Monday, 29 December 2008

A Ripple From The Coin Drop


"My mother taught me to devalue her. Even that sentence — let it stand — blames her for everything, including the shame I feel for having been ashamed of her. I grew up watching which fork the others were using, what they were wearing, what they were talking about, what they seemed to be thinking. They, whoever they happened to be, had the power to find us wanting. 'I'm not going to take you anywhere anymore unless you learn how to behave,' my mother said.

"So I set out to 'learn how to behave,' to acquire what Marx called 'cultural capital', or what’s more simply called learning to 'pass'. This aspiration, celebrated in the phrase 'upward mobility' is rooted in shame and, in its undermining of authentic selfhood, creates the vulnerability required by all manner of predators from child molesters to military recruiters to advertisers and financial institutions. After all, aspiration is not an identity but the rejection of one’s identity."





Audio Candy:
Disturbed - Into The Fire

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The Grand Plan


Economics, psychology, the Theory of Evolution, quantum physics, the infinite, probability, the Holy Bible, God. It is well and good to be able to see the nexus between each seemingly vastly different element from science to mathematics to art to religion. It's like Jesus is out there if you know who He is to you. Faith is but a personal adoption and commitment to one of these disciplines knowing that there is something beyond oneself, because pushing the limits of knowledge here is a foray into the unknown as much as it is determining the science of subatomic particles, seeking the answers in a Church, determining causality between variables, pondering the quantity of infinitude - all fuelled by the desire of knowing, if not the Creator, then the design with which He has formulated for us and the universe to tick.





Audio Candy:
The Superjesus - Down Again

Monday, 22 December 2008

Carpe Diem

All I ever wanted, all I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
Enjoy the silence



I've been thinking about probabilities lately. However unrealistic they may seem, probabilities reflect some kind of powerful order that underlies the more apparent surface. Let's say for example we have a dice that somehow produces the result '2' 90% of the time. It seems logical to think that we would more or less always get 2 if there was a way to 'reset' things, like throwing the dice only once a day. Each time we throw the dice in a particular day, most of us would assume that the result would most likely be 2. And if we always think this way, then it would be reasonable to think that we'd always end up with the result 2 all the time, since this 90% thing is independent of the previous attempt.

But as probabilities go, in the long run, if the probability is true, the result will always reflect the probability as it were law. Given enough tries, the number of 2s returned from throwing the biased dice will reflect a 90% return rate. It is quite fascinating when we think of it likewise in everyday scenarios.

I recall a huge drain we'd jump across back then in navy camp because it was a useful shortcut. If the probability of falling into the drain is 3%, then given enough people attempting to jump across the drain, no matter how careful they are, 3 out of every 100 people will fall into the drain.

I think it really reflects another one of those bigger design-at-work things, for which we will always be mere pawns within.



I was just also thinking the other day. The purpose of art may not entirely be to exact change, but it is driven by an inherent desire to change, and create.




Anything worth taking seriously is worth making fun of.

Audio Candy:
The Shins - Pink Bullets

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Lazy Ramble

If this week is anything to go by, it would've been one of the most physically gruelling and demanding weeks I've ever had and yet strangely I don't feel a thing. Today being Sunday marks a week since the 42km run and between now and then I've played soccer 3 times and attended 2 days of Capoeira Batizado.

Most people don't fully recover from a marathon until at least slightly over a week after it; I must say I've surprised myself when I was back on the pitch on Wednesday. Perhaps it's a physical peak at the moment, so clearing my IPPT soon should be a prudent choice, not particularly because it is rather constrained by the fact that my window will end mid next month.

I've practically slimed all of today away, the climax of which would be a short badminton session with my brother who is even slimier and much a wuss which is only mildly pardonable because he's still in primary 5. After merely 10 minutes of game, he started complaining that his arm felt wobbly and that he was tired and didn't feel like playing anymore. I'll give him awhile more before I'll have to whip him into shape because this really just can't do. :\



Anyway I tried talking to him about politics and economics awhile ago, hoping to pique some interest and get his lazy mind to start rolling its wheels. I've always seen a side of economics that exists beyond its textbook idealism and unrealistic, pompous way of insisting how the world should work - very much the side that is killed by school, syllabi and excessive math - and have always been fascinated with the simple truths that undergird it. The idea that influence is determined by incentives and everything that is vital for survival is more or less a limited resource, giving rise to the supply and demand curve and just about everything else that follows.

And the fascination with this links up with my bigger interest in the way people work and how and why they behave the way they do, especially within the context of a group or social framework which often overrides individual personality traits, which is one of the reasons why I study psychology and have grown to love social psychology as a more specific subject very much. My interest in organisational behaviour then also stems from the same concept - that given adequate tools, we can tinker with the system and work with people like chess pieces and how each piece is placed produces a unique outcome.

It's almost as if being influenced by the environment and social contexts is the deterministic aspect of life with individuality and personality representing the free-will side of things, and as if God was applying his own concept of economics to the blueprint of life and the way things work. Social contexts and personality then represent 2 limited resources to be tinkered with, resulting in human behaviour.

I'm not sure if my brother quite saw it that way. :]



I'm watching Superman Returns on Channel 5 now. I've always thought the biblical sentiment behind the Superman concept is rather well symbolised. Superman Returns avoids any subtlety in recreating those connections. Jor-El, the father of Superman, tells his son, "Even though you've been raised as a human being you're not one of them. They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all—their capacity for good—I have sent them you, my only son." The plot also includes a resurrection scene.



Holidays always present opportunity for experimenting and trying new things out. At least for me they should represent a chance to do something new. So Angie and I dabbled in paints and I tried a bit of acrylic painting.







Quantum physics - The dreams stuff is made of.

Audio Candy:
Gym Class Heroes - Shoot Down The Stars

Heart

"How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it."

- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments




Audio Candy:
Broken Social Scene - Stars And Sons

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Jooz

I got a little bored and Wikipedia-ed Kickapoo after I had a dose of Joy Juice and found that the Kickapoos are actually a tribe scattered around certain states of America. The name for the carbonated soft drink, created by Monarch Beverage Company and distributed in South-East Asia, was originally coined as a name in the Li'l Abner comic strip, an American satire that ran in many newspapers in the United States and Canada from 1934 to 1977.



The name Kickapoo Joy Juice comes from a pair of the comic's supporting characters Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat: The proud purveyors of "Kickapoo Joy Juice" - a moonshine elixir of such stupefying potency that the fumes alone have been known to melt the rivets off battleships. Concocted in a large wooden vat by the inseparable cave-dwelling buddies Lonesome Polecat (he of the Fried Dog Indian tribe) and Hairless Joe (a modern, hirsute Cro-Magnon), the ingredients are both mysterious and all-encompassing, much like the contents of their cave, which has been known to harbor prehistoric monsters. When the brew needs more "body", the pair simply goes out and clubs something (often a moose) and tosses it in.



Hahar nandayo man, majide!




Audio Candy:
A Perfect Circle - The Outsider

Friday, 12 December 2008

Measure Of A Man

Not - How did he die? But - How did he live?
Not - What did he gain? But - What did he give?
These are the things that measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
Not - What was his station? But - had he a heart?
And - How did he play his God-given part?
Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not - What was his church? Not - What was his creed?
But - Had he befriended those really in need?
Not - What did the sketch in the newspaper say?
But - How many were sorry when he passed away?
These are the things that measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.




The Measure of a Man
By Richard Jones

A friend of mine once read an immensely popular book that claims to disclose secrets about men that every woman should know. As I listened to my friend divulge the book's "secrets," I couldn't help feeling that there isn't anything secret about its "secrets" and that it's little more than commonplace drivel about appeasing emotionally disturbed, controlling, and abusive males who just aren't recognized as such.

I later perused the book and reached the same conclusion as a reviewer who stated succinctly, "If that does describe your relationships, much better advice to you is: Stop hanging out with losers!" Excellent advice, I thought, because a real man isn't a little boy trapped in a grown man's body looking for a mother figure. Neither is his highest aspiration to be a "benevolent dictator" or King Kong of his so-called castle. He doesn't need his ego stroked by subservient women or his alleged manhood validated by engaging in violence.

