Friday, June 30, 2006

An Imaginary Scene at a Coffeeshop

One imaginary day at a non-existent coffeeshop.

Uncle: I think this kopi, really worse leh!

Kopi-boss: Eh you better shaddup and dun anyhow tok cok hor! You neber say your name before you tok! You chicken heart issit?

Uncle: Wah lao, tok cok also must say name one?

Kopi-boss: Of course lar! If you neber say name before tokking cok then you orbiously no guts to sulpport what you say. Only tellorist and racist and bad peepur tok cok don say name one.

Uncle: Wah liketat also can? But I regular customer what. You all know me what.

Kopi-boss: I know you lar, but peepur dono! What if they dono you and think you are tellerist or racist? Cannot be ilresponsibe. Eberytime must say name before toking, to show you have guts to sulpport what you say. Acrtually huh, say name also not enuf. You must wear tshirt with your name, ic number and address wlitten on it.

Uncle: So mafan? I think I better shaddup and relac one corner.

Kopi-boss: Yarlor, nexttime don anyhow say my kopi worse. Want to say can, but must wear special tshirt. Otherwise I wlite letter to State's Times to complain you are tellorist!

Slogan of the Story: Be responsible. Tok Cok can , but must wear special Tshirt !!!

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Spiderman 3 Trailer

The trailer for Spiderman 3 is out.

It appears it will be action packed. From the trailer, I can see at least 3 villians, which are Venom, Sandman and Green Goblin II respectively. Should be interesting how the film fits at least 3 considerably powerful opponents in (of course, Spiderman with Venom suit can beat at least one of the other opponents easily).

That is, of course, assuming the 3 villians are all in the movie and not fanservice like the Sentinels in Xmen 3 (the opening part in the Danger room). Anyway Xmen 3 sucked.

May 4 seems rather far away.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The World Cup is more popular than I thought

From Sports section, page H27 , Straits Times, June 28 2006
About 30 billion television viewers are expected to view the World Cup Finals, breaking records for the world's most-watched sports event, a television chief said yesterday...
I never knew the World Cup was this popular. Now, assuming that every one of the 6.5 billion humans on this planet are watching the World Cup, this leaves merely 23.5 billion unidentified viewer lifeforms. Obviously, the statistic must have taken into account other creatures, such as household pets and pests which happened to be viewing the football matches.

Or might it be that the figure actually includes Alien viewers ? It is concievable that they could recieve satellite broadcasts of the World Cup from their spaceships or even home planets (although this would mean extremely delayed broadcasts).

Goes to show how football is a universal sport.

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Watching Eyes

According to a report by New Scientist, even a photocopy of a pair of watching eyes can make people behave more honestly. Evidently, we are extremely sensitive to being watched.

I can imagine some 'uses' for this discovery. For future projects, I will wear some watchful eyes when forcing people to do surveys. Hence, the survey findings will become more accurate.

Also, if I paste many watchful eyes on the main door of my house, it may deter intruders, who will quickly become uncomfortable when trying to break into my home. What a brilliant use!

One final idea goes out to the ruling party. They should consider sticking giant watchful eyes on the walls near the polling booths. Heck, they could paste it on the polling boxes also! This would encourage voters to make the 'right' choice. Hehe.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What sort of leaders do we have ?

After reading the article titled "GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SM" in the Straits Times, I must admit that I lost quite a bit of confidence in Singapore's leadership and also faith in the SM. For those who are unfamilar with the article (or do not subscribe to ST), you may read a commentary by Mr Wang.

I won't say too much, but I will ask one question. What sort of 'talent' is going to run our nation in the future ? I shudder to think that our leaders are people who are afraid to take risks, people who weigh their own wellbeing over the interests of Singapore, and people who need monetary encouragement to not be enticed by the private sector.

What a future Singapore has ahead.

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Amateur Stargazing

Of course it may be quite pointless to try to stargaze in Singapore, because it is a bloody bright city at night. Still, I had at least 2 experiences of stargazing, but unfortunately I am unlikely to reproduce both experiences anytime soon.

The first incident was technically not in Singapore Island, but rather, in Pulua Ubin. Certainly you can see more stars unaided there than in Singapore. But as I said, it is rather unlikely that I would go there and be bitten by mosquitoes just to watch stars, unless they build a stargazing resort there with the comforts of modern life (and hence brighten up the surroundings and ruin everything ! Drats ! ). I wonder, though, whether one can get a good view from one of the resorts in Sentosa.

