Thought Experiment #58

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Death smells like birthday cake.

Maggie Stiefvater

Just over a week ago – Friday, April 15, to be precise – something happened. For the first time in his life, Walski got to experience what being 58 years old was like. Strangely enough, it felt exactly like being 57.

There was no fanfare, no ticker tape parade… just another Friday in an increasingly decrepit Malaysia suffering the ravages of a pandemic without a known cure: performative piety. The more outwardly moral we pretend to be, and in the process force everyone to adhere, the worse off we seem to become.

As Walski once upon a time said, “In Malaysia, Islam is more than just a way of life, it’s an institution; and the last thing Walski wants is to live in an institution” (with apologies to Groucho Marx).

But, enough about this hellhole called Malaysia that’s becoming more of Hell as we get Hole-ier… the country’s getting uglier with every holier-than-thou asshole getting his 15 minutes (and it’s almost invariably a he).

So what’s this about a thought experiment?

In a wave of depression and feeling less than worthy, about two years ago, Walski thought up an experiment to prove once and for all just how forgettable a person he really is. The experiment he devised was simple:

  • Turn off the visibility to Walski’s birthday on Facebook (he forgot to do this for LinkedIn, so maybe next year)
  • Disallow anyone to post anything to his personal page on Facebook (Messaging remained allowed)
  • Sit back, and enjoy the depressive melancholy as more and more people Walski thought he knew be oblivious to to him celebrating another trip around Sol.

Did anyone remember? Well, only close family members (the Mrs, parent, an uncle, a cousin, his sibs, a niece, etc.), and two friends; one in Brazil and another in Pakistan. Okay, to be fair, a handful of people did wish him happy birthday on LinkedIn, but only because Walski forgot to turn it off there. Plus there was Walski’s WhatsApp group of old school friends, but only because they completely forgot last year until the following day.

And what did this thought experiment prove? Two things:

  1. We have become too reliant on technology to remind us of important dates. Not that Walski or his birthday are important to any degree… but you get the drift
  2. Walski’s existence doesn’t really matter. He could keel over dead tomorrow and most people wouldn’t even notice it. But in reality, that’s how much importance an ordinary Joe like yours truly really has in this world, big-picture speaking.

Truth be told, Walski does use calendar and scheduling apps to remind him to do stuff, too. And it would be safe to say he’d lose track if it weren’t for these apps, both online or on-phone. A long time and in another lifetime we’d have used a diary, but that era is long behind us.

More importantly, Walski is now convinced how inconsequential he is in the bigger, medium sized, and small scale of things. Maybe come Thought Experiment #59 he’ll disappear altogether. The world will probably not even notice… and who knows, the world might even be better for it.

Have a good life, and see you in the next post… whenever that might be.

No Fly Zone

You know it’s kinda hard just to get along today

Our subject isn’t cool but he fakes it anyway

He may not have a clue and he may not have style

But everything he lacks well he makes up in denial

The Offspring, Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)

Not everyone can speak off the cuff well. Particularly in public. And some politicians, well… they probably shouldn’t speak off-the-cuff in public at all, anywhere.

Adham Baba’s latest verbal blunder (FYI: Spanish Flu is not the past tense of Spanish Fly…)

Dr. Adham Baba is Malaysia’s Health Minister. And he has a spectacularly shameful track record of saying the wrong things in public. He’s one of those politicians who shot into prominence courtesy of Perikatan Nasional’s Sheraton Backdoor Coup in February 2020.

Last year the minister became the butt of netizen’s jokes when he suggested, on national TV no less, that drinking warm water could avert someone from getting COVID-19 (complete with a demonstration of how to drink warm water). Not long after, his gaffe about being in a virtual conference with 500 other countries (when he meant 500 delegates from around the world).

He became such an embarrassment that subsequently Malaysia’s COVID-19 daily situation report has since been delivered by the Ministry of Health’s Director General (save a few occasions). And you’d think the vaccination program coordination would be led by the Minister of Health, right? Well, that task (and some might add thankfully) has been taken over by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, on the pretext that this was more under the purview of that ministry.

Let’s think about it – vaccine vials and syringes aren’t exactly rocket science. And Walski suspects that the real reason is because the Health Minister has presented himself to be slightly less than inept. Yes, he’s become that big of an embarrassment. At least in Walski’s eyes.

And so it brings us to Adham Baba’s latest embarrassing mis-delivery: saying Spanish Fly when what he wanted to say was Spanish Flu. And screwed up the year as well (it was 1918).

Trust Malaysia’s premier punk-activist artist Fahmi Reza to generate a quick response!

Walski did consider the possibility that knowing what “Spanish Fly” is could be general knowledge the average Malaysian didn’t have. But Walski doesn’t think that’s the case at all; the number of people who almost immediately recognized the gaffe made was significant. And if they didn’t already know what Spanish Fly refers to, thanks to Adham Baba, Malaysia’s Health Minister, they do now.

Regardless, it’s now become abundantly clear where Adham Baba’s No Fly Zone is: public speaking of any kind!