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Monday, 27 January 2014

Research ethics

Research ethics deals with the research objectives expected to be accomplished whilst striking a balance between research interests and the observance of universal morals and value for life. At the core of such interests lie the call for accountability on the part of the research staff as well as what possible side effects could occur to research subjects and society.

Examples of socially relevant problems of research ethics include the areas of animal testing and experimentation on live human subjects, stem cell research, genetics, research for military defence purposes and data protection.

Personal view on Muslims

I was on the point of writing about something else entirely unrelated to the current title, but this is what struck my fancy. Having got the idea while behind a crash barrier, I've come to the realisation that a common can of worms seems set to go unaddressed until the end of time: Islam terrorism. First off, I reckon that Islam isn't only about terrorism and that there's much more to it than men hijacking planes to commit suicide attacks and devoted mosque-goers constantly bantering through a mounting need to murder non-muslims as well as muslims who belong in a different sect of Islam. I, too, reckon that behind the controversy veiled behind the Western concept of Islam lies a whole history of culture and traditions. For instance, once I was fortunate enough to meet a true muslim and he was a true gentleman in his mannerisms. He spoke 3 languages- Arabian, English and French- and the transition from one to the other was made effortlessly. He wasn't just an educated Arab. Although he was observant of islamist rites, I noticed that this never hindered his intellectual faculties and so he was never out of the loop. However, it's exactly this what is disturbing. He's living proof that Muslims can be well-meaning and savvy in more ways than one. Problem, he's also a specimen, a rare one at that. So much so that the remainder of muslims I have had the opportunity to happen upon are nothing like him. Most of them are bent on spouting drivel about world conquest and that eventually everyone will become a muslim and those who don't are doomed. This, or that people have no choice but to get on with that and this sharia law crap. No to mention the way they treat women. I have also come across women in islam and I have found out that they have no individual personality of their own at all. Maybe it's just an impression. But this concept has been imprinted on my mind since I saw first hand how alike they all behave. A overly humble demeanour, outright apathy about anything and they way they looked at us without curiosity. So much for tolerance.

But worst of all is the way that Western authorities apparently view them. I, for one, am tired of their relentless attempt to softpedal the threat of radical Islam. This is just downright outrageous, to say the least. It may be true that it's a minority of muslims who take part in terrorist plots. But then we'd be talking only about the number of people directly involved. What about those who have taught them that Islam is the only true path to follow and anyone who dares steer clear is a hectic unworthy of life? What if the own environment where they were raised was to blame for them becoming terrorists? If tolerance to those who follow a different faith were taught early on in life, it's unlikely that those heinous acts would be perpetrated against non-muslims.

To boot, we also have the problem of moderate muslims failing to admonish their naughty religious kin. Of course, it's only radical muslims who go to the extreme of blowing stuff up for their religion's sake. But one has to wonder how they are ever allowed to manifest this way. They should be prosecuted and have charges for crime pressed against them and, eventually, be punished accordingly. If their well-behaved brethren are unable to get a handle on them, something is amiss with their thinking system. However, this pales in comparison to what I deem not only to be the main problem, but what really gets my (and anyone's with a common sense) gall is the way that radical islamic teaching is widespread within muslim territory:

The distorted, nihilistic bigotry and hatred spawned by said teachings have always been the common ground on which terrorist attacks are laid. If there ever was any driving force behind terrorism in the world as it know it today, it's radical islamic teachings. Again, it boils down to Sharia, Islam's universal law which is good at preaching hate towards the homnosexual and demonising those who pursue other religious doctrines (or none at all). Its misogynist underpinnings account for all of the appalling mistreatment and murder of women. And this coming from someone who is against feminism only goes to show how messed up the whole thing is.

