June 2009

Transformers 2 Is Not A Transformers Movies

Topless Robot on why Transformers 2 is not a Transformers movie:

So… yeah. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is not a Transformers film. A Transformers film would have featured robots with personalities, robots that we cared about. It wouldn’t have contained robots that piss and fart and have testicles and and vomit (seriously, both Megatron and Jetfire vomit every fucking time they speak, and god only knows why). It wouldn’t have featured 15 minutes of nonsense about some doofus going to college, nor 15 minutes of footage of military stock footage. And most of all, it wouldn’t have featured a massive close-up of John Turturro’s bare ass.

I grew up with Transformers and love the franchise especially with what they did when the universe was reinvented with Beast Wars and Beast Machines.

I should hate Michael Bay and what he did with the franchise, basically he spat on the geeks’ faces and trampled on our memories for blockbuster dollars. And even though I think Megan Fox is the awesomeness, I would admit that there were too many gratuitous shots of her.

Yet…

I’m ashamed to admit that I actually enjoyed the movie despite the glaring holes in plot, total lack of respect to continuity and lack of character development for the robots.

Why?

Because I never thought I would see big giant robots fighting each other in a live-action movie. And I have.

However, I think more could have been done and I’m hoping for a reboot ten years down the line so that we can chuck the second movie together with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.

And for people who said you can’t make a movie where the fans care about the robot, I introduce you to Wall-E.

It is pretty sad that the best Transformers movie is still the cartoon version released in 1986 (which I vaguely remembered watching in the cinema).

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Why Transformers 2 Sucked

Topless Robot’s Transformers 2 FAQ:

The Autobots have joined the military to hunt down the Decepticons. We’re told the Decepticons are “doing things,” but they appear to be hiding peacefully when the Autobots show up and brutally murder them.

No. No it is not. If they wanted to protect Earth, why did they leave the Matrix on the planet? They’re a space-faring race, they could have hid it anywhere in galaxy! Second of all, what the fuck does making a tomb of their own bodies do? Shouldn’t they have stayed alive to protect the Matrix? Or finish off the Fallen? Or just not die and leave Earth and the entire Transformer race in jeopardy?

For those who want to save money, this is Transformers 2 in 1 minute:

Just to refresh your memory, Transformer 2 is awesome not only because of giant robots fighting, but also because of Megan Fox:

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Bloggers versus Journalists – Flawless Victory?

Yesterday night, at turn:styles, a titanic battle between bloggers and journalists, billed as ‘Journalism’s from Mars, Social Media’s from Venus‘, was staged by the wonderful people from Ogilvy.

Before beginning to discuss any questions concerning bloggers and journalists, it is necessary to state my intuitive understanding of certain terms, which will shed some light on the terms’, albeit not definitive, meanings.

Bloggers are writers who produce content that exist primarily online in the form of published blog posts. As writers, they are not defined by their methodology and ethics in crafting their post. However there is a perception that a blogger’s ethics and skills as a craftsman of words is lacking the professionalism that is attributed to journalists.

Journalists are writers who currently produce content that exist primarily offline which is available on print, radio and tv. As writers, they are held to a higher standard of ethics by the public (a standard which they supposedly uphold) and there is an assumption they have a professional skillset that distinguishes their writing from bloggers.

Social media is content that is produced by individuals who engage in conversation and exchange content online. Social media is a subset of digital media.

Traditional media is whatever we grew up with before the advent of the internet.

Someone ( I apologise that I have forgotten his name ) said that bloggers and journalists are of the same breed. He is insulting someone there but I’m not really sure who. In any case, his point was valid. The time really has come to start distinguishing between the medium and craftsman. Journalists have been taking their craft online and unfortunately some bloggers have been taking their inanity off.

Traditional media, digital media and social media aren’t monolithic systems that play a singular role.

Traditional media, and more specifically, newspapers have played a myriad of roles:
1. A platform for brand marketing.
2. A platform for classified ads.
3. A source of breaking news.
4. A source of entertainment.
5. A source of investigative journalism.
6. A source of analysis.
7. A source of good and great writing.

When we say traditional media is dying, what we are in fact are saying is that traditional media have lost their monopoly on some roles and have been supplanted by other systems like Craigslist, Twitter and Facebook for others.