Indeed, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Alas, ours is a society in which a man is usually measured by his looks, job, status symbols, gift-giving, sex appeal, or tough-guy exterior. As noted in that venerated anthology called the Bible, people are all too inclined to look on the outward appearance when trying to decide what manner of man someone is. Consequently, it is nearly always the case that little more is expected of a man than that he has good looks, a good wardrobe, a good job, some or all of the most fashionable material goods, and that he is a good provider, a good sex partner, a good fighter, or just able to show a woman a good time. It is long after a man has been judged on the basis of such 'cryteria' that serious consideration -- usually, too little too late -- is given to whether his inner person is as good as his public image.

Few people are wise and patient enough to measure a man by where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Most people are content to see that a man seems to have it together when he's self-indulged and self-satisfied. Even women seeking male partners often do little or nothing to learn how a man might hold up under the weltering heat of adversity. Despite the problems and perils of having a fair-weather friend or fair-weather lover, most of a man's so-called friends and lovers will have forged relationships with him without tarrying to observe his character while he's enduring trials and tribulations.

Regardless, the most important things about a man are revealed by how he conducts himself when he's displeased, distraught, or distressed. It's easy for a man to get along with others and feign strength of character when he thinks the going is good. It's easy for him to have a great attitude when he thinks life, kith, and kin are treating him well. It's easy for him to be Mr. Right when he doesn't perceive that there's something wrong (with him!). And it's easy to think that favorable circumstances are the best light under which to see a man for who he is. Nevertheless, a man who's always at his worst during the worst of times doth not a good man make. A good man gives the best of himself even during the most trying times of his life; even when he's suffering and struggling with the issues of life. A good man brings forth good things from the good treasure of his heart, regardless of the situation.

Unfortunately, most people believe that hard times are excuses for exhibiting character flaws and weaknesses rather than opportunities to (show that one has) overcome them. Besides, this logic continues, no one is perfect, so it's to be expected that a man will not be himself under the stress and strain of difficult and demanding situations. Thus, a man's "acting out of character" is constantly overlooked and forgiven in spite of the other lives he wounds and wrecks. He's a good man, they say, even though he can be counted on to make poor decisions when he's under pressure or just downright peeved.

Abusive men and their victims tend to think that way. In the most severe cases, both the abuser and his victim completely disassociate the man who commits domestic violence from the same man who at times doesn't. In pleading his case, the abuser might say something like, "That wasn't me," and, for a while at least, his victim might agree. The problem in such cases isn't just cognitive dissonance, but a misunderstanding of the positive roles conflict and crisis can play in the maturation and manifestation of a man's character.

Not only do we need to understand that hardships and personal issues are not excuses for putting others or ourselves through hell, but we also need to understand that it's more desirable and constructive for us to learn ways of transforming the same into growing pains and experiences through which we empower ourselves to exhibit integrity, wisdom, inner strength, and noble intentions.

For most men in our society, this is a revolutionary approach to conflict resolution and character recognition, especially since it demands of each of us a thorough and ongoing reassessment of our sense of self. Our society teaches us that a "real" man doesn't take anything and that he gets his way by almost any means necessary. It also leads us to believe that the more imposing, intimidating, impervious, and independent we are, the more people, especially women and children, will think of us as "the man." However, a man who can only resort to aggression isn't any more resourceful and redoubtable than an insecure ignoramus who attempts to use vituperation to cloak his vacuity and limited vocabulary. That a man must coerce others into letting him have his way doesn't mean he's strong. It means that he's too weak and insecure to meet them on the level playing field of equality and mutual respect.

Dr. King's words of wisdom behoove us to remake and renew ourselves as men who are magnanimous even when our lives and relationships are not magnificent -- as men who are charitable, courteous, and chivalrous, not just when it is convenient, but even when it takes all the positive energy we can conjure. They call on us to open our eyes to the realization that true men of stature are strong enough in mind and spirit, and secure enough in themselves, to be compassionate and considerate of others even in the midst of confusion, crises, and the crucible of unrequited love; to admit and amend their own faults as well as forgive others; to repay evil with good; to be insulted but insult not; to be angry and yet sin not; to dialog rather than dictate; to be deep enough to delight in diversity and enlightened enough to live and let live.

Adopting such an approach to dealing with adversity, a man distinguishes himself from the great mass and majority of misguided males who believe that kindness is a weakness. He joins the company of courageous men from around the world who are no longer fearful of being friendly and fair through thick and thin. He becomes one with the true men of distinction who recognize and respect the dignity of others, especially women and children. He becomes a man worthy of honor because he consistently honors the worth of others. He becomes outstanding because he never leaves a woman, man, boy, or girl standing out in the cold of injustice and insensitivity. He becomes one of a few good men who have learned to seek the good of others as well as themselves. He becomes a light in dark places because he's now part of the solution rather than the problem. He becomes a real man because, finally, he is more than just a man.

(This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission from Richard Jones.)



In my own personal and succinct idea, the measure of a man's class is in his control and consistency.




One of the embarassments of being a gentleman is that you are not permitted to be violent in asserting your rights.
- Nicholas Murray Butler


Audio Candy:
Weezer - Hash Pipe

Monday, 8 December 2008

Still In The Heat Of Things

The disputed but popular story behind the 42km marathon (from Wikipedia):

The name marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger. The legend states that he was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming "Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, 'We have won.') before collapsing and dying. The account of the run from Marathon to Athens first appears in Plutarch's On the Glory of Athens in the 1st century AD who quotes from Heraclides Ponticus's lost work, giving the runner's name as either Thersipus of Erchius or Eucles. Lucian of Samosata (2nd century AD) also gives the story but names the runner Philippides (not Pheidippides).



Before the race

During the last two or three weeks before the marathon, runners will typically reduce their weekly training, gradually, by as much as 50%-75% of previous peak volume, and take at least a couple of days of complete rest to allow their bodies to recover from any strong effort. The last long training run might be undertaken no later than two weeks prior to the event. This is a phase of training known as tapering. Many marathon runners also "carbo-load" (increase carbohydrate intake while holding total caloric intake constant) during the week before the marathon to allow their bodies to store more glycogen.

Immediately before the race, many runners will refrain from eating solid food to avoid digestive problems. They will also ensure that they are fully hydrated beforehand. Light stretching before the race is believed by many to help keep muscles limber. Some runners will wear an ice vest before the race to reduce their core temperature so as to avoid overheating later in the race.



Ultramarathons

An ultramarathon (also called ultra distance) is any sporting event involving running longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (26.2188 mi).

There are two general types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specified distance, and events that take place during specified time (with the winner covering the most distance in that time). The most common distances are 50 and 100 miles, or 50 and 100 kilometers. Other distances/times include double marathons, 24-hour races, and multiday races of 1000 miles or even longer. The format of these events and the courses covered are quite variable, ranging from single or multiple loops (some as short as a 400 meter track), to point-to-point road or trail races, to cross-country rogaines. Many ultramarathons, especially trail challenges, are characterized by severe course obstacles, such as inclement weather, elevation change, or rugged terrain. Many of these races are run on dirt roads or mountain paths, though some are run on paved roads as well. Usually, there are aid stations every five to fifteen km apart, where runners can replenish food and drink supplies or take a short break.

Timed events range from 6, 12, and 24 hours to 3 and 6 days (known as multi-day events). Timed events are generally run on a track or a short road course, often one mile or less.



I think my 42km prep was at best non-existent and at worst horrendous, with my first, last and only long distance prep run done like only a few days before Sunday itself.

And ultramarathons! PWNAGE.





You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming.
- Frank Shorter


Audio Candy:
Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Snow

Sunday, 7 December 2008

42.195km Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon

I had my first marathon today, fuelled by 3.5 hours of sleep, no experience and minimal prep, and clocked 4 hours 57 minutes. It was a truly humbling experience - just me and the kilometres passing by in an agonized daze.

[09/12/08 0226h edit] I just received an official email telling me that the time I actually clocked was 4 hours 50 minutes and 9 seconds. That's not too bad considering that my sub-5 timing doesn't seem like such a miserable shave anymore. Cameras only caught one photo of me, and it seems like I'm not wearing my headphones in that one so it must've been shot at somewhere after 35km.

I actually started out pretty strong and I felt like yesterday's last minute high-energy diet preparation worked wonders for the first part of the run.

