More (or less) on filial piety

Being still jobless and having a lot of time on my hands, I started on Camus’ L’Etranger (The Stranger), translated by Matthew Ward. The first chapter – as far as I got before the fingers itched to blog the experience – deals largely with the death of the main character’s maman (mother) and written in a rather terse, Hemingway machine-gun way.

And it horrified me, because the mother had (*spoiler alert* though I’m doubtful any of my largely Pokemon-Hentai-seeking readership will ever pick the book up) died in an old-folk’s home a long way from where the main character lived, and whom he rarely visited. The funeral process was described in prose almost completely devoid of emotion and you wonder if the protaganist had harboured any feelings of goodwill towards his mother or had been going along with the motions out of duty. You begin to wonder if he was filial. And if you’ve been following the issues I’m concerned with, filial piety happens to be one of my stickling points – mainly because I can’t get a good grip on a decent course of action to follow that can satisfy (for me) philosophy and practice. I am one of the individualistic young people who may not want to take my turn as a carer (care-er) of my parents in the future (read this BBC article for their take on Singapore).

In case you haven’t heard I live in a rented room away from my parents, for several reasons that have changed over over the years. Ultimately, though, I think one day I finally realized that not only was it possible for me to move out but also that I wanted to. What makes me guilty is the knowledge that had I tried somewhat harder, it wouldn’t have been impossible for me to stay (*gasp*). Does that make me a Bad Son? After all, until a few years ago, I had imagined that I would stay with my parents forever (with some legitimate exceptions).

I’m not just talking about moving out as in the case of moving temporarily to some form of university residence or army barracks. I mean the mindset of wanting to live independantly of parental support (interference) forever. If you can’t figure out the difference, consider what the word “home” means to you, and if that place is away from your parents’ (or in some small room which you rent with an unfriendly roommate). Despite having moved away from my parents for two years, it’s still difficult to think of myself as having “moved out” in that sense – it always feels like a temporary solution until I go back, despite my constant reminders to myself that it’s permanent.

The Singaporean situation sees many young adults living with their parents despite being economically active, having active sexual lives and sometimes even after having children. Singaporeans will commonly cite the cost of housing as an excuse, but in reality Singapore’s housing prices aren’t so high when compared to other cities that see much higher parent-child seperation rates (I’m not too sure, really, but we’re definitely cheaper than Paris, London, New York, Berlin, etc…). I think the main reason Singaporeans tend to stay home is due to the dependance of youths here on their parents for financial support (up to the ages of twenty-five and more!) and the lack of a need to move for employment reasons.

The only situations under which Singaporean offspring move out of their parents’ are when in wedding dresses, coffins, with a scholarship, a really large loan, under severe trauma (caused by offspring to parents or vice-versa).

If you need an example of how different we are in this respect to western nations, consider local television productions such as Phua Chu Kang or Under One Roof against generic American sitcoms. No one seems to think that it is strange that children over thirty (Paul from UOR?) are still living in the same HDB flat with their parents, and in the same tiny room, whereas the parents in those Made-In-America sitcoms are invariably portrayed as something of a minor irritation and appear at most in a single episode, where they embarrass protaganists and end up realizing that living in another state (preferably one involving no breathing) makes more sense. I remember Miranda from Sex and the City saying something to the effect that her mother lived a thousand miles away, and that was still too close for comfort for her (I watched SATC – is that a surprise?). Unlike us, the westerners (or at least, their mass media) seem to encourage their children to move out of the nest as soon as they are able.

Of course, this may in part be due to the incredibly active lives the western elderly seem to lead. If my parents didn’t just sit around all day watching TV, farting and complaining about how terrible their children were and instead started doing interesting things like speed-dating, finding sex partners online or learning tantric sex, I’m sure they would find me more than a little bit of a nuisance to have around. Unfortunately even my best efforts to encourage mother to raise kittens (practically slobberred over pictures of the cute little animals in front of her) failed to inspire anything more than cynical remarks that Good Sons Stay at Home to mewl cutely, not buy kittens to do it for them.

