Month: May 2014

What Does the Pokémon World Eat? Pokémon. 

The dark truth behind Pokémon.

TIME

Anyone who grew up in the 1990s (or any time after that, basically) is familiar with the basic, addictive premise of the Pokémon video games: the world is full of fantastical creatures that “trainers” can collect and make fight each other—kind of like animals, but more easily tamed. But that world, designed for tweens and teenagers, might be far creepier than it appears.

Modern Farmer published an article that analyzes the mysterious food politics of the world of Pokémon and comes to a conclusion: “Simply put, it is a fact that people eat Pokémon.” Collating creatures from the games and comments from the world’s non-player characters who chat up the protagonist, it becomes clear that Pokémon produce the basis of the world’s existence. Miltanks, a cow-like Pokémon, produce milk, while the tail of the Slowpoke, an exceedingly dumb Pokémon, is a delicacy. The poison of the serpentine Arbok makes a…

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Hamster Butts Are the Newest Adorable Trend Out of Japan

Oh, Japan.

TIME

From the country that brought you cat cafes and soccer-playing robots comes the next big thing in cute: hamster butts.

The furry pheonemon known as hamuketsu is a portmanteau of hamster and ketsu, the Japanese word for butt. Hamuketsu became a hit in Japanese social media circles around the end of 2013 and becomes the latest example of Japan’s aesthetic for all things kawaii, or cute.

Japanese publishers latched onto this trend and have released two hamuketsu photo books in 2014 already, selling more than 40,000 copies combined. Photos from Why Are Those Hamster Butts So Darn Cute?, Japanese publisher Basilico’s contribution to this emerging genre, can be seen above, while additional user-submitted hamster butts can be seen on their Facebook page.

“The great thing about hamuketsu is that it is delightfully cute. I can’t stop smiling when I see these butts,” Takeshi Takahashi, a spokesman for…

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The Lego Movie

I looked forward to watching this, the moment the first trailer popped up. And while it wasn’t a über-blast, it was funny, witty, and satirical, and it fulfilled every expectation I had of it.

The satirical nature is seen throughout the film, making fun of tropes and clichés of the entertainment industry…and in fact, any form of entertainment. The first bit already made fun of the idea of prophecies and having ‘chosen ones’, a mockery of the ideal hero concept, where they take an unknown who was picked by a higher power to fulfil a great role.

Then there was the poking of modern living, where we all do the same things as society demands of us. Maybe it doesn’t apply as much to the US, but it’s a brilliant reflection of Singapore. We study to get a degree, we get a degree to get a job, and we get a job for money to get the 5Cs and whatnot. It’s all very orderly, very regimented. There’s no real environment for creative expression, but we can legitimately claim to be fairly successful; a premise of the movie, where order is prized over creativity, as that is how things should be, and what makes things work.

Of course, it wouldn’t be mocking modern culture if it didn’t make fun of Starbucks and their overpriced drinks, as well as pop culture and the TV industry (which, to be fair, is pretty spectacular in the US; Singapore TV? Pshaw). Then, as expected, there’s the whole 1984, Big Brother reference, with cameras watching everyone’s movements.

And that was just to set things up. When Lucy showed up, it gave Emmett the opportunity to gush over her. Which I took to be referencing the lack of strong female leads that aren’t known for their beauty. Emmett became the stereotypical heroine, swooning over the opposite sex. Lucy was the stronger character, and it’s nice to see a female character that’s not shallow. And a male lead being generally useless; that’s also pretty rare 😉

The movie also makes fun of how convenient things can happen for protagonists in all forms of entertainment, making Batman the tsukkomi as first the pirate ship rescued them from the middle of the ocean, then the Millennium Falcon popped up to ‘give’ them a hyperdrive. It’s pseudo 4th wall breaking stuff, and that’s brilliant.

Of course, there are some other moments like Bad Cop drawing Good Cop back on himself, a well-tread road (along with the good-cop-bad-cop routine itself); plenty of bad guys find their humanity in the end. Also, when Vitruvius died, he died before giving his message; another arrow at the cliché of a last message delivered at deathbed. When he said he made the prophecy up, it was like a huge nod to those who realised the mocking nature of the film.

Then there are the numerous references to other characters from other worlds, thanks to the Lego toys covering the spectrum of them. Batman pulled out that famous quote that Commissioner Gordon used; Vitruvius came back as a ghost mentor, in a homage to Obi-Wan Kenobi; Lord Business had his super stilts built with each step, like Iron Man; and the robot workers were Terminators, which of course then refer to Lord Business as SkyNet. Vitruvius was even a hipster, claiming to have liked Emmett before he was cool.

Beyond the fun and the satire, there’s also the emotional aspect. It’s not the best scripted, but it tugged at the heartstrings a little, as the entire movie was effectively an allegory for the controlling nature of a father who wants his perfect Lego world, which stifles his son’s creativity. And it’s what we sometimes see in the real world, with Tiger Moms and Dads.

Education should be helping children build a platform to express their talent and creativity, not to stifle it in the bid for good grades, degrees and a cushy job. Let the children be explore their potential.

Looking deeper, we can also see the aversion people have of socialist ideas. This may seem contradictory after all that I’ve said about expressing oneself and individuality, but socialism isn’t Communism. When they had to find a way into the tower, Emmett convinced them all to work together. That’s the key; society can have creative individuals expressing themselves, but there should be an overarching goal for everyone to move towards, a goal towards the betterment of humankind.