The roles that can be played, and the effectiveness of the players are, sadly or maybe realistically, tied to how the players can monetize what they do and as long as the general consumers of online content refuse to pay for content, the ‘Sword of Damocles’ hangs over anyone who tries to fulfill the roles 5, 6 and 7 above.

A big portion of money spent by brands is not online. This is the pot of gold that Facebook have been pursuing as Facebook tries to get brands to spend more money online. The onus at this point, at least in respect to the role traditional media plays as a platform for branding marketing, is on social media to justify themselves for the proclamations that the new way is the best way. Saying this is the new tidal way of change and everyone should just go with the flow is selling snake oil.

And while it might be true that the measurements used in traditional media is also another pile of horse-shit, the ‘you-do-it-too-why-i-cant-do-it-too’ is hardly an intelligent argument to make against the people who are used to an entrenched system. You don’t win a girl over by being the same as the current boyfriend. You win the girl over by being better and proving you are better than the current boyfriend.

Or you could just keep telling the girl the boyfriend has cheated or might have died. Oh wait….

UniqueFrequency kept hammering the point that he got information from his friends (or rather members of his network) though online channels. The truth of the matter is that the last leg of the chain in which information travels to reach UniqueFrequency doesn’t matter shit if traditional media exists as a link somewhere along that chain.

We who like to blow the trumpet of the new crown prince of media need to ask what happens when the old king is finally dethroned? What happens when we realized then that the old and seemingly debilitated king was really the glue holding the realm together.

What happens when traditional media indeed dies as we have so gleefully prophesied?

Update:

UniqueFrequency takes offense at the representation of his points. Screenshot of his tweets below.
I apologize for failing to mention, and I concede I missed the part where UniqueFrequency acknowledged traditional media as the source. However, as clarified by the tweets, his example was given to downplay the importance of traditional media at least as perceived by other members of Gen Y, a perspective he states that he obviously does not share.
It is that perception and its pitfalls that I’m addressing above. It is still my opinion that most advocates of Social Media themselves have that perception and while it was not apparent to me last night that UniqueFrequency was above all that, it is obviously clear to all of us now that he is. My sincere apologies in representing otherwise.

In the ideal case, there is an inverse relationship between speed and the reliability of news. Gosh, even GOD had to take 6 days to create the universe. I think it would be safe to cut traditional news outlets some slack in reporting news that has just happened, news that we might have already heard over Twitter.

The question is what other details are appended to the ‘breaking’ news coverage. Is there analysis. Are things aggregated better in a way that provides more informative context?

More data isn’t more information. The Twitter apps being created to help filter the noise out from the signals is a reflection and recognition of the problem. Journalists and traditional media play the role of filters and curators, a role which admittedly they should try to do better online.

Is there a place for citizen journalism to kick in and break news while the meatier stuff is prepared the old school way? While I despise how STOMP has devolved, it began with a rather noble premise and was a good start by traditional media to lead in the experimentation of new ways to deal with the evolving behavior of consumers and producers of news.

There were some comments made last night about the wisdom of the crowd. People who brandish that term around without at least acknowledging that there are certain preconditions that need to exist in a system before the said wisdom can be realized deserves to be shot.

I might even have the temerity to add that a lot of the systems we claim that enable wisdom to be extracted from the crowd to not have all the 4 basic elements required.

The 4 elements are:

Diversity of opinion
Each person should have private information even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
Independence
People’s opinions aren’t determined by the opinions of those around them.
Decentralization
People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
Aggregation
Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.

I can’t remember who said it, or where I read it from, but this quote got stuck in my head when DK and UniqueFrequency were arguing for the self-correcting mechanism of information propagated online.

A careless whisper can lead to death.

Just something to think about when we tuck ourselves safely into bed at night, assured that all is right in a world where increasingly disinformation is so easily spread. And while, disinformation can also be easily debunked, sometimes it may be too late, seeds of doubt may have already been sowed or the new information does not reach those who were exposed to disinformation..

If there was ever an alien invasion, I would propose that DK and Euniqueflair be our ambassadors for peace. The tone they struck last night from the blogging camp was sugarine concilliatory and stark contrast to the belligerent stance of UniqueFrequency. euniqueflair would bequile our alien overlords with her charm and dk would seal the deal with an impassioned impression of Jack Nicholson’s Mars Attack ‘Little people, why can’t we all just get along? ‘ speech.