Even in China and India, I am constantly reading about the masses of young adults who are forced to move from their hometowns to seek employment in larger cities and end up seperated from their parents. Usually, from what I hear, they end up not moving back once they’ve managed to carve out a life for themselves, though financial support for parents is usually expected. Of course, this is entirely different from my case as they have legitimate reasons for leaving home, such as making a living and finding a wife (evidently, in some Chinese villages the boy:girl ratio is something like 10:1), though I have the suspicion that in years to come it will be custom for the young ones to leave the nest as a sign of maturity (read: economic capability). I am entirely aware of the irony that my problem is caused by living in a country that has too many employment opportunities and is devoid of gender-balance problems, and that had I been born somewhere else the question would have been moot (replaced by questions like how to get children – who will end up with problems like this).

I was brought up to believe that abandoning your parents was among the worst things you could do. I am familiar with the concepts of 仁, 仪 and 孝 due to father’s interest in Buddhist studies when I was younger (curse his foresight in breeding such values in his son) and being an obvious banana (ie. westernized chinese) my chinese teachers always paid close attention to my answers when they asked the class that inevitable question about whom I would save from drowning if I could only save one – my mother or my wife, then would proceed to demonize western values because inhuman bastards like me (and only at the age of 10, awww) would say things like “Save the wife! She’s more useful to the economy!” (so Singaporean) and neglecting out primal responsibility to the ones-without-whom-we-would-not-be-possible. I remember the story about the crows whom, whilst young depended on their mother for food, would similarly feed and nest her when she was old and decrepit, thus making them noble creatures worthy of our emulation (though we shoot them in Singapore). I hate volunteering with the elderly, and am always somewhat useless (and a little weepy) in old folks’ homes (though that might be more because I can’t speak any chinese dialects beyond the purpose of ordering food).

Now, I’ve never really thought of myself as being that westernized, though I suppose I bear all the symptoms – poor command of my “mother toungue” (my mother speaks predominantly in English), an almost complete lack of knowledge of my historical heritage (Chinese history was taught only for three months in Secondary 2), a disdain for the traditions (such as the one I discuss now) and the inability to recite any chinese poetry except for 静夜思, instead replacing all these with transplants from some other culture. But one of the things that makes me such a banana, I suppose is that I ask the question: Why is it important for us to be filial? instead of taking it to be one of the fundamental, unquestionable bases of humanity.

I’d discuss it further, but this post is turning out to be ridiculously long and to tell the truth I haven’t found out a reasonable and suitable answer yet. I do have a whole list of philosophical and biological views that I think should contribute to my decision, yet my early-beliefs always seem to take precedence against anything I read that offers a view counter to theirs. It’s so deep sometimes I even think myself a Bad Boy for considering the issue. As I wonder the logical merits of sending your parents off to a nursing home where professional nurses can provide them medica… my brain stops working and I am filled with dread that I could even entertain such sordid thoughts.

This must be what self-censorship is like.

Personal decisions are so difficult to make. So is changing your mind. No wonder we’d rather just sit back and let things go by until it’s too late to make any decision at all.

I’ll try to make some form of argument in the next post, I promise. Just lemme mull over it the New Year.

Wherein I Have No Job Despite Having Graduated

I was bored today.

So I decided to count my facial hairs. It turns out that I have over ninety short pieces on my chin, and a similar number above my lips – it was difficult getting an accurate number as I realized that I counted like a hillbilly, mouthing the numbers as I went along and destroying the count as my hairs moved with my lips.

I have an idea of leaving it a couple more days until it’s long enough to cut off with a scissors, and then sniping it off piece by piece as I count to make good my figures. Perhaps after I’m layed off my first job for being a complete nut.

Ninety hairs on the chin. And it’s all concentrated on the tip, so I can use my chin as a piercing weapon, unlike most men who can use their faces as sandpaper. I’m uncertain if I can even achieve the typical-chinese-evil-dude beard and mudskipper-moustache, as demonstrated below:

I already have the habit of rubbing my hands together when excited and make use of too much gel on my hair, so the evil-villian look only requires a large white cat and several tasteless rings to complete. Perhaps I’ll attempt it if I ever go into teaching.

