Saturday, 16 December 2017

100 things I learned and did in 2017

  1. Hot damn, it’s already that time of the year again and 2017 is almost over! And what a crazy ride it has been, the North Korean nuclear threats, Zimbabwe’s [not a] military coup, Saudi Crown Prince offensives, Pakistan’s Fontgate, Prince Harry’s engagement to Rachel Zane, King of the North did it with his aunt, insane Bitcoin rally, the floodgate #MeToo has opened, Arsène Wenger contract extension at the very last minute, and I haven’t even mentioned the numerous shits Trump did.
  2. More than 70% of our planet's surface are covered by the oceans, but yet till this day we have only explored less than 5% of the ocean.
  3. In Michelangelo's painting "The Creation of Adam" the angels and the God who touch David's fingers were all inside of a brain. It took 500 years for someone to notice this in the painting, and the hidden message is that the divine gift does not come from a higher power, but from our own minds.
  4. The founder of South Korean giant Lotte, Shin Kyuk-ho, gave his company's name from a character from a novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that he loved so much, Charlotte. Hence, the name of the company was taken from the last 4 letters of Charlotte.
  5. Have you ever wondered why almost every Vietnamese's last name are Nguyen? As it turns out it all started by Minh Mang emperor, whom during his 50 years life had 78 sons and 64 daughters. Now this is where it gets interesting: his 1st son had 64 children, his 3rd son had 144 children, his 4th son had 74 children, his 9th son had 62 children, his 37th son had 61 children. Not to mention the rest of his children who also had children of their own.
  6. But the record for the most children born to one woman belongs to Valentina Vassilyeva from Shuya, Russia. She gave birth to a total of 69 children in 27 births between 1725 and 1765, which consist of 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets. Holy crap.
  7. Do you know why football jersey number designate certain number to a position? For example no 1 goalkeeper, 2 normally for right back, 11 for left winger, and 9 for central striker? Because when jersey numbers were first made compulsory by the FA in 1939, the common formation was 2-3-5 and in the team sheet it would look like this (including goalkeeper): 1 ; 2,3 ; 4,5,6 ; 7,8,9,10,11. Meanwhile, football and rugby went their separate ways on 8 December 1863, at 7 PM, at a meeting at the Freemason's Tavern in Lincoln's Inn Fields in London, where the divided participants on the laws of the game disputed over hacking, that is, whether kicking opponents in the shins should be allowed or not.
  8. The oldest verified alphabet is the Phoenician alphabet (from c. 1050 BC). It is also the first widely used alphabet, which formed the basis of the Latin alphabet that is used in many parts of the world today.
  9. The 2nd atomic bomb, the Fat Man, wasn't intended to bomb Nagasaki. The chosen city was originally Kokura, but on that day 9 August 1945 a dense cloud covered Kokura. And the plane, after circling three times in vain and almost low in fuel, then decided to change course to Nagasaki. Hence, in Japan there's a phrase “the luck of Kokura."
  10. Viagra was first created to cure angina. But the drug's developer noticed some "side effects", which then became the main selling point of the drug. So I guess it's safe to say: have a chest pain? Get an erection!
  11. Why do some countries drive on the left-side of the road and some on the right-side? The explanation goes way, way back. So, a long time ago Medieval swordsmen preferred to ride their horses on the left-side of the road, so that they can hold their swords on their right hand in anticipation of the opposing side attacking them (while approximately 10-15% left handed knights just went along with the general consensus). But it all changed when horse cart was introduced in the 1700s, with the driver's seat located on the left-side of the cart so that they can hold the whip on their right hand. This made driving on the right-side of the road safer, as the driver would not be blindsided. The early adopters of the horse carts were France and the US, hence they started the switch to right-side driving until this day, while the British government refused to change their custom of left-side driving.
  12. Now, the spread of the left-side and right-side custom of driving is directly aligned with the spread of colonialism. That's why most former British colonies still drive on the left-side of the road, while the former colonies of France and its derivatives (e.g. the colonies of the former European colonies of France under Napoleon) drive on the right-side of the road. Meanwhile in the US, when Henry Ford unveiled the Model T car in 1908 he put the driver's seat on the left side, complying with the custom already in place in the US. This changed the custom of a lot of Western and Eastern European countries (and Canada) which soon followed the US right-side driving custom to accomodate the new invention, while Britain sticks with the left-side driving. About 35% of the world population today drive on the left-side of the road and 65% drive on the right-side.
  13. People who play video game regularly can have lucid dreams, or in other words can control their dreams.
  14. Anyone here named Jessica? Well the name Jessica was actually invented by Shakespeare. He first use the name in his play "The Merchant of Venice" (1596). Shakespeare in fact invented about 1700 words out of the total 17,000+ words he used, including lackluster, gossip and addiction.
  15. This year archaeologists potentially found the tunnel to the underworld. It's in Teotihuacan, Mexico. But if you want to go directly to the door to hell, go to Derweze, Turkmenistan. 
  16. "Vikings" literally means raider. Hence it is more of a job title than a race in a medieval Nordic world. The Vikings famously sailed west to England, Greenland and later the American continent. But they also travelled east by land and founded the Kievan Rus, the foundation of modern-day Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The word Russia is derived from the term "Rus." On a slightly unrelated matter, the actress playing Lagertha in the series Vikings (Katheryn Winnick) is super badass, did you know that Winnick is a black belt in Taekwondo AND a black belt in Karate? Respect.
  17. The inventor of Game Boy, Gunpei Yokoi, was a janitor at Nintendo. One day the president of the company walked pass him, and saw the toy he had invented out of boredom. The president then turn him into a successful game designer. Sometimes all we need is the opportunity.
  18. Have you ever wondered why so many Hong Kong's sky scrappers have holes in the middle of their building design? They are called Dragon Gate, and these holes are made to allow dragons to fly through. Daenerys would be thrilled!
  19. In 1994 when British band Oasis did a disastrous gig at Whisky a Go Go in LA, Noel and Liam Gallagher had a fight and Noel threatened to break up the band. He then went missing, only to resurfaced days later having written the song "Talk tonight." In their documentary "Supersonic" Noel told the story of how during those few missing days he flew to San Francisco to meet a girl he just met days earlier, and stayed with her. She then became the inspiration for that song, and practically saved the future of the band. Noel swore that he forgot her face and her name, but the girl came forward to San Francisco Chronicle, her name is Melissa Lim. Not all heroes wear capes. 
  20. Interestingly, all this time we all (well, I) thought that Noel’s brother’s name was simply Liam Gallagher. But it turns out Liam is short for William, and his full name is William John Paul Gallagher, with John Paul taken from the name of 2 members of the Beatles. Talking bout naming prophecy.
  21. Sunny Leone, the, uhm, actress, "stole" her stage name "Sunny" from her brother. Yes, Sunny is her brother's actual name. Nope, not weird at all. Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden had Sunny Leone's "work of art" in his stash in his hideout in Pakistan. Fundamentalists or not, boys will be boys.
  22. Humans are one of the most diverse, but at the same time the most genetically close, species in nature. And this is way beyond Genghis Khan. So one day in around 72,000 BC there's a super-eruption on a volcano on the Island of present-day Sumatra (Indonesia). The mountain exploded with a force 1.5 million times bigger than Hiroshima-size bombs, and it was so massive that the mountain turned into a lake (present-day Lake Toba), rocks and magma reached continental distances, with volcanic ash of around 15 centimeters settled over Asia and reached as far as our homeland in East Africa. 
  23. As the temperatures fell and the skies darkened, long nights proceeded and lasted for many years. Food sources then diminished drastically, and from DNA testing we can now indicate that the human population in East Africa was reduced to around 3,000 and 10,000 people (no bigger than a population of a small town). It is from this small bunch of survivors that all of 7 billion people on Earth today are descended. 
  24. There's a football stadium in Brazil, Zerão, that have a midfield line that lies straight bang in the equator. Hence one team defending the north hemisphere the other defending the south.
  25. An informal study suggest that ethics books in the library are 25% more likely to be stolen than the average library book. Oh the irony.
  26. Good deeds or gestures always pay off eventually. And to make this point across, let's talk about what happened in North Korea. On 17 March 2009 two American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling crossed from China to North Korea without a visa, and were immediately detained for illegal entry and for spying, and sentenced to 12 years of hard labour. It was during the Obama presidency, with Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State, but the person who went to North Korea on a diplomatic mission to release the two journalists was the former US president Bill Clinton. Why Bill Clinton, and why was he able to successfully release the two journalists? Because when Kim Il-sung died on July 1994 the first country leader to call Kim Jong-il for condolences was US president Bill Clinton. That simple gesture mark a good impression on Kim Jong-il, and ever since then the North Korean president have always wanted to meet Bill Clinton in person. And 15 years later, they finally met. 
  27. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2.4 billion people in the world lack access to basic toilet, while 1 billion of them can’t even “do their business” in private. Moreover, in many places in the world building a flushing toilet is nearly impossible due to lack of water sources, while some have too much water that it is difficult to prevent overflowing. So how to solve this problem? Enter Loowatt, with their water-less toilet
  28. The flags of Palestine, UAE, Kuwait, Sudan, and Jordan are identical because they were derived from the flag of the Arab revolt, which was supported by the British to fight against the Ottoman Empire in World War 1. The flag was designed by Sir Mark Sykes (yes, of the Sykes-Picot 1916 agreement that tears apart the Middle East until this day).
  29. Stalin, Hitler and Mao are all history buffs. Hitler's Holocaust was inspired by the killings of Armenians by the Ottomans. Stalin's brutal genocide was inspired by his Russian hero Ivan the Terrible. And Mao's genocide was inspired by the First Emperor. This reminds me of a quote by Jim Rohn that said "if you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let your learning lead to action, you become wealthy", but, yeah, these are probably the worst examples for the quote. 
  30. Hitler and the Nazi always talk about the Third Reich. But do you know what the First and Second Reich were? It's the Holy Roman Empire (First Reich) and the German Empire (Second Reich), with Reich being a German word for empire.
  31. Hitler had an unofficial British girlfriend, besides his official one Eva Braun. Her name was Unity Valkyrie Mitford. That's right, her middle name became the real inspiration of the name of Nazi's flying squad.
  32. In 1898 Morgan Robertson wrote a book called "Futility, or the Wreck of Titan." The novel is about an unsinkable ship called The Titan, where one April night was going 22.5 knots when it hit an iceberg and eventually sank in North Atlantic 400 miles from Newfoundland. 14 years later, on one April night, the real-life ship Titanic was going 25 knots when it hit an iceberg and eventually sank in North Atlantic around 400 miles from Newfoundland. Now that's spooky!
  33. the first known homicide committed against a Neanderthal man occurred 430,000 years ago. Who solved the case, and how on earth did they figure it out? 
