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RANDTS will last a thousand years.

- Albert

i was searching for 19th century photographs, and i came across this website of which i find utterly interesting. its title, Women’s History Then & Now : Women’s Mental Illness.

you can go to this website for more info on the subject.

i find these few mental illness as being downright interesting and decided to post some here in my blog. for future reference or sort. idk.


Anorexia- The Fasting Girls

Anorexia, though prominent for many years prior, was officially recognized Fashionas
a disease in 1873 (Ussher 77). It flourished during the nineteenth century as women wished to exemplify their femininity. In denying food, a woman could truly be passive and become a weightless accessory for her husband. The physical and spiritual ideal of anorexia also became a status symbol for many women. Working class women had to eat in order to have energy to work. Thus, only middle to upper class women could afford to be anorexic. Cures included being admitted to an asylum where women rested and were excessively fed.


Spinsters and Lesbians

Spinsters and lesbians were considered a threat to society during the nineteenth century as these women chose an alternative lifestyle. They went outside the social norms of women as passive housewives, and instead made their own decisions. They were thought to be mentally ill, as doctors claimed being without continued male interaction would cause irritability, anaemia, tiredness, and fussing. These women were also controlled by the term “frigid” which was used to describe them. Women did not want to be “frigid” and thus married to avoid becoming labeled this manner (Ussher 81). Those who were admitted to the asylum for being a spinster or a lesbian were submitted to forced marriages by family members or even encouraged sexual encounters where patients were sexually abused or raped under the care of their doctors (Ussher 81). It was assumed these women could be cured by repeated sexual interaction with men.


Nymphomania (hypersexuality)

The idea of nymphomania developed during the Victorian era. One-third of all patients in Victorian asylums suffered from this mental illness. It was described as an irresistible desire for sexual intercourse and a “female pathology of over-stimulated genitals” (Goldberg 80). Nymphomania included much more than a simple sexual drive, however, as it was also associated with a loss of sanity. It was described as an “illness of sexual energy levels gone awry, as well as the loss of control of the mind over the body” (Goldberg 86) and included women who allowed their bodies to become subject to uncontrollable movement as nymphomaniacs “threw themselves to the floor, laughed, danced, jumped, lashed out, smashed objects, tore their clothes, grabbed at any man who came before her” (Goldberg 89). It was also believed that those who suffered from this madness would, without treatment, eventually become a raving maniac, robbed over her mind (Goldberg 87). Gyno ExamA woman could be placed in an asylum for nymphomania if she was promiscuous, bore illegitimate children, was a victim of an assault or rape, was caught masturbating, or suffered from man-craziness, a term used during this time period to describe flirtatiousness. When a woman was brought to the asylum, she was subject to a pelvic exam where the doctor claimed she had an enlarged clitoris the size of a penis. Upon later inspection if the clitoris had returned to its normal size, she would be released and deemed cured. Cures for nymphomania included separation from men, bloodletting, induced vomiting, cold douches over the head, warm douches over the breasts, leeches, solitary confinement, strait-jackets, bland diet, and occasional clitorectomies.


for these and more, go to the website.

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English has always been a language of concern in our country, especially for the fact that we are considered as a nation whose proficiency in English is fairly good. However, in my opinion, this consideration is greatly flawed.

Their standard of English is a shame in itself.

It is indeed discouraging to know that while we pride ourselves in being a multi-linguistic society, meaning that one is able to converse in at least two languages (Bahasa Melayu and English) or more, our mastery in languages is somewhat poorer than anticipated. We see that people, in general, are able to write well, but they are not able to speak just as well as they could write.

My main focus here is on English, and although we take English as Second Language in our country, still its emphasis as a medium of instruction in schools and universities is great enough for an enormous amount of attention.

It is simply appalling to see students, especially university students (including those in my campus) who are expected to have a good proficiency in English, to be making mistakes that are now considered unforgivable in terms of language. To make the most fundamental errors in grammar such as the subject-verb agreement "is" and "are", tenses and so on are simply an atrocity in itself. Our teachers have taught us English since kindergarten or primary school, and to see the fact that throughout their eleven years or so of education and yet their English is as if they have not even gone for the first lesson in English is simply unthinkable. Is English such a difficult language to learn? If people of other nationalities can master English, why can we not do that as well?

What discontented me very much is the fact that during presentations, people often stumble themselves groping for words in their vocabulary, and while doing so selecting words that are not suitable in terms of meaning and perhaps even grammar. Also, it is disheartening to see that students, especially university students, making the simplest of pronunciation errors and though they know that their pronunciation is wrong, they never made the slightest effort in correcting themselves. How would you pronounce "determine" and "lethal"? I tell you the truth, out of 10 students who are tested, I can say that at least six of them will get either one of the words wrongly pronounced, with the word "determine" being mispronounced the most.

Come on, people! A lot of us are university students now, and we are required to make a lot of presentations. One way to impress your audience is the proficiency of English that you possess. If initially we say that while presenting it does not even matter if your English is broken, that is because we believe that in the early stages of presentation, you might be nervous and this can cause some difficulty in structuring your sentences. However, by now, since our medium of instruction is only English, our proficiency should reflect those suited for at least a Band 5 or Band 6 standard of English, according to MUET grading, more so as we have had English lessons all this while for the past twelve or thirteen years of formal education!

As if the poor proficiency in English among students is not enough, even lecturers themselves have such a poor level of English, and I am not just referring to lecturers in public universities, but also private universities such as Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP). UTP has always prided itself in having the best amenities and facilities for students and staff; it is indeed undeniable, but the standard of English that a lot of students and lecturers possess here is simply a mockery of themselves. Quite a number of my lecturers make lots of grammatical and pronunciation errors. Some say, "How do I say you?" when he or she really meant "How do I put it for you?" or "How do I explain it to you?" As a lecturer, it is expected that they are able to converse in English almost flawlessly. Needless to say, quite a great number of our local lecturers themselves urgently need English proficiency classes. They may refuse to take it due to reputation reasons, but if I were the chancellor of my university, I do not care tuppence about their reputation! To have lecturers and administrators whose English is poor would ruin the general reputation of the university as a whole. It is far better to send these lecturers for English training courses, degrade their images for a moment and then send them back to work with a new and better impression formed.

