Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Judaic Digital Library goes free to public

this is great news to all who cannot afford to subscribe to this standard Jewish set of works. the Judaic Digital Library is now open to the public for free. The yearly subscription is US$89.

Only limitation is that one cannot  copy/paste, print, or use bookmarking, annotations, and personalization tools. but the offer is still marvellous especially to access the JPS and ICC commentaries.


Varda Books opens Judaic Digital Library to public

Skokie, Illinois, December 26, 2008 – Varda Books, the leading publisher of digital Judaica, has announced the public availability of its online Judaic Digital Library at no charge (www.JudaicDigitalLibrary.com). Advanced editing functions for research and scholarly study are available for subscribers at a nominal fee.

JDL is a massive collection of outstanding books in the area of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies (a complete list of mostly English-language texts included in the Basic Reference Collection can be found at http://www.publishersrow.com/JDL/Bundle.asp?id=8 ). The collection has been carefully prepared for computer-assisted reading and research as well as Jewish and Judaic learning.

Although copy/paste, print, bookmarking, annotations, and personalization tools are available only to paid subscribers, the unlimited power search and reading of the Basic Reference Collection is now available to all free of charge.

The scope of the collection is broad and thus should be attractive not only to scholars but also to educators, Rabbis, journalists, librarians, students, and anyone who is looking for reliable, authoritative, easily accessible information on Jewish history, theology, ritual, Torah/Bible, art, sports, and many other topics. 

Included in the JDL’s Basic Reference Collection are such titles as:

· JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh 

· JPS Torah and Bible Commentaries

· International Critical Commentaries on almost all books of Tanakh

· Cambridge Bible Commentaries

· Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Bible Lexicon (Complete and Unabridged)

· Jewish Encyclopedia, in 13 volumes

· Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, in 13 volumes 

· The latest JPS edition of Louise Ginzberg's monumental 7 volume Legends of the Jews

· 3-volume Mekhilta de Rabbi Ishmail, Pesikta de-Rab Kahane, Tanna Debbe Eliahu, Tractate Taanit, Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer and other collections of Midrashim and ancient sermons.

Most of JDL's Biblical commentaries have been prepared to work interactively with the renowned JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh: clicking on any biblical reference forces the Tanakh to pop up in a separate window with the requested original Hebrew text and the renowned English translation, side-by-side.

Among its many award-winning titles are those authored by such renowned thinkers as:

Cecil Roth, Chouraqui, Solo Baron, Abrahams, Alter, Netanyahu, Bentwich, Frazer, Bauer, Chomsky, Jacobs, Baek, Kaplan, Ash, Yellin, Hartman, Scholem, Twersky, Borowitz, Gillman, Lamm, Maimonides, Baron, Radin, Lea, Luzzatto, Finkelstein, Freehof, Dorff, Modrzejewski, Ibn Gabirol, Henrich Graetz, Simon Dubnow, Judah HaLevy, and others...

To place the JDL search box on your website, go to http://www.publishersrow.com/JDL/JDL.asp and copy the source code there.

Monday, 29 December 2008

entering the new year 2009

just a few more days before we enter the new year 2009. for the reb, the year 2009 means a few things:

firstly, it means new responsibilities as academic dean in the seminary. the term is for 4 years and extendable for another 4 years. the academc dean takes care of all academic matters within the in-campus students, especially the undergraduates. this involves doing the time-table, scheduling lecturers for the courses, checking transcripts, advising students on what electives to take, chairing the academic affairs committee, taking care of the staff under the reb, attending STM Council meetings, planning academic activities like public lectures, semianrs, workshops etc. this is a new task and takes a bit of effort to get the whole academic picture into the reb's head. it will take at least a year to be familiarized with all the intricacies of the job.

secondly, it means additional responsibilities as pastor-assigned to taman ujong methodist church. after 11 years of helping out in churches in the klang valley and in the southern district like taman asean methodist church and wesley methodist church segamat, the reb has in a sense come home. tumc was one of the two churches the reb pastored with the late rev hwa chien in 1997 before the reb went into full-time teaching in 1999. yesterday the reb and family went to tumc for the worship service. it was like a homecoming. as pastor-assigned, the duties are not equivalent to a pastor-in-charge or a part-time pastor but nevertheless, the church expects some sort of pastoral oversight and pastoral visitation and the reb's OT sermon series. 

thirdly, it means renewed responsibilities. with the two additional responsibilities coming next year, that means the reb has to balance time, effort, and commitment between family, STM, church, and studies. the doctoral thesis is still hanging there, still in the process of being edited and finalized for submission. 2009 is the reb's dateline to finish the long overdue thesis. somehow, by hook or by crook(?), the thesis has to be done. 

Thursday, 25 December 2008

alternative christmas message

here is the recent christmas message by President Ahmadinejad of Iran that is causing a lot of ripples around the world as reported by yahoo. some people argue that he should not have been given the privilege to offer the alternative christmas message on UK Channel 4. others argue that anyone else could have said the said message. the problem is that the messenger is tied to the message and in this case, the messenger has not been well received in many parts of the western world for his comments, ranging from denial of the Holocaust to wiping Israel off the map.

read it for yourself:

excerpt from http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/12/president-of-ir.html


President Ahmadinejad of Iran says on UK Channel 4's Alternative Christmas Message:

In the Name of God the Compassionate the Merciful.
Upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy, I would like to congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain.

The Almighty created the universe for human brings and created human beings for Himself.

He created every human being with the ability to reach the heights of perfection. He called on man to aim to live a good life in this world and to work to achieve his everlasting life.

On this difficult and challenging journey of man from dust to the divine, He did not leave humanity to its own devices. He chose from those He created the most excellent as His Prophets to guide humanity.

All prophets called for the worship of God, for love and brotherhood, for the establishment of justice and for love in human society. Jesus, the Son of Mary is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice.

All the problems that have bedevilled humanity throughout the ages came about because of humanity followed an evil path and disregarded the message of the Prophets.

Now as human society faces a myriad of problems and succession of complex crises, the root causes can be found in humanity's rejection of that message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ.

The crises in society, the family, morality, politics, security and the economy which have made life hard for humanity and continue to put great pressure on all nations have come about because the Prophets have been forgotten, the Almighty has been forgotten and some leaders are estranged from God.

If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.

If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.

If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime. The solution to today's problems can be found in a return to the call of the divine Prophets. The solution to these crises can be found in following the prophets -- they were sent by the Almighty, for the happiness of humanity.

Today, little by little, the general will of nations is calling for fundamental change. This is now taking place. Demands for change, demands for transformation, demands for a return to human values are fast becoming the foremost demands of nations of the world. The response to this demand must be real and true. The prerequisite to this change is a change in goals, intentions and directions. If tyrannical goals are repackaged in an attractive and deceptive package and imposed on nations again, the people, awakened, will stand up against them.

Fortunately, today as crises and despair multiply, a wave of hope is gathering momentum. Hope for a brighter future, hope for the establishment of justice, hope for real peace, hope for finding virtuous and pious rulers who love the people and want to serve them – and this is what the Almighty has promised.

We believe, Jesus Christ will return, together with one of the children of revered messenger of Islam and would lead the world to a rightful point; to a world of love, brotherhood and justice. The responsibility of all followers of Christ and followers of Abrahamic faiths is to move towards that and to prepare the way for the fulfilment of this divine promise and the arrival of that joyful, shining and wonderful age. I hope that the collective will of nations will unite in the not too distant future and with the grace of the Almighty Lord, that shining age will come to rule the earth.

Once again, I congratulate one and all on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ and I pray for the New Year to be a year of happiness, prosperity peace and brotherhood for humanity. I wish you every success.'

