Sunday, August 28, 2005

Doppelgangland II: The Return of The Blog Pirate

Note: This entry was written this morning. I was too tired to finish it, hence the lateness of posting and the backdated time of posting.

I'm not as busy as the last few weeks. But busy enough to not have any time to blog, unfortunately. I'm in the office on Sunday morning, waiting to get off shift. Tonight I still work. Tomorrow I'll be free.

I did try to go round and read people's blogs last night. And I noticed yet another case of one blogger ripping off another one's entry, right down to hotlinking pictures from the source blog. I've seen this before and wrote about it too.

It's pathetic man. Why would anyone risk the humiliation of getting caught like that? As vast as it is, the Internet isn't that big a place. Word gets around and someone will find out. What more to say when the pirate in question rips off a well read blogger with thousands of regulars. Plus the hotlinking of pictures? Is it so hard to download and re-upload?

It doesn't irk me though. It just makes me feel very, very sorry that some people out there want to blog but apparently either don't know how to write or are too chicken to write things they thought of themselves.

I know how that feels like. I read blogs on my blogroll and even now, more than a year and a half since I started posting, I still feel so intimidated by the quality of some of these people's entries. Some people really, really, really have the gift. Really. Sometimes, I feel embarassed to be in such company with my rather pedestrian offerings, if one could even call it that.

I've gotten better I have to say. But my posts are no where near the quality that I would define as "good".

But lo, that is the beauty of blogging. You don't have to be "good". You do not have to be a pro. One does not have to be a literary giant with the writing skills of a poet (of course if one can write like that, then more power to ya).

Blogging shouldn't be a competitive sport where "contestants" are judged on things "quality" and "readership". Having said that I'm not against people who get rewarded for their blogging. Give credit where credit is due. Some people put in so much of themselves into their blog. Some people are gifted writers. Kudos to them for their book deals and mentions in the mainstream media. It's good for all bloggers. With this kind of recognition, we're taken more seriously. We're not just a bunch of nutcases participating in a "fad" or a "craze".

What I'm trying to say is that since there are awards and fame to be had in blogging, some people miss the ideals of blogging entirely and take the shortcut. Rip an entry from somewhere and claim it as your own. Easy, no need to think. No need to get inspired. No need to pour out your heart and soul into an entry. Just use someone else's heart and soul.

Kids, stealing is bad. Stealing someone else's thoughts is even worse. Unless you actually like being publicly reviled and humiliated on the WWW, don't do it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Expensive Books

Rin lent me a bunch of books about Ancient Rome; From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 B.C. to A.D. 68, The Annals of Imperial Rome and The Fall of the Roman Republic.

I figured I've been playing R:TW so much nowadays I might as well read about the period during which the game is set. Also, I like history in general so it's nice.

We went to Times' yesterday. I haven't gone there in a long time. And yes, so many books that I want to buy. Things like The Serial Killer Files, The First Crusade: A New History, The Fourth Crusade and The Sack of Constantinople, Genghis Khan and The Making of the Modern World and more.

Also, good military books like one about Iranian F-14s in combat and another one about Marine machinegunners. Oh yes, and the classic War of the Running Dogs, which I've read before. This one and The Jungle is Neutral are great books about war in Malaysian history.

The problem? They are too bloody expensive.

I'm an avid reader. Back in the days when I was still in school and the internet was something to be found in sci-fi movies, I actually spent a good deal of time in the library to read as opposed to checking out girls and things like that.

Yes, I may also add here that I was a nerd and therefore had no business checking out girls. I've always liked history and military related topics. Try as I might, I haven't been able to enjoy fiction as much, except Dragonlance books, Richard Marcinko and the odd Transformers comic.

Anyway, back to the increasingly expensive reading habit. I wish books didn't cost so much.

However, like I was telling Rin yesterday, I'm thinking of setting a budget to get at least one book a month. Which also means I may need to look for a bookcase or something like that since I can't put all those books on my bedroom floor.

This also means I need to cut back on DVDs, probably.

