Saturday, 26 December 2009

If you can't find peace within yourself, you will never find it elsewhere.

Thursday, 24 December 2009


My loooong day of renovation and cleaning up is over. I'm in the mood to backlog photographs so here goes!

Part of the renovation involved overhauling the air-conditioning system, so I had to shift my display cabinet which housed my Gundam collection away from the wall in order to create access to the wires.

So it all began with the Gundam.

Off they go, Noah's Ark style.

Other old school stuff I found:

Handheld LCD games - THE SHIZZ for any 12 year-old boy back in the 90s!

Protostar and SWOS - Epic old school. Those were the days when games still came with instruction manuals that were so thick because they just had to be translated into 812 languages.

Somewhat continued from the pasar malam post - the pirated CDs I still keep, with some of the most embarassing stuff on display here (Speed, A1, M2M, Jolin Tsai, Shaggy, Stephanie Sun and S Club 7 wooooohoooo).

All the stuff in the display cabinet eventually went to the floor in makeshift boxes.

The display cabinet gets emptied and stuff starts piling up all over the place and the room gets recalibrated...

Then the epic task of putting it all back together begins...

At the bottom of the whole stack of books, the fan and the television set lies my beautiful shelf waiting to be assembled.

This is the picture I took as I lugged the shelf home from Carrefour two days ago, all fricking 36kg of it. Because it was 1.7m long it was impossibly bulky and I totally fscked myself trying to bring it home on my own. Furthermore, I gymed that morning - my first in like 6 months - so my arms were totally busted already. That was some seriously messed up shit so I took this victory photo as I finally stumbled to my house door.

This is one of the new sets of air-conditioners installed in the house now, after the air-conditioner people from Gain City went through 9 backbreaking hours tearing down the old sets and replacing them with these. Despite the change/upgrade, I don't think I'll end up using air-conditioning much at all.
More photo backlogging with my brother's hamsters. At the peak he had around 10 hamsters because they were being very fertile, but my mom insisted on selling most of them away so now I think he only has about 4 or 5 left. I think the two big guys in these pictures are no longer around:

Haha I know this is really subpar blog material especially by personal standards. But if there's one thing I've learnt, it's that a good picture these days really needs a good camera. It's all in the detail and these shots all look so 2D they don't seem real at all (by modern standards at least).

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

I'm up dead early for the air-conditioning renovations that we should have done years ago and it really sucks because I had slept at 5am last night, clearing out my cupboards for some shifting to be done.

I found LOTS of (epically embarrassing) shit dating from way back in secondary school, so I took a memory trip looking through books full of writing both by my classmates and me (haha recall the Blue Book series, for those in the know?).

I found an autograph book that I vaguely recall egging my classmates on to fill. Secondary 4 was a time when everyone was pushing autograph books around and even though the entries are quite cringe-worthy I'm still thankful for this time capsule for a peek back into the past. Some of the entries, though so silly, were written with such earnesty that we must've really thought we were the shit and took ourselves really seriously as we precariously carved out our hopes, dreams and identities.

The general notes and appraisals I received from classmates ranged around being tall, looking dao and having a long face (I was called 马脸 (horse face) by the 'nenek' girls), contributing to the class with the website and class t-shirt designs, and being talented for being able to 'do many things'.

There were all sorts of nonsense my classmates thought I was good at - soccer, art, web design, programming, running, and even drums and dance (haha seriously). Seven-odd years on since then, almost all of those 'talents' never materialized into anything realistic, and some of them were truly just bogus. I suspect I merely had a way of making people think I could do more than I really could.

However, I think that if there was one thing has stuck with me since then, it's that I've always been open to trying, exploring and getting involved in doing new things. I wouldn't even call myself a jack of all trades though I'm definitely master of none, but I loved getting stuck in to all kinds of stuff. It's definitely toned down a lot now as there are some things that are really less embarassing to try only when you're very young, but a prevalent curiosity about things has always resided in me.

This philosophy stems perhaps from believing that everything has its own value and is worth giving a shot. The world is your oyster, just waiting to be discovered by you. :]

I can only hope that the stuff I write in my friends' autograph books are quite cleanly buried!

