photo blog_head_zpsfzwide7v.jpg
Valar Qringaomis

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Friday, June 04, 2004

Extracts from Huntington's "Clash of Civilisations" (mostly as quoted by The Associate aka He Who Must Not be Named aka mindgame aka nw.t.):

"During the last decades of the twentieth century both Islam and Christianity significantly expanded their members in Africa and a major shift toward Christianity occurred in South Korea. In rapidly modernizing societies, if the traditional religion is unable to adapt to the requirements of modernization the potential exists for the spread of Western Christianity and Islam. In these societies, the most successful protagonists of Western culture are not neo-classical economists or crusading democrats or multinational corporation execs. They are and most likely will continue to be Christian missionaries. Neither Adam Smith nor Thomas Jefferson will meet the psychological, emotional, moral, and social needs of urban migrants and first-generation secondary school graduates. Jesus Christ may not meet them either, but He is likely to have a better chance.

In the long run, however, Mohammed wins out. Christianity spreads primarily by conversion, Islam by conversion and reproduction. The percentage of Christians in the world peaked at about 30 percent in the 1980s, leveled off, is now declining, and will probably approximate about 25 percent of the world’s population by 2025. As a result of their extremely high rates of population growth, the proportion of Muslims in the world will continue to increase dramatically, amounting to 20 percent of the world’s population about the turn of the century, surpassing the number of Christians some years later, and probably accounting for about 30 percent of the world’s population by 2025."

nw.t: Huntington claims that the islamic resurgence is a primarily urban, middle-class process and he finds parallels in marxisim in that an educated intellectual elite is at the radical forefront of fundamentalist movements.

***

"Whenever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems livng peaceably with their neighbours. The question naturally arises as to whether this pattern of late twentieth-century conflict between Muslim and non-Muslim groups is equally true of relations between groups of other civilisations. In fact, it is not. Muslims make up about one-fifth of the world's population but in the 1990s they have been far more involved in intergroup violence than the people of any civilisation.

Muslims were participants in 26 of 50 ethnopolitical conflicts in 1993-1994. Twenty of these conflicts were between groups from different civilizations of which fifteen were between Muslims and non-Muslims. There conflicts within Islam also were more numerous than those in any other civilisation, including tribal conflicts in Africa. In contrast to Islam, the West was involved in only two intracivilizational and two intercivilisational conflicts.

Of the six wars in which 200,000 or more were killed, three were between Muslims and Non-Muslims (Sudan, Bosnia, East Timor), two were between Muslims (Somalia, Iraq - Kurds), and only one involved only Non-Muslims.

In the early 19990s, two thirds to three-quarters of intercivilizational war were between Muslims and non-Muslims, and Muslims were involved in more intracivilizational violence than any other group. Islam's borders are bloody, and so are its innards.

Muslim states also have had a high propensity to report to violence in international crises, employing it to resolve 76 out of 142 crises in which they were involved between 1928 and 1979. In 25 cases, violence was the primary means of dealing with the crisis, in 51 Muslim states used violence in addition to other means.

When they did use violence, Muslims used high-intensity violence, resorting to full-scale war in 41 percent of the cases where violence was used and engaging in major clashes in another 38 percent of the cases. While Muslim states resorted to violence in 53.5% of their crises, the United States only responded in 17.9%. Among the major powers only China's violence propensity exceeded that of the Muslim states; it employed violence in 76.9% of its crises. Muslim bellicosity (and Chinese too it seems) annd violence are late twentieth century facts which neither Muslims nor non-Muslims can deny."

nw.t: bwahahaahahaha listen to huntington's cop out

"It may be true that Christians in the past killed fellow Christians and other people in massive numbers but to evaluate the violence propensities of civilisations throughout history would require extensive research which is impossible here... what can be done is to identify possible causes of current Muslim group violence and distinguish between those causes which explain a greater propensity toward group conflict throughout history, and those causes relevant only to the end of the 20th century."

nw.t: off hand a casual reading of historical statistics would have shown that the western christian civilisation at one point had the highest propensity to violence in far greater quantities than any other civilization extatnt - and this propensity would stretch all the way from the renaissnace to the sunset of empire and colonialism

the question is why islam has inherited that mantle now; and i think part of it can be explained due to the monotheistic, proselytizing nature of their religions; and the fact that civilizations in ascendance (like the West was thanks to superior science, military power and economic clout at one point) and civilizations in resurgence as the West declines (Islam) tend to start looking for elbow room, particularly when the resurgent civilization is ALSO identified with a montheistic, proselytizing religion.


