looking for baudrillard, boorstin, or eco?

dare to hope for what is good
instead of what is merely good enough.
Dead in sin | Saved by grace | Living in hope | Walking by faith | Surviving on a prayer

+ sola scriptura + sola gratia + solus Christus + sola fide + sola Deo gloria +

vendredi, octobre 29, 2004

 Movies: Ladder 49

Twas a good night. Had a really great dinner with a good friend whom I can always trust to match me word-for-word in a verbal sparring match (sometimes even graciously letting me win just so that I can feel like I bested a guy), then watched Ladder 49, which I swear is a chick flick masquerading as an action movie.

There's nothing much to say about >Ladder 49. It doesn't really have a compelling storyline, the guy (Joaquin Pheonix) is a little too chunky for my liking, boring "Alex" from Gilmore Girls made an appearance, as did Sam Phillips' "Dream" (recurring music theme from Gilmore Girls), and Mulder-replacement Robert "Terminator II" Patrick. There's a rather bizzare sequence in the movie where I turned to him and asked "Since when did this become a horror movie?", because it really looked like The Exorcist or Carrie.

The acting left a lot to be desired too - make me believe that these two are in love? Okay. But their interaction with "their" kids? Horrible. Felt like they were total strangers. Verdict - don't bother. Unless you're a John Travolta fan (which I am), and his scenes pretty much make up for the blahness.Or if you really like the fire department.

[Movies: Ladder 49]
Sngs Alumni @ 29.10.04 { 0 comments }

dimanche, octobre 24, 2004

 Sweets for the Sweet

After not delivering what I promised (an afternoon of pool) to a bunch of underaged kids, I allowed myself to be seduced into taking a neo-print - actually, not just a neo print, but a LOT of neo-prints. It's been a long time since I heard the high-pitched squeals of the machines, screaming out what could be Japanese obscenities for all I know. Four sweet dears allowed me to be part of their world for an afternoon, and helped me regress about 6 years (I'm not that old okay!) back to the time when neo-prints first took our country by storm.

I remember those machines were simple - they would take three shots - you could reject or accept the first or the second, but if you got to the third, you would HAVE to accept it. It would cost $4 for four teeny tiny stickers, and what you see is what you get - the picture and nothing more. Now there's bells and whistles and ring-a-ding-a-longs and rin-tin-tins that you can add: backgrounds, stars, bubbles, write stuff, even add hair (like paper dolls) or smoothen your complexion. This all to be done within the time limit of course, which isn't really helped by the extremely heart-thumping music that the machines blare out.

But these girls were like vin Diesel: fast and furious. Once the camera flashes were done, out the door they went. Grabbing the magnetic pens (there were two provided), excessive colouring and decorations furiously began. There were 5 of us, so obviously there was some dispute over what should be placed where, but not much because of the abovementioned clock ticker counting down the seconds before we had to accept the pictures as they stood. The result of an afternoon's fun:

Aren't they all pretty? This picture got chosen to be put up here because I like the way that Claire did the names - and the way my face is obscured. Hides the wrinkles that show up beside these young punks. I think we should use this print to lure unsuspecting guys into our church: whaddya say, girls? Wanna be pin-ups? Could be an idea... I could suggest it at the next prayer meeting... of course, Pastor would so kill me. Maybe I could balance it out with some other arr-glee pictures of gastronomic delight, such as that which took place in Bugis Junction's Swensons:

Yummy! Food! Eat!

Couldn't catch these two princesses in a candid enough pose, unlike Ms Char...

... who looks absolutely pissed off that she's come to the end of her banana spilt.

Mind you, Swensons was after gorging ourselves at Prinsep Street's Cafe Cartel (which belongs to the Four Seasons' stable of food and hospitality places, I discovered that day), a mad run to Ikea to get some photo frames for me, and a failed attempt to collect a free sundae at Amiran's Cafe, which has karma and all sorts of bad stuff against it, so I think it'll close after it's broken even its fixed costs. And all this was after an early morning where I was leading worship in church. Is it any wonder I'm zapped before 12mn? Phew.

