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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, December 28, 2002

Just washed dishes. Am sipping mint cocoa now.

I've always maintained that the good thing about temperate climes is that, when it's not summer, the need to bathe and change isn't so pressing :)

Dover Castle was fun, as were the "white" (ahem) cliffs. Managed to scoot down to Canterbury for a while too.

Off to Stonehenge and Salisbury tomorrow on the morrow!

Friday, December 27, 2002

Depressing thought of the day:

"We�re told as kids you should try to be the best you can be, and people like Anna Nicole Smith and Ozzy Osbourne are making megabucks.... I should have run away to join the circus."

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Christmas Day (and Boxing Day) post (again, one day late).

Word of the day: "omophagy"

Merry Christmas.

Today, as Christmas passed, I spent the day vegetating at home, still desperately trying to prod my RAM stick back to life. Okay, that didn't come out the way I wanted it to. But let's just say that my family doesn't isn't culturally inclined towards festive celebrations of any sort, other than Chinese New Year. And Ching Ming, which, while not exactly festive in nature, usually turns out to be jolly good fun romping in the graveyard with my cousins.

Received two Christmas SMSs, one Christmas postcard. No gifts - big surprise there. None sent out, of course, as per usual practice, but did congenially ICQ a few long-absent or distant friends, in an attempt to inject festive virtual jollity into my life.

Christmas Eve night was spent at a friend's cousin's newly-opened bar in KL. Obviously, it was packed, given that the city was full of revellers thronging the streets hunting for anyplace that served liquor and had a reasonably festive mood. In addition, my friend's parents and family were there, which, while somewhat inhibiting the conversational matter, meant that there was a free flow of beer and food, which more than made up for it. A few of us smoked Cohiba Siglo V cigars, as a sort of phallic macho compensation for the patheticness of our lives, but the Christmas spirit was enough to drive away the bleak psychoanalytic aspect of this activity, and instead we basked in the warm glow of Cuban tobacco.

I note that my addiction to 100 Plus is growing steadily. In the last year since coming home, I've consumed more 100 Plus than I have in my whole life. Maybe it's because I really don't drink enough water in the normal day, so I need some isotonic goodness to bring about a semblance of homeostasis. Or maybe I'm just prone to new dependencies. Whatever - it's healthier than my previous Coke addiction (which got so bad in University, I was buying 10 3-liter bottles of Coke at a time, and refusing to drink water). Although I've elicited a few quizzical remarks from the people I regularly go to lunch or breakfast with for my unbending insistence on ordering it at all times.

I think America's obsession with security may be getting a bit trying, particularly for people of Arabic or Malaysian persuasion. A friend of mine was relating to me how he was on a coast-to-coast flight with a Palestinian friend of his one time, a few months after Sept-11. He related how they missed every single one of their connecting flights (coast-to-coast flight in America usually meaning several skips and hops between major airline hubs), because visibly armed soldiers insisted on doing full body searches of his Palestinian comrade. He related bleakly how they insisted the Palestinian remove his shoes, get his body patted down and sniffed at O'Hara.. at one point entering a toilet after a search, only to emerge to be confronted by ANOTHER soldier and another cursory search.....

Two-thirds of the way, the Palestinian told my friend, "Fuck it, you go ahead by flight. I'm catching a bus." He shoved a bag full of notes and materials into my friend's hands, and darted out to the nearby Greyhound terminal. Later, as my friend was boarding, bemusedly, he heard a voice over the airport intercom: "Will XXX please proceed to the security terminal at ..."

As it transpired, the cameras had recorded the Palestinian handing over the materials, and they had detained him at the bus interchange, herded him back to the airport, summoned my friend back, and proceeded to ransack the contents of the bag. They even ran their fingers along the edges of transparency slides they were using as presentation material and other paper documents to ensure that they weren't sharp enough to use as weapons. Yes, those paper cuts can be deadly.

Finally, when they returned from the convention, the Palestinian told my friend, "Please don't tell my wife about all the shit we went through - I'd rather she not know there were at least six different pairs of hands groping my balls throughout this flight."

On the night of Christmas Day, I received a bemused phone call from my father. Now, he had gone to play golf with my uncles, culminating in their usual all-night mahjong session. Now, while the uncle's apartment they ended up playing at was well-stocked with snacks, (this uncle shuttling back and forth between Singapore and Malaysia regularly, the flat served more as a transit point than an actual home), there was little in the way of real food, and mahjong was so engrossing that they were unwilling to sally out for proper sustenance. The wives had point-blank refused to tah pao for them, instead delegating the job generationally downward. Resignedly, I called my cousin to organise a relief convoy, and we brought several packets of Hokkien mee and or-chay over for their consumption. When we arrived, they reluctantly tore themselves away from the mahjong table. Magically, once they were away from the hypnotic clacking of the tiles, their humanity was restored, and fleshly needs started to register in their consciousness once again, and they fell upon the food like starving Ethiopians on a Michael-Jackson endorsed sack of grain. Maybe I have a future as a UN aid worker.

Out of courtesy, I sat around, which wasn't too onerous, because the house was supplied with some very good Wensleydale and Camembert, and uncle was breaking out a great bottle of Pauillac. So it wasn't a total waste of my time, and there was the novelty of being able to surf the net on a Fujitsu plasma screen TV (broadband connection via PC with TV-out jacked into the TV). Although at one point there was a brief interregnum because my uncle wanted to show us a bunch of jpgs from his digital camera, and we couldn't figure out how to put all 100 or so pictures into a slide-show. The PC was a Win 95 box; so we could not avail ourselves of Win XP's shell built- in nifty thumbnail viewer. There were no graphics software we could use installed. The digicam software installed seemed to be equipped only for USB transfer. As a result, it ended up with me clicking on each damn file in Windows Explorer in succession, maximizing the screen, while the uncles ooh-ed and aah-ed the magnificent photographs from around China.

Boxing Day now, and back to work. Half the staff is gone, and today the boss called us in for some incredibly bureaucratic nitpicking point of detail, which, admittedly somewhat important, could have been resolved with a decisive order instead of two hours of waffling and fudging over all kinds of points of order and alternative permutations. In the end, the simplest course of action was chosen, but it was another sobering view into the dinosaur-slow nervous system of a corporate bureaucracy.

A couple of very hot saleswomen came in to sell fixed-line and mobile phone subscriptions, and as always, I was astonished at the sheer amount of chutzpah these slick salespeople possess - walking into offices willy-nilly to flog their junk. However, the power of a good looking babe, in stockings, with a slightly-lower-than-usual neckline was clearly enough to diminish my colleagues' (the males, at any rate) sense of corporate responsibility and they walked around. Even my rather ascetic boss, whom I was expecting to throw out these interlopers on their ass, seemed to soften slightly and actually conversed at length with them on the topic of to obtaining massive ISD savings and 50% off on all fixed-rate calls in perpetuity.

I was tempted, I admit (largely by the fact that it seemed like a pretty damned good package; the phone plan I mean, not the salesgirls), but in the end, moral righteousness prevailed. That, and the fact that the company they recommend has an ugly service reputation.

