May the destroyers of our world rain their cosmic force upon you! Seriously speaking, this is a place from which I get to both curse and praise the world without actually affecting it in any physical way.

27.12.09

Second Hiatus Breaker

I've been reading my previous posts. I'm tempted to say that they look dry, uninteresting and half-hearted, but it's been going like that for quite some time so long as I'm not writing a story. Also, hindsight combined with inherent cynicism means I tend to use a dirty pair of glasses to look at the past. As if that were not enough, I've changed plenty ever since I wrote those posts, and am aware of it. In all likelihood there will be a day in the future that I view this paragraph with vague disdain, though I'm hopefully still will not comment on it.
Another thing is the other person's blog, linked yesterday. I will name him. He is Junjie. His sentences read to mellow me like Cthulhu appears to mortal men, who soon find the 'mortal' in their physical and mental existences. But like the Cthulhu mythos, bits of it appeal to me. There is always something attractive about distant shores, no matter how inhospitable they look from your homeland. Such is the same about our two viewpoints.
A sad thing happened today. The AYKF RPG, which I mentioned yesterday, has its latest post in April this year. Another RPG, called the Dreamtime and populated by several of the same members, was updated yesterday. In fact, it began last week, so if anyone's starting a hiatus soon, I'll know about it. The point is that AYKF seems at least to be inactive, at worst dead. Not fun after all the hype and plot I waded through to find that out.
Regardless, I'm still going to try roleplaying my characters. First is the notorious Visser Three from K.A. Applegate's Animorphs, mentioned yesterday. With his additional handle 'The Abomination', he's not a amiable chap. Even by the standards of his own race the Yeerks, parasitic mind-controlling slugs that feed on radiation, he is pants-wetting scary. For other races, their shoes and the ground below get damp as well. He is vicious, cruel, power-hungry, arrogant and happy to be in a post where killing is the job description. Alternatively, he can be a deadly schemer or fall into simple mousetraps, replacing 'cheese' with 'suspiciously helpless alien freedom fighter'. Should be simple to write. The challenging part is with his host, another alien with the power of shapeshifting.
Second is Mr Teatime from Terry Pratchett's Hogfather. Teatime is a brilliant person; the insanity that comes along with it is practically accorded to him. To augment the fear factor, he is a childlike person, speaking in terms of children whose parents weren't around to discourage excessive revelling in killing smaller creatures such as ants, cats and other kids. His third danger is a drive to kill. Perhaps it could be attributed to the fact that he was adopted by the Assassins' Guild when young following the death of his parents. With a stronger 'perhaps', it is implied he was a self-made orphan. In later days, lying in bed during the festive season, he devised ways to successfully kill - if the term can be used - anthropomorphic personifications of said festivals. After that comes the usual deadliness of surviving a course where teachers set tests where the passing mark is whether you still breathe, and where schoolmates might be considered as the vehicles of said tests. More difficult than Visser Three, but overall easier without having to think about more than one personality in his warped mind.

26.12.09

Back from Procrastination

At last, at long last, after many long weeks of living in general, I've gotten the chore of life out of the way to write again. The comments from fellow Ventures about this blog was surprising sneak feedback that may have contributed to my decision. I'm not sure about it, otherwise I would have clarified.
To fill in the reader, I've gone to a place or two, done a thing or two, come back and surfed a Webpage or two. Details will be added in at a leisurely pace below.
This is not precisely a deliberately long-winded post. It has been ages since I've last written a proper recount, narrative or essay. Here is my first attempt at solving the problem. It must be followed quickly by others, for my second CCA, Student Editorial, suggested we ought too. Also, in the time I've been away from a convenient keyboard, my mind has been throwing up interesting sentences for each of my encounters with life's hazards. Some of these sentences will be making an appearance, and will be highlighted for the reader's interest. If there is no interest, tough nuts.
Returning to Student Editorial, one of my responsibilities, together with the few other schoolmates from my level, is to start a blog. Judging by a total lack of contact with them, I assume they're not interested. I am, and the only thing blocking me is ignorance of HTML and a near-terminal reluctance to take up responsibility after three years of suffering in a uniformed group. The HTML should not be an issue, as I plan to revamp this blog and in the process of doing so will learn enough HTML to decorate websites in any funny way. Next is our schedule. The magazine we publish is either quarterly or every four months. Our school year does not have twelve months. It has ten, enough for three issues at best. Not encouraging for a magazine directed at quick-pulsed youths. Personally, my minimum expectation was an issue a month, but after speaking with seniors traumatised by excessive exposure to school bureaucrats i.e. from the first meeting onwards, the struggle will be uphill, and will demand responsiblity in shovelfuls. My studies, much as I find them distasteful in this school, will suffer, as will my participation in Ventures CCA. Well, these are tomorrow's problems, for about fifty-five more minutes.
Still, for my seniors' part, they encouraged myself and the other juniors to write more during the holidays to hone our skills. My immediate thought is that of one, an old acquaintance and probably a gender/psychological deviant who posted far more cheerless entries on his blog. For crying out loud - something I rarely do - he makes my stomach writhe with a single sentence. About Avatar, totally unrelated to its visual effects or plot and implications. Given that everyone one else my age in the CCA is in his class, I am understandably worried. Anyway, this post is immediately dedicated to them, meaning that during celebrations they get to come and make a 'short' speech and if this plain sucks go blame them.
Now, post number two for my seniors: a recount of one of my several skiing experiences.

I look down the white slope. Behind the shades, the slope is quite striking. Without those shades, it is blinding. The shades are part of my protection, alongside a scarf and a hood. The scarf has known better days, kept from reasonable distances from a human nose. I can't look forever; I came here to ski. No number of falls is going to stop me for now. For information, I have fallen down more than my entire family combined. My mother, who was worse, had the better sense of self-preservation to stop.
Never mind, I think once more, I get up quickly. I'll get up quickly again. Off I go.
The wind bites my face, tormenting my scarf by torturing my nose. My cheeks are doing little better, but at least they don't leak sticky fluids.
So far, so good. The descent is relatively slow, compared to other skiiers, though if I had any say there would have been no other skiiers to be compared to and thus no moving obstacles. As things went in my life, it was exactly this that caused my second really notable fall. The first fall was entirely my fault.
I was three-quarters down the slope. My siblings were somewhere behind me, and I knew they were there. I decided that, as a good brother, I ought to slow down and let them catch up. I angled my legs inwards as if I were some other weakling with a bloated bladder. In theory, I would slow down gently but shortly. In reality, I turned around, still sliding down, with my legs bent down and my fingers testing the durability of my gloves against artificial snow.
They zoomed past me, and I tried to regain my footing. Thankfully, I managed to re-orient my face to the gaping expanse of the valley. This was at the cost of heading towards the boundary rope fence at high speeds my braking failed to decrease.
Bam. There was a flash of white light, followed by a flash of pain. I lay on the snow in the bliss of being involved in an accident with zero casualties. Or so I believed. I checked my watch just in case I somehow fainted but didn't notice. Then I looked at my right hand for symmetry... And found my middle finger wasn't in my glove anymore. It was frightening on two levels. One, my finger was broken or dislocated. Two, I hadn't noticed it for whatever scarier reason.
A frenzied series of pats and pulls dispelled this. All that had happened was that my glove was pull out slightly, forcing my middle finger to take up house with my ring finger.
The outer snow gloves had disappeared. They were a few small metres behind me, not too far for walking, way too far for flying from a collision.
Other debris included: my skiis themselves, my ski poles and perhaps my hat, I don't recall. Miraculously, my glasses were intact, even though the right lens was loose. Even so, the whole event must have been like a meteor streaking down through the atmosphere, trailing discarded bits of itself as it went.
I picked up those errant bits and after much delay, made it back down to my patient but questioning family members, where it was agreed I was simply amazingly gifted at falling off my skiis.
The second time, no one saw, except some giggly little wench who fell down right in my face and directing the rope fence to come join her. It was the return of Comet Faller, with even more special effects brought about by a stopping distance of a few inches rather than a few metres, such as my ski poles lying inert with my snow gloves attached in death grips, my right lens nestled in a cushion of snow and my right ski a full ten cm outside the fence.

So that's my very long recount of about twenty minutes total of disarray and confusion.
Besides writing, I also draw. This is done in a hybrid of Western comic techniques, manga styles and realism. Until I master facial lines, it will probably have no redeeming features. Don't ask me to draw anything less than an ideal body. When I'm not trying to bully my hands and artistic side into drawing fast and well, I draw round animals and an angel. The world's animals, if circles were the primary body plan. An angel who is actually an AI and like many bad animations, has a cute form and a battle form.
I was supposed to do a 24-hour comic, but following the miscarriage of the first one in HK (nightmares were involved), I've set it for later.
Currently I'm observing the intrigues of a roleplaying adventure called 'An Adventure You'd Kill For'. It features fictional serial killers (mostly humans/humanoid), mostly alive on the whole, who are trapped in an interdimensional prison by an entity called... the Corporation, headed by... the CEO. It is better than it sounds, not hard given my puny summary, and like any conspiracy story, hints at puppeteers upon puppeteers in the background. Aside from that, there is plenty of action, positively pages of it. Indeed, even basic punctuation and grammar take a back seat although the moderator Varthonai is undertaking the hellish task of tidying up the archives and uploading them as complete story arcs.
Be warned: like action flicks, characterisation is secondary to many of the writers, whose have already delegated punctuation and grammar to their sorry posts. Not that it's impossible to have good characters. Just that the fact that a particularly endearing NPC might be killed off by Varthonai or the other moderators puts a dampener on this issue. A note: one character was defeated halfway through the story, only to get better, and another faked his own death to his own army and no other than the Joker.
Yes, and that's the main point of the story. Any-homicidal-one that has made an impact on you in your literary explorations can be brought to life by your hands in this forum.
I'm planning to take Visser Three from Animorphs. :)
Overall, it's very interesting and worth a long look.

