In brief...

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
My interests vary from conservation to education to heritage to Nature (biodiversity & wildlife) to outdoor activities to life in general.
They occupy most of my waking moment.
Do read my blogs, follow me on Twitter (@jocelynesze) and friend me on Facebook (subject to my discretion). Visit my Nature blog, Nature Rambles, at http://natureramble.wordpress.com.

UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Brisbane.

Been here for a little more than a week now, and I'm quite liking this place. It's bigger than Cambridge (duh!) but smaller than London, so not all that crowded but still having lots to explore. It's rather hilly but I guess that's good for training and general fitness. The Brisbane river meanders a little and the city is built around it, and there are the most beautiful sunsets, the colours making me wish I were an artist - even though I don't get a clear view of it. It's a little price-y, even compared to the UK, and though the ferry is great, the buses are almost never on time.

The best thing though, is probably the climbing. I've climbed more the past week than I have in the first half of this year. Sooo weak now, terrible endurance and especially finger strength, but if I keep it up, it'll be great.

The University of Queensland St Lucia is really awesome too, and they've got some beautiful lakes with lots of birds around. I'm really excited by the work too :)

This is the first time in 5 years that I am not spending at least a month in a place with minimal contact with the outside world (ie no internet). I am missing my retreat and solitude (and reading spree), but it's still brilliant.

Rowing on the Brisbane river which kinda reminded me of Cambridge

Monday, July 06, 2015

Societal changes.

I'm not a social commentator, nor a sociologist. I usually try to stay out of social media debates on 'controversial' topics (like abortion, what constitutes 'women's rights', gender roles etc) cos well it's pretty useless trying to argue online when no one listens to the 'other side', and cos I can't debate well anyway. I take a long while to think about what's being said and the assumptions and implications and to verbalise my internal gut feelings (after evaluating them). The same-sex marriage legalisation issue in the states isn't The trending topic now, but still recent enough I guess.

The one thing I read that made the most sense amidst all the emotions flying back and forth in the aftermath of the decision was this Facebook post by a guy I don't know. And then this article (that's posted in 2013) that talked about how same-sex marriage does affect 'traditional' marriage cos it challenges ideas about gender roles, in that 'traditional' marriages uphold gender inequality (the woman is meant to stay at home and look after kids cos she's the more nurturing one, the man is meant to go out and earn money etc). Famous Singaporean blogger Xiaxue's post also generated quite a lot of attention but I didn't really think her arguments were very sound (though I don't think I can refute them very well either).

Well the linked article, while I don't agree entirely with it (especially the parts on traditional gender roles and how it fits into marriages and stuff), made it clear to me that it is the separation of ideas/concepts that I always held to be synonymous that I disagree with. Like gender and sex, and sex and procreation. I'm not gonna go into justifying my belief or argue against others, cos I don't find that particularly productive (or you could say I just have 'no good reason'), but before I get labelled as a bigot, I just want to be clear that I am not. [Update 8 Jul 2015: Okay maybe I am a bigot? Gonna have to think this through carefully...] My own opinions on what is right/wrong are still in the midst of being shaped and informed so I am not going to talk about that here, and everyone's gone on and on about it anyway. I (would like to think I) discriminate against no one for any reason, unless they're generally agreed assholes, in which case the way I discriminate is just by actively avoiding any sort of contact...

What I really wanna say here is just about what I feel is increasing secularism. To the point where there seem to be threats towards practising one's religion and beliefs, or like some kind of casual discrimination if you are religious (or conservative). Whether or not it's supposed to be the case, I guess everything in society is always about minority vs majority, and which category you are in. Like with premarital sex, for example. In Singapore where by and large, that's frowned upon (or at least not very openly talked about), campus accommodations are somewhat segregated by sex (I think? It was in my parents' time at least xD), though that's not to say it doesn't happen. Versus the UK, where every year at the start of the year, I get a pack of condoms and the welfare reps repeatedly tell me every week during term about the free condoms I can get from them. Well thanks, but it leaves me with the awkward situation (to me) of having to deal with it at the end of the year, after it's sat in my drawer the whole time. This year, I just left it in the drawer for the next room user to deal with - whatever they want to think of me from that is up to them. If the 'problem' we're trying to avoid here is unwanted pregnancies (leaving aside the moral issue), who's to say if the former or latter is better? I'm not aware of any studies using counterfactuals or other methods of evaluating which is a better way to achieve that outcome (passively preventing, or perhaps even pretending it doesnt exist, or actively preventing, seemingly encouraging).There are lots of different contexts and possible correlations between capitalism, consumerism, individualism, secularism etc. I think. (But all this is just me rambling, and I may well be wrong or not have thought this out through properly.)