  34. All of our lives we see the map with the north at the top. But the reality is there is no sense of direction in the space, and thus there is no actual top or bottom of the earth. In fact the world use maps with north consistently at the top only in the last hundred years, while for much of human history north almost never appeared on top because north is where darkness comes from (the same reason why west rarely put on top because that's where the sun disappears). Ancient Egyptian put east as the top of the world, because that's where the sun rises. European Christian maps (called Mappa Mundi) also put east at the top, so that the Garden of Eden and Jerusalem are on top (Christopher Colombus use Mappa Mundi when travelling west to America). Early Islamic maps put south as the top of the world because most the early Islamic cultures resides north of Mecca (thus they would look up (south) towards Mecca). So why almost all modern maps have the north at the top (and unconsciously shape the way we see the world)?
  35. The discovery and usage of magnetic compass in Europe 1200-1500s helps to influence people's understanding of the importance of the north (a compass points at magnetic north). But it was not until the 16th century when north began to really secure its position, thanks to cartographers like Gerardus Mercator, Henricus Martellus Germanus, and Martin Waldseemuller, who were obsessed with 2nd century cartographer Ptolemy (who, for reasons that have been lost in history, put the north at the top). It is important to point out the fact that these cartographers were Europeans, the rulers of the world during the beginning of what becomes the age of colonialism. And by putting them above the geographic locations of their colonial subjects, the north-facing map projects power for the rulers.
  36. NEWS isn't short for North East West South after all. It stands for Notable Events, Weather and Sports.
  37. 1 + 1 = 2 is the simplest calculation possible. But Mathematicians Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell actually wrote a 379 pages-long paper to prove that one plus one equals two. Sometimes we take the simple things for granted eh? 
  38. Ever wondered why pirates wore eye patches? When we close one eye and use the other eye to see in a well-lit area, once we entered a dark area the previously closed eye can immediately see in the dark. Ok that's another reason why they're cool. 
  39. This year we witnessed another dark side of humanity in the Rohingya massacre. And once again if we trace back on the root cause of the conflict, the problem occurred after the British left, just like in Palestine and Kashmir. During the colonial times British occupation spans across the Indian subcontinent and through Burma, thus blurring the border between Burma and neighbouring India (which became East Pakistan after independence, and eventually turned into present-day Bangladesh). Now, like in any British colony such as India and Malaya, the Brits like to send Bengali people to do some hard labour in their colonies, including in Burma. In Burma, those Bengali people were given a place to settle (just like the British allowed Jews to settle in Palestine) in an area named Rakhine, which was turned into a Special Region. When independence come for Burma, the Rakhine state which sat at the border between Bangladesh and Burma was included in the newly independent country, even though the British had promised to let Rakhine have their referendum for independence (just like what happened with Kashmir). But that didn’t happen, and the Bengali people there over time became known as the Rohingyas. 
  40. Unlike other ethnic group in the country, however, from the beginning the Rohingyas weren’t given equal rights (in fact no rights at all), and like the Palestinians in Gaza the government is ensuring that these people remain insufficient of food, weakened, have no access to weaponry, and prevented to create any organisation or gatherings (all of this is to prevent an uprising against the government). The Rohingyas are Muslims in a country where Buddhism is a majority religion, but don’t quickly judge this massacre as motivated by religion because Burmese Muslims elsewhere in the country are still free to practice their religion and celebrate their festivals. So this is more of an ethnic cleasing rather than religious war. 
  41. The hate speeches by “Buddhist Bin Laden” Wirathu certainly didn’t help, and blurred the reality (Wirathu is using the false myth that when settling in Rakhine the Bengali slaughtered the local Buddhists, and so now he is calling all Burmese to seek revenge). But then again, Wirathu is a political ally of the military Junta leader Thein Sein, who has an agenda in the oil-rich Rakhine state and want the people above it moved. And although I regret Aung San Suu Kyi’s behaviour and reaction towards the Rohingya crisis, remember that she became the de facto leader of Myanmar only after striking a deal with the military junta. Hence, It won’t be surprising if her hands are tied from the beginning. But what I truly don’t understand are these 2 points: 1. Aung San Suu Kyi is actually justifying the slaughter of the Rohingya with the reason that they’re not really Burmese, but Bengali. As if slaughtering a Burmese is a big sin, but not if they’re Bengali. And 2. I’m also baffled by how big brother China is handling this situation. China to Rohingya crisis is like the US on Israeli issues, they kept on vetoing any plans to interfere the crisis, even blocking the sending of AID to the victims. What could possibly be their motive, what are they trying to protect or hide?
  42. The 1st city to install an artificial light was Paris. In 1318 they hung the 1st public lamp (a candlelit lantern) at the Grand Châtelet. And in 1667 under the reign of Louis XIV (the Sun King) they install the candles (and sometimes oil) on a large scale. 
  43. The Beatles' song "Let It Be" was inspired by a dream Paul McCartney had when the relationship of the Beatles was in a turbulent time and on a verge of breaking up. In the dream, when Paul finds himself in times of trouble, he met his mother (whose name was Mary) and she said don't worry too much, there will be an answer, it'll turn out ok. 
  44. Now boys and girls, let's learn about weird animal sex facts: male crocodile have a permanent erection inside their cloaca. Female kangaroos have 3 vaginas. Sheep have a high rate of homosexuality, where about 10% of rams prefer to mate with other rams. Hens can eject up to 80% unwanted sperms. Once a year male porcupines urinate on the female to stimulate her, the mating itself however only last few seconds though. Duck's penis shaped like a corkscrew and the female genital spiral the opposite direction, not rarely though the male rape the female. And flatworms have both male and female sexual organs, and the way they consummate is through "fencing", with a dagger-like sexual organ they duel in slow motion until a "hit" is scored, with the loser impregnated (I can sense my missus is now thinking, what a brilliant concept!)
  45. Do you know who is the happiest man in the world? I know who you’re thinking about and it’s not him (R.I.P Hugh Hefner this year), but it's officially Matthieu Ricard. He's a French Buddhist monk who is also a molecular geneticist. He earned this title based on neuro-scientific experiments that showed exceptional gamma-wave levels in his brain.
  46. If ever there was a world war 3, the closest we got was 27 October 1962. It was during the Cuban Missile Crisis and we were 2 minutes away from the war to break out, but when the Soviet instructed the officer to drop nuclear bomb on America, the officer in charge Vasili Arkhipov refused to comply, and thus narrowly avoided the all out war. 
  47. The state of Virginia is named after the virgin queen of England Elizabeth I. The name was given by Sir Walter Rileigh. Meanwhile, the Victoria falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia is named after queen Victoria of England. Well, actually there are a lot of places named after her majesty, such as the State of Victoria (Australia), lake Victoria (Kenya), another lake Victoria (Tanzania), dude seriously another lake Victoria (Uganda), Victoria peak (Belize), mount Victoria (Auckland, New Zealand), another mount Victoria (Wellington, New Zealand), again mount Victoria (Burma), oh don't tell me yes it's another mount Victoria (Papua New Guinea). Not to mention all the Victoria parks, bridges, hospitals, universities, reservoirs, streets, etc spread around the world. And oh, there's a town called Victoria, get this, in the state of Virginia! 
  48. The term "jet lag" was first used by travel writer Horace Sutton in his piece in 1966, which said "If you're going to be a member of the Jet Set and fly off to Kathmandu for coffee with King Mahendra, you can count on contracting Jet Lag, a debility not unakin to a hangover. Jet Lag derives from the simple fact that jets travel so fast they leave your body rhythms behind."
  49. Encyclopedia was first written in the 7th century by the Chinese, but only really gain importance during the Islamic Golden Age, which was inspired by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who said “seek knowledge, even from China.” The first true encyclopedia was collected in the 9th century by a Persian scholar Ibn Qutaybah, which consist of 10 books on power, war, nobility, character, learning and eloquence, asceticism, friendship, prayers, food, and women. A century later another Persian scholar al-Khwarizmi completed the set with jurisprudence, scholastic philosophy, grammar, secretarial duties, prosody and poetic art, history, philosophy, logic, medicine, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, mechanics and alchemy.
  50. The United States of America had one more founding father, but he was erased from history. His name was Gouverneur Morris, and his signature is in the Articles of Confederation. The reason that he's ignored by history is because he opposed the provision that despite the Declaration of Independent affirm that all men are created equal, each slave was worth only three-fifths of a person. He also tried to abolish slavery in the State of New York, but failed.
  51. "Wiki" means quick in Hawaiian language. So, yes, the pedia. And yes that too, the leaks.
  52. The founder of culinary journalism, Grimod de La Reynière, the grand master of pen and spoon, was born with no hands. He cooked, ate, and wrote with hooks. That shows that once you have the passion, nothing is stopping you. 
  53. Muslims consider dogs to be haram, forbidden. But did you know that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) adored dogs, that early Muslims use dogs as the guardian for their goats, and dogs were loved until about 200 years ago? The Quran mention dogs few times in a good way, for example Al-Kahf 18:18 describe dogs as guards and Al-Maida 5:4 describe the animal as hunters, and there is actually no single verse in the sacred text where Allah mention that dogs are dirty animals causing contamination and that dogs are prohibited to be kept as pets. Some point out at Hadiths (such as Malik's Muwatta, Book 54, Number 54.5.13) for the source of forbidding dogs, but their authenticity remain questionable and The Quran have an answer for them in At-Tahrim 66:1, Al-Anam 6:114 and Al-Maida 5:92. So what really make Muslims trying to avoid dogs so much today? The early Muslim civilisation grew very rapidly, so much so some of the first megacities in the world were built by Muslim civilisation, Istanbul, Baghdad, Damascus, Cordoba, etc. And during those rapid expansion dogs were used as the cleaners to eat the city's garbage. But as medicine advances, so did people’s understanding of germs and bacteria. And to get rid of the source of germs and bacteria they began to move the garbage out of the city, and dogs came along with it and started to being perceived as the carrier of germs and bacteria. This made Muslim leaders at the time started to ban dogs, using fatwas. So ever since then dogs were seen as haram (thus justifying the many debatable Hadiths) even though things have dramatically changed in the cleanliness of the canine today.
  54. This reminds me of the famous "5 monkeys experiment" conducted a while ago: so a group of experimenters put 5 monkeys in a cage, with only a basket of bananas at the top of a ladder. Seeing the bananas the monkeys naturally climb the ladder to get them, but every time any one of them tries they will all be sprayed with cold water. After a few times getting sprayed, they all get the message and won't climb the ladder anymore. The experimenters then take 1 monkey out and replace it with a new monkey. And when seeing the basket of bananas the new monkey naturally would want to climb and get it, but before it can climb the other 4 monkeys immediately pull it back because they don't want to get sprayed by cold water. The experimenters eventually replace the original 5 monkeys one by one (with every new monkey tempted to get the banana but always pulled back by the others) until the 5 monkeys in the room are all new. These 5 new monkeys never get sprayed by cold water, but they all comply on never climbing the ladder and getting the basket of banana, without really knowing why. This, in essence, is how an outdated wisdom remains in place, without us knowing why it was there to begin with, and just being automatically applied in daily life without question despite the fact that it is no longer relevant.
