Sunday, 23 February 2014

Weekly News Dump 16/2/14 to 22/2/14

Note: Some of these articles were published back in Jan.


A few weeks ago, my friends and I watched Robocop at the cinema. Despite what people have said about it being 'dour' (compared to the original 1987 Robocop) - well, I still really enjoyed the film. I just love seeing predictions of future technology being played out on a big screen. The social ramifications. The romantic ramifications. The testing of humanity ('Is it worth fighting for? Is it worth dying for?' - Morpheus from Matrix Reloaded, it was on TV last night hehe). I love this stuff.

When we came out of the cinema, my friend told me that he didn't think anything like Robocop would ever become reality. Something about it looking too ridiculous and being a far-fetched idea. I was like 'Hmmm...'  But in my mind, I was like '....WHAAAAAAT?'  If anything, Robocop is our impending future. America already has drones in Syria and South Korea has Samsung robots (Samsung Techwin SGR-A1) guarding the Korean DMZ. Android models are already in the making at universities like Princeton and MIT. So dude, what are you even on about.

To give you a better idea of what's being developed and how far 'killer robots' or 'military robots' have come, here are two really awesome articles:

Should A Robot Decide When To Kill?: The Ethics of War Machines - The Verge
(includes an informative video worth watching)

As Military Robots Increase, So Does the Complexity of Their Relationship with Soldiers - Newsweek


In what may be slightly unrelated to the article...
Medical students are ultimately trained to help each other out, to work towards a common goal of helping and caring for people in need. Law students, on the other hand, are ultimately encouraged to be legendary assholes - to be uber competitive, emotionally detached and sometimes, grossly entitled. I say this because almost every medical student I have met so far has been talkative, engaging, extremely friendly and very mature. But I've met more than a handful of law students who have spent entire conversations rattling on about themselves or just being super fake-friendly. I don't feel like they're actually interested in you, rather they come off very condescending, and it's not uncommon to meet one with a serious superiority complex. Of course, I've met wonderful people in law - but it's also the law faculty that has the most horribly immature, loud-mouthed, super entitled, egocentric, smart people - it's scary. As one of my friends said, it's like the law faculty made a point of enrolling all the smart jocks (he was referring to the male student population).

Sometimes – unfortunately – being an asshole is the way to get ahead -  The Guardian
From Tom Perkins to Tim Armstrong, high-profile obnoxiousness is everywhere. And with good reason, sadly: there’s evidence that acting dislikeably can boost your status

Sochi 2014: Controversy as Russian Adelina Sotnikova upsets Korean favourite Kim Yu-Na to snatch figure skating gold medal

Read more:

Rumours of corruption from the judging panel.  Everyone saying Kim Yu-Na was robbed of a gold model.  Sotnikova's performance vastly inferior, says, everyone. A petition on to give the gold medal to the rightful winner (not Sotnikova) gaining something like 700,000 signatures in 7 hours. Well, don't take my word on the stats. But it currently (7.30pm EST) has:
Almost 2 million votes.

And how cool is this? Earlier this afternoon, if you Google searched Yuna Kim, Google would return with 'Yuna Queen'.  

A must watch video brought to you by The Representation Project, if not to lol when 'Miley Cyrus' comes up

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Weekly News Dump 15/2/2014

Happy Valentine's!

Caption: “Recently, a detachment of officers and men from the People’s Armed Police in Liangshan, Sichuan held roses to depict ‘thousand-armed Guanyin,’ celebrate Valentine’s Day’s arrival, and use this opportunity to express sincerest wishes to their sweethearts a world away.”

Ugly side of beauty business
Global Times | 2014-2-13 18:38:07 
By Lin Meilian

"At 5'9 ('short'), in my mid-20s ('old') and a curvier-than-average frame ('fat'), I probably wouldn't have worked as a model in Paris or Milan, but I was embraced by Istanbul and China," she wrote. 

...  dem bracketed explanations.

The Chinese traditional greeting "Have you eaten?" sounds very annoying to Western models as they are constantly hungry, Maria Makarenko, 21, a Russian model and actress in Beijing, told the Global Times.


"Sex will always quietly surround those who make a career selling their image," she wrote. "But in Asia, it's pervasive: model life, if one so chooses, becomes a hypersexual nightscape of drugs and promiscuity." 

One of her friends, a Canadian model named Rebecca, was once asked by the manager of one of Beijing's most popular nightclubs to stay for one such after-party. She was told she could earn 10,000 yuan in one night for "entertaining" a Chinese businessman. 

"After refusing, she returned home in tears," she wrote.

Full article via Global Times

Norway Mass Murderer Demands Better Video Games in Prison

Anders Behring Brevik killed 77 people in Norway in 2011. Since he said that he usedCall of Duty to practice his aiming andWorld of Warcraft to hide his plans, video games have been became part of the story of his horrific crime. Now, 18 months into a 21-year prison sentence, he's demanding that his PS2 be upgraded to a PS3.

Via Kotaku

Former Japanese Prime Minister Meets Comfort Women

via The Diplomat , Feb 15, 2014
Considering that in the past few weeks, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, his LDP cronies and the NHK media have made amazingly stupid and provocative comments/actions that completely deny Japan's wartime aggression, this comes as a nice interregnum in the whole 'LET'S STIR SHIT UP' mentality of the Japanese government.