PS - If my writing style seems weird, it's because I try not to start to many sentences with a noun. It's for the sake of variety, without which my life would be rather dull.

2.11.09

Arranged Attraction

The day was but a day until the high heels clacked on the asphalt. Brad turned around, and did his best not to turn anymore. The sun became a halo surrounding her, obliviating all but her slender waist. Then she stepped beneath the trees and her soft eyes glowed green like the leaves above.
Brad stepped forward, averting his eyes from her charming hairclip the way all men grew skilled at lest they alienate half the human race. ‘You captivate me,’ he said.
She jerked in surprise, retrieved an errant strand from her face. ‘Excuse me?’ Drenched in sunlight, his eager face shaped itself to propel his words. ‘No, say nothing. That was a stupidity.’
‘I could scarcely care less for the minor mistake,’ he said. He stepped forward with arms outstretched, escorting her further into the shade where they might see one another better.
‘I guess you wouldn’t,’ she replied. ‘Actually, you appeal to me as well.’
‘Great. Shall we have a relationship?’ he asked.
‘Become a couple? What are the terms?’ she asked.
'That we be open with one another, in mind, body and soul. The romantic adventures of man and woman are often fraught with pitfalls. Granted the human race numbers billions of individuals and the potential for variation is enormous, so two partners are probabilistically never precisely compatible with one another,’ he said.
‘True,’ she agreed. ‘Even if they are, my scone, constant exposure to each other’s differences over the years wears down their patience. Quarrels erupt faster than volcanoes four point six billion years ago.’
‘We have chosen well, for we are as reflections in an imperfect mirror. I enjoy being called “scone”, though I wonder why not “sugar” or similar terms,’ he added.
'Individuality. I happen to savour scones, the puffy crumbly feeling as you eat them,’ she said.
‘How about it? I confess my faults and shortcomings to you for forgiveness, and you to me. Like a pregnant mother aspiring for aptitude at meditation, shall we also practice these communication methods to ease the birth of our time together.’
‘You tease me. The mother is always the female. Do I take on the bulk of the responsibility?’ she asked, her lip glinting under a sunbeam penetrating through the canopy.
'Tell me what you desire, in accordance with the conditions,’ he said. ‘Myself, I currently find completion holding your body against mine own.’ Her head swirled as the heady odours of his maleness and crisp leaves of the leaf litter made their way up her nose.
‘No complaints, scone,’ she replied, and they fell to a crackling.

24.9.09

Sensible Spirituality

I just listed six different takes on the afterlife, although my primary concern was for the first, specifically the Chinese view. I don’t regret writing them, and am glad I did. However, I still haven’t written my feelings on how Chinese, and later most cultures, see spirits.
Until the 20th Century, nobody pretended that folk beliefs and spirits were anything truly defendable against. After all, if you can’t see an invisible troublemaker, you can’t tell if you’re seeing him making mischief or not, or if he’s walked away from you or not, or even if he’s cleaning up his messs. Or not. Also, most people hadn’t heard of the scientific method, and had no idea how to go about testing the validity of folk beliefs. If they did try, they didn’t know how to keep constants and a single independent variable, nor more importantly the bias they themselves held while conducting the trial. Thus, once they did learn such things, it wasn’t long before they stopped marvelling at the glittering towers of science and decided to dig up the earthy stories they grew up on.
Many superstitions were discredited. Others were convincingly proved false by the confirmation or rejection of others. There are still plenty to be tested. Regardless, people hold onto their beliefs in the face of hard, tangible proof. For example, people trust that pyramids were built by aliens, rather than thinking that Egyptians might have also had geniuses like Newton or Galileo or Einstein to direct such endeavours.1 Or far closer to home are horoscopes. Supposedly the motion of the heavenly bodies affects our lives and thus the combination of natural events, other persons and personal experiences which together is luck. So if we know how to read those bodies, we can predict and anticipate booms and slumps in our lives and take advantage of them accordingly. However, few people know (or care, even sadder) that if you cover the signs and read the advice in a horoscope, most people can’t tell the difference, even if the advice contradict. This is a particular technique of speaking. The writer lists circumstances almost any human being should be going through or feels they are going through and then gives the sensible2 solution to dealing with it.
And besides, we have discovered flocks of galaxies in the gaps between adjacent stars, but no one has said how they determine when I will next nearly-faint when I see the girl of my (one-sided) affection.
The point is, humans believe what they will, no matter what other people say, if they truly, honestly want to.
Which brings me to spirits. Humans believe they are not alone. In a world where at least ten billion people have lived their lives, this shouldn’t be an object of dispute. But then humanity would prefer to think that there are other collective entities that exist in the universe. Namely, aliens and spirits. Aliens come later. Spirits come now.
Spirits can take charge of a specific landmark. A stone, a brook, a pile of dirt, any of these are viable dwelling places. Alternatively, they can be part of an organism, anything from a redwood to a mayfly. Disregarding the actual abilities of their hosts, spirits of the world can interact with humans, often manipulating the physical to bring across surprisingly human desires. A tree may demand a dish of cooked rice every day, though it lacks jaws and may indeed be touted as a form of cannibal for doing so. Failure to comply, however, leads to misfortune that the immobile tree has caused whilst hard at work smashing water and carbon dioxide molecules into their atoms and subsequently reforming them into sugar as it then takes the energy released by the reaction.
The spirits may in fact take human form at times, though it is clear that they are not human themselves. So say the many fae who have been taken by men and birthed halfling children. Supposedly being foreign entities with different origins as ourselves, they should also have few similarities in our ways of thinking. But they can fight wars with as much vigour as ourselves at times.
This view might be false. Maybe all spirits are human, simply at one time or another, but we can all be labelled as a member of spiritkind. The pontianak is a famous one in Southeast Asia. The ghost of a newly-wedded bride, if I remember correctly, it resides in banana trees.3 Any disturbance made to the banana tree is asking for trouble, for the pontianak will then harass you in your daily life, preferably at nighttime, when you are more vulnerable. The only way to sate it is to undergo a complex ritual filled with delightful ceremonies (also preferably at nighttime), at which the pontianak returns to its tree, waiting for the next hapless victim to offend it.
Here is my point of contest. If all spirits might be considered human in a human body, and that many feared spirits were in fact humans when alive, why should we be afraid of them? We can be afraid of people, but if we learn of their lives and the many facets of the singular human gestalt, our fear may lessen or be accompanied by feelings of empathy, pity or maybe even admiration. There is no such thing in spirits. Spirits are filled with one thing, and that is an emotion. Be it anger, hatred, fear, longing or love, that is their only manifestation and they fulfil it in all their sightings.
I put this down to public relations. Frankly, hearing a ghost speaking of the old days when people made their own chaptehs, not like now where they’re all assembled in a factory by a few bored workers, is not a ghost who is likely to be remembered. But a ghost who goes on and on and on about the wrongs done to it in its life seems a tad more intriguing, even if a moment’s thought reveals that the average human life is filled with wrongs anyway and contains pleasures if only a moment’s thought is spared.
Humans are not people of one emotion. That is one-dimensional. All people display at least three dimensions of thought in their lives, for the sake of analogy. Heart, mind and soul, which only by coincidence number three, are the minimum that make up a person. Surely those pontianaks have sly thoughts that ambush them in the middle of an outrage of security that remind them that their victim is someone’s child, someone’s friend and maybe someone’s parent. Maybe they too wonder what happens to bad pontianaks who don’t lash out at every person who touches their banana leaves properly. Perhaps they mourn for their grooms who moved on without them or effectively died on their deathdays. In short, if you talk of a human spirit, that spirit will appear a human under a sufficiently long period of scrutiny.
I am aware our so-called ways of such scrutiny are little more than mumbo-jumbo at worst and near-actual experiences that straddle the line between imagination and reality at best. I am also aware that most conveniently, spirits are said to shy away from humans and thus would not savour an interview.
In group dynamics, there are a majority of people who nod and mumble when a leader or makeshift one goes and lead them, a minority who join that leader to rise to positions of power and another minority who reject that leadership and gambol off to do things their own way. I like to think I’m the third. I assume that most spirits fall in the first category, and possibly the second as well. So in our entire span of existence, I don’t see why it’s unreasonable that humanity should have spiritual encounters of the third kind.
Sadly, knowing people, they probably thought such encounters weren’t good tales. We, after all, are never as sensible as we’d like to be, whether in confirmed life or unproved death.