  55. 2 PM is the latest time sleep experts recommend us to consume caffeine.
  56. When Tylenol manufacturer changed its packaging from bottles to blister packs, suicide deaths from tylenol overdoses declined by 43%. The quantity in the package is still the same, but those who want to consume 50 pills will have to work a little bit more and push them out one by one from the blister pack instead of dump them all out straight from a bottle. That, essentially, is the gist of the 20 second rule: to change a habit, an intention, or a behaviour, just make it 20 second harder to reach / do / make.
  57. Amelia Earhart was on a round-the-world flight when she mysteriously vanished in July 1937, with her body and plane never found. But now a photo believed to be taken in the same year 1937 shows a woman who closely resembles Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, in a dock in Marshall islands. The investigation then took an odd twist involving a capture by the Japanese, and it is worth reading the entire piece
  58. The capital city of Liberia, Monrovia, is named in 1821 after US president at the time, James Monroe. The piece of land that to become Liberia was bought by the American Colonization Society. Harvard created their constitution, Washington elected their government, and they even created the country's flag with design created similar like the American flag (but with only 1 star instead of 50). And the citizens? They were the slaves that had been expelled from Southern Plantations, and they and their descendants have since controlled the tiny nation.
  59. Speaking of tiny nations. There's a proposal to create a new nation Asgardia. The thing is, the new proposed nation is in outer space, and would be free of the control from any existing nation! The idea is proposed by Igor Ashurbeyli, the founder of the Aerospace International Research Centre and Chairman of UNESCO's Science of Space Committee (so, not a nutjob) (we'll worst case scenario he's a CREDIBLE nutjob). As we speak, there are 270 thousands applicants who want to live in Asgardia.
  60. And speaking of things free from government control, we need to talk about Bitcoin. It took Bitcoin price 1789 days to rise from $0 to $1000, which was roughly the price at the start of 2017. And then it started to take off. Between January and October the price rise from $1000 to $5000, it took 13 days to rise $6000-7000 in October, 14 days $7000-8000, 9 days $8000-9000, 2 days $9000-10,000, less than 1 day $10,000-11,000, 6 days $11,000-12,000, a whopping 17 hours $12,000-13,000, 4 hours $13,000-14,000, 10 hours $14,000-15,000, 5 hours $15,000-16,000 and as I write this, the price is hovering around $17,000 with everybody in the media and mom and pops are all talking about it. If this is 1929 shoeshine boys would probably give “hot tips” on Bitcoin as well. Oh if only Hal Finney (A.K.A my best bet on who Satoshi Sakamoto is) is still alive to see this.
  61. Now some observers point out the signs of a bubble in this insane Bitcoin rally, and from any bubble checklist it’s not hard to see that we’re in the “mania” stage of the bubble. However, although any mania always end up in a crash, any crash needs to have its trigger(s). The billion dollar question is, can we see the potential triggers for Bitcoin crash? In 2014 venture capitalist Marc Adreessen (one of the early titans in Bitcoin world)  argued that Bitcoin most closely resembles the early commercial internet. The boom of the internet caused a dot.com bubble with any half-baked internet companies rise in astronomical values (the same manner as ANY crypto currency today, even the most ridiculous ones like CryptoKittiesDogecoin and Okoin), which the bubble eventually burst and wiped out a lot of the dot.com companies. However, the function of the internet remain solid after the crash, and those who truly serve a vital innovation now become the giants like Google, Amazon, and Apple.
  62. So perhaps this in not like the Dutch tulipomania of 1630s afterall, where tulip prices rise astronomically based on pure speculations. Instead, Bitcoin has emerged as the thing of the future, particularly the blockchain technology, and the utopian idea of a universal currency that would make John Maynard Keynes proud. And although a crash is inevitable it won’t wipe out crypto currency alltogether, because just like the commercial internet, and other peer-to-peer concept like Uber and AirBnb, blockchain technology and its crypto currency will be the thing in the future. But still, all we need is the trigger and the current bubble is ready to burst. The real question then becomes, how protected are you when the [healthy] crash comes? Anyway, these are the questions you need to ask before investing in crypto currency, these are some of the potential risks, and this sums up your friend who just bought their first Bitcoin.
  63. Take a guess, where did chocolate milk first invented in? No not Switzerland, Belgium is also a good guess but still wrong, not the Ivory Coast either, the no 1 producer of cocoa. It was first invented in Jamaica. Yes, chocolate milk was invented in Jamaica by Sir Hans Sloane, an Irish botanist who spent some time in the island in the 1700s. One day local Jamaicans gave him cocoa to drink which made him nauseous, that is, until he decide to mix them with milk. Eureka!
  64. The difference between Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians initially was a difference in politics between Latin-speaking Western Rome and Greek-speaking Eastern Constantinople.
  65. The name Byzantine was actually first appeared in the 16th century after the empire was long gone, when a German historian described the Eastern part of Roman Empire as "Byzantine." Hence, the people who lived within its 1123 years of rule never claim to live in a place called Byzantine.
  66. The founder of jazz is a mysterious man named Buddy Bolden. His life story is insane, quite literally, and very tragic. Nobody tells the story better than Eduardo Galeano: "It was 1906. People were coming and going as usual along Perdido Street in a poor neighborhood of New Orleans. A five-year-old child peeking out the window watched that boring sameness with open eyes and very open ears, as if he expected something to happen. It happened. Music exploded from the corner and filled the street. A man was blowing his cornet straight up to the sky and around him a crowd clapped in time and sang and danced. And Louis Armstrong, the boy in the window, swayed back and forth with such enthusiasm he nearly fell out. A few days later, the man with the cornet entered an insane asylum. They locked him up in the Negro section. That was the only time his name, Buddy Bolden, appeared in the newspapers. He died a quarter of a century later in the same asylum, and the papers did not notice. But his music, never written down or recorded, played on inside the people who had delighted in it at parties or at funerals. According to those in the know, that phantom was the founder of jazz."
  67. The origins of the nickname of London's clock tower "Big Ben" is still debatable until today. Some suggest that it is named after sir Benjamin Hall, who supervise the installation of the clock tower, while other argue that it is named after English heavyweight boxing champion Benjamin Caunt. 
  68. In other news, there's an exact replica of the Big Ben in Kolkata, India. It is officially named "Kolkata Time Zone", and it is 135 ft. tall, with an additional 80 ft. of concrete piling below ground zero. This is much shorter than London's Big Ben, which is 315 ft. tall (nope, I'm not going to do a racial dick joke).
  69. There's a house in Nunukan, North Kalimantan, Indonesia, that is built snap bang in the middle of the Indonesia-Malaysia border. Their living room is in Indonesia, while their kitchen is in Malaysia.
  70. Wanker of the year: Harvey Weinstein is definitely a class-A wanker but he’s not my wanker of the year. And with all the unbelievable shit Trump has done since becoming a president you would think that he's got to be the biggest wanker this year. But he's not. My wanker of the year is closer to home and you'd probably never heard of his name, in fact not all Indonesians realize who he is and what he's done. But since Indonesia in practice rarely protect free speech, and since this person is powerful and Indonesian law can criminalize what we write on the web, I won't mention his name.
  71. But let me tell you what this wanker has done. Bear with me, because this is going to be the longest post I've written in 100 things so far. Religion is sacred, while politics is inherently dirty. And in Indonesia where general education level is still low, religion becomes the sole guiding principle in life for a good majority of the population, which is fine when unexploited. But this reality also means that religious leaders have a unique access to the masses as some kind of guidance counselors, that can almost dictates them on what to choose or what not to do. This wanker saw this as the perfect opportunity, control the religious leaders = control the masses. So, on behalf of the political godfather who hires him, he began to mastermind (behind the scene) the massive campaign of reaching out to the many community-level religious leaders (through bribes, perks and other dodgy deals), to achieve 1 goal: for the godfather's proxy to win a regional election, by beating the very popular incumbent (70% approval ratings). That's right, this wanker's job is like Alastair Campbell or the fictional Olivia Pope.
  72. What proceeded after this was the dirtiest exploitation of sacred religion I've ever seen, for political gain. They use sacred text from the Holy Book to justify voting against the incumbent (who has a different religion), which was spread by the bribed leaders across a lot of House of Worships. The incumbent, to his fault, catch the bait and gave a speech that said don't get fooled by those who use the [specific text] to NOT vote for me (and instead, vote for anyone you think can work well). The wanker saw this as a brilliant opportunity and he organised several massive protest rallies (via his already-established network of religious leaders and their masses) to pressure the law authorities to criminalize the incumbent on the grounds of religion blasphemy, and turned the incumbent's "blasphemy" into a justification to spread MORE religious doctrines to vote only for fellow-worshipers and not the guy who taint their religion.
  73. The rallies and constant doctrine in House of Worships successfully tarnished the incumbent's image, and because the wanker ultimately use the "service" of a leader of the most radical religious organisation (a recidivist criminal with big extreme followers, the best money can buy) as the face of the protest, this campaign essentially broke the whole nation into 2 sides: those who know the truth and unaffected by the nasty doctrines, versus the suddenly awakened religious fundamentalists (sometimes the opposing sides are within the same family, social circles, work environments, etc). And the fights were nasty, and still very sensitive until this day. 
  74. The result? The approval ratings of the incumbent drops to merely 42% and he lost the election, while the pandora’s box of hardliners Muslims have now been opened. Moreover, all the good system that the incumbent puts to ensure clean, transparent and efficient governance was stripped down, all the places he cleaned up are now back in the hands of the mafias (they even officially get paid now), the budget has exponentially bloated with blurry details, and this is only just the 1st month. And oh, the once-very-popular incumbent (the winner of governor of the year award, and best city award) is now in jail, for blasphemy. 
  75. Now that the floodgate of hardliner Muslims have been opened, a lot of instant “scholars” (claiming to be ulama, without a formal training) suddenly pop up everywhere, spreading radical messages to the indoctrinated masses, shifting the country dangerously away from the tolerance that once made Indonesia the model Muslim country. Some analysts even say that if the government lost in fighting this spread of radicalism, in few years Indonesia will have the same problems as Pakistan. Meanwhile, in his inauguration speech the proxy talked about how people from "local race" are now free from colonialism (the incumbent is from a minority race), which re-ignite another fights between the 2 sides. But perhaps the worst of all is the fact that this wanker is still employed by the godfather, for the next bigger stage: the godfather's own ambition in presidential election 2019. And the current president (who is up for a re-election) has an approval ratings of 68%. I'm afraid we've seen nothing yet.
  76. “Money” is named after the Roman god Juno Moneta, in whose temple coins were minted. 