The few women in the office today watched this whole saga with a touch of resigned, cynical amusement. It's worth noting that these salesgirls went straight to the managers' cubicles (mostly male), and ignored all of us poor, lowly-paid executives. I guess the commission on our pitiful mobile bills (I heard that these salespeople are actually getting paid a percentage of the customers' bill upon signing up) wasn't worth the hassle. Too bad, it would have been a nice change to have a good-looking female trying to persuade me for something, rather than the other way around.

Gabriel: The Transcendant One said that "Nothing can change the nature of a man." And look where that got him.. er.. it. And I'm not censoring my past. *takes on "portentious-Delphaic-cadences-while-typing" (possible if you hit the keys just right) mode* MY PAST IS WRITTEN LIKE SCARS INTO MY SOUL.
*end "portentious-Delphaic-cadences-while-typing" mode*

I know a guy who can talk in capital letters (like Terry Pratchett's Death), and it's majorly cool at karaoke sessions.

More of the freakettes crawling from the parquet. Have fun in Britanna, Gabriel. Don't get your head bashed in by a soccer hooligan.
I had the distinct (frigid) pleasure of being the bedwarmer for 3 people (including myself) yesterday.

Now I'm waiting for my sister to wake.

Off to an Aztec exhibition at the Royal Academy in the morning and an Old London Walk later. Pretty much everything else's closed on Boxing Day.


It seems some people are seeing daggers where there are none. Please, I'm not quite *that* nasty, whether inadvertently or otherwise.

Go shop for your schoolbag lah, I have no barbs to throw at you (nor have I had any since before you left, at least, if not more).

(Anyhow - what was that about your ten foot pole, hmm? :) )
Greetings from London.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Word of the day: "circadian"

"I wonder who discovered we could get milk from cows, and what on EARTH he was doing?"
-Billy Connolly

Here's a fascinating article on Uberman sleep cycles:


The Uberman sleep schedule is a method of organizing your sleeping time to maximize your REM sleep and minimize your non-REM sleep. The goal of the sleep cycle is that you are actively in REM sleep within a couple of minutes of falling asleep and remain in that state until you awaken. I originally read about the schedule on everything2.

In essence, someone utilizing the Uberman sleep schedule is actively modifying their sleeping habits so that they can immediately jump from waking to a few minutes worth of stage 1 sleep straight to stage 5 REM sleep, as described in this discussion of sleep stages.

It is important to note that there are no studies as to the long-term physical or physiological impact of this sleep cycle. I really don't know if this cycle is causing long-term damage to myself or not, and if this concerns you, I wouldn't attempt the cycle. However, the benefits are fantastic.

The Uberman's Sleep Schedule

Sleeping Hours
The Uberman's sleep schedule revolves around forcing yourself to rely on six twenty to thirty minute naps spread throughout the day for your daily dose of sleep. I stuck to thirty minute naps, currently having them starting roughly at 2 AM, 6 AM, 10 AM, 2 PM, 6 PM, and 10 PM every day.

How & Why It Works
Over the course of a normal eight hour sleeping period, your body moves through a continuous cycle of five distinct sleep stages. Of these, stage 5 REM sleep has been found to be the part of the cycle that provides the benefits of sleep for your mind.

Essentially, the trick of the Uberman's sleep schedule is to trick your mind into entering REM sleep as soon as you drift into a sleeplike state. Unfortunately, the only real way to do this is through sleep deprivation of sorts.

Adjusting To This Schedule

Adjusting to this schedule (as you might imagine) will make you feel like you've put your body and mind through a blender for a few weeks. Here are some general tips for adjusting that I found to be greatly helpful.

Do the adjustment when you are in complete control of your schedule. I converted to the cycle during a three week vacation; it would have been impossible to get through a normal work day while adjusting to this cycle. I was by and large a zombie.

Find a large project to work on while adjusting. If you don't keep busy, you will revert to a normal sleep cycle. In my first failed attempt at switching (on vacation more than two years ago), I didn't have an ongoing project to keep me focused.

Use physiological "tricks" to teach your body the cycle. I found that using a dawn simulation trick worked nicely. Every time I went to lay down, I set my monitor to wait thirty-two minutes, then begin running a program that had a strobe effect along with some excessively loud music. I also used two alarm clocks, and during the day I would adjust my blinds such that the sun would start shining in my face roughly a half an hour later. These would force me to become somewhat conscious for a while, which was all I needed to keep going.

Days 3 to 10 are the hardest and least productive. I spent the adjustment period working on two projects, one involving programming and another involving writing. At the start of day three, I stored a backup of these projects because I knew that my thought processes were starting to become nonsensical and bizarre. For the next week, I continued to "work" on the projects, but utterly failed to make any sensible progress (interestingly enough, the fiction I wrote in this period was entertaining in a Thomas Pynchon meets The Electric Company kind of way). Don't expect to be hugely useful during the actual forced adjustment to compressed REM sleep.

Convert to a more nutritious diet. I've found that drinking a great deal of orange and apple juice makes the Uberman schedule easier to follow, as does eating plenty of vegetables and avoiding fatty foods like the plague.

You will discover that after day ten or so, you will automatically begin waking after about thirty minutes. Quite often, I find that when a dream ends, I just awaken automatically. Although I still use an alarm clock, I now do my 10 AM, 2 PM, and sometimes 6 PM naps at work on my breaks without an alarm and have no problem waking up from them, feeling utterly refreshed.



This has a large amount of appeal to me. How often have I cursed my body and mind's inability to function without a wasteful 6 hours of sleep a day? Unlike those who savour sleep for its own sake, sleep has always seemed to me to be a terrible, terrible waste of time necessary only because our feeble human bodies require it for continued functioning. If I had my way, the need for sleep should be utterly flensed from the human condition, whether through genetic manipulation, or crude conditioning techniques such as the above. The weakness of fatigue is a constant reminder of the frail, pulsing flesh that houses our consciousness - our bodies are a weak vehicle that should be purged as soon as possible. Possible alternatives include consciousness upload(although the virus possibility corrupting the software is a bit scary), and/or good old genetic modificationof our creaky, disease-prone, cannot-eat-steaks-in-bearnaise-sauce-without-getting-an-infarction, must-actually-fucking-EXERCISE-to-remain-in-functional-condition .. and above all, too, too mortal bodies.

However, I'd like to retain the ability to appreciate food, but not the overriding need for it. Life without the capacity for tasting blue cheese or a linguini vongole.. that's scary.

On the value of dreams? I remain ambivalent - but that's because I don't like my dreams much. I cull enough insight from my waking nightmares.

