Monday, 22 December 2014

Response to Y1S1 2014/15 results

HELLO! My blog is a hermit crab who has found a new home:

Just got my results today! And sadly, I am quite accurate when it comes to guessing my final results hah. Got a B- for GL1101E(this will be the first and last time I'm revealing my final grade), but who cares, I'm officially a Global Studies major! Lesson learnt from this semester: 好的开始是成功的一半 (A good start brings you halfway to success). I totally started on the wrong foot this sem, which was made worse by my complacency, thinking that college is easy to handle. Complacency is seriously one of my greatest weaknesses that has brought me down so many times... I am not going to let myself ruin my university life. Not only that, I realised that I have been constantly complaining about the modules that I'm taking and most of the time, I didn't take pride in my work. And when I did feel proud of my submission, it was returned with good results. So this is another lesson learnt. You'll do well when you enjoy what you're doing because you'll naturally put in more effort. I'm sure you've heard this more than once in your life (well, I certainly have) but you have to put it into practice for yourself to believe it. I'm glad that my Y1S1 results gave me a knock on my head cos I'm not about to let myself repeat the same mistakes again.

"It is through education that we are liberated from powerlessness, from the burden of mistrust directed against ourselves. To awaken the abilities that have been lying dormant within. To arouse and extend the soul’s aspiration to become full and complete. Can there be any more sublime experience in life?" - Daisaku Ikeda

Monday, 15 December 2014

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Response to Y1S1 2014/15 in NUS

HELLO! My blog is a hermit crab who has found a new home:

Caution: These are all my personal opinions. In other words, please just take it with a pinch of salt.

I really wanted to do this module review because I had a hard time deciding what mods to take as a freshie and bloggers who did mod reviews really help a lot by just giving me that peace of mind during module bidding. Also, simply because sometimes ivle offers no substantial course descriptions.

Mods that I took in Y1S1: FMA1206M, GL1101E, GEM1031, SN1101E, NM1101E. I will not be revealing my grades because they may set up unrealistic expectations for certain people.

FMA1206M - Food Politics
- Bid points: 300+
- weekly responses, research paper (own choice)

By far the best mod I've taken this sem. The 300+ points were worth it. Super chill prof (Mr Matthew Lepori) but still carries the class well enough - especially during class discussions. I participated quite actively, which was hard not to because there are only 15 in the class (very limited quota) though in the middle I was getting a bit sian cos the various problems of food politics were ultimately based upon a few fundamental issues so it was more like looking at those issues through the various aspects e.g. land, labour etc. We also had to do a one-page response every week based on one part/all of the week's readings; very manageable.

The research paper was 70% and works exactly like an EE (those who took IB will know this) so I thought I had it in the bag but the research period also fell during the presentation overload + midterms weeks so I didn't have a solid research. Which is still, no excuse because I should've given more thought to my research topic. First draft ended up with a less than ideal grade. I was still thankful because I knew that he was rather lenient and gave me extra credit for doing a survey.

GL1101E - Global Issues (Exposure mod for Global Studies)
- Bid points: 200+
- Term paper (assigned questions),
- Group essay/presentation,
- Finals (short and long answer)

GL1101E can be used to fulfil either the Humanities or Social Science exposure basket. This is my intended major so I put in a bit more effort for this module. I participated actively in class throughout the 4 tutorials (I heard all political science mods are like that) and I probably scored quite well for class part because my tutor/lecturer (Dr Hyejin Kim, who is also the author of the novel Jia) actually recognised me outside of class (She couldn't recall my name but it was more that I'd ask for).

For the lectures, I know a few friends that don't like Dr Kim's pictorial-talking style but personally I find it more engaging especially cos she's the type that likes to bring in some personal experiences regarding the topics. So lecture is basically just summary of readings + Kim's own relevant experience.

I liked the readings because they really made you give a second thought about our perceived image of globalisation. The only flip side is that the readings are crazy long. For a freshie. So obviously I didn't finish all the readings. I think 80 pages was the minimum each week haha. But if you're one of those people who keep up on current affairs regularly and have a good background in history, this mod should be rather straightforward and easy to ace. Didn't do too well for my term paper though; I semi-bullshitted my way through 40% of the paper and ended up with (what seemed to be) the average grade for this assignment.

First grade that I got from this mod was a B- (okay this will be the only grade I will ever reveal just to remind myself and others to not repeat my mistakes) and it was a HUGE blow to me because I didn't expect it to be that bad. It was a group essay cum presentation thing and we had to choose one TNC and explore one or more issues surrounding that TNC; e.g. environmental, political. Although I know that our essay wasn't the best shit on earth but I was at least expecting a B/B+. Not because I thought that our essay was superb, but because there were 2 seniors in my group so I thought that the standard of our essay would be sufficient for a decent grade since they've spent an appropriate number of years in NUS. Everyone did what they needed to do but I guess we overestimated ourselves.

The final paper wasn't too bad but certain questions definitely require students to read and analyse the readings rather than simply depending on students' knowledge on concepts/ current affairs/ history.

SN1101E - Exposure module for South Asian Studies
- Bid points: 1
- Group presentation,
- Midterm (MCQs and short answer),
- Finals (long and short answer)

I did okay for midterms cos the MCQs were surprisingly easy except for a few random trivial fact type of questions, unlike NM's. My short answer pulled me down actually, sigh. I was super thankful that the lecturer decided to change the format of this semester's finals(which were not too bad too). Past year papers can be found it in NUS library.

I was quite a umm, leech (SO not proud of it) for group presentation; simply because I had no idea what was going on for the topic that I chose and I had three Year 2s in my group that did a lot of work. There were 6 in a group so we split into 3 pairs for each South Asian country that we covered. My partner literally assigned me what to research on, with 50% of the research already done by him. I feel super bad but at the same time, it was kinda for the better cos I really had no clue where to begin. Will never let this happen again.