  77. A name of a country is only derived from 1 of 4 types: 1. A directional description of the country 2. A feature of the land 3. A name of a tribe 4. An important person, most likely a man. For example: Norway means “Northern Way”. Australia got its name from a Ancient Greek theory of a southern island, Terra Australis Incognita (Unknown Southern Land). France got its name from a Frankish tribe. Montenegro (or black mountain in English) named after, you guess it, a black mountain. Philippines named after king Philip II. Bolivia after Simon Bolivar.
  78. Us humans discovered sugar way early in history, in around 8000 BC, in today’s New Guinea. The local mythology said that sugar was first accidentally produced after a man have sex with a stalk of a sugarcane. I know what you’re thinking: the thing accidentally produced, are you sure that’s sugar?
  79. Who's the richest person in the world? Jeff Bezos temporarily became the richest on August for only a few hours before Bill Gates overtook him. But 1 fund manager argues that the richest person has twice the wealth of Bill Gates. Can u guess who? it's Vladimir Putin with $200bn. This is his argument.
  80. Leonardo da Vinci was the ultimate Renaissance man that can do it all. He invented the first submarine, the first sketch of helicopter, the parachute, the deep-sea diving suit. He produced accurate cartographies, the anatomy of human body. He made a lot of progress in math, geometry, engineering, and many other area of interests. He painted the Mona Lisa, and the male Mona Lisa, among others. And he was a damn fine wedding planner. Wait, what? Indeed, between 1489 and 1493 Leonardo from Vinci was a wedding planner, and this is the impressive story.
  81. Now let’s learn how to count to 10 in Latin: 1. Unus 2. Duo 3. Tres 4. Quattuor 5. Quinque 6. Sex 7. Septem 8. Octo 9. Novem 10. Decem. Notice anything familiar? Yes the month September used to be the 7th month, align with its Latin numeral prefix of Septem (7th), the months of OCTOber (8th), NOVEMber (9th) and DECEMber (10th), also have their names aligned with their Latin numeral prefix. But when Roman leaders Julius Caecar and Augustus came into power, they added the month of July (for Julius) and August (for Augustus) in the middle of the calendar (during the nicest weather of the year), and screwing up the numbering in the calendar. Holy crap, as an OCD this revelation really bugs me.
  82. A long time ago Echo was a nymph, a beautiful creature who can speak with such grace. But then one day the jealous goddess Hera cursed her, and Echo was deprived of her own voice, and since then forever can only repeat what others are saying. 
  83. There’s an interesting concept called Antipode. It is a point in earth’s surface that is diametrically the opposite to another point, where if we draw a straight line connecting the two points the line would pass through the earth’s centre. For example I live in Jakarta, the antipode location is Encino, Colombia. Find your Antipode point here: www.antipodesmap.com
  84. Have you ever travelled carrying a heavy luggage and thought for a second who had the idea to put wheels in this heavy thing? Well, you can thank Robert Plath, a Northwest Airlines Pilot, who invented wheels on luggage on 1987.
  85. The epic of the Wild West, complete with the cowboy stories, and train robberies, etc is actually a fiction. The whole story was originally the invention of a handful of Eastern European immigrants with a keep eye for business: The Warner Brothers, Carl Laemmle, Adolph Zukor, William Fox, and Louis B. Mayer all cooked up this most renown myth in the studios of Hollywood. Again, I can't stress this enough, never ever learn history from Hollywood movies.
  86. The first ever recorded diamond engagement ring was the one given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy, in the year 1477. On an unrelated fact, the most expensive price for a diamond (nay, for a jewel) ever paid was $71.2 million, for a 59.60 carat “pink star” diamond, sold in Hong Kong on April this year.
  87. Book of the year: First, let me quickly describe how I usually screen the books I eventually read: 1. I normally get a book recommendation from trusted reviews/ from the author of a good book/ Amazon recommendation/ recommended by a friend/ approached by the author itself and the abstract looks interesting 2. Then I further research about the book, by reading the reviews on Amazon (the 5 stars and the 1 stars) and other media reviews to get the general feeling about the book 3. If I'm convinced, I'll either put it in the wishlist (to buy it later when the price drops - yes I buy books like I buy stocks, and if you're patient enough the prices in Amazon fluctuates) or I immediately buy it if the momentum is urgent to read the book now, like when I bought Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper right before I jump into the Bitcoin rally.
  88. With this screening process I almost end up reading only the best of the best books, with this year in particular the threshold keeps getting higher (every time I thought this got to be the best book I'll read this year, boom!, the next book I read is even better, and the next, and the next after that). Now, thanks to Kindle I am reading books twice the rate of my normal speed, and this year I have managed to complete my 1 year goal of "doing a Mark Zuckerberg", on October. My aim is to eventually "do a Bill Gates" in the next 3 years, with the ultimate aim of "doing an Elon Musk" on reading books in the future. 
  89. Anyway, among the best "Zuckerberg" amount of books I read this year (not necessarily a new book), Hedge Fund Market Wizards by Jack D. Schwager, and University of Berkshire Hathaway by Daniel Pecaut and Corey Wrenn stand out as the best finance books. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance and the Everything Store by Brad Stone are the best biographies I read this year. Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker, The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie are the best self-development books. Moreover, Warren Buffett said that if we want to fully understand something we need to read at least 20 books on it, and so every year I usually read 1 book on Islam. This year I read 3, and they're all really good, covering 3 different angles on the religion: Lost Islamic History by Firas Alkhateeb, A World Without Islam by Graham E. Fuller, and Misquoting Muhammad by Jonathan A. C. Brown. All of these books are phenomenally great at their own categories, but I guess my book of the year should be the most influential one: Stoicism is the best thing I learned this year, and thus The Daily Stoic would be a prime candidate for book of the year. But to be fair, I first learn about stoicism from Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker, and I learn a whole lot of other things from this book, as well as leading me to read more phenomenal books like Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris and indeed The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. So book of the year is Barking Up the Wrong Tree. This is my review of the book.
  90. Fish tends to travel around in a group with fishes that look like them, i.e. the same species, size and age. This is because if they all look alike, a predator would not be able to differentiate and pick them out of the group. This is, in effect, a form of safety by number.
  91. Two-thirds of Earth's surface is covered by water. But 97% of them is salty, while only 3% is fresh water, the kind of water that can be used to drink, wash, produce food and make things. Out of the 3% fresh water, about two-third is locked in ice caps, glaciers and permafrost, leaving only less than 1% of the Earth's water easily accessible in rivers, lakes or aquifers. This means that useful fresh water is scarce to begin with, and with the rise of global warming it is going to be much harder to find, while human population keep growing - potentially the next source of crisis and conflict.
  92. Urdu has an interesting story of origins. It is a language commonly spoken among India's Muslims, which comprise of a mix of Arabic, Persian, Turkic and Indian influences. This is because the language is formed by these 4 intermingled languages in a Turkic Ordu (meaning army) camp. This reminds me of a question I read a long time ago: if two healthy babies got stranded in an island with sufficient food and water, will they eventually create a new language as they grow up together? Some dude in Quora said yes. Yes they will.
  93. According to historian Simon Sebag Montefiore, Jesus of Nazareth was a student of the Jewish Prophets, where his every act was a conscious fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel and others. When Jesus was crucified at the age of 33 (I thought He died older than that, and now I feel old) He left no writings behind, and after He died the Christians kept praying at the Jewish Temple, that is until in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the Temple. Interestingly, Jesus saw himself as a Jew and not the founder of a new religion. The Gospels were in fact written around 40 years after he died, and it was actually Saul of Tarsus (who became Saint Paul) who made Christianity a world religion.
  94. Aldous Huxley, the writer of the dystopian novel Brave New World, died just few hours after JFK was assassinated. The most interesting part was, just before he died (on his death bed) Huxley asked his wife to inject him with LSD. That’s right, Aldous Huxley died tripping. 
  95. Person of the year: I agree with Time's Person of the Year, it's the brave women who come forward on the sexual misconducts #MeToo. How convenient it is, by the way, for the sexual perverts to get away that easily by just resigning or getting fired from their jobs, without having to face legal consequences for their offences?
  96. The symbol "#" was originally called the pound sign, a name derived from Roman term libra pondo, which in the year 1600 was used as a measure of weight. The # sign then evolved into a bookkeeper's tool as a short symbol for number (as in #2 pencil = number 2 pencil) which began to appear in 1850, then evolved into a programming language in the 1970s, a symbol for channels on Internet chats (ICQ and IRC) in 1991, and on 23 August 2007 an IRC veteran Chris Messina send a tweet suggesting the "#" sign as a grouping for a subject matter, in which 2 days later Stowe Boyd joined up and coined the term "hashtag", a British word for the symbol. On 20 October 2007 web developer Nate Ritter (a friend of Chris Messina) started to use hashtags to spread news about a wildfire in San Diego and was followed by journalists and media, and then in 2009 Twitter finally introduces a tool that automates hashtag searching. It is not until 2010, however, that hashtags was truly booming, when Instagram was launched and use the # function to another level, and in 2011 when people use hashtags like #Jan25 in Twitter for news of the Arab Spring.
  97. The inventor of the IQ test is a guy named Alfred Binet. According to him an IQ of 120 is the threshold for someone to make something groundbreaking, and an IQ after 120 does not make any more difference than an IQ of 180. What matters after 120 is the hours we put to do the hard work. Interestingly, India has more citizens with IQ over 120 that the entire population of the US.
  98. Human body parts are actually designed for us to be omnivores, not carnivores. The type of jaw, the length of intestine and the level of acid in the stomach are designed for plants, just like the body parts of our closest cousin, the monkeys. That's why consuming plant-based diet can cure a lot of diseases like diabetes, heart problem, cancer, auto-immune, etc or at least improve our health just after 2 weeks. The facts that we need meat for protein, the common saying of egg is a healthy breakfast and milk gives calcium, they are all misleading taglines instilled in our minds by the food corporations. So, they might be smug, but vegans are actually on the right diet path. (Ok now I want to eat big juicy steak, what is wrong with me). 
  99. Before I wrap things up, I want to share the top 3 lessons I've learned this year, all of which get into the list of my guiding principles (oh yeah I have a list, I'll share it with you someday). Anyway, these are the simplified lessons: 1. One of the tools of success is being able to measure risk/reward well, and having the strategies to minimise the risk 2. Get rid of the things that don't matter, so that you can focus your time and energy on the things that do 3. Anything that happens to you has a relative effect, it all depends on how you perceive it. So instead of dwelling on the things that are beyond your reach, focus on what you can control, and that's including your perceptions.   
  100. And so, risk taker or risk averse, vegan or meat eater, high IQ or low IQ, whether or not your name is Nguyen, still drinking coffee after 2 PM, dog lovers, chocolate milk drinkers, hashtags users, ethnic books stealers, everybody, just everybody, I wish you all the very best year ahead!
More things I learned and did over the years

