Thursday, October 30, 2008
No. BUT I don't support marriage in any form whatsoever either. I am fair in my disdain for the institution of marriage, am I not?
This is it, innit? I've become a bitter husk of humanity with NO hope of ever getting into any sort of meaningful relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Or indeed any sex. And I even count a cat among my best friends:
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
1. Debunking Christianity - This section mostly dissects the Bible as a massive collection of allegory and plagiarism. I've read quite a few dissections of the Bible before, and seen the odd compilation of contradictory statements that punctuate it, reducing it to a text of pretty much no intellectual value whatsoever in terms of moral guidance. Zeitgeist dealt with it quite differently, claiming that Jesus Christ never actually existed and his story is in fact allegorical, based largely on ancient astronomical observations of the Sun, mixed in with the catchy bits of whatever myths happened to be popular at the time. Of course, Mithra makes an appearance.
Personally, I wasn't particularly fussed by this section. I've done quite enough digging on my own in the past, and the matter has already been dealt with at great length by any number of intellectuals in defense of reason. The conclusion I've drawn for myself remains clear: The Abrahamic religions are nothing but a lot of catchy words to control inferior minds. Still, I suppose it was interesting to see a bit more information on the origins of the most infuriatingly persistent silly myths of our times.
2. 9/11 - This section examines the kamikaze hijiackings of Sep 11, 2001. I've no idea where in blazes those videos are from, but assuming they're not photoshopped or some such, they're very, very interesting indeed. The theory being put forward in Zeitgeist is that the Sep 11 attacks were in fact staged, i.e. a False Flag attack, in order to persuade the US public to start a war with Afghanistan and Iraq. Oh, and to justify a perpetual war against "Terror", which, as we all know these days, is a catch-all phrase for anyone who doesn't agree with US foreign policy.
What struck me as particularly interesting about this section was footage of the collapse of WTC 7, which very promptly collapsed on itself in a way that could only be described as too neat. It didn't get hit by a plane, but it had a little trouble with fire and I hear it got whacked by a chunk of debris from one of the two major towers. Neither the fire nor the debris seem like they could feasibly topple WTC 7 in the manner that it did. Well, I'm no engineer, but seriously, do look up the fall of WTC 7. It really, really doesn't look right.
There was another thing about the 9/11 attacks that was a bit odd: The other two planes. EVERYBODY saw the strikes on the WTC. Fair enough, perhaps, that no-one saw the one that hit the Pentagon. And obviously no-one saw the Shanksville crash. But what about the wrecks? If what turned up in Zeitgeist is true, there wasn't enough to build even a fraction of a plane in Shanksville. Or even at the Pentagon, for that matter.
I suppose that the possibility that 9/11 was a False Flag attack is painfully ugly to contemplate. That having been said, were I not already familiar with a bit of what Chomsky has to say on US foreign policy, I'd say such a conspiracy theory is too ugly to contemplate. But, horribly enough, it makes sense, in an unconscionably cold and Macchiavellian way. How does one push through an imperialist agenda while maintaining the facade of a democracy? Nothing unites a people faster than a common enemy. Haven't got one? Make one! Preferably one that can't put up much resistance. No point picking fights you can't win, eh? Anyway, moving on...
3. Central banks - This section more than any other worried me, and I've been wondering if I read into it wrongly from the outset. In addition to masses of supposed evidence highlighting the diabolical agendas of banks to dominate the world, this section points out an aspect of the central banking system which absolutely ensures civilization is locked into an inexorable less-than-zero-sum game. So, I'm going to lay out my understanding of it here and hope someone can pass useful comment if I'm drastically wrong.
Simply put, a central bank, specifically the Fed, does 2 things - control interest rates and churn out money, thus regulating the value of said money. Easy enough. But what is stated in Zeitgeist is that every dollar printed is a loan, with interest, from the central bank to the government of whatever country houses it. But if some amount X is lent out from the central bank, requiring payment of (X + x), where is x supposed to come from? So the central bank prints more money. To lend to the government. At interest, of course. And this is the very foundation of the rat race - a perpetual cycle of debt to the central bank. A game that can't be won, and the bank is holding all the cards. A glorified pyramid scheme, basically.
