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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts." - Jim Morrison

***

"An oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor, an oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters, of every household - which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord, and rebellion into every home of the nation."

- Susan B. Anthony on Women's Right to Vote, 1873

Tsk tsk tsk. Not only was she ELITIST, she was also RACIST!!!!!!!!

Excise her from the annals of history!


Female Friend: omg
i just wikied her

she is a fucking scary looking woman
she looks like a man

no wonder feminists have a reputation
Changing Volume Balance in Windows XP:

1. Double click on the volume icon in the system tray to open "Master Volume" window
2. Use slidebar to easily change volume balance, or do it for various devices individually


Changing Volume Balance in Windows Vista:

1. Right click on the volume icon in the system tray
2. In the menu that pops up, click "Playback Devices"
3. Double click on your Speakers in the "Playback" tab of the "Sound" window
4. Click on the "Levels" tab in "Speaker Properties"
5. Click on the "Balance" button under "Speakers"
6. Use slidebars to individually control left and right channels
"His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy." - Woody Allen

***

MUSICA MUNDI WORLD RANKING LIST - TOP 1000 CHOIRS

Choirs from Singapore:

8: Victoria Junior College Choir / Nelson Kwei / 1104 Points
16: VICTORIA CHORALE Singapore / Nelson Kwei / 1060 Points
120: Anderson Junior College Choir / Nelson Kwei / 931 Points
191: Raffles Voices / Toh Ban Sheng / 885 Points
262: Hwa Chong Choir / Ai Hooi Lim / 850 Points
403: National Junior College Choir / Ai Hooi Lim / 806 Points
420: Tampines Primary School Children's Choir / Stella Goh
& Anthony Chin / 800 Points
679: Fairfield Methodist Secondary School Choir / Ai Hooi Lim / 745 Points
730: Nanyang Technological University CAC Choir / Ai Hooi Lim / 731 Points
766: Soka Chorus / Mun Ngan Woo / 724 Points
778: Tanjong Katong Girls' School Choir / Ai Hooi Lim / 720 Points
778: Temasek Junior College Choir / Jennifer Tham / 720 Points
840: Crescent Girls' School / Jennifer Tham / 700 Points
890: Dunman High School Choir / Jennifer Tham / 686 Points
904: Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Secondary Choir [Ed: It doesn't say which branch of the franchise this is] / Jennifer Tham / 680 Points


(For reference, the highest point score was 1221, by Jauniešu Koris KAMĒR.. under Māris Sirmais, from Latvia)

Interestingly enough, all but two of the top Singapore choirs are school choirs, and even then one of those two is made up of school choir alumni. This isn't the case for other countries, where I conservatively estimate the proportion of school choirs to be half at most (perhaps in other countries, they are more imaginative in choir names than "XXX School Choir", but this can't account for all of the difference). The difference, I think, is due to Singaporeans competing for ECA points.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"The aim is to continually problematicize museums and museological practices cross-culturally rather than take them for granted or accept them uncritically." --- Liberating culture : cross-cultural perspectives on museums, curation, and heritage preservation / Christina K. Kreps

"There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking." - Alfred Korzybski
http://www.mda.gov.sg/wms.www/video.htm

"The page cannot be found

The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable."


Hurr hurr.

A feminist reading of 2girls1cup.com

A feminist reading of 2girls1cup.com (link NSFW), courtesy of an unnamed sociologist:



"In the masterful modern work 2girls1cup, the feminist genre is reexamined through a series of reversals of expectations. The prevalent ideologies of our culture are filtered through the lens of the pornographic genre - and, in true modern form - the work tends to raise more questions than it answers.

The opening image, that of the stenciled "MFX 1209" suggests a confusing misunderstanding - the 1209 seems as some sort of date, yet the aesthetic of the number lends itself to a futuristic association. This blurring of past and future, mixed with the confusion of the assumed-to-be acronym primes the audience for the confusion to come.

