Who monitors the monitors?
Music, Culture & Sport. Brought to you by Glen: Undergraduate, Breakbeat Addict, Believer.
I love computer games. Ever since I discovered them, God knows how long ago, I've been hooked! I love online games, in particular, because you get to meet people from all over the world. Let's take two of the games I play, Gunbound, and Conquer Online, as examples. I've met people from Australia to Bosnia in these games, which is quite amazing if you think about it.
There is a problem however, and that's us Singaporeans rearing our ugly heads again! Some of the nastiest people in online gaming communities are from Singapore. Most of these online games have a ranking system that lets you know where you stand, relative to the rest of the gamers. Singaporeans are pretty skilled gamers, and are quite highly ranked. The problem is that they're also supremely arrogant, and excel in deriding those who aren't as skilled.
Let's just cite a typical example: WaHkaOz and GodOfFire are both gunbound players on the same team, and WaHkaOz is from Singapore. So....
GodOfFire takes a shot... and misses.
WaHkaOz: "noob sia! cant shoot dun play la... knn now we lose game liao."
GodOfFire: "omg shut up! It's just a game man. And you miss too! :("
WaHkaOz: "at least better than u. cum u got balls 1 vs 1 wif me la!"
That is a typical example of Singaporean arrogance and nastiness. I've talked to a lot of fellow online gamers, and they agree that Singaporeans have a terrible reputation in online games. We're internationally renowned for being intolerant, bullying bigots. But why?!
Maybe it's because so many Singaporeans are timid, or afraid to express their unhappiness in real life, so they hide behind their online characters and start acting all big and nasty. Sometimes I wonder what the person typing those nasty lines actually looks like behind that computer. Sometimes I really wish I could see who's behind that, so I can actually have a face to pity. Of course, there are exceptions. But they're like finding money in your pocket you didn't know was there; you don't expect it to happen often.
Has anyone had a similar experience? If any of you who are reading this do play, remember that the most common question in online games is, "Where are you from?", and when you do reply, the world is watching.
I'm leaving for Thailand in the morning, and it will be my first trip to Bangkok! I'm going to two guy friends, which is even more fun. No girlie bars for me- it's the shopping that appeals more, and I'm hoping to do lots of it. I'll try to take as many interesting photographs as I can and then post them here when I get back on New Year's Day.
Everyone knows DJ Tiesto, DJ Sven Vath, Paul Okenfold, Timo Maas, Pete Tong, Sister Bliss and the like. But do you know Adam Freeland, DJ Ils, Uberzone, DJ Hyper, Soul of Man, Freq Nasty or the Plump DJs? It seems that trance and techno dominate the electronic scene, but few people know about breakbeats. I'm not talking about serious electronica enthusiasts--I'm talking about everyday people. If anyone is wondering what on earth breakbeats are, I'd suggest taking a listen. If you want to buy, and are just starting out with breaks, try the various Y4k music compilations by Distinctive Breaks (record company). I don't DJ (YET!), but I think I'd be correct to say that breaks are somewhat more technical than trance or techno, because good breaks require some serious funk. Within breaks, of course, there are the mainstream DJs and the rest. Mainstream DJs are people like Dub Pistols, DJ Kid Kenobi or DJ Hyper. It took me awhile to appreciate the above, but after listening to them for awhile, you start to appreciate their talent. Personally, I like clean breaks. Too much electronic music out there suffers from the "wall of sound" syndrome-where there are so many things going on it becomes noisy. This is especially true of Drum & Bass, and many break tracks suffer from the same thing, so you'll still need to be discerning when buying breaks.
Try listening to some, you'll not regret it.
I have to share a traumatic experience. As you know, I just moved into a new house with two friends, both girls. Now, three nights ago, as we were all lying around and chatting, they took a look at my face and started freaking out when they noticed that I had blackheads (who doesn't?!). So they took it upon themselves to squeeze every single one out, and exfoliate/tone/cleanse my face. After much squeezing and pain, my face felt like a skinned grape.. all raw and painful... but they were apparently very satisfied at what they had done. Apparently, I'm going to get a full face care kit for Christmas from Biotherm or something. This is scary stuff.