And while everyone else is left scrabbling for whatever money they can lay their hands on, for whatever petty reasons they may have, the banks sit pretty, barely having to lift a finger because they're the ones who ultimately control the money. Now, if a nation were a closed system, this state of affairs would quickly burn out the country. Hence, the need to prey on other nations, to strip them of their resources, to cripple them with debt and, should they be so unsporting as to be unwilling to play this fool's game, to wage war on them. Waging war is apparently lots of fun for a central bank, because it means the nation has to find funds for the war effort - more debt!
If this view of the central bank system is true, then a large part of modern civilization is essentially built on slavery to little bits of paper that aren't actually worth anything.
In fact, the 2nd movie, Zeitgeist: Addendum, focuses mainly on the horrors perpetrated by the Fed, linking it to US involvement in WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War. It's like seeing a bad conspiracy theory magazine come to life. I honestly don't know what to make of it. Seriously, I do try very hard to examine closely every aspect of my life and the world around me and I try even harder not to fall into the trap of assuming something to be morally correct because it's a social norm*. But what the Zeitgeist movies have pointed out... it beggars belief. Whatever the truth may be, do watch it. I for one think it's worth thinking about.
Tune in next time, and we'll see if I remember to talk about Zeitgeist: Addendum, and discuss the suggestions put forward on how to escape the clutches of the banks.
* Partly because I'm in Malaysia, and what passes for a social norm here can be pretty disgusting.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Here's the original version, if you're curious. I'd actually stumbled upon Laibach earlier, from this song, which I think is kinda catchy:
If you find the above video a bit worrying, fear not, here's a version a little more friendly on the eyes. I've NO idea what he's saying. I'm not sure I want to know.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
In the Prime Mover’s comprehensive overview of sentient and semi-sentient life within the sphere of the Gallimaufry: Why We're Better Than All Of You Put Together, there are various appendices which deal with predators that feed upon sentients. Journalists are placed within this category.
Despite extremely bad reviews, these concepts were eventually accepted, and the number of journalists a healthy civilization could support was worked out by the mysterious (and, incidentally, scandal-ridden) Mathemagicians of FftFwand, with a very complex and practically incomprehensible formula involving such things as ergs of information multiplied by the number of stress points divided by the intensity of greed waves generated within a specific civilization, et cetera and so on.
Nobody really understood it, but as it called for the euthanasia of vast herds of journalists, nobody really tried too hard.
When the last editorial writers had been shipped off to the re-cycling vats, it was noticed that things seemed a lot quieter, a lot less tense, and things weren't nearly so bad as people had thought they were. Stress levels went down, and the new system was dubbed a success.
Most planets do quite well with a single journalist. Some of the Hub Worlds found that they required as many as one per economic zone. Occasionally, unscrupulous governments have to be chastised for allowing too many journalists to congregate in one spot. This is foolish, although understandable, as their almost constant internecine squabbles are usually a vast source of amusement for the rest of the populace.
Sometimes a journalist will wish to migrate to a different venue. This is permissible, as long as the journalist already occupying the niche in question is either displaced or disposed of. When the challenge is an amicable one, the two journalists compete to capture the heart of the public by each releasing a series of news stories about the area they wish to control. The incumbent usually has an advantage here, as they “know where all the bodies are buried.” The smart journalist usually keeps some juicy scandal buried in their files for just such a challenge. The newcomer, on the other hand, can view the system with fresh, unjaded eyes, and has the additional advantage of being a stranger, and thus a being sentients are still willing to talk to.
These news series are intermittently dumped onto the local infowebs, and the winner is the one who has the least number of “delete” key programs written against them, divided by the number of fresh death threats. In the case of a tie, the rivals sit around a table and attempt to force their opponent to drink themselves to death.