The second incident was set in an unfortunate background. I was serving POI (protection of installation) duty on Jurong Island when I discovered that the image intensifier binoculars the SAF provided for the POI was excellent for stargazing. I suppose any normal binoculars would have done well, but image intensifiers are especially good, because they magnify the insignificant specks of starlight into something visible. That said, I doubt I would have another chance to handle an image intensifier, unless I can purchase one cheaply from say, cash converters?

I do have some ideas for stargazing though. I was thinking of ways to duplicate the functions of an image intensifier when I realised that time exposure photography was remotely similar to an image intensifier. Basically, time exposure photography is when you expose the film for extended periods of time. Hence, each film grain has more time to react with more light.

Of course, for this idea to work, certain modifications will have to be made. First the platform for the camera must be super-stable. Second, preferably a blocking cone should be setup to eliminate sources of stray light. Third, the camera must be capable of this type of exposure photography. This third point sounds stupid, but I doubt normal digital cameras are capable of exposure photography (unless you consider manually holding the shutter still a smart solution.)

Now, the exposure time should be relatively short, maybe a few minutes at most. This is because the sky moves also, and if the period of exposure is longer you may get pictures like this (I would add pictures, but blogger is bloody acting up). I admit that that is nice, but the current aim is to capture stars, not startrails.

Anyone up for this stupid project ???

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Degrees of Separation

I wonder how many degrees of separation are there for blogs?

Of course, I'm refering to the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances. This idea was tested in previous experiments, and the finding was that on average, there was about 6 degrees of separation.

What I am interested in, then, in how many degrees of separation there are for blogs. Meaning that if I were to chose a specific blog, then transverse via the outbound links to another blog and so on, what is the minimum number of transversals would I need to reach another specific blog?
I think that this particular question is rather interesting. In fact, I can imagine many variations on this topic. For example, does it make any difference if we can only transverse via inbound links ? Or if we only consider the links on the index pages on the blogs (ie the most recent posts only).

Will the findings for blogs differ from, say, the findings for normal webpages? What about 'dead' blogs? Will they significantly influence the average number of degrees? These questions should not be too difficult to research, because all that is needed is some sort of crawler program. The research itself can be conducted non-intrusively, almost .anonymously. I think it will be a good topic to research.

For more background information on degrees of separation, click here.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Spam Analysis

Recently, I recieved a piece of spam in the comments section of one of my posts. The post was

items created by local craftspeople. order. He
wrote what was basically his near-constant precipitation prevented Childs said
MPs are not yet sure what Ghraib as the former Iraqi president appeared in court in Maryland on create a task force.
Members of the involved tightening policy language by, finance reports show no
contributions conclude that the shoulder, elbow and

I find the spam comment quite interesting. For one, it doesn't make any sense, unless you're schizophrenic. The idea of a schizophrenic spammer is actually rather amusing -- imagine Gollum typing on a keyboard (The Fat one knows !).

But discounting the possibility of a mad spammer, we must come to the conclusion that the comment was constructed in some logical manner for some purpose. It appears that the entire post was formed from many high-impact words. I suspect that the intent was for search engines to pick up these words as often as possible --- its something like casting a wide net. Or putting down every single temp job you've done on your resume.

I think I should make a spam post soon in the same fashion. It should prove to be quite fun writing nonsense which actually makes no sense once in a while.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Mosquito Ringtone

Some of you might have read about the super-high pitched Mosquito ringtone. This ringtone, which is of super-high frequency, can be heared by most teenagers but not adults (especially the decaying ones). The principle behind this is that we gradually lose our ability to listen to higher frequencies as we age.

I did some googling, and found a page where some person (with apparently a fair amount of free time) made many samples of the different frequencies. You can test what is the cutoff frequency of your ear (and indirectly how old you are hehe...) here.

Oh yes, you can reference the frequency range to age using this chart here.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rocket Powered Bicycles

Do you remember those crazy cartoons where someone would attach a rocket to a bicycle? Well, it appears that in real life, some crazy buggers have done it!

This first video actually doesn't appear that mad.

