The Desire to Succeed

Went out with a couple of friends yesterday. One of my friends, W, started sharing some of his army stories. Among them, he told me about one of his friends in his camp, and how he explained the method he used to keep fit.

“Come on, we both know I do not have the discipline [to succeed in achieving peak fitness]. But what I have is desire. When I look into the mirror, and I don’t like what I see, I make sure I do something to change it.”

She’s So Fat

I do not like being critical about people. I do not like talking behind people’s back. But I think this deserves some mention.

SISPEC Dinner

Yesterday I attended some dinner/orientation thing organised by SISPEC (School of Infantry Specialists). Some of us brought our girlfriends (if we had one and had the inclination to do so).

The Girls

I — not having been romantically linked to anyone for the past year or so — was happy for the eye-candy this girlfriends-allowed rule provided. Some of the girls were really tall (almost as tall as me), some were rich in the frontal assets department, while some were of distinctly average quality.

After a while, the novelty of having girls to look at wore off (in the Singapore army, girls are always a novelty), and I was more concerned as to when this event was going to end.

Sitting around, my mind was brought back to the issue of girlfriends again when my friends starting discussing about one in particular (being the strong, silent type, I stayed out of the discussion :)).

She’s So Fat (And Ugly)

First of, one should note that the this girlfriend was the girlfriend of a guy my friends do not particularly like… (but still…)

The discussion went along the lines of how “fat” and “ugly” this girl was. “Why didn’t he pick a better girl?”

I wish I hadn’t heard all that.

I think the worst things that one can hear are bad things said by people you like, about people you like.

To me, looks do matter. But strike me down if I had never considered a relationship with fat, ugly girls who had hearts of gold, or personalities that make the darkest days bright again.

But if I did, I’d strongly consider before allowing these very “friends” to see her.

She's So Fat

I do not like being critical about people. I do not like talking behind people’s back. But I think this deserves some mention.

SISPEC Dinner

Yesterday I attended some dinner/orientation thing organised by SISPEC (School of Infantry Specialists). Some of us brought our girlfriends (if we had one and had the inclination to do so).

The Girls

I — not having been romantically linked to anyone for the past year or so — was happy for the eye-candy this girlfriends-allowed rule provided. Some of the girls were really tall (almost as tall as me), some were rich in the frontal assets department, while some were of distinctly average quality.

After a while, the novelty of having girls to look at wore off (in the Singapore army, girls are always a novelty), and I was more concerned as to when this event was going to end.

Sitting around, my mind was brought back to the issue of girlfriends again when my friends starting discussing about one in particular (being the strong, silent type, I stayed out of the discussion :)).

She’s So Fat (And Ugly)

First of, one should note that the this girlfriend was the girlfriend of a guy my friends do not particularly like… (but still…)

The discussion went along the lines of how “fat” and “ugly” this girl was. “Why didn’t he pick a better girl?”

I wish I hadn’t heard all that.

I think the worst things that one can hear are bad things said by people you like, about people you like.

To me, looks do matter. But strike me down if I had never considered a relationship with fat, ugly girls who had hearts of gold, or personalities that make the darkest days bright again.

But if I did, I’d strongly consider before allowing these very “friends” to see her.

Quotes for the Fortnight

Psychology/Inspirational

Robert I. Sternberg

From the book Successful Intelligence.

In our society, people at the top of the heap — lawyers, doctors, business executives, college professors — tend to have higher IQs than do those at the bottom heap — day labourers, house cleaners, street sweepers, and the like. So IQ is associated with occupational success, but does it cause it?

In another sense, most people who live in Nigeria are black, and most of the people who live in Norway are white. Does it mean that living in Nigeria cause you to be black or that living in Norway cause you to be white?

[…]

High IQ might indeed cause better job placement, which is plausible. Or better job placement may cause high IQ, which it turns out, is true. Being in a better job enables you to practise your intellectual skills, which in turn results in higher intelligence and thus higher IQ. Or it may be that both high IQ and job placement are dependent on some other factor or factors.

Timothy Ray Miller

From the book How to Want What You Have.