There were two main lecturers and both were quite passionate about what they're teaching. Actually most of the info presented during lectures are not too far from the readings(comes as a course pack) so I guess the lectures just made it easier for me to pick out what to take note of. But because I didn't have much of an interest in South Asia (wanted SEA but the bid points were too high), I didn't really enjoy studying for it except for the Sino-South Asia relations and Gender in India topics.

GEM1031 - Study of Names
- Bid points: around 150
- Midterms (short answers, open book)
- Group essay/ presentation
- Term essay (1000 words)
- Finals (short answers, open book)

2 misconception that I had when I decided to take this module. 1) I thought this mod would be super interesting and chill (which is actually not that inaccurate), 2) I overestimated my interest in the English language. I complained a lot about this module because I didn't really consider what I was learning useful? I know I'm probably offending lots of people but for me it was really one of those interesting to know but impractical subjects.

Both the midterms and finals were in similar formats, the prof (Dr Peter Tan) provides past year final papers on IVLE. Both are open book exams, aka saving my ass. Oh, and do bring along your term essay for the final paper!

Actually, now that I think of it, I don't know why I ranted so much about this mod throughout the sem cos the prof is actually a really nice guy and even prints out the notes for you. .... Probably cos I only enjoyed doing the term essay where I did a comparative analysis of puppy names and baby names and was rewarded with a decent score.

NM1101E - Exposure module for Comm. & New Media
Bid points: 1
- 1 individual assignment,
- 2 group assignments,
- Midterm (MCQs),
- Finals (MCQ)

Didn't enjoy this module at all. Lectures were boring, readings were seldom interesting (there was this whole 30 paged chapter on group communication aka talking about teamwork and shit and this was not the only redundant chapter). I remember being shocked by the midterms questions cos I could barely do 50% of the 25 MCQ questions. It was just a bunch of jargon on everyday topics. So, if you don't study and you're bad at guessing the definitions of the terms, don't expect a good grade. Finals were 90 MCQ questions, probably cos they doubled the quota to 400+ for that particular sem and it wasn't too different from midterms; random questions here and there.

Tutorials (1h or less) weren't too bad at first and tutorial time always passed like a bullet train. The only good thing that came out of the tutorials was my marketeers gang (inside joke). By the time we reached the last few tutorials we couldn't even be bothered with the materials that we're suppose to prepare. 3 assignments that we had to complete: 1 individual and 2 group (randomly assigned). Not difficult to score as long as you apply the concepts and having group members who are good at fluffling helps too.

Hope this post will be insightful for anyone who gets to read this and all the best for the upcoming semester! :)

P.S. Year 1s, please take advantage of your S/Us to either 1) clear out compulsory mods that you're not confident in, or 2) take advantage of people who slack around (like I did) and emerge at the top of the bell curves. I was stupid not to make full use of this privilege, don't make the same mistake.

Edit (25/12/2015):
According to Google stats, this is the most-viewed post on my blog. Not surprising because this is one of the more useful posts on my blog HAHA. But the thing that I want to point out is, whether it applies to you or not, please don't be too dependent on such a post like mine. The main objective of me providing this post is just to give a peace of mind to freshies who might find starting school in a new environment daunting and to point out any modules that might differ from their module description. 

I personally feel that at the end of the day, it is best to choose the modules that you find interesting. Of course, it is important to make sure that the modules that you take are manageable, but I just get disappointed when I hear people choosing modules just because they heard that it is easier to do. I have a very average CAP, like second lower kind of average haha, and I definitely wish my CAP can become higher with easy modules but that's not the point of university education. Youth is a time for you to challenge yourself, not fall into a path that is easy to travel.

Let's try to create some meaning in our rigid university system.

Pre-response to end of 2014

It's December, which also means that the year 2014 is coming to an end.

It's really cliche to say this but, this year passed by waaaay too quickly. I always find it sad after looking at my new year resolutions for the year and then realising that I didn't complete even 10% of it. Okay, enough with the self-pitying.

I am planning to do a review on the modules that I took in NUS for my very first semester in the school. So, yeah, that's that. I have nothing else to update omg I'm such a failed blogger. Oh well, this site has always been more of a journal for me to jot down my random thoughts instead of one that caters to the public.

Another year passes by with me wasting my own time despite all that I've been through in the past 2 years. My rabbit probably accomplished more than I did this year, like, eating two carrots under ten minutes or something. Now aren't I a great example of us genetically superior humans?

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Response to my social life

Sometimes, I wonder if I'm socially awkward. Or rather, whether I have an emotional barrier. I just never seem to get super close with people. Like in YEP, I actually spent like 3-4 months(met on a weekly basis) with the people in my group but they just look a lot closer with each other than I am. It's not as if they aren't nice people, they are honestly some of the most admirable people I've ever met despite their flaws(that they admit to. Which is of course another reason why they're so admirable). But the fact that I don't feel as bonded like everyone else are is one of the reasons why I felt that I didn't get the most out of  it(the other reasons are more personal) I just... can't seem to let anyone see the whole truth of me. Like, my screwed up side. I just don't see the need to, maybe. I have no trouble talking to new people though I'm never the most sociable or endearing character.

To me, other people always seem to be having more fun than I am(whether it is genuine or not). I find lots of joy alone, but I have this gut feeling that I can experience so much more when it's just more than one person. I want others to feel my sincerity, but sometimes, I wonder if I have any.

Quote of the month

A quote that has been giving me the strength to last through this revision week:

"When your determination changes, everything will begin to move in the direction you desire. The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in your being will immediately orient itself toward your success. On the other hand, if you think, 'This is never going to work out,' then at that instant every single cell in your being will be deflated and give up the fight." - Daisaku Ikeda

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

An Abysmal Cliff

University is no joke. I'm finding it quite tough to cope. Of course, I'm not stretched to my limits yet. The thing is, I have no idea what's my limit. Because I'm a slacker. I try to take things easy most of them. But sometimes, I feel like plunging myself into a state of total struggle; to experience abysmal. Not because I have nothing better to do, but because I feel like it's time to challenge myself. The last time I had this feeling was... slightly more than a year ago? When I made the decision to join YEP. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made, and yet I felt that I still didn't make the most out of it.