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Israel’s Puppet

According to UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, Jerusalem was to be an international area managed under UN supervision, due to the Holy Sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Israeli government, however, is very clear about claiming Jerusalem as their capital city: today Israel’s PM office, the parliament, the high courts, and most government ministries reside in [west] Jerusalem.

But UN General Assembly Resolution 478 make it clear that Israeli occupation on east Jerusalem (officially owned by Jordan) after the 1967 war is illegal, and thus Jerusalem cannot be their capital city. Hence, the embassies of other countries are all in Tel Aviv, the de jure capital city.

Then, enter Donald Trump. The US president has just announced that he is going to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, potentially igniting yet another Trump fire in the world.

Previously, in 1995 US Congress passed a law to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by 1999, but provided a 6 month waiver that can be constantly renewed, which every single president has renewed ever since, including Trump himself on June 2017. So what’s the difference now? Why on earth would he do the thing that analysts say as a political suicide with no upside?

The most immediate answer is Trump is appealing to his base of evangelicals and pro-Israel American Jews. But there's more to it. Just few days ago former national security adviser Michael Flynn confirmed that Donald Trump’s inner circle colluded with a foreign government before entering power. The twist was, it was not Russia as everyone had expected (not directly anyway), but Israel. This did not cause an uproar as it should, because it’s Israel, the little brother. But this move to Jerusalem is the direct result of this illegal collusion.

Trump knows that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem will practically put a death sentence on the “peace process”, at the loss of the Palestinians and at a huge gain for the Israeli government. And that’s the whole point. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never gives a shit about the two-state solution, he keeps on building illegal settlements in east Jerusalem (some of which were indirectly funded by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner) while “trying to negotiate” with the Palestinians, and now he seems to be enjoying his return on investment on Trump.

It is a sign of a demise when the empire that used to have “friendly dictators” across the globe to protect their interests, now have a leader who himself is a puppet to another state.

Further readings:


A Guide to the dispute over Jerusalem and Israel’s capital [Bloomberg QuickTake]

A good long read to understand the big context [Informed Comments / Juan Cole]

An Israeli dream might come true if Trump declares Jerusalem the capital - but so will an Arab nightmare [The Independent / Robert Fisk]

What a US embassy in Jerusalem means to Palestinians [Al Jazeera English / Farah Najjar]

World leaders condemn Trump's Jerusalem plan [Euronews / Alasdair Sandford]

Netanyahu left without any cards to play [Al Monitor / Akiva Eldar]

The Jerusalem announcement won't really hurt America's Arab alliances [The Atlantic / Shadi Hamid]

Is Sheldon Adelson behind Trump’s decision on Jerusalem [+972 Mag / Eli Clifton]

A matter of debate: the sickest, and scariest, reason why Donald Trump is moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, is to cater the end-of-days scenario long dreamed by his far-right followers [Twitter / Diana Butler Bass]

Some facts about Israel that you may not know [Edwin Setiadi]

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Inbox Zero

This post was originally written for my own self-reflection and amusement, during the Eid holiday (June) 2017. I had so much fun writing it, and re-reading it, that I thought screw it let’s post this! It's been edited for context and to hide the names of the unfortunate people mentioned here

Maybe it was the spirit of cleansing in Ramadan or the Netflix documentary Minimalism that I recently watched. But during this Eid holiday I've been massively cleaning up my e-mail inboxes, to create my own definition of Inbox Zero. That is, neatly archiving the important e-mails into several folders, deleting the junks, following-up the forgotten, with the target of having no e-mail in the main inbox whatsoever.

