Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

April 2003 Archives

Music Made Right

I can’t even tell you how glad I am that I got the Apple Powerbook. Watching first hand Apple’s new Music store unfold is witnessing a revolution in the making.

Sure, we were intrigued by Napster and then Kazaa. But those were underground technologies that had spawned the illegal swapping of music. We all agree that music artists deserve to earn a decent living.

My main argument and gripe with the music industry has always been the coercion laid upon consumers to purchase an entire album. It is hard enough to make one good song, let alone a dozen. That just didn’t justify my buying of CDs and I often walked away a peeved customer. In my spare time I’ve even drawn up plans for a vending machine that burned CDs containing only the songs you want and charging per song.

Apple did it with the new music store. Sure, 99 cents per song may be a tad heavy, but it beats having to buy a 20 dollar CD anytime. I hope the price falls, and we can resume Napteresque download habits without infringing upon the rights of music artists to their gargantuan profits.

Can’t get into the music store? Heh…get a Mac.

Dewdrops

Amanda came up to me during class and told me that the photos in my photolog made Tucson “look nice”. My immediate reaction was “but it is”. Then it hits me that in less than a month Tucson will become a distant memory. No more driving down Speedway to catch the sunset or hikes through Sabino Canyon. Even the cactus, whose prevalence we sometimes complain about, will be a sight seldom seen.

It scares me to think that life as I’ve known it for the past three years will just disappear, the transience of time snatching away precious parts of our lives as if the realities of yesterday never were. I hold on, as if unto morning dewdrops on green grass.

There’ll be so many things I’ll miss, and things I wished I had done. I’m inclined to think that such is the nature of time and of life, but I could be wrong, speaking only as one who has never ventured and lived the full spectrum of life.

MMORPG Madness

Why the absence? The last time I went MIOA (missing in online action) I was busy enjoying the sunsets and the lush green scenery of Hibernia in Dark Age of Camelot.

Since schoolwork sort of died down this week I decided to pay a visit to Camelot again. My old friends in the guild I joined are now revelling in godlike power, while I returned very much the same low-levelled character I was as when I left. It is interesting how human beings can be contained in this virtual world, with its virtual currency, building virtual reputations and fighting virtual wars. A conversation I overheard between an elf and a lurikeen summed it up. It’s about the people you meet. In a world where almost everything seems false, the people behind the facades are real, and that is what draws people to these massive multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs).

Having already fallen so far behind my comrades in terms of strength and power building, I decided to venture into weaponcrafting. I make weapons for other characters. The more weapons I make, the better my skill. The better my skill, the better weapons I make, the more money I make. You get the picture.

It was an interesting observation in the social constructs and its facilitation for altruism. I would say that most people, given the opportunity (meaning requirement minimum initiative), are willing to help other people less fortunate than themselves. I also gave away a few weapons for free to low-levelled people and observed. Though the act was virtual, the kindness shown and the cheer generated was genuine. And kindness has a way of passing through all of society, from the most well-to-do to the least.

Why don’t we see it then, in the real world? This is where the difference between the real world and MMORPGs lie. In the MMORPG you get what you work for. Everything is directly proportional to the amount of time and effort you put in. In the real world, it is usually the most ruthless, the most cunning who succeed. They don’t turn kind and altruistic easily, after honing their battle acumen for so many years.

Clean Hands, Pure Heart

Thanks AL, for the link to the indepth study of Psalm 34 the helped clarify my doubts of how King David, a man who was a deceiver, could write about integrity in his Psalms.

It comes back to the issue of clean hands. I sometimes cringe in fear when I engage in “contemporary” Christian worship. Many songs contain promises I dare not even speak with my mouth. “I will love you forever” and “forever I will stand” are one of the most common phrases in the lyrics of Christian music today. We often sings these songs without as much as a second thought, not realising the weight of the words we utter.

In the same light, there’s the argument that the United States shouldn’t have engaged Iraq because of the spotted history they themselves possess. I’ve come to see that if we were to cling on to the theory of clean hands, nothing would ever be done and no praise ever uttered. We all fall so short in our many varied ways.

