CNN Article about the Pope’s Christmas message.

Now, I’m not an atheist and even if I were I’m too laid back to be the crusading kind, but christian tricks like these make me upset. Reading in between the lines of the Pope’s message are some falsehoods I find rather insulting as a non-believer of his religion.

  • “… mankind, which has reached other planets and worships technology, cannot live without God or turn its back on the hungry”
    he seems to be saying that we only those who “live with God” can care for the hungry, which demonizes atheists and nonbelievers as heartless uncaring bastards, which I am sure is true of a large majority of us, but has absolutely nothing to do with believing in God – I’m sure there are just as many heartless and uncaring Christians, Jews or Muslims around.
  • “The Pope, marking the second Christmas season of his pontificate, said that while 21st century man appeared to be a master of his own destiny, ‘perhaps he needs a saviour all the more’ because much of humanity still suffered.”
    the Pope is deliberately compounding the issues of physical, material suffering that the poor and suffering experience that can (and probably will) be solved without the assistance of a supernatural power with the “spiritual” needs of the soulless 21st Century Man. Does he expect Jesus or Moses (I forget which gave out the fish and bread) to come down again to provide food for the hungry? Or is he just trying to confuse us by making us agree that yes, since much of mankind needs help of some kind it is obvious that we need a Saviour (ie. his)?

It doesn’t bother me that people will hear (or read) his speech and make conclusions about how right he is, and how much the world needs religion after all because technology cannot provide us with everything we need in life. What really bothers me is that people will read this and conclude that nonbelievers like me are a heartless and evil bunch who are to be avoided at Christmas parties because God forbid that we poison your consumerist -Christian punch.

I hate spin.

Uhhh. The title says it all, really. Considering I arrived at the venue late and was completely flustered at the oral, I did ok. 72.5 out of 100. Whee. As expected, I am much better at written rather than oral comprehension, scoring almost full marks for the written exam and only 7/25 for the listening comprehension.

Which is why when in France, even when lost I will insist (to the annoyance of anyone traveling with me) on walking round in circles reading road signs rather than asking for directions.

Now I am faced with the prospect of taking more lesons and learning more French. Sigh.

I think Wikipedia is amazing not just because of the amazing opportunity for cooperative knowledge sharing, but because of the impossibly wide variety of things people will write about. I’m hoping the administrators keep some kind of statistical records about the site’s growth and its contribution levels to various sections, if only to map out some kind of human-interest-indicator-map-thing.

Of course, I do sometimes think that there are probably more than a few people who are desperate to contribute an article, just so they can say (like I used to) “That Wikipedia page on NEWater? I wrote that.” Sadly, my own contributions about Singapore’s potable water systems are long gone, overwritten by people more knowledgeable than me.

A possible evolutionary countermeasure is, of course, to provide plausible “information” on something that doesn’t exist, and thus become the only “expert” contributor, ensuring that the article will in all probability never get overwritten, living on in Wikipedia forever.

Example? Taken from the page on Breast Expansion Fetish.

breast-enlargement.PNG

Or how about plushopilia?

Plushophilia

There’s a lot more where that came from. See the Wikipedia page here. Most of the listed paraphilias seem pretty normal (word used with trepidation) and recognizable, but some are sure to raise an eyebrow.

paraphilia.PNG

Not that I think it’s entirely impossible for people to be sexually attracted to balloons, but applying Occam’s Razor, I’m tempted to say it’s more the result of Wikipedia survival tactics. Sheesh. If I were doing sociology, I’d love to do a paper or something on Wikipedia and Evolution or something. It’s so ripe for study.

(Aside: is it just me, or does the Google Christmas logo look like it’s just been in a really messy Bukake?)

Google Christmas

Paper cuts

December 20, 2006

Just wanted to write a little about paper cuts after reading a post by Nick – I too suffer from terrifying images of paper cuts slicing deep and true. The other day a colleague cut herself on some scrap paper and held out her poor, bleeding finger for all in the office to see. The mere sight left me shuddering in disgust, and for the rest of the day I was haunted by images of having my entire hand sliced off by the loose-leaf technical guides I was reading.