Why am I always like this? When will I ever stretch myself enough to reach my best? Right now, I'd say things are not easy for me; I'm trying too juggle between school(my first year in college) and work(I work part-time every Wednesday night and on weekends). On top of this, I have YFP training and SAVE subcomm(where I need to start contributing more). I feel more tired physically and mentally(although not so much), but I still feel that it's not enough. But at the same time, I'm having thoughts about quitting SAVE. It's weird how I find my involvement unnecessary when 1) I don't put in enough efforts to fight for its cause, 2) I know precisely how much support environment clubs need, 3) I tend to sneer at those that don't give enough shit to environmental issues. Yet, I find myself falling into nonchalance.  

My beliefs and ideals still stand... But what have I done so far to achieve them? I give myself excuses that it's not my time yet, when I know that opportunities must be created by myself.

I'm pissing me off. Hah.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Response to tattoos

I'm supposed to be doing work now; hell lot of deadlines coming up but I just felt like writing. #geekyYOLO

From my blog stats, I realised(British spelling) that most of readers are from the U.S.(20 hour flight from Singapore). Don't know if you guys know this, but in Asian countries like mine, people tend to associate people with tattoos as gangsters. Probably due to the Asian tradition of getting a gang tattoo when you become a gang member. People just don't take tattoos too well basically. Of course, this is more common among the older generation(middle-aged and above) than the younger generation.

My mother would always remind me not to get tattoos when she sees anyone with a substantial amount of tattoos on their bodies. That I'll regret it when I get older. So, naturally, I never gave much thought to tattoos, and even remember myself sneering at some with unsightly tattoos. Yes, that was very judgmental and wrong of me. And you might be surprised to know that this post is about me wanting to get a tattoo for the first time in my life, mainly because of this tattoo artist that I chanced upon. I love how clean and simple they are; like a permanent pen doodle or something.

TATTOOIST SEOEON. - 네이버 블로그.clipular (11)

I guess this is also an example of 1) how brainwashing stereotypes are(like, I think I spent more than 10 years of my life thinking "guys with tattoos" = "bad people"), 2) our parents are NOT always right(right/wrongness is subjective), 3) being more open-minded gives you new, refreshing thoughts.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Why I decided to take up a religion

There are several reasons why I felt the need to seriously take up a religion, some of which I do not feel like sharing on my blog just yet. The ultimate reason that made me take up faith can be summarised in a single quote: "Wisest is she who knows she does not know." Jostein Gaarder mentioned this in his book, 'Sophie's World'(which is my book-version of a soulmate despite the fact that I have not yet finished reading it) and I think Aristotle or Socrates said something like that as well. 

I know this quote is quite a paradox, since it implies that the wisest person knows that she does not know, so technically she does know something: that she does not know. But I guess the real point behind this quote is that you can't possibly, truly know anything since truth is also defined as justified true belief. And I, for one, will not settle and agree that any justification is totally objective, accurate or reliable. Everything that I know as knowledge is only so because that's what I choose to believe. 

And since I can't say anything is totally 'true', I decided to start choosing the best 'truths' for myself. Thus I ended up seriously taking up Nichiren Buddhism because I decided to agree with at least 90% of what this religion claims and I just really like what it stands for. If it's going to take up a huge part of my life, it might as well be the best. And yes, I do believe that taking up this religion is better than having none or being strongly against religions because the thing about Nichiren Buddhism is that it focuses a lot on human revolution(something along the lines of development of inner self to attain buddhahood[indestructable happiness]). I find myself reflecting more and being more considerate of others and yeah, for now I'm happy with what I settled with.  

Friday, 1 August 2014

Response to joy & suffering

Apr 2016 edit: Wow, less than 2 years ago I was so motivated and ambitious... What happened to me? Today, I just complain about college on a daily basis and relent to the 'reality' that I am powerless when it comes to making a change in this world. Thank you 2014 self, for reminding of the optimism (some say naivety) I once had. I will try my best to find it again. #1 reason why keeping a blog and re-reading your old posts should be everyone's hobby.

Found this blog post in my draft and I'm publishing this because I think it's kinda relevant to the post that I published 1 minute ago(may be a bit repetitive cos I didn't want to change anything from this draft):

Yesterday, I received a message from a friend and it was a meme that was kinda like the one below. It's not the actual meme that he sent me but the underlying message was similar.

Anyway, he said to remember that there is always someone in a worse situation than you. I suppose it was suppose to teach me to be grateful and feel more optimistic. Not that I needed it but what on earth. How on earth am I suppose to feel encouraged about knowing that I am not in the worst situation possible, knowing that other people are suffering much more? In fact, it makes me feel bad that I am not doing anything to help improve their situations. Honestly, I don't think I can do much as a 19-year-old and yeah some of you, the very ones who are doing nothing as well, will go: "Aww come on, that's just an excuse. You can do soooo many things!"


I alone cannot solve global warming, bring down corrupted governments, stop violence with my current status and knowledge. Heck, I can't even get my siblings to behave! So yes, I am as helpless and as worthless as anyone can be. But this does not mean that I stay stagnant. I do not plan to stay this way and I am still figuring out how I can help to solve the many problems in our "admittedly imperfect world"(as told by Franklin Roosevelt).

Also, I much prefer memes like this:

if you think youre good at something

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Response to blog stats

A while ago, my blog stats exceeded 1,000. I was quite surprised. I didn't think that my thoughts were... exposed to so many people. 1,000 might be a super minute amount of people, considering the limitless outreach of the internet, but I am truly grateful that people actually take time to read what I have to say.

According to Blogger, my audience includes people(ranked in descending order) from U.S., Singapore, Indonesia, Germany, Russia, U.K., Canada, South Korea, Australia and India. How cool is that? The wonderful thing about the internet is that it links the whole world(well, almost) within one single portal.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Quote of the month

"Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist." - Epicurus.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Response to MH17

Some people like to say that things happen for a reason, and I too, have said it before. Then, what could be the reason behind this tragedy? What mistakes are we making, that we need to sacrifice the lives of hundreds, to remind us so?

