Thursday, September 27, 2007

Against the Flow

If you want to know what it's like to be different from everybody else in the whole universe, go into a cinema (pay for your ticket first) and in the middle of the movie, just turn your head around and look at the audience (don't block anyone!).

If you are not so cheapskate that you can't even afford to spend a minute or two looking away from the big screen, you will be greeted with an eerie, haunting sight. Two hundred odd people all staring at something over your shoulder, their faces lit up with dim, flickering light, all eyes focused in the same direction, all not looking at you.

That's when you come to the realisation that you are totally, uniquely, creepily different from everyone else. I witnessed something like this today during the Honour's Day Rehersal (waste of time again but that's not important). I purposely turned my back on the screen so that I would not be bored tomorrow when the real (reel? haha) clip played. It was the exact same look-behind-you-in-a-cinema effect. It felt weird; imagine walking through a crowd of people all staring at the screen, paying no attention to you.

I guess that's why people with new ideas, who go against the flow, always feel so alone. When you're going the opposite way from everyone else, it sure is creepy.

The Edna Man

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In response

It’s exam time again, and unfortunately,
I’ve got to do this exam, by decree.
I really don’t want to, I have to confess;
Let’s just get this done so I can go for recess.
In the spirit of fun, I’ll stick to the style
Of the question in question, so that it’ll bring a smile
To the unfortunate soul who is marking this script
Since grading this paper will sure make you flip.

A look at the poem and it’s easy to see
That the poet’s intent was to make it funny
Through the structure and rhyme! And this essay
Will attempt to show how the humour is conveyed.

Firstly for structure, it’s clearly a sonnet;
Let’s just keep moving on; don’t keep bees in your bonnet.
Although that was obvious, the purpose is not
‘Cos sonnets are mostly in love songs a lot.
And this is no ballad, no sweet courtship song
If we’re talking ‘bout genre, this style is all wrong.
But if I could make an intelligent guess,
The content and diction would seem to suggest
That the poet was aiming to juxtapose
A question ‘bout poems not written in prose
With the rest of the questions; but that’s one aspect;
The other: that this poem seems to reflect
That sometimes the structure is inconsequential
It’s more likely the content would be more essential.
And I’m sure you’ll agree that this is the case:
The structure was something that just fell into place.

Now talking ‘bout rhyme; the poem, in fact;
The rhymin’ and timin’ would seem to attract
More readers, more students, to give an attempt
To answer the question with a bit less contempt.
That’s one of the uses; the other is thus:
The rhythmic verses makes humour a plus.
The rhyme scheme and rhythm can be said to produce
An effect on the poem not unlike Dr. Seuss.
The singsong-ish voice, the unserious tone
Only serves to make the content more shown
In a humourous way, and that makes you laugh
Even if it didn’t, it sure was enough.
For the whole satirical effect to come through
Don’t think too deeply; no meanings construe.
That poem and this were written for fun
Which exams obscure and destroy all in one.

Thus in conclusion, this essay is moot:
Both poems have no real meaning to boot.
The exam will be over when I put down this pen
So when I do: Let the party begin.

Monday, September 24, 2007

With reference

I forgot about this. Mr Wong today in Lang Arts asked us to set possible exam questions. Only at the end of it all did Jarrel remind me of something totally pwnage: write the question in the style of a poem.

It's exam time again, and you know the drill:
Sit here and be silent and write stuff and chill
yourself to the bone, but again I digress;
You're reading this only because of your test.
This question's 'bout poems, about words in a verse,
Of which structure and meaning can be so diverse.
There's sonnets and ballads and of course limerick,
Some read for pages; some others quite quick.
It goes without saying, you've already guessed,
What your answer to this must surely address.
Comment on the structure, or on the rhyme
of the poem in your essay, if you've got the time.
Content's up to you, rebutt if you must,
But from two or three of your poems: Discuss.

If this came out, I'd totally do it for the sheer pwnage-ness of the question.

And to make it interesting, if I've got the time,
I'm prepared to write the whole essay in rhyme.
The Edna Man

Chaotic Neutral


Today I'm talking to all you pioneers out there. Yes, you know who you are. All of you who have ever had an idea which has been shouted down, criticized, alluded to fantasy, called ridiculous, insensible or illogical. Here's my question to you: how did you do it? How did you change the face of the world with just your idea, when everyone else was against you, calling it daft, away with the fairies? All the encyclopaedias and biographies just say that "with hard work and perseverance", but what really was going through your mind? How did you know you were right? How would you know that you weren't wrong? What made you continue when nobody believed in you?

