Saturday, October 30, 2004

Musings on the Mahjong (vs MIT) Mentality

I did a google search on "mahjong" and "mentality" to see if anyone has beat me to these musings, and I found a blurb for Absolute MahJong, a computerised mahjong game, claiming that
you will understand the mentality of Chinese people playing this addictive game.

A little hyped or romanticized? Or is there some truth in it?

I searched again, using "philosophy of mahjong" as my search string, and found this interesting article, "Cruelty and Crowds".

This paragraph was close to what I was looking for:
"The Chinese like poker, and do not like bridge," [Lin Yutang] wrote in his book, "My Country, My People". "They have always played mahjong, which is nearer to poker than to bridge. In this philosophy of mahjong may be seen the essence of Chinese individualism." (emphasis mine)


Cool.

It's been a long time since I've watched a mahjong game (I don't play it), but let me attempt give a meta-description of one. (Mahjong experts out there, feel free to correct me where I've gone wrong.)



It's late at night, and you are sitting at the square mahjong table with three other of your friends or family at one of their houses. A new game is just about to begin, and all of you are "shuffling" the tiles, making the signature loud clacking sounds as the tiles collide, while you engage in small talk.

The game starts, and the atmosphere is still somewhat friendly, with light doses of humour and shallow gossip. But beneath the light coating of congeniality is a lot of scheming and strategy to make maximum monetary gain - at the expense of everyone else.

For every game, someone wins some money, and someone else loses some. And at the end of the whole mahjong session, if you made a net loss, maybe you'll win them back and and hopefully more the next time round; or if you made a profit this time, hopefully luck will still be on your side the next time.

As in any gambling game between family or friends, you exert a smile to mask your disappointment when you lose, and suppress your grin when you win. No hard feelings - we're all chums after all, right?



It's a mahjong game in school, especially if your classmates are the competitive type, and you're seen as competition.

Yeah, we're friends and all, we joke, make small talk, but underlying that friendly facade is a cloaked competition, a championship series which no one wants to mention, but it's palpable nonetheless.

You remember that the game is being played when you ask your classmates for help with some assignment, and you detect that slight hesitance and reluctance. Or when they give great reasons like "it's better for you to do it yourself" or "I didn't put any effort in mine; are you sure you wanna look at it?"

You remember the game when your test results are great, and they do little to hide their suspicion when you claim that you didn't study much for the test. And they claim they don't study either, but you know very well that they do.

You remember the game when you do well for your exams, and they show polite admiration, but you know from their cool gaze and distracted kudos that they're gonna beat you the next time round.

It's too easy to be like one of them when you're in that kind of environment, and I've had to catch and consciously keep myself from adopting that mentality.

On a slightly higher level in Ngee Ann, look at our MeL Portal (powered by Blackboard). All our lecturers' notes are hiding behind a login and password. Contrast that with MIT's Open Courseware, where any kid with an internet connection can access the faculty's great material. I've personally benefited much from MIT's initiative, and perhaps I should be paying them school fees.

So why can't we be like MIT, so open and willing to share? Afraid that the other polytechnics would benefit from our "intellectual property"? A general fear of being open?

Or, "our stuff isn't as great as theirs, are you sure you wanna look at ours?" Sound familiar?

Mahjong mentality?

This psychological phenomenon is certainly not limited to Ngee Ann, or even the rest of Singapore. It does seem like the ethnic Chinese people around Asia tend to have this mentality.

Maybe that first quote does have some truth to it.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Of Mahjong and Models

"Wanna play mahjong?"

I was absolutely stunned. She was asking me to join her for a game of mahjong? That's totally beyond my wildest and wettest dreams.

You see, she's this gorgeous model and I've only been able to admire her from afar since we don't know each other and we're not even from the same course. I just happened to be standing outside her class that day when she and her girlfriend stepped out and walked a few paces in quiet discussion before she turned back with that strange question.

"Where?"

That was all I could manage, since it seemed rather absurd to be playing mahjong in school, and I didn't think she could fit the mahjong tiles in her dainty handbag.

"At my place," she replied, smiling sweetly.

"Actually I don't know how to play mahjong."

Honesty is the best policy, they say.

"Oh well nevermind then," her smile barely masking her disappointment, before turing away with her friend.

I was still standing there completely bewildered when my friend who witnessed the whole scene from a distance appeared beside me.