In a nutshell,  radical islam is a powerful threat to all open-minded and caring folks in this world. Not only should it be called into question. It should be put an end to, for good.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Braindead 13

Brings back memories of Peter Jackson's most famous film: Braindead (aka Dead Alive)

Doing things on a whim sure does have neat benefits. For one thing, the predictability patterns is gone and life seems more enjoyable without the dreaded viper of convention. This happened to me the other day when I decided to peek at an unknown game. At first I was unsure about what to expect. I even had some reservations about Braindead 13 because I had never come into touch with this game. I just couldn't fathom what would befall on me during the experiment.

But what is the merit backing up Braindead 13's claim to fame? Why does this one game succeed so well at enthralling me? Why have I suddenly found myself checking this game time and again even though neither the ending nor the death scenes ever change? I just can't explain why. Maybe it's a simple premise that makes it out to be much more than what I could have expected. It's a quick time event, which many frown upon for varying reasons, not the least of which is that there is little interaction between player and in-game environment. But if you come to think of it, all games are of this kind. There is only a limited amount of actions to perform in a game, no matter how over the top they may be. You can't do anything that the developers didn't predict, so you too wind up trapped in some warped up version of a tiny universe crafted by a fellow human being for your entertainment's sake. It's only that quick-time event games make no bones about this condition imposed by default on any player.
Yellow backgrounds are darn effective at instilling fear in people

Thus, Braindead 13 can also be called an interactive movie-game, released for DOS in 1995 developed by ReadySoft. It would be ported to the major mainstream consoles the following year. The main playable character is a twenty-something computer ace whom is one day called to service a computer at a haunted castle. His customer is none other than Nero Neurosis, an evil brain creature who settles on the idea of slaying the unsuspecting protagonist after a slight run-in. What started out as a mild insult exchange quickly spiralled into a deadly and frightening speed chase throughout the castle. What is most terrifying about this  hunt is Fritz, the wicked brain's faithful hand and personal mass murderer. What follows is pure gold as the player has a wide choice of paths to follow to get to the end of the quest without being ripped to shreds by the castle's many bloodthirsty dwellers.


  • Lance Galahad-  oversteps his bounds and doesn't check his smart mouth in time, insulting the main villain in the process. He quickly incurs the bad goons' wrath by committing one slip-up, but his botched first encounter with this customer may cost him dearly.

  • Dr. Nero Neurosis - the obligatory stock mad scientist's brain in a vat. He gets offended so easily he might as well just have been the Dormouse in another lifetime. 

  • Fritz - the ever loyal henchman who will stop at nothing to bring immolation upon Lance. A dual hook setup for hands doesn't hinder this imp from carrying about quite a haul with just about anything that may come in handy for a quick kill.

  • Vivi- players who make it through the early sections of the game will be awarded with the dazzling beauty of this true vampire vixen. Nice additions to her already stunning figure are her southern belle accent and her penchant for putting unwilling patrons through life or death situations in her "funeral salon".

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Manos- Hands of Fate

     It's a moot point going on about how this movie has achieved pop icon status. Nearly everyone into B-movies has watched this at least once. So it might surprise some how come I hadn't watched this until some days ago. What is more bizarre is that I only got to watch this as this flick is now in the public domain; I wouldn't be able to do so otherwise. I almost gave up on reviewing this altogether.

Before delving into the plot, a word of warning about this movie seems lordly at this point. The movie was made under a very tight budget by someone without a lot of directing experience. This alone should set off warning klaxons in many viewers' heads. However, there is more to this. The movie has a grainy look that remains with it to its very end and the sound was apparently not mixed very well. Furthermore, the director also rushed through edits during the post-production stage. This becomes easy to notice after a few seconds into the movie, where a long driving scene takes place without nothing else at all happening. The ensuing shots show a car coming out on to a single carriageway, turning inland through a sequence of sparse shrubs lining the curb line. 10 or 20 kilometres further on, they drove across the hills for what appeared to be hours, into a landscaped of unadorned simplicity. According to info found on, there was an intended purpose behind the disjointed driving scene:

The entire nine-minute opening sequence, which consisted of the main characters driving around looking for their hotel with minimal dialogue or effect on the plot, was the result of such neglect: Warren had likely intended to include opening credits over these shots, but either forgot to add them or did not have the post-production budget to do so.