Yet it is crucial to remember that David did not write this Psalm lightly. He learnt his lessons, had time to ponder over them and confess his own sin of fearing man over God. In the same light, we are called to examine our hearts before partaking of the Lord’s supper. Let there be no doubt that He condones no sin, and the most prevalent sin today is probably the taking of His name in vain.

The call today is the same as it was millenia ago. “Come, worship the Lord”. Not because we are pure or clean. Not because we are a great Christian nation. The only way we can sing those songs with those big big words in them is if we look upon Him, and realise the entirety of His Being and nature. It is at that point we cannot help but fall down on the knees of our hearts and offer Him all that we have. It is then that “I love you forever” is made possible because of Him, and not because the chords and music sound great.

It is only then, that our hands are made clean and our hearts pure, fulfilling our purpose of worship.

Psalm of Praise

While reading Psalm 34 today, it was hard to understand its context. This Psalm was written by King David after he pretended to be insane before his enemy Abimelech, and by doing so escaped what seemed like certain death.

The difficulty lies in the apparent conflict between the Psalm and the prior actions of the Psalmist. Verse 13:

bq. Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking deceit.

Wait a second. Wasn’t David’s whole pretending to be insane part deceit in itself? I believe in the infaillibility of the Bible, but my own limited understanding, especially of the Old Testament, finds this conflict odd.

Anyone out there with a deeper insight?

Googlicious

Who’s the number one Ruth in Singapore?

Above the Mark

You know how us drivers always drive five miles/kilometers above the speed limit? We do that because we assume that the highway police give us that little leeway, thus we exploit it to the fullest.

What if I told you that it is not them, but us who are fooled? A conspiracy of global proportions to offset every speedometer on every automobile down one mark (that would usually equate five kilometers or miles). The police know about this, and therefore let us “off” when we think we’re speeding a little.

The implications are beyond just our behaviour on the road. For many of us, the automobile has become a standard gauge of speed. Though most of us don’t really make important decisions based on this yardstick, the revelation of its falsehood makes us ponder over many other assumptions we take for granted.

It’s just a conspiracy theory I came up with. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true though.

Unique!

Thanks to Ben Hurley, I found out that Tribolum.com’s a Googlewhack. It means that Tribolum.com is the only result when you run a specific search on Google.

Search for “canonized nosehairs” and marvel at my uniqueness!

Empirical vs Experiential

There’s an inside joke that Clifton’s arrival to the University of Arizona sparked off this whole string of unfortunate incidents. We joke about him being the black hole of Feng Shui, or the sapper of good luck. You know how some Chinese homes hang paintings of old Chinese “deities” for good luck? Clifton’s that - in reverse.

Since his email informing me of his acceptance into the University of Arizona, I had my house broken into, my car stereo stolen and my car engine overheated. Carol lost her digital camera and Wenyang’s memory card inside the camera. Yusri, who met Clifton for the shortest time, lost his money clip (and money) and the cover for his Oakley shades.

Today at church Clifton was standing near the door. A kid fell face down on the ground right in front of him. I’m not superstitious (at least I don’t think I am), but his presence brings out all these “incidents” to the forefront. It’s probably because these things are made more evident to us.

Or not.

Do Not Park, Do Not Pass Go

The planets must have been aligned under a full moon tonight. If you’ve been following the news of my life you’d remember our house being broken into last November, our car stereo stolen in February and our car breaking down in the middle of nowhere in March. Add one more to the list, will ya.

The omens were in the air. The full moon and an unprecendented number of policecars blaring their sirens on the streets. I must have seen at least twelve of them racing about their business tonight.

Min and I went to Centennial Hall to watch Tango Buenos Aires, which I had heard was pretty good. Ten minutes into the show I was yawning and trying not to fall asleep. Sure, the footwork was nifty, but there wasn’t enough “wow” material to keep me interested for a full two hours. I had thought that Min, being more dance-inclined, saw something that I didn’t. Maybe it was something in my psyche or my genes that just didn’t predispose me to this form of performance art.