I remember entering East Coast Park from the Mountbatten Road side, which was somewhere around 12km to 15km, and seeing the Kenyan and Ethiopian race leaders running back out of East Coast Park. It was just fucking incredible, and I would later realise the full weight of that feat when I finally got to where they were at around 28km. The East Coast Park stretch seemed to last forever, and at the entrance was where I saw their exit. Last year's fastest runners came in at 2 hours and 15 minutes. It is truly a tribute to the limits of human capability.

When I reached the end of East Coast Park, which was way past OBS and the midway point at between 20-21km, and made the turnaround to head back towards where I entered East Coast Park itself, that was when the whole physical limit ordeal started to kick in. It was like I learnt about the merciful relief of deep heat rub only today. I've never really suffered from cramps before and while I didn't cramp up throughout the whole run, it was always threatening to happen. At parts my legs just felt like they were disappearing. Every bodily fibre gets messed up - muscles, joints, bones - and when your leg muscles start to lose power it just draws energy from elsewhere - your neck, your arms, your back - such that everything just feels like hell.

When the en route drink stations started serving 100 Plus, the first drink I had was quite a surprise because I thought I'd grabbed yet another cup of plain water and the sensation and sweetness was just overwhelming. 100 Plus became an addiction and for most parts of the run I was craving for every upcoming drink station, and they never came soon enough.

The final half of the marathon was laced with an intermittent pattern of starting and stopping and crazy hunger pangs. I lost sense of myself and the road at times, and I was overtaking people and those same people were overtaking me in a dull, monotonous cycle. Run labourously until the whoosh of another looming cramp disables you, stop and stretch, walk, painfully start running again. Insane.

I hit the 37km mark and thought to myself, "wow it's like now I'm starting to run a 5km cross-country." Then came the 40km mark and I was like, "people complain they have to do 2.4km runs." Everything seems unbelievably small and insignificant when sized up against a full marathon.

There were many elderly people of both genders running too and I couldn't match up to them at times, having some of them overtake me, and it was funny that I felt like it wasn't a shameful thing. There were very strong young female runners too. I just wanted to bow down to them. Everything was just an incredible testament to human spirit.

Being in such running mental zones always totally transform my perspective and paradigms too, which has always fascinated me. Songs suddenly meant radically different things.

At the 9km mark I remember running behind a girl who was wearing a shirt that had the number 8 on it and some words. So I recalled thinking, "hahah 8km runner, what a pointless shirt - we're already onto 9km in a full marathon." Then as I got closer, I realised the words on her shirt read: 8 hour endurance run. Hahar oops, pwned.

I saw all kinds of nifty pouch-like gadgets carried by people on their waists that looked like SBOs.

This is an unceremoniously disjointed end to a largely regurgitative post about my virgin marathon. Time for the repair works to kick in on the semi-disabled limbs and skin chafing.




Audio Candy:
Teddy Geiger - For You I Will

Monday, 1 December 2008

Paint Your Face And Proclaim Thy Warrior Song

Ah, fuck t3h people. Heheheheh!

It's hard to imagine that the male lead in City of Ember is supposed to be 12 years old. It's interesting to note how he has been modeled to portray a black, emo-grungy look with generally dark features and clothing and skinny jeans, showing that the box office is definitely keeping up with the times.

The movie reminds me of the Allegory of the Cave, or more fondly known as Plato's Cave, where, in a nutshell, reality is what people perceive it to be even when it is not necessarily 'real' in the objective sense of the word, and that even if subjected to the visibility of the 'real' state of things, one may not accept them as more real than what he has always known. And even if one attains enlightenment by somehow stepping out of the cave and then returns to it, those who believe in the reality of the cave may not welcome him and his enlightened state back. But this is a very thin summary of an extremely fascinating concept.

The movie seems to allegorize other things too, one of which is the concept of faith or truth - an enlightened minority's profound belief in a 'truth' out there - and the incarceration of those who know of it by the ignorantly conforming majority, and it could be in terms of theology or politics. It also touches on propaganda and scarce resources, which is interesting considering its rather young-audience slant.



I went for a long-needed aimless run again today, though I stuck to a more familiar route by travelling along Hougang to Eunos before cutting into the Aljunied side and travelling down towards Bugis and town area. Form was off, and I was getting pretty bad blisters, so I stopped running there and walked home along the NEL route. I need a pair of proper running shoes lest my Standard Chartered 42km run this Sunday will be a disaster.

Running and drowning in music almost feels dreamy to me, where a thousand things swirl through my mind in a rather uninhibited and haphazard fashion and I don't recall most of those things when I'm finally sober again.

I do remember toying with the thought of the knowledge of time as a limited resource though. Like what if, from a very early time, a cunning capitalist somehow gained control of the knowledge of time? There'd be no public clocks and no watches, and only through this capitalist's firm or corporation can you acquire the service of 'knowing what time it is' and having to pay for it. The alternative to this would definitely be learning how to use other manual tools to estimate the time yourself, but that's beside the point. It's quite a fascinating paradigm of thought, I think, and it made me wonder if there are any 'limited' resources right now that could have been exploited in such a manner that we are completely unaware of its inherently original 'public good' state.

Anyway I saw an Adidas outdoor bus stop advertisement that went:

"Crossing the finishing line.
You can never buy that feeling."


But Adidas can definitely sell it to you.




Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

Audio Candy:
Boy Hits Car - Lovefurypassionenergy

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A Monster Of An Imagination

I've had a brace of drawing assignments and requests in one of the worst possible times ever - exam week - but one of them had a rather promising proposition. I was asked if I wanted to help an insurance company do illustrations for an upcoming project and I naturally went for it. However, they needed some samples from me just as a form of QC and while I've got tons of digital caricature pictures and other random shit I could use, none of them seemed relevant for an illustrator's job. So I decided to create material and came up with the half assed comic above.

Pretty much a result of leftover inspiration from this, as some people might recall:



Diplomacy is the art of saying good doggie while looking for a bigger stick.

Audio Candy:
Angels And Airwaves - Secret Crowds

Monday, 24 November 2008

Doused In A Cacophony Of

I was walking home from the MRT station today at about midnight and zoning out to music as usual when, at the quieter area around Serangoon Ave 4, I suddenly realised that there were two Indian construction workers lying on the pavement I'm walking on a few metres ahead of me, probably trying to get some sleep.

As with how thinking goes, we are often more aware of the result of our thought processes than the thought processes themselves. A barely noticeable flurry of thoughts came and went and at that moment, all I could be bothered to be aware of was that I felt a very profound sadness about the whole situation.



I was reading stuff when I just suddenly thought about how terrifyingly influential the things we leave around the house can be especially to our other family members. Pills, knives, dollar bills and watches, to name a few. The innuendoes people associate with things we drop in insiduous, subconscious but visible corners can overlap with the angst and fears amongst other bad emotions they have from their day to day lives, and become a sickening constant reinforcement of how they eventually perceive the world to work, even without knowing it.



Anyway, I also just considered and entertained the possibility that I might be someone who prefers it that people do not change. It's not that I feel threatened by the unpredictability of people that I know and much less the longing for specific moments in time (especially the good ones) to remain as they are, but rather more of in a dynamic sense - that people have their roles and characters to play within the social framework that makes up my life as a stage and I'm fond of that. I guess in particular I treasure uniqueness and personalities, even if they're bad ones.

One aspect of this is happening with increasing salience as people grow from kids into adults. Before university, everyone had a personality that was more or less concrete in a reckless manner, especially because JCs and secondary schools provided the comfort of cliques we thought would last forever and we were accepted as who we were that way. Once broken up and individuated into a more 'serious' place, as declared by society, like university - the precursor to being completely accountable for everything we do - we hide our past because we do not know everyone, while functioning according to the new norms of adulthood which we can only learn along the way. And everyone assumes that we won't be understood if we continue behaving with the quirky and idiosyncratic personalities we had back then. Not wanting to make mistakes and to make things as smooth sailing as possible, who we once were gets compromised. The final sparks of childhood are fading away.

Childhood quirks aside, principles and values in people and the opinions that they have that make up their personalities and character can change too, and that is another aspect I'd prefer to remain the same if possible. I have no idea if it's just me, and even then with adequate thought I've concluded that it's merely a preference.



The exams are FINALLY here. Space between now and the papers always breeds a certain degree of denial which can be a bother to put down. Now life is beginning to have a degree of certainty.




Love may be blind but marriage is a real eye-opener.

