The Illustrated History of London

If I could travel back in time, I would like to see how a city or a country started and how it evolved. In particular, I would like to know how the people at that time lived. The Illustrated History London by Museum of London, published by Penguin did just that. This interesting 300-odd pages of concise history with maps and pictures all over the pages of London from pre-Roman days until present is a book not to be missed. I hope other cities and countries will have similar illustrated books to tell their stories.


Jimmy Low


Francis Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order

We are all politicians one way or another. We do not have to be elected in order to exert our political influences. In light of this, I discovered an engaging and thought-provoking book by Francis Fukuyama – The Origins of Political Order. This is the first of three volumes that Francis will publish on the development of political order.

A few of my friends asked me, when they say me holding or reading this book, whether Francis started with the Greek/Roman times. In fact, in the preface Francis had already address this question – that many such books took the Greek/Roman democracy model as the starting point; probably true from the Western perspective as well as the model for accountable government (the italicized words from Francis). Francis goes further back into the evolution of chimps into our modern human being as the starting point and even considering the Chinese nature of state which predated the Western democracy structure.

So why has this been an engaging reading for me? Since March 2008 general election in Malaysia, the political scene in Malaysia has changed tremendously when the opposition won many seats and denied the ruling government a 2/3 majority. The next general election, the third in our Malaysian history, is expected to be anytime soon and we shall see (or have already seen) dirty politics coming into play. In light of this, I was looking for an answer – why is this happening to Malaysia? should it be avoided or even should it be encouraged so that the political decay that we are experiencing now in Malaysia would result in the current politic system burn into ashes and a new structure emerges, just like the rise of a phoenix from the ashes. Francis’s book provides the framework for me to understand what’s happening in Malaysia as well as around the world. I hope you will find it engaging too.

Jimmy Low

My First Anniversary at Deutsche Bahn

Yes, it is exactly one year at Deutsche Bahn. Okay, I wanted to avoid saying “how time flies” but I can’t help it. HOW TIME FLIES and I SURVIVED. It was been a wonderful one year and more eventful in the last 6 months. People asked me how did I end up being in Deutsche Bahn (yes, BAHN not Bank) but that’s irrelevant now; or I will explain next time.

Anyway, besides being the first anniversary at Deutsche Bahn and first year working in Germany, it is also my first German tax submission *booohoooo hoooo* There goes my money.

And, best of all …. the topping on my 1st anniversary cupcake is …. I successfully made my first internal “sales pitch” to a project manager, to convince him that we have a strategy to execute our part of the project. I got his ears and eyes now.

It has been a long day so I won’t blog much. Will share more of my 1st year experience working in Germany with you soon.


Jimmy Low

Lifelong Learning

Recently, a few top US universities announced their offering of free online courses. Coursera hosts courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania, while edxOnline, a joint-venture between Harvard University and MIT will be offering their courses soon.

Lifelong learning never stops!


Jimmy Low

Remind Me Why am I Doing This ..

Anyway, if you need to learn German, like I do, then I highly recommend Tom’s Deutschseite. A real labour of love for his wife Kathy. Thanks Tom for sharing this site with us. Support Tom with a donation to keep his website running.

I bought an Amazon Kindle reader and love it. I tried viewing Tom’s materials on Kindle and now I can refresh my German, offline and on the go.

Jimmy Low

German ICE Diorama: Building Concrete Bridge Part 2

Finally, this Christmas break allowed me to catch up with some modelling. Today, I spent 1 hour plastering the concrete bridge. Remember from part 1, I used the corrugated cardboard to build the base of the bridge, which was an after-thought. Lesson learned here, that I should build the bridge structure first. Anyway, this week, I coated the cardboard with a layer of plaster to give it a concrete look.

I bought a packet of hobby and modellers’ plaster (Hobby- und Modelliergips) from Hornbach. This 1.5kg pack would last a long, long time but the smallest I could find. The hohes C is just a saved-up container for me to mix my plaster. I don’t want to mess up the place. Furthermore disposing hardened plaster would be a nightmare later on, so this recycled container would be useful.

I made up a medium viscosity plaster mixture and applied on the cardboard bridge. I covered all the gaps with the plaster mix.

I should be using a scraper instead of my fingers but it found that it was easier to work with the fingers especially when you want to cover all the gaps.

After cover all the gaps, I used a thick paint brush to “paint” a layer of plaster on the rest of the cardboard surface. The intention was to give the bridge a concrete look. The end result was a light grey-colored “concrete bridge”. I left it at the heating overnight to dry the plaster. If need be, I might give another layer of plaster next week.

Well, this is another 1 hour effort. The next stage is to fix a block signal I bought and add wiring to the rails so that I could turn this diorama into a programming track before I start plastering the landscape.

Total hours spent to-date: 7 hours.


Jimmy Low

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