Franklin Roosevelt said, in 1945, that our world is "an admittedly imperfect*" one. That's almost 70 years ago. Perfection is a fantasy, unreachable probably. But have we put in enough effort to make it less imperfect? What I do...? Will anything that I do be enough?


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Just saying

I wonder all the time. But a lot of times, I'm not interested enough to make an effort to find out the answers.

Answers, at many times, have proved to be unsatisfying too.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Are children really born as 'pieces of white paper'?(or, why do we have sexual desires/instincts?)

I remember some article was saying internet porn has resulted in many teenagers being exposed to sexual materials too early. This got me thinking: are sexual desires innate and natural or unnatural(that we are all born like a piece of white paper and are then affected by external factors)?

For now, I stand on the side of 'innate and natural', because if we didn't, cave people, who do not have access to porn(soft or hardcopy) wouldn't have reproduced so many waves of descendants. However, let's say I conducted an experiment which involves a boy(assuming that he is innately straight) being enclosed in an all-male environment, with absolutely no exposure to any sexual materials, what conclusion would I get?

Let's look at this in a Christian's perspective(not a Christian myself but I shall borrow their theories in attempt for a different perspective on this). They say God created humans. So he probably played a part in inserting the element of having sexual desires into humans. Why would he do that? Are humans not smart enough to know that there is a need for reproduction to sustain our kind? Are humans not smart enough to find a way to reproduce through sex, without first having the desire to do so? The first two cave people who had sex probably didn't know that they were gonna produce a baby cos they were simply following their sexual desires/ instincts!

To be honest, I often start thinking about a question without knowing why so I don't really know where I'm going with this. Heck, I don't even have a conclusion! Or rather, I have the ironic conclusion of having no conclusion. I probably need to think more deeply about this but I'll just leave it here for now because I feel like it(again, an unexplainable instinct). Which brings me to another question: is it possible to have unexplainable instincts? Are instincts even what we define it to be? 

Or worse, are we defined by our instincts?

Friday, 30 May 2014

Response to University Acceptance

"The proud mission of those who have been able to receive education must be to serve, in seen and unseen ways, the lives of those who have not had this opportunity." - Daisaku Ikeda

Countdown Widgets

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Response to awesomeness has been on my bookmarks bar for a few years but I haven't read the blog for quite a while... Reading it today reminded me of how easy it is to find joy in our lives! I've always thought myself as an optimistic person, but the author of this blog puts me to shame! :P For the fun of it, I'll just share 5 awesome things that happened to me in the month of May!

1. Trip to Langkawi with my awesome friends. The best(and only) high school grad trip! Made new friends, tried out many things for the first time(chilling at a waterfall, jet-ski island hopping, parasailing, banana-boating, riding a scooter, dozing off on a hammock, swimming in a lake, walking beside cows) with great company!:') #langkaki

2. Affordable Art Fair with Visual Art classmates. I think I forgot how much I enjoy spending time with these people. They are fun, crazy and artsy, and I'm always super comfortable around them cos they're just as weird as I am;D Plus, the works at AAF were so good! Will definitely keep myself updated with a few of my favourite artists in AAF.

3. Trip to (somewhere near) Ipoh. Wasn't a vacation but I managed to learn so much from this trip and really reflected upon my own faith. Also got super inspired by my seniors in faith who relentlessly put their faith into action through kosen-rufu.

4. NUS FASS open house. Special thanks to the random geography senior(didn't manage to catch his name) who explained everything that I needed to know. Was so bloody confused by the whole bidding system and university matters and I am super grateful that he helped to explain everything even though I told him I wasn't interested in taking geography from the start. Hoping that all seniors are as helpful:)

5. Balik Kampung by GUI at Bottle Tree Park. Super thankful for this bunch of eco-friendly, peace-loving volunteers! Balik Kampung is a beautiful place and I love walking in the small stream to the compulsory reflection session. They even provide lunch for all volunteers that are made with organic veggies and spices from their gardens!

Bonus: Revisiting after 1 year++!(Probably even longer than that) If it wasn't for this blog, this post wouldn't even exist. Awesome!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Response to The Neighbourhood & Happiness Ranking(by countries)

"Happiness is figurative; I'm happy 'cause of me, doesn't matter where I'm living." - 'West Coast', The Neighbourhood.

Got really inspired by this song by The Neighbourhood. Not my favourite song from them(WDYWFM is). Anyway this line really just stuck out and immediately reminded me of the happiness ranking(by countries). It should also be noted that Singapore is ranked as one of the lowest developed countries. It's funny how the happy countries are those that are considered 'developing'. Actually, it's not really funny. Given that happiness is the ultimate goal of living, does it mean that development is less than ideal? Of course, the rankings are probably only true to a certain extent, but I have heard many people around me expressing their distaste for the hectic and boring life of Singapore. I never got why though. We are so goddamned blessed. If you're a Singaporean reading this, was there ever a time when you had to worry about not having enough to eat, not having a shelter over your head, or not having healthcare facilities in your proximity? Highly unlikely. Of course, for our country to move forward, it is probably important for us to compare with countries that are doing better instead of those who are not as developed... But are we sacrificing other (es.p non-material factors) that are far more important?

Wanted this post to be longer but I'm not really in the mood for writing. Just finished my presentation on Social Impact Bond with the division that I only had approx. 1 day to do because I took leave to go to Malaysia.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Response to Consequentialism(Robin Hood and The Outsider/The Stranger)

The ends justify the means. According to Wikipedia, this phrase encapsulates the theory of Consequentialism. Meaning the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct, i.e. the method of achieving a particular result doesn't really matter. I guess this does make sense to a certain extent as it is important to consider one's true intention in any matter. BUT, What is the ideal 'end'? 'End' here, as I interpret it, is probably like, the ultimate goal, which can be happiness for all humanity, gender equality, income equality, etc.

