28 December 2004

Visit of the Indonesian

My loyal reader visited me over the christmas. It was really great and yes ... even the chinese orchestra was fun.

Thanks for coming down (or issit up?).

And the winner is

I received my results today. It was not as bad as I expected but that is not something that I want. I have an A minus average for this semester. Is that good? I don't know ...

A new semester is starting and I have no idea what course to take. Well, I do have some idea but I can't make up my mind:

1. International Political Economy
2. Contemporary Asian Diplomacy
3. Social Movements and Contentious Politics
4. Introduction to international economics
5. Globalisation, Modernity and Politics

I can take only 2 courses this semester. I am leaning towards International political economy and Contemporary Asian Diplomacy.

Any ideas?

Nobody Knows

I recently watched a Japanese movie. The movie was called dare mo shiranai or Nobody Knows. It was a fantastic movie and it was actually quite serendipitous how I got to watch this movie (Thanks Stef!).

Summary I ripped from www.moono.com:

Nobody KnowsFour siblings live happily with their mother in a small apartment in Tokyo. The children all have different fathers. They have never been to school. The very existence of three of them has been hidden from the landlord. One day, the mother leaves behind a little money and a note, asking her 12-year-old boy to look after the others. And so begins the children’s odyssey, a journey nobody knows. Though engulfed by the cruel fate of abandonment, the four children do their best to survive in their own little world, devising and following their own set of rules. When they are forced to engage with the world outside their cocooned universe, the fragile balance that has sustained them collapses. Their innocent longing for their mother, their wary fascination toward the outside world, their anxiety over their increasingly desperate situation, their inarticulate cries, their kindness to each other, their determination to survive on wits and courage...

What was interesting about the show was that it presented the information and allowed the audience to make their own judgement and conclusions. There was no "these kids are parentless and we should help them" type of comments. Rather, the director films the children a rather documentary style of filming and allows us to understand their plight without having blatent commentary. I like that the director respects that I can make my own judgement and that I am intelligent enough to do so.

BUT, what I find incongruous was that the children were so well behaved even though they have no proper role model. An absentee mother cannot provide discipline to the children. Yet, when the children are in a cramp apartment together 24 hours everyday, they do not bicker and fight? I find that difficult to believe.

Also, there were scenes when the lead boy is so scruffy but no one noticed that: there was the landlady, the grocery store owner?

But this is no different from the situations Southeast Asia today. There are many refugees in the Northern Thailand border areas and they are escaping the perseution of the Burmese government. Yet nothing is done for them. They are still in the refugee camps in Northern Thailand waiting for the violence and political persecution to end in the home country. The Southeast Asian countries know about this but choose not to act.

So even though people might have known about the four children in the house, starved and negliected, they might not want to know. It is not that they did not have noticed, but maybe because they don't want to.

20 December 2004

Da vinci code

Just recently completed the book. It is as fantastic as the reviews suggest. A very clever and well-researched book. You should read it.

So as any good student would do, I went and did some research about the book. These are some interesting things that I found on the web:

1. A contest that Dan Brown created to tell his readers about his next book. Very interesting and clever. I could not really solve so anyone who can ... Feel free to confess it to me.
One clever thing that he did was to hid one of the clues within the hardcover's book jacket. The letters are all in bold (to view first and second part) and they form the words "IS THERE NO HELP FOR THE WIDOWS SON". I googled it and you'll get results about the links between Mormonism and the secret society of the Free Masons, specifically with the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.

2. Some of the truth mentioned in the book.

3. Use these photos to help you visualise the book. I think there is a illustrated version of the book that is out. You can use this website and the paperback as a cheap alternative to the expensive illustrated book :D

15 December 2004


I have decided to continue with the International Studies Program because I can't seem to figure out a topic for the Masters thesis. This is probably because I don't have enough knowledge of Political Science.

Oh well, it was an interesting alternative while it lasted.

9 December 2004


What should I do? I am thinking of changing my course from International Studies to Political Science. The present course that I am doing is a Masters by Coursework while the pol sci is a Research degree.

1. Graduation Requirement
IS: to graduate, you need to complete 10 modules.
PS: to graduate, you need to complete 4 modules and a thesis of 30,000 words (yes that sounds like a lot)

2. Opportunities
In order to apply for future postgraduate degrees (i.e. phD), a research degree would be looked upon more favourable than the coursework degree. This is because the university woudl judge that you are capable of doing independent research and the Masters thesis is evidence.
However, I think employees would have no particular preference.

3. Departmental
International Studies is a program in the university, which means that there is no fancy office and the staff is miserable (in fact, there is only one full-time staff). Also, as it is a cross-disciplinary degree, there is no permanent lecturers for the program. On the other hand, Political Science is an established department and hence, the fancy office, large admin and academic staff.