The other day, a friend referred me to a website called Movie Mistakes. Basically, it's a website with neverending lists of mistakes Hollywood made in their movies. For instance, there's even a picture of a gas cannister on one of the chariots in Gladiator. In Lord of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, there's a car driving past in the background of one of the scenes! The lists are endless, and there are mistakes in practically every movie you can find. Of course, one of the most famous ones is Charlie's Angels, where Drew Barrymore calls out, "Lucy!", to get Lucy Liu's attention, when her screen name is "Alex".
After studying European Film for a semester, somehow Hollywood Films (at least the mainstream ones), have seemed so... formulated. I recently went to watch some romantic comedy , and it's so forgettable I can't even remember the name.
In other news: I have secured an apartment with two other friends! I'll post pictures when we move in after the 22nd of November. My flight home is booked for the 14th of December, but whether or not I change it depends on any jobs I might find. I miss bak kut teh.
Since coming to Australia, the word 'asian' has all of a sudden become something very important to me. From something that was once taken for granted, it has become who I am.
Australia is a country whose roots lie in immigration. Its history is filled with people who came to escape and be free. That's why I find it so ironic that under the beautiful landscape, and friendly smiles, there lies seething racism. Having been here only four short months, I have experienced more instances of racism that in the past twenty-two years of my life. In a way I'm glad that I've had the chance to experience it firsthand, because it forces you to be introspective.
My first experience of it was walking across a pedestrian bridge in the city with two Asian friends--a girl and a small-sized guy. This big Aussie bloke was walking with a friend in the opposite direction. When about to pass my friend, he leaned down and rammed his shoulder into my friend, knocking him to the ground, and walked on as if nothing happened. I was thinking to myself, "He only got away with it because he was six-foot-four and weighed about a hundred and twenty kilos (that's 240lbs for any non-metric people), how many other Australians would have done the same had they the advantage of size?" Nobody around us batted an eyelid.
Friends have been punched in the side while getting off buses, and last week, a girl friend of another friend was walking back from work in the evening, when a car pulled up. The people inside thew an egg at her, hurled racial slurs, and then drove off.
Each day as I walk out of my house, and out into the world of University, I am conscious that I am the minority. I don't think I'm quite used to it yet.
Yet, even as I am conscious of this "white" brand of racist superiority (the dominant form of racism here in Australia), I am also conscious of the social failings of the Asians here in Australia, and in many other places in the world. Asia in general is a very collectivistic society, compared to Australia which is very individualistic. This means that Asians will tend to band together. But it also means that Asians tend to be very closed and ethnocentric, even when living in another country.
The following stats are based on Hofstede's 4-D model. I'm only going to show the Individualism index. Higher numbers represent a more individualic society:
I think the numbers really do speak for themselves.
I was sitting at a Fish & Chip shop near campus one evening, and was waiting for my food. This was in winter so it was pretty cold. There was a lone Asian man sitting at a table nearby, waiting for another friend to arrive, and also for his food. The smiling Australian waitress came out with his food, and said, "Oh, you look so lonely out here! Well, not to worry, your food's finally come!" Now, any normal Australian would have said something like, "Great stuff, I was getting a bit hungry ay!" or at least shown some appreciation. You know what the Asian guy did? Absolutely nothing. He gave this sort of awkward smile and didn't say a damn thing! Now, to an Australian, that can be considered very rude behaviour.
This illustrates the point I'm trying to make: Asians who have had little exposure to other cultures often not only show poor adaptive skills, but also fail to show any desire to learn. They just band together and create a "Little China", "Little Singapore", or "Little Asia", and stay in that closed group, never bothering to make the effort to venture out into the country which they have gone to.
But while I'm sure it makes a difference, it's not the reason for Australia's racism.
An Australian friend of mine said that Australia is a very young society compared to countries like the United States or Canada, where for the most part, racism is more frowned upon than here. I think what makes me so frustrated is that, besides making sure that I myself behave appropriately, there isn't very much I can do to change anything else.