The Night Market Sunset

Another pasar malam (night market) set itself up in its usual spot near Serangoon Central bus interchange a few days ago. The location itself hasn't changed, but the size and scale of the area of the pasar malam has gradually shrunk over the last decade. Looking at the pasar malam of today, I think one could never guess ten years ago that its decline would prove so devastating.

I do notice the Serangoon Central pasar malam on the rare occasion it appears from time to time as I pass by the place regularly on my commutes but it never occurred to me to actually check it out. So two days ago, as the pasar malam sprung up again, for some reason I decided to take a walk through again just like old times.

I think I can safely say that the last time I really visited the pasar malam for genuine patronage was at least seven years ago. Between now and then, I somehow stopped visiting pasar malams, and even if I did go it was more so out of trivial amusement than one of true anticipation of the next pasar malam and excited thronging of the alleyways blanketed by bright lights, noise and canvassing that stretched for hundreds of metres. I have no exact idea why I stopped visiting pasar malams or when the precise moment I stopped going happened.

But when it comes to the memory of those times when I was a kid and pasar malams were a magical part of my life, the picture is clear as day. Word will spread among the neighbours and sometimes you could even hear the hustle and bustle from home. It was enough to get me bolting down as soon as possible to join the merry atmosphere that was a mixture of heat from the crowd, the food and the huge generator churning out electricity for all the shops to operate, sounds from the chatter, bargaining and the music from VCD, CD and game stalls, and smells of sausages, fishballs, ramly burgers and my favourite popcorn that used to sell for $1 and that I'd always buy without fail in order to seal off my experience there. Sometimes, there would even be funfair rides. It was an electric kind of atmosphere that I always felt very lucky to be immersed in.

Aside from the ambience and experience of simply being in a happening place, I also always looked forward to pasar malams as a kid because of the things they sold. In particular, pasar malams always became a chance to give myself a treat to pirated video games and music CDs, because I was simply too young to afford the originals. There were a whole ton of games I wanted to play and songs I wanted to listen to, but I didn't have the money to acquire them. Pasar malams became a chance to finally get my hands on such forbidden treasures. Furthermore, the occasion of a pasar malam itself became a reason for buying things, so coaxing my parents into giving me more money to buy things became a lot easier. I still keep every single CD I bought til this day.

Cheap copied software was the biggest prize of the day for me, but there was a whole range of other things I'd look at and sometimes buy, like bags, wallets, watches and shirts. Sometimes, I bought fake soccer jerseys too. The financial discipline my parents imposed on me kept me reduced to such alternatives to pricey originals, but it didn't matter at that time as I was too young to care.

The food needs little mentioning. Pasar malams of old sold some of the best street food I'd ever tasted and, for whatever reason now, it's not as nice now anymore. Maybe the feeling on the whole is just gone so the taste that came with the experience has disappeared too.

I suppose this explains quite a bit my fondness for night markets, be they overseas, in Bugis Street or Chinatown, or the modern day pasar malam version that is a far cry from its past glory. As I walked slowly through the Serangoon Central pasar malam two days ago at about 10pm - traditionally the prime time for pasar malams - business was really slow. The sparse number of patrons walked slowly through too, though they seemed to be, like me, taking more of a trip down memory lane than really going there to check out good bargains. Many stalls were open with their tables filled up with rows of products and many foodstalls had containers full of nosh, but few shops ultimately had buyers. Amid all sorts of thoughts - How much have these stall owners sold today? Do these stalls even make money? What keeps them going? Is the overall sale even able to cover the cost of setting up a pasar malam these days? What has happened to so many of the other stalls that used to be so popular? - I felt inevitably quite sad about how much the pasar malam has lost its place in our society. And I say inevitably because I am sad although I know this is bound to happen; I just can't help feeling like a part of our traditional culture has disappeared even though it's really nobody's fault the pasar malam is slowly but surely disappearing. Most of all, I wondered what the stall owners feel about all of this.

Looking at the few people walking through the tentages, I might even go as far as to think that most people are even wondering why pasar malams still bother to appear. I might be wrong about how everyone feels about it, but I can't help but sense that some of these stall keepers still open shop just hoping that maybe there's a chance some of that past magic will be rekindled and that the public will be enticed with some savoury street foodfare or cheap bargains, only to be proven wrong more and more with the looming reality that pasar malams are no longer what they were in the hearts of our people. The pasar malam sprawled for only about a hundred metres. A mini funfair game station had ball throwing and fishing games with flashing lights in operation with no eager kids lining up to play. The pasar malam I used to love so much has indeed faded away.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Media-Induced Poverty Of Values

After watching my brother slime his way through another day for the umpteenth time today I couldn't take it anymore and attempted to engage him in some semi-intellectually charged discussion.