Unless someone comes up to me with plans for a theme-party sometime soon, I’m contemplating waxing it all off. It’s like having to tend a lawn with… 99 pieces of grass in it. Except that the grass is rather ugly, black and has to be razed to the ground to make you look good.

Well, at least I’m not so bored that I’m using iPod vibrators (stimulates you in time with your favourite music!).


The Great Singaporean Experience

A blog I like to read, Illusio, asks what would constitute the Great Singaporean Novel. She gives several examples, which I quote:

Protagonist(s) contemplating emigration
A taxi driver (perhaps contemplating emigration… to Perth?)
Compilation of Xiaxue’s online posts
A researcher/scholar finding out some discrepencies between official history and actual history (Major whoopass and conspiracy follows??)
The rise and fall of civilization with 3 generations, a story of transition and transience.

I think the days of writing Great Country-Based Novels are already over, but if you held a poll about the matter, I believe the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans can probably be counted on to vote for the third option or some combination of things similar to the third option (ie, Heartland Affairs). Let’s face it – there are more moving emigration stories from other countries set in more exciting periods in history, more exciting historical facts to cover up than Singapore’s and rather a lot more civilisations that have more than three generations to write about. But only Singapore can pull off our brand of artificial nationality with any amount of ease.

You have to give credit to the Government for being so effective in creating our sense of national identity – second generation migrants are calling themselves Singaporeans and fiercely believing it when migrants to other nations consider three generations to be the minimum for complete integration. In the tiny amount of time that we have, so many of us have almost completely lost our roots and would be piqued if we were mistaken for Chinese nationals, something strange for people whose parents or grandparents can still remember their crossing to the island.

Impressive, even if it does mean that most of us become more interested in the amount of ERP shares we’re going to get than the number of people being executed in our country this year. (Implicit assumption in this statement may be erroneous, but I do believe it’s one of the reasons)

Because I worked for a while doing stuff for a company in the tourism line, I had to pay rather close attention to tourism news in the region. It always made me a little sad whenever I noted the Singapore Tourism Board in its desperate scrabble to place Singapore on the world map somehow, with its fake Dragon’s Tooth rocks and Uniquely Singaporean balloons. It was always a good effort, but ultimately artificial and easily duplicated by countries with more resources, more people and more land.

Thailand and even Indonesia are planning casinos following Singapore’s decision to build one. I have yet to see analyses of these reports in ST. Following our decision to construct the world’s tallest ferris wheel (beating the London Eye), China announces 10 new ones, all of which will be taller than Singapore’s. Our Great Shopping Sale is touted as being one of the most profitable in the region, but this is possibly because unlike Singapore, shopping takes place in other countries year-round, rather than just one month of the year.

And the worst part of it was that Singapore has so little of the tourist attractions that can draw tourists that other countries have such as natural scenery or historical gradeur. The little that we do have just don’t justify a trip to our little country when you could, for the same (or less) price get more in another country boasting probably friendlier people in straw hats with whom you can take National Geographic-y pictures.

Of course, there’s a bright side to the story too. We’ve still got a magnificent airport, though it may have already been stripped of the title of being the largest in the region, and it’s extremely popular as a transit point (even drug traffickers like to transit here). Our casi Integrated Resorts will cater to the uber-rich and feature family-style entertainment, something our poorer and sleazier neighbours cannot easily emulate. Our people are being trained encouraged to become friendlier to tourists and shoppers so perhaps in several years time visitors will be snapping pictures with us perhaps not in the style of National Geographic but for Social Engineering Monthly-esque montages. Business tourism is thriving, since Singapore is known to be safe and comfortable and you can generally count on there not to be subversive protests for conventions here (or at least protests will not include Singaporeans). We’re also not so far away from our poorer and sleazier neighbours that some fun can’t be obtained, if needed. Our unique cuisine has gained popularity even in foreign countries, and it’s possible to find Singaporean-themed restaurants in the most unlikely corners of the globe.

