Gerhard is the Best Background Artist

… that I have ever known. I’m exaggerating (I know of Bernie Wrighton!) but he certainly could be the best in the Comic Book Industry.

These commission art pieces are part of the “World Without Cerebus” which were paid for by a really rich man. 😛 You can have a look at the pieces here.

 If you visit the blog of the person who made the commission, you’ll get the background stories of these pieces. Very very nice.

To have even 30% of his skill…………. if only 😛

 

Austrian Cellars – What?

She said she had been sexually abused by her father since the age of 11.

Josef allegedly lured her into the cellar of their house in Amstetten on 28 August 1984, drugging and handcuffing her before locking her up.

It was assumed she had disappeared voluntarily when her parents received a letter from her asking them not to search for her.

“Abused continuously during the 24-year-long imprisonment”, Elisabeth bore six children while a seventh, one of a set of twins, died soon after birth.

The dead baby was allegedly taken out of the cellar and burnt by Josef.

Elisabeth said Josef had provided her and three of her children, who were locked up along with her, with clothing and food.

His wife Rosemarie had allegedly not been aware of what was going on.

It’s ridiculous to think that such things are still happening in our modern day and generation, but it is. Read the whole story here (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7369851.stm) and feel sick. And yet, this is our life. We live in a world that has gone terribly wrong. Very terribly wrong.

And people still want to talk about evolution and relativism and justify their own sinful actions.

Family History

Every trip to my hometown nowadays, are spent listening to my parent’s account of our family history. Every time it adds up. It’s interesting to see how all these history has in one way or other influenced the way we were brought up. In many sense, history repeats itself, and it shows itself very clearly in our family history.

Very interesting this family history. Essentially, I’m pretty much 2nd generation Malaysian-born Chinese (about 50/50). It’s also kind a funny to note that just 60 years is enough to change the landscape of my hometown to something that is quite different from the past.

Do you know your family history?

Maybe I should chronicle some of this history somewhere… if not, storing it by memory would be a very fragile exercise. 😛

 

Lecturing Against Activity Based Learning

4. Amateur/Expert: On YouTube, amateurs rule, experts are deflated, and authority is flattened. While it is exciting to hear from new and varied people, and while this undoubtedly widens and opens our knowledge-base, it is difficult to learn in an environment where vying opinions rule, where data is helter-skelter and hard to locate, and where no one can take the lead. Again, the significance of discipline within the academic setting proves the rule. Without it, ideas stay vague and dispersed, there is no system for evaluation, and you can’t find things or build upon them.

5. Entertainment/Education: Today’s students, schooled on YouTube, iphones, and Wiis, want their information relayed with ease and fun: they want it pleasurable, simplified, and funny. They don’t want to be bored; even as they are always distracted. They want school to speak to them in the language they like and know and deserve. While I’m the first to admit that a good professor makes “hard” information understandable, this does not mean that I do not expect my students to take pleasure in the rigorous work of understanding it. While I have always been aware that I am a performer, entertaining my students while sneaking in critical theory, avant-garde forms, and radical politics, much of what I perform is the delight and beauty of the complex: the life of the mind, the work of the artist, the experience of the counter-culture. I am not interested teaching as a re-performing of the dumbing-down of our culture.

This article (here from Ars Technica: original report here) is timely. In some ways, it actually does relate to my Drama is not Preaching post, albeit it is much bigger in scope. Anyway, I am of the old school person who truly believe that Lecturing is the best way of conveying the study of something to a large audience of people. It is something that has to be recovered by the education system. Point 4 (from excerpt above) is often the easiest point dismissed when considering this whole issue of teaching. Instead, ABL (what some would call tutorial activities) is becoming (at least in the circle where I used to be) the missing ingredient that many tout as the best way of conveying knowledge to students. A good article critizing the need of lecturing can be obtained here. I recommend you to read it before proceeding on. 😛

I am not going to explain the terminology of both lecturing and activity-based learning. I’m sure we’re googled (it’s my own form of expression here :P) enough in our experience to be able to get a semblance of its terms & scope, without much sweat. (Before going further, let me say that I understand that the mode of teaching through lecturing may in some instances fall under a particular ABL scheme. But for this short opinion piece, let me just treat ABL as exclusive to lecturing).

ABL seriously presupposes that self-discovery is THE best way of learning a particular knowledge. To achieve that, one needs to ensure what type of activities are necessary and compatible for the person(s) being considered. Most ABL seeks to make things ‘lively’ and ‘entertaining’. And it encourages a lot of feedback, to get interactivity going. There are benefits in it, no doubt about it, if not why would we conduct tutorials in classes? But one of the things that doesn’t sit right with me is the fact that lecturing is being underplayed in modern education. The problem, as I perceive it, is the fact that we do not understand what it really mean to lecture. And more importantly, how to push it to its boundaries and make it effective in the ways it is meant to be.

Lecturing (as in other fields) needs to be considered in its historical setting and context. It is always done in the environment of religious teaching, which was (rightfully) considered the best knowledge that one could have, in older generations. Thus, history is expletive with examples of religious teachings and commentaries (for the majority of most organised religions). Many universities are founded on the basis of its religious needs and focus. And it is in this background that ‘lectures’ came into being.

Lecturing, of itself, is basically a long discourse given didactically to a group of audience, who are non-experts of themselves. That is the basic and fundamental premise of how and when a lecture should be had. Straight away it reveals; audiences that are composed of persons who are ‘semi-experts’ or ‘experts’ in the field of topic considered would render the lecture meaningless. The problem with our modern situation is that, no one wants to show that authority from the front of the class. In a world of relativity, we are confined to a mode of thinking that “maybe there is someone here who is better than me, smarter than me, etc.” and therefore in lecturing, no authority or quality is presented because of such limiting presuppositions in place. You will find that a lecturer who believes that the audience addressed is much weaker than themselves will most likely come out of the lecture feeling much better than one who goes in with adverse thoughts.

Thus lecturers ought to often reflect on the skills and knowledge which they possess and to ensure that what they are presenting is of value and is of consequence. Secondarily should the focus be put on the conveyance of the knowledge to the hearers. Let’s face it, not everyone is meant to lecture. Reading off slides for lecturer is as good as wiping a car with a damp cloth for a mechanic. Thus these two things ought to be at the forefront of their concern as a lecturer (who inspires to not disappoint their students and themselves); knowledge of subject matter considered & skill of articulating knowledge to audience.

The latter skills really pushes a lecturers own mindset on its perception on the audiences. It is always helpful (personally) to believe that the human brain is a powerful thing that can absorb and intepret many things, even though the owner may not necessary believe it to be so. To dumb down the audience in your sight is the first step of condemning them to a ‘useless, boring’ lecture. Three quarters of lecturers that I know fail to convey things across to the audience because of their own problems with the first requirement. They do not know enough of the subject matter. You will find that shouting or raising your voice may hide the ineptness of a lecturer for a time, but once the audience is used to the voice (noise), they can easily see through the issue at heart.

Which is why I always get complaints that certain lecturer (this and that lecturer) is a case-study lecturer (aka ABL advocate). Not because it is a better or it is the better way of teaching that subject, but as I suspect, it is because they do not even pass the first criteria of lecturing. That is why, we are focusing on ABL nowadays. A misapplied focus on the needs and requirements of lecturing. How sad!

This is meant to be a warning to all of us, but more importantly, I hope at least, it is a warning to institutions that good lecturers are not won by money, better salaries, better ‘certifications and titles’… good lecturers are built up carefully in the right ways (just as an athlete is good when he/she spends the right resources to develop them physically and mentally). The resources that make it possible for lecturers are time, research and practice. But in a day where the education industry is fast becoming a business industry, sadly, all these are fading away quickly. Time that used to be spent on knowledge building and articulation enhancement, is now spent in all other things (business ventures, marketing, sales, outdoor activities, etc.) which are not wrong of itself, but diminishes the time for what really counts.

Anyway, I have had the benefit of good lecturers during my time in Monash. If you ever thought lectures are boring, just go sit in on Professor Stephen Barkoczy’s class (Tax Law… you’ve been warned!). 1 hour lectures that are really mind stimulating, see his profile here. 😛 Hahaha. Another one that has made its round over the Net is the nutty professor Walter Lewin’s Physics class at MIT. Read more about him here and watch his lectures here. These are real lectures. Not your ABL sessions.

In the end, lectures should be the main domain of the ‘lecturer’ (hence the name title :P). It can really give much benefit to the students and provide them with real knowledge, if done correctly. But to do that, you have to see it in the proper light. Getting a bunch of untrained students to talk and discuss and finish some task, can stumble them to think that they are the experts. At the end, they are the losers.


Walter Lewin, of MIT-Physics Fame.

Astrological Fallacy

For several decades, researchers tracked more than 2,000 people – most of them born within minutes of each other. According to astrology, the subject should have had very similar traits.

The babies were originally recruited as part of a medical study begun in London in 1958 into how the circumstances of birth can affect future health. More than 2,000 babies born in early March that year were registered and their development monitored at regular intervals.

Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, aggressiveness, sociability, IQ levels and ability in art, sport, mathematics and reading – all of which astrologers claim can be gauged from birth charts.

The scientists failed to find any evidence of similarities between the “time twins”, however. They reported in the current issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies: “The test conditions could hardly have been more conducive to success . . . but the results are uniformly negative.”

It is an interesting piece of research. This is the sort of investigation which ‘science’ (also known as systematic common sense) is able to undergo. And I am not surprised at all with the verdict. The environment does not have an unknown energy that affects only certain types of people. That clearly has too many contradictions on the way we perceive ourselves and how we relate to one another.

Read the full article from this link: Astrologers Fail to Predict Proof They Are Wrong.

Augustus Toplady on Calvinism in the Church of England

If Heylyn may he credited, Laud had formed a design, so far back as the year 1600, of endeavouring to pervert the church of England from her Calvinistic doctrines. A very extraordinary object for so raw a youth, as he, at that time, was! or, as Heylyn himself expresses it, “a desperate attempt, for a single man, unseconded, and not well-befriended, to oppose himself against an army, to strive against so strong a stream, and cross the current of the times!” He was then about twenty-five years of age; a young master of arts; no more than Fellow of St. John’s college, Oxford; not many years emancipated from school; in deacon’s orders only; his finances very moderate; without any ecclesiastical preferment; and with hardly a friend in the University, to countenance him amidst that torrent of general and public odium, which his haughty behaviour and his Papistical bias had drawn upon him from every side; for a man, under those circumstances, and in so early a part of life, to project a scheme of such consequence and difficulty, as the divorcing of the established Church from her own essential principles, exhibits an instance of wild self-sufficiency, and of audacious restlessness, scarcely to be exceeded in the whole compass of history.

An interesting work written on the subject title. Read the whole thing here.

I found the chapter on the English Martyrs most interesting. And one thing you will notice is the fact that these writers (of their century and generation) cared not about beautifying a sentence for the sake of beauty, but chose their words carefully in order to make their thoughts clear. I find that remarkable for our current generation. The standard of reading and writing has gone down the drains in so many areas.

I see it in the education system, and I see it also in the workplace (industry). Misreading and poor comprehension are now commonly seen due to a lack of emphasis on these necessary skills of reading and writing. The Puritans have much to teach us on these things. No padding. No wastage in words. 

But in the age of simplification and not able to track the main thoughts of a conversation, what can be done? Can we wait by raising the standard of the people as a whole? Can this generation actually persevere to improve their linguistics (in terms of communication, not mere utterances) before they fall into a state of ignorance?

I have no idea. But I know that it falls back to the state of the people’s heart. You can have the most advanced technology and equipments, but if the person is lazy, all you’ve got is a lazy person with the latest technology and equipments.

Such is the state that we’re in.

And that’s sad too.

Maybe that is why many people despise the Puritans; they are mirror to us that shows all the things that we will never be able to be… especially in the areas that count.

Bad News

Bad news really stinks when it falls on your lap unexpectedly.

Cannot believe it, but then, always expect the unexpected. This is a fallen world.

Ah well…

C’est la vie.

I guess there goes my holiday.

🙁

Hmmm… I seem to be doing more work than normal for my ‘holiday’.

Walk on!

Goodies to Look Out For

First day of holiday was a blast. Finally, managed to catch up on ‘some’ exercise, and doing a bit of cooking. Still clearling up some stuff before I dive into 1 project.

Anyway, this year is quite an eventful one for entertainment and electronics. No, I’m not talking about Mobile Phones / PDA phones (yes, yes, I’m a bit obsessed with that). I’m referring to the entertainment side.

Some that caught my eye yesterday:

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Yes, you read that right. The duo are back. I’m glad they’ll be dealing with their son, William, in this film that is set in the year, 2008. Remember the ending from the season finale; Doomsday is 2019 (If memory serves, that is).

I really want to believe that this won’t be a disappointment… anything gives at this point. Let’s see whether Carter has caught up with the current filming development over the past few years since the series ended.

Go here for the write up on Entertainment Weekly.

FALLOUT 3

There will be nearly 500 possible endings for this game, that is due out this year. 🙂 I’m pysched out for this one folks! If you have not heard before, Fallout is a post apocalyptic war computer game story, that is played out in Role-Playing Game format. You control a person who has to complete a mission(s) in this strangely weird and most-of-the-time funny world. The best part of the game has always been the crazy persons you get to meet up with.

What is different with this new game is: New developer, New game engine (First Person Shooter perspective) and New story!

Wow… look at the images. 🙂 I’m so there! (For those who are unawares, I have been a gamer since 1985… hehehe… what makes a game great is ALWAYS the story first!)

That’s it for the entertainment side. 🙂 It’s nice to indulge in this ‘worldly’ things at times.

 

On the Last Day

It was a packed day.

  • The pitching went… erm… not too well, as it was the first time these students had the opportunity to present before a panel of experienced judges. You had the Product managers and Heads of departments for a few prominent private companies. I have a feeling that we won’t be making it through the finals. It’s a crying shame though, as the idea itself (I honestly feel) is an excellent commercial idea. Brimming with potential, surely.

Download the slides: L@ndM@rks (unfortunately, due to the competition results as of 7th May, I will have to take these down :P).

  • Had tea with the Multimedia guys. Learnt a new term: Salty Sushi! Hah! No further comments on that. Had Kajang Satay (the franchise, not the actual place in Kajang). Yumm… And the temptation of going back to World of Warcraft is great! Ack! Resist the devil…….. hahahaha… I’ll actually consider that.
  • Cleared off my stuff, only to find (at 5.30 am) that I forgot one important issue which I had not resolved yet. Go figure… my brain is playing tricks on me already.
  • Oh, the Ikea cookies I brought to work were finishing. As I recall anyway. Very nice cookies indeed. Wish I had tried more 😛 hah!
  • I deleted and cleaned my office desktop folders and files. After 4 years, it had way too much junk. And way too many mp3 songs. 😛 Yes, I listen to a lot of songs doing my work. It helps me to think… actually, no, it doesn’t. It does provide a better environment (wall of sound) to think. Considering that many people passes by my desk (I’m located just at the entrance to the cluster, shunting off the collective sounds is a hard thing.
  • Went home 5 minutes earlier than usual (5.55pm). It would have been earlier, if not for the many people I bummed into as I was going out. Said my goodbyes to those I met.
  • Had a lovely dinner with ML. Chatted about the day, repplied some mails and watched 30 Rock (I haven’t, although ML had, and was STILL laughing her head off even though it was her second watch!).
  • Mini-Announcement: For those who were asking, “where is Er Lern headed after this?” Well, the answer is simple and shocking (to some) – I’ll be going full time, assisting my pastor in church ministry. It has been planned out for years. Thank God for His timing and His calling. 🙂

All in all, it was a fun and in some sense, whacky day. I do not feel sad at all, or do I miss the workplace, mostly because I know I’ll be visiting them soon. Outreach Bible Study is still on, as often as I’m able and God allows. It is not for any worldly gain. Not here to attract great numbers or anything, just to answer simple questions pertaining to life, which is God-given, lest we be ignorant on the life we are currently living.

Au revoir indeed.