Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Just one more game

The clock on the wall pointed to three hours past his intended bedtime. He knew he should sleep soon, considering how he has a major test tomorrow. His A Levels Mathematics exam.

He knew he needed all the rest he could get. Or else he would be unable to focus. He had been through similar experiences before. But yet his fingers could not stop clicking and his eyes could not leave the screen, even though he could feel fatigue kicking in.

Just one more game, he told himself. It was the same line he told himself two hours ago. He wanted to release some stress after all the studying and it has been two days since he touched any games. It's a reward for himself for studying so hard. On hindsight, it seemed more like an excuse.

He just wanted to enjoy one win and stop, to have that feel good feeling. But game after game, he kept losing, and he felt that the game was playing a joke on him. Even after a win, he felt that it was a sham, considering how the opponents left halfway. He wanted to have a win where he was the top player of the match. So he kept clicking "Search for a game". One game became two games and before he knew it, he has been playing more than enough to make him regret tomorrow.

The thing is, even though he promises himself that tonight will be the last time he is touching the game, he will soon be back. It's not the first time anyway, and it certainly won't be the last. Perhaps he should have let his mum lock up the computer for him.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

TRT220715: Oh, how small we humans are



1. Stumbled across two articles today that made me feel  incredibly small. Both of them are on Wait Buy Why blog and both are incredibly well-written (tbh all of the posts are well-written, the author deserves a Nobel prize in blogging). One dealt with the Fermi Paradox while the other the concept of Super AI. Both made me feel very small and insignificant.

2. If this is the first time you've heard about the two terms, I suggest you save those links for later reading. Because must finish reading my blog post first. They're incredibly long anyway, so it makes sense to read it when you are going to sleep or have a lot of time. But I'm serious about reading them. Even if you don't agree with the two theories. Simply because they force you to reflect on your existence, which is important, I feel.

3. You see, we humans have this inherent flaw in us. Our brains have evolved into an extremely sensitive thinking object, with one of its main goals being our own ego-preservation. Meaning that we hate to be proven wrong, and will go to great lengths to prove ourselves right. The internet is one great example of this phenomena. One simple experiment itself illustrates the best example of this flaw at work.

4. Not only that, another flaw of our thinking system is how myopic it is. We are too bothered by the small things in life like finding a girlfriend, being holy, gaining acceptance or earning enough money to realise that life is so much beyond that. The understanding of life itself into growing exponentially into all possible directions than we could ever possibly imagine.

5. Coupled together, these two flaws prevent us from seeing the bigger picture, that life is incredibly complex. Just like us trying to explain to ants that there's this whole bigger world out there.

6. I think this is how God works too, if you believe in him. Like how Tim tried to explain the concept of intelligence in a Super AI, I think God's knowledge exists on a completely different existential plane than us. Which puts a whole new meaning to the concept of Him becoming a man, don't you think? It's like us becoming an ant (not Ant Man) to try to tell them that there's a whole bigger world out there.

7. But of course, try as we might, the ant may still not grasp our full understanding of the world and the best we could do is to use ant language to explain it to them. I am guessing that's why Jesus loved to use parables, perhaps that to him is our equivalent of the ant language.

8. Which is why I think any attempt to understand God is futile because our knowledge is so vastly different in the first place. Those who try to do so, by trying to holy books too literally or trying to interpret what Jesus/God would do (ie He would be angry if you do XYZ) are laughable. We cannot even begin to comprehend how God thinks or what He wants due our limited body and brain, so how can we expect to understand him?

9. To me, life itself is still too mysterious for me to grasp everything correctly. And I think I will never do. There are still so many questions out there that even the best scientists could not solve or answer, so how am I to be sure of what I know? There's one branch of thinking that I really liked in philosophy and that is all truth are subjective. I may hold certain thinkings now, but unless I can convincingly back them, I am open to the possibility that they may be wrong. On life after death for example. Or even the existence of God.