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

season greetings and happy holidays

received this in the mail. quite a nice greeting for the 3 occasions. 

so, to all readers happy season greetings!

the reb will be around in seremban for christmas at wesley methodist church and at the watchinight service at tumc church.

Monday, 22 December 2008

article in kairos magazine

the reb recently wrote an article (turned out to be the lead article) for kairos magazine's latest issue on the church's neglected treasure. below is an excerpt and the link to the full article in pdf is available here:  http://kairos-malaysia.org/view_file.cfm?fileid=48


There is a group of people mainly found in the Old Testament (OT) who might be considered strange or eccentric today. They have been called diverse names such as prophet, seer, visionary, man of God, and man of the Spirit. Whatever the designation, one thing stands out clearly: they were unique. They often stood out in the crowd like sore thumbs, distinct in the way they dressed (hairy mantle, e.g. Zechariah 13:4), what they ate (wild honey and locusts, e.g. 2 Kings 1:8) or what they did (walking barefoot and naked, e.g. Isaiah 20:2).

These prophets came from all walks of life – from priest (Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi) to herdsman and sycamore tree dresser (Amos), to royalty (Isaiah) – but the personal backgrounds of the majority were unknown. Sometimes even their patrimony was not preserved and their lineage left unspecified. The OT is not concerned with their biographical details. It clearly had little or no interest in the kinds of questions modern readers would ask. The prophets are remembered not because they lived interesting lives but because of their message. Their lasting legacy was the words they left behind. These linger long after the prophets disappeared from the scene. Who can forget some of their more memorable sayings?

‘But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an everflowing stream.’ (Amos 5:24)
‘He has showed you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?’ (Micah 5:24)

When prophets spoke, even kings stopped to listen (e.g. David in 2 Samuel 12:13). Confrontation with them often proved futile (e.g. the story of Elijah and King Ahaziah in 2 Kings 1:9-17). They were often treated as enemies of the state and the originators of trouble (e.g. Elijah was called the “troubler of Israel” in 1 Kings 18:17). Yet, people frequently sought them for advice about venturing to war (e.g. Micaiah ben Imlah in 1 Kings 22) or to look for lost donkeys (e.g. Samuel the seer in 1 Samuel 9:6) or to seek help when all seemed lost (e.g. Elisha in 2 Kings 4)...

Friday, 19 December 2008

The late Bishop julius Paul

Update: 18/12/2008

The thanksgiving service for the late Bishop Julius Paul will be held at 7.30PM on Tuesday, 23RD DECEMBER AT ZION CATHEDRAL, JALAN SULTAN ABDUL SAMAD, 50470 KUALA LUMPUR, FOLLOWED BY DINNER AT ZION HALL

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Is this the price to pay?

is this the price to pay for challenging the government? (p.s. the herald challenged the government recently in court over the use of Allah for God)


KUALA LUMPUR: Catholic weekly The Herald may have to stop publication as its publishing permit, which expires at the end of the month, has still not been renewed.

The weekly, recently the subject of controversy over the use of the word 'Allah' in its content, needs to have the permit renewed by Dec 31 to continue operations next year.

Its editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, said the paper's licence was usually renewed three months before the deadline.

However, this year, the Home Ministry has yet to renew the permit although The Herald applied for a renewal earlier than it usually does.

"We expected difficulties, so we applied in July. There should be no reason for the delay," said Lawrence.
"The government said it was still reviewing our licence. But we are now at the tail-end of the year. I must let people know what is going on."

On the paper's use of the word "Allah", he said: "The issue is in the courts."

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, in an interview with Reuters yesterday, said the government was "still reviewing" The Herald's licence and was following "due process".

"Until Dec 31, we are not going to announce anything. There is plenty of time. Let them wait."

However, Lawrence is optimistic about the publication's chances of operating again although warning letters from the ministry don't bode well for the future.

"In their letters, they say that what we write can be a threat to national security. But issues like the economic and food crises are also ethical things which affect families and faith."

Asked if The Herald would "tone down" if its licence was renewed, he said: "We are not being adamant or stubborn, but when there is a food or economic crisis, how can we tone down?

"We wrote about the fuel prices and asked people to pray that it would go down. And it did. What's wrong with that?"

Asked whether it was The Herald's editorial slant that was the problem, Lawrence said he was not sure.

"Our paper is only sold in churches. We don't sell it to vendors or Muslims. They cannot prevent us from educating our people and expanding their faith."

He said if The Herald's publishing permit was not renewed, he would leave the matter to Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam to decide.

The Herald has a readership of about 14,000 nationwide.

Monday, 15 December 2008

another milestone

by tomorrow, oldtestamentpassion.com will pass 20,000 hits on the blogmeter. tq for all your support (reminds me of the book title 'so long and thank you for the fish' by douglas adams).

the reb will continue to write on all sorts of stuff that interests him.

also in the works (still in draft stage) is the 3rd book in the Old Testament Made Simple series entitled Ecclesiastes Made Simple. once, the draft is complete, it will be proof-read and then sent to the publisher, SUFES.

Saturday, 13 December 2008


this advertisement frequently appears on facebook.

so what is the obvious answer to the question: who has a crush on you?

answer: a payloader, of course!

final chapter on ecclesiastes

back home in seremban after being away for 5 days in penang for marku's participation in the world youth scrabble competition. now in the midst of finishing sermon for tomorrow's church service in wesley methodist segamat-cum-holy communion service-cum-baptism service. a few youngsters will be baptized tommorrow after the service by immersion (in a water tank outside the back of the church).

for my last sermon in segamat, it will be on the final chapter of ecclesiastes. i have been preaching on the book for over a year in the church. once that is finished, i can collect all the previous sermons, compile them, and redact the notes for my third book in the Old Testament Made Simple series called Ecclesiastes Made Simple. also will need a proof reader to go through the draft. my usual proof reader, pastor robert khaw, is now a full-time approved supply pastor in subang methodist church and i am not sure whether he will have the time to proof-read this one. any takers? the book should be out sometime next year. the book is around 140 pages.

Thursday, 11 December 2008


At last – your iPod Shuffle can now be born again! Simply remove your existing, non-believing Shuffle cap and snap in place the t-shaped iBelieve cap, and lo! your Shuffle is instantly transformed into a giant, white cross.

Sanctify that Shuffle for just $12.95! Ideal for listening to Black Sabbath tracks during church services.

Thanks to Simon Grimes, the first of many shipmates to alert us to this new gadget.


or believe this? christian armour pyjamas?


or jewish beer called he'brew?

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

tyndale tech newsletter: some great note-taking tools

New Essential Research Tools

The key to research is taking notes and being able to find them again.
This used to be done on 5x3 library cards. Now it is best done on the web.
A former flatmate kept his PhD notes in two large trash sacks in a wardrobe.
To find a reference, he'd pour them on the floor, rummage, then stuff them back.
I don't think he ever completed. My system was better - I used a cardboard box.

With computers and the internet we can do much better.
Our aim should be maximum time for reading, thinking and creative writing,
with automatic facilities for searching, creating bibliographies and backups,
and minimum time for writing and filing notes on what you've read.
Utopia? Not any more.

With the following free software you can:
* access your work on any computer, and write it at the same time as a colleague
* never lose your work - automatically save to the internet every few seconds
* never ruin your work - previous versions of a document are always available
* add library catalog entries to your bibliography automatically, in your chosen style
* attach notes to a book or article which you can search and find later
* copy web pages or articles or documents which you can search later
* search videos from many sources (like YouTube) and save them (increasingly important!)
* copy pages from online books and save them as searchable documents
* save photocopies online and search them as though they were text documents

1) Zotero: Bibliography creation, note storage, document search, and more.
2) Google Docs: Word processing on the web with automatic archive and backup.
3) Evernote: Store photocopies and online books as searchable text.
4) FLV Converter: Search multiple sites for videos and save a copy.

