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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln

Random Playlist Song: Haydn - Sonata in C Major - Allegro con brio


Someone: I should add a folder to my Favourites: Blasphemous articles contributed by Gabriel

i realised i've been bookmarking ur blasphemous articles for future reading but..... the future ain't here yet

as in those things like Did Jesus Christ Live n Atheist on Judgment Day
interesting stuff

Nice to see that my efforts are bearing fruit :)


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Wowbagger responds vehemently to NUS being the 18th top university in the world:

The int'l students scores is very high, but it's not just that.

The "int'l faculty" scores are hilarious. NUS beats Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, CalTech, Stanford, Princeton, Chicago, UPenn, Columbia and Cornell, amongst others. Is there any "international" academic who would pick NUS over any of these? Note that the Brit universities rank the highest for this category --- do they hire a lot of international faculty?

I'm also wondering what "peers" were interviewed for "peer review" to place NUS above CalTech, LSE, Imperial, UT Austin, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell and Johns Hopkins. Perhaps they only interviewed regional "peers"?

Since this study is so obviously screwed, it may not be advisable to draw much from non-NUS related scores. But the citations/faculty column is more objective --- harder to unfairly skew than the rest, so it may be informative that no British universities scored above 50, while CalTech, which is tiny compared to the average size of its peers, scored a whopping 400. And NUS is placed in its right place with an 18.

Student/faculty score is also poor, but it is in the normal range for public universities.

Full report at

Sure enough, the academics were asked to nominate "the geographical areas on which they felt able to comment". So the rankings are probably only accurate when comparing institutions in the same region.

Yes, but it also says that:

"QS surveyed 1,300 academics in 88 countries. Each was asked to nominate both the academic subjects and the geographical areas on which they felt able to comment, and QS sought other respondents to balance nominations in academic discipline and location. The academics were each asked to name the top institutions in the areas and subjects on which they felt able to make an informed judgement." [Emphasis mine]

I'm not sure that, in a globalised world, geographical boundaries are such potent barriers in academia. And at the very least, the Premier Institution of Social Engineering measures up well when compared with other asian universities.

It must be noted, though, that since Singapore is so small, a disproportionate number of our faculty will necessarily be of international origin. But "int'l faculty score" is only 10% of the grade, so.




see the latest chick tract...paranoid, insane, hateful...just the way we like them!

this is another tract, hawks the "Mohd is a paedophile" tagline...

i love the fact that Chick uses a recurring his early days you had Bob Williams, now you have Little Suzy, whose grandfather is George, the Judge that Bob saved in "The Last Judge"...

what can i say, Jack Chick must be credited for his world-building capabilities to rival the minds behind the superheroes..."

My favourite is the one where the World Court bans christianity and where the New Age Healer looks like a comic book supervillain! (


For those who haven't tired of them, more articles on the RIAA and copyright:

The Internet Debacle - Al Alternative View - "Free works. I've found that to be true myself; every time we make a few songs available on my website, sales of all the CDs go up. A lot... the music industry had exactly the same response to the advent of reel-to-reel home tape recorders, cassettes, DATs, minidiscs, VHS, BETA, music videos ("Why buy the record when you can tape it?"), MTV, and a host of other technological advances designed to make the consumer's life easier and better. I know because I was there.... I am objecting to the RIAA spin that they are doing this to protect "the artists", and make us more money. I am annoyed that so many records I once owned are out of print, and the only place I could find them was Napster. Most of all, I'd like to see an end to the hysteria that causes a group like RIAA to spend over 45 million dollars in 2001 lobbying "on our behalf", when every record company out there is complaining that they have no money."

Fallout - a follow up to The Internet Debacle - "Water is free, but a lot of us drink bottled water because it tastes better. You can get coffee at the office, but you're likely to go to Starbucks or the local espresso place, because it tastes better. When record companies start making CD's that offer consumers a reason to buy them... we will buy them. The songs may be free on line, but the CD's will taste better."