10. With everything being said, I would still really want to believe that God is indeed real. Life would seem like an utter waste if everything happened through chance and devoid of purpose. You can call me naive, an idealist or a hopeless romantic, but it's all these thoughts that keep me going. Otherwise, there is really no point in living unless you're on top of the food chain. #justsaying


Monday, July 20, 2015

TRT200715: Ant Man, Sherlock and Payday 2


1. Watched Ant Man today out of curiousity and out of my support(?) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU); and it was quite an enjoyable movie. Not surprising though, considering how Marvel Studio's movies all have a certain baseline to achieve now. And their experience as well. Nothing of a breakthrough in the movie, it was all light-hearted entertainment with loads of actions and laughs. If you're a fan of the MCU continuity, there are plenty of references of the MCU in the movie and the two end credits scene as well.

2. My top irrelevant complaints: How the MCU movies are like a TV drama series now — only longer in length — and how end credits scenes are increasingly becoming longer and complicated. What next? A full feature short film at the end of credits?


3. Been hooked with Payday 2 for quite a while now, which coupled with my laziness led to the decline of blogposts produced. Funny how I bought the game once upon a time ago (like years) and it has been sitting there since until one random chat with a friend led to me spamming the game. Funnier is how I ended up playing mostly with strangers online even though the original intention was to play with friends.

4. Payday 2 is a fun game, I think of it as a Left 4 Dead of sorts, the only differences being that you have skillsets and the zombies are the cops (seriously, they have more cops in Payday 2 than the zombies in L4D). Also instead of surviving the zombie apocalypse you're merely conducting heists to steal all sort of things.

5. I hated the game initially though. It has a really steep learning curve with no tutorial of sorts, which led to a lot of me failing my team early on. There were a lot of curses too, but somehow I managed to survive them. 86 levels later, I am now constantly on heists with random strangers, hoping to get higher and higher in level until everyone looks at me in awe (or maybe in pity).


6. After what seemed like a long while, I finally got to watch the Eggs Benedict Cucumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes. Have the girlfriend to thank for that. It was quite an interesting episode, I must say, but then again I am a sucker for all detective movies. Especially those with mind twists and the "Aha!" at the end of the story.

7. Cumberbanana's version of Sherlock reminds me a lot of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory though. I called him the autistic Sherlock, judging from his lack of social skills and obsession with solving mysteries. He calls himself a high-functioning sociopath, which I finally learned is different than a psychopath. Which proved to be not what I had in mind, by the way, after a quick Google search.

8. Next on the drama watchlist? Game of Thrones. For the story, of course, not the nudity.

9. TRT now stands for Ten Random Thoughts, by the way, because twenty thoughts are just way too much for me to write whenever I want to cook up something in a whim. Not that I have nothing else to write, but I have been finding real little time to do so. Now that I have work and a high need for computer games. Not to mention all the other commitments.

10. Heck, I can't even get enough of sleep now. But I am ranting again. So goodnight.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My virgin experience! (On Singapore's cable car)

Got you with the title, didn't I?

If you are a Singaporean (or stayed here long enough), you're bound to know of the cable car that runs from Mount Faber to Sentosa Island. It was one of the attractions that I noticed when I first arrived at Singapore, travelling on Bus 10 towards Vivo City. It's something that I have always wanted to try but didn't due to various reasons: Faber station was too far away, I didn't have the time and there was just no reason too.

That wish got fulfilled today thanks to Mount Faber Leisure Group (MFLG), who invited me to the opening of the Sentosa Cable line today. Yes, you read it right. In addition to the cable car line travelling from Mount Faber to Sentosa, there is now another cable car line within Sentosa Island itself. Not only you can enjoy the view of the hill, harbour and highway on the Mount Faber Line; you get to experience a sky view of the jungle, beach and sea view on the Sentosa Cable Car Line as well.

le gf and I on the newly opened Siloso Point Station

Priced at an affordable SGD 19 for locals (citizen, PRs or permanent pass holders) and SGD 29 for tourists — with an optional 10 SGD top-up for unlimited rides — the Cable Car Sky Network offers a bird's eye view of Singapore's southern tip, with access to the different attractions too. There are six cable car stations in total, located within close range to major attractions. For more info on the cable cars, you can drop by their official website.