I've got ideas. I've got lots of ideas. And lots more that nobody agree with. Ideas that are so weird, different, disagreeable, that it can only be called revolutionary. I'm not praising myself here; revolutionary in the sense that it's so against the system. That the concept is so contextually wrong that nobody agrees with it and/or gives it backing and support.

Should I just shut up? My ideas will be shut down anyway, so what's the point of bringing them up at all? Why don't we all just work with the system, who cares about the flaws, accept that life is what it is, screw creativity, screw progress, screw point of view. Why do you follow something you disagree with? Isn't it better if you try to make it better?

Why make it better in the first place? There are so many contradicting viewpoints that there is no such thing as better. And everything is impractical because it takes too much time and money. What is good? What is bad? Why is my idea flawed? Why isn't yours? Why are we putting so much faith in the system? What's wrong with changing the system? What is wrong?

Kev once asked me what Chaotic Neutral is. It's a character alignment system from Dungeons and Dragons, which basically ascribes your character's ethical code and moral path. It's based on two perpendicular axes: the chaotic-lawful, and the good-evil; so there are nine different alignments you can choose from. I came across Chaotic Neutral while playing Neoquest II, and it kind of describes me; 'cos I'm not totally good, but not totally bad either. And I'm definitely not lawful because I keep going against the system. Apparently Chaotic Neutral is the alignment for rebels. Huh, imagine that.

The fact that the issue is so small and easily rectified is what upsets me.

Change the world, they said. Make a difference, they said. Well, I'm trying, but nobody's letting me.
The Edna Man

Monday, September 17, 2007


I just watched this show on Arts Cenrtal. It's this segment called Mosiac Monday, and today's was called Brain Man. It's about this British person, Daniel-something, I can't remember, and he was like a genius. Like a hundred Jarrel Seahs put together. I think it was really cool.

Apparently he has a form of number form synesthesia, and he sees numbers as landscapes, images in his mind. And while in most other synesthesics the images are more concepts, abstract; with Daniel it's more physical and vivid. And his abilities were amazing. He memorized a chessboard with 26 random pieces on it in 10 minutes. He used his intuition to win three hands of 21 at Blackjack in Las Vegas. He calculates exponentials with just shapes. It's really very amazing.

Next week is about a boy with no eyes; yet he can "see" using something which I think is echolation. That's like a real-life Daredevil.

Sounding purple,
The Edna Man

The Exams Problem

The Barometer Problem

The following concerns a question in a physics degree exam at the
University of Copenhagen:

"Describe how to determine the height of a skyscraper with a barometer."

One student replied:

"You tie a long piece of string to the neck of the barometer, then lower the barometer from the roof of the skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the length of the barometer will equal the height of the building."

This highly original answer so incensed the examiner that the student was failed immediately. The student appealed on the grounds that his answer was indisputably correct, and the university appointed an independent arbiter to decide the case.

The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed correct, but did not display any noticeable knowledge of physics. To resolve the problem it was decided to call the student in and allow him six minutes in which to provide a verbal answer that showed at least a minimal familiarity with the basic principles of physics.

For five minutes the student sat in silence, forehead creased in thought. The arbiter reminded him that time was running out, to which the student replied that he had several extremely relevant answers, but couldn't make up his mind which to use. On being advised to hurry up the student replied as follows:

"Firstly, you could take the barometer up to the roof of the skyscraper, drop it over the edge, and measure the time it takes to reach the ground. The height of the building can then be worked out from the formula H = 0.5g x t squared. But bad luck on the barometer."

"Or if the sun is shining you could measure the height of the barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its shadow. Then you measure the length of the skyscraper's shadow, and thereafter it is a simple matter of proportional arithmetic to work out the height of the skyscraper."

"But if you wanted to be highly scientific about it, you could tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it like a pendulum, first at ground level and then on the roof of the skyscraper. The height is worked out by the difference in the gravitational restoring force T =2 pi sqr root (l /g)."

"Or if the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase, it would be easier to walk up it and mark off the height of the skyscraper in barometer lengths, then add them up."

"If you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox about it, of course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pressure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and convert the difference in millibars into feet to give the height of the building."

"But since we are constantly being exhorted to exercise independence of mind and apply scientific methods, undoubtedly the best way would be to knock on the janitor's door and say to him 'If you would like a nice new barometer, I will give you this one if you tell me the height of this skyscraper'."

Source: Snopes

Doesn't this tell you something about the nature of exams? Of why answers given must be the ones that the marking scheme wants, although other answers could be correct? And even then, any scientific reasoning we could give would be void by the most practical answer. So what are we still doing exams for?

