Mittwoch, November 16, 2005

Oh her god!

"Maddox is my god. He gives me strength."

Wendy calls him her "god", her inspiration.

But who is this Maddox guy? Thought I'd write a little about this famous and famously notorious "pirate" who roams the information super highway.

George Ouzounian Maddox, born in 1978, is an American of Armenian descent. Living in Utah (which he loathes), he majored in Mathematics in the University of Utah, and has worked as a programmer.

A hugely popular "online journalist" known for his controversial views, he runs one of the most notorious (and popular) personal websites out there--the unassumingly titled "The Best Page In The Universe".

It's a satirical weblog littered with his offensive and politically-incorrect opinions. Maddox isn't just equally ruthless when dealing with politicians (be them Democrats or Republicans), but also anyone and anything he deems beneath his contempt--that includes old people, animal lovers, feminists, and even whales.

Or what he states on his own fan-site (sounds familiar?) as "kicking babies, setting shit on fire, teasing the disabled/unfortunate, eating twice your bodyweight in (preferably endangered) meat and making dumbarses the world over, cry themselves to sleep for the rest of their days".

When not dissing people and things, he writes about movies, music, celebrities, and just about anything.

His entries are usually short, egoist, and in bad taste. He doesn't try much to justify his skewed opinions, and occasionally, throws in an illustration or two to highlight his points. Like his posts, some of these illustrations are in bad taste too: his recent one on whales shows a sperm whale munching on sailors, his previous ones include old folks being fried in the sun.

He's also known for the following:

i) Earlier this year, he tried inviting some videogame programmers over to work on a game which he describes as a "game with pirates in it that doesn't suck. He put up a Flash preview of the game, and it has a pirate running over old folks, a poodle getting kicked over the fence, zombies, and lesbian sex. In his entry, "The Best Game in the Universe", he writes: "Is it too much to ask for a game where the main character murders feminists with his giant boner, lesbian centaurs get their backs broken with sledge hammers, elderly people get body slammed into cactuses, and emo dumbasses get prostate examinations with the business end of my shoe."

ii) Maddox claims his site reached 100,000,000 hits in March 2005. He has a huge legion of fans, but he has his critics too who argue that all Maddox does is insult and make profane remarks about things without any conscious efforts to reason. He also refuses to address any criticism on his "hatemail" pages, but chooses to diss his detractors instead.

iii) His enormous popularity and influence has led to his website being blacklisted not just in the US but elsewhere in the world. On January 8, 2004, Etisalat, the United Arab Emirates' sole telecommunications carrier, banned his website; Saudi Arabia and Qatar followed suit on September 11, 2005. But the one that really got to Maddox was when the popular web filtering company, Websense, placed his website on their banned list (citing it as "tasteless"), making it inaccessible from schools, offices, and public libraries. Maddox wasn't amused. In retaliation, he blocked Websense from this site (citing them as "fascists")

iv) Maddox's following, which includes youngsters, has led to the forming of Mothers Against Maddox by Beth Robbins, a housewife--her slogan being "Help us fight and finally shut down the most hateful site on the Internet". When the website ran a petition against Maddox, legions of Maddox supporters rip it apart by flooding it with vulgar comments; the petition was eventually called off. What's interesting though is that there are unsubstantiated rumours that Maddox himself is behind Mothers Against Maddox (sounds familiar, again?).

v) Maddox has his own online store selling T-shirts and stickers with messages like "Littering Kicks Ass". As he puts it, "You're not doing me a favor by buying this stuff. I'm doing you a favor by selling it." He did, however, recently contribute 50% of his profits from his store to Katrina victims, donating $3,068.

vi) Currently, he's writing a book which is due to be out in March 2006. He's also planning to work on an adventure comic book based on his pirate alter-ego.

Like him or loathe him, Maddox is so big among the young that some analysts even think he has political influence over the new generation. But America has always been liberal when it comes to Maddox's form of expression. Mind you, were Maddox a Singaporean, not only would his website be banned, he would probably be hauled to court for some of the stuff he writes.

But having said that, the Internet is global, and it's pretty evident that he has found himself ardent followers like Wendy, who may be trying to imitate his controversial style of writing and attention-seeking gimmicks. Kinda like localising Maddox's brand of blogging for fans in this region, no?

In any case, couldn't help but notice one post Wendy's almighty made about the whole naming business in the blogging world. Apparently, Maddox doesn't like his website to be referred to as a blog, and worse, himself as a blogger.