16.9.09

Deader than Dead

On the average, I tend to assume most people are too busy being alive to bother about abstract notions like ghosts and the spiritual world. However, it seems as if the exact opposite is true, and what I once heard from our Pastor Jeremy was also true: That people are very concerned about spirituality, but not about God.
This being the seventh month of the Chinese calendar, it is plausible that have given in to the crowd for once in my way of thinking. However, I don’t feel that has happened. Anyway, they’ve gone and made a detour somewhere else so we now have two differing views on the same subject.
Like today. Chee Siong was sharing a recount by a schoolmate who could supposedly see ghosts. During CID lesson she saw1 a ghost following one of the teachers, and began talking to it. Apparently, it was doing ghostly deeds, looking for someone it knew when it was supposedly alive. Since she was on the topic, the schoolmate then asked the ghost please not to haunt anyone, and the spectral fellow agreed. She apparently also has a reputation for her third eye.
About three weeks before that, Kelvin and Yuejun also got on the topic while eating at McDonald’s. They went through basic stuff, like how spirits live in a world practically invisible to our eyes, except for the select few who could be seen who also happened to be the select few who had major communication problems. Communication with people, that is, and not other spirits. I can only speculate about how they joke, scold, tease, cry and jolly one another.
And now the background information is past, and I can begin the real thing.
People have a few beliefs of life after death, healthy in that it shows how varied we are, unhealthy in that they are not necessarily inclusive of one another.
The first is the afterlife, where based on our deeds on earth2 we are judged and then sorted into differing afterlives to spend, suffer or enjoy indefinite eternity. The Greeks have these three together, named Hades, Tartarus and the Plains of Elysium respectively. Alternatively, there is reincarnation, but that’s for later. The Chinese afterlife also has this, people are transformed into fairies and are from thereon part of the celestial hierarchy until they commit some minor error and are flung back to earth for punishment. The Catholics have this in the form of Purgatory, Hell and Heaven. Purgatory is where all souls must suffer for their sins by going through a limbo. Sounds like a boring sitting session magnified a few thousand times. Once they have paid their toll, may they then ascend to heaven, or descend to hell if I’m right. Catholics may lessen or even redeem their dead by praying for their sins and beseeching the Mother Mary to forgive them because of her authority over Jesus.
The thing is, most of these belief systems deal primarily with afterlife forever. From living a life where we at best expect to live to a hundred to a life where a millennium and a day make little difference does not sound right. Even assuming that the afterlife is just like normal life and that we can pursue our interests just like before, and then keeping in mind Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem which proves that no matter what systems of knowledge we build, there will always be an area of unprovability, it sounds rather grating after the first few eons or so.
Christianity is a special case because the one criterion is acceptance of Jesus Christ as the global Redeemer of humanity’s inherent sin. All other ways go to hell, a cheerful evangelical message that has brought crowds flocking to churches over the years, mostly with sledgehammers. The Christian Heaven is a place where humanity shall be fulfilled by becoming one with Jesus by being part of the church while the church is wedded to Him, from henceforth we spend eternity praising Him in life. The Christian Hell is a place devoid of God’s love, filled with suffering and denoted as “eternal death” although the soul is obviously conscious enough to suffer.
The second is reincarnation. Though usually characterized by a succession of the soul through tiers of organisms, there have also been systems where inorganic matter joins the cycle. Everybody starts from dirt. However, if one pile of dust leads an especially puritan existence spent in devout worship of the Great Vague Oneness, in its next life3 it may then upgrade to a higher level of inorganicness or finally become alive. Presumably, they start at the bottom of the evolutionary tree/shrub/forest. But people had other systems then, always with mammals just below man, who topped the construction. Within humanity, one would then ascend society, rising from beggar to worker to official to ruler.4 Despite all this, the ultimate aim is not for a grain to one day become a president, but to escape the cycle altogether, and then entering a good old afterlife where we then spend eternity being One with everything else. We might try being Another, but then that might have been what caused the appearance of a divine Adversary in the first place.
The third is that we live on only one plane out of myriads, greatly extending our universe beyond physical boundaries and parallel universes to spiritual realms as well.5 When we die, we merely discard our physical shell for freedom of movement as a spirit. This spirit then ascends to the next plane, either physical as well or spiritual, to live another life followed by another death followed by another transmigration and so on. Whether there is any choice in the matter is unknown, but there has been no real limit set on the number of planes that exist. In other words, one leads an existence6 of lives and deaths and transmigrations that lasts forever. There are books that are found on this. They read like game manuals,.
The fourth is that there is no afterlife. When we die, it’s all over.
The fifth, subset of the fourth, is that we live on in our descendants’ genes, and later recognized, memes. By spreading our genetic code far throughout the gene pool, we can ensure effective immortality by having bits and pieces of ourselves live on in other people. It may not be all of us, and probably won’t offer decent after-dinner conversation, but it part of us, and that makes it us. The concept of memes follows this, except that the unit in question is an idea and not a gene. As V famously said, “Ideas are bulletproof.” But then, they’re just as prone being left behind as genes are. From another view, if we divide ourselves into pieces, and somehow ensure those pieces are put back together at later dates, by which we can further extend our lifespan, that is also called living forever. However, this heavily demands an understanding of the theory of emergence, which is nowhere as simple as it appears.
The final theory, the most speculative of all, the one that demands evidence but cannot receive it, is that our lives are only the cores of our existences, and that our existence lasts as long as the universe. Take it like this: We are made of atoms, or quarks, or some other arbitrary indivisible unit of matter. Although there are a great many atoms in our body, there is a far larger number of atoms in all the universe, compared to which we make up essentially zero. This is not a worry. In fact, it means when we die, we can rest knowing that one day, there will be one of our atoms floating around in a supernova, flying on the solar wind, locked up in frozen helium, sitting in a cube of sugar or slushing in an ocean. That, in itself, is a form of existing. And if you consider that the soul cannot be explained by the physical workings of the body, the soul is although linked to the body does not originate from the body itself, then it can be said that the being, while not experiencing sensation after death, nonetheless endures as long as its atoms still exist. And since matter equals energy based on E=mc2, then somewhere in the future, we will power our children’s engines.
Theories 1-3 require the existence of a Deity or a pantheon of them. Theory 4 is both a reason to shoot yourself now and not to, remaining equally bleak in both prospects. Theories 5 and 6 are similar but not precisely identical views on this, but imply that we ourselves can create something approaching that if we went about things the right way.
By right, each theory deserves a full shelf in a philosophy library to itself. But then, I don’t have the time or the philosophical stamina to carry on such theories and ensure their integrity at the same time. Even if I threw integrity into a lake7 I would still lack enough time.
But they are interesting introductions, and if I find someone to dispute any of them with, I can honestly say that will be the first intellectually stimulating exchange I’ve ever had.

Touched on: Religion, afterlife, Godel, spiritual succession, life, death, deconstructionism, emergence

1Believed she saw. I’m not inclined to believe that.
2Not the planet Earth, but some entire plane we dwell in for now
3That is, wind disturbs and destroys the pattern the components creat, collapsing a mound of soil in a thin film of dust, for instance
4That isn’t to say parallel universes and spiritual realms aren’t combined sometimes though.
5This just may explain the divine right of kings, but I leave that to a terrible tendency of people to follow someone who uses a chunk of metal to raise his height by a foot.
6For life loses its connotations and meanings under such heavy philosophical barrage
7Most likely losing stamina at the same time because I know that what I’m writing may be rubbish due to faulty reasoning.

28.8.09

On Two Letters

XY: My one. The one that as I've seen is the more difficult to possess and master at the same time. Males are generally expected to adhere to an abstract concept called 'masculinity'. I have no idea what it is, since many so-called 'macho' traits are in fact present in females as well as males, and vice versa. However, failure to do so, which is easier to attain, results in severe reproach by society. And while some men are rightly accused of being effeminate, others are simply called 'unmanly'. There appears to be a middle ground that is an undesirable place to be.
Another problem is the biological role of men. Men are singularly programmed: Get to a female and impregnate her. Hopefully, this simple line may be repeated continuously for the whole of his fertility. Of course, it is implied he will have to do some choosing, since randomly bonking any woman may result in undesirable offspring ie ones with bad genes. That's why men also have a mental augmentation to judge their mates fairly. Hair that is kept long and glossy implies the owner is so healthy she can keep a beautiful crown of hair WHILE muddling through the challenges of life, and can certainly be expected to have the capacity to support a child or two. Breast-waist-hip ratio by right should have large breasts for ample nursing and large hips for ample space for an enormously large head such that the waist is perceived as small in comparison. We know how that went in fashion... The supposedly ideal girl should have a fleshy figure. Seriously. The other extremes, skinny and fat, respectively show too little bodily substance and too large an appetite for substance. I don't dare tread into faces. Too much trouble lies there.
Now, understanding the concept of beauty from the male point of view may be all good and well, but then we realise that those delicate pictures of beauty are actually human beings just like us. Around like us. Maybe we actually have opposing personalities, but disregarding their life experiences and ways of action and reaction they're just like us. Still, it's probably not clear to think of a girl talking. To be accurate, it's more like finding out an intriguing, teasing and enchanting artwork can and will talk enough to hold conversation. A conversation that may be the more enjoyable for the artwork's nature, but if you listen to the words you realise they're what people talk about every day.
Come on. Every time, every single time I see a girl or lady in a group of guys I think, 'What a beautiful flower. So fragile, so soft, so gentle on the eyes'. I get the impression it's not a healthy way of thinking, since I haven't ever seen it mentioned. Moreover, flowers ARE organs for purely sexual purposes.