Me: Why don't you go read up seriously about something you like? Like maybe rock music. Go find out its history and what it stands for.
Bro: I know what rock music is about.
Me: What?
Bro: It is about expressing our feelings.
Me: That's just about the same for any form of music. What makes rock music different from other types of music, like maybe classical?
Bro: Oh, okay. Rock music is about expressing of angst.

Whoa, hold up. If my brother was a rasa tabula pertaining to music since I've never educated him about that stuff before, then I wonder where that influence came from. There are implications abound to think and believe that rock music exists primarily as an expression of angst. For one, its role as an outlet for aggression and anger would validate the behaviour of rebels without a cause. There is no longer a need for such angst to be qualified as a means so some other greater and more constructive end; the angst itself is the be all end all.

There are other avenue instances through which mediocre behaviour is allowed to be channelled through by various forms of media. For instance, I think New Moon really spelt out that it is quite okay for girls to be weak, submissive and indecisive because a hero (or two) will always come to your aid. I really seem to be going random here, but off the top of my head as well another outlet for wussy behaviour comes in the form of Taiwanese MTVs where guys are actually perceived as attractive being emo crybabies who can't make up their minds.

I think capitalistic media really tends to feed an increasing poverty in intellect and values. Of course, I've just totally discounted an entire branch of decent media that hosts documentaries and maybe Oprah, but to the layman kid nowadays I think the choice to watch mindless TV is much more compelling (and definitely much less demanding). Perfect incentive system to get easy viewership.

On a side note it looks like a Twilight/New Moon parody in the form of The Vampire's Assistant is coming up. Such breakneck speed of satire appears to be a hallmark of our postmodern attitude of absurdism.

Repost, With Proper Tribute

My dad gave me a poster a while ago. I posted its content because I thought it made a lot of sense. It was indeed a rare one that I thought would be really worth putting up on walls in place of mindless and ubiquitous 'Inspiration' and 'Determination' posters.

I've found out that it was actually a poem written by Max Ehrmann titled Desiderata (Latin for 'desired things'). More can be found at his Wikipedia page. So, this is a repost with due tribute paid to the author. It is a brilliant piece of work and insight for anyone seeking a philosophy for peace and happiness.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

- Max Ehrmann (1952), Desiderata.

Thursday, 17 December 2009


For the thousandth time my dad bugged me for my term grades, after I put it off 999 times:

Dad: What are your results?
Me: I'll email it to you later.
Dad: Why can't you just tell me what grades you got?
Me: OK. B, B+, A-, A-.
Dad: What did you get B for?
Me: Social cognition.
Dad: Okay nevermind you email me.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

They Paved Paradise And Put Up A Parking Lot

I was on Facebook checking out some pictures of SMU friends who graduated before this year's summer. They were probably the 2003/2004 batch to enrol into SMU (I might be totally wrong on the year because my math is too awesome to be accurate) and they came from various faculties (minus law, I might suppose).

I've had the pleasure of working with some of them on rare occasions and it has been always a very pleasant and somewhat more mature experience. Short of naming names, I recall one pleasant experience (amongst other similar experiences) I had working in a group consisting of two of these people for a particular module. We would never let the vicissitudes of school life bog us down and every meet up consisted of pleasurable (and very intelligent) discourses about food, current affairs, art and entertainment; indeed in stark contrast to the typical GPA-related talk that mark the day-to-day conversations we often have now. Both were always cheerful, and both graduated in April this year.

Looking at them donning the convocation dress, I can't help but feel that an era that highlighted what SMU symbolized in its most ideal sense is undeniably gone. With that batch graduated, the student body has completed its transformation. Nobody in the university now has experienced what life was like in the Bukit Timah campus, from which SMU's roots were first set. That is of course inevitable and is really nobody's fault because we have completely and permanently shifted from Bukit Timah to the city, but that spirit has been left behind instead of passed down. I've been to the Bukit Timah campus a few times and have indulged in drowning myself in the atmosphere each time I'm there. It's really one of the few places I can truly say that has given me the spine-tingling sensation of being in a learning institution built upon years of intellectual foundations, through which only more ideas can be borne out of, and where knowledge is power. Bukit Timah campus is now home to the prestigious NUS Law School. It seems somewhat apt that these learning institutions that have remained and must remain pure in purpose must be placed away from the contaminable mundane reality of the mainstream.