Viral Drinking Game Kills 4 

Video via CNN, Feb 14, 2014
The Neknominate dares have caught on in Britain and now the Brits are going absolutely crazy, with politicians getting in on the safety debate and outraged dads being pulled in for interviews.

A Vintage Commercial for Contraceptive Pills in Korea

via .  Click link for detailed analysis.

How a Math Genius Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love

An uber cool read: via Wired

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Book: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Oh my gad. Dem feelz.

Why did I read this?

To help my COD and LOL/DOTA addicted brother get through the throes of VCE English.

Did I like the book? 

Yes. I loved it.

As I closed the woebegone cover of a library copy, I took a deep breath and leaned back in my chair, letting the crepuscular shards of sunlight hit my closed eyes through the window's laced curtains. I stared up at the ceiling and heaved, a single tear rolling down my cheek. I could almost hear Norah Jones' come away with me play in the background - the perfect soundtrack to a cliffhanger ending that was both sudden and utterly compelling.

What. A. Story.

Why did I crai?

I know for sure that if I had studied this book to death for VCE, I wouldn't have liked it as much, or even liked it at all. Firstly, I would have been way too caught up with the technicalities i.e. analysing the context, prose, themes, motifs, quotes. That would have stultified any sort of initial enthusiasm I had for the story. Secondly, I would have been too young and inexperienced to gage the significance of the protagonist, Changez's agonising self-discovery. 

But now, at 19.83 years of age, having lost the cock-sure attitude of first year uni and now grappling with issues concerning the uncertainty of my own future, I could actually empathise with Changez's problems. See, one of the main narratives in this story is about the 22 year old Princeton graduate's career at the exclusive valuation firm, Underwood Samson. After battling his way through a ridiculously competitive interview process, Changez wins a position at the firm and becomes its top new performer. Life seemed perfect. He got good money. He was dating a beautiful girl he had been smitten with for a very long time. He had won people's respect.  

But what does this all amount to in the bigger picture? 

Nothing, as Changez would discover.

His home country, Pakistan, is being invaded by American troops. His family lives in fear and danger. Pakistani cab drivers in New York are being racially abused after 9/11.
The love of his life spirals into depression.  
His company, Underwood Samson, gets rich by advising other companies where to lay off workers.

On the surface, his life seemed perfect. But behind the facade, things were pretty fucked up, and he was not in a position to change the status quo. To be honest, that's reality for most people. 

I related so much to Changez's story because like him, I once had a very clear image of my life's trajectory - I was so sure of where I was going to go. I was ambitious, passionate and idealistic. In fact, I wanted to change the world.

Suddenly, some shit things happened and I grew up a bit. Whether it be family or friends, academics or career prospects, some of my friends and I were becoming disillusioned, upset and a bit lost. We all felt the need to 'ace life', or at least show everyone else that we were. We were confronted with harsh realities and we had to make hard decisions. 

For Changez, 9/11 and its aftermath definitively changed the way he looked at America, but it was not until the girl he loved, Erica, committed suicide that he finally woke up to discover a robotic white-collar life at Underwood Samson did not amount to anything resembling true happiness or 'The American Dream'. He quit and went back to Lahore where his family lived. 

Of course, the book touches on a lot of other themes including American neo-Imperialism and cultural identity. These are pivotal catalysts for the story but for me, it was primarily Changez's harrowing love story with Erica and his disillusionment with his career that really hit me hard in the feelz. I guess my interpretation of where in the story lies its significance also says a lot about who I am and what I've been through.

I would recommend this book to everyone, especially people who are at least of university age. Not to be condescending, but I doubt most high schoolers, especially the happy-go-lucky ones would be able to truly empathise with Changez and understand the weight of his decisions.  

But... whatever. Good luck to my bro.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

I went to Shanghai on a study abroad program (Nov 2013 - Jan 2014) !!!

Also, I've told so many stories and written so many articles and posts about the neon-lit, drug-addled debauchery of Shanghai's nightlife wonderful teachers and students at my host university that I can no longer be screwed writing about it again. Almost as worse as studying Shakespeare and VCE Chinese, this automatic expectation that I relate 'all the juicy details' of my adventures in Shanghai is one of the most tedious things I've ever had to do.  I HATE IT. I HATE IT MORE THAN THE FINALE OF AMERICAN HORROR STORY SEASON 3. 


Therefore, I will be linking everyone to the politically correct (nontheless truthful) article I wrote for E-Magazine. It will also be distributed at Monash University during O-Week, so look out for it.  If you're looking for some of those juicier details, visit my other blog (which unfortunately, is only accessible by a limited no. of people because I have nightmares about potential employers finding it during a stalking sesh and proceeding to shit their pants at my puerile douchebaggery).   


Yeah.  Shanghai is why I haven't been blogging for the last three months.  If I had to give a laconic precis, it would be:

Studying abroad in Shanghai changed my life, not because it drastically improved my Chinese, but because I met amazing people and made great, and I hope, lifelong friendships with many of them.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, YAY I CAN NOW BLOG ABOUT THINGS I ACTUALLY LIKE TO BLOG ABOUT.