Anyway, men by nature ought to chase and gank their dream set of women, whichever of them is available at the time. But some are too shy, and hang around wishing those girls would just be receptive long enough for them to sink their hooks in. Others are too enthusiastic about them, mingling with the long-haired crowd and chattering away joyously. The bastards. The rest are somewhere in between. These are the sad ones. Society will bash people like the latter for taking advantage of females. Society will also bash people with no initiative to be men. I just hope society will suddenly wake up and see its own male components. Then it can bash itself for closure.


Note: This is more akin to a rant than an actaul dissertation on the male gender and views on females. The logic here is the rare refined type unendingly distilled to produce some basic element of human nature that is shiny, but if hooked it up to your thinking, stores mostly shocks.
Note on note: That isn't to say it doesn't WORK.

15.8.09

New Pictures

Uploaded pictures.
http://educatedrodent.deviantart.com/art/Before-Mirrored-Stares-133442549
http://educatedrodent.deviantart.com/art/Identity-Poses-133441700

2.8.09

Squirrels and Ants

On Saturday I watched an old TV episode. The protagonist spoke on how screwed up it could be to be human, mentioning a time after getting chewed out by his girlfriend. He was walking in the park, and saw a squirrel. A squirrel without intelligence, a squirrel without a job or boss, a squirrel with home security, a squirrel who was his own man and didn't have woman trouble. At that moment, the protagonist would have swapped with the squirrel given the slightest chance at all. He was illustrating the downside of humanity's sentience and the way we struggle in life.
I laughed at him, not only because it was a comedy show - someone in the show later criticised him for being a "closet squirrel" - but also because I thought he hadn't gotten the right view of life yet.
Then I reflected on my crush. The long fifteen months and maybe more I had been attracted to her, and the varying ways I messed up our average friendship. Especially after I SMSed her lately, only to be ignored.
That night, I saw an ant in the kitchen, and I thought, now you're a lucky bastard. Bitch. You only need to exist and people call you hardworking, which is more than what I can say. You're so small you're practically safe as long as you stay away from sadistic humans or keep near pacifistic monks and myself. You don't even have to worry about gender, because you're a suppressed female, effectively a neutral ant. I'd like to be you right now.
The irony hung at the back of my mind, as it always does in my every waking slice of time.
And today there was a sermon. It was long, but the key point was to trust in God, don't make too many plans. That ties in with my ideal life, which is to live so simply you can carry out plans because of how simple they are.
And tomorrow I'm going to talk to her.

12.7.09

Stirring water

This place is stagnant. Living is too much to do without having to write directly about it.
Not that most people come here to see anyway.
Don't feel much like writing this. Only started because I read someone else's blog. I have better stories to write, one for a competition, a few others for personal enjoyment. Before those, I still have to handle a reflection on polymers, which I will write with all my effort.
My hope is that my teacher will either be dazzled, baffled or annoyed. I aim for the third, because then she bring it up in class and make things interesting for a while.

2.5.09

An Extract from Pathogen

Too lazy to carry on Million posts. Too lazy to write a proper post. Too lazy to make this bite-sized. Below, a message from one of my stories to celebrate the new month.
Enjoy.

The van jolts once or twice more as weaker Bolters lose their grips and fall off the roof. It helps little. We are still in the god-forsaken grass, after all. In spite of all this, the driver happily maintains his pace, white teeth flashing whenever I see the rearview mirror. Ten thousand kilometres on a clear day, I think, ten metres in grass.
Indeed, the grass has become so tall even sunlight begins to find difficulty in entering. Surely the Bolters find it no hindrance, for even as I observe this six vaguely foot-shaped dents have appeared in the van roof.
‘Whack them off,’ says Alf unemotionally.
‘No,’ says Lockheed. ‘Sit down, guys. I gotta see how many of them will fall off later.’
Somehow, he finds it within his ability to push down the pedal even harder. He turns left, then banks. With a hollow rush of wind we leave the grass, exchanging them for trees. Lockheed maintains his bank, managing to evade a tree trunk that passes maybe a foot to our right.
Just in front of that tree trunk is a copse of rather stout trees, bowers hanging low in the dim light. They remain hanging, much to the Bolters’ misfortune. Terrible crunches come above and behind the van, but for that we go faster.
Lockheed lifts his foot and rides the van on the momentum. He looks left and right as he orients himself. He swivels the steering wheel suddenly to put us back on the main road. He does not resist as the van draws to a stop.
I cannot resist my temptation either. I lean forward, to the side of his head, and ask, ‘Is there something out there?’
He places a finger just in front of my lips. Flor sees this, but I know she can, so I am prepared when she jolts me forward. I sit back down, glowering.
We wait in silence. Utter silence. Our rampage through the forest has scared the local residents into muteness. Or they may be expecting another rampage.
Someone taps me on the shoulder. It’s Alf. I’m not as surprised as I would have been when he pushes me gently to the side and leans to the centre of the van. He makes a gesture with his left hand, index and middle fingers covering the top of his thumb, ring and pinky at the thumb tip. He places the side with the thumb to his eye.
The gunmen turn around and draw out small slits in the van wall. Very small. One narrow slit for viewing, a slightly wider one for gun placement. They use them both. Flor and I make way for them by moving to the back and watching the van rear.
Alf calls his men’s attention again and signs sentry duty for twenty minutes. Lockheed sees this and signs back at Alf. He must be concerned over waiting so long. They try to convey details with their hands and give up.
Alf whispers his stand in Lockheed’s ear, Lockheed his in Alf’s. They have their debate of low decibels for two minutes, before Alf signs ten minutes. It hardly makes difference to me. I’ve yet to see any clues that can reveal anything concise about the infected’s plans.
No clues at all. I search long and hard. Clues lying in the environment around elude me. Pointers of infected presence are absent. A tracker could conclusively say that this place was free.
I wonder this myself. All the infected wanted was their nexus, after all. A small group of speedy individuals was hardly worth the minute fraction of the force they could spare. Twenty Bolters wouldn’t lessen their effective power.
I have all these thoughts. I look at them. I accept them as logical and based on firm evidence of the past performance of infected. Then I carry on waiting.
A feeling of wrongness needles me. I can’t help but think that something is wrong. It feels like the border of a jigsaw puzzle has been assembled, but the interior is being filled up with wooden blocks. Unevenness in perception breeds doubt. I, I who observes, take note of the squirming doubt within me. It is a worm. Some horrible little maggot that was placed into me as a pallid waxy egg and has hatched into merely an immature form of the monster it will become. I am powerless to stop it as it consumes my substance, breaking down my body into proteins and fats and sugars, and cracking those substances for energy. I watch helplessly as it grows fat on my mental landscape. I look out through the slits, doubt gorging itself on all my logic.
Alf looks at his watch and signs that we’re leaving. I look at my watch. Five minutes have just passed. I hurriedly correct Alf. Any other time, it might have been a minor error. Here, everything will add up. The parts of my mind tainted by doubt say so. He insists ten minutes have passed. The men next to him are divided over it. They check their own watches, and I watch doubt propagate. I understand its life cycle. It will reach maturity when we are all riddled by doubt.
As the gunmen check among themselves, they lean away from the slits. I peer out into the open. In the forest, nothing but tree trunks in their solace, however intimate their leaves are with one another. Nothing could come up without being detected. In the grass on the other side, a small breeze whips the top of the leaf blades. Shashshaaa, they go.
Shashshaaa. I flick my eyes across the entirety of the cellulose wall, looking for something to sate my doubt, and hopefully the doubt of the others.
Nothing.
Nothing.
Nothing is the clue to the touch of the infected, nothing the tracks of slouching slobbering half-dead bodies, nothing the vestiges of past presence for investigation.
And I find nothing standing in the grass parallel to the van, neatly in the centre of the van wall. Right where nothing came from, and could continue telling us there was nothing.
I raise my gun and I pull two fingers and I see the discoloured blood spurt out from the hidden Genie, behind the van wall, head in front of the slit, right between two hysterical people.
Tension flows into the air, out of our bodies. Doubt dies. Danger comes.
‘Drive, Bridge!’ I scream. He gladly does so.
As we depart the rapidly amiable forest, we see two balls lying in the dirt, one a head, one a distended abdomen. They slowly deflate as viscous green-grey fluid flows out.