In a hostile takeover, such as in the face of a Hot Story, the newcomer usually just challenges the resident news hawk to a duel to the death, usually by bludgeoning each other with their typewriters. It is interesting to note that as long as the winner registers the kill with the Journalism Guild, most major law enforcement agencies, including the Law Machines, will not treat these killings as murder, but recognize them as a necessary part of the journalist's life-cycle.
Some civilizations have declared all journalists to be vermin and eradicate them whenever possible. This is unwise, both because they serve a legitimate and vital function within the body politic, but also because, when excessively oppressed, journalists tend to become very dangerous.
See, this is why we can't have nice things. Click the video to get to the Youtube page and marvel at the human zoo that is the Comments tab.
Of course, it doesn't help that Malaysia is home to Mat Rempit culture. Not familiar with the term? I will break it down for you.
Mat Rempit is a term used to identify what passes as a bike ganger in this country. However, their budgets are significantly tighter. As such, they do not ride anything like this:
... or this:
... or even this:
... but this:
The mark of the Rempit. Technically called an underbone, though I find 'moped' slides off the tongue easier and isn't too far off. And it's on these piddly little machines, with about the same engine power as a lawn mower, that the Mat Rempit lives out his racing fantasies on the many, many highways criss-crossing Malaysia. Most of them aren't even literate enough to read this blog. It's a quite pathetic, really. Or it would be pathetic, were it not for the fact that these moped-mounted morons are quite heavily involved in gangsterism, theft, vandalism, rape and all the other hallmarks of misguided, uneducated, idle youth.
Having only a medieval, paedophile-worshipping religion for moral guidance doesn't help. Neither do MPs who've decided if you can't beat them, make them heroes. Add into the equation an underpaid police force with NO cojones and an utterly uninspired local film industry with nothing else better to do than actually romanticise the Mat Rempit lifestyle, and you've pretty much cooked up a malignant tumour in Malaysian society. I hope you're proud of yourselves, you bastards.
That having been said, I really like Kelantan's proposed approach to dealing with them, that is, to build them a nice track and let them do their racing there. It's great! Then they can wipe themselves out in their own little track in a controlled, legal manner - far, far away from the rest of us. Rock on! So good luck to Kelantan and props to Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat (who will be referred to as Niknik in this blog for ever after) for some good lateral thinking.
Among the many things on my present To Do list is looking for another country for me and Haruka to move to. Permanently.
* Just found this most excellent breakdown by Jimmy Kemmel. Take a peep to get a closer look at the little miss' interesting approach to grammar.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Now, as I read the testimonies of the hordes of drooling, redneck, Whiskey Tango, Creationist truckers bent on voting with their penises, I couldn't help but get the feeling that Palin's present popularity is but a shadow of things to come:
Man, oh, man... How many of Palin's supporters do you suppose are named "Clevon"?
Saturday, October 18, 2008
壬生義士伝 is set in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, during which a wave of reform, sparked by the Emperor Koumei, resulted a state of civil war, with samurai siding either with the Emperor or, like the Shinsengumi, with the Shogun. The movie largely revolves around the lives of two ronin, members of the Shinsengumi : Saitou Hajime (斎藤 一) and Yoshimura Kanichiro.
If you're anything like me, you may be familiar with Saitou from his appearances in Rurouni Kenshin. If not, well, meh. Saitou's being Saitou. He did really exist, and did indeed have a reputation for being a stone-faced, cold-blooded killer with a rock-solid sense of justice. Saitou is also reputed to have been left-handed, though whether this is due to him favouring the quick, left-handed thrust of itto-ryu swordsmanship or actually wielding the katana left-handed, as depicted in 壬生義士伝, isn't too clear.
Yoshimura Kanichiro is completely fictitious, but that doesn't make the character any less interesting. When we first see him in the movie, we find in him both a masterful swordsman and, oddly enough, a money-grubbing country bumpkin who can't stop talking about his home province. What I can say, without giving too much away, is that the apparent avarice comes with a story behind it. A very, very sad story.
