Saturday, October 09, 2004

Oh, for crying out loud

Bloody hell.

And just as everything was simmering down, too.

Yuck. Just… yuck.

Now that's what I call “milking it for all it's worth”.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Another Dull Post About Blogs

I'm obsessive-compulsive. You might note that I cannot leave a thing well alone. I know, I say to myself, ‘this is the last post I'll make about blogs for a while’ but alas, that's never the case.

So what is the simplest definition of a “blog”?

Defining A Blog

Here's one I skived off Wikipedia:

A weblog, or simply a blog, is a web application which contains periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts on a common webpage. Such a web site would typically be accessible to any Internet user.
It's a pretty good definition. I like it, mainly because it avoids the whole ‘content’ mess. It's a rather interesting phenomenon. When someone here in the boondocks talks about blogs in a public forum, we always seem to gravitate towards the journalistic and opinion-oriented side of blogging.

Which is, in a sense, feels as natural as having our conversations drift towards the superheroic and pseudo-mythic whenever we talk about comic books. It's something, we find, that the medium is suited to. But to do so is to ignore the rich possibilities of what that particular medium can do. In a sense, it's like concentrating on the X-Men and the JLA, and ignoring works like Maus, Persepolis, and Eisner's post-Spirit work.

But what else can blogs do? When the above-average user thinks about blogs other than journoblogs and opinioblogs, their thoughts drift towards the somewhat murky world of quasi-private diaries, as well as works made by the fen.

Ugh, There Goes The Neighbourhood.

And frankly, I don't blame them if they think the world of fandom, as it is called, is full of chaff and muck, and that only sad obsessives with a fixation towards something incredibly silly like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Raymond E. Feist, Harry Potter and the many incarnations of Star Trek find any real value in it. It certainly seems that way, especially if you delve into the world of fandom, with its strange terminologies, customs and traditions.

I don't understand it completely, but I have a small circle of friends that do. It's both egalitarian and insular at the same time, both obsessive and open-minded, and often creepy as often as it is fascinating. As a matter of fact, the longer I look at it, the more I'm convinced that both factions, that is, fen-bloggers and “Real Bloggers”, have something to learn about each other.

What Legolas And Jalan Riong Have In Common

It's not immediately obvious, since there are so many differences between Jeff Ooi's last tangle with the law and, say, how hot Steve Jackson's Legolas is. One is seen as a watershed moment in the history of Malaysian press, the other seen as a rather disturbing obsession over a character that doesn't really exist. One found its way into the RSF's main page; the other is expressed hundreds of thousand times over the Internet, mainly in fan pages and forum posts. One is seen as serious: the other is not.

But both focus on the main defining characteristic of many bloggers, and that seems to be obsession. It is hard to deny the fact that Jeff is a driven man, some might call him obsessed. It's also very hard to not say that Legolas fans are driven as well; hell, it's probably easier to call them obsessed, if only to feel superior over them.

Now, not all bloggers are obssessed; it seems to be a common characteristic, not a defining one. Aizuddin seemed to imply that bloggers require some kind of discipline to continue blogging for long periods of time; I say otherwise: a long-term blogger needs only to be obssessed. There are exceptions, of course, but I'm pretty sure that a significant number of bloggers are obsessed over something.

Another commonality that bloggers from both sides share is the obssession over something that is, at least according to a strict view of reality, illusory. Jeff Ooi's tangle with the Law is not something new; Malaysian history is littered with the ruined lives of people who dared to speak up and were harshly suppressed by the government that is supposed to protect them.

The Jeff Ooi Brouhaha: So What's It All About, Really?

That Jeff Ooi did not finally get arrested under the ISA is an interesting development, but merely a novel one: not many people narrowly escape the ISA the way Jeff did. And even then, his escape may actually be merely a tactical retreat on the part of the Malaysian Authorities. Speculation abounds about all of this; again, this is normal for our Malaysian society, a society that has its fair amounts of secrets, shadows and prevarications.

And yet, this novel encounter between the Big Guy and the Little Guy sparked a remarkable frenzy in blogging circles around and in Malaysia — everything from frenzied media coverage to blantant, overwhelming support of Jeff Ooi from people who may not even look at him twice if he crossed their way. To say that Jeff Ooi's rights were abrogated by an irresponsible press is a fairly accurate statement. But again, this is hardly an unusual thing, especially for Malaysians, if the falling NST readership is of any indication.

The Two Faces of The Same Head

I found it bemusing that so much interest was being held over this event, such that I began covering it in a lazy, slapdash manner so typical of me. The amount of emotional dudgeon over one man's threatened freedom was amazing, but what made him so different from other men? What made his near-plight such a rallying call for Bloggers Everywhere?

I couldn't see it. I still don't see it.

I am glad, however, that Jeff's gotten out of it somewhat intact: hell, he got out it even better than you'd expect, considering the fact that they wanted him in Kamunting. But I don't know if people will remember this all in ten years' time — not the way people might remember, say, Anwar Ibrahim.

And I still think blogging as a far more egalitarian and more inclusive activity than what many others wish it would be.

I Don't Hate You 'Cause I Hate Freedom.

Check this out. I mean, I like Aiz and all out of principle, but damnit, he is such a big target.

I decided to try and see if I could make it all reverse-countdowny the way Aiz did it, but then sanity reared its ugly head and reasserted itself.

  • Bloggers can spell “Jalan Riong”.

    How many of them can spell properly again, much less spell “Jalan Riong”?

  • Bloggers have opinions…

    Dude, opinions are like rectums and nasty little secrets. Everyone has them.