The question is not whether digital media and traditional media ( by extension, whether unpaid bloggers, citizen journalists and journalists ) will coexist. The question isn’t even whether coexistence will be adversarial or symbiotic.

The real question is how we will coexists? Which of the different roles will either Social Media or Traditional Media take up. Which new systems will be in place to allow, if not, improve the way existing roles are played out.

Will roles be lost or mutated to a point that society as a whole suffer?

Who will mourn the loss of the 4th Estate?

For example, will we lose the kind of intrepid journalism that brings CNN reporters to war fronts?
Will citizen journalism by participants on the ground of war fronts bring us the same, if not better, coverage and analysis that mitigates such a potential loss?
What systems are we will building in place to deal with such a potential loss?
How can we continue to fund investigative and intrepid journalism?

Such questions are of the kind we need to ask going forward with further open room sessions. If not, all we will be doing is enjoying the company of great friends, good bear and navel gazing. Which we will of course share will the rest of the word on Twitter.

Update:
Rereading some of the tweets from last night between DK and me. I have a feeling he interpreted the question in this tweet ‘@dk the question is not whether we will coexist.. The question is how.’ as me questioning the possibility/probability of such a coexistence.

In fact, the ‘how’ was more of a reference to the mundane details of such a relationship. Who takes out the trash? Who brings home the bacon? Who will cook the food?

“Can a relationship exist?” and “How a relationship exists?” are two different questions.

uniquefrequency_twitter_partial_20090626

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Behaviour Driven Development

Dan North introduces BDD:

Story Template:

As a [X]
I want [Y]
so that [Z]

Story Acceptance Template:

Given some initial context (the givens),
When an event occurs,
then ensure some outcomes.

The fragments of the scenario – the givens, event, and outcomes – are fine-grained enough to be represented directly in code. JBehave defines an object model that enables us to directly map the scenario fragments to Java classes.

Dan North on stories:

It has to be a description of a requirement and its business benefit, and a set of criteria by which we all agree that it is “done”. This is a more rigorous definition than in other agile methodologies, where it is variously described as a “promise of a conversation” or a “description of a feature”. (A BDD story can just as easily describe a non-functional requirement, as long as the work can be scoped, estimated and agreed on.)

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Yes, The Iran Election Saga Is All About Twitter

Interview with the man behind the ‘greenification’ of Twitter.

Indeed. And I guess dialogue is the one thing that Twitter is really good at facilitating. What do you think is the real potential of Twitter for the purpose of facilitating social change?

Oh, come on …

Next thing I’ll be hearing is that Twitter will be where Jesus first announces his second coming.

Whatever is happening in Iran, is happening because there are people putting their lives on the line. It isn’t because of Twitter or whatever it is that Twitter is good at.

People are making it sound like we never ever had any facilitators for social change.

And to people who say Twitter is making it easier to facilitate social change… I call bullshit. Change never happens unless people are ready for it to happen. The tool used is incidental.

All Twitter does is allow more gutless people to masturbate in their glory of armchair activism safe from everything.

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Are You A Social Media Climber?

Social Media Climber

noun.
Someone who assiduously builds himself (it’s usually a him) up as a social media expert with copious blog posts, tweets, et cetera that cite what the genuine innovators have done, and adds on a layer of jargon and marketing speak in the hope that clueless brand manager types will hire him as a consultant, and similarly ignorant media will think of him as an expert. (The latter is likely, because media types tend to have take the ‘re’ out of ‘research’ and hit Google, and the SMC will have ensured high rankings by linking to — and being linked back to reciprocally by — other SMCs.) If either of these things happen at least once, he will then post/tweet/status-message it to all and sundry. Over time, he starts to believe it himself.
The only people more boring than SMCs are SEOs.

via: zigzackly

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What’s The Point Of Testing

I understand the principle behind the separation of the development and testing teams – every programmer suffers from momentary lapses of judgement brought on by the ‘it is my baby’ feeling towards their code which makes them perform less rigorous testing.

It would not be presumptuous to assume a testing team incentivized to find bugs in an application will perform more rigorous testing and act as a perfect foil to the development team.

In theory.

In practice, if the testing team does not have the knowledge of the business requirements and application, if the team does not have the skill-set to track what’s going on with an application, if they have to rely on the development team to interpret results then the whole point of separation is lost.

The testing team needs to be able to operate independently from the development team when determining why a test case fails.