Kenshin fans can expect to hear familiar names, but not see familiar faces. For instance, Okita Souji, the genius Shinsengumi swordsman who expired of tuberculosis makes an appearance:
Not quite the same as the Kenshin version:
As I mentioned previously, appreciate this movie requires that one understand a little about the cultural and historical background in which it is set. Take, for instance, this scene:
Against overwhelming odds, Yoshimura draws both blades and announces his name and allegiance. The big deal? Well, long story short...
On the swords: The katana was designed to held in both hands. Rare indeed was the hero who wielded both blades skilfully at once, and Yoshimura was not one of them. The simple explanation is that, back then, life was cheap, honour was everything, and for a warrior, there was little more shameful than to die with a weapon still in its sheath. In the face of certain death, rather than try to up your odds of survival by keeping to the one blade that you're good at, it was far better to guarantee that you die with both blades drawn.
Name and allegiance: Announcing these things held a special significance in this context. Both the forces of the Shogun and Emperor believed they were each serving Japan best in an era where the separate feudal domains were, after centuries of war, coalescing into a united Japan. In this scene, Imperialist reinforcements arrived, bearing the Emperor's personal banners, loudly proclaiming that traitors would be shown no mercy. What shocked the Shogunate forces most in this skirmish was being branded as traitors, and their resolve thus wavered. Not Yoshimura, who, having left his master to serve with the Shinsengumi, refused to betray another master. This was no longer a matter of who's right or wrong, but a matter of a samurai's duty to his master, whether that master take the form of a feudal lord, the Emperor, an ideal or even Bushido itself.
壬生義士伝 offers many, many more such displays of Bushido spirit*, and I'd strongly recommend reading up briefly on Bushido and the Bakumatsu period before watching it. I for one adore this movie, and have watched it far too many times. Can't bear to watch it now. Kanashi sugite mireba naku da kara... <:')
Stuff worth reading to better understand Bushido:
Hagakure is always a good start, and seeing that it was actually written by a samurai, you have to concede that lends it a whole heap of cred.
The Samurai Ethic and Modern Japan, by Mishima Yukio is another good book, being a commentary on Hagakure's relevance in post-WWII Japan.
If that's not enough, hear it from Nitobe Inazou, author of Bushido: The Soul of Japan. He was even kind enough to write it in English...
Some would recommend Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings, but that book focuses more heavily on swordsmanship than the samurai ethic. That having been said, Miyamoto himself is indeed one of those people who bear two blades at once, for the simple reason that it sucks to die with a weapon still sheathed.
Now go see. You won't regret it, 'onest guv...
* A hell of a lot more convincingly than that monstrosity, Last Samurai, I might add.
I was particularly riled by that ignorant old bag at 0:23 whose best argument against Obama is to squawk, "He's not a Christian! This is a Christian nation!" Please, just do the world a favour and die. In all fairness, though, I could kinda believe in McCain about as much as one could believe in Obama, right up to the point he chose Palin as a running mate.
To comrades across the pond* who are still sane, good luck. To the rest (i.e. flag-waving, bible-quoting, God-bless-America Republicans), read a book, you ignorant bastards.
Btw, well done to Thunderf00t for his victory in the name of free speech!
* I suppose in my case, the pond would be a bit bigger.
Yep, finally acting on the advice of Scott Adams, Terry Pratchett and not least a certain pushy friend who pointed out a suitable kitten, I've adopted a kitteh. Her name's Haruhara Haruka, or just Haruka will do. Just over 4 months old, bit chubby, bit shy, very quiet, loves tuna, anchovies and voodoo dolls. I try very hard to only speak to her in Japanese. Acquired from an exceedingly cool friend of a friend who runs an animal shelter. No, I won't be posting lolcat pics of her.