"What happened?!?!" he demanded breathlessly. When a gorgeous babe talks to your friend out of the blue like that, you're definitely gonna be concerned.

I told him everything.

"You @#$% idiot! You should have said that you know how to play!"

"But I can't lie to her like that!"

"Then you should have told her that you got a friend who can play mahjong!"

"First, I didn't see you; second, I didn't know that you play mahjong; and third, she didn't ask you - she asked me."

He could only counter my watertight logic with disgusted grunts.

"Then you should have asked her to teach you!"

Hmmm... why didn't I think of that?

"Well, actually I've got other things to do too..."

Although that was technically true, it was really a face-saving measure.

Oh well. The next time a babe asks me to play mahjong, I'll know what to say.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Your Turn Now...

When I first put out my cryptic first post about 2 weeks ago, no one warned me that blogging could become addictive.

Suspecting that I may be quickly turning into a blogaholic, I took this "are you a blogaholic?" test.

Here are the results:

60/100 points

You are a dedicated weblogger. You post frequently because you enjoy weblogging a lot, yet you still manage to have a social life. You're the best kind of weblogger. Way to go!


That's cos it's only been 2 weeks!

If I don't do something soon, I'll have to be joining Blogaholics Anonymous pretty soon.

Being a control freak, I have decided to take control of my life, and control my blogging habit so it doesn't turn into a social problem.

What better time than now, since school vacation has just begun?

Thus, from now on, it's only gonna be one post per week. Just one. OK, every once in a while, it may be two. No more than three - three is the maximum. Unless of course, the situation demands for four or five.

Anyway...

According to my web counter, I've been having a total of about 630 pageviews and 320 unique visitors for the last 10 days. This means I've got a bit of an audience here, although some of them probably did not stay long (like the 10 or so who came in after searching "microskirts" in google). According to the counter, I'm averaging about 6 returning visitors per day, myself excluded. I've no idea where you're from or why you're returning to this blog, but I'm certainly curious.

So while I take this time to control my blogging habit, may I ask you, if you enjoy this blog, to put in a comment on why you like it, and anything else you want to say. (Anonymous comments are allowed.)

Till my next post, g'day.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Of Coessentialism, ThinkPads, and Macs

In many "primitive" cultures around the world, if you're born at the same moment with an animal, say, a cat, it would be believed that you basically share the same life experiences with the cat, and both of you share the same soul, will, or consciousness. And if you dream, your dreams will often be interpreted from the perspective of your "coessential" animal, in this case the cat.

And if the cat falls sick, you will fall sick also.

Of course, with modern advances in medicine and psychology, we know the sickness is psychosomatic (mind over body). Even then, coessentialism still exists in our modern culture, where we seem to have coessential things.

Like Yiling's blog entry entitled heartpain which was the inspiration of my post:

i dropped my precious.... my laptop!! realli hard on the floor.. heart break alreadi..


Which also reminds me of the time when IBM was selling their ThinkPads at NP, and the salesguy was raving to me about the notebook's Active Protection System which protects the ThinkPad if it gets knocked off the table and crashes onto the ground.

Being a hardcore skeptic, I wasn't too convinced by the video demo of the Active Protection System, nor was I particularly impressed by his 5cm drop test.

"Eh.. it's only 5cm leh... why don't you drop it from the table onto the ground, like what they show on the video?"

He hesitated and gave me a nervous grin.

"Well you don't have to, I mean, I'm not even planning to buy your product - I'm a happy Mac user - but hey, it looks like you don't really believe in your product!"

I was about to turn away when his ego got the better of him. Or maybe he did believe in his product.

"Okay I'll show you!" he declared proudly, voice slightly wavering.

It was painful watching him lift the ThinkPad off the table, hold it above 2-and-a-half-feet of thin air, and wince as he let gravitational effects take over. I felt bad for him.

The crash was loud. Our brave salesguy quickly picked it up, snapped an out-of-place corner back in place, and declared that everything was A-OK, as advertised. He even admitted to me that he'd have to pay for the ThinkPad if it was damaged.

It's not so easy to impress a Mac user, but man was I impressed. I even gave a few nods of approval and mumbled a "not bad..." Good salesguy.