***

nw.t: between 1928 and 1979, the Soviets used force in 28.5% of their crises; the Chinese ratio was 76.9%

soviet vs china is proof (according to huntington) of an early manifestation of how intercivilisational faultlines were present even during the ideologically bipolar cold war period

i think it was due mainly to a chinese need to be superior even under the guise of ideological similarity if chinese had been a fascist state, they'd have complained that the nazies weren't killing jews fast enough and that they (after wiping out their tiny jew enclaves along the northeastern coast) were the true inheritors of judenrein and lebensraum concepts:)
"Thou shalt be for fuel to the fire; thy blood shall be in the midst of the land; thou shalt be no more remembered: for I the LORD have spoken it." - Ezekiel 21:32

Ironically, the very inclusion of this prophecy in Ezekiel has conspired to negate it. (As pointed out by the excellent though interminable An Introduction to Biblical Nonsense which I am taking forever to wade through.

***

Disturbingly, sometimes the smell of Vanilla Coke reminds me of insecticide.

***

A contributor has provided the 100th entry of How Girls Waste Time:

"An unending preoccupation with marriage/fantasising about marriage/ adopting the last name of each new boyfriend that comes along and writing it all over notebooks and folders in nothing other than sparkle pens and girly fonts etc..."

***

Suit: TV show demeans voodoo

An advocacy group for African religions contends that the Sci Fi Channel series degrades the religion.


A Philadelphia-based advocacy group for African religions yesterday sued Universal Studios and producers for cable's Sci Fi Channel, contending that a forthcoming "reality series" demeans and misrepresents the voodoo religion.

The federal lawsuit filed by the National African Religion Congress Inc. against Universal Studios Inc., USA Cable Entertainment, and House of Eleven Productions seeks a court order requiring the producers of Mad Mad House to change their advertising and programming.

"People already have negative feelings about this religion without a program like this exacerbating things," said George Ware, president of the five-year-old congress. The congress claims 4,500 members representing such religions as Akan, the Orisa Tradition of Trinidad and Tobago, Ifa, Santeria-Yoruba, voodoo, Candomble and Lucumi, including 500 in the tristate Philadelphia area.

In promotions in print and on cable, Sci Fi describes Mad Mad House, premiering March 4, as a reality series in which "10 everyday people" move into a house run by "five genuine practitioners of alternative lifestyles."

The "Alts" - a vampire, Wiccan, naturist, voodoo priestess and modern primitive - put their 10 guests through "tolerance testing activities," one promotion says, and then vote weekly to decide who is banished and who ultimately wins a $100,000 prize.

The lawsuit contends that the program's voodoo priestess, Iya Ta'Shia Asanti, is actually a priestess of "Yemoja in the Ifa tradition," a faith of the Yoruba people of Africa.

Asanti does not dress as a voodoo priestess, the lawsuit continues, and a commercial showing participants being placed into a pit and covered with animal parts and entrails does not represent voodoo or Ifa.

A spokesman for producers Arthur Smith and Kent Weed in Los Angeles referred questions to Universal's offices for the Sci Fi Channel in New York. Kat Stein, a senior vice president for communications, said she could not comment on the suit before consulting with the channel's lawyers.

The lawsuit contends that producers reached an agreement with Asanti only after Gro Mambo Angela Novanyon, a recognized Haitian voodoo high priestess in Philadelphia who founded the congress, refused to participate in Mad Mad House.

The lawsuit asks for a federal judge to require the producers of Mad Mad House to properly identify Asanti as an Ifa, not a voodoo, priestess and prohibit them from "airing any episode... that falsely portrays any practice of African-based religions."
Search referrals:

cosplay windy skirt - What does that have to do with cosplay?

"once armour always suffer" - Someone else has heard of Junxiong's motto, I see.

epididymis omelette

umno ringtone note - Umno has a ringtone?

"daniel radcliffe" "chest hair" - Maybe in the next movie, instead of seeing Emma Watson's bare back, we can see Daniel Radcliffe's bare chest.

"Elitist Mindset" AND "Singapore" AND "teenagers"

PEARLY PENILE PUPILS PICS - Pearly Penile Pupils? PPP?!

scgs havoc
Tourism, scgs, singapore - So now tourists are coming to see them. Their infamy precedes them.

desktoppers nude

"National Cadet Corps" stupid - Our modern day Hitler Jugend

lowest-skirt - That's a new direction for hemlines to go.

metaphors for Hep B

Nutella Pigs blood

safety slogans - "Be safe, don't train"

Malay wedding speaches

schoolgirl wearing sanitary pad got fucked - How can you wear one and be screwed at the same time?

did jamie yeo get a boob job - Ask her.

"he shaved his legs"

power ranger font - There is one?

What round object did Gollum refer to as "My Precious" - I must have seen this at least 5 times before, phrased exactly the same way and from the same search engine. Someone's quite slow on the uptake.

"gaia theory" catholicism

air stewardess zao geng - Just fly SIA.

vaginal maximum object insertion size photo gallery - Erm. That would depend on your elasticity.

"nam wah pai" melbourne - They're taking over the world!

rjc untucked uniform

saf depression downgrade pes

caning experiences

sicheng nice guy

genting island-gay spa ;bar;disco

Omnia Slimming machine

Aragorn's Xanga Site - Now fictional people have blogs? Wow.

singapore sucks reservist migrate

photos longest beard ever

Mr Ms Mrs "Ong Chiau Jin"

ISD agent Chua Lee Hoong

singapore pimples statistic

sword+fighting+techniques

"use mayonnaise" to clean cd

gargamel bigmouth underwear

minoan sacrifice barbie dolls - "Minoan Priestess Barbie": comes with traditional breast-baring top!

