Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pokemon Black and White 2

The news had been out. The next Pokemon Games are Black and White 2. My friends were commenting that they must had ran out of colours to play with, so I was in for a shock when I discovered that it's true.

Well then, let's use some deduction ability and my hopes for the new games over here. The 2 implies that it's a sequel, so if it starts all over again, from the beginning as if it is just an improved version of Black and White, then it stinks. Pokemon Gray can do that, as there is a whole history of the 3 bundle games for each generations, but Black and White 2, should have the player to own a Black or White game first.

Then instead of the slow transfer of 6 Pokemon at a time to the new game, the save file and all Pokemon from the previous versions should be able to be transferred at a one time transfer, bringing forward every items and records from the previous Black/White games too. To avoid the need of having 2 DS for this, the Save file can be downloaded from the dreamworld itself. (Although this would mean a lot of traffic online and some possible errors and cheats from hackers)

Or the game card can be like an Action Replay game card, so one has to put the Black and White game into the Black and White 2 (bigger game card) slot and then put it together to play. Black and White 2 if designed like this should then allow the new players who doesn't have Black and White to buy them and play it out from the beginning, while for the old ones, we can just transfer everything over. In this case, there should be new maps to explore. And ranging from the most greedy to the most basic, they should include every single map of the Pokemon world, Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Sevii Islands, and Orange Islands, or just at least just one more new area for gym or contest battles.

Well, if they make the Black and White 2 to have a game card that can read other game cards, the possibility to put in the other Generation 4 Pokemon games would be nice to add in! This way, we can venture into the old maps with new 5th Gen Pokemon! Or even complete the Pokemon Transfer to the 5th Generation by transferring all of the pokemon at once instead of 6 at a time. This time I don't mind having to replay the gyms for the previous generation games. So if this happens, all they needed to add in for Black and White 2 is the Hoenn and Sevii (possibly Orange?) regions to make the Pokemon world complete!

Now that would compel an old timer to buy the sequels, and encourage the new players to buy the old games. I would assume that White 2 is needed for those with Black and Black 2 is needed for those with White. Well, I think it can be made so that it doesn't matter that the sequel needs to follow or anti-follow the previous games.

Some of the game mechanics I hope to see reintroduced is the battle contest, pokeathlon, and of course, the lead pokemon following you around! Plus the ability to make Poffin, Apricon Juice, and others....

The Black and White Kyurem might mean that Kyurem can change forms and those forms are available only in White 2 and Black 2 respectively, not too different from Deoxys' form changing from FireRed, LeafGreen, Ruby/Sapphire, and Platinum. However, this might be disappointing for most of us, as we would want to see them all. So maybe Kyurem would change form depending on the item held or perhaps with some strange interaction with Zekrom or Reshiram. And if it is items, then the item should be unique and found only in the respective games.

The most interesting part is that if Kyurem's different forms are a result of some machine that can combine 2 pokemons, then the different splicing work done over the years by many fans are able to be of use now. For we can combine any two pokemon and perhaps even choose the types available to 2 types! I don't know how evolution, move learning or separation would work then. But Smogon University would be really really busy classifying and analyzing every single combination! Most likely it wouldn't happen like this, too much work! Seriously 649 times 648= 420552. Insane work and insane amount of battle mechanics.

Well, at least we know we'll get to see the story of where Ghetsis had gone to, what does the underwater ruins sayings means, and the story about Kyurem's original form. Hopefully, they throw in the last 3 Legendaries of the Unova region. Or at least give it out via Wi-fi or Dream World as promotional pokemon!

Monday, February 20, 2012


I've been reading Ender's series by Orson Scott Card lately, and in it I find a truth that mankind does find one of the highest happiness in mundane live is the holiness in the love between two person. He puts it in the sense of the purpose of living is to love and breed. Why would anyone want to become celibate?

I've been reading the Rave Master Manga too and there is surprisingly a lot of things that I learned over there.

One of the few things is that love is such a powerful force of motivation, it can keep one person to keep on fighting for 50 years. Even love for a person whom you believed to be dead.

Even the Buddha was searching for the truth out of love for all beings in the world. As the motivation goes on, love is the one that can get one to go the distance, and once the river is crossed, it is time to let all attachments go. Yet, compassion and loving-kindness remains, therefore the Buddha came to teach us what to develop in order to see the truth.

Now I know why had I allowed myself to fall in love. I needed more than just theoretical knowledge of all these. I needed the experience, the emotions, the motivations, the hurt, the pain, the understanding of these. I needed to know what I was planning to let go of. I needed to know why did I choose to live such hardships.

It was a risk to fall in love, but I wouldn't regret the outcome either way. Now I know why I'm not regretting this outcome.