During the intermission, Min looked visibly tired and she wore on her face the look of one in a dilemma. I nudged her just a little bit and we both decided to skip the second half of the show to meet up with some friends for dessert at Applebee’s.

Where’d we park the car?
We parked the car at Wenyang’s and decided to pay him an impromptu visit. We then borrowed his phone to make a few phone calls to make arrangements. That probably took ten to fifteen minutes tops. I barely had time to finish reading an article in a photography magazine he had on the coffee table.

Continue reading Do Not Park, Do Not Pass Go »

Fade to Black

Michael Jordan played his last NBA game yesterday. Yeah, I know you’re probably experiencing some deja vú, but this time it feels like it’s for real. Really.

He’s been an icon I actually had the chance to watch develop in my lifetime. I started my diet of NBA basketball in the late 80s with the whole Lakers vs Celtics (the uber-retro computer basketball game) and started getting really into it when Isaiah Thomas and his bad-boy Detroit Pistons won the Championships. Michael Jordan was this scrawny inexperienced superstar-wannabe back then.

Look where we’ve come now, baby. An athelete’s career is relatively short, and its passing is like an accelerated life-cyle. There is still Michael after NBA basketball, but not many of us know that. The fact that we will no longer watch him execute his patented turnaround fadeaway on some poor soul reminds us of how time has passed and how old we’ve all become. His “passing” tells us that we’ve been too busy watching rather than doing. We’ve lived vicariously through him - his greatness, his gambling problems, his stint in minor league baseball.

Thanks Mike, for the memories. We’ll work on our own moves. Promise.

Cause for Action

Walker posted an interesting link detailing Saddam’s atrocities. It helps to understand why the pro-war believe what they do, and it clears doubt that despite our differences, we want the best for the Iraqi people.

Only time will tell what the true motivations for this war was.

Dramarama

First was “Chemical Ali”. Now it’s “Dr. Germ” and “Missile Man”. Who on earth comes up with such ridiculous nicknames for the captured Iraqi officials and scientists? If I had the resources, I’d do an in-depth investigation of whether Nickelodeon is the puppetmaster behind the news networks.

Did it occur to you that Dr. Germ, the alleged cornerstone of Saddam’s chemical weapons program, is a woman? All this time we’ve been hearing about how women are being oppressed and denied an education, and now the brains behind the whole operation is a woman?

Maybe Iraq was a much closer paradigm of an effective Middle Eastern government than the west gave them credit for. After all, a lot of the flak the Iraqi government suffers comes after the sanctions levied upon it by the United Nations (spearheaded by the U.S.). I found it highly ironic that the news ticker today read “Bush wants U.N. to lift sanctions against Iraq”.

Family

“Dear Son, spelling for occasions - you spelt them occassions a number of times. Should amend asap.”

My mum sent me this through the contact form of Tribolum. An accountant almost all her life, it’s her nature to notice these small details and point them out to me.

Like me, she’s changed so much over the years too. I remember her in my childhood - a young mother who was extremely anxious over her firstborn son who refused to do his homework. I can only imagine the amount of stress I brought into her life. Teachers calling up my home every other day to bring her news of what homework I still owed them. Mum was so young and so helpless, not having a clue about how to deal with a child so difficult and unresponsive.

These days she’s the epitome of cool. She doesn’t bother with my younger sister, who’s now in her teens. So much so that we begin to worry if the new laissez-faire style of parenting were a tad too confident in time’s restorative abilities. I’m learning a little from her how to relax when it comes to my sisters. I too have the tendency to worry too much and micromanage every small facet.

Min and I were just talking about Dad this afternoon, and I brought up one interesting fact: In all my twenty-five years of living with the man I’ve never heard him complain when made to do something for his family. Not once. I’ve woken him up early in the morning to send me to school on occasion (spelt correctly this time, Mum). He merely gets up, hair still ruffled, fumbles for the car keys and we’re off.

If there’s anything I want to inherit genetically, it would be his tolerance and love for his family.

I hope I’ve become someone they can be proud of, because I’m awfully proud of them.

Moving

A avid gamer, I’ve never thought much of laptops and notebooks. They always seemed underpowered, undersized. Just basically under-everything. Except for the Alienware Mobile Area51, which was a luxury item even for the stinking rich, most notebooks were no good when it came to my main form of entertainment.