I also need to consider the pros and cons of buying books online vs a bookstore. I notice that some books are cheaper online, even after the shipping charges are factored in. Looks like I need to consider getting some kind of credit card. Which is one of the cons actually, since I still don't think it's a good idea for me to get a credit card. Dangerous thing, that.

I must say that, despite not being quite as huge and varied as the ones in KL and Singapore, some of our local bookshops have pretty good selections. To me anyway, I have this feeling that a lot of people won't agree with that.

But what can I do, I can't afford to fly out to S'pore or KL just to buy a book so I'll make do.

Seriously though, something needs to be done about the damn prices. Cheaper books will encourage people to buy books and more people buying books means better bookstores. Unfortunately, the only thing that I can think of that would help is to get better exchange rates vs foreign currency.

I guess that means books will still be expensive...Unfortunately, too expensive for a lot of people who stand to gain so much from reading i.e school kids.

But no matter, I'm going to seriously consider buying a book a month. Let's see how that works out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Funeral

On Sunday, a cousin of mine passed away. Cancer. She would've been 33 this year.

That's the second child my aunt and uncle had to bury. The first one, my best friend, was killed in a bike crash in 1991. The amount of trouble that family's been through is unbelievable.

And yet, as sad as the funeral was, it wasn't gloomy at any rate. Like the priest was saying, we were in church not just to mourn, but to celebrate her life. That cousin of mine is a real go-getter that much I can say. She was as decisive and sure as I am wishy washy and slow.

True to her spirit, she never gave up until the last second. Even through chemo and other stuff, she continued to go to work and teach. Her brother told me that and the priest told us that just now. She was right into it ever since she got diagnosed, actively participating in her treatment, always, always asking questions. Rightly, they admired her for that. Her brothers, her parents, her friends are all proud of her, I'm sure. And somehow, it made her passing less painful to ponder.

She's gone, but while she was around, she made the most of her own life.

The other day Rin was telling that she's been reading my old entries.

"Your old entries are so introspective."

Yeah I noticed that too. I also notice that for a while now, the need to examine myself and my situation is almost gone. Where did it go?

I did get a little introspective just now, during the eulogy. How can I not? It forced me to look at myself carefully once again. Here she was, my cousin, here for 33 years and she did all the stuff that she did and made friends all across the world along the way.

And here I am, what am I doing? Am I doing the all things that I can do? All the things that I should and could do? Am I being the best me the best way I can?

So yeah I thought about it. And no, I'm not doing all the things that I can do. There's so much more. So much damage to fix, so many things to see and do.

I'll be taking some quiet time to think. To be introspective and philosophical again. But not in the way I used to. Instead, I might try looking forward for one thing, instead of regretting things in my past. Which I haven't done for awhile to be fair. At least I'm trying and at least things are changing.

I suddenly wonder, when I die, what would my funeral be like?

Friday, August 19, 2005

More Links I Found (and some stuff about Rome:Total War)

Firstly, let me share a few links.

I thought this article was hilarious. I got it off some friends.

"Tell a man that he's not "man enough" and he tends to overcompensate by acting macho."

I'm quite familiar with this concept of overcompensation. It's hilarious to watch. Am I prone to this too? Of late, no (I hope). But when I was a lot younger, I might have. Actually, I know I have.

What's up with boys and the strange reaction to not being "man enough"? I guess boys and men get insecure far more easily than they would care to admit. Don't ask me why it is so. But suddenly I smell a good opportunity for some militant feminist male bashing right here.


I would like to see in writing, what constitutes being "man enough" and "acting macho"? And if the stereotype holds, why do so many men behave in such a way despite the fact that so many women hate it?

Then again, what man has never been guilty of trying to "attract" a woman by doing and being the very thing that she detests?

Another thing I picked up recently is this NY Times article about "mercenaries" in Iraq. Or rather, "private security contractors". Very interesting.

And then, yesterday I downloaded a Rome:Total War mod called Rome:Total Realism. It's brilliant. More in depth, with an earlier start date and more than 200 new units, including new 3D models for each one. It even includes a new intro. RTR's got enough changes in it to make the game feel very,very different. Meaning to say, it's not just a cosmetic rehash of the original Rome:Total War.

