Eclipsing Dreams


I was about seven years old when I made my first travel plan. I was looking at a map of total solar eclipses from 1998 to 2019 from the book, ‘Eclipse of The Sun’, in our little ‘play-room’. I saw that the path of the 9th of March, 2016 eclipse would traverse a few Indonesian islands and seeing that it was the one closest to Malaysia, I started calculating my age and my possible state of life then. I figured that at the age of 21, I should have completed school and my seven year old brain assumed that at that age, I would have all the money and freedom in the world to bring my siblings to Indonesia so we could watch the eclipse together. And every now and then in the next fourteen years, the thought would occasionally cross my mind and I would dream about it.

I was correct about one fact. I did watch the eclipse with my brother – and the others occasionally peeping in – but we only witnessed the partial eclipse on our balcony, equipped with my shoebox camera obscura (pinhole camera) that I had made specifically for eclipse viewing. I had one hand on a laptop which was showing the live coverage from Sumatera and virtually experienced totality with the excited observer crew across the straits.

My parents watched the eclipse downstairs in the garden with our kitten friend, Tris, who was just thrilled by all the excitement we’re all expressing. As we were approaching maximum obscurity, a team of roadworkers stopped in front of our house and asked my parents if we wanted our driveway resurfaced. Noticing their curiosity (how could they not when we’re all staring up into the sky), my father told him about the eclipse. For the next few minutes, they were all climbing up onto their lorry, exclaiming with delight and tried to convince other passer-by to witness this amazing phenomenon.

Had my map also gave a list of annular solar eclipse, I might have noticed that one would be making its way through the southern-most tip of my own country on the coming 26th of December. I might have also made plans to drive to Tanjung Piai and experience the eclipse on the jetty of the Tanjung Piai Resort. But I only found out about it when I looked up the list of solar eclipses of 2019 earlier this year and I’ve long abandoned conscious dreaming as nothing but a call for possible disappointment.

The way my father explained solar eclipse to me and my sister was by bringing two balls and a flashlight into our ‘play-room’ and had one of us to hold the ‘Earth’ ball, while he held the moon between the Earth and the Sun (the flashlight). He explained to us that the eclipse happened because the sun is behind the moon for a brief amount of time. The Sun was still there, you just couldn’t see it because it was hidden. Nevertheless, it had been revered, feared and even celebrated through many events across our history.

As I grew older, I think about how intertwined are my thoughts on eclipses and dreams. To witness an eclipse was one of my most long-held serious dreams; I was in my late teens when I began to admit that it was probably out of the realms of possibilities. And as much as I insist on not wishing to dream, for fear of being robbed of the belief in a deceitful imagined future, I still have unconscious and unsolicited dreams because it’s impossible to remove the Sun by hiding it behind a moon.

I am trying hard not to place even the slightest bit of excitement in my mind for this coming eclipse but I’ll be a fool to think that no part of me still dream of somehow finding a way of getting to Tanjung Piai’s jetty to watch the eclipse with the man who taught me all about the it. I can try to cast out all the dreams in my heart in the same way I’ve contemplated destroying past pains and yearning by burning old letters and diaries but just because I’ve made it impossible to physically see something does not mean that it no longer exists -it is only hidden like the eclipsed Sun.

PAS: Perception and Manipulation


Perception and manipulation are the skills which leaders of Pakatan Rakyat have long mastered – including to the tok gurus of PAS.

To a newbie in the political platform, PAS may appear to be an innocent Islamic party with adaptable policies to the suit the tastes of their supporters; a rather radical Islamic party to those who want them to be radical and a liberal party to the others.

Those people feel that PAS brings new hope to the corrupted and secular Malaysia. PAS leaders promise a shift into a better Malaysia where Islam shall be implemented into laws and such. Among efforts done to prove their worth, they produce ‘instant ustazahs’ like Abby Abadi, once an actress who was said to suddenly ‘abandoned her fortune’ for a more ‘Islamic way of life’. Her ‘rebranding’ comes hand in hand with a new image; all done to convince people that ‘they can make a change’.

This way, PAS is able to attract those who are naive enough to believe in perception or those who ‘go with the flow’ of the society. They may see PAS as an ideal Islamic Reformist promising them a better nation. The majority of people in this group are the young generations, a lot of them are educated and with their thirst for excitement of some sort, feel that they are smarter than others especially those who do not share their ideologies. The idea of a mass wave of change is enticing to the rebellious blood of the youngsters.

Now that they gain supporters, how do PAS make sure that these people would stay in their grasp?

