Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

I read this book more than a year ago. Right after its publication, The Da Vinci Code quickly made its way to the bestsellers' lists, and was cast into the limelight so much so that numerous other works on the book itself, or on the same subject, or both, were churned out (and are still being churned out I'm sure). Suddenly, we find ourselves suffocated by books (written by other authors) titled along the lines of "unofficial guide" or "separating facts from fiction" or "the truth behind" or whatever catchy (or sometimes lousy) titles, riding on the waves of the "controversy" created by Dan Brown's latest book. (Come on, we all know you people are just out here to make quick money. If you're so good at writing, find your own topics and write about them!) Then, there were documentaries produced by Discovery and National Geographic channels, in which various "experts" in history, theology, archeology, whatever-whatever-ology were interviewed and asked to prove Brown right or wrong. These were at least interesting to watch, but the only conclusion I made watching them was - you know your book is a superb success when they call in experts to prove you wrong. Then, there was even a lawsuit! (Come on la! People will do anything to get quick money).

When the movie was made, there were protests and hundreds, maybe thousands more publications (online and offline) about "fictions" and "inaccuracies" in Brown's theory. Not to be mean or skeptical, I find all these really stupid. How can anyone be 100% sure of the exact events that took place 2000 years ago? You say you have this and that and whatever-whatever authentic documents - but are you sure the person who wrote it wrote the absolute truth and nothing else? Yeah, argue all you want. To me, nobody knows what really took place, which is why religion is based on faith, not facts. If someone wants to question his faith after reading a bestseller, that's his problem and I suggest we let him solve it himself. I had to laugh when I read in the newspaper that people who have not read the book nor watched the movie want to BAN it.

Gosh, I am tired of all of these. I thought I'd never comment on this book and the controversies surrounding it, because well, I don't want to offend anyone. Well, so far I have not actually touched on the contents of the book. What I really want to say, is that once you have such a "controversial" bestseller out there, people don't stop at just attacking your stories and theories - read this. This guy here picked on Brown's writing style and language usage. Have you read the entry at the link yet? (Go read it - seriously!) Do you understand every "mistake" (made by Brown, supposedly) the blogger pointed out? If you do, then you must be either a linguistic expert, or a literature scholar.

Now, if you have not read the book or seen the movie (I myself have not seen the movie yet) don't praise nor criticise. Don't let others' judgement influence you. These people are just jealous because Dan Brown became a very rich man overnight. Go get the book, or go see the movie, and see if you'll enjoy yourself!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

More Scams

Just a day ago I posted an entry about a kind of email scam, and today I got two more! So, what the heck - here they are (you can see there are many different versions of the same scam)

(email 1)

Good Day.

Your profile i saw in our local chamber of commerce impressed me so deeply that i feel i must share this good busuness oportunity with you in order to benefit from your wealth of experience in international transactions of this nature. I have utmost trust and confidence that you are indeed capable of assisting me by acting as my TRUSTEE to enable me withdraw my inheritance which of $18.3 million Dollars, from Kudos Securities Abidjan where my father, late Dr.Joshua K. Nkomo of Zimbabwe,concealed ,but declared as containing just family treasure.He never mentioned it contains physical cash.Today I am here in Abidjan to Claim my inheritance.

Why i need your assistance is because in the Deposit Agreement Certificate,my father emphatically stated that the consignment will be released to me when iam 30 years of age. Alternatively if the war situation that followed the murder of my parents During the war against the farmers in Zimbabwe from the supports of President Robert Mugabe to claim all the white-owned farms to his party members and his followers, he ordered all white farmers to surrender all their farms to his party members and his followers.

Now,i want to leave Africa to get more peace in my life through a reputable foreign investor whom i will appoint as my TRUSTEE before the company can release the consignment to me. This is because the insurance coverage on the deposit has expired yesterday . The trustee will be expected to oversee the transaction and excercise absolute control over the money untill i round up my master's / Doctorate degree programmes in international relations in your country and to invest the proceeds in Real Estate in your country and under your tutelage.