This second one is much much faster, but I don't think its very comfortable.

I have just 1 question to raise : How in the world do you stop the bike ?

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Apparently, scientists are researching how to create synthetic meat. Mind you, not soy-based meat, but real meat, only grown from vats, not from animals. Once this technology becomes viable, especially economically viable, it is conceivable that animal-activists would push for the abolishment of animal-meat in favor of vat-meat.

I think that this particular scenario is quite sufficient material for a short science fiction story. In my story, animal-meat is indeed banned, and all animals previously bred for food are released into the wild.

Of course, the twist is (there always IS a twist) , most of the released animals die. Which in truth isn't so inconceivable, because our domesticated animals (those bred for food) probably have the survival instinct of a target board. The only animals which do manage to survive are kept as pets(imagine a cow as a pet), or evolve back to their feral roots.

A more ironic ending would be that the only survivors of the domesticated animals are found in the secret cellar of a illegal gourmet restaurant famed for "True Meat". Muhahah.

Anyway this was inspired by this article from discover magazine.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bloggers and Danish Cartoons

There has been much discussion in the press and the blogosphere over whether there should be laws to limit the free speech of bloggers. I think what everyone is concerned about is whether there is possibly a right to offend others (aka the right of free speech), and what should we do when we ourselves are offended.

But I shall not talk about these directly. What I wish to talk about is how the issue is construed in the eyes of some. From there, I will offer my perspective on this matter.

The blogger issue has its parallels to the Danish Cartoon incident. What most interested me then was the opinion that the Muslims were somehow at fault for feeling offended at the cartoons. To the people holding this opinion, the religious sensibilities of the Muslims was something to be faulted for. In essense, this says "You are wrong for not being tolerant, or for not having a sense of humour".

If you punch me on the nose, do not expect me to laugh it off. We cannot, and must not, fault anyone for their sensibilities. We can mediate our emotional responses, but we cannot truly control it. I cannot think "Feel happy" and instantly feel happy.

Although I do not think we can blame anyone for feeling offended, this surely does not justify any reciprocal attacks (in any form) on the offending person. To use a cliche, two wrongs do not make a right. There must be other avenues to resolve these differences.

In essence, then, my views on this matter are consistent with my position as a classical liberal- that of freedom and non-intervention. In other words, everyone should not interfere with the affairs of others. We need only to define what affairs are whose's.

Of course, this way tends to sit on the fence, or expect too much out of flawed humans. But surely this is better than beating the crap out of your enemies(and then being beaten up yourself)?

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Singapore Idol

Does anyone else puke at the very artificiality of Singapore Idol? I know I do.

For starters, the format of the show itself is imported from abroad, which certainly does nothing to convince me that it is fresh, or at least organic. On the contrary, it appears stilted and artifical. But what else could it be, since the show does not "find an idol" as much as "make an idol".

Truthfully, idols today are more products of pop culture than creators of it. Companies manufacture idols for popular consumption much like any other commodity. The result is that these man-made idols lack something extremely crucial- soul.

If music lacks soul, then what is it? Modulated noise?

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Things you probably did not want to know

A small list of things you probably did not want to know:

  1. You can discover the age of many species of whales by counting the number of layers of earwax in their ears, much like tree-ring dating.
  2. Manure, if stored in a massive enough pile, can ignite spontaneously.
  3. Wikipedia has a page discussing the advantages and disadvantages of squat toilets.
The previous trivia was all obtained from Wikipedia. It is hoped it would be useful to the readers, especially the squat toilet section, since I have previously written an esteemed article on it.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Day They Ran Out

The Day They Ran Out

It started on a normal-seeming day. From that day on, all the newborn were born stupid, having no more intelligence than animals.

The scientists believed that it was some worldwide epidemic, perhaps engineered. They worked on a cure, but there really was nothing to cure.

For the truth was, all the souls had run out.

***Story End***

This very short story is written in the nanofiction format, which means it has strictly 55 words (excluding the title). The story itself has some philosophical implications, which I may bring up at a later time.

Other nanofiction stories I have written are The Ghost and Counting to Ten. Incidently, both have some philosophical meaning as well. Goes to show what my major interests are.

