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Saturday, January 02, 2010

2010 - A Continuing Odyssey

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Before he gets too carried away, Walski would like to wish one and all a very happy New Year to myAsylum readers wherever they may be – even if it’s not quite 2010 yet where you are.

Happy New Year 2010, image hosting by Photobucket

Fellow-blogger Rapera, in his welcome-2010/goodbye-2009 post asks us an important question:

Is the year “new” or will we be “new”?

Pondering on this for a bit, what has changed about your world when you woke up to 2010 this morning?

As far as Walski can tell (from not suffocating and keeling over), the air in his world is still 78.084% Nitrogen, 20.948% Oxygen, 0.934% Argon, 0.031% CO2, and 0.03% dan lain-lain (give or take). By volume, that is. Exactly like it was in the old year.

So just what is so new about the New Year?
(what Walski would & wouldn’t like to have in 2010, and more in the full post)

Well, physically, not a thing. As Rapera aptly hinted, it’s us that changes with every year, and not the year itself. And so, whatever Walski wants in this new year – and for that matter what anyone else does – will depend on human factors that have nothing to do with the movement of time.

But let’s not belabor this point to death – Walski knows, as he knows you know, that the “new year” is but a point of reference that we give, within a system we practice, so as to be able to describe past/present/future events more precisely. So that instead of having to say “four hundred and thirty seven days ago”, we can simply say October 21st 2008. There’s absolutely no significance to this date, by the way, except that it was a Tuesday.

In any case, there are a few things that Walski would like to see happen this year. And some that he’d like a lot less of. And even some he’d like to see gone forever.

Realistically, much of what Walski wants he has no control over, and will require change in other people and institutions. One can still hope, no?

First, here are what Walski would like less of:

Politics – Ever since the run-up to the March 8, 2008 General Elections – almost 2 years ago now – Malaysia has been caught up in this perpetual, never-ending spin-cycle of politics. It’s long past the point of being tiresome – Walski finds it fucking irritating. To the max. And before you go screaming “Opposition sympathizer” on Walski’s ass, he thinks that it’s the fault of all parties, not just BN. EVERY-fucking-BODY. So, here’s some unsolicited advice that Walski would like to impart: stop with the politics, and get down to doing some real productive shit. Both to BN and to PR. To BN, you did badly during GE12 – you know it, and we sure as hell know it – now get on with life and start doing the work you were elected to do. And stop trying to undermine the states you lost with coups and underhanded tactics. You wanna win them back? The next GE is the proper platform. To PR, Walski realizes that the reality of governance is something you are only now coming to grips with, and that the Federal Government is not making life easy. Just don’t forget one thing – we didn’t elect you so that certain segments of your coalition can turn this nation into a theocracy. You did real good in coming up with a Common Policy Framework – just make sure you keep to your word, and walk your talk. And if any of the politicians are closet BN/UMNO wannabes – let them go – you don’t need any politician that’s less than sincere in your fold (okay, a “sincere politician” does sound like an oxymoron, but you get Walski’s drift).

Moral Policing – Bad enough that Malaysia is a police state, let’s all make sure it doesn’t further de-evolve into a Moral Police state. Sometimes, Walski feels that the only gratification Moral Policing gives is in the creation of “criminals” – oh, and making sure that this life is as hellish as possible. That said, in this respect, 2010 got off to a great start.

Walski’s just glad the girl didn’t actually jump down, or fall off, from the building. Assholes. And to think that there are those who actually wish for more of this in Malaysia. Bigger Assholes.

The photo you see on the left is from a similar news report in The Star.

Worried about her precarious position, the officer asked her boyfriend to coax her.
(source: The Star)

Worried about her precarious position, or of your own fucking culpability, should something nasty have happened to the poor girl. And looking at the drop, she would have suffered severe hurt, or maybe even permanent death, should she have jumped, or fallen.

And if that had happened, would the authorities have been charged? The cynic in Walski thinks not – and if that’s the kind of Malaysia that some Malaysians want, and God-forbid manage to one day achieve, then it’s no country worth staying on in. At best, at that too is a real stretch, this sort of crap is best left for the burgeoning reality TV that we’re being bombarded with.