Is this the excitement of donning the Torgo garb or taking care of the place?

While it's easy to deride a movie for its forgetfulness to make amends on its original cut, the concept also strikes me as interesting as it could engender a host of unpredictable moments in the film, contributing to a far more rewarding experience. In fact, I became outright hooked up on mercurial aspects of film after my none too pleasant experience watching The Twilight Series. I want to get over it as quickly as possible, even if it means watching Manos: The Hands of Fate all the way through.

The family on an outing eventually found their way to a mysterious shack and are promptly "greeted" by Torgo. This is, for many, the movie's high point. Torgo was supposedly screened as a satyr, but came off more like a martyr. The brooding figure is more sinister-looking than his ominous master and their deity: Manos himself. It also bears mentioning that Torgo has a hard to tell personality. It's not clear from the beginning what his intentions were. It is eventually revealed late on, but in such an unconvincing light that the viewer has to wonder what prompted his motivations.

Plotwise, the scene is there to introduce the gloomy caretaker to the audience and the travelling family. They insist on asking him which is the way to Valley Lodge, to which he dryly replies there is no such place. Understandably, the wife is uneasy about Torgo's disposition. She suggests Mike - her hunsband- they should depart the premises willy nilly. Mike eventually drives home the point that "they" would rather stay and leave in the morning. Torgo grudgingly lets them stay, all the while remarking that "the Master would not approve". He says that like 15 times. Then, all of a sudden, the scenery acquires a stronger daylight hue, although it was supposed to be getting darker, and then Torgo starts his famous "Torgo gait". Relying on information found on wikipedia (hurrah to the internet) reveals that the character of Torgo wore metal riggings under his trousers to give him a goat-like look. This is coherent with his overall looks, including the beard, battered apparel and even the way he moves his eyes. John Reynolds, the man behind such an astounding character, actually was the one put his soul into this movie. The remainder of the characters are a sad-looking bunch in comparison. Oh, and there is even a custom tune set to go along with the Torgo gait, aptly titled the Torgo suite.

The Manos staff is mightier than the sword!

What transpires next is not easy to describe. As stated earlier, the movie doesn't follow a pattern for events to unfold within a coherent whole. All that we know is that the family's pet dog dies, slain by some unseen beast. Possibly the master's faithful doberman. The master does appear later on, has a stare-off with Torgo and urges all of his six wives to chase after the suspecting guests. Torgo wants one of the wives for himself and he already took his pick: Mike's wife. The master will have none of this, but at this point his authority is seriously called into question as he fails to break up a catfight that embroils all of his consorts. For some intangible reason, he lets it goo on for what seems to be 20 minutes (movie time). The movie's flaws also become apparent at this point. The sound is barely audible and the acting does not help matters. In another section of the mess that is the plot, Mike's mind constantly switches states between wanting to leave through the desert on foot and trying to start the car. He can't settle on either idea and so he just beckons his family to go back to the Master's dreaded abode and bide their time until dawn breaks so they decide on a better course of action. As the head of a family, one would expect more from him.

The movie ends where it started, with the family on their way to valley lodge with the action-packed dwelling still prominent from the background. Only this time, Mike is the new Torgo. I will go out on a limb and say this is not exactly the greatest movie ever. In fact, it is far from it. On the other hand, it is impossible to imagine how it could have been otherwise. There is little room for improvement to be made because the concept behind the movie demanded just that: a simple movie with a creepy pattern, which was neither supposed to be easily spotted nor overlooked by careful lookers. It was just supposed to be something that would get stuck with the viewer and not leave, but haunt him for years to come. Except that, any attempt at making a haunting impression was upstaged by the movie's incredible production, which is more likely to etch a permanent mark into b-movie fans.

Watch the entire movie here.