If you can tell me, I'll give you a brand new barometer.
The Edna Man

Monday, September 10, 2007

How many last straws can we take?

Name: Uncle Edna
Class: 4.09
Date: 10th September
Year: 2007
Areas: Creativity, Action, Service, Leadership
Shoe Size: 9
Favourite Colour: Orange, maybe blue.
What do you feel about the whole optimist/pessimist thing?: What?!
Teacher Supervisor: None

Proposal for: Blogging about CASL

On the 10th of September 2007, I intend to write a blog post about the idiocy of the Creativity, Action, Service, and Leadership Programme (CASL) in long, satirical prose.

The aims and objectives of the aforementioned activity are to allow me to express my views about the above topic, in the hopes that others may see my point of view, allowing them to garner a fuller representation of the above topic. Formalities aside, this activity is also an opportunity to antagonize and vent my frustrations about the failures of the education system which is a very serious matter indeed.

Signed: The Edna Man
Teacher Supervisor

Was that stupid enough for you? If not, let's go on to talk about my day, and you'll see stupid concepts worse than Being Hit on the Head Lessons.

After a bone-chilling hour of IHS lecture, some guy from some university (dunno which university lah, but you can guess) comes in and starts talking about that university and everything the school offers, blah blah blah. I was barely interested, and while it would have been tolerable if he had ended at the appropriate time (because he said he would take only FORTY MINTUES), he ended up overshooting by half an hour. Very slick. Would his whole faculty be like that? If so, then I might not be interested, thanks.

And that's with me freezing in my seat and dying of hunger.

I don't get it. Everyone keeps lecturing us on how to keep within the time when you're presenting, and don't hold people up and all that. Didn't these people receive the same education? Why is it when kids do it it's wrong, but when adults do it, it's alright?

And then, to top it all off, the Year 4 Level Director comes and gives us another 15 minute lecture on How our CASL Book is Not Up to Standard and If He were to Judge Now We Would All Fail and Stay Back A Year. That's about all I got from those fifteen minutes, partly because the cold and lack of lunch was numbing my brain, and also partly because that's all he seemed to say; he repeated it about ten times. At least.

Hello...? Hungry? Cold? Irritable driver waiting? Don't care? Alright. Nothing I can do about it anyway.

And then there's the whole idea CASL which irks me. That you have to do a proposal for every little stinking thing we do. Oops, I sneezed; guess I have to write a proposal for that. Then comes the meticulous records of the number of hours we put in. Then the reflections.

Can you imagine? A hundred and fifty hours worth of proposal, C-A-S-L, reflections. I mean WHAT THE HELL-o what have we here? A blasted ESSAY about the whole thing or YOU DON'T PASS YOUR IB.

C'mon. There has got to be a better way than this. Doing good or participating in activities isn't supposed to be about meticulous proposal writing, or the frantic calculation about how many hours you've got. Once you implement the quota, the whohle meaning is lost. A wise Core Math Teacher once said, "When you start taking photos for money, you're not going to enjoy photography anymore."

Or maybe that's what it's about. Screw the meaning and purpose, what's important is Vitamin M.

Sometimes it just makes me think about quitting formal education and opt for home-schooling. Might as well learn everything from the Internet. Just imagine, if you go apply for a job interview, and you say, "Well, I almost reached the IB Diploma. It's just that I disagreed with the system and quit in protest, and continued my education on the Internet." And they hired you. You must have had some really good pants.

At least there are some other examples of the human species at its prime. Lang Arts Teacher in stunning move launches into speech about language and words, and how important they are to building character. Extra, extra, read all about it!

Hours done: 30 Writing: 1 Creativity Posting: 1 Service
The Edna Man

Monday, September 03, 2007


Remember that Dexter episode where he was watching some Action Hank movie when it got interrupted by a Emergency Broadcast Blue-Screen-of-Death so he went around solving crises and emergencies trying to prematurely end the Emergency Broadcast but when he got back to his TV they said it was just a test of the system and when his show continued the movie was at the end?

Yeah, well, I was watching Danny Phantom today, a new episode, and a double-part storyline to boot. I didn't know that there were two episodes back to back but since I was so excited by the first part I stuck around to se if there was a second part and to my great surprise and excitement there was! So there I am wacthing it eagerly and it gets to the exciting climax where Danny beats the villian and then - the broadcast broke. WARRRGHHH So I kept the TV on in the hopes that they'd get it fixed soon, and it did - after Danny beat the villian and the climax was over.

The Edna Man