Audio Candy:
Alexisonfire - Rough Hands

Monday, 17 November 2008

City Lights Lay Out Before Us

A little piece of paper with a picture drawn
Floats on down the street till the wind is gone
The memory now is like the picture was then
When the paper's crumpled up it can't be perfect again




Hmmm.



"A man's sexual choice is the result and sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds a sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the women he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he's taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment - just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity! - an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He will always be attracted to the women who reflect his deepest vision of himself, the women whose surrender permits him to experience - or to fake - a sense of self esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value will want the highest type of women he can find, the women he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer - because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement.

"He does not seek to gain his value, he seeks to express it. There is no conflict between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body. But the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to women he despises - because she will reflect his own secret self, she will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud, she will give him a momentary illusion of his own value and a momentary escape from the moral code that damns him.

"Love is our response to our highest values - and can be nothing else. Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him profess that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws - and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him, it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the women he professes to love and draw himself to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body will always follow the logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is worth enjoying. He has equated virtue with pain and he will feel that vice is the only realm of pleasure. Then he will scream that his mind cannot conquer, that sex is sin, that true love is a pure emotion of the spirit. And then he will wonder why love brings him nothing but boredom, and sex - nothing but shame."

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, pages 453 - 454



I've always had an idealistic view of love and that it should be held in the highest esteem not in the sense of priority but rather to be intertwined amongst the things that one values the most, if not it isn't worth one's pursuit at all.

But Ayn Rand's piece is mind-bogglingly something else altogether.




"We live in deeds, not years: In thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best."
- Aristotle

Audio Candy:
Adele - Chasing Pavements

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Hmm That Was Adequately Amusing

The SMU student's real income for BOSS bidding is decreasing. Market prices are steadily increasing (that I'm cock-sure about) while our eDollars are stagnant.

I forgot all about BOSS 1A, but thankfully there's the 2nd window.



On a side note, RMSS term paper is almost done. Approximately 2 more weeks to socially-accepted slacking! :]



{ben174}: If they only realized 90% of the overtime they pay me is only cause i like staying here playing with Kazaa when the bandwidth picks up after hours.
{chrislmb}: If any of my employees did that they'd be fired instantly.
{ben174}: Where u work?
{chrislmb}: I'm the CTO at LowerMyBills.com
*** ben174 (BenWright@TeraPro33-41.LowerMyBills.com) Quit (Leaving)


{t-wolf}: man, my girlfriend left me for some faggot named robert
{rdawg20}: you don't live in Hope mills do you?
{t-wolf}: ya, why man?
{rdawg20}: lol, just wondering, was her namne alisson?
{t-wolf}: you mother fucker


{Guo_Si}: Hey, you know what sucks?
{TheXPhial}: vaccuums
{Guo_Si}: Hey, you know what sucks in a metaphorical sense?
{TheXPhial}: black holes
{Guo_Si}: Hey, you know what just isn't cool?
{TheXPhial}: lava?




Warning: Dates in calendar are closer than they appear.

Audio Candy:
Mono - Life In Mono

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

I Know St Peter Won't Call My Name





While walking down the street one day a US senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," says the senator.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."

"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the senator.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

"Now it's time to visit heaven."

So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity."

The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: "Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above. The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder.

"I don't understand," stammers the senator. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted."




"He'll double-cross that bridge when he comes to it."
- Oscar Levant on a politician


Audio Candy:
Bright Eyes - First Day Of My Life

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Remember, Remember, The 5th Of November


With Barrack Obama elected (we shall continue to optimistically presume) as the new president of America along with the country, as well as the rest of the world, slipping into further economic distress, one can't help but think about how his arrival as he takes office in January likens that of a much-needed saviour of sorts.

America hasn't had a president as seemingly gifted as he is in a long time and his talents - composure, intelligence, compassion and portrayed competence - fit the times well and have given many young Americans and people around the world a renewed sense of hope, perhaps since Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 (with a similar economic situation to boot except that he didn't have the weight of the world on his shoulders).

While we ponder if all that jazz over the pre-election months were just a fresh sense of charisma over a beckoning doomsday with this rather untried Democrat as opposed to the experienced war hero in John McCain, the way his campaign was so meticulously run is telling when it comes to garnering confidence in the way he would then run his administration. By infiltrating into the very hearts of your everyday citizen and conquering predominantly Republican states before your opponent has even started his pre-campaign morning jog, here is a man who has shown that he can get what he wants in a carefully thought out, intelligent and fair manner.

To McCain's credit, it was a reasonable fight while being constrained to the ideologies he represents. The cyclic American swing from social to liberal and then back can be, afterall, seen as a surrogate to revolution and Obama is the representation of the people's call for change, as huge banks dying in the economic crisis continue reporting record losses and ensuing unemployment and crime rates increase amongst other consequential problems. McCain's role as a presidential candidate had consumed McCain the man, and many have seen the best of him as he rose to prominence in 2000 and agree that, in fitting to his role as a presidential candidate, we ended up seeing the worst of him. McCain's speech as Obama won has, for me at least, sought him some degree of redemption.

But it's time for a change, and with that change comes renewed hope as to the shape of things to come in the world. It can't take one man to make it happen - the people are the ones who define and contour socioeconomic movements - but if Obama can inspire that change simply because people believe he can, and in him we have someone who, fortunately, doesn't suffer from a chronic lack of good temperament and common sense, then it augurs well for the future.




Somewhere along the line the Straight Talk Express lost some wheels.
- Barrack Obama on John McCain's policy softening

Audio Candy:
Edwin Rivera - Quema, Quema

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Meltdown



An example of all hell breaking loose due to a lack of economic regulation: Free foosball tables.

All we need are a few tables and we'll see hoggers free-riding off the low cost limited resource.

Anyway, come to think of it, economics is the only field in which it is possible for two people to get the Nobel prize for saying completely opposite things.




It's like. Economists know hundreds of ways to make love but don't know any women.

Audio Candy:
The Script - The Man Who Can't Be Moved

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Praying For Love In A Lap Dance And Paying In Naivety

I just finished a supposedly hour-long psychology experiment in 20 minutes, because 2 out of the 4 of us scheduled for today's experiment gave a no-show and the rest of the experiment hinged on some interaction between us. For that, I'll still get my 2 course credits (for a whole hour) because, in Daniel Balliet's words, "it is not your (our) fault the others did not turn up."

I know this shouldn't bother me as much as, at least I would think, it should. But I'm quite incensed that all that prep for today's hour-long experiment would have to go to waste, that research based on today's findings would be rendered void, that slots have been taken up for nothing, and above all there's nothing the experimenters or anybody can do about peoples' disregard for the importance of their attendance.

Coupled with the fact that a huge proportion of those who did not show up were seniors (one can tell from the module associated with the participant in the attendance list we have to initial against), by virtue of association I have more gripes about the whole thing which I'm too lazy to elaborate about.

Of course I have no idea either as to why the others were absent, and they might have perfectly decent reasons. But I suppose it does not discount the fact that I still harbour these thoughts and that there are many other instances in life when my judgment and anger directed in this sense proves valid.



On a side note, Barrack Obama wins by a landslide, thankfully. 8 years of ridiculous governance from Bush has seen the world suffer much turbulence, and though Obama's now bestowed with a major economic crisis, 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a nuclear showdown with Iran for which he has no initial responsibility for, I can't think of someone else better for the recovery job right now.




A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.

Audio Candy:
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love

Sunday, 2 November 2008

To The Moon And Back

I really should be engaging in more grounded things like doing my Economics readings or starting on my research methods assignment, and yet.

I feel as if I'd just travelled a millenium and back, and suddenly fast-forwarded images of spear-wielding soldiers, farmers, popes and minions are flashing past, and then there are tanks and temples and children in tattered clothes chasing after a rag ball. You are but one of them to walk this ground. Who else before you have graced these lands, what words and ideas have filled the air?

I think I could stay inebriated this way for the longest time.


Somewhere between the Facebook games, four walls and bright lights, Subway meals, parallel sticks flicking a ball around like a pinball machine, drinks passed around in a circle and rhyming games over food we weren't hungry for, a picture was taken. To think of, see or hope it to be anything more than its static, somewhat lifeless state, would be as pointless and futile as a handbrake in a canoe. Hold a memory, and then move along with the currents. Whether that image value-adds to your yet-to-be traveled life is a personal choice.