We’ve got hope! And more importantly, we can buy time to survive a little longer, perhaps so that we can gain some semblance of culture and history with which to lure more migrants and tourists.

Perhaps, though, it’s time to consider some Truly Uniquely Singaporean tourist attractions. Perhaps visitors could be treated with a viewing of a hanging or some form of corporal punishment, since it’s likely that they can’t get it back home (popcorn/vomit-bucket at extra cost). We could give them the experience of living in a Uniquely Singaporean Small Flat complete with Uniquely Singaporean Indifferent Neighbours and write Uniquely Singaporean letters to the forum about how indifferent their neighbours are. Being part of a Uniquely Singaporean Crime also has meaning, considering our low crime rates – perhaps they could be robbed by Ah Bengs (sporting handphones nicer than theirs) in a manner that is safe and hygienic. They could queue up at six in the morning to buy a Hello Kitty doll and get into cat-fights with forty-two year-old unmarried men who collect Hello Kitty when trying to cut the queue. Surely there must be some part of our culture that hasn’t been exploited yet to give us that cultural edge.

Because I think the majority do have a culture – we’re just not all willing to admit to it.

Sex, Religion and Politics… Well, Almost

In line with the title, I will attempt to bring you, gentle reader, a three-part post featuring the Holy Trinity of Human (Idle) Discourse: Sex, Religion and Politics. This is mainly because, like people who discuss said subjects, there is nothing much else going on in my life (that I want to tell you voyeurs anyway, nyea-nyea) and I lack a real-life human to whom I can speak of such affairs. But don’t worry – I’ll keep it simple since I know my demographic isn’t too interested in such matters (considering most of you get here looking for Pokemon Hentai).


So I was on the MRT with my sister a couple of days after she’d returned from her Phuket holiday, only to realize that she’d picked up a rather startling animosity towards caucasians whilst over there. In her words, “They’re all pigs.” She was quite vehement in her exhortations that they all disgusting, sex-crazed maniacs who derived enjoyment from the sexual exploitation of pitiful Thai girls and would cheat on their marriages to indulge in protitution as readily as children at a difficult math test. She was also rather loud, which was unfortunate because we were sitting beside two caucasian men, who most unfortunately fit her description of being fat, balding and old (though I must say that this is a common occurence, since they tend to come as a package deal). I found myself in the role of defence for caucasian men everywhere due to my habit of contradicting my family members, though this was rather difficult since my experiences in Thailand had left me with similar sentiments and also because I had to keep moving my torso to protect my sister from the stares of the accused sitting beside me.

We got out the train when, after I’d whispered in her ear that “They’re right here” she replied (loudly) why she she should be embarrassed since if they were willing to perform such morally despicable acts they shouldn’t be embarrassed to hear criticisms against said acts and that the disgusting pigs didn’t deserve any pity anyway (I bet the guys were thinking they should have taken a cab).

She kind of missed the point, really. I was the one who was becoming embarrassed.

One reason why men like quiet, demure girls: when we go out with them, they have less tendency to insult strangers and risk you becoming involved in brawls and fights with groups of people larger than your own (usually consisting of you and the loud-mouthed-girl). Because let’s face it, it’s never the girl who gets beaten up.

(On a side note, my sister is now working at a store selling costume jewellery. It is run by a caucasian)

After the incident, being the nerd that I am, I had to look for more information to see if it was indeed true that caucasian men are indeed the buayas my sister considers them to be.

There are probably no figures on tourist BMIs or weight issues, nor could I find much information about their ages (though I suspect with more work age information wouldn’t be too hard, though weight is tricky). However, I did find expat@large, which provides anecdotal evidence that expats, at least, find frequenting prostitutes to be a common affair (also worrying is how hot for caucasian Singaporean chicks are). Studies from the Kinsey studies show that 69% of white males have had at least one experience with a prostitute, a little more than two-thirds, and an estimated 50% of them had cheated during marriage (though other studies place the figure at 15 – 35%). A little bit of math with the visitor arrivals from Thailand’s Tourism Board in 1997 (7.8 million) and the estimated number of foreign men making use of prostitutes from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (500,000) gives about 7% of foreigners in Thailand coming for sex, though the numbers are likely to be higher, given multiple entries (INTO THE COUNTRY!!!).

