Politicians not psychologists

Here’s a quote from an ABC News story on rating public schools:

Education Minister Julia Gillard says the “disadvantage” rating will not be used to stigmatise schools.

How could it not?

Most disturbing is that the number of indigenous students will affect the “disadvantage” rating. So on top of getting teased because their school is “bad” (implying that they are stupid), indigenous kids are also being told that it’s their fault.

Very poorly considered policy.

Lean on Me

Heidi sung this to me when I was sick yesterday. My head was on her lap and she was running her fingers through my hair. It was nice.

Here are the lyrics… which we couldn’t quite remember:

Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow.
But if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow.
Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend.
I’ll help you carry on, for it won’t be long ’til I’m gonna need somebody
to lean on.
Please swallow your pride, if I have things you need to borrow.
For no one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show.
You just call on me brother when you need a hand.
We all need somebody to lean on.
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand.
We all need somebody to lean on.
Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend.
I’ll help you carry on, for it won’t be long ’til I’m gonna’ need
somebody to lean on.
You just call on me brother if you need a friend.
We all need somebody to lean on.
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand.
We all need somebody to lean on.
If there is a load you have to bear that you can’t carry.
I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load if you just call me.
Call me ( if you need a friend)
Call me
(Repeat Until Fade)

Update: Corrected lyrics.


I read this interesting copypasta for the first time the other day. It’s the sort of creative fiction that I love finding on the Internet: plain writing with the primary purpose of communicating a few key concepts.

It’s relatively short, so have a read:

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point mincing words.

“There was a…a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup.” I said

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies.” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked.

“Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup.” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be alright?”

“That what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. Thats good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. to you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Some vague authority figure. More of a grammar school teacher then the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. your kids will remember you as perfect in every way.

They didnt have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly reliveved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If its any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” i said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right.”

“All the religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.” you followed along as we strolled in the void. “Where are we going?” “Nowhere in particular,” I said. “Its just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So whats the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life wont matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just dont remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic then you can possible imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. Its like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if its hot or cold. You put a tiny part or yourself into the vessel, and when u bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been a human for the last 34 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of you immense consciousness. If we hung out here for longer, you’d start remembering everything. But theres no point doing that between each life.”

“how many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An into lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 A.D.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “your sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“where you come from?” You pondered.

“Oh sure!” I explained. “I come from somewhere. somewhere else. and theres others like me. I know you’ll want to know what its like there but you honestly wont understand.”

“Oh.” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If i get reincarnated to other places in time, could I have interacted with myself at some point?”

“Sure. Happens all the time. and with both lives only aware of their own timespan you dont even know its happening.”

“So whats the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? Your asking me for the meaning of life? Isnt that a little stereotypical?”

“Well its a reasonable question.” you persisted. I looked in your eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No. just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature, and become a larger and greater intellect” “Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, theres just you, and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now your getting it.” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John wilkes Booth, too.” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” you said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “You were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

“Why?” You asked me. “why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa.” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said. “Its just…”

“An egg of sorts.” I answered. “Now its time for you to move on to your next life.” and I sent you on your way.

-The End

[stolen from 420chan]

This particular text reminds me of a religion that I designed in my last years of primary school. The only real difference being that I would have had to convince my potential followers that I could remember past lives (ie. their current lives) and somehow turn that into money and power.

More recently, I’ve wanted to make a video game based around the concept that every character is the same soul reincarnated. I feel that it would be interesting to force players to live through different lives with conflicting ideologies, and to reveal the impact of their decisions on others.

Anyhow, it’s nice to see others presenting the same ideas so well (and presumably without an ulterior motive). Go Internet!

Back from Melbourne

I learnt a few things while in Melbourne:

  • I could be happy living in an apartment (provided the strata allowed for cats).
  • The art collector market feels conservative and entirely self-perpetuating.
  • Artist run spaces tend to shut down over January.
  • I would like to find a good Sichuan restaurant in Perth. (Anyone?)

