21 July 2007

Kingdom Come


Consumerism! Going postal! Racist jingoistic attitudes in suburbia! What more?

An advertising executive discovers that his father has been shot to death in a mega-mall in suburbia. He endeavours to fathom the reasons. Ballard is revisiting the familiar territory in that of unexplained sudden massacres.

The new work by J.G. Ballard. I just picked this up at Borders last night.

Guild Wars: Exile of the North


Hmm.. New set for Guild Wars. Exile of the North. I have played and enjoyed Guild Wars momentarily. However, somehow, the character building and the way the game is set up did not engage me. This new one will have over 150 new skills, over 10 new armour sets. I can expect Winnie to have pre-ordered the limited edition set.
Wow! There were quite a few kids queuing outside Borders for their latest Harry Potter fix last night.

I bought a copy of J.G. Ballard's 'Kingdom Come'.

20 July 2007

Images of Bishan II





Overcast skies.

It looks like rain later this evening.
I once saw ink sketches by Rembrandt and I was very very impressed. He worked with fairly primitive equipment, not titanium-tipped pens with very consistent ink and he was able to draw very detailed sketches. I am also impressed by the lines of Goya. I have only seen postcards of his sketches but they had great feeling.
Quoit

No Kuoby, it is not a donut.

19 July 2007

Malaysia receives the first of eighteen Su-30 MKM Fighters

In May of this year, Malaysia received its first Sukhoi Su-30 MKM fighters. According to a report:

"Many observers consider the SU-30MKI/M to be superior to all US aircraft except the F-22A Raptor; this would include the Boeing Super Hornet it beat for the Malaysian order, as well as the new F-15SGs bought recently by neighboring Singapore."

It was also noted that:

"The SU-30 MKM also bears the NIIP N011M phased array radar system, and can carry large (up to 8,000 kg/ 17,650 lb) and diverse weapon loads over a very good unrefueled radius (more than 700 nm)."

Malaysia now has a fleet consisting of F/A-18 A/Bs, MiG-29Ns and Su-30 MKMs.
Skyspy

Another conversation on DuneMUD:

[22:01] Skruideli triumphantly beeps Marlboro on the nose.
[22:04] Marlboro eeks.
[22:07] Skruideli : were are the irish retard brothers from again ?
[22:08] Marlboro : Waterford.
[22:09] Marlboro : I wonder how many lives has Skyspy saved as a paramedic
(heheh, male nurse).
[22:10] Skruideli : he is a paramedic ? none I think
[22:11] Skruideli : actually, he has probably caused quite a few deaths
[22:12] Marlboro grins evilly.
[22:12] Marlboro laughs.
[22:12] Marlboro : He is really a paramedic based in Arizona
[22:12] Marlboro : I thought that bit about causing deaths ring true.
[22:12] Marlboro : I usually question him about that when he comes online.
[22:13] Skruideli : cause of death: incompetent parademic urinated in IV
[22:13] Paradox : Cause of death: paramedic attempted to remove "water on the knee"
[22:13] Marlboro : It's a bit frightening when one is lying in the ambulance
and Skysky appears and says, "Good Evening, I am Skyspy and I will be your paramedic this evening."
[22:14] Marlboro laughs at Paradox and Skruideli.
[22:14] Skruideli : that is the kind of scare that would actually cure you really fast
[22:14] Paradox : Is it water on the knee! Operation!
[22:14] Paradox grins evilly.
[22:14] Paradox : A whole bucket of sea? Operation!
[22:14] Skruideli : actually, the first thing he would do would be to claim "go pk gayfot!"
[22:15] Marlboro eeps.
A creative friend, Adam (Mreh), has gotten a place in university. I am really glad for him. He has quite a bit of untapped ability which I hope can blossom there.

I hope to see him publish a book of his creative writing some day.
Images of Bishan


I took a walk recently around Bishan. Amidst the towering blocks of public housing, there were quite a few semi-detached and detached houses.



From the looks of it, these were built quite recently. Quite a pleasant and quiet neighbourhood.



Wow! It seems that quite a few friends like Grey, JF and Siu Hean have all read Richard Dawkins' 'The God Delusion'. A few months ago, when we met at Vivocity I think I recall Grey mentioning his eagerness to read 'God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything' by Christopher Hitchens. I also recall Brian mentioning Sam Harris' 'Letter to a Christian Nation'.

18 July 2007

Tragedy

On the way home, I saw a motorcyclist lying face-down on the road next to the former police academy. There was a lot of blood flowing from his or her head. He or she appeared dead. There was a taxi parked nearby too. I presume that this was an accident involving a taxi and the motorcycle.