Dawn and I rode the cable car at night, which offered quite a romantic night view of the area. You get to see the different lights that adorn Sentosa at night, along with a good view of the harbour and ships anchored at the sea. It was quite cooling too, despite the already heaty day.

above the sea!

It's a must try experience in Singapore and if cost is a concern to you, you can always take it during the NDP weekend where it's free. Just remember not to exercise in the cabin.

read option two. or three


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Coming home


Coming home after a long period away has this strange effect on you. It reminds you of how fast time passes, how nothing stays the same. You come back searching for a feeling of familiarity — expecting things to stay the same — but they rarely do. Places you used to visit, friends that you used to hang out with; they may still be there, they may not. But even if they do, often they're no longer how you remember them to be.

But that's the reality of life. People go, people change. Time brings wipes away everything as it moves forward, painting a new picture over the memories that you used to have. And at the end of the day, that is what you're left with. Memories of how things used to be. Feelings attached to those memories.

You find yourself wanting to relive those memories again, missing the innocence that once was you. There's a sense of yearning inside of you, this feeling that last time is always better than now. You used to laugh so much more back then, with an equally optimistic attitude on life.

Things just seem different now. Perhaps you're jaded. Perhaps the passage of time eroded what you once had. Maybe you've “settled down”.

You talk with your friends about how things used to be. About how things used to be much simpler. Of how life seemed so much more carefree then. Simpler. Brighter. The possibilities seemed endless back then. You were ready make it big, to live out the dreams you've always wanted to. You were so much more energetic back then. So full of hope and optimism. You felt you could take on the world. If only you of the past could see you of the present now. How surprised he would have been.

Both you and your friend laugh at the mention of those memories. Naive. That was how both of you described the selves of the past. How adulthood hit you like a painful brick. How you grew up to realise that only a few can live their dreams, and you're not one of them.

That's what nostalgia does to you, isn't it. You remember the good and forget the equally bad feeling back then. When you're 25, you wished that you were 20. And when you're 20, you wished that you're 16.

But right now, you can't help but to feel a little sense of regret and longing when you think of the past. That you could have done better. You promise yourself that after leaving home this time, you'll try again for your dream. That you won't give up. And hopefully, the next time you come back, you'll feel a little better for not letting the you of the past down.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisschoenbohm/

Monday, July 6, 2015

The world is a scary place: On Amos Yee and Najib's WSJ Report


Two pieces of news dominated my newsfeed over this weekend, one on tAmos Yee and another on Najib's WSJ report. As a person who is sort of stuck between both Singapore and Malaysia, I took an interest in both of them. My two cents worth on both issues:

1. Protests to free Amos Yee
  • I think it is wrong to keep Amos Yee in detention for so long. Especially in a place like IMH. The authorities may say that they're keeping him there  to “evaluate” him, but if my memories during my time in NUS as a Psychology major serve me right, you do not need to keep a person for this long just to find out what is wrong.
  • Even if you do, the silence from the authorities is not helping. At all. At least the authorities could have explain the reason why Amos Yee needs to be kept so long rather than have the public speculate. Nothing good ever comes out from speculation and it will only fuel negative perception towards you. If there is one thing that Singapore needs right now, it's more honesty and engagement. 
  • The string of protests is an example of unresolved public attention gone wrong. When you do not explain your position, people are free to make their own assumptions. If left unchecked, the type of stories that people can come up with may even exceed the truth. Like a wildfire, rumours can burn pretty far if there is no counter-story to rebut their claims. 
  • On the other hand, I am quite intrigued by the waves of protest for Amos Yee. There needs to be a clear distinction between protesting for an individual versus for a right. In this case, some are clearly protesting on behalf of the individual, meaning that they support Amos Yee more than the right to speak freely.
  • To them, Amos is like a freedom fighter akin to the Joshua of Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement. Which I can confidently tell you that he is not. Rather than fighting for freedom of speech, he is fighting for something else completely. More like personal fame or the right to insult, which I think is an important point for us to distinguish. 
  • I still don't agree with what he has done, but I pity what he has done through. One thing is certain: I would not have survived the ordeal that he has gone through over the past few weeks. And I guess we can all see that today, at least from the photos. Whether it is for show or a reflection of how effective the state is in breaking you down remains to be seen.
  • But now that he is out, I am sure that there is more drama to follow. From both sides of the fence. Even from Amos. The powers-to-be is definitely not going to walk away from this easy, and I feel that if they don't do something soon enough, the biggest loser will be the Singapore society. Not Amos. Not the government. But everyone in general.