His definition of a blog:
The word "blog" is literally shorthand for "boring;" a vulgar, overused word that strikes your ear with the dull thud of a cudgel to the soft spot of a child. It's an abbreviation used by journalism drop outs to give legitimacy to their shallow opinions and amateur photography that seems to be permanently stuck in first draft hell.

His definition of a blogger:
Term used to describe anyone with enough time or narcissism to document every tedious bit of minutia filling their uneventful lives. Possibly the most annoying thing about bloggers is the sense of self-importance they get after even the most modest of publicity. Sometimes it takes as little as a referral on a more popular blogger's website to set the lesser blogger's ego into orbit.

His definition of the blogging community:
Losers, goths, bedwetters, and journalism dropouts.

And his definition of blogebrity:
Wow, guess what this one stands for? Too easy. Hey, anyone can do it: take a blogger who's a chef, and you get: BLEF. A blogger who's a dentist? BENTIST. A female blogger with an itch? You guessed it: a BITCH.

I still think the guy's an ar*ehole, but at least he got THAT right. =)

Dienstag, November 15, 2005

Dr. Loolittle

For someone who barks a lot from her blog, we now know that Wendy isn't too fond of animals (unless, according to her, they're "cute").

While the rest of blogsphere is busy clobbering Dawn Yeo/Yang, Wendy's little comment on animal rights has gone somewhat unnoticed. Maybe because the entry was supposed to be about her trip to Thailand.

Can't she blog about any trip without throwing in a bit of controversy? Granted this isn't as serious as her last one to KL, but if you're an animal lover (or proud pet owner), you might not like her following comments:

"The Thai animal vendors at Chatuchak has taught me one thing: Animals do not need to be pampered like how stupid Singaporeans pamper them.

It irks me when I see people mollycoddling their pets, getting angry at you if you dare to as much as scold/insult the pet, which is ridiculous coz obviously the pet doesn't understand what you are saying. Yes loud voices might startle them, but they aren't hurt, just are just having a biological reaction (1).

As Kelvin will explain in exasperation, it is ludicrous to throw a human being in jail for torturing animals because animals are not capable for self-conscious thoughts. They do not possess the ability to be self-aware, and therefore are not bestowed with the knowledge of their very existance.

It is fairly certain that they cannot feel jealousy (2), they cannot understand claustrophobia, nor will they get the magnitude of depression (3) a normal human being might get, being in jail.
Well before I digressed, I was saying that animals do not need to be pampered. I do not proclaim to be a frantic animal lover (only like them if they are cute; animal lovers, do you love cockroaches? (4) Don't gimme bullshit, if you are an "animal lover" then you love all animals, else you are just a CUTE-LOVER), and nor do I have anything against people who are infatuated with animals...

Oh wait I do.

I hate it when people treat animals better than they treat humans! Of course, some high-moral soul will now say that animals are better coz won't backstab you, they will never betray your love, etc etc, let's not eat them.

Yeah right kiddo, he only loves you coz he knows you will give him food. Why not test his love by sending him to your neighbour, who gives him tastier food from now on, and see if he returns? If he does, it is possibly coz your neighbour doesn't masturbate him and you do (out of love, you proclaim). Conditioned responses, all conditioned responses. (5)

And number 2, a tasty jellyfish dish is also incapable of backstabbing you, that kind benign plate of delicacy! So why not you treat the jellyfish dish better than you treat your mom? How about a rusty doorknob? Also will never sleep with your best friend!
Humans are so weird.

As our society progresses and we don't have to bother about our own survival, we start to bother ourselves with other people's survival, like they want it in the first place. Like whales. Or or foie gras. (6).

Anyway, once again, before I digressed, I was saying that the Thais have made me realise that there is NO NEED WHATSOEVER TO PAMPER ANIMALS. "

I'm beginning to wonder if she deliberately acts dumb, or is it a primal instinct of hers to enjoy getting verbally flogged in cyberspace:

(1) Pets like dogs can be trained to understand sound patterns, or should we say, commands. Yes, it's conditioning, but you may as well as say the same about the way we teach kids to speak. They are also capable of picking up nuances and various signals from us (like our tone and expressions) to understand our emotions.

(2) A cousin of mine has a pet dog which she treats as family (she and her husband raised the little pup). Whenever her niece drops by and she dotes on the little girl, the dog will go up to her and compete for attention as well. For your info, Wendy, it's a known fact that pets like dogs are very much capable of showing jealousy, whether towards a human or a new dog in the house (canine rivalry).

