Tim's Blog

31 August

Blog on Opera
Oh what the heck, let's look at Opera too. But I'm dreading it because my blog never looks good on that browser. Heck, no website looks good on Opera especially if it has forms and doesn't use FONT tags.

My blog on OperaYup sure enough, the message form has blown the iframe clear out of the water. The text has fallen back to the default fonts and font sizes stipulated in the browser preferences and not the ones I selected in the stylesheet. Even the styling of the H1 tag I created has been relegated to the default big bold style. I used to look with complete disdain at Opera because the maker, Operasoft, is simply giving web-developers the bird by refusing to render pages the way the designers want them to be.

There is however a method to the madness.

Opera touts itself as the fastest browser on earth. There is no doubt in my mind about that nor in the mind of every reviewer who has written about it. The reason for its speed is (you guessed it) Opera saves itself the trouble of reading and rendering the code it feels is unnecessary to deliver content. The more it relies on its own hardcoded elements (such as the clunky form design) and visitor-determined fonts/font sizes and the less time it spends rendering everything in the stylesheet, the faster it loads.

But this trade-off of style for speed is a short-sighted policy of Operasoft now that broadband is so commonplace and 56k is the norm. The speed advantage has been minimised to the point of being indiscernable between browsers. I'm sure Opera has loyalists that prefer this distinctive browser over all else. I'm just not one of them.

Opera renders javascript, tables and colours perfectly. And it never displays fonts that are too large or too small -- they're always the same uniform size and look for every website. It just doesn't do customised fonts and forms. And it never will. Sure, I could always write a limited workaround (for the fonts) by adding FONT tags everywhere. But that loads the page with extraneous code. And Operasoft doesn't expect us to.

Operasoft is not telling web-designers to soak their heads, rather, it's asking us not to worry too much about how our pages look. As long as I don't try to change the look of accepted tags like H1 and STRIKE and such, and use DIV CLASS and SPAN CLASS to modify all text, I have no worries that Opera will render my pages readably well.

So I never check Opera to see how it renders. No one ever does with, er, one exception. I just check IE on PC and Mozilla on Mac (Moz, and now Netscape 7 too, is probably the most uniform renderer across platforms -- unlike IE).

As such, if it doesn't look perfect on Opera, I say, "Too Bad Opera!"
01:50:26 PM - timyang - No comments

30 August

Blog on WebTV
I noticed in my counters that someone had visited from the domain webtv.com. Maybe the visitor wasn't on webtv and was probably on a browser at Microsoft, but I was curious to find out what the blog looked like on webtv.

Webtv version of the blogSo I downloaded the webtv viewer for web-developers and loaded it up. According to WebTV's site, webtv supports "almost the full feature set of the JavaScript standard version 1.3" and supports "most of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) level 1, as well as some of the positioning properties defined in CSS level 2". I don't know what the definition of "most" is to the people at WebTV, but as you can see from the screenshot (click for larger image), it needs some re-evaluation.

Let's see, absolutely no CSS was done at all. Those text colours were courtesy of my adding them to BODY as well as CSS. At least webtv displays PHP ok. No javascript support which is why the NOSCRIPT text appeared in the text ad area. So webtv viewers can't leave comments nor messages in the guestbook, but at least they can still send me email and search the blog. They're not missing much.

Oh well, at least all the text rendered even though only default webtv fonts was displayed. And it seems my calculations for screen-width were accurate so the entire page was displayed within the screen window. Thank goodness I used tables instead of rendering everything in CSS. I reckon this must be what the site looks like on Netscape 4.

So now we call upon the great and mighty "Too Bad Rule" and declare: "Too Bad for WebTV (And Netscape 4)!"

Look out for the next installment of this series where we say: "Too Bad For Opera!".
03:22:10 PM - timyang - No comments

29 August

Will telling people that it's bad stop them?
A recent article on the BBC highlighted video piracy efforts of the government that focuses of the end-consumer. The information ministry of Malaysia insisted that informing Malaysians of the "consequences of supporting pirated products" would deter people from buying pirated goods. That's like trying to ask Mike Tyson in a really soft voice not to kill you after you've told him he sounds like a girl. (Actually his voice does sound like a prissy bitch's, but that's besides the point.)

