with him. Perceived or real, Walski really doesn't know, but that seems to be the case.

One fear is that as a means to unload some of that baggage, a clamping down on speech may be a recourse taken. Eeek. But that, of course, is speculation. And on Walski's part, he'll be keeping his virtual grubby fingers on the pulse.

The other thing that could happen not too long after Najib takes over is snap elections. Walski's not the first to think along these lines. Perhaps what happens in Kuala Terengganu this month will be a better indicator. If BN loses, then snap elections is almost a given, Walski thinks. 

The key thing on many people's mind will be how the nation will weather the global economic slowdown. The so-far feel good messaging from the Government is not very convincing. Rumor has it that even Petronas is feeling a little jittery, what with the price of crude oil being at the levels they are.

A friend of Walski's told him that the state of the economy will only be more apparent after the end of January. Or more specifically, after the coming Chinese New Year.  But the uncertainty surrounding the economy is another area that is getting folks jittery.

Another area of concern is the atmosphere of conservatism that continues to spread like a malignant tumor. The uproar over the Bar Council forum, the posturing by Jakim and the rest of the Islamic bureaucracy, and the continued mantra of "Islam under threat", all point to a situation that is far from comforting. When "respect for the ulama" is cited as one of the factors why Muslims are not successful (without much of any empirical data to support the statement), one does expect that implicitly the atmosphere of conservatism is being encouraged. The worst thing is that this conservatism is non-partisan politically.

And to make matters even worse, the utter lack of political will to keep Malaysia the happy non-religiously aligned nation that it's meant to be, per the Federal Constitution. Secular, in other words. Which does not equate to being God-less, as many would prefer to see it.

To wrap up an already to long post, Walski is a little hesitant to say that he's optimistic about 2009 being a great year. It just is too early to tell. And being that nothing actually got reset at the stroke of midnight (except the calendar), it's natural to expect a continuum of what we saw last year. 

Same (or worse) shit, different year, in other words....

Or maybe Walski's just being paranoid. In which case, he'd be more than happy to be proven wrong.

Sorry for the bleak and less than ecstatic outlook, folks, but that's how Walski sees things for right now. And for what it's worth, a Happy 2009 anyway... he does honestly hope it's a real good year for everybody...

Walski's acronymical explanatory footnote: The acronym FUD is a popular marketing term, and stands for "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt", a term made popular because of how IBM was putting the fear into the hearts of their customers as a means to sway them from considering more nimble computing technologies that were up and coming (this was in the Mainframe days), saying that it was new-fangled, unproven, risky, etc. The political FUD we've been seeing ain't very much different...

Click here for the full post......