Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Stephen Chow's Mermaid (美人鱼) is the movie you should watch this Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is usually full of movies trying to cash in on the hype. This year, you have big names like 'From Vegas to Macau 3' and locally produced 'Long Long Time Ago' by Jack Neo. All of which seems great. However, for me personally, one movie stood out from the rest, and that is Stephen Chow's Mermaid (美人鱼). I decided to watch the movie immediately when I saw the movie's trailer.

Don't bother watching the trailer though. It's is just horrible and doesn't do any justice to the movie.

No, not this mermaid. But this is a scene from the movie

It's been some time since Stephen Chow last made a movie. As one of his ardent fans, I always had this fantasy of wanting to see him act or make a final swan song movie before he officially retires and his last movie, CJ7, just didn't quite make it (it was still good though). Not to mention that the last Stephen Chow inspired film released last year, Lucky Star 2015 (吉星高照 2015), was a complete and utter disappointment.

The fanboy in me just wanted to have one movie that would parallel the awesomeness of his classics like Journey to the West or Kungfu Hustle. While retaining many of his signature styles, Mermaid, however, took a very different path than the usual Stephen Chow movie. Not in a bad way, but just a style that reflects perhaps the evolving style and direction of Stephen Chow (I will call him SC from now on, for brevity purpose).


One of the changes includes a heavier moral undertone to the film as compared to classic SC's movies that only aim to entertain. The movie started with grim footages of environmental pollution and dolphin killings, as if setting the theme of the entire movie. The storyline of the movie centered around a controversial environmental project, that aims to highlight issues such as material wealth at the cost of environmental pollution and "evil" human desires such as greed. It's interesting to see how SC is trying to explore deeper issues in this movie amidst all the comedy.

Secondly, I also felt that the movie has a heavier China influence over it as compared to the Hong Kong movie style that I am used to. Maybe it's because I watched in Mandarin or it's the setting of the entire movie, but the movie felt more clean and polished as compared to the usual "messiness" in terms of colour and composition that defines Hong Kong movies. Not that it's bad, it's just that perhaps I need some getting used to it.

Also, there is a heavier use of CGI effects in the movie, which could get quite excessive sometimes, not to mention that some are outright out of place. It's like SC got a new toy which is CGI, and decided to use as much possible in every scene. Dawn said that it could be he did it on purpose (the bad CGI effects) to be sarcastic, but I suppose that is a question that only he can answer.


Fortunately, despite the negative points that I mentioned, the movie's numerous positive points far outshine the cons.

Compared to many Chinese New Year movies out there that only aim to bring together big names to make a quick buck (72 Tenants of Prosperity, I Love Hong Kong, etc), Mermaid (美人鱼) manages to stitch a convincing story together about a mermaid trying to seduce a rich billionaire in an effort to kill him, despite how absurd that sounds. The story and romance flow seamlessly together, in a way that 90 minutes of the movie passed quickly, leaving me wanting to see more in the end.

There's never a dull moment in the movie, filled with over-the-top SC style of humour that have the rest of the cinema just rolling in laughter. Scenes like the main actor trying to convince two policemen that mermaids exist or the octopusman having his tentacles mistaken for Japanese food were just hilarious, reminiscent of SC's style of comedy. His just has this ability to make viewers laugh until their stomach hurts.

And despite having no SC presence on screen, the relatively new main cast managed to carry the whole show superbly from start to end, delivering all the iconic comedic scenes and even the serious scenes without a hitch. It's quite enjoyable to see how the multi-talented cast bring the story and comedy alive, which I guess was one of the reasons why SC didn't want to be on-screen.

Warning: Not your actual mermaid

In closing, Mermaid (美人鱼) manages to be quite an entertaining movie, despite its tendency to rely CGI effects, by showcasing a talented cast in a captivating story, along with recognisable SC's brand of comedy. I don't know how the movie would fare against a bigger budget movie like Vegas to Macau 3, but what I do know that loyal Stephen Chow fans would definitely love this movie. A must watch this Chinese New Year.