Given the statistics, it would appear caucasian men aren’t really putting on a very moral facade. On the other hand, I’d only agree with my sister that they are disgusting sex-crazed pigs if it can be proved that Asian men, or any other form of man (except the Ideal Man, who does not exist except in romance novels) would perform differently given the circumstances. In Thailand alone, three times the number of locals make use of prostitutes compared to foreigners. In Singapore the locals know it’s Geylang (or Joo Chiat, according to Nick who claims never to have visited a prostitute before though how he came by this information I don’t know) that you go to for your fun-with-girls. An entire stretch of road! The expats only get Orchard Towers. So it’s not just the caucasians exploiting those pitiful Thai girls (and sometimes boys).

So I guess the only conclusion is, as my sister puts it, “All men are pigs”.

(Note that my sister has only recently been dumped by her boyfriend, which understandably results in a less-than-favourable outlook towards men)


Books in my bookcase: Why I am Not a Christian, Siddartha, Inferno (Dante’s)

Books in my brother’s bookcase: Surviving faith, Being Christian, Rediscovering God

Books in my sister’s bookcase: Assorted Sidney Sheldon


Much of this post has been at my sister’s expense. I apologise, since I know she sometimes reads this blog.

Three parts!

Wherein I Climb to the Top And Hit Someone Down Below

On a whim, I asked the guys if they’d like to go do the walking route at MacRitchie Reservoir to the infamous treetop bridge walk. To my surprise, there was almost unanimous support for this outing, except for Nick, who blithered a bit about how he’d rather stay home and play monopoly (with his girlfriend, no doubt) but who at last also professed interest. So we met up at the ridiculous hour of 1030am at the reservoir (ridiculous because Seet and Nick turned up a half hour late, and Take a half hour early) and set off on our little adventure. It’s probably of some little interest to note that the infamous treetop bridge walk is infamous because:

  1. It is difficult to find, resulting in old people slugging their way to the attraction only to find that they were on the wrong route and the most interesting things they get to see on this one are notices about the hairiness of Percenek leaves or some such trivia that only biology majors could orgasm over
  2. It takes a rather long walk to actually get to the bridge (about 6km), unless you cheat and start at Singapore Island Country Club, which probably doesn’t help the mood of aforementioned elderly people
  3. It is a treetop bridge – meaning it is above the trees and therefore quite logically, rather high up and requiring the climbing up of stairs and slopes that aforementioned elderly people might find a tad difficult to get up
  4. There is only one toilet along the 6km route (and the 6km route back!), but elderly people suffering from incontinence will be constantly reminded of their urge to pee by the glistening waters of the reservoir close-by and unable to relieve yourself because of the signs that point out how you could destroy the environment with your waste, so Take It Out With You (no true Singaporean would pee in the reservoir! Not after NeWater!)

As you have no doubt guessed, I am not too fond of the idea of elderly people making the trek. I think this must be largely due to the fact that I learnt about this route from the forum complaints of some elderly people in the papers, who were most upset over the points mentioned above. I figured this would be a good opportunity to express my manhood by lording it over the one minority with even less physical capacity than my own.

Those elderly people are such wusses. Haha.

In any case, we managed to make it to the top with a minimum of fuss, though my army training once again came under fire. It hardly seems fair to me that just because I’ve had months of training in jungle-warfare and navigation that people immediately expect me to be able to find my way around in some reservoir. All it means is that I can get lost in one and feel quite comfortable for a while to wander aimlessly until I find something that looks like a trail other humans have been on. People can be so biased. Sheesh.