You know what, screw this. What is right or wrong? This question reminds me of the book 'The Outsider', or 'The Stranger', by Albert Camus. It is the first philosophical book that I have ever read and of course, it blew me away and catalyzed the workings of my brain(which wasn't being active despite numerous generalized and superficial TOK lectures. If you do not decipher this as sarcasm, we can't be friends). As readers, we'd naturally judge Mersault with accordance to our own principles and perspective(which is exactly the trap that Camus is setting as the author and thus shows the flaw of our society ridden in ourselves and hence why this is a bloody brilliant book).

Very often, when I think about philosophical questions(to the best I can at least) and common society issues, I come to the same conclusion: Perspectives. Everyone has their own perspective, okay some may decide to follow how a certain religion or philosopher views things, or have similar thoughts to others but the main point is that perspectives are subjective. And I've always felt that this is also the main reason why there are conflicts in our world. Well, obviously, if people are able to come to the same consensus, we wouldn't have so many problems now. Not saying that having many different perspectives is bad; diversity is extremely important. I was referring more to the essence of these different perspectives.

This brings me to my example of Robin Hood. I don't know much about this guy, except that he robbed from the rich and gave those stolen money to the poor. According to Wikipedia, he is a "heroic outlaw". I know I shouldn't be referring to Wiki so much 'cos it's probably not the most accurate source available but just to give you a glimpse of how the general audience views him. Also because it is extremely accessible of course. I personally like the phrase "heroic outlaw", it gives Robin Hood this extra sense of heroism given the context of Medieval times where the rich are barbarians who couldn't care less for the poor(Caution: dubious accuracy. This is my own impression and I can't be bothered to research to verify this). The term 'outlaw' brings me back to 'The Outsider'/'The Stranger' again(If you read this book you will know why I made the connection). How fair is the 'law'? And what do we make of the word 'justice'? Okay this is a large and unfamiliar topic to me so this shall wait.

Anyways, Mr Hood is a fine example of consequentialism. He commits the crime of robbery for the benefit of the poor. It's like how it's not legal for aid workers to secretly bring in say, food supplies into North Korea to save them from starvation. Hoorays. Sure, in the poor's perspective, this is awesome; this is right! But what about the rich barbarians? I'm quite sure they weren't too pleased about having their money stolen; probably thought it was very wrong of Mr Hood to take their money like that.

Let me link this to governance. For me, the government is either on the rich man's side, or the poor man's side. Feel free to disagree and say that I'm being a little extreme but yeah, this is my opinion. And I'm definitely for the poor man's side because the rich needs to care less about possessing money before we can even talk about peace and equality. Just putting out the food on the table! Although I would think that the rich people wouldn't like to give out the money that they've worked hard for. Back to the importance of humanism and compassion once again! And as usual, I have diverted away from my original topic. Sigh.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Follow-up on Veganism

A really good Vegan-101 video. 15 minutes into the video and this guy has made more sense than what our culture has been telling us for years. Watch at least 20 minutes of this video and I promise it'll will do you good. I also love how this guy calls eggs "hen period" hahaha.

P.S. I kinda teared up at the last bit when the cow ran in the field.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Response to change in diet

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I'm thinking of becoming a lacto-vegetarian. And I just ate McDonald's yesterday. Okay. I have no excuses. But after watching this video, I'm quite sure I'm turning 100% vegan.

I know this isn't this most updated video, and I know it's not representative of all farmers, but like I said before, I don't want to take away anymore lives. I know that many of these farm animals wouldn't even be born into the world without consumers' demand for meat but what is the point of giving life and then knowing that it will be subjected to forced deaths? For these farmers, they are probably just more concerned about their own livelihoods than to care about how an animal, that is totally not related to him, is suffering and that's, sadly, human nature. It's normal to be selfish when you're not having enough to survive(though I'm not saying that it's right) But as someone who is not put into such an extreme situation, I don't want to be saying that this(cruelty and killing) is okay(by demanding for meat).

Seriously though, why do we eat meat when we can survive just as fine(in fact, even better) with plants alone? Our change in diet is the most necessary yet neglected paradigm shift that is needed for a more compassionate Earth.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Response to MH370

Inspired by the MH370 incident. In no means disrespecting the victims of this somber event. Hope I'm not offending anyone. It simply sparked me to write these two fictional scenarios because up till today, I don't think anyone really knows what happened to MH370. 

Version 1
“I’ll settle for one-fifty,” said the Captain, “And the rest of the crew gets one each. Deal?”

“Deal.” And the line went off.

239. It was surprising how many people want to just ‘disappear’ from the realms of the Earth. “Is it that difficult for anyone to disappear into thin air?” The Captain wondered. The tickets to this flight weren’t cheap at all. He felt compelled to leave the pilot seat to see the boarding passengers. Why did they need such obscurity?

Erasing these unnecessary thoughts, the Captain ran through the plan for the twenty-fourth time in his head: Fly the plane as per normal, wait for signal to cut off communications, ignore attempts of contact, follow the script provided if necessary, land the plane at targeted meeting point, and alight with passengers. Simple and straightforward. Doesn’t matter if GPS is installed within the plane. Doesn’t matter if the blackbox ever gets retrieved. No dead bodies will be found because there will not be any. If the plan ever gets cracked, the passengers would have safely made their way into the shadows already.

As nervous as the Captain was, he was also excited to be part of this big plan. He haven’t felt this way since his very first flight. By the end of this he would be more than one and a half million richer. The only reason why he agreed to this was because it meant that he would not need to fly an airplane ever again. He had no baggage; no family, an unsubstantial amount of friends, and a few debts he would not mind leaving behind. Given the bad economy, it did not take a lot to convince his young and ambitious crew either.  

The plan went on without any glitches and for no reason at all, the Captain announced, “Good night, Malaysian three-seven-zero," and then put on the yellow life jacket that equipped him with a new life.

Version 2
“I’ll settle for two mil.,” said the Captain, “Deal?”