The modules definitely haven't changed, but perhaps what's changed is the 'spark', replaced by a chronic sense of jadedness every now and then. We sense it everywhere, from the open spaces to the little crevices, from the tenseness in the library to the students walking through the concourse, apparently constantly on edge. That spark, I would believe, comes about only when one truly loves what one is doing and sees it all in terms of an immaterial purpose instead of a material bachelor's degree. One simply can't lose hope if one sees the worthwhile meaning in his or her work. It doesn't matter if it's business, accountancy, information systems, law, economics or the social sciences. Our graduated seniors had it, and the first employers of our graduates sang our praises because of it. SMU rose to prominence because of it and became touted as 'different' from the other universities. NUS and NTU might've even had it before, but the decades rolling by have probably eroded it. Some might point and say 'Singaporean culture!' when trying to consider the causes for our regression towards mindlessness, impatience, jadedness and obsession with results, but that's another story for another day.

While SMU would only do well to reinvent itself based on the population that represents the school now rather than vainly chase the ideals of a time just past, I guess I'm thankful to have had a glimpse of what the magical world that the SMU of old was like, even if it was only vicariously through the eyes and words of the last batch from that golden age.

The other day I was watching Great Powers on History Channel and France was featured. The end off quote has been powerfully and resolutely etched in my head.

Only a country that respects ideas can have great ideas.
Cynicism entails a certain detachment of the cynic from perceived baser human nature he/she is divorced from. Whether this is due to a desire to be seen as 'above' things or whether it is simply necessary to step beyond the situation in order to access it is different in intention but not in kind.

Which is why, when one forays deeper into academics (and gets far too embroiled in it for good measure), one naturally becomes more 'cynical', as it is almost a necessity that one is highly detached in order to categorize people, label events and speculate unemotionally about issues, all in the name of theory.
The desire to speak freely and indiscriminately is a poisonous temptation that one should take heed to check, lest regret, which has fragile regard for one's esteem, crosses one's path from which there is little that can be done to unwind the clock.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Rock Music's Hopes And Dreams

If there is pretty much one thing that is quite congruent about rock music through the ages, it is that rock music has never been directed to appeal to upper class or well-off people. In almost all genres of rock music from rock and roll, classic rock, pop rock, punk rock, heavy metal, emo rock to alternative rock, we can always expect recurring themes of cynicism, anti-establishment, revolution, aspirations, lower and middle class struggle, angst, emotional sadness, depression, alcoholism, drugs and sex. These are all themes that will not appeal to people who've already got it.

Here are some of the examples I've found across various rock genres with their correspondingly explored sentiments (these are my own opinions and interpretations, any disagreement is welcome):

Tommy used to work on the docks
Union's been on strike
He's down on his luck, it's tough
So tough

Gina works the diner all day
Working for her man
She brings home her pay for love
For love

Bon Jovi - Living on a Prayer (Class struggle)

I wanna be a Kennedy
I wanna be tall and handsome
I'd conquer the world
And you'd see me on television
If I could be a Kennedy
If I could be a big heartbreaker
I'd watch you crash into my arms
With the stars under the barrel of a gun
We'd die young

Kill Hannah - Kennedy (Aspiration)

I wanna be the minority
I don't need you, authority
Down with the moral majority
'Cause I wanna be the minority

I pledge allegiance to the underworld
One nation underdog there of which I stand alone
A face in the crowd unsung against the mold
Without a doubt, singled-out, the only way I know

Green Day - Minority (Anti-establishment)

Wicked with your charm
I am circled like prey
Back in the forest
Were whispers persuade
More sugar trails
More white lady laid
Than pillars of salt...