Bare-breasted women readers, I assume, most would agree is odd.) - Some people don't know how to use search engines.

cicadas torturing -iraqi -prisoner

switching bodies with a hot babe - That might be fun.

"Brad Pitt" "naked at home"

How to catch Singapore girls zao geng - If someone wrote a book on this, he would earn lots of money.

Singaporean politician compromising position - Steve Chia!

nude saf girls - *Screams* I've just lost my appetite.

abortion in klcc toilet

"who killed Grace Kelly"

"Movie Torture Scenes" - Just watch Passion of the Christ.

"How can I get fat" - Most ask the reverse.

photo of bcg scar

kermit stoned wavs

"blanket party" bmt

lesbian "nanyang girls"

starhub green prepaid secret code for sms

christians yaoi

What is the best household item for a woman to masterbate with?
woman masterbate using what food? - I see the question has been refined to specify the masterbater's gender. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be increasing the accuracy of their search results. In the off chance that the person who keeps searching for this reads this - try cucumbers, advocados and baguettes.

did achilles cut off hector's tongue in the movie troy? - He didn't do a lot of things.

POCM SAF medic - Interestingly, the SMM website offers restricted information on POCM under their "health facts" section. How odd.

dildo tudung

Thursday, June 03, 2004

As the Harry Potter books get longer and the movies stay roughly the same length, they're cutting more and more bits away. The latest movie feels very rushed. Few of the characters spend enough time onscreen being developed. Perhaps this is because it weighs in at only 142 mins compared to 161 mins and 152 mins for the second and first film, respectively, while having much more to cover (though somehow managing to keep countless shots of Emma Watson's naked lower back). I can't imagine what GoF will be like. [Ed: This was the post which started all the Emma Watson search referrals.]

Meanwhile, I was speechless after finding out that Day After Tomorrow - the movie which violates most of the laws of nature - had a "scientific advisor" with a pHD. I'm not sure if he'll ever be able to show his face anywhere again.

***

Information on my foremost Idol is terribly hard to find. If only I understood Vietnamese... Then I would also be able to go down to Vietnam to track him down!


there are some things money CAN'T buy. the commercial is right!!!

"We walked past a very familiar looking person. 'Gramma!!' I hissed 'Look in there!! It's HIM!!!' She looked around 'Where? WHO?' 'IN THE RESTAURANT!!!' 'IT'S THE GUY FROM THE POSTER!!!' 'Ohhh, you're RIGHT! And he's EATING!!... we did get to watch this guy stuffing noodles into his mouth:



Don't even PRETEND you aren't jealous. YOU ARE. Seeing this guy is BETTER than winning money. Way better.

If you'd like to meet me in person to hear the fabulous re-telling of the story, you just let me know."

Wo-Hen!!!!

Xephyris: "it's UNPOSSIBLE!!! HE DOES NOT EXIST!! IT"S A CONSPIRACY!!!!!111111oneone"


Power-Ballad-N-Vote! by Vu Nguyen

"There were more than 180 performers on hand, but the zenith of the show arrived with Tuan Anh, Little Saigon’s most famous cross-dressing balladeer. Anh’s vibe is best described as Little Richard meets Perry Como. He crooned for a short set while potential voters cheered in unison. It was a defining moment: Anh is the darling of the community’s older generation; younger Vietnamese-American voters are just as likely as their non-Vietnamese peers to listen to KROQ."

ROFL. Does Wo-hen lives in Orange County in California??? That would explain how the US college student found out about him.




Wo-hen's latest CD. From his Asian Avenue page.


Finally, the tour de force:

>>08.17.02

"the second installment of my vacation - LA. we`re at the mall, shopping at Macy`s in the shoe department. i`m trying on these really cute Max Azria stilletos that are on sale for only $50. i glance up and see a vietnamese man with long hair. he looks strangely familiar. i lean over towards my mom -

"hey look, that man looks like that man," i whisper surruptitiously.

"what?" my mom replies, puzzled.

"that SINGER? tuan anh or something?"i hiss, nodding in the long-haired man`s direction. he is looking at women`s shoes.

"OH," my mom acknowledges. "that`s him," my mom shrugs, unimpressed.

well I`M impressed. it`s my first celebrity citing, even if it IS a transsexual looking vietnamese singer from the 80`s. i tried to take a picture of him, but my mom wouldn`t let me."

Xephyris: "i used to think his face was a photoshopped composite w"

FAT HOPE. Wo-hen is *REAL*!~! (I don't have the hang of sounding ditzy with the tilde sign. Sorry.)

[Ed: For those who have no idea what I'm talking about - Asian Prince]
"Steve Chia is enrolled in a nude photography class at the Photographic Society of Singapore. Lol."

