To be or not to be

I’ve recently begun an application spree in search of a place for me to complete my articles.  To my dismay, quite a few places (namely: PwC and KPMG, et al.) only accept applications from SA citizens.  While I have lived in SA for 11 years, I have never bothered applying for citizenship, mainly due to the fact that China (mainland) doesn’t allow dual citizenships.  So, I have made a list of the pros and cons of applying for SA citizenship.

Pros:

  1. More job opportunities
  2. Voting rights (although I doubt I would ever make use of that right)

Cons:

  1. Giving up my Chinese citizenship – I don’t really get any benefits from retaining my Chinese citizenship but ceteris paribus, I would rather that than change because I am extremely patriotic, and I love my country.
  2. Harder to go abroad (?) – I’m not sure if this is true, but I heard (via the grapevine) that the UK (for example) is tightening visa issues to South Africans because so many of us are there already.  (Not that I’d ever want to live in the UK – the weather is just too depressing over there.)
  3. Too much effort – The few times I’ve visited Home Affairs have left me gasping for air.  The queues, the poor services and the general lack of intelligence amongst the staffing members mean a trip to Home Affairs is like a free fall into a bottomless abyss.  (Not quite so dramatic, but you get the picture).  Not to mention I study in Cape Town and I don’t have a car, so getting to Home Affairs will be a mission.

Other factors:

  1. I don’t qualify for BEE because my parents only arrived in SA post-1994.  As far as I know, only Chinese-South Africans who obtained citizenship pre-1994 are allowed BEE privileges.

Anyways, I only start my articles in 2012, which means I have one and a half years to decide yea or nay.

Useless Body Parts

When I was a teeny bobber, I had the notion that everything existed for a reason.  Never mind what the “reason” might have been, I was convinced that nothing on the planet was in excess.  Since then, I had grown taller, wiser, and gained a whole new perspective.

I have identified three things that are completely superfluous, and quite frankly, I think evolution should take its course and rid our bodies of the following:

1. The appendix – Honestly, why do we even have this thing which serves no purpose other than to cause death by infection?  Sure, it might have been used to digest leaves when we were still primates, but we are not hairy, veggie-eating herbivores anymore.  I reckon the sooner our bodies get rid of this silly non-functional organ, the better.

2. Unwanted hair – I realise some people suffer from “the shiny patch syndrome” aka baldness, the rest of us are cursing and swearing every time we have to go to a beauty salon and fork out R150 for a professional leg wax; or fork out R40 for a do-it-yourself hair removal procedure which can turn out to be rather technical and time-consuming.  Not to mention the after-burns and in-grown hairs…it’s just a down right nuisance.

3. Wisdoms – Mine have been growing for about 3 years, and I’m still waiting for the bottom 2 to shoot out.  Like the appendix, they serve no purpose whatsoever, apart from giving me headaches and swollen gums.

Of course, all these can be resolved by surgery and laser treatments, but that is not the point.

Ramblings

The Trip to CT

The bad news: It arrived 2 hours late, so instead of leaving at 21:55, it left at 23:55 instead.

The good news: None of the passengers displayed pig-flu symptoms.

The bad news: They were like pigs instead.

The Game

Right after I landed in Cape Town, myself, 5 friends and 13 friends-of-friends headed out to Imhoff farm for an afternoon of paintball.  It took us a while to find the place, and after an hour’s travel, we finally made it to the farm. The gear was a bit icky but we pulled on the sweaty jackets and helmets anyways and got ready for some action.  There was another group of kiddies there whom we had to team up with.  Despite their smallness, they were quite agile and some of them played better we did.  Since it was my first time paintballing, I decided to stay back and play defence.  In the end, I was shot about 7 times (mostly on my legs) and was surprised at how quickly the ammo finished.  After 5 games, we’ve finally had enough.  Bruised and drenched with sweat, we made our way back to res just in time for supper.  It was my first meal in 24 hours and never had res food tasted so good!

First day of lectures

Introductory lectures were boring as usual, and a complete waste of time. However it was nice seeing my friends after 6 weeks of vacation. The University still looked the same, and so did the Gucci-wearing Commerce girls dressed in tank tops and mini-skirts (Yep, in this weather!). Oh, and I finally finished unpacking all my junk. =]

The Battle of the Sexes

While reading Richard Dawkins’s acclaimed book, The Selfish Gene, I came across a chapter that was of particular interest to me, and it revolved around the battle of the sexes.  In the past, I have entered into many discussions about the great “male versus female” debate, and in almost all of them, the thread focused solely on the cultural impacts, causes and derivatives; almost little or no emphasis was placed on the possible genetic explanations as to why male behavioural patterns differ from female ones.  Dawkins’s book tackled that problem and produced several interesting (and perhaps controversial) views.  Before I go into detail, it must be noted that Dawkins wrote about gender disparities across the species, and not just on conflicts within the homo-sapien sphere.

The fundamental distinction between a male and a female has nothing to do with the possession of a penis, or the ability to produce milk.  Those attributes are only applicable to mammals; what about reptiles or plants for that matter?  Therefore, the one universal feature that can be used to distinguish gender is the sex cells (aka gametes).  Males (be it mammals, reptilians, or plants) all have small sex cells while the females have relatively large ones.  All deviations (according to Dawkins) are stemmed from this one basic difference.  [In certain organisms such as fungi, gender differentiations do not occur.  The book deals with them in more detail but they will be ignored for the purpose of this discussion.]