It is also not sufficient for the testing team to say a test case has failed. The testing team needs to be able to ascertain the point in the business process where the error occurred which is possible with logging and information from the database.

If they can never understand the ‘why’ then the chances of false positives and false negatives increase.

And seriously, Google is your friend. In case you forgot how to use Google, click this link.

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Video Games Live Singapore

w00t.

Managed to get free tickets for the Video Games Live concert. Initially I wanted to go for it after my mom told me about it (yes, I know it is sad that I had to find out about this concert from my mom) but couldn’t because the budget for this month was tight.

So, when I got approached with the offer for free tickets if I helped spread the word, I had the joy of a kid who has just been told he can go and play Nintendo at his friend’s house.

Double w00t.

VGL is not just a concert, but a celebration of the entire video game industry that people of all ages will adore. Created and produced by Jack Wall and Tommy Tallarico, Guinness Record holder for prolificacy in video game composing, VGL is a tribute to video games culture over the last three decades. The concert will stage music and footage from the most popular video games from past to present, including Mario, Halo, Final Fantasy, WarCraft, Sonic, Metal Gear Solid, Interactive Space Invaders, Diablo III, Metroid, Pac-Man, Kingdom Hearts, Castlevania, Zelda and many more.

This is what I would be enjoying on Friday night:

For most of us who had the good fortune of growing up with gaming in the eighties and nineties, it is really interesting to see how those games have managed to become embedded into the mainstream and how people have used those influences to produce other creative works.

An example – making the movie Death Race even more awesome:

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Harper’s Island – The Mother Did It

Apparently there are three unofficial rules regarding the show and the killer’s identity:

1. There can be only 1 killer.
2. There is at least 1 death in each episode.
3. The killer is from this list of 25 characters.

Scream introduced to the genre (or did it just popularized) the idea of two killers working in tandem. The idea of using multiple killers is useful in providing airtight alibis for suspects which throw the viewers off a scent especially when continuity issues become impossible to resolve satisfactorily.

The people from CBS responsible for the show seem to be insisting that there is only 1 killer. It could be just wordplay from desperate individuals who realized the game is up. After all, if everyone is sure they know who the killers are, then what’s the point of watching the show.

We said only 1 killer. We didn’t say he/she didn’t have a helper.

Since only Booth died in Episode 4, the ‘at least 1 death in each episode’ is the rule that’s keeping the theory that Booth faked his own death from gaining more credence.

If this series is truly drawing inspiration from ‘Scream’ and ‘And Then There Were None’, it would be a fair guess to say Henry Dunn or Jimmy is going to meet with an early ‘demise’ while trying to save either Trish or Abby. A little corn syrup might do the trick?

There is a fair amount of speculation on the forums that the killer might be a character that has not been introduced or hitherto been lurking in the background. Either of the above scenarios would be evidence of lazy storytelling by the writers with the former totally inexcusable while the latter just unfair to the viewers because of the differences between a crime series and a whodunit murder mystery.

The crime series focuses on the discovery and (hopeful) apprehension of the perpetrator(s) via a process of investigation, induction and deduction by the characters in the world we are privy to .

A whodunit murder mystery, which is how CBS is marketing ‘Harper’s Island’, is about understanding a complex puzzle and the unraveling of its mystery by the viewers via clues and red herrings scattered by the producers of the show in the show’s universe.

After 9 episodes there is faint suspicions that the people responsible for the show have been spreading disinformation about its premise and episode structure to confuse viewers. That would be outright cheating. Red herrings should only exist in the alternate universe.

In trying to narrow down the list of suspects, reliance on the show’s timeline is a flawed premise. The sequence of events we (the viewers) see may not be the same as that on Harper’s Island. We cannot say that Henry could not kill someone because he was with Trish in the previous scene a ‘couple of seconds’ ago because those couple of seconds do not correspond to a ‘couple of seconds’ in their world.

The disparity in time flow allows the possibility that some airtight alibis could be discounted. Yet it seems increasingly likely that the only conclusion on the killer’s identity in this 1 killer universe can only come from the unsatisfactory choices of Nikki or Maggie.

Some quick guesses after episode 9:

Wakefield had a child with Abby’s mom. That child is not Abby.

The Wakefield child with Abby’s mom is a guy unless the gender neutral word ‘child’ was used to make us over-think the possibility that Abby is Wakefield’s daughter.

