Saturday, November 18, 2017

Quote #29

"As members of Homo sapiens – the most intelligent species on the planet – we are endowed with a highly advanced brain. Yet, we need to keep on nurturing it by ceaselessly learning with high doses of curiosity, willingness, and, last but not least, humility." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why Dinosaurs Matter – Book Review


Why Dinosaurs Matter
by Kenneth Lacovara

This is it. This is just the book the world needs. This is more or less what was in my mind before I purchased this book. Now that I finished it, all I can say is it really is.

Gazing at the intriguing title – and after reading the previous paragraph – you might be frowning with several shadows of a doubt: Do they really matter? Aren't they just long-gone creatures intended merely for children's entertainment? Grab this book and let Kenneth Lacovara obliterate any reservations of yours and convert you into an ardent dinosaur defender.

Why Dinosaurs Matter is definitely "a dinosaur book with a difference," as Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE puts it in her review. You won't find numerous dinosaur illustrations accompanied with a great deal of information on the diet, behavior, and other aspects of hosts of dinosaur genera. No, you won't. Instead, this book will take you into deep contemplation of your very existence on this planet. It will take you into a clearer understanding of the world through the medium of dinosaurology. It will take you into a period of reflection that will eventually lead you to genuine humility. The small size of this book shouldn't delude you into thinking that it is nothing. Why Dinosaurs Matter is made up of 12 chapters, each of which is filled with Ken's sublime scientific writing, which shows that he is a remarkable science communicator. I found that Ken's poetical prose, which was composed with his linguistic prowess, is a supreme point of this book, and with its content of scientific nature, Why Dinosaur Matters is a treasure of (dinosaurian) paleontology. You might be asking: Are there any particular dinosaurs covered in this book? The answer is yes! These include the world's most famous dinosaur: Tyrannosaurus rex, and the mighty Late Cretaceous sauropod Dreadnoughtus schrani, which was discovered by Kenneth Lacovara himself in southern Patagonia over a decade ago. In a nutshell, Why Dinosaurs Matter is a brilliantly & beauteously enlightening book.

As you may have noticed, Why Dinosaurs Matter is a TED Book, which means that it expands on a related TED Talk. Be amazed at Kenneth Lacovara's 2016 marvelous speech: Hunting for dinosaurs showed me our place in the universe (to access it on YouTube, click here). You might also want to have a glimpse into the book by navigating through these useful links:

Beware! Reading Why Dinosaurs Matter has a side effect: it will astronomically enlarge your vocabulary, owing to the innumerable expressions Ken poured into it. You might want to get a reliable English dictionary ready before you start reading this eye-opening book.

Have you read Why Dinosaurs Matter? What do you think of this book? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

P.S. I love how Ken addresses young Earth creationism in this book. ;)

Related article by me: Why Dinosaurs?
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Monday, November 13, 2017

She "seized" my husband

It's a sentence that might have plausibly been uttered by a woman who had "lost" her husband to another member of her sex. It's been formulated by my brain according to a comment on a Facebook post I read a while back.


On a usual day in the Cenozoic Era, a highly advanced ape was online on Facebook and came across a newspaper article whose theme is so popular and seems to endlessly captivate the members of his own species: love.

Romanticism never dies and being in an indescribable realm with a beloved one, spending day after day, night after night with them is, I think, akin to dwelling in the worldly version of the heaven, depicted as a paragon of bliss by some, or all, religions on our planet. Yet, the truth is sometimes, or often, hurtful and doesn't necessarily reflect our idealistic expectations.

Basically, the news tells the readers that romantic and/or sexual deviance occurred in a relationship between two wed humans (one or both are public figures) and this brought about separation to the couple (and you know who betrayed who). Another Homo sapiens commented on the post, condemning the third party by saying that she "seized" the woman's spouse, and her remark was characterized by rage and contempt to the "mistress". It is so clear how disgusted the commenter was by her immoral behavior. The "seizer" was devilish and she was the one to blame for the ruined relationship. However, is this true?

To me, it is just unfair to say that. Bear in mind that any relationship involves not only one person, but at least two (two in this case). Willingness to start a romantic and/or sexual connection from both parties is a prerequisite for its existence. The fact that a second heart-breaking relationship commenced shows that the guy gave consent to it (he could have said "no", but he didn't) and "maligning" only the female newcomer is just unwise.

