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Saturday, September 25, 2004
Dr Liew Reviews Instruction Manuals 
Championship Lode Runner:
Players of CHAMPIONSHIP LODE RUNNER, like Galactic Commandos, never say die. However, on occasion they ask for a little help. And that's just what you'll get with the CHAMPIONSHIP LODE RUNNER HINT BOOK...a little help.
More here.

graceshu  # 4:13 PM


Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep 
Iran said, "It certainly does cure my depression. Now we can admit to everybody that the sheep's false."
"No need to do that," Rick said cautiously.
"But we can," Iran persisted. "See, now we have nothing to hide; what we've always wanted has come true. It's a dream!"

This book has been made into what has since became the best sci-fi movie ever - Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott and starred Harrison Ford sometime after his lightsabre-wielding days, back in 1982.

It is January 2021; the days of living with rogue androids, traveling in cool hovercars, getting hit by laser tubes, administering the Voight-Kampff test on potential androids, and of dialing the number '3' so that you would be stimulated to dial for a desired feeling using the mood organ on your bedtable (ahem).

Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter hired by the police force to 'retire' androids that lurk amongst humans - sounds almost like an easy assignment, except that they look and act exactly like humans as well. Owls and a handful of other animal species are extinct; all he had was a considerably cheap, electric sheep. He had always wanted something more; something real, and cash from his 'hunts' should be sufficient for a new pet. His latest assignment, however, would bring him more than just that.

Dick describes the futuristic world with such ease, it seemed as though he were painting scenes from a documentary. The thing with sci-fi is that you would wonder if things will eventually turn out that way thirty years down the road. Could you imagine waking up to the sound of hovercars, or yelling to your er, mechanical helper to bring you breakfast in bed?

I usually have the impression that sci-fi books would be difficult to absorb and to understand; this one was not too bad, really (but then again, there was the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...). However, due to conflicting statements made by the director and lead actor of Blade Runner, I cannot make up my mind as to whether Rick is a human or an android. Still, it made an enjoyable read for a new sci-fi fan like yours truly, who usually finds more joy prancing along with dark elves...

My slightly tattered book had about 20+ pages missing (it was a used copy from the bookstore) and I resorted to reading the missing pages off the Internet.

One of Dick's short stories is being adapted for the silver screen as well - A Scanner Darkly, helmed by director Richard Linklater (of Waking Life fame, so you can just imagine how this one is going to turn out!) and the sci-fi man of the moment, Keanu Reeves.

Strizzt  # 9:32 PM


Monday, September 20, 2004
The Balm of Deception 
Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception.
by Daniel Goleman.

Some writers stand out to me. They might not be well-respected, or even popular, but they always have a place in my bookshelf. You could say that I'm a fan of their works, in some cases. For religion, that writer is Karen Armstrong, who ensnared me in her web with A History of God. For modern psychology, it's Daniel Goleman, who caught my attention with Emotional Intelligence

I don't know what it is that interests me so much with both writers. Perhaps it's the measured, even tones they have, but spiced with splashes of vivid color when they touch on some subjects. It's rare to hear them resort to the language of polemic — always a major turn-off for me. And whenever I read their works, I always find something new.

Vital Lies, Simple Truths Cover

In the book I'm supposed to be talking about, Goleman addresses the issue of self-deception — a prevalent, but almost-invisible pattern in our lives. The human mind, it seems, perpetually blocks out perception and the awareness of information, often to alleviate anxiety. From this simple idea, he begins to sketch out a rather enlightening, yet very disturbing portrait of the human mind.

Every human's mind, it turns out, has a… thing that works silently and tirelessly behind the scenes, just under our awareness. It blanks out stimuli, it suppresses memory and recall, and ruthlessly expunges data that worries, that causes anxiety or gets in the way of decisive action.

In most cases, it is an ally, and an invaluable one — without it we would be paralyzed, unable to work out otherwise-vexing and overwhelming problems and issues. It is, often, the root of heroism and love — a heroic man is a man who can mute out fear and doubt for just a while, enough to do what needs to be done, and a loving man believes that he will love his mate for ever and ever, even if it would be better for him, in an evolutionary standpoint, to have sex with as many females as he can (that is, cheat). But often, it can be our worst enemy.

It seems like almost every major calamity in our lives could be attributed to these gaps in awareness that we have — what Goleman calls lacunae, or holes in our awareness. He links it to the phenomenon of groupthink, a special kind of idiocy or willing blindness that can befall even the most intelligent and well-informed group. Lacunae are also present in smaller, yet equally painful disasters, like sexual abuse and alcoholism in the family. As an incest victim recalls, rather angrily:
I never actually told [my mother] what my father was doing, but my God, the laundry could have! There were bloody panties, semen-stained pajamas, soiled sheets. Everything was right there for her to see. And she chose not to.
But such methods of repression and denial are not merely the province of horrible secrets, as Goleman points out. They're everywhere — from the invisible contract married couples agree upon, that is more often than not never put into words, to our ability to block out things that we are all uncomfortable of as a society, to even the existence of the modern working day and our sense of time, which may seem natural to us now, but is merely a new innovation, barely a hundred years old, and directly against what our ancestors are used to.

Taken in this light, the actions of people and characters in modern history make some kind of sense — we are often torn from our natural state, and yet conditioned to believe that it is natural. Furthermore, we do not talk about it — we cannot.

I found this book just after I returned from the United Kingdom, after failing to complete my degree. In itself, the book offers me no comfort — the feelings I've had, as well as the tactics I and my family have used to deny what has happened to me, are natural, and even inevitable. But self-knowledge is a balm, even if it is a painful one. It's certainly a book I recommend that others read, even if it is weighty and somewhat hard to get into.

T-Boy  # 9:14 PM


Mea Culpa! 
In a rather embarrasing post-Freudian slip, I had accidentally posted an entry that wasn't meant to be here. There might have been some confusion over all of that.

I profusely apologize for that. As recompense, I suppose I should work on a book review, then, shouldn't I? ^_^;;

T-Boy  # 9:11 PM


Fiction and Friends Sharing The Pleasure Of Books 
I found this from kakiseni. Interesting group. Let me know if anyone interested ya :)

Fiction and Friends Sharing the Pleasure of Books

We are a book group based in the Klang Valley. We choose a book for the month and then meet up to discuss it at someone's house (usually in Petaling Jaya, Bangsar, Sri Hartamas or Subang Jaya). The group members are Malaysians and "local foreigners" from all walks of life, but we also welcome expats. We generally read literary fiction, but are by no means booksnobs. (Even Harry Potter gets a look-in!) We also make an effort to read books by authors from all parts of the world. Our favourite books have included A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje, and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. But sometimes our liveliest debates have been over books some (or all) of us did not enjoy at all!The host provides a light supper, so that food and social chat complete an enjoyable evening.Just come along to a meeting and see if you enjoy yourself. Our book for October is "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown and we'll be tackling Oscar Hijuelos' "The Mambo Kings Play songs of Love" in November. Contact Muntaj muntaj@streamyx.com or Sharon sbakar@streamyx.com to find out the date and venue of the next meeting. You can also join our e-group fictionandfriends@yahoogroups.com for news about meetings and the latest articles about books and writers taken from publications around the world.

pringgadhani  # 3:38 PM