Category: Commentary


I’m wondering if it’s hypocritical of me to yearn for braces, yet disapprove of plastic surgery. Where does the line for beautification stop? Is it that I approve of braces because it’s only ‘natural’ (as mother nature intended, but obviously a screw-up happened somehow for some with unlucky genes) that a smile is straight, thus making braces an evolutionary necessity? Is it because crooked teeth are so ghastly that it entirely warrants the alteration of one’s appearance? Or is it that practically EVERYBODY with crooked teeth (I mean severely crooked teeth here, not teeth that are near-perfect that aren’t perfectly aligned) will get braces to correct this problem? So that would make me a conformist? But I know I’m not. No, perhaps it is precisely because everybody has normal teeth, that I don’t want to stand out with a grotesquely deformed smile.

What about plastic surgery? Considering I am against this procedure (unless a person was deformed in an accident), but how is it different to the straightening of teeth? Both is changing the natural appearance of a person. Maybe it’s because a relatively straight smile is just a person’s right, every person should be entitled to an un-malformed smile; it’s when you’re expressing your happiness, how can you feel ugly when you express your happiness?! But plastic surgery…is different because, to be honest, no person on this earth has a ‘deformed’ face (excluding those with inborn or external accidents), and so in essence, everybody has a ‘beautiful’ face, thus making plastic surgery an unnecessary aesthetic improvement. I guess if you view it in terms of severity, it justifies braces but it doesn’t for cosmetic surgery; many people have ‘deformed’ teeth, so many people get it fixed, it doesn’t make them conformists that it just so happens to be a common problem among the human race. However, I get quite irked when others with near-perfect teeth are nitpicking and complain of their ‘crooked teeth’. Those who have just slightly bent teeth that is hardly noticeable would have little grounds to get braces.

On the other hand, it is extremely rare for people to have a ‘deformed’ face, and naturally they want to fix up this abnormality, a completely natural desire, but those who don’t have a ‘deformed’ face but just want to make themselves the ‘ideal’ is doing so for vanity. It can also be said that braces do have some functionality as well, like making chewing and cleaning easier, but that’s not so for the purely aesthetic cosmetic surgery.

Maybe I’m just trying to rationalise my hypocrisy. Maybe. or maybe not…

Either way, even though people strive to be the face of ‘perfection’ in their own vanity, I guess it is their right, and I accept it. You could even say that part of my criticism lies in the possibility that I am actually subconsciously jealous: jealous that these people are going to be more attractive than they really are just because of some operation they had. But I have not been through what they have been through, so I can’t judge them.

What about transexuals? I don’t frown upon it, although I do admit I find it rather bizarre. I guess they can’t help their feelings, and in this case, plastic surgery is more about fulfilling a sense of identity rather than narcissism.

All things aside, I know I want to get braces. And today, I finally got them. My mouth is full of metal: it’s painful, it’s uncomfortable and distracting, it sucks the joy out of eating, it makes ugly teeth even more conspicuous and ugly, it has made oral hygiene 10x more tedious, it traps bits of food in every imaginable nook and cranny that refuses to dislodge even with rigorous rinsing, it impedes speech, but boy am I very happy. 😀 For 10 years (approximately) ever since my teeth started overcrowding, I’ve been longing for it intensely, ever so self-conscious and ashamed whenever I smiled or laughed. And while most people were lucky and got it in their younger years, my patience paid off, and I am finally on my way to a more beautiful smile.

There is a part of me aching to go to a university steeped in history, prestige and acclaim. I want to be part of that culture, perhaps so that I can feel like an elitist snob. 😀
I seem to notice there being a superiority complex in UQ. The group on Facebook titled “I GO TO UQ THEREFORE I AM BETTER THAN YOU”  is just one example. While I praise the creators for being able to spell ‘than’, using capitals for emphasis, and the very discerning use of the word ‘therefore’, such feelings of superiority toward other universities are quite unhealthy. It also seems there isn’t this problem in other Australian states; there isn’t a “I go to UniSyd therefore I am better than you” group, and from what I remember from my conversations with people there, it appears Sydneysiders respect those who attend UTS, Macquarie or the like. Or in South Australia, I seem to sense there’s an equal ranking between students of the more eminent University of Adelaide, and other institutions like Flinders or Uni of South Australia. I have, however, noticed that an aggressive elitism is also shared between Melbourne Uni and Monash, with the former constantly belittling the latter much like UQ students do to other unis. Must be the stupid Queenslanders and Victorians! I must say I am making a huge generalisation here, and apologise to many of those who do attend the universities and hasn’t fallen prey to the aforementioned pompous attitudes.

I have to admit, part of my reason to want to go into Speech Pathology back then was because I had a chance to go to UQ, a prestigious, sandstone university, no longer taunted (self, psychologically) with the inferiority associated with attending a non-sandstone university, a chance to reunite with my old high school friends, a chance to mingle with high-class, intelligent people.