“Deal.” And the line went off.

239. It was crazy how many people would spend money to take a suicide flight. “Rich people are sure screwed up,” The Captain thought. Well, to be fair, he was not that sane himself. But he needed the money for Sarah’s surgery. “Better me than her”, he was definite about this.

Bringing himself back to reality, the Captain ran through the plan for the twenty-fourth time in his head. Fly the plane as per normal, wait for signal to cut off communications, ignore attempts of contact, follow the script provided if necessary, and dive. Simple and straightforward. Doesn’t matter if GPS is installed within the plane. Doesn’t matter if the blackbox ever gets retrieved. If the plan ever gets cracked, our lives would have completely disengaged from our dead bodies already.

The plan went on without any glitches and to signal the finale, the Captain announced, “Good night, Malaysian three-seven-zero," and then made one last prayer for Sarah before the black sea swallowed the vehicle into its trudging currents.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Response to TOK

My revelation after 2 years of TOK:
Knowledge only holds as much truth as we give it credit for. 
Most of the time, we accept supposed knowledge out of convenience.
And that there is no real truth. Truth is a lot of times, subjective, I believe. 
*edit* Found this quote: "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." - Socrates

Friday, 18 April 2014

Response to blogging

Confession: I like to review my own blog. I think I've made at least one correction to each post even after it's been published. I guess this is what make blogging so alive. I feel like I'm writing a never-ending book that will never be published since it's constantly edited.

And after reading my own posts, I like my blog. On the brink of sounding narcissistic here but I am enjoy reading my own writing; I like that my posts are so unorganised, like it's never really just on one small, defined topic. It's rather fun to read your own thoughts haha. I wonder if authors have this habit. I know Haruki Murakami reads the English version of his books(I think it was him?) but that's not exactly what I'm doing.

Anyways, blogging, I realised, is a very healthy habit. Why? Because by writing and then reviewing, I feel like I'm learning a lot. I may sound like I have very strong opinions in some of the previous posts, but actually my thoughts about a few of the issues right now are definitely not the same. My thoughts are constantly changing, that's why I probably have to keep blogging lol. And a lot of times, there's no right answer. That's quite a paradox actually because sometimes just sitting on the fence is kinda useless(at least that's what I think for now).

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Response to "The Fault in Our Stars"

I quite like this illustration. No, this is not the synopsis. I would have grabbed the book immediately if this was the synopsis.
Also, this quote kinda sums up the entire book. It is also especially profound in terms of human relationships, as if loving someone means making sure that the other is "okay" And how a simple word can mean much more than the classic "ILY". 

The synopsis on the back of the YA Fiction novel does not do justice for its actual content. Like seriously, I'll be really mad at John Green if he was the one who decide on the synopsis because it's a terrible one. I almost didn't read the book because of it because I thought it was just gonna be some YA romance novel about how two cancer people change each other's lives and that it'll be all emotional and lovey-dovey.

Or maybe, I am falling in the trap of stereotyping cancer-related YA romance novels just by reading the synopsis like how people stereotypically treat cancer teens. If this was his intention, this guy is ingenious and I will start reading his other books because the synopsis of his other books look equally cliche and boring as The Fault in Our Star's.

Back to the book: It's witty, bittersweet and real. Not the melodrama kind of real that producers want people to believe but the kind of real that is imprinted in everyone. It's a simple read that encompasses deep meaning. And, I totally get this book.

*spoiler alert*
I get that Hazel-Grace so badly wants to know the ending to An Imperial Affliction because she knows that once she dies, she'll never know if it'll be a good ending for her parents and so her fear drives the need for her to know the ending to the novel. I get Augustus' sorrow on not being that special person who dies as the rest of the world grieves for the loss of a great person. Like, not being a Nelson Mandela or Ghandi. I get the An Imperial Affliction's concept of death being a side-effect of everything  because it reminds me of my own struggle with the overwhelming concept of life,existence and death(Well, until I readily accepted Nichiren Buddhism and its dogma). I totally get it.

I wish I didn't underestimate this book when my friend first introduced the book to me. I wish I'm friends with Hazel-Grace, Augustus and Issac. I wish I read this book sooner. Planning to buy and read the hardcopy cos I think the experience will be vastly different. Planning to watch the movie too. Actually, I started reading the book cos I know Shailene Woodley is gonna be in it. (healthy girl crush of 2014)

I still have like 22 mins left of the audiobook as I am writing this review but I wanted to review it anyway because, does the ending matter that much? Whether or not Hazel-Grace dies by the end of the novel or if her parents get divorced or if Peter Van Houten quits alcohol doesn't really matter because everyone dies eventually and life goes on for many other people(just like how people leave insignificant messages on Gus' wall and carry on with their lives). Everyone is given a chance to live, whether fiction or non-fiction. And I just wanna share a quote from the book(or at least I think it went like this; tried googling but I guess no one found this quote significant): "Cancer is just trying to survive".

Follow-up to my own blog post and mini response to how the media works

Saw this while researching on animal rights activists and their eating habits. Yeah, I kinda have this habit of ranting first and then googling to check if I got my facts right. Heh. It kinda reflects my normal thought process of just speaking without proper thinking.

"Myth: Animal rights activists protest whaling, but not the killing of cows.
Fact: While some people oppose the killing of whales because various whale species are threatened, or out of a belief that whales are special, animal rights activists oppose whaling because they believe it is wrong to kill sentient beings for food. Animal rights activists advocate veganism, but in general, protests against the killing of cows, pigs or chickens do not garner as much media coverage as protests against whaling, which might explain how this myth arose."

Well, this explains a lot, and it brings out a point regarding the media. It's frustrating how the media almost decides everything to broadcast. It's not fair really. It's like limiting our source of knowledge. And that's exactly the flaw of Singapore's media system but this calls for a separate post. Also, I still hold my stand mentioned in my previous post.

