Friday, October 15, 2004

The Apocalypse Is Now

Who said this particular quoatation?

The Earth is degenerating today. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.

It's amazing how common this sentiment seems to apply to history, especially recent history. As anyone above a certain age can attest, the world is no longer firmly in our control. Our children rebel against us, and one's right to voice an opinion has been used and abused so often that the meaning of our words has lost its meaning and potency.

We are, as it were, approaching the End Times, where the world will change beyond our recognition, and our lives may be altered or perhaps ended forever and ever. And there is little we can do to save ourselves. The integrity of the people above and around us has degenerated in such a way that any change, any positive change, is all but impossible.

We are, in a sense, doomed. Incidentally, have you guessed where the source of that quote was from?

Well, apparently it was found in an Assyrian tablet, dated circa 2800 BCE. Of course, I've heard people saying that a particular piece of grafitti in Pompeii is similar to the above quote, so you never know.

Yes, I'm having you on. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

So. Tell Me Something.

I sin. I sin a lot. Every day, in fact. I am in no way a ‘good Muslim’, although I try to be a good person. As impossible as it sounds to some people.

I also know a lot of sinners. There are a lot of them, you know — far more than you'd like to think. I've spoken to them, read what they've written, broken bread with them, laughed at their jokes, listen to their confessions, and generally enjoy their company.

Or not. Sinners are a diverse lot, and our liking to one another varies — there are plenty of sinners out there I cannot stand.

But one thing I seem to hear a lot about are well-meaning comments about the state of sin these people are in. You'll know what I'm talking about: the sermons on pre-marital sex to those who engage in them, the castigation on drinking to those who indulge in the bottle (I have. I occasionally do. I will occasionally do so in the future), lectures on how a life of worship and humilty will do an ‘arrogant’ person good.

Perhaps you've had people done it to you. Perhaps you do that to people like me, sinners in life who have either made mistakes, or like making those mistakes and indulge in them.

For those who do, let me ask you something. I have known a friend, a woman, who used to talk on her blog about her sex life. I also know the guy she had sex with on a regular basis — have, for many years. I do know that after a while, a bunch of people started congregating on her blog and castigating her for premarital sex, telling her that it is a sin in the eyes of God. I believe she knows this, but for some reason, the castigation did not stop her from sinning.

Here's the clincher. The blog that these sordid deeds are in is no longer active; so there's no point in sending you folks a link. But on that blog, I believe, were links to her boyfriend. I believe it was to his blog (also inactive), and on his blog there were email addresses. His email addresses, I believe.

So tell me this: Why didn't you go ‘advise’ the other member of the party to stop sinning? Why didn't you lecture him on the perils of premarital sex, and urge him to change his ways? Why did you only heckle the girl and not the man, knowing full well that both share the same sin and both are equally guilty in the eyes of God? Why didn't you send him advice, however unsolicited, with the hopes that he would listen, and change?

I know he didn't receive any messages or missives from concerned Muslims. Was it because blogger was a woman, and only women are responsible for the sin of zina? Or were you afraid of talking to the man, and the only people you harass are the ‘weak’ and the unprotected?

So, tell me. Why not both of them? Why is it, that when a woman does something bad, and a man does the same something bad, the one who gets the crap is the woman and not the man? Why are women smokers lectured upon, and the men smokers ignored? Why are the ‘slutty’ women vilified and humiliated in the public, while the man ‘players’ ignored, or heaven knows, secretly envied and admired?

Is this because of the other person's sin, or is this about yours?

What An Interesting Idea.

Don't have much time, so I'll just give a brief précis and a little opinion-spurt.

The Guardian Wants You Non-Americans To Make A Difference In The November Elections.

As the Guardian notes:

[T]he actions of the US impact on our lives in overwhelming ways… And yet, though the US Declaration of Independence speaks of “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind”, you don't, of course, have a vote. You can't even donate money to the campaigns: foreign contributions are outlawed. And you're unlikely to have the chance to do any campaigning on the ground. All you can do is wait and watch: you're powerless.

Or are you?

Damnit. Why don't they give us this happen earlier?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A Letter From Someone Famous.