It's depressing. No one knows who Steve Chia is. I do, and I don't even read the Straits Times.

***

Muslim veil could cut cancer risk: doctor - "Veiled women are protecting more than their modesty - they are also less prone to nose and throat cancers because their veils screen out viruses, a Canadian doctor was quoted on Friday as saying."

Here, Have Some Plot (Return of the Revenge of the Geek Chorus) - "the different mediums of comic-book, film, and animated serial allow, and even require, different narrative styles and character development. When a movie or ‘toon disappoints, it’s usually because of a failure to effectively transition the key elements of a world from medium to medium."

something positive on why nice guys never get the girls - "They flock to assholes! And the worse, the better! They love guys who'll mistreat them, talk down to them, cheat on them and completely neglect their feelings"

From Texas to Abu Ghraib: The Bush Legacy of Prisoner Abuse - "In George Bush’s America, denial about inmate mistreatment runs similarly rampant. As Texas governor, Bush oversaw the executions of 152 prisoners and thus became the most-killing governor in the history of the United States. Ethnic minorities, many of whom did not have access to proper legal representation, comprised a large percentage [Ed: 92% in 1988] of those Bush put to death, and in one particularly egregious example, Bush executed an immigrant who hadn’t even seen a consular official from his own country (as is required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which the US was a signatory). Bush’s explanation: "Texas did not sign the Vienna Convention, so why should we be subject to it?" Governor Bush also flouted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by choosing to execute juvenile offenders, a practice shared by only Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen... In September 1996, for example, a videotaped raid on inmates at a county jail in Texas showed guards using stun guns and an attack dog on prisoners, who were later dragged face-down back to their cells."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Picture time



BJ - the reflexology studio. "Why go to JB when you can relax at BJ?" What a great name for a massage parlour! (Benjy first told me about it, and a few weeks later I happened to see it while I was in Geylang)



Someone's dress has caught a spot of measles. How dreadful.



Evil Torture Device offered as a free gift with a one year SPH subscription at the World Book Fair.

***

It seems that my banana rant has gotten a response of sorts, though instead of addressing my original points, he has gone off on a tangent.

In any case, my original points still stand. If one wants to learn a language to understand one's "roots" (however possible that is with mere linguistics), your ethnic group's dialect, and not Putonghua, is *the* tongue to learn.

The bottom line: We didn't choose to be born into our ethnic group, so it should dictate our choice of language and lifestyle as much as it should dictate our religious beliefs or attitudes towards women/foreigners/ethnic minorities or what not.

***

Hot news on the Darkness Demo!

"Response to the Darkness Demo has been encouraging. So I hope that you'll be pleased to hear that production of level 2 has started. Here are some questions that I thought people might ask... but they didn't so I ask them myself =P

Q: Why is there a red fish sticker on the handheld torch?
A: Because the handheld torch is a... wait for it... RED HERRING! It doesn't work and is there to mislead you. Red herring! Geddit? Geddit? *crowd boos*

Q: Is there a nude cheat?
A: Try typing "i am a pervert" as password. LOL!

Some interesting comments from various people.

ChinX asks "Can you include the St. Nicks Girls School (SNGS) school uniform next? I like the blue."

Yes, will do. For all your fetish needs. Ahahaha. Expect nurses in the next level too. Lazyeye (or is it Teo?) finds nurses' unform sexy because he likes the zip that goes down all the way in front. Haha. Whatever rows your boat and flys your kite. LOL!"

***

"Cynicism, after all, springs not from cruelty or viciousness, but from precisely the opposite: a fatal love of virtue. If we were mere realists, we'd have no need for cynicism; the world would never disappoint us because we'd expect so little of it. But the best cynics are still idealists under their scarred hides. We wanted the world to be a better place, and we can't shrug off the disappointment when it lets us down. Our cynicism gives us the painful power to behold life shorn of its sustaining illusions"

The Cynic's Sanctuary

***

From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity

"Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising."

***

"Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship:

Controlling behavior.
Jealousy and possessiveness.
Misogyny.
Mood swings and short temper.
Threats, intimidation, and physical violence.
Emotional abuse and putdowns.
Blaming the victim.
Hypercritical nature/Unrealistic expectations.

The causes of Stockholm syndrome are actually quite simple: when victims see themselves as helpless, unable to escape, they begin to believe that their only chance for survival is the good will of their captor. Even small kindnesses shown to them become, in their minds, evidence that the captor is "not so bad", and for their own sake they begin to make an effort to keep the captor happy and fulfill his desires. Over time, this can grow into an actual emotional bond that ultimately leads to the captive taking their captor's side. Stockholm syndrome frequently appears among prisoners of war, members of cults, and other, similar situations - but most significantly, it is very common in abusive relationships.