Taking this to a larger scale, it is also a great opportunity to remind ourselves to be more analytical when looking into and evaluating a situation. Averting bias is no less important and critical thinking should reign in order for the world to wend its way rapidly toward excellence and advancement in all of its aspects.
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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Quote #27

"In life, there must be people who don't like you, but at least you yourself musn't be one of them." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Quote #26

"Two of the things I loathe the most: consistency in inconsistency and inconsistency in consistency." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved – Book Review


Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved
by Darren Naish and Paul Barrett

I am writingless because this dinosaur book is too good to exist. But I will do it anyway because you need to know about (and read) this before you die.

Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved is simply a must-have for anyone who would like to learn about these amazing creatures which include the world-famous, ferocious-looking Tyrannosaurus and the rhino-like, ornamented-headed Triceratops. I repeat: it is a MUST-HAVE. This book teaches dinosaurology in a fun and engaging manner: the writing is really absorbing and keeps you hooked throughout the book. The authors, I'd say, are teaching masters and they do great work in using language that is varied, but easy to understand. They also do not use a lot of technical terms in such a way that I believe this book will suit those who even have a very limited knowledge of dinosaurs.The fact that there are 'only' six chapters in this book, which discuss topics ranging from dinosaur physiology to the origin of birds, shouldn't mislead you: the amount of information stored in it is tremendous. This book is also equipped with a great many fantastic illustrations which definitely will help you gain a better understanding of the subject.

In my opinion, the cover, which shows a Giganotosaurus gaping its mouth in a menacing posture, looks cool, although the co-author Darren Naish seems to be not quite satisfied with it (watch Darren talk about the book here).

For your information, aside from the NHM version (which is shown in the picture above), Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved was also published by Smithsonian Books with no difference in contents.

Have you read Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved? What do you think of this book? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Raptor Red – Book Review


Raptor Red
by Robert T. Bakker

I should have written this review a long time ago as I finished this little dino novel before Velociraptor came into scene – you know I'm kidding. But they say "better late then never", so here I am, slouching in front of my Lenovo, typing my opinion on this not-authored-by-Robert-T.-Kiyosaki book.

Raptor Red is a novel about the life of an adult female dinosaur belonging to the genus Utahraptor – that is a kind of medium-sized predatory dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Period that was discovered, as is easy to guess, in Utah, the  U.S., and is a close cousin of the more famous Velociraptor. This story is based on the discovery of the animal and was written by world-famous American paleontologist Dr. Robert T. Bakker, casually called Bob Bakker – does it ring a bell? Yeah, in the movie Jurassic Park Tim Murphy, who is the grandson of John Hammond, mentions this dinosaur expert when conversing with paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant. So there are two points that make this novel stand out from others: there are NO humans involved (as it takes place hundreds of millions of years ago before the first humans appeared) and it was written by a REAL paleontologist! Before enjoying the story, you are welcomed by the preface, which revolves around the discovery of Utahraptor and discusses its relation to the blockbuster movie. And then the show begins. Bob Bakker exquisitely tells the tale of this bird-like creature in a gripping as well as emotional way. With his background as a dinosaurian scientist, the author successfully mixes science with extremely vivid and imaginative descriptions. In addition, the plot is riveting and will definitely keep the reader enthralled during the ride. Bob Bakker knows how to satisfy readers with his highly descriptive writing and engaging story-telling skills – honestly, I didn't expect to be as wowed as I am when reading it. In short, this novel deserves standing applause. If you are an adventure novel addict and/or dinophile, I am sure you will fall in love with this book in a brief second.

Unfortunately I think this novel is one of a kind (any other novels of this sort? tell me!). To be brutally honest, I need MORE of this. I do hope Bakker (or other paleontologists) will come out with this type of novel in the (near) future.

Have you read Raptor Red? What do you think of this novel? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Dragon Teeth – Book Review


Dragon Teeth: A Novel
by Michael Crichton

Who doesn't know Jurassic Park, a 1993 blockbuster movie featuring one of the most incredible animal groups ever? I believe (virtually) everyone does. However, perhaps some people don't realize that the flick and the sequel, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, are based on novels by Michael Crichton, a famous American author who, unfortunately, passed away in 2008.

Michael Crichton is certainly a marvelous author. I am not a novel expert (is there such a thing?) but his writing style is really lovable and admirable, and I'm not sure anyone can be comparable to him. His decease is such a loss for the novel industry. However, something unexpected, at least for me, came: another "dino" novel of Crichton's was recently discovered in his archives – but it somehow didn't get published during his lifetime. The novel, titled Dragon Teeth, posthumously came out in May this year and I was one of those overwhelmed with euphoria.

