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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, July 17, 2004

Quote of the Post: "When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken." - Benjamin Disraeli

Random Playlist Song: Gilbert and Sullivan - HMS Pinafore - Things Are Seldom What They Seem, Incomprehensible As Her Utterances Are

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Latest project to be unveiled:

Why I Dislike Modern Music (complete with soundclips and pictures)

I know that most visitors will not bother to click on the link above to visit said page, so I shall mirror it (largely) here, sans the pictures.


Why I Dislike Modern Music

Please note that the title of this page is "Why I Dislike Modern Music", and not "Why anyone who likes modern music is a crass idiot who deserves to be shot". Few may agree with my intensely subjective opinions, but I retain the opinions anyway. Also, the following points do not all apply to all genres of modern music.

Non-modern music is by no means immune to all of these, but it suffers from the symptoms below to a much lesser extent.

Breathing

Some singers (usually female ones) seem to take pride in breathing (loudly) as much as they can in between notes, anywhere they want. Whether this is due to:

1) a lack of talent
2) stylistic flair
3) a genuine lack of breath because when they're supposed to be breathing, they choose instead of mutter or shout random words (heavy metal bands are especially fond of this)

is unknown, but either way it sounds horrible.

Case in point: Whitney Houston singing in an extract from "When You Believe". The bolded asterisks represent each loud breath taken by Whitney.

Listen to the WMA file (30s: 83kb, 20kbps, 22khz)

Transcription: Many nights * we prayed * with no proof * anyone could hear * in our hearts a hope * ful song * we barely * understood * now we are not (short, quick breath) afraid * although we know there's much to fear * we were moving mountains long * before we * knew we could (30 seconds, 12 loud breaths)

Compare this to the movie version (the asterisks here represent a soft, sometimes barely audible breath): Many nights we prayed * with no proof anyone could hear * in our hearts a hopeful song * we barely understood * now we are not afraid * although we know there's much to fear * we were moving mountains * long before we knew we could (35 seconds, 7 soft breaths)

Gesticulation and screwing up of eyes
A popular action among singers of modern music is to close their eyes (often screwing them so tightly shut that you can see their wrinkles), so they don't have to see their audience's reaction (and possibly to counter stage fright) and singers gesticulating with one hand (or both hands if they are not holding a mic) in a general forward direction, sometimes with clenched fists.

Example:

*picture*

Similar-sounding songs

Perhaps it is just me, but for some reason I think that the Backstreet Boys' "Larger Than Life" and "I Want It That Way" sound very similar, and for some time I had difficulty distinguishing between the two. Moving to more objective measures of similarity, 'Quit playing games' and 'I want it that way' use the same drum machine, and have practically the same beat programming.

Other artistes with similar sounding songs: Michael learns to rock and Britney Spears.

Sleepy/stoned sounding singers

Some singers, especially in dreamy-atmosphered songs, sound like they are either half-asleep, lazy to sing their notes out properly or stoned.

Case in point: In Sarah McLachlan's Angel, at parts of the song, her voice is so light that, in combination with her grace notes and occasional hoarseness, you feel like slipping into a marijuana-induced daze. All in all, she "does the waif-like wailing thingy a bit too much".

Listen to the WMA file (24s: 67kb, 20kbps, 22khz)

Airy/throaty singing

Some singers have singing which is so airy, it's scary.

Case in point: In this extract from "When You Believe", Mariah Carey's singing is so airy, you almost think that there is a hole in her
voice box.

Listen to the WMA file (7s: 26kb, 20kbps, 22khz)


Others sing so throatily, they sound like they have sore throats.

Case in point: Extract from Macy Gray's "I Try"

Listen to the WMA file (9s: 31kb, 20kbps, 22khz)

Remixes

Not content with selling a song once, modern music artistes like to make countless remixes of the same tired tune to fleece consumers. For example, "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic has the following dance remixes:

Tony Moran Mix
Richie Jones Mix
Soul Solution Mix
Richie Jones Club Mix
Matt & Vito's Epic Mix

I don't want to consider how many non-dance remixes there might be.

If you thought that was bad, think of how many remixes there are of William Hung's "She Bangs" :)

Prevalence of Love, Sex, Violence and Drugs as themes

See any rock band, eg Red Hot Chilli Peppers or the Smashing Pumpkins. Also see such songs as "Fuck Her Gently" by "Tenacious D" and "Fuck It" by "Eamon".

Even if the none of the above mentioned topics are themes of the song, obscenities and vulgarities are often inserted into the songs so they are offensive for the sake of being offensive. Examples: Limp Bizkit, zheng zhen yue, Eminem

Case in point: The chorus to Eamon's "Fuck It" which goes:

Fuck what I said it dont mean shit now
Fuck the presents might as well throw em out
Fuck all those kisses, they didn't mean jack
Fuck you, you hoe, I dont want you back

Listen to the WMA file (14s: 41kb, 20kbps, 22khz)

If that isn't enough for you, just look for any gangsta rap song.

Lazy singing and slurring

Jay Chou mutters and mumbles his way through his songs, so you can hardly hear what he is singing.

As for slurring, My Bloody Valentine is guilty of this sin, as the following clip from "Only Shallow" makes clear:

Listen to the WMA file (19s: 56kb, 20kbps, 22khz)

If you couldn't make that out, you're not alone. Even fans of 10 years are sometimes hardpressed to make out what they are singing. Some theorise the slurring is deliberate so if they're on drugs and forget the lyrics, no one will know the difference.

For the sake of completeness, the lyrics were supposed to be:

Sleep
Like a pillow
Down(ward)
And
(Where)
She won't care
Anyway

Looks over talent

There is a tendency to feature only good looking people, perhaps to distract the audience from the lousy singing of the performers. The emphasis is more on the performer than on the music, and you often see cults of personality forming. In fact, most modern music artistes are good looking - good looks seem to be a necessary but not sufficient pre-requisite to make it big (except for the odd person like Marilyn Manson, whose lack of good looks is arguably - conversely - a draw factor)

Prime example: F4. See also the horde of lookalike Taiwanese sweet young things: Xiao Xiao and others whose names I can't remember, who last a few months each and then disappear

Clones

When record producers have hit upon a successful formula, they try to repeat it. This is why groups and artistes who are essentially identical clones of each other appear.