How can this insidious condition be cured? The most important thing to keep in mind is that getting angry at the victim of an abusive relationship, demanding that they recognize the wrongs being done to them and "snap out of it", does no good. As maddening as it may seem to watch a fellow human being live in thrall to an abuser, even to turn against people who try to help, it must be remembered that it is not their fault; they are only doing what they believe they must do to survive. Even if it would be for their own good, concerned outsiders are simply not capable of "saving" them against their will, and to try would only drive the person deeper into the abuser's clutches. As in so many things, the initial decision to walk away must be the victim's; only once they have made this choice for themselves can others help, by providing safe harbor and a place for them to go where they will be accepted."

Source: Is the Christian "Relationship with God" Healthy?

"Ask this atheist why he spends the time on pursuits such as this website, and my answer is simple - because I want to help."

Truly.
Everybody wants to be a macho macho man
To have the kind of body that's always in demand

Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man (macho man)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! Woo!

--- Extract from the Muppets' take on the Village People's Macho Macho Man

Too bad I only have the MP3. I suspect the video would be hilarious. I suspect it's making fun of the song, because a bird squawks: "you're a bunch of sissies!"

***

Unable to hide "Sarah" (his sggirls "girlfriend") from inquisitive eyes anymore, Quanteng is now claiming that they broke up.

Right.

***

I download an MP3 of The Music's Always There With You from a Hong Kong choir's page, and the piano introduction sounds exceedingly familiar. Then, a familiar sinister operatic voice starts singing.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

"The songs below are sung by other choirs or singers, for you all to listen and improve your singing, enjoy!" - (...)


On the bright side, I found 阿拉木汗 (Alamuhan) on another Hong Kong Choir's page (The Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Chorus). I wasn't as enthused by the titles of some of the communist songs they have (eg "運動員進行曲" and "兵車行"), but when I downloaded the former, I found that it was the tune that my Communist Primary School (Nanyang Primary School) played to mark the end of recess!!!

The shock almost sent me into a state of apoplexy. The official name of the song in English, by the way, is "Athletes March - The Composition Group of the Military Band of the People’s Liberation Army of China, arranged by Ma Ge-shun", so Tim tells me.

"Under the initiative of Mao Tse-tung, the Military Band of the People’s Liberation Army of China, affiliated to the General Politics Department of the People’s Liberation Army, was established in 1952. Since its establishment, the Composition Group of the Band composed and arranged numerous works for symphonic band. The Athletes March is a famous one among them. The Composition Group wrote three versions of Athletes March, the second version, which will be performed tonight, was premiered in November 1971 at the Asia- Africa- Latin America Table Tennis Friendship Tournament. Since then, this March is widely used for various athletic activities in Mainland China. It is also widely used as the opening, closing and entr’acte music in ceremonies. This four-part a cappella arrangement performed tonight is made by Professor Ma Ge-shun, a famous choral conductor and music educator."

Makes you wonder how Nanyang survived the communist purge in the 50s.

Incidentally, their version of the Rutter piece is torturously slow, by the way, but I can't hear any Honkie accents. Amazing!


Further searching uncovered a CD with a Korean version. I listened to the AU preview and was speechless.

***

"Eliminate your bills the christian way"



Whee. Now I get Christian debt relief spam. Back, you demons!

***

PhotoRescue - Salvation if you format your CF card by mistake

Tony's Spud Gun Page - As suggested by Michelle, a commenter

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

An Evening With Friends 2004

I am a philistine and a plebian, because I want my songs to actually sound good and have a tune (it doesn't even have to be catchy). Consequently, I did not really enjoy the ACJC choir concert last night, replete as it was with avant garde songs.

Perhaps such songs are a good way to show off the ability of a choir, for it isn't easy to keep to an untuneful melody, or attempt to replicate the mating calls of the cicada, given the limitations of human vocal cords. Nonetheless, though in moderation avant garde pieces might just possibly be refreshing, if they are performed all the time, it quickly gets boring, for though they are all different, they are essentially the same in the ways they try to pain the ear.

What made the concert more of a pain to sit through was the gross overuse of gimmicks. For example: the performers turning around, clapping, jumping, stamping or repeatedly turning around to face other performers as if they were talking to each other (while continuing to sing), the use of bird whistles, getting the sopranos to scream and making comical or funny noises (like "nyah nyah nyah"). The art of using gimmicks is that you must use them sparingly, so they stay novel and are able to stop the audience from falling asleep, especially when you are treating them to the darkest fantasies of post-modernistic composers made flesh.

Individually, both of the stickling points above would not matter that much, but the concert was both full of gimmicks and avant garde rubbish. The former are usually overused by below-par choirs seeking more to provide popular entertainment than to uplift artistic spirits. Thus, it was especially painful to see the two in horrific juxtaposition.

Worse still, there were no MCs at the concert, and no one communicated verbally with the audience. I am informed that this is standard AC practice. Probably they expect everyone to buy the program, but the many who didn't were flummoxed. Maybe they wanted to save all the words the MCs would waste speaking for use in their songs!

Various sources informed me that ACJC's standard had slipped, especially since this isn't a SYF year, but not having heard them perform before, I had nothing to compare last night's performance to. Suffice to say that they weren't as impressive as I'd been led to believe, especially in their rendition of Barber's Agnus Dei (see below). Perhaps this is partly due to their frequent changing of conductors.