26.4.09

Million Part 2

Speaking about our bodies, we have at least 10^13 cells in our body, or ten trillion. Other figures go as high to 50 to 75 trillion cells.
Now admit it. You look at 10 trillion cells, and then at 50 trillion cells, and all you say is 'Oh'. Doesn't matter that the first figure is 1,600 times our world population, and that the second one 8,000 times.
Indeed, this number is baffling in more ways than one. 10 trillion cells fitted into a body 1.7m by 0.1m by 0.4m on average is something rather unimaginable, however real it is. The resources required to keep all these cells alive is just as, if not more, perplexing to anyone without scientific knowledge.

22.4.09

A Death is a Tragedy, A Million is a Statistic

Normally attributed to Josef Stalin, this quote has the dually depressing nature of being both nonsensical and aptly descriptive of human nature.
Why should it be, you may ask at first. A million deaths is at least the effects of one death multiplied by a million times. That is where the problem comes in. Humans don't cope well with large numbers. At some point, differing in various populations, humans start seeing thousands or tens of thousands as digits put together. In the human mind, the numbers are converted to standard form, and then the tens dropped off until it's time for bookkeeping.
Leaving the grim subject of death, take distance as an example. The top two or three stories of Raffles City are left fairly empty to create a large chamber. Looking at it, I wonder at how much space there is up there. Then I look at the sky. The sky has such a deep blue colour and such magnitude we just file it away as background, less important than the 10m-long bus driving up. Well, the sky is almost one thousand kilometres high. To help you, imagine Thailand propped up vertically with its southernmost point on the ground. Its northernmost point would just clear the exosphere. A human barely reaches 2m on average. How puny we are.

16.4.09

Getting Serious

One day, I woke up, took a look at some pictures online. They were so good, I decided to join them. A week or so later, I've uploaded half of my artworks and one avatar. I'm ready to finally join DeviantArt proper.
Actually I joined DA a long time ago. 3 years ago, in fact, but only and only to see all the pictures on each page. Now, looking at a profile made 3 years ago, I realise just how immature I was. Seriously. It's embarrassing to read it and even more so to think about what I was thinking when I wrote it. Of course it's all going to change now, but I might keep it just for the memory. I might post it. I'm not counting on that though.
It'll take some time for the account to be something interesting. Maybe up until late June, calculating all the free time I will have. Before that, whether you read is your choice. After, comes the advertising.

7.4.09

Litany of Tranquility

To be calm is my imperative
To relax my impulse
I let go now to grasp hard later
I look within to visions of a world outside
On glows the flame of my soul
Passing through all things, all things passing through it
Yet unchanging and unending
Monotony is my watchword
Disruption my bane
I shall be

1.4.09

April the First, after March the 31st

Failed to meet the story deadlines...
Have to accept it as a writing failure, which is plenty bad. Bad because I enjoy writing, but also bad because even though I enjoy writing.
Facing troubles in drawing also. Drawing bodies takes far too long, 40 min at a time. Too slow for my drawings at about only 20cm. Plus drawing figures, female ones especially, are difficult.
Just Wikisurfing a bit again, and found some websites on mob control, mind control and lie detection. Fairly random by themselves, but not as a group. In this case, I explored mob control first as a joke, only to see it become something quite serious.
That's it for today, a day after my failure for story submission.

29.3.09

Return to Stress

I'm finally back to this blog after four weeks of unintentional break. What with all the campfire preparation and holidays my nights have been too packed for me too spend enough time to write a decent post. (200 words is not a decent post. It's a bit sheer.)
My return is framed among the spectres of three overseas writings contests. One is the Aeon Award from the famous Albedo One Euromagazine, while next is the slightly less well-known Bristol Award, and lastly is an online one, Invisible Ink. While the requirements for each contest are actually quite acceptable, what's not is the deadline, 31st March, Wed.
I've never tried writing three short stories in as many days. Best I could do was the 2000-word one in 2 hours, and a 50k chunk of novel in a week. All I can say is that this task will somehow be both much easier than those two, and also much harder.

10.3.09

Sleep

Recently, there's been a change in my routine. Namely, I'm sleeping less in school. So far, I've gotten past last Friday, Monday and Tuesday without sleeping. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, my father found out about it and scolded me for the first time in months, I think. This provides half the motivation, and the question of filial piety. Secondly, I myself have read stories about living without sleep. I see sleep as a waste of time, despite what has been seen in my class. I could be doing so much other stuff in the time I sleep, like reading, writing, drawing, or catching up on homework <.<, or even better, overlearning, which belongs to another post.
And so far, this attempt is working well. I go to bed at 10.30pm, and for reasons unknown stay awake for an hour or so, getting in total 6.5 hrs of sleep. This doesn't seem to be enough, but I can fight the urges.
Mrs Lee-Teo fights my fighting efforts. Everything she says invites you to close your eyes and keep them closed. It's all stuff that can be quickly found online, in books or even in the notes right on our tables. In fact, she says she's teaching her own stuff, not exactly that of the notes or the ppt presentation. In that case, her own stuff comes from her mouth, her computer and her printer. In addition to that, she's not likely to admit that she's in the wrong. Anyone caught sleeping in our class is asked whether they had enough sleep the night before. She blames only us, rather than looking at herself as well. That's a textbook example of self-righteousness right there, and I would have a happier life without it.
I hope to have a happier life even with it, anyway. I just hope I can handle my sleeping issues well.

9.3.09

Some less work

Finally the CID work that has been haunting me hourly for the whole weekend is done. A Ziploc bag filled with little sealed plastic bags has been sitting in my house. In each bag is a bit of 75% ethanol with insect specimens placed inside. Don't mind the insects lol.
Problem is that the bags leak sometimes. So when I checked on Sunday everything was fine and well. Next day, next morning, severe leaking from one of the containers inside caused the bottom of the bag to be immersed in ethanol.
So this afternoon, as soon as I had free time, I rushed to Bio Lab1 and transferred all the insects into the school's plastic containers. In the middle of a Year 5 Bio lesson. Talk about awkwardness. Even worse, Chow was attending the lesson. Believe me, it's not an experience to be had, especially when Chow's spent two full years and then some with you.
Happily, he left sometime while I was doing the transferring. The situation balanced out by me being attacked by the fumes. I seriously thought I was getting drunk. I even considered jumping out the window for the fun of it. More often than normal, that is.
Never mind. It's over and I learned two lessons: It's OK to use a lab during other classes' lessons, and that getting drunk doesn't sound like fun.

7.3.09

A treat

My mother came back from HK today. Since the currency is weaker there, she came back with quite a bit of shopping, but she also came back with food.
HK food is good. I've spent a whole morning simply eating food. While what my mother brought back wasn't that much, it didn't fail the test.
That's not the main thing. The main thing was the mantis prawns she got. Raw mantis prawns. They are tasty, soft and juicy, and being raw, cold as well. This just adds to the euphoria of eating it. But I think I got a fever or something after last eating it in HK, where it sat in a fridge for 3 days. Anyway, these ones were tasty, soft, juicy, raw and cold. They were also salty. No food should ever be that salty. Not even table salt. Ruined the experience towards the end. Just hope I can get another chance to eat proper raw mantis prawns next time.