I've had two blogs before this; well, technically three, but the third one doesn't work as well as I wanted it to be.

I was satisfied, lurking in semi-obscurity, until I received an email from someone with my name.

My first impulse was that the email was spam (how many of you have received emails that came from you but were really selling penis-enlargement medicine?), but for once, this email is genuine.

It's from Tariq Kamal, a Palestinian-American commercial artist living in Los Angeles. He's an English major and a member of The Free Speech Show's ensemble cast, so some of you might have heard of him.

He likes the way I write. He thinks my girlfriend is hot (I agree with him). And he found this, a letter I wrote, a long time ago, compelling.

Wow. I thought only people like John Grisham and J.K Rowling were called that.

Anyway. Here's what he's got to say about this laughable circus I call my blog:

Tariq Kamal's blog is some of the most insightful and compelling material I've read on the Web, and I'm not just saying that because we have the same name. Intelligent, thought-provoking, and deeply personal, Tariq spares no effort in blowing the minds of his readers with each new entry.

I honestly don't know what he's talking about, boys and girls, but I just report what I've got in my mailbox.

Anyway. Maybe it's time I started working on consolidating all of my entries. Not looking forward to that, though.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Oh, woe is me! It turns out that I am the victim of vote-rigging! I feel so crushed! Jeffrey, how could you?!?! T_T

To Someone Special.

The smell of you, freshly showered.

Your laughter, high-pitched and joyful, when I hold you close.

Your exuberance. Do you know that other people can see that in you?

Your eyes. Did you know that when we're together, those eyes are large and deep enough to swallow me in their depths?

Your soft skin. The feel of your hands on my back. You're pretty good at what you do — no one scratches my back like you.

You're a lot of things to me. We've been together for so long; least, it feels like that.

I miss you, even when you're near. You're like candy. My candy.

And there's no one else like you.

The Jeff Ooi–TV Smith Interview.

See, I'm blogging about something in TV Smith's blog. This is allowed. Shut up.

“Firstly, I'm fed up with the local mainstream media. Secondly, blogs can be serious, and fun. But tomorrow, I may blog about locomotives and old train stations again - some of my favourite things. Days ago, I blogged about music from Scorpions and my Humbucker electric guitar - the stuff I grew up with. Then, there's this crave for mee rebus…”

What did I think about it? Well, Jeff sounded a lot more human than his Screenshots persona. And you kinda sympathize with the guy after listening to him for a while. He is, after all, by himself. And it has been a strain on him, any way you cut it.

“When I interviewed Husam Musa, he told me first thing: ‘You need to be brave in order to be a PAS member.’ It's much worse when you are all alone.”

Take care of yourself, old man.

OMG lookit! Lookit!

I'm'a loony blogger, momma! A loony blogger!

Wow. First it was MENJ, now this… someone really loves me up there.

I feel like squealing like a fangirl and getting choked up at the same time. I mean, look, this is what they say what people who make it into the list are:

The R.A.J.A.N. (R) Network is the Restricted [ as signified by the (R) ] edition of the original R.A.J.A.N. Network. It is a blogtal-cum-portal highlighting Malaysian (including those who think they are Israelis) blogs which can only belong to the radical fringe. Or in other words, these people have explicitly declared or projected themselves as radicals, are against the concept of universal justice and equality, and are totally naive when it comes to commenting on worldly issues.

Getting yourself awarded a listing status in the Network, which carries the title “Rajan” (eg : Rajan Tun Datuk Seri Tan Sri Datin Ariel Sharon), is a rare honour, equivalent to a Toonship from the Malaysian Federal Government.

Wow. Rajan Tariq Kamal. That sounds so cool. Thanks, nominators! Vote more for me, and get that fucker Rajan off the number one spot! Come, do it. Do it, bitch!

Does that mean that now there'll be all sorts of gold-digging women who are willing to fuck me for a moment of fame in their otherwise insignificant lives? I mean, that's what titled people get, right?

Updated: The administrator's moved his setup to MENJ's server. Very classy digs. Funny, though — he's disallowed comments. At least on my side. Perhaps… no, course not. Why would he ban me?

