1. Slowly functional, foot is back but be gentle, it is now April

    I am free! But I feel like Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption, who after being freed from prison didn't want to go out into the world. Over the last month I had built a fairly decent nest within the 2 metre radius of my bed, with my work stuff and... Read more

  2. Thinking beautiful thoughts

    I cannot believe that it is Friday and the week is over. Another week of working from bed is behind me, and I am trying to make the leap from work mode to chill mode - not so easy when I'm in the same position on the bed, tip tapping away on my home... Read more

  3. Walking dots

    Saturday morning! It's one of those weekends that stretch out with no social obligations or scheduled events in the horizon, few and far between ever since we got out of the pandemic lockdowns. I love the expansive sense of space in time, like I am lying... Read more

  4. Fitness Downgrades

    It's 7 in the morning and I am typing this looking out of the window, the dark blue skies now turning oyster grey. There is some rooster crowing in the distance, and at least four other types of birds calling and chirping away. I am sitting on the bed and... Read more

  5. Fitness Updates

    It's a Sunday afternoon and I have a couple of hours before dinner with family, and so I thought I'd write a little since it's been a long time since I've done a leisurely update. And this update is ever more leisurely because of the unplanned public... Read more

  6. A new job and a new book chapter

    It's been a while since I updated! I am now gainfully employed and no longer part of the informal economy. In July 2022 I joined Khazanah Research Institute full time as a Senior Research Associate. It is great. I enjoy the working environment, I enjoy my... Read more

  7. New Report out on AI Governance in Southeast Asia

    A report that I wrote in partnership with EngageMedia, "Governance of Artificial Intelligence in Southeast Asia", is published :) It can be downloaded here, or in its official home on EngageMedia's website, where you will also find a video... Read more

  8. 星期天,是好天

    突然想用中文寫。更正確的來說,想用我頭腦裡面裝著的零零散散的語言,輕鬆自在地寫一番。 有些語言裡面的一些詞語、字彙,特別能夠表達自己當下想要傳達的意思,頭腦裡面浮現出第一個字就是它。例如說看久了日劇,有時候就會跳出一些「だって...』『余裕がないんだ』『当たり前じゃん』等等短句。可是礙於說話對象的語言能力和自己的並不重疊,結果在最後一秒鐘就翻譯成為"But...", "I don't have the capacity", "Isn't that to... Read more

  9. Wake me up when September ends

    Or, when 2021 ends. Whichever comes first. Oh hello weary world. It's been about 4+ months since my last blog post. I'm trying to figure out what has happened between May and now, but the shifting sands beneath my feet have all but covered the tracks.... Read more

  10. MCO 3.0, and other things in life

    May is my birthday month, and thanks to my intensive blogging stint during the first MCO, I've been able to look back to this time a year ago, to see what I was up to. In May 2020 we were more than 50 days into movement control, slowly opening up into a... Read more

  11. Straw Man

    Earlier this week, we were at the neighbourhood Vietnamese restaurant having pho for lunch. The waiter served us our drinks, accompanied with two biodegradable straws in paper packaging. For a few moments I stared at my straw and the glass of water. The... Read more

  12. MCO 2.0 - Garden Talk

    Friday. I've been going around my garden stalking the wildlife and taking videos. So far I've captured two different types of spiders (both equally majestic in their minute stature), an aggressive bright green praying mantis that charged at the camera,... Read more

  13. MCO 2.0 - The Life of Ali

    Sunday. Maybe writing once a week is not a bad idea. I'm glad to report that this week has gone well, some small anxieties notwithstanding. I talked to my friend S yesterday and through the conversation realised that I may have become too attached to my... Read more

  14. MCO 2.0 - Life rhythms and soil systems

    Sunday. Dropping the day counting thing because I can't be bothered. MCO throughout Malaysia has been extended to February 4th, but our daily cases have gotten up to more than 4,000 and I don't think we'll be going anywhere anytime soon. Last year we were... Read more