The first image with the two primary characters (who, for the sake of this reading, I will consider to be the "2girls" that are referred to in the title) is seemingly innocuous - the cross-cultural, lesbian interaction defines the equal-rights (both feminine and racial) within the genre of pornography.

The gentle background music lulls the audience to sleep, and the timely but gradual change into the next shot at :11 goes by largely unnoticed by the audience. The eyes are immediately drawn to the "Cup" (also presumed to be that mentioned in the title), the inversion of the phallus and perhaps one of the most overarcing symbols for feminine spirituality and sexuality in antiquity.

The gentle piano concerto will continue as the cup is suddenly and ironically filled with a steaming shot of fecal matter from the anus of our primary character. In this way, the masculinist, derogatory nature of the pornographic genre returns in a surprising, explosive manner. The fecal matter "penetrates" the sacred chalice, which raises a number of interesting questions. Many of these questions pertains to lesbian sexuality - is womanly love possible without the masculine grotesque? Is the pornographic genre doomed to exist within the realm of humiliating acts, even when the only participants are an innocuous 2 girls, and 1 cup? The later image of the two characters attempting to kiss through the feces of the masculine grotesque (as well as the literal feces) will only support this theme.

The excited but hesitant tonguing suggests a sort of apprehension on the part of the lead characters, but by :25, any hope for redemption has been lost. This transition from playful tonguing to full fecal consumption happens as suddenly as the transition to the original defecatory act - why do these central thematic moments happen offstage? There is no dramatic dialogue, neither character gives voice to the greater internal struggles that surely must precede the decision to consume another's feces. This central thematic crux is internalized in both the characters, and thus is obscured from the audience's perception as well.

This notion of blurring will evolve into a diluting and contamination of sorts by :40, where the vomit of disgust begins to obscure even the original thematic feces of the work. It is worth noting that the secondary character does not vomit into the cup (while our original character does), yet vomits directly onto the other woman. This further develops the motif of the masculine invading lesbian relationships - does one woman have a monopoly on the feminine cup, while the other woman becomes masculine, and begins to fill the role of the oppressor as she symbolically vomits down onto the kneeling lover? Even this notion isn't safe from the postmodern genre-confusion, as the roles are reversed and the other's mouth is vomited into in return.

It is hard to read this work in any constructive manner, as evidenced by the final image of the piece. The characters present themselves to the audience, effectively breaking the fourth wall. The difficulties of untangling the thematic mess of the genre to find sentence are reflected in the physical mess on the characters faces. Hopefully, with further examination and daring works such as 2girls1cup, we will be able to break free of many of these domineering and ultimately oppressing ideological structures which are maintained by societal forces, genre restrictions, and our own perceptions of reality."


(text from so what the fuck: a humble critique)

Too bad he didn't use the word "transgressive".

An unnamed sociologist: "its sexist to assume its written by a male tho"
"The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." - Martin Mull

***


Pygmalion and Galatea, Jean-Léon Gérôme, ca. 1890
The Metropolitan Museum of Art


An article sent by HWMNBN:

"Love and Sex With Robots"

Is that a hard drive in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

By Farhad Manjoo


On his résumé, David Levy may be a chess master and an expert in artificial intelligence, but somewhere deeper -- in his heart, or what I suspect he might call his CPU -- the man is a professional dreamer of robot love.

We've let machines trespass into nearly every corner of our lives, Levy points out. Robots are making our cars and our computer chips, they're fighting our wars, they're cleaning our floors and our rain gutters and our pools. So why can't we let them into our hearts? Do not scoff, reader: One day you too will cuddle up with a bot, you'll whisper sweet nothings into its voice-recognition module, and you'll crank up its pleasure unit -- and it will crank yours.

In a new book, "Love and Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships," Levy argues that as machines advance, our consideration for them will grow inevitably more tender. Today, you watch your Roomba scurrying around your filthy floor, digging its nose into your grime, and you hardly pause to consider its soul; the robot vacuum is a slave, and you are its master.