The objective is pretty simple, with a clean and organised inbox (or analogically a clean and organised room, house, workspace, mobile phone app arrangement, etc) we'll have a clear picture of our priorities. We can then easily get rid of the things that aren't important, and clear up the time and space for those that should be a priority and require a dedicated focus.

Now, when I first started to clean up my e-mails it was supposed to be a normal task, but something happened along the way: I began to read my old e-mails. And in the age when WhatsApp, Line, Instagram, Twitter, Path, Facebook, etc haven’t been invented yet, we sure talk a lot in e-mails, where nothing was instant and we had to make effort to have a proper conversation to tell our stories to friends and family.

The thing is about our hopes and fears is that we seldom get the immediate answer to our questions, and instead we often grow into the answers without fully realising it. But as I re-read around 13 years worth of conversations, receipts, concert tickets, travel itineraries, picture video attachments, and trashy jokes, I got the chance to re-live the many different lives I once had, reading my (and my friends's and family's) hopes and fears, with the full advantage of knowing exactly what's going to happen after that. And it was so much fun.

There were conversations between two unbreakable best friends who no longer talk to each other today. A bubbly person who had a traumatic experience and now has a completely different personality. The uptight coversations with my now-best-friends when we weren't that close yet. A flirtatious hint from a gorgeous blonde that I totally missed back then (!)

I also found one picture attachment of me and my 2 idiot friends wasting one whole day in a reggae bar. A story when I sat down alone in the park eating my sandwich, and ended up talking for 1 1/2 hours with a Lebanese refugee that sat near me, talking about his war stories. The pictures of some McDonald’s breakfast (every time we had an epic night, we ended up staying up till the morning and have a McDonald’s breakfast. There's almost always a McDonald’s in any UK cities).

There’s a time when I exchange e-mails with a multi-millionaire, with some best-selling authors. That low resolution video of us going to ASDA supermarket at 2 o'clock in the morning and ride the shopping trolley "Jackass" style. That time we always hang out til dawn in a friend's place who owns a PlayStation (we only play Pro Evolution Soccer). That one e-mail from a flatmate panicking that the kebab trailer guy outside our building was going home to Turkey for the summer ("man, what are we going to eat?!")

The salsa lessons I took with an idiot friend, just to meet and dance with girls. The student protests and letter writings at Amnesty International, and accidentally joining the anti-Iraq-war rally when I was walking to the city centre. The organisation I created myself. The Islamic society I joined (filled with some of the funniest - shariah-compliant funny - people I know). The Krishna Consciousness Society that I also joined.

There’s the Japanese society I joined, even being the only non-Japanese playing a football match representing Japan vs South Korea. That half-Japanese-half-British cute girl that I met in one of the society’s gatherings that I hit it off with, until this Vietnamese dork forced himself into our two-way conversation, ruining my momentum (years later I went to Vietnam on my honeymoon, God does have a sense of humor).

A hint that I totally missed back in 2007, and only realise it today 10 years later when reading the e-mail (yeah just realised that I wasn't very good at hints). An e-mail with an attachment of picture of a friend bringing a girl for the first time to our group, and years later an e-mail with attachment of his divorce papers with the same person. A date to science seminars just to get close with a girl who loves that kind of stuff. That one e-mail about the long list I like / want / need / don't like /can't tolerate / etc from a girl (152 points, to be exact), in which my friend replied are you nuts?! That one time I was introduced to a girl by a friend, and immediately knew I can’t be with her just seconds after we shake hands (152 points, hey a man knows what he’s looking for).

There were the many long conversations I had for more than a decade, with a good friend whom I only physically met 3 times in my life (2 of those are in my wedding and reception). The many follow up conversations I had with someone I met on the plane. That late night talks with my historian hall-mate that sparked my interest in history. That one time I was “trapped” by a girl I was dating on having my ear pierced (she literally left a mark in my life).

That one extensive e-mail talking nothing but Tarkan's song "Dudu." That MP3 file attachments of the greatest band in the world (Venezuela’s Los Amigos Invisibles). That CD of an exquisitely weird band I found in Utrecht’s hippie store (Gogol Bordello). That independent picture house that always shows artsy European movies or activism documentaries.

That time when my good Pakistani friend showed some videos of his sick car drifts on a desert. The worry of my Kenyan friend when riot broke off in 2007, a fear of my Yemeni friend's life when Saudi started to bomb Sana'a, the despair my Greek friend had to go through after austerity, that long conversation with a Turkish friend about Erdogan and “that coup.” The Canadian backpacker I met at a bus trip in South Vietnam, and we talked for hours non stop. The abundant emails from everyone around the world when the Aceh Tsunami 2004 occurred.

There were also e-mails about when I got poisoned by the Henna ink from a fake tattoo. That time I had a concussion at my new workplace after only working for 5 days. The many subscriptions and memberships to some websites that don't exist anymore. That time I just finished shopping my groceries in Cambridge and got "kidnapped" to London, and ended up going to a London night club bringing groceries. That time we spend 5 hours at a friend’s house in Kingston (near London, not Jamaica) making my Rasta haircut while listening to Bob Marley, naturally. That picture attachment of when I dyed my hair red, to look like Hidetoshi Nakata.

There were e-mails of when two of my friends had a thing back then but nothing ever happened, and now they're good friends and happily married to other people. When my best friend's fiance passed away just few months before their wedding. Few dilemmatic emails from a friend who had to choose between 2 person (she's married to neither one of them today). That airport chase scene I refused to do. Twice. That other airport chase scene with me as the one who’s getting chased, but was too late.

That pictures and video attachments on when I saw God...... (Robbie Fowler) in an FA Cup Match between Birmingham City v Liverpool. When we watched 3rd division match for Cambridge United and f*cking love the brutal match. Championship match for Leicester City. A friendly match between Brazil and Portugal. A pre-season tournament in the Emirates Stadium. A crucial Champions League match between Man Utd v AS Roma.

There were e-mail conversations with the most inspiring person who taught me to read everything, to refuse to have my perceptions restricted, and taught me how to drive a fisherman's boat, among others. My review of a brilliant book that he gave me, and that time years later when I finally understood why he gave me that particular book, after he passed away. A Buddhist funeral I attended in Thailand of another great mentor, a Caucasian US citizen mourned by a lot of Thais. That dinner I had with my friend’s grandparents, whose very inspiring British grandad was the most knowledgeable person who knows a lot of things from a lot of things. That accidental heart-to-heart conversation I had with a homeless person, just after I step out from an epic end-of-term party.

That time I had to sell my tickets to see Oasis in a large open field concert! That time I had an advanced law exam the following morning but still went to London to see Incubus concert that night and thought I could still ace the exam (I got C). That time I queue 1st in line to see Maroon 5, only to be informed that the concert was cancelled. That time we went for a roadtrip just to see blink 182 concert up north. When I first knew the band Placebo when watching them at their concert.

There’s a time when we watched Green Day concert and that concert was recorded for DVD (Bullett in a Bible). That time Travis made a surprise concert out in the streets of Cambridge, and I got an autograph and what appeared to be a selfie (which hasn’t been invented yet) with their lead singer Fran Healy. That time me and an idiot friend watched Sophie Ellis Bextor concert, just because she's hot.

There were also the university group works, oh the many university group works. That one group work that consist of 3 Nigerians and me (it was so much fun). That Spanish language class we took, so that we can someday blend in with the people when we travel to Latin America. All the late nights spent in the library. All the Red Bulls we consumed so much that at one point we became immune from the caffeine. All those Chartered Institute of Marketing meetings we piggy backed (there were only 4-6 students among 40-50 professionals at each meeting - we’re mainly there for the free food).

All the time also spent in pubs watching football matches. That one time I went out with an Arsenal fan girl to a pub just to watch a football match (wait, was that a date?) That time we went to our friend's house to eat dinner, and we all talked and debated and joked around for more than 12 hours straight (and proceeded to McDonald s for breakfast, naturally). That time we went pub hopping, club hopping, that one summer we ate nothing but Indian food in a quest of finding the perfect biryani in Leicester (the winner was an all-you-can-eat place, naturally). The epic Summer Balls. The mechanical bull I rode at the Summer Ball (it wasn’t a pretty sight). The incredible amount of money we waste on paying for pool tables in between lectures. That park bench that I always ponder to jump over for 4 years, but never did.

The morning when I got the e-mail that my close uncle has died, and later in the same day I met, for the first time, a beautiful girl that would eventually become my wife (one of the saddest days in my life turned bitter-sweet - oh my uncle would’ve loved her). A video attachment of me and an idiot friend got into a Slurpee drinking contest in front of her (she wasn't impressed). One attachment about the “battle plan” to get her (2 pages long) after she almost ticks all the boxes in my 152 points list.

That period of time when all we (jobless people) did in our flat were playing Xbox, eating Chicken Cottage and always having some visitors crashing in. Those times we often play football with random people at Parker's Piece (the place where football was invented). The many writings for my blog, the unpublished drafts. The many seminars I took - from a grand one in a posh race horse track to a small damp room near the airport -, the few times I pretended to be a potential investor just to learn about finance. The struggle (and effort) in job seeking. The amount of effort given to few business startups. The offers that I got rejected. The job offers I didn’t take. That heart-to-heart conversation I had with a taxi driver (who once was a millionaire) on the very last day of my undegraduate years.