There's no way I'm gonna do that to my Mac. Coessentialism. Too painful.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Break-Up Lines and Philosophy

I saw a no-so-happy couple at the atrium (no, not the couple that was featured in And They Lived Happily Ever After and Temper Tantrums). I deduced that they were unhappy from the sullen look on the guy's face, as well as the tears on the girl's face.

I love lovers' tiffs!

Unfortunately I was in a hurry, so I didn't hang around to chronicle the events that followed. But my guess was that one of them wanted to break-up (probably the guy), and the other had other ideas.

I suppose my hypothesis was subconsciously influenced by this interesting and entertaining blog entry ("Philosophy in Questionable Taste") with a whole collection of break-up lines of philosophers.

Here are a few that I like:
The Anti-Solipsist: There’s someone else.
The Empiricist: I think we should see other people.
The Hard Determinist: It’s not my fault.
Plato: Not enough dialogue.


Of course, many of them I couldn't appreciate due to my ignorance. Anyway, I contributed some to the list:
Plato: Can’t we just be platonic?
Einstein: I think we are too closely related.
Foucault: I think I’m gay.
Ockham: You don’t shave.

but I kinda regret the Foucault one since gay culture wasn't his greatest concern, or was it?

But this is my favourite:
Freudian: Mom, I think this relationship has gone a bit too far.

A Blog is like a Box of Chocolate...

A blog is like a box of chocolate - you never know who comes and takes a piece from it.

But unlike a box of chocolate, you usually don't mind, because there's plenty to go around. That's assuming that you've got stuff that people are actually interested about.

Anyway I just found out quite accidentally that lostgirl had a post linking to my blog.

She's a real connoisseur.

=)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Why Exams Are Good

Because in the real world, it is useful to spit out facts and definitions.

Because in the real world, whenever we have to solve problems, we're shut in an isolated room for 3 hours, with a piece of paper in front of us nicely stating the problems we need to solve, some of which are problems with multiple-choice options.

Because in the real world, we don't have computers. Even though we have notebooks for school.

Because in the real world, we don't use google.

Because in the real world, no one will be there to help us, to give us ideas, to give us feedback.

Welcome to the real world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Advice for Exams

Some of my friends think I'm some kind of genius; others think I'm just a show-off. Just because I don't believe in giving the sky-is-falling-on-my-head look and burying my face in a thick pile of well-marked handouts 5 minutes before the exam. Just because I only bring along the necessities (only a pen, and sometimes a calculator).

Or maybe it's that hint of a G.W. Bush smirk I have as I observe others with their stressed faces buried in the handouts.

It's not like I'm ready to ace the exam, telling the lecturers to "bring it on!" but it's just that I don't see the point in trying to cram something into my thick skull moments before the exam. Nor does looking all stressed out help one single bit.

Being a mild hedonist, I don't believe in exerting myself more than I need to, or when the marginal return (expected exam score) falls below the marginal cost (effort spent in studying). Thinking back, I don't think it was just economic theory that influenced my study strategy...

Back in secondary 1, my History said something like this to us:
"What's the point of studying all night the night before the exam, and when the exam starts, you're too exhausted to think straight?"

Wise words, which resonated with what grandpa used to repeat:
"Adequate sleep is very important!"

He also used to say "stand/sit straight! don't hunch!" but that may be irrelevant to this post.

But sleep is certainly important. My usual study strategy is roughly as follows:
(1) find a comfortable place to study (library chair, living room sofa, bed, etc);
(2) organise the material in front of me;
(3) close eyes to expel every bit of tiredness from my mind (sleep);
(4) wake up, wipe off drool (if any);
(5)study;
(6) repeat step 3 if any trace of tiredness is detected, and so on.

This strategy maximizes speed and retention and minimizes pain. Thanks grandpa.

My dad had his contributions too, related to me by grandpa:
"I used to ask your father to study and review his schoolwork, but he'd tell me that he's already listened to his teacher in class and learnt what needs to be learnt, so there's no need to study. Then he'd go play ping-pong."

Luv' ya dad, but why didn't you tell it to me yourself?

Like all wise dads, he had a good point - go play ping-pong. Wise philosophy, which he probably adopted from the ancients. Mens sana in corpore sano, Latin for "a healthy mind in a healthy body". So after a bit of mental work, I'm usually off to the basketball courts to release some pressure on the other hard-core cagers.

Exams aren't that bad after all.

Really.

Monday, October 18, 2004

And They Lived Happily Ever After

As in any good soap opera, any kink in a relationship must eventually end with the hero and heroine locked in kinky embrace.