Anyway, right now from a logical point of view, I'm happy to acknowledge the rights of gays in their lifelong happiness and all that stuff, but when it morphs into a campaign to prevent others from having their own beliefs, whether or not they think it's right, then I think that's gone too far. It's like a threat to my own freedom - I can't say stuff like I believe in the right of the unborn to live (on social media) without people jumping on me and saying I'm against female reproductive rights or whatever. And even just expressing my view on this public platform, it might well come back to haunt me in the future. It's kinda like a social policing of thoughts, or views. And I don't think it's like I'm being discriminatory when I say that - I'm not, and will never say that women who have undergone abortions are horrible beings, deserve hell and should be publicly shamed or whatever.

I guess when your beliefs cross with other people's lives, that's when people get unhappy. I can believe in unicorns and fairies and no one would give a shit. But when I start telling people that they need to stop trampling on grass cos fairies die when they do that, then I guess people will be unhappy cos I'm interfering with their right to live or do whatever they want, and they don't believe in fairies in the first place. Most of us live by John Stuart Mill's Harm Principle - you can do whatever you want as long as your actions don't harm others - but it seems the definition of 'harm' is getting broader. Not necessarily a bad thing, acknowledging mental distress is important and a big step forward, but it can get out of hand I think. Like when that gay couple sued bakers for refusing to bake them a cake, citing physical emotional and mental damages, and the bakers now need to pay $135k.  I'm like wts that's just ridiculous. Discrimination is wrong I agree, but really, $135k? And I think it's worse when people sue churches/pastors/religious organisations for refusing to marry them, cos  legal/civil marriages don't hold the same meaning as in a religious context, where marriage is still a sacred institution and involves the union of a man and a woman (with the intent to procreate, at least in the Catholic context), and if people disagree with the religious meaning, then why are you even approaching them? That's like me being a vegetarian and going up to a butcher and suing him/her for refusing to sell me vegetables?

Maybe I'm just too passive and non-confrontational, but like if I go to a shop and they say sorry I won't bake you a cake cos you believe in unicorns and I think that's wrong and stupid, then I'll be like okay sure whatever I'll go find someone else who doesn't give a shit about that. (Though I'll probably make a point of it on social media too...) Maybe it's cos of people like me that 'social progress' is 'impeded' and discrimination against minorities still exist. And well, sometimes life just gives you shit to deal with, whether or not it's cos of whatever you believe in.


I just think there are people who are so wrong on both sides (in that their arguments for their beliefs are just not sound), not that I'm right (or most logical) or whatever (cos if you disagree with my morals and fundamental values then that's that). But there's so much social pressure to conform and go along with whatever view seems most popular now, or revolutionary, especially on social media.


I feel like I'm on one side of the movement for environmental issues and on the other side for social issues (not poverty alleviation but all the others, more 'western' or 'liberal' ideals). But you know what, I think that what we really need to work on right now (apart from/on top of all the environmental stuff) is to improve the lives of the billions in poverty because we're the ones who are keeping them poor (indirectly), and they are the majority. No matter how vocal some social change campaigners are, and how important everyone is as individuals, can we please just agree that LGBTQ+ are still a minority and often they're not struggling the same way. Am I belittling their (or your) sufferings? Maybe, maybe I just don't empathise or understand the pains or sufferings they go through, but if you're telling me they suffer mental distress and lack of sleep and all that stuff just cos someone refuses to bake them a cake, vs entire families/villages who go to sleep cold and hungry every night, I would do all I can for the latter, cos that's fundamental needs that need addressing. No matter their race religion language sexual orientation gender orientation whatever.

Why isn't there a strong social campaign complaining that life in general discriminates against the poor?