Pat's Sanitarium
Pat's Sanitarium
A retreat for the well-being of my mind from the insanity of the life that is mine.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

*Title Pending Inspiration* 


Mood: Sleepy
Currently listening to: Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2

Another day, another post...

Didn't do all that much either - muddled through some uni emails which required my attention, went to the gym, swung by the temp agency in the forlorn hope that my cheque(s) would be ready (no dice) and then the CSA head office to check on my the reassignment scheduling. Thankfully they haven't forgotten about my existence and it looks like i'll be back at work on Thursday doing some stuff for Digi in what sounds like Shah Alam (which makes me suddenly wonder about the possibility of having lunch with Leonard once he moves to his new place)...

Bleh. About damn time too - the lethargy is killing me!

Hey, that actually reminds me... here's some pics of us CSA boys on our last day at the KLSE (it was New Year's Eve if i recall) courtesy of Jackie...

from left: Rao, Jackie, Henry, Me and Eddy

from left: Rao, Henry, Jackie, Me, Eddy, Cheah and Hui ('boss' and 'big boss' repectively ;p)

Didn't go to Toastmasters tonight because i had to attend a family dinner in PJ Old Town which was being thrown for my aunt. Lots of food, as is usual, but no pictures this time with which to torment Boon with (mmmm... nothing like good sharks fin soup). ;p

Speaking of Boon (and glancing at my email account) it seems that yesterday's post struck a chord with quite a few of you out there... Always nice to know that there are other people with current or previously bleak outlooks on life out there - a generalism that accomodates the varied, touching, and personal responses that i received, although i once again must state that i am hardly surprised at. Many prior conversations with Chen Hoe (before he started getting busy with work) left us both wondering at the multitude of various related factors that might reveal that such current mentalities of what can only be, at best, unsatisfactorily classified as 'rampant cynicism' becoming endemic to our current generation(s). A topic which is much too detailed and meandering to be dealt with in any reasonable amount of detail here and now...

Hrmmm... as a coincidental aside, i think that this is (was?) the topic of Boon's sociology thesis (or some part of it at any rate - the details escape me at the moment) and was actually featured in one of his older blog posts...


What was i originally talking about? ;p

Meh, to hell with it. Moving on, its been a fair while since i did a quiz...

The Belief-O-Matic Religion Quiz

Always a 'fun' topic - you can find this quiz here.

Even if YOU don't know what faith you are, Belief-O-Matic knows. Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and Belief-O-Matic will tell you what religion (if any) you practice...or ought to consider practicing.

Warning: Belief-O-Matic assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul.

Cute. Anyway, here's what i got:

The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.

Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking.

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Secular Humanism (98%)
3. Liberal Quakers (84%)
4. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (82%)
5. Nontheist (78%)
6. Theravada Buddhism (66%)
7. Neo-Pagan (62%)
8. Bahá'í Faith (52%)
9. Taoism (48%)
10. New Age (46%)
11. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (45%)
12. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (42%)
13. Reform Judaism (40%)
14. Orthodox Quaker (33%)
15. Mahayana Buddhism (32%)
16. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (31%)
17. New Thought (31%)
18. Sikhism (26%)
19. Scientology (26%)
20. Jehovah's Witness (25%)
21. Jainism (17%)
22. Seventh Day Adventist (13%)
23. Eastern Orthodox (10%)
24. Islam (10%)
25. Orthodox Judaism (10%)
26. Roman Catholic (10%)
27. Hinduism (6%)

Note: If you'd like a more detailed description as to what the views/beliefs of each of the listed religions (or stances in some cases) entails just do the quiz or go to the site.

As for me, well i'm just a little surprised that 'Nontheist' came out 5th given the vast majority of my responses were 'not applicable' or the like (atheist that i am). Which also makes me wonder how the 'Liberal Quakers' label come out 3rd! Oh, that and the irony that i was actually baptized a Roman Catholic when i was a wee little lad... *glances at list* ;p

Still, given the results i do see myself in the main as a secular humanist (Unitarian Universalists are, by the looks of it, a rather confused and overly-generalized bunch)...

