"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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Sunday, November 07, 2004

"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that's how dogs spend their lives." - Sue Murphy

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Park Service Sticks With Biblical Explanation For Grand Canyon - "The Bush Administration has decided that it will stand by its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, according to internal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)."

The No-Fun Religion - "I came across this notebook (attached) while web shopping and thought this [Ed: 'anything fun is wrong'] was the perfect title / cover for the JW Handbook."

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Someone once tried to argue to me that being given a choice between roasting in hellfire in torment for all eternity and accepting a dubious proposition constituted 'free will'. However, coercion by means of threats detracts from free will. If I extract a confession from someone by torture, it doesn't mean that the confession was given of the person's free will. If a robber says to someone: 'your money or your life', there is no genuine choice and no free will. Unless, of course, one changes the conventional meaning of the term "free will" (haven't we heard this before?).

Isaiah Berlin:

"‘Negative liberty’ is something the extent of which, in a given case, it is difficult to estimate. It might, prima facie, seem to depend simply on the power to choose between at any rate two alternatives. Nevertheless, not all choices are equally free, or free at all. If in a totalitarian state I betray by friend under threat of torture, perhaps even if I act from fear of losing my job, I can reasonably say that I did not act freely. Nevertheless, I did, of course, make a choice, and could, at any rate in theory, have chosen to be killed or tortured or imprisoned. The mere existence of alternatives is not, therefore, enough to make my action free (although it may be voluntary) in the normal sense of the world."

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Some academics in Singapore hold views that are actually quite subversive, and could be labelled as detrimental to nation building and national unity by those who brook no dissent. Yet, said views are tolerated, and are allowed publication.

Partially, this is because the Powers That Be respect academic integrity. Possibly more importantly, there is also little or no attempt to actively propagate these views to the Unwashed Masses, through the mass media or otherwise. Dangerous Ideas thus cannot get out and erode the Asian Values of our populace at large through Cultural Imperialism.

It helps, too, that much (or indeed most) of academia is boring and couched in rarefied language, so none but academics read about these views. The populace at large also cannot really be bothered to engage overly intellectual ideas. Also, things that are academic/theoretical are easy to 'debunk' in 'reality', or with pragmatism.

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There's a very good non-economic reason why Singapore should promote the acceptance of gays and other people with alternate sexualities: racial harmony.

Sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and a general dislike of people different from oneself generally come hand in hand. Eliminate or minimise one, and people have less propensity for the rest.

"What they do not understand, they fear. What they fear, they destroy." - Forging the Darksword

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Amartya Sen observed that "no famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy" because democratic governments "have to win elections and face public criticism, and have strong incentive to undertake measures to avert famines and other catastrophes."

But perhaps cause and effect have been mixed - democracy reigns in those nations because they are fortunate enough not to suffer famines, or for the same reasons that they don't suffer famines.

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I took out my Wo-hen Nankan card to show some people, and was surprised (and gratified too) to have one person shout with recognition: 'That's Wo-hen Nankan!'. Meanwhile, someone else cried: 'That's carrot top!'. Then some people discussed setting a website advertising a 'Wo-gen Nankan'. Some possible candidates for that persona included Steven Lim and Xiaxue.

Recently I've been getting a rash of (mostly) 27 year old women asking me to authorise them on ICQ. However, when I message them asking them who they are, I get no reply, and their ICQ details are filled with rubbish alphanumeric characters (except for their names and ages). Mysterious.

I hate idiots who, during concerts, jerk their hands about wildly and pretend to be the conductor. It's almost as bad as those people who hum during concerts.

'Feifei starlet fashion L-XXXXXXL. Ladies wear big sizes available ranging from L-XXXXXXL' - Seen in Orchard Plaza, next to Meridien, a place with many 'health' centres. What an unfortunate name (Feifei means 'fat fat' in chinese).
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