(3) Animals do suffer from depression too. A zoo in Toledo even administered Prozac to its depressed gorilla. And as for animals not understanding claustrophobia, maybe you should read up on this article [nb: PDF Acrobat document] from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). It's aptly titled, "Claustrophobia: what happens, why, and what you can do about it".

(4) In this case, I'd rather call a cockroach an insect. We're talking about animal lovers, not writing in a science journal. Besides, technically that makes Wendy an "animal" (and primate) too, doesn't it? =)

(5) It depends on what animal you're referring to. Some animals (like dogs and even war horses) have been know to risk (or even giving up) their lives to save their masters. Maybe they're just not as "self-aware" as humans who think only about themselves? =)

(6) I didn't know whales are people. Not sure if they'd want us to save them, but they certainly won't want us to slaughter them. Anyway, there are many reasons why people call for the protection of various animals as well as other living species. It is about maintaining the balance in our ecosystem as it is about animal rights. Of course, based on Wendy's opinions, I really doubt she has any inkling what all these things are.

Of course, Wendy can kick the next (ugly-looking) cat she sees on the road, that's up to her. I'm just curious that she's written the following only just recently:

"Everything has a tipping point, and you make your decisions everyday: Your love for eating meat, AGAINST the pain animals feel when you bloody kill them.
Let's say you choose to save the pain: Maddox (Read the article, it is seriously good) now explains that if you buy vegetables, you are knowingly assisting the accidental killing of many innocent farm animals."

In any case, I'll end this post with something from an article by Clive Wynne, "Do Animals Think", that appeared in the Nov/Dec 1999 issue of Psychology Today:

The fact is that we lack adequate methods to identify conclusively what behavior is "conscious." But scientific study of consciousness is undergoing a renaissance as reflected in recent books, conferences and journals. And these investigations have begun to include nonhuman consciousness. In particular, Alan Cowey of Oxford University and Petra Stoerig of the Institute of Medical Psychology at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Germany have developed procedures by which a monkey can signal whether or not it is consciously aware of a particular visual stimulus.

This and other recent developments provide empirical and objective support for the conclusion reached by Stephen Walker at the University of London in his !983 book Animal Thought (Routledge): "Our organ of thought may be superior, and we may play it better, but is surely vain to believe that other possessors of similar instruments leave them quite untouched."

Which thus makes Wendy's following observations totally sick:

"It is obvious the animals were kept in bad conditions, very bad conditions. The snakes were in mineral water bottles, the squirrels swung around via a string tied to their necks, and the puppies pushed around and allowed to lick every tourists' filthy hand.

The mere sight of the place will kill your average, superficial animal lover. Even Maddox might cringe a little. Or maybe not.

And yes, it is cruel, and I didn't like it too.

But curiously enough, you will realise something.

The animals propogate.

And we all know that animals only give birth in captive breeding when they are comfortable in their environment. We have all forgotten that animals have survial instincts too, and they don't need us to wipe their anus for them after they shit."

So Wendy spends a few days touring Thailand (and less at the animal market) and she can confidently conclude that these animals are propogating, and are comfortable in the horrid conditions they're kept in? Animals that are constantly under stress are more susceptible to diseases, and even if they do "adapt" to these conditions, it's still inhumane.

For your own sake, hope you don't believe in karma.

* For those still wondering if a cockroach is an animal, scientifically-speaking, it is. The class Insecta (or insects) belong to a animal phylum known as Arthropoda (or arthropods); of course, arthropods also include Crustacea (hope I spelt that correctly) like lobsters, prawns, crabs etc. Arachnida (spiders, scorpions), and dozens other class which I can't remember off-hand. Yes, insects are a subgroup of animals, but this (and Wendy's entry) is hardly a science journal. =)

Samstag, November 12, 2005

When some people you just term as “bloggers”

The official definition of a blog or weblog (according to the Oxford Dictionary of Slang) is "an internet website containing an eclectic and frequently updated assortment of items of interest to its author". A blogger is, therefore, someone who keeps a weblog of this sort.

Wendy, however, disagrees. And after being quoted out of context by The New Paper, she is determined to give her own definition of the term "blogger":

"And what is with this bullshit about "she has a blog and thus she is a blogger"?

ARE YOU STUPID OR WHAT? YOU THINK I DON'T KNOW PEOPLE WHO HAVE BLOGS ARE BLOGGERS? Stop quoting my panasonic entry about me saying she is a blogger, asswipe, like you are so clever. Are you ugly? You must be. Now my blog entries feel disgustingly raped by your rampant perusal.