Apparently the reasons sentences in Singapore are (almost) always upped on appeal to the Chief Justice are that the public good takes precedence over the private good, and also for consistency in sentencing. But that raises questions with regard to:

- judicial discretion in deciding sentences (eg mitigating factors, compassionate reasons)
- the question of rehabilitation vs punishment (or indeed, societal vindictiveness). What if people come out of prison more criminal than ever, thanks to their prolonged exposure to prison life?
- fairness to the criminal (just because you happened to have committed a crime does not make you sub-human, and indeed animals too have rights)
- and proportionate punishment ("My object all sublime,
I shall achieve in time-- To let the punishment fit the crime-- The punishment fit the crime")

The public good is one thing, but after all society is made up of individuals.

Anyhow, this seems to go against the spirit of the Yellow Ribbon campaign - how do you expect to re-integrate former criminals if you come down overly hard on them?

Interesting pages from a textbook used in Singapore till the mid-80s:

"What do girls do???

Siew ling is skipping along the lane
She sews a dress for her sister
She washes the clothes every other day
She cleaned the table just now
The girls cleaned the house themselves"

Some people criticise rationalism as a model for finding and defining truth. However, while it is said of some disciplines that they're like being on a boat in the middle of the ocean and rebuilding it plank by plank, surely this is like being in a submarine at the bottom of the Marianas Trench and trying to reconstruct it plate by plate. If one succeeds in discrediting rationality, then one's own argument against rationality becomes invalid.

I've finally seen someone with both hoop earrings and a ponytail.


You can't teach, and you can't add value to law students much, because they come into law faculty thinking they know everything.

The university also insists that you have a test. What they call a 'quiz'. I don't like the word.

Unfortunately we will not be doing the law of defamation. It is also a tort. Although there are lots of interesting cases. As you know Singapore is the leading country in the law of defamation in the common law world. And it's one of my areas of forte. But I won't be doing that, because I think out of this whole class probably 2 or 3 of you might become a Minister of State or a Minister. And maybe Prime Minister, and then you'll be interested in the law of defamation. The rest of you, I don't think you'll be interested. (practise of the)

I would like to appeal to all my students, scholarship students from India. Because historical records show, not all of them - many of them are very good - but some of them only turn up for my last revision lecture... I think you should attend even if it means that you've had a very late friday night. Just come here, sit down and have a good snooze, because something that I say will get in there. Because I want to avoid embarassing you on the last day... Why is it that I can spot you? It's very difficult to remember the non-chinese, so I may not recognise if you came or not... But Indian faces, I can remember. (even if, non-Indians)

Nowadays when they appear in court... the young magistrates or districtor judges actually pull out, I don't know whether it's a black book or a yellow book, they maintain a book where they have all these sentences decided by the Chief Justice, so they say: oh this is a molest of the shoulder. 2 years, 4 strokes. He doesn't even think! *laughs from audience* There's no more the thinking process, there's no more judicial discretion because he feels bound.

[On sentencing] He doesn't even have the strength of heart to raise his head and look at the accused person. Not all of them lah, some of them, to be able to say: I am now exercising my discretion, but he doesn't even say. He just looks down, because he's reading his book, and he says: I am, this is a very sad case... a very sad case, but what has been done is a very serious offence - he has to say something right? Otherwise *laughs from audience* otherwise why do you pay him for?... 'In spite of the excellent mitigation plea, unfortunately, I am bound by the benchmark', and these are the words... He, in his heart, wants to impose a sentence of 1 year, 2 strokes, but the CJ has said: molest of the shoulder, doesn't matter whether it's 12 year old or 40 years old, makes no difference. Remember, judges. It is 2 years, 4 strokes. Doesn't matter whether it was because, heavy rain, you had to put your hand on her, on the other lady's shoulder, all this is immaterial... I'm told that they have every different part of the body all listed out... The idea is you administer the criminal justice system, the rule of law, for the public good. That's what the CJ says. Public policy overrides individual rights or liberties. (discretion)

[To a foreign student on Singapore law] We can't change. Anyway you'll be going back to your country and you'll be happy.