NUS Module Review: SP2170 - Doing Science (retired)

With a different lecture each week and fun IS, along with the free S/U, this module introduces one to the world of scientific research and does it very well with the system of 3rd and 4th year students as mentors to guide the first year students.

Assessment and workload
Completely S/U, as long as you attend the lectures and IS, do the experiments and homework, plus one self-designed experiment, you'll guaranteed to pass. Well it does has the reputation of making people sleep over at SPS room to rush for homework!

Personal experience
The best module in NUS! Slackest amongst SPS modules too! Sweet memories!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Interfaith Dialogues

Yesterday I went out on a stroll around NUS, being more free than I had been in 4 years and finally willing to just take it easy on myself.

I went and met some of my Physics juniors who are in 2nd year and just decided to sit down and talk to them. Well, it was nice to hear that the President of Physics Society, John Soo Yue Han was inspired by this very blog to take up Further Mathematics and Physics and NUS? (I forgot the details, but he asked to be mentioned here.)

Well, the interesting thing is when they tell me it’s a Christian get-together and then they started to ask me about Buddhism. “How does Buddhism reconcile with Science?” I flexed my fingers and smiled.

For what poor body language reading skills I have, they might think: uh oh, big mistake. If they didn’t think that way, they would as I explained that Buddhism has practically no conflict with Science and… most of them went for tutorials before I ended, saying, “talk to you again.” I kinda learned to keep quiet and be less vocal about this thing to keep from being dominating in these kinda talks.

Next I went up to the Central Library and visited the Islam Appreciation Week, where I happened to talk to someone from there whom I met before last year or the year before for 2 hours!

Well, from the dialogue, I eventually found out that maybe I was not open minded as I thought.

I was looking around and learning more about other religions, and told him that I haven’t read the Quran or Bible yet… so it’s more of curiosity and obligation for I know being more and more of an engaged Buddhist I would be I would meet with Interfaith Dialogues a lot of the time.

He was asking if I had considered other religions. I said, I don’t put all religions on the same footing, Buddhism is the highest footing for me, and I do not need to consider other religions as I am sure of the truths within my own.

“I was born a Buddhist” I said, “our faith is not blind faith, it is faith based on evidences, based on what we see.”

“There is a stage where people who were unthinking and born into the religions that they are in, then they started to investigate the religions, finally finding the truths and settling down.”

“I am past that stage.”

“Past the stage? You haven’t read the other religious texts?”

“Rather than some people who spend a lot of time wasting on searching about the truths, I am practising this so that I can enjoy the fruits.” I said.

“Is it ok for people who know for themselves that God exist and pray for him?”

“Yes, I do believe it is good for them to do so. People are born and taught religions at a young tender age, making them tending towards one religion or another and the faith component is established. That’s how each religions gets to be strong and survive for so long.”

“So there’s no way of getting them to know other religions?”

“Those that need to learn will explore on their own. They will go and find their own truths and up to their inclinations and conditions will stumble upon the evidences that supports their truths.”

Well the guy was asking me what is the way to find out about the truth, an objective truth out there. “Cause if there is One God and another religion claims that there is 2 Gods, they can’t be both true can they?”

I told him about the Kalama Sutta, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalama_Sutta.

“So that’s a working truth? Shouldn’t we look for some evidence like miracles and see which evidence is more compelling to decide which religion is the truth?”

“I think it is a dangerous thing to agree on an objective truth and criteria's for it, especially in an interfaith dialogue, when we agree to it, and argue till the end, one may turn out to be a victor, and what will happen to the rest of the faiths? It is damaging to the people of faiths. Besides, the winner will be the one with the most debating skills, not necessary reflecting which religion reflects the objective truth.”

“Ok let’s say there’s compelling evidences for a certain religion. I’m not trying to convert you here, I’m just interested in knowing what is the truth.”

My answer to that is: “Whichever religion one chooses, there one can find their own happiness when practised fully. This is true of all religion or else it would not be worth it to be in that religion.”

“I agree that we are all explorers on a certain path, and going from birth to death, but then what about after death? Certain path leads to happiness and certain path does not.”

“Which is why you want to know for yourself which religion is true and follow it, to prepare for the afterlife.” I saw his viewpoint.

The discussion there then moved on to the fear of not believing in God might make one go to hell if God is real and then of course they discredit that fear should not be the reason to choose Theistic religions. I mentioned that Buddha gave a guarantee in Kalama Sutta that be it that Karma or rebirth exist or not, as long as one do good, no great suffering will be fall one.

