Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Short Allegory

In my journey eastside I have encountered many things. As I emerged, face drinking the sun, just starting on my journey, I felt liberation and anticipation for what was to come. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, as we are wont to say. It was good to stand tall after crouching for so long in my dark study. The first days were hard though, with me so unprepared and all. But walls crumble in time, even in ten years of horse-labour. After some time in dark tunnels (not so dark, light, after all, streams in from both sides), I emerged into a vast quilt of lands. I tell you, the landlords weren't too happy to see me walking without a care in the world, as if I would crush their flowers. Crossing the chess-board patchwork of parcel-estates is hardly fun, though, given that the sheer heads of the master-pieces are staring down stonily at you. I was glad to get out from there without starving as I was wont.

Casting down my sword and spear, for my need had passed, I went on to what I considered safer lands. The
Mille fontaines were beauteous, as were the murals in the cavernous halls that I rested in. You must understand that vast tracts of the land lay fallow and uninhabited, the canvas of human life, being, as it were, heavily skewed towards centralization. But there was a man with donkey's ears, and he followed me silently for as long as I remained in those lands. I was disturbed at his quiet, fervent intensity, but I never went near him.

Further on was the place known as Krieglander, which I understood to have once been the fallen legacy of a god-empire of old, but, ironically, was neither divine or much of an empire. The Reicheroberer changed all that, of course. The land here was tilled and orderly, and folk greeted me with more vigour that I would have expected. Distant lands that carried sickness became distant lands that carried riches, and smoke, black smoke, appeared on the horizon. And, somehow, night never came for a long time.

I trudged through ditches and tar, all the way. And before long I came into a land of night, a night that wasn't, a night that was grim beyond despair and reeked of death. But suddenly, that too, disappeared in light, blinding light that I knew was a salve from heaven and hell.

East still lay a long way away, though. The road leads ever on, and I did not feel liberated as I laboured forth. But at length a vast wilderness lay before me, dotted by trees and a discarded parka here and there, crisscrossed by countless tracks and marked with craters. There was a bistro there, incongrously lighted in the long night. I was hungry, having braved much without so much as a bite, and I was cold, and tired, having no place to sleep. So I went in.

Inside was warm, but not as warm as I would have liked. An electric fire crackled merrily behind the bar. Two lights swung above the room, one above the bistro area, one in the bar area. I wondered where they got the electricity from. There were people inside when I came in, tall, gaunt fellows who sat around nursing clear spirits. The lone waiter and the restaurant manager, in contrast, looked mighty well-fed. Around the bare room were pasted posters, large coarse ones with messages like "GOOD GOING" and "ALL THE SAME TO US" imprinted in large block letters on them, and the bistro was creaking like a house in storm.

The waiter didn't budge. I knew he knew I had come. He lounged at the corner studying me. At length I could hardly stand my hunger and thirst and approached the waiter on weak legs. "Excuse me," I began. The waiter showed no sign of having heard. I went on anyway. "Some water, please, and a sandwich."

At length he turned toward me. "Scrawny looking thing, aren't ya?" Mystified and affronted, I said nothing. "I'll get'cha what ya want. Just be sure ya don't mess up the place, like, by pissin' all ovah the floor like. I know you. Ya do that all the bloomin' time."

I turned tail and headed towards the manager. Surely an explanation is not required. But the manager is already waiting for me, hefting an axe. "I most heartily express my disgust at your employee over there," I said, pointing to the retreating waiter. But the manager only smiles, walrus moustache bouncing away. "And why do you think he would rectify his behaviour, peon?"

I sputtered.

Menacingly, the manager grins at me. "You're all the same to us, see? Who cares about you, when we have so many others to use? Why should we extend services to you, you with your decadence?"

This is obvious to me. "Because you will have no customers. They will leave you for better alternatives. We deserve better than this!"

"Is it indeed? Look around you." The manager smiles. "Remember how you came. Look around you! Look at the wilderness of the world, lost among the uncaring universe. Do you honestly think, in all seriousness, that there are...alternatives?"


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Mun of Fun!

Apart from being the, and I quote, "largest collection of white tits and ass you'll ever find" (no prize for guessing who said it), SiMUN was actually quite a lot of fun. Especially because among the (very many) white asses were those belonging to our dear friends from RJ, who could quite possibly rank among the coolest Rafflesians on the planet.

Take this for example. In my committee (ECOSOC), we had to debate a resolution on indigenous peoples, which the delegate from the DPRK (pity it wasn’t assigned to Hwa Chong, haha) spoke against. Now, the delegate from the very...interestingly..named Democratic People's Republic of Korea was a perfectly square man in every sense of the word. Heck, if he stood behind a screen, you'd see the silhouette of a sardine can securely fastened onto a Lego brick. Replete with little bristles of hair for other Lego bricks to connect. I'm not kidding. And when he walks THROUGH the screen, in that typical no-mere-wall-can-dissuade-me-from-changing-my-glorious-direction North Korean way that he does, you'll find yourself face to face with a monolith of black on black, replete with a red tie. Talk about getting in line with your country stance!