The walk wasn’t really difficult, though it did bring back memories of the good old army days when I spotted this gigantic spiky plant. It was in the army that I realized that the hippie-tree-huggers who pictured Mother Nature as some kind of kindly old woman had probably been about as close to nature as their neighbouring flower garden. Nature is mean bitch who wants nothing more than to see you as a steaming carcass on the forest bed and will only feed you small amounts of non-sweet fruit if you should happen to survive her deadly machinations. If anything should be portrayed as being kindly and providing it should be the dominance of mankind over nature and the domestication of wild animals and plants, which has brought us the Sweet Banana That Requires No Boiling to Eat and various other niceties. If Mother Nature is a sweet and kindly old lady then Domestication is the sultry mixed-race seductress with the slightly-too-large lips and big breasts. And we all know no one’s gonna want to go to bed with the old lady when there’s a seductress around.

Here’s a rather ominous sign before you enter the treetop bridge. It conjured to mind images of lemmings falling off the other end to their doom (at the hands of prickly plants, courtesy of Mother Nature).


The bridge itself proved to be rather unsatisfying, being not very high up (NPB says the highest point is 25m), rather narrow, quite short and not shaky or dangerous at all (unlike how it looks on the NPB website). Since none of us were experts (or fans) of Mother Nature’s work, it was rather difficult to build up enthusiasm for the wildlife around us. I do recall it being quite splendid, though, with the tallest tree that had managed to break through the canopy being trimmed of all its foliage and left to rot, a bald trunk towering above its mediocre brethen. No doubt it was for safety or conservation purposes to kill it off, but that’s Singapore for you.

Here’s some pictures of us standing around taking pictures because the sods in front of us kept stopping to take pictures and chatter about the plants below (no doubt praising the beauty of Mother Nature).



After seeing the boring bridge, we began the long trek back to the starting point, whereupon we nefariously broke the law by stepping onto the golf course right beside our walking track with no obstacle in between- private property of Singapore Island Country Club *gasp!*. Yes, gentle reader – we trespassed(!!!!!). I went in about two metres, being the daredevil that I am, whilst Nick sneakily put a foot onto the private grass. However, Take, being very law-abiding, refused to join us in our dirty deeds. Well, he’ll see. Next time when he’s old he’ll have no exciting stories to tell his grandchildren.

I think towards the end we ended up with adrenaline highs, because we starting running down the track for no reason at all (except Take). I guess it might also have been desperation to get to the end, which was much welcomed when we did get to it.

(On a side note, I am never going trekking with Take again unless he promises not to open up a large magenta umbrella in the middle of a forested area almost completely protected by foliage. It completely destroys the manly stronger-than-an-old-person image.)

Went for some rather bad sushi with friends, which would be nothing eventful to blog about except that I brought up the issue of why 1 and 2 seemed to be blog-bashing each other these days. 1 concurred, and asked why we (2 and I) seemed to be deriving pleasure from publically humiliating him.

I was in shock for a while. Me??? A blog-basher??? I was unable to provide a valid response. On my return and review of comments on 1’s blog, I realized that it was true – I was being a little harsh on him, considering his entries are probably no less silly and delusional than the ones I read on a regular basis that my other friends write.

I mean, I don’t even flame Xiaxue (not that I read Xiaxue on a regular basis, just that all Singaporean blogroads seem to lead to hers – like some gross and perverted Emerald City) and I find her even sillier than 1. When religous people talk to me about the kindness of their God and I can see that they believe it I don’t (usually) push my agnostic beliefs on them. When other people talk to me about the latest development in their quest for love (note in Singapore that quests for love usually don’t involve sex or love at all, but usually things like “compatibility” or “class-difference”) I don’t tell them they’re better off with their right hand, some lube and a roll of toilet paper. I’m actually a lot more tolerant of them than I am of 1’s ramblings about world dominance, his chauvinistic views on women or how cool King Kong is. I actually do find 1’s delusions rather charming and humourous, compared to the vile ooze that spreads from the mouths (and blogs) of others – then why do I always give him such a hard time about it?