Fascinating insight into male priorities:

The big downside to pr0n, compared to a cock book, is that you can't get all friendly with yourself in the bathroom or in bed with pr0n. What are you gonna do? Lug a laptop in with you? Prop it on your chest in bed? Try and cycle between .jpgs in Iexplore with one hand while stroking yourself off with the other? The laptop falling off your chest the whole time, or you can't see the screen when it's at an angle... or prop it on the septic tank in the bog. Stroke stroke stroke... Nah. You're all crouched over trying to look at it. And as for doing it in the living room with the computer? No way. Coz when you're finished, you're sitting in the living room, as brazen as you please, with your lad in your hand and a bunch of tissues. Undoubtedly feeling very exposed and L0serish. Unless of course you dimmed the lights to create the right mood. And then you've got to get up, unstick your hand from the keyboard, and shuffle into the bathroom, taking care not to break your trousers in the process. The bathroom incidentally, is where you should have been to begin with.

The only other thing to do is - you guessed it - print those piccies out. And what have you got then? YES folks, you've got a cock book.

Nope. The printed page has a time honoured and traditional place in men's "private special time". It's personal, it's romantic, it's intimate. The computer, while offering a greater variety of images, is also not really as conducive to that self-love action.


Note that the article above is culled from a discussion thread on the role of Maxim, GQ, and Esquire vis-a-vis classics like Hustler and Playboy. It's an interesting discussion in and of itself:)

Here's a pretty good website on various right-wing-nerd topics, albeit with way too much postmodern critique.

It strikes me that nerd culture often lends itself to a very odd mix of libertarian and liberal leanings (as these two terms are commonly understood in American politics). On the libertarian hand, there's the distaste for government intervention, the obsession with libertarian freedom, the fixation with firearms, the rather stubborn insistence on absolute, literal perspectives (for real-life affairs), or even absolute, literal submersion in fictional narratives, using these to lend context to their everyday lives (like those people who name their PCs "Palantir" and all Klingon-speaking UNIX sysadmins or KKK-ers). But there's also the liberal element; general tolerance of all ethnic, racial, or sexual peccadilloes, a usual indifference to all matters religious, an insistence on complete freedom of information in all its forms, and an inherent distrust of large corporate enterprises.

Of course, this is a gross generalization of the geek position; and within the many manifestations of geek culture there all kinds of extreme viewpoints. But it seems to me that geekdom cannot be cast in terms of political viewpoint because it's more about a cultural affinity to and with technology, in all its forms. And this affinity with technology is usually informed and shaped by science-fiction and fantasy-fiction metaphors and paradigms. The political opinions one forms as a result of all these influences can vary greatly; geekdom is thus not an ideology or a archetype per se, but a general cultural template from which many differing personalities and ideologies can emerge.

Ah, Christmas Eve. My first Christmas Eve ever spent working. It's been more a year and four days since I returned from my old life, and was cast into the fiery perdition of this one. While I'd like to say I've emerged from the flame and hammer and anvil of productive labour like a newly-tempered mithril sword, in all honesty I feel like overburnt kaya toast - sickly sweet, caramelized lumps of despair congealing all over an overburnt, brittle piece of bread with black flakes constantly sloughing off, with the odour of brimstone and smoke, and sticky goo clinging everywhere. Still, as I've said before - I've made it past a year, I've got a decent job, and the place inside my head into which I can retreat even from myself grows ever more inassailable everyday, buttressed by the stones of my little distractions, and mortared by imagination and desperation.

It's not that bad to be mad, is it?

[NB: Thanks to certain unforeseen circumstances, this was posted on Christmas instead, and the Christmas Day post follows immediately.]

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Word of the Day: "hibachi" :)

This being the Christmas period, documentaries on related topics are coming out. Apparently some guy made one questioning the Immaculate Conception, and one alternate theory he came up with was that the Virgin Mary was raped by a Roman Centurion. For some reason, the BBC went to interview the Dean of some Muslim College about his views regarding this matter. (It seems that since September 11th, the mainstream media has felt it compelled to consult Muslims for their views on all manner of irrelevant subjects, but I suppose it's a sign of the times.) Anyhow, this Dean had a very interesting theory. He said that Muslims would be offended by the documentary, but referred back to the Old Days, when vigorous debates raged in the Sultanates and Caliphates about all manner of theological issues, many of which were blasphemous in the extreme. He attributed the current intolerance of most Muslims to a lack of self-confidence. Interesting view indeed. I suppose Buddhists have the most self-confidence in our world, due to their doctrine of Ahimsa.

After my little heart was gladdened by the rave review of my little rant (see below), I was struck by the idea of writing a third version of the rant (the second being the one penned the day before I was enslaved). "Gabriel's writing across the years". Of course, it would probably read something like: "SAF is good... uhh... I will obey the government...", so.

One of my many half-baked, half-finished (nay, less than 1% finished) ideas is to create a page spoofing those angsty websites. Some page ideas I have right now:

- Predominantly black and red colour scheme
- A dearth of punctuation
- Cryptic and ominous words
- Bad poetry
- Meaningless, profound looking images
- Labyrinthine layout. Possibly that consisting of pages with one picture each and a cryptic phrase, linking to other similar pages and so on ad nauseam
- The use of word/phrase lists to describe the webmaster and his likes/dislikes ie "rubenstein. skateboard. coffee bean. rushdie. " (repeat as desired)

Till now, it's still a glimmer in my eye. Oh well.

I saw some Officer Cadets playing water sports while I was on my way to Physio today. Among them were 4 female Cadets, and they are the most, err, stunning ones I've seen so far. All of them were flat and had short hair, and they all looked very masculine, with masculine facial features among other things. One of them was very muscular, and had a barbed wire tattoo on her upper arm :0 I think some of the male cadets were cuter and more feminine than them :) I was kind of reminded of the East German female swimmers at the Olympics in 1988 (?)


Quotes:

[Me on Block Leave: Go to Malaysia lor. Malaysia - Truly Asia.] Fuck. How can I go to Malaysia after their soccer team beat our soccer team?
World Mouseclicking Competition!

I stumbled across this a long time ago. See how much you can get! Tim, with his special mouse, can get more than 100. I got 63.


I got one Christmas Card this year, and sent out none.

That's a very good rate of return :) Hee hee.

Maybe I should send out cards next time. Hmm.


I got my debit card in the mail too. How fortuitous!

But intelligent me signed with an water based ink pen, and the original signature is smudged.
Packing is horribly dreary :(

And there's so much stuff to bring too - not my stuff, but stuff for my sister, brother in law and Andrew's brother Victor.

Sampling of things I'm requested to bring (for sister and brother in law alone):

- Toilet Paper (apparently it's expensive in London)
- Googie a small green (stuffed) dog
- Bedsheets
- 30 unwritten postcards
- Pork balls, har kao and siu mai (they'll probably go mouldy in the 20 hours between removal from the fridge and my sister's consuming them. Good luck to her)
- mini-food processor
- Hae Mee, Hokkien Mee, Sliced Fish Mee Hoon Prima paste
- Cha Soba sauce
- Dried Cod
- Baking Chocolate
- Prawn Paste Chicken Powder
- other cooking materials she left behind
- Navy blue Hugo Boss suit (jacket and pants)
- a few dress shirts
- navy blue flannel pajamas with polar bears on them
- 2 calenders
- bubble tea pearls

!@#$%^&*()

I don't think even half the stuff's going to fit.