The only thing left now is for Stephen Chow to act one last time in a swan song movie, and I would be a really happy fanboy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Micro Story: Our collective ignorance


 "Good morning, teacher!" The small wooden classroom echoed with the students greetings, as the middle-aged lady looked at them smilingly.

Satisfied, the teacher turned to the board and began writing. "Good morning class. For today's lesson, we will talk about why it is okay to be wrong."

*****

We all thought that with the internet, humanity would reach another level enlightenment. That when information is made free and available to all, our collective intelligence would continue to improve, and where ignorance could finally be eliminated. After all, it was the availability of knowledge that led to some of the greatest revolutions in human history.

It was only logical to assume that if information is publicly available, people would educate themselves and make themselves wiser. But we never really ponder about how people would curate and use information. Far from being a neutral and an objective entity, information instead reflected the biases and intentions of those who create and use them.

We never anticipated that when knowledge flowed freely, it included all sorts of information. Myths, urban legends, rumours and pseudoscience. We incorrectly assumed that in a neutral environment like the internet, what' s true will ultimately prevail over what is false. We had too much faith in our fellow human beings. That people would be able to think logically and sieve out what's verifiable by facts and what's not. But just as the internet is able to spread knowledge, it is equally effective at spreading ignorance.

We could still remember how the end slowly began. Our forefathers had recorded all this down, in hopes that if we survive this, that we would not repeat their mistakes.

The Great Decline, that's what we call it. Humanity's downward spiral in the middle of the 21st century in our technological advancement and knowledge. It was ironically during this period when internet usage reached its peak. But far from a balanced environment, people became selective of the information they consume, mostly when it fitted into their worldview and values.

Ignorance suddenly became an epidemic.


It first started with the sudden re-emergence of diseases long forgotten, when a growing number of parents began to buy into the idea that vaccination is an evil ploy by big scary pharmaceutical companies to introduce harmful drugs into their children. While scientists tried to stem the fear by continuously publishing research findings that supported vaccination unto the internet, the information did a really poor job at reaching out to the masses.

In contrary, it was the poorly researched and fear mongering articles that went viral over the internet, reaching out the fastest to the majority of the population. In the end, support for the anti-vaccination movement grew so large that any politician who even remotely supported vaccination were voted out of office. The situation only grew worse when anti-vaccination groups began to lobby against any kind of medication, believing that humanity should be allowed to fight diseases naturally. Medicine suddenly was seen as interfering with the act of nature.

It did not take long before different diseases spread like wildfire and world organisations were ill-prepared to handle the crisis, a result that started with the anti-vaccination lobbies. Many died.

That was not the only crisis that gave humanity a bloody nose.

For the longest time, interested groups have been putting out information denying global warming on the internet to confuse the masses. Their intentions were never put forth clearly, but their campaigns worked wonders. While the sea rose and worldwide weather grew increasingly erratic, there were still those who argue that the increased blizzards were a sign of global cooling, not warming.

With enough support, these groups managed to control the population and politics, stopping any effort to reduce carbon dioxide output globally. They argued that it was for the sake of progress that the climate scientists were accused of fear mongering. This was despite the numerous findings put forth by the scientists, because the masses preferred the simpler information put forth by the climate change deniers. It turned out that people preferred instead to live in their own little bubbles of ignorance, projecting an illusion of safety, when dealt with uncomfortable information.

It was not long before the results became catastrophic.

Those were not the only events that lead to the Great Decline. Around the world, there was a dumbing down effect on the way humanity think. Politics and populism went in opposition with knowledge.

Those who espoused a narrative of hatred and exclusivity were increasingly voted in amidst the refugee crisis. Those who claimed that a specific religion, race or group was more powerful than the rest enjoyed considerably more support. Motivated by uncertainty and fear, the masses saw these figures as saviours.

Instead of diplomacy, these politicians relied on siege mentality and stoking war rhetorics to garner support. Those who tried oppose the politicians were immediately shut down, accused of being spies of the enemies. Before long, behind increasingly exclusive and hostile policies, nations started going after each other purely on the basis of ideology, race or religion. The US, for example, attacked China unprovoked because it thought that the Chinese were "taking jobs away from Americans."