But by pulling off the splendid computational trick of anticipating and fulfilling your every psychic and emotional need, machines will eventually capture your love -- and indeed could prove more deserving objects of our affection than the pets, children and spouses who currently fly about our lives. Someday people may even walk arm-in-arm down the aisle with descendants of today's robo-vacuums. In the same way they've conquered our factories, Levy says, robots will conquer our hearts.

Levy's book is adapted from a Ph.D. thesis, and it reads that way: maddeningly dense and in stretches unpardonably dull, the writing unfortunately makes a slop of what is actually a fascinating topic. Fascinating because the prospect of human-robot love is, though self-evidently insane, also undeniably attractive, and certainly not implausible.

If machines improve at their current pace, in a few decades' time we'll likely see robots that can mimic human language, thought, appearances and emotions well enough to get us in the mood. (Levy predicts we'll see the first human-robot marriages by around 2035.) It seems crazy -- doesn't it? -- to think that people would choose to love robots rather than other people.

But doesn't it seem pretty likely, too? If you could abandon the storms of human love, if you could forget the random unpredictability of the heart and simply design a being -- a person -- who loves you unconditionally, convincingly, forever, well, wouldn't you do it?

You're thinking, Computer geeks, they'll go for it, but not me. You're thinking you'll be glad to have a robot as a butler, but love? You can't love a thing that isn't a person. What's love got to do with robots?

Well, what's love got to do with pets? Levy points out that like robots, cats and dogs first pushed into human lives by providing services to our ancestors -- cats kept homes free of rats, dogs were guards and hunting partners and herders. Love was only a side benefit of such relationships, a feeling cooked up in human brains and exploited by the animals, who got shelter and food and safety from the deal.

But none of that matters anymore. The situation's evolved. Now we think of our pets as extensions of our family, as beings roughly on our level -- they're not adults, but for many of us, they're comparable to children. We no longer put our pets to work, of course; their only purpose is love.

Why did our feelings for animals evolve? The human brain is unrelenting in its tendency to anthropomorphize, to subconsciously ascribe human feelings and thoughts to animals and inanimate objects. We began to treat our pets as people because we're given to thinking of them as people -- see the Onion's "Vacationing Woman Thinks Cats Miss Her." But it won't end at cats and dogs: Levy cites several psychological studies showing that we tend to anthropomorphize machines, too.

One of the most interesting such experiments involves what's known as "reciprocal self-disclosure." We're usually reluctant to divulge our innermost feelings to strangers, but we often open up when the stranger discloses something about himself first. Would we treat computers the same way -- if a computer tells you something about itself, would you respond with something about yourself?

Researchers Clifford Nass and Youngme Moon carried out an experiment to find out. Test subjects were made to chat with a machine that was either dishy or reticent about itself. Reserved machines asked straightforward questions, things like, "What has been your biggest disappointment in life?" or "What have you done in your life that you feel most guilty about?"

The more chatty machine posed queries like this:

This computer has been configured to run at speeds up to 266 MHz. But 90% of computer users don't use applications that require these speeds. So this computer rarely gets used to its full potential. What has been your biggest disappointment in life?


and

There are times when this computer crashes for reasons that are not apparent to its user. It usually does this at the most inopportune time, causing great inconvenience to the user. What have you done in your life that you feel most guilty about?


Guess what? People who chatted with the confessional computer became confessional themselves. They didn't do it on purpose; these folks knew they were talking to a mere machine. But they treated a device they knew was not human as being just slightly so, discussing their guilts and regrets as they would have with another person.

Levy points to evidence that we'll even preserve our stereotypes in dealing with machines. People generally regard dominant men positively -- they're assertive, they're confident! -- and dominant women negatively (rhymes with witch). Same thing for computers. In an experiment Levy cites, people who were made to work with a computer with a female voice thought the machine was rude; the male-voiced computer, even though it said the same things as the lady machine, was considered friendly.

OK, so humans are prone to treating computers as if they're other people. But that doesn't mean we'll fall in love with them, you say. Well, but if you're already treating today's computers as people, how could you ever resist a vastly more sophisticated, humanlike machine that attempted to seduce you?