In Dawkins’s book, he sees sexual partnership as “a relationship of mutual mistrust and mutual exploitation”.  When the sperm and the egg fuse, they both contribute 50% of their genes to the new being.  However, the egg contributes far more in terms of food reserves than the sperm, whose sole purpose is to transport its genes to the egg as fast as possible.  At the moment of conception, the father has invested less than his share of resources, and this is where female exploitation begins (Dawkins, 2006:142).  Further more, we are all, in essence, “selfish machines”.  We want to see our own genes survive and propagate down the generations.  One way of achieving this is to scout out and mate with a partner who has strong genes; another way is to simply mate with as many partners as possible.  Because male gametes are small and mobile, coupled with the fact that they invest very little resources in the new individual, males are thus incentivised to “spread their seeds”.   Females on the other hand are more committed to each child from the moment of conception because of what they have already invested.  They are also expected to invest more throughout the development of their children.  So in mammals for example, the female incubates the foetus in her body, and produce the milk, and bears the responsibility of protection.  In Dawkins’s own words, “If any abandoning is going to be done, it is likely to be the father who abandons the mother rather than the other way round”.  Of course, in many species (especially in humans), the fathers do work hard and remain faithful, but nevertheless, there exists an evolutionary pressure on them to invest less in each child and to have more children by different partners.

But all this seem to break down in the face of cultural (and legal) influences.  Human behaviours tend to deviate from the “norm”.  Fathers can no longer desert completely as many of them are still forced to pay alimony after their separation from their (ex)wives.  Fathers therefore contribute more indirectly in forms of material resources.  However, this is not to say that the role of genetics is obsolete.  It just means that (maybe) we are more influenced by cultural circumstances than by anything else.  Will this then affect future evolutionary trends?  The book does not say.  (Or maybe it does, but I haven’t reached that part yet.)

The joys and woes of home sweet home.

The joys:

  • Good food
  • Big bed
  • A spacious house where I can rollerblade inside if I want to
  • TV (albeit with only 4 channels)
  • Bubble bath!!
  • Parents
  • I now have the time to blog and write poetry, and take things slowly
  • R10.50 for a movie at Ster Kinekor

The woes:

  • Crappy internet (/wrist)
  • Frostbites
  • Withdraw from civilization
  • Missing my friends

And in other news:

  • I’ve taken up jogging again. Hopefully it will last more than 10 days this time.
  • Finished making another gift for Gift It Forward.
  • My mouse broke.
  • Received confirmation for my internship application. I will be working for PWC during the vac \o/

Continue reading →

Gift it forward!

The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.
This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

Your response to this post indicates your acceptance of the terms listed below. Please append your initials to your response to indicate that you have read and consented to said terms. Boilerplate is followed by instance-specific terms & conditions.

– I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.

– What I create will be just for you.

– It’ll be done this year (2009).

– You have no clue what it’s going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be a mixed CD. It may be a poem. I may draw or paint something. I might bake you something and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!

– I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

***

I saw the above idea on someone’s FB, and thought it would be rather cool to participate in a random gift-it-forward. The first five people to email me fearless714[at]hotmail[dot]com with their physical address will (in due time) receive something special.

:)

P.S. I will do transatlantic mailings if need be.

And in other news…

* added  more cool sites in cool sites page —>

* Spent whole of yesterday doing accounting tut…still not finished o_O might be getting brain haemorrhage.

* started swimming.. :D

* new facebutt layout == teh gay; not that that will deter anyone from using it..damn addicts!

* /me is running low on dough. cash flow needs new tributaries. donations welcome :)

Ethics of Humour

This year, I decided to take an Applied Ethics course as my elective. For the next couple of months, I will be diverging some of the course material (the interesting parts at least), and hopefully engage in various discussions (with you, or maybe the next person). The first topic (as the title suggests) deals with the ethics of humour – particularly focusing on racial humour.

What makes a joke racist? According to Michael Philips (Racist Acts and Racist Humour, 1984) there are two ways of accounting for this. The first (which I am in favour of) is the Agent-Centred Account: a joke is racist only if it is told by a racist – i.e someone who holds racist beliefs or feelings. In other words, a joke cannot be racist if the agent has no such inclinations. The second is the Act-Centred Account: a joke is racist if it is likely to cause someone harm, regardless of the intent behind the teller of the joke.

My problem with the Act-Centred view is that it is far too limiting, and does not account for the context in which the joke is told. Not all ethnic based humour is racist or morally objectionable. In fact, most of them are merely good-natured interlays between groups of friends. Even if someone gets slightly offended by terms such as ‘rice picker’ or ‘knee grow’, the harm is insignificant because the intent is to make laughs, and not to cause hurt. Therefore, supporting the Act-Centred Account is likely to breed a society of over-sensitive individuals who get offended by the smallest things.

However, the falsification of the Act-Centred Account does not (by default) make the Agent-Centred Account true. There are drawbacks to the Agent-Centred view as well. The most obvious one being it is almost impossible to measure someone’s intentions. Therefore, we cannot reliably conclude whether a joke is racist or not based on our judgement of the person telling the joke. Nevertheless, we can use our discretion (coupled with knowledge of the context) in determining the reasonableness of the joke.

(To be continued…)