All these happened amidst a backdrop where those who dared speak up were increasingly persecuted. In the end, majority opinion ruled.


What went wrong, exactly? We were once talking about conquering space but we regressed so much until our existence hangs on the balance.

Near the end of the Great Decline, a band of the last remaining intellectuals banded together and travelled far into the Pacific, settling on a chain of islands to escape the persecution and what they saw as the impending doom of humanity. There, they tried to figure out what went wrong, how we slid so much from the height of our advancement and how not to let humanity go through this again.

In the end, they put it down simply to six words: The power of an ignorant mass.

While the internet gave free access to information, people chose the information that they consume, preferring those that resonated with their beliefs, values or living style. It did not matter whether the information reflected what's really happening in reality. More often than not, it was the misinformation that appealed to the majority. And when a significant number of people believe in a misinformation, they could adversely move society according to their beliefs. The Great Decline proved this.

What makes the crucial difference, however, is the motivation behind the information seeking behaviour. One is simply to seek information to validate a pre-existing belief and the other is to seek information to determine what is the truth. What makes the both behaviour motivation different, is that if we are simply searching for information to validate a pre-existing belief, we are less accepting of information that goes in contrary in what we believe in, even though it may be the truth.

This was one of the primary reasons why despite numerous attempts to dispel the myths, people simply brush them aside or did not take them into serious consideration. To them, there was already a bias towards a certain position that makes them resistant to counter-arguments. In addition to that, there was also the tendency to link our beliefs to our identity and self-esteem, which is why changing their thoughts is made more difficult.

With this knowledge in mind, our forefathers set to change that. As the world smoldered, they hunkered down on the island, looking to shape society to their new ideal.


It has been more than a century since we first settled on this island. And we have been working actively to rebuild a better society in its place ever since. One of the very first lessons we teach our children is how it is okay to hold a wrong opinion. Proving oneself wrong should not be a painful experience. Instead, it should be something we should embrace in the pursuit of knowledge.

This was reflective of the principles of scientific theory, which once used to be prevalent in the past. Rather than just using it exclusively for a field of study, we sought to implement it as part of our daily lives. Where people can readily admit that they're wrong, without the need to feel hurt or devalued.

We have no idea how this would affect our society in the long run, but perhaps by doing this, we hope to ensure that humanity would not again see the dangers of ignorance.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

How Nikon let a Photoshopped picture win (and how the comments section ultimately won)

When Nikon chose a seemingly well-timed photograph to win one of their Nikon trolley bag, they probably didn't really thought much about it. After all, it's an ongoing campaign where they feature and reward good photos taken using a Nikon camera. What they probably didn't expect was that the photo was doctored in order to win the prize. Here's the photo with the caption:

(Source)

If  you look closely, you'll be able to spot a white box around the plane, meaning that this Yu Wei photoshopped the plane in instead of actually capturing the plane. Of course, users were quick to pick out the discrepancy, and what followed was hilarious. Some of my favourites, with their captions:

Photo by Glenn Guan: If Yu Wei's photo can win a trolley bag, this deserves a "Nikon D5 with AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR"

A Star Wars inspired shot by Efan Amran. He wants a D5 btw

Spiderman's wife took a stroll along the ladder too. (Zhirong Fu)

This obviously takes the cake. Or in Nikon's case, the trolley bag. (Render Brant)

He found Waldo too! (Vato915)

There's even a whole space battle sequence right there! (Mezame Shashin-ka)

Why only one plane? Why not 10 planes? (John Hryniuk)

This comment, however, aptly sums up the whole blunder:


Speaking from a social media perspective, this may constitute some sort of PR crisis for Nikon, where there is definitely an urgent need to do damage control. One way out of this is for Nikon to admit their mistake ("Sorry everyone, in our eagerness to reward fellow Nikon users with  trolley bag, we've been TROLLED") and then to turn it positive by rewarding all those who have submitted their version of the photoshopped pictures.