Audio Candy:
3 Doors Down - Right Where I Belong

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Just Off The Key Of Reason

Growin' up, you don't see the writing on the wall
Passin' by, movin' straight ahead, you knew it all
But maybe sometime if you feel the pain
You'll find you're all alone, everything has changed

Play the game, you know you can't quit until it's won
Soldier on, only you can do what must be done
You know in some way you're a lot like me
You're just a prisoner and you're tryin' to break free

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin' sky
I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire

Burning up, don't know just how far that I can go (just how far I go)
Soon be home, only just a few miles down the road
I can make it, I know I can
You broke the boy in me, but you won't break the man

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin' sky
I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire

I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea
I can feel St. Elmo's Fire burnin' in me, burnin' in me

Just once in his life a man has his time, and my time is now, I'm coming alive

I can hear the music playin', I can see the banners fly
Feel like you're back again, and hope ridin' high
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin' sky
I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire

I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea
I can feel St. Elmo's Fire burnin' in me

Burnin', burnin' in me, I can feel it burnin'
Oooh, burnin' inside of me...


This is one of the most outrightly inspirational and motivational songs I've heard in awhile by virtue of its message and the way it's sung. I can't get it outta my head. Maybe at this point where I'm so lazy I couldn't catch a cold if I were in Antarctica, such a song would be bursting at the seams with vehemence and vitality.

After a quick round of research, I realised that the song was written about Rick Hansen, a Canadian who suffered a terrible accident and was rendered paralyzed from the waist down, and who has 'wheeled' himself all over the world (over 40,000km) to raise money and awareness for spinal chord injuries. The song was written two years after Rick's Man In Motion tour began in 1985.

A snippet of trivia: St. Elmo's Fire is a weather effect usually witnessed as a nimbus of light around the mastheads of sailing ships, traditionally taken as the Saint watching over your ship.



Today went rather well like a surprise oasis in a desert of a term so far with regards to school, which wouldn't have been much to mention about if not for how drearily unfascinating things can be. Sometimes, I guess I really don't mind boring classes. It's just the waiting til the holidays I have a problem with.

But it was a peach of a day with our social psychology presentation going well (save for Jacq's incessant amusement at my expense), and finding that Capoeira as a CCA in SMU is really blossoming into bud. It really has a life of its own now with about 20 members interacting like family, and just merely a few months ago we were languishing in stagnant waters with only 5 members and it seemed like Capoeira SMU was never to be. It's just really heartwarming to see everyone singing the songs enthusiastically, wanting to go into the roda to play even as beginners who still look like wayang dancers and staying back after class to experiment and learn new 'cool' moves. Drive underlies this vigour, and I know Capoeira SMU will go far.

And it's somewhat funny how I'm thinking of it this way because it's not like any one of these events would really have been anything amazing to celebrate about. It's just that it's somewhat symbolic - the social psychology presentation marking the point of more than half the term conquered and Capoeira being the triumph of a plan set in motion. Maybe it's so simple it's confounding.



She makes me wanna do things just because.




Audio Candy:
John Parr - St Elmo's Fire

Friday, 24 October 2008

200

Your unmistakeable loud hailer voice from a mile away.

How you were the unapologetically dirtiest player on the pitch, which made us want to pole or taupok you more, which we did.

I called you Hulk Hogan for the countless number of times you ripped our shirts playing soccer like a dirty Mat.

Your unceasing Mat Vs Singh wars with A, and I'd always end up taking his side because you always got funnier when increasingly agitated which made the whole situation so much more entertaining.

The time you fell in love with K and codenamed her TA for 'tight ass'.

The stupid malay codewords we learnt from you that became an integral part of our daily cryptic communications.

Your calling Jim a Goblok one day because he was at it again with another one of his retarded antics, and it seriously became his name to us for the next 2 years at least.

How you and B became the gayest of buddies because there were only 3 guys in your class and the other guy wasn't so much of a guy anyway.

Even more gay when you and B became the rock of our JC team's defence in centre back.

When you got booked for running onto the pitch despite only being a substitute and taking off your shirt to celebrate after TK scored our 2nd goal during the 'A' Divisions, even though we were already out of the tournament.

All the hide and seek sessions we had with Mdm Lai in the library just because we wanted the air con without following the rules.

How we froze outside the library when Mdm Lai walked past and EF decided to run and accidentally dashed straight into the female toilet and had to sheepishly re-emerge and apologise to her.

The time B spread that you allegedly got sexually excited when Ms Nim did something totally unexciting to you, can't recall what exactly.

Your locking us out of your own house at 11pm when no locksmiths are available.

Our first-time clubbing experience the night before soccer camp, and you and EF decided to go to a nearby hotel instead and disturb its residents by pressing the doorbells and running away.

The time we went for flag day together and pasted the stickers all over the place around PS.

How we got into deep shit for that because some member of the public complained and it was announced the next day during assembly, and none of us wanted to admit it and started blaming each other.

When a boy and girl were on stage during assembly for being caught for breaking some rules, of which included smoking and probably some hanky panky, and you went "she smoked his what?!" freaking loudly and everyone turned to look at us.

How you appeared on TV for representing our JC's malay debate team, and after that we never gave you a break for your 'debating prowess'.

In fact, we even believed you could set a guilty man free because of the way you argue, which is an electrifying mix of humour, style, confusion and bullshit.

Our countless debates and arguments over the stupidest things just for the sake of it.

Your endless self-allusions to Islam and being holy and our eveready "YEAH RIGHT" to that.

The hard disk of porn smuggling between you and A.

Finding a pack of cigarettes in your bag, and your adamant denial that they're yours.

Bubble tea sessions after soccer, and how you'd NEVER ever buy your own and instead arm yourself with a personal straw so that you can leech off ours.

Same goes for McDonald's food.

How we always try and get you to treat us just because you simply refuse to do so.

How you always try and get a free lunch off us, being quick to jump on any birthday celebrations and demanding that the birthday dude give a treat.

Finally getting your motorbike license, and becoming a biker Mat with your infamous Phantom.

B went overseas, A became your new gay buddy, especially since he also got a motorbike license and became a phantom biker Singh, and the both of you kept making really happy trips across the causeway.

Finding that Singh's Phantom has a nice eagle design on the wheel cover, while yours had a pile of bird shit there instead one day after soccer.

The hamstring tear which had to put a stop to soccer for you, and your participation in our weekend soccer games, which hasn't resumed til date.

How I bunked in with you for 3 days at NUS when I needed to get away to study before my finals in year 1, and you insisted that we could share the same bed even though you lived in a frikkin tiny single room hostel.

How we talked about gender dynamics and you'd always say the most off things.

Your lamenting that being a joker type of person simply doesn't get the girls because they don't take you seriously, and how I didn't really know how to give an answer to that.

You just gave me a feeling I haven't felt for a long time even though I haven't seen you for the longest time either, and I just had to write it down.




No woman ever falls in love with a man unless she has a better opinion of him than he deserves.
- Ed Howe

Audio Candy:
Dishwalla - Collide

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

9 Crimes

9 Things Wong Kar Wai Taught Me About Love
by Alice Dallow
  1. Requited love is an impossibility.
  2. We love what we can't have, and we can't have what we love.
  3. Eroticizing their possessions will be the pinnacle of your sexual fulfillment.
  4. Anything that distracts you from the pain of your loss is good. Some people are more successful in this regard than others.
  5. Hook up with someone. Live with them. Sleep with them. Tag along. Don't be fooled. You are only a transitory distraction. Ask for commitment. Declare your love. Watch the set up evaporate.
  6. The most potent way to exist is to occupy someone else's imagination.
  7. Desire is kept eternally alive by the impossibility of contact.
  8. Modern communication enabling technologies will only heighten your sense of desolation by making you more keenly aware of the fact that no one is trying to call.
  9. You will fall in love only once. Obstacles will prevail. The rest of your life is spent recovering.


I find such open cynicism fascinating. Sometimes, people want so much to feel such that hurt becomes a viable option. It is often the easier way out anyway in terms of a mish mash of resignation and chance. Heartbreak can be a selfish yet fair longing for the ones who have forgotten what it means to be remembered.




What does Kodak have in common with condoms? They both capture the moment.