Taiwanese Boybands: 5566, F4, Energy




*picture*

F4

*picture*

5566



Synthesised music

As will be apparent to all, using instruments which do not produce tones, but rather synthesise them, is not a wise move if one wishes to inject subtleties and nuances into one's music.

Music Videos and fans' short attention span

Invented to counter the increasingly short attention spans of pop music fans, people in music videos prance around, stare at the camera and generally act like idiots. Especially bad are the music videos by Britney "Big Fake Boobs" Spears.

*Picture* *Picture*
Frames from Gunther and the Sunshine Girls' "Ding Dong Song". What lesbians necking and groping each other's breasts has to do with touching Gunther's Tralala, I don't know. Maybe it makes them more hot for him.

During live performances, the ever-changing images present in music videos are not available to sate the audience's cravings for action and movement, so to compensate for this partially, artistes sometimes hire dancers to prance around in the background, dazzle audiences with frequent changes between various glitzy and impractical costumes (see Chinese pop concerts by female artistes), smash guitars or otherwise liven up the atmosphere.

Assorted miscellaneous gimmicks

Since most modern music makers are entertainers (in the holistic sense of the word) rather than musicians first and foremost, they incorporate various gimmicks, attention-grabbing stunts and publicity-garnering actions into their lives both onstage and off it.

A by no means exhaustive list of examples:
Onstage: Flashing/strobe lights, loud noises, glitzy costumes, Michael Jackson's crotch grabbing, Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction"
Offstage: Various sexual misdemeanours, S.H.E obviously contrived name (what are the odds of 3 girls who just happen to be named Selina, Hebe and Ella forming a Chinese pop trio anyway?)

*Picture*
Strobe/fancy lighting

*Picture*
"S.H.E". No, I still haven't figured out which is which. One day, I swear I will bankroll a group called H.E.R or H.I.M

Repetitive, meaningless lyrics and sounds

Many song writers endow their songs with simplistic and meaningless lyrics. Some are overly fond of certain words: "heart", "apart", "fire", "desire" and "dream", while others do not even bother to take that effort and instead write in an abundance of "ooo"s, "yeah yeah yeah"s and other such noises.

Case in point: The starting of Fantasia Barrino's "I believe", where she goes: "Oh... Ohhhhhh... Oh..."

Listen to the WMA file (16s: 48kb, 20kbps, 22khz)

Another example: The refrain in Eamon's "Fuck It" where he goes:

Oh oh
Uh huh yeah
Oh oh
Uh huh yeah
Oh oh
Uh huh yeah
Oh oh
Uh huh yeah

Listen to the WMA file (14s: 43kb, 20kbps, 22khz)

Drums

People say that modern music groups need drums to keep time because they don't have a conductor. That may be so, but surely it is not so hard to co-ordinate music making in a small group of 3-6? Chamber music ensembles do that all the time, as do acapella groups. A totally unscientific survey reveals the extent to which modern music depends on drums: 95% of the songs have constant drumming, 3% are sentimental piano ballads and 1% are sentimental guitar tunes (both of which only have 1 performer, so drums aren't that important)

Besides the lack of talent of many modern music makers, the fetish for drums can also be explained by fans' addiction to them: most are used to hearing a beat to nod along to, and many cannot keep the beat without a drummer playing it out for them to hear. Additionally, drums are sometimes used to drown out bad 'singing' and tuneless 'tunes', and to keep up an underlying mind-numbing rhythm to dull the audiences' wits and either stupefy them or work them into a frenzy.

Case in point: New Order's Blue Monday, where the mind-numbing beat heard in the following sound clip is repeated for all 4 minutes of the song

Listen to the WMA file (14s: 43kb, 20kbps, 22khz)

But there is worse -St. Germain's Thank U Mum (4 Everything You Did), the even more mind-numbing beat and bass riff of which is repeated for all 12 minutes of the song!

Listen to the WMA file (7s: 24kb, 20kbps, 22khz)

Clapping

Some music-makers like to encourage their audiences to clap along to their songs, spoiling the enjoyment of those who want to actually listen to the songs. Some justify this travesty by saying that it lets the audience participate in the music making, but my view is that this not only dulls potential enjoyment of the song (if any), it also mocks the performers' abilities to keep time (if they have, in fact, any)

Miscellaneous gripes

- Noise, rather than music: My Bloody Valentine has the "Wall of noise" concept, which results in songs painful to the ear
- Sliding: Some singers are fond of glissando (sliding their notes), which isn't bad in and of itself, except that they do it badly

Conclusion: Essentially, to make it big in modern music, you must break most (if not all) of the rules of good singing.

Credits: This page would not be possible without my various friends and acquaintances, with extensive knowledge of modern music that I do not possess

Feedback is welcome: gabrielseah(at)hotmail(dot)com or with the feedback form (or leave a comment on this post)

***

Most productive composers

Composer Composing
Years
Total Hours
of Music
Average Hours
per Year
Franz Schubert 18 134 7.4
Henry Purcell 16 116 7.3
Wolfgang Mozart 29 202 7.0
Franz Hayden 54 340 6.3
George Handel 54 303 5.6
J S Bach 47 175 3.7
L v Beethoven 35 120 3.4
Robert Schumann 26 72 2.8
Pëtr Illich Tchaikovsky 30 76 2.5
Felix Mendelssohn 27 57 2.1
Anton Dvorák 45 79 1.8
Johannes Brahms 45 71 1.6
Franz Listz 51 76 1.5
Giueseppe Verdi 63 87 1.4
Richard Wagner 53 61 1.2
Béla Bartok 45 48 1.1
Hugo Wolf 28 28 1.0
Richard Strauss 68 67 1.0
Frédéric Chopin 26 21 0.8

Source: Random True Facts

Friday, July 16, 2004

Quote of the Post: "The advertisement is the most truthful part of a newspaper." - Thomas Jefferson

Random Playlist Song: Liszt - Mephisto Waltz No 1

***

After watching King Arthur, I was not quite as aghast as I was after watching Troy, but I came close. Mainly this was due to the movie's claim (or implication, at the very least) that it was presenting the TRUE story of King Arthur, based on the latest archaeological evidence.