  • …and bloggers don't really care who they upset.

    Raise your hands, how many of you would have parental units, employers, friends and family killing you if they ever saw what you did on your spare Internet time.

  • Bloggers are under no editorial control.

    Wow. Great. Just like Rupert Murdoch, without the impending senility or money. Mmmyeah no editorial control.

  • Its a wee bit difficult to “switch off” the Internet.

    Yes. It's hard to turn off the Internet, but it's easy to choke it with weeds. Tried looking for a good MP3 song lately?

  • Bloggers are not paid a salary.

    Which makes us hobbyists, not paid professionals. I'm supposed to be risking my life and liberty for a fucking hobby?

  • Bloggers move in packs — mess with one and you end up messing with them all.

    Dude, like the wolf. Except that wolves don't argue, backbite, bitch or snipe at one another as often as we do. Dude, are even talking about the same kind of bloggers?

  • Bloggers can (and often do) use “hyperlinks”.

    Wow. Look, the Enemy has money, power, influence and experience, but with our secret weapon, developed by Vannevar Bush, We Shall Overcome!

  • Bloggers don't have to wait for tomorrow to report today's news.

    Yes. Like I need to hear another “Berita Harian SUCKS!!” or nauseatingly naïve blog post.

  • There are nearly 10,000,000 Internet users in Malaysia and nearly 1,000,000,000 users worldwide. Now, that's an audience.

    A significant number of those buggers love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or any other TV show you could care to mention. Don't monopolize the Internet, man — the fen wanna have a go.

Don't hate me 'cause I'm beautiful, baby. Hate me 'cause I'm so mean-spirited and flippant.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Cryptic Time!

Do you have armor?

Not literally some kind of physical armor, but the kind of metaphorical, mental armor that you wear all the time, because the world isn't something a person should deal with without some kind of protection.

I have armor. It's not terribly strong armor, but it was made in the Cempaka Forge, which basically means that it's good for some things but horrible in others, and it scrapes my psyche in the wrong places and occasionally leads me astray.

I'm inclined to believe that any child leaving that school leaves with cursed armor, myself. Hani said it rather succintly herself: “I don't think kids from that school are capable with dealing with the real world”.

That did mean I had to learn and reforge the armor I wore into something that wouldn't get me cut into ribbons in Battlefield Life. And it still means that I occasionally overestimate the strength of my new, refurbished armor, and I take unnecessary risks.

Take this and last week, for example. It started off with Jennifer Tai's treatise, Scarfer's reaction and Jennifer's counter-reaction, and it's ended up like this. Amazing how it went. Another mild disagreement turned major turned catastrophic, at least for poor Jeff Ooi.

Enough of that. My armor actually dealt very well with a lot of blows I had suffered during this period: some negative emails, one negative blog post, and two IMs, one fairly eh, and the other managing to score the biggest wound I had this week. Not because it was remarkably witty, mind you, and to be honest, one that was partially self-inflicted.

The reason why it hurt was because in a sense, I had forgotten who the sender was. I had thought that she was probably ‘just an acquaintance’, but it turns out that I had shown her where my weak-spots were. So when she lashed out, more out of her own sense of betrayal and hurt rather than what I said, well…

Critical hit. Blood everywhere.

I'm sorry, my friend. I'm so terribly sorry.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Holy Toledo!

Now /. has gotten into the action.

I'm so sorry, Jeff.

But wait. Common Hall of Online Utopia?

Yeah, right.

Oh, You Silly Guv'mint People!

Inspired by a friend of mine. I don't agree with her a lot, but she has a point. Yes, she's a LiveJournal user. So?

Typical life. I spend the weekend under a bed, living on my own refuse and crying like a man with his soul broken up by cruel, cruel fate spending time with my family and friends, and someone Way Up There stirs up a hornet's nest we call the Malaysian “blogosphere” Blogging Community.

Just a question to Jalan Riong: Why lah so stupid? Oh, I'm sure that what you want will eventually happen, and you know, things will eventually settle down to the horribly unpleasant status quo that everyone seems to desire, so why bother doing this? All you've done is made Jeff famous. And if it's anything, he doesn't need to get any more famous.

I like Jeff. Not because he's funny, or amusing, or even personable (I don't even know the man, so how would I know?), but because he has that obssessive-compulsive streak about him; the kind of obssessive-compulsive streak that's very useful if you were, say, a MAS or ASTRO customer. Very useful.

Except now that you've made him all saintly and shit, because you've just decided to take on the role of the Bad Guy. The Bad Guy with the UMNO-Youth-style manner of intimidation, all force and no class. You might know what I'm talking about — the self-righteous, easily-offended martyr for his race who wants the people who said those hurtful hurtful things to stop, and he'll beat up and intimidate everybody, like some kind of Johorian Loan Shark or my girlfriend on PMS to get his way.

I mean, really. You even got TV Smith to write poetry. Poetry. It looks like Bad Goth Poetry. My GOD. It's an ode. I never thought he'd stoop so low.

You know what the fan-bloggers, the bloggers who write about unimportant shit like who dies in Buffy and why Captain Archer's so fucking hot (can't say I disagree with that, hoo boy!) or why they want to marry Legolas and have his squealing babies think when they see the righteous furor that the Jalan Riong nastiness has engendered?

“My God,” they'd say. “They're blog-wanking.”

And it's all your fault. Thanks a lot, Jalan Riong. Now they're just going to be insufferable. All that heat from the Higher Ups, see. Dries out their sense of humor. Very the not nice to see, you.

And I know I'm gonna catch some flak now. If only in the form of well-intentioned advice.