I ate at some good restaurants:

  • 1+1 Dumpling Noodles: Lamb skewers
  • Ants Bistro: The minister chicken is “very exciting!”
  • Dainty Sichuan: Garlic cucumber and chicken pieces in dry chilli
  • Nhu Lan: Vietnamese lunch rolls
  • (Dim sum place around the corner from 1+1): Gai Lan rice flour rolls
  • (Fancy restaurant chain from China): Pork and cucumber in chilli oil

And I took some photos:

Hmmm… I probably shouldn’t have made the photos so small…

Eating out in Perth

I figured that I would make another (more recent) list of places to eat in Perth.

Most of the places listed are around Victoria Park and Northbridge. There’s also a pretty heavy emphasis on Asian food and everything listed is reasonably priced. This probably just indicates my personal tastes (in locales, foods, and prices). 😉

Anyhow, here’s the list! (organised by type of food):

  • Thai: S&T Thai. Get the gai yang or num tok set. (Alternative: Siam Kitchen)
  • Korean: Took Be Gi. Try the kimchee chagae and pear juice.
  • Burgers: V Burger. Try the Classic V Burger with chips and aioli. Onion rings are good too, but pretty oily. (Alternative: Jus Burger)
  • Lebanese: The Prophet. The mixed platter is fantastic. As are the complementary bread, pickles, and garlic sauce.
  • Turkish: Turkish Kitchen. Freshly baked bread, made when you order.
  • Chinese: Good One BBQ. Best for roast pork or chilli pepper prawns. (Alternatives: Tak Chee BBQ, Taurus)
  • Yum Cha: Dim Sim Cafe. Try the Shanghai dumplings. (Alternatives: Yummy BBQ, Dragon Seafood)
  • Vietnamese: Vin Hong. I always get pho tai or com tam with fresh lemon soda. (Alternative: Lido)
  • Ramen: Dosukoi Japanese Noodle & Bubble Tea. Go the pork ramen with miso base. (Alternative: Nao Ramen)
  • Cafe: Source Foods. Be impressed by the immaculately-presented muesli and range of freshly squeezed juices.
  • Japanese: Fuji Sushi Station. Very good tuna sashimi. (Alternatives: Senoji, Sapporo, Hayashi)
  • Indonesian: Sparrow. Have a bit of everything with a glass of ice tea – no sugar. (Alternative: Bintang Cafe)
  • Pizza: Mancini’s Woodfired Pizza. I recommend the classic Margherita, the Bianca, or the Rustico. (Alternative: Palace Pizza)
  • Asian Bakery: Regent Cakes. Get a scallion roll if they have them… battle mild disappointment if they don’t.

From the entire list, I’d have to say that S&T Thai Cafe is absolutely my favourite. It easily gets my vote for best new restaurant of 2009, and the most authentic Thai restaurant in Perth.

There are also a few places that I only really go to for a specific meal (which appears to be far above the rest of their offerings):

  • Makan2: Roti pizza, ikan bilis, and teh ‘o ice.
  • Izumi: Inari sushi (oddly, not so common) and beef curry.
  • Tea Cafe: Hot lemon coke and one of the set menus… not sure which…
  • Kublai: Only when in the mood for Mongolian BBQ (a very specific mood).
  • Japanese Place at International Eating House on Albany Hwy: Teriyaki beef with lots of vegetables. (Their other food is also very good value).
  • Pancho’s Mexican Villa: The shredded beef used in some dishes… that is all.
  • Little Creatures: Roast pork with apple, and kangaroo on skewers (Kangababs?).
  • Clancy’s Fish Pub: Fried Mice… yeah that’s pretty much it.
  • Wagamama: Their apple, lime, and mint juice is very refreshing… such a shame about their food. 🙁

Finally, let’s have a moment of silence for Wasabi and Rice Bowl. Their beef bowl and buk kut teh were timeless – but unfortunately they were not. 🙁

Anyone out there have any other recommendations for eating out in Perth?

Update: Lebanese/Turkish correction.