In a nutshell, Dragon Teeth tells the story of a young American man named William Johnson (fictional character) who goes on a fossil expedition to the American West due to a bet with his college archrival. It takes place in the part of the 19th century when there was the infamous feud between two real giant American paleontological figures, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh – the period is widely known as the "Bone Wars". This novel is special because it mixes fact and fiction in a brilliant and engaging way. Crichton takes readers to the old American history with its rich elements, including Indian culture, which I wasn't familar with and found intriguing. The real characters in this novel, besides Cope and Marsh, include Charles H. Sternberg and Wyatt Earp. Reading this novel certainly gives you insights into what the U.S. was like during that period of history (something I enjoyed about this novel); however, one must realize that this book is not intended as a historical reference. 

People also need to note that, although Dragon Teeth is considered a dinosaur novel, it is mainly about a quest for dinosaur fossils and not dinosaurs themselves. In this novel you will not find living non-avian dinosaurs chasing people in a Jeep screaming and dashing off frantically.

Overall I am entertained by the new Crichton, although I think it is not really his masterpiece as I feel the plot is somewhat less gripping than that in his previous dino novels. But still, this is a novel worth reading and has a unique taste that makes it stand out from others.

Have you read Dragon Teeth? What are your thoughts on the latest novel of Crichton's? Write your comment below!
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Friday, August 11, 2017

Leave Nothing Behind

The title sounds impressive, huh? Well, hopefully the whole article, which is the fruit of a kind of reflective thought that leads me to ponder about our existence, impresses you. :)


It is a pity that there are superior people: they look down on people and foster an I-am-the-best-and-no-one-else-is-better-than-me attitude. While it might be true that they are certainly better than others in certain aspects, they shouldn't perform such disgraceful acts as treating others contemptuously, let alone cruelly.

Part of the reason is some people might have traits that are of a higher quality than others'. Say, you are good at math and can multiply an 8-digit number by another 8-digit number lighting fast. However, on the other hand, you suck at playing the piano, while your neighbor is someone who has been dubbed the 'next Jay Chou' – no-one will ever be comparable to him, though. The fact that there are so many fields to explore and dedicate oneself to in this world, combined with our limitations as humans, suggests a plausible idea that some people are likely to be better than us in some respects.

Nevertheless, that is not the whole point. If you take a broader and deeper look at our very own world, everything – yes, everything! Not only everyone – has its own place and the state of occupying the niche itself is actually something that should be highly regarded. Firstly, we need to grasp the concept that we all are connected. By understanding this, naturally we should develop a stance that appreciates every single thing that exists, not only on this planet, but also in the universe. This is what I think the main catalyst that drives the human race forward as close-mindedness will end up stifling creativity and limit someone from countless advantageous possibilities to exploit.

Learning about dinosaurs is a great way to start adopting this view on life. A paleontologist cannot say, "I hate South America and don't want to learn anything from there," since dinosaurs are found all over the world, including the continent (in fact, a lot of amazing discoveries have been made there: South America has yielded impressive, gigantic dinosaurs such as the bigger-than-T. rex theropod Giganotosaurus carolinii as well as the recently named titanosaur Patagotitan mayorum). Dismissing it would simply lead to the 'incompleteness' of the science itself. To take it to the next level, dinosaurs are part of Earth's life; the only choice is to try to unravel as many mysteries surrounding these majestic creatures as possible in order to 'live more fully'.

I am also writing this in the wake of the high tensions between North Korea and the U.S. The world has suffered dramatically; it's high time we devoted ourselves completely to this world.
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Friday, August 4, 2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Best Places to Buy Books

I must be honest – the title might be misleading since what you are going to read is based on my experience of buying books. However, I hope this article could be of great help for you guys seeking to expand your knowledge (or anything else) through magical sets of paper sheets.


Before I decide whether or not to buy a book, I always research it on Amazon, which I believe all of you are familiar with with the CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently announced as the richest man on the planet – albeit for a short while. Reading the book description is a must and perusing editorial and customer reviews give me good insights into what the book is like. If a book has a 4 or 5-star rating, you could be pretty sure that it is worth reading. Apparently, this website has the largest book collection of all and, therefore, can be a great reference for book information. I used the service once (through my friend's account though) and was satisfied with the service with my book arriving in good condition as well as in a timely fashion. The prices are more or less reasonable and there are other sellers that sell books through Amazon as well (unfortunately many of those books aren't delivered to Indonesia for some reason).

The second bookstore you might want to consider is AbeBooks. Unlike Amazon, AbeBooks only acts as a marketplace, which means the sellers are all independent bookstores. What I like about this website is it is very convenient to browse through the items, with only 1 click needed to show a pop-up window displaying the shipping fee for your country. Some sellers offer reductions in shipping fees if you buy more than one book from them, so don't miss great chances to save more. My second last purchase was a very good deal although there was an unexpected delay in delivery, which was later handled professionally by the seller. AbeBooks is currently one of my favorites and I will definitely return to it again to place more orders.