Because, right, computers may well master that art. During the last few decades psychologists have uncovered a great deal about romance and what makes two people fall for each other. Computers, Levy says, can use these findings in their efforts to get you to love them.

Here's the rundown of some of the major reasons why two people fall in love: Propinquity -- people in close physical proximity are more likely to become involved than people farther away; what psychologists call "repeated exposure" is a powerful inducement to romance. Similarity is also important: People who are like each other like each other. Then there's "reciprocal liking" -- knowing that the other person likes you makes you like them more. The other person's desirability -- appearance, personality -- also obviously plays a role. And a final big one is "filling a need" -- part of why we pursue love is that we need love and its attendant pleasures (sex, intimacy, closeness, children).

Robots could make hay of these ideas. Propinquity, desirability, similarity and reciprocal liking are all taken care of -- you'd order up a robot that shared your interests, that liked you, and that, in appearance and personality, would conform exactly to what floats your boat.

And it would fill your needs. In the sack, your robot would be a tiger or a lamb, however you like to roll. It could be programmed to fly into fits of rage -- because maybe you like some spice in your life? -- and/or to love to cuddle, it could be made to share your sexual interest in pie throwing, or your love of hippie jam bands, or, like Woody Allen's whores of Mensa, it could spend all night discussing Proust and Yeats.

Such a situation prompts a raft of questions about the very nature of love and the dilemmas we'll face in accepting robot romance, but Levy, alas, breezes by many of these.

Your robot, for starters, would be immortal; all its data would be backed up somewhere, so even if a too-raucous pie fight caused it to go on the fritz, it would be easily replicable. But how will immortality affect your relationship? Doesn't mortality deepen love -- isn't the preciousness of your love, its susceptibility to diseases and deprivation, part of what makes the feeling so wonderful? Could you love a thing that didn't die?

That hints at something larger: Part of what makes love so grand is how lucky it feels, its very lack of design, the fact that, despite the odds, you two found each other anyway. Doesn't ordering up love cheapen it? How would loving a robot you designed be any different from loving a prostitute you chose from a menu?

And besides, is a perfect love really love at all, even if it feels like it? Isn't love, like all life, by definition complicated; if you're loving a robot, are you really loving -- are you really living? -- or is the whole thing a simulation, like a very real video game?

On the other hand, it'd be a pretty great video game. The possibility of easy sex with robots, Levy points out, will likely reduce the incidence of infidelity between human couples (infidelity with other humans, that is; Levy thinks that people will come to think of having sex with a robot as not constituting cheating, though he says we'll take some time to adjust to this view).

More important, many people who, for whatever reason, can't find people to love them will find salvation in robots -- and how can this be anything but salutary?

"Almost everyone wants to love someone, but many people have no one," Levy writes. "If this natural human desire can be satisfied for everyone who is capable of loving, surely the world will be a much happier place."


Unfortunately, this article does not interrogate the concept of human consciousness enough, or it would find even less reason to discriminate between robots [of the future] and humans except, perhaps, speciesism (or carbon chauvinism, if you like).

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Lest the import of what I have argued be misunderstood, I want to make it clear that, for all I have argued, there may be some other reasons of a philosophical nature for concluding that naïve universalism is false or otherwise defective. Much more importantly, however, nothing I’ve said rules out the view that the plain sense of Holy Scripture and the teaching of the Church precludes naive universalism. In short, nothing I’ve said is even remotely relevant to the view that I hold, namely that God has pretty much informed us that universalism, in both its naïve and sophisticated forms, is false."

--- IN DEFENSE OF NAÏVE UNIVERSALISM, Daniel Howard-Snyder


I think this is the first paper I've read which concludes: "I don't believe in what I've spent the last few pages arguing".
Wondering if I'm more annoyed by girls in sweaters and hot shorts who're shivering or East Asian girls with Ang Moh men who speak in fake accents.
"Only exceptionally rational men can afford to be absurd." - Allan Goldfein

***

Quotes:

I sometimes wonder what I've done to myself. I give you such long assignments I have to mark.