First, there's the problem of the timeframe and location. Given that the last Roman legion was withdrawn from Britain in 410AD, I find it hard to believe that 42 years later, Roman Britain was still running like a normal province of the Empire, with Roman soldiers still guarding cities (or remote outposts in the north of England, as the case might be). Also, from what we know, the real "Arthur" operated in southern England, not near Hadrian's Wall.

And then there's the nonsense about Arthur's knights being Sarmatian horsemen who were indentured to the Roman Empire for 15 years is bad enough, but for some reason, 6 of the said horsemen are posted all the way to the other end of the empire, in Britain. Let us put aside the fact that the furthest the Romans ventured into Central Europe was Dacia under Trajan, and that Sarmatia was considerably further north/north-east than Dacia. Now, raising a legion in Sarmatia and posting it to Britain, I can accept. Raising a century of Sarmatian auxiliaries and sending them to Britain, I can still accept, despite its unlikeliness. But sending at most 20 (for that looked like the maximum capacity of the Round Table) Sarmatian horsemen to Northern England and not replenishing their numbers even after more than half of them are gone? Besides defying historical fact, that also defies logic (though maybe not movie logic).

What about these Sarmatian "knights", then? I see two distinct possibilities: that they were either trained as Roman heavy cavalry/cataphracti or Sarmatian medium cavalry. The evidence in favour of the former theory is that the "knights" were taken away when they were boys, and trained under the Romans instead of Sarmatian warriors. Their battle tactics also seem to resemble those of cataphracts more than those of Sarmatian medium cavalry, with their seeming eschewing of spears for broadswords (though of course, they are most similar to those of Dark Age knights). However, this would not explain why the "Sarmatian Knights" were held in such high esteem (viz the Roman cavalry), nor their practise of mounted archery. In favour of the latter theory is the knights' possession of sets of vaguely Scythian-looking armour (which they for some reason only use during the final battle, preferring to use brigandine, adapted segmented armour (Lorica Segmentata) or scraps of various types of armour for normal errands. Perhaps it's more convenient if you do not need the protection) and the fact that they were considered so much more special than normal Roman cavalry. With the conflicting evidence, my conclusion is that the film makers got themselves into a historical mess with their attempts to bring medieval knighthood (complete with elements of the chivalric code, even) back in time to the early Dark Ages (what's new?).

And of course, there's my usual pet peeve - stirrups. Considering that stirrups were only widely used in the time of Charlemagne, and the Persians only knew about them in the 6th century, seeing stirrups in 452AD was extremely disturbing (though not as disturbing as seeing them c. 180AD in Gladiator, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius). [Disclaimer: Some say the Huns brought stirrups in, but I'm not entirely convinced] Not to mention that the heroes, as usual, often go about sans helmet. After all, they all have tangible halos around their crowns, so head protection is unnecessary except in extremis (ie the final battle).

The portrayal of the Saxon invasion also leaves much to be desired. The first Anglo-Saxons who arrived in Britain came at the invitation of the British, and were not an invading horde. There's also the question of how on earth the Saxon chieftain managed to overcome the logistical and practical problems involved in shipping an army of thousands all the way north of Hadrian's wall. Maybe the film makers confused the Saxon invasion with the later Viking incursions.

Other puzzling things:
- Crossbows (the handheld versions of which were only used towards the end of the first millennium)
- Celts with Trebuchets (no, they were not using mangonels or onagers. It was clearly a Trebuchet due to the hanging counterweight)
- The good guys' archers' Bows of Accuracy and Piercing and Arrows of Multiplication (a skyful of arrows came from maybe 10 Celtic Archers' bows)
- How slashing blows to chainmail-clad opponents could fell them, despite chainmail being very resistant to slashing blows (if the slashes were so powerful that they penetrated the chainmail, then we should have seen or heard the armour's sudden collapse)

And a few saving graces: Bucklers and Celtic Torcs

Finally, how can an evaluation of any historical or fantasy movie with a warrior heroine be complete without a comment (or two) on their ridiculous fighting outfits? Whereas the males wear armour to protect themselves, the females like to bare their bodies, hoping that the sight of a half-naked woman will befuddle their enemies, making them vulnerable to the swing of a sword. Another review puts it best: "[A] Xena the Warrior Princess figure: Guinevere, who is not only an excellent archer but is also apparently impervious to the elements. In the dead of winter she fights in a kind of sleeveless nightgown, and for the climactic battle she wears a revealing Thierry Mugler-style S & M outfit." As a side note, Guinevere's swordplay was all wrong - women, being on average 30% weaker in their upper bodies, simply cannot practise the hack-and-slash style of swordfighting, as they will surely lose to men. They should instead rely on speed, skill and agility.

The sins above will probably not be held against the movie by normal people. After all, visual spectacles and stirring cinematics are what film makers aim for, not logic and historical accuracy.

I'm quite sure I got one or two things wrong, being rusty, and I also had to leave out some qualifications and explanations for brevity's sake. Anyone else cares to shed some light on these matters?

***

MDA has this poster about the "new" movie ratings system which gushes about how parents can now make informed choices about which movies are suitable for their children and how the movie ratings indicate which movies are suitable for which viewers, so you can now let ratings guide you in your choice of them.

There is no word, of course, of how people will be banned from watching movies which are "unsuitable" for them. Indeed, from the poster alone you'd think that they expect that patrons under 21 will obediently stay away from the movies deemed "unsuitable" for them.

Bah.

***

Interesting.