I like the revamped playable factions which includes new ones like the Sarmatians, Bactrians, Illyrians and more. I like the fact that the number of cities have been boosted and the map pushed eastwards into Central Asia.

The battle engine's been changed too. Missiles (arrows, javelins, rocks) do quite a bit of damage now. I managed to kill war elephants in a test battle just now by using massed ranks of peltasts (javelineers) and concentrating their fire. I used to hate elephants in the original RTW because of their apparent invulnerability. I also noticed some improvement in battle AI and the overall pace of a battle's been reduced slightly.

The best new thing I noticed? New models. Troops are more historically accurate and the models for the new troop types look really good.

There's more changes in the mod. I'll write about them as I find them. Currently, I'm running two test campaigns, one Roman and the other Bactrian, just to see how the Hellenic-Eastern warfare model is handled in the game.

According to the lead modders, Rome:Total Realism strives to be closer to history instead of using the simplified (and inaccurate) historical timeline used in Rome:Total War. Whatever their aims were, I salute the modders. Considering the fact that they did all that work for free and considering the very high quality of that work, I congratulate them on a job well done.

I recommend it highly to all RTW fans out there. Please go and download it.

And talking about that, I can't wait for the RTW expansion, Rome:Barbarian Invasion. Oh yeah!

EDIT: Hey! Look what we have here!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Da Island

I wonder. Has blogging lost its allure? Yes it has.

At least this week. Or was it two weeks.

I have been too busy. I barely have any time for myself. In a way, its a good thing. Being busy means not having any time to get depressed or sentimental or anything like that.

So to make up for that, I've taken an extra day off next week. That means I work for two days only. It's time to spoil myself. I wonder what I should buy....

Despite being too busy and too exhausted, I did find some time to go out with Bernard, Ivan and Rin last night to watch The Island. Last night was quite funny. Initially, Rin told me that the plan was to watch Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Apparently they didn't tell me that there was a change of plans. So there I was in the theatre expecting to see Johny Depp's mug in a funny hat. I got Ewan McGregor instead.

I thought, ok maybe this is a trailer or something. I sat there 10 minutes before I realized that we were indeed watching The Island. Then I thought, maybe we went to the wrong theatre. I looked at the others and they looked pretty calm, so I just kicked back. I didn't really mind what movie was playing. The important thing was that I was out of the house and away from work.

It was the end of the show when I finally asked,"I thought we were supposed to watch Willy Wonka?" Apparently, Willy Wonka was showing a bit late so they decided to watch The Island instead.


Anyway, about the show. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Many, many years ago I watched a nearly identical movie about clones who didn't know that they were clones. In that one, the winner of the "lucky" draw got to go to "America" instead of The Island. And the ending was very sad. Apparently, that movie was called Parts: The Clonus Horror. Ya, very B-like title.

One reason why I liked The Island was the more positive ending. I liked the story and the cast was pretty good, featuring Ewan McGregor (who spoke in a Scottish accent at one point. I liked that), Sean Bean in his regular bad guy role and Scarlett Johansson. She was good in Lost in Translation and good here too. I think she looked reaaally hot.

Overall, the movie is quite good with a fair amount of action, all done without taking itself too seriously and without too much CGI to detract from the story. I recommend it.

After watching this, I have very high hopes for the live action Transformers movie if Michael Bay really ends up directing that one.

Aside from movies, the weather today is beautiful, courtesy of the rain from the last two nights. No haze at all. Which is good. I remember the 1997 haze all too well. I remember the API being 800 and visibility being less than 30ft in broad daylight. It was bad.

Of course being the stubborn bastard I am, that night I went out with friends while the rest of the city cowered in terror in their homes

I don't miss the haze at all.

For those non-Malaysian people who read AFP's over excited coverage, the current haze isn't that bad and it didn't shut down the entire country, contrary to what some news articles have been saying. We're all fine here.

It's almost time to go home. I'm going to enjoy my break. Next week, we'll see whether blogging will be alluring again. And I need to bring my camera out. Hopefully the clear weather holds.

Have a good Sunday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Have Not Done

Two things I haven't done lately.