That time when 5 people who live in 5 different cities were planning to perform a band gig (Vocal: Oxford. Guitar: Leeds. Bass: Cambridge. Drums: Leicester. Keyboard: London) in a 6th city (Nottingham) without a proper rehearsal, with discussions about the songs and our parts in an extensive e-mails. And we still nailed it. A video attachment of me joining the street dance during Diwali festival. A video attachment of me performing the ceremony of the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket. That time I dressed up "the Gulf way" during a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, and got several discounts by the locals because they like how I dressed.

The first time I showed my family the picture of my long distance girlfriend. The first time she showed her family my picture (to my horror, she chose a picture of me pretending to screw a statue of a Birmingham bull from behind, at around 12 at night, complete with the perverted expression). That time we slow dance in a packed train from Belgium to Netherlands, listening to Nat King Cole on iPod.

That time I physically met John Pilger in London. That time I literally bumped into Mohammed Al Fayed in Harrod’s. When I almost got hit by Colin Firth driving his car. When I tap Claudia Schiffer’s hand at a night club, asking for a photograph together (she said no). That time we waited for more than 1 hour to see the Queen of England. That time me and an idiot friend had 3 hours to kill in Central London, and decided to stand right beside BAFTA award red carpet (and pointlessly saw many celebrities).

The many backpacking planning and itineraries. That one time 4 of us who lived in 4 different cities tried to conquer Western Europe, sleep in trains, train station, backpacker hostel above a bucher shop, the many bunk beds. That “shower incident” occured on that hot American bunk-mate. That time we (a peniless student) tried to cook a frozen food in a hostel that has no microwave, using a pan and a water (there's no cooking oil either). That time we slept at a Scottish haunted castle. In an ex Swiss jail. That time we arrived at a Florence hostel at 3am, and was greeted with “oh you’re from Indonesia, did you guys know? I’m sorry to hear what happened....” (it was Boxing Day 2004).

The many long distance romance and fights. The late night talks. The webcam dinners. The slow dance we had next to the River Cam. That time I only had less than €3 left in Amsterdam and bought her a Haagen Dazs caramel ice cream using my last pennies, learning about selfless love. The meticulous wedding preparation. The happiest day in my life (no, not my wedding day, but Istanbul 25 May 2005). That time I invited Jim Rogers and John Pilger to my wedding (they didn't come).

The Indochina honeymoon itinerary, the German family we met in Halong Bay and never get back in touch, the dodgy dark hotel behind a car dumpster in Bangkok, our super-cool tuk tuk driver in Cambodia. All of the planning and reservations to India that we never got to go through. A video attachment of the moment I first met my newly-born son (the most nervous day in my life). A video attachment of the moment my son first met his newly-born sister.

And I realise something. Some of the most legendary stories that I had were the ones occurring off-script or completely unplanned. I also realise that I went through all of these adventures with a little bit more worry than I should have. I always believe that fear is good, it keeps us alert and focus, and visioning ahead of the possible worst case scenarios is a good risk management practice. But as I read the hopes and fears in the e-mails (and knowing exactly what's going to happen afterwards), I realise that although it's good to stay alert, worrying things that are beyond our control is just wasting our time, our energy, and also keeping us from really enjoying the moment.

Because, in hindsight, the majority of my worries in those 13 years never actually happened. And for every setbacks and heartbreaks that did happen, they open up another new road to something better and totally unexpected beyond my wildest imagination. After all, it's just like what Mark Twain said "good judgments come from experience, and experience comes from bad judgments." And bad decisions make good stories.

I also learn that no matter how strong a relationship is, it CAN break apart if we don’t maintain it well (and it’s so easy to maintain if you’re really close). Some of our good friends can turn out to be only friend for a reason and/or a season. Sometimes the most unexpected person can ended up becoming our good friend, even those we initially don’t like. Big events like tragedy can either strengthen a relationship or break them. And [post script] sometimes great friends can just pick up where they left off, even though they have been separated for more than a decade.

There’s a Turkish proverb that perfectly sums up how I perceive all the people that have come and go (and stay) in my life, "no road is long with a good company." Because without all of them - the nicest, the nastiest, the most competitive, the most selfless, the backstabbers, the most helpful, etc - I wouldn’t have a story to tell. And what is left of us in the end of the day is just the stories that we share with others.

By the way, none of us ended up where we thought we would be in 10 years time. Now, almost in a glimpse of an eye since our time together, that historian hall-mate is now an archaeologist digging ancient tunnels in Greece, that Arsenal fan girl is now somewhere in the coast of West Africa studying dolphins, my Pakistani friend is working for a Saudi prince, my best friend whose fiance died is now in a new relationship and they're getting married, a friend who introduced me to the Japanese Society is now a patient in a mental health institute in Japan, that idiot friend I went to salsa lessons with... well, he suddenly died this year. Yes, life is too damn short.

Now that all of the “evidence” of my fun and bizarre 13 years have been sorted, organised, and stored, my inbox is officially a clean slate.

And as you can guess, Inbox zero works like a charm. It has affected so much more than just cleaning up my e-mail inbox, it has also inspired me to simplify every aspects in my life: my priorities have become much clearer, I got rid of the things that aren't useful, I enhanced efficiency in those I decide to keep, and most importantly, inspired by my own adventurous stories, I now re-embracing my inner idiot.

"Mum dad, look, this is my new boyfriend"

Friday, 17 November 2017

Setya Novanto

Dibalik cara murahan nya Setnov untuk ngehindar dari KPK, dibalik becandaan-becandaan yang akhirnya bisa menyatukan semua orang Indonesia tanpa batasan SARA, ada figur politik yang lagi nyerang Setnov karena kapasitas nya sebagai ketua umum Golkar yang ngebawa Golkar melipir ke kubu Jokowi.

Dibalik meme-meme kocak fortuner nabrak, 45km/jam, tiang listrik (maaf, tiang lampu), benjolan bapao, dll, ada politisi yang “memberi ijin” ke KPK untuk ngejar Setnov, yang terus-terusan ngomong Setnov harus menghormati hukum, yang lagi all out di media bilang sakit Setnov bohong, yang bilang Golkar harus mengadakan munas untuk milih ketua umum baru.

End game nya? Re-gain control over Golkar / posisi ketua umum Golkar / proxy nya dia dapetin posisi ketua umum Golkar, supaya politisi ini ada leverage ke presiden kita di dalam Koalisi Indonesia Hebat. But don’t judge too quickly, the reason that this antagonist politician bisa sampe rise to be a villain kayak gini juga karena salah nya Jokowi yang shut him down secara kasar.

So just like in the TV series Billions, there are no clear good or bad guys, just a bunch of ******** fighting each other. Satu kubu conducting a serious political attack, dilawan sama an equally serious defense strategy yang di backing sama the scariest people in the country.

Now, I don’t like Setnov, the guy I called Little Fingers, he’s the closest thing to an Indonesian “concierge of crime” (yes, Blacklist). And ceteris paribus, dia harus ditangkep and bring down everyone with him. Tapi on the other hand, kalo Setnov beneran tumbang, the political map bakal jadi berantakan, di tahun-tahun vital sebelum pilpres (an unnecessary chaos).

So how will it possibly end? Now that, is the real juicy story dibalik drama Setnov.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Book review: The short stories of almost everything


This is an alternative way to look at history, through short stories filled with myths, urban legends, folktales, propaganda, and of course - the main theme of the book - the unfiltered and uncompromising truths.

Eduardo Galeano is a man who seems to have seen it all and read them all, and it shows in the wide range of knowledge and the depths of understanding required for him to be able to write 600 short summaries of nearly everything, without having to lose the essential key points.

The book covers so many stories of the voiceless and the forgotten people, from indigenous people wiped out by their colonial rulers, the oppressed ethnic minorities, the lowest caste, to the women in chauvinistic society.

It also covers the story of almost every significant personality in our history. Everyone, including authors like Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Robinson Crusoe. Inventors like Thomas Alva Edison, Nikola Tesla. Civil rights activist such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King jr. Or revolutionary leaders like Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Book review: How the beast works

"The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the future of the global economy" by Yanis Varoufakis

There are many books that discussed how Germany and Japan were re-built, using the protectionist formula that successfully built the British Empire and the US economy, and how successful these two countries have since become. But this is the first time that anyone has explained why Germany and Japan were specifically re-built by the US, and why they need these two countries to become a developed nation: as the two pillars of the Global Plan (the Bretton Woods system 1945-1971), to act as the shock absorbents if the American economy took one of its many periodic downturns from the trade surplus against everyone.

From this basis the book then elaborate on the surplus recycling mechanism that the world eventually used, which ignored the original idea of surplus recycling mechanism put forward by John Maynard Keynes, that would balance out global trade imbalances more fairly and evenly.