Are there any Australians reading this? I welcome your thoughts on this.
Anyone who has studied abroad, or has views on this, you're welcome to comment too.
I'm just curious. Does anyone actually read this blog? I have a ton of stuff to post, but am probably only going to do it if I know that at least three people read this blog! Please leave a comment if you do. If not I shall give up and close the blog.
I was surfing the net just now and decided to visit the Al-Jazeera website. The english site is well designed, and quite professional, mind you. Of course, you're not going to find any American bullshit on it, like CNN. Instead, you'll see what they think on the other side of the world. The "axis of evil", to coin a Bush-ism. Give it a look. The address is right here.
Anyway, I did a search on Singapore, and found some interesting results!
Did you know that "Singapore leads the world in executions, putting to death more people than Saudi Arabia, China and Sierra Leone on a per capita basis, human rights group Amnesty International said..." (Al-Jazeera, Thursday 15 January 2004) This bit of information is something that would never make it into local headlines. Fancy that! The highest execution rate in the world per capita.
So it's not just Changi Airport that's number one now. It's also Changi Prison.
Tonight I had a chat on the phone with an old, dear friend of mine. She and I have known each other for about six years now. I've had an on-off attraction with her, up till today. This evening we talked, and I asked her to tell me, once and for all, if it was ever going to happen, because waiting in vain is terribly heartbreaking.
"No" has never been an easy word to take, but in this case it required an entire paradigm shift, from the concept of 'improbable' to the one called 'impossible'. It's very painful, especially since I've harboured a "one day, maybe" kind of hope for her for so many years. But respecting her decision is paramount to me, not forgetting, of course, that I have the power to do absolutely nothing. I can do nothing, and that takes getting used to. There are not so many situations in our personal lives which we are incapable of affecting; this, however, is one of them.
I told her that I would take a little time off to deal with this, and that I would initiate contact when I'm ready to resume the friendship, with this new understanding between us.
My eyes are puffy, though I hate them for it, and there's this pain down in my chest that lingers.
Somehow God has a plan in all of this (doesn't He always?).
Strangely enough, that knowledge doesn't quite take immediate effect. Pain's still there.
Finally at University. It's a brilliant room, and nothing to complain about. The only problem is that the walls are like unfinished brick slopped over with white paint, and thus very rough. My housemate and I have small grazes on our arms (yes, even till the point of bleeding), from scraping ourselves when tossing in bed at night. Incredible!
Life officially begins on Monday with Math lecture in the morning. Joy overwhelming.
Till then, I have no worries whatsoever. The only dilemma today was: What is the best position to eat a crumb-flaking peanut butter and jam sandwich in bed, with a plate?
Life is beautiful.
Despite the anti-Microsoft, anti-establishment rants spewing from the mouths of many, the fact remains that Microsoft Windows remains (quite dominantly) the most popular solution for PCs. Well I was surfing the net the other day looking for widescreen wallpapers when I stumbled upon the Wincustomize Website!
It offers tools to change almost everything and anything in Windows XP, including Bootscreens (the screen you see when Windows first powers up), Login Screens (the one where you click on your name and type your password), Wallpapers, Themes,Icons and the like. Here's an example of a beautiful login screen:
Be warned though, you can't download without limit. They will ask you to pay after the 50Mb limit (which is quite a lot). I'll add a link in the sidebar for convenience. Enjoy!
PS: Today I got to see my Pink Identity Card for the first time in two and a half years. The colour has never been more beautiful to me. I thanked God, said goodbye to everyone, and walked away from a long, painful milestone in my life. It is good to be free.
I wrote an article ages ago when I was feeling very strongly about something. I never published it, and I know that I've endeavoured to make this blog as selfless as possible, but I think one could benefit from reading this article, and so I shall do something quite rare and post an opiniated piece of writing. Grace, this was what we were talking about.