To fill up the seats for the GEP reunion dinner they got:
- teachers and other school staff
- GE branch people
- primary school GEP alumni (it's unlikely that they invited those currently *in* primary school GEP)

So much for a last minute 50% discount on tickets.
Quote of the Post: "Computers will never take the place of books. You can't stand on a floppy disk to reach a high shelf." - Sam Ewing

Word of the Day: "reredos"

Random Playlist Song: Rameau - Les Indes Galantes - Contredanse

Almost wants me want to watch the opera. But the only time I saw an opera I fell asleep. Damn Italians.

***

Thanks to Yucheng, I took longer to come out of the toilet than 3 teenage girls.

Oh, the indignity! The dishonour! The shame!

***

A shining example

"Perhaps there is a lesson in Indonesia's experience not just for Islamic countries, but for one of Asia's other giants too. The party men who run China like to argue that democracy is unsuited to a poor, sprawling country that has no experience of it: chaos is what China's leaders say they fear above all. But it does now seem that Indonesia—a polyglot rag-bag of islands that emerged as a nation only through the accident of having been collectively administered by the Dutch—has given the world a powerful counter-example."

This is slightly too optimistic a view, I think. But anyhow we know chaos is just an excuse China's communists use to keep their claws on power. I'm sure they can come up with countless more sufficiently delusional reasons to justify their repression.

***

"I squirted into the bottle 4 times" - Someone on transferring shampoo into a smaller bottle.

***

Phlogger Comment from "hey": "please resurrect rgs yearbooks!!!!!!"

Answer from me: No. Have fun doing them yourself :)

***

Dr Seamus Phan apologises for defamatory article on NKF

"If they make allegations that are defamatory and that are damaging to NKF, we will have to take action because our reputation is at stake and knowing what we have done for the citizens of Singapore, for the poor and for the 2,000 patients that we have, we have to take the necessary actions as required."

Now, where have we heard this (or words to that effect) before?

At least now we know what they do with all that money.

***

It seems that either deviantart is easily hackable or people have easily guessable passwords.

Ivan is the 6th person to get hacked by this one hacker so far, and he lost:

- One blogger account (with 3 blogs deleted)
- One Gmail account
- One Yahoo! email account
- One DeviantArt account
- One Gondolend account
- One EZBoards account

Our condolences.

***

I was analysing, with the help of some friends, the reasons why I was reviled where e'er I went in secondary school and JC, and how likely it would be that I would be similarly ostracised in NUS. Many thought I was over-reacting, but I do have a reputation, and I must have built up that reputation somehow.

It was, in a sense, unfortunate that I had (and have) many characteristics that teenage denizens of boy schools despise. A low pain threshold, weakness (both emotional and physical), being fat, singing Soprano 2, a loud scream... and various other flourishes considered unseemly.

Funnily enough, though I used to be called a "faggot" (a female maggot, as the official definition went) during lower secondary in RI, people now complain to me about other people whom they deem "faggots". Probably this has something to do with the fact that I no longer scream, but I'm sure there's more to it than that, for I still retain some, if not effeminate, then non-masculine tendencies. Perhaps extended exposure to post-pubescent girls: their mindless foppery, frequent hysterics and general screwed-up-ness did the trick - compared to them, I cannot hold a candle.

In JC, it was slightly different. Some of my reputation carried over (one of the disadvantages of going to a JC for which your secondary school is a feeder for), but I also became enamoured of strange hobbies, like playing with hard-boiled egg yolks. And I'm sure most of my various sobriquets did not endear me to the ones I named, fond though I might have been of them (the people) and of expressing my fondness for them with a warm feeling and smile everytime I used their nicknames. It was also probably most unwise to publicise said nicknames: I have a feeling almost all of them know what I called them, and not everyone appreciates being called "Deformed Student" (though I still maintain that I used that phrase fondly, not maliciously, hard though it may be to believe).

Someone pointed out that previously, I hadn't seemed to bother about my eccentricities and social gaffes and stiltedness. That isn't strictly true, but I suppose I have also decided to be pleasanter - if for nothing else, then to reduce others' distress. However, as always, there are some things I will not compromise on. Trade my various entertaining indulgences and quirks for the mere trifle that is social acceptance and popularity? No can do, bub. As Achilles declined to choose a long but dull life, so do I refuse the staid existence. No one is going to prise Wo-hen Nankan (aka the Asian Prince) from me, except from my cold, dead fingers! Though it would be nice to find some other fans of his, for I am alone in my adoration.

[Addendum: Apparently, there is a widespread misconception that I always choose to be different for the sake of being different. I must note that I would imagine that pretending to be weird when one isn't actually is an extremely tiring and tedious chore, and is absolutely not worth the effort it entails.]

There have always been the people who have taken the time to appreciate my insanity (if any of you are reading this - thank you). I think, too, that at this level, people should be at least a bit more mature and tolerant of weirdness and social inaptitude. Finally, if nothing else, I am assured that soon I will have other social misfits to keep me company during the cold winter days!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Quote of the Post: "I found your speech to be good and original. However, the part that was original was not good. And the part that was good was not original." - Samuel Johnson, to one of his less motivated students

Random Playlist Song: Messiah - Air - Ev'ry Valley Shall Be Exalted

Most of the catchy tunes are in the first part of the oratorio. Maybe Handel ran out of ideas and inspiration.

***

"Wernicke's area performs the opposite role: it gives us the ability to understand speech by storing the memories of how words sound. Damage to this area produces Wernicke's aphasia, in which the sufferer cannot understand speech, either his own or others', and speaks only in meaningless babble. (Since the victim has lost all memory of what words are supposed to sound like, he is usually unaware that there is anything wrong with him, and does not understand why he cannot be comprehended by others.) While this jargon often sounds very much like a language and indeed is often mistaken for a foreign language by someone unfamiliar with the condition, it conveys no meaning (Heilman 2002, p. 4). There are evident implications for the sects that believe in glossolalia ("speaking in tongues")." (A Ghost in the Machine)

"The first mind game is the spontaneously generated fantasies that accompany indoctrination. The second mind game is to not allow understandings of experience to be modified by subsequent learning and experience. The third mind game is verbicide. The fourth mind game is an assault on ethical and moral integrity. The fifth mind game is the induction of dissociation. Burning of bridges is the sixth mind game. The seventh and final mind game is fear." (The Mind Virus - Ideas behaving in society like viruses in the body)

The Case Against 'The Case for Christ' - A study in Christian apologetics (Sometimes I don't know why I even keep the book still)

Shades of Pascal - Despite the author's protestations, I find his story amusing and well-written.