I shall give you 25% of the total proceeds if you accept to be my TRUSTEE and assist me to withdraw and invest this Money wisely, as iam only 26 years old and not experienced enough to handle this all alone.I Will be most grateful and relieved if you could please write me or send me your phone number so we can get to know better before i can send you a copy of the Deposit Agreement Certificate to enable you take my message with the seriousness it deserves.

From Jean Robert Nkomo Jr.

(email 2 - this comes with a phone number too!)

Compliments of the season,

Before proceeding, I wish to introduce myself to you, I am Richard Martines a staff of Bank Of Scotland. I am the head of the accounts department. I am pleased to get across to you for a very urgent and profitable business proposal which I believe will profit the both of us after completion. i contacted youafter a careful thought that you might be capable of handling this business transaction, which I explained below.

The sum of ? 22,000,000.00 (tweenty-two-million-pounds)has been floating as unclaimed since 2000 in my bank as all efforts to get across to the his relatives of our client who deposited the money have hit the stones. According to british law if know one appear to cliam this und it will revert to the government.

Hope here from you soon as regards to this claimes or call me with my number.

Bank Of Scotland

God bless you,
Chief Accountant Richard Martines

Kate is sharp enough to notice that these emails don't look authentic (see comments for previous post). Well, they don't look authentic because - well, they simply aren't! OK, you have been warned. :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Readers, remember the cases where people (a professor, even!) were cheated of their money by individuals who seemingly have a LARGE sum of money which needed help in being transferred from a country to another, bla bla bla, and if the victims helped make the transactions, they will be given a handsome sum as "appreciation", bla bla bla. These "offers" come either by mails or emails (I read of a case where the victim was contacted by phone, too) and if the victims respond, they will be instructed to pay several sums of money over some weeks / months for whatever, whatever. After the victims had paid - that's it. Done.

Five minutes ago, I received one such email. It's not the first time too - must be the 4th or 5th time at least! This time, instead of deleting the email immediately without a second thought (as I did to the previously received emails), I decided to post it. Probably you, my readers, are well aware that the following is a scam, but for those who don't - please take note - NEVER believe an email such as this:

Dear ,

Do accept my sincere apologies if my message does not meet your personal Ethics. Firstly i would like to introduce myself. I am Panca Usaha Savimbi the son of Jonas Savimbi then leader of Angola UNITA MOVEMENT (National Unionfor the Total Liberation) who was killed by Angolan Government in 2002.

Visit this website below for an update;


Since then we have been living on political asylum in Indonesiafor the past 4 years on the mercy of the formal president of IndonesiaMegawati Sukarnoputri. We recently received notification letter from the presidency reminding that our political asylum in Indonesia is about to come to an end, that means we have only few months to go back to Angola.

Please accept my appeal because I have no other choice for the fact that I don’t want to go back to Angolaat this point in time for safety reasons. I want a country where I will feel safe and live happy always. If you accept my request you will be of great important.

I have in our possession Five Million Dollars (US$ 5,000,000) Valued family treasure which I deposited into a Security Company the first time we arrived here under ally property due to there was no search on our properties and belongings the time we arrived at Indonesia but its definite certain that there would be a through search on our properties and belongings any time we want to leave this country.

My proposal is for you to stand in as my ally and receive this treasure in my behalf then arrange to accept us in country of your choice. We need to buy a family house, a car and to invest in any profitable business for day by day income. My offer to you is to help me relocate to any country where I can assume freedom life or resident permit if possible.

I just need a reliable person who could make my dreams come true. From every assessment if I found you to be trustworthy, I will unveil to you the deposit certificate and the formality to carry on the transaction. I will compensate you with 20% of the money for your assistance after achieving the success.