Cradle of Filth - Nymphetamine (Drugs and hints of sex)

I do it for the drugs
I do it just to feel alive
I do it for the love
That I get from the bottom of a bottle

Smile Empty Soul - Bottom of a Bottle (Drugs and alcohol)

If I am lost for a day
Try to find me,
But if I don't come back
Then I won't look behind me.
All of the things that I thought were so easy
Just got harder and harder each day


I dreamed I was dying as I so often do
And when I awoke I was sure it was true
I ran to the window; threw my head to the sky
And said whoever is up there
Please don't let me die

Stars - Calendar Girl (Depression and hope)

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries
'Cause if there's one thing that she don't need
It's another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto

Elvis Presley - In the Ghetto (Class struggle)

It's going down tonight in this town
'Cause they stare and growl
They all stare and growl
I take a scar everytime I cry
'Cause it ain't my style
No it ain't my style
Going down to the gravel head to the barrel
Take this life and end this struggle
Los Angeles come scam me please
Emptiness never sleeps at Cliftons 6am
With your bag lady friend and your mind descending
Stripped of the right to be a human in control
It's warmer in hell so down we go

The Distillers - City of Angels (Urban cynicism)

Now, what do you own the world?
How do you own disorder, disorder?
Now, somewhere between the sacred silence
Sacred silence and sleep
Somewhere, between the sacred silence and sleep
Disorder, disorder, disorder

System of a Down - Toxicity (Cynicism of the social order)

In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he's had the pleasure to know
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say "Hello"
On the corner is a banker with a motorcar
The little children laugh at him behind his back
And the banker never wears a mac
In the pouring rain - very strange
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies

The Beatles - Penny Lane (Average class mundanity)

Fake tales of San Francisco
Echo through the room
More point to a wedding disco
Without a bride or groom
There's a super cool band yeah
With their trilbys and their glasses of white wine
And all the weekend rockstars are in the toilets
Practicing their lines

Arctic Monkeys - Fake Tales of San Francisco (Satire of the middle to lower class rockstar life)

Staring into the intersection
She thinks that she can fly and she might
Holding on in a new direction
She's gonna try it tonight
The closer I get to feeling
The further that I'm feeling from alright
The more I step into the sun
The more I step out of the light

Jessica is covered in a blanket on a Sunday porch
Thinking of the weekends she would party in the city
She doesn't have a flame
She'd prefer to burn out like a torch
If she gets nowhere in life
At least she know's she pretty

Something Corporate - Straw Dog (About suicide, escape and societal misfits)

So hum hallelujah
Just off the key of reason
I thought I loved you
It was just how you looked in the light

A teenage vow in a parking lot
"Til tonight do us part"
I sing the blues
And swallow them too

Fall Out Boy - Hum Hallelujah (Pre-marital sex)

I judge by what she's wearing
Just how many heads I'm tearing
Off of assholes coming on to her
Each night seems like it's getting worse

And I wish she'd take the night off
So I don't have to fight off
Every asshole coming on to her
It happens every night she works

Nickelback - Next Contestant (Bar room brawling)

After all this time
I never thought we'd be here
Never thought we'd be here
When my love for you was blind
But I couldn't make you see it
Couldn't make you see it
That I loved you more than you'll ever know
And part of me died when I let you go

Lifehouse - Blind (Flat out emo)

I'm definitely carried away but I think this demonstrates clearly where rock music is headed. The congruence can seem uncanny - it is as if rock music is a shining beacon for non-elites who are either forced into their circumstances or choose to be where they are.

Which is in some ways why I like it. If rock as a music genre was a person I would think him to be earnest, humble and at some times exceedingly self-aware and self-deprecating.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Evolutionary Psychology EXP +0.1

I'm halfway through The Moral Animal. I can only dream, at this juncture, to have an inch of the book's capability of convincingly defending evolutionary psychology as an extremely powerful and rigorous science despite it's youth across most of its controversial involvements particularly in politics and morality (it has often been stereotyped and/or attacked as being unapologetically right-wing and misogynistic).

I am far from eloquent in protecting evolutionary psychology and knowing completely all of its intricacies. Thus, as a noob, I can only adopt a reactive stance: some of the things worth noting about evolutionary psychology that I think debunks its myths and stereotypes include its capacity to provide support for morality and conservatism and why utmost respect for women is vitally important, demonstrate that pornography is detrimental and that sexual indulgence and openness - against modern popular sentiment - really may not be the way to go, and also illuminatingly explain how the emotional ferocity of post-WWII feminism has not only backfired but has ironically sustained some of the problems that women face in trying to gain leverage.