Last night I watched "The Chronicles Of Riddick", starring Vin Dielsel and surprisingly, even Judi Dench too. Alot of "professional movie critics" have slammed the film. But that doesn't surprise me. It's not perfect and does have it's corny bits, as well as some very bad acting by actress Thandi Newton, but the action scenes are beautifully choreographed, and the fight scenes,thankfully, are not matrix rip-offs like so many of the action moves in recent movies. If you're looking for a fantastic action movie with super-grandiose landscapes and cinematography, this is the movie for you. Lots of ornate armour, space ships and architecture. However, if you're looking for something with cool plot twists and deep meaning, go watch something else instead.
If you get to watch the movie, don't forget to check out Vin Diesel's hard-worked body. Especially his shoulders. Separated deltoids tell of long hours spent in the gym. :) Respect. Heh heh.
Oh, and a non-Riddick related issue:
Jean, since you asked, here's a recent photo of the hamsters. I took this pic when they were all snuggled up in a line sleeping. Some of them woke up when I opened the cage lid to take the photo. They're at Tim's house now because Dad said he wanted them "OUT!!", with no delay. They're all quite happy. Went over to give them a bath the other day. Sooo cute. Turns out that these hamsters are all climbers. Tim's hamsters don't climb like ours.
This morning I was talking to mum while she was still in bed. So we were talking about life after death.
She said: "Actually, I don't mind being resurrected as an angel... sing all day long, fly here, fly there."
"Mum, I don't think that's your perogative."
Thought the whole exchange was quite funny.
Second piece of wisdom was from John Tan, from IDP. We were talking about cooking, since I'm going to be cooking my own meals in Uni. Allow me to share the following:
JOHN TAN'S LAWS OF COOKING
I. If it takes more than 20 minutes to prepare, from start to finish, it is not worth cooking.
II. A meal should consist of 1 staple food, 1 meat and 1 veggie. Veggie may be excluded if substantial amounts of fruit will be consumed after.
Dare I disobey such sagely advice? I think not.
It's six weeks away from the next phase in my life.
There's no disguising it - I'm deleriously happy! University is something I never thought I'd get to, but growing up is inevitable, and here it is. I'm going to be pursuing a degree at the University of Queensland, Australia, which is just perfect. Christian, my best friend lives just an hour's drive away with his wife, and I've got tons of other friends there. My best girl buddy Ruth, an old and dear Church friend Sarah, a new friend Kelly, and more.
I'm looking forward to all of it: The independence, the responsibility, the studying like crazy, the new friends, new problems, cooking for myself, etc. Doing my own laundry is probaly going to be a chore (I hate doing laundry), so if anyone has any tips for me on that, please leave a comment!
The University itself is supposed to be quite beautiful, if what I've heard is true. Here's a description from the Uni's own website:
"The University of Queensland's St Lucia campus is considered by many to be Australia's most attractive. Located seven kilometres from the city's heart on a magnificent 114-hectare site in a bend of the Brisbane River, the campus has expansive landscaped grounds and many playing fields. Its hub is a semi-circle of cloistered buildings enclosing the National Trust-listed Great Court.
The Alumni Teaching Garden in College Road near the river is primarily a teaching and research facility but also includes a quiet area of lush rainforest with public walkways. The adjacent Una Prentice Memorial Garden, bounded by Roberston Walk and Ferry Walk, surrounds two of the three lakes on campus."
Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what the campus looks like. I couldn't find many big, nice pics online so these will have to do. I'll probably post some pics of the uni when I actually get there.
Cafe on the Great Court by night. Very beautiful.
University Walkway. It's a sandstone building campus, which I think is gorgeous.
The picturesque campus. Just look at that!
Another picture of the campus. Almost paradise.
Isn't it beautiful? I think one of the things I look forward to the most is the pace of life. I'm not saying that I won't be busy, or stressed, but the entire culture over there is simply less stressful. Anyone would agree. Lower stress levels, a beautiful campus, and freedom. It's really quite something!
You know how the most fun part about school was the part NOT about studying? Well, I found this book, and it's absolutely fabulous. It answers all those interesting questions you always wanted to know the answers to. It's got tons of questions, answered by people who are experts in their fields. For instance, the question "Is glass really a liquid?" is answered by Steve W. Martin, Associate Professor of Materias Science & Engineering, Iowa State University. Impressive huh? I'll just type out one for fun:
"If a used needle can transmit HIV, why can't a mosquito?"