I think it’s due to my having worked in my college days as a paper-counter. It wasn’t so long ago that I was earning a couple of dollars an hour counting printouts for students (our printer had issues that prevented us from having a computer count the printout numbers for us). Paper cuts were an occupational hazard and I had my fair share of them.

Now, the thought of being cut or sliced in any way makes me all icky and sends shivers down my spine. I don’t even like to use razor blades, and the sight of one, the small disposable non-safe kind, makes me nervous in the extreme. The last scene of Der Freie Wille, where the protagonist slices his wrists with one of them (Oops! Spoiler! Ah, who am I kidding. You’re not gonna watch the movie) almost had me screaming in sympathetic agony, and I had to look away as he did it.

Stab me, hack my head off with a chainsaw or burn me with a flaming brand – just don’t put me anywhere near a razor. Or sharp-looking paper.

Perhaps my fascination with the superpowers of Read or Die’s heroine contributes a little with this fear of paper. Check out the paper cuts she inflicts.

I’m just back from Bintan, where my company had its annual year-end review – a day-long meeting where we all talk a lot about nothing in particular.

I’m back so late because it was a monsoon day today, which meant a lot of rain and wind, resulting in a choppy ocean and the ferry going slower than usual and also the difficulties in disembarking. There was only a single exit point off the ferry, you see, which allowed egress to only one nauseous and seasick company at any single time. And egress off a ferry rocking like an insane roller-coaster-to-nowhere isn’t easy, especially for nauseous little old ladies. Not that I was thinking very kindly of said little old ladies whilst queueing up behind them (as they missed chance after chance to jump the tiny half-metre to shore), since the queue area smelt like vomit and more and more queuees were succumbing to the side-effects of partaking in the amusement-park Ride-of-Doom the longer we stayed there.

Whenever I watch disaster movies and see the young or old get shoved aside by some young virile male desperate to save himself I feel it is impossible that anyone could be so inconsiderate as to allow the old, wek or sick go first, but now I’m not so sure what I would do myself, should my survival be compromised by the ability of some old lady who’s too afraid to save herself.

But enough of the ferry. I had intended to talk about work, actually. In broad strokes, if not in detail, in case I get found out and get dooced.

I hadn’t intended to stay so long in this comapny. I don’t fit in, and it doesn’t fit me. I’m not a particularly positive person (in the sense of the word used mostly to refer to people who give logical objections to your stupid ideas) and I don’t believe in being motivated by someone who screams and shouts at you. In fact, I have been known to have a cynical and sarcastic streak about me, which doesn’t make me the best kind of person to have standing saround muttering comments as participants cry about how tough and touching the last motivational activity was.

But really, this possibly could have been the best possible job I could have taken as a cynic. Nothing has reinforced my belief that motivational courses and all their ilk is bullshit than trying to sell them – or at least helping others sell them. Whilst I don’t discount the fact that some people (in fact, an overwhelming number) find these things useful to some extent, being able to see backstage has given me nothing but disgust for the entire process. I guess it might be like they say – if you want to find the meal tasty, don’t look at how the chef prepares it. Even within the company, there is a strong undercurrent of self-ridicule at our own product, even in the people who conduct the programmes.

If anything, I am more cynical about these things than when I first joined.

Joan Liew

December 11, 2006

I didn’t even know she existed – here’s a German report (because Singaprean sports writers avoid her?) on Joan Liew, a female Singapore bodybuilder who has won several gold medals at various bodybuilding competitions. Her official website here.

She looks like the typical anime anti-heroine, or some disproportionate 3D character out of Phantasy Star Universe.

So compared to her, do you REALLY think you’re anything special?

Too much coffee!

December 8, 2006

In a desperate bid to stay awake for my course in the evening, I consumed 2 cups of coffee, after nodding off whilst my lecturer rambled on about the importance of backup schedules and planning – an important part of being a systems administrator, a fact that we all concurred with (at least, the rest of the class – I was snoozing in the corner) which must have earnt me a ticket to System Administrator Hell in the future.