[Sweets for the Sweet]
Sngs Alumni @ 24.10.04 { 0 comments }

vendredi, octobre 22, 2004

 I'm not dead!

Today, I jogged 5km. Without stopping. All thanks to Stan, Weilong and Joshua. Weilong most of all, because he kept waiting for me to catch up and kept calling encouragement behind his shoulder, like "You're doing well!" and "We're nearly up the slope, a little more!" while I wheezed my way up yet another NUS hill.


I am so gonna kick ass at that biathlon. (or maybe not.) (but i'm already kicking my own ass for agreeing to sign up.)

[I'm not dead!]
Sngs Alumni @ 22.10.04 { 0 comments }

mercredi, octobre 20, 2004

 Quote #2: William Dement on Dreaming

Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.
- William Dement

[I blog quotes because there's nowhere else to keep them. Leaving them on harddisk leaves them vulnerable to crashes, and writing them out to store somewhere is rather cumbersome. I've decided to number them like my KillMeNow series, which should be ending soon I think. In 2.5 weeks. Or 12 more working days. Maybe less because I've got a half-day off hidden somewhere. I now know what army boys must feel like waiting for ORD date to roll by - and I've only been working a year and a month!]

[Quote #2: William Dement on Dreaming]
Sngs Alumni @ 20.10.04 { 0 comments }

mardi, octobre 19, 2004

 An argument for file-sharing

Just five years (or so) ago, Shawn Fanning created and distributed Napster, the original mortal-friendly Peer-to-Peer (P2P) search tool which spawned a whole host of copycats - Kazaa, Grokster, Morpheus, LimeWire, the works. From what I can remember of its technology, the largest mistake that Napster made was owning a central server which handled requests for files (or actually stored the files on disk - concretising their liability problem from virtual bits and bytes into a real, physical, prosecutable object), which made them the perfect target for illegal content distribution prosecution. (Now it's legal.)

Kazaa, Grokster, Morpheus, LimeWire, etc. improved on Napster by having their sharing clients handle real P2P connections - file swappers connected directly with each other, instead of downloading their requests to a centralised computer which dished out the files.

However, they failed too, due to one of the many technological quirks which exist when computers are added to humanity. The first problem was that of failed/partial downloads - Computer A (downloader) connects to Computer B (downloadee). Computer A downloads about 50% of the file, but then Computer B suffers a hard disk crash, and never boots up again. Ever. Again. Computer A is stuck with a never-to-be-completed 50% of a download, and unless the person behind Computer A is tech-savvy enough to know how to tweak a file to have it continue downloading from someone else's computer, it's into the trashcan for the 50% file.

The other problem which led to the failure of the Downloading: 2nd Wave (tm ME!) software group was selfishness: who wanted to share any files and lose precious bandwidth when one could just download and leech off everyone else? The problem wasn't rampant when the 2nd Wave first started - the community was close-knit, and understood the rules of the game: Be Nice. But once the kick-off was announced, all the players started making up their own rules of the pitch - just download from other people, and don't share anything. Very dog-eat-dog.

Naturally, the Seeders (the people who got the files first, either from ripping their own CDs which they had bought with their own money, or from capturing TV programmes off HDTV) got fed up after a while - who wouldn't, when your computer could be uploading to 20 different computers at the same time, while the file you were downloading came in at a snail's pace due to the uploading rates? (Another failure of the system - no compensation for high uploaders.)

Enter Downloading: the 3rd Wave. (tm ME again.) BitTorrent has pretty much set the tone for the 3rd Wave. It combines the supposed Next Big Thing: open-source software (which has been the Next Big Thing for about 5 years now, meaning that it might never really achieve it’s true potential), with a radical evolution of the programming mindset for writing download clients. Now all that kicks off the downloading frenzy is one Seeder with a complete information file. Three people connect to the torrent (including the Seeder, which makes it a four-person network), and they download from each other - assuming Person A downloads PIECE753 from the Seeder, and Person B downloads PIECE951 from the Seeder, and Person C downloads PIECE 456 from the Seeder, their computers can interconnect, and they may download these particular PIECES from each other, instead of downloading from the Seeder. This takes the load off the Seeder, and streamlines the download process because you can have a complete piece of information among 200 different persons, all mutually downloading from each other - WITHOUT ANY ONE PERSON HAVING A COMPLETE COPY YET.

