Pot of Patriotism

Author unknown

This holds true for most people, especially people whose identity is severely limited to geographical coincidences. So fanatical sports fans, you are the by-product of successful Olympic-style social engineering.



A transport fee hike by any other name

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…Is still a transport fee hike.

Of course, the authorities just chose not to name it that. Instead, they are calling it fee reduction, which they tried to justify by issuing a very confusing press release (it was, as some would say, Topsy-Turvy Maths Day).

This, even though 2/3 of the commuters may pay less, and 1/3 of the will definitely pay more.

And all the printed daily newspapers are hailing this wonderful fee increase reduction; understandably so since all of the newspapers printed daily are owned by the government.

Wonderful place to live in, isn’t it this country?

The Public Transport Council – of which the word Public in its name doesn’t at all refer to who it represents – tried to explain the justification of its hikes. Under the misleading headline “New fare policy is fairer, says transport council,” it failed miserably at outsmarting even a parrot. Unsurprising.

Under the current fare structure, commuters who make transfers must pay more than those who travel the same distance via a direct journey. In effect, those who make transfers pay a ‘transfer penalty’ that cross-subsidises those who make direct journeys. With distance fares, all commuters will pay based on the total distance travelled, regardless of the number of transfers made during the journey. In other words, commuters who make transfers will no longer be penalised by having to cross-subsidise direct journeys. This is a fairer approach.

Even though some commuters may find that they do not benefit from distance fares immediately, the travel patterns of all commuters may change over time as people change their homes and places of work and new MRT lines are built. The new fare structure will therefore benefit all commuters as they will have greater travel options that include transfer journeys when their travel patterns change in future.

There you go. The current fee hikes, scheduled to take effect in three month’s time, won’t benefit the public as yet. They will however, benefit from it when they move, change their job, and when new MRT lines are built. In short, years and years ahead.

$o if the people can’t benefit from these change$ immediately, why implement these confu$ing change$ now?


Quirks of Google Translate

I know many people who have been using Google translate to get quick answers and gist of articles, and it seems that it is currently the best translation tool out there for the masses.

But of course, getting the gist of an article, and trying to pass it off as professional/expert translation is not the same thing. So your best bet around is still a person of sound knowledge.

On the other hand, quirks of automated non-human translation may also throw you off course into the oblivion of speculation and presumption.

1. My history may be bad, but I don’t think Pakistan even once invaded Malaysia.

2. Google cleverly deems that anything “mental” refers to mental health.

3. And forget about translating cheques.

4. Finally, some enlightenment! Who knows that the letters aliflaamDaad (الض) is abbreviated from a truly meaningful phrase?

So, caveat emptor, even though such service is free of charge.


The Tortoise and the Hare

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This is a story about the legendary Cliff Young.

In 1983, he entered an 875km endurance race. He was dressed in overalls and boots, was scoffed at, ran without sleeping, and won.

An Unlikely Competitor

Every year, Australia hosts 543.7-mile (875-kilometer) endurance racing from Sydney to Melbourne. It is considered among the world’s most grueling ultra-marathons. The race takes five days to complete and is normally only attempted by world-class athletes who train specially for the event. These athletes are typically less than 30 years old and backed by large companies such as Nike.

In 1983, a man named Cliff Young showed up at the start of this race. Cliff was 61 years old and wore overalls and work boots. To everyone’s shock, Cliff wasn’t a spectator. He picked up his race number and joined the other runners.

The press and other athletes became curious and questioned Cliff. They told him, “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.” To which he replied, “Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”

When the race started, the pros quickly left Cliff behind. The crowds and television audience were entertained because Cliff didn’t even run properly; he appeared to shuffle. Many even feared for the old farmer’s safety.

The Tortoise and the Hare

All of the professional athletes knew that it took about 5 days to finish the race. In order to compete, one had to run about 18 hours a day and sleep the remaining 6 hours. The thing is, Cliff Young didn’t know that!

When the morning of the second day came, everyone was in for another surprise. Not only was Cliff still in the race, he had continued jogging all night.

Eventually Cliff was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. To everyone’s disbelief, he claimed he would run straight through to the finish without sleeping.

Cliff kept running. Each night he came a little closer to the leading pack. By the final night, he had surpassed all of the young, world-class athletes. He was the first competitor to cross the finish line and he set a new course record.

When Cliff was awarded the winning prize of $10,000, he said he didn’t know there was a prize and insisted that he did not enter for the money. He ended up giving all of his winnings to several other runners, an act that endeared him to all of Australia.

Continued Inspiration

In the following year, Cliff entered the same race and took 7th place. Not even a displaced hip during the race stopped him.

Cliff came to prominence again in 1997, aged 76, when he attempted to raise money for homeless children by running around Australia’s border. He completed 6,520 kilometers of the 16,000-kilometer run before he had to pull out because his only crew member became ill. Cliff Young passed away in 2003 at age 81.

Today, the “Young-shuffle” has been adopted by ultra-marathon runners because it is considered more energy-efficient. At least three champions of the Sydney to Melbourne race have used the shuffle to win the race. Furthermore, during the Sydney to Melbourne race, modern competitors do not sleep. Winning the race requires runners to go all night as well as all day, just like Cliff Young.

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