Saturday, March 27, 2010

edison hour

Have you heard of Edison's Hour?

It was started by a bunch of American univeristy students in protest of the utterly ridiculous Earth Hour. Edison Hour shall take place during the exact same day and exact same time as Earth Hour, and instead of switching off your lights, we pay tribute to the great Thomas Edison and turn the bloody lights all on.

Last year, I wrote something on Earth Hour and its utter irrelevance especially in Malaysia. It was nothing more than a hypocritical fanfare of showing people that you care when your actions aren't really congruent with your words.

This year, as to further prove my point, I am going to give you some insight into what I do. I work at a small power generation plant and my company has a combined power capacity of slightly less than 300MW. In the last one year, I had been researching and implementing a project to reduce our natural gas consumption (to reduce costs, what else?)

The motivation behind that project wasn't to save the bloody pandas (or manatees). It was purely and simply a commercially driven project. But as Dr. House keeps saying, "Reasons don't matter - results do."

The result of that project is that in the coming year, we will save around 1100 billion British Thermal Units of fuel gas. And to give you a sense of irrelevance, that is enough energy to power up 5.25 million 60W light bulbs during Earth Hour.

Quite simply - you flicking off a few switches is inconsequential in the whole story. And in the context of an even bigger picture, my actions are also irrelevant in the power industry. I am just one guy in a small power plant. There are thousands of engineers like me everywhere in the world, working in far larger plants, capable of reducing our carbon footprint on a far larger scale than the average PR consultant can dare to imagine.

I have moved on trying to educate the general herd on the street. It takes too much effort for too small and impact.

I am talking to you corporate bigwigs - spend your money on other things. Start up scholarship funds to train engineers more awesome than myself. Throw your money into funding Science projects in schools. Who knows, maybe one day some genius will come up with a renewable source of energy that is CHEAP and commercially viable?

This is where Edison Hour really comes in. It probably started off as a mockery (it probably still is) but the essence is right - let's celebrate human achievement! Science has the ability to give us all the luxury we need. Embrace it! Instead of silly banning of plastic bags (you still have plastic containers, don't you?) why don't you start throwing money into researching fully degradable bags?

Why are you trying to send the world back to the stoneage by turning off electricity? Realistically, who the hell is going to dig that idea on a permanent basis?

Get real - if you want to make a difference, stop your charade. Do something that actually matters.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I've been meaning to write this since Chinese New Year, but never got down to it. Ibrahim Ali's recent musings and rantings (some would call it ramblings of a lunatic) have actually spurred me on to write this.

Over the new year, I met up with loads of people from school and college. These are people I grew up with in a predominately Chinese environment. If you have been following me long enough, you might have read this before. So there I was, meeting some people for the first time in 10 years since I left school, 8 years since I left college.

We were talking, and inevitably the subject on race, politics and Malaysia in general tend to resurface. This is normal coffeeshop talk that I suppose goes on everyday. It dissapointed me that for many of them the 8 or 10 years of growing up did not seem to change their perspective on race and religion. Here they were sprouting the same insensitive things, bitching about the same issues they were bitching about all those years ago.

Don't get me wrong, I think these people are good people. They are fiercely loyal friends, and I dare say that many of them would gladly take a bullet for me if asked. It's just a pity that they did not have the same opportunity to go out there and mix around and learn another culture. 10 years on and they still have not been able to gain some level of acceptance of other people's seemingly weird and alien culture.

It is as if they are stuck in time warp. While many people have been able to ride off Ibrahim Ali as a madman or a politician saying things for brownie points, the scary thing is that he might actually mean the things he say - the same way my friends actually mean the insensitive things they sprout about the other races.

Is there a point here?

I don't quite know. I guess, all I am saying is repeating my lately often repeated mantra - GO OUT THERE...LEARN A NEW CULTURE. You can't like someone unless you get to know them!

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