I always envisioned myself as one of those adults who did the cool things teenagers did. I wanted to be the parent whom other kids wish they had. But today toting around the powerbook, I find that I’m not unlike my peers.

Sitting here in the atrium blogging while listening to my mp3s, I suddenly realise that I no longer feel the urge to fire up Doom or Castle Wolfenstein. It scares me a little, for I’ve always equated slowing down with a symptom of death. As children we grow more and more each day, till one day we find ourselves dying a little everytime the sun sets.

I don’t know if I’ve reached the peak of my own conceptualised life-curve.

Danny Boy plays in the background, instead of the Aguilera-type songs the youth of today listen to so much. Maybe I’m not cut out to be one of those cool adults. Maybe I’m just like everyone else.

Switched

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have switched. Yao Ming has worked his 7 foot 6 inch magic on me and I’m now the user of a 12” Powerbook. I say user because it’s technically meant to be Faith’s. But we’re going to share. reminds self we’re going to share.

So far I’ve been terribly, extremely, wonderfully impressed with the Mac. Having owned a fair share of computers, it’s no small matter when I say that opening the powerbook’s packaging had my hands trembling with anticipation. Despite PCs being “mainstream”, there has been nothing close to the professional look and feel of a Mac product.

The 12” powerbook came with a free 10GB iPod, which is in itself another cause for endless drool. All of a sudden, the little annoyances that we’ve been taught to endure as PC users are solved with little thoughtful design implementations by Apple. I can vouch this: Owning a Mac is a liberating experience.

Sure the software takes some getting used to, but from what I’ve heard, the OS is as user-friendly or as customisable as you want it to be. The only thing I’m sad about is that my Photolog doesn’t display as it should on IE5/Mac, and MoveableType doesn’t have the handle little buttons (for bold, italics and hyperlinks) on Safari.

While typing this entry, I’ve had to remind myself to swallow twice already for fear of drowning from my incessant drooling.

So people who’ve been considering it (Rannie, I know you are), switch. You’ll feel like a kid on Christmas day again.

A Gift that Gives

The few times I gathered up courage to visit the very ill in hospitals I found myself coming out having been more the encouraged than the encourager. Reading Lainey’s cry for help and wanting very much to encourage and comfort her, I find myself again so filled with His forgiveness and love.

This is a song taken out from Psalms 130.

To Lainey, that you may remember that He hears.

I call to You from out of the deep O Lord, Most High. Aware of my sin and the distance I keep from the light, O Lord. But there is forgiveness with Thee, and in wonder I fall on my knees. My soul waits for the Lord in the hope of His promise; in the hope of His promise, deliverance will come. My soul waits for the Lord through the night till the morning like a night watchman waiting for the coming of the dawn.

Laughter is Contagious

Being so far away, it is sometimes easier to isolate myself from the havoc that the SARS virus is causing at home. Looking at it statistically, the SARS virus has not claimed a large number of lives, though its highly contagious nature is cause for alarm. No cure for any type of virus has ever been found in the history of humankind, so the best people can do is try not to get infected.

There is a cure, however, for the paranoia and insensitivity that comes with fear. People from China risk losing their jobs solely because of their nationality; doctors and nurses are ostracised from society because of their occupation; and labels like “super-infectors” are placed on people who never strove for so dishonourable a title.

Just as I was touched and impressed by the New York firefighters during the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centers, I am even prouder of the nurses and doctors in Singapore who battle discrimination and possible infection while doing their job. My heart goes out to them.

Choices

Last night I told Faith that I’d come home as soon as school was out for the year. It was not something that came about easily, for it marks the end of one phase in my life, and the beginning of another.

Even as I take one step forward and look reflectively over my time here at Arizona, there are so many what-ifs, and the forks along that road I have long since passed come back to me. Yet it is not the path less taken that I muse over - it is the one much travelled. In Singapore where government campaigns are conducted to urge people to marry, getting married right after school is an anomaly. The life ahead with Faith is something that I’ve been looking forward to for the better part of my life now, and its realisation is both exciting and comforting at the same time. But like the malcontent most Singaporeans are, I often look at other people’s lives and (consciously or subconsciously) make a comparison.

