Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Formal Education

I like studying. I love learning. I hate education. Contradictory? Possibly not.

I hate examinations, but for a completely different reason as compared to everyone else.

Everyone hates exams because of the studying that you have to do. I, for one, like studying - it lets me remember all the things that I've forgotten, or all the things that I missed when I fell asleep in class. And anyway, after studying, you realise that there are things that you're really interested in, even though you hated them when you first started out. Wood Pile, anybody? Heck, I'm starting to like weathering even as I type.

Everyone hates exams because it takes up hours of your time. Like, hours and hours and hours of it. And because time seems to pass so slowly when you're studying. Which, people tell me, based on the Theory of Relativity, is true. Fortunately, that isn't a problem for me, because I have 28 - 48 hours in a day (the number varies from person to person, I think), and so I've got time to waste. In fact, the problem is that I feel that I should be studying when I've already been studying my arse off.

Everyone also hates exams because of how you have to mug. Ah har! For once, something that I actually agree with. Who the freak mugs for exams? Seriously, exams are supposed to test your ability to cope and deal with the subject, not your memory work. If you wanted to test your memory, then go memorise the names of all 493 Pokemon. In Order. Hey, if Dwee can do it, so can you. And heck, if you can memorise 3 x 18 freaking pages worth of IOC essay, then you can bloody well quit life. Seriously, I have no respect for people who memorise blindly.

Which leads me to the reason why I hate exams: It stifles my creativity. Exam techniques? Definitions? All of these kind of questions encourage memorising and intensive mugging, which I believe is completely detrimental to your mind in general. Even wonder why Singaporeans never hit it big on the scientific scene? Ever wonder only the Japanese seem to be making leaps and bounds in research?

It's because Singaporeans can't stand to see anything new. Heck, I could open this to pretty much any Asian country. Note that I'm not criticising Asians in any - I greatly respect the Asian penchant for hard work - heck, I subscribe to that philosophy as well. But you know, there is a pretty big difference between hard work and mugging. Mugging doesn't use any brain power - hard work, on the other hand, does.

Why do we laugh at those Japanese inventions? All that crap we see over there? It's because it isn't in the books. It's because we've ever heard of them before. It's because we don't have the imagination to come up with something new. The only new thing we can come up with is which shopping mall to buy our clothes from. And that's what really irks me: Singapore, and Asian countries in general, just aren't open minded. We have no imagination, no innovation, and we don't think. All that Innovation Projects we had in Primary School? Bullshit, they don't teach you how to innovate, because you can't bloody teach innovation.

The only way to cultivate innovation is to make new things acceptable. Make them accessible, allow them to prove their worth. This invention doesn't work, not practical, too exclusive or inefficient? All right, no matter, try the next one. And the next. And the next. Don't put people down just because it's something you think is dumb. Suction Cups on Hats so that you don't fall onto other people when you're on a train? HAHAHAHAHAH WTF WHAT KIND OF SHIT IS THAT. Typical social response.

Creativity is being crushed by the social world. No one dares to do crazy, weird things because of the social backlash, because of the fear of being laughed at by other people. Everything that is considered "strange" by the community is laughed off, telling the inventors that it would never work, that pursuing such interests is stupid and a misuse of resources. We should, in fact, be putting more money into designing clothes. Indeed, yes, that will totally improve the quality of our lives.

So, where did this social attitude come from? Perhaps it didn't come from anywhere. Perhaps it was there from the dawn of time. Or perhaps it was because we all got a formal education, and forgot how to think for ourselves.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Starcraft Fanboyism


It seems like I begin every blogpost I make with the word "So." I think this is a fault rather than a virtue, but what the heck, it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. In any case, it doesn't have any bearing on what I'm going to be talking about.

But yes. Starcraft. One of the best games ever created, and the best RTS in existence, in my honest opinion. It says a lot that Starcraft is considered South Korea's national sport, and there are at least 5 different major competitions being held in South Korea even as I speak. Write. Whatever.

For the uninitiated, let me talk about Starcraft in general. Starcraft is a Real-Time Strategy Game, also known as RTS genre. It comes from the same category of games as Company of Heroes, Dawn of War and the Red Alert series. The only difference between them? Starcraft is about a decade older.