2. Najib's WSJ report
  • It's funny to see how many of us are expressing our displeasure over the internet, hoping that it has any effect, rather than taking it to the streets and demanding for a straight answer. Because in other countries, this is exactly what would have happened.
  • Mind you, those are million of dollars, taxpayers' money that is alleged to have been siphoned. If it's true, it's like daylight robbery out of all our hard earn cash.
  • But then again, Malaysians are so pacified and divided that even with such a huge scandal, none of are really doing anything concrete. Ten thousand online comments would not remove Najib from power, for all we know he could be sitting in front of the computer sitting on a gold-plated chair laughing at all of us.
  • Before we know it, he could be jetting off to a country without extradition if the heat gets to hot. So yeah, if Malaysians really want to hold Najib responsible, they need to do much more to turn the heat up on him. Placing roses may seem noble and pacifist, but it does not equate to any change.
  • The real question here is are Malaysians able to pull off something similar to the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong? 
  • But then again, I am just a Malaysian who found better soil elsewhere, so I am not exactly qualified to comment.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

The 5 things about Fifty Shades of Grey movie that (maybe) makes it worth watching


You’ve heard the hype. You’ve seen the billboards. But is the film adaptation of EL James’ 2011 blockbuster really worth seeing? Here’s five reasons why you could be tempted to give it a sneaky watch.

1. Satisfy your curiosity

There has to be a reason why so many readers – 100 million to be precise – have picked up and read the book from cover to cover. The chances are that you’ve been involved in at least one conversation about the book that has rocked the world of a certain demographic. You will have nodded blindly as your friends/ colleagues/ family discuss the fate of the two main characters, innocent and demure Anastasia and alpha male millionaire Christian Grey. And whilst you may have feel a little smug that you haven’t been sucked in, aren’t you just a tiny bit intrigued?

2. It does not glorify violence

Much has been said about 50 Shades of Grey glorifying violence, through the portrayal of a sexual relationship that has BDSM at its heart. But as Hollywood movies go, the sex is actually fairly tame. Yes, Mr Grey entices Anastasia to stray way outside of her comfort zone, but there are safe words put in place and Anastasia can, and indeed does, leave whenever she feels uncomfortable. Compared to the amount of gruesome violence that has become commonplace in 21st century movies (have you seen Jurassic World?), a touch of rough and tumble between two consenting adults should probably be the least of our worries.

3. It is not as misogynist as critics make out

Perhaps the biggest criticism of the story is its portrayal of women. But the film reveals a rather different side to the feminist debate, and this is in large part due to the performance from accomplished actress Dakota Johnson. Her version of Anastasia is much more kick-ass than the book. By the end of the movie Anastasia is a very assertive and self-assured young lady. This feminist approach may be largely due to the gender of both screenwriter and director (all female), a rare thing in today’s Hollywood.

4. It’s very well cast

There was much anticipation about who would play the main characters in the film, but Dakota Johnson and relative unknown Jamie Dornan are pretty perfect – both very good looking in an understated way and they have great chemistry. I suspect avid 50 Shades fans won’t be disappointed.

5. It will take you less time than reading the book

If you’re still not convinced, think about the time you will save! At just under two and a half hours, the film is a much quicker option than the 500 page book. And now it’s out on DVD, (and widely available from retailers like Tesco and Best Buy) so you can watch it in the comfort of your own home too.

But most importantly, make up your own mind about 50 Shades. Love it or hate it, it’s worth finding out.

Image by Bruce Berrien used under the Creative Commons License.