Evolutionary psychology, whose roots lie in the Darwinist theory of natural selection, has traditionally (and contemporarily still) been accused of being sweeping generalizations. This is unsurprising since the now-defunct social Darwinists bludgeoned natural selection and used it to provide flimsy evidence for unfounded theories about human nature, most of which ended up supporting ruthless politics and public policies often in the interest of men. Early Darwinists, sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists from back in the 1970s have been scorched by cynics as well, so it can be assured that evolutionary psychology has evolved into a science that takes great care to tread carefully with its claims such that evolutionary psychologists today are 'masters of careful qualification'.

Further, while some of evolutionary psychology's analyses may be clinical (in the sense that it merely states concepts unemotionally: for example, men have been shown to be wired to seek new and younger mates), they are not prescriptive as people are prone to misunderstand (because men are inclined to seek new and younger mates does not mean they should do so). More importantly, evolutionary psychology exposes slippery slope tendencies that modern society may be vulnerable to. For example, in response to people who have argued that traditional chastity and sexual repression has led to "a pitiable alienation ... of men from their own sexuality", Robert Wright writes that "indulging these [sexual] impulses has helped bring a world featuring, among other things: lots of fatherless children; lots of embittered women; lots of complaints about date rape and sexual harassment; and the frequent sight of lonely men renting X-rated videotapes while lonely women abound."

It is therefore in this light that The Moral Animal has presented itself as a book that is truly aimed at reflecting deeply at worldly issues rather than just being another sensational story attempting a potshot at being marketably intellectual.

As a person so enamoured by the possibility of choosing the academics as a direction in life and career, I am hungry to learn all I can to defend and contribute to this compelling science of evolutionary psychology.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Lifted this from various sources across the internet:

Here’s a prime example of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” offered by an English professor:

The professor told his class one day: “Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me.

“The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back-and-forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking outside of the e-mails and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached.”

The following was actually turned in by two of his English students, Rebecca and Gary.


(first paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn’t decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(second paragraph by Gary)
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. “A.S. Harris to Geostation 17,” he said into his transgalactic communicator. “Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far…” But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship’s cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. “Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel,” Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. “Why must one lose one’s innocence to become a woman?” she pondered wistfully.

Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu’udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through the congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu’udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.

This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.

Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. “Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of F_KING TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I’m such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!”




Go drink some tea - whore.

A+ - I really liked this one.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Human Morality

Humans are endowed with a wide array of moral capabilities. These are the essential social glues - the capacity for altruism, loyalty, sacrifice, justice, fairness and guilt - that culminate into a conscience that motivates people to behave ethically so that there is peace, social stability and that life can go on with as little trouble and as much happiness as possible.

But at the same time as humans are capable of morality, humans are also brutally capable of moral flexibility, switching morality on and off in order to maintain self-interest in the struggle for survival. Equally, humans are often ignorant of their propensity for moral flexibility other than the oft-felt nuance that edges them towards thinking for oneself in the form of temptation.

As Robert Wright writes in The Moral Animal, "human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse."

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The post-PSLE troubles for my family are reaching an all-time high as the deadline for deciding on a school for my brother draws to a close. It is about less than two days away.

There's my authoritative dad, who is trying to force my brother to apply for schools he doesn't want. Then there's my brother, who is too passive, apathetic and afraid of pressure to aspire for schools that can offer better, preferring now to sit on a school he has made up his mind to go for (for quite lame reasons). He is also very closed off to information in order to find out more about other school choices. It apparently got pretty heated and emotional before everyone went to sleep. Right smack in the middle of this is my mom, who tends to believe that it is the child's happiness that really matters at the end of the day, because my brother whose confidence in studying amongst other things is already shaky might end up extremely discouraged and jaded for the next four years. My dad is accusing my mom of being too soft-hearted, which could be why my brother is the way he is now.

There are plenty of if-onlys that come to mind: If only my brother did better so that he could go to Zhonghua Secondary School, the choice both my brother and my dad are satisfied with; if only my brother could be less passive about things and not so risk-averse; if only my dad could be more open to ideas and alternatives and be less stubborn. But these do not solve the problems that are happening right now.

Choices and dilemmas. I wonder what the next few years will bring. It is funny how I hardly recall my time during the post-PSLE period as being anywhere near as eventful and as difficult as this.