Part of the reason why Starcraft has lasted so long is due to the seeming lack of imbalance. Even in the most recent RTSs, you can always hear screams of "That's Imba! F***ing Kangaroo!", the infamous Armoured Car rushes, and the complete and utter impossibility of balancing 10 different races a la Dawn of War: Soulstorm. The supposed scissors-paper-stone arrangement between Terran < Zerg < Protoss < Terran can't be seen at all at the pro-level, and it says a lot that the top three players in the world are Jaedong (Zerg), Bisu (Protoss) and Flash (Terran).

Yet another reason why Starcraft is such a draw is because of the amazing atmosphere that you can get playing the games, as well as the completely different feeling that the three races give off.

The Terrans, the human race in the game, are exactly what you'd expect from a bunch of humans trying to scrape out a living in the backwater regions of the world. The Terrans have by far the best defenses in the game, but this can easily turn into an attacking option (contains, anyone?) and are the only race capable of surviving the entire game on nothing but two bases. Their strength, like all humans, lies in their adaptability, and with the flick of a button (literally), the Terran can easily switch tactics to respond to an opponent's attacking style. Unless, of course, you're iloveoov, in which case you just spam him to death.

The Zerg are perfect as the disgusting, all-consuming, biological alien plague. Unashamedly taking ideas from the Tyranids in Warhammer 40k, the term Zerg Rush is still used to describe a powerful, merciless, all-in move from one player to another. The Zerg will often outnumber you, and their flank attacks can be especially devastating due to the advent of Lurkers. The Zerg play exactly how their lore works - expand everywhere on the map, so that you're rolling in the cash and can outproduce your opponent to high-heaven.

The Protoss are the stereotypical, hyper-advanced alien race that seemingly dominates all. Several people say that the Protoss are the most imbalanced race in the whole game - at first, it might seem that way - it requires 4 Marines or 6 Zerglings to kill 1 Zealot, making the Zealot the most fearsome Tier 1 unit in the game. Reavers deal insane amounts of damage, High Templars have the ever powerful Psionic Storm, Dark Templars wreak havoc on unsuspecting bases, and who can forget the Carrier. And yet, despite this almost complete domination one for one, the Protoss suffer because they are like fuel-guzzling car. Without the cash rolling in, the Protoss can't do nuts. And when your opponent is containing you (Terran) or has taken every other expansion on the map (Zerg), you're pretty much screwed.

Unfortunately, it's getting a bit late, and I can't really talk more about this. I think I shall speak more on this subject tomorrow.

Saturday, August 8, 2009



I bought the dance ticket on a whim, mostly because I knew a heck load of people in dance, including half my math class, about 5 other random dancers and a couple of people from my class. I, of course, expected a pretty damn good show, mostly because drama wasn't as good as last year's, and because dance got gold with honours at this year's SYF.

And so I watched the Dance Festival of Arts. And it wasn't a damn good show.



Getting back to the topic at hand, Dance was good. And I mean real good. There were a whole ton of people I knew dancing, and some of them danced like gods. If only I could put the notion of how good they were into your heads..."Better than Michael Jackson"? Would that be a good description. Then again, it's not like Michael Jackson exactly. Aiyoh, I think I'd rather you see it for yourself. I wonder when their DVDs are going to come out, if they come out at all!

Sigh...that has got to be the best 10 bucks I've spent this year! Holy shit, it was just so worth it, I don't even have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe the damn thing. It was made all the better because I had awesome seats (thanks Bong), and because most of the awesome dancers were my friends.

The American dances were cool because of the breakdancing and the general appeal of American music + dance routines, the Capoeira was insanely awesome because of Jesmond doing handstands and shit that I could only dream of and Gareth acting completely out of character. The Argentine tango was fcuking good because of the slick moves and Joshua and Asalie being the total ballers that they are. Chinese Performing Arts Club's drum routine was as awesome as ever, the Filipino dance reminded me of my primary school days when I had to do something similar. The SYF piece with more-than-just-honours-like-sword-and-axe-and-full-suit-of-runic-armour-kind-of-honours.

If you can't tell that I was completely bowled over by the performance on Friday, then you a) need to learn English or b) need to learn English. Because the only thing was preventing me from laughing evilly throughout the entire performance was the Key threatening to beat the shit out of me.

To all those who watched - I think you'll agree it was a show worth watching. To all those who didn't, I think you should just jump through the nearest window right now. Because you missed one heck of a show. Kudos to the dance team.