This story that leads nowhere: #1 - Him

He has suffered identity crisis his whole life. At least, that is how he felt. All 24 years of his life. Which is not long, by the way, in our eyes, especially to those who are older than him. What is 24 years of existence as compared to 50 years of sweat and toil? Or 75?

"You are still young," they would always tell him whenever he complains about his life. "Still so much to experience." As if that would make him feel any better.

Still, if you look at him in comparison with others, you would be forgiven to question if what he is going through can truly qualify as "suffering". There are those who clearly have a fate worse than his. Much, much worse. Those who fear for their lives every day. Those without access to basic water and food. Those who do not have the luxury to question their identity because each day is a struggle to survive.

According to Maslow, a relatively famous psychologist, only those who have their basic needs met, such as food, water and shelter will have the opportunity to question their own purpose in life. Questioning your existence is a form of privilege, not a necessity. A person would not have the time to think about their purpose in life when the stomach is empty and the throat is parched. You will be too busy trying to survive than to think of questions that do not feed you.

By that token alone, he is clearly not "suffering". He clearly has a better life than a significant portion of people around the world. He has a job. He has access to clean water and food. He can sleep soundly at night in an air-conditioned room. He knows this too. He was taught of this in school.

So why then does he feel so burdened and bothered by this issue? That every day and night, the worry will find a way to creep into his mind, like a persistent bug? That no matter how much he tells himself that his life is good, no matter how much he is reminded to be thankful, his mind will stray back to this question?

The question of whether he is living a fulfilling life?

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Reacting to the LGBT ruling as a Christian


My Facebook feed has erupted into a rainbow war of sorts after the recent same-sex marriage ruling in the United States. As Christian, my stand should be clear, as how some of my fellow believers put it. That I should be against the ruling. That I should feel sad and angry that today, the definition of marriage was “defiled”. That by the ruling, we Christians have “lost” the battle.

Some of my friends are in fact acting in such a way. Like they have lost an important thing to them That their belief is under threat. That the need to defend the correct way of life is ever stronger. They claim that the institution of marriage has been defiled and that dark times are ahead. What's next after LGBT? Pedophilia? Polygamous marriages? Bestiality? Where do we draw the line?

As a Christian, I find myself to be stuck in a rather peculiar spot. Because if I support the LGBT movement, I would be labeled as a heretic. A non-believer. A misguided Christian who has lost the plot. Some Christians who oppose the LGBT would view me as a traitor to the belief. Perhaps I don't read the bible enough.

But if I oppose the LGBT movement, the same thing would happen, perhaps with a different tone. I am then labeled a close minded conservative. Someone who is no different than those who supported racism and sexism in the past. A hateful bigot who loves to impose his beliefs unto others.

It's a tough choice to make in the debate, to be honest. But I am not alone. There are those who think like me, who when asked, simply don't have an answer to give. What is my stand on the whole issue? I don't know. It's ambiguous at best. I am neither for or against. Because it is just too complicated a decision to make. One that I think I am not qualified enough for. But if I have to explain, my line of thought goes like this:

1. Do I think that LGBT is against my belief?
Yes. Like it or not, the bible explicitly states so. This is not something that is clearly ambigious where there is no mention of the issue. It may be in the Old Testament and among verses that we don't really follow nowadays, like mixing our clothes together, but it is there for a reason. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed partly due this reason and God is clearly unhappy over this. Nowhere in the bible was homosexuality portrayed in a positive light, and the evidence is stacked against LGBT.

HOWEVER,

2. Do I see a need to stand up and fight against the LGBT?
No. Although I see it as a sin, I see many things else as a sin. Divorce, lying, slander and discrimination are examples of it. But I am not doing anything against the other sins, so why is there a need to be so worked up over just a particular one? I see it as a hypocrisy if I make noise over one sin but keep quiet over the others, where divorce for example, is explicitly stated by Jesus to be wrong.