No, I had to fight all those desires, and tell myself I TRULY wanted to be a dietitian, and not to be blinded by an elevation in ‘university superiority status’ or ‘social popularity’.

But it took a fair bit to fight such desires. It seemed like fate had conspired for me to stay in Brisbane, to stay in QUT. Why do I say that? When I felt desperate to leave QUT, to stop such feelings of inferiority, I was looking for alternatives. First it was thinking of any possible subjects I could do at UQ, and Speech Pathology seemed a plausible option. Yes, I think my desire to leave QUT even clouded me into thinking that I could accept being a speechie. My heart kept pulling me toward Nutrition and Dietetics, I could feel it, but I kept pulling it back because I knew I’d have to stay at QUT and because my mathematics (needed for chemistry) skills aren’t so good. In the end, I listened to my heart.

So after I decided I wanted to be a dietitian, I was still yearning to attend a ‘sandstone uni’. I looked interstate, desperately hoping I’d have a chance.

Victoria: Monash: “Non-school leavers: An applicant’s entire academic record will be taken into account and short-listed applicants will be required for interview in early December 2008. Entry is competitive.” Considering I didn’t do well in my first semester of university, I think it was plain obvious that Monash didn’t welcome me.
ACT: University of Canberra: has a Master of Dietetics, but that would mean I’d have to study for an extra year and also a slight chance I wouldn’t be able to get in.
SA: University of Flinders: considering its prestige is about the equivalent of QUT, I didn’t see why I should move so far away, to a place I never really liked living in (I lived there for 1.5 years).
NSW: University of Sydney: this seemed like the absolute perfect option! Not only could I continue the legacy of my parents’ attendance of Australia’s oldest university, I could actually live in a big city, oh I like Sydney!! My grandma lives there and I could live in her apartment! Yay! Perfect right? Wrong. The Nutrition and Dietetics course is actually just a major in the Bachelor of science, along with all the mathematics that goes with it. It’s even more tough than Pharmacy, where there are no mathematics subjects, and public/community health is pushed to the peripheries with only a few subjects starting in the third year. To make it even worse, despite the relatively low UAI required to get in (93.85, equivalent to OP 4, whereas QUT had an op cut-off of 3), to get into honours year (fourth year for accreditation as a dietitian), you have to get minimum of credit average. Even though it’s quite likely that if I studied hard it shouldn’t be any trouble, but when there is that question of doubt hanging over your head, it’s not really that nice. You already have enough to worry about when you’re studying in university, let alone to worry about whether or not you’ll ever be able to pursue the career you so wished to have! So it was an unfortunate no.
QLD: UQ: UQ seemed to want to taunt me by introducing a new nutrition major and Master of Dietetics for 2009. I thought it was perfect for me, even though there is that slight possibility I may not be able to enter masters, plus an extra half year of studies. All my hope was placed on UQ now: and it was quashed. I looked further into it, and the new degrees were going to be taught at the IPSWICH campus. Yes, Ipswich. Now I’m open to living independently, but if I’m going to move out of my house, I’m doing it so that i can receive quality education. But the thing was, the new nutrition major was going to be offered within the Bachelor of Health Sciences, a degree that is for the laziest of people who just want the easiest way to get into a health career (note, OP 16 cut-off), which is precisely why it was relegated to the boganville town of Ipswich. Do I really want to live in the hole called Ipswich amongst classmates who don’t give a shit about their education? Do I really? no. Furthermore, since it’s a new degree, being their guinea pig isn’t the wisest of ideas.

I was despondent. One after another, it seemed that there was a conspiracy to prevent me from leaving Brisbane, or from attending a prestigious university.
I don’t hate QUT. I think it was more of a very very bad nightmare I had during that semester of design. And having went to a ‘prestigious high school’, I probably became a little elitist myself, and thought I had to go to a ‘reputable university’ just to maintain my status quo. Well, I don’t want to think like that. You stand on your own two feet: you don’t rely on your attendance of university or your grades to measure your worth, and whoever does is not somebody of substance anyhow. Yeah, I’ll have to live with the taunts of “I GO TO UQ THEREFORE I AM BETTER THAN YOU”, I’ll have to separate from many of my friends, I won’t have the honorific title of “Group of 8 University graduate” to lean back on, but at least I’ve learned early on that prestige isn’t everything.  If I could fight this irrepressible urge, it means I am truly choosing a job for its job, not for the pathetic 4 years of studies and the enjoyment it can provide me in that short timeframe, or the foolish pride it would afford me from being able to boast about my “high society” education. It was pretty funny: my little brother was playing with his little friend. They were getting up to some mischievous things, so I chided them. The friend ignored me, and Robbie matter-of-factedly said “Listen to my sister! She went to Brisbane State High! She is very smart!” and at that point I just rolled my eyes, “So what?!”

