Anything That Interests Me! :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes

(After that, I swear, I'll get back to mentalism, magic, Derren Brown, card manipulation and the like! For more on the paranormal and supernatural, you may want to visit Psychic Phenomena and Hypnosis, my other website dedicated to psychic powers and hypnosis, while trying to show a true believer's point of view and a skeptic's rational point of view... might be interesting, and the arguments and reasoning are all introductory for the unintiated :) )

Since I am writing about Anything that Interests Me, I am going to write about Calvin and Hobbes. Sloth has set in and nowadays I don't bother to check out the spellings, so if I spelt either Calvin or Hobbes wrongly, well, it's not my fault! OK, if I did, it is.

I was at the library waiting for my friend Mabel, when I decided to have a look at the comics section.

I was actually gunning for Batman, especially the Asylum Series, partly because I am "crazy" and I like asylums, and partly (mainly, actually) because the Asylum Series, which shows the Arkam prisoners and the madness of the doctors administering to the likes of the Joker and the Riddler, is the most interesting product line in the Batman merchandise.

Then I came across my old love Calvin and Hobbes and read it, and three of the best cartoons in the whole book are reproduced here for your leisure and enjoyment (and mainly because these are the things that interested me):


Mom (to Dad): You'd better think of something fast...

Hobbes: No worries, we tigers are naturally gifted.

Calvin: Well, here's a present from me to you. Hope it fits.
And then Calvin hugs his tiger.

Hobbes: The best presents don't come in boxes; I'll treasure this one forever.

Calvin had been spending a lot of time and effort earning some toy, and so, in conversation with his tiger...

Calvin: I can't believe every time I get my hopes up, it doesn't arrive. And then when it doesn't, the chance of it coming tomorrow increases, and I get my hopes up even higher, only to see them dashed. I have been disappointed so many times, I think I am numb to it.

Hobbes: Well, what happens if they manage to get it sent today, at the last minute, because...

And Calvin runs off.

Hobbes: He isn't numb!

and the best part of it is that when Calvin got his toy, he accidentally broke a part of it. And then he blamed his tiger.

Calvin: It's all your fault! (CRIES)

Hobbes: It's not my fault, and look, I didn't even touch it!

Calvin: I know, I know... But... Considering that my life is in shambles right now, could you please take the blame?

And my all time favourite, which breaks my heart every time:

Calvin catches a butterfly, and puts it in a jar.

Hobbes: If people could put rainbows in zoos, they'd do it.
(Or was it: If people could put rainbows in cages, they'd do it...)

And Calvin thought about it for a moment, and then released the butterfly. I found that very touching.

Alright, that's it for this post. Calvin and Hobbes is a philsophical cartoon and isn't all that slapstick and simple as some people think it to be. A real work of art and philosophy. I recommend it as compulsory reading... nah, just a good comic to read. Cheers!

Anything that interests me!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The inherent contradictions of capitalism?

The inherent contradictions of capitalism!

I was in the John Rylands Library at UOM one day when I thought I had found the secret understanding of the inherent contradictions of capitalism. I suddenly reminded myself that I am a foremost genius. Anyways, I am not Marxist or Communist, mind you, as a brief look at my bourgeois website should immediately tell you. (What with Google Adsense and all.) I was supposed to be studying for Economics and History, but ended up reading a book on American Imperialism and how the USA actually imposes its political and economic system on the world. Then I fell asleep. And when I woke up in the cold dank library, I finally managed to link all the pieces together and came up with a great theory and a great understanding...

Only to find a few days later that other people had already thought about that long before me.


Heck it. Here's my blog, and here's my understanding and theory of the inherent contradictions of capitalism.

The logical and rational outcome of letting a free market operate is that ultimately market imperfections set in. Monopolies and oligopolies arise and as we all know, these are not good for competition. Traditional economic theory suggests that government should take care of these problems and others, but the problem is that in the postmodern world, the real governments effectively go into cahoots with the largest corporations. They do not obey economic theory and regulate them; the state joins them. There are actually two ways of looking at this. One is that governments (states) go into cahoots with these MNCs willingly, and the other is that if governments do not go into cahoots with these MNCs, they can literally pull the government down. Hence a symbiotic relationship results rapidly.

Those who say that globalisation calls for the end of the state fail to realise that this is not always true. The state has now taken on a corporate form, and it is so obvious that Wal Mart screams USA and that Deutsche Bank screams Germany.

To press on with my case, with the rise of globalisation and the rapid spread of MNCs all around the globe, which is the rise of big business, the outcome is an inherent contradiction in capitalism. Capitalism is about the free market, but what happens when the free market is not properly regulated or when the firms in that free market join forces with the government is that capitalism's contradictions destroy it.

To put it simply, free market leads to oligopolies and monpolies who then take over governments and then imperfect markets arise and the free market is destroyed, which ironically created all these. That's the contradiction. That's the rub.

I thought I was a bloody genius. I thought of all that while sitting in the library reading a few books.

Then later I saw Stiglitz's new book, and watched his lecture on TV, and he had nailed it too. The same theory as me. I was flabbergasted... no, I mean dismayed.