The child is either Henry Dunn or Jimmy. I’m leaning towards Jimmy because of Abby’s mother’s discomfort with Abby and Jimmy’s camping trip yet it seems highly unlikely that Jimmy killed JD unless he killed JD before going to the inn to meet up with the rest, before joining up with Abby, before discovering Shane and the slain deputy and before going off to the cabin to rescue the sheriff. I wonder if it was possible for him to sneak a few arrows at Harkin with Abby by his side.

Notes:

This show could be borrowing a lot from ‘And Then There Were None’. If you haven’t read the book, I seriously recommend not clicking the link.

HARPER’S ISLAND is about a group of family and friends who travel to a secluded island off the coast of Seattle for a destination wedding. This island is famous for a streak of unsolved murders from seven years ago. Although they’ve come to laugh and to love, what they don’t know is they’ve also come… to die. As the wedding festivities begin, friendships are tested and secrets exposed as a murderer claims victims, one by one, transforming the wedding week of fun and celebration into a terrifying struggle for survival.

In every episode, someone is killed and every person is a suspect, from the wedding party to the island locals. By the end of the 13 episodes, all questions will be answered, the killer will be revealed and only a few will survive.

TV

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A Better Way To Ask

In 2007, after Nexus, I wondered if there was a better way than search to get information,

I wonder whether it would be possible to build a system where the cost of asking and answering a question becomes so low that it would be more effective for us just to ask the question and answer it as opposed to searching the past for the possible answer or redirecting the individual asking the question to another source where the answer might be found especially if I already know the answer and could just type it out or know a link to the answer.

The better system has come. Meet Aardvark.

Aardvark figures out who might be able to answer, and asks on your behalf — Aardvark is the hub.

via:RamblingLibrarian

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Cryptozoo – The Funnest Way To Explore A City

From super game-master Jane McGonigal, a new game Cryptozoothe funnest way to explore a city.

you’ll follow mysterious tracks through the city on 1-mile chase through city streets and gardens.

It’s very possible that we’ll actually encounter 1 or 2 real, giant cryptids in the wild. So be prepared to interact with creatures unlike any you’ve seen before… we’ll take your photograph with them if you don’t startle them off!

I’m pretty sure it isn’t a coincidence that I just finished watching the movie The Spiderwick Chronicles when I learned of this game. The material on the main site reminds me of ‘Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You’.

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Who Is The The Greatest Person On Facebook?

Inspired by a comment made by Uzyn:

Now have fun trying out usernames like facebook.com/sexyguy /toosexy /toocool /machoman and look at the profile pictures.

Picture 7

Picture 1

Picture 3

Picture 2

Picture 4

Picture 6

Picture 8

I know they are supposed to be called Vanity URLs. But seriously people… Seriously?

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Adults With No Common Sense Turn Children Into Sex Offenders

A young girl voluntarily takes titillating pictures of herself and sends it to a couple of guys:

If there’s culpability on Alex’s part, Splain says, it’s that he did what might be expected of a kid his age: He looked at the photos and asked for more. “The thing to bear in mind,” Splain adds, “is she sent him these pictures unsolicited. He’s [got] hormones galore—hey, yeah, holy cow! It’s Christmas morning!”

(Contacted for this article, Laurie’s father would only say on the record, “This country has laws in place to protect children. Those laws need to be enforced, and parents need to pursue those laws to the fullest extent to protect their children.”)

Because the technology that allows sexting is new, age-appropriate punishments have yet to be hammered out. Instead, laws designed to thwart middle-aged people who prey on children are being applied to the children themselves.

A comment on the article:

The justification for banning possession of child pornography was that you could draw a straight line from the images to an act of exploitation. The reason for the laws is not primarily to prevent the spread of the images; it’s to prevent the exploitation of a child that lead to their production. When you have teenagers voluntarily snapping pictures of themselves, there is no act of exploitation. Sure, it’s not something that should be encouraged, but it’s not something that should destroy your life, either.

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Common Tag – Helping Us Find Related Stuff

Some people might read about Common Tag and think it goes against what we have learned from Web 2.0, the emergence of folksonomy and the power of collective intelligence from user participation.

Some people might think that Common Tag is trying to impose a top-down classification approach on the rest of us.

They would be wrong.