[On 3 hours of doing the same thing] Come at 11 or 12 or 1. I think what I will do is keep scrolling through the answers... Pick up when you're there and I'll just keep going and going and going... So come whenever you want.

[On someone who cut her hair to butch length and looks better] Her features are a bit masculine... And she has a moustache.

The second question I keep getting on this assignment at this time of year is: 'Are you going to do this to me in the exam?'... For Pete's sake, I have some sense. This is not something I expect you to be able to do in a 2 hour exam... To a certain extent you have to trust me, that I know what I'm doing to you.

It's my job to figure out a grade distribution. If you don't do well, it's not me, it's due to your brilliant classmates.

[On last semester's guinea pigs] In every way, what they had to go through was worse than what you'll have to do - don't tell them.

I've had people do this in an exam before, not at Honours level... They write on the exam: 'I didn't have time to study this, but I know that... the labour abundant factor will benefit'.

[On changes in USP students] The year ones... They're all so androgynous.

I have no, I think some people do like it, I have no interest in demoralising my students... There's always one question there that'll freak out a bunch of you.

You guys are filled with panic, but this is the time when I have to let you know how much joy [it was]. It's a pleasure with you guys, coming to work.

[On the control principle and freedom] There's something - *mmh!* inside you that is not determined by anybody else.

Why is he a bad person? He had a troubled childhood. He wasn't breastfed... He played violent video games.

[On module approval] They were only interested in the grading of the assignments. They wanted them to be spaced out. There wasn't any feedback on the intellectual content.

Every Thursday we come in and we're expected so spick (speak)

Your teachers all come from very different backgrounds, and we all have different views of the world and we all think we're right.

For me, it was very hard to guess what you want. For the first set of readings I spent 1 hour on Google googling the meanings of the wordso n the first page.

We talked about material culture, but I don't recall any articles. Or maybe I didn't read them.

I thought Singaporean Studies modules must be taught by Singaporean lecturers [Instructor: Isn't that racist?] (Singapore)

We were discussing NUS students and he said: 'Okay, we can get some good ones, but in general it's general apathetic mediocrity.'

[On Singapore] Any negative stereotypes that I heard before, aside from the food and the sun - that was very true...

[Indian student on India module] If I don't get a B+ at leastI'm never goinna walk into a Hindu temple again.

Nothing comes from nothing right? You know the song? [Student: No.] Nothing come from nothing. Nothing ever could. The Julia Andrews principle. It's from - nevermind. (Julie)

[Student: You said that during our last meeting, you'd tell us about your own religious persuasion.] I can't imagine, I can't imagine why you'd be so interested. [Student 2: It's not in the notes.] It's not in the notes. I was gonna look. I'll come up wih it. I'm a - druid.

People like to talk about Evil like it's a noun. On a dark night, and a full moon and it's creeping around, which is silly.

[On the exam] I hope it's only 2 hours. I can't wait to read the papers, but it gets boring sitting there watching you write.

[On the Geography Honours girls] They started talking about their boobs and they invited the guys to join in.

[On a CD] Why can't I eject it? [Me: Because you're using a Mac]

lower temperature than the saul (soil)

Our group is presenting XXX. The group members are [his name], XXX *flashes laser pointer*, XXX *flashes laser pointer*, XXX *flashes laser pointer*.

sair'ch'err't (sachet)

I'll give you something to think about that I read online: if God doesn't believe in atheists, then they don't exist. [Me: That's if you take the New Age Transcendent view that-] Dude, no. It's just something I read online.

Repeat after me. Il y a un. Kangarou. [Student 2: It means 'I fuck kangaroos'] No it doesn't. Il y a un kangarou. Sous mon lit. [Student 2: 'I give blowjobs to kangaroos'] (Kangourou) [Ed: The words were written on the whiteboard]

[On girls] They're always like that. [They] say [they're] not hungry, then half an hour later: 'Let's go for dinner'.