A good proficiency in English is vital especially to academicians who need to impart knowledge to students. Lecturers with poor proficiency in English may be prone to giving wrong information unintentionally due to the wrong words used, or the misinterpretation that may be caused. As such, lecturers, who definitely have much more exposure in terms of linguistic development, should and must have a good level of English. They must be able to speak and present like a Band 6 or Band 7 MUET candidate. The requirement seems very high, but extremely necessary.

I am tired and fed-up of being appalled by the standard of English portrayed by so many students and lecturers in my campus. Even the authorities themselves make silly spelling and grammatical mistakes while issuing bulletins, notices or announcements.

I am indeed sad to say that while the English teachers have put in their hearts and souls in the teaching of English to students, little do they realise how much they have failed miserably in ensuring that our standard of English is on par with many other countries around the world. The Ministry of Education on the other hand should raise the standard of English in terms of grading and marking for papers, as well as setting a stringent assessment scheme. It is definitely necessary to lower down the number of A's for English in PMR and SPM examinations. The A that they obtain in their public examinations simply does not reflect the standard of English that they possess. Their standard of English is a shame in itself.

[


The premise of 'A Scanner Darkly', based on Philip K. Dick's sci-fi novel of the same title, is that of a bleak future where drugs have corrupted 20% of the population. The drug is Substance D, or "Death". Overseas, the government wages a war against drug terrorists worldwide. Within the country, however, the government watches and records everything we do, even in the relative safety of our homes.

Robert Arctor (Keanu Reeves) is the boyfriend of Donna Hawthorne, a Substance D dealer. Robert Arctor and his housemates, Barris (Robert Downey Jr.) and Luckman (Woody Harrelson), are all heavy drug users and spend much of their time having drug-induced conversations.

However, in secret, Arctor is an undercover operative for the Anaheim Police Department. Wearing a scramble suit that disguises his identity (even from the other police officers with whom he works), his task is to uproot the dealers of Substance D in the government's increasingly disturbing war against the dregs of society.

How did I get here? The pain so unexpected & undeserved & for some reason cleared away the cobwebs. I realized I didn't hate the cabinet door, I hated my life, my house, my family. My backyard, my power mower. Nothing would ever change, nothing new would ever be expected; it had to end, & it did. Now in the dark world where I dwell ugly things & surprising things, & sometimes little wondrous things spill out at me constantly, & I can count on nothing. - Robert Arctor, 'A Scanner Darkly'

Codenamed "Fred", he is trying to get close to Donna to identify her supplier, but she's refusing his sexual advances, and Arctor's housemates are beginning to suspect the reality of the relationship.

Things begin take a turn for the worse when "Fred" is ordered by his superior, "Hank", to spy on Arctor because the police suspect Arctor is the key to busting a major drug operation. In the meantime, Arctor's housemates are becoming increasingly paranoid with the idea that the police are out to get them.

And so begins a strange cycle where the hunter is hunting himself, yet doesn't seem to realize the true nature of everything going on around him. The film centers a lot around the concept of paranoia and the effects of drug abuse, accentuated further by the fact that the entire film is rendered as an animated graphic novel. It seems like the whole world is being viewed through the eyes of an addict, and thus adds another layer of interest to the entire serving.

The ending might not be to many people's liking, but, without giving too much away, it also raises a few more interesting questions of ethics and 'doing the right thing for the greater good'. However, overall, I enjoyed the movie despite its overtly dark and depressing mood. Comic humor is provided by the inane conversations between Arctor and his housemates, as well as the idiosyncratic Freck, who's hallucinations are always a source of comedy.

Ultimately, if you're into twisting conspiracy theories or have a taste for intelligent fair like this, I'd definitely recommend this movie. Be prepared to not understand a lot of parts, though; as Arctor becomes lost in the convoluted world that becomes his reality, things might just be just as blur for you.

- saintmaverick -

[


Chapter 2. Day of Judgement

According to the preacher's texts, The Holy revealed His new calendar when Bandar the Wanderer entered the seaport city of Punta Arenas at the southern end of the ancient and mythical country of Chile. He came less than a month after the War of the Burning Metals and the blazing of Shaitan's fires across the globe. Eight years later the Holy revealed Bandar as His preacher and anointed him Bel'dar, creating the first of the Cunif Califar.

We are all taught geography as children of course. It is fascinating to think what life must have been like back then, with the survivors of the war forming a global refugee population. The southernmost areas of the globe suffered by far the least of the fallout, and for decades they were the only regions habitable. The place that eventually became Bandar Arenas had one of the lowest radiation levels in the world outside of Antarctica, and it was a magnet for humanity.

It's difficult to imagine how small the city was at the beginning. The Book of Bel'dar suggests its population was only about 100,000 before the war, 2% of the present size of five million. By current law, both the world capital and the Priesthood contain one fifth of the world's population.

It took the Earth several hundred years to recover from the war. Two of the most serious isotopes in the fallout were cesium-137 and strontium-90. They both have half-lives of about 28 years. It also took several centuries for the ozone layer to recover from being destroyed by the nitric oxides produced by the bombs. The primary lingering health concern from the war is now carbon-14, with a half life of 5600 years. Fortunately the oceans and biosphere have recycled much of it out of the atmosphere.

Bandar Arenas is the southernmost city on Earth. There are also 120 townships scattered in North and South America, with populations averaging 167,000 each. Each township is sponsored by one of the 120 Guilds, and the Priesthood is the sponsor of the capital.