6.3.09

A Story on Torture

The first story I'm posting online. This was written just yesterday within two hours and a great deal of fatigue for my Lang Arts homework. Frankly, I'm fine with the way the story is, especially since it's the only short story handed up to the teacher in my class, as far as I know. It's about 2000-2100 words long.
||||||
The whole process took days, at first. Days which to the hooded man passed agonizingly. He stood with other hooded men, and like the pendulum of a grandfather clock, a voice emitted from the group, ordering the hooded men what next to do. The voice might have come from any one of them. Indeed, when the hooded man had the respite of a second, of a heartbeat or so, he spoke to himself. ‘This is my voice,’ he always said, and it always sounded like the voice he lived his life by.
What the voice that sounded like but was not his had to say was painful. Sometimes, it demanded delivery of items. A fishing hook, a hubcap, a roof tile, all items from a life before the process began, all part of a whole life sucked into the process. All somehow managing to be right beside one of the hooded men, who then took them up and shuffled over to the dark, musty chute beside the control panel. Relax the hands, and the items began a journey for which their goal was human flesh, and its slow destruction. But there was more to the process than that, more speed. It lay in the control panel.
Ah, the control panel. That was what else the voice talked about. Far more frequently, it uttered the position of a button. Starting with panel to section to square to button number to shape. Whomsoever found themselves closest to the required button placed himself coolly directly before the button. They then announced their readiness, gaining in reply a full list of requirements for pressing the button.
Push until two clicks are heard. Lift up after three flashes of the button. Push down again until four clicks. Hold it there for nine seconds. Finally, the two magic words: Move back. When told to move back, it was supposed mean a hooded man had done all he could to contribute to the process, and it was enough.
Within a minute, within two, rarely, the screams would come. All sorts of screams. If the hooded man’s memory of the process and of his previous life could be trusted, he had heard the final cries of train engineers, military juntas, tree surgeons, architects, prime ministers, few among a lot, from the space around the room. The time working here had given ‘move back’ another interpretation, much the same way as Pavlovian conditioning. It was the signal that the process had worked, and the hooded men would get their rewards. A reasonable reward, judging by the shivers of ecstasy and excitement that ran through each member of the group upon the arrival of the screams.
They were at once both the smallest form of payment and the best form of enjoyment. In both its purposes, the screams made the hooded men content in a uncomfortable situation, and that made them carry out the process easier, and that ensured the screams always came.
Days faded away into each other, night and day equally bright in the dim greyness of the room. By right they must had turned into months, but the hooded man failed to discern if any of his estimates were too long or too short. Easier to measure the hours of life by events, taking the time with a watch of actions and observations. Thus about six months, or about twenty months after the process took its lives, it lost one of them all over again.
It started innocently enough. That day, that hour, that very second of a past that had been present, the voice called for a study chair. Naturally, it stood beside a hooded man. Naturally, he took it up and prepared to go to the chute. Unnaturally, he stopped halfway, and returned.
He set the chair down. He sat on it. He bent forward. He picked up an irregular blob. In the dim greyness, it was only an irregular blob. To the hooded man sitting there, and the hooded men beside him, it was a vaguely-featured lump of cloth with a vague shape and a vague beige colour, what a toy rabbit might be like after an adult’s full life of negligence.
The hooded man sitting there held it in his hands, looking at it silently. He turned it this way, and that way, moved his hands across its rough tattered fur. He squeezed it a bit, experimentally. Then he brought it to his chest. He bent down over it, shaking with the effort of sobbing.
It was a break from routine. All the hooded men were around the one sitting by now. As he cried, there was a flurry of motion, such as the swiveling of heads left to right would be in dim greyness. Another motion, and one of the hooded men stood behind the one sitting down, hand moving gently to his shoulder.
‘DELIVER A STUDY CHAIR, AN OLD STUFFED TOY AND THE TWO HOODED MEN CURRENTLY NEAREST TO THEM!’ Demands for several items were not uncommon.
The break from routine ceased to be, as the pair of hooded men were loaded onto the chair by another two, pushed to the chute together and loaded into the dark musty tunnel together. The loading pair moved back from the chute automatically.
But there was to be another break from routine. Not a major event. Just the absence of a minor event. Just the first simultaneous rest the hooded men had ever had from the process. Again, the flurry of motion in the dim greyness. Uneasy motion, for though the hooded men stood still, there was an air that said they didn’t want to, an air that pervaded the room. The hooded man who knew his voice spoke again to himself. He remembered his voice. It was exactly that of the voice that demanded. He might have demanded items for himself, and the other hooded men would have answered.
Abruptly, there was a hooded man before him, holding out a black leather wallet. The hooded man tried out his mouth and larynx, found them subject to recent effort. The flurry of motion towards him told him whatever he thought was thought out loud.
The hooded man took the wallet from the other hooded man. He opened it to see some dark-skinned, vaguely Oriental person with blond hair and brown eyes. Name of Goyle Shivanan. Birth date of forty years before the process began. Behind the card that held this data was a rectangular green paper. This was what the hooded man had worked for, before the process. He removed the card, and the green paper behind it, and put them inside his robe. The wallet he dropped to the floor, only an item that was to be demanded.
Slowly, the hooded men waited for the next call.
That was a time ago, as time was measured in this place. Months melted into raw passing of events, and many many events of the same occurred. Years must have passed, by right.
And came the second break in routine.
Huge red lights the hooded men had seen all the time as walls suddenly burst into action. In their blindness, the hooded men hung onto the voice that began speaking.
‘Take up the longest, hardest, sharpest item or one that displays an acceptable combination of each. Arrange yourselves before the panel into a circle, the ones with the most acceptable items outside, the rest inside.’
They did as told. Presently, the hooded man found himself holding up a rusted piece of railing to the empty air. Looking right, he saw the panel. He hadn’t pressed that for some time. He wanted to. Wanted to feel the pleasure of knowing he had done something to bring the screams.
He looked back in front, and someone stood up just outside the reach of the railing. They looked at the panel, whiteness in their face, mainly the top of the face. They maintained that look as they shifted his gaze to the hooded men standing there.
‘In the name of-’ they exclaimed. The someone fell short of explaining it, because they jolted with shock. They looked at the hooded men with a terrible, terrible understanding, one born of the random shifting of mental concepts, observations and connections. They moved closer to the hooded man holding the piece of railing.
‘This is a prison. Was a prison,’ they added wryly. ‘They do experiments here now, with people who were prisoners, and people who were not, whatever difference that makes now.’ They paused, moving his hands before themselves, drawing out the next chain of thought.
‘I think you are the ones carrying out the experiments on us. I remember the chute. It brought things. The wardens down there used those things on us. The most mundane thing in a storeroom brings fear to me now.’
‘It changed, one day. It’s possible you know, though you more likely have forgotten. Two hooded men like you fell down the chute, still alive. The wardens used them too. Used them.’
The someone hugged themselves at this juncture. ‘Used them in the most humiliating, demeaning ways I ever imagined. And then some from their own imaginations. There were just like you, and they got used the same way as those items. When the wardens were done, do you know what they did? They threw them away.’
The someone took in a deep breath. They looked around again, shivering uncontrollably upon seeing the panel, and less so upon the items scattered on the floor of the room, and almost not at all upon the circle of hooded men.
‘You probably don’t know this. But when I was running here, I passed other cells. I looked inside them to save as many as I could, but there was no one to save. There was no one inside the cells. Just air, and stone. I counted the cells as I passed over them, and I see your panel has just as many divisions, sections, whatever as that, when you include the cells where I was. You know what? You all are pressing buttons geared to empty cells. You’re torturing nothing about eighty percent of the time. I know you torture us, because the things the wardens use are far too power-demanding for a local power source. But for this place to have so many buttons…’
The someone sighed softly. As they did so, hooded men came out from all over the room. In their hands they held far longer, far sharper, and far harder things than the piece of railing in its best days.
‘Oh no,’ breathed the someone, and impaled themselves on the hooded man’s piece of railing.
The wardens instructed the hooded man to pass the corpse to them. He did so, and they instructed the hooded men to get back to work. They did so.
Years ran together, if there was yet something to run together into. The hooded men were kept busier than ever now. Respites of any sort were eliminated, and forgotten. Despite this, the hooded man who knew his voice always thought to himself, saying out the thoughts he needed to remember before the next demand for items or buttons.
He had a life before the process. A happy life, but not complete. Lacking innovation, the feeling of pushing borders. One day, he was told to push the borders of the human psyche, and he did so. He kept doing so. He kept doing so.
The experiment lasted far longer than any other, save, perhaps, social ones. He made arrangements to ensure he could remain in the experiment, and so did his colleagues. One day, they were told to don the hoods.
He remembered more now. Not everything, but more, and for now, that was enough. He had the dead man’s card, and the dead man’s green bills. He had the solitary opening to outside twenty metres above the panel, easily accessed with the pieces of broken ladder around. He had asked of help sufficiently to know he alone thought this way. He had enough of pushing buttons to hear screams.
It is one thing to be a torturer, he thought. It is another to be a torturer and not know the prisoners. He knew which he was, and that was why he was escaping.

2.3.09

Back from IMCB

IMCB was fun. A great 3-day period of slacking off. With the additional benefit of finding out what scientists actually do in research centres. Take as an example the zebrafish handlers. They work in a room a quarter the size of a whole Biopolis floor, which is filled with about twenty shelves of tanks. In total, there are 8000 tanks, each containing 25-40 fishes each. A lot of little lives in that area, and a lot of maintenance for the small crew of 8 there.
On the other hand, take one of our teachers, Ronnie. After taking care of the students that arrive weekly for the projects, he sits at his computer at around 5 pm and stays there. Surfing the net. A real amazing thing to do where he is.
Of course, this is not likely to be a reliable account, being only a visitor, but it seems pretty neat that there can be such contrasts, like the technicians we see staying in one lab the whole time we were there to the music blasting away in another lab.
As for the zebrafish themselves, they are also quite interesting in themselves. A normal pair can produce 200-1000 eggs per week, each egg containing a cell which, in 24 hours, will divide into thousands of cells that differentiate into the main organs. In other words, a tiny replica of the adult is formed in only a full day. In fact, if they are released from their eggshell, the babies swim around. 5 days after conception, the babies are ready for solid food, and by 90 days the life cycle starts again.
It was with this knowledge that I killed one of the babies on the last day. Sure, I had impaled 5 or 6 egg yolks before, causing death by the next day (and oddly enough, disappearance in half a day, though with reluctance I suspect the peculiar tiny oval bundles of circles that swam in the same solution as the babies). But I never killed one deliberately. So I killed my first one as quickly as possible: by beheading it. I botched up halfway, sadly, poking its egg yolk (or was that my reason for killing it?) and tearing only the flesh before I could separate the notochord in the neck.
I did not have the stomach to repeat it. I still mourn it, even though it would have died anyway by being dunked in bleach.

