"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, August 13, 2004

Quote of the Post: "My favorite thing about the Internet is that you get to go into the private world of real creeps without having to smell them." - Penn Jillette

Random Playlist Song: Antonio Caprioli - E D'un Bel Matin D'amore (The Hilliard Ensemble)

***

Jiekai on the films act:


On a completely uneconomic note, it would be interesting, especially for all Singaporeans, to note that Michael Moore would never have been able to make his movie on a subject of similar vein in Singapore.

Very cunningly, our government had in 1998 thought up and passed a catch-all amendment to the Films Act, so as to prevent any Singaporean or foreign filmmaker from catching our politicians on film doing stupid things like make faces in front of the camera before making completely serious policy statements in parliament in order to discredit them.

The amendment bans all "party political films". But what are they? From the Films Act, which can be read on
http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/non_version/cgi-bin/cgi_getdata.pl?&actno=1998-REVED-107&date=latest&method=part&segid=#913859639-000675
,

"party political film" means a film -
(a) which is an advertisement made by or on behalf of any political party in Singapore or any body whose objects relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore, or any branch of such party or body; or
(b) which is made by any person and directed towards any political end in Singapore;

They are more than helpful in defining (b). Seriously.

(2) For the purposes of this Act, a film is directed towards a political end in Singapore if the film -
(a) contains wholly or partly any matter which is intended or likely to affect voting in any election or national referendum in Singapore; or
(b) contains wholly or partly either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter, including but not limited to any of the
following:
(i) an election or a national referendum in Singapore;
(ii) a candidate or group of candidates in an election;
(iii) an issue submitted or otherwise before electors in an election or a national referendum in Singapore;
(iv) the Government or a previous Government or the opposition to the Government or previous Government;
(v) a Member of Parliament;
(vi) a current policy of the Government or an issue of public controversy in Singapore; or
(vii) a political party in Singapore or any body whose objects relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore, or any branch of such party or
body.

And what sorts of punishments can be inflicted on you?

Making, distribution and exhibition of party political films
33. Any person who -
(a) imports any party political film;
(b) makes or reproduces any party political film;
(c) distributes, or has in his possession for the purposes of distributing, to any other person any party political film; or
(d) exhibits, or has in his possession for the purposes of exhibiting, to any other person any party political film, knowing or having reasonable
cause to believe the film to be a party political film shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.

Heck, why not include anything the government doesn't like?

Minister may prohibit possession or distribution of any film
35. - (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act if the Minister is of the opinion that the possession or distribution of any film would be
contrary to the public interest, he may, in his discretion, by order published in the Gazette prohibit the possession or distribution of that
film by any person.
(2) Any person who has in his possession or who distributes any film the possession or distribution of which has been prohibited under subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both, and the film shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the Minister thinks fit

Wow! Our dear friend George would surely wish that he could pass this sort of law to make Michael Moore and his chums shut up for good! ( But then again, in America it would have been ruled unconstitutional since it goes against the first amendment of the Bill Of Rights. )

Of course when queried about this, the ministers, members of parliament and the ministry spokesmen will always claim this law is necessary so as to prevent voters from being "misled". After all, as Lee Boon Yang said in December last year, "[p]eople can be swayed by what they see on TV or in the bold newspaper headlines. [The Media's] role is to inform and educate Singaporeans without compromising the nation's overriding need for social and political stability."
http://www.mita.gov.sg/pressroom/press_031112.htmlhttp://www.mita.gov.sg/pressroom/press_031112.html

That sounds pretty benign and commonsensical doesn't it? After all even I would cringe at say, some video calling for the tudung to be worn by all good muslim girls across Singapore, or even the sort of political mudslinging that Kerry and Bush are waging in television advertisements
across America. But the problem is that the definition of a political film is so vague that there are a great many things which can be considered an offence under this amendment. A Singapore version of Fahrenheit 9/11 would have been banned. The people who would putatively have made such a film could be fined or jailed.

Unless of course the people producing the political propaganda....er....informative material are from the government

Exemptions
40. -(1) This Act shall not apply to -
(a) any film sponsored by the Government;

The Nazis would have been proud.

Is this justified? You decide. For one thing I don't agree with it. Fortunately I have not and do not intend to make a movie about it ; )

***

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Maybe I should stop advertising for these buggers.