From Wiki:

"The disciple of the Noble Ones, Kalamas, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom four solaces are found here and now.
"'Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill. Then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall arise in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss.' This is the first solace found by him.
"'Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself.' This is the second solace found by him.
"'Suppose evil (results) befall an evil-doer. I, however, think of doing evil to no one. Then, how can ill (results) affect me who do no evil deed?' This is the third solace found by him.
"'Suppose evil (results) do not befall an evil-doer. Then I see myself purified in any case.' This is the fourth solace found by him.
"The disciple of the Noble Ones, Kalamas, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom, here and now, these four solaces are found." - Kalama Sutta, translated by Soma Thera [6]

Then he kept on saying about almost the same thing, to which I realise that there is no point in further continuing the conversation as it was a pretty long one: 6++pm now. And I used up all my ammo. Well, this is when I remember Agree to Disagree. I kept quiet until he politely says, “It’s getting late, I need to go for prayers now.”

I left there and gone back to SPS when I met up with another issue of interfaith.

There is a poster from the Campus Crusade for Christ having the one statement which infuriate anyone with a sound mind. “Thailand is a place of little true joy.” The statement referring to most of the people in Thailand being Buddhist and asking people from Singapore to pay $2000 each for a missionary trip to Thailand to spread the gospel.

The poster went viral on facebook and there was may people who told me about it too. I then posted it on my status saying that I’ll write to Campus Crusade about it.

Poster for the recruitment for the mission to Thailand outside LT15 URGENT AND IMPORTANT!


Congratulations of getting the facebook-wide recognition of your poster (attached) which is going viral now. However, I believe it becomes viral for the worst possible reason: infamous. I'm sure this is not what the Campus Crusade for Chris wants: enraged Buddhist in NUS campus which you'll have no chance what-so-ever of converting to Christianity.

To clarify which part of the poster caused the insult to Buddhists is the sentence: "Thailand is a place of little true joy". Please do be more mindful of your sentences on your posters from now on and try not to offend any other religion, intentional or not. I assure you this kind of event/happening will turn neutral people away from Christ.

Here's a humble suggestion for public relations saving: take down the poster, and issue an apology on your website about the insensitive placing of the sentence. This is not apologizing for evangelising, it is showing good form that others would look up to. For the sake of Christianity, please do not leave this matter unattended. Please do so before anyone decides to report to the OSA.

Thank you.

I got some comments that I misspelled “Christ” and was “suan”ing them, writing in anger etc…well, at least I’m writing on behalf of me.

They replied that night itself at 2:09am :

Hi Xin Zhao,
Thank you, we will look into this.

The next day there was an emergency meeting of OSA with the religious societies leaders of NUS and then the provost send out a statement about this issue, saying that NUS CCC has apologized. Meanwhile the news spreads outside of NUS to the whole of Singapore. I got this mail 2 days after the poster first when viral:

Xin Zhao:

We would like to apologise for the distress caused by a flyer developed by one of our student groups. The flyer was one of several used by NUS CCC for internal publicity of available mission trips. We appeal for your kind understanding that it was never our intention to cause hurt to any individual or religious group. We will be reviewing the publicity process for gaps that need to be plugged as soon as we can.


To which I replied:

It's ok. I'm not distressed much. Good job for the quick action, yet it might be too quick that I don't think the lesson was learn. Allow me to explain, please be open minded while reading these:

I believe that the hurt does not come from the lack of control in the publicity. It is more in the mindset and views that CCC is promoting (and reflected through these words). You may find in some forums about people tearing down your apology word for word and finding that CCC is not apologetic for the way that CCC is thinking but that people are offended by the thoughts.

It is hard to co-exist with the rest of the world if you think that they have little true joy just because they do not believe in Christ. It is self evident that all major religions that promotes good, morality and happiness do pave the way to happiness by their own paths, and once the followers of each religion walk on those path, they will find the happiness to be found in each religion too. This has to be true, or else that religion would crumble pretty fast and not last for centuries. Just look at the top figures or practitioners of each religion and see if they are happy!

I believe it is a very good and noble cause and feeling to get people to follow in your footsteps when you first follow in the footsteps of Christianity and found your happiness there. However, some people already has found their happiness in their own religion, therefore it is cruel to rid them of their faith. As I am sure if anyone from outside Christianity tries to evangelize you, you'll feel strongly offended because they try to take you away from your faith in Christ.

Do not on to others what you do not wish others to do onto you.

This is also the reason that most people hate strong evangelical people from any religion. I believe evangelism do help some people, by all means help them. But for others whom they do not wish to be separated from their own faith, please leave them alone. Be moderate and wise in your evangelism.

Of course you are free to stick to your views. Just offering the view from outside CCC.

