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Because of you, you, you and you
Articles - Commentary
Written by AnJ   
Wednesday, 12 July 2006 00:00
Giving thanks… is not something i am apt at, when things are not going my way.’

I have been pretty blue of late.
It’s the uncertainties of my career path, being a fresh graduate and all.
My dreams of pursuing post-graduate studies; my desire for self-maintenance… together with the long wait for application results, gave me new anxieties with a measure i have never experienced.

It’s amazing that when you wish to support yourself, the things that push your buttons look different.’ Repairs for a laptop with a faulty cooling system would cost about $100- $200. New eyewear would need another $200. Taking GRE would take another few hundred; not to mention that with each school that you apply for, you would pay USD 100.

And i have yet to be gainfully employed.

So, for weeks, i have been walking around the house a little blue. I became oblivious to many things because my mind has taken on only one track- getting employed. My friends whom i used to talk to, for whom I used to be there for, i have neglected. Partly because of the faulty laptop; partly because i lacked the capacity to be there for them.
“If i cannot get myself out of this, what value does my encouragement hold?”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 17:13
 
Do you swear by Astrology?
Articles - Commentary
Written by AnJ   
Saturday, 10 June 2006 00:00
Astrology…

Daily predictions. Weekly predictions. Monthly predictions. Yearly predictions.
In magazines, websites, newspapers… predictions to your handphone!

I have many gay friends who swear by astrology.
“My star sign totally describes me. It’s 100% accurate.”

To start off, i decided to google “What is Astrology?”

  1. Astrology (from Greek: astron, “star” + logos, “word”) is any of several traditions or systems in which knowledge of the apparent positions of celestial bodies is held to be useful in understanding, interpreting, and organizing knowledge about reality and human existence on earth.
  2. a pseudoscience claiming divination by the positions of the planets and sun and moon.
  3. the belief that the relative positions of planets, planetoids and stars, can influence events and behavior surrounding us.
  4. The pseudoscience that deals with the supposed influences of the configurations and locations in the sky of the Sun, Moon, and planets on human destiny; a primitive religion having its origin in ancient Babylonia.

Well, there is a huge debate going on about the validity of astrology. And here seems to be the gist of what those who are against astrology are saying:

The camp against astrology:
How does your star sign come about?
It depends on where the sun is when you are born.
Well, strictly speaking, the sun and stars don’t move. Only planets move. The sun appears to enter into different zodiac signs. For example: in the beginning of spring, the sun is located in Pisces. But a couple of thousand years ago it was in Aries.

This paragraph written by John Mosley in his article “Born under Ophiuchus’ and ignored by the horoscopes: a modern dilemma” highlights this point: “If you were born during the first two weeks of May 2600 years ago, you were born when the sun was in both the sign and constellation of Taurus. Now during those weeks the sun is in Aries. Astrologically speaking, you are still a Taurus; astronomically speaking you are an Aries. Likewise, most Libras are really Virgos, and so on.” So, for a more accurate reading of horoscopes, you should be looking at the sign for the earlier month. This article also mentioned a 13th horoscope- Ophiuchus.

What causes this movement?
It’s precession.
Hipparchus discovered precession in the first century BC when he noticed that the coordinates of the stars measured 170 years ago was of 2 degrees difference from his measures.
The earth is tilted at 23.5 degrees and it is spinning on its axis. It is not spherical, but bulges in the middle near the equator. It wobbles slowly like a top at the end of its spin, because of gravitational pulls from the moon and the sun. As such, it earth shifts about 0.01395 degrees every year- it is not stationary. Small as it appears, but coordinates of stars change with time. And regular update is needed. For a complete precession (360 degrees), it takes about 25800 years.

“The precession can also be seen in terms of the “North Star”. Currently the North Pole of the Earth is aligned with the fixed star Polaris. This was not the case 3,000 years ago; and by the year 14,000 A.D., the North Star will be Vega, not Polaris.” To add to this: Because of precession, the sun may not be in any of the astrologers’ contellations at your birth. Hence not everyone has a star sign.

The defending camp:
There is a difference between the Sidereal and Tropical Zodiac. The Tropical Zodiac is used by many Western astrologers and begins at the Spring Equinox. But it is not the only zodiac system. The Sidereal zodiac takes precession into account and begins when the Sun aligns with a star in the constellation of Aries.

These two systems have different interpretations of the Signs:
“Tropical Astrology believes that the qualities associated with the signs are linked to the seasons, rather than to the fixed stars, and therefore the precession of the equinoxes and the growing difference between the Tropical Signs and the relative positions of their namesake constellations is of no consequence. Sidereal Astrologers believe that the qualities of the signs are not related to the seasons, but rather to the specific portions of the ecliptic as measured against the fixed stars… While there is certainly a greater correlation between the Sidereal Signs and the constellations along the ecliptic, again, the constellations do not divide the ecliptic into equal segments and therefore they are not used as the basis for the Sidereal Zodiac.” -Kevin Burk-

In other words, neither Sidereal nor Tropical Zodiac rely on Constellations.

For a better understanding of this debate, you can click on the following.
http://www.astrologycom.com/precession.html

http://www.griffithobs.org/SkyOphiuchus.html
————————————————–
So how real has it been for you?
Astrology has a measure of interpretation. There is also a measure of self-fulfilling prophecy involved.

Buy it or not, astrology is a fascinating subject on its own.

But for astrology materials that dispense general truths…
“Keep your clarity of vision and proceed towards your goal with objectivity….”
“The trick is to maintain your calm and look at the problems without delay.”
These keep my eyes rolling.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 17:02
 
What every independent person needs to know. (Part 1)
Articles - Commentary
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Tuesday, 06 June 2006 00:00
Do you know what a LifeCycle insurance plan is?