Slightly under half my JC class is going to see our Maths teacher, who gave birth not long ago.

I'd go but packing is horrible. Too much stuff, too little space (since Sister wants me to bring half the house). And I am weary after my physio and duty too, somehow. Sleeping while on duty just doesn't refresh me, somehow.
The Twelve Pains Of Christmas

Chorus:
The first thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Is finding a Christams tree.

The second thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Husband: Rigging up the lights,
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The third thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Inebriated man: Hangovers,
Husband: Rigging up the lights,
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The fourth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Frustrated man: Sending Christmas cards,
Inebriated man: Hangovers,
Husband: Rigging up the lights,
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The fifth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Five months of bills,
Frustrated man: Sending Christmas cards,
Inebriated man: Hangovers,
Husband: Rigging up the lights,
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The sixth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Frustrated wife: Facing my in-laws,
Chorus: Five months of bills,
Frustrated man: Oh, I hate those Christmas cards,
Inebriated man: Hangovers,
Husband: Rigging up these lights,
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The seventh thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Angry man: The Salvation Army,
Frustrated wife: Facing my in-laws,
Chorus: Five months of bills,
Frustrated man: Sending Christmas cards,
Inebriated man: Oh, Jeez!
Husband: I'm trying to rig up these lights!
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The eighth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Loud kid: I WANNA TRANSFORMER FOR CHRISTMAS!
Angry man: Charities
Frustrated wife: And what do you mean, "your in-laws"?!?
Chorus: Five months of bills,
Frustrated man: Oh, making out these cards,
Inebriated man: Edith, get me a beer, huh?
Husband: What we have no extension cords?!?
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The ninth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Another frustrated man: No parking spaces,
Loud kid: DADDY, I WANT SOME CANDY!!
Angry man: Donations!
Frustrated wife: Facing my in-laws,
Chorus: Five months of bills,
Frustrated man: Writing out those Christmas cards,
Inebriated man: Hangovers,
Husband: Now why the hell are they blinking?!?
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The tenth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
Mother: "Batteries not included",
Another frustrated man: No parking spaces,
Loud kid: BUY ME SOMETHIN'!!!!
Angry man: Get a job, ya bum!!!
Frustrated wife (sobbing): Oh, facing my in-laws,
Chorus: Five months of bills,
Frustrated man: Yo, ho! Sending Christmas cards,
Inebriated man: Oh, Jeez, look at this!
Husband: One light goes out, they ALL go out!!!
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The eleventh thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
TV Critic: Stale TV specials,
Mother: "Batteries not included",
Another frustrated man: No parking spaces,
Loud kid: I GOTTA GO TO THE BATHROOM!!!!
Angry man: Charities!!
Frustrated wife (sobbing): She's a witch! I hate her!
Chorus: Five months of bills,
Frustrated man: Oh, I don't even KNOW half these people!
Inebriated man: Oh, who's got the toilet paper?
Husband: Get a flashlight!! I blew a fuse!!!
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

The twelth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to me:
A few guys: Singing Christmas Carols,
TV Critic: Stale TV specials,
Mother: "Batteries not included",
Another frustrated man: No parking?
Loud kid: WAAAAAAH!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!
Angry man: Charities!
Frustrated wife: Gotta make 'em dinner!
Chorus: Five months of bills,
Frustrated man: I'm not sending them this year, that's it!
Inebriated man: Shut up, you!
Husband: FINE!! If you're so smart, YOU RIG UP THE LIGHTS!!!!!
Chorus: And finding a Christmas tree.

From the album "Bob Rivers Comedy Corp: Twisted Christmas."
If you are into humorous Christmas albums, check this one out.
Rueful thought of the day:

"It's easier to introduce new complications into your life than to resolve old ones."

Monday, December 23, 2002

Choice passages to contemplate:

"Basically, if everyone has a vested interest in believing that they understand everything, or even that people are capable in principle of understanding it (either because beling this dampens their insecurities about the unpredictable world, or makes them feel more intelligent than others, or both) then you have an environment in which dopey, reductionist, simple-minded, pat, glib thinking can circulate, like wheelbarrows filled with inflated currency in the marketplaces of Jakarta.

But things like the ability of some student's dead car to spawn repeating patterns of thimble-sized vortices a hundred yards downwind would seem to argue in favour of a more cautious view of the world, an openness to the full and true weirdness of the Universe, an admission of our limited human faculties. And if you've gotten to this point, then you can argue that growing up in a family devoid of gigantic and obvious primal psychological forces, and living a life touched by many subtle and even forgotten influences rather than one or two biggies (e.g. active particpation in the Church of Satan) can lead, far downwind, to consequences that are not entirely devoid of interest."


""My point is that precision, and getting things right, is the one thing we have going for us. Everyone has to have a way of getting ahead, right? We make our way in the world by knowing that two plus two equals four, and sticking to our guns in a way that is kind of nerdy and that maybe hurts people's feelings sometimes. I'm sorry."

"Hurts whose feelings? People who think that two plus two equals five?"

"People who put a higher priority on social graces than on having every statement uttered in a conversation be literally true."

"Like, for example.. female people?"

"If there is any generalization at all that you can draw about how men think versus how women think, I believe it is that men can narrow themselves down to this incredibly narrow laser-beam focus on one tiny little subject and think about nothing else."

"Whereas women can't?"

"I suppose women can. They rarely seem to want to. What I'm characterizing here, as the female approach, is essentially saner and healthier."

"Hmmm."

"See, you are being a little paranoid here and focusing on the negative too much. It's not about how women are deficient. It's about how men are deficient. Our social deficiencies, or lack of perspective, or whatever you want to call it, is what enables us to study one species of dragonfly for twenty years, or sit in front of a computer for a hundred hours a week writing code. This is not the behaviour of a well-balanced and healhty person, but it can obviously lead to great advances in synthetic fibers. Or whatever."

"But you said that you yourself were not very focused."

"Compared to other men in my family, that's true. So I know a little about astronomy, a lot about computers, a little about business, and I have, if I may so, a slightly higher level of social functioning than the others. Or maybe it's not even functioning, just an acute awareness of when I'm not functioning, so that I at least know when to feel embarrassed.

She laughs. "You're definitely good at that. It seems like you sort of lurch from one moment of feeling embarrassed to the next."

He gets embarrassed.

"It's fun to watch, " she says encouragingly. "It speaks well of you."

"What I'm saying is that this does set me apart. One of the most frightening things about your true nerd, for many people, is not that he is socially inept - because everybody's been there - but rather his complete lack of embarrassment about it."

"Which is still kind of pathetic."

"It was pathetic when they were in high school. Now it's something else. Something very different from pathetic."

"What, then?"

"I don't know. There's no word for it. You'll see.""

[Ed: The extracts above are from Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson]

Gabriel: I might also add that your feelings towards your juvenilia written in a bygone day is one of the things I desperately try to avoid by regularly scouring my pathetic body of doggerel.