Everyone who blogs is a blogger? If you are so clever, then answer me... But first tell me your name. Is it Lumpy? So Lumpy, if you can manage to swim half a lap without dying, is it right for me to call you "Lumpy the swimmer"?

No, because calling you Lumpy the Guy-Who-Fucked-His-Cabbage-Patch-Kid-Doll would be a little more appropriate as a the defining title for you...

Lumpy, of course, since you are so mediocre (by mediocre I mean scum of society), if you blog, I suppose we can also call you a "Blogger". But of course, your turd of a blog has a grand readership of half a person a day, because someone once told you (the biggest of the soccer kids) that how much of a person you are is measured by your penis size. (By virtue of the wise soccer kid, girls are measured by boobies)"

Typical of Wendy--she just can't seem to state a simple point without hurling abuses and sounding like a complete turd. But what she's trying to say is this: just because you "blog", that doesn't immediately make you a "blogger". Rather, it all depends on how good or "famous" you are in the blogsphere.

In short, it runs along the lines of "I'm the old bird around here, so don't play play with me." =)

I agree she has a valid point about what defines a swimmer, especially if you consider swimming on a professional level, with the same applying to footballers and people in almost every professional trade. You don't call someone a doctor or engineer unless he's qualified.

But then, let's consider the following:

If John plays games a lot, that makes John a "gamer". Likewise, if someone loves to surf, you might call him a "surfer dude". These people take their hobbies seriously, but they're not "professionals" in these areas. And they may not be famous--or even an expert--but so what?

When you pursue a hobby, it's how passionate you are that matters, not how successful. And since blogging falls under this category, anyone who owns a weblog and faithful updates it is very much a blogger. Yes, you can try to make a living out of it, but that only makes you a "professional blogger"; it doesn't make others anything less.

So what if no one reads Lumpy's blog even though he tries to update it everyday. He's still "Lumpy the blogger"--he just isn't "Lumpy that famous blogger.

Oh, if Zoe Tay decides to start her own blog, that'll make her a blogger too. And just because she's already a famous TCS artiste doesn't mean she can't make a good one too. =)

Imagine the irony: you have your very own blog, hosted on a service known as BLOGGER, yet--according to Wendy--you're not a blogger because, unlike her, you're not famous/infamous. You're just another loser who happens to have a blog, that's all....

Wendy thinks blogging is a God given talent that only she and a few others have. The way I see it, I hardly even call it a skill, let alone a talent, especially when even an Internet novice can have his or her own blog set up in a matter of minutes. Besides, how talented can a certain "famous blogger" be if she can't manage HTML well, can't do her own design, can't set up her own weblog engine, and can't argue rationally both on TV and on her own blog.

There's no such thing as a talent for blogging. There's only a talent for writing and using weblog technologies to maximise that potential. Maybe Wendy had a bit of that when she first started (again, a huge maybe), but apparently she's now lost it. Not to mention she's lost the plot as well.

"At first glance my opinion seems to be arrogant; bitchy even. I seem to be thinking that she is not worthy to be termed as a "blogger", just as I am often termed.

No offence to all famous bloggers, including myself, but without your blog, you will be possibly be nobody (famous). And that's why you are known as "that famous blogger". "

Well, some of the world's most famous bloggers have distinguished themselves in other areas, by the way. Cory Doctorow, who was here for the Singapore Writers Festival, is also a sci-fi writer and journalist (besides being a famous blogger himself). Others who run popular blogs don't enjoy celebrity status in real life, but they have successful careers and enjoy high standing in their professional circles (college professors, tech industry veterans).

Wendy might be nothing without her blog, but just because it's true for her doesn't mean it's true for "all famous bloggers".

If you ask me, Wendy clearly has every right to be upset at being misquoted by The New Paper, but why get so defensive and worked up over what a blogger is and isn't? Unless her detractors are right--that she's not happy that a fellow blogger has upstaged the self-proclaimed queen of blogsphere, and worry that this is just the start?

Hmm... If you ask me, it's kind of like those journalists who lash out at bloggers simply because they feel threatened by this new crop of "amateur" writers. =)

nb: What's Wendy's obesssion with numbers anyway? She can't seem to stop reminding people that she aced her PSLE with 269 and has a high IQ of over 148.... When will she get the point that a PSLE score of 269 means diddly-squat to a 21-year-old; an IQ of over 148 matters little if she can't even show an ounce of intelligence to save her butt; and 20,000 hits per day is nothing to boast about when she can't gauge the quality of her readers (a porn site can easily surpass that figure, but that doesn't say much about its content).