Other than the deeper implications behind such a cute film, what really won me over was the self-awareness of the film. The characters and the settings were unashamedly Lego, and that fact was referenced overtly and implicitly. Every plot device they pulled was done in such an obvious way, it was clearly meant to make fun of the device itself. That Emmett saw the world above and beyond his, was another moment of self-awareness.

I’m so glad this is getting a sequel.

Naruto 678

I get it. Plot twists are in vogue no matter when or where they are applied.

BUT SERIOUSLY? THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME UP WITH, KISHIMOTO-SENSEI?

Black Zetsu, the will of Madara, is now the will of Kaguya? Betraying Madara and killing him? Oh, and Madara went down like a pussy, despite having just owned the crap out of every single ninja in the world? I’m surprised Madara didn’t have the ability to just phase the hell away.

Betrayal as a plot twist is perfectly acceptable, but this execution? Utter crap. Madara was made über broken by you already, and now he’s taken out so easily? I call bullshit.

Next thing you know, Madara helps the protagonists to fight a manifestation of Kaguya, who gets ‘revived’ through Black Zetsu. Then he dies a hero’s death, having been the ‘saviour of the world’ as he claimed so emphatically right before he got stabbed through the heart. Redemption, death for a former baddie, and the world saved. How perfect and convenient.

And the worst part about all this? I’m actually expecting the above to occur. Ever since the reveal of Kaguya as the mother of the Rikudō, and probably even more powerful than him, it’s now obvious that she’s going to be the final boss of final bosses. And it’s happening. For real.

Also, Naruto acting silly despite the world about to collapse. And Sakura being sensitive to Sasuke being insensitive. Team 7 back together with their old dynamics. How quaint. How STUPID.

Modern-Day Singapore Pays a Price for Globalization

Well, that’s a pretty accurate summary of the state of Singapore. Perfectly crafted for the modern world by one party, with whom a majority of Singaporeans entrust the country to wholeheartedly. A rash of First-World-Problems have decreased the support, but not enough to see them ever going out of power any time soon.

Do we have an identity? That’s a question that’s often pondered, and never really answered. There’s no singular defining thing about Singapore other than its efficiency, its modernity. Culture? History? Traditions? We’re a melting pot that didn’t combine the myriad cultures of the different races together; we forced the modern world upon every culture. Can we really expect to have a proper identity after that, beyond calling ourselves ‘Singaporean’?

Oh well, with Western ideals imprinted into our minds as the best sort of thinking, individualism rules. And who needs an identity binding the citizens of Singapore together, when we can be prosperous individuals living on an island nation with everything one could want in a modern lifestyle?

TIME

You land at Changi Airport after flying for what seems a lifetime, and you’re disoriented even before you hit the customs booths with bowls of mints, dire warnings about the death penalty for those bringing in drugs, and digital comment cards asking if the service was to your liking.

Duck into a public restroom and you’ll be exhorted to aim carefully and to “flush with oomph” for the sake of cleanliness. Outside, it’s tropical sticky but impeccably clean, in a city is inhabited by Chinese, Malays, Indians, and guest workers from around the world—all speaking English.

Singapore is an assault on one’s preconceptions.

Singapore calls itself the Lion City, but it would be more accurate to call it the Canary City—the canary in globalization’s gold mine. Arguably no other place on earth has so engineered itself to prosper from globalization—and succeeded at it. The small island nation of 5 million…

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Pregnant Pakistani Woman Stoned to Death by Family For Marrying Against Their Wishes

Taking conservatism to a whole new level. Or is that the actual level of conservatism in a majority of Asian countries, and Singapore’s the exception?

Sigh. Ignorance is bliss. I wish I never knew of these things, so I can live my happy, sheltered life here without feeling incredibly sad for the sorry state of affairs in countries all around the world.

Christian ‘Apostate’ Sentenced to Death in Sudan Gives Birth in Jail

This is really happening, isn’t it? At this point, I’m going to have to contradict my own beliefs against violence, and just demand for the world to invade Sudan and reform their insane laws. This is beyond appalling.

TIME

A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for “apostasy” after marrying a Christian and refusing to denounce the faith gave birth in prison Tuesday morning.

Lawyers for Meriam Ibrahim, 27, told the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph that the mother of two wasn’t taken to a hospital or allowed to see her husband, who has been waiting outside of the prison.

Ibrahim was sentenced to death May 15 for apostasy and adultery by a Sudanese court. She will be allowed to live and nurse her child, named Maya, for two years before she is put to death. Her 20-month old child Martin is in prison with her, too.

World leaders and human rights organizations have spoken out to stop the execution.

An Amnesty International petition to override the sentencing has been signed by more than 660,000 people thus far.

Now that Ibrahim has given birth, the Telegraph reports, she is subject to 100…

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Don’t Trust Wikipedia When It Comes to Your Health, Study Says

NOOOO!!!

TIME

A new study has found that Wikipedia entries on the costliest medical conditions contradicted the latest medical research 90% of the time.

A team of U.S. scientists said they found “many errors” in Wikipedia articles concerning the 10 costliest medical conditions. The researchers cross-checked Wikipedia entries on coronary disease, lung cancer, hypertension and back pain, among other ailments, against the latest research from peer-reviewed journals.

Nine out of 10 entries analyzed on the crowd-sourced encyclopedia contained assertions that were contradicted by the peer-reviewed sources. Only the entry on concussions escaped the review error free. The authors noted that the article appeared to have contributors with a greater degree of expertise, mimicking the peer-reviewed process.

“Health care professionals, trainees, and patients should use caution when using Wikipedia to answer questions regarding patient care,” wrote the study’s authors in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

The authors laid particular stress…

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