Audio Candy:
Jon McLoughlin - So Close

Thursday, 16 October 2008

We Are Here To Take The Blame

Here come the local pubescent proles. The future plumbers, shop assistants, and doubtless the odd terrorist too. In the old days, we confiscated cigarettes and wank mags. Now it's knives and crack cocaine. And they call it progress.
- Barbara Covett



Structure has an expiry date, after which allowing its prevalence can be likened to an immorality, as if once past its sell-by date structure only exists to be dissolved. The moral codes that undergird it can remain, but as a people we cannot stagnate in whatever comfort zone the presence of a structure provides. Change shows us comparatively how much better or worse things can be, and opens up dimensions and paradigms we would be otherwise blind to. There is potentially far too much to lose, pitifully, if we seek fulfilment in the act of closing off opportunities and not yearning to make a difference.

I'd reckon we're all realists with varying degrees of idealism in us. We're all realists because idealists die off as outliers and anomalies of society, while we're the ones who've survived so far - realists in social reproduction. But the idealists who do not die live for the revolution, after which they become realists within the new ideology formed (make no mistake, a realist now may not be a realist in another time and place - we are defined by the system we uphold or sucker-up to). As time goes by and we languish in structure and conformity, the more the idealism in us diminishes. It is imperative to keep the fire of idealism alive no matter how frail it can be.




It takes courage to recognise the real as opposed to the convenient.

Audio Candy:
Damien Rice - Volcano

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Buses And Sink-Holes

Looking past the glint of the squares
And the iron bars that seem to be keeping me in;
I was told they were meant to protect me
While the manicured greenery speeds away
There are nothing but blank stares back
As another escape becomes fearfully squandered
Only because they do not understand
A contented prisoner of the mind
By dint of pure will I'd tell you a story
I'd give you a lie and I might sing you a tune
You might think me a friend on this lonely commute
Another lamp, another house, reaching?
It can't be better out there, I've been there
With an ounce, an inch, or maybe miles, it doesn't matter
It must've been furtively taken
For I do not know and cannot remember
But only that it's safe in the depths of despair
Curled up in this serenely addictive ride to nowhere




Audio Candy:
3 Days Grace - Never Too Late

Monday, 6 October 2008

Birthright Of Freedom

I gave the birthright of freedom only in trust,
and you are squandering it away on a luxury called expediency.
I stood in the snow without shoes to give you the right to vote,
and you stay home on election day whenever the weather is bad.
I left my family destitute so that you could have freedom of speech,
and you remain silent because it might be bad for business.
And, finally, I orphaned my children to give you a government to serve you,
and through neglect you are permitting it to become masters of your children.

- Anonymous




Loved this vid; it may seem only relevant for Americans now, but its implications are far-reaching and its message is clear for anybody who's a citizen. Yeh seriously, don't vote if you do not care.






Audio Candy:
Stars - Soft Revolution

Friday, 3 October 2008

When The Adventure Began

I found an IRC conversation that Cheng and I had nearly 7 years ago (we were like 15 or 16?) when we took our baby steps into the tumultous foray of religion and philosophy.



[23:56] {fartyjohn} so anyway its basically u cant go to chuch with an open mind
[23:56] {fartyjohn} cos u observe life for like wat? 17 yrs and u come up with your own theory and all that as to how shit works
[23:57] {fartyjohn} and they want u to throw that away for that 2 hours
[23:57] {fartyjohn} remmer the sunglasses analogy?
[23:57] {fartyjohn} your beliefs are like the sunglasses u see things through
[23:57] {fartyjohn} arggh..i forgot la
[23:58] {fartyjohn} so u built your glasses over 17 yrs
[23:58] {fartyjohn} and thy want u to like take it off?
[23:58] {fartyjohn} screw thm
[23:58] {fartyjohn} and everytime u dont belief they just say 'u're not takingit with an open mind'
[00:00] {fartyjohn} so anyway
[00:01] {fartyjohn} nature made everything. nature wants shit to go on
[00:01] {fartyjohn} nature wants life to go on forever.
[00:01] {fartyjohn} if u made something, u'd like it to last forever dont you?
[00:01] {fartyjohn} so the only way, is to make shit imperfect
[00:01] {fartyjohn} and we'dd all strive for perfection that dont exist
[00:01] {fartyjohn} like a looping rpg game.
[00:02] {fartyjohn} but thats not the point
[00:02] {fartyjohn} actlly thats the point
[00:02] {fartyjohn} its a depressing thought
[00:02] {fartyjohn} it takes the meaning out of life
[00:03] {fartyjohn} suddenly the puppets(us) in natures work, all decide that life has no meanin
[00:03] {fartyjohn} so we all commit suiccide
[00:03] {fartyjohn} nature don't want that to happen
[00:03] {fartyjohn} so in our minds, its a self defense mechanism
[00:03] {fartyjohn} its religion
[00:04] {fartyjohn} when the brain develops to such an extent of intelligence..that it starts to question life(humans), the device kicks in and introduces the concept of..
[00:04] {fartyjohn} religion and afterlife
[00:04] {fartyjohn} to keep people interested in the looping rpg game.
[00:04] {fartyjohn} to keep pple thinking theres meaning in life when there isnt
[00:05] {fartyjohn} so basically we'll survive
[00:05] {fartyjohn} a nd if u put natural selection into this, it makes sense
[00:05] {fartyjohn} those that find no meanin would've died..those who belief theres meaning live on
[00:06] {fartyjohn} and because of that, we're brainwashed to think that if u belief there's meaning, u survive, u're strong
[00:06] {fartyjohn} and those that die out are weak
[00:06] {fartyjohn} when..they just lost human motivation.
[00:07] {jose} actually
[00:07] {fartyjohn} i came up with this a while back, 'theres jusst 2 kinds of things, things that work, and things that die out'
[00:07] {jose} that just seriously sounded like a damn good movie plot
[00:07] {fartyjohn} its the matrix yo
[00:07] {fartyjohn} fighting against the system
[00:07] {jose} yea its about the system.
[00:07] {jose} and i cant believe we talked about all that
[00:08] {fartyjohn} no actlly i added alotta shit in this time round
[00:08] {fartyjohn} and its not a good fucking thought!




Audio Candy:
Frankie J - Don't Wanna Try

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Morality

"Is there a difference between a man who thinks honesty is the best policy and an honest man?"
- C. S. Lewis

Sure, an honest man is honest by habit and not by cost-benefit calculation.

"It is, thus, always important to keep in mind that professional [personal] ethics depends mainly on constant vigilance, on sustained discretion and prudence, and on wisdom, rather than on certain set rules. It is true here as elsewhere that character is destiny."
- Machan




Audio Candy:
Belle And Sebastian - Piazza, New York Catcher

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Character Is Destiny

I was reading up about the US Presidential Elections a few days ago and getting some background information on John McCain, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin when I read that John McCain wrote a book with Mark Salter titled Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember. The title fascinated me, so I read more about and found out that it's "a collection of biographies about individuals from the past and present who, in the authors' view, exemplify the best qualities of character. The book is divided into seven parts with further divisions of a characteristic and a person who is seen to exemplify it."



In McCain's words from the book's introduction:

It is your character, and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy. That is all that really passes for destiny. And you choose it. No one else can give it to you or deny it to you. No rival can steal it from you. And no friend can give it to you. Others can encourage you to make the right choices or discourage you. But you choose.



