"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, July 30, 2004

Quote of the Post: "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Random Playlist Song: Cantata 106, BWV 106 - 2 - Gottes Zeit ist di

***

In his welcome address to us, our Dean showed us pictures of famous people like David Duchovny and Carly Fiorina who graduated with Arts degrees, and also pictures of famous people who graduated from NUS with Arts degrees (our current PM, President Nathan). The message? It is possible to make it to the top of your fields with an Arts degree. And at each department's talk, the speakers talked pointedly of the career prospects available for graduates with that degree.

Regardless of the career prospects for Arts graduates, the fact that they had to make such points says something.

Singapore - a most practical place.

As the joke goes,

The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it work?"
The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"
The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

My days of bumming are now (or will soon be) at an end. I am sad. Deep end of the swimming pool, here I come!


Today marked the start of the USP FOW (Freshman Orientation Week). Unlike what I'm told the other faculties did, we did not have what was essentially a non-residential camps: ie we had no games.

Instead we have talks, meetups with our academic advisors and assorted activities, like a video screening today, on the way to which I was waylaid and conscripted to build a structure for rag.

Oddly enough, though, we had no campus tour, so I will likely spend the first week or two staring at the maps of NUS mounted at various parts of the campus.


CORS (the system through which we bid for modules) is NUS's market solution to allocating scarce resources (modules) in the face of great, or not so great, as the case might be, demand. As such, close bidding (sic - hereafter referred to as "closed" bidding), during which you see only the highest and lowest bids, seems to fly in the face of the market principles that CORS is supposedly based on, since people can spoil the market in the confusion of closed bidding.

The explanation for having closed bidding: "If not the server will crash".

I grant that it would probably be prohibitively expensive to maintain a system allowing everyone to login simultaneously, so why don't they outsource the bidding of modules to eBay or Yahoo Auctions? After all, outsourcing more often than not lowers costs and increases output (both in quality and quantity).

Another possible solution: Instead of open auctions closing 2 hours before the round ends, let a 10% surcharge by levied on bids placed during the last 2 hours of a bidding round.


"If you all are truly elite... If only one student wants a class, I will open a class. If all 500 students want one class, I will open 10 classes for you. Oxford and Cambridge, they so bloody elite, they have one-on-one tutorial. Can you imagine that?"

--- Brother in law on bidding for USP modules

He also related an anecdote about plagiarism which he read in a Charles Handy (some management guru or, as my brother in law prefers, a social thinker who happens to be a management guru) book.

"Once, when my social life was overfull, I copied out my essay from a rather obscure book on Greek history and read it to my tutor. He made no comment. In an ominous silence he walked over to his bookcase, took down his copy of that obscure history, found the page and continued to read from the point where I had finished. I blushed in shame. Nothing more needed to be said. Oxford wasn't interested in the repetition of other people's work until and unless it had become part of one's own thinking."

--- Charles Handy, the elephant and the flea, Page 42

I don't think he ever plagiarised again. Much more effective than disciplining a student, or even expelling him, I would think.


It seems that some people have an unlimited supply of jeans. For all you know some people could be wearing one pair for the whole week. Personally I hate jeans - they're too hot.

It seems that the arguments for reducing MOE's university subsidies ignore the fact that Singaporean Universities are tools of social and economic engineering. When subsidies are reduced (as they surely will), I have my doubts about whether the amount of social engineering will decrease.


Quotes:

We have some pretty interesting modules like food, emotions... I love food. You can tell.

One easy way of identifying the difference between sociology and social work is that in sociology we identify the problems. In social work they solve them.

We all deserve to be helped, whether we are rich or poor, sick or... not sick.

[On Social Work] President Nathan is an alumni of our department. That's how high you can go. (alumnus)

Another module is dynamic effective inter-personal relations. If you don't have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, you may want to take it.

[Powerpoint slide] The spread and quality of spoken and written English in Singapore represents one of the country's key assets

I met some of you after your camp, when you were preparing for your performances. When you were embarassing yourselves.

All of us here are a bit abnormal... The professors: they love work and abhor money.

lah'pell pin (lapel)

When you look at the module, you will worry. [Looks at one module] That's me [who's teaching it]. You mean I'm supposed to teach?

You will be... cursing yourself at some point. 'Why did I join USP?' We make you work because we think you want us to make you work.

***

"WTH!!! Next year, HCJC will be called HWA CHONG INSTITUTION. Sounds like some mental institution like that...ARGH! And the Chinese name is Hwa Qiao ZHONG XUE. Sounds like we are being demoted or something. And HJC students will have to start using the bloody TCHS badge...why is it us with all the changes?! (no offence coffee). ARGH! I absolutely am pissed off with the school admin. What kind of lousy deal did they make?!"

Meanwhile,

"i heard nus has a module on what ladies giving birth or something."

It must be to match NTU's module on social etiquette.

Also,

"smu has more poseurs lah... people go there cos its a party university. damn slack one.. just talk nonsense in class and get 20$% for class participation already"

No wonder so many people went there ;)

The NUS study week is 50 hours. Wah. Maybe I should go and study in France. Hopefully their 35 hour work week applies to University students too.

***

Friend: "I bought a IBM, I trust the IBM brand. They build solid notebooks"
A girl: "I like the fujitsu one.."
Friend: (Cutting in) "Fujitsus are for shallow people"
Her: "But why? Fujitsu looks very nice you know"
Friend's comment to me: ......... what can i say? Girls.. will always be girls

***

In my first cash infusion since June 10th, my mother just gave me $400 for the month of August, including the cost of books and transport. I'm not sure how many books we will have to buy, but university textbooks are quite expensive, and there've been crackdowns on copyright infringement in recent years. Oh well, this probably means I won't be financing any big ticket purchases anymore. Of course, she alludes to some "performance bonus" I may be getting if I do well, but knowing her standards, I don't think I'll ever be getting this "bonus". [NB: Yes, I'm sure there are others getting less, but still.]

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will do"
Wise words.

I was wondering how He Who Must Not Be Named manages to read so much, and he wondered how I blogged so much. So I guess we answered each other's questions. However, the difference is that reading consumes content, while blogging creates it.


Someone asked what I thought of this. My first impression was of someone with a serious mutant yeast infection.

Someone on the Creative Zen Touch: "looks like creative is a misnomer..."

Ramly Burger, which some people swear by, has given Benjy food poisoning: "i like it too but the one they were selling [at the NTU ECA fair] sucks and it's poisonous"

spacesounds - we are listening - Hear real sounds recorded in space, mostly radio waves

Mary Pilates on the pronunciation of her name: "Pi-lates or Pe-la-tus."
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