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Three Concerns for the Future

As a citizen of Singapore, and to a lesser extent a citizen of the world, I have three concerns which I believe must be addressed. These concerns are issues which, in my opinion, will only become increasingly important and prickly in the near future. Hence, these issues merit attention- ignorance of them may well lead to unsavory consequences.

The most minor of these matters, at least relatively, is the problem of education. My interest in education lies in the fact that education has the potential to be a panacea for numerous problems. Ironically, that very fact is problematic to education. When we assign some political purpose to education, we risk altering the nature of education itself. Furthermore, who is decide which particular outcome is desirable?

An issue which is of greater concern is healthcare. In fact, we are already being plagued by this problem. It is inevitable that we will all fall sick, but when that happens, who is responsible for our medical fees? Ultimately, is it our own responsibility or that of external entities? More importantly, where does the dough come from? This matter deserves more attention because even if healthcare is being managed satisfactorily today, with a rapidly aging population (both in Singapore and worldwide), the scales may yet tip towards chaos.

The final point of interest is also an effect of the rapidly aging population. This last concern is retirement. More specifically, how are we to support the aged? Again, is it the responsibility of the aged to have sufficent savings or are the young to shoulder the burden? What schemes should be put in place to ensure that the aged will not spend a destitute sunset? It is increasingly clear that current strategies to support the aged are overly dependent on those that are younger, and hence unstable. Plainly, some other solution must be formulated to deal with this.

Any person who can effectively deal with these three concerns deserves at least a Nobel prize.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

The dignity of a corpse

When someone is brain dead, he is permanently lost to us. While his body may remain, it is at best an hollow vessel emptied of its most important content. Yet, we assign this empty vessel a dignity which approximates that of a live human.

Our rites and rituals honour the deceased by honouring the corpse. The funeral, by granting a dignified end to the body, allows for the 'soul' of the dead to depart in a dignified manner.

I wonder, of course, if all of this is sentimental rubbish. Does a human body really possess some form of dignity? Is this dignity more important than the life of another? Of course, I am talking about organ transplants. How can we condemn one to die in order to defend the rights of a cadaver?

I believe this issue merits further investigation.

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Worm Attack

I was just the victim of a worm attack. Actually, the success of the attack must largely be attributed to a sudden lapse of good judgement on my part.

The circumstances of the attack are as follows : I received a MSN message on my MSN. The message went "check out these pics of us!" , which if you clicked downloaded an exe onto your computer. If you then proceeded to run the exe, then the worm would run and lots of MSN windows would propagate spreading the nonsense.

Ok, perhaps it was darn obvious that any foreign exe is dangerous. Normally I would have deleted it, but it so happened that I went out with my friends(including 'infected one') yesterday. Hence it was somewhat plausible that there were really some pics. Anyway I scanned the exe with the antivirus and it oked the file. Then the worm struck.

Luckily the worm was not dangerous, and easily removed. The ease of removal (kill the process thread, delete the offending file) and its lack of payload led me to believe that it was programmed as a sort of kids prank.

I reflected briefly upon this incident, and came to some conclusions. First, no antivirus is as effective as common sense. Second, if I ever came to create a company, I would ban the use of MSN and their like on office computers. I would also force employees to undergo some sort of computer security awareness course. Third, I wouldn't name my worms myspace.exe or anything that says "WORM HERE". I would name it iexplorer.exe or something that sounds legitimate.

Anyone is free to laugh at me (til the next week) for my error in allowing the worm on my system. In anycase, I was able to purge the worm, so anyone infected please ask me for the easy solution.

Hmm I was about to blog on the upgrading issue before the Worm incident. THEY KNEW !!! Hahah just kidding.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

A malevolent being

There is an entity which committing atrocities on a massive scale, daily, unchecked. It steals from everyone, taking a portion of what the people produce. The being claims to be supreme, forcing all to obey its words, using violence to push obeisance. Those who fight against the being's will are usually held prisoner and punished. In some cases, the malevolent being even murders, taking away sacred life, and feels justified in doing so. It can feel no remorse over its actions. It is inhuman.

Unmistakably, this entity is malicious and evil. Surely this entity cannot exist unchecked in the world we know? Unfortunately, it does exist, and in fact is everywhere. This entity is known as the state.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Fluffy Filler

Yes, I'm quite busy recently doing some relatively important stuff. Ok not really, but of higher importance than blogging anyway.

