Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Feeling and Expression

You cannot feel what you cannot express


You cannot express what you cannot feel

Monday, September 28, 2009


Yesterday I saw a film called Surrogates. I enjoyed it.

The film is set in the near future where most humans live through their robotic avatars. While you lie in bed you're hooked into a network through which you control a robot which you live through.

No risk of getting run over or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. You can control how your robotic avatar looks like, so you can be as skinny or as muscular and as attractive as you want.

All good sci-fi movies are about ideas.

Surrogates is about feeling, and how at the end of the day the main characters couldn't connect through their avatars. Surrogates is an allegory of the Whacko Jacko world that is Hollywood.

Unfortunately the movie missed the point.

A few years ago we saw shock and awe in Iraq; the first broadly remote controlled battle. If all you have to do is push a button, how much more likely will countries be willing to wage war when causalities may merely comprise of a remote control fighter pilot spilling coffee over himself in an office in Utah while he's bombing some far off country.

Jumping into bed with a robotic surrogate is less risky than jumping into bed with a flesh and blood self. Living out your Grand Theft Auto fantasies would also be risk free. Would we not seek ever more extremes if we inhabited and socialised through robotic avatars?

Do we need to feel or have some anticipation of emotional or physical pain in order to make moral choices? Would morality be watered down?

While I enjoyed Surrogates it did not push the envelope and explore the emotional disconnects which technology is bringing with it. Pity.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Clockwork Life

It's late. I am biting my finger nails. I have been biting and picking at them all night.

This is my worst habit. The tips of my fingers are slightly stinging and smarting. The ingested nail and skin makes me feel slightly off. My fingers end up looking like shit.

Ironically, I see myself as a relatively sane individual. In most of my actions I see cause and effect. My actions are mostly reasonable to the people and environments I find myself in. Except when it comes to biting my nails.

A week ago I was helping my flatmate fry her chicken. She snapped that I was doing it wrong; and I snapped back that she shouldn't yap so much. It was the first time I got angry in a long time. Perhaps it was the lack of food, it was 5ish and I hadn't eaten all day.

Self control is something I value; but sometimes the puppet strings snap and the mind loses control to emotion.

Most murderers for example fall into this category. Murder is rarely premeditated to any great degree, it is mostly perpetrated by people who would never contemplate such things until they find themselves in a particular situation where they lose control. I remember a hearing a psychiatrist say the biggest mistake murderers make is that beforehand they would not believe they are capable of such an act.

Perhaps the illusion of determinism helps us fool ourselves that our lives are somehow more structured and controlled than they really are. Imagine realising that we often cannot predict or control our own actions let alone another's; the uncertainty of when or where a tsunami will rip through our lives is a paralysing thought.

My boss was caught in a car accident last weekend. A large truck smashed into a car behind him while coming of the highway. Luckily for him the car behind him soaked up most of the impact of the crash. He came away unscathed but the driver of the other car will probably not live.

A moment's lapse and so many lives are adversely affected.

We build our societies and ourselves around notions of cause and effect even when something so whimsical can have calamitous reverberations. We have evolved to embrace the illusion of determinism but it comes with negative side effects.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kris Dreamin'

October 3rd. Indonesia.

I have only had one day off this year. Scary.

I am thinking about 'doing' Sumatra. Lampung, Padang and Banda Aceh.

Maybe Lhokseumawe too, because the town's name sounds like you swallowed something down the wrong way.

I have been watching the 'Ring of Fire' documentaries about Indonesia by two English monocle wearing toff brothers.

They must have been filmed on a shoe string because the film quality is not the best. They are enjoyable though and they're helping stoke my excitement over heading back to Indonesia again.

The first documentary is about the two brothers sailing in a rickety boat from Makassar to Papua. The old port and the brief glimpses of Makassar they shot way back in the 70s looked familiar.

Interestingly they stopped in South Eastern Sulawesi on the Kendari side and then Buton island. I have heard and seen so little of that part of the country.

I read online that after all of their free wheeling adventures into the wilderness, one of the brothers met his maker when he fell down a man hole here in the US. Crazy.

I saw the other brother sporting an eye patch instead of a monocle. (In one of the episodes he used traditional medicine to cure an eye infection. Poor bloke).