Response to "Save The (insert name of endangering species)" campaigns and its activists

Why is it always the endangering species? I mean, I get that their particular kind is facing extinction soon but is a Black Rhino's life worth more than a pig in a pig's farm that exists for the sole purpose of being slaughtered and consumed? Just cos we can breed livestock easily doesn't mean that they are less worthy of our protection. I don't know about you, but I think that saving endangered animals is just as important as saving a chicken, pig, cow or fish(and other common livestock). I think it's extremely hypocritical if any one of these activists that are fighting to "save the whales" or "save the tigers" aren't vegans or at least vegetarians. I can actually picture a group of people discussing about their next step to save whales while eating from a plastic takeout box filled with cooked dead animals. Disgusting.

I do know many of them are vegetarians/vegans, and rather than just targeting activists, I'll just share a personal experience. I was having an omnivorous meal with a few classmates and they started talking about how Koreans and Chinese are cruel for supposedly consuming dog meat and do note that they were saying this while stuffing pieces of meat into their mouths. So I was like, umm, but what makes a dog any less consumable than a say, chicken or pig? They just went on about how these 4-legged animals are not the same and that dogs are meant to be pets and not meant to be eaten. What bullshit.

I'm still in the process of becoming a lacto-vegetarian and it's not easy. It's inconvenient and foreign. But I don't want to be responsible for any deaths other than myself's. I can be cruel and say that every living being has a role to play and the collective life mission of livestock is probably to be consumed by humans/other predators because that's how the food chain works and I know that people will still continue killing and eating them even if I stop, but I don't want to be disgusted at myself. I'm even thinking of cutting out eggs too because technically, an egg is an unborn baby of a mother hen. Can you imagine if the world switched around and chickens start eating your unborn babies? Not a pleasant thought.

However, I have a rule of exception: If someone can't finish his/her non-vegetarian dish, I'll volunteer to finish it because I do not want that livestock to die for nothing. And no, this is in no way, hypocritical because honestly, I think I make much more sense than omnivorous animal rights activists.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Response to birthdays

It's my birthday today. I never really got the hype about birthdays. They just remind me overrated bands. Quite a number of people have wished me "Happy birthday!" since I woke up 4 hours ago. I don't feel disappointed that some friends didn't wish me "Happy birthday!" even though we're virtually talking with each other, but at the same time, I think I would have liked it if they did. Whether or not they remember my birthday isn't very important, but I consider it as... some sort of added bonus. Of course, I'd rather have a super loyal, trustworthy and caring friend who doesn't remember my birthday than one who remembers it but is a hypocrite. 'It'. Interesting how I instinctively treated it as a being. As if it has a life of its own, or is a part of me. I'm suddenly seeing it as a pimple that pops out once in a year. And when it pops out, people start showing concern but when the day is over and the pimple subdues, every day is just like any other day. Wow, this has got to be the best metaphor I've thought of. A birthday is like an insistent pimple that surfaces once in a year.

But of course, being a greedy person, I would like it better if I have a super loyal, trustworthy and caring friend who remembers my birthday. I mean, who wouldn't like that? I wouldn't believe anyone who says that he/she doesn't. Because satisfaction has no limits. It's really one of those things that you can't get enough of. Even if you're happily satisfied with your current situation, there's always room to become even happier, enjoy even more satisfaction. This disgusts me sometimes. It makes humans look utterly revolting and in a sense,(not-sure-if-this-is-the-best-word) vulnerable. Like we can be easily controlled and manipulated by this 4-letter word 'more'.

And here I'll end with Britney Spears' shallow yet reflective song; an awfully honest depiction of our kind: "Gimme gimme (more), gimme, gimme gimme more."

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Response to France's ban on special Muslim lunches


I knew I had to write about this the moment I finished reading the first paragraph.


Seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people. You can't just bloody cut off the lunch supply of Muslim students! I'm no Muslim but in Singapore, Muslims are one of the largest religion group here and I have Muslim friends myself. I know how frustrating it can be for them in terms of food choice when they go outside even though in Singapore, there are at least 3 halal foodcourts/restaurants/fast food joints in every shopping centre(on average). (Our KFC and McDonald's are halal) In schools/office buildings, there will be at least one Halal stall in each canteen. I already think that more should be added for the convenience of our fellow Muslim friends but oh no, in France, they are cutting the supply off in schools! Schools, of all places! Schools, that are suppose to be teaching your children to love and be considerate of the other races; Schools, that are suppose to inculcate values of peace and harmony among different races.

The way I perceiving the government's view, and views of several commentators, is that they feel that they have been doing 'a favour' for the Muslims all this while by providing special lunch for them. But the government is suppose to take care of all of its people! It's suppose to be one big family and family members don't 'do favours'; they do things because they CARE. I'm just really flabbergasted by the whole situation. Of course, I know that they're not directing this at the Muslims since they justified that ["We will not accept any religious demands in school menus," Le Pen told RTL radio. "There is no reason for religion to enter the public sphere, that's the law."]

But seriously, 'no reason for religion to enter the public sphere'? Your public is bloody made up of people who are from different religions! (of course, not every single person has a religion but yeah);I wonder if there are any Muslims on the council, considering how it's one of their large minorities. And I really hope that I'm wrong about the French government. Until then, I would say you go back to doing what you have to do for your people.

Okay, I should stop raging. Raging isn't gonna help at all. But what is going to help? What can I do, when I'm so far away, with my little understanding of the whole situation from one article on a virtual platform?

Response to blog stats

My blog stats says that I have around 200+ views and I wonder if these are just random views. Is there anyone out there who is actually reading my posts? It doesn't really matter if no one does because this blog is really just a tool for me to permanently save my own thoughts and responses. But it would be great to know if there's someone who agrees, or even better, someone who disagrees because that's how we all learn from one another.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Response to bell curves; or rather, what we have defined grades as.

When I was younger, my grades were always a tool for comparison. A useful tool to allow you to gloat around those who did worse and to feel self-deprecated around those who top the class semester after semester. I don't know how many countries actually use this system because it is damn bloody annoying.