What makes BitTorrent more exciting is that high uploaders get payoff: your download rate is proportional to your upload rate. The more you share, the faster you get to download. So the onus is on you - your generosity will know no bounds once you get the hang of this.

The problem with BitTorrent is that sites hosting the links to the torrent files are few and far between - you have your regular larger sites which torrent users will know about, but there's no particular central database you can search, unlike Kazaa or Napster. Not only is this a major drag when you're itching to hear that new song to search for a website which lists the torrents, these sites are also vulnerable as they can be targeted by IPR and copyright groups. They’re safe so far because there’s nothing illegal (again, so far) about listing torrents, which are at best, nothing more than file indicators*, but this also makes them easy to block – just jam the entire IP address and its subdomains. (*There have been cases in which website owners have been taken to task by their ISPs for linking to illegal material. Whether this trend continues and escalates into a legal battle is still an open issue.)

The other problem with BitTorrent is that if a file is popular, such as a newly released episode on TV, or the hottest new album by Hoobastank, it downloads at light speed because of the sheer number of users – remember, the more users who download, the more people you have to choose to download from. When it comes to older stuff, you might have to sniff around a bit to find a usable torrent – many do end up as obsolete links. (You can ask for someone to “re-Seed” a file, as one mIRC/torrent website kindly suggests, but it also requests that you limit such requests to one a day for each particular file.)

Another predicament which BitTorrent users face is the sheer amount of stuff which they end up downloading. Due to the nature of the downloading, most people upload an entire album instead of just a single song (or an entire SEASON of f.r.i.e.n.d.s. instead of just one episode – so if you’re a 56K dialup modem user dying to listen to the new Alicia Keys song, or you just want to watch one particular episode of something, here’s wishing you good luck, and a whole load of patience, because you’re likely to be online for a week (or a year), downloading the entire album/season, just to hear/see that one song/episode you want.

There are a couple more avenues for downloading which I haven’t personally explored, like the eDonkey/Overnet network – I’ve installed it once, but didn’t like the interface (which doesn’t look any much different from Kazaa), and hated hated hated the spyware and other 3rd party software which came bundled with the installation. I uninstalled it, and will refrain from posting anything about its functionality.

I’m not sure how the future of downloading will go – I still see a large gap between users’ wants and what media networks can provide, which is my justification for supporting the continued proliferation of downloading tools. Take (for example), the recent hullabaloo about English Premier League (EPL) matches and Starhub cable. It already sucks that we don’t have the Lake District to wander through when we’re bored, and Kallang Stadium is no Old Trafford or Ansfield, but when cable users are deprived of EPL matches because Starhub cable can’t provide a solution to their corporate problems, I think it’s reason enough to support the semi-legality of download clients (that is, assuming that the download clients provide live broadcasts of EPL matches, which – quite frankly – is a little far-fetched.)

Perhaps an illustration that is closer to my heart – Gilmore Girls. I would pay to get the series in on my television, but hey, the series is in its fifth season (5x04, to be exact, and 5x05 is set to air this evening in the US), and our public television is showing 4x17 (out of 22 episodes) this Sunday afternoon. Not to mention that as of 7th December 2004, Season 2’s DVD will be out in US stores – who knows when our HMV will bring it in, if ever? This means that I’ll probably have to wait till 2005 to watch season 5 on public television, and wait till 2010 in order to get my season 5 DVDs in our country. All this while refraining from participating in all the extremely scintillating forum board conversations on TWOP or the like. For you fashionistas out there, it’s like discussing how great the pashmina shawl is NOW, in 2004, when it went out of fashion all the way back in 2001. THAT’s how bad the gap between the user and media networks.