Those of you who are familiar with FLCL may notice her name sounds a wee bit familiar, yes? Well, Haruka's predecessor was in fact named Haruhara Haruko:
Like her namesake, Haruko was indeed a singularly wild creature. A stray, captured with a few days of patient waiting, tuna and fast hands (not mine) Haruko went absolutely apeshit when we first bunged her inside a cage for transport. She clawed at everything available to her with unbridled fury until, exhausted, she slumped back into the corner and trembled in wide-eyed terror for a bit before another fit of furry frenzy. Well, to cut a long story short, I did manage to win Haruko's trust (tuna is magic!) long enough to have her purring in my hands and to give her scruffy hide a towel bath. Alas, I had underestimated her, and the very next morning she pissed on a table and jumped out the window. I gave chase, but she vanished like mist after rounding a corner. And that was that.
Thing is, I'd already bought the kitty litter, litter box, cat food, and constructed a wee bed out of a cardboard box and some shirts I wouldn't be caught dead wearing. So I felt a right burke sitting in my study, converted into a veritable cat habitat with a profound lack of cat. And so I adopted Haruka.
Those of you who know me well enough may be wondering if this is a sign that I've finally given up on all hope of ever finding a girlfriend. The answer to that is a resounding NO. True, I'm still in Malaysia, and from what I've observed here, a girlfriend is nothing but trouble. When Ms Right comes sauntering along, there will be coffee and chitchat. Perhaps some b33r and Sambuca to go with it, among other things. But I get the feeling whoever Ms Right is, she won't be Malaysian. Yes, you read that right.
Between a Malaysian woman and a cat, I would, by a long shot, favour the cat. You'd get more love and less crap, any day of the week. With a cat, you can, with a wee squirt of catnip, achieve the same happiness that would take MYR5,000 worth of leather goods with a Malaysian woman. A cat can be persuaded to see things your way with a well-timed and well-placed squirt of a water pistol. A Malaysian woman... hell, you try being an atheist with an education in physics in this country for a bit. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the world's problems seem very small indeed when you have a kitten purring in your lap. I suppose the same effect can be achieved, if not surpassed, by the almighty afterglow of damned good sex. But this is Malaysia, and that kind of thing will most certainly come with a hell of a price, whether or not you get it from a woman of negotiable affections*.
So there you have it. I have a lovely cat, who seems to like me and I'm a significantly happier person for it. This may or may not be a good thing, seeing as, looking back through my posts, I find a lot of my material is fueled by a quietly bubbling rage against the sheer absurdity that one witnesses as a near-bibliomaniacal internet infidel. Indeed, it's very difficult to maintain a state of righteous anger when all you have to do is look down to find a kitten purring on your lap and staring up at you with the mad amazement of all kittens:
But, I'm in between terms at Japanese language school now, and I'll try to do some catching up. And I do believe my Japanese has actually improved, despite Haruka's efforts to slow me down:
If anyone has anything they'd like me to write about, do give me a yell and I'll see what I can cook up. Until then, here's a bit of possible nominative determinismishness: I was born in a town called Kuching, meaning 'cat'.
* And since this is Malaysia, questionable gender, too.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The hero of the people, RPK, is still locked up and treated like a dog for speaking out in defense of justice in this travesty of a nation, twisted and perverted by a bunch of racist, avaricious, hypocritical pigs. Who still run the country, by the way.
To Singaporean teachers:
Don't sink to this level. Just don't.
And on a completely unrelated note, remember Les Miserables? I suppose these days, more people are aware of the musical than the book, but on Something Awful, they reviewed the 2D fighting game! No, really, check this out.
I watched the musical when I was very young, so I don't remember much other than the occassional catchy song and a whopping great big barricade somewhere towards the end. But I'm pretty sure there wasn't a Robo-Jean Valjean with an arm-mounted machine gun or a crotch-punching rabbit. And Javert definitely couldn't summon meteor showers.
Download it. Try it. And ignore the sound of Victor Hugo revolving in his grave.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This came to my attention from Pharyngula. Check out FSMdude's Youtube channel and you'll find something like 30+ cruel and unusual cracker abuses, not so much as an explicit flinging of dirt in the face of Catholics, but more pointing out what was mentioned previously on Pharyngula: It's just a frickin' cracker, and Transubstantion, just like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, is a lot of bullshit.