1) Zotero: Bibliography creation, note storage, document search, and more.
Bibliography creation software has been around for some time in many forms,
eg. Endnote , Endnote Web, BibTex , Bookends
and many others - and now Zotero.
They create footnotes and bibliography, in the style required by a publisher,
from a database of references; and they help you build up that database;
ie it copies a reference and turns it into any format you need.

Zotero is free, and in my opinion better - and perhaps Endnote agrees,
because they are suing Zotero for enabling Endnote users to migrate to Zotero.

What Zotero does for you:
* fills in a Bibliography database for you directly from a web library catalogue
- eg from TynCat.com or Library of Congress or even Amazon
* saves notes you write about a book, or other independent notes
* links to or saves copies of text documents, PDFs, and webpages
* organises references and documents by tags and collections
- things can go in more than one collection or have more than one tag
* also finds documents and references by searching for words used anywhere

In version 1.5 (expected soon) you will be able to sync your data online,
so your research material and references will be available where-ever you are.

Hints on using Zotero

* First install Firefox 3 then go to Zotero and click on "Download"
When Firefox re-starts, click on [] (bottom right) to open and close Zotero
* Watch the the Zotero tutorials then try a compliant catalog such as TynCat
* Click on [] in the address bar to add a single book, or [] to choose from multiple books
or click on [] on the Zotero bar to save a copy of the current web page.

* You can automatically download PDFs of articles in JSTOR etc (if you have access)
- in Preferences:General, tick "Automatically attach.."

* You can automatically index PDFs - in Preferences:Search, click on "Check for installer" for Xpdf.
(this only works with PDFs containing text, and not images of pages - but see Evernote below)

* Add copies of your previous work so that it is indexed and searchable.
- save your document as PDF or as HTM (ie click on "Save as.." and set the Type as HTM or Webpage)
- click on [] then "Store copy of file" and click on your PDF or HTM file (Doc files aren't indexed yet).

* Chicago Styles are pre-installed. To add SBL style, click on Preferences: Export: Get additional styles.

2) Google Docs: Word processing on the web with automatic archive and backup.
Google Docs started life as Writely, which was bought up and developed as
an online word processor to form part of Google's bid to rival Microsoft office.

Google Docs is superb for writing drafts, but you still need a 'proper' word processor
for the final printout, because it does not have tools for the finer points of formatting.

Google Docs now includes all the features that most people use in a word processer:
- footnotes, spell check in multiple languages, tables, headers & footers, tables of contents,
comments, bookmarks, images with text wrap, page numbers and basic styles.
- unicode right-to-left Hebrew works OK but isn't perfect. Accented Greek works well.

Google Docs lacks some wordprocessing features which are often neglected, but very useful:
- macros, tracking, custom tabs, borders, outlining, drawing tools, and pictures behind text

Some necessary formatting features are entirely missing, and are unlikely to be added:
- fonts (other than the few supplied), line-spacing, formatted footnotes and complex styles.
- printer settings and styles are limited, especially re footnotes and margins

Some very useful features in Google Docs are not found in normal word processors:

* copies are saved automatically online - not on your hard drive which will die one day

* older versions are saved continuously - so you can rescue something you deleted last month.

* two people can work on the same text simultaneously, or you can keep it open on two computers

(click on "Share" and write in their email address to give someone shared access).
* you can publish to the web, or save as a Word document, or send as an email, in two clicks.
* you can work on it anywhere, on any online computer - even a hotel lobby computer.

What happens if the internet goes down? You can carry on writing, but you can't save,
so copy+paste into Word (or equivalent) till your connection resumes.
You can make a local backup (File: Download) if you are feeling paranoid,
but the internet copy is almost certainly more secure than your hard drive.

Hints for using Google Docs

* First open a GMail account and sign in. (free, and very useful)
At the top left of your mail page, click on "Documents", then on "New" and "Document"

* "Print settings" include margins, page numbers and hide comments.
Click on "Print.." to create a PDF file - though this doesn't show footnotes properly.
Use "Print as web page" to print with proper footnotes (though the Settings don't apply).

* For Greek or Hebrew use Unicode as in Word. I recommend the free Tyndale Unicode.
All the supplied fonts work on the web, but not when you Download as a Word file,
so change the Greek and Hebrew in Word to Cardo (or another academic font)

* To resurrect old copies of a document, click on "File", "Revision history".
For very old copies, click on "Revisions 0-" in the bottom-right.

* Use Styles for titles and sub-headings, because these are needed for the Table of Contents,
both in Google Docs and later when you Download the document to Word.

* To make text wrap round pictures, use "Insert" "Picture", choose the image file,
then click on "More image options" and tick "Wrap text".

3) Evernote: Store photocopies and online books as searchable text.
Making notes is often more time consuming than reading, but
without notes it can be impossible to find where you read something.

One solution is to scan what you read, then OCR it (ie put it through
Optical Character Recognition software) so you have a searchable text.
But this is time-consuming, because OCR is imprecise (esp when the page
has Greek or Hebrew!) so you need to spend time editing to make it readable.

Online books (eg Books.Google or Amazon) are even more difficult than real books
because you can't print out the pages so you have to type all your notes.

The solution is EverNote - which automatically performs OCR on pages, so it can
search your pages, but it always shows you the original copy of the page.
You can upload 40MB of scans per month and store them for ever, for free.
Screen-grabs from online books can be added and also searched.
Texts can be organised by folders and tags, by which you can limit a search.

Although it can't recognise Greek & Hebrew, it always shows the original scan,
so you see real Greek - unlike a normal OCR where you just see gibberish Greek.

Now: Where did I read about "laws of nature" with regard to homosexuality?
It was somewhere in Philo. I think it was when I researched Infanticide.
Evernote found it: I searched for "law" within my photocopies about Infanticide:

Hints for using Evernote:
* Start by opening a free account at www.EverNote.com.
* Go to Download for a "desktop" version for your Mac or PC.
This isn't necessary but some features are much faster than the web version.

* Searches are fuzzy - I searched for "law" and it found "laws".
* OCR accuracy depends on the scan - 200 dpi (dots/inch) in greyscale work well.
300 dpi is better, but you can only save 40MB per month without paying.
(200 dpi greyscale lets you upload about 100 pages per month)

* Add scans on the web by clicking on "New" then "Attach file"
or email it (click on Settings to find the Incoming email address for your account)
or open the desktop version, click on "New Note", and drag the file(s) into the note.
(I find the last method the easiest)

* When the desktop version is running, it synchronises with the online documents.
Searching and displaying documents is almost instantaneous on this version.

* OCR is automatic, but not fast. So upload it then do something else.
OCR only works on bmp, jpg, gif & png - not on tiff or pdf (at present)
For PDF scans of books, extract the images with PDF2IMG and upload them as JPGs.

* To save a page from an online book, run the desktop version and press the "PrtSc" key
(near the top right on most keyboards - or Shift-Comm-4 on the Mac, I think)
then enlarge the box on the screen to select the grab, and press Enter
EverNote will OCR it so you can search the English (but not Greek etc)

For OCR on your desktop, use whatever software comes free with your scanner.
If you don't have any, the free software from www.SimpleOCR.com works well for books,
but not for complex layouts with multiple columns, like magazines.
Don't pay for expensive software - 'better' software only improves the layout
(ie pictures and correct formatting) without being much better at text accuracy.

4) Free FLV Converter: Search multiple sites for videos and save copies.
Videos are an increasingly important form of communication for scholarship.
You don't need special software to watch - just go to YouTube and similar sites.
Free FLV Converter searches 18 of the most important video sites at once, and
saves videos onto your computer or iPod in a form you can project or even edit.