The article was significant in that it does not state that there are any penalties for the end-consumer. And indeed there aren't. It also doesn't state what those "consequences" are. In the same article, the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia elaborates that piracy penalises the local recording industry by "disillusioning talented new artists" as if the RIAM's recommended iron-fist contracts that ties artistes to 10 year exclusive recording binds for measly sums doesn't already do that. The point is that the authorities don't really care about the foreign movie or music rights which make up the bulk of the estimated (according to a Golden Screen Cinemas marketing manager) USD$500 million spent on video piracy (that quote was from 1998 so it's presumably around USD$600 million by now). It's just lip service to encourage Hollywood copyright lawyers to keep pouring money into the country.

If the government were really interested in combating video piracy, they would have to deal with two problems as any business student will tell you. Dry up the supply, reduce the demand.

To dry up the supply, the government would first have to deal with the corruption within itself. At the retail level, video pirates operate openly in places which are well-known for pirate stalls. They don't run, they don't hide and they're there every day. So how come the authorities can't catch them? Because the pirates pay off the cops. If there's a raid, the pirates are informed ahead of time. And when there are face-saving "catches", goods are destroyed, fines are given out, but no one is arrested. The next day, it's business as usual at the same spot. At the manufacturing level, the same problem persists. Everyone knows about the three video factories in Klang, as do the authorities. But the excuses the authorities give the copyright lawyers to stall arrests is that they're always "holding off to catch the big fish". Is there a bigger fish than Malaysians at piracy? Not at all. Asian video piracy began in Malaysia as a way of getting around censorship. Then it was exported to China and Thailand. And still "most illegal video CDs are produced in Malaysia", according to Variety. The copyright lawyers would basically have to sue the information ministry to get some butt moving. Then again, it wouldn't do any good because that would ruffle too many political feathers and assistance would completely dry up.

At the demand level, telling Malaysians that piracy is bad is a laughable attempt because as I noted a few weeks ago Asians simply do not have a moral centre and cannot determine for themselves what is right or wrong. To stop them from buying pirated goods, the cons would have to outweigh the pros. Let's compare the differences between pirated and non-pirated goods.

Pirated goods:
a) Cheap. Costs just USD$1.25 per movie or music CD.
b) Uncensored.
c) Short length of time between wide release and pirate release. Sometimes the pirate releases come before the wide release if the pirates obtain a preview copy.
d) Variable quality. Recent releases tend to be low quality cinema-shot movies but later releases tend to be exceptionally good because they're made from MD, LD or DVD releases.

Non-pirated goods:
a) Relatively expensive. Movies tend to cost between 4-5 times more. And music costs as much as 6-7 times more because the music industry refuses to follow the movie industry's example and lower prices.
b) Censored. Kissing scenes are notoriously and childishly censored. Many rap artists are never released in the country because of anti-authority lyrics.
c) Takes up to a year sometimes to be released after wide release in the US and Europe.
d) High quality.

The Motion Picture Association anti-piracy chief Lowell Strong is advocating jail sentences for offenders just like in Singapore. What he either naively doesn't realise or prudently doesn't state is that he would have an impossible time implementing such a law. Everyone buys pirated movies. Even the politicians, especially those with teenage children, have pirated copies of movies in their homes. They view piracy as a way of life so much so that jail sentences would be quashed by judges before being requested for. But it might not be necessary to enforce a law to make it effective. In Malaysia, the simple threat of the embarrassment of having to publicly-announce a divorce is enough to make couples stick together.

One thing going for Lowell is that Malaysians do understand the importance of quality. Afficionados of classical music and jazz favourites go for non-pirated releases every time just to hear that third triangle in the second stanza. For action movies like XXX, Malaysians always wait for the cinema releases because they realise the importance of "cinema-quality" sound and ambience for the enjoyment of the action. Unfortunately resolution and sound quality are not the swing factors since copying is digitalised, pirate copies are matchable byte for byte. So what will make Malaysians buy originals instead of fakes? Content quality. In other words, the authorities would have to make censorship in originals negligible. Once fake and original are perceivably similar, coupled with the threat of a small fine, many Malaysians will swear off pirated goods for good. But is the relaxation of censorship a possibility? As this is a Muslim-run country, the answer would be: when Mohammed rises from his grave.