Updated: Guess not. Seems that incompetence was the problem, not malice. The pop-up comment windows don't work — me believes that there's a bit of slapdash coding there. My apologies to the administrators, who are doing a fine job in making sure I get the recognition I deserve.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Science Fiction By Consensus.

Been wanting to write about this for a while, but I guess I never got the nerve to do so. It's basically about this:

Orion's Arm: Building a World, 10,000 Years in the Future.

Okay, so what about it? Orion's Arm is a community dedicated to building a realistic, plausible universe, with a vast setting with no humanoid aliens whatsover.

Wait. Why is that important, all of the sudden? I mean, yes, there is no reasonable explanation for why there are Vulcans and Twi'leks and any kind of humanoid variant, but is that necessarily a prime selling point for this kind of thing? I mean, seriously. Are there enough people out there who are so sick and tired at looking at an alien with the shape (if not the exact physiology) of a human that there's a market for it?

That's my first niggle for the whole world, or at least the attitude and beliefs behind the group of people who are doing this. It kinda surfaces every once in a while, despite the fact that this worldbuilding exercise is actually pretty fucking brilliant.

The basic premise, if you haven't visited that place yet, is actually pretty much like this:

The original idea for the series began with M. Alan Kazlev, the ‘Director’ for the OA franchise. He likes space opera, but he doesn't like what the OA community calls ‘sillytech’. Not that I blame him, but since I'm not much of a stickler for sf I don't mind it as much as he does, apparently.

So what he does, basically, is try to write a story. It's an sf tale, at any rate, but with one big difference: it's space opera and hard sf. Which is harder than it looks, to be perfectly honest, since space opera is more concerned with the form and struggle between good and evil (or less-evil and evil), while hard sf is concerned with more scientific realism and coherence. These two goals typically clash.

When you try and mix those two elements with the Singularity idea, you usually give up, since Singularity stories typically end with everyone entering a vast, blissful rapture. Alan, funnily enough, solved it, by not making Singularity the all-encompassing, end-of-everything route. What happens, in the end, is, perhaps ironically, the rebirth of the Gods.

Oh, and I didn't mention this, but halfway through this whole process he lost control over the whole story, and it kinda ballooned into the current state that it's in — from one novel to a whole frickin' community-built world.

I have mixed feelings over the whole franchise, really. I mean, it's really cool. Really, it is. Ideas like a species of gods ruling the galaxy to answering the question of what happens to old-world religions, like Islam, to technology smaller and more advanced than nanotech make me go ‘ding’. They're great ideas. They're pretty original ideas. Plus, they're under the CC, so that means that people can use it to a limited extent.

But if anything, a good franchise cannot depend on great ideas. There are thousands of series and novels out there with great ideas but poor execution, and that just ruins it all for a lot of people. I mean, I don't agree with a lot of the basic ideas behind Orion's Arm — not things like why FTL travel and the existence of humanoid aliens (which there are, only that they're not really aliens, they're humans modified over thousands of years of evolution and tweaking), but basic ideas on why you're doing this.

I mean, you can say that there are no humanoid aliens because you think they're old hat, sure… but you need to realize what those aliens were for originally. Those aliens filled niches that fleshed out a world where all of humanity was united as one, and you needed that to make the world seem deeper and realer than it would have been without them. And ideas like FTL and sillytech are there for a reason, too — they make the story epic without having to make the story over-complicated. Take away those things, and you need other things to compensate.

And in a sense, Orion's Arm does this. It does, but only unconsciously, out of habit, or by discovering that you can't really make an engaging tale about an AI God last more than a short story. You don't talk about humanoid aliens, you talk about vec, ai, splice, su, tweak and sybont allies and foes, which, incidentally, make for more interesting tales than some all American cast taking on some damn Vulcans, even if you're using those characters the same way. There's plenty of shit that don't get used because everyone seems to be focusing on the wrong things… and not on what makes a better story / game / whatever.

I like OA. I wouldn't mind contributing, myself. But the inherent wankiness of the community makes me hesitate; it's not something I want to deal with on a regular basis.