25.2.09

The World Without Logos, that is, my First Quiz

A lame excuse for a post. I'm too burned out from practicing memory techniques and reading up on fields of knowledge to bother writing about yesterday, today or what I did online.
Here, my first quiz, the shuffled-song answers (using my gaming playlist), plus comments:

Q: IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY?", YOU SAY?
A: "Butterfly" by Wada Kouji aka Digimon Theme Song
Gokigen na chou ni natte kirameku kaze ni notte
Ima sugu kimi ni ai ni yukou
Yokei na koto nante wasureta hou ga mashi sa
Kore ijou shareteru jikan wa nai
I'll become a happy butterfly, and ride on the glittering wind
I'll come to see you soon
It's best to forget the unnecessary things
There's no more time to be fooling around
C:Wow. There's fatalism for you. Not accurate about a quarter of the time.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
A: "Titans of Our Time" by Iron Saviour
C: I only know this song is talking about heroes or something. Barely. Just got it because I like the band, and now it's here.

Q: HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
A: "Butterfly"
C: The odds of getting this song are (1/66) times (1/66), giving a percentage of 0.00300%. Unlike the previous question though, it's totally wrong.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
A: "Doubt and Trust" by Access aka D.Grayman 3rd/4th theme song
C: A song to jack up the adrenaline in anyone. So going along this line, my job is to hype up people. Is that a PSL I see? ***** it!

Q: WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
A: "Flash" by Queen aka Theme Song for Flash Gordon movie
C: A ballad espousing the merits and mighty deeds of Flash Gordon, the superhero before the times of Marvel and DC Comics. Basically he's the only guy able to save Earth from any crisis it falls into at any time in any situation. Whosyourdaddy man?

Q: WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
A: "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" by the Pogues
C: Partying song, the type meant to accompany barfights. I'm afraid this one's not for me. It's for Alvis. XD

Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR PARENTS?
A: "More Than a Feeling" by Boston

I woke up this morning and the sun was gone,
Turned on some music to start my day.
I lost myself in a familiar song,
I closed my eyes and I slipped away.

C: A paragraph full of nostalgia. Later on, a girl enters the equation. Overall, the singer presents it with a long regretful voice. Thus according to this, I will be separated from my parents by a girl, and will lose her in the grim end.

Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
A: "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen
C: Another heart-pumping song, though it begins with the singer accompanied by a piano only, later on a drum set and occasional chorus join in to jolt the listener into exhiliration. Mister Fahreinheit sees it as going forward continuously no matter what.

Q: WHAT IS 2+2?
A: "Seven Seas of Rhye" by Queen
C: A song about a fantasy land with, obviously, seven seas. A parody of a messiah arriving to a corrupt world, complete with bibilical words and colourful derogations. Whatever 2 and 2 are being added together, they must be the ingredients for all quirky songs.

Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
A: "Wings of Deliverance" by Iron Saviour
C: A man endures his way through a land of barrens, continually calling upon some form of salvation. Depends which best friend is being talked about, and in what context, but generally my life is not that grim every day.

Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
A: "Wizards of Winter" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

This'll be difficult to interpret...

C: Story here is a magician performing a show as an angel from heaven searches for the Christmas spirit in normally inherently sinful humans. Since the magician performs at a winter party, the title arises. Judging by the song, he puts up a masterful array of tricks. Therefore, the person I like puts.. up.. a masterful... array... of... tricks......

Q: WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
A: "Lux Aeterna (The Eternal Light)" by Clint Mansell, the penultimation of the Requiem for a Dream film.
C: Epic song. Awesome song. Mighty song. These feelings only grow as the song progresses, until the grand climax is reached in a symphony of violins, choir, drums, bass and keyboard. Although mostly used for film trailers, it's plenty inspiring to listen to by itself.

Q: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
A: "Tetris Theme" as played by the Ossipov Russian Folk Instruments Orchestra
C: I'll be game music. A piece of game music so popular an orchestra will play me.

Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
A: "Call of the Champions" by John Williams
C: Chock-full with fanfare, a Mormon choir adding to the harmonies and a whole lot of string instruments, this song really does sound like it can call heroes just by being played. Haha then.

Q: WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
A: "Foreplay/Long Time" by Boston
C: Keyboard riff in front, soulful singer behind. Actually the song doesn't have much meaning to me, only that it's nice to listen to when doing something else. That can't be what my parents think of me. Don't feel much better for knowing that, because I'm wondering how they would have raised me if they did think that way.

Q: WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
A: "A Last Illusion" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
C: Medley of Beethoven's popular pieces as they are played with modern instruments (electric guitar, drum set, etc) and high beat. In that case, my bride would need to wear some shorts underneath her skirt. Screw that. She would have to change clothes to something she can be swung around in.

Q: WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
A: "Baba O'Riley" Piano Solo by Neal Kern

Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals
I put my back into my living
I don't need to fight, To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven, yeaahhh

Don't cry, Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland
Sally, take my hand, We'll travel south cross land
Put out the fire, and don't look past my shoulder
The exodus is here, The happy ones are near
Let's get together before we get much older

Teenage wasteland, it's only teenage wasteland
Teenage wasteland, oh yeah, it's only teenage wasteland
You're all wasted

C: It's Baba O'Riley. In piano. I have nothing to add.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
A: "Tales of the Bold" by Iron Saviour
C: Very like Titans of Our Time. Just more of a musical first-person narrative. Not bad, for once. Writing in first-person is something I'm trying (and liking) lately.

Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
A: "Seize the Night" by Meat Loaf
C: Oh yes! Prophetic! An omen! After watching Dead Poets Society, you say 'carpe diem', 'seize the day'. This song tells you about the other 12 hours in an Earthly axial revolution, and why you should go to them. It's almost 10 minutes long, and it's got Ominous Latin Chanting from the middle onwards. Go hear it, and carpe noctum.

Q: WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
A: "Numbered Days" by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones
C: An account on, cure of and warning against gang violence and bullying. Shouldn't be a problem in River Valley, and I hope I'm not kidding myself, even though I've heard of a few Sec 4s in gangs. Upbeat song, despite the events as they are told in the lyrics.

Q:HOW WILL YOU DIE?
A: "Undo" by Cool Joke aka 3rd FMA Theme Song
C: 'Undo' in the sense of rewinding time back to the good old days. In the light of Benjamin Button, this gives me a curiously grey lenses with which to look at. His body rewinds as he lives his life the normal way. Maybe for me it will be the other way round, I regress back to an infantile mind when I grow old. Maybe. Maybe I can also end up as the most amazing polymath since Leonardo da Vinci, to say the least.

Q: WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
A: "Tetris Theme" as played by the Ossipov Russian Folk Instruments Orchestra
C: I'll regret what I grow up to be. Eventually, I'm sure, but only in the same way I think Mrs Look is the best thing ever to handle RV.

Q: WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
A: "Racing in the Street" by Bruce Springsteen
C: It 'describes that very American desire of the young man to leave his town and see what is out in the big world - to avoid that soul killing life they see around them'. From Songfacts, from Dan of Songfacts, from Dan of St Paul, Minnesota who posted in Songfacts (I have not plagiarised).
Myself, I haven't heard the song enough yet to say much about it. But I can tell you it is in no way a laughing matter. I'd rather put it as my answer below.

Q: WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
A: "Rasputin" by Boney M.
C: Ra-ra-rasputin! The Mad Monk who eats women, czarviechs and autocracies before he starts on the appetizers. Plenty to be scared of if there isn't a decent icy river around, otherwise I'll cry only if I see a negative of his picture in the dark.

Q: WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
A: "Tales of the Bold" by Iron Saviour
C: Besides the fact that it's asked about my wedding song, I have to say my iTunes is seriously screwed. More in a later post.

Q: WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
A: "Lux Aeterna" by Clint Mansell
C: Scary does not equal epic, awesome or mighty. Another example of the faultiness of shuffle.

Q: DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
A: "Yuji Ohno" from Lupin 3
C: Huh. Don't know this song at all, only listen to it because it has a saxophone in it, unique for a Jap song.

Q: IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
A: "Rock Into the Future" by 1200 Milligrams
C: Apparently the band takes drugs to play this type of music. So once I go back in time I'll change what drugs I take to increase my musical aptitude. Seeing that I normally don't take drugs, even medicine, this means I'll start taking them when I go back, and then I'll join the band.

Q: WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
A: "Seven Seas of Rhye" by Queen
C: For the first and last time in this entry, what in the world?

Q: WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
A:"The World Without Logos" by Yasushi Ishi aka Hellsing song
C: Ah, about the third truly appropriate song. This song is indescribable at my current ability and the time, but as theme song of this post it's pretty good also.

Finally, I've reached the end. A lot longer than I anticipated, but I did it, and I'm feeling mentally rested again. I intend to remain like that until I can look at the monitor without seeing fuzzy grey dots where there's meant to be a white screen.