The copyright lawyers are encouraged by the wins against the software piracy industry where legitimate businesses are the target consumers. Retail level consumers are however much harder to pin down. I believe that as long as they fight hard on this front, the only ones who are going to profit are politicians who, like Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, have their stars rise a little higher every time they repeat the unlikely story that they've been served death threats for pursuing pirates. Frankly, the pirates have got better things to do than waste their time on him.
10:18:23 AM - timyang - No comments

27 August

Saddam the victim
Saddam has been playing the passive victim for so long, I'm half-expecting him to play the final move in his end-game any day now. And that is to become an aggressive victim:

He'll declare through the UN that unless the US stops its provocative talks of regime change in a government that even the UN recognises, Iraq will be forced to defend itself in any means it sees fit. The Europeans are going to say, "Hey yeah he's right. Bush is provocating Saddam because he hasn't given us any reason to justify his line yet." Then as soon as Bush mentions the phrase regime change thing again, Iraq will launch a scud strike on the nearest US military base in Yemen then declare the action on a legitimate military target as self-defense for continued and unreasonable provocation. After which, the rest of the world is going to square up behind the peaceniks and condemn as hell any US action, even if the US says its ensuing retaliation is justified.

That's really going to polarise world opinion and congressional opinion in two and gain Saddam more allies.

Any day now...
04:37:08 PM - timyang - No comments

26 August

Alternatives to The Onion
If The Onion isn't funny any more (and I can't see why it still is), then you ought to try these current events parody sites:

Satirewire - This site gets top marks for well-thought out and patiently fleshed out stuff. It's a Fark favourite and once you go there, it's easy to see why. UPDATE: Strangely enough, the day after this entry came out, Satirewire announced its closure. I swear it wasn't me!

Daily Probe - So here's where all the Onion writers went. Daily Probe is a collection of headlines and short articles that cover a wide range of topics, every bit worth the satire.

Dangfunny - Dang creates really funny "secret conversations" between Bush and Cheney on everything from Operation Inside Out (Or Is It Outside In?) to conversations between Bush and Enron.

The Chaser - I always thought Australians had really gonzo humour. Stuff just flies right out of nowhere and whacks you over the head with a rubber chicken. This site proves it.

Photohumor - Better yet, go for the old Photoshop gags. Great stuff!

Humor in the News - Can't do without the funny news photo captions.

Political Cartoons - My favourite is still this collection of editorial cartoons. They're brought together by Slate.com mostly from American newspaper syndications (so they have an American slant). The problem is the cartoons are spread over 14 pages. So prepare for a lot of clicking.
01:39:18 PM - timyang - No comments

El Busho says:
Only you can prevent forests

CNN: Bush says cutting down more trees reduces fire danger. Apologies to Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observor.
11:19:45 AM - timyang - No comments

25 August

China has 20 billion people and a lot of them want to learn English. Uh oh.
You may have a short while ago about Chinese people who go for tongue snipping operations to improve their English pronunciation. Bully for them, I say. But the nasty ones to watch out for are the ones who want to learn how to READ and WRITE English.

I'm not talking about an invasion of cheap labour that will work day and night and you can pay nothing to except a dog meat bun every once in a while. I'm talking about an invasion of your email box. Yes, it's that spam thing again.

There is a business called EnglishNihao Inc. that specifically teaches Chinese enough English to master the internet. It reports that there are over 20 million web users in China and they're not satisfied with playing Terrorists and SWATs over the internet any longer. They want to sell you Tiger Viagra!

Half the spam I get comes from domains with Chinese lucky numbers like 163.com, 263.net and 888cn.net. And I'm really worried already. These guys all think that sending harmless emails to large mailing lists is an easy way to get American Dollars and Euros into their pockets. Not to mention the loose Renminbi of Chinese country bumpkins who still subscribe to Tiger Viagra.

Because they're still a youthful internet nation, very few of them have had enough spam in their mail to get so sick of it that they puke at the thought of going into the canned meats section of the supermarket. According to that above linked article, British ISPs have already started blocking any IPs registered to China Telecom, but it still isn't enough.

Frankly I'm estatic that China wants to create The Great Wall of Internet around itself. Better for us if the wall doesn't just keep people out, but also keeps people in.