What I’m hoping is for this gap to be somehow rectified before we start prosecuting people for using download clients. There’s obviously a niche to be filled – it just doesn’t seem fair when you take away the download clients, or threaten prosecution on perfectly law-abiding people when they’re willing to pay money for a service which nobody provides.* The Apple industry has already taken some steps in the right direction – US$1 for a song download is reasonable, and solves the problem of expense – you pay $20 for 20 songs which you want to hear, rather than $20 for one song and 19 other songs on an album which you might not really like. (There are problems of “musical determinism” inherent within this particular business model, but that is another discussion for another time.) But what of the other media like movies and television?

(* Please note that I am using this logic to apply to file downloading only, and am particularly interested on its application to free-to-air television shows. The argument does not extend to truly contraband material, like drugs.)

# This is a blog post which had a gestation period of two months. It’s complete, but only as a blog post. If this were a real essay, it would be the first draft, as there are still holes in the arguments. Nonetheless, should you want to use it in an academic essay, feel free, but remember to cite properly.

# 1,649 words. In other words: I am mad.

[An argument for file-sharing]
Sngs Alumni @ 19.10.04 { 0 comments }

jeudi, octobre 14, 2004

 I love you, but you're mad.

After 8 years of knowing each other, you find out that your (extremely hot) best friend is in love with you, and you (surprise, surprise) with him. You guys fall into one of those lasts-forever, comfortable relationships that only come with dating your best friend, and one day (early into the relationship), he gets up early and cooks you a scrumptious breakfast in your kitchen. Then you complain that you want to go out instead, because you don't want to break your "routine".

You're mad.

[I love you, but you're mad.]
Sngs Alumni @ 14.10.04 { 0 comments }

mercredi, octobre 13, 2004

 7 Minutes in Heaven

Kids seem to be getting smarter, if the names of the games they come up with are any indication. In two consecutive days, I've heard of the game 7 Minutes in Heaven in two separate shows (13 going on 30, and Everwood - 3.5 - Sacrifice)- and I've never heard of it before. We're not running American households here, but I do know of stuff like Spin the Bottle - but 7 Minutes in Heaven? Awesome name for a kiddy-kissy game. (You know, 7 being the complete number in Christian terminology, coupled with the heavenly reference - genius.)

Spin the Bottle = Person X spins one of those old soft-drink glass bottles, and has to kiss the person whom the open end points to at rest.

7 Minutes in Heaven = Person X goes into the closet. Someone else will have that person all to him/herself for 7 minutes.

7 Minutes in Heaven ups the ante a little from Spin the Bottle: the aim of both games is (of course) to give pre-adolescents the chance to kiss within the confines of the excuse "But I had to, mom!" Hee.

[7 Minutes in Heaven]
Sngs Alumni @ 13.10.04 { 0 comments }

mardi, octobre 12, 2004

 Skipping to watch the aim: 13 going on 30

One of my colleague's birthday is tomorrow, but due to some scheduling/leave problems, we celebrated it today. She playfully demanded a three-tiered Oreo cheesecake, and I am proud to say that I delivered. (I also want to say that the next wedding dinner I attend, I'm going to take an embarassingly close look at how they make those tiers.) I'll post pictures up tomorrow; I left them on the work computer.

Three-tiered joke cake!

Then I came home and watched TV instead of jogging, like I promised Stan. Thank goodness I still have two days to fulfil my promise to make up for missing the Friday run. The two events intertwine in a sort of beautiful poetic irony: I wanna be as kick-ass fit as her, but skip jogging to watch her act my mental age.

13 going on 30

[Skipping to watch the aim: 13 going on 30]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.10.04 { 0 comments }

samedi, octobre 09, 2004

 KillMeNow #11

So. Apparently the hits just keep on coming, even though the countdown meter to QUITTING DAY is ticking away slowly, but - thank GOD - surely.

So we had a thing last week. And it got reviewed on this online 'zine, which shall remain nameless - suffice to say that the site is pretty well known in our little country's performing circle. It was... an okay review. Some rather bizarre, almost personal attack-like comments about personages, and (what I thought to be) a rather gently blunt (but not brutal) commentary on the rest of the kids.