Perhaps because he’s close enough to be family – and my views on family interaction typically involve strife and conflict (though in passive, non-violent ways). It doesn’t help that 1 very helpfully serves up dish after dish of bash-worthy comments ranging from “Women should be subservient to men!” and “I can tell what your personality is like from what you just said!” that are just irresistible to a bastard like me. 3, on the other hand, knows when to keep his mouth shut (ie. almost all the time) and 2 would rather swallow cold mud than make unsure statements.

I also think that, if only a little, all that education I’ve been receiving at the faculty of Arts has trickled into my everyday life, such that I’m actually analyzing arguments in everyday speech and picking at mistakes people make when talking (or at least, making up mistakes for them when I can’t find any). I never used to do that before, mainly because my training was in Science, and there’s not much conversation around there to pick at. Sure, you may get really good at logical analysis, but you don’t really learn how to apply it to discourse, not like when in a module like Critical Analysis of Bullshit (which sometimes seems an apt title for the courses I take). 2 (who is a hardcore Arts major) does it a lot more now, too, this (I admit sometimes irritating) habit of critical thinking whilst the engineers (1 and 3) seem to have gained no more discourse-analysis skills other than Resume Writing 101.

I sometimes irks me to think that, despite graduating from a course in Science that I think is pretty difficult, I’ll still sound like a country doohicky compared to someone who did a course in, say, Political Science or Economics, simply because their educations were so much more relevant. It’s the sad truth even in teh scientific community that the best researchers aren’t necessarily those who have a good grasp of their subjects but those who can speak up well enough to secure funding for their projects. If Einstein was a great scientist, it was only because he had a good grasp of politics and human nature, and he used it to leverage his authority.

If anything, I think this might explain why graduates from the hard sciences and engineering dislike Arts graduates so much (read: Dilbert). Even with a tremendous education in something complicated and difficult like Quantum Biological Transcription, it’s difficult to win an argument against someone whose main academic claims are in building them whilst yours lay in writing an equation down and pointing to it whilst mumbling “It is obvious from the equaiton that I am correct”. Also, the Arts graduates tend to dress so much cooler and nobody likes a cooler dude.

So 1, if I’ve offended you in any way by being critical, I suppose it’s only because I do care (awwwwwww) and also because you leave yourself wide open to attack. I’ll try not to blog-bash from now so that you can once again use your blog as a means of trapping impressionable young girls in your web of romance and deceit. And I’ll sign up for you for literary appreciation courses if you ever decide to go for them.

(All names changed to numerals to protect my friends from being too easily recognized by aforementioned young impressionable girls who feel slighted by my *final* blog-bash)

Happy Holidays!

The end-of-year bonus is coming. You can smell it in the air and see it in the papers – The Straits Times had only 2 pages out of 143 (not including classifieds and obituaries) without adverts.

One page was a feature on on the poor and homeless and the other didn’t have space for ads, what with the gigantic face of our Minister Mentor plastered on it.

Waking Life

Went to pass Chups the bag on Saturday, and watched Aeon Flux with her and KY. Aeon Flux is a movie based on some MTV-produced animation about some lesbian leather-wearing anarchist who kills people. It’s not deep, but it’s produced by MTV and you would be stupid for assuming it to be otherwise. In fact, compared to the animation, the movie made a little more sense. The movie is about as MTV as it gets – I give full marks for style and gloss and close to zero for plot.

I’d like to say something about bad science, though. The writers tried to factor in some moral dilemmas about *spoiler* cloning but the issue is so trivialized it’s laughable. Aeon (the main character) thinks about it for about a second before she decides it is wrong and that humanity should die out before cloning should be accepted as a reasonable means of reproduction. Look out for the chemistry lab of the future, featuring what looks suspiciously like a slow-cooker and a home-DIY chemistry kit for thirteen year-olds. And, of course, the big hovering machine that runs on air and produces no waste produce. And yet I’d actually recommend the show, just because it’s pretty to look at.

It horrifies me to think that it was stuff like that that got me thinking I wanted to be a scientist in the future.

