Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tunku Halim's New Book

Some days ago, I chanced on a new book by Tunku Halim at MPH. The book title is "History of Malaysia: A Children's Encyclopedia". As a check on the factual accuracy of the book, I turned to the Parameswara section to see what Tunku has to say about him. To my horror, I read: Parameswara was married to Hang Li Po.

Tunku's statement is incorrect for the following reasons.

1. According to Sejarah Melayu, Hang Li Po was a Chinese princess married to Sultan Mansur Shah, not Parameswara.

2. Reputable historians in general doubt the historical existence of Hang Li Po, because the name of the princess cannot be found in the Chinese or Portuguese sources. It is only mentioned in Sejarah Melayu. And Sejarah Melayu is full of historical inaccuracies.

Concerning the origin of the name of the Chinese princess, I offer the following explanation.

The name "Hang" is easy, it is simply a transliteration of the word "汉", meaning Chinese, or the word could possibly derived from the Malay honorific meaning mister or miss. The name "Li Po" is probably the transliteration of the chinese word "礼部". The Malaccan officials who followed Parameswara to China on August 1411 was received by officials from the Ministry of Rites (礼部郎中). Probably the name got stuck in their mind when they returned to Melaka and got woven into the fabrics of Sejarah Melayu.

Probably Tunku needs to brush up his knowledge on Melaka. Although he is writing a book for children, it does not mean that he can simply write whatever he likes.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

雪洁健康养生机(一)

雪洁传销有一种叫健康养生机1, 型号为IOM-201A的产品,基本上是一台做豆浆/豆腐的机器,性能和功能都还不错,只是雪洁的叫价很是离谱。他们敢敢要买马币1130。

健康养生机1的原型号是Ronic Soylove IOM-201,在1999年推出韩国市场。目前Ronic公司最新的型号是IOM-801,已经是第五代了,外型远比IOM-201或IOM-201A好看。

产品的第一代,Soylove IOM-101是由一个叫金弘培(김홍배,Kim Hong Bae)的韩国人发明的。IOM-101在1998年12月29日取得美国专利权,专利号码为US Pat. 5,852,965

在美国,IOM-201和IOM-801是由Kaito公司代理,零售价分别为200和280美元(大约是马币660和930)。在Ronic的网站,IOM-201和IOM-801的零售价则是250000韩圆和158000韩圆(大约是马币420和670)。

就IOM-201而言,Ronic公司给Kaito公司的成本价应该是介于马币500到600,又或者更低。这样看来,雪洁传销的成本价也应离这个范围不远。

我知道IOM-201A的功能是不错,但它毕竟是一个十年前的产品,不值得那么贵,现在用RM1130应该可以买到第五代的IOM-801。其道理就好像现在没有人会白痴到用RM1400去买一台Sony Ericsson K700i。但是在六年前K700i的确值这个价钱。或许你现在可以向一个住在山芭里面的野人吹嘘K700i的功能,然后用RM1400把K700i卖给他。

或许,雪洁应该从韩国引进这个型号。

(postscript: 雪洁在2010年9月正式推出型号为IOM-801的健康养生机3。)

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Concerning Mycophobia

A friend of mine is mycophobic. She is afraid of seeing living mushrooms and couldn't handle them as cooking ingredients, but she can eat them when they are cooked.

I am curious about the exact etiology of mycophobia, but it is not well-documented in the literature. I rarely find any scholarly discussion on mycophobia.

Many suggests maybe mycophobia has a cultural basis. My guess is that mycophobia should not be memetic. It should have a genetic basis. It should be hardwired in the DNA program and is transferrable to the next generation. Although this function is no longer very useful in the modern world.

In the long history of human evolution, some groups of human, possibly living in a region surrounded by many poisonous species of fungi, must have evolved the defense mechanism to avert fungi species, for the fear of consumption of deadly mushroom species. This DNA trait is important for the survival of that particular human groups.



I offer two hypotheses on the mechanism of mycophobia:

1. There exists certain mushroom-neurons in the amygdala CPU of the brain specialize in mediating the reaction of a mycophobic person. Normal person does not have this type of extra neurons.

2. There exists some additional "mushroom-fearing" cross-wiring from the visual CPU to the amygdala CPU of the brain, causing the emotional processor to react negatively towards live mushrooms. Normal person does not have this additional cross-wiring.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

The Sang Kancil Story of Malacca

The official emblem of the state of Malacca depicts two normal brown-colored chevrotains (kancil in Malay) on each side of the tree of Malacca. However, if the emblem meant to show the chevrotain as encountered by Parameswara in the Sejarah Melayu, then the color of the animal is probably not correct. (The emblem is explained official portal of the state government.)

If you were to follow the Malay classic carefully, the chevrotain mentioned is white in color. The relatively new logo of the City Council of Malacca (the logo was unveiled when Malacca was declared Historical City on April 13, 2003), however, correctly show the two chevrotains in white.


On the other hand, the familiar kancil story purported to explain the founding of Malacca could be a story modified from a folk-tale from Sri Lanka. This fact was first noted by R. O. Winstedt in 1922. Dr. Winstedt was the pioneer in the systematic study of Malay history. He served one term as the general advisor to the Sultan Ibrahim of Johore (son of Sultan Abu Bakar or the great grandfather of the reigning Sultan Ibrahim Ismail)

I was in the Za'ba Memorial Library few weeks ago looking for materials related to Bukit Cina, Malacca, when I accidentally found this interesting piece of information from an old journal article:

R. O. Winstedt (1922) Two Legends of Malacca, Journal of Straits Branch of Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 85, p. 4.
In it, Dr. Winstedt mentioned that there exists a similar Sinhalese legend of the founding of an Indian city called Kandy, in Sri Lanka. Kandy was city contemporaneous with Malacca, founded some 30-40 years before Malacca. Possibly the story was brought to Malacca by Sinhalese traders and got woven into the fabrics of Malay history.

In the founding story of Kandy, a basket-mender discovered a strange phenomenon where a small hare was chasing after a jackal. He reported this event to a King, and the King thought that the place was a good victorious ground. Eventually, the King built his capital there and named it Kandy.

In the founding story of Malacca in Sejarah Melayu, we were told that when Parameswara was hunting near Bertam River, when a albino chevrotain kicked his hound into the water. He chose the spot where chevrotain were valiant for his new settlement and named it Malacca after a tree against which he was leaning at the time of the incident.

The two stories are so strikingly similar and you can compare the corresponding characters in the two stories in the list below:


The founding legend of Kandy referred by Dr. Winstedt can be found in: Henry Parker (1914) Village Folk-tales of Ceylon, Vol. II, p. 3. The complete page is reproduced below:

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Wuxing and Compatibility Coefficient: Part IV

In Chinese fate calculation, there exists a mapping between the wuxing (五行) and sexagenary components (celestial stem, γ = tiangan 天干 and terrestrial branches, ζ = dizhi 地支). When the birthdate of a person is stated in sexagesimal form, one is able to deduce the xing associated with the eight sexagenary components or bazi (八字).

Normally this mapping is in table form:

A useful set of numerical formulas to handle the mapping is to use

The basic principle to compute the mutual compatibility of two sets of sexagenary birth data is to pair the corresponding sexagenary components of the two individuals and compute their compatibility coefficients.

We can then construct a normalized rank based on the eight compatibility coefficients computed, and "foretell" whether the two individuals can live in harmony.

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