The kids brought it to my attention earlier this week, and I read it halfway before getting totally bored. They asked if I could pin it up on the noticeboard, and I agreed - it did mention on the top of the review that it was "Sponsored by {My Organisation Name Here}" - and hence sanctioned. I thought nothing more of it - until Someone came back to work today. Someone got mad, and Someone made my colleage take it down. She did, then 'phoned me quickly to tell me that Someone was on the warpath.

I went for lunch because I was so sian of this whole thing - sponsored by us, therefore shouldn't it be okay to put it up? Even if it wasn't sponsored or sanctioned by us, can't we just roll with the punches? But then, I'm not the Big Boss, and I'm only [my age], so what do I know?

We came back from lunch, and he was still on the rampage. I went to check my email and ohmygoshSomeoneSentAnEmailToEveryoneAboutThis. I resigned myself to a tongue-lashing for stupidity and over-helpfulness to students (why is it any wonder kids get so mad at the administration? We really do suck.) , and trudged to Someone's room to make an apology and explain. We met halfway, his face grim, but halfway into my explanation, I started tearing up because I was thinking What a miserable place to work here, this whole situation is pathetic, and I was just so tired of trying so hard to make things work around here, and not being appreciated, and that I really love the place but it doesn't love me back. [insert your own joke about youthful idealism shattering and crashing down here.] Seeing that I was looking like I was about to burst into tears (I wasn't, please, I'm made tougher), Someone must have noticed, and he chose the high road - choosing to be magnanimous and forgiving, and was all "it's alright, there, no harm done, just that I think we should have a system for putting up notices regarding my office, that's all." And then the weird factor kicked in - "It's all right, don't worry!" and he stretches his arms out for a hug. What's a girl gonna do?

So I had to hug Someone today. Does that make me a work-whore?

The good news is that (I think) this episode is over, cos he was so damn chipper the rest of the day - it was a 180deg change to be moody and in a foul temper, to smiling and being totally absolutely pleasant. If all my colleagues' moods could be switched so easily, I think I won't mind giving hugs more often. Maybe. Not sure about the total ick-factor though. Ick. Ick ick ick.

The other good news that I cling onto - this too, shall pass.

I also need to do a shout-out to Mr.BrahmsOrMessiaen's sister-in-law, who (strangely) stumbled onto my blog, and has been reading it ever since. Hello! And please, confidentiality? I need that final paycheck to pay my hostel fees.

[KillMeNow #11]
Sngs Alumni @ 9.10.04 { 0 comments }

jeudi, octobre 07, 2004

 AS-P, thank you: I count the ways

1. Jeans.
2. Landingham!
3. 8 year horoscope.
4. I'm in, I'm all in(n).
5. Music discussion. After the fact.
6. Head, shoulder, shoulder, shoulder. Kiss.
7. Hipbone! Hipbone! Hipbone!

[AS-P, thank you: I count the ways]
Sngs Alumni @ 7.10.04 { 0 comments }

 Who, me?

spoiled result
Spoiled Girl

What kind of little girl were YOU?
brought to you by

Okay, this has GOT to be the MOST INACCURATE quiz I've ever taken!

[Who, me?]
Sngs Alumni @ 7.10.04 { 0 comments }

lundi, octobre 04, 2004

 Lloyd Dobler: A Quote

"Maybe the world is a blur of food and sex and spectacle and everyone’s just hurtling towards a necropolis."

[Lloyd Dobler: A Quote]
Sngs Alumni @ 4.10.04 { 0 comments }

dimanche, octobre 03, 2004


A Messenger, Nothing More, JJ. This was probably taken on-set since this actual physical proximity never happened in the show. Huzzah! And another Huzzah for Bittorrent!

*Inside joke.
And no fair! You guys are reading about my quitting and not telling me that you read my blog, then when I tell you with great glee that I've quit, you look at me and deadpan, "I know." This has got to stop, people! The tag-board's dead, but the comment link's still there. Let me know you exist! (And let me know who my audience is so that I can censor age-appropriately :-) )

Sngs Alumni @ 3.10.04 { 0 comments }

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