The book then gives the best explanation on Petrodollar recycling mechanism, which author Yanis Varoufakis refer as the Global Minotaur period, a period when Global Minotaur really took off (from when Nixon abolished the Gold Standard in 1971 - until the crash of 2008), named after the Cretan mythology creature that has to be given a tribute of human flesh to stay alive, and able to create peace in the region as long as the sacrificing foreign tributes keep on coming.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Book review: One of the most innovative person in Silicon Valley has a very interesting life story

"Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future" by Ashlee Vance

There was a time when Elon Musk lived in South Africa, reads 2 books a day, and was being bullied. A time when he started off backpacking then living in Canada, and ended up nearly pursuing a PhD at Stanford before dropping it to pursue an opportunity in a new trend called the internet. There was also a time when he's trying to make it in Silicon Valley but got back stabbed, a time when he backstabbed people. There was a time when he got fired from his job during his honeymoon, and years later when he finally take a vacation he almost died of malaria.

Indeed, Elon Musk has a very interesting life story, and his story is brilliantly captured by author Ashlee Vance in this gripping book, the most engaging biography I've ever read since Richard Branson's autobiography Losing my Virginity.

According to neuropsychologists Musk’s behavior closely resembles someone who is profoundly gifted: "These are people who in childhood exhibit exceptional intellectual depth and max out IQ tests. It’s not uncommon for these children to look out into the world and find flaws—glitches in the system—and construct logical paths in their minds to fix them."

And fix them he did. Nothing that he does is actually a groundbreaking idea like Thomas Edison's lightbulb or Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, but he took the most obvious idea (like a failed electric car industry) and make some thinkering and changes to make them work brilliantly and more efficiently. Musk does not implement how a business usually done, but instead he change the methods completely.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Book review: The summary of every single Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting between 1986 and 2015


Warren Buffett never writes a book. Instead, he delivers his wisdom through 4 mediums: Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings, his op-ed pieces, his TV interviews and his letter to shareholders. This book is about the 1st medium.

Often dubbed the Woodstock of Capitalism, Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting have grown significantly in attendance size from only half a dozen people in 1970s, to 300 in 1986, 1000 people in 1989, 10,000 people in 2001, and up to 45,000 people in 2013.

Present in every single one of these meetings between 1986-2015 is Daniel Pecaut, which later joined by his longtime business partner Corey Wrenn. This book is the accumulation of their note taking from those meetings, 30 years worth of the shareholders' meetings, which they summarized into 30 short chapters that contain only the gold, the best gems worthy of a university education.

Just like any company's annual meeting, it is first and foremost filled with the discussion of their holdings and its issues. With their usual wit and wisdom, Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger provide a very open reasoning of why they purchase a particular company (including the methods they use to calculate the values), explain us the way they solve or avoid any problems that arise, and lay out their detailed-enough plans for the future for these companies. The 2014 chapter in particular gives a great summary of the inner workings of Berkshire Hathaway and Buffett's and Munger's thought process, which is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Book review: A very smart book, on a passionately entertaining subject

"Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics" by Jonathan Wilson

This is the fascinating long history of the Great Game, from the tactical perspectives and the philosophies that come with them.

The book began right from where it all started: the meeting organised by H.C. Malden of Godalming, Surrey, in his Cambridge rooms in 1848, which summons university representatives of Harrow, Eaton, Shrewsbury, Winchester, Rugby, and 2 non-public schoolboys, to create the first unified Laws of the Game, the "Cambridge Rules." The rules then spread around the world in the next few decades via British men of various occupations, blended in with the local culture and create distinctively local style of play, until it became a truly global phenomenon in the 20th century.

The title of the book brilliantly captures this phenomenon, through the evolution of its formation from the pyramid-like shape 2-3-5 in the early days, to 3-2-5, 4-2-4, 4-4-2 to the inverted pyramid shape 4-5-1 and even 4-6-0 that several teams use today, complete with all the advantages-disadvantages, blank spots, and all the major incidents that colour the many transformations.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Book review: The importance of Khatam

"Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy" by Jonathan A.C. Brown

For Muslims Al Quran is infallable. And Hadiths, despite composed by men, are a close second. But in reality the people who read them are still subject to (mis)interpretation, are prone to errors and human emotions like greed and envy, or can have their own hidden agendas using religious doctrines. This book is about that human fallability.

The book shows the complex intellectual and spiritual debates on the interpretation of Al Quran, and how complicated and political the writings of the Hadiths are. It shows that Islam is where it is today not only through the conquerings and assimilations, but also as a result of many theological frictions occurring for the past 1400 years.

The central message of this book is very straight to the point: we need to read Al Quran wholly, from cover to cover (or Khatam). Reading only some verses of Al Quran or just bits and pieces would take the verses out of context, and thus their individual messages could be highly misleading - the major problem the world has always had since the 600s, especially today.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Book review: How to control our cognitive biases

"Thinking, fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman

When 9/11 happened, the world suddenly feels like a much dangerous place. When Malaysian Air planes crashed almost nobody wanted to fly with them anymore. When your teenage daughter comes home late from a party you can't help but imagining all sorts of crimes you read on the news. These are the examples of cognitive bias, a big part of our decision making process. And this book is about how to recognise them and how control them.

The book is written by Daniel Kahneman, the only Nobel Prize Winner on Economics who is actually NOT an economist but a psychologist. Due to his scientist nature the theories he presented in the book have been tested, published, peer-reviewed, and re-tested by many more scientists. And he also uses a lot more theories in the book that are based on experiments made by these peers, to make some excellent points.

The result is an exceptional book, a complex sets of extraordinary findings written in a simple language that makes them easy to digest. Findings that look at decision making process using very specific filters.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Book review: History's amusing lost stories

"When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History's unknown chapters" by Giles Milton

This is a light reading from history's lost facts and forgotten stories, from late 19th century until mid 20th century. Perfect for laid back weekend read.

It consist of 50 short true stories with pretty wide range of topics from forced-canibalism, to adventurer who bought his wife at a white-slave auction, the black people who became an attraction at their zoos, the kamikaze pilot who lived to tell his story, notorious jail breaks, bizarre murder trials, to the richest men in the world, and of course to what happened with Lenin's brain and how Hitler's erratic behaviour was caused by the 80-plus drugs he consumed daily.

The author, Giles Milton, is a bestseller author of narrative non-fiction books, which immediately shows since the very 1st paragraph. The true stories read like a gripping novel.

I'm already purchasing the sequal of this book as we speak.

For more reviews, please visit my book review page on Amazon

Sunday, 4 June 2017

The underlying problem with radicalism is ignorance

The best form of worship is the pursuit of knowledge - Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

The underlying problem that causes radicalism is not only poverty, but ignorance or lack of religious education.

We need to read the whole thing to fully understands religion, and oftentimes people just rely on a teacher to do the hard work for them. Sometimes they don't even choose their own teacher, but someone comes along to teach religion for free, something that they might not be able to afford to begin with.

And that's when the brainwashing begins, when ignorance or lack of religious education (a blank sheet) meets someone who is charming but with a radical agenda.

So I guess one of the main solutions for any country in tackling radicalism is to provide a proper religious education, before any nation is completely overtaken by the radicals.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Book review: The funnest, most out-of-the-box, analysis on the keys for success

"Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The surprising science behind why everything you know about success is (mostly) wrong" by Eric Barker

This is the 1st book I've ever pre-ordered. I am a regular reader of the blog Barking Up The Wrong Tree, and I once thought would it be cool if Eric Barker can make a book out of these gems? And my God he did, and it did not disappoints one bit.

Like Dale Carnegie, Eric Barker uses so many stories, book references and great quotations to make his points across. There are stories such as how a poor boy in Mexico can become a world class neuro surgeon, how a clinically crazy person can win the enduring Race Across America, or how can an illiterate person in a horrible time and place and without proper education can conquer more land in 25 years than the Romans ever did in 400 years. There are also eye opening stories of how trust is completely lost in a Moldovan culture, how crimes create street gangs (and not the other way around) for protection, and how surprisingly civilised and organised pirates were.

The author then back them up with numerous scientific findings to validate the points he is making, just like the approach of Daniel Kahneman. For example, there are scientific explanations on why some people never quit, why people have depression, and why people commit suicide. Moreover, there are explanations on why high achievers can sometimes have anxiety problem or even depression, why the number ones in high school (the valedictorians) so rarely become the number ones in real life, why beautiful people normally becomes more successful, why nice guys finish first and last (and not in the middle), and why high achievers are rarely active in their social media accounts.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Book review: This should be the 1st book anyone read to understand about Islam

"Lost Islamic History: Reclaiming Muslim civilization from the past" by Firas Alkhateeb

This is the clearest book I've ever read so far on the history of Islam. It is focused, it has a clear timeline, and it is very concise, with no distracting facts that are irrelevant with the narrative. It is detailed enough, but without being complicated.

As a result, we can easily follow the development of Islam since its birth in the 600s until now 1400 years later, spanning territory from Muslim Spain to the Middle East and Africa to India and South East Asia, complete with all the ideological debates, the spiritual struggles, and all the many political frictions and conquerings.

Indeed, it is a perfect book to understand the complete picture, before proceeding to other books with more in-depth topics such as the life of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslim Heroes, the Muslim Empires, Islam and Science, the interpretations of Al Quran, the validity of Hadiths, the theological debates between the Fiqh, Islamic fundamentalism and its terrorists, and so much more.

By the time I finish reading this book I have this great sense of clarity of what Islam is about, and why the many different beliefs, sects, organisations or customs - from the liberals to the moderates to the conservatives - behave the way they do, something that no other book on Islam have managed to summarise so far.

For more reviews, please visit my book review page on Amazon