Looking at Faith (of faithspace, not my fiancé) and her plans for summer, I cannot help but turn a little green with envy. The list of parks she plans to visit over the summer were on my mind as a short vacation, a kind of reward upon graduation. I told Faith that I’d come home and help out with the things that needed to be done, and that visiting these places could be done at a later time, but I know how life is. Things just pile one on top of another and dreams become a distant memory. It is ironic that my greatest motivation for wanting to visit those parks is to take photographs and making visual memories of them.

I don’t know what to choose, or how to.

Who's the Fairest?

My first Mirror Project submission. What can I say, I don’t like taking pictures of myself.

Burnt

Everytime I am finally led to believe I end up being burnt. I should have trusted my instincts and knew that the closeup perspectives of the rejoicing Iraqis meant that there was something to hide.

Link via Vantan.

Two Sides

CNN just ran a short segment on the two sides of Iraq, covering the celebration of freedom from tyranny, and the remnant still fighting off the U.S. invasion.

“At this moment Iraq cannot be captured in a picture. It is an album”. Stellar stuff.

Fries. French Fries.

Looped footage of rejoicing Iraqis have been playing on the news channels almost endlessly today. I’m thankful that the war is (for the most part) over, but the consequences of the actions taken in the past few months remain to be seen. Many precedents have been set in this war with Iraq, and I fear that they may come back to haunt us another day. As far as I’m concerned, the United States has undermined its authority in international affairs, while the United Nations has been made a cuckold of. I’m hoping that things will bounce back to where they were before we started, but that naive hope doesn’t survive the furnace of reality. The worst case scenario is that a move towards an international anarchy has begun, and we’re starting to see signs of it.

In between video clippings of rejoicing Iraqis (played for the nth time), an analyst for MSNBC was talking about how the part of the international community that didn’t support the war should be made to “pay penance”. He suggested that the U.S. exercised its veto power in whatever motion France or Germany might bring forth in the next two or three years, and that the U.S. shouldn’t hear from Canada in the near future.

In a country where every citizen has the right to their own opinion, it is ironic that an educated man voice his opinion so freely, suggesting that people from other countries be stripped of this right. With Congress supporting the whole “freedom fries” campaign, I do not doubt that this analyst’s opinions would be shared amongst a few of those in power.

My hope, however, is that you do not partake in this campaign sowing hatred and mistrust. I put up a small flag on the sidebar which you can place on your website in support of France and its right to a difference in opinion.

I love France, as much as I love the United States for all its colour and glory. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to do too.

Brother to Brother

For D.W., because your pain is my pain, and your sorrow my sorrow.

Michael Card - Be Thou My Vision (mp3).

Islanded

Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this lonely. Sitting here and listening to Linda Eder singing “I Never Knew His Name” brings back memories of my freshman year. Sitting alone in my dorm room coding up the ugliest web pages to populate the Internet while listening to MP3s.

Geez, Napster was in its infancy then. It has since died, like an old friend whom I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to.

Balancing Act

For those of you who were found the last blog a tad long and didn’t click on the “continue reading…” link, I’d just like to clarify that I didn’t hit anybody. It was a literary piece I had crafted to parallel (though not perfectly, I concede) the war on Iraq.

It opened my eyes to a few things; the most glaring of which is our eroded trust in established institutions. Where I had a number of “wow, you were so brave to have done that”, I didn’t receive a single “you should have informed the police”. We have grown to believe that the traditional avenues have become ineffective, and in some way vigilantism has become an acceptable form of justice.

It is impossible to reconcile the two sides of the argument for and against war. It doesn’t help that pro-Arab Al-Jazeera is cut off while pro-US media giants CNN and MSNBC hammer propaganda into the minds of the public.