That way, your fans all end up happy and you don't end up looking too bad by putting up a wall of silence. After all, it's okay to laugh at yourself occasionally. It makes your relationship more personal with your users.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Micro-story: Living past age 65 is now illegal


“Only I can choose when I will die! Not you! Martha, help me!”

Martha could only watch helplessly as the people from the government dragged her screaming mother away. Both of them knew where they will take her and what they will do to her. Aged 69, Martha's mother was four years above the allowed age limit to live. They are going to put her to sleep.

As the van drove away with her now sedated mother in it, Martha tried to console herself that it was for the best. After coming into effect 10 years ago, the National Silver Age Act has made living past the age 65 illegal, taking with it employment and healthcare benefits for the aged.

Martha had initially wanted her mother to live as long as she can because Martha loved her. But as the bill piles up for her mother's various health conditions — together with the government's constant propaganda that the Act is both beneficial to the country and the family — Martha began to have second thoughts.

When her mother began to forget about things and wandered outside of the house absent-mindedly, Martha knew that she could no longer afford to keep her mum. Wrestling with guilt and frustration, she finally picked up her phone and called for the enforcers, trying to convince herself that this was for the best.

It was not always like this. Almost a century ago, people died whenever and wherever they want to. Instead of pushing the elderly to death, governments tried to keep them for as long as they can. Geriatrics was still a popular field of study. Old people were still treated with respect and dignity. No one even dared to talk about mandatory death age.

However, as the average age of the population grew higher as the birth rates dropped, society slowly began to experience the strain of having to support a swelling population of elderly. People were not giving birth fast enough to support the economy and soon, health care and taxes began to take a hit. Costs were ballooning as the young struggled to support the ageing population.

Before long, news of old people dying alone or taking their lives began to increase. At first, the news were dismissed as isolated cases, often explained as not enough support system was present for the victims. But as the cases grew, murmurs began floating on what best way to address an ageing population, who because of advances in technology, are starting to live longer and further.

It all started in Japan, where the problem was most pronounced. As urbanisation grew and the age ratio became increasingly disproportionate, there were increasing a number of towns and villages where the youngest resident is a middle-aged person. Incidents of old people dying alone were becoming such a norm that there's a specific industry set up just to cater to these cases.

In one village in particular, a group of middle-aged retirees decided that enough was enough, and banded together to form a group called "Dignity". Their aim was simple: To simply have the ability to choose when and where they wanted to die.

Committing suicide was considered illegal in the country back then and anyone caught assisting in suicide is punishable by law. The group aimed to fight that, especially for senior citizens. They demanded that rather than forcing senior citizens to live a life that they didn't want to, senior citizens should be given a choice to decide when and where they should leave the world. They wanted death to be on their terms, not anybody's.

When the group first started their petition, not only did it cause an explosive debate in the already conservative country, it sparked worldwide discussion on the whole issue as well. A law was passed eventually in Japan, making it legal for the elderly who are living alone to report to government hospitals to participate in a state-assisted suicide. The programme became immensely popular, where senior citizens see themselves as a burden to their children and wish to help alleviate that burden faster by ending their lives a few years after retirement.

Many other countries eventually began adopting modified versions of the law too. In Singapore for example, the government made it an optional programme for the elderly to engage in state-assisted suicide, where those who do so were given the option to withdraw their CPF savings in full, two years before their stipulated suicide date. To encourage the programme, the government even promised an additional $500 per month for those who take up the programme.

The move, when announced, were met with huge criticism from human rights activists and organisations. However, like japan, the programme turned out to be unexpectedly popular too, where some senior citizens withdrew all their money, together with the $12,000 by the government and did whatever they wanted in their two years, such as travelling the world or giving a significant amount to help their children's family.

However, as the years passed, what started out to be a voluntary opt-in act began to take a more sinister form in certain countries. Certain firebrand politicians began to rise up, demanding that mandatory death age be made compulsory. Martha's country was the first to initiate this idea.