  15. MCO 2.0 Days 4, 5 and 6 - A breakthrough

    Saturday. I've been guerrilla writing. I pretend not to be writing, walking up and down the house "chilling", and when I least expect it I sit down and hammer out two paragraphs. It's a battle of wits between myself and myself. Sometimes I win,... Read more

  16. MCO 2.0 Day 2 - Day:1, Me:0

    Thursday. Today is one of those days that you end it feeling, ok, day. You won this time but tomorrow I'll get you back. I've been suffering from some sort of writing block in my work, which is not a good affliction in the best of times but worse when... Read more

  17. MCO 2.0 Day 1 - Here we go again

    2021 is wasting no time and getting down to business immediately. Second week of the new year and we've been handed another MCO (Movement Control Order - strict lockdown), as we hit a record daily cases of 3,300+. Malaysia declared a state of emergency,... Read more

  18. Death by thousand pin pricks

    It's been two days after the US Elections. Votes are still being counted. This morning in the hospital I saw the news blurb go, and I translate from Malay, "Biden is confident to win, Trump has already declared victory". The surreality of the... Read more

  19. Hello Lockdown My Old Friend

    Day Three of Lockdown, Version 2. KL is now a red zone and a conditional movement control order (CMCO) has been issued. Over the last two weeks the situation had worsened rapidly and we went up to more than five hundred new cases per day, from a... Read more

  20. Deleting my CouchSurfing Profile

    I've just written to the Support and Privacy teams of to give me a copy of my data, and to delete my profile. This was a difficult but easy decision. Difficult, because CS was a very important part of my life. I studied CouchSurfing as a... Read more

  21. Second half of the year

    We are now officially one day into the second half of the year. I thought that I would commemorate this momentous occasion with a blog post and do the usual bitching about how time flies. It's funny that a lot of conversations with friends on times of... Read more

  22. Day 83 - Summing up the last 3 months.

    Monday. We're moving towards a new phase of MCO, this time called Recovery Movement Control Order, and it's until end of August. Most restrictions are off as far as I can see, apart from indoor sports and probably some services that would involve crowds.... Read more

  23. Day 80 - It sticks.

    Friday. I'm writing this post in the morning. It's finally Friday. I feel like I've sleepwalked through this week, even though I worked, ate, slept, as usual. Even managed to practise the guitar and burn the pot making soup. But all through a haze of... Read more

  24. Day 78 - Law and order!

    Wednesday. What is there to report? Apart from eight full days of demonstrations in the United States, not much. The 24 hour news cycle has been a soul-sucking black hole. Trump's antics are so theatrical that it's a wonder that this is real life that... Read more

  25. Day 75 - Untitled.

    Sunday. The world is not too uplifting at this moment, to give an understatement. I've had to impose some level of digital detoxing on myself, to resist the temptation to check the news every five minutes on my phone. Reminding myself that whatever is... Read more

  26. Day 72 - The tightrope of life.

    Thursday. I look at the date and it means nothing to me. This afternoon I found in my backpack a receipt from Langkawi, dated 26 February 2020, and it took me a moment to realise that that was only and already three months ago. My time perception is... Read more

  27. Day 69 - Skeptical, shrewd and excitable

    Monday. Yesterday I used my new-found knowledge from the Computational Social Science course and did the following: I scraped all the content from my blog with a web scraper, and ran it through IBM Watson's Personality Insights. It purports to "gain... Read more

  28. Day 67 - Regaining structure

    Saturday. It's been a relaxing yet productive day, a great combination. In the morning I got some advice from Leo's brother (who's a musician) on how to change my broken guitar string, and managed to do it without much fuss. Even though people keep... Read more

  29. Day 65 - Learning and growing

    Thursday. I had meant to update, but the last few days had been hectic and only now things are starting to calm down and I have a bit more mind space to write a little. One thing is that going out, even for small trips, take a huge chunk of energy out of... Read more