The name of my childhood township is Anqara, and it is the home township of the Guild for specialty metal fabrication. Anqara has the distinction of being the farthest township from Bandar Arenas, but with our close match in longitude with the capital, we also have the smallest shift in solar time. Our solar noon occurs only 24 seconds later than official solar noon. Official time is the same everywhere of course. There are no time zones. The rhythm of the daily Prayer is not fragmented.

In Bel'dar's calendar, each year has 12 months, and the months have kept their ancient names. Each month has 30 days. In addition to the twelve months, there is a five-day festival to celebrate the Holy's Judgment. The festival is at the beginning of year, shortly after the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere. When the calendar year is divisible by twelve, the festival is lengthened to eight days in order to keep the calendar in sync with Earth's solar orbit.

The festival of The Judgment is the appropriate time for the childhood gates, and also for the gates that control adult advancement from one citizen level to the next. The childhood gates are used to test and cull all male children as they enter their 8th, 13th, and 21st year of life. Each of the three gates culls 10%. There is also continuous culling due to medical, behavioral, or heretical problems, for both children and adults. The end result is 65% of the 120,000 male children born each year survive the challenge of entering adulthood.

The First Day of Judgment of 8235 began as usual for me with 6 AM prayers. I and the 577 other members of the Initiate class of Anqara found ourselves in the presence of the Bandar Arenas test monitor. Some seemed to find it difficult not to be intimidated by his purple insignia of royalty.

The class moved through the familiar cycle of the morning prayers. The Prayer of Purification hour was filled with tests of power and form in the martial arts. The exhaustion tests of endurance would come later in the evening Prayer of Weakness.

At 10 AM I began eight hours of qualifying tests with the Guild that had been sponsoring me since my thirteenth year. I have spent the last eight years of my life as an acolyte member of the Security Guild.

Security is a coveted Guild for membership. It is a small Guild, only three thousand adults, but it is very well represented in the royal levels. All rulers and royalty are part of the Priesthood of course, but 25 of the 4,092 current royals (citizen levels 16 through 23) entered royalty through the Security Guild. The previous Cunif Califar, Abdul Matin, Servant of the Firm, entered royalty through Security.

The ancient counterpart of the Security Guild would be a combination of domestic and international spy agencies. The Guild does not do installation and maintenance of the worldwide monitoring systems, but it does have ownership of their operation and technical evolution, and Security works closely with the Priesthood, in particular their embedded military and police units.

The Security Guild's township is called Jizari. It is located 360 km northeast of the capital, across the Straits of Magellan. Not surprisingly, Security's home is the closest township to Bandar Arenas.

There is a saying all males learn in nursery school, that the boy chooses the girls, but it is the Guild that chooses the boy. As a young child though, I discovered I have a unique talent, a secret gift that is the fuel for my hidden ambition. My gift let me choose my Guild. I have a perfect memory.

Am I a mutation? Probably. So many of our religious practices evolved from the mutations problems of the war, and how urgent it was to adapt society to the new reality. The culling was necessary to stop the degradation slide of the human genome, and it made the Genetics Guild one of the most powerful organizations under the Priesthood.

Major genetic changes were engineered in the first few thousand years after the war, as the Genetics Guild mastered the science of writing DNA at the level of complexity of the human genome. Evolution jumped from geological to generational timescales, and the Ruling Priesthood became the supreme legislature for determining the definition of human.

The ability of the species to repopulate was a critical concern, and one of the first successful genetic modifications was to change the male/female probability birth ratio from roughly 1:2 to 1:3. There are currently 120,000 male births a year and 360,000 female births. Daily sleep requirements are also half of what they used to be before the war.

Another genetic modification made the human genome compatible with anti-aging drugs. No one has lived to be 400 yet, but with continual use of the drugs 300 to 350 years of life can be expected, with all but the last few months in fully functional health.

My memory mutation is a powerful gift. It goes far beyond the ability of perfect recall of experiences. I have perfect recall over everything I sense. I can stare at my monastery study monitor flashing several pages a second and then read what I've observed at my leisure when I have time to close my eyes. I was six years old when I learned the trick of stealing Imul passwords by glancing from the corner of my eye, watching them type long and rapid password strings. I would later replay their finger movements in my mind.

For years I did nothing with my illegal access to knowledge. But when I was nine and had passed my first gate, my class went through a basic course on network security, and I realized Anqara has a weakness in its local security design. There is a six-second window every night at 11:30 PM when the township's network establishes new security handshaking protocols with the worldwide web. During this period, worldwide Security can't monitor local data access directly, and relies on the local logs to bridge the six-second gap once handshaking is reestablished.

But there is a flaw in the local monitoring software. It polls central video memory every 400 milliseconds for the image being transmitted to my room's monitor. With access to the monastery computers through an unrelated course on graphical displays, I used my stolen passwords and left behind a small and I hope untraceable daemon.

The end result is I have fifteen 400-millisecond windows every night to access restricted data. I start my process just after the end of the security polling cycle; loading the data into my video buffer, flashing it to my screen for 350-ms, and then shutting down and terminating the data request before the security poll asks my video buffer again what it is doing. End result? I get fifteen views a night with as much data as I can fit onto my screen, and there is absolutely no record of my activity.

In the last decade, I have had access to vast stores of information, far beyond what an Initiate is ever allowed to see. It is an extremely dangerous game. Sidestepping the local audit logs is not easy, but my greatest fear is someday showing that I know not too little but too much.

When I was eleven years old, I decided that the only truly safe way of protecting the use of my gift would be to have access to the Priesthood's master security logs, and the only way to do that would be from inside the Security Guild. I modified my performance on my aptitude tests to appear especially attractive to them, and at my thirteenth year, when the Guilds pick their acolytes from the survivors of the second gate, I succeeded in my quest to have the boy choose the Guild.