In any case, I have dreamt about being given a powerful kris by a Bugis merchant for several nights in a row now. I suppose I will have to keep dreaming for the time being.

The Enlightenment

The enlightenment started in the 18th century and ended in a concentration camp

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

Halal Search

Make sure your search results are halal, by using ImHalal.com.

Interestingly 'orgy' seems to be halal. Erm, yay?

(Saw this on Shaden's site)

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Indonesian news is boring me. You know it must be silly season in the news when the major topic of current affairs is the Pendet dance.

Discovery channel may have put the dance in some infotainment piece on Malaysia, big deal, Discovery is lobotomised drool TV at the best of times.

Meanwhile in turn I must scroll through both equivocating and fulminating correspondent's words. Ughh, ughhh....

Let me say something about the so called nationalism and patriotism in Indonesia.

On the one hand it is infectious; on the other it is vile (a vile infection?).

On the one hand I see cute little kids waving Indonesian flags on the other hand I hear of troops in Papua being interviewed and hand wringingly telling the interviewer that they are there to ensure that the Papuans (aka the first to leave footprints on virgin archipelago soil) are 'nationalistic' enough.

The so called Pribumi evangelising nationalism to Papuans! You got to laugh!

On one side I see Indonesians pulling together in times of hardship, denouncing terrorists, speaking as one; on the other I see segregation between different cultures in Jakarta. I hear nasty words directed at Chinese; I hear lurid tales directed at pribumi. I hear Christians saying this and Muslims saying that.

Indonesia is a hotch potch. It's an collection of peoples that all happened to have succumbed to the lures of the Dutch (plus the Papuans and the Acehnese).

One sultanate wanted to overcome another; so the sultan handed over trading rights of their neighbour to the Dutch; they obliged and helped conquer the neighbouring sultanate.

Every so often a young upstart would pop up and rebel against the local authority, if they were somewhat successful, the Dutch popped around and sort them out so that the local sultan remained in power and the Dutch East Indies company could keep producing coffee or tobacco.

Just like many of Indonesia's modern leaders, local sultans appealed to peasant's loyalty in rhetoric but were ruthless in ensuring their ill gotten tithes when need be.

Nationalism and patriotism. Pah!

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I love building PCs. The last one I built was with my dad. He needed a new PC, we built a quad core PC especially for his photography needs. It's a really nice tailor made PC.

At the moment I own an iMac and an iPhone. I am itching to build a new computer, but both my iPhone and iMac cover all of my needs.

Someday I really want to build a BluRay playing TV recording PC that looks good beside a TV - but we have a DVR already and who uses BluRay when you have movies on demand?

A laptop is tempting, but I wouldn't have a need for it 95% of the time.

I have *zero* excuses for new computer hardware.

The only thing I can think of is using Amazon's cloud hosting services. Basically you can rent high powered CPU time and storage space from Amazon.

I have been hearing about small time websites hitting the big time.

There's Ravelry.com, PlentyOfFish.com, stackoverflow.com to name but a few.

Now all I need is a decent idea! : ) How about a website where people can ask and answer questions about Indonesia? Or a site where economists can post up questions and have them answered by fellow economists.

By the way, I kinda like this site:


(at least the idea behind it, unsure whether it hits the spot really well though).

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


I hear women are not allowed to cover their faces while praying in Mecca.

Shurely that means something?

(I realise hijabs don't cover faces, just want to claim hijabdashery as my own invention before anyone else thinks of it!)

The Health of Nations

Apparently the wealth of a nation does not not have much of an effect on how healthy its population is, once clean water and sufficient food is taken care of.


I was talking to my mother last weekend about my ancestors. We were looking at the Irish census of 1911, she could tell me where each and everyone of my ancestors were on that night back in 1911.

It is amazing how many stories I have either forgotten or have not heard of.

My great aunt died at boarding school. My great grand father died after immigrating to Australia soon after that night.

Two servants were in our old farm house on that night in 1911.

Early death, immigration and servants. Reminds me of Indonesia.


Being brought up by a loving family and having good friends are two very important factors for longevity and well being.

It is interesting how people get wrapped so up in cramming brain cells full of useless creativity-blowing-education; throw themselves into well-paid-imagination-sucking-jobs; when in fact they should be spending time going down to the pub with their pals or playing with their kids.