The good news is, if you're in the spam-fighting and spam-blocking business, you're going to be rich. Get in now while you can. But, good lord, the rest of us better get steady for the Chinese invasion, folks. It ain't going to be pretty.
03:59:22 PM - timyang - No comments

24 August

More time-wasting
Roshambo Run is a game created by Brunching Shuttlecocks that uses the latest technology in time-wasting -- cute graphics and loud death-thurge sounds that go "AIIEEEEEEE!!!" when you die. The game is kinda of like blocks but with a scissors-paper-stone twist.

Incidently Roshambo is actually one of the names rock-paper-scissors is known by somewhere around the world. I could tell you where but I've been sworn to secrecy.

There are only a few levels to Roshambo Run (I completed the game already within an hour). The last level is tough, but it's just a process of elimination till you get the solution.

Damn. That was just too quick. Oh well, back to Battleships and Hitchhiker's Guide.
01:01:58 PM - timyang - No comments

23 August

More cracked ideas
I set up a spamerang list that exposes spammers' email addresses to spambots. The list is generated from the spammers' whois records, whenever they were available. My theory is that spammers are attracted to spamming not just because of the profitability but also because of the unaccountability that anonymity allows. Spamerang is an attempt to remove that anonymity.

From the website:
"Spam-blockers like Spamcop work. But only to the extent that their spammer lists are accurate. But new spammers enter the market all the time, making the list less and less accurate. They're attracted by the profitability and the unaccountability offered by the protective shell of anonymity. Spamerang attempts to take away that anonymity. It came about because there is actually little other (nice) recourse with regards to spam. No, I don't think suing spammers helps. They never pay up even if you win. A lot of spam comes from countries such as China and United Arab Emirates that don't have helpful privacy or internet laws so you can't even sue them. Complaining to ISPs doesn't help either since a great deal of spammers either use temporary email addresses on free email services, or run their own servers and some their own backbones. And how are you going to pursue them if you don't know where they are? Whois reports aren't always accurate or have complete details. Seems a lot of spammer domains are registered with a service called Godaddy.com which apparently doesn't require filling out any details. And you can look them up only if spammers have genuine domains and not just IP numbers or fake domains. I could always keep sending pizza to those addresses listed on Whois, but I hate wasting good food."

It might be too much to hope that Spamerang will cause spammers to get spammed by their own spambots. But if they don't already get enough spam at their email addresses, they'll now get a whole lot more. Revenge is sweeeeeet.

If you're going to create your own spamerang list, follow the precautions I listed on the site. Listing the email addresses as given in the spam is useless. But tracing the whois to the administrators' and payers' email addresses often turns up personal emails. Those are the kinds I like!

Join the spamerang movement! (Or at least mention it on your blog.) As Metcalf's Law states, "the uselfulness, or utility, of a network equals the square of the number of users." The more spamerang lists there are out there, the more spam lists the spammers will find themselves on.
05:56:15 PM - timyang - No comments

21 August

Middle Son by Deborah Iida.
Middle SonWhat drew me to the book is the consistently rich colour of the insightful prose, an example of which is in the lead paragraph, "Much of a parent-child relationship lives in the past. On the second day of an infant's life, the parent reminices about the first."

The story revolves around one man's regrets and battles with guilt over his brother, Taizo's, fatal childhood accident. The title character is the storyteller himself, Spencer Fujii, who is the middle son in the family, but later finds himself as the eldest and eventually the only son. On the surface it tells the story of a World War II Japanese family on Hawaii as the father ekes out a living working in the sugar cane fields. Much of the action and conversation is kept within their plantation house. Iida builds a tapestry of duty and behaviours that many of the readers of the book loved and have commented on in its Amazon readers reviews.

Iida peppers her novel with characters who are stuck in a kind of social limbo -- between knowing their place and being themselves -- unable to cope with their emotions, yet letting them burst through at significant moments. As Tom, the Haole plantation manager's son and Spencer's childhood friend leaves for the mainland, he surprises Spencer by hugging him even though they drifted apart.

Many of the book reviews focus on Spencer's relationship with his mother. While the novel starts and ends with conversations between these two characters, I think it's a mistake to overlook the relationship between Spencer and his father who, like a Dickensian giant, features in Spencer's every thought and decision from his volunteering for the army to his choice of wife. His father, who noticeably says little in the novel, dominates his mother and his brothers with stares and silences which ends up driving Spencer away.