A search for "Lecture Bible Manuscripts" finds 288 videos (only 20 of them on YouTube), eg:
- Bart Erhman's Stanford Lecture - an academic lecture on his recent controvertial book
- Ahmed Deedat on "Muhammed in the Bible" (he finds Hebrew words sounding like the name)
- Pfander Films lively talk about the Qur'anic command to read the Bible, which implies the thousands of Bible MSS written before the Qur'an were 'uncorrupted'.
- Barthelemy on the Dead Sea Scrolls (in person! - in French)

Hints for using Free FLV Converter

* First get it and install it - I recommend Download.com where software is virus tested and searchable
* While installing, untick the usual offers of a toolbar. The Tyndale Toolbar has everything you need.
* Permanently turn off 'adult' sites, by clicking on "Site", "All adult" then "Remove adult websites".

* To save a video to your Desktop, highlight it and click "Download" (bottom left). Then wait a bit.
* The default format (ie AVI etc) is OK for playing and editing in most software
* For other settings, click on "Tube Downloader" (top row) then
pick "Format" (iPod etc), pick quality in "Preset", and pick an "Output path",
but don't change other settings unless you know what you are doing.

You can project videos on a data projector in classes, or even in your room
with a hand-sized projector linked to your laptop or iPod!

I expect that, like me, you are horrified by the poor content of most videos,
but for good or ill, this is the communication medium of the present,
so we should make sure that good material is added to the internet.

I've had a go at making a series of videos on my "Divorce & Remarriage" research.
The sound quality is poor, but it is interesting, thanks to editing by PlaymoBible.
See, eg, my brief tour of some ancient manuscripts in Tyndale Library:

May you do much research and communicate it successfully...

David IB

/// Dr David Instone-Brewer
dib Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics and the New Testament
^ Tyndale House, 36 Selwyn Gardens, Cambridge, CB3 9BA, UK
\=/ Rabbinics@Tyndale.cam.ac.uk www.TyndaleHouse.com

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

world youth scrabble competition

the reb is in penang with markus and charis. markus is taking part in his first world youth scrabble competition in hotel citibayview. the tournament begins this morning. markus will play 9 games today, 9 games on wednesday, and 4 games on thursday. the top 2 contestants will play for the grand prize.

the world youth scrabble competition is sponsored by tokai.



markus won 4 and lost 5 for the first round of 9 games. he's in 33rd position. some of the malaysian competitors are doing well, filling in the top 10 places. but these guys and gals have been playing for a long time and have world rankings! for some mugshots of the players:



updates (2):

markus is back for the 2nd day for another round of 9 games. hope he will do better to improve his ranking and get a world ranking for his age. markus won 4 and lost 5 like yesterday. total is 8 won and 10 lost. his position is number 37. tomorrow is the last 4 games before the playoff for the top 1 and 2 positions in the afternoon.


updates (3):

today is the last and only 4 more games to go. markus finished the 3rd day with 2 wins and 2 losses, making a total of 10 wins and 12 losses, placing him at 38th position out of 59 persons. the top player went to the thailand guy who beat the malaysian. 3rd and 4th places also went to malaysians which meant there were 4 malaysians in the top ten. some pics of markus in action:

Saturday, 6 December 2008

funeral service for the late bishop julius paul

Demise of The Rt Rev Julius Danaraj Paul

from STM's website:

Details of the accident is mentioned in the following attached files:

We at STM would like to express our deepest heartfelt sympathy and condolence to the family of the late Bishop Julius Paul.

The Rt Rev Julius Danaraj Paul, the Bishop of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia (ELCM), is the longest serving STM Council member and is currently the President of the STM Council. He was instrumental in the establishment of STM. The contributions he made all these years are numerous and invaluable. Certainly, his demise is a great loss to us at STM for he is a very dear and wonderful friend.

click on the link below:


friends would remembered the recent passing away of the late bishop julius paul of the evangelical lutheran church of malaysia in a tragic boat accident in guatemela.

the funeral service is on tuesday 9th dec at 4pm in the zion cathedral brickfields kl. the body is being flown in on tuesday morning.

the reb first met the late bishop when the reb was still studying in stm in the early 80's. julius had just returned from switzerland where he had worked. upon his return, he was assigned to pastor the lutheran church in sentul. the reb and classmates played football with julius in stm grounds as he frequently joined us during games time. we would call out to him, 'julius, pass the ball!'


Update: 18/12/2008

The thanksgiving service for the late Bishop Julius Paul will be held at 7.30PM on Tuesday, 23RD DECEMBER AT ZION CATHEDRAL, JALAN SULTAN ABDUL SAMAD, 50470 KUALA LUMPUR, FOLLOWED BY DINNER AT ZION HALL

Thursday, 4 December 2008

on Khirbet Qeiyafa

"David and Goliath" City Found in Israel?
Mati Milstein in Tel Aviv

for National Geographic News
November 21, 2008

The remains of an ancient gate have pinpointed the location of the biblical city Sha'arayim, say archaeologists working in Israel.

In the Bible young David, a future king, is described as battling Goliath in the Elah Valley near Sha'arayim.

The fortified gate at the Elah Fortress—the second to be found at the site—proves the existence of Sha'arayim, which means "two gates" in Hebrew, said Hebrew University archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel.

"All the sites from this period uncovered so far had only one gate. We have two gates and this is very unusual," Garfinkel said.

The gate, constructed of stones weighing up to ten tons, is located on the site's eastern side, facing Jerusalem.

Evidence of King David

The discovery is the second recent find to be made at the Elah Fortress—known as Khirbet Qeiyafa in Arabic—which is located near the present-day Israeli city of Bet Shemesh.
In October, Garfinkel revealed a 3,000-year-old pottery shard with text believed to be Hebrew—then hailed as the most important archaeological discovery in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Initial carbon-14 dating of olive pits found at the site, as well as analysis of pottery remains, placed the text to between 1000 and 975 B.C.—the time King David would have lived.

read the rest of the article in the link below:


for more pictures of Khirbet Qeiyafa, i have a pdf file presented by Garfinkel available for anyone interested.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

more on the ISA why it should go

is the ISA a preventive or pre-emptive law? najib today in the newspapers claims that the ISA has helped to prevent terrorism in malaysia and so the government has to retain it for our good. if not, a mumbai scenario can happen in malaysia. now, is there any proof to this, najib?

go and hear the video recording of raja petra at the anti-ISA forum at the bar council last nite where he debunk this myth:


in the same page, see the video on the pro-ISA protestors outside the bar council building and hear their view.

back to work, back to thesis writing

after a brief weekend in kampar to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday with a family lunch, it is back to seremban, back to work, and back to thesis writing. there is a constant reminder from all around to get the thesis done before the new semester begins, before the work of teaching and academic administration pile up. sometimes this is easier said than done with constant interruptions and admin work calling.... maybe got to hide somewhere inaccesible with only my thesis work.

this sunday got to go to penang with my children. markus is one of the 8 representatives for malaysia in the world youth scrabble competition to be held in city bayview hotel from 8-11th dec 2008. maybe that enforced break will give some space to do some editing work on the thesis. but penang is tempting for food....?

