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Confessions of a Wikiaddict

Person: Hello. How's life?

Me: Hello. Life's alright. What's up?

Person: Oh, you know. This and that. Work, work. More work.

Me: Well, I wouldn't know, actually…

Person: What're you doing?

Me: Reading entries at Wikipedia.

Person: Ugh… Seriously, you have got to drop that site. You've become obsessed with it. You're completely addicted!

Me: er, nuh-uh! Really! Look. Wikipedia is a great reference site.

Person: Nevermind… Hey, do you know what a Liar Paradox is?

… Five minutes later.

Person: Hello?

Me: Oh, so sorry! I was reading up the entry to Liar Paradox!

Person: … What?

Me: It's very interesting! Here -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liar_paradox

Person: It's like someone drinking 30 cups of coffee a day and declaring to the world that he is not addicted to caffeine… Sigh. I'm going to sign out, now. You sign out, too... And we'll talk later, when you've realized your problem. Goodbye.

I scoffed, as I typed up, “Addiction” in the Wikipedia search box… The page appeared. I stared at the text for some time, not being able to read, the reason being that it felt as if someone was poking me at the back of my mind with a lemon-dipped cotton-swab. Then, like a dart pushed through the skin of a rhinoceros and finally meeting a sensitive organ, I winced.

All of a sudden, I found myself standing away from my chair which to my bewilderment had seemed to have attained a permanent imprint of my backside. My eyes widened and I bit my lips. My eyes narrowed and I suddenly found myself biting my fingernails, something which I generally find distasteful on the same level as, say… not washing one's hands after answering nature's relentless calls. I paced around the room trying to gather my thoughts, exhaling and inhaling in such a manner that I felt I was either being masticated by infectious rodents, or swallowed whole by a hundred-feet python with a dysfunctional digestive system.

Addict… Addict… There are so many types of addictions and out of all them I had to be addicted to a website… Dear lord, what was the world coming to!? I paused, and reluctantly rephrased my question: Dear lord, what had I come to?!

Depression begun to sink in, in such a way that suggested that I was not really worth sinking on to and before I could blink an eye, I found myself staring at the screen with the title “Depression” standing out from among all the texts. I shook my head, and was up on my feet before I could even say, “Ye Gods.” Buggeritall, I missed it by half a second,

My mind set to work as I pictured the future, about fifty years ahead:

I was propped up against a bed, with a tray infront of me on which lay several tablets and pills. I saw myself pick one up, look at its name, and turning to my side, typing down a word like Ermin, Katin or some such similar flashy drug manufactured by Geometrical Shapes. I saw myself squint with my degenerate eyes onto the laptop screen reading through whatever Wikipedia had to say on dear little Ermin, which was apparently made from recycled tissue papers.

With a shudder, I came back to reality and began to ponder on a thousand and one things, refraining from looking up entries about a thousand and two things. I sighed and wondered, what really was going to happen if I kept up such a lifestyle. Two different destinies stretched out in front of me clearly and vividly.

One was to waste the rest of my days in front of a monitor screen, earning nothing and working even less, in an attempt to become a fountain of knowledge on the path of enlightenment, for the greater good of nothing in particular. The other one was to unplug my computer, step out into the world and behold the grand wonders of nature and earth.

Seemed to me that I had made my choice. I don't remember when I exactly did so. But, I suppose it was somewhere between the time when I pressed 'shift' + 'D', some more letters and a final 'return' key. By the time I was halfway through the article, I had ceased to give a darn about the crossroad. Realizing thus, I found myself staring at a page titled, “Crossroads.” No sooner did that page load before I had opened up another page on 'Realization'. And so on, it went. Hotlink to hotlink. Entry to entry. An existence confined to the world wide web of information, whose usefulness can be questionable in the hands of someone like me.

The moral of the story: Internet can be addictive. And Wikipedia, much more so. Don't stray far.

By Sharier Shamim Emil

Book review

The Last Continent

With 5 courses and two book review columns, I'm certainly having a very interesting semester. Anthropology notes, everyday weirdness (my life is a soap opera), and comic fiction all piled together make for the most messed up, random dreams. The only thing weirder than all these dreams I've been having is The Last Continent, the twenty-second book in the Discworld Series.

The Discworld spins on the backs of four elephants that stand on the back of the great turtle A'tuin, which wades placidly through space. This disc-shaped world is home to the most interesting characters, and anything is possible here.

This particular novel is concerned with Rincewind, a wizard from the Unseen University, who has been transported back in time, and he finds himself in the land of XXXXX, which is still under construction, and is experiencing a drought that's lasted eons. The god of evolution there dispatches a friendly shape-shifting kangaroo called Scrappy to get our reluctant hero to do something to make it rain.

On the other side, the faculty at the Unseen University are facing a problem with their Librarian, who's suffering from this mysterious ailment where he changes shape every time he sneezes. Since the books at the library become hostile without their usual caretaker, they need to find a cure fast. In searching for this cure, they end up stepping through a portal similar to the one that got Rincewind into his scrape.

As with all his other Discworld novels, Pratchett weaves a wacky plot through jokes and innuendos poking fun at human nature, pop culture, politics, and other things. This one focuses on Australian culture, with their kangaroos and their sheep, and their obsession for beer. Through the bumbling wizards, we also get to see the funnier side of organisational politics.

Now, I love Pratchett. He uses language like a weapon, stringing the most insane metaphors and similes together to make statements that will have you double up in laughter. Somehow, with this book, though, that's pretty much the only thing that keeps one interested. Despite the kookiness, and the twists, there are long stretches where The Last Continent tends to drag like a toddler's bottom on a supermarket floor…and I'm being nice about it.

All said and done, even on a bad day, Pratchett doesn't fail to cause a round of chuckles. So if you want a mindless read you can just sit and chill with, you want to give this one a try.

By Sabrina F Ahmad


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