  30. Day 61 - Bye bye coal

    Sunday. First, some good news. Apparently the coal industry will never recover after the pandemic - this article gives a good overview globally on why and how. But for your reading convenience here are some points (lifted straight from the article): As... Read more

  31. Day 59 - Sooner or slightly later

    Friday. Almost 60 days in! Literally. It has been hot. I have been irritable. Leo has been a brick. Book-reading has slowed, even though today I finished the seventh from the eight books that I got the other day. Brandes' Decision, by Eduard Marquez, a... Read more

  32. Day 57 - Venturing out

    Wednesday. As of yesterday (May 12), the MCO that had been in place for eight weeks was lifted, to move into a next phase of CMCO (conditional movement control order) in which most economic sectors are allowed to operate if they follow standard operating... Read more

  33. Day 55 - Reading Rampage

    Monday. Six days after my shipment of books arrived, I have finished reading six books. I must say that this level of literary escapism has been unprecedented, even if I do read a lot in general. I have two more books in my unread pile. I don't think that... Read more

  34. Day 52 - One hundred years of solitude

    Friday. So a shipment of eight books arrived at my doorstep on the 5th of May. Three days later, I'm three books down. One of them is One Hundred Years of Solitude. I just put it down five minutes ago, breathless from the ending. It was a good ride. I... Read more

  35. Day 50 - Sien.

    Wednesday. There's a certain restlessness that refuses to be shaken off. An underlying tension over some personal matters has manifested in a headache since this afternoon, resulting in a complete lack of energy to work. For the most part I've been able... Read more

  36. Day 48 - Birthday Sun

    Monday. It's my birthday today! In the spirit of celebrating life I did my solar cooker experiment, a project that I had started a few years ago but never managed to finish. For about six hours today I logged the internal temperature of my box cooker... Read more

  37. Day 45 - Birdwatching

    Friday. In order to celebrate Labour Day today I did not work at all. Instead we had Labour Day pancakes, twice, and I pretty much spent the entire day napping, reading, and entertaining a brand new interest - birdwatching. Multiple inspirations led to... Read more

  38. Day 43 - SEEDS!

    Wednesday. We are now in the fourth phase of MCO. There are minor tweaks - apparently now we're allowed to go out with one more person in the same household (previously there was a one person one car rule), and more than 10km is ok. Some economic sectors... Read more

  39. Day 41 - Discovering bird brains

    Monday. There are days when you're halfway through yoga and feel so mentally drained that you can't move out from the child's pose and tears start flowing the opposite direction towards your forehead. The absurdity of the river of tears flowing upstream... Read more

  40. Day 39 - A lecture and a panel discussion

    Saturday. Today I was on a panel discussion organised by Goethe Institut Indonesia, titled "The Commercial and Political Value of User Data". Over the week Goethe Institut had been releasing the speakers' videos, and mine was released yesterday:... Read more

  41. Day 37 - Another extension.

    Thursday. Currently listening to: Bedřich Smetana's Moldau. It's one of my all-time favourites. Even though I've listened to it hundreds of times it still gives me chills sometimes. The music depicts the flow of a river from the forests to the city. I... Read more

  42. Day 35 - Operation Profit

    Tuesday. Made an experiment today of a curry out of nangka muda (young unripe jackfruit) and homemade peanut tempeh. It was delicious. The peanut tempeh had a sweet distinct taste of peanuts which I found quite interesting, as opposed to normal soybean... Read more

  43. Day 33 - The Slow Pen

    Sunday. I've been wanting to try some other way of expression for a while now, and at Day 33, it has taken a shape of a small story written/drawn in a notebook, which I'm going to call a visual diary even though it's got more words than visuals in it.... Read more

  44. Day 31 - Only interesting for historians

    Friday. I'm very tempted to skip the day but since I have the file open I'll just type something. Such is the descent of my daily lockdown journal. Even though I had read somewhere that diaries written during extraordinary times provide a rich resource... Read more