In Matthew Chapter 19, Jesus said specifically that: “...that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate... 9 anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

While many of the LGBT proponents are using the verse of God creating Male and Female as the basis of the argument, a lot of them ignore the rest of the sentence, which received a much heavier emphasis than the first part. I don't see any groups lobbying against divorce as much as against LGBT. And the divorce rates continue to climb across the years but yet almost no one is speaking out against it.

Aren't we being hypocrites, a trait that Jesus absolutely hated, by cherry picking the laws that we want to follow and throwing away those that we disagree with? It is this fixation on the LGBT issue that bothers me. It raises more questions than answers. Why LGBT specifically? Why not issues that are shown to be more detrimental to a child? Until we can address the issues that Jesus specifically mentioned in a more urgent if not equal manner, those who preach anti-LGBT messages are no different that those who preach prosperity gospel messages. Where we read the bible in a narrow way.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO THE NEXT POINT

3. What matters more here? Loving or hating?
Love your neighbours as you love yourself. That is one of the most important commandments in the bible. Jesus ate with sinners. He did not shun them. He accepted them. Prostitutes, tax collectors and lepers, he hung out with them. They were the minorities, the oppressed. He reached out specifically to them.

You know who are the ones who shunned the sinners? The pharisees. They were the ones who avoided the sinners like a plague and judged Jesus when He ate with them. They discriminated against the minority, the ones that Jesus loved the most. If Jesus came to our world today, who do you think He would hang out with? Those of us who are comfortably hanging out in church? Or those who are out in the streets, who are shunned by us?

We are first called to love, not to judge. Jesus mentioned specifically before that we need to first take out the plank in our eyes before judging others. But this is not the case today. We call gays “fags” and oppose their way of life, viewing them as if they're some kind of scourge. If through our actions and words we alienate non-believers, how different are we than the pharisees 2000 years ago? Where through their own self-righteousness that they cast away the people who needed help the most, until Jesus came along?

As a Christian, I believe that it is my first commandment to love than to judge. I know we need to keep each other accountable, but if a person does not see error in his/her way and loves God just the same, then I believe it is a matter between the person and God, not me. After all, I am a fellow fallen human being too.

FURTHERMORE

4. Do unto others what you want others to do unto you

Just as I don't want a person of another faith to impose their beliefs unto me, so will I not do the same to others. It boils back down to the question of hypocrisy. We wouldn't like it if someone comes up to us and say our bible is wrong and believing in Jesus is stupid, so what gives us the rights to tell others that their beliefs is wrong too? We are called to be salt and light of the world, but nowhere it is mentioned that we need to force our salt and light unto others. After all, didn't Jesus say to the disciples that if a town does not believe their message, shake the dust off their feet and let them be?

We may argue that LGBT will be worse off parents but are the heterosexual parents doing any better on average? No! There's still divorce, single parents, domestic abuses and what not. LGBT is clearly not the issue here, but rather our lack of love for one another.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

5. This is not a war

A lot of us view the LGBT debate as a battle. One where we fight against these “infidels”, in lack of a better word and one that we must win. Any gain by the LGBT community is view as a lost to us, which causes us to be more hostile and hit back harder. What most of us don't realise is that by winning these LGBT battles, we are essentially losing the war on souls. How many LGBTs who came up to us and say their lives turned for the better because we told them their lifestyle is wrong? Often the opposite that is true. The more we refuse to acknowledge and the more we fight, the more hurt we generate.

This is not a war we are fighting. Adopting an under-siege mentality is the wrong way to go. It is never a battle in the first place. What are we actually fighting to defend? What exactly happens if we legalise LGBT? That suddenly everyone turns gay and all hell breaks loose? That no one would want to marry you anymore? No! Why can't we realise that the more we try to stamp down on something, the more it will grow? That was how Christianity originally grew. By framing this as a war we are achieving exactly the opposite of what we want.

THE CONCLUSION?

Jesus hated hypocrites more than anything in the New Testament, which was why he was so against the pharisees. They were the classic hypocrites. Given the state of the world we're in and the state the church is in currently, I believe that we first need to get our act straight before bothering on what others are doing. Because the more we go down this current path of ours, the more we risk driving away people from Jesus.

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