There are two other companies that are also relatively popular in the book-selling industry: Better World Books (BWB) and Book Depository. Like that of Amazon, I used the services of these companies only once and all in all I didn't have much of a problem – I waited quite long for the BWB book to arrive (over two months), though. BWB is similar to Amazon in that they sell their own books as well as let other sellers to take part in their business. It also seems that BWB is a giving-back-to-the-community company (just visit the site and you'll know what I mean). On the other hand, Book Depository only provides NEW books and delivers them worldwide with NO SHIPPING FEE. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean you will always get books at the lowest prices possible as what matters is the total price. Comparing prices is the name of the game.

Tips: Make sure you buy from reputable sellers and read information about the book carefully (Is the book new? If it's not, how good is the condition? Very good? Good? Fair? Acceptable? Is the spine broken? Is there any wear on the cover or inside the book? Are there any markings, writings, or highlightings?). You would want the item to meet your expectations, wouldn't you?

Now, as I'm Indonesian, it seems to be a responsibility for me to share my experiences of dealing with Indonesian bookstores (Indonesians, get close!). Please note that all of the above (online) bookstores require a credit card as their payment option. So if you don't have a credit card, what can you do to satisfy your reading appetite? Periplus is the first bookstore that you must check out. I have been a customer for years and am overall very satisfied with it - in fact, most of my books came from this store. While Vietnam has Fahasa and the Philippines has Fully Booked, I'd say Periplus, with a vast collection of books, relatively low prices, and excellent service, is the best Indonesian bookstore. By making purchases you can collect points, which can later be redeemed for more books. In addition, there are a slew of tempting promotions (discounts, cashback, etc.) which probably happen year-round. One of the most interesting benefits of being a member is a 15% discount on all books on your birthday. Books & Beyond and OpenTrolley are two contenders, yet, in terms of prices, Periplus is unsurpassed. Nevertheless, speaking of local books, I think Gramedia is still the most leading with most likely the biggest number of stores around the country.

It is probably advantageous for you to buy from foreign book distributors in your country (Indonesia, in this case), as the books seem to be less expensive. If you're looking for English textbooks, you might want to try Mentari Bookstore (online: Mentaripedia and PT Chandranaya Laksana. The former is the exclusive distributor for Cambridge University Press as well as a partner and distributor for Oxford University Press, whereas the latter is an authorized distributor for Pearson, of which Longman is a part of. I have ordered books from both and their competitive prices really made my day. I just found a company that is the exclusive distributor for McGraw-Hill and Cambridge University Press (I know it's weird): Global Books Indonesia. I haven't really explored the site and never purchased anything from it so I can't give any further comments – hopefully it delivers high quality service and offers good prices as well.

What are your thoughts on these? Do you think there are even better places to purchase books? Share your ideas in the comment section below!
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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Brands

Having been in a post vacuum for sort of a long time and 'seen' some things going on on this only known inhabited planet, some of which included the launch of an international ballistic missile by North Korea (which I believe you all know) and the second son of President Joko Widodo, Kaesang Pangarep, being accused of religious blasphemy and hate speech for his video titled "#BapakMintaProyek", as well as engaging in a debate against a friend from high school who seems to be strictly creationistic, here I am to express another thought of mine through blogging.


Well, firstly, I'm not a marketer (my brother is), so I'm not going to give you a lecture on brands through this writing. It is more to my attitude towards them. What is a brand?

I think of it as some kind of ID card. It refers to what makes something different from others. When it comes to fast food chains, names such as KFC, Burger King, and McDonald's quickly come up in our minds and top the list. They are very famous brands since virtually everyone in the world knows them. Speaking of bags, Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton are highly associated and very popular with high-class people.

Perhaps many people stick to certain brands in their lives; they develop a sense of 'contempt' towards products and/or services of other brands. However, that's not exactly true of me. I'm a kind of a person who is quite flexible and doesn't force themselves to get something at all costs out of an exclusive liking. Nevertheless, as with many, or all, things in the world, there are always exceptions.

Fashion


In terms of fashion, I'm not a picky man. I would be willing to wear any clothes that look nice (enough) on me and won't get me embarrassed in any situation. In addition, they should be comfortable for me and not cause any physical (and therefore mental) disturbances when I am doing my activities. I generally choose function over appearance. Currently I have a backpack that I've used for some time (perhaps around 2 years) and it doesn't display any sign of wear! The brand is Bodypack and I am really satisfied with it, so I'll definitely buy another Bodypack if I need another bag. My fashion brands also include Lois (trousers) and Indomaret (briefs).