How fragile life can be.
Soft Power

China has frequently employed what Joseph Nye has described as 'soft power'. Sometimes, China is successful. Sometimes, China gets exposed, for instance in Zambia and Sudan. An article in the Christian Science Monitor describes:

"The vast majority of this oil, 64 percent, is sold to China, now the world's second-largest consumer of oil. And while neither Khartoum, China, nor Petrodar release any statistics – this is generally believed to be an oil deal worth at least $2 billion a year."

And the backlash is certainly something the Chinese has not expected:


"This negative image of Beijing as a neo-colonizer could not be further from the way China – a country never involved in either the colonial "Scramble for Africa" of the 1800s or the African slave trade – wants to be perceived here."

Whether justified or otherwise, after all the Chinese are paying:

""[The Chinese] moved us away so we would not see what was going on. They were stealing our oil and they knew it," says Abraham Thonchol, a rebel-turned-pastor who grew up near Paloich. "Oil is valuable and we are not idiots. We were expecting something." "

China has become a global power and the means of employing soft power can lead to local reactions:

"Locals blame their lot on oppression by Sudan's Islamist government and the long war with the north. But they also blame the Chinese."
Followers of the The Great Mutator are never down for the count

Michael Behe has sold a lot of books. Jerry Coyne, in a review of Behe's new one for the New Republic notes:

"But IDers, like all creationists, are never down for the count, because they see themselves as fighting for the Lord. So Behe is back now, with a new book and a brand-new theory that puts the Intelligent Designer back into biology. What has Behe now found to resurrect his campaign for ID? It's rather pathetic, really. Basically, he now admits that almost the entire edifice of evolutionary theory is true: evolution, natural selection, common ancestry. His one novel claim is that the genetic variation that fuels natural selection--mutation--is produced not by random changes in DNA, as evolutionists maintain, but by an Intelligent Designer. That is, he sees God as the Great Mutator."

Seriously funny. If this is the sort of argument Behe is going to employ...
A Quiet Spot in Bishan


A View of Bishan


Apparently, thirty years ago, Bishan was covered by vast cemetaries. Today, it is thriving with 'live' people. Vast estates and private housing have displaced the tombstones leaving the odd temple.

17 July 2007

Emergence of Islamic Creationists

It is only a matter of time before the Islamic fundamentalists become vocal on evolution. An article in the New York Times illustrates an example of the logic these creationists employ:

“If he sees a picture of an old fossil crab or something, he says, ‘See, it looks just like a regular crab, there’s no evolution,’ ” Dr. Padian said. “Extinction does not seem to bother him. He does not really have any sense of what we know about how things change through time.”

The emergence of these Islamic creationists came in a strange way when prominent biologists and scientists across the USA received a massive, glossy, hugely-expensive hardcover book on Islamic creationism sent by a Mr. Yahya. Kenneth R. Miller, a biologist at Brown University, notes:

"That’s troubling, he said, because Mr. Yahya’s ideas “cast evolution as part of the corrupting influence of the West on Islamic culture, and that promotes a profound anti-science attitude that is certainly not going to help the Islamic world catch up to the West.”
"

This does not bode well.

16 July 2007

One need not be a genius to see that the promotion of biofuels, like ethanol and biodiesel, is there mainly to satisfy the farming lobby in the USA.
BBC Fiasco II

More damning evidence, this time it is reported in the Times that:

"THE independent production company at the heart of the row over the royal photoshoot accused the BBC last night of ignoring repeated requests to show it the controversial footage before it was made public."

Was it deliberate then? There should be a full independent investigation into the bias that the BBC continues to exhibit with regard to certain issues.
The Idiot from Waterford

For some reason, DuneMUD usually has resident idiots and they are usually from Waterford, Ireland. DJ Dara (Djdara) is the latest in a long line of idiots starting from Skyspy:

[21:32] Djdara goes 'BS!!!'.
[21:32] Ravni : I'm not a tester.
[21:32] Vinto : ~;bow careful
[21:32] Vinto : oh I'm on telnet
[21:32] Vinto : interesting
[21:32] Djdara : finger ravni rofl
[21:32] Djdara : 84pkills
[21:32] Saffron : ravni's a guy, eew
[21:32] Ravni : Yes, and?
[21:33] Djdara : not possible
[21:33] Ravni : You don't believe that I've gotten pkills in the past?
[21:33] Djdara : pkrank ravni
[21:33] Djdara sighs.
[21:33] Djdara : nice pkills
[21:33] Djdara rolls around in a fit of laughter.
[21:33] Qetesh bonks Djdara with a rubber mallet.
[21:34] Djdara shrugs.
[21:34] Qetesh : your screaming ignorance, stop it, it's embarassing
[21:34] Djdara lafs at Qetesh.
[21:35] Djdara : im only saying
[21:35] Marlboro grins evilly.

15 July 2007

Time for a slow and lazy lunch. Then, I will read the papers.
I just did twelve laps at the pool today. Phew. My eyes are red from the chlorinated water. I am unused to the levels of chlorine in this pool. Phew!