[Ed: Nothing can change the nature of a man. And censoring the past should be beneath you *disapprovingly*]
Daily am I feted:

"random article review
this article, written by a sixteen-year-old gabriel, highlighted here for your perusal, is both unintentionally amusing and highly illuminating wrt the writer. even as we cackle at his gross exaggerations and unnecessary pen-flowering - note especially "forevermore" added for undertones of doom and hilarious rhetoric ("Is it fair to subject the young to brainwashing and torture? Do we really want our children, brothers and sisters to be subjected to the cruelty of a militant culture? " no less!) - remember that this piece will probably end up as an interesting appendix to his biography, doubtless something disturbingly similar to Mein Kampf . note also the "religious fundamentalism" argument expressed in its larval stage. the sudden segue (i get to use the word "segue"!) to community service is also comic in its equally extreme position. this confirms my equally extreme theories on ri boys developed in sec 3. a delightful read.
amusement value: ****
"

Reviewed by juwel.


I'm really quite ashamed at my lousy and simplistic essay now. Perhaps she should have read the one I wrote in J2 the day before enslavement, but then the poorer essay does have a certain charm about it.

It's rather plain but more importantly, it failed to explore adequately the cruel, harsh truth that is National Slavery.

Compare my limp diatribe with what Sec 2s are writing nowadays, and you will see how precocious children these days are :) (Though they do complain on occasion of the words I use being too difficult for them) Methinks I might post more of my RI work online. At least some of whatever wasn't lost in the late 1997 disk crash.
Word of the day: "sarcinarious"

Firstly, a warning that that old rumour about MP3s containing virii might have some truth to it. Only in this case, it's not so much a virii, but a flaw in Win XP and WinAmp that allows malicious code to execute through a buffer overrun vulnerability. It's particularly odious in Win XP because the damn file doesn't even have to be run; only browsed in a folder or hovering one's mouse-pointer over the file. In Microsoft's own words:

"...For example, when the mouse pointer is held over an icon, summary information is displayed about that icon. In order to seamlessly display this information, the Windows Shell is invoked to read the file attributes and provide them automatically... The function that causes the Windows Shell to automatically extract custom attributes of certain audio files contains an unchecked buffer. If specific data was entered into an audio file, the buffer could be caused to overrun when the Windows Shell attempted to read the file. A buffer overrun can in general either cause the application to fail, or code to run on the machine..."

Ah, dark side geekery rears its ugly head. Nonetheless, all should swiftly download the patches available on Winamp and WinXP.

Just a vague query I'd like to throw out to all and sundry - today, in a charming email by one of my correspondents, I was excoriated as "the living incarnation of rapacity." Now, while this isn't a particularly flattering (and hence, true) epithet, I have a feeling the writer lifted it from some text. The question is, where?. The closest I could find was "gaping maw of need.", from a Jack Kerouac missive.

Gah. Another damned Monday. Is this all life has to offer? Endless, fatigue-ridden weeks of deskbound servitude? But one thanks God (or Deity) for the little blessings; such as being able to slack off on the Net. And Stilton cheese. And blue-laser keychains. (the latter being alittle present from a colleague's long leave trip)

It's time to immolate this year's archives again. I have an annual habit of burning the previous year's diary, after reading them cover to cover just before New Year's Eve, and saving a few choice entries. It's a pretentious adolescent holdover from when I read about the quaint Ecuadorian custom of celebrating the new year by burning in the streets effigies of famous and infamous people from the preivous year's events - the idea being purification of the past to prepare for the future.

Although this custom worked well when I actually kept physical notes and diaries, it provided an interesting dilemma when I first discovered WordStar (back in the days of yore when PCs didn't have hard drives - you had to stick in the MS-DOS diskette first). It seemed a tad too callous (read: lacked poseur ritualistic feel) to just delete the documents, and obviously I couldn't burn the whole PC, and 5 1/2" diskettes don't ignite very well. In the end, this dilemma was solved when family purchased a dot-matrix printer - and once again, the smell of burning paper was restored to my Christmas season.



Sunday, December 22, 2002

Word of the day: "cerement"

It's a gray day. and the quotidian light seems leached of all colour.


Scratching self, sitting at PC, and presently working on finishing overdue blog entry since Wednesday. Thankfully, have won another day of peace. And here it goes -


Watching the Two Towers left me in an ambivalent fix; because I was torn between my appreciation of it as a movie-goer, and my appalled feelings as a Tolkien purist. In any event, I shall forebear the usual review system, mainly because almost everyone's seen it by now, probably, and so I'll just note a few scattered observations and feelings:


a) The battle between the Balrog and Gandalf is *exactly* what I imagined it to be from reading the book. Gandalf's falling to clasp Glamdring reminds me oddly of Cloud at the end of FF7, actually:) Other than the mysterious sudden cut from battling in that underground ocean to tussling on top of a mountain, it seriously gratified expectations.


b) Why is Legolas' role, apart from his dashing swashbuckling in the battle scenes, confined mostly to looking broodingly ethereal, staring at the camera, and intoning portents like: "There is a red dawn today.. blood has been spilled." or other such Delphaeic utterances? But then again, we have his zhai gymnastic vault onto the back of a horse, and skateboarding down steps while unloosing volley after volley of arrows. Note that his quiver never seems to run out as well during the Battle of Helm's Deep - whereas in the first movie, you could see him salvaging arrows.


c) Gimli was never really meant to be that much comic relief.


d) Faramir got majorly short-changed in his brief scenes. Would also have liked a depiction of seeing Boromir's body in his dreams, as per narrated in the book.


e) Why is Theodred's role confined to looking grim and quoting verbatim from the book?


f) Grima Wormtongue, Gollum and the Ents - strangely enough, I'd never really had a fixed idea of what these characters should look like, and yet, upon seeing them given form in the movie, they look *right*. With the exception of the Ents who move a bit too hastily and Treebeard not laying it on with the Ent steroids (Entdraught) and Hoom-action a bit more, and Gollum's excessively schizoid conversations-with-self, they certainly fit in with visual expectation. Brad Dourif is particularly good at playing freaky, ominous characters; he *was* the voice of Chucky after all.


g) The freeding of King Theodred reminded me of The Exorcist for some reason.


And despite all this nitpicking, I enjoyed the movie immensely, mainly because of the battle of Helm's Deep, mainly because Aragorn's increasingly matted, unshaven form has a certain macho charisma to it, and because above all, like Spiderman and The Godfather, it's a movie that focuses more on capturing the *spirit* of the literary source from which it sprung, rather than slavishly aping it. How far Lord of the Rings succeeds in capturing Tolkien's 'spirit' is seriously open to interpretation, and many will see it as a lukewarm dumbing-down for motion picture audiences, but to my mind, having read the book and watched the movies (thus far), they both evoke the same sense of arboreal wonder, the classic good-vs-evil plot, in unambiguous moral tones, and above all, redemption through the rejection of power/evil.