In a politics that ran across age line, they argued that the country would run better without devoting significant resources into keeping the elderly population healthy and alive. It would be more productive for the economy and administration, these politicians argued. The laws were hugely unpopular, especially in Martha's country, where children are now given rights and benefits to report their parents in. Martha, for example, received $10,000 in "helping the country run more efficiently."

The family institution collapsed overnight in Martha's country. Children began reporting their parents in to get the state-sponsored prize. Kinship and blood relations suddenly mattered no more. But to the eyes of the people running the show, it didn't matter much. After all, they suddenly have much more money to spend on other things, to focus on other fields that matter more in their eyes. Why spend so much energy on a population who ultimately contributes diminishingly as time passes?

To them, it was a necessary evil that needs to be done.

This is a fictional story inspired by this piece of news, where a couple made a pact to die together to avoid the complications of old age. This story is not meant to predict the future or cast anyone in bad light (countries like Singapore have an excellent Pioneer programme to support the aged), but to provoke thinking in this area as the average of our population grows older.

Lukey attends: Chef Estie's Asia tour, as part of Man vs Child: Chef Showdown

We're attending eight-year-old Chef Estie's Asia Tour event at Ikea today! It's amazing how she's able to be so good at cooking at such a young age. I was still busy playing Gameboy and making my mum angry at her age, I think.

This event is part of Lifetime's Man vs Child: Chef Showdown series, where young prodigy chefs cook it out with established adult chefs. There will be five young chefs altogether, with Estie being the youngest of them.
We were given opportunities to try two of Estie's dishes, one being vegetable ban minh and the other was pan-seared salmon with clam chowder sauce.

The salmon was my favourite and it really stood out because it's so perfectly cooked, even the skin was deliciously crispy. Way better than a lot of salmon that we usually eat. Too bad we could only try a small sample of it.

IKEA

I am personally amazed by how well Estie handled all the attention on her as well. She juggled both cooking on stage, explaining what she's doing and all the camera flashes.

Do checkChef Estie out every Tuesday, 7 and 10pm on Starhub's Lifetime channel. The series premiere will star her, aptly named “Don’t Under-ESTIE-mate Her”. Do catch her and other talented young chefs in Man vs Child: Chef Showdown, which will premiere on Lifetime on 26th January 2016, every Tuesday at 7pm, on Starhub TV channel 514.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Daily Thought: Can we pay people in percentage of profits instead of a fixed salary?


I've been in the workforce for a couple of years now and one thing that I find hard to understand is the system of how the majority of the employees are being paid.

Almost all employees, I daresay, are currently paid on a fixed compensation scheme. Meaning that we are paid a fixed amount of money at a fixed period for the work we are hired to do. It doesn't matter how well or bad the company is doing, we will still be paid the agreed amount of money after the agreed amount of time. For example, John who is paid $2,000 every month or Jim who is paid $10 every hour.

Psychology calls this the fixed interval schedule of reinforcement, where you are reinforced (salary) after a fixed period of time (one month) to produce a behaviour that the employers want (work).

This fixed salary system is problematic because research has shown us consistently that out of the four different types of reinforcement schedules, the fixed interval system is the worst at motivating employees. The reason why is intuitive: if I am paid a fixed amount of salary every month, why should I bother too much about the amount of effort I put in at work? After all, I will still be paid.

Read more about schedules of reinforcement HERE.

Some companies have taken measures to try to address the weaknesses of a fixed interval salary system by introducing commission for sales, for example, to encourage employees to put in more effort in their work. Others may have a performance bonus system in place, to reward employees who are exceptionally hard working.

But these measures are not without their weaknesses too, a commission system only works when there are sales involved and performance bonuses may come too infrequently (once a year in most cases) to be effective.

An alternative system could be one where employees are paid a percentage of the overall profits that the company is earning. This would in a way transform employees to have a higher stake in the company, giving them a sense of ownership over their work. Employees would be motivated to do more for the company because it would directly affect the amount of their next pay. It would also require the company to be more transparent in their numbers, hence perhaps improving employees' trust and loyalty to the company too.

