My Subconcious Prejudices

So I was talking to some people about my needing to stay back another semester, which naturally brought up a lot of differring reactions, ranging from “It doesn’t matter, I still love you anyway” to “Stupid idiot! Wasting you parents’ money because of your complacency and laziness”. My parents, surprisingly, leaned towards the former, possibly because brother dearest has hit even lower lows this year, compared to which I can do nothing wrong. Also, it’s not the first time I’ve done badly in school (gasp!), and I’m sure they’re still sufferring from remorse over my formative years (I play the guilt game very well). My friends provided the more varied range of advice, which roused in me feelings ranging from reciprocation of love to guilt and frustration. Thankfully (despite the dreadful heat, which I blame for almost everything shamelessly) I refrained from lashing out at anyone.

The truth of the situation is, of course, that I’m not too happy about having to stay back another semester. Firstly, it smacks of the bitter taste of admission of defeat, and – worst of all – stupidity. I’ve never liked feeling stupid, not since I was a fat little kid in promary school with no friends and high scores in math and english. Being smart was my only plus point for a long time, and I still have the sneaking suspicion that it still is. If at all I am, which is beginning to look more and more suspect based on my decision-making skills. Plus, there’s this insidious part of me that cries out at not being economically active at the age of 23 (till September!) that I believe stems from my growing up in Singapore, where you’re only alive if you work.

It’s not just me, of course, artists, musicians and other people who work in the creative line find themselves at the bottom of the social pyramid along with other low-income professions in Singapore (unless they make a best-seller). Maybe it’s just my own limited social experience, but then again I belong to the subset of Singaporeans that make up the bulk of funcitonal society (ie. boring, banal, blind) and I think it’s pretty safe for me to assert none of us would consider an artistic career going anywhere beyond part-time. At the back of many of our minds lingers this little thought about artistic intent – a waste of time that can’t bring fortune.

Happiness = cash.

Luckily, most of my friends are in 4-year courses, so I’m not looking at too many of them going out to work and leaving me as a silly student git, so peer pressure isn’t too much of a problem yet. The ones who have started work are thankfully in jobs that actually make me feel good about still being a student.

On the bright side of things, I suppose the extra semester will also allow me some times to think about what I really want to do with my life. It’s better than running off to Europe to find myself, I guess (though much less romantic) and will hopefully give me some time to come up with a decent portfolio.

Hopefully I get a chance to make it all right again.

So really, I feel bad enough about it already, I have reflected on my mistakes, I have repented and I regret my sins.

So spare the sermons?

My Last Few Days Here

I’ve decided, even should I have to redo another semester at NUS, not to stay in hall any longer. It’s time to move on, and anyway I should be getting a place to stay outside anyway.

Some place with air-conditioning.

I don’t think I’ll miss staying on campus much. It wasn’t really much of a home. I stuck in my room and kept interaction with neighbours to a minimum, so it’s not surprising there’s no emotional attachment. My neighbours look like losers, so I have no wish to get to know them better. Actually once I get to know them better they’ll probbaly lose loser status, and I need to bitch about them sometimes so I’d like it if they stay that way. I’m closer to my mates from my various societies, so it was real fun when I used to stay at Prince George’s Park and we’d meet up almost every night to do stuff. These days I stay at Old Kent Ridge, where no one else stays (other than Wei Chuen) and is a long bus ride away from the old group.

The constant having to move-in-and-out means my decor is alawys changing, which just makes me feel like I’m living in a shoe-box meant for mice with short life spans. I used to have one wall covered with all my posters last semester, which I thought looked rather nice and cool (and fed my ego, since they were all posters I’D done), and I’d hoped to be able to keep it when I moved out but the by-the-book administration wouldn’t even hear of me leaving the broom in the corner. The clerk who came with me to check out of my room took a look at my beautiful wall, shook her head and proclaimed it illegal. I tore it down with her help, and when she asked if I still wanted to keep them I told her no. It was a heartbreaking thing to have to do, but to carry them all would have been armbreaking (I was weighted down with the laundry basket). This semester the wall is bare.

I have never used the communal kitchen, mainly because I am a lazy bum, but also a little because it’s always crowded with the Vietnamese. It’s always the Vietnamese. I’ve seen the Indians sitting in the kitchen drinking beer and cracking peanuts before, but only the once. I’ve seen my Malaysian neighbour sitting there entertaining some female once, and staking out the fridge (story below) once. Other than that… it’s always the Vietnamese using the kitchen. They have almost every meal there, as far as I can tell. Lunch/Dinner is always rice in that transparent bowl, with assorted quick-to-cook foods in the assorted pots and pans, which I usually witness in a state of unwashed dirtiness in the sinks. It stinks to have to use a sink dirtied by someone else. Evidently they have enough utensils among them to last an entire day without doing washing, which means I try to avoid the kitchen in the afternoons.