Scars of war

I was reading this post on reddit about someone who witnessed a rather severe PTSD-induced (posttraumatic stress disorder) psychotic episode. Just being present while someone else (a Vietnam War veteran) was experiencing an episode was understandably very traumatic for the author.

I found this quote (from Jarhead) in the post’s comments:

A story: A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he’s finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son’s diaper; his hands remember the rifle.

The impact of war is felt well beyond the term of the war. Not only in the scars left in the minds of former soldiers (and non-combatants), but also in the ongoing impact on family and friends. A broken cog deforms those around it, and these problems propagate throughout the machine of society.

I find it reprehensible that our political leaders are so willing to send others to war – especially when deciding factors more often concern economic gain (cold war, oil, gas) rather than objective safety and security. I feel absolutely sick to my gut hearing hollow justifications for the atrocity of war.

There’s a reason why the VVCS (Vietnam Veterans’ Family Counselling Service) has a free 24-hour Clinical Counsellor telephone service: almost 40 years later, the war casts a dark shadow over former soldiers and those close to them.

When the United Nations was formed after World War II, it was declared that:

WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, …

Those words carry a collective understanding of the impact of war on all of society, and yet war continues to this day – serving the interests of corporate greed and economic power. And it deeply disappoints me.

Golden Age of Media

Many people pine for a previous golden age of cinema, but I reckon we’re right in the middle of a golden age of media – television and film included.

(You should go see Fantastic Mr. Fox… unless you are a young child – they didn’t seem to like it much…)

I think that we’re seeing an increase in quality due to digital technology being integrated into all stages of the production process. Special effects aside – computers give us the ability to quickly capture, test, mix, match, present, and evaluate ideas, imagery, and audio in ways that were previously too costly or simply not possible. Plus the finish and polish are amazing.

I also feel that better communications technology allows for the propagation of more ideas more rapidly, and this results in more confronting and more adventurous media.

Back to the main point, I’ve been very impressed with a number of mainstream films recently:

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox: Awesome… like a Fox. Quick-paced with witty dialogue, expressive characters, and excellent comic timing. I love Wes Anderson and this felt like the latest pinnacle of his craft.
  • Avatar: Spectacular, captivating, and exciting (especially considering the length of the film). By completely embracing of 3D as more than a gimmick, James Cameron establishes a new grammar for use of depth and focus in guiding the audience and evoking emotional responses.
  • District 9: A natural expansion upon the ideas Neill Blomkamp established in Alive in Jo’burg. The special effects didn’t stand out, and this allowed the underlying story and theme to come through unobstructed.

I also saw Where the Wild Things Are. It was good, but not great. Although the production values were high and the presentation seamless and well-crafted. I feel that a common aspect of all films listed here is that their special effects are convincing or subtle enough that don’t distract from the main story.

Jellychick revisited

Here’s a picture I drew (… keep reading for an explanation why!):

Some of you will already know that a couple of years ago, I was at Good One BBQ when Greg ordered the Jellyfish Chicken Salad (see this post over at Chow Times for a picture). I was very interested in the combination of meats and I mused as to whether some sort of jellyfish/chicken hybrid could be bred specifically for this dish. This inevitably lead to a t-shirt design (which is incidentally available for purchase).

Fast forward to a few months ago in Thailand when my sister was buying up the country’s entire stock (note slight hyperbole here) of Bad Badtz Maru character merchandise. I figured that if an angry penguin could become such a big hit (he’s a little maligned compared to other Sanrio characters, but still popular enough) then Jellychick should have a chance at stardom!

My mum, my sister, and Titie Lalita were all skeptical that such an abomination could ever be cute – so I drew this quick conceptual representation on a napkin:

Looking at that adorable, poorly-drawn face… they became ever so slightly swayed towards believing that Jellychick could have a future in: novelty stationary, stuffed toys, sleeping bags, in-car air-fresheners, and all sorts of other random merchandise! Hopefully with this new image, I’ll have them convinced. 😉

Next step: I need to make some sample Jellychick product… maybe something that dangles from a mobile phone… any ideas?