I found the song selection of the Alumni Choir more tolerable than that of the main choir, as it had fewer avant garde pieces, even including songs by composers I had heard of (Busto and Palestrina) and one I hadn't (Morten Lauridsen) which actually were pleasing to the ear (how novel!). Though they were less technically proficient, they sounded more natural. Perhaps best of all - they did not resort to gimmicks.

The song that took the prize for "worst song that everyone had ever heard" was performed by the combined choir. During the song, wind chimes sounded from time to time, chants were murmured indistinctly, the choristers moaned and wailed like forlorn ghosts every now and then, and random notes were sounded out from time to time. The sum was a good approximation of a Balinese demon-summoning ritual. As one of my companions (who is hardly a dilettante like me), remarked: "this sort of songs should be banned from concerts". A reading of the program revealed that it was a song about "moonlight", and the performers were chanting the word "moonlight" in different languages. A source informs me that they won at SYF last year with this very piece. It just goes to show - de gustibus non est disputandum!

Barber's Agnus Dei was performed after that. I was looking forward to something melodious for a change but their rendition was disappointing (even if I hadn't been familiar with the Cambridge Singers'). I then had a moment of epiphany about why some good choirs like to perform the most atrocious pieces - people have nothing to benchmark them with since no one knows, likes or listens to said pieces. Better yet: since said pieces are almost always avant garde, they are *meant* to sound bad, so even if you go out of tune, off rhythm, miss your entrance or cough suddenly during the song, people will assume that you were meant to do that.

To end off the horrible concert, the traditional encore piece was performed, but with poor production values. At the end of the formal program, there was a lack of the usual subtle signals to let the audience know when to shout "encore" and continue clapping. Therefore, even after the conductor walked back out (after an immodestly short time interval) and the choir performed its encore piece (all done without communication with the audience to inform them that *that* was the encore piece), many people were confused and continued clapping even after the hall lights had been turned up - the universal and not-so-subtle signal telling people to scram.


The ushers in the Esplanade were very vigilant in their search for people who tried to take photographs. If this had been a commercial production, I would understand, but this was a school concert! Now, some poor choristers will not have pictures of themselves on stage, thanks to a fascist concert hall policy.

It can be quite hard to tell when avant garde pieces are finished, but people don't seem to grasp the idea that you can tell by looking at the conductor's hand.

The concept of "supporting" your friends or school mates by attending their performances has always puzzled me. It *is* a nice gesture to show up, but if you end up befuddled throughout the performance and thoroughly hating it, is it not pointless to have gone? Worse - people who actually appreciate such things will be robbed of the opportunity to attend. Furthermore, the performers and organisers then get a false picture of their popularity, and can claim (unjustly) that their concert was a "sellout", when 3/4 of the seats were filled by people who would have gone even if John Cage's 4'33 was being performed. Thus, it is a lose-lose situation which just makes everyone miserable.


"15 Aug (Sun): Nanyang Talent Night
by Nanyang Alumni & Choir, Nanyang Girls' High School Choir, Nanyang Primary School Choir, Nanyang Kindergarten Dancers

A concert featuring the talented alumni of Nanyang Schools, including violinist Tang Tee Khoon and pianist Lim Yan. Other programmes include a ballet dance choreographed by Nanyang Girls' High School teacher Chen Lili; a string ensemble by Nanyang Primary School students; choral singing by Alumni Choir, Nanyang Girls' High School Choir and Nanyang Primary School Choir; and a piano duet by Nanyang Girls' High School students. All music composed by Nanyang Primary School Head of Music *Chiew Keng Hoon* [Ed: Emphasis added]. This concert celebrates the Nanyang Schools' 87th Anniversary.

Concert Hall
7:30pm (150mins with intermission)
$15, $25, $35, $50

Brought to you by Nanyang Schools Alumni Association"

I can't stop my strong, though indeterminate and vague, emotional outburst!

"All music composed by Nanyang Primary School Head of Music Chiew Keng Hoon" - WAH. I would go just to listen to this.
Tipoff: "Oh my God they're playing the Ding Dong Song on WKRZ 91.3... Oh... you touch my tralala..."

Gunther has come to Singapore!

***

Web helps dad, daughter

Hong Kong - A father in southern China assumed an internet persona to put his wayward daughter back on the straight and narrow, a news report said on Wednesday.

Xiao Li, 15, had no idea she was really communicating with her father Zhong when a character called Big Cabbage began sending her messages through the popular ICQ chat rooms.

Zhong used the ploy when he was unable to stop his daughter's truancy, fighting, hanging out in internet bars and getting drawn into drugs, according to the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily.

The father, from Liuzhou, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, built up a rapport with her under his Big Cabbage persona and began passing on pieces of wisdom to make his daughter mend her ways.