Recently the True Christian Church of Christ has been turning out really pathetic articles. From intelligent if subtle parody, it has degenerated into puerile and delusional ranting. Take this one for example. Ah, for the days when they turned out gems like this: Proof That We Are Correct. That one's a real killer. Or even "That time of the month" (I like the cartoons). As someone commented: "simple rule: if there's a page devoted to saying why it's not a parody, it's a parody"

What Would Judas Do? - "Who do you want to be your savior? A whiny guy that suffered three hours and went to heaven or a man that was willing to endure pain and torment FOREVER in hell for you? The choice is clear."

Seems someone put the book I bought for $30 online. Oh well, tis good to have a symbolic book in my collection.

Proving a Negative - "The fact is that Christianity is the proposal of a theory, and like all theories, it entails predictions--but these predictions are not being born out. So Christians invent excuses to save the theory--excuses which have absolutely no basis in any evidence or inference, except the sole fact that they rescue the theory. This is Ptolemy's epicycles all over again: the motions of the planets and sun refused to fit the theory that they all revolve around the Earth, so Ptolemy invented numerous complex patterns of motion that had no particular reason to happen other than the fact that they rescue the theory of geocentricity. It is simply far wiser to conclude that instead of this monstrously complex and bizarre architecture of groundless saving suppositions, it makes far more sense, and uses far fewer suppositions, to simply admit that the universe doesn't revolve around the Earth after all."

***

New Bible translation promotes fornication - Archbishop of Canterbury praises version for 'extraordinary power'

Matthew 23:25
Authorized version: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"
New version: "Take a running jump, Holy Joes, humbugs!"

Matthew 26:69-70
Authorized version: "Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, 'Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.' But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest."

New: "Meanwhile Rocky was still sitting in the courtyard. A woman came up to him and said: 'Haven't I seen you with Jesus, the hero from Galilee?" Rocky shook his head and said: 'I don't know what the hell you're talking about!'"

***

"NTU now have mah, G199 : General Social Ettiquette, 1 AU subject. 1 lecture everyweek. Written exam, 1.5 hrs."

wth. Meanwhile, it seems girls get pregnancy tests at the NUS medical checkup. Or at least they did last year.

This is really weird.

***

Character Counts

Late last week I was rushing around trying to get some last-minute shopping done. I was stressed out from all the junk going on at work these days. It was dark, cold, and wet in the parking lot as I was loading my car up with gifts for a few loyal co-workers. I noticed that I was missing a receipt that I might need later. So mumbling under my breath, I retraced my steps to the mall entrance.

As I was searching the wet pavement for the lost receipt, I heard a quiet sobbing.

The crying was coming from a poorly dressed boy of about 12 years old. He was short and thin. He had no coat. He was just wearing a ragged flannel shirt to protect him from the cold night's chill.

Oddly enough, he was holding a hundred dollar bill in his hand. Thinking that he had gotten lost from his parents, I asked him what was wrong. He told me his sad story. He said that he came from a large family. He had three brothers and four sisters. His father had died when he was nine years old. His mother was poorly educated and worked two full time jobs. She made very little to support her large family. Nevertheless, she had managed to skimp and save two hundred dollars to buy her children new winter coats.

The young boy had been dropped off, by his mother, on the way to her second job. He was to use the money to coats for all his siblings and save just enough to take the bus home. He had not even entered the mall when an older boy grabbed one of the hundred dollar bills and disappeared into the night.

"Why didn't you scream for help?" I asked.

The boy said, "I did."

"And nobody came to help you?" I queried.

The boy stared at the sidewalk and sadly shook his head.

"How loud did you scream?" I inquired.

The soft-spoken boy looked up and meekly whispered, "Help me!"

I realized that absolutely no one could have heard that poor boy cry for help.

So I grabbed his other hundred and ran to my car.

***

Xiaxue on guys' incessant army talk when girls are around:

"When we girls are with you guys, we do not chatter on and on about make up, or how our menstruation blood is a different colour this month and how we spend SIX FUCKING YEARS OF OUR LIFE BLEEDING AND WHEN WE BLEED WE GET SHIT FOOD AND SHIT PAY, or how long nail art just came off boohoohoo, or a deep discussion about which epilator is the loudest and most powerful and seems to be able to pull even the toughest ingrown armpit hair, or what colour scrunchies we like, or our week's DIET PLAN to have a grapefruit a day, or other stuff that guys don't understand nor are interested in right? So would you all shut up about army and cars already? We were only pretending to be interested. How about talking about the weather for a change? At least the weather doesnt have stupid terms in it like burpees, which we do not understand? Tekong is subjected to weather too right? Or maybe bitching about your bunkmate's penis size. That would be fun to talk about? Not the fungus at the door, or CONFINEMENT."

Not quite true, but we get the drift.

One thing you can't fault her for: incoherent and indecipherable passages written lyk tis... aniwae mi veri happy tat i dun haf to put up wif tis... *hiakz*

(Excuse me now while I go and flagellate myself with a birch branch)

***

Scaphism, also termed "the boats," was a frightfully cruel method by which Persians slowly tortured their prisoners to death.

A pair of small rowboats were hollowed and outfitted with holes such that, when one was inverted and laid atop the other, a seamless container was formed within which the naked prisoner could be secured, his head, hands, and feet protruding from his floating prison.

The victim was force-fed an overly generous meal of milk and honey, and additional honey was liberally smeared all over his protruding head and appendages. The whole contrivance was then floated out on a stagnant pond, causing multitudes of insects to settle on the exposed appendages of the sufferer.