And the years passed. I reached my third gate. My final day of childhood continued. After four hours of Guild testing, I was pleasantly surprised to be served a lunch at 2 PM. Except for Guild training materials and courses, all children are completely under the control of the Priesthood, and the acolytes for adult Priesthood would be finding this a fasting day. But the other acolytes are owned by both the Priesthood and their Guild on Judgment Day, and it is permissible after morning prayers for the sponsoring Guilds to feed their acolytes.

I was touched by my Guild's generosity. They had sent me a magnificent lunch, one worthy of a royal. There was a fine selection of delicate fishes and meats wrapped in small pastries, plus an assortment of fresh fruit slices and greens from the southern hemisphere. It wasn't a large amount of food, but with the Prayer of Weakness testing in six hours, stuffing myself now would be foolhardy. The lunch was perfect. I thought about the message my Guild was sending me with their extravagant feast as I savored each bite.

I had to keep my wits about me during the last hours of testing. I was being asked to make intelligent guesses about matters that I had factual knowledge of only through my nocturnal data access. I intentionally made numerous guesses reasonable but wrong, especially those concerning the political alliances within the ruling Priesthood (the 87 Priests of Citizen Level 24 though 31).

One of the last tests from my Guild measured my memory and manual dexterity. I was shown long strings of random characters on a monitor for a brief period of time, and then required to rapidly type them. All adults have a minimum requirement of entering twenty-character complex passwords in ten seconds, but Security's requirement is a minimum of twenty-four characters in eight. I passed the test easily, overshooting my Guild's requirements by a considerable margin, but then holding back so as not to reveal my hidden talent.

The hours of Prayers passed quickly. I had no trouble with the theology. It did surprise me that the Hour of Weakness was used for unrelenting full-contact sparring. I am not the most aggressive fighter, but my form is efficient, however I received only three minor demerits, two for taking too long to defeat my friend Afeef, a clearly weaker opponent, and a third demerit for being too merciful with the selection of the combination holds that ended my final contest. The judge ruled I had a perfect opportunity to end the fight much sooner albeit much more brutally.

My class spent the Hour of Repose in perfect silence. It didn't feel like a test until near the end, when I realized other acolytes bruised from the sparring or worried about passing might be finding it difficult to maintain the required perfect stillness. When the closing bell sounded, there were numerous sighs of exhaustion. We all rose and quickly walked to our small bedrooms. I glanced around at some of my classmates, trying to make eye contact and offer encouragement. The testing was over. Talking was not strictly prohibited, but it certainly wasn't encouraged either, and we all make our way back to our rooms in silence.

I closed the door of my room as required, hearing the lock click and the door seal behind me. The time was 10:09 PM, and the Day of Judgment was almost over. Sometime within the next five hours, I would hear a gas hissing into my room. It would either be a simple nitrogen-oxygen mix, or something just as odorless but extremely lethal. By tradition, acolytes void their bladders and undress, in order to minimize the work of the acolytes in next year's class.

Some acolytes doubt this, but bedrooms really are unmonitored. The human psyche needs a place to wallow in peace during the hours of low impurity, and the Priesthood does provide that place. One thing I've learned about the Priesthood over the years is that they are many things, but they are not liars.

I actually fell into a restful sleep shortly after entering my room. I was that confident, and regardless the matter was out of my hands. I've learned the lesson to grab rest when I can. I was awakened by the faint sound of hissing air. I opened my eyes and glanced at the clock display on my monitor, 2:53 AM.

It was later than I expected. The test administrators are required by law to complete all executions by 3 AM. I shuddered as I thought about being one of the thousands of judges for the gate. A vast amount of the scoring is based on computer tabulation, but the final decisions are human, done over a worldwide teleconference. With over 87,000 Initiates per year, there are rumors of many heated discussions for the exacting rankings near the cutoff.

I laughed at myself as I realized I was sniffing the air. My subconscious demand to live was overwhelming my reasoning. Sniffing the air made no sense. I tried to calm myself by thinking of the soft hissing sound as relaxing. I looked at my sealed door, and waited for my adult life to begin.

[


Note: This is a long and boring post. Ignore unless you have nothing better to do.

I read somewhere before that Malaysia is the third country in the world with the most amount of piracy. The first is obviously China. Hence, as a Malaysian, its obviously true that I have pirated, or bought, or used a pirated product before.

But we ALL know piracy is wrong/illegal. We all know that it is a form of stealing, albeit digital (note that I am referring to the piracy of movies/games/softwares/music). Apparel piracy is not exactly piracy, as anyone wise enough knows a fake Bally when they see one, and copies of design is plagiarism, not piracy.

Heck, yet we (Malaysians) still do them, and quite frankly, support them. And we aren't the only ones in the world.

As an avid gamer and a frequent reader of gaming forums, I often see threads getting tangled in arguments regarding piracy. So for this post, I aim to express a summary (albeit a long one) regarding the arguments/views on both sides of the rights and wrongs of piracy, and my personal two cents on them.

Lets start with the obvious. Piracy is wrong, and no one should ever pirate. It hurts the economy, and industry. Game developers, especially start-ups, small bands, start-up directors will be screwed, when they receive lack of support for their products of it is good. They obviously will not be motivated, nor funded, to make more products, if consumers buy/obtain illegitimate copies of their products. Hence, the industry will shrink, bla bla, yadda yadda.

I personally support this argument wholly. As a Computer Science major, I definitely would never want any softwares/games that I hopefully will develop in the future to be pirated.

Arguments from the other side regarding this is that, big companies/producers/blabla (think EA, FOX, BGM, Linkin Park, wtv) will still make a lot of money, even if a small amount of people pirate their products. So, the lose from piracy is negligible.