Anyway, so he walks up the podium, and begins his speech AGAINST indigenous rights, saying how they should all be left to rot because the resolution doesn't concern North Korea anyway. At the end of which, the submitter of the resolution stands up and says: "Well, perhaps Our Dear Leader forgets at times, but does the delegate from North Korea not realise that fully five percent of his country's population is indigenous?".

At this point, most people in the auditorium are thinking: "Oh, shit, now he's dead". This guy, however, is absolutely unfazed, stares at the speaker for a while as if he just babbled something incoherent about Bill Clinton's continued moral impeccability, and goes in a perfectly even voice:

"The delegate of North Korea is not aware of this, as North Korea is only comprised of 100% loyal North Koreans."

Clearly t3h win. Especially because after that, Iran accused North Korea of wearing clogs and therefore having a poor human rights record (best link ever, right?), and North Korea ACTUALLY broke down on stage and sobbed "North Korea is ONLY trying to work with the worldddd!" in the most heart wrenching voice EVER, like Mike Tyson suddenly deciding to convert to the Jewish faith and spontaneously breaking out in Hebrew choruses, while spitting out half digested pieces of Evander Hollierfield's chewed off ear. Sweet.

Oh yeah, back to the point, this guy's from RJ.

So, anyway, my own experiences at SiMUN were pretty cool in themselves. It was surprisingly easy for a first timer, and you always know it’s a good thing when someone walks on stage within the first five minutes and makes an announcement that goes:

"Bee bee boom. Sorry for the interruption, but would all Anti-imperialists assemble here please? America, please piss off. Thank you."

America, however, was too busy studying for her term test at home to be mortally offended. Anyhow, at the end of the first session, I had managed to persuade all fifteen people doing the same issue as I was (landlocked countries) to use and back my resolution instead of theirs, which was strange, because it included all the anti imperialists (i.e. Iran, Cuba and Libya), but ALSO the UK, Japan, Australia, and Canada. Funky. Then I convinced the people who WEREN'T doing my resolution to vote for it anyway. Skillz.

Due to the incredibly large number of supporters (it's diplomacy, not whoring! I didn't buy them chocolate or promise them dates or anything, the latter of which would have been used as a mortal threat. I merely showed them off the floor (no one listens to debate) how truly l33t the resolution was!), our strategy for getting the resolution passed was this:

Chronology of events;

1. Toitle Reads Resolution

2. Toitle makes speech, and passes to other delegate

3. Other delegate yields to chair, FOR time begins

4. Fifteen delegates jostle to speak during FOR time, always yielding to another delegate, then back to the chair

5. Against time begins, BUT is rudely interrupted by a motion to move directly to open debate (where you can speak both FOR and AGAINST), which is seconded by about half the room.

6. Another twenty delegates jostle to speak during open debate, all of whom are For, effectively drowning out opposition.

7. Should opposition arise, almost every country raises its placards and pwns the speaker with POIs


So yeah, it was pretty cool. The only problem being that Bolivia was never supposed to play such a significant role in world affairs, as evidenced by the Chair recognising me THREE TIMES, no less, as "The Delegate of Brazil". To which i replied, after the third time, with great consternation, "We like to call ourselves Bolivia at times. BOO-LII-VIAAA. The one that sounds like an yeast extract."

The only aberration was that Jordan DID decide to secede from my coalition in the end, the only reason being because he wanted his name as main submitter. For a resolution that benefits Jordan the MOST of all the countries in the world. Even though there was no best delegate, or delegation. WTF? The only point he had in HIS resolution that wasn’t in mine was this: (I swear, I'm not kidding.)

"Recommends the UN led growth of the plant [long Latin name that probably just means Grapefruit] in African states, for the purposes of providing water."

He never got to hear the end of it, and we (Terence and myself) tabled his resolution indefinitely by a huge majority and got ours passed in committee. Whoops.

So anyway, after three days of constant speaking and haxxing, it finally paid off in the GA when we got it passed 39-5, DESPITE Greece's frantic attempts to slam it as the "embodiment of everything that is wrong with third world dependency". Nice try :) The US went up, spoke for about five minutes on why the resolution sucked to hell, and then voted FOR it because twenty people wrote and told them to. Dumb Greece. See, no one actually listens in debate, unless you tell them off the floor. ESPECIALLY if your article invokes Article 76 of the Law of the Sea, WTF. Insomniacs everywhere rejoice. :) Just kidding Mun. Really, great job, on a really spastic topic!