Reality TV Shows – Speaking of which, it seems as though almost every conceivable (and sometimes inconceivable) situation now gets turned into a reality TV show. It was novel for a while, but now it’s gotten to the point of being ridiculous. If some obese fuck needs to lose weight, fine. They should for the sake of their health. But they don’t have to make the rest of the world suffer along. Oh, but it inspires unhealthily fat people to lose weight, you say? Look at it this way – if the mirror in your house, and snickering behind your back, is not inspiration enough, then a reality TV show probably isn’t going to, either. Come to think of it – what of those who get eliminated from the show along the way? Are they Bigger-than-Biggest losers? And if Moral Policing escapades in Malaysia were to be turned into Reality TV (shudder), can we name the program Even Bigger Than the Bigger-than-Biggest Loser?

Racism – Let’s face it – an entire system that was built, over the last half a century, along racial lines is not something that will be easy to dismantle. But that doesn’t mean that it should be further encouraged, either. What kind of superiority can one claim, when in the same breath one says that they’re in perpetual need of preferential treatment, or for thinking anyone owes you a living? And by the way, it’s time we came to grips with the fact that Malaysia (plus Malaya & the Malay Archipelago before that) has always been a melting pot, and that almost EVERYONE’s forefathers was, at one time or another, a pendatang. No insult intended – even Walski’s proud of his pendatang heritage. Why settle for bland ketupat, when it’s so much tastier with a variety of sauces?

Environmental Damage – Regardless of what your opinion is on Global Warming, one thing you’ll have to admit is that we (as in humans) are responsible for a lot  of damage to the environment, in the process of this thing called development. The horrendous landslips at Highland Towers and Bukit Antarabangsa were not “acts of God” per se, but the repercussion of hill-cutting, natural foliage removal, and the subsequent erosion, as a result. Mother Earth is a self-regulating closed system of gigantic proportions – imbalance of something will cause a shift in something else, as the system regulates itself. Take Carbon Dioxide, for example – the fact that it continues to hover around 0.03% (by volume) in the air we breathe is a clue that the excess CO2 that we spew into the atmosphere (and don’t say we don’t) had to have gone somewhere. The fact that we also keep cutting down natural nocturnal CO2 ingestors – tress, to you and Walski – is an added pressure to the environment to regulate itself. Hence, increased acidity in our oceans and groundwater, to maintain the fine balance in the air we breathe, between living, and keeling over gasping for air. It’s the simple principle of what-goes-around-comes-around. So yeah, let’s be more kind to the environment, shall we?

There are quite a few other things, too, like Stupidly Suicidal Drivers, Corruption, and Public Stupidity, which Walski won’t elaborate on. Otherwise, this post will be never-ending.

That said, there are a few things that Walski would like to see more of:

Walking The Talk – It’s important, just like Walking The Dog, which if you don’t do, will simply cause the accumulated poo-poo to one day appear in places you don’t want it to. And if the dog happens to be sitting by a fan when that time comes, the result might just be explosively messy. In any case, many promising things have been promised (for lack of a better word) – liberalization, 1Malaysia (in the true sense), etc. Well, saying is one thing – it’s time to put some action to those words. Otherwise, it’ll be another year of active sloganeering. Of course, the biggest stumbling block to political leaders’ aspirations is sometimes the members of their own political party, who may be a tad intellectually challenged to fully appreciate the true value of what’s proclaimed. It goes back to what Walski said earlier about doing the right things vs. politics being a popularity contest.