Belief in Deity
Not considered important. Most Humanists are atheists or agnostics.

Same as above.

Origin of Universe and Life
The scientific method is most respected as the means for revealing the mysteries of the origins of the universe and life.

After Death
An afterlife or spiritual existence after death is not recognized.

Why Evil?
No concept of “evil.” Reasons for wrongdoing are explored through scientific methods, e.g. through study of sociology, psychology, criminology.

No concept of afterlife or spiritual liberation or salvation. Realizing ones personal potential and working for the betterment of humanity through ethical consciousness and social works are considered paramount, but from a naturalistic rather than supernatural standpoint.

Undeserved Suffering
No spiritual reasons but rather a matter of human vulnerability to misfortune, illness, and victimization.

Contemporary Issues
The American Humanist Association endorses elective abortion. Other contemporary views include working for equality for homosexuals, gender equality, a secular approach to divorce and remarriage, working to end poverty, promoting peace and nonviolence, and environmental protection.

Right, time for some articles, the first one is from Al's blog...

The Loneliest Mystery Of The Deep

Full article can be found here.

For the last 12 years, a single solitary whale whose vocalizations match no known living species has been tracked across the Northeast Pacific. Its wanderings match no known migratory patterns of any living whale species. Its vocalizations have also subtly deepened over the years, indicating that the whale is maturing and ageing. And, during the entire 12 year span that it has been tracked, it has been calling out for contact from others of its own kind.

It has received no answer. Nor will it ever...

...The mystery of the solitary whale has captured the imagination. Hypotheses as to its identity include the possibility that the whale is deaf, that it is a hybrid of two species, or that it is sick or malformed (although unlikely, since it has survived for more than 12 years).

Or perhaps, if you want to get weird, you can note for fun that this story matches the plot of a Star Trek Movie. But Leonard Nimoy did not pen this story; it is for real.

Whatever the identity of this strange unidentified alien whale, it is, for now, the very definition of poetic, existential loneliness, in both time and space. The whale is somewhere wandering the Northeast Pacific, right now, in a rudderless, aimless track. And right now the lonely beast could be calling out for others of its kind, and finding none, for over 12 years and counting.

Weird and fascinating.

And so... very... sad... *wipes away a tear*

I can only sadly wonder if we were directly responsible for this... (you damn dirty apes!!!)

The Secret Lives Of Just About Everybody

Full article can be found here.

One mislaid credit card bill or a single dangling e-mail message on the home computer would have ended everything: the marriage, the big-time career, the reputation for decency he had built over a lifetime.

So for more than 10 years, he ruthlessly kept his two identities apart: one lived in a Westchester hamlet and worked in a New York office, and the other operated mainly in clubs, airport bars and brothels. One warmly greeted clients and waved to neighbors, sometimes only hours after the other had stumbled back from a "work" meeting with prostitutes or cocaine dealers.

In the end, it was a harmless computer pop-up advertisement for security software, claiming that his online life was being "continually monitored," that sent this New York real estate developer into a panic and to a therapist.

The man's double life is an extreme example of how mental anguish can cleave an identity into pieces, said his psychiatrist, Dr. Jay S. Kwawer, director of clinical education at the William Alanson White Institute in New York, who discussed the case at a recent conference.

But psychologists say that most normal adults are well equipped to start a secret life, if not to sustain it. The ability to hold a secret is fundamental to healthy social development, they say, and the desire to sample other identities - to reinvent oneself, to pretend - can last well into adulthood. And in recent years researchers have found that some of the same psychological skills that help many people avoid mental distress can also put them at heightened risk for prolonging covert activities.

"In a very deep sense, you don't have a self unless you have a secret, and we all have moments throughout our lives when we feel we're losing ourselves in our social group, or work or marriage, and it feels good to grab for a secret, or some subterfuge, to reassert our identity as somebody apart," said Dr. Daniel M. Wegner, a professor of psychology at Harvard. He added, "And we are now learning that some people are better at doing this than others."

...Psychologists have long considered the ability to keep secrets as central to healthy development. Children as young as 6 or 7 learn to stay quiet about their mother's birthday present. In adolescence and adulthood, a fluency with small social lies is associated with good mental health. And researchers have confirmed that secrecy can enhance attraction, or as Oscar Wilde put it, "The commonest thing is delightful if only one hides it."

...The urge to act out an entirely different persona is widely shared across cultures as well, social scientists say, and may be motivated by curiosity, mischief or earnest soul-searching. Certainly, it is a familiar tug in the breast of almost anyone who has stepped out of his or her daily life for a time, whether for vacation, for business or to live in another country.

...Most recently, Dr. Turkle has studied the use of online interactive games like Sims Online, where people set up families and communities. She has conducted detailed interviews with some 200 regular or occasional players, and says many people use the games as a way to set up families they wish they had, or at least play out alternative versions of their own lives.

One 16-year-old girl who lives with an abusive father has simulated her relationship to him in Sims Online by changing herself, variously, into a 16-year-old boy, a bigger, stronger girl and a more assertive personality, among other identities. It was as a more forceful daughter, Dr. Turkle said, that the girl discovered she could forgive her father, if not change him.

"I think what people are doing on the Internet now," she said, "has deep psychological meaning in terms of how they're using identities to express problems and potentially solve them in what is a relatively consequence-free zone."

Yet out in the world, a consequence-rich zone, studies find that most people find it mentally exhausting to hold onto inflammatory secrets - much less lives - for long. The very act of trying to suppress the information creates a kind of rebound effect, causing thoughts of an affair, late-night excursions or an undisclosed debt to flood the consciousness, especially when a person who would be harmed by disclosure of the secret is nearby. Like a television set in a crowded bar, the concealed episode seems to play on in the mind, attracting attention despite conscious efforts to turn away. The suppressed thoughts even recur in dreams, according to a study published last summer.

The strength of this effect undoubtedly varies from person to person, psychiatrists say. In rare cases, when people are pathologically remorseless, they do not care about or even perceive the potential impact of a secret on others, and therefore do not feel the tension of keeping it. And those who are paid to live secret lives, like intelligence agents, at least know what they have signed up for and have clear guidelines to tell them how much they can reveal to whom.

But in a series of experiments over the past decade, psychologists have identified a larger group they call repressors, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the population, who are adept at ignoring or suppressing information that is embarrassing to them and thus well equipped to keep secrets, some psychologists say.

Repressors score low on questionnaires that measure anxiety and defensiveness - reporting, for example, that they are rarely resentful, worried about money, or troubled by nightmares and headaches. They think well of themselves and don't sweat the small stuff.

Although little is known about the mental development of such people, some psychologists believe they have learned to block distressing thoughts by distracting themselves with good memories. Over time - with practice, in effect - this may become habitual, blunting their access to potentially humiliating or threatening memories and secrets.

"This talent is likely to serve them well in the daily struggle to avoid unwanted thoughts of all kinds, including unwanted thoughts that arise from attempts to suppress secrets in the presence of others," Dr. Wegner, of Harvard, said in an e-mail message.

The easier it is to silence those thoughts and the longer the covert activity can go on, the harder it may be to confess later on.

..."Contrary to what many people assume," Dr. Kwawer said, "quite often a secret life can bring a more lively, more intimate, more energized part of themselves out of the dark."

Fascinating don't you think? ;)

I'd love to comment further but my lolling head is just about ready to crash into my keyboard from the severe amount of sleep that i have deprived myself of for the past three days.

Sleep. Now.


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Name: Patrick Pincon
Age: 27
Studied at: Monash
Work: Business Development
Nationality: Malaysian/French
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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