  45. Day 29 - Maybe this is boredom.

    Wednesday. I've been feeling a little restless these days, wonder if it's the cabin fever finally catching up. Not that I want to go out at all, in fact the thought of going out just feels like too much work. It's just that the days go by slowly and... Read more

  46. Day 27 - A presentation

    Monday. I delivered a talk today which was supposed to be recorded on Whereby, a Zoom alternative, but my connection was crap so I spent an hour tinkering with my computer to make an offline recording, which didn't work out and I ended up recording the... Read more

  47. Day 25 - Domesticity in this universe

    Saturday. It's the weekend. As a result of slacking off during the week I found myself working half-heartedly, reading papers while doing a host of domestic tasks such as watching mould grow (literally, on my tempeh, which WORKED. YAY!). We made a simple... Read more

  48. Day 24 - MCO extended again

    Friday. The announcement came today - the MCO has been extended again, this time till 28 April. It didn't come as a surprise, but I was a little relieved. With all the madness in the world these days it is not inconceivable that our country's leaders... Read more

  49. Day 23 - Another day crossed out

    Thursday. Today I painted in the morning and fixed the perspective of the painting a bit more. Just a few millimetres here and there and the whole world of difference it makes. I also painted little square tablets of various muted colours representing... Read more

  50. Day 22 - The news in brief

    Wednesday. Today I sank into some sort of ennui, tinged with a bit of melancholy that I suspect may have something to do with the monthly bleed. Having resolved to listen to myself more, I didn't force myself to work. Instead I pottered around the house... Read more

  51. Day 21 - Three weeks in

    Tuesday. We are three weeks into the MCO. For the most part we seem to have transitioned into some sort of new normal. The complaints in Whatsapp groups have more or less ceased as people find a way to live with their co-habitants. Occasionally I hear... Read more

  52. Day 19 - Two in one

    Sunday. I wrote a post yesterday and was close to publishing it but ultimately didn't. Was distracted by a movie and eventually got too tired to close the post. So, Saturday. Tentatively titled "Assembly online". I was a speaker today in an... Read more

  53. Day 17 - The mysterious incident of purple

    Friday. After a full year of setting aside the painting of the view from my balcony, I finally went back to it. It was always "one of these days" that I would do it again, and I'm happy to report that today, finally, was one of these days. The... Read more

  54. Day 16 - Veteran of random

    Thursday. I spent the day working on updating the Research and the Projects section of the website, but things are slow in coming. I know that I should do it asap now that there's a window in my work schedule, but it's also something that takes a lot of... Read more

  55. Day 15 - Already?

    Wednesday. We are at Phase 2 of the MCO today. We're not supposed to move outside a 10km radius of our home now. The government cautiously signals that we are doing better than projected - the curve seems to be flattening. As the lockdown continues, this... Read more

  56. Day 14 - Caged outside

    Tuesday. Feeling pretty tired. I did not sleep well yesterday (woke up at 4am) and my brain seems to be working half its capacity today. The working day was therefore slow. Trying not to push too hard and to understand that there are ups and downs, and... Read more

  57. Day 13 - Food security

    Monday. So I missed a post yesterday! My Sunday was just too happening, and before I knew it it was already past bedtime and I didn't want to work on a blog post just for the sake of posting, so I let it slide. The world did not end and the broken streak... Read more

  58. Day 11 - A portrait

    Saturday. I'm exhausted. Spent the last hour or so trying to draw self portraits with oil pastels. I'm not happy with any of them so I can't post any - which makes me a little grumpy. I know that the point of the exercise is not to have something to show... Read more

  59. Day 10 - News and news

    Friday. It is Day 10. Here are the headlines that caught my eye: Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, tested positive for Covid-19. Just a day ago Prince Charles has tested positive as well. The Malaysian PM announced an RM250bil stimulus package to... Read more

  60. Day 9 - Untitled

    Thursday. It has been an intense day of work. A lot of groping in the dark while I try to find a number of things: a good research question, good ways to answer the question, what others have said about the topic, and what value I can bring to the table... Read more