[On blocking laws] In India, what do they do? They kidnap some of the members of parliament *laughs from audience*

[On retrospective legislation] There was this famous lawyer. His name was Kenneth Edward Hilborn. He had been practising for many many years in Singapore... Ken Hilborn was quite a maverick, but he knew his law very well... He knew that no legislative sanction by way of [an] Act of Parliament had been passed for the purposes of collecting revenue. So what did he do? He had a sports car, a Volvo sportscar... That fine morning, he drove through the gantry. The police, of course, promptly stopped him. And this happened near the Istana. The gantry near the Istana. The police stopped him and he told the police officer, the policer officer said: I want your particulars. He said: I refuse to give you my particular. He said: No you have infringed the law, you don't have a coupon... Ken Hilborn said, I didn't infringe any law, there is no such law. But of course you don't argue with the police in Singapore. And he was promptly charged in court for the criminal offence of driving without the necessary coupon. And who do you think was his lawyer? The famous barrister JB Jeyaratnam. Jeyaratnam appeared for Mr Hilborn and unfortunately for this particular young magistrate, who had just returned from Cambridge... the case came up behind him... 'Retrospective legislation is bad'. So all this fairly idealistic... as long as there is no law there is no law. [He] Made the decision and said that Ken Hilborn was right and acquitted him... There was an emergency convening of Parliament... In the same day... all three sittings - Parliament sat - first reading, second reading, third reading - the law passed. Retrospective legislation. Law passed to take effect so many months before... What happened to ken Hilborn? He fell out of favour. What happened to Mr Jeyaratnam, you all know.

Parliament cannot tell the Courts what to do. A Member of Parliament can't call up the Chief Justice and say: I want you to decide the case in this manner. [To someone] You're smiling. Theoretically speaking, they can't. *laughs from audience* But I don't think it happens in singapore.

Can I see the class rep please? No class rep? This is the first time I've heard that.

[On someone with elaborate home experiment setups] Ikea is your friend.

[On testing a home project - earphones] Are you playing Elvis [on your laptop]? [Someone: Are you kidding?] You'll get higher marks.

[On rule-utilitarianism] 'But she's old. I could kill her and distribute her money to the poor'. No! It's not a good idea.

Now this sign, as you can see, has been cunningly photoshopped by me, but it used to be a real sign.

[On Socrates] So if you learn one thing in this semester, learn that - this is true science - hemlock is poison. Don't drink hemlock.

'We were not suddenly transformed from customers to consumers by willy manufacturers eager to unload a surplus of crappy products'. You're not allowed to say 'crappy' in your paper but this guy said it in his book so I had to say it on my slide. (put)

[On Isaiah Berlin] He says, there are over 200 senses of liberty used in the history of the subject. I think he's, I think he's bluffing. I don't think you could come up with more than 12.

The thing that struck me about this passage was that each of our thinkers: Plato, Descartes, Mill, Berlin - would in a sense, would in one sense agree and in another sense disagree with the passage. Very strongly, in fact... and if you can see what that point of agreement and disagreement is, you'll understand why I call my module 'Reason and Persuasion' now. There is a sense that the storyline of the course can be run through the, ah, passage. And so you get a big A plus if you can write a nice summary about why it was so wise of me to call my course 'Reason and Persuasion' because that was the secret logic behind, er, why I picked it. Especially if you're my student, and you thereby flatter my sensibilities.

I tried looking for anti-Buddhist websites, but I couldn't find [any].

If you take section 301 for example, can you see how many lines or how many words before a full stop? Do you know why lawyers or legal language was in this fashion and in old form? Because in the olden days lawyers got paid by the number of folios. That means the longer the sentence, the longer the pages, the more the lawyer got paid.

In 1994 I wrote to the Chief Justice... 'I think we should have a plain english movement for lawyers in Singapore'. I was prepared to receive a very curt letter saying 'Mind your own business'.

The marriage certificate is a very important document. That's a reason why the Registrar actually gives it to the lady and not to the man. Have you noticed that at the registration ceremony the Registrar very religiously gives it only to the lady, he never ever gives it to the man. Because men hardly keep any documents carefully. And it's more useful and more protective for the woman. Women's charter, don't forget.

After a few years, he tells you say, let's assume in the 7th or 8th year of marriage he says: 'I think it's about time we have kids' and so on. 'I think you can't continue even though you're now the head of some engineering unit in Motorola. You need to be a good mother. Government encourages all these tax perks, all the tax breaks. Forget your 4 years of engineering study, you are a fanastic student, but nevermind. I think you need to sit at home and procreate'. What a sad indictment, to tell all our ladies to sit at home and procreate.