PAS claims Malaysia to be a secular state and needs to be reformed into an Islamic nation to the some groups but on the other hand only promise a ‘negara berkebajikan’ to the others who oppose the idea of an Islamic state.  They claim that Malaysia is corrupted country. PAS also imply that Malaysia is too westernised to some groups and to the rest they say that the government is sort of too radical in protecting the Malay rights and Islam which is the religion of Malaysia.

The idea spread by the PAS leaders (and the rest in Pakatan Rakyat) is that the leaders of UMNO and Barisan Nasional are too corrupted and selfish. They are so money and power orientated that they would do anything to keep in their power and ruin the country by over spending and implementing bad policies.

And that is why PAS’s supporters felt that they need PAS to govern the nation. PAS tells their supporters never to believe in the obvious but to turn to them in advice. PAS sells the party’s own newspapers that was said to be ‘nothing but the truth’ to counter the ‘lies spread by the government’ in other newspapers. PAS’s supporters feel that the government underestimated them, but they know better. It produces that disgusted feeling of, ‘How dare they think such of me!” which is very influential to youngsters who tend to act first and think later. This planted hatred in the hearts of their supporters and in turn whisper false hopes into their angry souls. Hope for the better; hope for a change, “All you have to do is to join us in our mission and you shall be granted a place in heaven. It shall be a Jihad.”

And unbeknownst to them, they all had been manipulated by the PAS leaders, turning them from innocent supporters to obsessed questers who do not really understand what they are fighting for.

It sounds silly, doesn’t it? Crazy even. “Too crazy to be true – you must be kidding me.”

And that my friends, is the seal that shuts the eyes of their obsessed supporters from any shred of revelation of the truth coming from the outside their circle.

A Weak Earthquake Hits Kudat, Sabah


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A weak earthquake with a magnitude of 2.9 on the Richter scale occurred near Kudat, Sabah at 8:46p.m. yesterday, 21st October 2012. The press statement released by the Malaysian Meteorological Department says that the epicenter of the Earthquake is located at latitude 6.7° North and longitude 116.8° East, 22km South of Kudat and tremors were felt in areas of Kudat.

Click here for the press statement released by the Malaysian Meteorological Department

The last time Malaysia was hit by an earthquake was on the Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 12:44:14 AM, also in Sabah at latitude 4.78 North and longitude 118.32 East, about 75 km Northeast of Tawau with a magnitude of 4.6 on the Richter scale according to US Geological Survery.

The Geminid Meteor Shower Is Back!


(from SkyandTelescope.com : http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/111588359.html)

Mention “meteors,” and casual skywatchers usually think of the annual Perseid shower on display every August.

But the Geminid meteor shower of mid-December ties or even surpasses the Perseids as the year’s richest and most reliable meteor display. Geminid meteors come from 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid discovered in 1983.

This year the Geminids are predicted to peak on the morning of December 14th around 11h UT, more or less. That’s excellent timing for North America, especially out West. The Moon that night is only a day past first quarter and sets around midnight or 1 a.m. local time, depending on where you live. Even before then, on the evening of the 13th, the moonlight isn’t bright enough to dampen the shower’s visibility too much — and the Geminids, with their radiant near Castor and Pollux, pick up steam as early as 8 or 9 p.m. But the radiant is highest around 2 a.m., so the morning hours are the usually the most productive.

Bundle up as warmly as you possibly can, and lie back in a dark spot with an open sky. You may see as many as two meteors a minute on average if you have a very dark sky and are watching after midnight.

If your sky is not too light-polluted, you might try making a careful meteor count and reporting it to the International Meteor Organization. Such counts by amateurs supply much of what we know about meteor showers’ behavior. For your count to be useful, you’ll need to follow the procedures described on our page or at the IMO’s website.

Don’t forget that the shower lasts more than one night. Counts are especially needed on nights away from the maximum, because fewer people are watching. In any case, enjoy the show!

UPDATE:

I’ve realised that many of you are searching for a good place to watch the meteor shower either in Kuala Lumpur or elsewhere in Malaysia. Just look for a dark area with no light source near you (and preferably away from the city’s light pollution) and you could watch them well. According to my previous experience, the best time would be during the morning hours. Not only the shower is at its peak but the city’s light is not as bright as it is before midnight.

Photos: A Glorious Rainbow Enlightening Kuala Lumpur


These are the photos of the beautiful rainbow that I snapped the other day… enjoy 😀 (please click on the photos for a larger view at them).

The beautiful rainbow

Do you remember when I told you that the second rainbow was no longer visible when I took out the camera? I was actually wrong! Observe the photo below. It actually has another very faint rainbow above it.

Can you see the second rainbow?

