Death penalty is not revenge

Society is like a living organism; when cells become malignant (and life-threatening), they should be removed. A society which keeps these cells in the system run a risk of severe morbidity (if not death). What benefit is there to society if these cells are contained (or preserved)? To me, these cells can still do harm by depleting resources (in terms of maintenance cost, human resource, among others) which could have benefited people who really need (and deserved) them. Worst, if the containment is flawed, prisons can be used as bases for organized crimes (it has been reported).

If death sentence is considered revenge, who do you think is avenged (if not families of victims)? The majority is just relieved that another threat is removed. As simple as that.

When the US went to war (probably killed thousands) because a terrorist state was perceived as malignant and life-threaten, can we assign such response as “revenge”?

If you compare senseless (or emotional or calculated) and spontaneous (or chronic torture) act of killing people as murder; revenge seems to be under the same category as “murder“. However, the judicial-cum- execution process is not. No ill intention was ever meant for the convict and the process is never easy. If you compare the rate (number per day) of people murdered in crime, “murder” by sentencing is almost nil.

If you think murder is cruel; how about confinement without parole? Isn’t that more cruel, being caged for life (like animals in zoos or birds in cages)? Sometimes, I hope the decision can be decided by the convicts, i.e. death or forever caged.

It would be akin to giving terminally ill person a decision to either continue living with the pain or have induced death (euthanasia). For some criminals, I guess death is an easier way out rather than to live regretfully (for being caught) behind bars.

Last, I still hold firm that “death penalty is not revenge killing”.

Hello Kitty @ McD speculated

Limited Edition of Hello Kitty at McD costing SGD4.99 is targeted by speculators. The result comes as a ballooning price tag of more than SGD20.

Kids, my apology. Adults are sometimes creepy creatures. I can never understand the craze for such soft toy s and it baffles me as to why in the world that such toys are always limited.

Shouldn’t McD Singapore be well-informed about the trend of collecting Hello Kitty by now? Why don’t McD minimize kids’ disappointment by ordering more of these toys (to cater for crazy adults as well) for each event? In addition, considering the craze for such toys, more manufacturing plants can be setup in third world to help boost the economy and alleviate poverty. If McD hasn’t done so, the profit can be channeled to charity.

Right now, all I gather is that
1. McD entice-and-deprive kids of Hello Kitty.
2. McD promotes speculation of collectibles (probably limited edition stuff draws more crowd – marketing strategy).
3. McD is more successful in its collectibles than other fast food joints (the power of Hello Kitty).
4. McD is not proactive enough to prevent the loss of feel-good moment. These speculators only strike at the crucial moment (e.g. in the mid of the event when everyone got hooked up to complete a series) and never ever during the beginning. That’s a strategy speculators learnt to minimize cost and maximize demand. Speculators must be very happy that McD is providing them the thrill-for-the-kill.

Gang rape and murder suspect freed in Malaysia

A sad case.
Under NST news “car dealer escapes the gallows
Other references: utusan news “peniaga bebas tuduhan bunuh” (in Malay) and other sources from asiaone, malaysia-chronicle etc. WA today Australia news

It’s about an abduction of a 25yo fresh grad (Chee Gaip Yap in 2006) while she went out jogging with her younger sister. This was followed by gang-rape (multiple semen found) and murder by stabbing.

The clue was from a tinted car seen speeding away from crime scene. The owner was found and detained. Bail was given and DNA sample taken. Before DNA test was out, the suspect, Shahril Jaafar, jumped bail and fled oversea (and found six years later [Jan 2013] in Australia as PR).

The DNA test matched suspect with semen found. However, there was contamination from other semen (from gang rape) and rendering the evidence inconclusive (and useless).

In order to strengthen the case, the prosecutor(s) can only use circumstantial evidence or testimony (from investigative work carried out six years ago); as the case was recently reopen after a six years lapse, there was a change of hands by prosecutors (from Lim Cheah Yit to Datuk Razali Che Ani); in other word, the original prosecutor handling the case was off the case (reason not specified) and the case needed to be established promptus (or expeditiously); This could have (speculatively) rendered the case shoddy and weak.

In the end, the prosecutor failed to bring a strong case and the court decided a lack of prima facie case against the suspect, and the suspect was acquitted. The father of the victim nearly jumped to his death after the sentencing (if not prevented by witnesses) due to immense grief. My condolence.

The above case left me wondering:

1. Why was the suspect not charged with contempt of court for jumping bail? Would an innocent person flee before the DNA test?

2. Is DNA technology still not up-to-date in Malaysia (or elsewhere) to pin-point multiple source of DNA (esp. gang rape and murder where the victim can’t testify)? Unfortunately, the answer is a YES.

3. There was no mention of DNA sample obtained in the said suspected vehicle used in abduction and rape. Not even a single strand of hair from the victim? The court decided that just because the suspect’s car was seen speeding away from the crime scene does not imply his vehicle was used for abduction (and rape). I think the prosecutor (or investigation process) made a very weak case and I can assume that they were incompetent in handling the case.

4. News report associated the suspect as the son of a “Datuk” (normally implies powerful person) in Malaysia. This fact carries a negative connotation and normally would allow speculation that the case was unfairly conducted.

5. There is a similarity in the rape-and murder case of Norrita Samsuddin (source: The Star news) in which the semen found on the victim after probable gang-rape (multiple semen) and murder was useless due to DNA “contamination”. The case relied solely on the competency of investigative and prosecution process (and evidence at hand); the suspect, Hanif Basree was acquitted.

6. I wonder how well is the performance of Malaysian prosecutors in gang-rape-cum-murder (or rape-cum-murder) cases. How about the performance of our forensic team in Malaysia?