Acceptance – And not just tolerance. Tolerance, to Walski, merely means putting up with things you find distasteful. Like tolerating stupidity, for instance. Acceptance, on the other hand, is the wholehearted belief that others have the right to be as they are. No matter who these others are, or what it is they choose to be. We’ve seen some minor progress in 2009, and Walski hopes that he’ll see a lot more in 2010, and beyond. 2010 promised to be a good start when the courts ruled that no one community has the exclusive right to use ‘Allah’ (via The Malaysian Insider). At least, until the Court of Repeal has anything to say about it. ButImage hosting by Twitpic already, some Muslim exclusivst groups are up in arms over the decision. Including one former Selangor Chief Minister who says that he’s in mourning over the decision, and a Member of Parliament from the same political party who says that the decision will “stir racial tension(both news items via The Malaysian Insider). Not 'religious' tension, mind you, but 'racial’ tension. You really have to wonder how the exclusivist logic works. Or if there’s any logic involved to begin with. It’s almost like the age old playground taunt of “my God is better than your god”, when every Muslim knows that there’s only one god. It’s not like the Big Guy wears a name tag with ‘Allah’ written on it. So yeah, some acceptance of the fact no one religious/race community has exclusivity to God would be very nice for a change. And that’s acceptance, mind you, not tolerance.

Equal Access To Persecution-free Entertainment – And not a 1Apartheid situation where it’s a “crime” for one demographic to have fun (in whatever manner they like, as long as it doesn’t hurt others), and not a crime for everybody else. This really goes back to the No Moral Policing bit Walski already elaborated on earlier. Also, some lightening up on the “will bring about moral decay” rhetoric when it comes to entertainment would be great. Fine if you use that argument on corruption, but it really is a stretch when it comes to things which the young, and young-at-heart, regard as fun. And really, there is no “fun” in fundamentalism, no matter how tangled you try twisting your logic around.

Better Public Transportation – This, in fact, is related to Walking The Talk that was mentioned a few paragraphs back. Because so far, all we hear is talk. Talk, talk, talk. And while the poo-poo has already hit the proverbial fan, as far as KL is concerned on any given workday, it’s still not beyond the point of no return. The fact that Walski has greater hopes in Indonesia being socially more conducive to living (provided the fundies are kept at bay), it doesn’t mean he likes Jakarta traffic. And by Public Transportation, Walski means Public Transportation SYSTEM – not the piecemeal, not-very-connected islands of public transportation that KL boasts. Integrated? Look the damned word up in a dictionary before calling yourself that.

Civil Liberties – The broadening spectrum of civil liberties is what Walski hopes to see more of in 2010. We’ve been getting better in some respects, but much, much worse in others. The stunt pulled by the Government late last year of having stricter news censorship and obfuscation rules, in the guise of “self-regulation”, came under attack by the media bodies themselves. And now we’re hearing about new film censorship guidelines, to be introduced in 2010, of which Walski’s not entirely optimistic about. But he’ll give it the benefit of the doubt until the time it’s released, and (hopefully) open to scrutiny. Included in the spectrum of civil liberties is, of course, free speech, which unfortunately didn’t fare too well in ‘09. Again, Walski hopes for the best in the coming year…

To comprehensively go over every single thing that Walski would like more, and those that he’d like less, in one single post would mean that he’ll have nothing to write about for the rest of the year.

So, on that thought, he’d better stop here for now.

But in truth, this year will only reveal itself to be “new” if we make the effort to change ourselves for the better, and towards making what we want a reality. Many things, of course, are not entirely in our hands. Surprisingly, however, it’s amazing how even one small single action can have far reaching ramifications, whether we realize it, or not, at the onset.

It’s all part of the strange and mysterious continuum we call life, where 2010 is but another unfolding chapter…

Walski’s borrowed inspiration for post title creation acknowledgement footnote: Sci-fi buffs will probably have the suspicion that the post title is somehow related to Arthur C. Clarke’s “2010: Odyssey Two”. And you would be absolutely spot-on, if you suspected as much. Guilty, as charged.

Okay, so space travel hasn’t advanced as far as Clarke had envisioned 28 years ago when he wrote the Hugo Award winning book, and we’ve certainly not found any intelligent monoliths of unknown origin, nor come any closer to explaining the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything unexplainable. Not even why is it that some people find durians utterly disgusting.

But since it’s the only book Walski’s read that has 2010 in it, it became the natural choice of inspiration.

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