Friday, 28 November 2008

one fatwa too many?

from bob teoh, retired journalist, on the recent fatwas in the country. some muslims would argued that non-muslims should not comment on the fatwas as these do not affect them. true. i am not going to quarrel with that. only problem i have with that is eventually some of the implications would spill over onto non-muslims. e.g. the ban on yoga. how would non-muslims be affected too you have a blanklet ban on yoga? are yoga centres going to be closed down? or they need a permit to run? or they have to screen their participants first to ensure there will be no muslims attending? what if muslims practise at home in privacy? are they going to be arrested? with over-zealous little napoleons enforcing the law, would there be cases of 'wrong' enforcement? over 'true bumiputras as in mistaken identity? the concerns go on ...... (the other fatwa was about tomboyism. seriously, can proclaiming a fatwa on this behaviour seriously prevent or reduced lesbianism as what the authorities claim as the root problem? just because a lady choose to wear pants and have short hair, is she going to be hauled up for religious counselling or sent to rehabilitation centres for brainwashing for 2 years?)


One fatwa too many

Thursday, 27 November 2008 16:51 Malaysian Today Posted by admin Bob Teoh (Sin Chew Daily

Malaysia continues to be embroiled in controversies even as its embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is preparing to step down from office soon. The current uproar is over the latest fatwa (Islamic edict) prohibiting Muslims from taking up yoga, which it considers 'haram' (unclean). If anything at all, this points to a fatwa fatigue. Especially coming so soon after another fatwa admonishing Muslim girls from behaving like tomboys.

Compounding this problem is that the issuance of the fatwa by religious authorities needs the consent of the Malay rulers who are constitutionally the guardians of the religion. In this case, their consent was not sought.

This matter concerns not only Muslims but non-Muslims as well simply because religion is not a private matter but acts itself out in the public square. This is more so as Islam is the official religion of Malaysia. Thus it affects everyone in a variety of ways and in varying magnitude.
Although it differs in form, the substance of the matter may be of equal concern among non-Muslims.

For instance, some Christians and churches in Malaysia, are equally wary of their followers taking up yoga on precisely the same ground as that taken by the National Fatwa Council; that it is rooted in Hinduism.

Undoubtedly yoga is of Hindu origin. So are many things else we find in the country since Hinduism predates Islam in Malaysia. If we want to split hairs, even the etymology of the word 'Putrajaya' (Malaysia's spanking new Federal administrative capital city), is Sanskrit, the language of Hinduism. So do we throw out the baby with the bath water?
Yoga has come a long way from it ancient roots but still the challenge is, how do we practise yoga without embracing Hinduism?

Some churches also warn their flocks to shun martial arts since they originated from temples in China. Tai chi, qi gong, and acupuncture are similarly frowned upon for the same reasons. However, it must be remembered temples in ancient China served as places of worship as well as centres of learning of the arts, science and medicine and much else.

Many Chinese Christians in Malaysia tread an ardous journey in their faith trying to keep what is cultural and what is not consonant with their belief system. Some are easy choices like ancestral worship. We do not worship our ancestors but we honour and respect them as mandated by one of the Ten Commandments. Similarly for Confucius, we can keep the philisophy but we reject his 'diety'. Others seemingly pose some problems like the ubiquitous Chinese dragon. How do Christians keep out the religious elements and retain the cultural form of this auspicious mythical animal that is deeply etched in the Chinese psyche since the Bible has made it plainly demomic?

We do not live in a black and white world and when the two begin to blur into grey, we are confronted with the challenge of contextualisation. Most times it's not easy to achieve a middle ground. Indeed, our spiritual baggage is that the sacred and the profane must not mix. Some feel incumbent upon themselves to ensure that the two worlds indeed do not merge, hence the need for fatwas or ecclesiastical edicts.

Even till this day, the Church of England, or the Anglican Church, subscribes to ecclesiastical insurance for its 17,000 churches nationwide. Fortunately, churches in Malaysia need not have to come under such encumbrances. This is because ecclesiastical insurance is not available in Malaysia. Churches may even take up takaful or Islamic insurance without having to worry that they might just be hedging on the wrong side of heaven.

In all this, what is important as the Bible points out in 1 Corinthians 7:19, "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters."
Clean or unclean, haram or halal (kosher), form or substance, the moot point of ecclesiastical edicts is simply that only a 'circumcised heart' is required.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

violence by all means?

while we malaysians can sleep peacefully tonite, it is carnage and mayhem elsewhere in india:

MUMBAI, India – Teams of gunmen stormed luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, a crowded train station and a Jewish center, killing at least 101 people and holding Westerners hostage in coordinated attacks on India's commercial center that were blamed on Muslim militants. Dozens of people were still trapped or held captive Thursday.

Police and gunmen were exchanging occasional gunfire at two luxury hotels and dozens of people were believed held hostage or trapped inside the besieged buildings. Pradeep Indulkar, a senior official at the Maharashtra state Home Ministry said 101 people were killed and 314 injured.

Among the dead were at least one Australian, Japanese and British national he said. Officials said eight militants had also been killed in the coordinated attacks on at least 10 sites that began around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Gunmen also seized the Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch. Indian commandos surrounded the building Thursday morning and witnesses said gunfire was heard from the building....(read the rest in below link)



and in neighbouring thailand where a standoff between protesters and the government is leading towards more fighting and possible deaths:

BANGKOK, Thailand – Thailand's Cabinet, meeting outside the capital to evade anti-government demonstrators, was weighing whether to impose a state of emergency Thursday to try to end airport protests that have left thousands of travelers stranded for two straight days.

Meeting with the prime minister in Chiang Mai, 350 miles (570 kilometers) north of Bangkok, the Cabinet would consider both an emergency decree or the use of a tough internal security law, government spokesman Nattawut Sai-kua said.

"We have to consider these legal options to solve the crisis," he said before the afternoon meeting.

There also was speculation in the Thai media that the prime minister might remove the powerful army chief, Anupong Paochinda, who called Wednesday for the dissolution of Parliament and new elections to resolve the deepening political crisis.

Protesters, who are demanding the resignation of the prime minister, have occupied Bangkok's international airport since Tuesday night, forcing the cancellation of all flights. On Thursday, they also forced the domestic airport to close in a bid to prevent government ministers from getting to the cabinet meeting.... (read the rest in below link)



so, in a way, we are thankful that in malaysia we have not descended into such chaos, lawlessness and madness. it is a fine line that some people choose to cross by arguing that it is ok to take violence into their hands in order to achieve their means. can this be legitimate? No. it should be 'by all means to achieve the ends' but 'not achieving the ends with whatever costs'! violence is not the road we malaysians take to achieve our ends (remember may 13). peaceful demonstrations, yes, but not violence.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

anti-ISA candlelight vigil 23rd nov 2008

well, the reb is back after 5 days at the 33rd session of the trac annual conference in subang. it was the same usual business of elections of office bearers etc.

the highlight of the reb's trip was attending the pj sunday nite anti-ISA candlelight vigil on 23rd nov 2008 (seen here with sivin - photo caption was 'godsend reverends'). the reb's pics came up the next day on facebook (courtesy of some friends), on some bloggers' sites (like anil netto), youtube and even monday malay mail!

the reb was asked by richard to speak since he was there. you can watch it in the clip below in the second part:


a mention in anil's blog:


and in sanjuin's blog:


and in jarod's paradise storm:


and the whisperer"


join the facebook group on anti-ISA:



some updates: (30th Nov 2008)

in sivin kit's blog:


in splim's blog:


and a write-up by stevensim:


and in micah's mandate:


p.s. thanks for all the encouragement from all those who wrote.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

more nonsense from rais

Posted by: "suaram" suaram@suaram.net Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:56 pm (PST)


Release Guantanamo Detainees; What about ISA detainees?

The Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)/ Abolish ISA Movement (AIM) is annoyed by the statement from Foreign Minister Rais Yatim, "The government is hopeful that two of its citizens being held at the Guantanamo Bay camp will be released and sent home after Barack Obama is sworn in as US president", (Malaysiakini 18 November 2008).