Our couple in the drama described in an earlier post seems to have weathered the storm - I just saw them at the bus stop, girl clinging to guy's arm like a limpet, both smiling sweetly to each other, just like the perfect insurance ad.

I wanted to ask them to fill me in about how they eventually sorted things out, but as usual, I gave myself an excuse (they were too absorbed with each other).

Nor was I voyeuristic enough to hang around to see what else they did - got better things to do (like update my blog).

Stay tuned for the next episode, if any.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Physics, Probability, Philosophy, and Politics in a Polytechnic

I'm sitting at the Lifestyle Library reading New Scientist (25 Sep 2004 issue) and I come across this article "In the Lap of Gods", talking about quantum physics and randomness.

What a great time to revive various ruminations I've been having for the past months, where seemingly unrelated ideas slowly began to fit together. But it's far from done; I sometimes feel like I'm trying to fit together a massive jigsaw puzzle, with too many missing pieces, blindfolded, and on horseback.

Maybe verbalising some of these thoughts would help.

Since most of these ideas are still only vaguely connected, I shall not try too hard to highlight the connections. Just bear in mind that all these are somehow connected, at least in my mind.

First we have physics, specifically quantum physics or quantum mechanics. Manifested in the famous double-slit experiment, where sub-atomic particles like electrons or photons individually exhibit seemingly random and completely unpredictable behaviour, while a whole bunch of them taken together would exhibit statistically predictable behaviour (such as forming a wave pattern).

Maybe the quantum world is too small to grasp, so let's look at something closer to real life. If you toss a fair coin, you cannot predict if it's heads next or tails; it's random. But because we know it's a fair coin, probability and statistics tell us that if we toss it enough times, the coin would land heads half the time, and tails the other half (assuming that the coin never lands on its side). Individually unpredictable, statistically predictable.

Then in philosophy and religion, the notion of determinism, where everything that will happen is basically already determined, versus free will, which we certainly seem to have. God has determined everything past, present, and future as opposed to humans having real free will. Or, for the atheistically-inclined with a materialistic worldview - mechanistic determinism versus free will.

In politics, the notion of social engineering with the use of propaganda, policies, and campaigns, and their effect on individual choice. We scoff when the government encourages Singaporeans to have more babies, but I have a distinct feeling that the birthrate will increase a notch, at least for a few years. Yet having a baby is a profoundly personal decision (okay there are times when it's an accident). Or the push for more entrepreneurship. Very funny, I thought, only a few years back. Now it seems like it's working to some extent. Or is it a case of selective perception/memory?

Life here at Ngee Ann Polytechnic is just a microcosm of Singapore politics. They have this mockably laughable "Canteen Tray Return System" where they expect us to believe that "it's hip to return your trays", but hey, a trickle of trays are actually getting returned in the canteens, mine included. Or they orchestrate a more impressive open house, and guess what? more students actually enrol.

Someone tell me to stop blogging.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Best Place to Smoke

The latest issue of Tribune announces:
A new and unpublicised rule, which bans students and staff from smoking at the bus stop immediately outside Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), says that first offenders will be given a warning, while those caught a second time will be slapped with a $40 fine.


I'm not a smoker, so this doesn't affect me so much. But I know people who are smokers.

For them, it's a perpetual cat-and-mouse game with the wardens, hiding in a remote corner of the campus (staircase landing, toilet, high-altitude corridor, etc.) to enjoy (if they can) their fag, while being prepared to bolt once they sense that a warden is near. And somehow, the warden is always near.

So one day this friend of mine asks me for advice. He wants a convenient place to smoke (no need to walk 5 minutes just to get there), and he wants to be safe from the pesky wardens. He wants his fag and smoke it too.

I've seen people smoking in canteen 1, I've seen smoking at the atrium, and it seems to me they don't get caught.

But I suspected that going to the canteen or atrium is still a little too much trouble for that lazy friend (why are we friends anyway?).

I'm the type that likes to wax philosophical before giving advice, so the recipient will appreciate the philosophical foundations of my profound wisdom.

"You heard that the most dangerous place is the safest place?"

"Yup."

"I'm sure you also know that moving targets are harder to hit?"

"Yeah." (He had already completed his NS.)

"So you tell me what you think would be a good solution." (I have this irritating habit of trying to make people think.)