Can't wait for the Battle of Pelennor Fields in the third movie:)


Another amused observation, when I went to watch it , there were several costumed people capering around, to add flavour to the preview screening. One was a very Chinese-looking Saruman. (Just because the actor's surname is "Lee"....) Another were a couple of thuggish looking elves in Lothlorien garb; my friend looked straight at them and asked, "Are you uruk-hai or Eldar?"


They stared back impassively.


Upon listening to the chatter of people around us as we departed the cinema: "What does the Ring do ah?", "Eh, what are the Two Towers referring to?", "Is Saruman the same as Sauron?", etc etc etc, I despaired.


My friend told me of an even worse incident once when watching Titanic; a sobbing chick seated at the row in front blurted out: "Is the ship going to sink?"


Friday night, headed out for another pleasant Warcraft 3/Counter-Strike session with more of the returning horde from Australia. Proceeded to have another riotous, drunken gathering beside a friend's apartment swimming pool in which we discussed and debated the finer points of role-playing games, movies, various computer games, and comparative merits of a variety of fantasy fiction writers. That, and singing off-key 80s cheese tunes. The following morning, my friend graciously (or perhaps becuase the hangover headache was preventing him from thinking clearly) permitted me to raid his library for some texts since he was headed back to Melbourne soon. I hauled home a swag of about 20 books, supplements, RPG manuals, and other assorted texts which should keep me occupied for a while.


My PC now lies open case in front of PC desk, as I desperately try to fiddle the errant 128MB stick of RAM back into life. Argh. But funnily enough, over the last two weeks there hasn't been much impetus to play games, which means the pile is growing ominously again. But the only game I really want to buy at present is Shadow of Destiny; at least until Halo or GTA3: Vice City for the PC gets released.


Shall make sure to go watch some VCDs after this diary entry is complete; Knockaround Guys is still lying unwatched.


Meta-comments:


"Wielding a measure of moral power is better than nothing." To which I say - "Wielding nothing but a measure of moral power is useless." Even the Inquisition needed pikemen.


That rather seditious article on the Malaysian aristocracy was published in the local broadsheets. Mahathir, no matter his flaws, has never been fond of the parasitic vermin that constitute the Sultanates. It's often politically expedient to highlight their excesses.


To the nice person who quoted Kierkegaard: Think "Emperor's New Clothes." There is, unfortunately, a gulf between what is, and what we want it to be.


To whoever penned that call to masochism, and to the person who very happily suggested the Care Bear approach: Hah? But I believe: "Balance in all things." A little dippy happy smiley smiley is as necessary to a healthy life as bleak, morose brooding.


Gabriel: Hunting takes a lot out of the hunter. I pay for my late-night frantic conversation-orgies the following mornings, and in the pile of unread books and unfinished games.


To the next round of diatribes: Well, of course if I can't be vomitously self-absorbed and narcissistic on my own online diary, where the hell else can I be? D-uh. And as for the "typical angsty posts which refer to no one discernable to anyone but the poster", *shrugs*, it seems merely an odd but familiar convention on a lot of blogs; the dropping of weird hints and subtle injokes to an audience of one. I don't deny that the theatrical value is childishly amusing to me, but there's another reason: not everyone uses ICQ regularly or checks their email. So when one *really* wants to get a message across...


A Wong Kar Wai movie? I hope it's Chungking Express, with the angsty camera framings of In The Mood For Love!:)


It also occurred to me lately that I only blog when in narcisstic, play-with-locks-of-hair-while-self-mutilating -and-watching-lazy-cigarette-smoke-trails-as-mind-locks-into-depressive-brooding- anti-heroic- moments-of-darkest-despair-when-the-light-of-the-world-seems-crushed-by- onslaught-of-stupidity-and-misunderstanding-by-unwashed- philistines-unable-to-appreciate- my-greatness-or-the-profound-depths-of-my-suffering-soul kind of moods. That might explain the rather unbalanced portrayal of my mental states through these entries. I'm depressed, really a very happy chappie. Really.


*exhales in raw frustration* Lost the rest of this hideously long blog entry. NEVERMIND. I shall begin again, phoenix-like from the rubble, in my quest against Gabriel's teeming ignorance.


You forgot the largest roti canai (or prata to you heathens) or the longest sticks of incense in the world. Our achievements grow legion. Be that as it may, I actually agree with you here on how xenophobic and short-sighted this bit of nationalistic fervour is; but then again, any kneejerk appeal to populist sentiment is always a good political vote-getter. Yes, our government doesn't pay attention to irrelevant political necessities such as the will of the people, unlike Singapore.


Although at least we don't need SMS messages from the government teaching us about sex:)


But seriously, there's an economic point to be made; people DO respond better to ads made with local people. Granted, the ostensible reasons for insisting on Asians in ads in Malaysia are, of course, ideological and nationalistic ones, but in all honesty, how many Toyota ads do you see with Asians in America? It's for marketing reasons, not for patriotism.


Will get on with demolishing your flimsy rebuttals tomorrow at work. But if and when PAS looks like its wresting control; hey I'm just going to flee, man. Unlike you, I haven't got so much nationalistic fervour as to take up arms in defense of my nation - as you are so loyally training for. No wait, this is from the man who harbors various schemes on how to present himself as militarily unfit.


The Golden Rule as I see it: "Do unto others before they do unto you."


I think that it's kind of sad that you justify your blithe disregard for the feelings of others under the pretext of a moral decision made after "meditation" and the greater good of freedom of speech. The fact of the matter is, you simply don't care. Witness recent events in which you dismis the feelings of your friends as "trivial matters" and of "minor importance."


I don't even justify "all words should be permissible", as some moral imperative, I do it because I want to, particularly when its the opinions of the general world at large. "A man will fight for his interests, not his rights." But, unlike you, I at least pay some attention to the feelings of those I consider friends; even if what they feel or think makes no sense to me.


And finally, Islam DOES have a singing tradition; at least in Sufi Islam. But Sunni Islam frowns on graven images per se, let alone too joyous peals of choristering.


[Ed: Before I retire, but one comment of many to come:


""No wait, this is from the man who harbors various schemes on how to present himself as militarily unfit."
I *do not*."]
"... And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."

Image hosting from http://www.imagemagician.org/. URL courtesy of juwel.


I hear Number 2 was seen giving out iMac promotional pamphlets. Not quite so contemptible, since it wasn't a seedy product she was promoting, but still... :)

Having messy hair by accident : The 'just got out of bed look' - Deemed bad by society (Gabriel)
Having messy hair on purpose : The 'just got out of bed look'- Deemed good by society (Andrew Gan)

I think the numbers alienated by me have grown. They should form a "smart girls who dislike Gabriel" club sometime soon.

Andrew and I saw this guy at Raffles Place Interchange with very nice long and straight hair. It had no crinkles or tangles in it, though it wasn't as nice as that of his girlfriend's.

Anyone who sends me Christmas Cards will be getting unique Demotivational Postcards in return sometime early next year. Is that a good incentive? ;)


We two saw the HCJC choir perform. They have a very nicely designed performance attire. The boys' outfit is an integrated whole, with a dully off-silver tie melding into a dark grey shirt, with the de rigeur black pants and shoes. The girls have a 2 layered costume consisting of a blue underdress and a translucent black overlayer which is slit at the waist on their left, with a silver filigree brooch marking the point where the slit begins. Too bad the back zip - extending from near the neck down to the ankles - can be seen, and there's an ugly slit between the neckline at the back and the start of the zip which keeps exposing their necks whenever they move or twitch their arms.

When the girls went up and down the stairs, they kept holding up their skirts. I wonder what it's like to trip over a skirt. Must be a fine sight. I must see it one day before I reach my dotage :)

I dislike the modern arrangements of Christmas Carols, most of which develop the familiar themes, strains and melodies to such an extent that they are unrecognisable, or where the harmony parts are overemphasised to the extent that they overpower the melody lines. At least it's better than the Pop arrangements, though.

During the intermissions when the MCs came up to give commentary, the choir sung softly, while the double bassist (did I mention that there was a double bassist?) bowed some notes delicately. However, they sung and he played at a "p" volume level, instead of a "ppp" or even "pppp" level, so what the MCs had to say was mostly drowned out.

It strikes me - everyone seems to use the same arrangement for "Carol of the Bells". Also, too, that I rarely see Muslims in choirs, probably because they don't want to sing carols and Sacred Music.


Seen in MPH Raffles City:

"Khoo Kheng-har - Applying Sun Tzu's Art of War in Managing Your Children Well"

Wth?!

Bought in the same place:

"The Gay Man's Guide to Heterosexuality"

S$9.99 only. Cheap!


"i realise that all the people linking to your blog are young, RGS freakettes of the "we are smart but cute and human too!" school of thought."
Just dug up the short sword my sister got me from Spain. Since I've not been maintaining it and it's been lodged in a corner, the hilt's dusty and partially rusted. Boo hoo.

I wonder just how many people *do* keep diaries.

Wonder if the handphone pouch my unit's giving us is going to be good.


Ooo Yaoi Girl won't like this (from the site that keeps dissing Hentai):

"Hentai has no real plots anyway, so what could it hurt to tap into the scarily large community of teenage girls writing insanely long fanfics about various anime boys having sex with each other? Now instead of that generic High School setting, we could finally have original characters and settings, like an airship, and the entire male cast of every Final Fantasy game ever made. Also, that boring guy on girl/girl on girl sex would be thrown out in favor of much more politically correct scenes involving Squal having oral sex with Cloud. Also, it would be mandatory that Sephiroth be nude in every available scene."

And there's a suggestion for Waxin Lyrical's next project:

"This would quickly lower the production cost of hentai by not having to pay money to bad voice actors, and instead pay absolutely nothing to rabid bad fan voice actors. Fasubbers have long been appreciated for their hard work in underground anime circles for staying as accurate as possible to the original Japanese dialogue in an anime film, then writing a horrible translation that makes absolutely no sense, mostly because they stayed as accurate as possible to the original Japanese dialogue. Fansubs are all that stands in the way of hentai and world domination. Let's take a look at what fansubs could do for hentai:

Guy: Oh baby, my sun power is rising
Girl: The dominant virginity is waning for my insides
Guy: I would like to inform you of master intercourse now
Girl: OH HITOSHI TAKE ME INTO YOUR HOSPITABLE MANHOOD
Guy: HYARKEN!

Yes, hentai NEEDS more fansubs."

And there's a site review - The Truth For Youth

"Upon entering the site, you'll be greeted with several comics you can view. Ranging from peer pressure, rock music, and the ever evil homosexuality. The homosexuality comic is especially wonderful, because we finally learn that ALL gay men and women have HIV! Yes, ALL OF THEM. I hope the gay community is aware of this stunning revelation, as many completely healthy gay men and women may be surprised to know that they are indeed HIV positive. Serves them right, those darn gay people and their lives of gayness!

The seemingly endless string of bad comics should be more than enough to make anyone want to clap their hands together and sing Allah's praises."

According to the site, rock music is satanic too (I went through a phase went I publicly labelled all modern music satanic, but that was just a jesting affectation, so). Well, maybe not, but the comic on music with satanic lyrics was captioned "rock music".

I am so unabashed Un-PC sometimes.
I happened to read part of this book - Fatal Seductions by Douglas Lee. It read like a deliberately written cautionary tale warning readers to stay away from casual sex and, if they had to indulge in it, to use condoms. I could hear the author lecturing me from behind my shoulder. Moralistic content aside, the book isn't particularly well written too. It's in its 5th printing in 8 years (1993-2001) and it still has many glaring typos/english mistakes, including one in the blurb on the back cover! Interestingly, though, an imaginary JC is referenced in the book - Clementi Junior College (CJC), where all the girls sleep around. When I read about "CJC", I almost choked. Unlikely coincidence or conspiracy? :0

Why does Geraldine, and probably all girls, want to be attractive or desirable? Whenever I insinuate or assert the contrary, she gets pissed off and huffs around. Must be another gender flaw :)

More thoughts on advertisements: Many ads on Malaysian Television are suspiciously similar to those shown outside Malaysia - except that the Caucasian actors are replaced by Malaysian ones. What a waste of resources. What unnecessary duplication. Anyhow foreign commercials tend to be funnier and more effective than local ones - at least those I've seen, partially due to the higher budget and manpower resources available overseas. My sister is a believer in the "adverts shown in Asia should have Asian actors" fallacy, but then she's always had weird prejudices.

Was at Nadaman at Shangri-la today. Staff in japanese restaurants always have this habit of shouting stock Japanese phrases (the meaning of which I doubt they know) at you. Today, we got a Filipino waitress. They're quite desperate for labour now, apparently.

Later, I was bullied by my parents into buying clothes at John Little. I don't really care for the size, extent and condition of my wardrobe normally, but this time the coercion was impossible to ignore, for among other things, my father got this strange notion that I'd run out of shirts, since I'd grabbed a shirt fresh off the clothes line to wear out. My protestations that this was because I liked my British Museum Lewis Chessmen shirt and not because I'd run out of shirts went unheard. So I got dragged along on an unpleasant chore. Pants were easy enough to choose, but the shirts were another matter. I am fussy in some ways and unparticular in others - I don't like table cloths, so chequered patterns are out and Aloha-wear's not really my style. More importantly, there's the business of collar comfort. Since I've a small neck, I'm discomfited by small or oddly cut collars (and hate ties too). So in the end I didn't get any shirts. Maybe I shall go to Export Fashion, frequented by my sister when she was here, next time.

I'm not a purist, but The Two Towers really deviated quite a bit from the book. They also added in a lot of typical US movie humour, quips and witticisms. And somehow, I don't think Eowyn fancied Aragorn in the original. At least not that much. The emphasis, in this part of the trilogy, seemed to be on gratuitous battle scenes. Not that I'm complaining - it's nice to see a storm of arrows cutting down the front ranks of an advancing army, sappers blowing up walls, a spectacular cavalry charge (even if it *is* down such a steep slope that the horses will more likely flounder), the thick of combat atop crenellated battlements and more. So I'm shallow. Oh, and the song they played during the ending credits sucked.