Part One: HONOUR

HONESTY - Thomas More
RESPECT - Gandhi
AUTHENTICITY - Joan of Arc
LOYALTY - Sir Ernest Shackleton
DIGNITY - Viktor Frankl


Part Two: PURPOSE

IDEALISM - Sojourner Truth
RIGHTEOUSNESS - Roméo Dallaire
CITIZENSHIP - Pat Tillman
DILIGENCE - Winston Churchill
RESPONSIBILITY - Lord Nelson and His Lieutenants
COOPERATION - John Wooden


Part Three: STRENGTH

COURAGE - Edith Cavell
SELF-CONTROL - George Washington
CONFIDENCE - Elizabeth I
RESILIENCE - Abraham Lincoln
INDUSTRY - Eric Hoffer
HOPEFULNESS - John Winthrop


Part Four: UNDERSTANDING

FAITH - Christian Guard at Hua Lo Prison
COMPASSION - Maximillian Kolbe
MERCY - Mother Antonia
TOLERANCE - The Four Chaplains
FORGIVENESS - Nelson Mandela
GENEROSITY - Oseola McCarty


Part Five: JUDGMENT

FAIRNESS - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
HUMILITY - Dwight D. Eisenhower
GRATITUDE - Tecumseh
HUMOUR - Mark Twain
COURTESY - Aung San Suu Kyi


Part Six: CREATIVITY

ASPIRATION - Ferdinand Magellan
DISCERNMENT - Leonardo da Vinci
CURIOSITY - Charles Darwin
ENTHUSIASM - Theodore Roosevelt
EXCELLENCE - Wilma Rudolph


Part Seven: LOVE

SELFLESSNESS AND CONTENTMENT - Mother Teresa




"Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence."
- Henry Louis Mencken

Audio Candy:
Lifehouse - Simon

Friday, 19 September 2008

Geek Is Sleek

International Economics classes are turning out to be the most enjoyable classes this term. I'm relatively somewhat more jaded this year compared to last in terms of school (but I think I'm still enjoying school much more than most people are), but vestiges of last semester's Political Science classes are there in International Economics. We've got a really passionate professor and typical strong Economist in the form of Leung Hing-Man and I really like it that he encourages discussion in class about real-world economic scenarios. It also helps that he's idealistically for the free market in a stubborn, opinionated way, so there will always be plenty of argument to go around.

He also said that he doesn't believe in grading for class participation, because if the class does not participate in discussion, he sees it such that he has failed to invoke passion in us rather than failure on our individual part to be actively involved. Aww.




Audio Candy:
Damien Rice - Amie

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Over Your Shoulder You Have To Watch Heaven Fall Into Hell

For the longest time, I stared at the curious painting on the wall. This must be what alone feels like, because others will never see the deceptively innocuous painting the way I did. We're often told to shun clichés because the weight of their typicality bears down on those who are aware, but in this one I saw a reflective contradiction - a sort of lunatic calm - that was so personal it was bursting at the seams, like a picture that paints a thousand words that will never be said, can never be said. As was aptly stated by Luis Barragán, art is made by the alone for the alone, and in that brief instant I think I caught fire. Or something along those lines, one of those sensations you can't quite put a finger to. So I abruptly turned away, somewhat clumsily I suppose, stuck in that weird rarefaction you get when you're overwhelmed by something so insignificant it almost doesn't exist, and started to walk.

"Hey."

Then I stopped, and so did my heart for a moment, as I looked up and saw you standing there with that half-slanted posture that reeked of an unwelcome familiarity of confidence. Or perhaps the situation seemed unpleasant of sorts due to the awkward abruptness. I might've been less ambivalent and a little more self-assured if it wasn't here and now. We were a few feet apart; close enough to a feel a tension that would've been crushing even if we were worlds from each other, in that gray corridor that suddenly seemed too wide it was stifling. With the sun's rays like accusatory fingers piercing through the high windows, I suddenly felt as if I had somehow willed you out of that painting.

"Whoa, hey. It's been some time."

Maybe we're the way we are because life is lived according to the idealistic clichés we unwittingly create and trap ourselves in. Sometimes it really seems like our realities reflect art more than art reflects reality.

"Yeah, seriously," you said, with a controlled chuckle. "I feel as if I'd have to endure another lifetime or two before someone we both distantly know would finally introduce you to me again."

"Yup I suppose. Never thought it'd be so soon, to be honest," I replied, coupled with a nervous smile. For some bizarre reason I was sure I felt the deep reverberation of the unspoken words that resounded between us in our intertwined thoughts. Remember the playground next to 513? / I've always wondered what it feels like to be consciously suffering a stroke. / Here's to the both of us for however long this will last. / I'd wanna be seated exactly beside where the next star will land. I think you were the first. / Toa Payoh chwee kway owns Clementi's hands down. / I'll light a candle and say a prayer for you!

"Always quite the cynic, aren't you?"

I returned a restrained nod, as I relaxed a little. There was much we would have died to say if we still existed in our little utopia, but we've both blasted off in our little rockets and those words will be buried six feet deep. At least, right now, I'm finally sure that's how it will be. A few feet apart was all that separated us physically, but we were as far asunder as lightyears in dimensions that aren't even parallel. But at least the distance apart will guarantee a myriad of twinkling stars in between, if a silver lining was ever needed for something that had already ended.

"I've to be on my way. It's nice to see you again," I said, and you replied, "well, that was strange and good all the same. Good bye."

I'm not colour blind; I know the world is black and white, and you can't convince someone that the grass is green in a world without colours. I guess while I thought it'd be easier than this, I've definitely moved on to what I hope would be a better place somewhere in my mind and it suddenly felt as if the cracks on my vine-ridden wall have been filled up, and you're no longer perched at the top with your legs swinging freely around. Walking away wasn't even necessary, as we were both never really right there beside that fateful painting. A sense of finality came before it was even called for.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A Contemporary Polity Of Mind

Tip-toeing on a string with balloons I never asked for
The dishes are served though there's no menu
And yet all I can think of is if that's it
Like I'm in some dream where everyone speaks Hebrew
The outlines will be drawn to force the picture to fit
Hoping that the maturity of night will sober the day
Ceasing the labels and finally we'll sway
Back to the times when poems still rhymed
And the songs that we sung rang in unison
There is a shadow that belongs to no one
Who stalks the streets that have no name
And I don't want this to get to my head either
For hearts may flutter for reasons that never cross
In a moment when shrivelled blessings are counted
So the time is whiled away in scholarly clothes
As the eager are woefully kept on their toes

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Buried Somewhere Deep Beneath My Skin

betterdayshelpbusylikefxxxtiredoramistandingstillwillbeokayneverending
worksleepitawaygoodbyeifonlysomeonecantellmewhattodoneedtofuckoff
fromherefallingslowlyhowtosurviveinsmuuntilyearfour


This is the quiet backstage chorus of disillusionment when I look at the MSN nicks of my SMU friends. It is somewhat sad that the system, which isn't inherently a bad one, hasn't worked out the way it really should for most people.

Life is much bigger than this, so keep the faith.




"In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you."
- Warren Buffet


Audio Candy:
The Darkness - One Way Ticket

Sunday, 7 September 2008

We Will Always Be A Light

Live in the moment, because the way I see it, there is no better way.



The universe, or whatever limits we wish to impose on the metaphysical world around us, is a storm of infinite possibilities and the beauty of our existence is that we ourselves bring form to an otherwise incoherent mass simply by impinging on it through our very being of finitude and flaws.

Pick up a sport, do a dance, join an event, make a difference. Love somebody and expect nothing back. Live in the moment and embrace it for all its worth so that there is no room for regret. Etch a memory that you'd otherwise regret not having.



Oceans won't freeze
So loosen your heart
Underestimated
Undefeated
In this love



I like to think back about those times spent watching the thousands of faceless people walk by - essentially the same anonymous crowd but only in different places - and materialise faces for them by pondering about the lives of others, of the lenses with which others see reality through, and the histories they have had to enjoy and endure all the same to shape and colour them.



“It is the mind which creates the world around us, and even though we stand side by side in the same meadow, my eyes will never see what is beheld by yours, my heart will never stir to the emotions with which yours is touched.”
- George Gissing

Perhaps there's an innate calling for humans to want to bridge that gap with those that matter so that lives can intertwine into an explosion of chemistry, so that it can come as close as possible to living in the same personal sphere.




Audio Candy:
Stars - Ageless Beauty

Monday, 1 September 2008

Mr Brightside

I fight cynicism. It's too easy. It's really boring. It's much harder to be positive and see the wonder of everything.



Everyone could do with a little positivity, or reduction of cognitive dissonance if you're skeptical. It might be a little deluded to the realist, but it keeps you focused on the flat ocean after the storm.

I guess I'm blessed to know the importance behind the game plan of life, and even realise that there's one that fits me, and how it's not important enough to be entirely depended upon.