Brief pause.

"Dunno lah. Just tell me lah." (He's not the type that likes to think.)

"I would think that the best and most convenient place to smoke is when you're walking openly in campus, like when you're walking to the canteen."

"You're nuts. The wardens will catch me!"

"Look, the wardens are not in the smoker-hunting mode when they're walking along in the open. They only hunt for smokers in the deserted alleys and dark corners."

After some protesting, he still couldn't argue with my wisdom, nor could he resist peer pressure, especially when the peer had just given him a perfectly-timed reassuring pat on his shoulder, so he numbly lit his Marlboro as we walked towards the canteen.

Nothing happened, although I wondered if he really enjoyed the smoke. But he seemed pretty much convinced.

The true test of my "wisdom" came when we were in the path of a warden some days later, and there was no escaping without arousing suspicion. I felt responsible to help him out.

"Guess what, there's a warden ahead."

"Oh @#$%!"

"Relax. Just keep walking normally. Act like your grandfather owns the school. Listen intently to what I'm saying to you, so that it looks like you're deep in an intellectual discussion, and you're trying very hard to hear what I'm saying despite the noise..."

The warden walked right by us.

"... and there's really no need to turn back to look yet, until we're at a safe distance."

When the warden was out of sight, he took in a deep breath (through the fag of course), and let out a smoke-filled sigh.

It pays to listen to my advice sometimes.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

New Word: sesquipedalian

sesquipedalian

Dictionary.com:
n.
A long word.

adj.
Given to the use of long words.
Long and ponderous; polysyllabic.


Make a sentence:
My woman-past-her-prime-acting-like-woman-in-her-prime lecturer relishes the use of garishly sesquipedalian verbiage to reinforce her linguistic superiority over us students.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

One Big Zoo

First, I get a comment from matt for a previous post saying that

peoplewatching is such an intelectually voyeuristic activity which can be more stimulating than the highest, fastest rollercoaster sometimes.


Then today, I stumble upon this girl's blog who waxes poetic and reminds me that "everything is voyeurism" (9 Oct 2004).

Okay fine, I admit it. I'm a voyeur of sorts. And you too, since you're reading my blog. The same girl writes on voyeurism:

reading blogs, peering at the
passenger who'd just boarded the bus


It's a little ironic - blogger-voyeurs like myself observing the physical dimension of humanity and wondering about our subjects' motivations, stimuli, and other aspects of the mental dimension; blog-reading-voyeurs like yourself observing the vocalized mental dimension of the bloggers like myself and sometimes wondering about our physical dimension and perhaps our potential for physical stimulation.

It's all one big zoo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Studying in the Library

I was at the library just now, trying to read something. Not too far from where I was sitting was a group of 3 guys and 3 girls studying. They were supposed to be studying anyway, but they were yabbing away. Yabbing about that funny thing that happened the other day to this other classmate which was so funny that we need to talk and laugh about it. And yes this other incident where I was with this other person and we did these things that were so wow that I just have to tell all of you about it. Oh yeah we're supposed to be studying. Studying. Oh yeah did you guys know what happened to this other guy his girl? There is no way you guys will ever forgive me if I don't tell...

How do these people study anyway? There's just no way I could study in a group. I don't think it's because I'm antisocial (which I certainly am), but maybe it's because I don't believe in doing tutorials or studying consistently, so I can't afford to be distracted if I want to start studying 3 days before the paper, and still get a decent grade.

Or maybe they're just smarter than me, and I'm jealous.

Monday, October 11, 2004

What is the Meaning of Life?

With exams looming, stress levels surging, and heightened mental activity, every now and then, somewhere in a quiet corner of the campus, there will be someone asking herself such a question.

Checking our library's OPAC system for "meaning of life" will yield about 10 books on the subject. 10 BOOKS! Frankly, who would read a whole book or even chapter just to get this question answered, especially during the exam period?

Here's my short and direct answer to the question:

The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.

Thanks, Dictionary.com. I only copied the first one of a litany of definitions.

I wonder why no one has ever asked me such a question.

P.S. Here's an interesting site on the meaning of life, with video interviews of scientists, philosophers, theologians, and the like waxing lyrical about the subject. Yet none of them really answer the question directly, unlike me.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Temper Tantrums

Was at canteen 1, minding my own business, when I heard a loud THOMP!