First, we gotta be clear that "a lot of money" and "small amount of people" are both relative terms. 1 million people out of 7 million people isn't a small amount, and 100 million dollars out of 1 billion is a lot of money. So regardless of the so-called size, the industry still lose money, and whatever companies, big or small, in it will obviously be affected.

Hence, this rebuttal is like saying that its ok for me to kick Jaspreet in the ass, since its so big and juicy. It's still kicking him in the ass, regardless of the amount of pain he feels.

Now from the right side of piracy. Piracy is ok, and perfectly legitimate, IF AND ONLY IF under certain circumstances.

One of these circumstances that I normally see is, the original is much too expensive. Looking at things relatively, RM200 for a Malaysian is a lot compared to 50USD for an American. So why must the Malaysian go all the way, when they can pay RM4-15 for something of equal quality, with less fancy packaging?

I have two view points regarding this.

First off, Entertainment Is A Privilege, Not A Necessity.
So what if you can't pay for the game? That just means that you don't have enough money for it. I would love to drive a Ferrari instead of a Wira, but you don't see me stealing one. I can still drive, and that's all that matters. You can't play a game you want? Watch a movie you like? Swing your head to some ecstasy infused disco bullcrap? That's YOUR problem if you can't afford it, the price does not warrant you the right to steal a copy.

Secondly, Entertainment In This Era Is No Longer Relative.

Ok, so you can't play a game you want now, you can't watch a movie at home, you can't listen to shitty music, cause you can't pay for it. Then wtf do you do now? With the world become flat and Americanized, people no longer play hide and seek and stuff for entertainment. Even my 7 year old niece is playing Age of Empires 2, and my 3 year old nephew understands the concept of Counter-Strike, and they both love Mulan to death.

So if these people who can't afford entertainment were to be told to f**k off, then what do they do? Stare at the stars for dates?

Then in these cases, what can they do for proper, modern, first-world entertainment if not for piracy?

Another thing to note is the lack of support, or subsidization of certain entertainment industries/companies (note: music, movies, games) when it comes to export of these overseas.

For example, notice how many people these days actually go for movies in cinemas rather than buying pirated DVDs anymore in Malaysia? (I know I do) That's cause it costs only freaking RM10, compared to RM15 for a DVD with horrible quality, and no surround sound system in your living room. FYI, a movie here in America is 7USD each, and the cinema here sucks dead donkey dicks compared to Malaysia.

Now, THIS is what companies SHOULD do to attract customers and stop piracy. They have to realize that direct conversation of currency is not the way to go, and not every country is a first-world nation. They also have to realize that even though they make less profits, they at least ARE making profit, and preventing support for piracy at the same time.

Which is why people are still pirating video games, because RM168 for Warcraft 3 is just insane., even though its 'only' 30 USD for Americans. Try dropping it to RM50-60, and I swear to God, we will see results.

Conclusion: I think that piracy is totally illegal in the first place, and it is not beneficial in any way. BUT, we can't blame consumers for pirating under certain circumstances, and it is these circumstances that industry leaders should
circumnavigate circumvent so that we can circumvent the problem altogether.(woo, that rhymes)

[


Chapter 1. The Stone Floor

I lay prone and exhausted on the floor, arms by my sides, the smooth stone against my forehead hard but pleasantly cold. I was midway into the last hour of prayer for the day, the hour of The Prayer of Repose, and I could feel the polished stone chilling my sweat and pulling the excess heat from my body. I remained motionless in my thin white Initiate robe. After the previous grueling hour of The Prayer of Weakness, it would be so easy to drift and relax and dream. But that would be a fatal mistake.

I am Ilias, and tomorrow will be the first day of The Holy's Year 8235 and the beginning of the 52rd year of the reign of Abdul Quddus, the 83th Great Cunif Califar and First Servant of the Holy. The numbers signify a year of Jubilee. It will also be the year I reach twenty-one years of age, and as such tomorrow I will be at the last of the three great gates of my childhood. In two days I will either be an adult or dead.

The faint sounds of my classmates' breathings are totally ignored. My senses are tuned to one purpose, to detect the presence of Fateen as he walks among the Initiates in his clothed feet. He is Citizen-Level 13, only three levels below royalty, and it is somewhat unusual for such a high ranking Priest to work as Imul with children. But Fateen loves his work, and he is a master of silent walking.

When I was very young, two years before my eighth year and the first of my childhood gates, a group of my classmates and I had quietly discussed Fateen's age. Recklessly ignoring the danger of the conversation, we had all concluded he must be at least a hundred years old, and probably much more. It was impossible to tell by outward appearance of course. With the anti-aging drugs, Fateen looked exactly the same as when he completed his own journey from child to adult. But to all of us though, the image of Fateen as child was beyond our comprehensions.

There has been no detectable sound, but I sensed the vibrations of footfalls along the stone, and then, stillness. Fateen was standing a meter in front of me. I did not have to open my eyes to know upon whom his gaze was fixed. For all the hundreds of Initiates in my class, only I had never received demotion in Open Prayer. In all the years, I was the only Initiate Fateen had never managed to trip up, and we both knew tonight was his last chance. I focused myself in a Prayer of Suspension, and kept my heartbeat slow and resting.

There was the slightest sound of a touch as Fateen's onyx rod came upon the Summoning Apex of the stone before me. My head snapped up in obedience with my eyes wide open, alert and bright. Any sign of drowsiness now would be a sign of drifting and impure thoughts. Such a mark of weakness so close to my control gate could well be a fatal handicap in my imminent competition for survival with my classmates. By holy Law, one tenth of Initiates do not survive each childhood gate. I gazed into Fateen's eyes and waited for his test.

"Ilias, describe the holiness of the digits."

I kept all expression of surprise from my face. Fateen had asked me a question proper for a child approaching his first gate, not his third. Any slip now with such a simple question would be a disaster. I quoted verbatim from my earliest Catechisms.