(Sorry Gina, I’m sure not all vietnamese are like that. But I lack a suitable label for the ones in my block.)

The kitchen has another problem – a communal refridgerator. I have the habit of buying twin packs of milk, of which I usually finish one carton within the day, the other requiring storage in the fridge. IT ALWAYS gets stolen. I have had my milk stolen at least ten times this semester alone (I have an amazing faith in the goodness of my fellow man). And I am not the only victim, it turns out – for a week there appeared a note stuck on the fridge – “The one who stole my milk will go to hell! Fucking milk-stealer!” Which resulted in me losing all faith in the goodness of my fellow man (sharing some milk can’t be that bad) and my Malaysian neighbour staking out the kitchen to find out who it was who was stealing milk. He asked me if it was me, to which I replied that I was lactose intolerant and only drank soy bean. I didn’t really want to tell him the truth – he might have tried to rope me into staking out the kitchen with him to avenge his carotns. Nick once suggested I add some laxatives into a pack and stake out the toilet to find out who does it, which I thought was clever, but unfortunately I never got around to doing it.

Communal toilets aren’t that hot neither. I am blessed this semester with hostel-mates who are at least clean in their hygienic attentions. But occasionally we still get the bad-aim-shitter or the shampoo-all-over-floor incidents that result in the mass exodus of users to the toilets across the road. Plus, being the oldest hall in campus, our toilets are in a sorry shape – flushing the toilets is a bicep exercise and footwear in the baths is absolutely necessary to avoid foot-injuries. The water heaters’ knobs have all fallen off, and are always set on “high”, meaning when you turn the tap on the resulting first blast of water will scald you. Depending on where the tap is aimed it can be a painful experience indeed – some parts of the body are not suitable for the common treatments of ointment and plaster.

My room is on the side of the block facing the road, meaning I get stereo-surround-sound-type acoustic effects every time the bus goes past. It used to wake me up early in the morning when I just moved in, but luckily I adapted and now I sleep so heavily nothing short of painful torture can wake me up before eight in the morning. Also, Singapore being a green garden city, it’s roads are paved with flora of all kinds, which are in turn infested with a most respectful variety of bugs. These bugs tend to crawl into my room, and it is most unfortunate that I am not a student of biodiversity, because otherwise I might have collected a mighty collection of preserved insects. As it is it just means I use a lot of tissue paper and my dusbin is always a graveyard of tiny lives (I’m not Buddhist, no qualms about killing bugs – support the culture of death!). I wake up every morning with new bites from god-only-knows what horrid things, which I’m sure contribute to my myriad allergies.

No, I don’t think I’m gonna miss living here. Really.

Wherein I Tell of Senseless Labs

I will possibly fail CZ4206, Symbolic Computing, because I had not handed in a single laboratory assignment, and they figure for 35% of the final grade (not really a big deal. My history of assignment-doing this semester goes along the same lines).

However, I had not done the labs for this module not so much because I was lazy, but because they were ridiculously easy. Really. Stupendously easy. It’s Mathematica programming, for god’s sake. I can pick it up in three days, and pass it easily with some reference.

But that’s not really why I think the labs are easy. I think the labs are easy because THE ANSWERS ARE POSTED ONLINE. That’s right, all source code, ready for download. You see, the labs haven’t changed in the past two years the module has been taught, and some conscientious lecturer had posted the answers to the labs online. The less-conscientious lecturers who took over the module never seemed to notice this.

It made no sense to me at all to hand in source-code that was there for free download.

So it was really just a lesson in obedience, that 35% of the final grade in Symbolic Computing. I do not consider cosmetic-changing of source code a skill that should be learnt at University level.

Maybe I should have said something to the lecturer about giving more challenging labs, or removing the source (which wouldn’t have helped – I’ll bet it was all downlaoded at the start of the semester), but my patently chinese manners rebelled against snitching on the poor girls who probably had to download the source, change some variable names and then hand it in.

So instead sat around, too lazy to change a stupid system, too apathetic to bother complying with it, and the only one who suffers is me.

Errr. I think the muscles really are clogging up blood going to the brain.

In other religious news, Benedict XVI received leaders of other faiths and professed an interest in “building bridges of friendship” with other religions. He also remarked that:

peace was a “duty to which all peoples must be committed, especially those who profess to belong to religious traditions.”

Meaning that the ones encouraging war are the godless atheists like me (though I’m really agnostic, but the distinction is usually lost on religous people). I’m surprised at his tolerance for other religions. After all, the Muslims, Hindus and cherry-bush-worshippers of Gogoland are as much heathens as I am, right? Why this unfair distinction? Is catholism growing soft?