No right?
I guessed so.

In the 21st century, education is touted as the most important tool to attain independence, survival and stability in this dog-eat-dog world. That's the reason behind the paper chase and why we are funneled into the education system for a good 20 odd years of our lives. Unfortunately, the most important type of knowledge we need for survival is never ever taught in schools. And that is: financial education.

By financial education, I mean the knowledge of how to manage your finances, budget, invest and make financial plans to ensure you don't have empty pockets at the end of retirement. In the early years, most of us receive our financial education from our parents. It is passed down from generation to generation. And our parent's knowledge is usually derived from their own personal experiences. This includes good (or bad) choices that they make, which they then pass down to us because that is all they know of. Or they might give us advice which everyone is doing at that moment. (Anyone heard of the 'Herd mentality' syndrome?) That's what we're good at and thus prone to doing. So is it no surprise that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 16:56
 
Straight but not Narrow
Articles - Commentary
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Sunday, 07 May 2006 00:00

On 17 May 1990, the General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. The fight for the recognition of equal rights for lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender people did not end there though.

That is why Sayoni is strongly committed to celebrating this second International Day Against Homophobia, launched one year ago by the International Day Against Homophobia Committee (IDAHO).

We embark on this long fight against homophobia with a post by a straight sympathiser for the cause – the best sort of people, in our opinion. We let Soo Mei tell us about being straight, but not narrow.

 Bizarro. From the Sunday Times, Singapore, 14 May 2006.

Hi, my name is Soo Mei, and I’m straight. To the bone. Not typical of the Sayoni crowd. So why write here, you might be thinking?

Well firstly because pleinelune asked me if I would. Something towards the idea of being a '(rare) straight sympathizer', to quote her. At which point she promptly tried to explain that she meant that I am straight but that I get along really well with GLBT (no T yet, though, actually) friends. Which meant that she really quite messed up her own explanation, because I don't think of my non-straight friends as non-straight. If anyone asked me how many non-straight friends I had, I would have to sit down, slowly run through the known sexual practices of my friends (something I don't normally think about, yeah), and count the number off very slowly. It always makes me feel funny. Like, for the people I'm not attracted to, I don't ever think about what sex or how much sex they have. My parents, for example. *gags*

Let's move on quickly to the next reason.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 16:38
 
In the name of Morality
Articles - Commentary
Written by AnJ   
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

Morals:

  1. Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary.
  2. Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior: a moral lesson.
  3. Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life.
  4. Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong: a moral obligation.
    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=morals

Morals are part and parcel of our lives. We function through the lens of our principles and values.

Lens:
Some are fairly clear lens- explored and based on well-reasoned grounds
E.g. “It is immoral because the child is too young to understand the meaning of consent. The power is unbalanced and incidents in reality has shown that consequences are deleterious.”

Some are milky lens- semi-explored with superficial reasoning.
E.g. “It is immoral because it is unnatural and what is unnatural is not good.”

Some are opaque lens- unexplored.
E.g. “It is immoral because so-and-so said so.”

Morals- a powerful tool wielded in politics. Beneath the convenient patina of traditional values and playing on humans’ natural aversion to the unfamiliar. It appears that most reasoning employed by the government fall into the milky lens category.

In the 19th century in Bengal, cultural nationalists insisted on child marriages. At this time, women were considered as part of the private sphere and men (as well as religious authorities) had absolute power over them. Children were betrothed from infancy especially among the Brahmins. The sexual abuse and premature deaths of these female child-brides from violent sexual penetration were overlooked- in the name of upholding tradition. Hindu scriptures were reinterpreted to glamourize the burning of widows together with the corpses of their husbands- conveniently for male relatives who stand to gain for the widow was left the property of the husband. Needless to say, many were drugged and hurled into the flames.

Their rhetoric at that time:
1. Girls who do not have sex at the first sign of their blood flow will have polluted wombs.
2. The virtuous woman will burn herself willingly at the pyre of her dead husband.
3. An educated woman is immoral, subject to divorce by her husband.

Coming back to more recent times and to the local government. When Singapore first became a nation, the population growth was worrisome. What did the government do? They encouraged abortion. Where do you think pro-lifers were at this point- would they have been granted a voice? The campaign was so successful that, eventually, for every child that was born, one was aborted. The figures, alarmingly high, then ceased to be reported.

However, pro-lifers are in full force today. Women who wanted to go through with an abortion have to view a video on the horrors of abortion- alluding it to murder. This is done despite probable pre-existing anxieties that women who are in that situation feel. Once again, population checks by the government influenced what reasoning is used and what cannot be used.

Sometimes morals are tied in with traditions.
Cofucianism is hailed as the roots of Chinese. Give birth- for it’s your duty to the family; your duty to the nation.
As women today, would you once again allow your identity to be determined by external factors- the man who fathered you; the man who married you; the man you bore?

Morals- selected, adapted and reinterpreted to suit the agenda of those in power.

The gay people in society are resented by many because of unfamilarity, misconceptions and blind faith. Building on the anxieties in this uninformed majority, those in power wield the naturalistic fallacy- whatever that is unnatural is unacceptable morally.

Why is it immoral when:
1. Gay people, like straights, have been shown to be capable of maintaining monogamous long-lasting relationships? The till-death-do-us-part sort.
2. Gay people, like their straight counterparts, are capable of being good parents- their children are well-adjusted.
3. Sexual orientation is not a factor of promiscuity, sexual diseases etc.

Show me a list of negative societal outcomes that is solely and exclusively caused by one’s sexual orientation- being gay.

It appears that morality in the realm of politics is employed solely to maintain or enhance the position of those in power.

So much for morality.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 16:28
 
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