"The digits two, three, five, and eight are holy, ordained by the Holy for His Greatness. The digits four, six, and nine are the digits of the Earth, not directly holy but formed by holy products. The digits zero, one, and seven can not be the product of holiness, and thus must be the digits of Shaitan."

"Ah, very good young Ilias. But how do we know this is true?"

A dangerous question to ask, especially for someone below royal level. But it was an even more dangerous question for an Initiate not to answer. I worked to keep my voice calm as I spoke the correct affirmation from The Book of Bel'dar. "Because it has been preached, and the Holy is One, and Bel'dar is His one true preacher. Thus he preached, therefore thus he preaches."

Fateen stared at me, his eyes hard and cold. I returned his stare in obedience, and almost didn't catch the slight lifting of his rod off my Apex. I immediately snapped my head down and closed my eyes. There was the softest of sounds as the rod gently touched the stone again. Damn him! His summoning call was far softer than appropriate. But it would be hard to debate the issue if I were dead. My eyes snapped up and locked with his. I watched him glare at me.

"And what is the order of the day?"

Another question from my early youth, this one going so far back my response came from my nursery days, when females encapsulated in blue body coverings watched and cared for us as the priests taught their lessons. I replied immediately. "The order of the day is based on the holiness of two, three, and eight. One third of our time is for The Holy, one third for Earth, and one third for Shaitan. The holiness of two divides the Holy time into morning prayers and evening prayers."

"And what is the direction of the day?"

"The four morning prayers take us from Shaitan to Holy. Then in a state of Holy grace, we work eight hours for our masters the Priesthood and the Guilds. The four evening prayers return us from Holy to Shaitan, leaving us eight hours to dream in his low impurity."

"And what are the names and directions of the prayers?"

"The morning direction is mind to body to church to Holy. The names of the four hours are The Prayer of Ascension, The Prayer of Purification, The Prayer of Wonder, and the Prayer of Counted Failings. The evening direction is the reverse, from Holy to church to body to mind. The evening prayers are The Prayer of Uncounted Failings, The Prayer of Joy, The Prayer of Weakness, and the Prayer of Repose."

The rod left the Apex. My head snapped down. There was the faintest whisper of a click. My eyes and head snapped back up, none of my internal fury visible upon my face.

"Tell me Ilias," Fateen whispered without a sound, moving only his lips. "You are the top student. There's no doubt you'll pass tomorrow. We're all expecting you to book the run. How far will you ride the lion?"

Was he mad?! To begin chatting as an Initiate during Prayer, especially about personal ambition, would mean instant death. And yet, not to respond on point to such a direct question would also disqualify me from adulthood. Did he really hate me that much? If I spoke to such a question, even with my lips alone, my death was assured; and his also, once the security videos of this conversation were reviewed by the local execution council. But if I remained silent, it would be up to Fateen to decide whether to press a charge of disobedient silence against me.

I realized my Imul had entwined us, both of us holding both our lives in our hands. I had first choice, to decide whether we both would die, or if we both had a chance to live. If I voted in silence for life, both our fates were in Fateen's hands. I stared at him and thought, "Perhaps he missed his last chance for promotion, or perhaps he is so old the anti-aging drugs are about to fail anyway. Does he hate me so much, that he will drag me down with him into oblivion?"

I had no wish to die. My mouth remained closed, my lips unmoving. I waited for Fateen's decision.

The rod left the stone. My head snapped back down. After a timeless period of utter silence, I heard the whisper of my Imul's dry voice. "Excellent Ilias. Your discipline serves you well." I sensed the faint clothed footfalls moving on.

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This anime was created by Gonzo Studio who were famous for some animes like Gate Keepers, Vandread & Full Metal Panic!. The anime has a total of 24 episodes which just recently ended.

The Story

The story is about a boy named Kazuma Yagami who was suppose to be the main successor of Enraiha, a sword the was pass down in the Kannagi family for centuries. The sword was a symbol of the Kannagi's contract with the Flame Spirit Lord & only the successor had the right to wield it. Unfortunately Kazuma lacked the skills to use En-jutsu(fire art which was a specialty of the Kannagi family) & he lost a fight with his cousin Ayano Kannagi to be the successor of Enraiha.

Due to his defeat & his lack of talent, he was banished from the Kannagi family & was never to return again. After a few years, Kazuma returned to Japan as a powerful master of Fu-Jutsu (wind arts). What is his intention of returning? Is it because he misses home or is it for revenge on the Kannagi family?


The story mainly revolves around three characters which are :

Kazuma Kannagi
* Has the power of a wind mage
* Made a contract with the Wind Spirit Lord to enable him control all the air around him by will
*Usually arrogant & never listens to other people's advice
*Would do anything if the price is right
*Has a past that still haunts him until now

Ayano Kannagi
*The successor of Enraiha & a powerful En-jutsu user
*Always impatient & hot tempered(which is said to be a trade mark of a good En-jutsu user)
*Because of her attitude, the leader of the Kannagi clan, Ayano's father paid Kazuma to take care of her & teach her to be a great En-jutsu user
*Although she says she hates Kazuma, she actually has a crush on Kazuma
* Has the power of the Crimson Flame but she doesn't realize it.

Ren Kannagi
*The younger brother of Kazuma
*Always looks up at his brother & respects him a lot
*Has a strong heart although he may look weak
*Want to protect people & be more like his brother
* Has the Golden Flame which is known for its purification powers against demons(destroys demon spirits without harming the human host of the demon)

Final view
Overall Kaze No Stigma is a worth watching anime. It's got action,love,comedy & drama all in one package. The interesting this about the anime is how the relationship between Kazuma & Ayano develop & how Ren slowly becomes the man that he always wanted to be,to be able to protect the ones that he loves & cherish. Another interesting point is how Kazuma struggles to get over his past & look forward for the future & how Ayano begins to realize her true feelings. I definitely recommend this anime! I give it a 4/5! (^__^)

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Sorry if the quality of the picture isn't good, I took a photograph of the picture, no scanner at the moment. But after so long, here's a drawing I want to share with all of you. Something that I came up with around a year and a half ago.