Of course, this system is without faults.The salary that employees are taking home would then not be fixed, taking away the feeling of security. We cannot negate external factors that would cause the company to go into a loss though in this sense employees will know much sooner that a company is in trouble rather than suddenly finding that they're being laid off.

It would also be considerably more difficult to determine the percentage of profit to be allocated to your employees once your organisation gets too big. How would the receptionist be allocated versus the sales personnel? Quora seems to have answered this question perfectly. Basically in a real life setting, there are just too many barriers to make this system truly workable.

Still, it doesn't eliminate the fact that when you see yourself as being directly responsible over your work, it would motivate you to strive to achieve more. A profit-percentage system may not work in a large setting, in could work in smaller settings like small to medium entreprises (SME), where an employee's action will have a bigger effect. It could also work in settings that require people to contribute, such as an online magazine with a pool of writers.

No system is perfect so when it comes to finding a suitable compensation system to encourage motivation among employees, you have to pick one that best fits your organisation's direction and profile. Perhaps a hybrid system would work best?


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lukey recommends: Fantasy War Tactics

I'm not a fan of mobile games for numerous reasons. Microtransactions, the gameplay being too simplistic or games trying too hard to be something that they're not are among some of them. Plus I tend to compare them to computer games, even though I know it's unfair.

Mobile games that can keep my glued are few and far between. After losing all my data in Brave Frontier and subsequently giving up on the Crusader Quest, I've been searching for an interesting mobile game for quite some time. Preferably one with an interesting story, consistent progression, and balanced gameplay mechanics.

Before long, it seemed that fate led me to one that captured everything that I was looking for: Fantasy War Tactics.


Developed by Nexon, one of Korea's leading gaming company and the name behind other well-known titles like Maple Story and Dragonica, Fantasy War Tactics (FWT) have had me logging in consistently for the past two months now, even when I was overseas at Vietnam (much to the annoyance of Dawn).

From the start of the game, you are already greeted by colourful characters and an intriguing story, where your persona is not the typical protagonist. Forcing your minions to call you Lord and mind-controlling those who disobey, you have only one goal in mind, world conquest. There's only one tiny obstacle in the way: someone has already beat you to it and they're threatening to destroy the world you seek to conquer.

So you have no choice but to save the world from their plans and promptly re-conquer it with the different heroes that you have recruited along the way. It's amusing to follow your team throughout the journey as they interact with each other, attempt to fight the real bad guys and recruit new heroes along the way.


Combat is quite easy to pick up. Similar to the turn-based tile system of Final Fantasy Tactics, you'll take alternating turns with your opponent to position your characters and attack. There are several strategic calculations that you can take into place: such as the direction of attack, the tile type and your character type; in addition to the normal character skills and equipment; but they are quite easy to learn.

Mastering them is another matter, of course, but that is what makes the games fun. Combat can be different every time you play it, thus allowing you to experiment with varying strategies that fit you the most. You have skill effects like stuns, confusion and mind control to help make battles more interesting.


Of course, like most F2P mobile games out there, grinding can get a little tedious if you're planning to level your characters all the way without cash. There are a lot of paths to make your team stronger, which include but is not limited to skills level, character level, character gear and team composition. They also have a Borderlands style of gear system, where gears will give you random attributes depend on the level of their rarity.

There are also PVP opportunities, but enemy teams usually run on auto mode (meaning that the computer fights on behalf of players). There is a lack of cooperative opportunities right now for players, though. Other than the chat option and the PVP option, the only other notable social element in the game is the live chat room. Socially speaking, the game still have room to improve (having guilds/clans would be awesome).

But if anything, all of their female characters have their cleavage exposed. I mean all. And they call you Lord (fan service much). Except the younger underaged ones, of course.


You might not want to play this game if you're an ardent feminist.

Seriously speaking though, out of the many mobile games that I've tried, I would recommend Fantasy War Tactics if you're looking to pick up a new mobile game.