22.2.09

Writing

Lately I've found a lot of writing competitions online. The Aeon Award from Albedo One, the Bristol Prize, Invisible Ink, Cordelia, Dark Tales and BrevityThing. Problem is, almost all of them have a deadline of either the end of Feb or March. -.-
Plus, the main one I'm interested in joining, the Writers of the Future, requires a story of 17,000 words. That's a heavy load in addition to school tests, Scouts campfire preparation and CID field trips. Moreover, my computer access can be quite limited sometimes.
Still, it's necessary to do these if I want to make any progress in writing. It is inconvenient, but then Singapore totally lacks anything like these. Frankly, Singapore lacks any proper art at all, but then that's something I'll solve later.

18.2.09

Silver

Today we stayed back for makeup chem practical, where we conducted our first displacement reactions. Nothing too interesting, except when we managed to displace silver. For anyone not studying Chem, silver is one of the least reactive metals, which is why it can be found in a more or less pure state, much like gold. Since it is so unreactive, whenever it is in a compound silver can be pushed out, or displaced, from the compound by a more reactive metal, like a brilliant discipline mistress chasing away Mrs Look from this school with her awesomeness. Someday.
Anyway, once the silver has been displaced, it will be precipitated out of the solution onto the nearest solid. In our case, the nearest solid was the strip of metal we added to the silver nitrate solution. For magnesium, the silver was deposited as a black solid, nothing interesting. Same for zinc. The really odd bit was when copper was added to the solution. There, the silver was deposited as some fluffy beige solid, like one of the test-tube brushes. When shaken, the whole solution became a purple suspension. The best part is when we poured out the solution. The silver twinkled entertainingly as it went down the sink. I almost regretted washing it away.
Life is really boring when I consider such things like this to be interesting.

15.2.09

Sunday

Jar-Jar, you're a genius!
Makes more sense if the reader has watched or at least knows the plot of Star Wars.

11.2.09

Wikisurfing

Wikisurfing. It's an adventure. It requires adrenaline. It requires water. It requires total concentration. Otherwise, you fall off the Wikiboard.
I see your silhouette...

10.2.09

February 14

This date meant nothing to me for fifteen years. All I ever noticed was that everyone got fairly excited over it, less so in my all-boys pri school, but more in RV. Occasionally, people would also mistake it for my birthday (Feb 1).
Now it makes me emo...
I got a present but can't give it because it's glaringly obvious like that. On the other hand leaving it in my cupboard means the present will glare at me instead. It's a bit like talking to her. I barely know anyone in her class and I've gone inside before so they recognise my face. It doesn't help that I went inside to talk to her. Only.
I might've made it easier for myself by talking her today, provided I had had the courage to come up out of the blue to say hi. I didn't and I hate myself for it. To her it would have just been a chance meeting with an old classmate, but it didn't happen. For a full two minutes I watched her as amazingly she came over to where our class was eating and passed by more of my friends standing around. After eating, I snuck glances at her from easily the opposite end of the canteen. Now I realise that was my way of indirectly telling myself I had regretted my decision.
I have to grasp every opportunity to talk to her. Carefully, of course, but with a ruthlessness in pursuing those opportunities. Or else I'll find myself being emo half the day, not neccesarily at the right times.

8.2.09

The Future in Dune?

I'm currently re-reading Dune by Frank Herbert, and yet again I am astonished and awed by the power of the human computers, the Mentats and the manipulators, the Bene Gesserit.
(I advise you not to read much beyond the first paragraph of the Wikipedia articles if you intend to read the Dune series. I did, only having read Dune and I regret it.)
Mentats are humans with supreme calculating and analytical powers. They were bred to replace the AIs that were overthrown and stamped out in a furious galatic jihad 40,000 years into the future, 10,000 years before Dune. But that hardly makes them merely human computers. They are better than that. They can literally take in all the information given to and observed by them, sift through those large volumes and grip the various logical paths and choose the one best suited for the current situation. They are the ultimate counsellors.
At this neat little page is a full and detailed list of the qualities of a Mentat. I can easily predict that us, as students, would see even one of these qualities as a godsend unto us, lightening our workload by many times. I aim to get all. Not now, certainly, but one day I hope I can have them. Here is another page with many more details about the techniques involved, but I've just found it today myself and have yet to read it, let alone test it.
Mentat Techniques (taken directly from linked article)
  1. Extraordinary capacity for conscious information acquisition
  2. Rapid computation skills
  3. Near total recall
  4. Unshakeable concentration
  5. Calculate human or social costs without emotion
  6. Wide-ranged analytical talents
The Bene Gesserit aka BG are a long-standing shadow government of women with amazing capability to observe the human stance, read the intentions of the target and even control their wills with a single word. They rely on the ever-present spice melange to increase their already staggering abilities and give them access to the ancestral female memory, far enough to reach the 18th century.
In the Dune series they are feared as witches whose only goal is to control the human race. This is what they do, but their true goal is to manipulate and shape the interstellar politics of the Great Houses of the human Imperium. This is done such that after centuries of marriage and conjoining of bloodlines a male BG, the Kwisatz Haderach will be produced and unlock the ancestral male memory, marking the maturity of the human race. He is produced, but turns out to be both far more and less than what was expected of him, most of which in that he was a generation early
Aside from power manipulation, the BG also specialise in unarmed combat, espionage and intelligence work. I will not personally post much more about them, since information on them is even more than that of Mentats (and I can't understand much of what they do >.<), but here are two links at Dunepedia and KnowledgeRush.
As a last entry here is the litany Bene Gesserit sisters recite to themselves in times of stress to calm themselves. Myself, I find it is not only the words that work, but the rhythm of the phrases.
Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death that brings obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear's path. Where fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

5.2.09

Holed Up

Again I say, only February, and already our classroom is full of holes. As if that weren't enough, someone had to throw the broomstick again. He didn't make a hole this time, but instead the metal pole just fell down from the ceiling. After fretting around with it and trying to put it back, he decided it was even better than a broomstick.
All I have to say is that we can't really see the holes the metal pole made, at least.

4.2.09

Our Holesome Classroom

Our class seriously has a serious problem, because someone is not taking serious things seriously. It happened once or twice purely due to accident and too much strength, and they were quickly remedied with a sheet of paper or two. But now, through some chance mutation, it has become contagious, and it has spread terrifically. There are too many holes in our classroom walls. It's not something we shouldn't expect occasionally, seeing the walls are about weak enough for me to poke holes through them. With my finger. But if someone's making holes on purpose, chances are the whole container block is going to collapse by year-end.
Someone finds it funny to continually kick the existing holes and expand them. It is funny, and I know that. It gets old rather quickly by the fourth time, sadly. Take the hole created by YY from 4X (renamed for privacy) when he was taupok-ed on Monday. It was fairly acceptable at first, big as it was, since it was basically just a dent. Now, it's a cavern complete with bits of former wall around it. Take today, just before PSB Investiture. He picked up the broomstick, for fun. He then hurled it into the wall, creating a nice circular hole, for fun as well. Then he DID IT AGAIN, repeatedly, from the opposite end of the classroom, making 5+ holes, for don't know what.
After the assembly, he did try to cover it up, but with newspaper.
Frankly, I doubt it's much use. Mdm Eu didn't even seem to notice the hole made on Monday, and she's freaking observant, so it's more likely she didn't care. Compared to her attitude last year, it's depressing. Chowbie came in for PDP and saw nothing, fearful as I was, but then he can't compare with her.
I just have to say that making holes, or eating in class, or playing cards (witnessed and interfered with by Ng Hai Guan), our class can do it. Hoho.

29.1.09

24.1.09

BNW

O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in it!

21.1.09

Not Safe in School

Schools should have high security, since they contain the "future masters of Singapore". Though it is hard to see what happens in classrooms, especially in container classrooms.
Between LA and CHAMPS lesson, the boys were all gathered at the back of the classroom as usual, attacking each other as usual. After a while, Alvis somehow got dragged into the centre of the crowd, where they decided to dapok him. It was fast, and brutal, starting with Leong Yu, with Qi Zhang in between I think and Tian Qi also on top somewhere. Alvis was left to groan for a while before he recovered enough to get up. Tian Qi took that as a sign to dapok Alvis again, but thankfully he asked beforehand, so Alvis got to decline first. It was fun to watch. The next time wasn't that fun.
A few minutes later, Choon Pin was the lucky guy, so he was handled down to the floor. Next, I was conscripted to lie on top of him. Fun, I thought, so I did so. Then Tian Qi went onto me. That didn't matter too much. The thing that did was that Choon Pin slipped off to the side, leaving me on the floor instead. I didn't see exactly who was on me, since we had to get up a few seconds later when we saw Mdm Eu coming. But I did see Wen Zhong, and I think I stepped on his fingers as well (ps wz).
Anyway, whoever was on me, they were heavy. I couldn't stop shaking at my seat for a while. It's okay now, since my words are all spelled correctly.
PS: If you want me to add you, comment on this post with address and name. Thx

18.1.09

First post

Nothing much to say. Especially as this blog will have zero readership plus me in the first few days to weeks to months. Only that if there are people who come here, just add me if you yourselves have got blogs. Thanks in advance.