The power of reddit

January 31, 2007

I’m not political, or even American but because I troll reddit so much I now support Ron Paul. On any given day reddit users post dozens of links to Dr Paul’s speeches and satire and criticisms of the other Republicans.

Thanks to the redditors, I can name all the Republican candidates, even if they all seem to be little better than war-mongering Jesus-worshippers who want to raise taxes. The power of peer pressure indeed (other than Dr Paul).

American elections are so much more exciting than Singaproean ones. I doubt any candidate here who suggests sending our troops off to war would survive for long.

We The Living

January 25, 2007

Just finished We The Living by Ayn Rand. I have to admit I got started only because I thought it would be a deeply philosophical introduction to Objectivism, but I completed it only because it turned out to be a romance-novel-esque romp through Communist Russia.

Which was good, because I managed to finish it in three days instead of the weeks I usually take to finish anything with a philosophical bent to it.

Perhaps I’m a little desensitized to tragedy – the sufferings inflicted upon a bourgeoise family in Communist Russia didn’t seem much worse than the standard dished out to Taiwanese-drama-serial people-in-agony. Which I believe to be the result of the Chinese habit of glorifying suffering – a quick survey of the mando-pop songs in the market will reveal over 50% of them being about terrible relationship breakups inducing all manner of trauma and pain upon pitiful creatures.

I’d like to get my hands on something about the suffering suffered by the bourgeoise during China’s conversion to Communism. I vaguely remember watching a film about the Last Emporer, but all I remember of it was that it was very boring (I was very young), I needed to go pee halfway through it but there were no toilets within the cinema (I was very young, and Singapore’s cinemas weren’t quite as nice as they are now), and my father managed to coax me into peeing into a drink bottle, which he disposed of later in the rubbish (I was very young, cinemas weren’t very nice and I knew no shame back then).

The situation described of Russia in the late 1910s was so familiar I had to look up Animal Farm in Wikipedia to see if it was a critique of the Russian Revolution. And it turns out it is! Forgive me – I’m a Science major, we don’t learn these things in class.

On the other hand, I can still remember an algorithm for the conversion of Decimal to Binary – someone called me about it today and I actually remembered it off-the-bat, which leads me to wonder how much of my memory is occupied with these relatively useless algorithms.

Now to use that 40%-off voucher for Atlas Shrugged – hopefully it’ll be better.

Pubic hair

January 14, 2007

You know, I don’t remember a time when my pubic hair was growing out. Now that I think back, I’m sure I would have suffered terrible itching in the croital region, if my experience with new scalp hair is anything to go by.

And yet, I can’t remember any time in my life when I thought: gee, it really itches down there. Perhaps some of my old classmates will remember a time when I was scratching around there. Did I really possess that much restraint as a child? (Which is not to say that I would ever scratch myself down there in public)

In fact, even though I came from an all-boys’ school I can’t remember anyone ever mentioning pubic hair itch to me at all. Or scratching at themselves.

Perhaps it is best not to be too curious about some things.

Getting a haircut always makes me nervous.

Typical conversation between me and my barber/hairstylist/assorted-hair-management-professional (although for some, the word “professional” is used very loosely indeed):

Him/her: Hello! How do you want your hair cut?

Me: Ummm. High slope?

Note: The “high slope” is the only hairstyle I know of for men, since the places I go for haircuts never seem to provide helpful menus or informational brochures. And by the time I realize the need for this information, I am usually too far away from Google to gain access to it.

Him/her: Ok. How long do you want it?

Me: Ummm. Short.

Him/her: Ok. How short?

At this point I phase out, my mind trying its best to ascertain the meaning of the word “short”. With my friends, a short rant about the confusion engendered by relative words such as “short” would be in order, but so far I have never struck up a friendly relationship with the people who handle my hair (especially after viewing the results). The part of me that craves quantitative precision starts to make guesses as to the exact lengths of hair that would meaningfully be categorized as “short”. Perhaps 2-3 centimetres of fringe can be considered short? Perhaps 3-4? What about gender differences? Woman-short is obviously different from Man-short. And shouldn’t the shortness of hair also be relative to the size of head? 2-3 centimetres would seem like a lot more on a smurf than a teletubby.

By this time, my eyes are usually glazed over as I stare blankly into the mirror-of-shame-and-despair and the hair-management-professional will start waving their scissors/razors/implementations-of-hair-management in the air. There is silence for a moment, before the the hair-mangement-professional’s inevitable “So? How?”is met by my “Errrr.”

At this point, several things can happen – depending on how rapidly the hair-mangementprofessional’s is waving his/her implements.

  1. Very rapid implement-waving – I blurt out “very short”, because “very short” is on the extreme left in my mental spectrum of hair-length measurement categories and thus the first thing that comes to my mind.
  2. Somewhat more gentle implement-waving – I feel comfortable enough with the hair-management-professional to say something along the lines of “you know best”, or “you decide”, which wastes the minimum amount of time.
  3. Placid implement-waving – Because I don’t feel rushed, I take too much time to think about it, which results in the hair-management-professional taking the initiative to offer some hair length which I gratefully accept so that I won’t have to think anymore.

From experience, any of the three scenarios always ends up with the same length of hair for me, which leads me to suspect that hair-management-professionals just use the questions to start conversations, much in the way people in the IT line talk about computer hardware to break the ice. I guess it must be an occupational hazard that you actually think people are interested about hair. Haha.

Then my glasses come off and I am completely at their mercy. Because I am nearly blind without my glasses, having my hair cut is an experience I think must be similar to being in a washing-machine – being applied with strange products, gently tumbled about for about fifteen minutes and gradually shrinking.

During this stage of the operation, many of hair-management-professionals will ask me how I like my sideburns. The options seem to be: “shaved” or “natural”. It always seemed strange to me, putting it this way – when you order a coffee they never ask you how you would like your milk – missing or mixed-in? Why not just ask whether you want them on or off?

I always ask for “natural”. I imagine “shaved” will engender more questions about length.

And then the glasses come back on and the hair-management-professional holds up a mirror to my head, as if seeking my approval. I always nod my approval – what do I know of hair? And then I scuttle away, glad to be free of the terrible terrible burden of choice.

As you might have guessed, I got a haircut today.