On your interest kindly send the following details of yours;

3, AGE
4, JOB

This transaction is totally 100% risk free as the treasure is a legitimate and does not originate from drug, money laundry, terrorism or any kind of illegal act. On your interest, kindly contact me on my private email:

Sincerely yours,
Panca Usaha

Remember this - if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Time Traveler's Wife

I had just finished reading this book by Audrey Niffenegger. I got it a month or two ago during the MPH sales. I'd picked the book up idly, read the preview on the back-cover and thought it'd make an interesting read. Time-travel, afterall, is most exciting and intriguing. However, despite what most of the online reviews say about the book, I didn't like it. In fact, I plainly hate certain parts of the book, and couldn't care less for most other parts. The only thing I'd give credit to the author for, is the novel idea of a person who time-travels as a result of a genetic disorder. It is also rather sensible of Ms Niffenegger to write that Henry, the time-traveler, takes nothing with him when he time travels - not even his tooth-filling (which is why he appears naked a lot of times in the book). However, at one part, Clare, his wife, found him beaten-up and bleeding on the kitchen floor, naked of course, back from one of his time-travels. The description of him included "dirt under his fingernails". Hey, the dirt was not supposed to have followed him home through time, remember? (unless she meant the dirt was from the kitchen itself, and had somehow ended up under Henry's fingernails after he returned *rolling eyes*)

Anyway, what I really hated about this book was that although the author did not describe any sexual activities explicitly, she used words that I found most displeasing, most downright distasteful - words that should never have found their way into a book, what more a book that's supposed to be on love and endurance, and patience and cherishing the now and here - they're just so, SO inappropriate! Amongst these words which I despise, the awful four-lettered "f**k" can be considered one of the not-so-rude ones (in my opinion). Imagine! I am not about to list the rest and stain my blog.

Other than utter rudeness in diction and crudeness in style, certain parts of the book are just plain boring - over-describing of petty events (no-head-nor-tail meetings / outings that leave you "Huh?!?") and stuff (a list of 20 or so grocery items Henry bought).

Reader, if you're thinking of getting this book and reading it, for whatever the reason, I will not advise you against it. Perhaps you'd enjoy the rude shock better than I did. Seriously.

Monday, May 1, 2006

No Laughing Matter

Last week, driving to work, I saw an "AWAS" sign, placed on a very curved road for the obvious reason, was knocked over and left lying helpless and pathetic in the middle of the road. I had to laugh. A sign telling road users to becareful was knocked over by a careless driver. It reminded me of the many times (in the distant past) I had seen HUGE piles of rubbish right under signs that said "Dilarang Membuang Sampah. Denda RM500". Funny!

The public buses I take to get to my work place stop in the midst of going around a roundabout to pick up or drop off passengers. Really funny. I've also encountered a driver who stopped the bus in the middle of the road, left the bus (with the engine still running and all the passengers bewildered), strolled into a mamak shop and strolled back out a couple of minutes later carrying a plastic bag-ful of teh tarik ais, then nicely climbed back into his driver's seat on the bus and continued the journey. Not bad huh.

I haven't been to many places outside of Malaysia, but I bet that some of these things one could only get to see here. Still funny? After a while, they're no more mere laughing matter.

Continuing the talk about road users - many times, when driving, I encountered impatient drivers that swerve out from behind and accelerate whenever I slowed down to let somebody (another car or pedestrians) pass. Once, I slowed to a stop to let a mother carrying a child and holding the hands of another to cross the road, and one of those impatient people was directly behind me, and did exactly what he shouldn't have done - swerved out of the lane and accelerated forward. He nearly rammed into the woman and her children. If I were a six-foot tall bully with muscles like Superman, I'd get out of my car, break his windows and break his nose. A couple of months ago, it happened that I was trying to cross a road, a kind driver slowed down to let me, and another accelerated from behind, only to hit the brakes when I was in sight of the #!$*& driver. If I'd died that day, I'd haunt him for the rest of his life. Really.

What else? Drivers running the red lights, driving and parking wherever they pleased, bullying bikers and Kancils... Where are the policemen when we need them? (Why, they're always up and about - taking bribes from offenders. Shushhh! You're not supposed to say that! Wanna end up in jail? Oops. Sorry.)

And BRAVO to columnist Goh Ban Lee of The Sun newspaper (got my free copy from KTM station! heheh), for he mentioned about the vast occurrences of petty traffic offences (which add up to be a BIG problem) and public littering, and how these remain unresolved, whilst the government wants policemen to spy on couples behaving "indecently" in public parks. *eyes rolling* But please - don't say anything about bribes. Nobody wants to go to jail.