This article published by Thomas Gruber would help shed some light on why:

The attack on “ontology” is really an attack on top down categorization as a way of finding and organizing information, and the praise for folksonomy is really the observation that we now have an entirely new source of data for finding and organizing information: user participation. For the task of finding information, taxonomies are too rigid and purely text-based search is too weak. Tags introduce distributed human intelligence into the system. As others have pointed out, Google’s revolution in search quality began when it incorporated a measure of “popular” acclaim — the hyperlink — as evidence that a page ought to be associated with a query. When the early webmasters were manually creating directories of interesting sites relevant to their interests, they were implicitly “voting with their links.” Today, as the adopters of tagging systems enthusiastically label their bookmarks and photos, they are implicitly voting with their tags. This is, indeed, “radical” in the political sense, and clearly a source of power to exploit.

Today we can tag our photos on Flickr and use tags for bookmarking in Del.icio.us. We can look up blogs on Technorati by tags. I want to tag the content I find on any application, and I want the benefit of others’ tags across these applications. This means that there must be some way of reasoning about the equivalence or relationship among tagging data across applications.

What is more important than a specific ontology, however, is the more general notion that techniques of the Semantic Web, such as formal specification of structured data and reasoning across disparate data sources, can apply to the Social Web. Tagging data offers an interesting window into the intersection of formal reasoning (logical inference, database query processing, linguistic parsing) and semistructured data with context-dependent semantics (labels and groupings of content, people’s online identities). Tag assertions mean different things in different applications, yet they do not have to have a unified semantics to be comparable across sources. The process of developing a tag data ontology forces us to identify the kinds of ontological assumptions made by various source of tag data, and to specify a vocabulary for stating those assumptions. With a tag data ontology, or similar ontologies for other social data, we might enable technologies for searching, aggregating, and connecting the people and content they contribute throughout the Web. At the same time, the rich data from millions of active, participating human beings might offer fuel for the development of systems that tap the power of collective intelligence .

Lastly, an interesting discussion over at MetaFilter if the words ‘ontology’, ‘taxonomy’ and ‘folksonomy’ are interchangeable.

A taxonomy is just a classification of things. They are usually hierarchical. They do two things: give exact names for everything you’re dealing with (your ‘domain’) and show which things are parts of other things (sometimes called parent-child relationships, sometimes called broader-narrower).

An ontology is like a taxonomy in that it is going to contain all the entities in your domain (for one reason or another–probably its roots in philosophy–people often seem to use the term “universe” when talking about the domain of an ontology), and show the relationships they have to each other. However, it does more: it has strict, formal rules (a “grammar”) about those relationships that let you make meaningful, precise statements about your entities/relationships.

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The Blocking Of Chick.com

Sam:

We should not, for the mere sake of political correctness and over-estimations of sensitivity/sensitiveness, censor ourselves and prevent ourselves from talking about these things. In the process, we end up not inviting opinion and informed opinion, because there is nothing to opine about since it has been removed from public eyes.

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Cute Asian Poses

Via the Preeminent Horseman of Productivity Apocalypse, litford:

Diabetic-inducing sugary Asian cuteness:

prayer-choi-yu-jung-01

In a way, I’m kinda relieved my gf has never used any of these poses. Then again, she has her own repertoire.

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Anil Dash Foretells The Aftermath Of Facebook Vanity URL Launch

Anil Dash of Six Apart foretells the aftermath of Facebook Vanity URL launch.

A first wave of “It’s alive! Go get your name!” posts go up on various technology blogs, noting that the service is running a little bit slow. None of these posts mention that you can also register a real domain name that you can own, instead of just having another URL on Facebook.

A white guy named David discovers every variation of his name on Facebook is already taken, and finally reconsiders the condescending contempt he’s always had for black people who give their kids unique names. This tiny bit of racial reconsideration is the only unequivocally good news to come out of the Facebook Usernames launch.

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The Star Trek Guide To Entrepreneurship

Young Upstarts Daniel Goh writes:

“Space… the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

This is possibly one of the greatest vision and mission statements you’d ever hear, and also makes one helluva elevator pitch! So let’s see how this famous line can apply to entrepreneurship:

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How To Manage Werewolves In The Office

Michael Lopp writes about the game Werewolf:

Werewolf is a party game described by its creator as “a game of accusations, lying, bluffing, second-guessing, assassination, and mob hysteria.” Understanding how it’s played is important to understanding why this game will sharpen your critical thinking skills regarding group dynamics at work.