As for the previous post, the message by Nova was sent to me just before the vote, which was really really tense but rather anti-climatic in the end, because of the huge majority by which the resolution got passed. HELLenic Republic indeed. And sorry Nova, about your resolution, it really wasn’t about Greece breaking the mutual pact, your resolution really did have some problems (i.e, it tried to ban torture, zomg), and Bolivia IS a socialist state after all. (We use Special Police Units to shoot crack farmers.) Ah well. All in good fun.

And good fun it was! At the end of the whole thing, because of the way we worked so closely together, I befriended about half the people, and got their contacts. (Haha if I didn’t, I'd be a political bastard. and I counted okay! 13 guys and 13 girls. So. Not. A. Flirt. Unless you're implying I'm gay, in which case I am So. Not. Gay. As well)

GA was actually pretty fun, particularly because we ended up playing proxy bingo. Now, for all of you unacquainted with the system, in a MUN you aren’t allowed to talk. Instead, you write messages on pieces of paper, and these little people (half of them called Igor, no doubt) scurry up to you and transmit them first to the chair (for censorship), then to your targets.

Proxy bingo goes like this. As with normal bingo, all participants write down numbers from 1-25 in a 5 by 5 square. One non participant, in this case some UWC girl, thinks up a number from 1-25, in this case say 21, and writes it on a piece of message paper. The message then goes to a bewildered securitariat and the chair, who wonders what on earth "21" is, and perhaps thinks that it’s actually half of the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, and thereby has hidden significance somehow relevant to the conference (read about the cool messages that went around on Shivana's tagboard, lol). They then pass the thing to all the participants, who cancel out "21" on their pieces of paper, and the process continues.

Five in a row wins. Upon which, you write BINGO! backwards as !OGNIB, replete with click and all, and send it to everyone. Hurrah. The chair thinks you've just discovered the meaning of life.

In fact, it got so mundane at one point that I was about to initiate a vote of no confidence (which my coalition, now much larger, wanted to support) in the Sec-Gen for the heck of it when the conference closed abruptly! Daymn. It'd have been good to sit on that chair, and my agenda would essentially have comprised of have three items:

1. Creating a new voting system where every item of clothing removed by a delegate on the floor counts for ten votes.

2. Legalising the phrase "Tabletop Dancing is in Order", and motioning for that with immediate effect

3. Mandating within the UN charter a decree that every chair-in-training pass through the initiation right of chanting "Bolivia" six times while stepping on hot coals.

After which I'd pass the floor back to the previous Sec-Gen for her closing remarks. Lawl. Oh well, there’s always next year :)

So anyway, to everyone who took part in SiMUN, great job! Bolivia team, nice try, Hoe, you really should've gotten best resolution for yours, too bad the majority of your Committee had the sense of humour of a slowly rusting mess tin. Ah well, better luck next time!

Congrats to Mun and Sam for special mentions, and to Mun for best res. Lol, you trix me, you said ALL of them were awarded to non-debated ones, so I thought that included yours! Never mind. Poor Augustin, brother of mangosteen, sorry you were the Chair, man.

To all my new SiMUN friends; you guys were awesome, really, some of the best orators I know! Thanks for your support, let’s keep in touch!

Finally. For EVERYONE else who didn’t take part, DO COME NEXT YEAR! It’s an unbelievably great experience. SiMUN says, JOIN NOW. Now. NOw. NOW. (Notice the varying tones of voice to gradually hypnotise you into believing me. Yeah, SiMUN's that effective. :))


Actually, join ThiMUN. At least it’s not held at the Lychee Franchise.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Here it comes again.

It's strange, but I have a predilection for being immersed in bouts of frustration at painfully intermittent periods of my life. Simply put, I'm pent up in frustration and a sense of mental claustrophobia, as if walls were closing in on me. At the same time there's that constriction and senselessness and that feeling of being cut loose, adrift on a wide sea, to borrow the oft-used metaphor.

Right now some worries gnaw at the back of my head. There is, for example, the SRP conundrum. SRC on Friday managed to paint a rather grim, unfriendly atmosphere for us prospective researchers - as if we are inmates being thrust into hard labour with unfriendly and reluctant supervisors to monitor our activities. The first part of SRC was fairly interesting sans the deliberately abstruse project presentations, but the latter half performed admirably in its capacity as a wet blanket. Or perhaps sour grapes. Based, as it were, on less than spectacular performance from preceding batches, whose majorly uninspiring antics galvanized the blase coordinator to lambast we unsuspecting few with a preemptive "scolding", as he put it, of our future misdemeanors, taking out his frustrations on us. I don't fancy mentors that don't want my untrained faculties poking into his research. Much less being watched with eagle-eyes by a cynical, jaded authority.