He also added that "No charges have been brought against them (Mohamad Farik Amin and Mohammed Nazir Lep), and this is worse than the ISA (Internal Security Act) ". What about ISA? Until today there is not even a single ISA detainee that has been charged. And the question is what did the Minister meant by "it is worse than ISA?" Does this shows that the Minister agreed that ISA is a law which denies trial and it is a draconian law?

We wish to call upon the Minister to stop practicing double standards. We wish to point out to the Minister and the government that the ISA and the Kamunting detention camp in Malaysia is no better than Guantanamo Bay camp. Many are detained arbitrarily and without trial under the ISA for so many years. Calling for fair trial and release of the two Guantanamo detainees, while on the other hand denying the rights to trial of hundreds in our own country only exposes the government's hypocrisy.

Currently there are five alleged JI (Jemaah Islamiyyah) detainees who have been held under the ISA for seven years. They are Yazid bin Sufaat, Suhaimi bin Mokhtar, Abdullah bin Daud, Mat Sah bin Mohd Satray and Shamsuddin bin Sulaiman. Many more are being held there for more than 2 to 6 years. Just like those held in Guantanamo Bay, the Kamunting detainees have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, with the conditions of their detention kept well away from the eyes of the public.

Practicing arbitrary arrest and detention without trial by hanging on to an anachronistic law which was formulated to serve a real situation of emergency many decades ago only disgraces Malaysia in the eyes of the world. Setting up a special camp (Kamunting) with the aim, among others of concealing the conditions of their detention from the public eye and systematically inflicting torture on the detainees, serve to further damage the country's reputation and confirms the belief that such laws inevitably lead to abuse.

We therefore call upon the government to apply the same principles to the ISA detainees and Kamunting camp, charge them or otherwise free them. Failure to do so will lead the people to conclude that the government is practicing double standards. On what ground can the Malaysian government demands for fair trial if it can't put things rights in its own country?

Released By,

Nalini.E Secretariat


The reb's comments: ever since rais yatim crossed back from semangat 46 to umno, he has been talking nuts. this guy has no more principles. all the talk then about abolishing ISA , how it was bad etc when he was in semangat 46 camp turned 180 degrees when he sampai umno. now he praises ISA. anyway, the reb 'look no up' to such turncoats who lack principles within. he can continue to shoot off from his mouth but the reb does not listen or read any news about him. to the reb, he is a persona non grata.

trac conference 2008

the reb will be away from friday 21st nov till tuesday 25th nov 2008 for the annual TRAC conference in subang jaya. if there is wireless in holiday villa subang, the reb will continue to blog if time permits. if not, you know where he is. and he will be bringing his thesis and books to continue to work.

more on herod's mausoleum at herodium


New excavations strengthen identification of Herod’s grave at Herodium
November 19 2008

Analysis of newly revealed items found at the site of the mausoleum of King Herod at Herodium (Herodion in Greek) have provided Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeological researchers with further assurances that this was indeed the site of the famed ruler’s 1st century BCE grave.

Herod was the Roman-appointed king of Judea from 37 to 4 BCE, who was renowned for his many monumental building projects, including the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the palace at Masada, the harbor and city of Caesarea, as well as the palatial complex at Herodium, 15 kilometers south of Jerusalem.

On the basis of a study of the architectural elements uncovered at the site, the researchers have been able to determine that the mausoleum, among the remains of which Herod’s sarcophagus was found, was a lavish two-story structure with a concave-conical roof, about 25 meters high — a structure fully appropriate to Herod’s status and taste. The excavations there have also yielded many fragments of two additional sarcophagi, which the researchers estimate to have been members of Herod’s family.

The mausoleum, says Prof. Ehud Netzer, director of the excavations, was deliberately destroyed by the Jewish rebels who occupied the site during the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans which started in about 66 CE.

click the link at the top to read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

toilet reading - midnight's children

since finishing pram's arok of java for the reb's toilet reading, he has embarked on the next book - salman rushdie's midnight's children.
it won the booker of bookers prize i.e. the best booker winner in the last 25 years. no mean feat considering the fact that the past winners of the booker prize are all accomplished writers.
so far, the reb has ploughed through 25 % of the book and it is interesting writing!
and i would agree that it is indeed a deserving winner. there are many hilarious parts to it like the 7 inch hole in the white sheet or the grandfather's nose or Taj of the lake or ramm's too much prophecy etc. sorry, cannot reveal too much details lest they become a spolier for those who want to read the book.
i heard kinokuniya KL is having christmas sale on their books with 30 % off. do i hear them calling for pearlie?

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

anti-ISA vigils and why conditions imposed don't make sense

the police has been recently calling those who take part in the anti-ISA vigils to stop as they are going against the law. when has candlelight vigils been anti-law?

then it is to stop singing the national anthem negaraku at the candlelight vigils. when has singing the national anthem been a detriment to law-abiding?

then even when the anti-ISA vigils are meeting inside a building and meeting with a permit given, the police issued 12 conditions for the organizer and the participants to follow, conditions that included things like 'cannot wear "No to ISA" t-shirts, cannot have protest speeches, cannot have lighted candles etc'. what is a candlelight vigil without lighted candles?

anyway, the reb will be in PJ this weekend for the TRAC annual conference in subang and will definitely drop in at the PJ civic centre for the sunday night 8pm candlelight vigil in his clerical collar.

yup, you hear him right the first time - in his clerical collar! so what? why cannot wearlah? another condition from the police that pastors cannot wear their clerical collars to candlelight vigils? that will make it a record 13 conditions.

read bob teoh's writeup on micah mandate about last sunday's candlelight virgil:

Friday, 14 November 2008

TEE Module History and Theology of the Exile con't

The recent TEE Module on History and Theology of the Exile is over. and British Museum is hosting this month an exhibition on the theme of Babylon: Myth and Reality. how I wish i was there in UK at this time and can pop over to see the treasures and exhibits of Babylon.

in class, we watched some 3D movie clips of what Babylon would have looked like as well as some historical clips. the city was an immense metropolis. if you want to watch a short movie clip from British Museum, click the link below:


better still, sign up with the British Museum like I did and received free email alerts from them.

explore their online website to look for pictures and more information on the Babylonians. TEE students, this will be a great help for your assignments.


Thursday, 13 November 2008

a new media council? for what purpose?

Editors meet Home Ministry on media council
S Pathmawathy Nov 12, 08 1:46pm http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/92923

The Home Ministry, in an attempt to revive plans to set up the controversial National Media Council, hosted a meeting of 30 top editors and representatives of media interest groups yesterday.

The meeting, which was chaired by Home Ministry secretary-general Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, was to gather views from top stakeholders of the print, broadcast and Internet media in the formation of a self-regulatory body for the media industry.

The Malaysian Press Institute (MPI), a body of 35 media organisations, kicked off the debate with its 11-point draft which briefly spelled out the functions as well as the format and funding of the council.

According to Home Ministry's Che Din Yusoh, the MPI’s draft was well-received by the majority although "some editors had reservations" on the mechanisms contained in the proposal.When contacted by Malaysiakini for comments, Che Din said "everybody gave their viewpoints on the feasibility of forming the media council... the majority was in favour, but with some opined that it could be another layer of law to curtail freedom"."There is some consensus although many still expressed some anxiety... but the ball is in their (media organisations) court," he said.

Asked if the ministry would do away with laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) which is widely considered a stumbling block to a freer media, Che Din argued that "it is better to agree to form it (the media council) first before reviewing other laws".

A press, not media councilHowever, not many editors agreed with the Home Ministry.They felt that the existing proposal was nowhere near the comprehensive solution needed to move the country towards a more freer society, while some also questioned the government's involvement in the project.The MPI model comprises not just the press but also the electronic and Internet media under one single body.