Imagine a new world religion, tolerant of all faiths… except for disbelief. A world where religous struggles become mega-conglomerate market-share battles, where you have to choose between Coke or Pepsi, but not-to-drink is a crime against cool (sorry – alliteration fun). The biggest stake-holders, having economies of scale and much more experience than any newcomer, will oust the competition and squeeze the market dry such that small religions can’t survive. I can imagine the showdown – Islam, Christianity (all of which tiny factions will eventually have a merger) and maybe Buddhism (which will be where all the confused people flock, because some denominations support sex). We’ll have charismatic CEOs, profit analysis and checks and balances. Magazines like “The Religist” will actually be read (for YOUR moral education!). Morality will be shored up and displayed to the masses, and due to the intense competition distinct lines of battle will be drawn, with cries of “WE’RE more moral, because we went and built home in Somalia, Nah nah!”.

Okay, perhaps I take it too far. But you know I don’t like any organized religion.

No, not even buddhism. And no, not the cherry-bush-worship of Gogoland. DEFINITELY not that.

What’s Wrong With You?

Okay, I’m gonna fail some modules this semester.

I also seem to be in a constant state of depression and am spouting strange phrases at people.

My moods haven’t been so volatile, ever, and my need for argument is greatly increased.

I seem to have no direction in life, nor any wish to create any.

No, there’s nothing wrong with me, nor is there anything you could possibly do to help me. I don’t need any solutions, nor your pithy life-philosophies. I have my own, and I don’t see a need to change them right now.

But I know you will show me your truth, your shiny truth, the one that sparkles in the sun, the one that catches the rays and makes them its own. Our most paltry of baubles are precious gems when on display to the poor.

There is no need at all to worry about me.

Or is it because my displaced social-function makes you embarrassed that you are acquainted with me? Does it bother you to see someone who is unable to contribute to the economy and society you strive so hard to belong to? Would you be friends with a freak? Or has your tolerance for compliance been breached?

You say you can’t sit around and see someone kill himself, but you sat around and watched the deaths of thousands of people around you without raising a finger. They died, slowly and painlessly, drowned in the morphine of their existence. You helped pull some of them down yourself.

I watched too. I still watch, because I am weak, a small and powerless animal that can only mewl pitifully it’s complaints.

Can you help me? Boost me up from this swamp? Or should I be content to sink with you?

Maybe if you could only teach me to close my eyes, then I might be content. Maybe if I stop this struggling, I should finally be at rest.

Am unsure what brought about this sudden loss of identity and despair. Blame it on Nietzsche. Hope it is not teenage angst – thought I managed to skip that part of growing up.

I Am So Sick of Exams

Okay, so it’s narcissistic and shows a complete lack of comprehension about my own looks. But I believe that all bloggers are at least subconsciously disgusting exhibitionist fetishists who will do anything to have people put comments on their blog.

Don’t believe me? Look at Singapore’s Top Blog. I’m not so sure who rated this, but Xiaxue definitely has one of the most involved blogs out there at the moment. Pictures of herself, stories about herself, interviews of herself… wait – it’s a BLOG. Of COURSE there’s information about herself. Silly me.

Anyways, go take a look, guys. Pictures of semi-naked ladies. Evidently Ms Xiaxue is in the fashion line or something (can use photoshop, good camera) and has the big-head-shot technique quite well mastered. She also… writes short stories filled with sexual innnuendo and Singaporean reference (an unusual combination).

Other winners of the Asia Weblog Awards 2003 can be found here. As far as I can google there have not been any Singapore-based awards for blogs. Possibly because there’s nothing particularly nice to read about Singaporeans? Now that is a recurring topic amongst blog-conscious Singaporean bloggers. Thankfully, we can rely on technology to bolster our insipidly monotonous content, posting images from our spiffy cameras, sound off our iPods and all other manner of strange device-specific fun.

But of course, content-presentation aside, the content-meat is also a problem for Singaporean writers. It is a sad but true fact that most people are uninterested in the affairs of countries other than their own. Or at least around them. Or at least half-way across the world but you’ve declared war on them and killing millions of people over there. The latter we can discard for Singapore, where conflict is mostly limited to the fisticuffs amongst aunties trying to jump the queue at MacDonald’s for a Hello Kitty toy. So, because Singaporean news commands little attention, even in the blogosphere (such an awful word) we have a smaller market than our competitors in other countries. And the electronic age was supposed to remove physical boundaries, too. Yet it seems a little crass to be writing on the issues of some other super-power, no matter how tempted we may be to do so in condemning their condescending foreign-policy, self-serving justice and imposed-democratic-values (ooops), when there is so much more interesting material to work on such as the fascinating and heated arguments for and against casinos in Singapore:

You have no choice anyway, just listen to the government.