4. Modular
It seems that the number of modules / subjects that I will be taking will be heavily weighted towards the international politics elements of my IS degree. Since this is so, why not take the research degree in Political Science instead.
Also, I have enjoyed the one IR subject that I took in this semester and am interested in exploring more. Besides, I got A's for the essays I wrote for that subject, which is a big boost to my ego .. haha

Anyway, it seems like I am leaning towards the Political Science Research Masters. I need an objective opinion.


PS: one more thing - by taking the reseqarch degree, I stand a chance of securing a research scholarship which will pay me $1,500 per month and waive my school fees. (kerching ... kerching!!!)

2 December 2004

We all live in OUR own yellow submarine

I am having blog-rhoea today to make up for the lack of entries in the past month.

Yesterday, while the nation was caught in idol-fever, i went out for a run after the performance segment (the results came out about 1 hours after the performances).

So while running, I noticed that there were a lot of people walking about the streets and the roads was crowded; something struck me:

I thought that everyone would be caught up in the hype but apparently not. It seems that there are people would there who do not care about these sort of things. The reason why it struck me was because my sis was so hyped up about the event and it captured her attention for the last couple of weeks. Yet there are people out there who do not care about these sort of things.

Well, what i am getting at is that we are living in our own microcosm. What we do and think do not matter to other people and vice versa. So unless you are able to make a HUGE statement and affect the world, you would not feature in the people's attention.

The Shoes of Southeast Asians

I have just finished my exams, hence the lack of entries. Not that I have a roaring fan base that is clamouring for my entries.

A normal tpic escapes me but I have to satisfy my sole reader. So I have decided to blog about something that I studied about for my exams.

Do you know why Southeast Asians tend to take out their shoes when they enter the house? You would think that the explanation would be due to hygiene or cleanliness. But there is a cultural basis to it:

Southeast Asians (and I am talking about those in the 1900s and before, or maybe even the more traditional rural people) believe that the world is order in a cosmic sense. That is the world can be divided into three tiers - heaven, human, and hell. The ground that we walk upon belongs to the profane human world where the spirits and demons roam. (yes ... how Tolken-ish).

So by wearing your shoes into the house, you are bringing in the dirty spirits into the house which should be the centre of your spiritual life. Hence they take out their shoes before entering the house.

The interesting thing is that it is still practiced today and even among the Southeast Asians who live abroad. Well now you know the reason WHY!

BUT I have to put a disclaimer: this information is written off the top of my head. I remember the idea was something to this effect. But as anyone who has sat an exam, the information somehow starts a reverse flow out of one's head after the exams are over.

So don't quote me ...

16 November 2004

The Tooth of Wisdom

I went for my wisdom tooth extraction today. The dentist explained that they had to saw of the top part of the tooth (the part that is visible) before removing the root of the tooth.

The funny thing about the operation is that they cover up your whole head with a cloth and have a hole where your mouth is. So you can't really see what the dentist is doing, which i guess is a good thing. But I could not help trying to imagine what the whole procedure look like and what the dentist was doing inside my mouth.

The strange thing about me was that I kept having weird thoughts while lying on the dentist chair. First, being in an age where there is advances in the medical surgery, dental surgery seems a little backward. Despite the fancy equipment, the whole procedure relied on the dentist using brute strength to pull the tooth out of the whole. Not exactly key-hole surgery here...

Second, what would compel someone to decide on dentistry? And we are not talking about the crass subject of money here. I mean, people can say they want to be doctors cause they want to save lives, was inspired by a dying parent / sibling / grandparent, or even ER? But the dentist cannot say that. How would scaling and whitening teeth make the world a better place? It would seem that the dentist is truely just in it for the money? Maybe they wanted to be doctors but could not make it?

But then, who am I to judge? The nice dentist extracted the wisdom tooth that was irritating the living shits out of me. And ... and this is a big AND ... the dentist gave me LOTS of novocaine during the operation and perscribe a lot of painkillers. Painkillers are always good ...

10 November 2004

Pilot Episode

It took me more than a week to decide on a name for this blog. Is that indecisiveness or cautiousness? Who knows! Who cares!

First thought was that if it took me so long just to decide on a name, does it mean that I would have trouble writing these posts? Apparently not, with this constant stream of conciousness ...

Second, who would even read this? Unless I have some kind of scandal or am involved in a high profile event AND blog about it, I don't think this blog would reach a large audience. But then again, who knows what scandal I would be involved in? Right?! I think I would treat this like my tiny contribution to the knowledge out there. Assuming that you can even call this knowledge.

I am sitting here, thinking about how to end the post with a bang, especially since it is my first post. Should I end it with a though-provoking, yet witty, question? Or should it be a simple, but weak, "I hope this would be a fun exercise?"

Hmmmmm .....