Deliciously scathing post on the IMDB boards, most probably a jibe at the ridiculous campaign to change the name of the movie from "The Two Towers" to honour the memory of September the 11th:

"there have been a lot of discussion about changing the title because of 11th sept. and I know all of you are against it, but I don't. Can't you think about how some people can be hurted because of that title? I know lotr was written years ago, but nowadays this title is politically incorrect. Besides there are some things in the fellowship of the ring which really are not politically correct, and they should have been changed in order to not hurt some people.
here are the changes:

- All the characters in FotR are white and straight. It can hurt some minor groups, so some characters should have been black (for example Aragorn and Merry), some latinos (arwen and Elrond) and some gays (Legolas and Gimli).

- Hobbits are really short, that surely hurts short people, so they should have been taller, or at least every 20 minutes some member of the fellowship should have said: You are not short, you are low-heighted people, but we love you.

- Sam is quite fat. That can hurt fat people, so he should have been thinner.

- Elves are really thin. That can provide a bad example to teenagers who would become anorexic. So they should be fatter.

- Elves have also long blonde hair. That can hurt bald people, who would feel jealous. So some elves should have been bald, for example Legolas and Celeborn.

- Saruman is an evil wizard. That would hurt David Copperfield, so Saruman should have changed his job. He could have been president of USA instead of wizard.

- Orcs have a really crooked-horrible teeth. That can hurt dentists. They should have had a perfect smile.

- A ring contains the evil power. That would be bad for jewelers. So instead of a ring, the evil would be contained in a small box. So it would be called, 'the lord of the small box'

- There isn't any kind of church, that would hurt catholic people. So every sunday, the fellowship should go to the church, except the people who belong to other religions, for example Sam would be budist and Boromir islamic.

I haven't seen TTT already so I can't say a word about it. but I'm afraid that ents, oliphants and wargs would hurt ecologists.

If all this changes had taken place, fotr would have been a more politically correct movie."

Strike a blow against Political Correctness!

Anyhow Tolkien, Star Wars, Star Trek and love are all overrated, so.


Quotes:

[On my doing pushups] Wo3 bang1 ni3 suan4... Ni3 pian4 wo3 wo3 jiu4 bu4 gei2 ni3 nigthsnack chi1 (I'll help you count. If you cheat me, I won't give you any nightsnack to eat)
"ALL religions share these inherent absurdities to a certain extent"

That's the key - to a certain extent. The extent differs between different ones. Anyhow the reason why my attention is focused on what it is right now is because the paradoxes and contradictions have graver consequences than those in other faiths - like riots, people getting beheaded, having their hands chopped off and such.

I don't think I used any sensationalistic news articles. But put it this way - sensationalistic news articles appear because religious fanatics and those who choose to distort their religions exist, so perhaps the abundance of "sensationalistic news articles" is because many choose to follow militant Islam, or the more archaic strains of it. Of course, this ignores the silent majority which doesn't go around smashing bars during Ramadan and pressurising Mahathir's wife to wear a tudung, but the silent majority is ever silent, and its name is always smeared by the vocal and violent minority.

I haven't read the whole of the Koran/Quran either - I've read maybe one paragraph. So going by relativity, it seems I've found more mistakes in it than its counterpart. Happy?

I admit the Christian right does inhibit some of Man's progress, but I have to qualify your points. There is some body of evidence casting doubt on evolution, so the Christian Creationists do feel vindicated somewhat. Recently, I read a book - Stones And Bones, an introduction to Creationism, lent to a friend by my Medical Officer. Even with my skeletal knowledge of evolutionary theory, I was able to pooh pooh many of the points in the book, and I was quite pissed off by parts of the book stating that believing in Evolution is un-Christian. Ad Hominem appeals are really despicable. Anyhow, it boils down to this - Creationists start with the conclusion and work backwards to find their facts, while Evolutionists start with the facts and work to find a conclusion. Pretty much so, anyway.

On research, I don't think stem cell research from aborted foetuses would have been banned if not for Dubaya. The Democrats would likely have allowed it ; just because Mr President and some GOPians are influenced by the religious right, it doesn't necessarily follow that religion is a powerful inhibitor in Modern America. Ditto for euthanasia and abortion and anyhow even some atheists object to all three - some morals are inborn. The incest and murder taboos, for example, are universal.

If you want to take the argument to such a vague level, *anything* can be reinterpreted, liberalised and/or ignored. Bah. And the degrees to which various faiths "oppress women, impose restrictions on food, economic activity, lifestyle, and general happiness" vary greatly from religion to religion, assuming you choose to interpret each with the same degree of strictness or liberalism.

About poverty and fundamentalism: Osama bin Laden came from a rich family. Many JI operatives were/are fairly well to do, including many of those who plotted attacks in Singapore (hardly a poor country or failed state). Malaysia is hardly destitute, yet Kelantan and Terengganu have fallen to PAS. Many of the 9/11 hijackers were well educated, too. I also find the sense of camarederie Muslims feel with the Palestinians (and other fellow Muslims) puzzling. I feel as much as the next person whenever a Palestinian house is demolished - but also when an Israeli is blown up by the latest suicide attack, and I don't restrict my concerns to the welfare of fellow adherents.

Generally, Muslims are more resolute in their faith than those of other religions, and I respect them for that (unless when it leads them to do stupid things like blow people up in the name of Allah). What is it about Islam that causes such great fervour, really? And why do they object so much to symbols of others' religions? For example Muslims don't use the Red Cross, but the Red Crescent. And apparently sales of swords in Singapore are not as brisk as they could be because some Muslims think the inverted sword looks like a cross (...)

Anyhow, no matter how much I may dissert on this and related topics, it's purely an intellectual exercise. Anyone is free to do anything they like, as long as they don't impugn or impinge on other's rights. The Golden Rule is wise indeed.

Freedom of information may be a little idealistic, but, hell, it's one of the few ideals that cynical me holds to. Anyhow it doesn't exist not because its existence is unfeasible, but because malignant forces suppress it. And not everyone can obtain information freely - even in places with Internet Access, the Powers That Be clamp down vigorously on "undesirable" sites such as those exposing the true state of their countries (eg Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia) [NB: I'm rather proud of the fact that the SBA doesn't try to censor sites that give an alternate view of our country, at least not that I know of]

Sometimes, I wonder what to do if the two doctrines that I hold dear conflict - that nothing is taboo and cannot be discussed or talked about, and that you should be able to do anything you want, as long as you don't hurt anyone. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me", but what if people are offended by what you say? But then, people get offended for the most trivial of reasons, so I think, after some meditation, that almost all words should be permissible.

And, to He Who Must Not Be Named: Don't speak too soon. If/when PAS wrests control of your state from UMNO, I'm sure the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice will come for you. Beware :)
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