Sometimes things happen, and people pledge to change. But for better or worse we never will know. Change is so subjective, anything is possible. Look back at all those friends you had from high school/primary, did they turn out to be who you expected them to be? I've had friends who changed from being bullies to fairly nice people. I've had those who utterly ruined their lives.

So delicate aren't we humans?

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Most people feel that we all deserve a pat on our back for helping Tee Hui Yi, our media's latest poster girl, to pull through the toughest time in her life. Congratulate us, 'cos we're all moral human beings who have now come forward, more aware of the plight of those awaiting organ donations, thanks to our brave little Hui Yi.

Think about it: isn't it just the coincidence that when a sweet little innocent girl enters hospital on the brink of death is saved by the good doctors at IJN (Institut Jantung Negara) - and they deserve kudos all around on their work - the number of organ donors who have pledged to a noble cause suddenly increases exponentially?

So unto you all I say this: hypocrites. That applies to the lot of you.

All this while we have been nothing more than chemicals; reactive more than proactive. We wait for something big and disastrous to happen before we start taking real steps to rectify matters. Need to be reminded how? Just remember two names: Canny Ong and Nurin Jazleen.

Oh, I'm sure before that there were a whole bunch of you trying to sound the alarm; need for greater awareness, more security, better lighting, etc. Good work to those of you who did bother to try, thanks for being socially aware (and I mean it). But still? No one bothered to listen, or even do anything. As a result, we have the media having a field day going about sensationalizing the rape and murder of two innocent souls.

Then we have the traditional response from the government: pledges to improve the situation, calls for the guilty to be apprehended and punished for their heinous crimes, and chills down the collective spines of the public as the gruesome and horrific details begin to emerge.

And don't tell me it's what the government's supposed to do. Where was all this fiery talk and promises before the even happened? And let's not even talk about the other issues: tired bus drivers, tilting lamp posts, little potholes, to name a few.

The government holds the responsibility of ensuring the safety of people within this country. We may not be going to war anytime soon, and perhaps we're not as likely to be bombed to kingdom come by idiot religious extremists, but the longer this attitude keeps up, the more people are going to suffer and/or die. Does it then count as sacrificing oneself for a noble cause, if that's the only way the government is provoked into responding promptly to any pressing issue?

- saintmaverick -

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Here's a cock and bull post to confuse the daylights out of you and reignite my passion for blogging hopefully.

Life is just like classic RPGs and MMORPGs. No mana (food and drink), you die. No ability, you die. No money, you die. These are the truths of life but there are exceptions to the rules especially when money and ability is concerned.

I know for a fact needs food and drink. Anybody refuting this is either stupid or big fat liars e.g., Breatharians who think they can survive on pranna (thin air). Most people get more than enough food. A large number of people in fact are fat gluttons like me and my best friend. Then we have those living on the brink of starvation. Many of course end up dropping dead. The world sure is very unfair. Why must gluttons exist in a world where people starve to death? Go ask Robert Mugabe.

Ability? Face it, if you have no ability life would so harsh you are better of dead. P. Ramlee's son is a road sweeper because he has no talent. Your maid most probably is maid probably because she's quite stupid. Drug addicts for one have purged their abilities away. But some stars have no talent but are rich. Why? For women it's basically all about sex. Have nice body? Can dance seductively (dancing seductively can be done just by unleashing your inner animal)? Willing to sex up the big shot? A girl who do all these become a star but go to hell according to George Bush and it's only in the immoral West if you listen to our politicians. Guys only need to be handsome and of course some sexual talent. Anyway, most celebrities are just trash and don't deserve their wealth. Paris Hilton on the other hand should just drop dead.

Money is the root of all evil but without it everyone dies. No money, you have no food so you will die. That is the simple fact unless you get help. The problem is all these problems are human made which again ironically is linked to money again. The kleptocrats rapes a nations wealth e.g., some guy whose father was from Kerala in a country with a peninsula and his cronies. Then they start swimming in their cash which can turn into blood money when people die because they lack the means to earn enough money to eat. No such thing in Malaysia but we have worshipers of money helping prop up regimes that make people starve. Sudan and Burma for example which coincidently involve Petronas. Perhaps Hades should come into the picture too.

Still confused?

~multum in parvo~

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Time for an update from me now.

University life has never been this hectic this semester. Last semester while I felt like I was idling around too much and therefore must kill time with more activities this year, I find myself suddenly rained upon by assignment after assignment, and competitions after competitions (in which I am always in the committee). It is really ironic as this semester I have been really active in quite a number of activities. However, I feel much fulfilled as there isn't really a time when I would spend just idling around. Then, whenever the weekend arrives, I would really appreciate it to have a good weekend's worth of rest.

While last semester has been quite a struggle for me, this semester (or the next half of the year) has been indeed fruitful, though stressful.

Anyway, perhaps I shall tell you what I had just done not long ago. Jared and I had just completed our part of the Health, Safety and Environment project whereby we put up a public speaking presentation at the Amphitheatre of our university. The memorable part for me was that we had to speak in front of the audience without a microphone; it really felt as if I was speaking in the amphitheatre back in the ancient Greek. I actually hoped that there would not be a microphone. So, although I was quite delighted that my hope came true, I was quite certain that many were displeased.

Jared and I, as well as another three more teammates delivered on the topic of safety legislation to promote a safe and healthy workplace environment. Despite the fact that we prepared for exactly one week, it was quite a good result that we produced overall. We spoke on why and how did safety legislation come about, the roles and functions of the legislation, the benefits of having legislation, the effects of NOT having legislation, the responsibilities of parties involved in a workplace as well as the organisations that exist to promote a safe and healthy workplace environment.