Sonntag, November 06, 2005

Straits Times update

Following the Sunday Times' story last week, Jeremy Au Yong has followed up with an update on the story--this time to reflect the opinions of Wendy's critics, as well as the stand taken by the Society for the Physically Disabled as well as the Handicaps Welfare Aossciation.

As expected, indignant readers--including filmaker Bertrand Lee, who sadly lost his left leg while filming in Mumbai-- wrote to the paper and the charities, prompting the two charities to respond (read article).

The SPD's stand was also echoed by Handicaps Welfare Association president Tam Ah Hock: "The bottom line is that due consideration and priority be given to the disabled users whenever they need to use it. These toilets should not be used simply because they are bigger and better equipped."

A part of Wendy's entry was also quoted in the article (the one about disabled people's bladders), as well as her written reply to Bertrand Lee.

In reply to Bertrand Lee's five-page letter to her, Wendy apparently shrugged him off with a one-liner: "Eh, I disagree".

So, both sides of the argument have now been presented by the press, Jeremy Au Yong and the Straits Times has redeemed themselves by doing a follow-up, the two charitable organisations have clarified their stand, and the public now have a clearer picture of what sort of person Wendy is.

Now, maybe we can finally get closure on this toilet issue and move on?

And perhaps, Wendy will learn something from this fallout and start behaving more responsibly. Little old cynical me, but that's a very big perhaps. =)

Samstag, November 05, 2005


Following Straits Times reporter Jeremy Au Yong's article on Wendy's "toiletgate" (or Waterloo, if you prefer), the two charities which reportedly showed their "support" for Wendy in Au Yong's article have indicated that they were misrepresented.

It now appears that the organisations have responded to numerous complaints that they were, as a matter of fact, quoted out of context. They have also written to the Straits Times to clarify their stand.

This, from an e-mail I received from the Society for the Physically Disabled (other bloggers have received a similar reply, I believe):

We refer to the article “All flushed over toilet blog” (Sunday Times, 30 Oct). We wish to clarify that The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) was responding specifically to the reporter’s query on how it views non disabled using toilets designated for disabled people. SPD was not responding to the blog content or to the blogger of website Hence, the quote attributed to SPD in the article was used out of context.

Our specific response to the reporter Jeremy Au Yong’s query, as conveyed in an email reads:
“Accessible toilets are equipped with features that are not only useful for wheelchair users. Expectant mothers as well as the elderly will also find the grab bars and other features useful. In that sense accessible toilets should not be confined for use for wheelchair users only. We should work towards having public toilets that are universally designed, so that it would be of benefit to everyone without discrimination.”

Mr Au Yong however did not use this view and requested again specifically on how SPD felt about non-disabled using the disabled toilet. Our response to his subsequent request via email is:

“Accessible toilets are made for people who need special considerations for their limitations, and should be available for their use at all times. However, reserving them for use by people with physical disabilities without exception can also be impractical, like in situations when there's a queue of people waiting to use the toilet or when someone has an urgent need to use one. In such instances, it makes more practical sense to simply use any available toilet. That said, the priority for the use of accessible toilets should first be given to people with physical disabilities as some have poor or no control over their bowels and bladders.”

Our view remains that accessible toilets should be made available at all times to people who have special needs whether they are the elderly or wheelchair users. SPD strongly advocates an inclusive society where all users, regardless of abilities are able to access universally designed facilities and amenities equally.

Dr Ow Chee Chung
Executive Director

Compare the above reply to what Au Yong wrote: "On the latest furore, she has supporters from an unlikely source. The Society for the Physically Disabled as well as the Handicaps Welfare Association see nothing wrong with sharing the loos as long as the able-bodied give priority to the disabled."

The organisations agree with Wendy that disabled toilets aren't exclusive to people with disabilities. But that's their opinion on the issue; they were not giving official approval for the things Wendy say.

They neither condone what she wrote nor her superficial reasons for using disabled toilets. And they're most certainly not her "supporters".

The Straits Times has yet to respond to this until now. And ironically, with Straits Times foreign editor Warren Fernandez's commentary, "To be responsible, media must first be credible", appearing in today's papers, I really think Singapore's most respected broadsheet (and Jeremy Au Yong) owe these two organisations and its readers an explanation--if not an apology--for a sloppy piece of journalism.