The goals of the journalist used to involve providing unbiased news. It is a goal long forgotten. As the reading public we’ve learnt to balance our news by sampling as wide a selection of sources as possible. It is inevitable that we go to sources that agree with our own bias and beliefs. But coordinated moves like Akamai’s decision to discontinue their services to Al-Jazeera and the NYSE’s barring of Al-Jazeera journalists from the trading floor has revealed the utter hypocrisy of the political powers that reside in the land of the free.

Now that war has begun and the cries of millions of anti-war protestors fallen on deaf ears, what do we do? We’ve heard all the lofty promises. Hold them to that. The victory lies not in Saddam’s death nor the change of the regime. It lies in the fulfillment of all the promises made to us as justification for the war. In my heart of hearts I hope that President Bush delivers.

For the sake of us all I hope he does.

Links via Kottke.

Outlet

I just couldn’t stand it any longer.

I’ve been eyeing this guy who stays near my apartment for the longest time. He’s one of those messed-up guys: Early twenties, young wife/girlfriend and two kids, tattoos all over his arms and legs.

It isn’t just the look of him I couldn’t stand. I’m not the sort who’d pass judgement that fast. It began with his loud music that went on throughout the day and sometimes into the night. Another thing he always did was the wheel-spin thing whenever he drove his battered truck out of the parking lot. On weekends his group of friends would make the loudest drunken din. That’s not even what pissed me off.

Over the past few months I’ve noticed him taking his kids out. Two young boys, both blond and blue-eyed. Even from a distance I noticed his favourtism. It wasn’t hard to tell when he kept slapping the older of the two upside on the head for no apparent reason. They’d be walking side by side, and WHAP, he’d just strike the kid on the head. The younger one was never (as far as I’ve noticed) the recipient of such treatment. Truth is, I’ve even seen him buy the younger one an ice-cream, and only have the older kid look on.

The teen mother? She’s the petite kind who didn’t look as if she had much of a will left. She’d look on helplessly from the door whenever her punk of a husband took the children out for their “playtime”. She sometimes looked battered, and from what I could see she had been cowered into submission over time.

I’ve called the police several times, and so far they said that they were looking into it. Granted, I’ve seen more police cars patrol my neighbourhood and it’s worked somewhat. I’ll admit it - something about him just irks the heck out of me.

It consumes you, y’know? The more I dwelt about it, the angrier I felt and the more violent my thoughts became. They were just thoughts, until a few days ago.

I couldn’t take it any longer. He walked out of his apartment, beer bottle in hand and with his two sons, one of each side. He was shouting at the older son who was barely seven, hurling expletives. This kid was going to grow up warped, I remember thinking to myself. Then he grabbed the older son by the collar and dragged him back towards the door of the apartment. The boy stumbled and fell, and his knees scraped the rough tarmac of the parking lot. He let out an very loud yelp. His younger brother cried.

The father (it pains me even to call him this) picked him up by his collar again and threw, literally threw, him back into the apartment. He then slammed the door and headed out, leaving the younger son standing in the parking lot, still crying.

I had to do something.

It was easy to tell when Joe (that’s what I heard his wife call him) returned. It was marked by the very loud screeching of brakes and the smell of rubber on tarmac. I wished he stayed out longer than the forty-five minutes he did. I was still very angry and very upset.

My stomach fluttered with the wings of a thousand butterflies. I walked to the kitchen drawer and grasped the handle of a knife. Thank God I decided to put that away, for who could have known what would have been.

I took a deep breath and decided to go confront Joe. I went up to his apartment and knocked at the door. The smell of alcohol, even from behind a closed door, was suffocating.

No answer.

I knocked again. It was a while before I heard stirring from inside the house. A young woman’s voice could be heard. She was shouting. The cries of a boy played on like a broken record. I don’t know where the other boy was.

The door swung open violently and Joe stood there with a very nasty look in his eye. At this point, I was more concerned than angry, and wanted nothing but to talk some sense into him. But I saw that he held in his hand a junior baseball bat. Shorter than the adult-sized ones, but made of aluminium strong enough to do damage all the same. He grabbed me and told me to “get the f**k off his apartment”. My blood started to boil again.

Then it happened. Like a flash. I can’t even remember the sequence of events very clearly. I just snapped.