"We are trying to include everything but we don't know if it is viable or not," said Che Din.Previously journalists have asked for the council to be confined to print media as electronic an Internet media are already under the jurisdiction of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).There is no existing council in the world which incorporates all the different platforms.Following are the responses of some the editors and non-governmental media representatives after the two-hour meeting.

Steven Gan, Malaysiakini editor-in-chief

Because of the government’s past track record, there is a lot of suspicion on this media council proposal. That the proposal is coming from the Home Ministry raises alarm bells.At the meeting, The Sun editor Zainon Ahmad said Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had expressed that he wants a more open society. If Najib indeed seeks an open society, there should be comprehensive law reforms to promote press freedom.One way is to set up a parliamentary select committee, consisting of MPs from both sides of the House, to identifying the laws that need to be repealed or amended.The government should not expect the media industry to regulate itself when it insists on telling editors and journalists what to do and what not to do. As such, laws constricting media freedom should be repealed. We should also enact new laws, such as Freedom of Information Act, to increase transparency.Only then can the media industry start work on setting up the council.

Norlila Mohd Daud, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chairperson

My doubts are whether they really want to enhance press freedom. I am quite sceptical because the proposal is being mooted by the Home Ministry and this will be brought for discussion in the cabinet. It is not a very transparent process.They want to establish the council because they have been pushing for it for more than 40 years yet I cannot see the relevance of it.The MPI proposal is similar to the Indian and Indonesian media councils, but in Indonesia there are no laws such as the Official Secrets Act (OSA), Internal Security Act (ISA) or even the PPPA. These countries have a responsible body to monitor the media.I think the council would just appear to be another layer of control but if they are sincere then the government should first amend the laws before forming the council.

Wong Chun Wai, the Star group editor-in-chief

I am keeping an open mind on the proposal and I take it positively although we need to look at it further.The meeting was just a preliminary round, and issues in terms of structure, membership, whether it is statutory or voluntarily, must also be discussed before its formation.There is also a need for parallel reforms of the 24 legislations (which restrict press freedom), most importantly, the licensing act (PPPA).Nevertheless, it is good move as it promises greater democratic reforms but if we were to agree to it then the politicians must stay out.Abdul Aziz (Home Ministry secretary-general), who chaired the meeting, also shared our opinions for greater press freedom but he also said that it (the system) cannot expect to be reformed overnight.

Azman Ujang, MPI chairperson

Personally, I'm all for it. People who have their reservations and scepticism do not understand what the media council is all about and I don't share their scepticisms.The council is good for us journalists, just like the Bar Council which monitors the lawyers.It is not another layer of control. With its existence, we can work more professionally and it promotes best practices in journalism.This has got nothing to do with (restrictive) laws, for instance, the doctors and lawyers have laws governing them but they still have a council.The government is only facilitating the talks but the council will be run by an independent body. Therefore, those are two totally different things altogether.The media council is a good platform (for the media) to fight and ask the government to roll back the (restrictive) laws and serve as an instrument for us to come together.

V Gayathry, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) executive director

The meeting was looking for an endorsement for the proposal and from the discussion, there was no clear (government) indication to review existing laws.Without that level of commitment from the government, it is difficult to convince the people that forming a media council is a good move.Their approach is to form the council in whatever format – statutory or voluntary – now, and it may not be perfect but set it up first then fix it later.Conceptually, I also feel there is problem as it is modelled along India's press council but in India and Indonesia, it (press freedom) is a right that is constitutionally protected.There must be some commitment (from the government) that laws would be reformed and there must be political will to see it through.

Ahiruddin Attan (also known as Rocky), National Alliance of Bloggers pro-tem chairperson

I opposed to setting up of the ‘media’ council because it is not practical to lump new media with the traditional media.I oppose it also because it is an attempt to regulate new media although it has been promised that the Internet will not face censorship. Therefore, there should not be an attempt to control it.The council, as it is being proposed by the Home Ministry appears to show that this an attempt to police the press.The meeting should focus on a ‘press’ council rather than a ‘media’ council and if a press council is set up, it must be independent rather then a statutory body.Nevertheless, the press council should not be used to bargain for the repeal of laws. Instead it should be done in tandem with the formation of the council and through the council, editors should push for reform of the restrictive laws.If we bargain then we probably would not have a press council, and the press council has its advantages as it safeguards journalists and promoted greater press freedom.

Monday, 10 November 2008

police brutality, freedom at stake in malaysia

the police are at it again. instead of defending the rakyat, they manhandle them. the Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar says that the FRU did not charge at the crowd when they were singing the negaraku. see the video clip below and judge for yourself. another bag of lies from our police force. the guy should step down and retire.


links from:




update from the STAR:
here is the lame excuse from the police - why sing the national anthem? why sing it three time? i think he has forgotten what is called patriotism. he says if every criminal sings the national anthem, then they can get get away. but this group of anti-ISA protesters are not criminals or involved in a crime!! well, he still denies that he did not hear the anthem being sung. in the video, one can see that the police moved in towards the end of the singing, so he must have been tone deaf or totally deaf. he should just watch the above video and see for himself. maybe he is also colour blind.


Police chief: Why sing the national anthem?

SHAH ALAM: The state police chief has questioned the rationale behind Internal Security Act (ISA) protesters singing the national anthem at their illegal gathering near the Amcorp Mall on Sunday.

“Are they expecting policemen to stand at attention each time they sing the anthem? If so, what would happen if every criminal that we confront starts singing the national anthem?” asked Deputy Comm Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar.

He questioned whether the protesters sang NegaraKu to keep the police at bay or that they (the protesters) themselves did not respect the anthem.

Protesters against the ISA were said to have sung NegaraKu at least three times at three different locations on Sunday – at the mall, Petaling Jaya Civic Centre, as well as near the police station.

“I, more than anyone else present, and that too as a police officer, respect the national anthem, contrary to allegations that we showed no respect by dispersing the crowd when they were singing the anthem,’’ he said.

DCP Khalid said that when police moved in, he did not and could not hear them singing the national anthem as he was some distance away.

He said he was informed by his officers that the crowd sang the national anthem at three different locations before being dispersed.

“I am duty-bound to carry out my job without fear or favour, and my interest was the safety and concern of the general public as well as business outlets which had voiced concern over possible trouble there.

“Nobody can deny that someone could have taken advantage of the situation to stir up trouble there,’’ he said, adding that no permit was sought for the gatherings which had been taking place for the past four weeks.

Police arrested 23 people, including Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua and assemblymen Lau Weng San and Ronnie Liu, for taking part in the candlelight vigil.

They were arrested under Section 27 of the Police Act for allegedly taking part in an illegal assembly after several warnings to disperse were ignored.

The vigil, organised by the Coali­tion for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), started at 8pm at Dataran PJ, near Amcorp Mall.