Werewolf is a game and games are fictionalized simplifications of life that allow you to explore extremes of social interactions in ways you normally cannot.

In real life, there’s a subtle but detectable flow to how a group of people interact. People adopt standard roles and act according to discernible rules. Unfortunately, it’s an impossibly long set of rules, because the rules vary as much as each person is different.

In Werewolf, on the other hand, there’s a very small set of rules:

  • Villagers, kill Werewolves as best you can.
  • Werewolves, kill Villagers as best you can.
  • Sleep when you’re told to.
  • Survive.

Interwoven within these rules is the actual game, and therein lies the brilliance of a solid game of Werewolf: It’s a crucible of people dynamics, improvisation, and intellectual combat. In just a few short hours of game play, you realistically experience some of the worst meeting scenarios imaginable—and the motivation to handle these scenarios with care and agility because, well, you don’t want to die.

During JC orientation week (and even in university), I played a similar (actually same) game called ‘Polar Bear’ quite often. The best players were always the most popular kids. Apparently there is a correlation between popularity in school and your ability to lie.

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Glycemic Index

Via Nadnut who decided to deck up as a hot nerdy teacher:

The Glycemic index (also glycaemic index) or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates that break down rapidly during digestion releasing glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI. For most people, foods with a low GI have significant health benefits.

more at Wikipedia

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An Interesting Story About The History Of Islam

Interesting story about the history of Islam from the banned chick.com site. Somehow I can access it from my office even though it is blocked by MDA when I try to access it from home.

The conspiracy story about how the Vatican was responsible for the birth of Islam is interesting no so much because I think it is true, even though it sounds rather plausible if you wear a tinfoil hat, but because of a recurring theme I seem to find in the history of Islam.

Western powers seem to use those of the Islam faith for their own political expediency.

Two examples:
1. The war against the Russians with Afghanistan as the proxy battleground.
2. T.E. Lawrence‘s role in the campaign of internal insurgency against the Ottoman Empire during World War 1.

The idea in this story about using spies to prep a race of people for a coming messiah which will be used to harness a tough race for military and political might seems eerily similar to the Bene Gesserit’s perpetuation of messianic myths, legends and superstitions which aided Peter’s ascension to power in Frank Herbert’s Dune.

It is almost as if Alberto Rivera read Dune before he spun his convoluted tale of deceit.

It might be worth noting that Frank Herbert’s Dune seems to have some Islamic and Arabic themes:

Those who are familiar with Frank Herbert’s famous novel Dune know that he took his analogy from the oil of the Middle East, and that the novel is symbolic about the dependance of the West on the oil, and the power struggles to control this valuable resource.

Instead, this article is a linguistic and etymological study of the major aspects of Dune as they pertain to Middle East, Arabic, and Islam.

The brilliance of Frank Herbert in creating the world of Dune is explained in the book ‘Frank Herbert’ by Timothy O’Reilly:

Dune is loaded with symbols, puns, and hidden allusions. Though they may not all be consciously grasped by the reader, they lend weight to the story, a sense of unplumbed depths. For instance, as previously noted, one of the things about sand dunes that initially fascinated Herbert was the irresistible way they move. Although the connection is never explicitly stated, the image of the irresistible juggernaut is central to the book’s treatment of the jihad. The dunes brood in the background.

Each name, each foreign term, was also chosen with care, sometimes for the sound, sometimes for an association, sometimes just for Herbert’s own amusement or that of the occasional scholar who will pick them up. Every nuance has purpose. The Fremen language is adapted from colloquial Arabic, often with significant meanings. Paul’s younger sister, for example, bears the name Alia. She was a member of the Prophet Mohammed’s family. The use of colloquial rather than classical Arabic is itself significant, since it is the spoken language that would have survived and evolved over the course of centuries into the Fremen. “Bene Gesserit,” although it sounds as if it could be Arabic, is actually Latin. It means “it will have been well borne,” an apt motto for the scheming Sisterhood. The name Atreides was also consciously chosen. It is the family name of Agamemnon. Says Herbert, “I wanted a sense of monumental aristocracy, but with tragedy hanging over them–and in our culture, Agamemnon personifies that.” Likewise the name of their enemy, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, though in this case the associations are more contemporary. The Russian sound was clearly meant to engage our prejudices–which, it must be remembered, were much stronger when Dune was written in the early sixties than they are now.