The diarrhea that accumulated within the enclosure as a result of the prisoner's last meal induced yet more insects to work their way into the inside and afflict his anus and genitals.

Historical records indicate that Mithridates, who was sentenced to death by scaphism for having incurred some minor insult against the king, took seventeen days or so to die.

***

Just say no? - "A recent survey revealed that more and more of us are boycotting companies that trade unethically. We all know about Nestle and Esso, but who are the other bad guys - and just how bad are they? Leo Benedictus offers a useful guide"
Some of these are very odd. The article suggest we boycott Lonely Planet because they produce a travel guide to Burma, and Coca-Cola for "allegedly assassinating union leaders in Colombia".

Cow in police custody linked to headless chicken case

Johnny Singaporean - This HCJC Humanz guy's dream was to take part in the NDP (National Day Parade) and now he's blogging about it on the official site. Oh, and in the picture there he's saluting the camera while standing in front of a "I want to be part of the National Day Parade" poster. Please shoot me now. Meanwhile Tym offers her own POV.

On-line Orgasmic Simulation. How does the other sex experience pleasure - I saw this before when it didn't have any pesky javascript dialog boxes. Now I'm jealous! :P

Collection of James Bond movie gadgets

D O G T O Y :or: M A R I T A L A I D - You decide - Dogs and marriages both need accessories to stay healthy

Bush's pre-emption is a two-track policy - There's a different reality in dealing with North Korea and Iran versus Iraq - The different reality being that Iraq didn't have Weapons of Mass Destruction but the other 2 do or might. Moral of the story: If America doesn't like you, you'd better get some Weapons of Mass Destruction to protect yourself.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

I'm on MSN Windows Messenger now ... if you know me then add me using my yahoo email address! - andrew gan
Quote of the Post: "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -- George Bernard Shaw

Random Playlist Song: Mozart - Divertimento in F Major for 2 Oboes, 2 Horns and 2 Bassoons, K 253

***

Inspired by her M$N display picture, I commissioned from nina the following:



Dedicated, of course, to the people searching for "Emma Watson's underwear" and their ilk.

Tis a marvellous piece of work, of a standard to which I am unable to aspire, since my "graphics manipulation skills are limited to cutting and pasting, resizing and cropping". Well actually my font aesthetic isn't very well developed, so the words wouldn't look so good if I did it myself, and I would have used 1, or at most 2 fonts, instead of the 3 you see above.

I was looking for an additional caption to put below this picture, as is my customary practice. Some suggestions:

"Who says wizards don't wear anything beneath their robes"

"This one had her underwear stolen by google"

"Whodunit? Potter? Weasley? Or YOU?"

"Does your wife approve of you looking for nude pictures of me?"

This one takes the prize:

"Is it so odd we want to see the knickers of a teenaged girl? It's not like she's over the age of consent and ready to do... things with us."

***

In other news, I've just recovered from a batch file run awry.

Moral of the story: Check your batch files carefully before running them. Especially if they involve deleting stuff without your confirmation.

***

My DVD-rom drive won't read all the cheap TDK CDs I bought with Melvin last year and then burnt. To think that they were advertised as: "TDK CD-R GOLD". Bah. I thought gold CDs were supposed to be good. These CDs are called "gold" CDs, but the upper surface of each CD is a dirty bronze colour, and the reverse side is off-silver.

At first I thought that maybe I'd waited too long before burning them (the latest that Melvin and I could have bought the pack of 50 CDs was in February, but I think we got it last year), because I didn't start burning them for quite a while after we got them, but then, a Verbatim CD that was left opened but unburnt for about the same length of time could be read by my DVD drive.

Maybe it's where I stored them (under the computer table, where sunlight *sometimes* reaches). But then, Xephyris is also complaining that his DVD-ROM drive (bought in 2004) "hates CDs", so it's probably mainly due to the weak DVD lasers, and the lousy TDK CDs.

Anyhow, I recently bought 10 "Verbatim Datalife PLUS" (*awe* *shock* swoon*) CDs at $8.90 for a pack of 10 with assorted fancy colours. The uncoloured ones were retailing for $9.90 for 10, the only difference being the colours. Maybe professionals (whose demand is more inelastic) need the plain silverish ones to bolster their image.

Lucky I have an external CD-RW drive, which I can use for badly burnt CDs if my hypothetical future DVD-RW drive can't read them :0

***

More search referrals:

bdsm "obstacle course" - Not one I would care to try. I think I'd rather do SOC.

gynecological poses pictures - How many poses could there possibly be?

redneck outlook stationery - Rednecks don't use Outlook

singapore materialism filipino maid

emma watson's relationships - She's too young to have had many. Then again, this is the decadent West we're talking about, from which corrupting winds blow to sully the purer-than-pure East, replete with wholesome Asian Values which magically eliminate all our social problems.

easy instructions for making a slingbag

Emma Watson sucked my wang - What's a wang?

disserations on youth gangs

emma watson's muscle - She looks very scrawny to me.

topless Twi'lek babes - Exotic tastes here.

man wearing thong at sentosa beach

interesting ways to masterbate - If you can spell it properly, this is a pretty interesting way.

RJC uniform purple

F&N firearms

stossel, pantyhose

emma watson bra size - "Watson generates nearly 60 percent more search activity than Daniel Radcliffe who portrays Harry, and gets 400 percent more searches than both Rupert Grint, a.k.a. Ron Weasley, and Tom Felton, who plays Harry's arch enemy Draco Malfoy."

nude handsome boys

emma watson's vagina

saf malays

buying porn vcds in subang jaya

godmother fuck yong boy - The name of the boy shouldn't matter.

d&d inn bangkok pool - I always wanted to play D&D in an inn in Bangkok.

babysitters taking rectal temperatures

napel cloth

photos of males wearing women's leotards

Who counts your push-ups at Air Force BMT

costume "grow boobs" - That's one powerful costume

online yaoi comics (a guy who falls in love with someone who wants to kill him)

chij semen skirt

sudol body tonner

waffletown Singapore - Good waffles, great chicken

purchasing chij uniforms - Try Yahoo auctions

sammyboy.com.sg asia commercial - In your dreams

"tai mai shu" racist - Wing would be racist too, then.

fairfield methodist secondary fuck - That's a new one. Before this it was all Bedok Secondary.

mysteires of women

mattress "spring broke"

is there is any company that don't use haram contents in lipstick - Lipstick is arguably haram intrinsically, since it breeds vice and immorality.

annabel cheong, singapore porn - Must be a new porn star wanting to ride on Chong's success.

raffles girls' schoolgirls nude - This came almost immediately after the one above. Maybe the 2 people can go talk to each other.