If you think this inherent contradiction is just a diatribe against globalisation, and that Stiglitz and I are loonies, consider this:

After 1980, when the USA and the World Bank intervened in Brazil, the growth rate went from 5% to less than 2%.

Every day millions protest against SAP (Structural Adjustment Policies), which are "SAPping" the power of the poor.

The poor give more money to the rich than the rich give to the poor.

To maintain this economic superiority comes a whole host and plethora of economic, political sanctions and cultural dominance from the MNCs, not the USA government.

Inequality has been on the rise worldwide, not just in Singapore.

The point is that globalisation has its merits but the problem is that all the benefits and merits go to a select few who benefit like crazy, at the expense of the rest of the world. I happen actually to be someone who benefits, coming as I do from a privileged and rich family, speaking three languages (and now learning French, so that's four) and being a government scholar. I win in this new globalised world.

I am not complaining about my share, but it's the poor that I worry about, that I worry for. Capitalism must help them too!

Capitalism is about making people better off, but as it is, this is making people worse off and only some better off. It cannot last and something has to be done. I understand that Stiglitz has lots of good advice and suggestions, so I am going to read his book to find out.

Communism may have failed but sometimes you can see why so many believed in the Communist Utopia. For all its promises that it did not live up to, it was a great belief. Now we need something practical to handle this rising problem. The poor of the world are in chains, and we must release them ourselves with kindness and charity before they forcefully release themselves, and do something untoward. Charity and our self interest go hand in hand.

Stay tuned! More to come in future posts, when it interests me...

Anything that interests me!

Angela Funovits, mentalism and card manipulation!

Angela Funovits, mentalism and card manipulation!

Today I will be writing about Angela Funovits, mentalism and card manipulation! Even a casual reader who happened to chance on my writings should know, I have an abiding interest in mentalism and magic. One particular aspect that fascinates me the most is card manipulation, which is a really fancy way of saying card tricks, or card moves that are really cool. You know, where the magician pulls out cards from thin air. Or makes them appear and disappear. Angela Funovits is not just a card manipulator, but also a mentalist and magician, who ranks somewhere below Penn and Teller on my list, and you know, Penn and Teller are bloody good.

Alright, how did I get to know about Angela Funovits?

She is a new and rising magician, and there are lots of those around, so you might be wondering how I came to know about her in the vast sea of upcoming mentalists. Derren Brown, my favourite, is very much more famous and she is less famous than he is (as at 2008, because for all you know, next year in 2009 she might be the biggest star on earth).

Well, this is what happened: I was watching Uri Geller embarrass himself on The Next Uri Geller when I saw Angela Funovits. I shall watch her, I thought. This was after I had seen Sos Petrosyan, Morta Deller and the rest of them anyways.

OK, I will be very honest and say that I thought Angela was pretty, so that is why I carried on watching.

OK, OK, I have guilt pangs here, she was a model before, and she is pretty. That's why I watched her when I could have gone back to Derren Brown. Alright. Alright! I admit it, I admit it. Sorry! I'm shallow.


As far as the show went, she managed to read the mind of some German guy and managed to burn or imprint the name that he was thinking of onto her legs. Angela Funovits has nice long legs and I was so horrified to see her using flames on those, but what the heck, it was a great show and voila, the word magically appeared. (Rich Ferguson can do that too, though.) I was hooked, and so bothered to find out who she was. She had appeared on Phenomenon before, and so I went to watch that as well. Angela also appeared on other shows and even has a card manipulation clip on YouTube, so I watched all that and was hooked. She is good!

Angela Funovits managed to put her hand through many trials and tribulations and knives and still has them still. I especially enjoyed it because the knives made the trick seem more dangerous and very full of tension.

Angela Funovits managed to saw through a box with a man hidden in one out of four or five boxes... without killing the man, of course.

She also did a lot of card tricks and mind reading tricks that all mentalists are so fond of. Good stuff!

With regards card manipulation, I would say the little kid Sos Petrosyan is one of the best and most precocious in the world. Nonetheless Angela Funovits has many advantages over him: she's prettier, taller and more trained than he is (after all, he's a kid). I especially loved her on the YouTube video and on her websites. Angela Funovits has lots of websites and can be seen everywhere from facebook to myspace and more.

Alright, here's a brief summary: who's Angela Funovits? A good and talented up and coming mentalist and magician, and card manipulator.

Why do I like Angela Funovits? She's pretty, cool, and very talented as a mentalist. Apparently Angela prefers the term surrealist, whatever it means, but mentalism was the term I first came into contact with, so "mentalist" she is. She does really good card tricks and manipulations too! Clever, pretty, talented and charming - what more could you ask for in an entertainer? I love Angela Funovits.

I have been practising my card manipulation... for about 5 mins a week. And I still am really really bad it, bless my socks!

Did I mention Angela Funovits is really good at card manipulation?

Anything that interests me!

PS Added as an afterthought: I think Angela Funovits' determination to show the world that girls can do magic too is very commendable. Angela Funovits is definitely the best female mentalist in the world now, and I think that she will have more great times ahead and a sterling career. Angela Funovits will show the world that girls can do magic rather than just being assistants and, in some cases, be even better than the boys. OK, don't slam me. Cheers.