After the exam period is when you find people getting attached. They study together... They form strong bonds... 'But now is not the time'.

For one of my modules you can choose between bringing in the textbook or two pages of notes. [Me: So what was your choice?] Textbook. You can write in the textbook.

[To female student] Are you PGP Block X, XX-XX? [Student 2: He's been spying on your naked!]

[To me] How come today you dressed so nice? Social experiment ah? (you're dressed so nicely today)

Business School is to train you up to fit into the Capitalist system. It should be renamed 'School of Slaves'.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people's characters." - Margaret Halsey

***

"But then what about persons who will in fact be lost because they never hear the gospel, but who would have been freely saved if only they had heard it? The solution proposed thus far preserves God's goodness and love on a global scale, but on an individual level surely an all-loving God would have done more to achieve such a person's salvation by ensuring that the gospel reaches him. But how do we know that there are any such persons? It is reasonable to assume that many people who never hear the gospel would not have believed it even if they had heard it. Suppose, then, that God has so providentially ordered the world that all persons who never hear the gospel are precisely such people. In that case, anybody who never hears the gospel and is lost would have rejected the gospel and been lost even if he had heard it. In supplying such persons with sufficient grace for salvation, even though He knows they will reject it, God is already exhibiting extraordinary love toward them, and bringing the gospel would be of no additional material benefit to them. Hence, no one could stand before God on the judgement day and complain, "Sure, God, I didn't respond to your revelation in nature and conscience. All right. But if only I had heard the gospel, then I would have believed!" God will say to them, "No, I knew that even if you had heard the gospel, you still would not have believed. Therefore, my judgement of you on the basis of my revelation in nature and conscience is neither unloving nor unfair."

Thus, it is possible that God has created a world which has an optimal balance between saved and lost and that those who never hear the gospel and are lost would not have believed in Christ even if they had heard of him. So long as this scenario is even possible, it proves that it is entirely consistent to affirm that God is all-powerful and all-loving and yet that some people never hear the gospel and are lost...

On the proposed view, God in His providence can so arrange the world that as the gospel spread out from first century Palestine, He placed people in its path who would believe it if they heard it. In His love and mercy, God ensures that no one who would believe the gospel if he heard it remains ultimately unreached. Once the gospel reaches a people, God providentially places there persons who He knew would respond to it if they heard it. He ensures that those who never hear it are only those who would not accept it if they did hear it. Hence, no one is lost because of a lack of information or due to historical and geographical accident. Anyone who wants or even would want to be saved will be saved."

--- Politically Incorrect Salvation, William Lane Craig


Besides contradicting himself repeatedly, the argument is remarkably disingenuous. !@#$
"I hate the outdoors. To me the outdoors is where the car is." - Will Durst

***

"Another motivation for Christian belief in libertarian free will comes from its use in addressing the problem of evil. Thus, Plantinga (1974) has mounted a famous “Free Will Defense” against the logical problem of evil. There are reasons, however, not to follow this route:

(i) The pay-off for appeal to libertarian free will is very slight. At most, appeal to free will as libertarians construe it shows that there is no logical inconsistency between the goodness of God and the (bare) existence of moral evil. This does not begin to allay worries about evil and suffering and the untoward vagaries of life. It does not even touch the problem of natural evil—earthquakes, birth defects and other sources of suffering.

(ii) With or without libertarian free will, evil is and remains inscrutable. On considering great and undeserved suffering, we have to fall back on our faith anyway. We are already saddled with the mystery of the distribution and amount of both moral and physical evil; adding faith that there is no logical inconsistency between the existence of God and the (bare) existence of evil at all does not seem much of a stretch. So, we may as well not compromise the traditional Augustinian view of grace by appeal to a libertarian conception of free will."

--- Why Christians should not be libertarians: an Augustinian challenge, Lynne Rudder Baker


How honest (for once)! Except that it makes you wonder why she wrote the rest of the paper...
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