Then I went out with WC on after finding out that he would be at home alone for the next couple of days when all the studying Malaysians (his roommates) go back to their homeland. Whilst for some people this might have meant the freedom to bring chicks over to play ‘monopoly’ (or whatever game you prefer playing with chicks), I had the sneaking suspicion that WC would find it more than a little difficult to score monopoly chicks, his work having something to do with medical biology and, as such, unlikely to result in encounters involving chicks of any kind (despite what DSTA might say about hot young scientists).

It was rather sad, thinking of him all alone at home, watching TV and having his meals by himself. Mainly because I’m in the same situation. Renting a room is a sad experience when you don’t really get along well with your roommate. Not that I’m on bad terms with mine, but it’s just difficult to communicate with him. I’m as good as alone at home all the time, really, because I rarely ever talk to him. Not that I expect to have raving-good adventures with the people I live with, but it would be nice if we had some meals together or talked more, I guess.

And I do think sometimes it’s my fault for not opening up more and talking to him when I do get the chance. Though it’s difficult, because of the age difference. And the fact that we tend to see each other when in various states of undress in the shower or toilets (errr… you know what I mean).

I wonder soemtimes if life would have been more exciting if I’d rented that room with the mentally-disturbed guy. Short, but exciting.

So anyway, we went off to Orchard and walked all the way down to Suntec (the good thing about going out with lonely guys is that they don’t mind long walks), stopping off at NewAsia Bar along the way. Somewho along the way we ended up talking about taking photos with no people inside – you know, scenery shots. I found them stupid and useless – I’ve thrown away a good many shots because they were quite pointless, since I’m hardly a good photographer and I’m not the kind of person who can connect with a shot that doesn’t have a human face in it. There’s no story otherwise. If you want a nice picture of a lighted cityscape – buy a postcard.

WC’s counter-argument was … well, he had no argument, but he did give some poetic crap about life being like an empty photograph and that we’d all end up alone anyway – which is impossible to refute, because life is empty if you want to look at it like that. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that, not having been exposed to WC’s brand of fatalism in a long time.

And yet, I should be, because I think he does represent Chinese (or migrant Chinese) pragmatism. Survival is key. Earning enough to support a family, raise the kids and occasionally bring the clan for vacation is the-right-thing-to-do. Mother, especially, exemplifies the life to its fullest.

And sometimes when I talk philosophy or think pseudo-intellectually, I can hear Mother’s voice in my head, telling me that it’s all nonsense and that the only thing I should be interested in is how I can get food on my plate. And I do wonder if my desire for romance, excitement, meta-physical enlightenment, for some kind of epiphany are nothing more than imperialistic cultural advances (from you-know-who).

And yet, even Mother, my pragmatic-counterfoil, has her weaknesses. I remember once trying to tempt her into a religious argument (as well as to show her that the money she’s putting into her son’s education is not all for nothing – he can argue about religion – whooo) and was most unpleasantly shocked when, after presenting some silly atheistic argument against the existence of any higher power, she broke into tears and said something about there having to be something more.

Talk about fear and trembling.

I guess the long point of this detour into nothingness is this – don’t take photos with no people in them unless you facy yourself to be a pretty good photographer and capable of capturing something in an image. A photo that has no point, no art to it is like a life with no meaning.

Feeling a little bit guilty that I hadn’t gone to see my parents over the weekend (bad son! bad bad son!), I headed back today to perform my familial duties, which consisted of sitting in the living room with my mother listening to her complain about the wayward nature of today’s youth and making cursory comments about the news, to which she would snort and reply that it was all nonsense (an occupational hazard of teaching primary-school children – the shrinking of your more-than-three-syllable vocabulary – everything was nonsense). I retreated into my brother’s room for some solitude when my sister woke up to distract her with cries for nourishment.

For a God-fearing christian, my brother watches some pretty alternative stuff (though it might be argued to be quite as god-fearing as he is is rather alternative, actually). Found Waking Life – that guy who wrote Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. If I told you it was a lengthy animated movie with no action sequences and long talks and quotes from basic philosophical views, would you venture a guess as to whether I enjoyed it?

Not too hard, huh?