+"zlad" +"gunther" - Brothers in spirit!

chinese commando bagua - They still use those? For what, to blind people?

aunty panty theft

Daniel Radcliffe, (do u prefer boxers or briefs?) - Maybe he goes commando.

Air Stewardess colour-blindness - I'm sure you can still fly as long as you don't mistake Coke for Red Wine.

us army lsd "assault course" - I think you'll fail the course if you're on LSD. I wonder if this is harder than the BDSM obstacle course.

zaogeng adventures
jamie adventures zao geng - Someone should make a game called: "Zaogeng Adventures". Fun!

emma watson's height - 5' 5" (165 cm). But I'm sure she'll get a growth spurt soon.

top ten ways on how to masterbate

If you have sex in the swimming pool, does it hurt the fallopian tubes

were can i find free budist prayer chants

olsen hatelisting

Brendan Fraser Circumcised

friendsters malay page

madrigals clinton inauguration

dettol indian print ads

posb debit mastercard rewards - Not much to speak of. Bastards.

ass hammer shit nugget pandemonium

"singaporeans" "poor english"

hwa article: why god's women do not wear makeup

swedes in michigan

"We Share" Holst, Prof. E. Thumboo - I should make up campy lyrics to desecrate some lovely song as well.

spiderman in a sarong picture

pussy cunt permanently loose gaping

Emma Watson's school - Ooh. Stalkers.

is it okay for a male pre teen to masterbate males

smelling emma watson socks

Karnak divine masturbation

xxx hoom sex - What's a hoom?

acjc girls uniform pictures

Muslim meals on Singapore's Airport are they slaughtered in the name of Allah

emma watson gets her menstrual

recruits naked in pulau tekong

the naked punishment for recruits at pulau tekong prison school

"small neck" "dress shirts" - I hate dress shirts which strangle me, with my small neck!

poem gangster melayu
Quote of the Post: "Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement." - Snoopy (Charles M. Schulz)

Random Playlist Song: Pinay - Dahil Sa Iyo

Actually I don't like this version, as it's sung by some women who try too hard to sound sultry but end up sounding like, well, cheap sluts. It's marginally better than the Alfred Apaka version I have, where the guy sounds like one of those Hawaiian men in Aloha shirts, strumming his guitar and you can just *see* the Hawaiian girls dancing in their grass skirts behind him.

Ah, to hear once again the version arranged by Joy Chia! I really liked that arrangement.

***

Why do I keep getting irrelevant junk mail?

This time it's about something called the Jackrabbit, supposedly used by Charlotte in Sex and the City. It *does* say that "Men will enjoy this toy as well", but doesn't state how.

A testimonial from a satisfied customer: "Now I don't mind being single".

Oh well, at the very least, the description of their deluxe version made me laugh.

***

Integrated programs are very evil. I suspect it's just a way to stop the brain drain that happens after O levels. Now that their students will have no more O levels, they will be unable to defect to other schools. Very devious.

***

Yaoi Girl:

"I have read Catherine Lim- but I didn't like what I read at all. I feel her books are mostly mysticism without substance. Kind of like movies by Zhang Yimou."

I'm sure Zhang Yimou fans will beg to differ.

***

A (partial) replacement for MP3.com!

"Classic Cat is a directory with links to over 1200 free to download classical performances on the internet, sorted by composer and work."

***

My mother tried to force me to get a hair cut.

"You look like a barbarian... Normal tech... You want to keep a ponytail?"

I think she's on to me :0

***

Recently I've been playing Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader, despite the bad reviews it got from a few places.

It's definitely not quite up to the level of the previous Black Isle games like Baldur's Gate (I and II) or Planescape Torment, probably because it was developed by Reflexive Entertainment, but it's still passably fun, with the appearances of Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Shylocke, Machiavelli and other historical figures in its alternate history setting being an incidental plus (or minus, depending on your point of view), and witty and mirth-inducing dialogue appearing from time to time. The quick loading times are also a welcome plus.

However, the game is rather too difficult and fast-paced, making play frustrating at times, the gameplay too hack-and-slash for my liking (yes, I dislike hack-and-slashes), and there is neither a map annotation function, nor markers for of locations of interest on the area maps, damnit.

Most importantly, it lacks the elusive X-factor (read: I'm too lazy to divine what that X-factor is).

I can't wait for Knights of the Old Republic 2! I swear I'm going to buy it when it comes out, since the original was one of the few games to grip me in the last few years, shaking me out of my normal jaded state.

***

The Drive to Legalize Picks Up

"Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man... Trying to reduce heroin addiction by preventing marijuana use, it's been said, is like trying to reduce motorcycle fatalities by cracking down on bicycle riding... Marijuana may well be the least addictive and least damaging of all commonly used psychoactive drugs, including many that are now legal. Most people who smoke marijuana never become dependent. Withdrawal symptoms pale compared with those from other drugs. No one has ever died from a marijuana overdose, which cannot be said of most other drugs. Marijuana is not associated with violent behavior and only minimally with reckless sexual behavior. And even heavy marijuana smokers smoke only a fraction of what cigarette addicts smoke. Lung cancers involving only marijuana are rare."

I like the poem (of sorts) they quoted about Prohibition:

"Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it.
It's left a trail of graft and slime
It don't prohibit worth a dime
It's filled our land with vice and crime,
Nevertheless, we're for it."