When Xiao discovered it had been her father chatting to her all along, she was touched and promised to change her ways by starting out with a clean slate, the newspaper said. - Sapa-dpa

***

Finding the Speed of Light with Marshmallows - "This works in my physics class, often with less than 5% error. Then the students can eat the marshmallows."
OMG. Why couldn't we have done this in Physics class?

Nurse charged with trying to kill wife - "Trained to take care of the sick and injured, a Rusk County registered nurse stands accused of trying to murder his wife with a romantic bubble-bath electrocution... Wolfe tried to kill his wife Teresa by knocking an electrical appliance into the bathtub in which she was bathing."

Man Allegedly Puts Xanax In Co-Worker's Coffee - "The co-worker dropped the Xanax into her coffee as a practical joke to 'calm her down' because she was 'too hyper'"

Student wins prize with window strip - "A dance student has won an arts prize by undressing in a charity shop window. Iona Dudley-Ward spent 90 minutes trying on outfits in the window of the Oxfam shop in Brighton town centre."

Feed the Worms Who Write Worms to the Worms: The economic logic of executing computer hackers - Ouch.

Classical music's contemporary crossover

Inspired by The Day After Tomorrow - "An unholy alliance between greedy but smart (and subsidized) big chemical manufacturers and utterly doltish but ideologically fevered environmentalists cajoles Uncle Sam into banning all research on genetically modifying crops in ways that make them naturally resistant to pests. With this research halted by government, pesticides produced by the heavily subsidized chemical companies (who are also protected from foreign competition) pour into the water supply, poisoning millions. Frightened out of their minds, young mothers take to the streets en masse, rioting so violently that the Peachtree Plaza Hotel, the Grand Old Opry, the Superdome, and the Seattle Space Needle all crash violently to the ground, killing tens of thousands, including a brilliant young researcher who was just hours away from discovering the cures for cancer, AIDS, and acne."

***

"Hi, my name's Michelle, would you like a blowjob?"

Shawn, quoting himself on a "bizarre impersonation of CJC's Orientation".

Don't ask me, it's pretty bizzare to me too.
Whenever I think that I have plumbed the depths of human depravity, I am exposed to new horrors to chill my soul.

On Monday, I visited the former Poor Suffering Substantive Third Sergeant, shortly before that a Poor Suffering Local Third Sergeant, the Self-Proclaimed 'Master of Office', Top Bio Student in NJ in His Year, the Master of the Chair, He Who Cackles Evilly, the Hawker of Evil Torture Devices (more on that later) - (name removed by request).

Since his glorious ORD day, he has been deprived of his lucrative slave penance, and due to his various extravagances (among them a $50 Nike lycra shirt which he never wears in front of me anymore since I kept making fun of his fondness for it), he has found himself in a state of penury and thus been reduced to finagling innocent visitors to the World Book Fair on behalf of a company that shall remain unnamed. Of course, but for the odd commitment (eg Monday's "An Evening With Friends" - the ACJC choir concert, and incidentally an all too common name for various products/events), a general preference for bumming and my not having gotten my IC back yet, I might be joining him in foisting unwanted products onto fair visitors.

Ironically enough, Ban Xiong has not seen the fair, and likely will not, since he is stationed outside the exhibition hall. He thus asked me to serve as his eyes and ears, and in an act of beneficence, I assented to his not unreasonable request.

The World Book Fair is grossly misnamed. I was entertaining vague notions of reading Skaldic poetry, but they were mercilessly crushed upon my entrance into the halls, for it soon became apparent, from the preponderance of Chinese signs, products and displays (just possibly outnumbering those in English), that this was a Chinese Book Fair (now, to be fair I did see a "Malay/Muslim" Book Section, but it was tiny), with mainly Chinese companies from China, Taiwan and Singapore setting up shop. This is what happens when naming is left up to people with a Sino-Centric world view who take China (the middle of the world, after all) and the Chinese diaspora to represent the world. We see something similar happening across the Atlantic with the "World Series" (Baseball).

There was also a surprising number of publishers of religious books that put in an appearance: Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Bethesda Book Centre, Ch'an Yun Buddhist Handicrafts & Trading, Deva Crown Trading Pte Ltd, Fo Guang Shan (Singapore), Guangxi Publications Imp & Exp Co, Jen Chen Buddist Book Publisher, Popstar Media, Shalom Christian Media, Shun Da DIY Handicrafts & Trading, Singapore Soka Association, Still Thoughts Cultural Services, Supreme Master Ching Hai Asso, True Buddha Publications, Vaidurya Media House, Xi-An Bookstore, Yuen Jue Zheng (Singapore) c/o Kang Bao Lek Vegetarian and Zen Buddist Culture Services Center (from the official website). As could be predicted from the Chinese character of the fair, most of the religious content was Buddhist in nature. I would stop here, but I saw at one booth something that I never thought I would have the misfortune so see in Singapore - a banner advertising the book, Answers In Genesis.