I broke his nose and swung his head against the wall. The baseball bat fell impotent on the ground and Joe lay unconscious beside the cheap sofa set that came with the apartment. Blood was splatted on the wall, and flowed down from his head unto the floor. I stood there stunned. In the corner of my eye I saw his wife, holding one son in her arms and the other against her side. I saw the horror in her eyes. There was no trace of gratitude.

The shock of it all slowly ebbed away and I saw what I had done. The wife had already called 911 and the police were on their way. I sat down on my hands, hoping that by hiding them I could somehow obscure the violent truth of my actions and find righteousness in my anger.

I spent the weekend in the lockup. Joe spent his in the hospital. As far as I know, he hasn’t woken up yet.

As I rationalise my actions inside my head I find more questions than answers. I wish someone would tell me that what I did was just, and that it was for the sake of the children, but Joe’s wife and kids are now without a husband and father. At least temporarily. Or permanently. I don’t know.

I don’t know anything anymore. I’m just sorry I didn’t update my blog over the weekend. I had a lot on my mind.

Continue reading Outlet »

Mars and Venus

NCAA Basketball Championship Game. The cumulation of a whole season’s work into a single game. Kansas vs Syracuse.

Sister watching skating. I ask the sister to change channels to check out the score. I’m only partially interested in the tournament after our Wildcats bowed out.

“53-42”. The answer came.

“Who’s up?”

“Don’t know”.

Prevalent Economics

Humans seem to take to politics so easily, don’t they? Even as children, we remember instances where we (or the other children) using friendships as leverage to gain some form of power or authority over another.

It becomes so much more prevalent and insidious as an adult. It almost feels as if we’re all thrown into the game, whether or not we want it. Personal politics is a game that is both fruitless and destructive, but the short boost to the ego is something a number amongst us actually develop a taste for.

Subtleties, innuendos and body language all come into play, and everyday activities and interaction become that much more complicated and confusing. Such are the games we play.

Selling News

Jerry Bruckheimerisque music stirring up visions of grandeur

“We bring you the latest reports of a daring Marine rescue operation. The POW in question is 19 year old Private First Class Jessica Lynch. We are told that she suffered multiple gunshots and knife stab wounds and is now held captive in an Iraqi hospital.”

Angry murmurings

“Those brutes. Have they no shame? She’s just a 19 year old girl! Multiple gunshots! And stabbed many times with a knife! *?#(%#!”

So later we find out that “the doctor has not seen any of this”. Maybe the doctor’s still looking.

I’m very disappointed in the media. I’ve long wanted to be a journalist and held them in high regard. On the side of the common people, so I believed. It is abundantly clear that NBC’s Kerry Sanders was more interested in selling the news than reporting it. Even when proven wrong, the media has done nothing so far to apologise. They just move on to the next big lie. They even placed undue emphasis on the words “Iraqi hospital”, as if it were the wrong place for the injured to be.

Fox News has a wall of photographs of military personnel sent to the Middle East - pictures sent in by their loved ones. Who weeps when a Republican guard dies? 70% strength. 50% strength. Decimated. Obliterated. Can’t you see that they’re the same as you and I? Can’t you weep?!?

Where is your heart, people of America? Where is your heart for the downtrodden, the suffering, the wronged and the injured? How can you celebrate a loss of life as victory?

The sword of the strong is deadly sharp, but his hand is made strong with restraint. It is the coward’s arm that flails about, and nicks, scrapes at whatever he may find.

Bush in Uniform

Guess I’m not the only one who had visions of Dubya donning on military attire. James of the Yankee Herald has one too.

Notice Bush’s finger already on the trigger.

Link via Curiously.org

In a Nutshell

My apprehensions regarding the current war couldn’t be summed up any better than this short dialogue.

And no, I don’t think the “that decision’s already been made, let’s roll with what we have” argument is going to stick either.

Link via Audrey

Acronyms

Looking back, I’m amazed at how much independence my parents gave me. When faced with the huge decisions in my life, Mum always sat down with me and asked, “So what do you want to do?”. And she wasn’t like some parents who asked their children’s opinion and then turned a deaf ear. Mum really listened. The decisions were made as I wanted them. Wow.