You'll never see such level-headedness in Sinagpore.

***

John Kerry and John Edwards can't keep their hands off each other! - "I've been covering Washington and politics for 30 years. I can say I've never seen this much touching between two men, publicly"

Which member of the Bush Administration are you? - I like the descriptions of the various members in the "list all possible results" page

Academic recreates naked Olympics

SmartKlamp: Single-Use, Automatic Circumcisions - Automating male genital mutilation

Lego Spiderman movie

Couple had sex on stage during concert - "The young couple, Tommy Hol Ellingsen, age 28, and Leona Johansson, age 21, are members of the environmental organization «Fuck for Forest.» They have sex in public in order to put focus on the rainforest."

Operation Bucharest - by Jack T. Chick - Finally! An entertaining Jack Chick tract! This one's damn funny. As Xephyris comments: "it's so fnuny, lol... they portray the spies as religious fanatics, ala the Al Qaeda! Wait, give us a week to pray! LOLOL... 'God is with us in this undertaking!' <- rather than american spies, it fits zealots more, don't you think?"

***

I've always thought that anyone deprived enough to want to stalk me would be seriously deprived, and possessed of exceedingly bad taste. And now one such person has apparated.

(Unfortunately,) I have a bisexual (cyber)stalker. Well, if everything goes well, I will have *had* a bisexual cyber-stalker, whom I will never see in Meatspace.

My sad tale starts in the middle of June, when for some reason, about 5 people started sending me friend requests and messages on Friendster, all asking to be my friend. Being spooked by this sudden conjunction of the planets, I turned all of them down. Besides which, somehow Friendster has always struck me as a place to network with existing acquaintances rather than meet new ones.

After my polite declining of their friend requests, most of them got the message, but one person persisted in bothering me, with the refrain, "I want to make new friends" (in ircz speakz, of course). In a last attempt to get him off my back, I told him that I didn't use Friendster anymore (essentially true), and not knowing how to take a hint (or many hints, rather), he replied: "since you dun use friendster anymore,pls sms me
@ xxxxxxxx now... I luv making new friends... Can u pls sms me?? Hope to receive ur sms soon.."

I ignored this and continued blissfully watching grass grow and paint peel. Until someone added me to his M$N list. Not suspecting anything, I added him and asked, as is my customary ritual, who he was. Imagine my wide-eyed shock when I discovered that he was ****** from Friendster who had been bugging me all along. Not least of my worries: how the hell did he get my M$N email address?! I hope he didn't visit this blog :0

The conversation from that point on follows:

Me: why did you add me?

Him: i alreadi told u tat i want to make new friends wif u....

Me: ...

Him: :D can u pls tell me abt urself now?

Me: erm.

Him: pls??
hey...r u bisexual??
can u pls chat wif me for a while?? [Ed: All this while, I was playing Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader (see above)]

Me: no I'm not

Him: u only like women??

Me: erm. yes.

Him: pls sms me @ xxxxxxxx now...
canu???
igtg....
bye.... pls remember 2 sms me....thanks....cya....


Unsettled as I was, I cast my net into the deep blue sea. I trekked to several oracles on mountainous peaks and cavernous depths to seek the advice of the gods; I slaughtered countless chickens to dig in their entrails, seeking the secrets of the twisting ether; I dug out my divining rod, following every twitch of its body.

Most advised me to put him on my ignore list. Not a few speculated that it was the picture of Wo-hen Nankan, the Asian Prince, that I had for my M$N account display picture that had drawn him:



But then, I don't have that pic in my Friendster account, so.

Some people wondered if it was just someone trying to play a prank on me. I find that very unlikely, since this person went to the trouble of creating a Friendster account, putting pictures of "himself" up, and finding 37 "friends" to add to his list.

Others wondered if he was Mr Tim Tang, of luvacguys and Stop being gay fame, but from his Friendster profile, he doesn't look CBTH (cute, boyish, tanned, handsome), so I ruled out that possibility (heh).

And for some reason, one or two thought that it might be a girl pretending to be a boy. My response?

"*shrug* guys sometimes pretend to be girls. girls never pretend to be guys :P except for butches. but that's in real life, so. and it's obvious they're butches, not guys."

I was actually thinking of following my idol's actions and putting up his picture with these words: "I am not gay/bi, so guys, don't bother sending in your picture. As a punishment for thinking I'm gay, I posted a picture of this man, named ******. He is in the Possibly Gay Men section. If you ever seen him, now you know he's gay! Don't send in pictures if you're a guy, or you'll face the same punishment as him!", but I decided to be nice (unless he continues pestering me, then that's a different matter).

Anyhow, a day after the first M$N contact (ie yesterday), he tried to talk to me again:

Him: hi there... How r u? may i chat wif you now,pls??

Me: what about?

Him: I want to get to noe u well... Can u pls tell me abt urself???

Me: I don't particularly want to know about you [Ed: In an attempt to chase him off, my tone became more chilly]

Him: why?? Look like u r not interested in making new friends.... [Ed: Ooh. Someone is getting confrontational now.]

Me: look. what're your motives in approaching me?

Him: Wat's wrong wif making new friends??

Me: have you done this before?

Him: YESSS
Let's talk abt soocer.... i'm a diedhard Liverpool fan....

Me: I don't like soccer. no I meant approaching people
have you done it before?

Him: Of course....

Me: and how did they react?

Him: mm.... they r happy... they want to make new friends.... [Ed: *cough*]

Me: right. and is "making new friends" your only motive in approaching me?

Him: OF COURSE....

Me: look. whatever you wanted to do, you did it all wrong. in the future, if you do not want to freak people out/piss them off, don't come on too hard. now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch grass grow. good day

*I block him*


Hopefully that'll be the last I'll hear of him.

To think that just the other day I was musing about how, in a certain light, it would be fun to have a stalker (I was thinking of a cute one, naturally).

Guess I'm getting my just desserts *pout* [Ed: For people who like Chinx aka Stranger who don't understand jokes, a Disclaimer: MY MUSING WAS A JOKE]
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