There is that enduring problem of EE and my inability to decide on what I want or can do. Posthumanism? Political, social, ethical, stylistic considerations? Subbranches of posthumanist literature? Case-studies? Dune? How shall I structure the EE? How shall I talk about the enduring themes of mere fiction? (Note the irony.)

Then there are the holidays. Which are ending. A puerile consideration, perhaps, but irritating nonetheless.


I'm reading Ilium by Dan Simmons, which worries me because nowhere on this good Earth have I yet seen the sequel Olympos. Ilium is a strange book built on strange premises - that of Homer's Iliad being performed by hapless pawns on Mars, of sentient machine-cyborg beings no doubt inspired from Dyson's astrochicken, that for once copy human linguistic patterns and swear liberally, of postliteral humans trapped in an Eloi-like state of society, ignorant of even te most elementary things. Ilium is engaging because of its sheer novelty and complexity, and for now, although I haven't finished, it has already offered several fascinating thinking points.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Walking in the whispering wood
Past the fallen leaves
A boundless mist upon the mood
Settles unbereaved

Brushing past the moonlit trees
I came upon a clearing
And then I sank upon my knees
Filled with awful yearning

For dancing stars above the night
And vasty spirits beyond my sight
And knowledge, for which no man knows
But yet strives still, long and slow.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


It is interesting how music can have such a profound effect upon memory. The sounds spin webs in your mind and it isn't easy to disassociate them from impressions once they have settled into your brain.

I myself have not been immune to this, although I would hardly call it a liability. It just gives music an added poignancy, you know? Music is not just a collection of sounds that are pleasing to the ear. It has a capacity to subconsciously foster order where there is none. Music is a stimulus for action. It galvanizes powerful emotional reactions. For that reason it is very much a testament to the emotive power of the mind.

I tend to associate songs with times, or even with books and other forms of media. In end 2004 my mind was inundated with Vertigo by U2 as a result of overexposure to iPod ads. I vaguely remember a dash of LOTR music in the mix as well. Early 2005 is indelibly associated with KOTOR. As a result KOTOR music was impressed upon my consciousness. Angel by Gavin Friday and Prince of Egypt (more notably Humanity and When You Believe) , which I acquired after March 1, were powerful evocative symphonies, not least because of Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet. As the OM drudge began to set in I start to associate this period with extreme Revenge of the Sith mania, culminating in obsessive partaking of Blue (Da Ba Dee) and the Phantom theme from Schumacher's 2004 movie, as well as I Shot the Sheriff and far too much Enya for good measure. After the end of OM I return to what seems a blank time - June 2005, which is quite empty for some reason. I think, though, that I was listening to I, Robot at the time, as well as snatches of the Beatles heard from Mediacorp Gold 90.5. Before June I was also listening to The Dream Within, sung by Laura Fabian, from the Spirits Within.

July came and with it a powerful dose of Heaven and quite a bit of Euro-techno music like Fairy on the Lake. I like to think of this period as the photoshop period. Following the IB Symposium I was also caught up in weebls-stuff, lots of Matrix parody flash, clay animation videos, and the Matrix music. Neodammerung and Navras from The Matrix Revolutions in early July and August, the whole deluge of Romeo + Juliet music in August, around the cross-country, especially Lovefool by the Cardigans. Additionally, nascent Potter mania influenced my music tastes in John William's music from the Harry Potter movies. After this, I started to try drawing faces, which led to Hey Jude by the Beatles and Little Star in the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, as well as Mandy Moore, notably I Wanna be With You.

With exams comes a curiously null period again, although the Little Star period lasted till late September. When the exams finished Hayley Westenra came into the scene, with My Heart Belongs to You, whereupon I began to listen to Odyssey and Mariah Carey for the rest of the month. In work attachment I have a powerful impression of Vision of Love and i dont wanna cry by Carey as well as pseudo-operatic ballads sung by Hayley Westenra, like Dark Waltz and Dell'amore non si sa. I continued listening to Hayley Westenra, eventually diverting to more mainstream music such as Never Saw Blue and I Say Grace. After this came a portion of the FFAV soundtrack, like Water, and more Carey, and Everlasting Love by Jamie Cullum. When I went to Europe I discovered Michael Buble on the bus, and was amused by Quando, quando and Nelly Furtado, as well as Home, and Have a Little Faith in Me by Mandy Moore. Afterward it was Narnia. After Orientation I became enamoured with Michelle Branch, Josh Groban and Geisha. Then Pure and right now, After the Love Has Gone.

Some books also have strong associations with music. The Ender series with several intermeshing melodies that I can't remember. KOTOR with Humanity and Angel, Harry Potter with Harry Potter music, Narnia with Narnia, and others. Music is truly a unique human impulse. Like other types of art it deals with the raw impulse of the human spirit, that primality inherent in humans. Music merely refines it into recognizable constructs while preserving the pure emotive force.