Perhaps I could be seen as one of those who're just waiting to be fatally proven wrong when fate deals me with a death blow of sorts. Well, hit me if you can. :]




What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
- Oscar Wilde

Audio Candy:
Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Inner Psych Geek (Boring Post Alert)

In response to my last post on the Olympics ages ago, social psychology class online discussions have churned out more interesting snippets:

In an often-cited study about counterfactuals, Medvec, Madey, and Gilovich (1995) found that bronze medalists appeared happier than silver medalists in television coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics. Medvec et al. argued that bronze medalists compared themselves to 4th place finishers, whereas silver medalists compared themselves to gold medalists. These counterfactuals were the most salient because they were either qualitatively different (gold vs. silver) or categorically different (medal vs. no medal) from what actually occurred. Drawing on archival data and experimental studies, we show that Olympic athletes (among others) are more likely to make counterfactual comparisons based on their prior expectations, consistent with decision affect theory. Silver medalists are more likely to be disappointed because their personal expectations are higher than those of bronze medalists. We provide a testbetween expectancy-based versus category-based processing and discuss circumstances that trigger each type of processing.



And I recently had this to say about marketing and schemas (mental associations - for example, when I think of the word 'firefighter', I think of words like alarm, red, ladder, hose etc, words within the schema of 'firefighter'):

When it comes to modern marketing, the underlying principle is simple: Sell the value, not the product. And in doing so, utilising schemas is one of the most potent ways to get about it.

As the article posted by Isaac says, why bother getting something new when you can already use what's there? It's kinda like debating with somebody and using what he says against himself. When you tap into the recesses of the human mind through advertising, you are capitalising on strong beliefs and principles of the consumer, and when you can grasp it, you have the consumer at your beck and call.

This is evident when one observes, for example, the types of logos that strong, established brands use. Nike did a fantastic job, using the universally recognisable tick sign, which has a myriad of positive schemas attached to it. When you can't fare as well as that, create the values around it, like Coca-Cola does, and make the associations easy. Did you know that before Coca-Cola, Santa Claus in a red and white suit never existed? The image of Santa Claus chugging down a glass bottle of Coca-Cola is one of the most iconic images in history, and that's why they're still trashing Pepsi in the cola wars in terms of marketability til date. Capture the most basic desires, as Starbucks does with its image of lifestyle, and package it back the people for a price so that when people think of a lazy afternoon of coffee and a good book, Starbucks is right off the top of your head.

In a marketing module I once took, the professor mentioned that some company (it's a pity I really can't remember - it was really interesting) even tried to patent the word 'Okay' under their brand. One can see the level of intrusive pervasiveness when one realises the kinds of intent marketers are up to when it comes to capturing schemas and associations that we might hold dear.

The ethics of advertising is always heavily contested because of it is so hard to pin down what companies are really doing with their marketing campaigns. It's not any easier when people are increasingly conditioned to desire material things in an evergrowing market democracy world. And it is no wonder when people get more disillusioned when the basic values of their lives have a price attached to them in the form of consumer goods.




Audio Candy:
AFI - This Celluloid Dream

Monday, 18 August 2008

Poised

Singapore notched silver for table tennis. The obvious sentiment aside, a more cynical side of me thinks that being in that semi-final winning position, especially for a competitor like Singapore, sucks somewhat in the sense that you're definitely aware of the ominous challenge of China ahead in the final but it's a taboo to think of 2nd place, and you have to lose in the grandest way to say that you've won a silver medal.

It's no biggie, just a thought.



Perhaps knowing that school's reopening has inspired some random poignance, so I was just comparing between what's worse: failing to do something you've always ordered or preached about to people to do, or being a disappointment.

Also, is it better for someone to be angry because of you or sad because of you? I'm vouching for the former, because I think people generally desire the backlash after committing an error. It is escapistic and convenient of sorts, as it serves an instant, indirect part in self redemption.




The thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble is sex.

Audio Candy:
Death On Wednesday - Simple Life

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Infinity Divinity

I'm done with Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies and have moved on to The Infinite by A. W. Moore, and am making good progress. I've always been fascinated with mathematical philosophy because there is something deeply magical and spiritual within this realm of thought that has been modernly stereotyped to be boring, mechanical, technical and anything but artful.

Maybe (the upcoming parallel is a huge generalisation) as we move along into a world marked by individual needs above community spirit and a generic shift from 'macro' level things to 'micro' level things, we may not even have exhausted mathematics and science on a more philosophical scale - dismissing it as religious gibberish and leaving it aside as an unglamourous pursuit for aimless philosophers and cranky priests by the economic, materialistic masses - and are now more interested in finding out how to measure things more accurately and extending 'the next decimal place'. There is something fundamentally very calculative about this obsession with precision, but until the next Aristotle, Albert Einstein or Immanuel Kant, the world will continue fussing over instantly gratifying specifics instead of the inconvenient truth.

It is interesting to see how the first theological thoughts and references came from great thinkers, such as Anaximander, Plotinus, Pythagoras and Aristotle, just to name a few, from a largely Greek era when the concept of infinitude was initially broached, and how relevant its divinity still carries over to this day from age-old paradoxes and sheer awe at something we cannot grasp simply because we are finite beings.

Faith is but our only bridge.




Audio Candy:
Samantha Jade - Step Up

Perspective Is A Luxury When Your Head Is Constantly Buzzing With A Swarm Of Demons

Another textbook 5-1 victory today in the league and a solid performance from our team. But on a personal level, yet another quiet game. I've gotta get a grip.



It just takes some time
Little girl you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything'll be just fine
Everything, everything'll be alright
Alright



How does one solve a problem that direly needs external perspective but is inherently personal?

I could be right where you are and still feel you locked up and trapped far away by the immaculateness of the inescapable situation you've deemed it to be. I know it's really easier said when one is out and past the darkness of murky waters, but helplessness is a mere state of mind. It is hard to reach out when one can't see the hands desperately offered, outstretched.

Even if, sad as it sounds, they're not there, a little belief goes a long way.

Our loneliness is borne from a biased egocentricity, and I'm not spared as long as I'm aching to see the despair beyond my lenses.




Audio Candy:
The Spill Canvas - All Over You

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Authentica

It is not because I am wholly satisfied with everything contained in these essays that I have adopted this policy of not attempting to improve them: it is, conversely, because, once the process of emendation had been initiated, it would have been hard to bring it to an end... Any attempt by [a] writer, years later, to convert [one of his essays]... into an expression of his present way of looking at the topic will produce only a mutilated object, representing neither his former nor his present view: he must either leave it as it stands, or write a completely new essay on the subject (pages ix-x).

- Michael Dummett, in the preface to his anthology Truth and Other Enigmas (London: Duckworth, 1978), writes about his decision to reprint his essays without any changes, other than trivial corrections of misprints and the like.




Audio Candy:
Martina McBride - Valentine

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Ogay!

It's been like 7 months since the last time I did a 2.4km run. Maybe the weather was good, or maybe waking up early to have a run and then have a hearty breakfast (the ideal I had in mind for the longest time) is a wholesome way to start the day. In any case, even though I kinda puked out the disgusting bread I ate before the run, I clocked 9 min 9 seconds, one of the best average runs I've ever had and one of the best I can ever hope for in my current state of fitness.

I mean, well, it's 10 seconds short of subbing 9 afterall, something I've only managed to do once, so yeh.




Reckon I still have it in me then, and I guess the $400's more or less in the bag come this thursday unless the remote possibility of me messing up standing broad jump happens.




To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.
- Jack Handey

Audio Candy:
Michael Bublè - Beyond The Sea

Monday, 11 August 2008

Political Malaise

When the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they'd glamourised an age-old Greek concept of democracy and fuelled it with the noble rhetoric of personal rights, individual liberty and the glorious pursuit of happiness.

The interesting irony is that Americans, the very first modern children of democracy, are an increasingly unhappy lot. The uncertainty that the democratic process in The United States can solve problems leads to a niggling strain on the psyches of its citizens, especially when the voting process, seen as a patriotic act, leads to a burdening sense of hyper-moralization. People are torn between candidates and parties they can't clearly trust everytime voting comes along, and time after time people are disappointed with the outcomes of their choices, leading to a decrease in efficacy and self-determination. Over time, contingent reinforcement kicks in and some form of learned helplessness comes into play.

That's a small jab in the ribs for democracy. Recently, an article titled "Why They Hate Singapore" was published in the papers, as our political practices are once again under the limelight from international scrutiny. http://www.sgpolitics.net/?p=436 provides some interesting insights.




Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.
- John Maynard Keynes

Audio Candy:
Kaddisfly - Campfire