Food and drinks


As I'm not an affluent man, I rarely splurge on expensive food. I will consume food and drinks that suit my taste and of course are not dangerous for my health. However, I have a preference towards HokBen (fast food) when my adventurous mode is off. For those who do not have the faintest idea (and haven't opened the link), HokBen is a Japanese food restaurant from Indonesia that provides a selection of mouth-watering dishes. Unfortunately, the prices are apparently going up so much that it seems to be becoming less affordable. Another fast-food chain worth mentioning is CFC, the name of which stands for "California Fried Chicken" – don't be fooled by the name, though, since it is originally from Indonesia. CFC has two special dishes that, I think, no such types of other brands can outdo: Onion Rings and Chicken Strips. They are simply mouth-watering and will definitely heighten your appetite in a split second.

Books


Reading is an essential activity that more or less determines the future of our planet. Therefore, choosing the right book for you is as important as deciding on your life partner – I'm not being lebay. I specialize in English and dinosaurs, so my book collection is mostly comprised of those kinds of book. With regards to English, Cambridge, Oxford, Longman, and Merriam-Webster have a special place in my heart. I find they are very reliable, informative sources which every English lover should consult. However, I am also open to other brands such as McGraw-Hill, which is an awesome addition to my collection. As for dinosaurs, brands are less important than authors! (well, strictly speaking, authors are actually brands as well) Dinosaur books by world-renowned experts such as Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. (American paleontologist) and Julius Csotonyi (Canadian paleoartist) are something I would pick even without looking at the covers first. One publisher that is worth mentioning for its stunning, rich dinosaur (and other subjects too) illustrations is DK (Dorling Kindersley), by which two dino books of mine were published.

Toiletries


Well, it is important to maintain a high level of hygiene. As a rule of thumb, I'd choose any which don't cause negative side effects, such as pimples (fortunately, my skin is not very sensitive) – Cussons Baby proves good for my hide. There is an Indonesian saying "Hair is a woman's crown", stressing the importance of hair beauty. I'm one who believes that it also applies to men. Natur is the brand I use since, as its name suggests, it contains natural substance(s) (although I know that not everything natural is nice, for example T-Rex). Nevertheless, so far so good!

Entertainment


Everyone needs entertainment, including me. Nowadays I never watch TV and play games, so I don't have any preference for certain TV and game 'brands'; I do watch YouTube videos though, and while there are some interesting channels, such as Edho Zell, I don't really limit myself to them. I'm not a moviegoer, so I rarely go to the theater and will watch any movies that attract me, regardless of the 'brands'. However, in terms of music, there's only one eternal 'brand', Jay Chou. I've been a loyal fan for a month of Sundays and personally I'd say he is the best musician in the world – his music will still be enjoyable in 66 million years' time.

That's about me. How about you? Are you a brand person or not? Share you thoughts in the comment section below!
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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Quote #21

"Sometimes it is crystal clear which is right and which is wrong. However, your stubbornness blinds you to the fact, which is pathetic." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Quote #20

"Successful communication requires willingness to listen and learn, humility, and more or less the same level of intelligence." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Quote #19

"It is important not to have a bias towards someone just because you like them. Avoid being judgmental and stay fair." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quote #18

"Possessing a brain is not enough; you need to utilize it to its full potential." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Quote #17

"If the presence of someone who is at a lower level than you is irritating, don't make your mood worse by interacting with them." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Monday, May 15, 2017

Quote #16

"Admitting one's mistakes is such a brave, commendable, and relieving act. All you need to do is fight your foolish pride." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Quote #15

"It is perhaps hard to let go of something you've held onto for a long time. Yet, when it is not right, you know you have to." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Quote #13

"When the truth is bitter, I would rather know and accept it than put on a fake smile and pretend nothing has happened." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Monday, May 8, 2017

ATC - Alay Text Converter

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Flying Dinosaurs – Book Review


Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds
by John Pickrell

Birds are dinosaurs. Yeah, you read it correctly. Birds are dinosaurs! Nearly 10,000 species of birds living in the world today are dinosaurs – these include the minuscule bee hummingbird, the huge ostrich, and the modest chicken! (To know some of the implications, click here.) To quench my thirst for knowledge of this, I embarked on a journey to finding a great resource book. And... I found this book! Honestly, it was quite costly (around 420,000 IDR or 31.50 USD) for a book this 'thin'; however, it was absolutely well worth it. I would definitely recommend anyone who wants to dig deeper into the dinosaur-bird notion to grab this book as soon as possible. (Please be aware that there is a lot of paleontological and dinosaurian terminology in this book. Although it contains a glossary that can help you with it, I still think you should already be familiar with the jargon and it might not be suitable for newbies.)

First of all, I would really like to commend the author, John Pickrell, for his eloquence and magnificence in writing the book. Personally I fell head over heels in love with his writing style! Your attention will be completely drawn to this book and you will feel the indescribable beauty of it as John tells the dino-bird tale. The award-winning journalist and the editor of Australian Geographic magazine is a master at engaging readers in his Pickrellish world. I can assure you that Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds is a real page-turner, thanks to the brilliant author. (actually John has recently published another book titled Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew, which I, without a doubt, will buy once I have the money) Regarding the content, Feathered Dinosaurs presents a huge body of information and covers many areas, including the coloration of dinosaur feathers and Jack Horner's 'chickenosaurus' project. Another point that I like about this book is that it incorporates commentaries from many experts such as Canadian paleontologist Phil Currie and Chinese paleontologist Xu Xing. Although not many, there are a number of illustrations concentrated in the middle of this book which you can feast your eyes on. Finally, there is a mini-dictionary at the back which boasts rich information about species of feathered dinosaurs including how to pronounce their (genus) names!

However, like dinosaurs themselves, dinosaurology is constantly evolving as more and more discoveries are being made all over the world, and Flying Dinosaurs, which was published about 3.5 years ago, certainly needs updating. What are your thoughts on this book? Write your comment below!
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cheater's Guide to Speaking English Like a Native – Book Review


Cheater's Guide to Speaking English Like a Native
by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

This book comes in two versions: one written in English only and one with Japanese accompanying English. I got the English-only one a few years ago (I don't recall where I bought it) and read some of it. However. the terrible fire incident happening two years ago seems to have destroyed the book. Last year, I came across the Japanese edition at a book fair by Periplus at Plaza fx, Senayan, South Jakarta, and decided to get a copy of it – it was damn cheap! In the last few weeks, I have tried to read the whole book and I completed it of late.

Native speakers don't speak English using literal and direct expressions only. They also use a lot of idiomatic ones and other expressions that might baffle those who are not familiar with them. For instance, one might say "I passed the exam with flying colors", instead of "I passed the exam with a very high/good score." Knowing these expressions is essential and would enable you to communicate more smoothly as well as more naturally. Cheater's Guide to Speaking English Like a Native by Boyé Lafayette De Mente is a book that addresses this matter in an excellent way, and I find this book really lives up to what the title claims the book is.

Firstly, you need to keep in mind that, as the title indicates, this book is intended for improving your spoken English. Therefore, you might find some of the expressions not appropriate if used in writing. This book contains over 700 entries which are in alphabetical order. Personally, I'd say the number is relatively small and thus, it probably doesn't function well as a dictionary (you could read other books such as McGraw-Hill's American Idioms Dictionary instead in this regard). I would suggest reading this book like a novel – from beginning to end – to take full advantage of it. The explanations are overall clear; however, most of them are written in high-level English and not direct. Consequently, low-level learners of English may struggle in understanding the expressions. It is also worth mentioning that many of the explanations include history of the expressions, which might be of some people's interest. Each expression is also accompanied by 3 examples which help provide context for when to use it properly and help readers on how to use it correctly as far as structure is concerned. As well as that, there are a few illustrations (not many) throughout the book that somewhat do this job as well. Lastly, as the price is reasonable (around 11 USD), you won't have to pay through your nose for it.

This book has been really helpful for me and is a great addition to my English book collection. How about you? Write your comment about this book below!

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Nervousness

This is a feeling that I strongly believe every single human, extant and extinct, has had.


Think about your last exam (IELTS maybe? Having to express your ideas in spoken English eloquently with a complete native-speaker stranger). Or the moment you had to show off your musical skills (by means of strumming your beloved accoustic guitar perhaps?) in front of 'millions' of eyes directed towards you and no-one else. And how about the last interview you went on for that highly desired job in a super tantalizing company?
I'm sure you just flashbacked to some point in time when your security was sort of 'threatened' and this annoying quality overwhelmed you in such a way that you didn't perform satisfactorily. Well, you are not alone; we've been in the same boat.

A few years ago, I decided to compete in a Chinese singing contest organized by my university. Of course, Jay Chou was the main motivation for that (seriously, I'm still wondering why such a prodigy could possibly exist in the world), and the awe-inspiring life-saving 2008 song 稻香 (Rice Fragrance) was what I selected to be the centerpiece of my show.