If you cannot find it, have no fear! I’ve edited the photo a little to allow you to see the second rainbow. I had increased the contrast of this photo below by 40% and decrease the brightness by 30%. Look at the photo below.

Can you see the second rainbow now?

I did not realise that the second rainbow was caught on this photograph until just now when I wanted to add it to my blog. Here are  two more photos of the rainbow for you to enjoy.

The second rainbow is also visible on this photo only that it is much, much fainter.

The last photo that I snapped. Even the bright rainbow is fading. I do not think that the other rainbow is still visible on this one though.

A Glorious Rainbow Enlightening Kuala Lumpur


My sisters came running from upstairs yelling, “Rainbow! Rainbow!“. My brother and I excitedly rushed with them out of the front door searching for a rainbow but we found nothing. Actually our father just called to tell us about the rainbow. Thinking that we might get a better view from our bedroom windows, we climbed upstairs but again no rainbow can be seen.

Not willing to give up, we ran past the kitchen (where my mother was anxiously screaming with the fear of us getting burnt) and went straight outside. This time, we’ve been rewarded with not one but two rainbows! One of them is unusually bright that we momentarily gaped in awe.

Hunting for a camera, again we ran past mum since the kitchen is the only entrance to the backyard. Unable to find dad’s new camera (Olympus FE4030), I grabbed dad’s Sony handycam and made my way outside. The second rainbow had now vanished from sight but the first is still amazingly bright. I snapped quite a number of photos and a will show them in my later post

Later, we found out that dad’s Olympus camera was actually with him -click here to view dad’s photos using his Olympus-It was in fact a perfect semi-circle rainbow; like the ones we’ve seen at the Niagara Falls.

It’s official: An asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs


By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent Kate Kelland, Health And Science Correspondent Thu Mar 4, 2:07 pm ET

LONDON (Reuters) – A giant asteroid smashing into Earth is the only plausible explanation for the extinction of the dinosaurs, a global scientific team said on Thursday, hoping to settle a row that has divided experts for decades.

A panel of 41 scientists from across the world reviewed 20 years’ worth of research to try to confirm the cause of the so-called Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) extinction, which created a “hellish environment” around 65 million years ago and wiped out more than half of all species on the planet.

Scientific opinion was split over whether the extinction was caused by an asteroid or by volcanic activity in the Deccan Traps in what is now India, where there were a series of super volcanic eruptions that lasted around 1.5 million years.

The new study, conducted by scientists from Europe, the United States, Mexico, Canada and Japan and published in the journal Science, found that a 15-kilometre (9 miles) wide asteroid slamming into Earth at Chicxulub in what is now Mexico was the culprit.

“We now have great confidence that an asteroid was the cause of the KT extinction. This triggered large-scale fires, earthquakes measuring more than 10 on the Richter scale, and continental landslides, which created tsunamis,” said Joanna Morgan of Imperial College London, a co-author of the review.

The asteroid is thought to have hit Earth with a force a billion times more powerful than the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

Morgan said the “final nail in the coffin for the dinosaurs” came when blasted material flew into the atmosphere, shrouding the planet in darkness, causing a global winter and “killing off many species that couldn’t adapt to this hellish environment.”

Scientists working on the study analyzed the work of paleontologists, geochemists, climate modelers, geophysicists and sedimentologists who have been collecting evidence about the KT extinction over the last 20 years.

Geological records show the event that triggered the dinosaurs’ demise rapidly destroyed marine and land ecosystems, they said, and the asteroid hit “is the only plausible explanation for this.”

Peter Schulte of the University of Erlangen in Germany, a lead author on the study, said fossil records clearly show a mass extinction about 65.5 million years ago — a time now known as the K-Pg boundary.

Despite evidence of active volcanism in India, marine and land ecosystems only showed minor changes in the 500,000 years before the K-Pg boundary, suggesting the extinction did not come earlier and was not prompted by eruptions.

The Deccan volcano theory is also thrown into doubt by models of atmospheric chemistry, the team said, which show the asteroid impact would have released much larger amounts of sulphur, dust and soot in a much shorter time than the volcanic eruptions could have, causing extreme darkening and cooling.

Gareth Collins, another co-author from Imperial College, said the asteroid impact created a “hellish day” that signaled the end of the 160-million-year reign of the dinosaurs, but also turned out to be a great day for mammals.

“The KT extinction was a pivotal moment in Earth’s history, which ultimately paved the way for humans to become the dominant species on Earth,” he wrote in a commentary on the study.

(Collins has created a website at http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/Chicxulub.html which allows readers to see the effects of the asteroid impact.)

(Editing by Myra MacDonald)