Some guy 2 tables away had just slammed his his hard on the table, and was pretending that it didn't hurt. Something - maybe it was that big frown - told me that he was not in a happy mood. His girlfriend did not look happy too.

A fight! Lovers' tiff! I kept my fingers crossed, and pretended to mind my own business, while the corner of my eye kept them in view.

They guy was motionless, probably paralyzed by the pain and waiting for it to subside so he could make his next move. He was also probably wondering what his next move should be, knowing very well that his next move had to attract more attention than table-thomping for it to achieve the intended effect.

I was not disappointed.

He shot up from his seat, grabbed a handphone on the table, and threw it hard on the floor. Pieces of plastic flew in all directions as the Nokia spun across the well-greased canteen floor. It was quite spectacular.

To add to the effect, he also kicked another canteen chair so that it bounced noisily on the floor.

Satisfied that there were enough people staring at him with open mouths, he sat back down in a huff and buried his furious face in his arms on the table.

The girlfriend meekly went round the vicinity picking up the bits of Nokia, sat back down beside him, and proceeded to assembling back the Nokia (potential Nokia ad).

Soon after she was done, our hero lifted up his still-angry head, and his eyes caught sight of the as-good-as-new Nokia on the table mocking him.

What do you expect? He grabbed the Nokia again, but before he could do anything with it, the girlfriend grabbed his hand and started pleading with him. This went on for a minute or two as tears streamed down her face. Being a nice person, I wanted to offer her some tissue, but I decided not to. I didn't want to spoil the show.

After a while, the guy finally relented, and the girl went away to the restroom with the Nokia safe with her. As expected, the guy sat in stony silence, thinking about the next move. I wanted to go up to him and suggest, "how about the Toshiba?" It would have been ultra-cool seeing the laptop crashing hard onto the floor. But he did not look like the approachable type, so I chickened out.

Anyway, I didn't wait for the next scene; the drama was unfolding way too slowly by then, even after the girlfriend came back, so I eventually got bored and left.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Microskirts

Someone commented to me that the top of skirts are getting lower, and the bottom higher.

There used to be a rule stating that the hemline of a skirt must not be more than 10cm above the kneecaps. Maybe they figured a way to increase male student attendance, which would in turn increase female attendance. The politburo could be smarter than I realised. Only problem is that some male lecturers may lengthen their already-boring lectures rather unnecessarily...

Another reason could be that NP is under pressure from the government to do its part to increase Singapore's birthrate. Just the other day I saw this pregnant NP student on the bus, so maybe it's working.

But perhaps the politburo really wants to reduce the incidence of microskirts, and without acting like the politburo. They only need to look here for some ideas:
1. Increase aircon power
2. More reflective tiles on the floor
3. Bring in sandflies
4. Large gaps on the ground (must stretch legs to cross over)
5.

P.S. NP is not alone. An SMU girl complains (you don't expect a GUY to complain, do you?):
Girls inching forward uncomfortably because of skirts so short ...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

New Word: metonymy

metonymy

Dictionary.com:
A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated, as in the use of Washington for the United States government or of the sword for military power.


Make a sentence:
I wonder if North Korea is a good metonomy for Ngee Ann, or would it be too insulting to the Koreans...

The Da Vinci Code

This is crazy. They have 4 copies of Dan Brown's Da Vinci code in the library, and 23 people are already in the reserve queue! I never knew NPites were so interested in a novel built on a pile of conspiracies based on atrocious research.

I'm hoping to read Secrets of the Code : the Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries behind the Da Vinci Code edited by Dan Burstein, and there are already 2 reserves.

Maybe I'll just go ahead and buy it *sigh*

More Choices

Looks like Hype and Tribune have competition, called "Choices", which is distributed to the JCs, Polys, and Unis, with a claimed readership of over 80,000.

What Choices needs to do is to give their Photoshop guy some retraining (by me perhaps?) to rid the cover page model (Caroline Cheong, some TV personailty) of her serious eyebags, which makes her look almost double her 22 years. And hire better photographers or editors who can pick more flattering pictures of her, rather than those that make her look like some already-past-her-prime karaoke lounge hostess.

Back to the Photoshop-retraining-needed guy(s) - someone should tell em that Photoshop has a feature (that has been there forever) called "feather", so the pictures won't look so obviously cut n pasted.

But who notices these kinds of things anyway?