Anyway, I recently made a quick list of ratings of all the anime I watched. The list can be found here for reference, in case you want some recommendations of what to watch or if you wish to know what genres I like.

In anycase, Minitokyo is quite a good place to get anime scans wallpapers.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

A short excerpt

A short excerpt of a poem I wrote.

The Clock
Stoic face indifferent to the silent still air
Skeletal hands jerking sluggishly to a ticking beat
Hollow ticks, somber reminders of the reaper's
Ominous deadline.

Time is formless, indefinite, yet it is strangely familiar. We often use tools, analogies to understand time, but this only masks the nature of time itself.

More on that in a later post. A deadline comes first.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What's in a Date ?

Today is supposed to be the devil's day, because it is the sixth day of the sixth month of 2006. This has apparently encouraged some Christians to hold "a violent day of worship" in order to counteract the forces of evil. The BBC article can be found here.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, it appears to be a good day for marriage! 310 couples solemnised their marriages, which happens to be six times that of the normal 50 couples a day. The CNA article can be found here.
What's in a number that endears it so much? Why must we assign meaning to meaningless items? It confounds all reasoning and weakens true meaning.

To us, it is just a date. And it comes every 1,000 years, so I feel that it
is special, and we won't get a chance for another date like this."
Quoted from CNA article above

Quite a ridiculous statement, isn't it? Firstly, if you want a 06/06/06 date the frequency is once every 100 years. That aside, every other date occurs at the same frequency. All days are equally special (or mediocre).

Of course, if anyone wants to declare 22/07 as genius day they are free to do so.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Eye Puzzle

I created a new puzzle. This puzzle, which I call Eye Puzzle, requires the use of eye power and some patience. It's actually modelled after some old game I played on my computer.

Rules of the game :
1) Start from the red square and try to get to the blue square.
2) You may move to a neighbouring square (u,d,l,r) if it is coloured. Grey is a colour.
3) You may make any number of legal moves, or none at all.
4) If the square you are on happens to 'dissolve' into a white square, you have died ! Try again.

Hints :
1) The squares change colour about every 2 seconds.
2) The colours change from violet to green to yellow.
3) Grey squares are safe, they always remain grey.

**Warning : This game may damage your eyes.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Cause and Effect

Our human understanding of the world is inherently founded on the notion that cause precedes effect. Indeed, everything around us, every single occurence in our lives seems to have some preceding cause. Hence, it is not unreasonable to believe that effect indeed follows an initial cause.

What if Cause was uncoupled from Effect ? Everything would then essentially be isolated from each other, utterly unable to influence or be influenced by other bodies. Yes, this idea sounds strange, and many would dismiss it as being impossible. Everything we know and have known contradicts this ridiculous hypothesis.

Or are we being deluded? Is it not possible that some events have occured randomly in a fashion which fortuitously happened to portray an impression of order? Then, our 'cause' is merely nothing more than an illusion.

In some sense, this is akin to the problem of induction. Just because something appeared to be true in the past is not proof that it is always true. Consider the formula P(n) = n^2 + n + 41. One could postulate that this formula always generates prime numbers because the first few results are all prime numbers. But it quickly turns out to be mere coincidence, as the formula fails at n=40. What if the cause and effect was also something of a coincidence?

Our minds have the ability to see amazing relations between things, but it also sees phantoms which do not exist. Could everything be nothing more than a delusion?

** Yes I am fond of denying all things, as I am fond of skepticism.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Website As Graphs

I just came across a website which converts a website into a sort of artistic graph.

No, I don't know what it actually does. But I suppose that's art. Then again, I suppose I could pass off dog poo as art. In that case I would be a con artist.

The website to do this is here. For a quick glance at other pieces of "art" search flickr tags or technorati tags for "websiteasgraphs". Or just click on the links :)

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

A last comment on the X-men movies

It just occurred to me that the trilogy is essentially a reflection about itself. The first movie, if you recall, was about Magneto trying to change world leaders into mutants via his funny machine. This is a mirror of the last movie, where researchers invented a way to change mutants into normal humans.

The second movie also reflects about its center. Some humans tried to use Professor X to kill all mutants, but the plan is foiled and altered to attempt to kill all humans instead.

What a trivial and useless observation! Evidently this post is to act as filler. Hehe.

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