***

A soulless hotel called Singapore - "Singapore is becoming a more open and civic society. It must be so, because editorials in The Straits Times - a paper which unlike its decadent western counterparts, only deals in fact - constantly referred to it throughout June, two months before the transfer of leadership."
Originally published in Malaysiakini

4D numbers related to PM handover date sold out - "Since news broke overnight about the date of the handover of Singapore's Prime Ministership - 12 August - 4D numbers like 0812, 1208 and 1284 have been sold out."

The Phantom of The Opera - Joel Schumacher directs Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical. My brother in law predicts that it will suck.

ExtensionUninstaller 1 - "This extension allows you to uninstall any extension installed in your Mozilla browser with a nice user interface."
One less reason to switch to Firefox. I love Seamonkey!

The Most Untranslatable Word In The World - "The most untranslatable word in any language, reckon the translators, is ilunga, a word in the Bantu language of Tshiluba for a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time; to tolerate it a second time; but never a third time."

Eat Chinese Food for a Long Life! - "Start eating like a rural Chinese peasant and you might add several healthy years to your life."
If I went on this diet, I'd die. So much for a longer life.

Steven Lim got SomethingAwfuled (so his site is offline). Meanwhile, PaRaDoX got Mr Browned.

Gates of Troy gold master stolen - "around 11:05[am] GMT, the Royal Mail postman was assaulted and his bags stolen."
Pirates are getting desperate.

I used the phrase "I am on the way to destruction" on a friend, but it didn't register. Neither did my follow-up ("all your base are belong to us"), so I went to look for the video to show her. Unfortunately, every site I went to hosted the original video, with insipid music and horrible voice acting. Luckily, Xephyris, who'd first introduced me to the AllYourBase phenomenon, was online, and he revealed that the version he'd sent me had been taken from OverClocked. That is the definitive Zerowing video for me, dubbed in a "Wayne Newton" voice (though I've no idea who Wayne Newton is). I suggest everyone go and download it and be stunned by the superb voice acting and remarkably appropriate music :)

Critic 1 asked me to change my Blogskin to this. I said I would, if she changed hers to this. Fortunately (or otherwise), she declined. Aww.

***

"Why prove to a man he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you? Why not let him save his face? He didn’t ask for your opinion. He didn’t want it. Why argue with him? Always avoid the acute angle.

During my youth, I had argued with my brother about everything under the Milky Way. When I went to college, I studied logic and argumentation, and went in for debating contests. Talk about being from Missouri, I was born there. I had to be shown. Later, I taught debating and argumentation in New York; and once, I am ashamed to admit, I planned to write a book on the subject... Since then, I have listened to, criticize, engaged in, and watched the effects of thousands of arguments. As a result of it all, I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument – and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes."

- Extract from Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends And Influence People"

I believe in the Socratic method of finding truth. But then, Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking hemlock, so.


Cute poem:

My trusty shield adorns some Thracian foe; I
left it in a bush - not as I would! But I have
saved my life; so let it go. Soon I will get
another just as good.

- Archilochus of Paros

"After leaving Thasos, he is said to have visited Sparta but to have been at once banished from that city on account of his cowardice and the licentious character of his works (Valerius Maximus vi. 3, externa 1)"

***

I'm contemplating whether or not to watch lectures from the comfort of my home, especially those scheduled at unearthly times (eg 8am). A bonus would be that if I didn't catch a quote, I would be able to replay the webcast to retranscribe it properly. But then, I don't think I am that dedicated to my craft.


Some people have asked me why I am taking the module: SN1101E - SOUTH ASIA : PEOPLE, CULTURE, DEVELOP'M. My reply:

India, a land of all seasons.
India, a land of all reasons.

I was despairing since no one recognised the reference, but Mengchuan reaffirmed my faith in humanity when he was the only one to buck the trend :) (This tagline was used to promote India as a Tourist Destination in the mid-90s.)


On Wednesday we were served food at a mini-reception after our first South Asia lecture by the people (Teaching Assistants) who will be teaching us in the next semester. I am vaguely disturbed.

There seems to be 2 schools of thought regarding lecture notes (at least on the part of the lecturers). One holds that they are bad, since people won't copy down stuff, and thus internalise the information. There is also a moral hazard involved: people will then not listen to the lecture. Another holds that with lecture notes, students actually *listen* to what is being said, since it is almost impossible to copy, listen and understand what is being said, all at the same time. My Secondary 3 Geography teacher came up with a good compromise: Her geography notes came with blanks for us to fill in, so we could listen to what she was saying, while ensuring that we would pay at least -some- attention to her.

The seat-side tables in NUS Lecture Theatres are fixed. On the upside, they can't collapse while you're sleeping on them and embarass you (or worse - destroy your laptop), but on the downside, they make the seats quite hard to squeeze into.

On Wednesday, I saw a bicycle chained to a freshly painted railing, and the parts directly in contact with the railing were painted green. Gee. I am at a loss to explain the white paint splashed liberally over other parts of the bicycle, though.

I saw this guy with one earring in each ear, and a stud in his left ear. Ages ago, I was told that the rule for guys with earrings is that if they have one more earring on their left ears than their right ears, then they're not gay. I'm not sure if a stud counts in the calculations, though :0

Quan Teng on NTU girls: "kinda scary, haha like drug addict like tt... they look pale and some have bulging eyes". I asked him about NTU guys. His response? "i won't go rd noticing guys lah". Gah.

Jianwen is in the Mr Biz Ad pageant. Hahahahaha.


Quotes:

[On my slow rate of hair growth] Gabriel: We're not girls... Girls have a gene to make their hair grow faster.

At a quarter to two, we will stop... As a welcoming gesture to you, we have tea and snacks. I've been in Singapore for 5 years... The way to your hearts is tea and snacks... Having a lecture when you should be sitting in the canteen, having lunch.

I'm gonna set up a Arts Canteen Club [Someone: Meet 3 times a day]

A few years ago, we were much more controlling... If you didn't come [for tutorials] a second time, we'd send you a warning note. If you didn't come a third time, we'd call the police... Give them your picture - 'have you seen this boy or girl?'

We have a program here. After today, when a handphone goes off, a TA [Teaching Assistant] will come, collect the handphone, and give it to the (some words I didn't catch) nursing home... the elderly love giving calls to their children.

When I was young, back in BC times [laughter from audience] Before computers! Before computers!

How many of you are heterosexual, or homosexual, or bisexual?... All of these things involve relationships with other people (Having a sexuality does not mean that you engage in sexual interaction)

When I go to my friend's house for dinner, I don't march around and lecture people on sociology. Sometimes I do, and my wife smacks me.

fai'lo (philo)

[On section headings on a webpage] What may not be so clear is that those are hyperlinks... I made it a little too elegant to be obvious.

[On his cartoons] That's how I draw them. Socrates has twiddles on the head. Plato has twiddles on the beard.

This guy is a sort of wild Vienese philosopher. His name is Ludwig Wittgenstein. He has great hair. He died in 1951.

Wittgenstein... He was always tormenting his students by telling them one thing and then telling them another, so they'd think they were idiots.

Wondered if he was part a monster and part a human being. Wittgenstein's students wondered that about him, he was always very obnoxious to them.

When I first read Plato, I thought he was very boring. My teacher kept assuring me he was fascinating... After 6 years, I found him interesting.

[On some Greek word] I was going to make a joke about it. Now I can't remember the joke.

[On Alcibiades] He was Brad Pitt, basically. Everyone thought he was so much more handsome than everybody else.

[On Alcibiades' defection] It would be like if Brad pitt joined Al-Qaeda... That's too extreme... It would be like if Steve Jobs joined Microsoft.

[On Socrates] He used to say: 'I'm very beautiful, because my eyes bug out, so I can see in all directions. My nostrils flare, so I can get lots of air.

[On Socrates] He asks them questions, gets some answers. Asks them more questions, gets more answers, until they end up contradicting themselves. That's why he's so annoying to them.

[On pissing people off by asking probing, incisive questions as opposed to buttering them up and weaseling to them] Dale Carnegie is in the 100 Top Sellers [list], and Plato isn't.

I've taken Dale Carnegie's advice on many occasions, even though I like Plato. So that's my contradiction.

[Being sarcastic] If someone thinks that stars are made of cheese, just agree with them. That's the way to get ahead in science.

[On Socrates] 'The Golden Age of Athens and the Gadfly of Athens'. Or: 'How to Lose Friends and Get Executed by People'

[On the torching of Sardis by the Ionians, Athenians and Eretrians] They lost. Badly. But they managed to burn down the Western Capital. Maybe even by accident.

[On his picture of a vase] When you're drinking at night and you want to think about how great the Battle of Marathon was, it's nice to have a vase of an Athenian Hoplite clobbering some poor Persian slob. Makes you feel better about yourself.

[On Leonidas] 'Then we will fight in the shade'. A very good one [line], and of no philosophical interest.

Socrates was an example of how not to defend yourself.
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