Finally sorry if all I said is just whatever that you would had known all along, and sorry for any offense that I have caused. Thanks for taking the time to read and reply!

Just on Saturday night I went for Tzu Chi’s sharing. There I learn this phrase in relation to interreligious views:


It says: Much of them are the same. The magnanimous heart sees the similarities. The narrow mind sees the difference.

That’s about it on my interfaith adventure, other than Wai Kit making an interfaith interest group in USC itself and I was one of the members who support the group! Ven. Chuan Guan is coming on Monday night March 12, 2012 7:30pm until 9:30pm Cinnamon South Learn Lobe, Seminar Room 1, University Town (NUS) for the talk on Buddhism! It’s open to all in NUS and outside too! I think.

Signing off here!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Meditators are the real Psychologists

Venerable Bodhi and Debbie was fetching me to NTU to visit their exhibition and talk that night after the Clearing Misconception talk with her in NUS. They were generous to let me tag along and even got dinner for me too! I was reading Shadow of the Hegemon, http://vivien23.uw.hu/, http://xkcd.com/635/ (Read Ender's game to see the joke) and was excited about writing a science fiction book with an active engaged Buddhist in it.

On the way, we were talking about Physics and Buddhism, interpretations of Quantum Physics, many world theories, the search for the theory of everything.

Despite whatever we think Physicist meant when they say everything, it's not everything. It meant that everything fundamental, one master equation from which you could derive all the other laws from it and learn how the world works. Because from a reductionist point of view, http://xkcd.com/435/ everything can be reduced to Physics. Maths doesn't count, as you need to have experimental observation to know which mathematics is the right one to describe nature.

According to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes (Niyamas) which operate in the physical and mental realms:

  1. Kamma Niyama, order of act and result, e.g., desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results.
  2. Utu Niyama, physical (inorganic) order, e.g., seasonal phenomena of winds and rains.
  3. Bija Niyama, order of germs or seeds (physical organic order); e.g., rice produced from rice-seed, sugary taste from sugar cane or honey etc. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.
  4. Citta Niyama, order of mind or psychic law, e.g., processes of consciousness (Citta vithi), power of mind etc.
  5. Dhamma Niyama, order of the norm, e.g., the natural phenomena occurring at the advent of a Bodhisatta in his last birth, gravitation, etc.
I'm sure you can link which science is which, while Citta Niyama includes psychology, and Kamma is just not able to be tested by science, only the Buddha can know the full workings of Kamma. For us, if we try to think too much about it, we would go crazy at the complicated details. Well, there are books about understanding of Kamma, and these are good for the spiritual path. The full workings that I meant is like perhaps trying to figure out if there is a (local?) hidden variable model for the otherwise intrinsic randomness of quantum phenomena. (Just guessing here, but since Kamma rejects that things happen by chance, could it be that the hidden variable model itself is influenced/determined by Kamma?)

I think Physicists left out a lot of things unexplained. So first, the realm of Kamma is out. Next, we can only claim to know the other 2 Sciences if we are serious in ignoring the complexity effect, of the sum is greater than it's parts (that's why they needed to be studied separately). http://xkcd.com/659/ Finally, Psychology is still a soft science, not being able to predict stuffs with total accuracy. Sure, it makes sense most of the time and helped some people from counseling and psychotherapy, positive psychology etc... but it is still way primitive compared to what meditators already know about their own mind.

I wouldn't call Psychology a science as what I would call Physics, Chemistry and Biology sciences. Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Medicine are all proves of just how applicable and reliable those sciences are. While we can't put the same credentials to counselors, psychologists, or people who manipulate others into positions of power etc... http://xkcd.com/808/

However, each meditator, with mindfulness well trained are able to see how their mind works and therefore from there, catch what they are doing, and then direct their efforts and energy to do something better. That's a true application of the workings of the mind, that's the way the mind works that makes me say: Meditators are the real Scientists!

Of course, we are still being subjected to greed, anger, and delusion, therefore unable to perfectly follow the model above. http://xkcd.com/793/

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Another month, another story

One month had passed by since 2012 began, so much has happened, so much to tell.

One heart heals from many wounds, one learns to see and rediscover the meaning of life.

One trip back is not enough, going back home again tomorrow night.

One book about Ender is good, more sequels, parallel stories are all welcomed.

One event to organize, and 12 different Buddhist Organizations coming, not counting TIBS who are coming too.

One girl to Buaya, too little effort made.

One project to finish, getting more interesting by the second.

One module to handle, easy as pie.

One senior mentor just added to http://sps.nus.edu.sg/people/mentors/student/.

One learns to become intelligent and unafraid to be it.