I was eleven, going on twelve. It was one of those major turning points in a Singaporean child’s life - the whole PSLE(Primary School Leaving Examination) exam, and the choosing of a secondary school to attend. For those of you not familiar with the education process in Singapore and a few other Asian countries, just remember this: The child’s entire future is pretty much dependent upon which school he or she gets into.

So when Mum asked me which school I wanted to apply to, I took some time to do some research. You might want to believe that I actually looked up statistics or asked friends who were in the prospective schools. I didn’t. All I wanted to know was which school Faith was in. She, being a year older, was already in secondary school. I just needed to align my choices appropriately.

As we were only acquaintances (much to my dismay) and add to that the fact that I was pretty much yellow-livered, I scoured around for clues much like a scavenger. The opportunity came when she brought a donation card to choir practice one night. It bore her school crest on it.

With a daily allowance of fifty cents, I couldn’t even fake an interest in donating money. I did, however catch a glimpse of the crest. The school name underneath the crest was written in an old cursive font that wasn’t quite readable in the dim lighting.

As we packed up and got ready to go home, I finally summoned the couraged to ask her.

“Which school are you in?”

“T.K.,” she replied.

Not wanting to look stupid in front of the girl I was very much infatuated with, I smiled and nodded.

Back home (that very night, mind you), I pulled out my Panini sticker book that contained within it all the school crests of Singapore. Like most other children, my short attention span meant that I did not finish collecting all the stickers, and many school crests were only empty squares. I went straight to secondary schools that began with the letter “T”.

Telok Kurau! Of course! How could I not have known?

Telok Kurau Secondary School was this rather dilapidated neighbourhood school near the place I lived. It was far from being elite. Their students were often seen at the bus stop in front of my house, smoking cigarettes, their crumpled white shirts untucked. From what I knew, not a very respectable school to attend.

But Faith was there. And I had to be there too.

A little concerned with laying down my entire future in order to win the heart of a girl who barely spoke two words to me, I asked Auntie Soo Eng where Faith went to school.

“T.K.”

Good. I hadn’t heard wrongly.

A few weeks later Faith wore her school uniform to church. Wait a minute. It’s not the white blouse - white skirt combination I remember T.K. students wearing. Hers was a weird green pinifore which she wore over a white t-shirt.

You could literally hear my brain scramble as its entire database was scanned for memories that would allow me to pinpoint which school the uniform belonged to.

Like her sister who unintentionally sabotaged my love-letter-writing, Faith had left out crucial information that made all the difference. TKGS(Tanjong Katong Girls’ School) was the full acronym of her school.

Tanjong Katong Girls’ School. There were many things I was willing to give up to be with her, but a sex-change wasn’t one of them. The dream of spending four years of secondary school with her thwarted, my one-track mind moved on to the next optimistic thought:

Junior Colleges were all co-ed.

A True Leader

I never thought I’d say this, but all I have right now is admiration for President George W. Bush.

As expressed in my blog, I’ve shown my stand against the war - the reasons given and the motivations which we suspect are behind it all. My stand has not changed, I still think that this is a war that should never have been started. But my impression of the man in power is no longer that of a conniving, self-serving politician. His latest actions have made me believe that he is sincere, and that the war with Iraq was started because he truly believes in its need for liberation. A noble cause, however naive it may seem to others.

President Bush dressed in military attire

In the latest breaking news report, President Bush has decided to fly to Kuwait to visit the hundreds and thousands of troops engaged in battle.

Politicians visit troops in battle all the time, but certainly not in the thick of battle. “I will not ask the children of our country to lay down their lives, if I am not willing to do the same”, he was quoted as saying.

The news networks are in a frenzy, with many speculating if his latest move was indeed one of bravery or simply foolishness. The analyst went so far to say that this might be the turning point, at least politically, that would garner the much needed support from the worldwide community.

A true leader is hard to find. In these times where wars are fought with the push of a button, it is a true gem to behold a man who still honours the old ways of war by laying down his own life, for the sake of his beliefs that will usher in times of peace for his people.

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