While I realise that indeed, UQ, and any other sandstone university for that matter, is a very good university giving quality education to its students who no doubt are intelligent to be able to enter in the first place, it doesn’t give them prerogative to regard others with contempt. Many people have considerations other than eminence when making a choice of university; many have no choice but to choose another university because it is more suitable for the degree they want: it is not necessarily because of a lacking OP (or intelligence, for those who erroneously believe the two have a strong correlation). Four years on from now, and everybody’s going to be slaving away as a novice in the lowest of ranks, the graduation certificate you receive is only a license to a lifetime of learning, and which university you went to or what GPA you got would be the most trivial of matters. Ultimately what is important is your character, rather than the shadow of pride that prestigious education or good marks confer.

(N.B. if you don’t believe in God, replace the word with some divinity that reigns the universe, whether that be the sky, or some mystical force called fate…)

So I’m going to post something against the traditional doctrine (I’m not a pious Christian that believes everything the Bible or priest says.).

Whenever I go to church, they always mention an unfortunate person, and ask that everyone pray for them.

Why should people pray if God already knows what is best for us, and has made His plans for us regardless of whether we cusp our hands together and close our eyes and beg Him for something? I am not speaking of praying for praise or gratefulness, but the praying that many people do in an attempt to solve their/other people’s problems. God is almighty and He already knows and has pre-ordained our destiny that is best for us, whether we know this or not, so why is it necessary to ask for Him to change our destiny?

I guess you’ll be thinking that I don’t pray. Actually, I do, but only on rare occasions. These rare occasions are times of great distress, where my future is plagued with doubt and I’m feeling somewhat forlorn. Usually I start off with the typical “Please God, help me…” But for the very reason I stated above, I change it back to “Please God, just do whatever you know is best for me and the world.” So praying in times of distress is more of a way to find solace rather than seeking for a favour from God. No doubt, it is a pretty effective way to ease the suffering and enrich ourselves spiritually, but as for asking God to thwart the fateful path that He has ordained, I don’t get it. Have people forgotten that God will do what is best, no matter we pray to Him or not?

WordPress vs. Blogger

The blogging wars!

The blogging wars!

As suggested by a techno-geek, I kept two blogs from both wordpress and blogger to get a feeling for both and select the one I preferred. In the end, wordpress won, but you may think differently. There is a nice article comparing the two blogging services on: http://blog.awakenedvoice.com/2006/04/01/hosted-blog-comparison-wordpress-vs-blogger/, and http://www.searchforblogging.com/index.php/2008/03/11/blogging-wars-wordpress-vs-blogger/, but here’s my own list of all the pros and cons of the two blog platforms with less technical jargon and focussing more on the experience.

Blogger is probably easier to navigate and use. WordPress is quite technical.

Blogger has less attractive templates, and a lot less choice. WordPress templates are very attractive and lots of choice.

Blogger categories have number indicating how much it was used. WordPress doesn’t (unless u move mouse over it).

Blogger has only one level of ‘categories’. WordPress allows for as many ‘levels’ of categories you like, eg. within the Music category, you can have a sub-category of Jazz, and a further sub-category of Blues.

Blogger can’t attach videos from the internet, but wordpress can.

Blogger allows you to add more widgets, wordpress allows very limited range.

Blogger has no tracking of stats of blog views, but wordpress does.

Blogger’s links to other blogs also include a snippet of the latest post, but for wordpress there is no preview, just a list (unless u move mouse over it).

Blogger lets you edit all the little gadgets, like your bloglist, right from the blog, no need to go somewhere else, whereas for wordpress, you have to go to some other webpage (not your blog) to edit gadgets.

Blogger’s blog lists are convenient in that they are arranged in order of the most recently updated blog, whereas wordpress is just alphabetical.

Blogger allows you to change the font and size of the text easily. In WordPress the style of the text is dependent on which theme (template) you choose.

Blogger lacks the tabs of ‘pages’ you see at the top here. WordPress has them.

Blogger doesn’t show the history of your editing of posts, wordpress has a page showing the history of the time you edited which post, what you commented etc.

Blogger has several standardised choices for the font colour, wordpress allows you to customise the colour to any that takes your fancy.

As you can probably see from my random post below, wordpress has emoticons, but blogger has none (it stays as : D rather than 😀 )

Really, both blogging services are exceptionally professional, and I would recommend either. Both allow for multiple blogs under the same person (what I wanted), and both are lightyears in front of Windows Live. But I ended up being drawn more to wordpress because, okay I’ll admit it, the template themes are just so stunning and beautiful compared to the amateur-looking designs at blogger. For ease of use (for beginners like myself) and familiarity (who doesn’t love gmail or google?!), blogger gets my vote, but wordpress is more sophisticated and diverse as a whole.

Happy blogging!