What's most interesting about the style of the prose is that it is written in the first person by the Spencer, the central character. Spencer, the character, speaks in pidgin English ("He never believed in tradition," I say. "Some seriously he took all that."), yet Spencer the storyteller writes in confident poetic prose with the full flavour of analogy. ('As I ran down the cane road, head now held toward the sky, I assumed the color blue was as endless as the sky and ocean that surrounded our island.') It left me with the impression that Spencer was like two people, one half trapped in his youth, the other trying to move forward. And this theme runs throughout the book as he consistently sees his father and his dead brother in everything he does and everyone he meets.

The criticism I have of Iida's style is that she often feels compelled to explain things which I felt need not be elaborated on. In the last couple of chapters, Iida unfolds the whole event of what happened to Taizo at the reservoir, which by the time we get to it, the event becomes a moot point next to Spencer's guilt.

Although Spencer spends most of the book dealing with his brother's death, and continues on even as the book ends, Iida gives us hope for Spencer in an unusual way. As Spencer stares at the altar in his mother's house, he recalls the names of the people whose ashes reside in it. His brother, his father, his Uncle Toshi and his Aunt Sachi, we too recall their lives and more of the goodness and happiness of it. Much more.
03:36:27 PM - timyang - No comments

20 August

Christian Fundies O : Brains 1
There's something comforting about religion in that it offers you a chance to believe in a concept that's better than yourself -- something that you cannot perceive with your senses but simply have faith in. In other words, faith gives you the excuse to switch your brains off.

That's what a whole bunch of Christian conservatives did last month at the University of North Carolina. Unfortunately for them, their opponent was an institution where brains have to be turned on all the time. Fortunately for their opponent, when the case went to court, the judge too had his brain turned on.

The group, calling itself the Family Policy Network, sponsored three students to challenge the university's mandatory reading list (which has a critical analysis of the Koran) in court saying that if Christianity teachings cannot be imposed on students, then no teachings of religion should. Yet something tells me that these same people wouldn't have opposed the inclusion of "Under God" in a school pledge.

As luck would have it, three students were game. In fact, the FPN found far more applicants as plaintiffs than they had funds to sponsor because as one student said, "Less reading homework, wicked!" Well, no one really said that. But you could so easily imagine them thinking that.

The district judges and the appellate court judges ruled in favour of the accused. But the way the FPN portrayed the book, you'd think that instead of being called "Approaching the Qur'an", it was titled "Suck Mohammed's Dick, You Motherfuckers". In accusing the university of double-standards, councellor for the FPN, Stephen Crampton, has shown that he has forgotten what his university education was like. If anything at all, university education promotes debate and critical thinking, not ideology. Students have to examine multiple sides of the issues of subjects or else they court Fs. That might include for instance, a paper comparing and contrasting the practices of Islam practitioners in the west with those in the east. Such a study might even encompass an examination of the biases of the authors in the bibliography. Now where would there be a promotion of religion in that?

Sure some students might not like it because the philosophy of Islam might not agree with theirs. But then again, if every student only read what they agreed with, guess what you'd end up with. Bible college. Not an institute of higher learning. Actually, I really shouldn't slam bible colleges. They too encourage aspiring pastors to read the chapters critically. Apparently more than some lawyers.

In the end, if reading alone were able to make one switch one's religion, we have to ask ourselves, how deeply-rooted was that person's faith in the first place.
06:08:34 PM - timyang - No comments

19 August

More spamming
I don't know what the tech industry calls it, but I call it a nuisance. Spammers have been using dynamic domains that keep changing so that spam-blockers, which look for specific domains, will not delete them.

The latest terror of this technique is Optdeals.com, a Colombian company that has been hitting my mailbox with mail from addresses such as @deals.optdeals.com and @travel.optdeals.com. The ever-changing pre-fix on the domain makes my effort to continue blocking those domains ludicrous.

Then there are the bastard domain-maskers. This ability to disguise spamming email addresses as those from Hotmail and Yahoo in order to slip through the spam-blockers of those mail services has made me block ALL Hotmail and Yahoo addresses.

Next are the non-domains. I get email from places like @clickme.now and @homes.now, as if adding the fake .now suffix inplace of recognisable domain suffix would make me feel a sense of urgency to click-through. It only makes me fume.