Now, matters of religion are debatable, but Answers In Genesis holds that the bible is literally true down to the last word and infallible. It affirms the obviously suspect traditional authorship of the Pentateuch. If that isn't ridiculous enough, it asserts that the earth is only a few thousand years old. To its credit, it pooh poohs some of the more ludicrous Creationist arguments, but retains many more, so it remains a collection of fudges, false information, disingenuous arguments and rhetoric disguised as evidence (eg: We know that the earth is less than 10,000 years old because the bible says so!). I would have bought the book, if for nothing else, then to laugh uproariously and work myself into a stage of righteous moral and intellectual outrage, but my slave penance will be cut in less than 2 weeks, so I cannot afford (too many) frivolous purchases.

Thus, with my hopes dashed, spirit distraught and head down from the double blow, I then trekked across the length and breadth of the exhibition halls to seek out the Useful, the Interesting, the Educational and the Grotesque, and was struck dumb by the abundance of the last.

For a Book fair, there was a surprising amount of non-book items: music CDs, educational CD-ROMs, toys, videos, handicrafts, herbal supplements, exercise equipment and assorted accessories. In one corner was a stall extolling the benefits of the "Shichida method" of mucking with your children's minds. At another side was a booth selling transparent rattles containing luminous, rotating neon strips (I kid you not) - the perfect party toys for Ah Bengs. A prominent sign at another area preached the benefits of their "Musk Hemorrhoid Suppository".

And near an exit was sold "body slimming wear" using "the special lycra spandex", which the banner claimed was widely used by doctors. A closer look at this dubious sounding claim revealed that the "special lycra spandex" is used by doctors to cover post-surgery wounds so no scar will form on the wounds' healing. What that had to do with slimming, I could not figure out. Perhaps the most amusing thing was the "no bra" feature that was touted as enhancing the bustline. Presumably, if your body shrinks after being clad in lycra shrink wrap, but your breasts stay the same size, your bustline will appear relatively larger.

At another part of the hall was a booth with 5-in-1 air processors, the 5 functions being:

1) "Ice cooling effect" (the air coming out of the contraption didn't feel very cold to me)
2) Air purification
3) Humidification (local air is already dreadfully humid, and if you use it in an air-conditioned room, the air will already be cool and pure)
4) Essential oil diffusion
5) Ionisation, releasing 10,000 ions (or thereabouts) into the air for a "waterfall fresh air environment" (wth?! More likely you'll get zapped by the ions)

Dazed by the sheer perversity of all that I had witnessed, I stumbled back in a daze to where Ban Xiong was happily conning innocent souls and related some of the horrible sights that I had witnessed. I then noticed that there were some suspicious looking items in a glass case beside Ban Xiong's counter. Inside were 2 evil torture devices, which he informed me would be mine with a one year subscription to a SPH newspaper. The more sadistic looking of the two was the "Owell eye massager model OW-700". The display claimed that the massager brought a panoply of health benefits, but I noticed the proliferation of qualifiers like "can" and "may", eg: "The OW-700 can help stimulate eye acupoints" (emphasis added). The only claim to which no qualifier was tacked was about benefits which could be due to the placebo effect; among others, reduced eye fatigue. Sneaky, the way they pre-empt disputes about the device's claims. Intrigued, yet simultaneously disgusted, I took a closer look.



From the outside, the device looks like a pair of futuristic, if bulky-looking, glasses, reminiscent of the visor worn by Georgi LaForge in Star Trek and possibly worth wearing for a stroll down Orchard Road. The device is strapped to the head with velcro straps that attach to moulded plastic, which forms the frame of the device. Above where the eyes would be, holes have been drilled in the plastic, to be covered by thin black perforated sheets. A control unit with 2 slide switches (yes, I actually went to check out what they are called) to control the device is mounted above the bridge of the glasses. So far, it seems an innocent, if odd looking contraption. However, turning it over so you can see what the plastic frame conceals, you divine the true purpose of the device! Protruding from the reverse side of the devices' frame are numerous white appendages - when the device is turned on, they vibrate and drill incessantly into acupoints on the face, turning your brains into mush and making you susceptible to the dubious claims Owell makes about its products.

In a moment of folly, I tried the damn thing on, and felt my brains pulverising, but luckily I retained sufficient presence of mind to wrench the device off my head before it was too late. After that I considered having my nails painted at the counter beside the Evil Torture Device's (NB: The two events may not be entirely unrelated). However, Ban Xiong sadly revealed to me that this required a year's/month's subscription to some crummy magazine, so I sadly walked off to meet David for the ACJC Choir Concert (more on that in a later post).

Monday, May 31, 2004

Swans sing before they die - 'twere no bad thing
Did certain persons die before they sing.

--- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

***

For thee the fates, severely kind, ordain
A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain;
Thy life a long, dead calm of fix'd repose;
No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows.

--- Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard

***

Interesting commentary on grown women lusting after the teenage boys in Harry Potter.

For once, it's the other way around :)

***

After the rather insipid Empires: Dawn of the Modern World (the lack of a sequel tells you how well received it was), I am now on to Reign of Chaos.

Yes, it's 2 years old. So I'm slow.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes