"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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Saturday, October 30, 2004

"Is there life before death?" - Graffito

Random Playlist Song: Mozart - Serenata notturna in D, K.239 - I. Marcia (Maestoso)

***

I happened to mention the sad case of Dr Seamus Phan to someone, and he asked me to provide him for a URL. So I stumbled across the text of his apology notice to the NKF. From the way it is written, one might almost think it a satire aimed at further lampooning the NKF, if one did not know the sad truth.

The three incriminating lines:

1) Another interesting nugget is that out of every S$1 NKF raised in 2002, only 56 cents went to beneficiaries and the rest went to expenses, the implication of which is said to be: "The NKF, which is a charitable organisation supported by the public, has misspent monies received from members of the public intended for the purposes of the NKF"

2) The NKF, strangely, according to the article, only supports 2,000 dialysis patients, and it raised S$67.5 million, without any clear fundraising goal or transparency in its projections to the unknowing public, which is interpreted as suggesting: The NKF is misleading members of the public about its work and mission

3) So NKF has an inefficient system, period, whatever pompous and arrogant answers its executives may give, which they conclude insinuates: The NKF’s dialysis programme and its management of public funds is inefficient


The first 2 statements were simply fair questions about where all the money was going to. If you're a registered charity - the largest in Singapore, no less, surely you have to justify to your donors what you're doing with your money. Only the third line is possibly defamatory.

Unfortunately, I don't think that he had the financial resources to challenge the largest charity in Singapore in court, what with our curiously strict defamatory laws.

At least we may hope that good will come out of all this; I hope that NKF will not meet its fund-raising target this year, now that Singaporeans are cognizant of its heavy-handed manner.

***

Reading JS Mill is like self-idulgent emotional masturbation. Sometimes I can't stop myself from gushing over certain passages, but I shall resist the temptation to add commentary about said passages.


Is free speech good in and of itself, or should it be upheld from a purely utilitarian perspective?

I am firmly convinced, in the manner of JS Mill, of the utilitarian argument for free speech, but intuitively I still retain an inclination towards it being good as a manner of principle.

Unfortunately, I have not resolved this question yet, but suffice to say that even if there's no satisfactory argument for it being a good in and of itself, there will not be a similar argument for censorship's being an intrinsic good, and since censorship requires more effort and is more of a deviation from the natural order of things than freedom of speech, therein might lie the answer.

Then again, I am an existentialist, so there might be some trouble in that department.

***

I thought that TBS had become less evil since his return, but someone related an anecdote that saddens me.

Someone had uploaded MP3s of the chorale to the chorale Yahoo Groups, but TBS told him to remove them, because he wanted to cut some CDs. 2 years later, the CDs are nowhere to be seen.

The CDs not being available is one thing, but he won't even let his own choir members have the mp3s of their singing!

***

Apparently a hobby in some circles is to go onto IRC, pretend to be a girl, arrange a meeting with Singapore's Most Handsome Guy: Steven Lim- Famous Street Eyebrow Plucker and then stand him up. Such stunts are now easier than ever, given that he has put his handphone number (93857300) on his page. Oh, and he's dropped his formerly astronomically high advertising rates. Now you can get a spot at the bottom of his page for a mere $10.


If someone had attempted to pull a Grayson in Singapore, he'd have been charged for (among other things) making mischief, trespassing on private property, being a public nuisance, threatening public order, health and safety and causing disorder. Oh, and he'd be sued to bankruptcy for the unauthorised used of trademarked characters. Which is why, instead of inventing the next iPod, we are stuck being one of the millions of companies trying to come up with an "iPod killer" - and not even being very successful at that, seeing as how we're only on the fourth page of search results.

***

"These, by the way, are the Power Rangers, and you are about to get your behind kicked!" - Professor Phenomenus Ingenious


[Duckie] whenever did the destruction of a megazord slow a monster down?
[Tommy] So they either had to pile on the explosive damage by destroying the Rescue Megazord too, or the Turbo Mega was a complete waste.
[Tommy] Well Duckie, I don't know, but I think that was the first time a megazord was used as a walking bomb for that express purpose.
[Duckie] and admit it..it was the best moment of turbo
[Duckie] u cheered
[Duckie] like many others
[Dragon_Dagger] best moment was when they left Justin on earth
[Duckie] after watching all of turbo..and u see the first zord go kaboom...u will do a vicotry dance yourself
[Duckie] when a few min later u see the 2nd one go kaboom
[Duckie] well..heaven on earth
[Tommy] Is Turbo really that bad?
[Duckie] in most peoples opinions..yes
[Tommy] I mean...when there are Big Bad Beetleborgs in the world...
[Tommy] And politicians..
[Duckie] the most positive thing people can say about it is "well it built up to IN SPACE which was great"


I actually declined my mother's offer to give me more pocket money. Wah.

I was at the Night Safari a few years back and there was this SPG with hoop earrings extending past her shoulders. They were so big, I swear I could have stuffed my head through them, with room to spare.

***

More fun readings:


Consumption Culture in Singapore - Singaporeans ingesting McDonalds

"The same ubiquity also lends to McDonald's outlets a sense of convenience as meeting places: they are open for long hours, near mass rapid transit stations and in busy thoroughfares that offer visual pleasure for those waiting for friends"
Translation: People go there to ogle.

Everyone loves Papua New Guinea. Since it is so isolated, and so many cultures have developed in isolation there, it is perfect for debunking the myth that certain social patterns are "natural" (and this by implication desirable). Take gender behavior for example. In the Mundugumor tribe, both men and women are aggressive. In the Arapesh tribe, both men and women are emotional. And in the Tchambuli tribe, men are emotional and women are aggressive. And, no, somehow excluding the examples of Papua New Guinea because they are savages and freaks just doesn't cut it (unless you accept the arguments of the Flat Earth Society too, in which case...).


The language of biology is not gender-neutral. Sperm are usually portrayed as the valiant knights while eggs are the damsels in distress. But apparently eggs are actually the ones which attract the sperm, not the other way around, but if this nugget is mentioned, the eggs are portrayed as femme fatales. Ah well.


Interesting quotes you will never see in the Nation Building Press:

"Indians, moreover, 'are naturally contentious'. Like women, they are loquacious and theatrical, too indulgent and irresponsible to be capable of the social discipline of 'hard' Confucian culture. (Quoted in Devon and Wong)

"Equal opportunities, yes, but we shouldn’t get our women into jobs where they cannot, at the same time, be mothers. You just can’t be doing a full-time, heavy job like a doctor or engineer and run a home and bring up children" (Source)

"[The] government was young, ignorant and idealistic when it gave women equal rights" (1994)

Also, when they had the Graduate Mothers Scheme, giving $10,000 to lower income families whose women underwent tubal ligation after their 2nd childs, the papers trumpeted that as being "a helping hand for lower income families" instead of being a thinly disguised attempt at eugenics.

Article 12 of the Singapore Constitution: "Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens of Singapore on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth" [Emphasis mine]. So there shall be discrimination on other grounds?


In modern capitalist societies, no less than in traditional ones, women are expected to hew to certain norms: beauty, makeup, dressing and the like. However, I would argue that the social sanctions imposed in modern societies on women who do not adhere to their norms are much more subtle and less severe than those imposed on women in traditional societies who do not adhere to their norms.

***

One person who is taking the South Asia module has fulfilled her Asian Studies requirement already (in taking South East Asia, which supposedly is easier than South Asia), and is taking South Asia because she "doesn't like lit". Wah. I thought everyone hated Asian Studies exposure modules.

I thought I saw this girl cuddling a stuffed toy in class. Then later I found out it was her pencilbox which was in the shape of a monkey.

Sitting in Law faculty waiting for my friend, I got asked by 3 people in a short period of time: "What are you doing here?". Argh! As I replied to the third person who asked me that in about 10 minutes: "Why can't I be here? NUS is my school too!"

Me on the USP Halloween party: maybe I should have gone with my green tail, pink monster boots and sword
Someone: er...what are you supposed to be? Power Ranger? or some monster from the show?


Quotes:

[On turning off cellular phones during lectures and the silencing of discussion being an assumption of infallibility] Maybe my friend is calling to tell me something about Mill that *** [the lecturer's name] will never realise in a million years, because *** is an idiot.

I'm probably not the first person to notice this. It's really insulting to my intelligence that Bill Gates thinks I need a talking paperclip to jolly me along... When I look at my computer I see a green landscape. Blue skies. Are they trying to trick me into thinking I'm looking out of a window?

Gabriel, what's your sex? [Me: Male] Why? [Me: Because that's what society decrees] What do you have that makes society say so? [Me: Because I possess *laughs from class* Because I possess male primary sexual characteristics] So diplomatic.

[Student on female sexual characteristics: Breasts] What if someone comes up to you and it's not evident?

*** is quite big-sized. When you look at him... [Someone: Breasts]

[Someone on female characteristics: Excessive hand gestures] I do that sometimes.

When I go around Geylang - for research, okay, not for recreational purposes

[On female behavior] That women are supposed to sit with their legs crossed. I see a lot of male lecturers who do that.

I think a lot of people are obsessed with that in Singapore. Whether a person is gay or lesbian.

[On gender socialisation] What she assigned to us was to have the men in the class perform as a woman. Wear a dress, perform the hand gestures... They taught us how to walk. (pretend to be women)

In other monkey tribes. Monkey societies. [I've been doing] Too much sociology.

Whatever that is deseminated to us (disseminated)

[On gender stereotypes] For every baby a man produces, he wastes 1 trillion sperm. A women wastes 200 eggs. When a guy masturbates - how? That is not seen as wasteful. That is a learning process.

The sperm is still being deseminated as the aggressor (portrayed)

Sometimes, reading through female magazines, for research, not for leisure

How many races are there in Singapore? [Me: Four] What are they? [Me: Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others] Very good.

The infamous 'others'. If you're not CMI, you are 'others'.

You may see me very passionate, because this is one of my favourite fields to talk about - race and gender. (me becoming)

[On bones in a room in Rwanda] These are not vegetablrs. These are human bones.

[On Sociology and alternate perspectives] All of us are here, in the end, to make a difference. I sound like a politician.

[On a girl sitting cross-legged on a chair] Why are you meditating? [Girl: Cold lah] [Me: I've always wanted to do that but my thighs are too big to fit on the chair]

[Tutor: The boys, can you say something?] Here no boys, only men *hoots of derision from others* (There are no boys here)

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