Pros:
Entertaining storyline | Easy to learn but hard to master strategy | Highly customizable play style (gears, hero skills, hero passive) | Colourful and pleasant looking graphics (and I don't mean just the female characters) | Tons of activity in-game

Cons:
Grinding can get repetitive after you reach a higher level | Social aspects in-game can still be improved

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Daily thought: This race that we didn't ask for


My father used to tell me that life is like a race. We are in constant competition with those around us, running constantly to keep ahead. Stopping is not an option, because if we do, people will overtake us and leave us behind.

He would use this analogy to motivate me to study constantly and not slack off back when I was in school. Being the young boy who only enjoys gaming, the wisdom behind this analogy was, of course, lost on me. I didn't quite understand back then what this whole “life as a race” thing meant and didn't take the lesson to heart.

Now that I'm in adulthood, his advice about life being a race against others is suddenly becoming more relevant than ever.

Even before we're conceived, we're already racing along our mother's womb, to be the first to reach the egg. After we're born, the race only got more intense. From our first spelling competition in kindergarten to the first major exam we have in high school to our first interview after graduating, life is a constant struggle to stay ahead, to prove that we are better than the people around us.

It's like we're constantly racing against each other, struggling to stay ahead in as many areas as possible, be it looks, knowledge or skills, just so we can have a better shot at life. To be more “successful”, so to speak. It's a constant “I need to be better than the guy beside me” so that we are given the best opportunities in life.

Slacking and stopping to enjoy the scenery isn't really an option, because others would just easily overtake you, and you would find yourself in a tough position catching up. Just look at post-university life, for example. After graduating, there's really not much time for you to enjoy life or “find yourself”, as there would be a lot of pressure for you to secure a job as soon as possible. The longer you take, the tougher it is for you to secure a job, because others would already have a head start over you in terms of experience.



The sad thing is, none of us asked to be part of this race. If given a choice, I would have easily chosen a universe or life where you could just sit down the whole day and enjoy life. And it's not like all of us are born ready for this race. Some are better at this than others, which is why you see immensely successful people versus those who are not so.

But even if some of us are not good at this race or do not want to be part of it, we're pretty much stuck in it, because we all need to survive (unless your country provides welfare, then that's another story).

I guess I could complain about the system and say that it's unfair, but I guess it's the best system that we have to keep society going. After all, we would want the best in life and seeing how we are faring against others, is the easiest gauge we can find. Like the saying, we can only suck thumb and live on.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The evil playthrough journal


Detailing my adventures in the classic game KOTOR, in reverse chronological order.

#1 (11 Jan 2015):

Restarted my entire game again (fourth time this round), because I managed to spoil myself on Revan's identity when researching about the game's ending and felt that my previous gameplay choices didn't fit what I wanted. Note to self: Cut down on worrying about the perfect ending and let the game flow.

Picked a scoundrel this time with the intention of going down the evil path, while maxing out my 'persuading' skill (I'm gonna be a smooth-tongued criminal). Decided to go full range as well, so I robbed Carth of his blaster and gave him Viroblades to rush all enemies. Rocking two blasters always looked cooler, anyway.

I progressed quite fast through the game (because I've been to Taris so many times) and am in the midst of tearing down the Vulkar base right now. It's surprising to see how despite my name (okay I know the AI won't pick it up) and me going on a pure evil streak like killing everyone or threatening them, my party members or the Sith are not the least bit suspicious about this human who is leaving chaos in her wake. Quite oblivious, they are. I guess that's how the game kind of "allows" you to be a dark side player.

I wonder what Bastila will say when I save her, considering that my force points are in the negative region now?


With this nifty guide, learn to speak like Yoda, you shall.

He may not have appeared in the latest installment of Star Wars, but he is undoubtedly one of the most powerful Jedi masters with a unique conversational style to boot. One that has been mirrored by countless fans over the years. Speak like Yoda, many love to.

But Yoda-talk is not merely about reversing the sentence structure, as there are certain rules involved. If you're thinking of doing any Yoda impersonation in the near future, this guide from Grammarly has some interesting pointers on how. May the grammar be with you.

Yodify your Grammar Infographic

Infographics courtesy of Grammarly.

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