7. What will happen to the semen sample of “contaminated” origin? Will they be destroyed (and case close forever) or is there HOPE that these samples will be stored for future reference (with advent of technology) in order to bring justice to those wrongly acquitted (as well as those wrongfully sentenced).

8. For those would-be rapist-cum-murderer; technology will catch up and allow a robust DNA profiling of single cell (or spermatozoon) and this will be bundled with efficient isolation of cellular evidence. Even if the DNA is chemically destroyed, if there is enough material to work with – next gen sequencing and powerful bioinformatic tools will allow reconstruction of these materials (with epigenome, proteome, or other biomolecules readout) to reinforce association of samples found on victim (or crime scene) and assist in prosecutors’ presentation of circumstantial evidence.

When students fail, teachers fail as well…

I have a friend who teaches (or lectures). She highlighted a desperate student in the class who (after gotten her result), attempted to bride the teacher so as to amend the point (or percentile). The teacher is a very strict person and giving out zero is likely, though I’m clueless as how bad the student fared. In my opinion, when students (on average) fail, the teacher should also bear the responsibility. There are no sided faults, but only reciprocal faults (in the above context). That is why, in my opinion, assessment should go both ways; one conducted by the lecturer and the other by the students. If the lecturer gets low points, it should remind him/her to use different approach to “communicate” with students; and vice versa. Language is already an imperfect tool/means to communicate, let’s not make interaction the same fate (imperfect). With advent of technology, it isn’t difficult to efficiently bring messages across in classroom nowadays. Compared to “ancient” lectures where u need to learn shorthand to translate spoken to written and try deciphering the lecture later, technology today are enabling lectures to be interactive and FUN. If we can’t bring that into the classroom, we learn to compensate by other means. We tweak our approach if they failed to pique students’ interest to learn. The assumption that weak students are lazy and intellectually challenged is dangerous. Our achievement as lecturer is not how best the exam results were, but how interested students are to learn after leaving the classroom. We provide the foundation, students build the rest.

Malaysia & Singapore under “attack”, and “enemy” claim ignorant?

When the Nile river (or water resource) was at risk of disruption, due to construction of dam in Ethiopia, Egyptians were angry and saw the “domestic affair” of Ethiopians as act of war. As an outsider, I understand the Egyptians’ sentiment because the Nile is their blood and their next generation’s. This is an example of how “our domestic affair (of nation)” can sometimes bring war and destruction (when common sense and courtesy are lacking).

Taking a look at the scenario in Southeast Asia now, there is very striking resemblance to the Egypt-Ethiopia case; instead of water being the issue, air (oxygen) is at stake here. Southern Malaysia & Singapore are being choked out of clean breathable air (due to haze resultant from slash-and-burn practice at plantations resulting in forest fires) and our neighbor’s “senior official” responded callously with this statement, “it’s our domestic affair”.

Unlike the first case, Singapore did not perceive the “attack” on their “air supply” as an act of war by its neighbor. That is because both countries shared very strong bilateral ties all along; and the haze is (unfortunately) a known yearly recurrent problem in the region. This time, it is the worst haze of all with air quality breaching “hazardous”.

I wonder when will Singaporeans (and Malaysians) perceive the act (or inaction to stop and punish the responsible “arsonists”) by its neighbor as “act of war”?

I guess when people starts dropping dead from the effect of haze will Malaysia & Singapore forced to do something about it.

If I know who caused the haze, I’ll boycott their product

Haze in Malaysia, Singapore and neighbors are getting worst, psi and pm2.5 index breached unhealthy.
The assumption of slash-and-burn being conducted by poor farmers are unbelievable because no amount of accumulated land owned by poor farmers could account to such haze. So it had to be burning that comes from bigger plot of land, esp. those owned by corporations, esp. those pertaining to bigger plantations (e.g. palm oil trees).
I would speculate that the area shown in the satellite image under “hot spots” is dense with palm oil plantations.
To be fair, if indeed, fire was started by “poor farmers”, surely their homes are burnt to the ground by now (assuming that’s the reason for “forest fires”), if you consider that their homes are not far from these plots of land. They wouldn’t be that stupid, would they?
Anyway, whoever the culprit, as a person who abhor wastage and love nature, I’ll boycott the product or produce of these companies generated (by means of no-care for people and nature comprising its inhabitants). If it’s palm oil, that will be good; I won’t have to endure cravings.
FYI biggest importers of palm oil are India and China. My impact on boycott is microscopic (if not nanoscopic). Can’t sigh, too hazy….

readcube dot com review

Lately, I have been directed to this site for some of the searches I do and click on Google. What the heck is it (readcube.com)? I went to search wikipedia and came up with this –  Readcube is an app for reading academic research papers.

Okay, first look I have decided that I don’t like readcube. Here are a few reasons:

1. I have already got a lot of online “memberships”, from blog, news, ncbi (pubmed), emails, facebook, google plus, etc.. and I don’t really fancy having another account with login and password etc.

2. The look is really inconvenient. Reading a pdf file in acrobat reader offline is already difficult due to the small font size and really limited figure size. Having a left and right panels to further encroach the reading field makes my very-less-than-20-20 vision impossible to read. What is worst is that I can’t find (probably just me) a toggle to hide/show these panels. I tried giving them a feedback regarding this matter but failed (because I need to sign up first).

3. I’m really used to scrolling up and down with the mouse wheel. Using readcube, scrolling the pdf file takes significant processing. If you have a dinosaur processor, just forget it because it just “slow-mo” on you. Bottomline is that it takes more processing (or FLOPS) to read at readcube than offline or via acrobat-reader-on-browser (in my hand).

Well, I think the only thing that really frustrates me with Readcube is that the reading field is really really small in my netbook (10″ screen) and the “slow-mo” in scrolling the pdf.