The time had come. I got on the stage in one of the classrooms to take an opportunity to do my portion of evanJaylization. There were 3 judges (in I'm not mistaken) in front of me and behind them were sitting around 40 people ready to watch me sing the heavenly king's song. However, things didn't go as I wanted them to. My voice was weak and I didn't produce sounds as impressively as I can in the relatively small bathroom of my simply designed house. In short, it was a flop.

Now let's turn our attention to the second last sentence of the previous paragraph. I CAN sing the song well while taking a shower! (although you really can't compared it to those flawless jaw-dropping performances of Jay) I am ABLE to do that. The problem that led to my disappointing performance was my sheer tense (not to mention the fact that the KTV version of the song didn't meet my expectations), and it markedly affected my action in a negative way, resulting in me not qualifying for the next round. Isn't it a pity that one cannot display their maximum ability only due to some irritating psychological state? How do we overcome it?

First things first, we need to really understand what being nervous exactly is. It is an occurrence when we are afraid that what we are doing (or will do) will turn out badly. Ironically, this particular feeling encourages that nightmarish outcome. Therefore, what we need to do is to change our mindset; in other words, we need to keep our attention on giving the best to the audience or whoever else/whatever. I realize it would appear to be easier said than done, but there it is.

It is vital to do anything not in such a degrading condition. Possessing a considerable (but not excessive) degree of confidence, which is indispensable for success, certainly brings out the best in you.
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Friday, February 24, 2017

McGraw-Hill's Conversational American English – Book Review


McGraw-Hill's Conversational American English
by Richard A. Spears, Betty Birner, Steven Kleinedler, and Luc Nisset

Okay, I want to be honest here. Everyone has their own weak areas when it comes to English proficiency and my lexical resource is one of those things I need to work on.

That's why I bought this not-so-thick book called McGraw-Hill's Conversational American English by Richard A. Spears, Betty Birner, Steven Kleinedler, and Luc Nisset. Before purchasing this book, I could speak English well to the extent that everybody would understand what I said; however, I needed more, yeah, more! It is monotonous to use the same expressions over and over, so you need to add variety to your speech to make it more interesting. On top of that, native speakers use a broad range of expressions when having conversations and discussions. This book has done a good job in preparing me for better English communication in that regard.

What makes McGraw-Hill's Conversational American English worth paying a small chunk of your income for?

Although it is not comparable to a big dictionary like Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's English Dictionary, McGraw-Hill's Conversational American English contains almost 5,000 conversational expressions that are put into 464 groups. These expression groups are arranged under topics which are grouped into 11 headings of social interaction: Basic Social Encounters, Polite Encounters, Family Matters, Food and DrinkShopping, and so on. I also find it easy to find the right expressions as it is well organized. In short, this book is a comprehensive reference that you will surely return to again and again.

Additionally, it really does its best to help learners understand the meaning of the expressions and the circumstance in which you can use them properly or you are likely to encounter them, For example, on page 26, under the Launching the Conversation topic and the Requesting that the speaker get to the point group, there is one entry as follows:


Cut to the chase. (idiomatic)
     = Switch to the focal point of something.

The label in the brackets, idiomatic, tells us that it is an idiomatic expression. Such labels are present in this book and include formal, informal, jocular, cliché and vulgar among many others. They are important because they give us information which we need to know to be able to use them appropriately – you wouldn't want to use a formal expression in an informal situation, for instance. In addition, there is an explanation of the expression below it (in this case it shows the meaning of the expression). Explanations like this definitely assist readers in working out the meaning of the phrases.

Reading text without pictures can be dull and not fun. This book addresses this issue by displaying cute images made by Luc Nisset (ah yeah! The subtitle says "Illustrated"!) which aid learners in visualizing the situation where the expressions might be used. However, bear in mind that the number of images in this book is minute compared to the number of expressions presented.

One thing that you need to take into account before deciding whether or not to buy this book is that, as the title clearly shows, the phrases included in this book are used in American English. Then, if you are aiming to improve your British English conversational vocabulary, this might not be the best choice for you, although many of the expressions surely can be used in British English as well.
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Saturday, February 11, 2017

GO-JEK, GrabBike, and Our Indonesian Mentality

The occurrence the other day has motivated me to compose this piece of writing.


