Monday, September 03, 2007

CIP for what?!?

On Sunday, I had my first game of BTech in quite a while against Kenneth, who's an undergrad in SMU.

For the BTech fans, we were playing a BV-equal lance-on-lance engagement. He had a Longbow, Striker, Lynx, and a Fire Falcon D(the missile spotter config), while I had an Avatar C(with a useless C3 master), a Huron Warrior, a nifty Fire Falcon B(the sniper config), and worst of all, a stupid Naga!

I thought I've figured out how to use the Naga in a straight up fight. Pound enemy positions with the Arrow IV rockets, while charging forward aka CGR-1A1 Charger(yes, the infamous 80 ton assault mech with 5 frikkin small lasers; oh, I'm so scared!!!). My mistake. It does not have the same amount of protection as even the pathetic Charger. It got its teeth kicked in quite quickly by the Striker, so I have learnt my lesson and modified my tactic for using the Naga the next time it pops up in my force list: Pound enemy positions with the Arrow IV rockets, THEN charge forward aka CGR-1A1 Charger.

After the game, we chatted for a bit about Btech stuf, and eventually it segued into how he was doing at SMU. Then he mentioned the 80 hours of CIP plus 1 dunno-what-CIP-course required for graduation.

I was flabbergasted. You go to university/educational institutes to hone your mind. Everything else is a bonus, and they should be completely voluntary. I understand that CIP is now becoming the fad, everybody has to have done it. But do people commit to CIP because they want to help people, or for the black ink on their certificates? It's pretty obvious that in paper-obsessed Singapore, it's more the latter reason than the former.

So Kenneth, in order to fulfill his 80 hours, did some domino stacking this July. How that benefited society or made the students more aware of social problems, I have no friggin idea. I went online to find out more about this Dominoes of Dreams project, and while the search turned up only blog entries by SMU students, they were pretty interesting for what was said and NOT said. The common thread: I'm glad I've finished the 80 hours of CIP required.

Kinda tells it all. Oh, to be sure, there were some entries that spoke about the people they raised funds for, or the skills they used to sell the dominoes. But I was flabbergasted at the ignorance of some of the participants. Some of them were actually afraid to visit the home for the intellectually disabled. Understandable for secondary school students, but for undergrads?!?

I don't think most of this enforced CIP has changed anybody. People willing to do CIP in the first place would volunteer for it anyway for reasons other than being forced to do so by the people in charge. Those who had to be forced into it will probably never do it again unless something else comes along and changes their perception of the world. And most CIPs can't do that.

In the past, people helped each other voluntarily(well... more or less). No questions asked, it was just the right thing to do. I won't say it was the moral thing to do, because there could be hidden(subconscious?) motivations(Tit for Tat strategy) and rationales(iterated prisoner's dilemma) which we do not yet understand and scientists are still trying to figure out. But it happened anyway in a variety of ways, most notably, I might add, in the form of noblesse oblige.

The wikipedia entry has a very important nugget of information.
"Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens."
Is that what we're seeing now? I fear for the future.

BTW, John Ralston Saul is an interesting character in his own right, and his theory of how six important qualities(Reason, Common Sense, Ethics, Imagination, Intuition, Memory) serve us echoes what the science fiction writer Gordon R. Dickson in his Childe Cycle(philosophy masquerading as science fiction, though all sci-fi writers are more or less guilty of the same crime, especially Heinlein) thought underpinned human advancement, except Dickson boiled it down instead to three qualities: Courage, Philosophy, Faith.

I have absolutely no idea who is right. I'm going to seek out Saul's books sometime this week. Hopefully the library has them.


Blogger Jon said...

hey JT, looks like you and Naga dont mix ;). was it a Prime or another variant?

12:54 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

speaking of which, you really should post up battle reports on the SGCBT blog as well. i pm'd siwangtegongdui on, sent him the addie for the blog and asked him to leave a number

12:58 AM  

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