Although it was not our first time making presentations to an audience, it was certainly a wonderful experience to be speaking at the amphitheatre where audience from wherever they were going seem to always take an interest in what was happening at the amphitheatre, and more often than not they would stay for a while to listen, sitting on the terraced sitting areas made of cement, stones and gravel.

Joe was there, too, but just merely taking photographs. Joe, I and another friend of mine who were part of the public speaking team actually had a class at 2.30 p.m. (but the presentation was also at 2.30 pm!). Joe was not involved in the public speaking but decided that he would stay to watch; he is actually involved in the Health, Safety and Environment Board Game project which he will present on the 24th of October. However, he stayed until 2.45 and when he realised the time he decided to forego the class himself. I had actually asked permission to go late for class. However, at about 3.00 p.m. another coursemate of mine appeared at the Amphitheatre and upon asking him why he was there, he said the class was cancelled after the students waited for twenty minutes, because the lecturer said that he suddenly had a function to attend to. At that moment, I simply shouted "YES! I NEEDN'T WORRY ABOUT MISSING SOLID MECHANICS!" Trust me, Principles of Solid Mechanics is a killer subject for Civil Engineering students.

Overall, things have happened in such a way it is unexpected. To some, it might just be co-incidental but to me I believe it must have been a blessing.

Sometimes, things happen but they are not at your favour. It is just that sometimes we have to hold on and see what happens next. When desperate time comes, you may not know that a miracle is just a step away from you.

Overall, the presentation has been smooth and wonderful. I really must thank those who have taken part in this presentation group.

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I suppose this post has been a long time coming. It's like a letter you wrote one hot dusty afternoon, only to stop at the postbox, then dump it into the trash can beside it. Somehow, no matter how long you think about what to say and how to say it, the words never come out right. But they say if flowers waited till everything was just perfect before they blossomed after the long winter, then we'd never see spring at all.

It's been a long time since we started RANDTS. A lot of things have happened since then. We've seen members come and go as well as visitors drop by and leave. We've even had controversy drop by once in awhile for the occasional cup of tea. And still we weathered it all.

By this time, you might be wondering, "What's this guy comin' back all of a sudden? It's not like he cares about the blog anyways..."

That's true. If I'd cared I'd have been posting frequently. Trying to fan the flame even as our heads were repeatedly dunked into buckets of cold water. I'd have been there in RANDTS' darkest hour trying alongside you guys to keep the passion going, keep the momentum up.

But the hard fact is I didn't, did I?

It's like waking up from a bad dream only to see the mask of a killer you thought you'd never see again. The glint of the jagged blade in the darkness, your scarlet blood upon the sheets and the knife. You clutch your belly to find your guts were ripped out while you were in the nightmare. As your life force ebbs away and you fade painfully into oblivion, the killer - mockingly, haughtily, dishearteningly - removes his mask. Then you realize all this while you've been afraid of your own reflection in the mirror. Was I the person who stabbed myself in the back, unknowingly?

What prompted me to write this post? Perhaps the amount of resentment, sadness - disappointment? - that is now plain for all to see on the blog. Even the message on the bulletin board below the ever-changing banner seems like a mockery of the shadow RANDTS has become. But no, that still wasn't what hurt me the most.

It was a friend that I know. Or knew, depending on who you asked. A close friend. A good friend. Many months ago he inspired me, and many others, with a heart-warming tale of triumph in adversity of the worst kind. He shared with us a cheerful optimism that many others in his situation would be hard-pressed to display. He reminded us of the brittle fragility of life, and how each moment we take a breath is a moment to be savored as if it was our last. He told us the tough get going when the going gets tough. He shared with us the power of faith and love and family, and how these continue to be his pillars in life, providing him with the strength to pull through a life most others wouldn't consider worth living.

I saw him as a God, a hero, a true man among men. He inspired me, as he has undoubtedly inspired many others. I was touched by his sheer willpower and spirit, and looked to him as a guiding light when the world is descending into darkness.

It was only recently that I saw my hero give up hope. Not because he was at death's doorstep. Not because he suffered the loss of a family member. But because I failed to commit to the vision that I and two others had created. He gave up because I did too.

How else do you convey emotions in an email? Electrons cannot show you shed tears or distant laughter. Electrons moving at lightspeed don't know the meaning of a smile in a group photo, or the hidden jokes associated with the size of the blade you hold. Electrons shooting around the world and back can only do so much to send a message, but it is memories that do the rest of the work.

Mea culpa.

For awhile I held hands and rubbed shoulders with some of the most vibrant and unique people in the world. For awhile we traded inane stories, sexy pictures, lengthy essays, fiery rants, perfect pictures, informative articles, and so many more things. For awhile I was proud to call myself a RANDTSter...

...and honestly? I still am.

Perhaps it is time we gave this blog a little peace and quiet while we start looking in ourselves and seriously ask what it is we really want out of RANDTS.

Now, I think I know what I want. Maybe not a 100%, but even an inkling's good enough. I seriously have no idea what kind of response I can expect to this post. Regardless, the burden is mine to bear. It was my fault, and for that I apologize. I'm sorry I left in your hour of need. I'm sorry I shirked my responsibilities as founding father of RANDTS. I'm sorry I ignored the blog for so long.

But most of all, to all of you here who've been here with RANDTS and I from the start - especially Albert and Jaspreet - I'm sorry for hurting you, and for that I seek your forgiveness .

Lastly, I have this to say: call me idealistic, but even after the coldest darkest winter, flowers still break through the frost and blossom into majestic beauty, heralding the beginning of spring. I'm here hoping winter ends soon... and that spring will come with the dawn of the new sun. I'm ready to rebuild the ruins of RANDTS and start anew. After all, that's what spring is about, isn't it - nature getting a brand new start?

Thank you one and all.

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