Sometimes I want to win; sometimes I don’t care. Sometimes I hope to win; sometimes I know I have little hope of winning. Sometimes I play with people I would not want to socialise with, but even then my opponents and I share a pleasant low-key companionship. I can think of only one thing that could spoil the game completely. If I ever felt that I must win, all the fun would instantly be destroyed.

[…]

It might seem playing to win is identical to playing as if I must win. A little thought reveals they are quite different. I play to win, but I have just as much fun whether I win or lose.

On Existence

Daniel Callahan

From the book The Troubled Dream of Life.

Though it did not happen to me, I have had a number of friends whose elderly parents died after an extended stay in nursing homes, long demented and cut off from human communication. They lived with the particular hell of loving their parent, wishing that parent would die, blaming themselves for having such a wish, and dutifully paying painful visits.

[…]

Narcissism struggles with altruism; the insistent clamour of desires and wants wrestles with the claims of morality.

[…]

The price of a longer life has been a sicker life.

Albert Camus

From the book A Happy Death.

He marvelled at the strange blindness by which men, though they are so aware of what changes in themselves, impose on their friends an image chosen for them once and for all. He was being judged by what he had been. Just as dogs don’t change character, men are dogs for each other.

[…]

He discovered the cruel paradox by which we always decieve ourselves twice about the people we love — first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage.

Want to know what I want

While reading a book on goals, I came across this statement: Imagine that you have the inborn ability to achieve any goal you could ever set for yourself. What do you really want to be, have, and do?

The very first thought that came into my mind was: I wish I knew what I wanted.

I do want the usual things: to be wealthy; healthy; to find romance; to have a loving family; to look good, etc.

But the more I review “the usual” goals I have, the more I realise that they do not seem to motivate or excite me as much as I would expect them to.

Somehow I feel that they these things are rather hollow, as if they were more of a means to an end than an end in itself.

So just what do I really want?…

A Happy New Year?

It’s strange how a natural disaster that kills thousands can kill the festive mood. In case you didn’t know, (e.g. conscripted into the army and have no opportunity to keep up with current affairs,) I’m talking about the recent earthquake that hit Indonesia and the subsequent tsunamis that resulted from it.

Malaysia decided to do away with all major countdown events, while Singapore’s only broadcast station decided that it would not show the countdown live in respect to the victims. Therefore, last night was not a typical “NEW YEAR!!!”, but a “new year”.

It does make you think doesn’t it? Osama managed to kill four or five thousand people with his very elaborate twin-towers performance. The earthquake, however, with little effort, managed to kill over a hundred thousand.

What then makes us (most of us anyway) feel outrage at what Osama did, and none to this “natural” thing called earthquakes?

If man evolved from nature, like all other animals, are we not considered natural? If man kills another man — as does a snake kill another snake — how is it more unacceptable?

Man is not natural?

Perhaps one might argue that consciousness and self-awareness make us greater than the animals, and therefore beyond “nature”. But it has always puzzled me how we know we are conscious. There is an argument that states that simply by questioning our consciousness (or self-awareness), we prove that we are self-aware.

But if that’s the case, how do we prove that animals do not question their own consciousness? Whenever I look into my cat’s eyes, it seems as though he’s deep in contemplation. But because we communicate differently, he is unable to express whatever’s in his mind to me. Could it be that he is self-aware, but simply not showing it?

Man-made vs. Natural

When I took geography lessons, things were separated into “man-made” and “natural”. To me, that was a strange distinction to make. If an animal dug a hole, it was considered natural. If man dug the hole, it was man-made.

So what is it that separates man from animal? And what makes the killing of man by man so different from the killing of man by natural disasters?

Free will

The thing I believe to be the answer to the above two questions is: free will.

Animals follow instinct. They do not contemplate consequences, simply follow a set of feelings or instincts that guide them to doing what they do.

Natural disasters do not choose to happen, they just do. Man chooses to kill, and it is the picking of that choice that is condemned.

Choosing to kill

But then again, if man has free will, and can do what he wills himself to do, why are addictions so difficult to kick? Why do we eat when we are not hungry, even though we know we shouldn’t eat (if we are on a diet)?

In other words, does free will actually exist? or is it all an illusion that comes “naturally” to humans?