Answered by Laurence Corash, Chief Medical Officer, Cerus Corporation, Concord, California.
The AIDS virus (HIV) on used needles is infectious when injected into a human where the virus can bind to T cells and start to replicate. The human T cell is a very specific host cell for HIV. WHen a mosquito feeds on a person with HIV in his or her blood, the HIV enters the insect's gut, which does not contain human T cells. The virus thus has no host cell in which to replicate and it is broken down by the mosquito's digestive system.
The single-celled parasite that causes malaria, in contrast, can survive and multiply in the mosquito's gut and mature into an infectious form. The resulting sporozoites then migrate into the insect's salivary glands. Because mosquitoes inject their saliva when they bite, the parasite is passd along to the next human the insect feeds on. In this case the complex interaction between the infectious agent and the vector (the mosquito) is required for transmission. HIV, however, deteriorates in the gut before the mosquito bites again and therefore is not transmitted to the insect's next victim.
Interesting no? Well there are tons more cool questions in the book. Maybe I'll put one up each week. I think General Knowledge is very important... knowing a little of everything, not just what they teach you in the classroom. Unfortunately, here in Singapore, general knowledge isn't very highly prized.
I just came back from watching Shrek 2, which was quite hilarious. My favourite character was Puss-In-Boots, who is the cuuuuuute kitty you see above. I have a thing for cute kittens, so if you're feeling rich, feel free to get me a nice kitty. Heh heh.
The Computer Graphics in Shrek 2 were really cutting edge... you could see it in the skin textures, and so many other things. Alot of people think it's just a cartoon, and it is, but the effects are truly amazing if you know how difficult it is to do. Consider that to generate a realistic apprearance of an object, the computer has to plot the path of millions of photons (light) and the direction and strength with which they are reflected/scattered. Shrek 2 also uses subsurface scattering (used for translucent effects), amongst so many other things. Respect the CG.
I wish they had kissed so they could have stayed beautiful forever. What benefits them to remain ogres??
I watched Troy last Sunday, and must say that it's just the type of epic I like. However, it wasn't that fantastic. Here, let me give you some fantastic links to Troy stuff. The first one is a scorching defamation of the movie's historical accuracy by none other than my Ancient Greek History Scholar Friend, Edward. This one is among the funniest things I have ever read in my life. It's Troy In Fifteen Minutes, and you HAVE to read it.. I don't think I've laughed so hard reading a parodied script, ever.
The stupid parts in the movie were:
1) When Achilles is calling Hector out of Troy to avenge his "cousin's" death. "Heck-taaaah!" he screams over, and over, and over, and over again. Hector, on the other hand, takes ten years before he walks out to confront the man. He says goodbye to every family member... which takes an awfully long time... and all the while Achilles is going, "HECK-TAAAAH!!!" in his British Accent.
2) Agamemnon, "King Of Greece" stands in the middle of Troy as it is burning, shouting "Burn Troy burn! Burn Troy to the ground!!" Both he and his brother resemble Gimli from Lord Of The Rings... and the combination is.... uh.
3) Paris VS Menelaus. Paris gets his butt kicked in less than a minute, and runs to his big brother for help, sniveling like a baby. I think everyone wanted him to die. His brother is THE MAN. Whereas Legolas/Paris is a wuss... and he remains such throughout the entire movie.
4) Breseis has a knife to Achilles's throat while he's sleeping, and wants to kill him. He wakes up, gives a grand speech about how he is not afraid to die because everyone has to die one day; he then flips her over, puts his hand up her thigh, after which her libido melts her murderous resolve.... and they get jiggy. Riiiight!
Okay enough from me... I'm getting tired of typing. Go read the above links for all the good sutff.
So! I have finally jumped onto the Blogging Bandwagon. After going through a gazillion people's blogs, I have come to realise one thing: People like to talk about themselves. Sooooooo.... realising this, I should be different, no? Well if you know what you'd like to see on this one, let me know!