1. Have not changed blog template despite wanting to for the last two months.
2. Have not uploaded any new pictures. Or any old pictures for that matter. In fact, I haven't taken any new pictures recently.

What I have been doing is entertaining myself with things like:-
1. Bad Star Wars captions. Courtesy of Raven.
2. Engrish!! One night me and Rin were at the computer when we decided to check out what's new at We laughed so hard, we had trouble breathing.
3. Darwin Awards. If at any time you feel stupid, read stories from here and realize that they are more people stupider than you.

I've also started to play old games again. I'm currently playing Rome:Total War. I might reinstall Mechwarrior Mercenaries and Ghost Recon next.

Last night, me, Rin, Jerome and Gette went to Dennis' Place. For once, I didn't order something with chocolate in it.

Apart from work, things have been quiet lately. After this week, I hope things will get back to normal. I'm seriously rest deprived right now.

Regular picture taking and blog posting should resume by next week. Hopefully. Now I need to think of something exciting/interesting to write about.

Current Music - Nervously, Pet Shop Boys, Behaviour

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Away Away

I'm just too busy right now to do anything at all.

I'll be staying off the blog at least until Tuesday. Too much work and too tired when I get home to think of what to write.

I hardly have to time to read other people's blogs. Or anything other online thing.

I hope weeks like this one aren't too common. It's hard.

I can't wait for Tuesday. Then I'll have some time to catch up with what's happening around here.

Until then, take care now.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

More Shorts

Since my brain is still mush, I will refrain from writing long, long entries where I will get confused by the second paragraph.

Instead, I will write short things like the last time.

Actually, I do have many things I feel like I could comment on. Stuff like politics and religion and the like. But these things just piss me off. Suffice to say that regardless of what politicians say, I won't believe it until I see some kind of physical manifestion of their rhetoric. Especially around here.

I still believe that many local politicians don't know what's really happening in real life, otherwise they wouldn't keep talking about things that don't matter. Also, some of our politicians are well meaning and believe in things like fair play for all and meritocratic practises, but are being hamstrung by their grassroots supporters. That's the thing about democracy. It's a popularity contest. That means that if they are enough dumbasses in one political party, they will eventually vote for a dumbass and a sensible politician will be forced to pander to them lest he be voted out. Even if those dumbasses want to promote agendas that are dangerously racist....

Anyway, to the fun stuff.

I was doing my blogrounds just now and found some very cool sites, courtesy of Lainie. Who is always so cool like that.

Please go and check out Starship Dimensions. Very cool.

And Laws of Japanese Animation. Very, very funny. Having friends who are huge anime fans, I'm sure they have other rules they can come up with.

Do you have friends who drive like maniacs and think they are invulnerable or immortal. After visiting Ogrish (Warning: Extremely Gory and potentially disturbing) and Wrecked Exotics, they will not think so anymore. After all those pictures, I guarantee a speed reduction of at least 10km/h of their average speeds.

Also, Ogrish contains images from things other than car accidents. Like pictures of what happens when someone gets shot in the head by a .50 calibre rifle. Can you say eeeewww? Guaranteed to make wannabe terrorist assholes think twice about signing up.

And in some military news, the M1 Abrams main battle thing is undergoing a modernisation programme known as TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit). The funny thing about this "modernisation" is that some of the things have been done before. Like during the 1940s. Things like skirting and the external phone box? All been done before. I guess everyone just forgot how useful skirts are against things like man portable anti tank rounds. And the phone? I took it for granted that all tanks and armoured vehicle are supposed to have it. I read somewhere that part of TUSK is also the re-introduction of the CASE round. It's like shotgun cartridge, only bigger. It's a good idea, since shooting a man using a HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank) round is kind of excessive. Kinda reminds me of Mechwarriors LBX cannon.

Anyone who knows military history will know that things get forgotten like that.

And in yet more mil news, I think the XM-8 looks fascinating. The XM-8 is the rifle that is slated to replace the good ole M-16 in the US armed forces. Check out the pic, looks very sci-fi eh?

That's for today's shorts. I'll dig up more interesting things next time.