Saturday, November 17, 2007

The ban on "Mass Effect" is over and cooler heads have prevailed. We're starting to realize, perhaps, that we don't need to have our decisions made for us by some self-appointed central authority; and that we can muster enough will and advocacy to negotiate a more equitable and satisfactory outcome for ourselves.

The grounds for the original ban were interesting, to say the least. Associated Press reports, "Players can engage their avatars in a variety of sexual encounters during the game, though none between men or between men and male aliens, according to reports on several blogs. The human-alien [lesbian] duo are depicted kissing and caressing each other in a sex scene that The Straits Times English-language newspaper in Singapore reported ends with the alien saying, "By the gods, that was incredible, commander."

Considering that most video games involve creative ways in which characters slice, dice, eviscerate and detonate other characters as the main component of gameplay, it's amazing that a short cutscene like the one described above could have been construed as unwholesome enough to ban the game. How often do we have video games promoting positive character interactions with each other? If we disregard their "gender", the two are actually engaged in a cooperative, non-violent, mutually beneficial activity of a social (instead of an anti-social) nature.

Between the characters, there is mutual acceptance -- appreciation, even -- of each other, despite their differences in species(?). The scene concludes with a genuine statement of gratitude, an acknowledgement to religious values, and a marked breaking down of the walls between different social classes. Aren't these refreshing traits to promote in our society of escalating xenophobia? In real world S'pore, we already draw lines between ourselves simply by the accent we speak with.

Rating the game with an M18 is a step in the right direction. Why deny ourselves a learning opportunity simply because at first glance, things don't look like what we think they should look like? We should know by now that life is never so simple.

Not that the X-box game was ever on my Christmas list, but the ban has certainly put the game on my radar now. I'm looking at the official website, and it looks gorgeous with quite some complexity and depth of gameplay. Wonder if it'll ever be released on PC?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

At another industry-organized symposium, we had experts in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ITC) studies lecture us on knowledge construction with new technologies. In summary, the speakers couldn't have devised a more balanced view on the topic.

Speaker 1, a science/math/aesthetics guru, told us there was "a lot of crap" out there on the Internet. Not that there wasn't a lot of crap in books either, but there's much more crap on the 'net since everybody can publish any nonsense they wanted, and the authority of a site's content depends on its ranking in search-engines which is determined by popularity rather than reasoned discourse.

Speaker 2, linguistics and research expert, said that we need to develop our students with stronger critical thinking and research skills so they can distinguish knowledge from scholarly knowledge. He showed us some examples that looked like fun discussions to have in tutorial -- can't wait to try them out. Hope the kids are feeling cooperative.

Speaker 3, ICT boffin, had lots of prizes to give away to people who responded to his questions about the interactivity of the 'net, and how we could use what's available (& free) on the 'net to make lesson time more practically useful and relevant to our plugged-in, multitasking, broadband, frivolous info sharing community generation. Idea being, if they can already share frivolous info, then why not make them share and interact and play with important info as well?

So: the 'net is full of crap, people need to be able to think through stuff for themselves, the 'net is great! I think I got it.

1 more thing among a number of others to meditate on for a month. Perhaps my not going away on holiday this year is a blessing in disguise after all?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I can do no wrong. That's because if I ever did anything wrong, no matter how relatively insignificant, I will get caught for it. Like today when I decided to finally ditch my "Invigilator" security pass after faithfully wearing it day after day while on duty, this seriously officious-looking official -- who looked like everything he uttered had to be typewritten in triplicate -- actually stepped into my path, stopping me in my tracks, and inquired as to the whereabouts of my aforementioned security pass. Despite my unsatisfactory response he let me proceed, with a smirk that suggested that I won a bet for him. Hope I didn't get Chief into trouble for that.

But that's not all. First, check this out...

Cool right? It's my new seatbelt cover I got as a promotional gift from my weekend purchase. Hurm...

Drove over to June's office to collect some merchandise she's bringing over to the Philippines tomorrow. But where I usually stop on the side of the street to meet her, there was this TP just standing there looking like he couldn't wait to book the next unsuspecting errant driver to pass by.

In my panic, I STOPPED at the side of the road, blinked my hazard lights, and fumbled for my mobile phone in my jeans pocket. Phone was too tightly jammed in, so I unfastened my seatbelt to reach it. I called June to advise her that I couldn't stop where I had stopped (duh!), and arranged to drive around again, and this time June had to be there already waiting for me. Having come to an understanding, I hastily took to the streets again, but in my haste, I forgot to refasten my seatbelt. Upon realizing this oversight, I took my hands off the wheel and continued to drive while my hands were busy with the *)#$% seatbelt, made all the more uncooperative with the new seatbelt cover (which makes a great character reference as a driver, now I think about it). With no hands on the wheel, I wobbled my way past the TP -- who was staring intently at me and my license plate -- and as I passed him (another officious-looking fellow) he was grimly scribbling in his notebook.

OMG. How many traffic violations did I commit in the last paragraph? Did I mention that where I stopped to call June it was a jagged double-yellow line? If anyone remembers to wonder where I've disappeared to in the next 10-20 years, they could probably find me in Changi Prison, maximum security, probably with a security pass permanently stapled to my chest, and being the favourite bi*ch of Dragon Long, or Long Dragon, or whatever he wants to call his thing.

Y'know, if the TP wasn't there in the first place, I wouldn't have done all that crazy sh*t. Wonder if the police cause as much crime as they are supposed to prevent?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Never had such a sudden onset of the flu before. I was feeling fine all weekend then >bam!< bug hits me with the works last night. Just returned from the clinic with an armful of drugs and a temperature reading of 38.8°. That has got to be an achievement. Bleh... feeling sick... :P