To be fair, it has its own merits if not Singapore wouldn't be using it. But it's just too... practical. Education isn't suppose to be like this. Education is suppose to empower people, it's suppose to give hope to people, it's suppose to cultivate better individuals. And the bell curve is really just a cruel(okay, maybe it's too strong of a word but yeah, limited vocab here) tool to rank people, to make us test against one another, to cultivate a "competitive edge". Sure, that's awesome for the economy, awesome for getting better paychecks because very often, we become stagnant with the lack of competition. But it's also not-so-awesome for health - mental health and emotional health. And these two are really important. Many people do not realise this, or maybe they do but do not prioritise it. It's just kinda sad.

I've lost my ranting appetite. I really want to take action, but the truth is, I don't really know what I can do. I am hopeful, but I'm not sure how long it'll last.

Response to meritocracy in Singapore

'Meritocracy' is one word that I would immediately link Singapore to, right behind 'sunny', 'merlion' and 'safe'. Do I believe in it? Yes, when i am being optimistic and no, if I were to be practical. I do support it though. I mean, it's really one of the fairest approaches around. I just don't agree that we are a full-fledged meritocratic country. In fact, it's an issue pertaining to the whole world.

First, let's take a look at meritocracy on a global scale and imagine each country as a single individual. Some may be related; depending on how you it, some examples can be like China-North Korea, ASEAN... Anyway, the main point is that each country has its own unique traits - naturally equating to unequal distribution of resources. Which is exactly why we have developed vs developing countries. Some countries are more developed perhaps because they have an abundance of natural resources, for e.g., Norway. Just to keep things short and simple, I'll make this a shallow comparison to maybe, a rich kid with abundant material possessions - student A. And then we have countries like Singapore, with close to zero natural resources(compared to other countries), a country that basically had to start with nothing after WWII save for a good geographic location. And a shallow comparison will probably be a poor kid placed in a good school cos he lives near it(Singaporeans will understand this) - student B.

Given our history, I totally understand why our government advocates meritocracy because we were a country with HDI lower than that of some African countries and now we're like in the top 20? We had as much chances as other countries to succeed(I say this because we weren't really affected by war or natural disasters ever since WWII) and we did, despite our condition after the war and everyday I am thankful for being born into this country. But I believe that we can do so much better. So, let's say student B does well in school without tuition or whatsoever, doing well based on his own hard work. Classic example of meritocracy. But could he have done better if he had student A's family background? Almost definitely. What about students who may not be as lucky as student B to get into a good school? Will his hard work be enough?

Connections helps. I have known a few cases whereby students use connections to get into my school. This is just one example. Money helps. This is a pretty straightforward one. Let's say a student who has done badly for A levels cannot get into any local universities, cannot afford to go any private/overseas universities even though his/her score makes the cut. Where is our 'equal chances'? Money helps. Indefinitely. Which is exactly why one should never let money rule over oneself.

"What gave money its true meaning was its dark-night namelessness, its breathtaking interchangeability." - Haruki Murakami.

Get it right, kid!

In my opinion, there's never gonna be "real meritocracy" because there's always gonna be "invisible classes" in a society. Like, even if there is a total redistribution of resources, to put to a extremity, everyone starting at point zero, there is never going to be a 100% meritocratic society. The state of total equality is bound to diverge at a certain point. For example, setting English as the first language was probably one of the best decisions ever made by our government. I really admire Lee for having such hindsight. Everyone starting on the same foot(well, almost everyone) but yes, we still have high income equality. But the thing is, every country has a certain level of income inequality(duh) so it's really about balance.

And I believe that this balance can only be achieved by a more humanistic Singapore. Yes, that's right, supporter of Mr. Robin Hood here. I can talk all day about the Robin Hood approach and I'm really more of a supporter of the upgraded Robin Hood approach(i.e. Not just monetary transfers + poor giving back to the rich as well. In what ways I haven't thought of, this will be for a later discussion). Sure, you can be super extreme and say that this would mean that the rich does all the work and the poor gains because of their charity and that is oh-so-unfair but come on, nothing is fair in this world. Which is why meritocracy only works to a certain extent since there will never be "real equal chances"[might not even work well; I mean, classless-ness certainly didn't work well for China] but the basis of it is really for people to think about what they can do for the rest of the society. 

So, what are you willing and able to do for our society?

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Response to HPB controversy

I'm not lesbian or bisexual, and really I don't see a point of announcing my sexual orientation but I do anticipate being asked this question so might as well answer it now. Fact: I dislike the term LGBT. It's kind of like this; there's people who are straight and there's people who are LGBT. It's as if LGBTs are people who are in a totally different category, when we are all, well, humans. Honestly, how can we call Singapore a country that stands for equality and harmony regardless of race, language or religion when we can't even embrace basic human preferences? (Okay not sure if 'preferences' is the most appropriate word)

From what I see, promoting homosexuality will not result in higher number of LGBTs, there will just be more people admitting the fact that they are not straight. People who are not straight can't change who they are; in mathematical terms, n is a constant regardless of whether there are pro- homosexuality campaigns or not.

And supposedly, this campaign by HPB is going against another ministry's concept of a "traditional family" of of course, parents of opposite genders plus children(if any). This is where I'd like to bring in something that the HPB said:" remains the basic building block of our society. This means encouraging homosexuals married couples to have healthy relationships and to build stable nuclear and extended family units." Maybe it's time to rethink the whole concept of family; what is "traditional"? Or perhaps "acceptable"? Does it really matter that much.

I'm not sure if I'm being ignorant here but I do see a positive light in promoting homosexual-led families instead of illegalising it(sorry creating new words since my vocab is limited) because it probably means that there will be more take up for adoptions which means more abandoned kids getting a chance to be part of a family unit. Just my small food for thought.

I usually prefer to stand on the fence but for this one I'm definitely pro-HPB.

Weekly Quote

"Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit' - Haruki Murakami.
Many ways to decipher this quote... Thought it would be great to start the blog with a worthy quote from my favourite author; gives off a more "official" feel.