It worked, but now I am buzzed up and trembling as I type, albeit very quickly – a combinatino which leads to many errors and the backspace button being the most-used key. I hummed the whole way back on the MRT ride, causing rather many passengers to look around in puzzlement and finally gaze upon me in suspicion when they managed to ascertain the source of the sounds, and to which I tried to respond by smiling but I suspect my buzzed-up face does not look quite as friendly and approachable as I’d like.

I will admit to being somewhat easily influenced by substance. Anyyon’e who’s ever been drinking with me will know I become intoxicated extremely easily (which I see as a benefit, since it means I am much more efficient at becoming drunk – and isn’t that the point of drinking?) – a fact that has led to me to some rather embarrassing actions. My colleagues with whom I went to China now hold a short video of me spouting french rudenesses to Chinese (as in China Chinese) girls at the entrance to a bar, which I swear was out of good humour after one of aforementioned Chinese girls humourously (for us) fell drunk into the pool. Since my command of the french language is rather limited, it mostly features me slurring the word “derriere”.

They found it very amusing to show it to everyone in the office.

I am considering enabling disk quotas on the shared folders and making some of them very very very small.

It’s probably just as well I live in Singapore, where drugs aren’t that easy to obtain and most of the good chinese kids would rather eat their children (without condiments!) than shoot up with heroine. I imagine I am probably allegic, or quite possibly the kind to OD extremely easily.

I guess coffee will just have to do for now.

The Male Pill

December 3, 2006

Article from Wired about the “new” male contraceptive pill that will not only sieve out your little sperm buddies but actually get rid of ejaculatory fluid altogether.

The article in itself isn’t particularly noteworthy – what’s woth looking at are the comments. They’re such a laugh. You can practically imagine the roomful of men farting and puffing up their machismo as large as it will go.

Oh, and there’s also the neat idea – “men can now fake orgasms too”. Yeah right. That’ll happen.

Chinese sexuality

December 1, 2006

Because I’m on course and don’t have to talk to colleagues during lunchtime, I get to spend much more time on the net surfing. Within the same lunch hour (and with time to dash this out!) I managed to read with some amount of amusement Yawning Bread’s article about Singaporeans being mostly unable to discern or analyse information over the internet, in which he lampoons a survey which looks like it was “analysed” by a Honours-year Statistics major who took Math modules for fun.

Why amusement? Because I’d discovered Furong Jiejie, who puts our own Xiaxue to shame. Sister Lotus (really? Furon is lotus?) is a self-professed peasant woman (in Chinese it sounds better – lao2 bai3 xing4) from Shaanxi who posts shots of herself invarious … positions. I tripped over several adjectives in the last sentence – best if you take a look yourself. She’s gained fame all over China, and her narcissism and shamelessness has earnt her household recognition.

And she’s not the only Chinese blogger to gain renown for being (uh) sexy. Muzi Mei posts even more daring articles about her sexual exploits and has a readership that rivals Slashdot on some days. No prizes for guessing if there are more people interested in sex or IT around these days.

Strangely enough, Ms Lotus has a link to the Tammy video on a post, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Muzi has one too (not that she’s not shy to produce her own). The first time in China they’re selling a product Made in Singapore, wahahaha.

Poor Steven Lim.

Really, Alex, when the majority of users out there use the net for sites like these, can you really blame them for saying they can’t really discern or analyse information? What’s there to analyse?

More internet trolls

December 1, 2006

O how could I forget! I used to read these for amusement – never in my life did I think I would one day end up a PFY.

Bastard Operator From Hell – stories of a System Admin.

I highly recommend the original stories by Simon Travaglia.

The Register also has some more recent stories, which I don’t find quite as amusing. Wikipedia’s page on BOFH has information (as it should) and some links at the bottom where you can find more stuff.

Think Dilbert, except much more malicious, and where the Sys Admin is cast in the position of dark anti-hero (like Batman!) rather than sad abused technical employee.

batman-and-robin-6.jpg

Though I don’t think I’ll ever stoop as low as the desktop-testicle-slamming phase. Sys admins in the odl days were really mean.

It’s sad. The rest of my MCSE course is drooling over Sitex hardware brochures. Hardware heads.