  61. Day 8 - Feed unicorns

    Wednesday. So I guess the biggest news of today is that the RMO is extended for another two more weeks, so it now goes on till 14th of April. I don't think anybody should be surprised - it took China two months to loosen their lockdown and here our cases... Read more

  62. Day 7 - A short one

    Tuesday. It's been a week of the RMO and the days are starting to bleed into one another. Within this week we have left the house for a grand total of one time, on Day 3. The surreality has not left yet since every day something new happens. The Malaysian... Read more

  63. Day 6 - Odds and ends

    Monday. This morning my article for APC was published so I was pretty happy - I enjoyed writing it and people seemed to enjoy reading it also. Here it is: What good can come out of the coronavirus? My energy level is unstable today, yesterday I went to... Read more

  64. Day 5 - Container Chaos

    Sunday. The main agenda of the day was to clear out the kitchen cabinets, which I did with trepidation. This is probably the first time that I have ever done that since we moved in (circa mid 2015). Underneath the sink I found piles and piles of old... Read more

  65. Day 4 - Making friends with our spaces

    Saturday. It is raining outside and the neighbourhood is enshrouded in a layer of mist. The bells of the nearby Hindu temple are ringing, indicating that it is around 6pm. Four hours ago I had black coffee and right now I am still pretty jittery. It is a... Read more

  66. Day 3 - Went to the market

    Friday. We woke up very early this morning (5:30am) and decided to go to the wet market to get eggs around 6:30am. Donned face masks, which brought down our face mask supply to exactly three. (A friend gave me five when she learnt I had none.) The market... Read more

  67. Day 2 - Inadvertent degrowth

    Thursday. I woke up around 7, cleaned a bit, and started work. I’m working on an article now on Covid-19, and I’m trying to piece together some ideas on the systemic changes that the crisis might be able to trigger, to pave the way towards our collective... Read more

  68. Day 1 - Stay home, yes, you

    Wednesday. Malaysia started its nation-wide coronavirus movement control today. I thought it’d make a good, arbitrary reason to make a daily journal entry, given the circumstances of being home bound and this being an irregular situation. I’ve been... Read more

  69. Brain Dump No.2

    One of those days that the brain just refuses to work. I'm in a cafe which food smells pretty good, and I'm trying not to think about food until Leo gets off work and then we can go eat together. There is therefore time to do a brain dump to process the... Read more

  70. Digital Rights in Southeast Asia - Conceptual Framework and Movement Building

    Earlier this year I participated in a book project by SHAPE-SEA which commissioned authors from around the region to look at the human rights impacts of technology in Southeast Asia. Exploring the Nexus Between Technologies and Human Rights: Opportunities... Read more

  71. Learning Farsi

    I'm glad to report that I've finally started learning Farsi in earnest, after some false starts over the last couple of months. I've got most of the abjad (the Arabic script) down, at least the ones that are commonly used, and I'm moving along to grammar... Read more

  72. Notes - Moonwalking with Einstein

    Just finished reading Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, written by Joshua Foer who, interestingly enough, is the brother of one of my favourite authors, Jonathan Safran Foer. It was a breeze to read and I finished... Read more

  73. Brain Dump No.1

    I've just had my morning coffee and am feeling perky and with high energy. At the moment there are so many things in my head so I decided to do a brain dump, to clear things out a bit. Research ideas - I'm working on two research proposals and one paper... Read more

  74. Hello world!

    Just a quick one to announce the launch of my personal website - one that bears my name and that I will hopefully sustain over the years. At the moment it's still quite sparse but I hope to build it up bit by bit. The intention is also to update the blog... Read more

  75. Drawing Block

    I need to create, I need to create, I need to create. But once I sit down, with a shiny piece of white paper, pen in hand, whatever objects I can find arranged into some semblance of a still life – I realise that I’m bored, I’m uninterested, and I’m... Read more