The queen ag'ceeded (acceded)

Unfortunately, gentlemen I have to tell you, that the family court in Singapore... unfortunately it is manned almost exclusively... by female judges, and I don't think you're gonna get very much indulgence... I happened to attend one of the hearings... and there was this case of a husband who was a taxi driver, unemployed, had lost his job and was trying to get a taxi license again and was trying to get another job, and there was a maintenance order made to provide $500 to his wife and child. He had failed to make the payments. He asked for indulgence, he paid, after the order he paid again then he fell into arrears again and the wife went to court and asked for a maintenance order again to enforce, and this female judge who I shall not name, did not want to hear the pitiful plea of the husband. 'Look, I am trying my level best. I can't find a job.' This is recession Singapore, 1997. 'I honestly cannot find a job. Why do you think I would not want to support my own child?' The judge didn't want to believe him at all and sent him to jail.

Women are gaining much more in divorce, when it comes to men. And recent examples in New York... Women are gaining much more rights and privileges, even more than men. Men are always - I don't think you're saying born losers right? But they appear to be born losers. Unfortunately that's the law... It is not that the law goes out, sets out to make life difficult for men. I don't think judges go to the family court and say: Okay, how many men am I going to today, make their lives miserable?... We are going to make the lives of men very miserable. (than)

You may find your dinner 'shiok', which is mar'lay, for example (malay)

[On essays in exams] I've had people who've written that as a sort of explanation: 'I'm sorry Sir, I didn't have enough time'

instairbility (instability)

He patterns drug A (patents)

This thing, I don't know why it's here, but it comes in handy for me to use as a, as a example. Okay, here ah, by the way this is Singapore FHM ah, okay. I don't why is it here, it's not mine. (an)

literally work (literary)

write a no'vearl (novel)

If you are a budding songwriter or a musical guy... if you think you can make money here you're pretty much wasting your time. You should, er, you'll make more money by being an engineer.

co-incidentally (coincidentally)

If you call your produce 'triple A', and then your mark is 3 As ah, one on top, two at the bottom, designed in a particular way, ah. Ah, that can be registerable. But not if you just use three As standing side by side. That, apart from being such a moronic design, is so common that the, the registry will just say that you, you can do better than that.

[On peddlers of illegal goods] What can he [the company] do? Don't know?... Recruit? Oh recruit him to sell your product? That's a very no'vearl way of doing things. A good idea. (novel)

[On a lecture on sexuality and gender where the LT was the most full it had ever been, with people sitting cross legged on the floor even] I love doing this lecture. We always get great turnout... You get the football club, all of these guys show up. 'Oh great, talk about sex'.

How many people in here have ever had sex? It's all right. It's the last class. No need to be shy.

How many people in here are male? [Few guys raise their hands] It's not a test. How many people in here are female? Interesting: the girls know who they are. A few people at the back raised their hands twice.

[On treating different sexes differently] It's very different from one of my female colleagues, whom I won't punch and grunt with. Talk about, I don't know, the weather, the new cooking.

How prevail'lent this is (prevalent)

It made me so mad when my sister said that GI Joe was just a doll. He has a parachute, machine gun... He's an action figure. I proved it. GI Joe went into the room. He stabbed Barbie with a knife, tied her up.

[On pages from a textbook used in Singapore till the mid-80s reinforcing gender stereotypes] It sounds like it'd make someone a good maid one day.

[On it being in vogue to enlarge noses and breasts in Singapore, but the reverse in the US] You can come here and make them larger, go back [to the US] and have it reduced (them)

[On adventures in Sumatra] I hired a tour guide to take me to a Minangkabau village. My tour guide was a Minangkabau too. Strangely, his name was Elvis. I asked Elvis...

[On a Papua New Guinean tribe where the males oppressed the females, but not for sexual ends, thereby debunking the Collins-Conflict Theory/Brawn Theory] The male Egna are terrified of sex. When a female comes around: 'Come here, come here', they scream and run off

I'm going to amuse you, and myself. I'm going to explain this course in terms of the Matrix, just for fun.
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