However, the group, numbering in the hundreds, moved to the civic centre near MBPJ when police ordered them to disperse.

why study the OT?

bill hayden of inhabitatio dei asked his readers what he should blog on. the choice has been reduced to 2 by now - either 'theological exegesis and biblical theology' or 'the trinity, pneumatology and christology' (no guesses what the reb voted for!). go to the link to vote:


and a quote from phil sumpter of narrative and ontology (whom the reb follows) who commented:

Ben Myers said in one of threads that the best biblical theologians were all in Old Testament. I think there are good reasons for that. Reading the OT as a Christian forces you to deal with issues that NT scholars do not always feel too constrained to deal with: the function of Scripture as witness, the nature of referentiality, the nature of the substance of the text, the relation between community and text, the canonical process as part of revelation, the relation between the literal and spiritual senses, the relation between narrative and ontology etc. etc. A Christian specialising in the NT faces the danger of thinking that the NT has got it figured out, that when we read it we’ve somehow already arrived, that its witness to Christ is sufficient as it stands and that the OT simply serves as a hermeneutical matrix for the NT’s interpretation rather than an independent witness in its own right with its own voice - perhaps even over against the NT.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

another death

this morning the reb preached in canaan baptist church bukit jalil. after the service and lunch with the pastor and family, the reb went to cheras to the xiao en center, a modern buddhist funeral parlour in kl to pay last respects to a dear friend and mentor , the late yip kok choong.

the reb, btw, is the unofficial 'twin brother' of kok choong (if you scroll down and see kok choong's photo, you will understand why). the reb's first youth camp he attened was in 1976 in cameron highlands and kok choong was the speaker. the reb was impressed by his devotion and commitment to scripture and to teaching and training young people like the reb. hence, the reb counts him as one his early mentors in his walk and pilgrimage.

tommorrow is the funeral service at 9.00 am. shalom good friend.

a blog has been set up by family members:


Saturday, 8 November 2008

TEE Module History and Theology of the Exile : Over

finally finished teaching the 4 days TEE Module of History and Theology of the Exile!. and the reb is pooffed! but still have to preach tommorrow in Canaan Baptist Church Bukit Jalil. thankfully, it is an old sermon (recycled for tommorrow) as the reb won't have the time to write a new sermon after the TEE stretch.

not sure how the students took it all. but reading the students' evaluation, they were very positive. the only one negative comment was that we didn't get to finish the whole syllabus! but as the reb explained, there is even one more module not even included in the original syllabus - diaspora literature e.g. daniel, esther, apocryphal books etc. if only the TEE module was 1 more full day, we can then cover everything. but the reb thinks it was more than enough to 'sock it' to the students. they go back all heady with the extra knowledge of the Jews' creative responses to the Babylonian Exile but the reb hopes that this will be the beginning. they will begin to apply what they have learnt to their workplace, to their churches etc. they will dream dreams and see visions. they will paint imaginative pictures in the minds of their hearers. they will uplift those who are bowed down and in despair. they will help those around to see the 'what if' rather than just the 'what really happened'.

to hear what some students have to say about the course and its contents, read below:






since then, the 4 days have seen so much happening that the reb has no time to blog about - Obama's sensational victory in the US presidential elections and our very own Malaysian news - RPK freed from ISA detention winning his habeus corpus case! below is amnesty international's press statement which the reb received and quoted in full:


Amnesty International welcomed the release today of Malaysia blogger Raja Petra but called on the government to stop using the Internal Security Act (ISA) to control dissent. A Malaysian high court ordered the release of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin on the grounds that his arrest, under the ISA was unconstitutional.

A social commentator and the editor of news blog Malaysia Today, Raja Petra was arrested on 12 September for threatening national security and potentially "causing tension among the country's multi-racial and multi-religious society".

Articles published online by Raja Petra were deemed insulting to Muslims and to the Prophet Muhammad and were thought defamatory of Malaysia's leaders. The articles in question were 'Malays, the Enemy of Islam', 'Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell', 'I promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim' and 'Not all Arabs are descendents of the Prophet'.

Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy, of the High Court in the state of Selangor, ruled that the Malaysian Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar had acted beyond his powers in having Raja Petra arrested.

The Malaysian government continues to use or threatens to use the ISA against people whom they accuse of being threats to national security, including government critics and those allegedly involved in "terrorist-linked" activities. The ISA allows the police to arrest individuals they believe have acted, or are "about to" or "likely to" act in a way that would threaten Malaysian security, "essential services" or "economic life" (Article 73 (1)b).

After an initial 60-day detention for "investigation", the ISA allows for detention without trial for up to two years renewable indefinitely, without the detainee being charged with a crime or tried in a court of law. The Malaysian government has used this law as a repressive measure to control dissent.

Amnesty International calls for the government to revoke the ISA immediately, and to charge with an offence and bring to fair trial, or release immediately, more than 60 people still detained under the ISA.


and the reb fully agres with AI's call for the government to revoke the ISA as it is obsolete and outdated.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

a long weeeekend and a long weeeeek!!

it has been a long weeeekend and another long weeeek ahead!.

last saturday, the reb drove down alone to batu pahat around 3pm in the afternoon. reached there by 5.45pm. used the old road exiting the highway at pagoh and continuing along the coastal road no. 5. at night, the reb had a talk on ISA with gereja grace (presbyterian church). it was a good turnout, around 40 over persons. some came with trepidation, fearing that such a talk would attract undesirable notice from the authorities. others though the reb was speaking on the book of Isaiah (also Isa). some even openly expressed their fear that the reb would come under unneccessary pressures and inconveniences because of the sensitive topic. the reb allayed their fears. so what if the reb is detained under ISA? he'll go to kamunting detention centre and play ping pong with raja petra (rpk)!

on sunday morning, it was sermon time in gereja grace. the reb was asked to preach on acts 24-26 to coincinde with the topic that their bible study groups were studying. to speak on 3 chapters in one morning sermon is a challenge but the reb only touched on acts 26 about paul's defence or apologia before king agrippa. yet, the sermon was the longest the reb had preached! 70 minutes!!!! but the feedback was very posiitve from many people.

then time to drive back to seremban. at night had dinner with the family as it was markus' 15th birthday. so we went to kensington in era square and ordered western food with a starter (which was extremely good!).

monday was another long day. in the morning, drove down with my daughter charis to intec shah alam to clear out her things from the hostel for the long break. and drove back to seremban in time for lunch treat by rev dr joseph komar (in celebration of his succesful acquisition of his phd). then faculty meeting from 3pm till 7.15pm!

today? it is the DMin orientation program where the reb will join in to meet the candidates from the english and chinese departments.

from tommorrow till saturday, it is TEE History and Theology of the Exile where the reb is teaching. still thinking of the various things we will do in class together. it will be a load of fun and interaction together.

P.S. the reb has finished reading Arok of Java! remember that is his toilet reading!! now he has already embarked on salman rushdie's midnight's children (which is thick)!. his wife commented, 'It will take many toilet sittings to finish that book'. never mind. it should be worthed it. after all, midnight's children is the booker of bookers! (best booker prize winer in the last 25 years).

Friday, 31 October 2008

some more resources for learning hebrew online (and f.o.c)!

a new blog for learning hebrew. check the link below. great for learning hebrew online and refreshing or reviving your hebrew:


at the bottom right hand of the blog are some further resources worth checking out.

you can download robert d. holmstedt's pdf ancient hebrew: a student grammar textbook f.o.c. (which he co-wrote with john d. cook). it is still a draft copy. clicking on the PDF link on the top leads you to journal articles in pdf form that he has written mainly about hebrew:


and below is another great site for learning hebrew. you can start with the hebrew alphabet sung (a mp3 download of the song is available). they even have audio files and flash files teaching hebrew using allen p. ross's biblical hebrew book. they have flash cards to learn hebrew verbs and hebrew nouns. and you can find the classic piece about abbot and costello (comedy duo from the 50's black and white TV) learning hebrew which i show to students in hebrew class to illustrate the fun of learning hebrew. remember the phrase - 'who is hi? hi is shi!' :


and another site linked is one on learning hebrew paradigms (those tables one has to memorize for conjugations):


and finally a link to the aleppo codex, the oldest complete hebrew manuscript of the OT. one can view for yourself actual pictures of how it looked like. also other info about the codex as well as the masorettes, the scribes living in Tiberius who invented the vowel system :

update: (1/11/2008)
link from tim bulkeley on teaching/learning hebrew vocabulary using flash cards, multimedia etc
from jthom10, esther raizen's hebrew homepage on university of austin is below (already highlighted in a previous entry but just in case you missed it, it is here below):