Oh. You can actually stop reading now. Just typing in the hopes of evading study-needs.

Just end with a quote from Singaporebloodypore(one of the very few politically-motivated blogs from Singapore):

Singapore gynaecologists routinely report women coming to them complaining of barrenness only to be told they are virgins.

(decision to migrate has been made)

Wherein I Finish Zarathustra

Okay, I finally finished Thus Spake Zarathustra. It’s a weird book (get one of dozens of etexts here) that makes little sense and requires entirely too much thought to understand. The basic premise, for those of you who don’t want to have to read Nietzsche, is that we are still not realized of our true human potential and should strive to become the Superman or Overman (trans – Ubermensch). How we are to do this, though, Nietzsche doesn’t seem to explain very clearly – at least as far as I’m concerned.

The main hero in Thus Spake Zarathustra is (unsurprisingly) Zarathustra, named after the founder of Zoroastrism (Freddie Mercury was a Zoroastrian), but otherwise has little to do with the Zoroastric faith. In fact, I doubt very much that the original Zarathustra managed to found a religion by sitting alone on the top of a mountain and saying weird things like :

In the mountains the shortest way is from peak to peak, but for that route thou must have long legs. Proverbs should be peaks, and those spoken to should be big and tall.

But a realistic interpretation is neither here nor there. What is more important to me personally is that Nietzsche focuses less on finding any answers to life, but more on how people should live it. There are views on marriage, on friendship, on leisure activities, on how you should sleep. He meant it to parody the New Testament, I suppose, with it’s vague, open-to-interpretation value judgements.

There’s also a Last Supper, Disciples and a lot of talk about God. Mostly about him being dead. However, remember that Nietzsche was an atheist. For him to say God is dead is NOT a religous statement, but rather a social commentary. He has many social commentaries, a lot of which I do not find myself very approving of.

Nietzsche also spares no mercy in his disgust at the “common man”. The term referring to people like you and me, I suppose, who are sitting around reading/writing blogs instead of pondering our way towards ascension (though this point I find confusing – Nietzsche’s attitude towards ascension of any kind seems to be based on a resignation of inability to reach it). Luckily, he condemns the living death, something closer to my heart (though I suspect my reasons for that now). On the other hand, I know the Germans tend to be somewhat outspoken in their views, but read TSZ and you’ll see why it makes sense that it was twisted to Nazi idealogy and probably ended up being a little bit responsible for the deaths of the thousands. Death is, as far as Nietzsche is concerned (at the beginning of the book, towards the end I feel he’s more forgiving), too good for the scum of the earth.

And Nietzsche didn’t like Jews, neither.

Hmmm. I’ve been giving Seet a hard time because of his NLP, mainly because I thought it was silly that he should go running to someone and pay them so they could tell him how to live his life. I guess, in a way, I’m also looking for someone to tell me how to live my own life – that’s what all these philosophy books are about. So maybe I’m not better (although my affliction costs me a lot less).

Well, he used to make fun of me for that too.

An anonymous blogger has driven my friend to tears by posting in her blog that she was possessed of several bad traits. Phew. Luckily I didn’t link her from mine, so it wasn’t one of my readers that flamed her. On the other hand, I guess it’s a lesson to all of us to be more responsible about our words. All very good to say it’s MY blog and I’ll write what I bloody want, but freedom is not something you should flaunt, if you want others to respect it.

So keep it reasonable and well-argued, people! Bitch blogs aren’t fun to read (unless you’re my sister).

The Commonplace Mind

The characteristic of the hour is that the commonplace mind, knowing itself to be commonplace, has the assurance to proclaim the rights of the commonplace and to impose them wherever it will.
Jose Ortega y Gasset
The Revolt of the Masses

Which is more true these days since the rise of democracy, I suppose.

Or is it?

Wherein I Tell of My Failure in Physical Prowess

Okay, to be a National triathlete in Singapore (meaning you won’t be winning any medals overseas), you need a swim time of 22:30 for a distance of 1.5km and a run time of 39:00 for 10km. I don’t know if the timings are supposed to be taken in consecutive runs.

By comparison, I swim about 1.0km in 25 minutes and take about 50 min to finish 10km. And only when I do them on seperate days. With ample rest in between. And am feeling relatively stress-free at the moment. With no physical injuries. And the sun is not too hot. And the humidity is not too high. And there is no haze.

Hmmm. And this is my best sport.

The Ironman France competition involves a 3.8 km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run. These are distances I am alien to on non-motorized vehicular transport. I vaguely remember seeing on television some strange english competition where they did something like that, only there was also barbed wire involved (or maybe I was mistaken and it was a movie about a jailbreak).

Maybe I should have just stuck to reading for a hobby.