I am a repeat customer of Grab – sometimes I utilize the GrabCar and GrabFood services; however, GrabBike is what I use most often. That day I set out from my itsy-bitsy home with a GrabBike. The journey was smooth until we came to a point which is not far from where I dwell as a Jakartan; the GrabBiker chose to take the wrong way, driving against the flow of traffic. With my eyes open, I could also see a GO-JEK heading in the same direction whose driver didn't seem to feel guilty of what he was doing at that moment. (for those who don't know GO-JEK, it is an Indonesian (local) company which provides transportation services, competing with Grab, which is based in Malaysia)

I often give 1-star ratings to GrabBike riders (don't believe it? Check with Grab itself, or contact me and I'll forward to you the plethora of complaint response e-mails from Grab). The reason is nothing but such dangerously frivolous behavior, which could bring their passengers' lives to an end.

Indonesia is a fantastic country. We are endowed with huge amounts of exquisite scenery, vast biodiversity which is probably the greatest on the planet, and abundant natural resources. With these advantages, along with other strong points which include a gigantic population of some 250 million people, Indonesia surely has the potential to be one of the most powerful countries in the world. However, compared with two neighboring countries Singapore and Vietnam both of which gained independence much later than Indonesia, I'd say Indonesia's progress has been 'pretty' disappointing.

It seems to be an irony since we have bountiful treasures which other nations, I believe, are drooling over. Are the Indonesians stupider than those of other nationalities? Nope. We boast a significant figure of doctors and professors, don't we? So, what makes this country far less developed than it should be?

The mentality is what I think the culprit of this big issue. The attitude that everything should be done in an instant and not being concerned about the consequences of what one's acts might carry is the key factor of why we are still building an MRT system in the 2010s. This is, of course, what leads to corruption, which is one of the major problems of this highly diverse nation.

That's our challenge. Fixing this might take quite a lot of time since older generations tend to resist change; later ones might be easier to shape into humans of excellent quality. Nevertheless, it is of extreme importance to work together fervently to make up for what we have wasted and, ultimately, for a much better Indonesia that we can take pride in.
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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Best Things in Life

What are the best things in life? I realize that the answer to this question is not simply a matter of "correct or incorrect" since it depends on those concerned.


To some, brand-new sports cars or enormous castle-like houses are what makes them energetic throughout the day. Some others would like to travel all over the world and pursue that ambition in a rigorous and tireless fashion. Still, others crave for a partner, that is, a boyfriend/girlfriend or a spouse! (well, it's just my judgment since in my country it seems that being single is the 'most horrid curse a person can be put on').

As for myself, I see 'simple' things as those qualifying as the best. Friendship, peace (partly characterized by pure smiles on people's faces), and moments of love are, some of the greatest things in life. Perusing my lover's morning greeting on the screen of my Sony Xperia M2, listening to Jay Chou's enchanting art pieces countlessly (I am doing it now!) and singing them exuberantly, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of dinosaurs (and life, in general) are several other examples of what can make my day.

All in all, I am content with my life right now. However, still, I think I need to contribute more to society with all the good qualities I possess. Today I taught a class and there was this phrase coming into focus: give back to the community. This is exactly something that I wish to achieve and I would say it is part of my self-actualization desire. I really hope to fulfill it as soon as possible by bringing out the best in myself.
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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Our Own Parts

I am known as an 'innocent' man among those who have been my companions for long. Obeying traffic laws, being strongly opposed to smoking, and throwing garbage in the proper place are some traits that cling to me and would probably be the first things that come across their minds when they are asked to picture my behavior.


Flashing back to some point in the past, I recall someone, who is probably a very close relative of mine, told me that it is no use doing some good deed (most likely that action of keeping the environment clean and visibly satisfying) while there are tons of others are doing exactly the opposite of what I do.

This apparently nice idea – which is actually pernicious – is, as I see it, simply is the root of the great deals of cases of development inhibition occuring in our society. This way of thinking appears to be mildly damaging. However, it would generate continuous actions that, if you think about it, certainly cause terrible harm. In addition, when an enormous number of people take it as a life guide, the result will unavoidably be ghastly. If everyone keeps ignoring this and doesn't take action to resolve it, it will eventually lead to the demise of our own taxon.

We must adopt the view that what we do is worth the value of what we do: nothing more and nothing less. The result of our actions, in a sense, is actually free from any influence from the outside. This means we shouldn't try to alter people, some (or most) of them perhaps being stubborn and incorrigible. What we need to do is direct our energy, thoughts, and so forth toward what we can do to improve life quality.

It is true that we are just a minuscule part of the gargantuan community of humans; we have too many limitations to do the huge task of changing the world at the drop of a hat. However, when we do our own parts in the best way possible, it is actually enough to achieve our ultimate goal.
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