Finally there is the false-positives technique of adding a personal name as the sender of the message instead of a company name or spam offer. So instead of messages from the 'Furniture R' Us' company, I get messages from fake identities like 'Helen Breen' that's actually a mass-mailer from 'Furniture R' Us'. They make every vicious effort to conceal their identity including having a subject line that hits a personal note. The problem is I don't recognise it as spam immediately and delete it and I often click on them thinking it's a personal message.

Could they be thinking that if I open up the email I would be convinced of the selling message? Only if I need lots of penile enhancements and a new home investment plan. And that's another thing about spam. It's always stuff you don't need. Would I be this mad about it if it was trying to offer me things like $1 hosting or $1 movie tickets? Hell no.

I keep sending notices of abuse to my mail service, but it doesn't seem enough. I daren't click on the 'Take me off the mailing list' links or else they'll know that my email address is active and send me more spam.

For now, as long as Optdeals keeps sending me spam, I'll keep using their email address (optdeals@mixmail.com) as my registration address for new online services I try out and make sure I click on all the boxes that say 'Send me offers'. See how they like that deal.

Better yet, hopefully, one of optdeals@mixmail.com's spam-bots will come across this page and include their optdeals@mixmail.com email in their optdeals@mixmail.com spam-list. And hopefully a lot of other spam-bots will also come across this page and add optdeals@mixmail.com to their spam-list. I hope that optdeals@mixmail.com will get what's coming to optdeals@mixmail.com.

Toward that end, maybe we should all create a spammers.html file on our sites that includes all the spammers emails on our block list with full mailto: links. How about them apples now, optdeals@mixmail.com?

(That's going to be my next project. I'm going to create a guestbook service at spamerang.net where everyone can add spammers email addresses and, better yet, company email addresses and the email addresses of the managers and CEOs of these companies. Then put it up on Yahoo so all the spam-bots can find it then sit back and wait for hilarity to ensue.)
12:13:50 PM - timyang - No comments

17 August

New layout
All done.

Known problems:
1) The guestbook pop-up window script doesn't work for IE. The day pop-up windows work for me will be the day... I actually learn how to write javascript instead of stealing code.
2) In Omniweb (it's a popular Mac browser, for all you PC-heads), the two iframes on either side of the screen don't appear. Folks, it ain't my fault Omniweb sucks. I'm speaking as an ex-Omniweb afficionado.
3) Why the hell does Mozilla keep drawing four rows instead of the three I specify in the message textarea? So in Moz, the left inframe will have to have a scrollbar to compensate.
4) This page looks better with Century Gothic and American Typewriter -- two standard OSX fonts. But it still looks good in Verdana and Courier. Let me know if you think otherwise.
5) The fonts on the tagboard don't gel because Qboard doesn't allow full customisation. I'm looking into a new board, meanwhile this will do fine. Trust me. Damn it, stop throwing all those eggs.
6) In Mozilla, there's an odd indent in the text under my portrait. No, my curiously long process did not cause it.
7) Comments. Sigh. Hmmm. Sigh again.

Still working at it. Use the new message sender on the left. I'm going to nap now.
06:41:25 PM - timyang - No comments

15 August

Working on a new layout
I'm attempting to put in some stuff that I've been thinking about for a long time. But the single column layout has to go because there's going to be a few new features on the site and there just isn't enough space. It's going slow. I have to frankenstein some open source PHP scripts and it's hard to find exactly what I want.

Sorry, you're going to have to find something else to occupy your free time meanwhile. Try learning to play ping pong or whatever.
03:54:26 AM - timyang - No comments

09 August

Drunk Indians (not PC)
I was sitting in a Brickfields coffe shop in the afternoon and across from me was a table with a middle-aged group of men consisting a sikh, a south Indian and two north Indians sitting around a tall half-finished bottle of vodka and a nasty USD$2 bottle of Club 99 whiskey. It isn't unusual to see a group like this in Brickfields. The area is Indian-intensive. Every shop is either a sari tailor or a barber. If you ever mix them up, you'll walk out with a well-embroidered silk sari that smells of sour aftershave.

Now the four of them were quite well and truly drunk. And even if they weren't, mixing drinks will get you there faster than a taxi driver who needs to pee. I couldn't hear what they were talking about and I didn't really care. It was probably a distant subject that drunks often talk about in an uninformed way like Columbians talking about apartheid, Mongolians talking about sailing or Singaporeans talking about eastern values. Suddenly for no apparent reason, the south Indian gets up, pulls his shirt apart, revealing whitened curly chest hair, and starts an exchange with one of the north Indians,

"You want to take my life?!"
"No, I don't want to take your life."
"You want to take my life?!"
"No, I don't want to take your life."
"You want to take my life?!"
"No, I don't want to take your life."
"You want to take my life?!"
"No, I don't want to take your life."
"You want to take my life?!"
"No, I don't want to take your life."
"You want to take my life?!"
"No, I don't want to take your life."
"You want to take my life?!"
"No, I don't want to take your life."

"I'll take your life!" I yelled as I pulled out a .38 and shot the shit out of him while everyone in the coffee shop applauded.

Well, I would have if I had something more lethal than a forefinger and a thumb. Not that anyone else would have been too concerned. Half the patrons were the regular batch of walking dead afternoon-drunks who would only have raised their heads had the coffee shop owner declared a Guinness tab amnesty.

As I got up to leave, the south Indian turned to the owner as he handed him his change for another bottle of Club 99,

"Are you angry at me?!"
"No, I'm not angry at you."

I love Brickfields.
11:39:44 PM - timyang - No comments

06 August

Yes they can get along
This is a true story.

In England, I knew a Palestinian and I knew an Israeli. And the reason why I knew them was because they were both friends. In fact, they were flatmates. For a month over the summer of 2001, I rented a room in their flat.

They hardly mentioned the Palestinian and Israeli problem even though the intifada had been going on for some months by then. The Palestinian was an economics post-grad and the Israeli was a film post-grad. They were both far more interested and passionate in the subjects of their choice. And, of course, also in smoking fruit-scented leaves from a hookah. They spent hours smoking the thing and giving the flat that awful cherry-flavoured disinfectant smell and talking about whose mother made the best fallafel. Then they would re-produce their fallafel recipes as proof. I don't like fallafel much because if you don't eat it fast enough, it gets soggy and spills all over the place. But that was a fun time.

So it leads me to believe that if we were to just remove the incitors of violence on both sides -- Sharon and his generals and Arafat and his suicide-bombing clergy -- (preferably in a non-violent manner... that involves a dismemberment or two) everyone would actually get along just fine.

Yes, I am a moderate extremist on this subject. And yes my evidence is anecdotal. But I still think my proposal would work. And if it doesn't, then I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. That's the only way to be sure.
07:58:25 PM - timyang - No comments

05 August

Asia's in-built lack of morality
As I was telling Mitch last night on AIM, when you arrive in Asia, the most shocking thing you'll encounter is the lack of morality. Adult asians simply have not been brought up with an idea of what is right or wrong.

You know those Nike sweat shops in Indonesia where people work for less than a dollar a day? It first takes an Indonesian factory owner to pay his fellow Indonesians that slave wage and to offer them up to Nike. He doesn't care whether they live or die. No sense of right or wrong.

I'd get really bummed if people stole things I'd created and then made a profit off of me without any recognition. But that's what Malaysian software, video and music pirates do. And not only that, middle-class Asians who can afford to buy the originals support them every day without considering whom they're hurting. No sense of right or wrong.

Thai girls will casually enter the prostitution business without any financial pressure, drawn simply by the lure of extra Baht and an easy livelihood. This has been the way, even before the white men arrived to slobber over them. And the rest of the population, with their silence and compliance, support them. No sense of right or wrong.

In the Philippines (I only point out this country as an example, but it happens in every Asian country with the possible exceptions of Singapore and Japan), people will openly pay police officers bribes to not give them traffic tickets. The police even feel entitled to these gratuities. No sense of right or wrong.

Asians rely on authorities to give them that clear direction. Even then the authorities dictate rules that are based on practicality, not for morality. A prime example that Asia holds in high-esteem is Singapore and its 'Flush the toilet or get fined $500' rule and its 'Do not litter or get fined $500' rule. Does it really take a law to get people to clean after themselves and to not rubbish their city? You should have seen Singapore before the clean-up. People used to dump their garbage on their own backyard.

Having said all that, Asians did invent socialism - social groups which looked after each of its members so that no one would fall by the wayside. The Chinese tongs would give the poor places to live if they had no money and even pay for the funerals of the destitute. But socialism is fundamentally flawed because its aim isn't that everyone will profit together, rather that NO ONE will profit at all. No wait, that's communism. Socialism simply opens itself up to abuse by corruption. But no one calls it corruption in Asia. They just call it 'helping each other out'. No sense of right or wrong.
02:21:54 PM - timyang - No comments

04 August

Why Bruce Springsteen is The Boss
When he does a 'la-la-la-la-la-la' chorus, you feel inspired. When Kylie Minogue does it, you send your CD-player for repair.

05:44:00 PM - timyang - No comments

I never take IQ tests
Like the ones that have been popping up all over the internet (especially noticeable in the post-9/11), they serve the role of affirming oneself and to show one's potential. But they don't point to a direction for the future.

I reserve a peculiar and somewhat irrational distaste for them. Mainly because they remind me of whom I could have been. Even perhaps whom I should have been. In the early days, I was always expected by my early teachers and compatriots to do well. To them my intelligence and potential were quite obvious. But potential to do what? I never found out.

These days I have taken up with a disease akin to the Malay disposition -- what the current prime minister of Malaysia calls the Second Malay Dilemma (the first being a lack of opportunity for advancement). It's a malaise of ambitionlessness and self-centredness. My self-belief is completely shattered or more likely never developed to the point that I saw a road ahead instead of a roadblock.

So what for an IQ test? Might as well test a fucking goldfish.
10:09:10 AM - timyang - No comments

03 August

See our breasts!
This send-up of impossibly-drawn comicbook heroines by comicbook artist Lisa Jonte had me laughing my ass off. Funniest thing I'd seen since Osama ben Affleck. (Yeah, I don't get out much.)

See our breasts!
See our breasts!
Jutting pertly from our chests!
Let us focus on the mammary,
And disregard the rest!

See them swing!
Watch them bounce!
More fan service to the ounce!
We think tits are a lip-smacker,
Nothin's better on a cracker!

They defy!
Like balloons they float on high!
Topped with nipples taller than Mt. Everest!
Go on, open the pages,
Glance or gawk for ages!
See our breasts!
Oui, our breasts!
See our breasts!


I'd also like to dedicate this post to Fark (motto: 'See our breasts! See our breasts!') for giving me my wonderful new desktop background picture of a beach and... er... and... some sunbathers! Yeah!

Like I said, I don't get out much.
10:17:22 AM - timyang - No comments

02 August

George W. Bush, meet Alanis Morrisette
As America gears up for war, I thought it might be useful to examine the two opponents in a line up.

According to US reports, Saddam Hussein has:
1) flaunted hostility toward his enemies
2) stockpiled nuclear weapons and chem-bio weapons
3) in the past ordered the deaths of thousands of his country's indigenous tribes
4) refused to cooperate with the international community

And the US government has... uh... has ...erm....

Hellooooo Pot, meeeeet Kettle!
08:12:37 AM - timyang - No comments

01 August

Learning Japanese
Recently, I started learning the Japanese language from a neighbour. Every Tuesday morning I'll go over to her apartment and slowly mangle her mother tongue.

To pick up character recognition faster, I had a brilliant idea that didn't turn out so brilliant. I bought a hiragana dictionary and a kanji dictionary and started translating Gundam comic books.

Trowa Barton: Look out! Zeon big-metal-warriors.
Duo Maxwell: What do we do now?
Trowa Barton: We make them eat our fungus fruit pies!

The difficulty lies partly in the structure of the Japanese language. It's actually the vocabulary of two spoken languages combined with the written vocabulary of three. And to make matters more confusing, the meanings of the words are not absolute and often depend on context. Apparently Godzilla was created when some scientist misread his chemistry manual.

Japanese also utilise Beavis and Butthead grammar. You have to wait till the end of the sentence for the clarifier to appear. For example, "The world is going to end in 2019 not."

I confess I had a childhood fascination with samurai and ninjas after watching several Akira Kurosawa movies. And for several years I collected an obscure comic featuring a ronin called Usagi Yojimbo. So now that I have a lot of free time, I decided to take up the language to understand the Japanese culture better. And to pick up cute Japanese chicks.

Me: Hi.
Cute Japanese Chick: Hi.
Me: Want to eat my fungus fruit pie?

I am handing in my application for ambassador to Japan tomorrow.
02:23:07 PM - timyang - No comments