Before reading any of the tracts, it helps to learn about Jack T. Chick and his tracts:

You’ve seen them . . . but have you read one? Do so, and you step into the nightmarish world of Jack T. Chick.

In this world, few things are as they appear. It is a world of shadow and intrigue, a world of paranoia and conspiracy theories, a world where demons haunt people sincerely trying to follow God, and the Catholic faith is the devil’s greatest plot against mankind.

Also influential to the content of these tracts is Alberto Rivera, a controversial figure with a dubious history.

I have attached a link to the tract mentioned in this post over at this post. It is password-protected. The password is simple. It is a concatenation of the 3rd, 6th and 10th words of 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV) with no spaces or any other delimiters. The reason why it is password-protected is this – although I think it is worth reading to see what sort of nonsense is being produced, the material is most probably going to be offensive. So I’m putting a barrier to the access because I’m giving you the choice whether you want to read it or not. If you are determined, and willing to jump through some hoops to get access to it, then the responsibility and the consequences of the choice to read is yours and yours alone.

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Singapore Is The Girl Who Pays To Get Laid

I always find it extremely surreal when my foreign colleagues complain that Singapore is too crowded. Oh, the sweet, sweet irony.

Anyway, there was a recent report in the Straits Times on the ‘Foreign vs local debate‘.

On the other side of the fence, a permanent resident argued that he should receive more benefits as he paid similar taxes to citizens. An employer spoke up in favour of foreign workers, and complained about the high turnover rate of local workers.

In his responses, Mr Gan (Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong) underlined the need for balance between keeping foreigners to boost Singapore’s economy and keeping jobs for Singaporeans. He said: ‘We need to manage and strike a calibrated approach. Foreigners are important and contribute but we must always find ways to help Singaporeans compete.’

Does Singapore need foreigners? Of course. The questions of how much and where we need them have nuanced answers and I won’t be talking about them today. Ditto to the discussion on the consequences of having foreigners in Singapore.

What I want to talk about is that nice girl who has such low self-esteem that she thinks the only way she can get any love is be a obsequious servant, occasional sex slave to the self-absorbed emotionally abusive guy who capriciously grants his fleeting attention.

I never could understand such girls.

Well, if Singapore was a lady, she would be such a one, despite the hot set of wheels, designer dress and killer heels.

The problem with being too nice to people, is that, more often than not instead of being grateful, they become more demanding. Try doing free freelance work for people – they tend to be less appreciative and more demanding than the people who actually pay you. Foreigners (PRs included) in Singapore have this overwhelming sense of entitlement because of this seemingly natural psychological predisposition of humans.

Foreigners think they are doing Singapore a favor because we allow them to.

Singapore has got to start having a different mentality (a non-crutch mentality) with regards to foreigners. We want you but we don’t need you. We can get along just fine. Maybe no towering skyscrapers. Maybe no billion dollar resorts. Maybe not so many BMWs on the road. But we will get by just fine. You guys just ice the cake.

When foreigners start having a mindset change, that Singapore is doing them a favor by allowing them to be here, then things will change. But since we can’t change how they think, we got to change how we think.

(of course, ideally, both parties should recognize that we are in fact in a mutually beneficial relationship. Sadly, mutually beneficial relationships rarely last, because humans are greedy SOBs who always want to get one up on another and are seldom recognized because some joker will always feel shortchanged and think that he/she deserve more.)

Another thing, not all foreigners have the same experience in Singapore. There are bullies in Singapore who 打狗要看主人面. And some of these foreigners unfortunately are not in a position to protect themselves. They aren’t here to make life harder for us. They are here to be exploited by those among us (some our own kin) who have the resources to do so.

Sadly, all these foreign versus local debates will get nowhere. Why? Because we are humans. And humans will always use (dehumanize and exploit) fellow humans to satisfy our own avaricious appetite. Your only solution? Be the one who can make the best (ab)use of whoever is in Singapore – be it foreigner or local.

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Two Great Advertisements Done Using Time’s Arrow

Via Rambling Librarian:

The first encounter I had with the potential and power of telling a story backwards (or rather playing around with our understanding of the linear narrative) is Martin Amis’s novel Time’s Arrow.

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